Monday, May 27, 2013

Tablet and Touch Based Notebooks Emerge as the Future of Personal Computing


The entire personal computing segment is in the midst of a tectonic shift with the general preference shifting big time towards mobile and portable devices. The desktop device seems to be on the way out and its place is being taken up by the laptop or notebook brigade. That's not the complete picture though as both in turn run the risk of losing some serious market share to the tablet PC segment, if not being marauded entirely. Analysts with the research firm DisplaySearch predict the mobile PC market could be worth 762.7 million devices in 2017, a steep jump over the 367.6 million devices that were shipped in 2012. No points for guessing, it's the tablet devices that has emerged as the preferred device for personal everyday computing. Another notable shift in consumer preference is the increase in demand for touch enabled devices.

The corresponding figures for tablet devices are 579.4 million devices shipped by 2017 while the same for 2013 is like to be around 256.5 million units. That consumers are hooked on to touch based devices can be ascertained from the research finding which claimed shipment of touch enabled notebooks are expected to increase by 48 percent by 2014 in spite for the entire notebook segment as a whole is poised to decline 10 percent within the next 4 years. Also, among the notebook segment, the ultrabook shipment is expected to make up two-third of the touch enabled notebooks to be shipped in 2013.

DisplaySearch findings though point out a not too exciting future for Windows 8 claiming the Microsoft operating system won't emerge as the deciding far in procuring a new touch based notebook.

Thus far, Windows 8 has had a limited impact on driving touch adoption in notebooks, due to a lack of applications needing touch and the high cost of touch on notebooks,” said Richard Shim, a senior analyst at DisplaySearch. “Form factors aimed at differentiation from standard clamshell notebooks will help to drive consumer adoption of touch-enabled notebook PCs, starting in the second half of 2013.”

Tablet and Touch Based Notebooks Emerge as the Future of Personal Computing is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital Comic Review: Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness


Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness is a graphic novel prequel to the movie Star Trek into Darkness and, like that film, is set in the J.J. Abrams version of the Star Trek world, in which a young Captain Kirk runs the Enterprise with a crew that will be familiar to fans of the original TV series.

That said, you don’t have to be any kind of a Star Trek expert to enjoy this graphic novel. The action is straightforward and the story stands well on its own, although it does seem like a very typical Star Trek story: Kirk, Spock, Sulu, and a redshirt travel to the surface of a planet on the flimsiest of excuses. Supposedly, the planet Phaedus is at the same level of technological development as the ancient Romans, and the Prime Directive of the Starfleet is that their personnel not interfere with the evolution of more primitive civilizations. Kirk and his crew are therefore taking a risk by visiting in their shuttle, but when they arrive, they realize that the interference has already occurred—from a previous captain of the Enterprise, Captain Robert April.

April has brought Starfleet technology (from an intergalactic fence) to the planet Phaedus to help fight a civil war in which one group is cruelly dominating the other, but the story rockets forward with plenty of twists and turns from there. The crew members of the Enterprise get themselves into, and out of, a number of tight spots using their usual combination of ingenuity and teamwork, and the story packs in plenty of action as well as a satisfying ending into a relatively short space. The art is clear and easy to follow, and artist David Messina does a nice job of varying panel sizes and styles to produce a cinematic effect without letting the layouts get too confusing.

This is a collected edition of a four-issue miniseries that was released earlier this year, and there are several different ways to buy it, with varying prices: The Kindle edition is $11.99, and the comiXology and Nook versions are $9.99. You’ll save two bucks, though, if you buy it as single issues on comiXology: The first issue is free, the second is $1.99, and the third and fourth are $2.99 each.

Digital Comic Review: Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness is a post from: E-Reader News

eBook Review: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini


Verdict: 5 Stars

I wish I could be as good at anything as Khaled Hosseini is at storytelling.

The highly anticipated third novel, And The Mountains Echoed (Riverhead Books), which set records for print and digital pre-orders through online retailers, is again set primarily in Afghanistan and again features powerfully impactful characters. And again, as with his other novels, Hosseini’s complex characters and the vivid backdrop of the beguiling region won’t leave the reader any time soon.

This title opens with a young son, Abdullah, unknowingly accompanying his widowed father as he takes Abdullah’s young sister, Parwana, to be sold to a wealthy family in Kabul. That one event sets in motion myriad ways that nearly a dozen characters’ lives are interwoven. Uncles, servants, businessmen, even relief workers to the war-torn area have their stories laid open in a seemingly disjointed way, only to have the reader turn the page and discover that what would be strangers are actually crucial background players in one another’s lives.

