Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sony PRS-T3 e-Reader is now Discontinued

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Sony Canada has confirmed with Good e-Reader that the Sony PRS-T3 is officially discontinued.  It will no longer be available in retail settings once current stocks have depleted. Not only is it no longer available in Canada, but Sony Europe also confirmed its discontinued.

The PRS-T3 was one of the best e-readers Sony ever produced. It was durable, had great resolution and the ability to read eBooks you borrowed from the library.  One of the downsides of this model was the built in case that added to the bulk. You are actually unable to remove it, without the battery and motherboard being visible. The Sony PRS-T3S actually solved this issue by having the standard backplate, and this model is actually still available in limited quantities.

2014 was a big year for change in the Sony e-reader division. The company closed down their Reader Store in Canada, Europe and Australia. All digital books and customers were passed over to Kobo, where a recent firmware update allows you to buy books again, but not through Sony.

Is the discontinuation of the Sony PRS-T3 a sign that the company will announce a new model in September? This is the time of year they generally have new products come out, but without a dedicated eBook store, is e-readers still viable for Sony?

Sony PRS-T3 e-Reader is now Discontinued is a post from: Good e-Reader

Creating Smart Playlists in iTunes

Smart Playlists are easy to create, and they automatically stay updated. Best of all, you can use them to ensure that your favorite music is always synced with your mobile devices.

Introducing Raspberry Pi HATs

Just over two weeks ago, we announced the new Raspberry Pi B+ with immediate availability. We’ve been very pleased at the response from the community and press about the B+, and most people seem to appreciate why we decided to evolve the Model B in the way we did – lots of you have been in touch to tell us how much you’re enjoying your new B+.

There are many great new features built into the B+, but today we want to talk about one new feature we are particularly excited about.

One of the brilliant things about the Raspberry Pi has always been the ability to attach physical hardware to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) connector. There are so many third party add-on boards that attach to the raspberry Pi and extend its functionality: motor controllers, LEDs, buttons, sensors, microcontrollers, LCDs, ADCs and DACs; you name it, someone has almost certainly created an add-on board that makes it usable with the Raspberry Pi.

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Model B’s 26W vs Model B+’s 40W GPIO connectors

On the Raspberry Pi models A and B, the GPIO connector has 26 pins. Users attaching an add-board to the model A or B Pi usually have to work out which drivers are required for their specific board, and then edit the relevant Linux files to make them load at boot time before the board is usable (or load them by hand from the command line). The Raspberry Pi has no knowledge of whether it has a board attached or not, and the various drivers, when loaded, will simply assume that they can make exclusive use of the GPIO interface. Most of the time this all works OK, but it can be a bit challenging for new users. Linux drivers blindly assuming GPIO pins are available can also occasionally cause confusion.

The Raspberry Pi B+ has been designed specifically with add-on boards in mind and today we are introducing ‘HATs’ (Hardware Attached on Top). A HAT is an add-on board for B+ that conforms to a specific set of rules that will make life easier for users. A significant feature of HATs is the inclusion of a system that allows the B+ to identify a connected HAT and automatically congifure the GPIOs and drivers for the board, making life for the end user much easier!

Before we go any further, it is worth noting that there are obviously a lot of add-on boards designed for the original model A and B boards (which interface to the original 26 way GPIO header). The first 26 pins of the B+ GPIO header are identical to those of the original models, so most existing boards will still work. We are not breaking compatibility for existing boards; we’re creating a specification that B+ add-on board designers can follow (if they so wish), which is designed to make end users’ lives much easier.

So what is a HAT?

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B+ sporting a (mehcanical sample of a) HAT and showing camera and display connections

In a nutshell a HAT is a rectangular board (65x56mm) that has four mounting holes in the (nicely rounded) corners that align with the mounting holes on the B+, has a 40W GPIO header and supports the special autoconfiguration system that allows automatic GPIO setup and driver setup. The automatic configuration is achieved using 2 dedicated pins (ID_SD and ID_SC) on the 40W B+ GPIO header that are reserved for an I2C EEPROM. The EEPROM holds the board manufacturer information, GPIO setup and a thing called a ‘device tree‘ fragment – basically a description of the attached hardware that allows Linux to automatically load the required drivers.

