How to update Nook books

Science fiction author Rudy Rucker has published his Complete Stories at his new Transreal Press. I downloaded it from the Nook Book Store. But when he updated the book, I couldn’t see how to get the new version on my Nook Simple Touch. I finally figured out a workaround.

There’s one big caveat though: if you update a book, you will lose your notes and bookmarks for it.

1. Go the Library of content on your Nook.

2. Double-tap on the book you want to update. (If you single tap, you will open the book.)

3. Tap the Archive button. This will remove the book from your Nook. Like all the books you purchase from the Nook Book Store, it is still stored in your online account at B&N. Tap OK to proceed.

4. Now tap Unarchive to get the book back on your device. It will download the latest version, updating the book.

How to upgrade to DRM-free iTunes music tracks

Some friends were telling me about problems putting music from the iTunes music store on their Android phones. I realized the problem was most likely old tracks protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management). They didn’t know that Apple had stopped using DRM and they could get new DRM-free copies of their music.

Here’s how to remove the DRM from old iTunes music purchases. This is the official Apple way, which involves buying an “upgrade”. There are other tools you can find that will remove the DRM without the upgrade. I haven’t tried any of those.

This page gives all the details. The short version is that in 2009 Apple made “iTunes Plus” versions of all their music available. This is what you have been getting since then. You can upgrade your old tracks to iTunes Plus. This gives you DRM-free tracks and improved sound quality (they re-encoded the tracks at twice the previous bit rate). The cost is $0.30/track or 30% of the album cost.

This link will open iTunes and show the old tracks that you can upgrade and how much it costs. I tried it myself and saw this in iTunes:

The tracks are still in AAC format (not MP3) so you might want to verify that your music players support 256 kbps AAC before plumping for the upgrade. Or just try one track first to see if it works.

ZippGo moving boxes: roomy, sturdy, easy, ecological

I move a lot—every year or two. I hate buying lots of expensive moving boxes only to throw them away after a couple of weeks. It wastes trees and energy. But now there’s a better way if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For my last few moves, I used a stack of file boxes from the office supply store. File boxes are relatively inexpensive, assemble quickly without tape, and are sturdy enough to hold heavy loads like books.

This time I stumbled on a San Francisco startup company with a great new idea. ZippGo delivers big, plastic boxes to your old home, and then picks them up two weeks later after you move. The boxes can be reused hundreds of times. The cost is about the same as buying cardboard boxes. My ZippGo boxes were roomy, sturdy, easy, ecological—what’s not to like?

I started by ordering the 24 box package online. I wasn’t sure from the website how big the boxes are, or if there was an assortment of sizes. 24 boxes turned out to be enough for my one bedroom apartment, with 10 of the boxes devoted solely to books. I had to use a few old file boxes too.

The ZippGo order form allowed me to request two, 2 hour windows on my delivery and pickup dates. They called me the night before to confirm my delivery. One thing I didn’t like is that they charged extra for delivery because I had an elevator in my old apartment. That didn’t slow things down at all. The new place had stairs and a gate to deal with, which did require a lot more work. I can see charging extra for stairs, but not for an elevator.

I was surprised how compact the boxes were. They stack up like food containers. I had visions of piles of boxes turning my apartment into an obstacle course, but it wasn’t like that at all.

I was also surprised at how big the boxes are inside. This is really helpful for bulky items like kitchen equipment and clothes. Here’s a picture of a file box inside a ZippGo box to show the size.

The boxes come with adhesive labels and several colors of cable ties. You don’t need tape with ZippGo boxes. You just shut the cover and hold it closed with a cable tie. The different colors enable you to indicate to the movers which room the box should go to. ZippGo removes the labels after your move, so you don’t have to deal with that. I guess it’s part of cleaning the boxes (and they were all very clean).

Notice the boxes don’t have an URL on them, only a phone number and a Twitter @ name. Thinking ahead there!

The boxes are made of heavy plastic. You can easily stack them four or even five high. This was really great after the move. They didn’t take up so much room that I felt like I had to dig myself out right away.

ZippGo provides a special dolly that fits under a stack of boxes. The movers really liked this.

I had two weeks after the boxes were delivered to move and unpack. The pickup time was scheduled when I ordered, but I was ready to turn them in a couple days early. I emailed ZippGo and they immediately scheduled an earlier pickup.

The ZippGo truck shows their whole value proposition. It looks like a web page on wheels to me.

And here go the boxes.

I would recommend ZippGo boxes for anybody who would throw away their moving boxes after they move. The cost is the same, unless you are reusing random boxes from the grocery store dumpster, but I stopped doing that a long time ago. The service is only available in the Bay Area for now, but hopefully they will expand their range in the future.