Several years (decades) ago, when I was in high school, I remember teachers rather snidely telling us that we needed to learn all of these things because “it isn’t like we will be walking around with whole computers in our pockets.” The sassy teenager in me desperately wants to go back in time to wave her smartphone in their faces right about now. That same teenaged girl would have loved PhotoMath, an app that lets you use your smartphone’s camera to scan images of math problems from your textbooks.
Sure it lacks some of the old-school charm that those brick-sized Texas Instruments calculators had (I’m hoping at least a few of you can picture what I mean without having to use Google), but with the press of a button you can bridge the gap between hovering the viewfinder over your math homework and seeing the correct answer on the screen.
Math and science teachers are going to have very mixed feelings about this app. Usually their first retort is to point out that the answer is meaningless without showing the steps required to get you there –but PhotoMath shows you those too. That makes it a pretty fantastic cheating tool, but also a pretty remarkable teaching and learning one as well.
Initial reviews of PhotoMath are a little mixed, stating the app easily handles simple equations but can struggle with those that are more complex (though I’m certain this will improve with time).
Unfortunately for those using Android devices, PhotoMath is only available for iOS and Windows Phone right now –but a compatible version has been promised to us in early 2015.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
It seems like the mobile device market is moving faster than ever, a point proven by yet another launch even this fall –this time it is BlackBerry with a round of enterprise branded announcements. CEO John Chen will join a few of his top executives in San Fransisco on November 13, intending to debut a selection of hardware and software. Given the theme, we may be lucky enough to see the release of their much-anticipated BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12 (that includes the company’s updated mobile device management solution).
It wasn’t that long ago that we last saw BlackBerry up on stage, with their Passport launch event happening this past September. That event brought consumers the Passport, which may be an unusual looking smartphone, but initial responses have been positive. To appease BlackBerry loyalists who may be less interested in something that looks so different, the Classic was also shown off (but not released) earlier this year, offering users the QWERTY keyboard they love combined with the touchscreen they need in this modern day… so maybe it’s time for a true launch now.
Last, but not least, BlackBerry users should expect to see the release of OS 10.3.1. This is especially good news for existing OS 10 devices that haven’t yet received the 10.3 update as they can dive right in with 10.3.1.
Keeping up this momentum may be the way BlackBerry stays afloat and corrects their course in this mobile marketplace. For those of us who really enjoy a Canadian technology success story, let’s hope it isn’t too late.
BlackBerry Plans Enterprise Event For November 13th is a post from: Good e-Reader
Apple seldom gives people a reason to upgrade to each new iteration of the iPad. The last major breakthrough was the Retina Display that made its way to the iPad Mini and iPad 4. This allowed readers to enjoy high-definition comics, magazines and digital media that Android users have been asking for awhile. Is the iPad 2 a worthy investment if you already have the one that launches last year?
Apple’s iPad Air 2 contains a new chip called the A8X, an SoC that’s faster than the A7 in the original iPad Air or the iPad Mini 2 and 3 and the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple would only say that the chip’s CPU is about 40 percent faster than the A7 and that it has a GPU that’s 2.5 times faster. It also has 2GB of RAM to keep things speedy on a hardware level.
In practice, the iPad Air 2 is capable of running programs usually seen on laptop computers. This includes the impressive video-editing capabilities of iMovie and the newly launched app Replay that synchronizes photos and videos to music. The processing boost also comes into its own when playing big-name games like FIFA 15, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, or the 1GB download Asphalt 8: Airborne.
One of the new features, not found on an Apple tablet before is Touch ID, the easy-to-use fingerprint reader introduced on the iPhone 5S, which makes security better and is needed to use the new Apple Pay service for buying things without using a credit card or typing in a credit card number. Apple Pay only works when making in-app purchases online, not in stores. Could you imagine waving your tablet around in a store? Anyways Touch ID is even more useful now than it was before; iOS 8 enabled third-party developer support for the fingerprint sensor, so you can use it to access sensitive account information or passwords.
When it comes to cameras, I can’t stand to take photos on my tablet. I have been using iPads since they first came out and buy each new generation. I don’t think I have ever taken a single picture, but than again I am likely not the target demographic. The iPad Air 2 steps up to 8MP resolution, whereas the iPad Air 1 only had a 5MP rear facing camera. The new camera has a Image Signal Processor (ISP) as part of the new A8X chipset. On the software side, the new camera comes with Burst Mode, as well as slow-motion video capture in 720p at 120fps. There’s still no LED flash on front or back this time around, however.