What we are not doing with HATs is forcing people to adopt our specification. But you can only call something a HAT if it follows the spec.

So why are we bothering with all this? Basically, we want to ensure consistency and compatibility with future add-on boards, and to allow a much better end-user experience, especially for less technically aware users.

The HAT specification is available on GitHub for those wishing to design add-on boards for the B+. As previously explained, there is no requirement to follow the HAT specification, but we encourage people to think about following it if possible, as it will make the world a better place for end users.

One final bit of good news:  we have used a surface mount connector on our internal prototype HAT which works very nicely. As you can see from the pictures it solders to the top of the board and then fits over an extension header (the extension header pins push through the HAT from underneath). As the extension headers push through like this it is possible to either use a short, flush mounting extension or a version with longer pins that poke out above the HAT and allow further access to the GPIO pins for debugging.

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HAT using extender with longer pins

For HAT designers wanting to use these connectors, we have secured discounted pricing through Toby Electronics. The connector part numbers are:

Toby tell us they are getting stock in now, which should arrive for the 5th August.

Please post technical questions about the specification to the forum.

Chinese Digital Publishing Industry Valued at $56 Billion

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The Chinese digital publishing industry is on the rise. Newspapers, magazines, comics and eBooks garnered 42 billion USD in 2012. This is a massive figure, but it only really accounted for 11.6% of the entire publishing industry. Chinese digital publishing has really grown up over the last two years with more companies focusing on smartphone delivery. New research has proclaimed that by the end of 2014, digital publishing will be valued at over 56 billion.

The Chinese digital publishing industry is targeting smartphones in a big way. There is currently 700 million active phones running Android, Windows or iOS. This is prompting creative deals such as Xiamen Bluebird Cartoon Co. partnering with Trajectory to adopt its popular TV series  Xingxing Fox and Close to the Great Society into digital books for children.

One  of the largest digital publishing websites is run by Cloudary, a website dedicated to contemporary Chinese literature.  They provide a wide range of digital services,  such as online eBook delivery and they also manage  six online reading and writing communities, with a user popular of  1.6 million members.

The thing I really like about the Chinese publishing industry is how innovative they are when compared to the way the North American scene is run.  One of China’s oldest publishing houses,  Zhonghua Book Co, entered the world of multimedia publishing by instigating a poetry contest that targeted mobile phone users.

The format was simple: Applicants simply had to compose an ode using the rigid formulas of classical Chinese poetry and send the resulting poem to Zhonghua via a text message. Over a period of four months, 43 million aspiring poets texted their work, either as original content for the competition or as messages to friends, who in turn forwarded the poem to other recipients.  By the end of the competition, the number of posts and reposts on mobile devices totaled 129 million, a huge number given that Zhonghua’s biggest-selling physical book, Thoughts on the Analects of Confucius sold 320,000 copies.

There are thousands of startups tackling app development, new content delivery methods and cool ways to appeal to the mobile reader.  All of this innovation is occurring due to Amazon, Apple and Google entering the market and fostering innovation. This is ruffling some political feathers, which prompted the  Chinese Central Government to issue a series of guidelines to help traditional publishing enter the digital world and offered financial assistance to make it happen.

China has a very deep rooted publishing industry and many are resistant about going digital. The average customer does not have a Android, Apple or iOS smartphone due to the costs and still rely on tangible books. The lack of technology is certainly the largest barrier, preventing the industry from reaching new heights.  Still, 56 billion US is a ton of money and it is showing that customers are firmly embracing a wide array of media content and  publishers are being savvy.

