Any smartphone or tablet user knows that few things are as terrifying as a low-battery indicator; something many of us see entirely too often. During the keynote at the annual Google I/O conference, we learned that the upcoming Android “L” release will have a Battery Saver (under the codename “Project Volta”) –but how exactly will it do that?
Google claims to have a few tricks up their sleeve, as Battery Saver has a number of features and functions that could deliver up to 90 additional minutes of usage:
Battery Historian – Lets you measure the specific impact that apps and activities have on your device’s battery life. While the Battery Historian may not be able to make many changes directly, it could definitely help diagnose a problem or pinpoint an app that is causing your battery to drain.
Job Scheduler – Queue activities that are not time sensitive so devices wake less often and battery-intensive tasks lay in wait until you are connected to the charger. Using the JobScheduler API, developers can also combine non-urgent network requests from multiple apps and keep the radio asleep as much as possible.
Battery Saver Mode – Clock down the CPU, minimize the refresh rate of your screen and limit background data.
While it may seem like a small thing, if Battery Saver works as advertised it will be among the most valuable updates to my smartphone.
Android “L” Promises to Increase Your Battery Life is a post from: Good e-Reader
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Care and concern for our health is one of the few things that we all share with each other –everybody has fitness goals of one sort of another and we all want to be the healthiest version of ourselves that we can (at least in theory if not in practice). Google announced their effort to help us achieve these goals in the form of Google Fit: an open platform that includes a single set of APIs serving to give developers access to a method of combining the results from any other apps and companion tracking devices. The result? Google Fit provides users with a well-rounded picture of their health.
It isn’t yet known what the front-facing version of Google Fit will look like, but it is expected to aggregate statistics for many health-related things like weight, diet, heart rate, blood sugar, and exercise (all with the user’s permission, of course).
As part of today’s announcement, it was revealed that many partners (such as Nike, Adidas, Withings, RunKeeper, and Basis) are already on board and ready to work with Google Fit.
No matter whether it is Google Fit or Apple’s rival HealthKit, there is a certain feeling of comfort knowing that in the foreseeable future when our physician asks us what medication we are on, how much we have slept recently, what we may have eaten or how much exercise we have been getting… we will have a meaningful (and truthful) series of answers.
Overdrive is currently the largest digital distributor that libraries in Canada, US, UK and Australia employ to fill their catalog with audiobooks, eBooks, music and video. The company has announced a series of new initiatives that will make librarians lives easier in managing their collections and enhancements to the Overdrive Media Console.
One of the pitfalls of managing a physical or digital collection is having the buy the titles in advance, under the one loan, one use model. Librarians really need to understand the needs of the community to make sure their content appeals to the widest demographic possible. Lets face it, if you want to get hundreds of new fiction and nonfiction titles, you will have to pay thousands of dollars to purchase books patrons might not even use.
Overdrive is developing a new solution called the cost-per-checkout (CPC) model that allows libraries to make available a supplier's entire catalog of titles, but only incur a charge when a user borrows a title. The company intends on rolling this out across the board, but is starting modestly with their recent deal with Warner Brothers for streaming videos.
There are new catalogs that will be available soon that libraries will be able to purchase. Graphic novels, manga (English and Japanese) and popular children's eBook series and picture books using EPUB3 with fixed layout. Overdrive is also putting a priority on hooking schools up with deals who order multiple units. Finally, they are going to launch consortia-friendly programs to enable Advantage titles to be migrated from individual libraries to shared collections, as permitted by publishers and suppliers.
The Overdrive Media console app for Android, Blackberry, iOS and a myriad of other platforms is the tool patrons use to read eBooks, listen to audiobooks or watch videos. The main pitfall is the Adobe Digital Editions step to insure that the title has been legitimately borrowed or purchased. The vast majority of patrons are not super tech savvy and may not understand the process. The Media Console app will receive an update this summer that will remove the Adobe step and also add synchronized audio narration with text, dictionary support, and other features beneficial to students and researchers.
