Windows Phone App Flow: The Learning Channel

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I don’t know about most of you, but one of the fondest memories of my childhood was finishing my homework early and getting permission from my grandmother to plant myself in front of the television and tune in to TLC. Yes, yes I know, but you have to remember that this was the The Learning Channel of yesteryear – you know that channel that aired rerun episodes of The Magic School Bus and routinely aired documentaries on the Solar System. Don’t get me wrong, I suppose there are tons of viewers who enjoy things like Breaking Amish and young southern pageant queens performing for cameras with phrases like “You better redneckonize!”, but that’s just not a channel I can watch with a straight face.

So to celebrate what was once the ultimate place for intellectual and scientific endeavors, I present for your approval three of my favorite Windows Phone applications for actually absorbing knowledge and not just stereotypical catchphrases. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above low brow reality television. I just prefer to get my fix via MTV’s Teen Moms.)

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We begin with the resource of knowledge that keeps on giving. For just a $1.99 Spreadsong’s Free Books does exactly what it says it does. 23,469 books are available at your fingertips in a well-organized and collected manner. I’m also not opposed to the belt in e-reader portion of the app being of quality, something I find is rare when dealing with anyone offering any book for free on a mobile device.

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For the first time since kicking off this column back in November of 2011, I’ll cop to an honest bias. I completely mentioned The Magic School Bus so that I’d have the opportunity to talk about the absolutely amazing episode the cartoon series did on the Inner and Outer planets of the Solar System. For weeks I dreamed about the stars. Now that those days are long past us, why not inspire that little spectacle-laden youngster in your life with Israel Galán’s Astronomy Kit. The fully loaded version of comes with a database of not just our local neighborhood but also our galactic neighbors like galaxies, nebulas, and constellations. At $1.99 the app is a steal if you are just looking to get into the subject seriously or dabble casually.

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Lastly, we hear an a lot about audiobooks and e-books on the Windows Phone platform but unfortunately not a lot about how you can get both of those things on your devices for free through your local public library. Well if you haven’t heard of it, allow me to introduce OverDrive Media Console which uses your account with your local library to bring you the very latest in digital media to enjoy when you are out on your run, at the office, or just in need of some intellectual stimulation. OverDrive is free but does require a subscription to one of the 18,000 libraries that power the service.

And that’s wrap on this edition of the Windows Phone App Flow. I’d like to thank Donald and Darlene Shiley for inspiring this edition. I’ve enjoyed educational and intellectual media of all kinds since I first watched PBS’ Masterpiece of which the couple has provided financial backing for ages. It’s programs like it that make me feel absolutely awful for spending an hour watching random young women speak on the record about how hard they have it as a teenage mother.

I’ll see you hear again next week, same short guy, same channel.

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