Friday, July 25, 2014

Is Next Issue Good for Canadians?


If you live in Canada and watch television, undoubtedly you might have seen the Next Issue advertisements. The premise of their campaign is trying to convince you that physical magazines take up a lot of room. It makes it unsuitable for reading at home, or on the go. So the question is, is Next Issue viable for Canadians wanting to read digitally?

Next Issue has over 100 digital magazines in their catalog and offers a free one month subscription. Afterwards, it costs $9.99 a month to read as much as you want. Well, there is a catch, you don’t get People, Hello! Canada, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Maclean’s, or Time unless you pong up $14.99 a month.

If you like content, Next Issue has you covered. They have established relationships with most of the leading publishers. This includes Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers and Time. For your average reader, they have most of the mainstream magazines, such as Wired, Popular Mechanics, Bloomberg, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, Macleans, People, and Vogue.

Canadians do have access to a fair amount of content, but Next Issue is heavily skewed towards the very mainstream. There are no magazines from major publishers in England, such as Imagine. Basically, there is hardly any international representation in the overall catalog. Instead, you mainly have stuff printed and published in Canada and the US only. I am a big fan of Games TM, Vice, T3 and other tech magazines, sadly there is none of these.

If you are using the Next Issue app for Android or iOS you normally pick and choose what issues you want to subscribe to, and they download to your device. Each one is around 100MB in size, and this warrants monitoring of space limits. Most people have the 16GB iPad or iPhone, and a few months of storing magazines could really take up a ton of space.

There are some very noticeable drawbacks when using their app. New issues don’t download automatically unless the app is open. If you have many downloading at once, they take a long time to complete.

When it comes to reading digital magazines in Canada, we are somewhat limited to who offers them and what type of deals they offer. Amazon, Apple and Kobo all sell individual magazines directly and have way more content than Next Issue. There are also companies like Magster, PressReader and Zinio that all offer subscription plans. These three companies all have larger catalogs than Next Issue. Zinio allows you subscribe to 3 magazines a month, with their ZPass program, while PressReader allows you to subscribe to them all, and puts a heavily emphasis on international magazines from over 80 countries.

Most Canadians just want to read the popular and mainstream magazines and Next Issue may make sense. The price is low enough, that you can read as many as you want, without having to pay for them individually. If you like to read magazines in other languages and from other countries, avoid it.

Is Next Issue Good for Canadians? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Golf World Magazine Suspends Print and Goes Digital


Golf World is the oldest American magazine and first started publication in 1947. Conde Nast has made the call to suspend the print edition, due to declining sales and focus on digital distribution.

The changes were announced Wednesday as part of its “new strategic vision” for Golf World. By going exclusively digital, the magazine will start pumping out 50 issues a year, up from 31 issues of the print version.

Jerry Tarde, the chairman of Golf World said “It’s a response to the times and people’s reading habits, and the changing nature of the 24-hour news cycle,” Tarde said. “The notion of a print magazine that lands a week after the action … the perspective is really good, but it’s much better if it can be delivered immediately. That’s what our readers’ expectations are.”

According to Adage, Golf World averaged paid and verified circulation of 213,387 during the last six months of 2013, according to its filing with the Alliance for Audited Media, down slightly from nearly 215,000 a year earlier. Print ad pages were off 28.5% through its July 21 edition, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Apparently they will not be releasing a digital magazine, per say. Instead, everything will be o instantly viewable from with daily updates on the latest golf news and tour coverage.

Golf World Magazine Suspends Print and Goes Digital is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple Enhances eBook Discovery with BookLamp


Apple is looking to beat Amazon at the eBook discovery game with the acquisition of BookLamp. The Idaho based startup has focused their company primarily on analytics services that is specialized on big data.

BookLamp’s claim to fame was the Book Genome project, a book discovery engine that analyzed the text of books to break them down by various themes and variables to let readers search for books similar to books they liked.

BookLamp also provided content analysis services to a number of e-book distributors like Amazon, Apple, and other publishers, screening books for categorization and providing a platform for publishers to screen manuscripts.


