Friday, September 27, 2013

New Raspbian release, and NOOBS v1.3 goes gold

Alex has produced a new Raspbian release, which integrates a number of recent improvements. Along with kernel and firmware updates, highlights include:

  • Sonic Pi is preinstalled so you can jump right in to learning to program while creating your own music.
  • Significant performance improvements to Scratch thanks to Tim Rowledge and Ben Avison.
  • A build of PyPy 2.1 is now included to allow you to try out this high performance Python JIT compiler. See here and here for some background on our work on PyPy.
  • Python libraries required for interfacing with Pi-Face are preinstalled. Once you enable the SPI kernel module in raspi-config you can leap right in.
  • The Oracle JDK is preinstalled – see yesterday’s announcement.

Due to the addition of Java, the standalone SD card image now requires at least a 4GB SD card, as with 2GB there’s not enough free space left to be useful. The image itself is sized at 3GB to reduce the time it takes to dd it.

But that’s not all!

Following last week’s successful beta test, NOOBS v1.3 has also been released. This is a major upgrade from v1.2, and realizes many of our ambitions for the system. Highlights include:

  • The ability to install multiple OSes on a single card.
  • Support for network installation of OSes from our repository.
  • Multiple “flavours” of Raspbian, including the ability to boot directly into Scratch.
  • Improved integration of language, keyboard and display settings between NOOBS and guest operating systems.

See the beta test announcement for an exhaustive feature breakdown. Thanks to Rob, Floris and Gordon for putting this release together, and to Liam and Pete at Mythic Beasts for the recent comprehensive overhaul of our image hosting infrastructure.

Next Issue Expands Digital Magazines into Canada through Partnership with Rogers Media


Consumers enjoyment of tablet-based magazine reading has grown over the last three years, and now one of the leading content providers is expanding its customer base to Canada. Next Issue, a subscription plan-based digital magazine distributor formed by several magazine publishers to provide unlimited access options to tablet users, signed an agreement today with Rogers Media, one of Canada’s leading platforms for this type of content.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with Rogers Media to bring for the first time the Next Issue experience to customers outside of the U.S.," said Morgan Guenther, CEO of Next Issue Media, in a press release. "In addition to its industry leading magazine titles, the Rogers organization offers unparalleled reach to consumers throughout Canada via its cable, wireless, broadcast, sports and Internet properties. We look forward to working with Rogers to ensure a seamless delivery of world-class magazine brands to new and existing consumers."

Like its US customers, Canadian readers will be able to choose from Next Issue’s Basic and Premium monthly memberships, which affords them access to unlimited reads from their plans’ selection of magazine titles. Basic members have access to all of the companies bi-weekly and monthly titles, while premium members can access all of those, as well as all weekly publications. Both memberships let customers read unlimited back issues of the catalog.

"The Next Issue platform is the future of magazine content consumption. Our investment in Next Issue signals a collective commitment to our digital future," continued Ken Whyte, the new president of Next Issuu Canada. "Next Issue Canada delivers added value with an all-you-can-read experience. It retains the best of print while making the content come to life vividly, giving readers a more personalized, interactive experience. As a result, the magazine of today is even more powerful than the magazine of yesterday."

Next Issue Expands Digital Magazines into Canada through Partnership with Rogers Media is a post from: E-Reader News

Microsoft Developing Reader for Windows 8 for eBooks and eTextbooks

New Surface tablet computers with keyboards are displayed at its unveiling by Microsoft in Los Angeles
Microsoft is working on a major Windows 8 app that will be a boon for people with RT Tablets and wanting major functionality for eBooks and PDF Files. The most exciting aspect of this new program out soon is the PDF support and the ability to reflow text to navigate through PDFs easily on a touchscreen. Textbooks demo will allow readers to look at tables and interact with various parts of the content was also shown.

One of the most exciting elements about this new app is the intergration with the Surface Pro Pen. It will allow users to circle, underline, highlight, and make notes on any document. The notes are then stored and listed in a side panel in each document. Microsoft’s Office team has also partnered with Bing to augment document content with data from the search service. You can simply select a name or section of the document to then search and receive information in a right-hand sidebar. The results are displayed in a very similar way to Windows 8.1′s integrated Bing hero search.

Extensive document support has been going on for years with Microsoft OneNote. It has not gained the traction the company would have liked, but it is starting to branch off and start to unify their apps. Not only is their a tablet version of the new Reader for Windows 8 but they are working on “Office Lens” for Windows Phone that lets you take a picture of a whiteboard and then automatically scan and convert it using optical character recognition.

All of these new apps are looking to have a early 2014 release date.

