Book.ish has announced they are putting the kibosh on eBook sales and will suspend them completely on June 30th. The company has acknowledged Readings, Fullers, Avid Reader, Mary Ryan's, Imprints, Books for Cooks and Gleebooks as being valued partners. Any eBooks that customers have purchased will still be available to read, for the near future. Book.ish was sold to Overdrive last year, and the company will focus on its HTML5 reading technologies for the future of online digital reading.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Flipboard has made one of the biggest updates in their two year history to their official iOS app. The new 2.0 edition there is more content than ever to enjoy, including a new partnership with Etsy. For the first time, you can collect and save articles, photos, audio and video by organizing them into beautiful magazines. These can be private, or if you want to connect with like-minded enthusiasts, you can make them public and share them on Flipboard and beyond. This is a huge boon for users who want to assemble their own personal collection of a wide array of multimedia content.
But Wait! These aren’t the only new features enabled on Flipboard 2.0. You can now comment on articles, tap the source's avatar in the lower left-hand corner, to reveal Flipboard Comments. Draw in other Flipboard users with @mentions, via Twitter. There is now subsections in partner magazines, newspapers and websites. On the second page of tablet editions, you'll find new sidebars listing subsections for easier navigation.
This is seriously, the hugest update Flipboard has ever brought and is available right now for iOS. There is no word yet if an Android update will be available soon, but we should see something fairly quickly. Now that Google Reader is abolished, services like Flipboard, Pulse, Pocket, Evernote and a myriad of others are all vying for alienated news readers.
April is National Poetry Month, sponsored annually by the Academy of American Poets. Here at OverDrive, we're always game for celebrating the written word, and Content Reserve offers a number of classic and contemporary titles to enrich your poetry collection year-round. Here are a few eBooks to whet your users' appetites for verse:
Hyundai seems to be in for the long haul with tablets. Reports about the company’s plans to launch a 10 inch tablet have been revealed. The Hyundai T10 will be a followup to the T7 that the company had launched a few weeks ago.
Specs wise, the T10 can be considered to be quite attractive, what with the device featuring a 1.4 GHz Samsung Exynos 4412 quad core chip, Mali 400 graphics processor, and 2 GB of RAM. The 10.1 inch display will have a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which isn’t so impressive in this age of high pixel counts. Hyundai has also stated the tablet will come pre-installed with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, though the update to Jelly Bean will be launched in just a month’s time. These apart, the T10 tablet will come equipped with Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi features.
However, what will be more interesting to know at this point is what the tablet will be priced. While no cost information has been made public as of now, there is no reason to believe it won’t have the same price competitiveness of the 7 inch Hyundai T7 tablet.
Samsung has launched a new enhanced version of its Ativ Smart PC Pro 700 that now comes equipped with LTE 4G radio for enhanced connectivity. Needless to say, the added functionality comes at a price. Quite a hefty one at that, with it being around $400 more than its Wi-Fi only version. The Ativ Smart PC Pro 700 in its non LTE avatar commands a price tag of around $1,199.99, though the same with LTE radio built in goes for $1,600.
Everything else with the hybrid tablet remains much the same. This includes an Intel Core i5-3317U processor with Intel 4000 graphics, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of flash memory. The 11.6-inch touchscreen display offers a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The tablet runs Windows 8 with Samsung claiming the tablet is able to support 8 hours of operation on a single charge. Also, of course, the tablet comes with a keyboard dock that allows the tablet to be used as a netbook device as well.
After a lot of swearing and arguing, we have managed to boil down nearly 700 entries to just ten winners. It was a very hard decision, and if you didn’t win please don’t feel too disheartened; we had some really exceptional entries for this competition and found it really hard to come to a final decision.
As you’ll remember if you entered, we were looking for camera projects which would involve the winners in writing some software and doing something interesting with the cameras. The winners, who will receive a rare-as-hen’s-teeth pre-production Raspberry Pi camera board, are (in no particular order):
Brian’s was one of several cat-thwarting project ideas we were sent, but we liked his best. Brian’s cat has a habit of bringing half-dead things home for his master through the catflap, and he’s been trying to deal with the problem by using a webcam/Arduino/PC solution with some custom Python code to detect feline mouthfuls of rat. He wants to replace the setup with a Pi and a camera module so he can get better framerate and better resolution at lower cost and lower power. (You’re right, Brian. Using an Arduino just to control a relay is overkill.)
We liked your Nerf gun idea, Brian, but we also felt sorry for your cat, so it’s the rat-detecting catflap we’d like to see developed, please!
We had several outstanding entries from younger contestants. Matthew’s was one of them. He’s 12, and has an idea for using the camera as a communication tool – we got very excited about this, because we can think of all kinds of useful applications for what Matthew’s planning to build. He says:
Matthew says he also has some ideas about using the camera in a one-player chess board. We’re really looking forward to seeing what he develops.
Ross is a postdoctoral fellow in a microbiology lab, who studies novel ways of combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. He tests compounds to investigate their effect on bacterial growth, and their ability to enhance the body's own defences against pathogens. One of the tests he uses on a daily basis involves exposing bacteria with white blood cells that are isolated from healthy volunteers. White blood cells represent the main line of defence against pathogens and will kill most bacteria they are exposed to, though by adding drugs Ross can either enhance or inhibit their bactericidal capacity.
The tedious part of these experiments involves counting the tiny colonies bacteria form on petri dishes after overnight incubation. Counting visually is time-consuming and prone to error. Ross’s winning project idea is to use a Raspberry Pi with a camera to count the colonies using ImageJ image analysis software with a custom colony-counting module. He says the small size of the colonies will make this type of analysis a challenge, but says that if he can get the system to work it would save his lab massive amounts of time, freeing up attention for more experimental work.