The one thing that BookLamp did really well was look at a specific title and extrapolate the underlying metadata. As you can see from the Stephen King example above, it categorizes all of the main themes of the book, to help with indexing and organization in the bookstore.

Apple has not formally announced the amount of cash it has ponied for the company, but the rumor was between $10 and $20 million dollars. BookLamp was actually in negotiation with Amazon prior to the sale to Apple, but the talks fell through.

What will Apple do with BookLamp?

Aside from the clientbase that BookLamp already has, there are a number of things Apple could do with the technology. The first would be to develop a competitor to Amazon X-Ray, which would give you the people, places and things in a book, but also major themes. It would also assist in vetting out titles that would not be appropriate for kids or young teens.

Apple iBooks currently does not really focus on recommendations or personalization. They mainly have a series of top lists, editors choice, or recommended titles from Apple curators. Some of this data is changed based on geography, for example in Canada you would see a number of French language titles.

BookLamp technology would allow Apple to give more personalization based on past purchases. This is similar to the type of data Amazon employs and it often leads to more sales, especially if the data could be displayed on the iPad/iPhone, but also via Email.

Apple Enhances eBook Discovery with BookLamp is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sprint Partners with Google To Sell Business Apps


Next month, Spring and Google will begin working together for the good of enterprise customers. According to a new agreement, Sprint business users will be granted full access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sites, Google Drive and Google Docs.

Mike Fitz, vice president of business solution commercialization at Spring Business made a statement regarding the new relationship with Google, stating: “Sprint offers a variety of mobile tools to accommodate multigenerational work styles within the workplace, helping people to boost productivity and collaborate from virtually anywhere.” With the addition of Google services, Sprint has the largest offering among its competitors, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

From Google’s side of the table, the comments were equally positive. Murali Sitaram, director of strategic partnerships for Google Enterprise noted: “Google Apps helps businesses work better together with familiar tools they can trust. We are pleased to welcome Sprint to the Google Apps Partner Program, where they will provide Google Apps and added services to help customers work the way they live.”

In order to purchase the Google Apps suite, users are not required to be current Sprint customers –but clearly the company is hoping that everyone eventually will.

Sprint Partners with Google To Sell Business Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – July 25 2014


Today we look at the top 10 new Android apps of the week that are all available to download for free on the Good e-Reader App Store.

Madefire Motion Books & Comics – Madefire Motion Books & Comics is a free app that delivers the most innovative reading experience on devices with Motion Books and traditional print comics as it pioneers the next chapter in storytelling. In its purest form – the Madefire app is a free comic book reader with direct in-app purchasing and where traditional print comics coexist with a new digital format to take visual storytelling to the next level.

Barbie Fashion Design Maker – Barbie Fashion Design Maker allows you to be a real fashion designer. Choose from different photo realistic fabric swatches and patterns to create real outfits that you can put on Barbie. Use your own photographs as design elements for your fashions. Level up your designer ranking by completing challenges and winning awards!

BitLit – BitLit allows you to get an eBook of a print book you already own. As long as you own the book, you can use BitLit to download the eBook for FREE or highly discounted.

Bamboo Paper – Turn your Android tablet into a paper notebook. Bamboo Paper helps you capture your thoughts and ideas. Taking notes, sketching and drawing is as straightforward and as simple as using a real pen and paper.

French’s World - Grab your croissant and get your moustache ready for this new adventure throughout 52 entertaining levels. French's World is a classic platform game that combines old school game play with modern playability. Run around 3 different worlds and several kind of scenarios and gather as many coins as you can. Avoid enemies and try to complete every level in time.

ChoreMonster – ChoreMonster makes chores fun by engaging and rewarding your kids! Kids earn points by completing chores to use towards rewards like an hour of video games or a camping trip. Parents get an easy-to-use tool that takes the tension out of household chores. Kids also earn tickets to the Monster Carnival for each chore completed, where they can win and collect our monsters. With ChoreMonster, your kids will beg to do their chores!

Sprout Now – Sprout Now is your mobile destination for full episodes of your favorite Sprout shows. Log in with your television provider account and open up a whole new way to enjoy Sprout – anywhere you are.