"We are constantly innovating in response to requests from libraries and users. This includes libraries that are disappointed with competitor eBook collections due to low checkouts and fewer features," said Shannon Lichty, OverDrive's director of partner services. "As a result, we are supporting library requests to migrate their eBook and audiobook titles currently on other platforms to OverDrive in order to instantly benefit from higher circulation and compatibility with more devices."
|Barnes and Noble announced today that they are splitting up with Nook. The divorce could get messy, but they still plan to work together after the separation…for the kids. The analogy may sound a bit weird but that’s pretty much exactly what’s happening. B&N plans to separate their Barnes & Noble Retail business and Nook […]|
We pretty much knew it had to be coming, but now it’s okay to be excited: Google has officially launched their rival to Apple’s CarPlay with their own Android Auto! Serving as a redesigned car-specific interface for Android, the software is contextually aware so it knows the moment you enter your car and then presents you with a simplified (read: less distractions) version of your mobile device.
A demo at Google’s annual I/O conference this morning shows us how the interface can be mirrored onto a touchscreen in your vehicle’s dashboard (which has a certain cool factor that is awfully hard to compete with), that can then be accessed by the user using fingertip or voice commands. But what can it do? Everything you want while on the go: access Google Maps Navigation, control your music, search your contacts, listen to incoming text and email messages (as well as reply using voice dictation), or take things a step further by locating the nearest gas station or coffee shop.
Developers should be excited, because the Android Auto SDK will make it possible for third-party apps to participate in the Android Auto experience –my mind immediately moves toward make-specific features for your vehicle being very easy to control with your voice (instead of the 10 minute search through my car’s menus to try and remember just how I faded the speakers toward the back or programmed in satellite radio stations).
With over 40 automakers already on-board to support Android Auto as part of the Open Automotive Alliance, you can expect most vehicles will be supporting this new technology that is set to be released to the public later this year.
Smartphones have always faced two primary complaints: they are expensive and (at least when it comes to the hardware diversity Android enjoys) there are no standards to adhere to –meaning no two phones are necessarily created equal. With the announcement today that Google has created Android One, neither is a problem any longer. Created to be a reference platform, OEMs can now build high-quality and affordable phones that come loaded with ‘stock Android’ and all of the benefits that affords (like automatic updates and access to Google Play for app downloads).
During the keynote earlier today, Google previewed a device with a 4.5″ screen, SD card, FM radio and support for dual SIM cards –all with a price-tag of under $100. No carriers in the USA are on-board with the idea yet, but Android One is really meant more for the developing world and as such will begin in India later this year (partnering with Indian smartphone makers like Karbonn and Spice).
Using Android One as a hardware reference model serves many purposes. Beyond the obvious benefit already described that involves creating quality smartphones at low cost, it may also serve to help lessen the fragmentation in the Android market –making it easier for developers who will no longer have to consider so many different configurations when designing their software.
Android One Aims to Put a Smartphone in Every Hand is a post from: Good e-Reader
Google I/O is in full swing, which is the companies largest developers conference. Tons of news has been breaking and many new apps have been announced. Today, we look at the best new apps of the week, that you might have missed.
Google Cardboard - Cardboard puts virtual reality on your smartphone. Try a variety of immersive demos on Android, and get inspired to build your own using the VR Toolkit
Path Talk - Talk is a new messenger from Path available for Android and iPhone. Replace SMS and Facebook with Path Talk to message friends, family, and groups for free.
YO – This app received over a million dollars in funding. The sole premise? Say YO to people on your contact list. Mainstream media picked up on the simplicity in the app and the resulting hack of it. Everything is back to normal now, see what all of the hype is about.
NFL Fantasy Football - You asked. We listened. NFL.com Fantasy Football is all-new for the 2014 season. Better. Faster. Redesigned. Available and designed for Android smartphone and tablet. The official NFL Fantasy Football app is your ultimate fantasy companion on the go.