Here's what the iPad Air 2 doesn’t have: A higher-resolution screen, a bigger screen, longer battery life, a snap-on keyboard, Beats Audio, better speakers,or a lower base price.
Apple Introduces new SIM technology
Apple has introduced a new way to change carrier companies for data plans without having the swap out the SIM card. This convenience is limited to just a few countries and carriers at launch — Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T in the US and EE in the UK — but over time, the selection of willing operators may improve.
The way this works is an option in the settings menu for internet access. You can change who you deal with on the fly and the SIM is automatically changed to the carrier you want to deal with. This may pave the way for incentives to keep people loyal or special events to get everything to switch to your company at once for a limited promotion.
The Apple iPad Air 2 has a staggering resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Nothing much has changed since the iPad 4 and this tablet is still the flagship model that companies turn to, for HD content.
For example, Comixology a few years ago developed a new HD comics standard called CMX HD. This dramatically increased the resolution and vibrancy of digital comics. SD comics often take up about 80 MB of storage, but HD editions often are as large as 300-400 MB. This is a privilege only Apple users enjoy, and has still not crossed over to Android, due to the fragmentation of screen sizes and varying degrees of resolution.
Apple was able to ultimately trim down the iPad by using a laminated, optically bonded, no-gap display similar to the ones used on the iPhone and even the Microsoft Surface tablets. Not only does the new panel save vertical space by eliminating any gaps of air between the display layers, but it also makes the screen significantly less reflective. This is meant to reduce the amount of glare hitting the screen, whether you’re reading in direct sunlight or watching movies under harsh fluorescent lights. I’m happy to report that it works as advertised
The iPad Air 2 is not worth the upgrade if you already have the Air 1. Aside from the enhanced hardware, better camera and Touch ID, there simply isn’t anything compelling. The Absence of NFC relegates Apple Pay to being able to make App Store purchases, without having to type in your password. This might be useful for busy households with kids, who you don’t want them racking up thousands of dollars with Candy Crush micro-transactions.
The Air 2 is worth it to upgrade to, if you have a three or four year old Apple Tablet, you will notice a dramatic improvement when it comes to reading, but you are better off buying the iPad Air 1 if you can get a good deal on eBay or your local tech store.
9.7-inch, 2048×1546 display with 264 ppi
Anti-reflection screen coating
Very Minor Upgrade
|Now that the Kindle Voyage has been released, it’s time for a comparison review between it and the Kindle Paperwhite to see if the Voyage is worth spending an extra $80. Both ebook readers have all the same software features. It’s the hardware differences that separate the two. Both have 1GHz processors and 4GB of […]|
The complete modern generation of Amazon tablets and e-readers have begun shipping today to customers who have placed pre-orders. This includes the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Fire HD 6 and HD 7, Kids Tablet and the HDX 8.9.
Amazon originally announced their complete modern lineup of devices on September 17th and actually never orchestrated a media event for it, which was a stark departure from previous product releases.
The Kindle Basic Touch was the only e-reader that Amazon actually shipped out a few weeks ago and has been getting fairly solid reviews. We did a bunch of comparisons against the 2013 Basic edition and also the Paperwhite 2, and it actually is a viable investment if you have an older Kindle and want to upgrade.
Spec wise, there is not a compelling reason to buy the HD6 and HD7 if you have the Fire tablets that came out last year. The resolution on the HD7 is a paltry 1280 x 800, whereas the model that came out last year was 1920×1200. The only modern device Good e-Reader recommends is the Voyage and Basic Touch, there is a solid reason to upgrade to both of these if you have older e-ink based readers.
You work hard to bring readers to your digital library, and we can help. OverDrive APIs are just for that: by integrating with library OPACs, APIs help to expose your digital titles to more readers and make searching and browsing for titles a breeze.
More than 1,650 libraries use OverDrive APIs within their library OPAC, enabling 1.3 million checkouts to date in 2014. OverDrive’s API usage has been soaring each quarter this year, in part thanks to integration with third party vendors such as Boopsie, SirsiDynix, Polaris Library Systems, and Innovative Interfaces Inc. Check out more fun facts including the top API users, reader habits, and top rated users in the infographic to the right (click for full size).
