Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Marvel Offers Free Guardians of the Galaxy Digital Comic


Marvel is offering four free digital comics to introduce readers to the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy, and they have two good reasons to do that: A new Guardians of the Galaxy series, written by Brian Michael Bendis, launched just last week, and there’s a Guardians movie in the works for next year.

The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in 1969, as a team of warriors from different planets, each the last of his or her kind, fighting to save the solar system from aliens called the Badoon in the 31st century. That series ended in the mid-1990s, and in 2008 a new Guardians of the Galaxy series was started by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, using existing characters from Marvel’s Annihilation: Conquest crossover event. These are the modern Guardians. Marvel’s problem, at the moment, is that these characters who will be starring in a big movie next year are relatively unknown to the general public.

Enter the digital comics. Each of them will focus on a different character. Bendis told Entertainment Weekly,

Each one is sort of a prologue to the very first issue that lets the readers know who these characters are and what their individual goals are outside of the team. What makes Gamora tick? What secret is rocket raccoon hiding? What cost comes from being one of the galaxies most famous warriors like Drax the Destroyer?

The first, featuring Drax the Destroyer, is available now from comiXology. These comics are part of Marvel’s Infinite Comics line and are made to be read on a tablet; most of the time, a single panel fills the page (sometimes with a second panel as an inset) and a swipe may bring up new word balloons or pictorial elements or a new page altogether. This is a completely different way of reading comics; rather than turning from page to page, the reader stays on a single panel for a while and it changes on each swipe.

On an iPad, the art is big and easy to read. Unfortunately, the art is weak in places; one early panel, in which Drax is drinking from a goblet, is so distorted it looks downright Cubist. The story is straightforward—Drax is hanging out, a trio of beings challenges him to a fight, and they battle for a while before he kind of blows everyone up. The fight scenes are a bit reminiscent of the old Batman TV series, with crazy angles and big sound effects like CRASH and BAM splashed across the page. Once Drax has beaten his challengers, some guy comes along and tells him he is needed on Earth; the Guardians are being reassembled. By the end of it I don’t know that much more about Drax than when I started; he’s a tough guy who usually wins in fights, but then, in superhero comics, who isn’t? Still, it’s a neat little comic, and there are some nice touches; it’s well worth a look just to see the story unfold in a new way.

Marvel Offers Free Guardians of the Galaxy Digital Comic is a post from: E-Reader News

Barnes and Noble Names Book Award Winners

Barnes and Noble hosted a ceremony today in New York where they announced the winners of this year’s Discover Great New Writers Award. The award, first presented in 1990 and now in its 22nd year, is bestowed on new and undiscovered authors whose work has great literary merit.

This year’s fiction category winner is Amanda Coplin for The Orchardist, while the non-fiction winner was Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, published by HarperCollins and Alfred A. Knopf, respectively. Second and third place honorees in the fiction category were Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles and The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; the non-fiction second and third place winners were Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen.

In addition to the monetary awards presented to each of the top three honorees in both fiction and non-fiction, these titles, along with other mentionable works, will be featured in promotions from Barnes and Noble. The goal of the award and the inclusion in the honor is to enable readers to more readily find these works that may otherwise have been lost among the many titles sold by the online retailer, especially as more entities are working to address the obstacles to book discovery.

This award parallels the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, which are open to a decidedly more self-published pool of authors. The ABNA awards have finished the first-round cuts and will continue through different stages until the final presentation in late spring.

Barnes and Noble Names Book Award Winners is a post from: E-Reader News

Google Nexus 7 Review

nexus 7

The Google Nexus 7 is one of the only pure vanilla Android tablets on the market and boasts a bevy of hardware enhancements that put most other devices to shame. One of the benefits of buying this edition over the Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD is the fact you aren’t locked into one particular ecosystem. How does this tablet rank against the competition and is it a viable e-reader?


google nexus 7

The Google Nexus 7 features a seven inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280×800. The resolution overall is fairly solid and videos looked a little bit better than the Apple iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD. One of the strongest elements this tablet has going for it is the processor. It crushes all other e-readers on the market with a Nvidia Tegra 3, quad-core 1.3 GHZ processor. In conjunction with 1 GB of RAM, you can multitask to your heart’s content and not experience stuttering while watching videos or turning the pages in ebooks.