Chinese Digital Publishing Industry Valued at $56 Billion is a post from: Good e-Reader

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fling Delivers Instant Messaging Spam

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Marketed by social start-up Unii as an exciting way to share life’s moments with the world, Fling is one part Snapchat and one part spam. With that said, the premise is very enticing: snap a photo and let the app send it out to 50 random Fling users (while avoiding any users that you actually may want to see it).

Are you on the receiving end of a random Fling photo? You have the option of replying privately to the sender (which is entirely bizarre when you consider they could be anyone and live anywhere, at least in theory).

There are no constraints regarding what content is allowed, nor are there ways to report inappropriate use; this means chances are very good you will enjoy explicit content coming across your phone while you sip your morning coffee (I can’t imagine impromptu snapshots of my evening meal would be riveting or inspirational for those who would receive them). Based on this, it may be more accurate to classify Fling as a sort of dating app (though be careful, you may not want to send random strangers images that feature details such as phone numbers, addresses or license plates that could expressly identify you).

If you are curious, voyeuristic, or both… download Fling – Message The World for iOS and see what arrives. Unfortunately there isn’t an Android app available yet.

Fling Delivers Instant Messaging Spam is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Prime Giving One Dollar in Video Credits for Slower Shipping

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Amazon Prime members often get a bevy of benefits including Prime Music, Prime Video, one free eBook a month and free two day shipping. If you live in rural areas where FEDEX subcontracts shipping to your local mail service or if you don’t mind waiting a few days, there is a new program. Starting today, if you order something online with Amazon and are an existing Prime member you will earn $1 in credit you can use to pay or rent videos.

In the past, Prime members trying to purchase something would see a few choices, such as free standard shipping, free two-day shipping, and one-day shipping at an extra cost. There is now a new option: “Free No-Rush Shipping (5-7 business days).”

In return for waiting the few extra days you will earn $1 whenever you make a purchase. The credits are automatically added to your account and are only compatible with Prime Video. This allows users to be able to purchase movies, television shows or use the credit to rent them instead.

Amazon Prime Giving One Dollar in Video Credits for Slower Shipping is a post from: Good e-Reader

Instagram Becomes Latest Snapchat Rival

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In the instant messaging game, everybody wants to be Snapchat; Instagram is no exception. With the launch of Bolt, Instagram has moved beyond images of what everybody had for supper and enters the world of instant sharing of photos and videos with your friends.

The interface is basically the same as we have seen in every competing app: one tap takes and sends a photo while your friends are able to reply with text, photos, or videos. What may be more surprising is that Bolt does not require that you have a Facebook or Instagram account in order to use the service.

While most people likely see this as Instagram trying to compete with existing ‘snap and share’ apps, the more likely reality is they are trying to maintain their stronghold in the photo sharing market so as to service and retain their considerable userbase.

So far you have to live in New Zealand, South Africa, or Singapore if you would like to demo Bolt –the developers have decided that these are the first locations targeted by their launch. If you are intrigued enough to give the app a try, keep watch as it is expected a North American release will follow shortly.

Instagram Becomes Latest Snapchat Rival is a post from: Good e-Reader

Macmillan Fully Commits to Library eBook Lending

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Macmillan started a limited US eBook pilot program for libraries at the beginning of 2013. The company only contributed titles at first from their Minotaur imprint to gauge market acceptance to their terms and conditions.  The publisher is very satisfied with the amount of capital they are gleaning their established relationships with 3M, Baker & Taylor and Overdrive.  This has prompted Macmillan to open up their entire catalog of 15,000 eBooks, including ones that just came out.

Macmillan is one of the those publishers that took ponderous steps to fully accept contributing their eBooks to libraries.  They originally started with around 1,000 titles from Minotaur Press and then in October 2013 contributed their vast backlist catalog.  This week the company has announced that they will also start selling their frontlist, which is a fancy way of saying any new book that comes out, even bestsellers.

All of the frontlist titles will be available for libraries in the United States to start purchasing in early August. It is important to note that each title is going to cost $60 each, which is well beyond the $9.99 cover price found on Amazon. Once the digital title is bought, it is only good for  52 loans or two years of library ownership.