Pet Shop Story Soccer World - The #1 FREE Pet collection game returns with Pet Shop Story: Soccer World! Create the perfect Pet Shop for your favorite lovable animals, and share with your friends! Design, decorate, and collect hundreds of adorable pets! Celebrate sports and soccer around the world with themed animals, decorations, and fantastic storylines! Set up a special Soccer World shop and get into the party spirit of Brazil!
1 Second Everyday - For over 3 years now, I've been recording 1 second every day, so I'll never forget another day ever again. This project has had such a profoundly positive impact on my life, that I've passionately developed an App that will make it extraordinarily easy for anyone to do this too.’
Google Slides - Create, edit, and collaborate with others on presentations from your Android phone or tablet with the free Google Slides app.
Rising Star ABC - Will you raise the wall? Join the new era of singing competitions! For the first time ever – see yourself and your vote count in real time on your TV. Only a wall of Rising Star app user faces separates each artist from their dream, and your vote can raise it. This app serves as your judging tool, and puts the power directly in your hands. Every Sunday night on ABC, you can decide the fate of each singer before their performance is over. You hold their dreams in your hands as you decide who will be the next Rising Star.
BrightNest – Home Tips & Ideas – Keep your home in great shape without breaking a sweat! BrightNest helps you tackle important tasks with our home tips, personal schedule and helpful reminders. From simple cleaning tricks to interior design ideas, we deliver everything you need to shape up your home and simplify your life!
EverythingMe Launcher – A launcher, or a home replacement app, can upgrade the look and functionality of your homescreen. It can also personalize the way you open apps, make calls and perform other tasks. Unlike other launchers that mainly deal with customizing your workspace, EverythingMe personalizes your phone – matching it to you based on your needs, your location and the time of day.
Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – June 26 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader
Barnes and Noble announced during a recent investors call that it was 100% committed to separating the Nook digital division from their bookstores. This will create a dedicated Nook company that will be publically traded and give investors an incentive to invest into the companies portfolio of eBooks, e-Readers, tablets and accessories.
In fiscal 2014 we have taken certain actions to strengthen the Company, including the ongoing rationalization of the NOOK business, growing the College business through new contract acquisitions and increased offerings to students and faculty, and initiatives to improve Retail's sales trends," said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble. "Our fiscal 2014 results and solid financial position at year-end reflect the positive impact of those actions. We believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of NOOK Media and Barnes & Noble Retail. We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately. We fully expect that our Retail and NOOK Media businesses will continue to have long-term, successful business relationships with each other after separation."
The stage has been set for Nook Media to be on its own, since 2012 when Microsoft and Pearson both invested serious capital. This spun the Nook enterprise into its own segment, but was still a big part of Barnes and Noble. In late 2012, B&N founder Len Riggio petitioned the board to let him separate the bookstores from everything else, and the concept was heavily resisted.
Barnes and Noble has been shaking things up on the executive level and many top players have departed the compay. Jim Hilt, head of global ebook sales, and before him digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein all departed in early 2014.
New York, NY (June 25, 2014)—Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS)today reported sales and earnings for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter and full-year ended May 3, 2014, and that its Board of Directors authorized management to separate the Barnes & Noble Retail and NOOK Media businesses.
Board Authorization For NOOK Media Separation
"In fiscal 2014 we have taken certain actions to strengthen the Company, including the ongoing rationalization of the NOOK® business, growing the College business through new contract acquisitions and increased offerings to students and faculty, and initiatives to improve Retail's sales trends," said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble. "Our fiscal 2014 results and solid financial position at year-end reflect the positive impact of those actions. We believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of NOOK Media and Barnes & Noble Retail. We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately. We fully expect that our Retail and NOOK Media businesses will continue to have long-term, successful business relationships with each other after separation."
The Company has engaged Guggenheim Securities, LLC as financial advisors and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP as legal counsel.