What could be a criticism of Hosseini’s book, the fact that each new chapter opens with only a date and not a name, really only serves to further demonstrate his master storytelling skills. Within a few paragraphs of each new chapter, most of which are being narrated by a new voice, the reader not only understands who is speaking but also how he plays a role in the story, without needing to have it spelled out.

And The Mountains Echoed is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and more.

eBook Review: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is a post from: E-Reader News

IR filter shenanigans

There’s a question we’ve been asked very frequently about the camera board. A number of you want to use it for night-time photography, and ask if we can remove the IR filter. Notably, London Zoo are planning to deploy the camera board and Pi in a number of camera traps in Africa, where they’ll be looking for nocturnal animals and for poachers. The problem is, we source the sensor/lens package as a sealed unit from Sunny, so we don’t have the option to remove the infra-red (IR) filter, which is sandwiched inside that unit. This causes trouble for those of you who want to take low-light pictures of wildlife, or for security or astronomy.

Over at Reading Hackspace, Gary Fletcher (also attached to London Zoo, and planning to use a Pi camera in his role at the Horniman Museum aquarium for detecting the night time spawning of corals, which he hopes to deploy in Guam in just over a month’s time) mailed us to ask about the filter. Eben didn’t hold out much hope for manual removal of the filter, but suggested that some very careful scalpel work might achieve results. If you attempt this, be aware that it’s not really a supported option, and that if you try you may break your camera board. (Gary, Barnaby and team did break the first board they attempted this with.) Also, be careful around IR sources if you’re playing with IR photography – the human eye doesn’t have a look-away or blink reflex associated with IR, and you can damage your eyes if you stare at a very bright IR light.

We think the results are worth it, though. Here’s some instruction and illustration from Reading Hackspace, with special thanks to Barnaby Shearer. First of all, here’s a howto video.

This video demonstrates IR pickup: you can watch the tip of a soldering iron change colour as it heats up.

Another demonstration, this time of night vision. The scene is illuminated with the IR from a television remote control.

Finally, here’s a demonstration of the pattern of light from a Kinect, filmed with the filter-less camera board.

The usual warnings apply, but if you do decide to try this yourself, we’d love to see the results. A huge thanks to Gary, Barnaby, and all at Reading Hackspace for being prepared to imperil a camera board, and for all the helpful video!

US Publishing Industry Might Soon Be Infecting eBook Pirates with Malware


The Publishing industry in the United States may soon be infecting ebook pirates with Malware. A new report proclaims a dire need for new tools that would allow for the photographing of the pirate using his own system's camera, implanting malware in the their network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker's own computer or network.

The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property has just released a new report that paints a dreary picture of a very evasive campaign to wage war against people who pirate ebooks and other forms of media. Instead of going through the court system, which costs a copious amount of time, energy, and money, the document advises to go after the root of the problem, the end user.

One of the suggestions the document makes is, “If an unauthorized person accesses the information, a range of actions might then occur. For example, the file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user's computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account. Such measures do not violate existing laws on the use of the Internet, yet they serve to blunt attacks and stabilize a cyber incident to provide both time and evidence for law enforcement to become involved.” In essence, a pirate commits theft and has to report the theft to the police in order for them to regain access to their computer and likely to pay a fine.

A number of countries currently employ similar tactics to cope with the problem of piracy, free speech and political movements. China, Iran, the UAE, Armenia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Burma, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam all employ cyber warfare tactics against their own people and to exterior forces. It is not so outlandish to think that the US entertainment industry could legalize this, too. After all, SOPA was a precursor to legalize all of this and narrowly avoided being signed into law.

For the last decade, book publishers have been doing business with 3rd party companies to stem the tide of ebook piracy on the internet. They basically set up fake and legitimate book torrents and then contact the ISP to serve the user with a legal letter. This process normally run in conjunction with the six-stage warning system, that members of the MPAA employ. It basically zeros in on repeat offenders and a myriad of nasty consequences ensue, depending on what country you live in.

Torrents are often used for intelligence gathering by the 3rd party companies and then fed to the publishers. Book publishers are all too aware that their electronic offerings are being downloaded on a massive scale. In the UK, personal file-sharing is being monitored by the major labels and movie studios, but no one ever gets punished for doing so. 'Strike' warnings will often get sent out to repeat offenders, but usually result in no legal action for a private individual.

The next time you get the urge to bypass buying an ebook the legitimate way and instead download it from a Torrent website, think about the next stage in the game. Tracking cookies and your computer ID is already known to the publishers and in the not too distinct future, your computer may be hi-jacked, destroyed, or held hostage.

US Publishing Industry Might Soon Be Infecting eBook Pirates with Malware is a post from: E-Reader News