Alison Lazarus, President, of Macmillan Sales comments: "Librarians have been asking for our frontlist titles for their collections. With more than a year of our current pilot behind us and a better sense of the market, we feel comfortable expanding our offering to our full catalog."

Libraries are clamoring for the oportonity to offer best sellers for all of their patrons, but the terms and conditions of publishers leave something to be desired. Simon and Schuster mandates that in order for libraries to buy their eBooks, they have to offer a BUY IT NOW button on their website. Macmillan is forcing libraries to pay almost $50 more than the cover price found on Amazon, B&N or Kobo.

Macmillan Fully Commits to Library eBook Lending is a post from: Good e-Reader

Facebook Messenger Will Require Standalone App

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Beginning as early as this week, Facebook will make it a requirement that you use their standalone Messenger app to send and receive messages (as they pull the plug on Messenger being supported from within their stock Facebook app). Generally, changes to Facebook are met with unhappiness among their users –but this time, the company is claiming it will help speed up the rates of response to messages sent out to your friends.

Facebook issued a statement regarding the move to a mandatory standalone app:

"In the next few days, we're continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they'll need to download the Messenger app. As we've said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences. Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we'll keep working to make it an even more engaging way to connect with people."

It can’t possibly be a coincidence that this separation occurred soon after Facebook acquired Whatsapp for $16 billion –it may be that the company is wanting to integrate additional features and functionality with the least impact to their core social networking app as possible.

Do you think this is a wise move for the social media giant? Are you more or less likely to use Facebook Messenger a result?

Facebook Messenger Will Require Standalone App is a post from: Good e-Reader

Make Secure Phone Calls With Signal for iOS

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Everyone is concerned about security these days, especially when our smartphones and tablets are so vulnerable (due in large part to their multitasking abilities and portability). You can put a passcode on your device to make it more difficult for the bad guys to gain access and you can transfer documents securely using encrypted apps, but how do you protect phone calls? Open Whisper Systems has an answer with their new app, Signal.

Using Signal is simple, beginning with adding a phone number and then confirming it with a six-digit confirmation code (sent by SMS or phone call). When a phone call is initiated between two participating users, a pair of words is shown (one on each caller’s screen). From there, the security words are exchanged and a secure connection is in effect.

During an interview with Wired magazine, Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike noted:

“We’re trying to make private communications as available and accessible as any normal phone call,” says Moxie Marlinspike, the hacker security researcher who founded the nonprofit software group. Later this summer, he adds, encrypted text messaging will be integrated into Signal, too, to create what he describes as a “single, unified app for free, easy, open source, private voice and text messaging.”

Initial tests conducted by media and beta testers unveiled a few bugs, but overall Signal performed as advertised.

Secure phone calls may be overkill for most applications –but it is easy to consider situations where it may be advisable, such as: calls between doctors and their patients, or lawyers and their clients.

Ready to start making secure phone calls? Download Signal – Private Messenger from the Apple App Store for free. Existing users of the Android RedPhone app can also take advantage of this secure calling technology.

Make Secure Phone Calls With Signal for iOS is a post from: Good e-Reader

Macmillan’s full frontlist eBook collection to be available for U.S. and Canadian public libraries

We are thrilled to announce that Macmillan Publishers will be adding its full collection of frontlist eBooks to OverDrive Marketplace for U.S. and Canadian public libraries.

This is an expansion of their March 2013 eBook lending pilot, which included Macmillan eBooks published 12 or more months ago. With addition of the frontlist catalog, OverDrive libraries will have access to over 10,000+ titles, including What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey, Beating Goliath by Art Briles, and Landline by Rainbow Rowell.

According to Macmillan's sales division president, Alison Lazarus, "Librarians have been asking for our frontlist titles for their collections. With more than a year of current pilot behind us and a better sense of the market, we feel comfortable expanding our offering to our full catalog."