The Company notes that there can be no assurances regarding the ultimate timing of the proposed separation or that such separation will be completed. Any separation of NOOK Media and Barnes & Noble Retail into two separate public companies will be subject to customary regulatory approvals, securing any necessary financing, tax considerations, final approval of the Barnes & Noble Board of Directors and other customary matters and is dependent on numerous factors that include the macroeconomic environment, credit markets and equity markets.
Fiscal 2014 Fourth Quarter and Year End Results
The fourth quarter and full-year ended May 3, 2014, consisted of 14 weeks and 53 weeks, respectively, as compared to 13 weeks and 52 weeks in the prior year. Comparable sales data in this release exclude the impact of the additional week.
Fourth quarter consolidated revenues increased 3.5% to $1.3 billion versus the prior year. Consolidated fourth quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) improved to $11.2 million, as compared to an EBITDA loss of $124.6 million in the prior year. For fiscal 2014, consolidated revenues decreased 6.7% to $6.4 billion versus the prior year. Fiscal 2014 consolidated EBITDA increased to $251 million, as compared to $7 million a year ago.
"We're pleased with our improved financial performance in fiscal 2014, generating EBITDA of $251 million, the highest it's been in four years, while executing on our strategic initiatives during the year," said Mr. Huseby. "Retail improved sales trends during the second half of the year, generating annual EBITDA of $354 million. College increased revenues from higher margin textbook rentals, continued to add new school contracts and developed and soft-launched Yuzu™, our digital education platform, growing EBITDA to $115 million. At NOOK, we executed on our plan to sell through existing device inventory, implemented cost rationalization plans, began to pivot our strategy from device focused initiatives to a content centric approach with the signing of our partnership with Samsung, all while significantly reducing year-over-year losses."
Fourth Quarter 2014 Results from Operations
Segment results for the 14 weeks of fiscal 2014 and 13 weeks of fiscal 2013 fourth quarters are as follows:
Fiscal 2014 Resultsfrom Operations
Segment results for the 53 weeks of fiscal year 2014 and 52 weeks of fiscal year 2013 are as follows:
(1) Represents the elimination of intercompany sales from NOOK to Barnes & Noble Retail and Barnes & Noble College on a sell-through basis.
(2) This non-GAAP measure has been reconciled to the comparable GAAP measure as required under SEC rules regarding the use of non-GAAP financial measures on the attached Segment Information table.
The Retail segment, which includes the Barnes & Noble Bookstores and BN.com businesses, had revenues of $956 million for the quarter and $4.3 billion for the full year, increasing 0.8% for the quarter, while decreasing 6.0% for the year. The inclusion of the 53rd week contributed $57 million in additional sales in fiscal 2014. Comparable store sales declined 4.1% during the quarter and 5.8% for the full year. "Core" comparable store sales, which exclude sales of NOOK products, decreased 1.9% for the fourth quarter, which included unusually severe February weather. Excluding February, fourth quarter Core comparable store sales decreased 0.5%, in-line with previously reported third quarter results. Core comparable store sales declined 3.1% for the full year. Sales for both the quarter and the year were also impacted by store closures and lower online sales.
Retail generated fourth quarter EBITDA of $53 million, essentially flat as compared to a year ago. For fiscal 2014, Retail EBITDA decreased 5.9% to $354 million, primarily as a result of the sales decline.
The College segment had revenues of $298 million for the quarter and $1.7 billion for the full year, increasing 18.2% for the quarter, while decreasing 0.9% for the year. The inclusion of the 53rd week contributed $15 million in additional sales for fiscal 2014. Fourth quarter sales were positively impacted by timing of the back-to-school rush season, driving comparable College store sales of 2.6% for the quarter. Comparable sales decreased 2.7% for the full year on a higher mix of lower priced used textbook rentals and lower textbook volume. Comparable College store sales reflect the retail selling price of a new or used textbook when rented, rather than solely the rental fee received and amortized over the rental period.