Microsoft account – Sometimes, Microsoft needs to verify your identity to help make sure that you – and only you – have access to your account. The Microsoft account app makes this easy, and you no longer need to enter security codes from text messages or authenticator apps! Instead, you’ll get a notification when you need to verify your identity. Just tap to approve, and you're done!

Amazon Wallet - Use the Amazon Wallet app to simplify your shopping trips, and never lose another gift card or rewards membership number. Scan or type your gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards to your Amazon Wallet to reduce the clutter in your leather wallet or purse. Wherever you are, the information you need is easily available as a barcode, QR code, text or image. For supported merchants, check the balance of your stored gift cards. Information saved in your Amazon Wallet is stored securely in the Amazon cloud. In addition, your Amazon Wallet cards can be viewed and edited at, where you will also find the credit cards, bank accounts, and other payment methods saved in your Amazon account.

HTC Sense Input - HTC Sense Input speeds up your typing and reduces accidental errors. It learns from your input and selections and offers you more precise word candidates. HTC Sense Input also supports the "trace" feature so you can type more efficiently with one hand.

Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – July 25 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader

90% of US Libraries now Loan out eBooks


Libraries in the United States have been steadily embracing digital books for the past few years. A new report has decreed that 90% of all libraries now loan out eBooks, up from 76% in 2012.

The American Library Association is the definitive body in convincing libraries to embrace digital. They frequently hold annual meetings in different States and hold sessions where key executives and librarians talk about digital.

In the past few years ALA has been petitioning major publishers to bring them onboard with the concept that loaning the eBooks out for free, does not devalue the work. Penguin-Random House, S&S, Hachette, and HarperCollins have all committed themselves to making libraries work for them, although each company has their terms and conditions.

Some publishers have 26 limit checkouts before having to purchase the book again, while others allow libraries one years worth of loans. S&S mandates that libraries need to implement a Buy IT Now button and sell the eBooks, in order to even do business with them, while Penguin offers it as an option. Despite some of the shortcomings and each publisher having their own terms, the industry is hoping for a more unified strategy in the coming years.

Digital adoption by libraries has never been higher in the history of humankind. It is ridiculously simply to borrow an audiobook, eBook or watch a streaming video. Next year, I would not be surprised if this 90% figure were to climb further.

90% of US Libraries now Loan out eBooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

Your e-Reader is now Viable for Digital Comics


When it comes to digital comic books, often publishers and distributors rely on dedicated apps. Marvel, IDW, DC, Dark Horse all run their own ecosystems that allow readers to purchase and view comics on their tablet or smartphone. This often relegates your Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony unviable. Though, this might all change due to Comixology finally going DRM-Free and allowing users to backup their purchases.

Comixology has announced that they are teaming up with publishers Top Shelf, Image, Dynamite, Thrillbent, and Zenescope for a DRM-Free initiative. They are also allowing aspiring creators who publish their comics through the Comixology Submit program the option to offer their digital editions DRM-free. The downloaded files will be available in PDF and CBZ formats, which are ideal for most e-readers on the market.

Your average e-reader is capable of reading PDF files, and most have newfound support for the format. Your Kindle, Cybook, Sony or Kobo has really grown up in the last few years with robust pinching and zooming and new e-paper technology to cut down on screen refreshing.

Most e-readers do not have native support for CBZ files, but new models that have come out in 2014 do. Onyx and Icarus have both released Vanilla e-ink readers that run Android, and allows users to install their favorite comic reading app. Sadly, your Kindle or Nook does not have native support for CBZ.

In order to read CBZ files on your favorite e-reader you need to rename the CBZ file to ZIP and you can extract a folder full of ordinary images. This allows any reader in the world to view them.

Comixology going DRM-Free is one of the best things to happen to the e-reader industry this year. It finally gives owners a viable alternative to having to use a small screen phone or a bulky tablet. Instead, you can store hundreds of issues on your Kindle and read them at your leisure.

