Sunday, October 22, 2006

Psyching Up for Winter Walks

For the dog owner in northern climes, the prospect of winter has you staring down the double barrels of freezing cold dog walks and extreme guilt over cutting them short. For me, the recipe for cooking up some enthusiasm for walks in the bitter weather is the following: get an audio player and listen to good audio books. I find myself anxious to get out there and listen to the next chapter, and it takes my mind off of the conditions.

I'm not sure many people are aware of this, but an increasing number of public library systems, including ours in Montgomery County, Maryland, have relationships with online audio book services like All you need is a library card, and you can create a free account to "check out" audio books to download to a computer or audio player for several weeks. You aren't necessarily going to find all the bestsellers there, but I find plenty of interesting books. You can also borrow books on CD from the library, but ripping these to a digital audio player is some trouble and is of questionable legality.

You need a digital audio player supporting the appropriate Digital Rights Management (for copy protection) for the audio download service you are using-- for example, an iPod doesn't have the PlaysForSure DRM support needed for NetLibrary, while other players may not be able to play iTunes downloads. I use an inexpensive Creative Zen Nano player, and it works very well with content from Netlibrary.

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