Fourth quarter College EBITDA increased to $14 million, while full year EBITDA increased 3% to $115 million, as higher margins and net new store growth outpaced additional investment spend in our digital education platform, Yuzu. College's fiscal 2014 EBITDA includes $22 million of expenses for Yuzu, as compared to $7 million in the prior year.
The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories) had revenues of $87 million for the quarter and $506 million for the full year, decreasing 22.3% for the quarter and 35.2% for the year. The inclusion of the 53rd week contributed $9 million in additional sales in fiscal 2014, including $1 million in additional device and accessories sales and $8 million of additional content sales.
Device and accessories sales were $25 million for the quarter and $260 million for the full year, declining 30.1% and 44.8%, respectively, due to lower selling volume and lower average selling prices. Digital content sales were $62 million for the quarter and $246 million for the full year, declining 18.7% and 20.6%, respectively, due primarily to lower device unit sales.
NOOK EBITDA losses were $56 million for the fourth quarter and $218 million for the full year, both including previously disclosed asset impairment charges of $28 million. Prior year results were adversely impacted by NOOK inventory-related charges of $133 million for the quarter and $222 million for the year, as well as $20 million of primarily goodwill impairment charges. The remainder of the EBITDA loss reduction was primarily attributable to reduced expenses on lower marketing costs and cost rationalization efforts.
The consolidated fourth quarter net loss was $36.7 million, or $0.72 per share, as compared to the prior year net loss of $114.8 million, or $2.04 per share. Fiscal 2014 consolidated net losses were $47.3 million, or $1.12 per share, as compared to $157.8 million, or $3.02 per share, in the prior year.
In the fourth quarter, the Company recorded a $12.5 million tax benefit, driven primarily by the utilization of previously reserved deferred tax assets. Tax expense for the full year was $52 million, largely driven by partnership tax allocations and previously recorded valuation allowances.
For fiscal year 2015, the Company expects both Retail comparable bookstore sales and Core comparable bookstore sales to decline in the low-single digits. College comparable store sales are also expected to decline in the low-single digits. The Company expects to continue to decrease EBITDA losses in the NOOK segment.
A conference call with Barnes & Noble, Inc.'s senior management will be webcast beginning at 10:00 A.M. ET onWednesday, June 25, 2014, and is accessible at www.barnesandnobleinc.com/webcasts.
Barnes & Noble, Inc. will report fiscal 2015 first quarter results on or about September 4, 2015.
Anybody who is surprised that Google launched Android TV, raise your hands… even considering the fact that I can’t see any of you, I feel safe in assuming that no hands were just raised. In the least surprising (but exciting all the same) news coming out of Google I/O this morning, Android TV is a really real reality. Google has been in this place before with a flopped attempt at a set top box, but Android TV is supposed to be different (and it has to be, when you consider Apple, Amazon, and Roku have worthy competitors in this arena).
Designed to function as an entertainment hub in your home, the largest way Android TV differs from those it seeks to dominate is that it isn’t actually an additional piece of hardware. There is nothing to plug in, but rather it will be released as a software system to run as a third-party OEM on smart TV’s. While this move may seem unwise, when buying a $100 piece of plastic means not having to replace your television, Android TV will also be able to run on set-top boxes made by third party manufacturers like Asus later this year.
Content delivery is exactly what you would expect: streaming movies and TV shows all being controlled by mobile phones and tablets –and of course, developers will have all manner of opportunities to create apps using the Android tool-set to extend the technology. Most exciting to me is the implementation of full Chromecast support, which means users can beam content from device to device (finally a proper rival for Apple’s AirPlay).
At this early stage, little is known about what any of this will cost us –but it is safe to say that Android TV has my attention.
We have come to expect a certain amount of boasting at these keynote addresses (and I am including Apple in that comment), and so not to be outdone, we heard from Sundar Pichai that over a 30-day period, 1 billion people actively use Android devices (which is up from 900 million reported at last year’s I/O conference). Pichai also revealed that according to their latest figures, phones are checked a mere 100 billion times each day (and I am trying not to dwell on just how many of those times can be directly attributed to me).
