Thursday, July 24, 2014

Politicians Go Digital with Bitcoin, Paystand

With a fairly significant US election looming on the horizon, candidates are already working the public for both electoral and financial support. And with the support of the Federal Election Commission, a whole new form of political contributions is heading their way.

The state of New Hampshire, long considered one of the key states in the national election process, happens to also have more Bitcoin transactions than any other state per capita; given that fact, New Hampshire politicians will be accepting campaign contributions in this so-called “cryptocurrency,” the form of digital currency who most noteworthy example may be Bitcoin. Ensuring the seamless nature of making this type of contribution with e-currency is PayStand, who spoke with Good e-Reader about the viability of this measure.

"It's important for government leaders to listen to their constituency," states Andrew Hemingway, a New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate, in a press release. "New Hampshire is known as the Live Free or Die State and we have always been very strong in our independent ideals. The state has spoken – they want the opportunity to use innovative and convenient payment alternatives. I am happy to accept Bitcoin as political donations and want to make it as simple a process as possible for my supporters to do that. Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is the wave of the future and I want to do everything I can to allow people to use it – including for political donations of all sorts."

Bitcoin may very well be a misunderstood object of fear, the stuff of science fiction, to those who were already leery of it. The US government’s seizure of more than 150,000 Bitcoins, nearly 30,000 of which have already been auctioned off for around $17 million, didn’t do anything to endear the currency to its critics. The fact that it was seized during the arrest and shutdown of the internet’s biggest black market site all but sealed its fate for some consumers.

Which could very well be why Bitcoin campaign contributions could change that. Where many people think of political contributions as the realm of corporate fat cats’ efforts to buy politicians, Bitcoin and PayStand could actually level the playing field to some extent, by offering a seamless and simple process for everyday citizens to support the candidates they care about more feasible.

"Bitcoin is absolutely moving quickly into all facets of our lives. This election cycle is really the first where Bitcoin is talked about and used for donations, now that the FEC has approved it. And with more and more businesses – and even now the State of California – accepting Bitcoin as a form of currency, it is becoming essential to include cryptocurrencies as a payment option," said Jeremy Almond, CEO, PayStand. "From day one PayStand has included Bitcoin among all other forms of payment and we are thrilled to be on the leading edge in the political donation process in New Hampshire and throughout the country."

Other major players in the online transaction sphere, including eBay and PayPal, are working on process to accept Bitcoin payments in a wide variety of denominations.

Politicians Go Digital with Bitcoin, Paystand is a post from: Good e-Reader

Weekly eHighlights: Video Edition



Click to view the Marketplace cart of the titles in this newsletter plus more great picks.


Feature Films and TV

Father's Little Dividend
Echelon Studios – Comedy

Stanley Banks has barely recovered from his daughter's wedding when he learns that she is going to have a baby. Disputes arise between the paternal and maternal grandparents. Sequel to Father of the Bride. Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Billie Burke.


Hellboy: Blood and Iron
Starz Digital Media – Action, Animated

Hellboy has to fight harpies, hellhounds, a giant werewolf, and a goddess to prevent the resurrection of a beautiful vampire. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones.


Echelon Studios – Western, Comedy, Romance

George Washington McLintock is a cattle baron and the richest man in the territory. He's anxiously awaiting his daughter's return from school in the east, and is surprised to find her accompanied by his wife, who left him years before for reasons he can't understand. Now he's trying to keep the peace, not only in his family, but in dealing with a crooked land agent and a thieving Indian agent. John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Stephanie Powers, Chill Wills, Yvonne DeCarlo.


Night of the Living Dead
Echelon Studios – Horror

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse. This is the classic 1968 version.


The Over-The-Hill Gang
Echelon Studios – Western

A retired Texas Ranger and his three aging pals are hired to clean up a town. Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine, Jack Elam, Gypsy Rose Lee, Chill Wills.


Starz Digital Media – Drama

After his father's death, 10-year-old Paul becomes the caretaker of his younger brother and his drug-addicted mother. His only friend is a flighty waitress played by Keira Knightley. Molly Parker, David Wenham.


Righteous Kill
Starz Digital Media – Drama, Thriller

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro star as retirement-aged police detectives tasked with tracking down a serial killer.


Royal Wedding
Echelon Studios – Comedy, Musical, Romance

A brother and sister dance act are booked in London at the same time as the royal wedding. On their way to England, the sister has a shipboard romance and misses a rehearsal, which leads to the famous Fred Astaire scene where he dances with gym equipment and a hat rack. Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Keenan Wynn. 1951.


A Star Is Born
Echelon Studios – Drama

The 1937 original version of this film tells the story of a North Dakota farm girl who wants to become a movie star. With the help of a has-been alcoholic actor, she gets her chance and makes the most of it. They fall in love and marry after he promises to stop drinking, but as her career skyrockets, his declines. Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou.


While She Was Out
Starz Digital Media – Horror, Thriller

Kim Basinger is a suburban housewife determined to survive the night as she is stalked by a group of teenage thugs led by a psychopath. Craig Sheffer, Lukas Haas.