Your e-Reader is now Viable for Digital Comics is a post from: Good e-Reader

Don’t have Time to Read Ulysses? Play the Game

Wendy Conroy reads Ulysses in period costume in a Dublin chemist as Bloomsday festivities begin

James Joyce’s Ulysses is one of the most important books to be written by a biped. It is on many peoples reading list, but seldom completed. The novel is fairly daunting and this is prompting Dublin filmmaker Eoghan Kidney to develop a 3D immersive experience using Oculus Rift.

The filmmaker is looking to raise $5,000 to turn the chapter Proteus into a visual Cliff’s Notes. In this installment Dedalus wanders across a desolate beach, closes his eyes, and ponders the shifting nature of reality and the disconnect between his inner self and the external world.

The intention behind this project is to make the book more accessible, even if the crowdfunding initiative is for a single chapter. The filmmaker has disclosed that if this is successful, he will make a playable, immersive world of the entire novel.

Don’t have Time to Read Ulysses? Play the Game is a post from: Good e-Reader

Is Blackberry Developing a BBM App for Tizen?


Blackberry has been focused on developing software and expanding the reach of their seminal messaging client. In recent weeks they released a BETA app for Windows phones and they might be soon releasing a new client for Tizen based smartwatches.

Tizen is a new OS that was developed by Intel and a series of mobile phone operators. Samsung has been the only company to employ it in a commercially viable product, with their Galaxy Gear 2.

BBM was seen recently on the new Samsung branded watch, which is leading industry experts to interpret that Blackbery may be developing their client for the wearables market, a segment that is growing.

Is Blackberry Developing a BBM App for Tizen? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Pi in the Sky: hardware for high-altitude balloonists from Dave Akerman

Liz: Regular readers will be very familiar with the name Dave Akerman. Dave has been sending Raspberry Pis to the stratosphere under weather balloons since we launched the Pi in 2012, and his work in helping schools develop their own in-house space programs has been fantastic to watch. He and his friend Anthony Stirk have just produced a telemetry add-on board for the Raspberry Pi to help schools (and everybody else) reproduce the sort of spectacular results you’ve seen from him before. Here he is to introduce it: over to you, Dave!

High Altitude Ballooning is an increasingly popular hobby (I nearly said that interest has been “ballooning”, but fortunately I stopped myself just in time …), bringing what is termed “near space” within the reach of pretty much anyone who is willing to put in the effort and spend a moderate amount of money.

moon and sky from stratosphere


Although it’s possible to successfully fly and retrieve a balloon with a simple GSM/GPS tracker, the chances are that this will end in failure and tears. GSM coverage in the UK is nowhere near 100%, especially in rural areas which is where we want (and aim) the flights to land. The next step up, in reliability and price, is a “Spot” tracker which works solely via satellites, but those don’t work if they land upside down. Also, neither of these solutions will tell you how high the flight got, or record any science data (e.g. temperature, pressure), or indeed tell you anything about the flight until they land. If you’re lucky. A lost flight is a sad thing indeed.

pic from stratosphere


For some countries (e.g. USA, but not the UK), if you are a licensed amateur radio operator you can fly an APRS tracker, in which case the flight will be tracked for you via the ground-based APRS network run by other radio hams. Sadly UK laws prohibit radio hams transmitting from an airborne vehicle, so APRS is out for us.

For these reasons, pretty much everyone involved in the hobby in the UK, and many other countries, uses radio trackers operating in an ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) band where airborne usage is allowed. These work throughout the flight, transmitting GPS co-ordinates plus temperature and anything else that you can add a sensor for. Many radio trackers can also send down live images, meaning that you can see what your flight is seeing without having to wait for it to land. Here’s a diagram showing how telemetry from the flight ends up as a balloon icon on a Google map:

tracking system


What’s not shown here is that, provided you tell them, the other balloonists will help track for you. So not only will you be receiving telemetry and images directly via your own radio receiver, but others will do to. All received data is collated on a server so if you do lose contact with the flight briefly then it doesn’t matter. However, this does not mean you can leave the tracking up to others! You’ll need to receive at the launch site (you have to make sure it’s working!) and also in the chase car once it lands. The expense of doing this is small – a TV dongle for £12 or so will do it, with a £15 aerial and a laptop, ideally with a 3G dongle or tethered to a phone.