Matt Enis of Library Journal recently wrote an article about how readers are accessing eBooks and other content, and how OverDrive APIs work hand-in-hand with library websites. Read the full article, here.
|The new waterproof Kobo Aura H2O was released at the beginning of the month. Yesterday I posted a PDF review and a comparison between it and the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s taken awhile for me to post reviews for the H2O because the new Kindle and Fire HD 6 arrived first, and I had to focus […]|
On Saturday December 6 (we’re letting you know ahead of time so you’ve got absolutely no excuse for not finishing your build in time), there’s going to be a special event at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam, held at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. Pi Wars is a robot competition: unlike the televised Robot Wars you’ve seen in the past, though, nobody’s robot is going to be destroyed. There are a number of challenges to compete in (none of which involve circular saws, which will please some of you and sadden others), some additional prizes for things like innovation and feature-richness – along with the Jim Darby Prize for Excessive Blinkiness, and more. We’re absurdly excited about it. You can listen to Mike Horne, the organiser of the Cam Jam (and writer of The Raspberry Pi Pod blog, and occasional helper-outer at Pi Towers) explain more about what’ll happen on the day, on this episode of the Raspi Today podcast.
Mike’s expecting people to come from all over the country (it’s amazing how far people travel to come to the Cam Jam – I bumped into friends from Sheffield and from Devon at the last one). It should be a blast. We hope to see you there.
I was thinking about Pi Wars this morning, when an email arrived from Austria, complete with some robot video. Dr Alexander Seewald used a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino to build a tiny little robot, small enough to fit under the sofa, to rummage around and rescue his two-year-old daughter’s lost toys. (I do not have a two-year-old daughter, but I do have cats, who take great delight in hiding things under the sofa. Once, horrifyingly, we found a mummified burger down there. It had been some months since we’d eaten burgers. I could use one of these robots.)
The robot has a Pi camera on the front, with a nice bright LED, so the operator (using a tablet) can see where the bits of LEGO are. The voiceover’s in German, but even if you don’t speak the language you should be able to get a clear idea of what’s going on here.
Dr Seewald has made complete instructions available, so you can make your own ToyCollect robot: there’s everything you need from a parts list to code on his website (in English). It’s a nice, complete project to get you started on building a robot that has some use around the house – let us know if you attempt your own. And see you at Pi Wars!
Onyx has been making e-readers for the last five years and has recently expanded their portfolio to include an e-ink based smartphone. The company is expanding into the smartwatch arena, and unlike the Pebble, it will have a true e-ink screen.
The new prototype features a 1.56 inch e-Ink display and is bundled with a plastic wristband. It was designed to be waterproof, so it should be able to deal with the daily trials and tribulations.
The Onyx smartwatch can synchronize with a phone over Bluetooth, includes a pedometer for tracking steps, and has three buttons on the side of the device for navigating watch faces, menus and other settings.
One of the obvious benefits of the SOSMART watch is the fact it has true e-ink display. This should dramatically increase the battery life, because the screen does not draw power unless activity is occurring. The Pebble, likely the poster child of smartwatches only has a two day battery life, the Onyx should last a month.
Charbax from ARMdevices got a chance to check out an early prototype at the HKTDC show in Hong Kong recently, where he found out that future versions of the watch could include touchscreens, GPS, and other features.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Simon and Schuster has just reached a new agreement with online bookseller Amazon, and empowers the publisher to once again establish their own prices on eBooks. The deal has been in the works since July of 2014, and has remained under the radar, as the Hachette saga has taken center stage.
One of the benefits of the new contract is that the royalties that authors earn will remain the same. It also allows S&S to determine the pricing of eBooks and print titles, but allows Amazon to give discounts as they see fit.
Simon & Schuster titles also will be well promoted on Amazon's website, a source close to the situation has said. The contract that had been in place previously was set to expire in two months.
Amazon on Monday evening confirmed the deal, adding, "The agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers."
Over the course of 2015, Amazon has new contracts to negotiate with Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and HarperCollins. The Hachette dispute has been ongoing since May of 2014, and has still not been resolved.
Simon and Schuster Signs New eBook Deal with Amazon is a post from: Good e-Reader
|The Kobo Aura H2O is the latest ebook reader from Kobo, and while the Kindle Paperwhite isn’t new, it’s still apart of Amazon’s lineup moving forward, so let’s do a comparison review between the two today, and then compare them with the Kindle Voyage when it gets released tomorrow. The Kobo Aura H2O and Kindle […]|
|The Kobo Aura H2O is mainly an ePub and Kobo ePub (.kepub) ebook reader, but it also supports PDF files as well as CBR and CBZ comic files. When it comes to PDFs and comics, Kobo ereaders don’t offer a lot of features but they do offer enough to be functional. A tablet or something […]|
|While working on the Kobo Aura H2O review, I came across a tip mentioned at MobileRead that enables the option to turn off the header and footer from displaying to enter full screen reading mode. The full screen option works with both Kobo ePubs (.kepubs) and regular sideloaded ePubs. Personally I’ve always been annoyed by […]|
Barnes and Noble is orchestrating the first annual the Readers’ Choice Newsstand Awards. This new program looks at the best magazines published over the last year and allows users to vote on the most compelling ones. Each category has four nominees to choose from and all nominated content will be available to be read for free online with a browser based reader or on your smartphone or tablet.