There are two models available in either a 16 or 32 GB edition. There is no expandable memory, so you will have to ensure that you buy the one that suits your needs. Not being able to put in your own SD card might be a deal breaker for some, but most computing these days has your data in the cloud. Often high resolution comic books, movies, television episodes, and magazines are 200 to 500 MB each. If you deal with companies such as Amazon, Comixology, or Google, all of your purchases will remain on your account if you purge them from your device.

The Nexus 7 has plenty of extras that are sure to impress. You can get the stock WIFI model or opt into the HSPA+ 4G edition. It has Bluetooth, NFC, two microphones, and a front facing 1.2 MP webcam. Battery life is fairly solid at around 9.5 hours and will generally last a week with casual use and the screen dimmed.

The overall design feels like a generic Android tablet, with no distinctive features that make it really stand out in a crowd. If you put this down on the table next to many different devices that have been released over the years, it would blend right in. At least most Nook, Kindle, Blackberry, and other brands really do stand out.

Performance wise, the Nexus 7 trounces the competition. It is very hard to beat this tablet’s high resolution and processing power. Plus, many people really like a seven inch device that is lightweight and easy to carry around.


google now nexus 7

The Nexus 7 features a stock Jellybean 4.2.2 Android operating system. You won’t find any of the bloatware that accompanies most devices issued by HTC, Samsung, and Acer. This will ensure that when new iterations of Android are released in the future, this model should get them first.

One of the most exciting elements that this tablet possesses is Google Now. This is a brand new feature with Jellybean that gives you a SIRI type of voice navigation. You can open up websites and get your tablet to open up common apps. There are also widgets called “Cards” that in the stock version give you bus-stops near your house, the weather, and places to eat near your house. There are a number of other ones you can easily install, such as sporting events. Google Now is one of the best new features found in Jellybean and really enhances the OS.

Google Play is celebrating its one year anniversary and has claimed an app library of over 700,000 and over 5 million ebooks. There are plenty of movies, music, apps, and magazines that you can purchase. Most is US only, which may alienate people who live in Canada and other international markets. Still, Play has the largest selection of Android apps in the world and it is fairly easy to find anything you want.

One of the problems with Android is the fact most first party developers don’t produce content on it. Android piracy is out of control and it doesn’t take very long to find paid games online. This is the main reason why iOS appeals to mainstream companies as a viable avenue to generate revenue from their paid content.

Most tablets released in the last six months do not have the latest version of the Jellybean Android OS. The Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD, Kobo Arc, and many other e-reading devices do not ship with the latest OS. Most say they will eventually upgrade, but many people are still waiting. There is a great appeal in going with a vanilla tablet without having to root your existing device.

e-Reading Experience


The Nexus 7 makes a very good e-reader if you are looking to read pure text. If you are checking out ebooks or other apps like Pulse, Google Currents, or even Google Books, the reading experience is great. More image heavy content does not translate well on a seven inch screen. For example, comic books, magazines, and newspapers are often too small to effectively read.

If you are into ebooks, there is a huge selection found in Google Play. You can easily find Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Sony, Aldiko, Marvel, PressReader, Zinio and other apps. You have a great deal of choice in deciding what companies you want to do business with and can often buy content from different businesses to hunt for deals. Google tablets really allow you to have flexibility in the reading apps you want to download.

One of the downsides of going with Barnes and Noble or Amazon tablets is that you are locked into their ecosystems. Their own curated app markets do not let you download reading apps from their competition. Your only option is to sideload content onto your Kindle Fire, and with the Nook HD, it’s not even an option, as they lock you out of loading in your own apps.

The seven inch screen may have great resolution, but comic books are often lackluster. Even with Guided View or zooming in on specific panes on graphic novels or comic books, you are squinting your eyes to read the text. You are often made to pinch and zoom every single frame, which gets tedious. The comic book experience is indicative to how magazines and newspapers also look.