Traditionally, balloonists build their own radio trackers, and for anyone with the skills or the time and ability to learn programming and some digital electronics, this is definitely the most rewarding route to take. Imagine receiving pictures of the Earth from 30km up, using a piece of kit that you designed and built and programmed! So if you are up to this challenge (and I suspect that most people reading are) then I recommend that you do just that. It takes a while, but during the development you’ll have plenty of time to research other aspects of the hobby (how to predict the flight path, and obtain permission, and fill the balloon, etc.). And when you’re done, you can hold in your hand something that is all your own work and has, to all intents and purposes, been to space.

weather balloon bursting


For some though, it’s just not practical to develop a new tracker. Or you might be a programming whizz, but not know which end of a soldering iron to pick up. It was with these people in mind that we (myself and Anthony Stirk – another high altitude balloonist) developed our “Pi In The Sky” telemetry board. Our principle aim is to enable schools to launch balloon flights with radio trackers, without having to develop the hardware and software first. It is also our hope that older children and students will write their own software or at least modify the provided (open source) software, perhaps connecting and writing code for extra sensors (the board has an i2c connection for add-ons).

The board and software are based on what I’ve been flying since my first “Pi In The Sky” flight over 2 years ago, so the technology has been very well proven (approximately 18 flights and no losses other than deliberate ones!). So far the board itself has clocked up 5 successful flights, with the released open-source software on 3 of those. Here’s the board mounted to a model B (though we very strongly recommend use of a model A, which consumes less power and weighs less):

Pi in the Sky board

It comes in a kit complete with a GPS antenna, SMA pigtail (from which you can easily make your own radio aerial), stand-offs for a rigid mounting to the Pi board, and battery connectors. Software is on, with installation instructions at, or there is a pre-built SD card image for the tragically lazy. We do recommend manual installation as you’ll learn a lot.

By now you’re probably itching to buy a board and go fly it next weekend. Please don’t. Well, buy the board by all means, but from the moment you decide that this is the project for you, you should task yourself with finding out all you can about how to make your flight a safe success. For a start, this means learning about applying for flight permission (which, if you want to launch from your garden at the end of an airport runway, isn’t going to be given). Permission is provided together with a NOTAM (NOtice To AirMen) which tells said pilots what/where/when your launch will be, so they can take a different path. You also need to learn about predicting the flight path so that it lands well away from towns or cities or motorways or airports. I hope I don’t need to explain how important all of this is.



There’s lots more to learn about too, for example:

  • How to track the flight
  • How to fill a balloon
  • Where to buy the balloon
  • What size balloon? What size parachute? How to tie it all together?

None of this is complicated (it’s not, ahem “rocket science”), but there is a lot to know. Don’t be surprised if the time between “I’ll do it!” and “Wow, I did it!” is measured in months. Several of them. In fact, worry if it’s less than that – this research takes time. We will be producing some teaching materials, but meantime please see the following links:

As for the board, it provides a number of features borne out of a large number of successful flights:

  • Efficient built-in power regulator providing run time of over 20 hours from 4 AA cells (using a model A Pi)
  • Highly sensitive UBlox GPS receiver approved for altitudes up to 50km
  • Temperature compensated, license-free (Europe) frequency agile, 434MHz radio transmitter
  • Temperature sensor
  • Battery voltage monitoring
  • Sockets for external i2c devices, analog input, external temperature sensor
  • Allows use of Raspberry Pi camera
  • Mounting holes and spacers for a solid connection to the Pi

The open-source software provides these features:

  • Radio telemetry with GPS and sensor data using UKHAS standard
  • Radio image download using SSDV standard
  • Multi-threaded to maximize use of the radio bandwidth
  • Variable image size according to altitude
  • Stores full-definition images as well as smaller transmitted images
  • Automatically chooses better images for download
  • Configurable via text file in the Windows-visible partition of the SD card
  • Supplied as github repository with instructions, or SD card image

Finally, anyone interested in high altitude ballooning, using our board or not, should come to the UKHAS Conference on 16th August 2014 at the University of Greenwich. Anthony and I will be presenting our board during the morning sessions, and will run a workshop on the board in the afternoon. For tickets click here.