All of the magazines that Barnes and Noble has selected for the Newsstand Awards will receive a special in-store promotional display at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide for the print edition during the open voting period. If you have a Nook branded tablet, upon visiting the newsstand you will get a chance to check out all of the nominees.
Throughout the voting period, which occurs from October 20th to November 19th, readers can enter into a sweepstakes for the chance to win a fantastic grand prize of a trip for two to New York City and a $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, as well as other great prizes including $100 Barnes & Noble Gift Cards and Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK devices.
I think organizing a contest centered around magazines is a solid idea. There is certainly no shortage of movie, music and television awards. Once in awhile we have awards for the best author or best book, but seldom do we see anything for magazines.
The Newsstand Awards will accomplish a few things. It will give people a chance to discovery the online web-browser to read digital magazines, giving people a reason to subscribe. It also serves as an introduction to the Nook ecosystem of magazines, something that is rarely promoted. Finally, it is interesting simply to check out the shortlist of magazines that the editorial staff at Barnes and Noble has selected.
Before traveling, many people have rituals. Making To-Do lists, scouring Yelp or other review sites, reading travel guides, praying to Saint Anthony, and buying tiny bottles of shampoo are common practice. My rituals include getting as many kitten snuggles as possible and reading some of the regional literature of my destination.
I'm going on a trip to the south next month so I've been reading a collection of stories by Flannery O'Connor and plan to re-read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter before I leave. Even when I'm not planning a trip, works of regional literature can make for a fantastic armchair vacation.
Below you will find a collection of lists focused on U.S. regional literature. Are there any other categories you would like to see on this list? Do you have title recommendations we should add to any of the collections? We would love your input!
We're always happy to create any custom lists. Email firstname.lastname@example.org more information today!
*Please note that title availability may vary by geographic location and platform.
Rachel Kray is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive.
In a sea of mobile games with the now traditional match-3 styling (think Bejeweled), Sony has released its Fat Princess: Piece of Cake game. By matching gems (showing either cake or images corresponding to the four character classes: sporting warrior swords, ranger muskets, worker bombs, and priest healer) you can work to defeat the invading army using the attacks they bring about.
It’s the kind of game that could be addictive, but it’s not quite there yet. While many games feature a brief tutorial-mode when you first begin, I found that the intro to this game is so slow it’s almost painful; you have to complete quite a number of levels before the handy hints and descriptions stop interrupting your flow. If they could speed up the pace, it would be a lot of fun to play.
As an added bonus for those with a Sony Playstation 3: reach level 15 with your princess and you will get a code that gives you access to download Fat Princess for your console at no additional cost (as long as you also have vaid Facebook and Sony Entertainment Network accounts).
Fat Princess: Piece of Cake is free to download and play, but there are a number of in-app purchases like power-ups and character upgrades that will help you rescue the princess a little faster.
Sony Releases Fat Princess: Piece of Cake Android Game is a post from: Good e-Reader
Only true fans of Marvel comic books will be familiar with Big Hero 6, at least until Disney releases their upcoming animated film based on the series next month. Based in imaginary city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 is based on a team of crime-fighters led by Hiro Hamada and Baymax (his robot). Ahead of the movie, Disney Interactive has built a Big Hero 6-themed mobile game that will be available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone on November 3.
When you hear that the game allows players to collect hundreds of bots and evolve them into higher forms, it’s possible you won’t need to hear more before you move to the edge of your seat. Using a match 3 style, players will do battle with their enemies by matching colored blocks together. It may sound exceedingly simple, but Disney Interactive producer Scott Humphries promises that the game will involve “strategy and depth,” making it complex (and probably addictive). Plus, it stars robots.
If you want a sneak peek into the game, as well as the Big Hero 6 franchise, check out the game-play video from TouchGameplay below.
