Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Google Adds Closed Captioning Support to Chromecast

London Unveils New Public Art Project Aimed at Book Lovers


The streets of London are being transformed due to a new public art project that puts a priority on books. Books About Town is a new initiative that celebrates the city's rich literary heritage.

There are now over 50 Book Benches erected all over the city and are designed by professional illustrators and local artists. The benches themselves represent well-known books and stories associated with London. Some are aimed at children such as Peter Pan and The Wind in the Willows. Major literary works are also aimed at adults with The Importance of Being Earnest, A Brief History of Time and 1984.

Here's a look at some BookBenches now hanging around London.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde—Art by Trevor  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis James Bond stories by Ian Fleming Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman Shakespeare’s London A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking 1984 by George Orwell Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby  

London Unveils New Public Art Project Aimed at Book Lovers is a post from: Good e-Reader

Lots of Tablets and eReaders on Sale for 25-60% off

I ended up at eBay today and came across a huge tablet sale. Newegg is running a promotion where they’ve marked down 76 iPads, tablets, and ebook readers by 25%-60%. There are only a few iPads and ebook readers on the list, but there are tons of tablets from Asus and Samsung. The 7″ Kindle […]

Amazon Offering 15-Day Trial on Kindles in India

News is coming out today about a new marketing technique that Amazon is using to sell Kindle ebook readers in India. The promotion seems rather odd to those of us in the United States; it’s interesting to see how differently things work in regard to Kindles in other countries. Amazon India is giving customers the […]

Hamster Party Cam

As you may have heard, the Boardroom at Pi Towers contains a wall covered in the poster competition entries from before Christmas 2013. We hold all our meetings in this room, and even run workshops in it during Picademy. It’s also fairly common knowledge that I have a short attention span, and that on occasion when I’m in the boardroom (I’m not going to admit how often in case Lance or Eben reads this!) I find my gaze and mind wandering over to that wall and I wonder if I can make any of those imagined Raspberry Pi project ideas a reality.

One of the most striking of the posters has the catchy title of ‘Hamster Party Cam’. Upon further reading, the designer of the project, Violet, aged 6, tells us that…

Hamsters are nocturnal, which means that they sleep in the day time and come out at night. This means that when you are sleeping, your hamsters are up and about and when you are up and about, your hamsters are sleeping!

Violet makes a convincing argument. We need to know what those hamsters are doing when we are sleeping. We have our suspicions, Violet and I, that they are partying… like animals (small ones). So with my trusty Raspberry Pi, Camera Module and Pibrella, I set forth to make the project a reality.

Violet's poster in situ

Violet’s poster in situ

Hamster Party Cam is designed to avoid interfering with the habitat of hamsters, as every pet owner has a duty of care for the wellbeing of their creature. It uses a reed switch and a magnet on the hamster wheel as a trigger that when detected by the Pibrella, starts an LED disco light show, plays an mp3 (hamster dance) to a connected speaker, and takes a photo with the Pi Camera module.


Hamster Party Cam setup

Not having an actual hamster to test my creation on was a bit of a hurdle, but I managed to acquire a hamster cage from Emma, our office manager, nesting material from the shredder, and a toy hamster from the internet, which Gordon lovingly named “special patrol group”. As you may have seen from twitter, the entire office ended up getting behind the project and going a little hamster mad. Liz even suggested getting a real hamster for the office as she was really unimpressed with the toy one! Here is a picture generated by the hamster party cam system:

Special Patrol caught in the act of partying with hamster party cam

Special Patrol caught in the act of partying with hamster party cam

If you would like to make a similar project to detect your pets movement and take pictures of them then take a look at our new Raspberry Pi Learning Make resource, Hamster Party Cam, here. Take it, remix it, and make it even better!

Top 10 ways an OverDrive Digital Library helps your school

Public libraries and schools have distinct needs, and since 2007, we've been tailoring the School Digital Library with school-centric features. Reading is a fundamental building block of learning, and OverDrive is committed to supporting literacy campaigns and curriculum needs. If you haven’t had a chance to explore all that we have to offer for your classroom, here are 10 ways an OverDrive digital library helps your school:

  1. Search or browse by school levels and measurements. The levels menu includes Interest Level, ATOS Level, Lexile Measure and Reading Level, which all help students find titles that match their aptitude.
  2. Instant access with OverDrive Read. Students can sample and read eBooks instantly, with no setup or authorization process.
  3. Every device, everywhere. That's our goal, and your digital titles will be accessible on computers, smart phones, tablets and even a TV.
  4. Over 1 million titles to choose from. Combine popular fiction with study guides, foreign language titles, college prep and more to create a comprehensive library. We even have education-focused streaming video titles perfect for incorporating into your curriculum!
  5. A classroom set no longer weighs 30 pounds. You can purchase multiple copies or a Simultaneous Use plan for some publishers, and Project Gutenberg contains many classics that each student can download at the same time.
  6. Give exclusive access to your students with OverDrive Advantage.  Any school that is part of a shared collection (district-wide service, for example) can purchase titles that are available to their students only.
  7. Summer, snow day, holiday? Still open! Students have access to your digital library at any time, and it's a great resource for summer reading assignments.
  8. Not just for students. Add professional development titles and teaching resources to benefit your teachers and library staff, and highlight them as a custom group on your collections menu.
  9. Engage in 21st century learning with Test Drive. Give students hands-on practice and learn how to offer devices like an iPad for lending with OverDrive Test Drive.
  10. Empower your students by letting them help build your collection. Students can make recommendations and place holds, letting you know what they want to read.

