First, thank you for the (c 1300) lovely birthday wishes that you have sent in to https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/03/richards-75th-birthday-messages/.
Also for the (c 500) good wishes for my recovery at https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/02/an-update-on-richards-condition-in-his-own-words/. I seem to be recovering according to plan. The physiotherapist and other aftercare therapists have completed their six weeks of home visits. At least one of them came to my house every single day except weekends, which I think is astonishingly good service, considering that it was all totally free, on the NHS, as was my stay in hospital complete with scans and specialist medical attention. I can now type with both hands, fast but still inaccurately. Still get tired, still can’t sing (not a great hardship), still speak croakily. My balance is improving with physio exercises such as impersonating a stork standing on one leg. And I can ride my bike, albeit a little unsteadily on tight corners. Blood pressure still veers toward the high side, despite medication, and I’m under orders to avoid long distance travel or getting involved in controversy. Controversy? Moi?
Otherwise I am doing well and I consider myself lucky to have escaped the potentially much more severe consequences of a stroke. With Gillian Somerscales I have begun planning my next book (a collection of essays like A Devil’s Chaplain) for which Evernote is clearly going to be an invaluable aid.
And my enforced stay at home has prompted me to attempt the mammoth task of cataloguing my alarmingly large collection of books. I was beginning to despair at the sheer quantity of work that would be needed, typing in authors, titles etc. Then yesterday I chanced upon a brilliant piece of software called Book Collector, which I think is going to change my life. It’s produced by Collectorz.com, which is run by Alwyn Hoogerdijk (the programmer) and his wife Sytske Hermans: http://www.collectorz.com/book/?from=google&keyword=book%20collector&gclid=CLWBhqqS8ssCFdYy0wodkYYBjQ. It runs on Mac and Windows.
There’s an associated app called Barry (http://www.clz.com/barry) which runs on iPhone, iPad and Android. To enter a book in the database, just pull it from the shelf far enough to see the barcode on the back. Point the smartphone at the barcode. You don’t even have to press the “shutter”. As soon as the phone sees a barcode it auto-focuses, buzzes to signify satisfaction, then transmits the ISBN number wirelessly to the computer. The Book Collector software does the rest. Using the ISBN number, it locates the book on the Internet and downloads every detail and more than you need for a catalogue, including even a picture of the book jacket (if it can find one). It displays the books either as a list or in more visually appealing ways. The picture shows a “virtual bookstand” of chosen that I entered at random yesterday while learning to use the software.
Older books have no barcode on the jacket, so you have to do a little typing. But even then you only have to type author and part of title for the software to retrieve all the rest of the information from the Internet. The software also keeps your data in a cloud (space on which is automatically provided when you buy the program). Seamless syncing means you can use any computer you like to access, or update, your database.
I’m still on the nursery slopes of the learning curve but already I can say, with unusual confidence for a beginner, what a truly beautiful piece of programming. Recommended with enthusiasm.
— Richard Dawkins