As if those numbers weren’t exciting enough, we also learned that 93 million selfies are taken each day using an Android device –many of which are likely shared by the over 20 billion text messages sent per day.
Market share is increasing for Android overall, with tablet efforts moving them from 46% to 62% worldwide. This figure is reflected by the crazy growth seen by app installs that are now seeing an increase of 236% year-over-year.
Chrome mobile also saw gains, with over 300 million active daily users.
It would seem the sun is shining brightly on Android at the moment with increases in adoption rate and active use across the board.
Android Boasts 1B Active Users in the Past 30 Days is a post from: Good e-Reader
It is hard to resist making statements that compare my excitement over Google I/O 2014 to feeling like a kid in a candy shop, when you learn that the next version of Android will be called ‘Lollipop’ (and if you notice, I just did it anyway). Just as we expected, Google took the opportunity to introduce their next generation operating system at their annual conference… and it all sounds pretty great (if not a little familiar to many of the changes Apple is also making to iOS in their upgrade).
Nicknamed ‘L’ (because each new release is named in alphabetical order), Lollipop is Google’s attempt at synthesizing their design elements between each of their mobile, desktop and web environments. As the conference progresses, I am certain we will learn more about each change and what it really means for the future of Android –but until then, let’s whet your appetite with a few highlights of what we can expect:
New Design Language – Being described as ‘material design’, most of the changes will mean a lot more to developers than users. What do you need to know? Because pixels will have greater depth and dimensionality, everything on your Android device will follow this new theme and is about to look a lot nicer (with enhancements making graphics brighter, more crisp, and with proper shadowing).
Performance Enhancements – The big news here is that Android L will continue to use the runtime introduced with KitKat, which is claimed to run at least twice as fast as previous versions. This translates into better memory management, increased resource efficiency, and the ability to take full advantage of more powerful chips like Nvidia’s Tegra K1.
Notifications – Everybody’s favourite topic when it comes to mobile operating systems is notifications. With additional interactive access on the lock screen, and new drop-downs (that Google is calling ‘Heads-Up’) the notification system on Android is doing what Apple just did: adopt the best ideas from your competition to make a stronger feature overall.
Odds and Sods – There are lots of little bits that everybody is still processing. Google has improved and prettied-up the multitasking view (using stacked cards), there are 5,000 new APIs, round icons instead of square, Roboto font works on every screen and there are updates to the keyboard and quick settings menu as well.
Developers are getting their hands on Lollipop today, though the rest of us (unfortunately) have to wait until the fall.
|Onyx is set to release a new E Ink phone next week called the Midia InkPhone. It’s the first phone to use an E Ink display as the main screen. There are other products such as the Yotaphone and smartphone covers that feature an E Ink screen as a secondary display to the main LCD […]|
OverDrive signs deal with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution for streaming video lending through U.S. and Canadian libraries
OverDrive today announced an agreement with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to offer hundreds of popular streaming video titles to public and government library partners in the U.S. and Canada. This deal expands a growing collection of thousands of quality, in-demand streaming videos available through OverDrive, and reinforces the value of an unmatched catalog on one single platform for eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video.
With the addition of Warner Bros. films, libraries will be able to benefit from a transactional, pay-per-use lending model from OverDrive for the first time. This model eliminates the need to purchase titles in advance of their use and ensures that titles are available instantly to all patrons simultaneously. Libraries will soon be able to browse or search for Warner Bros. titles from the expansive catalog in OverDrive Marketplace, and curate their collection to match the unique interests of their communities. As with other content and access models from OverDrive, libraries will set user lending policies for Warner Bros. movies to manage costs within their material budgets.