Young Bill Hickok
Echelon Studios – Western

A 1940 film starring young Roy Rogers as Wild Bill Hickok in his early years, who along with Calamity Jane, protects a gold shipment from thieves bent on stealing it while the rest of the country is preoccupied by the Civil War. Gabby Hayes, Julie Bishop, Sally Payne.


Your Love Never Fails
Starz Digital Media – Drama

Divorced mother Lisa just wants to spend more time with her daughter, but her demanding job is getting in the way. When Dylan, her ex-husband, files for joint custody, she is forced to move to Texas where, with the help of the local pastor, she and Dylan work to do what is right for Kelsey…and themselves. Elisa Donovan, John Schneider, Brad Rowe, Tom Skerritt.


Zorro's Black Whip, Chapters 1-6and Chapters 7-12
Echelon Studios – Western

A 1944 movie starring Linda Stirling as Barbara Meredith. When Barbara's brother, the local newspaper editor, is killed by a local leading citizen who is opposed to Idaho becoming a state, she dons a mask and cape and becomes the "Black Whip." She thwarts the bad guys at every turn until a final showdown just as the town is ready to vote.

Documentary and Instructional

The American Hobo
Echelon Studios – Documentary

Hear tales of such noted hobos as James Michener and Merle Haggard, in this exploration of the uniquely American free spirits who traveled the rails looking for work.


Cinema Is Everywhere
Spiral Pictures – Documentary

This international documentary weaves together the stories of actors, filmmakers, and film festival producers from three countries—India, Scotland, and Tunisia—to show the power of movies to shape our world.


Day of Miracles
Echelon Studios – Documentary

Actual survivors of the 9/11 tragedy tell their stories.


Downtown 81
Music Box Films – Biography

A virtually "lost" film, shot in 1981 and not released until 20 years later. Legendary painter, graffiti artist, poet, and musician Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) must sell a painting to reclaim the apartment after being evicted. He carries the painting through New York City, encountering models, musicians, rappers, and painters, portraying a great picture of the early 1980s art and music scene. Includes music by Tuxedomoon, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, the Lounge Lizards, DNA, and others.


The Last Mile
Gaiam – Documentary

Filmmaker John Burkett led a destructive, unhealthy and sedimentary life. After getting sober, one day walking his dog he decided to take the first run out of mental anguish. A two-mile loop soon became part of his daily routine. Then came a small local race, and a half marathon, and finally the marathon.


Tornado Chronicles
Echelon Studios – Documentary

On one day in 1978, 147 tornadoes swept through Ohio, Kentucky, and Alabama, killing over 300 people. This documentary includes eyewitness accounts.


The Viking Maid
Echelon Studios – Documentary

Despite record salmon runs in the state of Alaska, wild salmon fishermen struggle to stay afloat in the flooded salmon markets of the world. Find out why you should ask "Is this salmon farmed or wild?"


Click to view the Marketplace cart of the titles in this newsletter plus more great picks.

*Geographical rights may vary by title.


Amazon Offers Ups Its Percentage of Sales to Charity

In the latest twist in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, Amazon has proven once again that it has the best PR team in corporate history. Following an open letter from authors involved in the current issue which stated that their livelihoods were being impacted by Amazon’s refusal to concede to Hachette’s terms, Amazon offered to give the authors 100% of the price of their sales until the matter is resolved. This offer would have meant that neither Amazon nor Hachette would receive any of the sales price on these authors’ titles, a move which Amazon claimed was meant to spur the parties into reaching an agreement while still ensuring that the authors were not harmed by the negotiations.

Interestingly, despite insisting publicly that Amazon’s ongoing inability to accept the new publisher terms is hurting its authors, Hachette turned down Amazon’s suggestion and dismissed it as simply a ploy. Other entities like the Authors Guild followed suit, quickly spurning Amazon’s offer.

Now, Amazon has offered to take its percentage and Hachette’s percentage and offer those to literacy charities, while still giving the authors their royalty. While the intention is still to ensure that authors are not affected by the drama, the retailer feels like this will force the two parties involved to come to terms that both can agree on.

According to an article in The Bookseller, author Douglas Preston informed Publisher’s Weekly about the offer from Amazon, but said that it has already been rejected by Authors United, the group which penned the open letter and has promised a forthcoming letter to be published as a full-page ad in the New York Times. What is truly interesting is the coverage that this announcement has received, including headlines like this one, and the noticeable reduction in anti-Amazon sentiment in the comments sections of these posts.

Amazon Offers Ups Its Percentage of Sales to Charity is a post from: Good e-Reader

Oyster Adds Web-Based Mobile Reading to Its Platform

eBook subscriptions services are making headlines right now, especially following the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. In some ways, correlations can be made that two other pioneering subscription services–Scribd and Oyster–could have paved the way for KU, despite the various differences in their platforms. While other ebook subscription startups have been around for years, Oyster and Scribd have made the most headway with not only enticing readers into the benefits of their programs, but also in working with some publishers to put their titles in the catalogs with the most viable compensation models so far.