The full collection of frontlist content will be available in OverDrive Marketplace in early August. We will post an announcement on the blog when the catalog is live.

These new additions will carry the same terms as current Macmillan titles: 52 checkouts or two years, whichever comes first. The frontlist catalog will be priced $60.00 USD and backlist content $40.00 USD.

As a reminder, Macmillan titles can be purchased by standalone libraries and consortia members who use OverDrive Advantage. You can view the complete lending terms here.

 

Nickelodeon Brings Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Android

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Whether you were watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a child alongside me, or you are seeing them for the first time as they regain popularity, I can guarantee that you have a favourite superdude. Nickelodeon is giving you the chance to play as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, or Raphael in an effort to launch Ninjitsu-style attacks that will protect the city against Shredder and his minions.

Beyond the awesome stars of the game, the interface is sophisticated enough to deliver a true feeling of being a martial-arts fighter (at least virtually, anyway). When an enemy is near, upward swipes will send them flying while a horizontal slide of your fingers will execute attack moves. If you manage to avoid getting hit, your turtle power meter will fill and the combo multiplier delivers fast mini-games (where you get the change to fight as a group with all 4 turtles) that add to the action and excitement.

The more you play, the more you can upgrade your turtle (I recommend choosing Leonardo, because, well… he’s clearly the best).

If you are excited by the idea of masquerading as a butt-kicking turtle, download Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now for $3.99 CAD (with additional in-app purchases available).

Nickelodeon Brings Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

Best Buy Admits Tablet PC Sales are Crashing

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The tablet industry is currently on the downward trend as customers start embracing ultrabooks, Chromebooks and cheap laptops.  Best Buy, one of the last chains of its kind has admitted that their tablet pc sales are starting to crash.

According to the retail chief Hubert Joly tablet companies are not giving customers a reason to upgrade. “Tablets boomed and now are crashing. The volume has really gone down in the last several months. But I think the laptop has something of a revival because it's becoming more versatile. So, with the two-in-ones, you have the opportunity to have both a tablet and laptop, and that's appealing to students in particular. So you have an evolution. The boundaries are not as well defined as they used to be.”

One of the big reasons Best Buy has noticed tablet pc sales flatlining is due to the concept of showrooming. This is where customers come into the store to see the devices in action and then purchase it from Amazon, Newegg or TigerDirect. Joly mentioned that they have started to price match online orders from Amazon and other companies, they really want your business and cited Geeksquad and in-store pickups as being compelling factors.

"Tablet PC demand in 2014 is being affected by falling demand for the 7" class in emerging regions and in China, where many local white-box brands have experienced lower-than-expected shipment growth," said Hisakazu Torii, vice president, smart application research at NPD DisplaySearch. "Most major brands have recently reduced their business plans for 2014. There is a risk that the replacement cycle for tablet PCs will lengthen beyond the one to two year range unless brands can develop more attractive usage scenarios."

Best Buy Admits Tablet PC Sales are Crashing is a post from: Good e-Reader

OverDrive Challenge success stories: Part two

Yesterday, we shared a few ways that the winners of June's OverDrive Challenge managed to increase their circulation in June by more than 25% or 50% over their previous best month on record. There were so many great ideas that we continue the series today with some more fun examples. Which of these creative campaigns can you adopt in your own library to help raise awareness and boost circulation?

Generate excitement in and around the library

"We created an in-library display of book covers that correlated with popular eBook titles and had a computer display at our checkout desks with information about OverDrive. We also reached into the community, sending a direct email to every city employee, advertising our eBook collection." – Heather G, Watsonville Public Library

"It was fortuitous timing that the main library closed for refurbishment in June, so we promoted the E-Library as a form of alternative provision during the closure. The photo shows a big board outside the closed library suggesting that people use eBooks during the closure – 'Don't forget the library in your living room.' In addition to these measures, we also invested a lot of money in new eBooks; created some featured collections; used social media (I got retweeted by Jenny Agutter!); and put up A5 posters among the books in libraries recommending particular eBooks with QR codes." – Helen W, York Libraries