MARC records, eBook Express, a multi-lingual interface and marketing assistance are just a few examples of free, added-value benefits in addition to this Top 10 list. We are constantly striving to deliver the best digital library experience possible for you and your students, and if there's anything that would improve the site, please let your Account Specialist know. And if there's anything I missed, we'd love to hear what's on your Top 10 list!
Beau Livengood is an Account Specialist at OverDrive.


Book Review: Will to Live by Gary Edinger

Verdict: 4 Stars

Despite Good e-Reader’s focus on digital publishing and ebooks, when the chance to review this title came along, we took it. More than just because it was written by an indie author and we support the efforts of people who are revolutionizing publishing, this book was selected because the genre of memoir is so disergarded by the publishing industry to the point that they almost won’t publish your life story unless you’re a celebrity.

Kim Kardashian tell-all? Yes. Story of a man who cut his own leg off then crawled through a frozen wilderness to survive? Meh.

In this title, Gary Edinger explains in the first person his horrifying tale of survival, including the fascinating transcript of the 911 team who stayed on the phone with him after he finally got to his truck and attempted to drive while losing so much blood that he often made no sense during the call. But before getting to that point, Edinger outlines an incredibly clear, in-depth picture of his family’s roots in the Yukon River region, generations of whom made their living through logging, hunting, and trapping, and filled their leisure time with sled dog racing. It’s as if Jack London decided to wake up in the middle of the twentieth century and start writing again.

While Edinger may not be a celebrity or other person of note, this is the kind of story that draws readers in and fascinates them, despite what the publishing industry would have us believe about the marketability of a book. True, I don’t know Edinger’s great-great-grandfather and I don’t really have any reason to care, except that the stories surrounding the author’s past are what shaped him into the person who tried to staunch the flow of blood with his belt, only to have it break due to decades of use and the minus-20 degree temperatures that day. What did he do when the belt broke and he couldn’t use it as a tourniquet for his leg? He kept going, finally getting a manual transmission truck started with only one leg, a leg that was arcing blood with every heart beat.

As a reader I found myself rooting for him, despite the obvious fact that I knew he had lived to tell his tale. It was heartbreaking when he realized how far he still had to drive to get help and might not make it, and instead told the 911 operator to tell his wife he loved her and to tell his kids he was proud of them.

I do wish the publishing service Edinger had relied on had a sense of the value of ebooks and a good cover, as well as the need for a great blurb on retailers’ websites. Those issues can be overcome, and I hope the author chooses to do so.

Will to Live: A Saga of Survival is available from Amazon and Stonydale Press.

Book Review: Will to Live by Gary Edinger is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon to Forfeit Royalties, Offers Hachette Authors 100% of Sales

Amazon Holds News Conference
In another twist in the ongoing fight between Amazon and publisher Hachette, Amazon has either demonstrated its true spirit of support for authors and readers, or made the best PR move in the history of book publishing. Yesterday, in a King Solomon-like letter that has not been sent to the publisher but was sent to various experts and author organizations for feedback and weighing in, Amazon has offered to give Hachette’s authors 100% of the sale price from the ebook sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. The goal is to force both parties’ hands into resolving the matter, as this will cost both Amazon and Hachette their royalties.

Hachette (and several of the authors, in syrupy open letters) has maintained that Amazon doesn’t care about authors or the damage this contract negotiation does to the authors’ livelihoods, that it only cares about its bottom line. While that is even allowed to be true and is even accepted in the world of free market retail, Hachette has been equally unmoving in its inability to compromise on the terms they seek with Amazon, even to help their authors.

So Amazon has put its money where its mouth is. If the real victims in this battle are the authors, and food is being ripped out of their mouths while the grown-ups argue, then this should help them get by while the terms are still negotiated. Right?

Wrong. Amazon has already been accused of playing this up for publicity, and the offer hasn’t even been made to the publisher yet. The retailer is willing to forfeit any fees or costs associated with bookselling in order to give the full purchase price to authors (knowing full well that Hachette won’t make a dime on the sale either), yet that is not enough for those who froth over their anger towards the retail giant. The Author’s Guild has already (and characteristically) denounced the offer.

Interestingly, Amazon had also reportedly already offered to fund a pool (50% of which would come from Amazon, the other 50% from Hachette) to help see the authors through this difficult time. That offer was rejected.

The best part of this scenario is Hachette can’t possibly turn it down. What would be their logic, except to finally admit that their authors are just a commodity? Amazon has deftly demonstrated its true feelings for the authors who’ve made it what it is today, while also throwing open the door to show the rest of the world (namely, its critics) what publishers really believe.

Despite early and biased coverage of this proposal in news outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, it’s GigaOm’s Laura Hazard Owen who has gone to the effort to make the letter available to readers.

Amazon to Forfeit Royalties, Offers Hachette Authors 100% of Sales is a post from: Good e-Reader