In in the end, if you are just reading ebooks and content without heavy images, the Nexus 7 may be for you. If you tend to read more content with images, you might want to go for an 8 or 10 inch model.

Wrap Up

wraup up

The Nexus 7 has a ton going for it. It is rare to find an Android tablet with no bloatware and no superfluous content to bog you down. Many people are obviously really drawn to Android and the ability to craft your own experience. The Nexus 7 blends high performance hardware with solid resolution to make movies and web content look amazing.

You will be hard-pressed to find another Android tablet that has the great price and high powered specs that this one does. You aren’t locked into any one content distribution system and can enjoy a pure and open experience.

On the downside, this may not make the most ideal e-reader if you are buying this to consume magazines, newspaper, comics, and RSS feeds. The screen is basically too small to effectively consume this type of content and you may elect to buy the iPad Mini, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, or various 10 inch devices.


Great hardware
Amazing resolution
No stuttering with multitasking
Optional 4G model
Movies look great


No expandable memory
32 GB is often not enough in today’s world
e-Reading suffers due to small screen

Rating 8/10

Google Nexus 7 Review is a post from: E-Reader News

The secret origins of Google's Chrome OS

Many people know that Chrome OS is based on Linux. But where did Google's operating system actually come from -- and what is it made of today? Here's its story.

The Command Line is Your Best Friend

The command line can either be your best friend, or your worst enemy. It simply depends on how you use it, and what you use it for. If you're one of the many people who cringe at the mere thought of using the command line, then you've come to the right place!

Get Ready to Shake at Digipalooza 2013

Here at OverDrive, everyone's counting down the days until Digipalooza 2013 (#digip13). Our fourth international user group conference takes place August 1 to 4 in Cleveland, and some members of our team just can't seem to contain their excitement.


We  hope to see you in August for education, networking, and fun. To register for Digipalooza, click here.


Don't miss: "10 Reasons to Register Now for Digipalooza 2013"


Michael Lovett is Public Relations and Social Media Specialist at OverDrive.


March 6, 1992: False Alarm

The doomsday that wasn't: MS-DOS users are quaking in their boots over reports that the Michelangelo computer virus has infected their computers and is going to wipe out all their data on this date.

comiXology Submit – Self-Publishing Program for Digital Comics Goes Live


Aspiring graphic novel and comic book writers often don’t have many avenues to self-publish their works and have them available in major digital stores to sell. comiXology announced today that its new comic self-publishing program has exited the beta phase and has officially opened to the public.

comiXology originally announced its move into the self-publishing market back in October 2012, at the New York Comic Con, when it unveiled its comiXology Submit program. Since November, the platform was in closed beta, where it allowed authors to publish their works and sell them side by side with major studios like Marvel and DC. The program will allow creators to submit their work directly to comiXology for publication on its digital platform, which stretches across the web, iOS devices, Android, Kindle Fire, and even a Windows 8 app.

Digital Comics staff writer Brigid Alverson of Good e-Reader asked, “So why does comiXology Submit make sense? For creators, it's an opportunity to get their work onto what is currently the biggest platform for serious comics fans. Furthermore, comiXology takes its cut on the back end, as a percentage of sales, so creators don't have to pay up front. Graphicly, a former digital comics distributor that now offers a similar self-publishing service, will publish for free on the web (and take 30% of sales as its share) but charges $150 to make the comic into an ebook and $500 to create an app. ComiXology takes 50% of sales, but there is no upfront cost. (All these percentages are what's left over after certain outside fees, such as Apple's 30% cut of all sales that go through iTunes). So essentially, comiXology assumes some of the risk; it could publish these comics and not make a dime. And while it doesn't make a separate ebook or app for each comic, it does put them in the comiXology storefront, which is the biggest digital comics store in existence right now.