Oyster announced today that it is now including web-based reading in its platform, meaning users no longer have to rely on the mobile app for content. While the Android and iOS apps are still fully operative, Oyster added a new layer of accessibility to the platform in a throwback move to browser-based reading.

"Knowing that about a third of ebook readers regularly read on the web, we've had our sights set on this launch for some time," said Eric Stromberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Oyster. "This marks an important next step on our mission to provide the best product on as many devices as possible."

Billed as the Netflix of reading, ebook subscriptions have kept a similar pricepoint–Oyster’s is $9.95 a month for both the app-based and web-based option to read unlimited numbers of ebooks–while trying to offer compelling content. Oyster has had a measure of success in signing two of the largest publishers in the world to provide some of their content to the growing catalog, and has agreements with more than 1,600 publishers overall.

Oyster’s CEO had some welcoming remarks for the introduction of Amazon’s service into the ebook subscription sphere, seeing the launch of KU as yet another sign that reading consumers are responding to this model.

"We're not surprised. [Amazon has] pivoted from transactional to subscription-based in other media, and had limited success. They really paved the way in ebooks, and it's exciting to see them embrace the market we created as the future of books."

New members can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Oyster by clicking HERE.

Oyster Adds Web-Based Mobile Reading to Its Platform is a post from: Good e-Reader

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Scheduling meetings and other types of events can be difficult when there are lots of people involved. Doodle can help you find the best time to do it based on everyone's schedules.

Exploring computing education in rural schools in India

Earlier this year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation supported a University of Cambridge team of two researchers, Dr Maximilian Bock and Aftab Jalia, in a pilot project exploring the possibilities of providing computing access and education in rural schools in India. Working with local organisations and using an adaptable three-day programme, they led two workshops in June 2014 introducing students and teachers to computing with the Raspberry Pi. The workshops used specially designed electronics kits, including Raspberry Pis and peripherals, that were handed over to the partner organisations.

Karigarshala students connect Raspberry Pis and peripherals The first workshop took place at Karigarshala Artisan School, run by Hunnarshala Foundation in Bhuj, Gujarat; the attendees were a group of 15-to-19-year old students who had left conventional education, as well as three local instructors. The students started off with very little experience with computers and most had never typed on a keyboard, so a session introducing the keyboard was included, followed by sessions on programming, using the Raspberry Pi camera module and working with electronics.

Karigarshala students mastering hardware control of an LED via the Raspberry Pi GPIO

Karigarshala students mastering hardware control of an LED via the Raspberry Pi GPIO

Students chose to spend their evenings revisiting what they had learned during the day, and by the end of the course all the students could write programs to draw shapes, create digital documents, connect electronic circuits, and control components such as LEDs using the Raspberry Pi.

Chamoli students practise on their own using a TV as a monitor

Chamoli students practise on their own using a TV as a monitor

The second workshop welcomed six- to twelve-year-old pupils of the Langasu Primary School in the remote Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, along with three of their teachers. This younger group of students followed a programme with more focus on activities featuring immediate feedback — for example, Sonic Pi for live-coding music — alongside programming and electronics tasks. As they learned, students soon began teaching other students.

Weather station/forecaster Battery-operated inverter Pi-controlled chores robot

In an Ideas Competition held at the end of the workshop, entries reflected students’ engagement with the Raspberry Pi as a device with which to build solutions: an inverter system to deal with frequent power outages, a weather station that gives warnings, a robot to assist with menial chores.

The Cambridge team’s “Frugal Engineering” approach, delivering computing education without the need for elaborate infrastructure, proved very successful in both schools. Hunnarshala Foundation has decided to integrate the Raspberry Pi into its vocational training curriculum, while students at Langasu Primary School will not only carry on learning with Raspberry Pis at school but will be able to borrow self-contained Raspberry Pi Loan Kits to use at home. The Cambridge team remains in touch with the schools and continues to provide off-site support.

September 2014 and February 2015 will see the team build on this successful pilot with induction workshops in three new schools, as well as follow-up visits to evaluate the use of Raspberry Pi in past project sites and to provide support and resources for expanding the programmes.

Marvel Unlimited Access Discounted to .99 cents


Marvel has discounted their Unlimited subscription program to 99 cents for your first month. Readers will have access to over 13,000 digital comics to read on their smartphone, tablet or PC.

Unlimited is a Marvel exclusive and was designed to give the comic company more flexibility in their content distribution. Originally, it was a simple Netflix for comics proposition, pay a monthly rate and read all the comics you want. In the last few months they have adopted AR, motion comics and even comics with their own soundtracks.

Marvel Unlimited boasts a fairly large catalog of content and new issues are added weekly. It is important to note that most comics have a six month hold, before they can be brought over to Unlimited. So, its not a service to read the newest stuff, but catch up on the stuff you might have missed over the years. The .99 deal is going live when the Comic Con in San Diego starts. It is a limited time offer, so its worth checking out.

Marvel Unlimited Access Discounted to .99 cents is a post from: Good e-Reader