Monday, November 4, 2013

North Korea Launches Internet-Disabled Samjiyon Tablet

The US has a colorful history of exporting some of its pop cultural icons to oddly rave reviews in foreign markets. The French love Jerry Lewis, Germany loves David Hasselhoff, and North Korea loves…Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind?

Yes, the new Android-based tablet Samjiyon won’t have internet capabilities but will come pre-loaded with hundreds of reference and fiction titles, according to an article for the Washington Post by Andrea Peterson, who surmises that the North Korean culture just resonates with the concepts in the book:

“The e-book comes with an introduction that explains that the book is ‘particularly useful for understanding how modern capitalism spread to all of the United States’ because it shows how the exploitation of black slaves was the economic foundation of the American colonies and describes the Civil War as ‘a struggle between the bourgeoisie of the north and the landowners of the south,’” states Peterson.

She goes on to explain that the novel is a cultural indicator in the country, despite the fact that the movie is banned for public viewing, but used in English-language instructions for higher level diplomats.

The tablet itself is priced at around $250, meaning that most of the population can’t afford one and that it is a widely recognized status symbol. While the software and apps are reported to have a very North Korean market feel, the hardware itself is rumored to be of Chinese origin. The device debuted at the PyongYang trade fair around this time last year.

North Korea Launches Internet-Disabled Samjiyon Tablet is a post from: E-Reader News

Contest: Win a Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2


We have another official Good e-Reader Contest today for an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2! This e-reader was the one used for our drop test and has very minor cosmetic wear and tear! Our Youtube viewers asked us to give this away and are listening.  To enter the contest simply name all of the devices in the picture above. You can enter only once and we will do the draw this Friday at random. Good Luck!

Contest: Win a Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 is a post from: E-Reader News

eBook Review: Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren


Verdict: 5 Stars

You can keep your billionaire’s with their torturous red rooms any day…I want to hang out with the riotously hot characters in author duo Christina Lauren’s Beautiful series (Simon & Schuster).

In this installment in the series, nerdy grad student-slash-recluse Hanna Bergstrom is practically forced by her own family to agree to get out more, experiment with dating, build a social life, and essentially get her nose out of a book. Unbeknownst the Hanna’s brother when he sets her up to hang out with his best friend from college, Will Sumner, Hanna has had a crush on Will since she first met him at age twelve.

Now, at twenty-four, Hanna still comes across as the best friend’s baby sister to thirty-one-year-old Will. What begins as an experiment in understanding dating for Hanna and an obligation to his best friend for the notoriously womanizing playboy Will quickly turns into one of the hottest but most confusing relationships either of them has ever had, with neither one willing to admit that the “rules” they established from day one no longer apply.

True to form for books by these two authors, what follows is a confusing twist-and-turn that leaves you wondering if these two people can ever be happy together. Along the way, characters from other books in the Beautiful series make an appearance, with a few bombshells from those people dropped along the way.

Of course, it’s just not a sexy Christina Lauren title without a smoldering update at the end from their first power couple, Bennett Ryan and Chloe Mills, as chapter one of their next book is included at the end of Beautiful Player, available now.

eBook Review: Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Offers Discount on Kindle to Celebrate New FCC Regulations


Amazon has announced a discount on its Kindle range of e-readers and tablets to celebrate the latest FCC regulation that allows the use of electronic gadgets during almost the entire flight envelope. The Kindle Fire benefits from a 15 percent discount across its entire range while the basic Kindle ereaders too is now cheaper by $10 from its original $69 price. The special reduced prices are however only valid for Monday only.

“We've been fighting for our customers on this issue for years, and we are thrilled by the FAA's recent decision,” said an Amazon executive in a statement.

The new ruling marks an end to the usual practice of switching off electronic devices during take-off and landing phases, something that was often not followed. No more of such regulations now exists.

Amazon Offers Discount on Kindle to Celebrate New FCC Regulations is a post from: E-Reader News

MagPi issue 18 – out now!

Mail from the folks at the MagPi, the free to download magazine for the Raspberry Pi community, written by the Raspberry Pi community. November’s issue is out now.

This month’s cover star is Pi NoIR. You’ll learn much more about IR photography with Pi NoIR, find out what you can do with it, and why you might want to get your hands on one.

This month’s projects include a plant-monitoring system using a wireless sensor network, and more on interfacing with LEGO sensors and motors, this time using Scratch: an ideal project for beginners. The second part of Mod My Pi’s tutorial on using switches and buttons with your Pi is here, with plenty of other projects and tutorials on topics from the regular camera board to string streams in C++. You’ll find competitions, book reviews and much more besides.

Here at Pi Towers, we’ve been really interested to watch the development of Raspberry Jams and other Raspberry Pi events outside the UK, and were excited to find a report on the latest bilingual French/English Raspberry Pi event at CERN (I am dying to get to one of the CERN jams) in the form of an interview with one of the presenters, Google’s Bernhard Suter.

Raspberry Jam, CERN

It’s great to see from the events page how people are organising Pi activities all over the world now: you’ll see news about a Dubai Jam, as well as an Italian meeting – and plenty in the UK. And I’m all over a new series called Project Curacao, where John Shovic takes us step-by-step through the installation of an environmental monitoring system on the island of Curacao, just 12 degrees north of the equator. The Pi and its sensor equipment is hung from a radio tower, and is meant to deliver environmental information over a period of six months. John’s going to be talking about everything from powering and installing the project to programming it and interpreting its data.