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"At the West Boulevard Library, I created bookmarks to put in Adult and YA fiction titles that have an eBook in OverDrive.  I also created shelfmarker type signs that stuck out on the shelves that informed patrons we have eBooks and eAudiobooks." – Deshea J, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

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"Our most popular print books now all have 'Also available as an eBook' stickers on the covers. We also made a huge thermometer banner that hangs from the top of our second floor to monitor our eBooks stats during the Challenge." – Kirsten N, St. Albert Public Library

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Stand out on social media

"We identified early on that we needed at least 900 downloads to safely meet the 25% target, and invited our community to help us ‘crack 900 downloads’ in June. Our campaign was run mainly via our social media channels, particularly Facebook and Twitter. We used the hashtag #crackthe900 on all promotional updates/tweets, and created posters and social media profile images displaying that hashtag." – Athina M, Monash Public Library Service

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"In addition to an email blast, we posted regularly on Facebook. Here's one of our fun posts:

I know it is summer, but that doesn’t mean you should let your brain atrophy! In order to help your mind stay nimble, let’s practice a little math. Ready? Here’s a story problem:
The library has 2,776 followers on Facebook.
The library needs to check out 10,000 more eBooks and audiobooks this month to win some money.
How many eBooks and audiobooks would each follower need to check out this month to make sure the library succeeds?
Show your work (by heading to http://overdrive.lcplin.org/ and putting that library card to good use!)" – Julie B, Lake County Public Library

"This is our mascot Monte who encouraged our Facebook users to help us beat the Challenge! Monte is a donkey, in honor of our first county librarian who delivered books to extremely rural areas via burro." – Sharon C, Monterey County Free Libraries

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Feel free to leave your unique promotional ideas in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive

NPR One Provides Portal to Public Radio

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It is doubtful that anybody misses the days when listening to your favourite radio programs meant watching the clock and tuning in at a particular time. These days, life doesn’t have to revolve around radio schedules –using the NPR One app, you can tune in and start following the stories and news that matter to you (including local news that will be woven seamlessly into your audio stream).

Following in the footsteps of other customized and curated streaming media apps, like Pandora, NPR One gives you two introductory segments; once you are hooked, create an account and swipe your way through the presented audio (left to skip ahead, right to see your listening history). Want to hear something specific? Use the integrated search to find the programs you like best.

This is another app that evolves: tag stories as interesting so NPR One can learn what you like.

Technical features of the app are what you would expect: skip, rewind, pause, and share individual shows, stations, and podcasts. The user interface is described as sparse, but many will appreciate the short learning curve and ease of use this affords; simple is refreshing.

If you love public radio, start enjoying your favourite stations by downloading NPR One for free now.

NPR One Provides Portal to Public Radio is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sonic Pi Competition

Coding music on a Raspberry Pi with Sonic Pi has quickly become a great way to learn programming concepts and to pump out some thumping beats. Last year I worked with Dr Sam Aaron, live coder and academic at the University of Cambridge, to teach KS3 pupils text-based programming on Raspberry Pis as part of their ICT & Computing lessons. Since then Sonic Pi has proved incredibly popular in classrooms worldwide. The scheme of work we used is available for free in the ‘Teach’ section of our resources for any educator wanting to teach computer programming in a fun way.

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Since our classroom collaboration, Sam has been busy working on Sonic Pi version 2.0 and together we have been wowing attendees of Picademy with the potential of Sonic Pi for the classroom. We have also been working on Sonic Pi: Live & Coding, a digital research project funded by NESTA to turn a Raspberry Pi into a musical instrument with Sonic Pi, working with schools, artists, academics and the Cambridge Junction, which will culminate in a Sonic Pi: Live & Coding Summit this November. In fact, this week at the Cambridge Junction, 60 children have been participating in the project, having coding music battles, and jamming with musicians.