Sebastian’s working on an augmented reality project. He’s developing a cross-platform SDK that can recover the location and orientation of a camera relative to a known piece of the environment. The camera can be “taught” about local 3D objects, or “taught” to recognise 2D patterns. He wants to integrate the video stream from the camera into the SDK, then track a 2D planar pattern and display a virtual character on it, using the HDMI output to display the scene on an external monitor. He got our attention when he proposed doing this with a virtual model of a Raspberry Pi on the Raspberry logo.
Stephen works for a charity designing and implementing medical engineering training courses for developing countries. He specialises in medical devices, with a particular interest in equipment related to premature babies – such as incubators, monitors, and jaundice detection. He says:
Matt had a fantastic idea when researching building a theramin. A regular theramin gives you control of pitch and volume only, with two hands and two aerials. His competition entry was an idea for a camera theremin, where, using a camera and some machine vision instead of an aerial, both pitch and volume can be controlled with one hand, leaving the other one free to fiddle with synth parameters.
I did a little dance around the room when I read this one. Thanks Matt!
Amy is 11, and she has a really excellent blog that we’ve been enjoying at http://appler.net/amy/. She’s already a seasoned Pi hacker. She says:
We have a feeling that Amy will complete her project with flying colours. (And we’re hoping for some great pictures too!)
Andy’s project involves a life-sized robotic Dalek which he’s already built. Gordon was open-mouthed with awe and fear at the photo which Andy sent in:
Andy sent us the code for the Arduino-based Dalek voice modulator he’s been working on to demonstrate his chops; you can download it at GitHub. His camera application will use OpenCV to do facial recognition on the Pi, which will then drive two motors in the head to rotate the dome so that the Dalek can keep eye contact with a person while talking to them. (I can only think of one thing the Dalek is likely to say, but Andy promises us a much larger vocabulary than the usual “Exterminate!”) He plans to open source the results.
Adam’s entry made us laugh, but it’s got serious potential as a useful addition to everybody’s living room (and promises to build healthy relationships everywhere).
We’d love it too, Adam. And if you can now come up with something that outsources the argument about whether you watch Grand Designs or allow your partner to flick wildly between music TV channels for the next hour, we’d be even happier.
David Crawley (and the HackerDojo robotics team)
David is heading up a robot project at Hacker Dojo in Silicon Valley, which he describes as “a makerspace filled with free thinkers”. (I’ve never met a constrained thinker in a hackspace/makerspace. There’s something curiously liberating about milling machines.)
Hercules, Hacker Dojo’s Pi-powered robot, is newly under development, and is working through 12 challenges that David has set the team of volunteers, ranging from seeing and following a person, to delivering a cooler of beer (the prize for the team that accomplishes this is that they get to keep the cooler of beer), or driving around the Hacker Dojo for a week saying hello to known people, and finding and identifying a persona non-grata (this requires algorithms to efficiently move around the Dojo and find people who might be trying to hide, as well as doing all the person detection/ face detection/face recognition work). He says:
We’ll be watching to see how Hercules gets on with the tasks he’s been set once he’s equipped with his new eyeball!
Thank you so much to everyone who entered. We were pretty overwhelmed by the quality and number of entries; this is an amazing community packed with some amazingly smart people. We’re looking forward to hearing from all the winners when they’re further along with their projects, and learning how the camera coped in these very different applications.
According to an article by Leslie Kaufman for the New York Times, the negotiations amount to wanting more money for titles that the retailer stocks in prominent–and historically sought after–display space. The amount, size, and even inch-by-inch proximity of display space in physical stores has always been a hotly contested bargaining chip in contract negotiations between agents, publishers, and booksellers.
While the involved parties interviewed in Kaufman’s piece had to speak on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing negotiations, executives from both Barnes and Noble and Simon & Schuster were quoted about their standard policies for this type of contract issue. However, more vocal opponents of the tensions included two literary agents who spoke about the impact this can have on authors, especially lesser known authors who rely on every possible avenue for book discovery, including physical bookstores’ display space.
According to Kaufman’s article, “Laura Gross, the literary agent for the best-selling author Jodi Picoult, said the dispute had certainly hurt sales of her client's latest book, The Storyteller. Barnes & Noble has ‘taken limited orders, limited placement, and did not do the normal outreach to their customers online, which really hurt,’ Ms. Gross said.”
An author with the branding and readership that Jodi Picoult has can probably come away from a situation like these negotiations with her sales intact, as evidenced by her #1 NYT spot for her latest print release, but as Gross pointed out in the article, debut and newer authors stand to lose a lot in sales and fan growth, which will only perpetuate the cycle of bookstore and publisher demise. With dire predictions for the state of major publishers and with reports that physical bookstores are continuing to make cuts to floor space and retail locations, it doesn’t seem like a good time to alienate one’s allies.
Digg has outlined details of how it plans to come up with what it claims to be the perfect replacement for the Google Reader service. Digg is claiming it was already into developing a service that could be seen as something similar to Google Reader, though the search giant’s recent decision to withdraw its Reader service has only provided more impetus to Digg’s efforts. While it admits it amounts to a huge endeavor to build something as huge as Google Reader in so short a time span, it still exuded confidence in being able to come up with the RSS News Reader by the time Google Reader goes offline.
Towards this, it has also revealed how the company is looking at the entire thing, which it claims is focused around four central points. Digg has stated it is working hard to keep it really simple. Another aspect that Digg is emphasizing is putting emphasis on interoperability with various devices, while also ensuring existing Google Reader subscribers are able to switch over to the Digg offering with the minimum of hassle.
As for a launch date, the best that Digg could state is that it hopes to be ready by the time Google pulls the plug on its Reader service. So expect things to be set up and ready by the summer time!