Disney Big Hero 6: Bot Fight Game Coming to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader
Unlike the intensely flawed process for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus a few weeks back, Apple is successfully offering pre-orders for their recently announced iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets. Of course, calling it a pre-order is a bit misleading when customers can expect their tablets to ship within 2-4 days, arriving as early as October 23.
Pricing for the new iPads really hasn’t changed from previous versions, with a starting cost of $499 for the 16GB Air 2 and $399 for the 16GB Mini 3 models. If you want a little more storage, 64GB and 128GB models are also available in both sizes –all of which appear to still be available with a quick shipping time (and for once, colour doesn’t seem to play a part in how quickly you get your new device: with the silver, gold, and space grey all ready to go).
First impressions of the new iPads were pretty underwhelming, but it will be interesting to see if this changes at all once they are actually in our hot little hands. If nothing else, having Touch ID would be really nice –it’s amazing how that feature makes you wonder how you ever lived without it once you’ve given it a try.
It is pretty clear that Apple wanted these tablets out the door as soon as they were able, and while it seems they have done a good job… it may not be sitting as well with the hoards of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers who are still waiting for their smartphones to arrive after pre-ordering the devices over a month ago.
Last week saw the London Film Festival open with the premier of The Imitation Game, a film which chronicles the awe-inspiring work of Alan Turing cracking the German naval Enigma machine at Bletchley Park, Britain's code breaking centre during WWII.
Alan Turing was a man of startling intellect and one of the founding fathers of computer science. After his work at Bletchley, Alan Turing went on to make significant contributions to the development of ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and later on the Manchester Mark 1 at Manchester University. Turing was a mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and also a marathon and ultra-distance runner (all qualities to which I can only aspire and fail to measure up on every count). Of course, the tragedy of his life is how he was persecuted and prosecuted for his sexuality, which ultimately led to him taking his own life. This injustice was eventually recognised by the British Government in 2012, leading to a posthumous pardon by HM Queen Elizabeth in 2013. To this day Alan Turing remains one of the most notable figures in the development of computing in the UK.
As an undergraduate at King's College Cambridge, Alan Turing studied mathematics. It was during this time he did his seminal work on computation. Turing devised a methodology of describing hypothetical abstract machines, and demonstrated such machines are capable of performing any mathematical computation if it could be represented as an algorithm. Turing machines are a central object of study in the theory of computation. Building on this earlier work in 1949 Turing proposed an experiment, the Turing test. In this test Turing attempted to understand and define the basis of machine "intelligence". Turing's assertion was that a computational device could be said to be “intelligent” if a human interrogator could not distinguish between the responses from the machine and that of another human being, through conversation alone. To this day the Turing test continues to spark debate around the meaning of artificial intelligence, so in homage of his work we've created an educational resource – a whole scheme of work for KS2 and KS3 – for teachers to explore the Turing experiment.
At Bletchley, Turing had a bit of a reputation. He was nicknamed "The Prof" in recognition of his curious mannerism, his intellect and his understanding of computation. Here at Pi Towers, we are keen on all things computing, and we are always looking for ways to grow the next generation of Turings, so in conjunction with ARM Holdings and Oxford University we are proud to support and sponsor the UK Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge.
The Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge is open to all schools in the UK, for pupils from Year 2 to Year 13, and runs during the week beginning November 10. The challenge is free to enter, takes about 40 minutes and is completed online. If you are not sure what to expect, you can have a go at questions from previous year's competitions here, but if you are interested in taking part in this year's competition your school must register by October 31. Not in the UK ? Don't worry, this is only the UK chapter of an international competition, so you can find out your national organising body at the Bebras site under countries.
It doesn’t matter how successful the launch of Apple Pay is, consumers and retailers are going to need some time to see how it works before they fully trust and then adopt the service. It is with this in mind that Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue made the statement that he expects the largest portion of Apple Pay transactions will be generated by in-app purchases.
This seems less like clairvoyance though, when you consider that the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 can only offer Apple Pay for in-app purchases –likely due to the lack of a near-field communication (NFC) antenna… meaning there are lots of iOS devices out there that don’t have any other options. Add to this the fact that most brand-loyal iOS users are already used to paying for in-app purchases on their device without pulling out their wallets, and it seems like a logical way for people to dip their toes in the Apple Pay waters.
Initial experiences will mean a great deal when Apple Pay launches today along side iOS 8.1, as they will go a long way toward making consumers either comfortable or nervous. Many credit and debit cards from major payment networks include American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are lined up to participate in the service. In addition, several banks have partnered with Apple including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Capital One.
Are you excited to try Apple Pay?