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Push Sam’s buttons and watch his eyes pop at Sonic Pi Live and Coding!

To coincide with the summit, we will be launching a Sonic Pi: Live & Coding competition in September to find the best original sonic pi composition created by a child or young person in three age categories. We will have 5000 Raspberry Pis to give away at random for those who take part, and the semi-finalists of the competition will be invited to perform their original work live at the summit in November in front of an audience and panel of judges to potentially be crowned the first ever Sonic Pi Competition winner!

So what are you waiting for? Download Sonic Pi version 2 for your Raspberry Pi by following these instructions, and then take a look at the Sonic Pi 2 article by Sam in the MagPi magazine, and our new Sonic Pi Version 2 Getting Started resource. Take this opportunity to practice and get a head start on the competition!

Get your pratice in for the Sonic Pi version 2 competition with our new resource.

Get your practice in for the Sonic Pi version 2 competition with our new resource.

The Advantages of an e-Reader

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Good e-Reader has been chronicling the e-reader industry right around the time Amazon released their second generation model and started to compete against Sony. We have seen the rise of Kobo, Nook and a host of European companies offer a dedicated device that was designed just to read eBooks. You would be surprised how many emails we get about the benefits of a dedicated e-reader when compared to a smartphone or tablet. Today, we look at some of the main ones, to help you in your quest to find the ideal device for  your lifestyle.

Long Battery Life

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I am a self-admitted gadget fiend, finding solace in new tech toys. One of the problems I have noticed with smart watches, fitness bands, smartphones or tablets is the deplorable battery life. You have to charge these puppies every single day, unless you carry around a solar charger or spare battery.

e-Readers such as the Nook Glowlight, Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Aura were designed to last a really long time. You could basically read every single day for a few hours and it will last about a month

It is all about the screen technology that powers the readers that make them last so long. e-Ink was designed to only draw power when the screen is refreshed. It draws no power when you are simply reading.

Reading in the Sun is Glorious

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I am sure everyone has run into the situation where you need to hunt around for a bit of shade and get out of direct sunlight. LCD screens tend to reflect light like nobodies business because the average screen has multiple layers.

Take the iPad for example, it has an in-plane switching (IPS), light-emitting diode (LED), liquid crystal display (LCD) that produces crisp, clear colors under normal conditions. It’s not laminated the same way the iPhone screen is, so it’s even slightly more reflective when it catches rays.

When it comes down to it most smartphones and tablets have a glossy screen. I believe most e-ink screens are optimized for a matte screen, which allows our eyes to relax in a more natural state. E-paper is not reflective by nature, so even under direct sunlight you can read a book perfectly, ideal for the beach.

Reading in the Dark is Rad – Tablets, well they might kill you

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When it comes to reading in the dark people often use their tablets or smartphones. This is one of the worst things you could possibly do.

If person uses any type of tablet that has a backlit screen, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire in the dark,  it can suppress the release of melatonin.  So what is melatonin and why is it a big deal? Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night and under conditions of darkness in both diurnal and nocturnal species. It is a "timing messenger," signaling nighttime information throughout the body. Exposure to light at night, especially short-wavelength light, can slow or even cease nocturnal melatonin production. Suppression of melatonin by light at night results in circadian disruption and has been implicated in sleep disturbances, increased risk for diabetes and obesity, as well as increased risk for more serious diseases, such as breast cancer, if circadian disruption occurs for many consecutive years, such as in night shift workers.