"We are extremely pleased to bring to libraries and their communities access to award-winning films from one of Hollywood's top studios," said Lee Milstein, Chief Strategy Officer at OverDrive. "Helping win new patrons, supporting evolving on-demand content models, and providing world-class ease-of-use for digital lending are core to the ongoing innovations we bring to our library partners."
Library patrons across the U.S. and Canada will be able to use PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android Tablets or nearly any connected device to stream videos from their library. Building on the existing OverDrive catalog, Warner Bros. titles such as I am Sam (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor: Sean Penn), Natural Born Killers (Starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, Golden Globe nomination for Best Director: Oliver Stone), Insomnia (starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Directed by Christopher Nolan), and Life as a House (SAG Awards nominations for Leading Actor: Kevin Kline; Supporting Actor: Hayden Christensen) will soon be available for lending.
To learn more, visit OverDrive at ALA in Las Vegas June 26-July 1 in booth #1317.
This program is just one more in a growing understanding that books have the power to lift the human spirit and spark a renewed interest in one’s own self-worth. Other book charities, from globally staged events like World Book Night to one teen’s initiative to raise the funds for books and distribute them in her local park, have reached out to far-reaching communities for the good that comes from books.
Cory Doctorow and his publisher recently made a donation of more than 200 copies of one of his titles, Little Brother, after a Florida school principal pulled the plug on a summer reading program that focused on that book. When a school in Idaho caved to parent pressure and removed Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the curriculum, two concerned citizens launched a crowdfunding campaign to purchase 350 free copies of the book, which were distributed with the help of Reclaimed Books and high schooler Brady Kissel; the publisher, Hachette, gave an additional 350 copies of the book to the cause. (In an interesting twist, parents in the town called the police because the group was giving copies of a banned book to minors in public. The police arrived on the scene and were more than a little surprised by the need for police backup when they saw a smiling teenaged girl handing copies of legally purchased books to happily receptive citizens.)
Recently, pediatricians in Colorado began distributing books to their young patients as part of a full check-up, along with giving parents information on the importance of early literacy and family reading time every day. The books for the program Reach Out and Read Colorado come from a variety of sources, including public donations of new and gently used books.
The push for greater access to books isn’t new, as libraries have long had initiatives in place to ensure that books are available in communities across the country. But programs such as these that give the books away are meant to not only increase literacy and basic enjoyment of reading, but also to turn individuals–especially those who may be in need–into book owners.
By focusing on the ownership of a book, it’s not just about fostering reading, but about fostering the understanding that books have a certain amount of power in our lives. There’s a measure of dignity attached to owning, enjoying, and sharing books, and these programs, many of which are supported by donations from the both public and private sectors, help ensure that books hold a special meaning for as many people as possible.
Here’s something rather special, which should resonate with those of you over a certain age.
Star Fox was a Nintendo game for the SNES, released back in 1993 with fast, 3D gameplay – the player travels at high speed along a bounded path, avoiding and shooting obstacles and enemies, while picking up power-ups. Those obstacles were filled 3D polygons, which was very unusual at the time (and hard to render).
At the start of the week, I was sent this video. It’s from a group of first-year undergraduates (first-year undergraduates!) at Imperial College in London, who wrote a version of Star Fox from scratch for the Pi, in 5900 lines of ARM assembly language. This is so good that when Lance saw it, his immediate reaction was that it must be a port. It’s not.
They’ve got everything you need in under 6000 lines: a rasteriser in software, 2d elements and 3d objects, DMA sound, a utility and maths library, and input from a NES controller.
You’ll find all the source code on GitHub – along with useful stuff like a pinout for the NES controller.
If Team PiFox are interested in taking things a little further (or if someone else fancies forking their repo), we’d encourage them in the direction of using the Pi’s GPU as a hardware rasteriser, which would allow for an HD remix. If you need pointers, it’s still early days for Eric Anholt’s full Mesa/Gallium graphics stack on the Pi, but he’s adding to it all the time and there’s already a lot of meat in there. The VideoCore IV graphics documentation that Broadcom released back in February makes it possible to use the GPU as a “dumb” 2d polygon rasteriser as in Scott Mansell’s example.