More details of the program will be revealed next week at the South by Southwest show in Austin. Creators interested in submitting works for approval can visit Comic book fans interested in finding works by independent creators now available on comiXology are invited to visit

comiXology Submit – Self-Publishing Program for Digital Comics Goes Live is a post from: E-Reader News

News Corps Launches Student’s Tablet for $300


Amplify has announced the launch of a 10 inch Android tablet designed specifically for the student community. Amplify is the education sector of the Robert Mudroch owned News Corps, and the device will act as the perfect platform to extend its student oriented services at the K-12 level. The tablet is being heralded as a device that will carry forward the technological leap the educational sector is witnessing and is being considered an absolute necessity towards creating the best learning environment. Amplify offers what it prefers to call “blended learning,” a term coined to signify the perfect cocktail of traditional and tech based teaching method that has been created by former teachers.

“If we didn't see a dramatic technological change, we were not going to be able to move this country forward,” is how Joel I. Klein, the chief executive at Amplify and a former chancellor of New York schools, justifies the inclusion of tech based teaching methods.

Coming back to the tablet, it will cost $300 in its Wi-Fi only state, while the 4G LTE compatible models have been priced $350. A two year subscription of the educational service that Amplify offers will cost an extra $100. The bezels are done up in bright orange, perhaps a bit of an unusual color choice for a tablet that is not aimed at children. That said, the tablet does look good with its simple screen layout. However, the mischievous be fore-warned. The tablet has enough surveillance capabilities built-in to track down wandering eyes with an “eyes on teacher” prompt popping up to ensure students stay focused on what the teacher is saying. Amplify has also identified the ample scope that educational games provides to teach students a few good tricks or tips. Towards this, the tablet also allows for some game playing as well, though only for outside the class.

While all of the above does sound good, what could hamper large scale adoption of the Amplify tablet is its price. Klien believes funds via Education Department’s Race to the Top grant program could come in handy here. It will be interesting to see if that is how things work out.

News Corps Launches Student’s Tablet for $300 is a post from: E-Reader News

Recantha’s only gone and made a tricorder.

I’ve been waiting for…ooh, just over a year, for someone to do this. Recantha, an old hand here in the comments and on the forums, has built a tricorder.

There surely can’t be anyone here without a passing familiarity with Star Trek, but just in case: the tricorder is a made-up thing used by the crew of the Enterprise to measure stuff, store data and scout ahead remotely when exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilisations, and all that jazz. Despite its made-up-ness, the tricorder remains a terribly desirable thing. I’ve always wanted to be able to tell whether my planet is M-class or not.

Recantha has bodged together his home-made tricorder using a Pi, some sensors (two for temperature, and one each for magnetism and distance), an LCD display, some switches, a light-resistant resistor, a thermistor and an Arduino Leonardo clone. We hope he keeps adding sensors to it, and maybe, later on, a camera board, until he runs out of space. How about a Geiger counter (this one already works with the Pi)?

Here’s a spot of video explaining what everything on the Picorder does:

(Best of all, the whole thing is cased in LEGO.)

And here’s some more video, showing the thing in action.

If you’re interested in reproducing or building on this project, Recantha’s blogged about it (he has an excellent website, all about Raspberry Pi), and has left a guide to the project over at Pideas, the new site for collecting Raspberry Pi projects. (Go and add something of your own!) Thanks very much for this, Recantha; our office costume parties will now have a dash of added realism. Jamesh has drawn the short straw and will be dressed as Nog.

First Look: Word 2013 Tutorial

The first lessons of our new Word 2013 tutorial are now available. Be one of the "first" to check them out!


Readers of a certain age are in for a shot of delicious nostalgia today. Back in the dawn of time (i.e. the 1990s), many of us had our first taste of multiplayer gaming in text mode, playing things called MUDs, or Multi-User Dungeons. MUDs are where games like World of Warcraft and virtual worlds like Second Life have their roots – and they were enormous fun.

Duncan Jauncey wrote something called Alternate Universe MUD ten years ago, and he’s just ported it to the Pi.

If you want to relive some of the text-based fun you had back in the 90s, head over to Duncan’s website, where you’ll find some more information and installation instructions for your Pi.