Reading at night is hardly advisable on a tablet, but is better with an e-reader. Most modern devices from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Onyx and Icarus all have front-lit display screens. Instead of the light emitting from behind the screen, like a tablet, the light stems from small LED lights on the bottom of the bezel that shine upwards. This gives you even light distribution across the entire screen,  illuminating all of the text.

e-Readers are Durable

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Let me be perfectly honest. I have a really expensive tablet, that cost over $1,100. When I bring it out in public it is hard to really enjoy it because I am so worried I might drop it on the floor, it might get pinched or I simply am absent minded and will lose it. So when it comes down to it, I often just leave it at home, instead of bringing it out. Same with vacations, its hard to chill by the pool or go on hikes and have it get wet or exposed to the elements.

e-Readers are fairly low cost. You could get a top of the line mode for under $129 and it could take more of a beating than tablets ever could. On our Youtube Channel we have done drop tests with most e-readers released in the last three years, they all survived. This is because they don’t have glass, they use e-paper and most of the bodies are high grade plastic. Tablets do have glass and they break or chip really easy. I mean, how many people have you seen out in public with broken iPhone screens because they fell a few feet and hit the concrete?

Wrap up

When it comes right down to  it, e-readers are far superior in battery life, are inexpensive and can take a beating. They are simply not a target for thieves and you can feel free to bring it during your commute, without people sizing you up.

Reading for long durations on an ereader is very easy on the eyes and studies have proven that tablets are really bad.

Have I missed anything? What do you guys prefer to read on, phones, tablets or e-readers?

The Advantages of an e-Reader is a post from: Good e-Reader

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Navigation and Syncing Updated in Kindle for iOS

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Kindle is already one of the most frequently used digital reading apps available for iOS, boasting access to over 1,000,000 books in the Kindle store in addition to hundreds of newspapers and magazines. While the existing interface was clean and easy to use, Amazon has implemented a number of updates in version 4.4 that promise to make sync and navigation easier.

One of the handiest new features is the ability to sync to the most recent page read. This means that all of your devices (whether they are iOS, Android or any device using the reading app and registered to your Amazon account) will agree on the last page you actually read (instead of just the furthest page). This is incredibly convenient when you read books like I do –needing to jump backward to remind yourself of past happenings in the volume and then continue from where you were.

Placeholders are also new, allowing you to flip around and explore new areas of your book without changing your current bookmark.

Finally, notes export is a fantastic tool for students and researchers alike. As you are reading, highlighting, and making notes, you can then email these items to yourself. Features like this are critical if electronic books are ever going to fully replace paper textbooks in classrooms.

If you are using an iPad or iPhone, you can download Kindle for your iOS device for free from the Apple App Store. If you are using an Android device, you can download Amazon Kindle (though you won’t see these latest updates in this version just yet).

Navigation and Syncing Updated in Kindle for iOS is a post from: Good e-Reader

Walking Dead Season 3 Coming to Android

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Telltale Games has announced that Season 3 of their successful Walking Dead series of games is headed our way. Less fortunate news is that there are no details being released (fellow fans of the franchise will be dying to find out of our beloved Clementine will once again be taking the lead role in this game as she did in the season 2).

The great thing about these Telltale Games titles is the sophistication in the gameplay. Your strategy is cumulative, meaning decisions you make in earlier episodes will carry through as you move forward. For those of us who are easily drawn in to complex storylines (while also sporting a love of zombies), addiction is nearly guaranteed.

We may not see this third installment in the Walking Dead series until 2015, but if you would like to be prepared, download The Walking Dead: Season One for Android and The Walking Dead: Season Two for free now.

Walking Dead Season 3 Coming to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon says $9.99 eBooks Make More Money

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Amazon has penned an open letter on their website which spells out their mentality in approaching the ongoing Hachette eBook dispute.  They primarily contend that selling eBooks at the $9.9 price point sells more copies and garners more money than titles that retail for $14.99.

In a written statement Amazon said “A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive.

It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that at the lower price, total revenue increases 16%.

Amazon also made the keypoint of exactly how royalties are pointed to be shared between Hachette and the Seattle based company. “While we believe 35% should go to the author and 35% to Hachette, the way this would actually work is that we would send 70% of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author. We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call.”

In closing Amazon said “Is it Amazon’s position that all e-books should be $9.99 or less? No, we accept that there will be legitimate reasons for a small number of specialized titles to be above $9.99.”

Amazon says $9.99 eBooks Make More Money is a post from: Good e-Reader