If you make the attempt, please let us know; we’d love to see what you come up with.
The end result is industry professionals who only allude to the facts with veiled remarks and allegations from unnamed sources. Rather than be forthcoming about the real issues facing both authors and publishers, the public hears second-hand information but is expected to form judgments and act on it.
The Amazon Hachette battle is a prime example. Reports keep circulating of things Amazon supposedly included in the new contract, reports that stem from “unnamed sources” in middle management at the publisher’s office. Some of the supposed terms coming from Amazon’s proposed agreements with publishers in the UK have now wbegun to circulate, terms which include Amazon’s demand that if the publishers fails to supply a book to the retailer per their guaranteed stock agreement, Amazon can simply fire up its print-on-demand machine and sell copies of its own. Other terms that have brought Amazon under fire include charging publishers for the online retail version of display space, a tactic which has been in practice in brick-and-mortar bookselling since the concept began; Amazon also seems intent on adjusting the price of ebooks in favor of consumers who will have to begin paying a 20% VAT tax next year in the EU. This last term has actually (apparently) caught the attention of investigators who’ve supposedly been meeting with different publishers over Amazon’s “most favored nation” status, a contract term that lets Amazon demand that no one else offer a publisher’s book cheaper, including the publisher itself.
It’s still very confusing that publishers rail against the retail giant and that “unnamed sources” continue to leak tidbits of information that are supposed to sway the court of public opinion against Amazon. If the contract terms are unacceptable, simply reject them and find a new bookselling partner. But trying to force the hand of the the bookselling behemoth that the publishers helped create isn’t going to prove to be very good for business or for books.
Motion comic pioneer Madefire has just signed a deal with Hasbro and will be giving away a new five issue Transformer series away for free. Madefire is hoping to capitalize on the new film coming out at the end of the month and drawing attention to their Windows 8 app, launched last week.
Transformers: Punishment is all-new original content developed within the current IDW Transformers universe. The creative team behind the five-part series are Transformers comic fan-favorites, writer John Barber and artist Livio Ramondelli.
"It's a thrill to see Optimus Prime spring into action," said Barber. "This is a hard-hitting action story, and Madefire's Motion Books — including music and sound effects — deliver a powerful reading experience that makes you feel like you’re in the center of it all!"
The Madefire app for Windows 8 is really solid with the first issue of Transformers Punishment. There is sound effects and an audio score that sets the mood and pace. It features the Decepticons, Autobots and Dinobots duking it out on the wasteland of Cybertron. You hear the quintessential transforming effect and even the roar of Grimlock. The app itself is really interesting and basically blends Guided View from Comixology and the new Motion comic tech found in the Marvel Unlimited App.
The entire six issue series is available for free by installing the new Madefire for Windows 8 App HERE.
Onyx Boox has been teasing their Android driven e-ink smartphone for the last year. It is very much akin to your Amazon Kindle or Kobo Aura, because it uses the same type of e-paper display. The compelling features is long battery life and the ability to read in direct sunlight, on your phone. The Onyx MIDIA InkPhone is finally available today.
The Onyx InkPhone is running cutting edge e-paper technology that was developed by E-Ink and Sony. Mobius was designed to give you superior resolution and be as lightweight as possible. The big reason why this phone was delayed because they changed up the screen at the last minute. When they were demoing the phone at CES and SID Display week 2013, they were using Pearl.
The phone itself is 4.3 inches and has a resolution of 800×600, using a capacitive touchscreen. It has a Mediatek MT6515M Cortex A9 1.0 GHZ processor, 512 MB RAM, 512 MB of storage space. Obviously you aren’t going to store a ton of content on this device, but it does have an SD Card.
When we first saw the phone, it felt very light. With the addition of Mobius it is clocking in at 120g. You will also get around two weeks of constant use via the 1800mAh battery.