I can’t believe how fast this month has gone. Enjoy this month’s magazine: as always, all the back issues are available for you to download and read for free at The MagPi team is always looking for volunteers to help with everything from writing to production, so get in touch via their website if you can help.

A Tale of Two iPhones: iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s

The weather is getting colder, and you know what that means—time to curl up with a new device and download some library books! (Oh, who am I kidding? It’s always a good time to download library books!) However, with the holidays just around the corner, it’s a good excuse to check out the latest portable offerings from that favorite technology company named after a fruit, Apple. Apple's release of new devices this fall is especially timely, as October is also National Apple Month! Who knew Steve Jobs was able to get that declared years ago?


Should you leave your old iPhone behind to pick a fresh one? Are Apple's new iPhones juicy enough to justify the expense, or are they just seedy? Is each model really different at its core, or did the Apple not fall too far from the tree? (Blame my mom for raising me on a steady diet of bad puns.)


The iPhone 5, released last year, has had two slight facelifts in the forms of the iPhone 5c and 5s, released this fall. The previous iPhone 5 has been discontinued at the ripe old age of one year as technology marches on. Both the 5c and 5s run the new iOS 7, with its simplified icons and different navigation functions compared to previous versions. Looking at the screen feels much brighter, especially to those familiar with the more photorealistic icons of iOS 6 and earlier.


Both iPhones have an impressive resolution of 640 x 1136 pixels on a four-inch screen with 326 ppi, and a video camera capable of recording sharp 1080p HD video. 1 GB of RAM makes running plenty of apps a breeze, so needing to reboot due to low memory (or perhaps running too many instances of Fruit Ninja) may be a thing of the past. That extra RAM also makes playing audiobooks or opening large graphic-intensive eBooks in OverDrive Media Console faster than ever.


The iPhone 5c is really just the iPhone 5 dressed up in a candy-coating of pink, blue, yellow, green, or white polycarbonate. Combined with the new iOS 7 icon design that some have compared to Chiclets, it looks delicious. The polycarbonate shell makes it lighter (and makes it feel slightly cheaper) than its aluminum predecessors. It is indeed cheaper—at $100 less than the 5s, you’ll be able to find it in 16 and 32 GB models. However, since it hasn’t been selling nearly as well as the 5s, that price may drop even more, as some retailers have already reduced the price through gift cards, rebates, and other promotions.


The iPhone 5s is an upgraded version of the iPhone 5, and is available in the exciting tones of silver, gold, and space gray, but it’s far beyond 1950s-era “space age.” Apple's new 64-bit A7 architecture is under the hood (as opposed to the iPhone 5 and 5c’s A6 chip), as is an M7 chip for apps that use motion sensor data. (I could pretend to be into fitness if it gave me an excuse to “test it out”). The 64-bit A7 processor will also be making an appearance in November as Apple utilizes it in the new iPad Mini and iPad Air, which we will look at in an upcoming review.


One of the more impressive upgrades is the camera—and I probably had more fun with the new Slo-Mo option than I should have! Pictures and videos are crisp, clear, and professional-looking. With storage available in 16, 32, or 64 GB, that's a lot of space for eBooks and audiobooks—and endlessly entertaining Slo-Mo video!


The 5s also includes a fingerprint reader, which I’m not about to try, lest I have a run-in with the turkey knife come Thanksgiving and accidentally lock out the iPhone 5s for anyone else who needs to use it. However, security-conscious library users may find peace of mind with this feature, especially if they are tired of typing in passcodes all the time.


Using OverDrive Media Console 3.0 is very enjoyable on both devices—response times are instantaneous, the Retina display makes eBook text look sharp, and audiobooks play back smoothly with no lag. Pictures in eBooks look identical to printed versions with not a noticeable pixel in sight. Additionally, Apple raised their over-the-air download limit to 100MB, allowing for the download of large picture-laden eBooks and audiobooks under that file size, so library lovers don't have to worry when they're away from a Wi-Fi connection.


With all the new content that’s available, it’s going to be a very happy holiday season! And with Apple's new devices being so intuitive, even your Granny Smith might have one on her holiday wish list.

Lots of Kindles on Sale

Amazon is running a promotion today only thanks to the FAA changing their policy to allow ereaders to be used throughout take-off and landing when flying. Amazon is cutting 15% off of the basic Kindle, the new Kindle Fire HD, and 7″ Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon is also running a separate sale for the Kindle […]

Chegg Stock Sale Is Good News for Digital Textbooks

Digital textbook rental company Chegg announced some time ago that they were taking the company public and inviting investors to come on board. While that’s a fairly common business strategy, joined recently by companies like social media giant Twitter, the current status of the stock sale is a positive sign for where the public and publishing industries are taking digital textbooks.

Priced at $11.50US per share and seeking the sale of 15 milCheggLogolion shares, that would put Chegg with $172.5 million to take the company in  a bigger direction. There is a provision in the stock prospectus for the number of shares to go even higher. At this point, Chegg is prepared to meet with potential investors and demonstrate what their intentions are, basically showing off the bang-for-the-buck that a sum like that would help them create.

It will be interesting to see what Chegg can produce with this level of investment can provide, given that Chegg already has over 180,000 titles in its catalog, with over 100,000 of those titles being digital textbooks, which it rents out for a semester at a time. Chegg has already created digital programs to help students with things like applications, financial aid searches and acquisitions, and more. The company estimates that around 30% of the college students in the US have access to material through its catalog, leading to its already 23% revenue increase this year.

Chegg Stock Sale Is Good News for Digital Textbooks is a post from: E-Reader News