Microsoft Developing Reader for Windows 8 for eBooks and eTextbooks is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital Comics Bargains for September 27, 2013

Fables 1

This week brings an amazing digital deal on Kindle, Nook, and comiXology: The full run of Fables and its spinoffs Cinderella, Fairest and Jack of Fables, as well as the crossover The Literals, for 99 cents an issue. This series brings fairy tale characters into the real world, after they are driven out of their own realm by a dark antagonist. What’s great about Fables is that it takes familiar characters and puts them together in unexpected ways, keeping enough of the original story so that it all seems logical. Writer Bill Willingham has been constructing this complicated tale for over ten years, working with artist Mark Buckingham and a host of other creators, and there are also several spinoffs: Fairest focuses on the ladies of Fabletown, and Jack of Fables is the adventures of Jack Horner, who has grown up from a mischievous boy to an entertaining, if not always lovable, rogue. You can start with issue 1 or jump into any story arc. ComiXology’s sale ends Monday night at 11 p.m.; Amazon and Nook are vaguer.

If you’re in more of a superhero mood, comiXology is also holding an X-Men: Inferno! sale, offering a variety of X-Men titles for 99 cents each, but act fast, as it ends Friday night at 11 p.m.

And finally, comiXology has a good handful of Godzilla graphic novels on sale for $3.99 to $4.99 through Sunday night.

Dark Horse Digital ushers in the weekend with a Crime Sale that features an eclectic array of comics and graphic novels, including Frank Miller’s Sin City, Bryan Talbot’s Grandville, and the Eisner Award winning Blacksad. Sherlock Holmes, the Green Hornet, and the Green River killer also make appearances, and for those who like plenty of action, dames, and two-fisted justice, there are two collected volumes of the Golden Age title Crime Does Not Pay

No new sales at eManga, but their September Switch promotion, in which you can get a free digital manga if you start an account with them and can prove you bought a volume of manga from another digital provider, is going on through October 13.

Digital Comics Bargains for September 27, 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News

Kobo Aura’s Screen Has Visible Pattern, and is Darker than Aura HD

The Kobo Aura is the latest 6-inch ebook reader from Kobo. It has a really cool edge-to-edge screen that isn’t recessed in the front frame like other ebook readers. This gives it a sleek tablet-like look. It’s also the first Kobo ereader to use a capacitive touchscreen, which adds some extra zooming options and other […]

Digital Reading Hinders Children’s Literacy

ipad kids

eReading was supposed to be a benefit that revolutionized reading, stripping away barriers such as access to books and bookstores, high prices of new titles, and the inconvenience of carrying books around. Some of the original critics of e-reading were parents of young readers who worried that device-based access to books would lead to opting for other digital activities besides reading, and now, a report by Nielsen Book has confirmed that those fears were somewhat grounded.

According to an article for UK-based The Bookseller by Joshua Farrington, “‘Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age,’ Nielsen Book’s latest research project, has found a significant fall in the number of children who read or are read to on a weekly basis, with the proportion of occasional and non-readers among children aged under 17 now at 28%, rising from 20% in 2012.”

Farrington continued:”The research shows that children’s reading is being affected by alternative activities, such as playing games, watching videos on websites like YouTube, and texting. During the past year, children’s access to tablets more than doubled over the previous year. The devices are being used for a range of activities, but reading is considered one of its least important uses. Only 20% of children use tablets for reading e-books, while 6% use them to read magazines and comics. Jo Henry, director at Nielsen Book (pictured), said: ‘This dramatic drop in engagement with reading (seen in the context of an 8% drop in the number of books bought for those aged under 17) in the first half of 2013 will give pause for thought for anyone involved in children’s publishing, particularly at the older end of the market, which has seen the greatest decline.’”

The paradox is that the number of children reading digitally has increased even while those who do not read in any format has also. In addition, a growing number of students in different age groups report that the only format they read in is digital.

So is the device actually to blame? Among the students who opt to use tablets for something other than reading when given the chance, would those students really read a book if they were provided with a print edition, or would they simply shun the activity altogether in favor of something they found more entertaining? While it is easy to attempt to correlate that research findings with the availability of tablet-based activities, the link between entertainment and education cannot be attributed quite so simply.

Digital Reading Hinders Children’s Literacy is a post from: E-Reader News

Video Review: Amazon X-Ray on the iPad


For the first time ever, X-Ray for Books has transcended Amazon branded devices and has crossed over as an app update for the iPad and iPhone. This neat little feature gives you a list of all the terms, people, places and things in any given book. You can get a sense on the popular phrases and objects in a book, such as cars, yachts or even food. When juggling many books at once, you can be brought up to speed on the entire cast of characters and get biographies on them. Over the course of the video, we show you exactly how it performs.

X-Ray for the iPad is just one of the new features found in the latest iOS7 Kindle update. You can now add the same book to multiple collections, adding more flexibility in managing your growing cadre of books.

Video Review: Amazon X-Ray on the iPad is a post from: E-Reader News