On The Road Again ….

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Every couple of weeks, I get into my car and head up to the Lebanese border, where I teach dozens of teachers how to use Ourboox. I love it, they love it. Last week I addressed a group of Arab science teachers. I told them that many hundreds of children here are writing books in Arabic that are shared and read throughout the Arab world. Some of the teachers had already heard of Ourboox. In fact, one of the teachers had participated in a movie on how to create a book (in Arabic, of course).
Some 15% of the books on the platform are in Arabic. They are read throughout the Arab world. Here is one on the environment that has been read over 4000 times around the Arab world.
Call it our little contribution to understanding and sharing, nothing more.
Here is one of the books, read almost 5000 times. Mabruq!

Thursday Inspiration

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What is more fun than sitting in front of a blank screen (or piece of paper) and filling it with a story? What to write about, you might ask? Well, practically anything. A fly on the wall, a building oh so tall, a magical wand that loses its spell, a secretive language that I know very well, a book, a hook, a nose on a shnook, a peter, a pepper, a Norwegian shlepper. Or maybe a story or two about gum, just how it was born and where it comes from. I’m out of ideas, so I’m waiting for you. To log on to Ourboox, and write your story. Or two.

On turning sixty-five

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I thought that I would have a lot of time to sit back and reflect on my life, write some pithy lines, but I have become incredibly busy teaching at colleges and universities, and now acting as advisor to Prof. Yuli Tamir, the president of Shenkar college. And of course, lecturing about Ourboox (primarily to teachers) and doing some writing of my own. So here’s the irony: I’m still up and around, running as hard as I ever did, and don’t have time to sit down on the milestone and contemplate. And maybe that’s the best gift of all. So happy birthday to me. May I continue to be too busy to reflect on becoming a chronological senior! And may I always always remain a child at heart.

Using Ourboox in the Classroom

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For the past five years, I’ve taught an academic course in sixties music at Tel Aviv University. All my lectures (and I mean all of them) are on Ourboox. I show the books on the screen and the students can follow them anywhere. Have a look at one of them:  http://www.ourboox.com/books/what-made-the-beatles-the-beatles/
In the book I can incorporate text (with hyperlinks), videos, embed quizzes (Which Beatle do you like best? Google forms), padlets (so the students can voice their opinions) and much more. Check this e-book out for some of the other things you can do. http://www.ourboox.com/books/ourboox-for-teachers-and-teaching-3/.
Of course, it’s even better when the students start creating their own e-books on our platform. In addition to writing skills, they gain expertise in embedding material from other websites, they learn to be authors, and they can take pride in their individuality and their achievements. Try it out tomorrow and let me know! mel@ourboox.com

To Our Dear Community …….

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Hello to Ourboox authors and readers. As we get ready for 2017 (yes, it’s right around the corner), it’s time to think about the cool improvements and features that we are planning for the coming year.  Are there features we should be incorporating? Write below or send us private messages, we promise to answer everyone! Here are some of the favorites on our wishlist, but are they yours too?
Authors will be able to receive small donations from readers that like their books or want to support the authors.
Improved  reading experience on smartphones.
Even simpler book creation experience!
Allowing authors to download pdfs of their own work (this may be a pay-for-service, though)
We want to hear your ideas too!

The Publisher of My Dreams

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Someday he’ll come along
The publisher I’ll love,
And he’ll be cool and strong
The publisher I’ll love,
And when he comes ourboox way
We’ll do our best to make him stay.
We’ll make a category for him,
He’ll understand,
And people will publish their stories,
And improve their writing skills,
And if a book is seen by thousands
And becomes very popular,
He’ll publish it.
Well, I did meet two amazing publishers during the last month, one local and one in Europe. And both understood that instead of rejecting practically all the manuscripts they receive, that they can open up a ‘writers’ school’ on our platform and ask authors to upload their stories for the public to see and appraise. Books that are seen by thousands of eyes, or are highly praised might then be published in paper format.
Will this happen soon? I hope so. It is the best way of combining traditional publishing with the advantages of Ourboox and e-books in general. Stay tuned. This is a dream that will come true this year.
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Ourboox vs. Powerpoint

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OK, let’s face it. Powerpoint is more powerful than Ourboox when it comes to presentations. They have over twenty years experience, and Microsoft. We have our small team and only three years experience. So yes, if you want to have a regular presentation, powerpoint wins hands down.

Over the past two years though, I’ve been experimenting using Ourboox to prepare materials for my lectures. I use the large fonts (just like on Powerpoint), I add photos, embed videos, etc. But here is the big advantage – Ourboox allows you to tell a STORY. There are pages that flip, and the feeling that you and the students get is different than ourboox. If you don’t believe me, take a look at any of the lectures of my sixties’ class, for example:

What Made the Beatles the Beatles

There are two additional advantages to using Ourboox for giving presentations: the students (or listeners) can access the e-book anytime they want; and I can add a padlet page so that the students can comment in the book itself!!

And of course, there is always the novelty of presenting a talk using an unpowerpoint presentation. Try it and let me know!!!

Hallowe’en

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Hello Ourboox people everywhere!!
If you’re celebrating Hallowe’en in a few weeks, we have a treat for you! Write a book (include photos, of course, videos if you like) about your Hallowe’en. You can write about something scary, your costume, your trick or treat experiences, the loot you collected, anything connected with the festivities. Publish it on Ourboox (make sure to click the “contest of the month” category) and if we select it, you just might be a winner. Winners will have their books featured on the homepage. And if one of them is really special, we just might publish it in paper book format and send it to the author!
So don’t sit on your pumpkin. Write your Hallowe’en story and submit it. The contest ends (you guessed it) on November 1st.

Yael Rasooly

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Yael Rasooly is a true artist. And an amazing singer.  I met her back in 2009, we had one appearance together (as I recall mostly Cole Porter tunes) in Shablul, and then she returned to her performance career, and I went on doing whatever I do. Lucky we have the photos of Maya Hed and the recordings we made together at Zaza studios. And lucky I have Ourboox to create a memory book of our brief collaboration.
Link to the book “ Through the Lens of Maya Hed :An Evening with Yael Rasooly
http://www.ourboox.com/books/through-the-lens-of-maya-hed-an-evening-with-yael-rasooly/
Do you have a memory you want to share in words and pictures? Perhaps add a video or two? Ourboox is the place to do it. Give us a try if you haven’t already.

The Magical Mystery Bus To Mitzpeh Ramon

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Jeff Pulver is a man of many dreams. One of them was stargazing with a busload of friends from the internet community. Yesterday, it happened. A busload full of us (and I mean full, 53 of the 54 passenger seats were occupied) drove down to “Mitzpeh Ramon” in the middle of the Negev desert to see the stars together. We chose an auspicious date, right after DLD, and with no moon visible to affect our night vision. We thought it would be a piece of cake to organize such an event, not having done anything remotely similar before (luckily we had Zoe and Omer on board). Somehow it worked. Magically. We stopped in the desert to see the sunset (and more singing, of course), then on to the crater. When the bus turned its lights off, the whole hemisphere lit up. Wine, beer, great food. Singing. Shivering (it was cold). Introducing ourselves. And looking up at half of the universe. Jeff explained the major constellations. Then a meticulous clean up of the area (also daunting in the dark), back in the magical mystery bus and home to Tel Aviv at 2:30 a.m.  So yes, we didn’t dress warmly enough, we didn’t arrive in time to see the crater, we didn’t bring a table and wood for a bonfire.  But these were minor issues on the greater scale of things. And I will never look up the same way again. 
A book of the first half of the trip: