Marketed by social start-up Unii as an exciting way to share life’s moments with the world, Fling is one part Snapchat and one part spam. With that said, the premise is very enticing: snap a photo and let the app send it out to 50 random Fling users (while avoiding any users that you actually may want to see it).
Are you on the receiving end of a random Fling photo? You have the option of replying privately to the sender (which is entirely bizarre when you consider they could be anyone and live anywhere, at least in theory).
There are no constraints regarding what content is allowed, nor are there ways to report inappropriate use; this means chances are very good you will enjoy explicit content coming across your phone while you sip your morning coffee (I can’t imagine impromptu snapshots of my evening meal would be riveting or inspirational for those who would receive them). Based on this, it may be more accurate to classify Fling as a sort of dating app (though be careful, you may not want to send random strangers images that feature details such as phone numbers, addresses or license plates that could expressly identify you).
If you are curious, voyeuristic, or both… download Fling – Message The World for iOS and see what arrives. Unfortunately there isn’t an Android app available yet.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Amazon Prime members often get a bevy of benefits including Prime Music, Prime Video, one free eBook a month and free two day shipping. If you live in rural areas where FEDEX subcontracts shipping to your local mail service or if you don’t mind waiting a few days, there is a new program. Starting today, if you order something online with Amazon and are an existing Prime member you will earn $1 in credit you can use to pay or rent videos.
In the past, Prime members trying to purchase something would see a few choices, such as free standard shipping, free two-day shipping, and one-day shipping at an extra cost. There is now a new option: “Free No-Rush Shipping (5-7 business days).”
In return for waiting the few extra days you will earn $1 whenever you make a purchase. The credits are automatically added to your account and are only compatible with Prime Video. This allows users to be able to purchase movies, television shows or use the credit to rent them instead.
In the instant messaging game, everybody wants to be Snapchat; Instagram is no exception. With the launch of Bolt, Instagram has moved beyond images of what everybody had for supper and enters the world of instant sharing of photos and videos with your friends.
The interface is basically the same as we have seen in every competing app: one tap takes and sends a photo while your friends are able to reply with text, photos, or videos. What may be more surprising is that Bolt does not require that you have a Facebook or Instagram account in order to use the service.
While most people likely see this as Instagram trying to compete with existing ‘snap and share’ apps, the more likely reality is they are trying to maintain their stronghold in the photo sharing market so as to service and retain their considerable userbase.
So far you have to live in New Zealand, South Africa, or Singapore if you would like to demo Bolt –the developers have decided that these are the first locations targeted by their launch. If you are intrigued enough to give the app a try, keep watch as it is expected a North American release will follow shortly.
Macmillan started a limited US eBook pilot program for libraries at the beginning of 2013. The company only contributed titles at first from their Minotaur imprint to gauge market acceptance to their terms and conditions. The publisher is very satisfied with the amount of capital they are gleaning their established relationships with 3M, Baker & Taylor and Overdrive. This has prompted Macmillan to open up their entire catalog of 15,000 eBooks, including ones that just came out.
Macmillan is one of the those publishers that took ponderous steps to fully accept contributing their eBooks to libraries. They originally started with around 1,000 titles from Minotaur Press and then in October 2013 contributed their vast backlist catalog. This week the company has announced that they will also start selling their frontlist, which is a fancy way of saying any new book that comes out, even bestsellers.
All of the frontlist titles will be available for libraries in the United States to start purchasing in early August. It is important to note that each title is going to cost $60 each, which is well beyond the $9.99 cover price found on Amazon. Once the digital title is bought, it is only good for 52 loans or two years of library ownership.
Alison Lazarus, President, of Macmillan Sales comments: "Librarians have been asking for our frontlist titles for their collections. With more than a year of our current pilot behind us and a better sense of the market, we feel comfortable expanding our offering to our full catalog."
Libraries are clamoring for the oportonity to offer best sellers for all of their patrons, but the terms and conditions of publishers leave something to be desired. Simon and Schuster mandates that in order for libraries to buy their eBooks, they have to offer a BUY IT NOW button on their website. Macmillan is forcing libraries to pay almost $50 more than the cover price found on Amazon, B&N or Kobo.
Beginning as early as this week, Facebook will make it a requirement that you use their standalone Messenger app to send and receive messages (as they pull the plug on Messenger being supported from within their stock Facebook app). Generally, changes to Facebook are met with unhappiness among their users –but this time, the company is claiming it will help speed up the rates of response to messages sent out to your friends.
Facebook issued a statement regarding the move to a mandatory standalone app:
It can’t possibly be a coincidence that this separation occurred soon after Facebook acquired Whatsapp for $16 billion –it may be that the company is wanting to integrate additional features and functionality with the least impact to their core social networking app as possible.
Do you think this is a wise move for the social media giant? Are you more or less likely to use Facebook Messenger a result?
Everyone is concerned about security these days, especially when our smartphones and tablets are so vulnerable (due in large part to their multitasking abilities and portability). You can put a passcode on your device to make it more difficult for the bad guys to gain access and you can transfer documents securely using encrypted apps, but how do you protect phone calls? Open Whisper Systems has an answer with their new app, Signal.
Using Signal is simple, beginning with adding a phone number and then confirming it with a six-digit confirmation code (sent by SMS or phone call). When a phone call is initiated between two participating users, a pair of words is shown (one on each caller’s screen). From there, the security words are exchanged and a secure connection is in effect.
During an interview with Wired magazine, Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike noted:
Initial tests conducted by media and beta testers unveiled a few bugs, but overall Signal performed as advertised.
Secure phone calls may be overkill for most applications –but it is easy to consider situations where it may be advisable, such as: calls between doctors and their patients, or lawyers and their clients.
Ready to start making secure phone calls? Download Signal – Private Messenger from the Apple App Store for free. Existing users of the Android RedPhone app can also take advantage of this secure calling technology.
We are thrilled to announce that Macmillan Publishers will be adding its full collection of frontlist eBooks to OverDrive Marketplace for U.S. and Canadian public libraries.
This is an expansion of their March 2013 eBook lending pilot, which included Macmillan eBooks published 12 or more months ago. With addition of the frontlist catalog, OverDrive libraries will have access to over 10,000+ titles, including What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey, Beating Goliath by Art Briles, and Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
According to Macmillan's sales division president, Alison Lazarus, "Librarians have been asking for our frontlist titles for their collections. With more than a year of current pilot behind us and a better sense of the market, we feel comfortable expanding our offering to our full catalog."
The full collection of frontlist content will be available in OverDrive Marketplace in early August. We will post an announcement on the blog when the catalog is live.
These new additions will carry the same terms as current Macmillan titles: 52 checkouts or two years, whichever comes first. The frontlist catalog will be priced $60.00 USD and backlist content $40.00 USD.
As a reminder, Macmillan titles can be purchased by standalone libraries and consortia members who use OverDrive Advantage. You can view the complete lending terms here.
Whether you were watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a child alongside me, or you are seeing them for the first time as they regain popularity, I can guarantee that you have a favourite superdude. Nickelodeon is giving you the chance to play as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, or Raphael in an effort to launch Ninjitsu-style attacks that will protect the city against Shredder and his minions.
Beyond the awesome stars of the game, the interface is sophisticated enough to deliver a true feeling of being a martial-arts fighter (at least virtually, anyway). When an enemy is near, upward swipes will send them flying while a horizontal slide of your fingers will execute attack moves. If you manage to avoid getting hit, your turtle power meter will fill and the combo multiplier delivers fast mini-games (where you get the change to fight as a group with all 4 turtles) that add to the action and excitement.
The more you play, the more you can upgrade your turtle (I recommend choosing Leonardo, because, well… he’s clearly the best).
If you are excited by the idea of masquerading as a butt-kicking turtle, download Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now for $3.99 CAD (with additional in-app purchases available).
The tablet industry is currently on the downward trend as customers start embracing ultrabooks, Chromebooks and cheap laptops. Best Buy, one of the last chains of its kind has admitted that their tablet pc sales are starting to crash.
According to the retail chief Hubert Joly tablet companies are not giving customers a reason to upgrade. “Tablets boomed and now are crashing. The volume has really gone down in the last several months. But I think the laptop has something of a revival because it's becoming more versatile. So, with the two-in-ones, you have the opportunity to have both a tablet and laptop, and that's appealing to students in particular. So you have an evolution. The boundaries are not as well defined as they used to be.”
One of the big reasons Best Buy has noticed tablet pc sales flatlining is due to the concept of showrooming. This is where customers come into the store to see the devices in action and then purchase it from Amazon, Newegg or TigerDirect. Joly mentioned that they have started to price match online orders from Amazon and other companies, they really want your business and cited Geeksquad and in-store pickups as being compelling factors.
"Tablet PC demand in 2014 is being affected by falling demand for the 7" class in emerging regions and in China, where many local white-box brands have experienced lower-than-expected shipment growth," said Hisakazu Torii, vice president, smart application research at NPD DisplaySearch. "Most major brands have recently reduced their business plans for 2014. There is a risk that the replacement cycle for tablet PCs will lengthen beyond the one to two year range unless brands can develop more attractive usage scenarios."
Yesterday, we shared a few ways that the winners of June's OverDrive Challenge managed to increase their circulation in June by more than 25% or 50% over their previous best month on record. There were so many great ideas that we continue the series today with some more fun examples. Which of these creative campaigns can you adopt in your own library to help raise awareness and boost circulation?
Generate excitement in and around the library
"We created an in-library display of book covers that correlated with popular eBook titles and had a computer display at our checkout desks with information about OverDrive. We also reached into the community, sending a direct email to every city employee, advertising our eBook collection." – Heather G, Watsonville Public Library
"It was fortuitous timing that the main library closed for refurbishment in June, so we promoted the E-Library as a form of alternative provision during the closure. The photo shows a big board outside the closed library suggesting that people use eBooks during the closure – 'Don't forget the library in your living room.' In addition to these measures, we also invested a lot of money in new eBooks; created some featured collections; used social media (I got retweeted by Jenny Agutter!); and put up A5 posters among the books in libraries recommending particular eBooks with QR codes." – Helen W, York Libraries
"At the West Boulevard Library, I created bookmarks to put in Adult and YA fiction titles that have an eBook in OverDrive. I also created shelfmarker type signs that stuck out on the shelves that informed patrons we have eBooks and eAudiobooks." – Deshea J, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
"Our most popular print books now all have 'Also available as an eBook' stickers on the covers. We also made a huge thermometer banner that hangs from the top of our second floor to monitor our eBooks stats during the Challenge." – Kirsten N, St. Albert Public Library
Stand out on social media
"We identified early on that we needed at least 900 downloads to safely meet the 25% target, and invited our community to help us ‘crack 900 downloads’ in June. Our campaign was run mainly via our social media channels, particularly Facebook and Twitter. We used the hashtag #crackthe900 on all promotional updates/tweets, and created posters and social media profile images displaying that hashtag." – Athina M, Monash Public Library Service
"In addition to an email blast, we posted regularly on Facebook. Here's one of our fun posts:
I know it is summer, but that doesn’t mean you should let your brain atrophy! In order to help your mind stay nimble, let’s practice a little math. Ready? Here’s a story problem:
"This is our mascot Monte who encouraged our Facebook users to help us beat the Challenge! Monte is a donkey, in honor of our first county librarian who delivered books to extremely rural areas via burro." – Sharon C, Monterey County Free Libraries
Feel free to leave your unique promotional ideas in the comments or on our Facebook page!
Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive
It is doubtful that anybody misses the days when listening to your favourite radio programs meant watching the clock and tuning in at a particular time. These days, life doesn’t have to revolve around radio schedules –using the NPR One app, you can tune in and start following the stories and news that matter to you (including local news that will be woven seamlessly into your audio stream).
Following in the footsteps of other customized and curated streaming media apps, like Pandora, NPR One gives you two introductory segments; once you are hooked, create an account and swipe your way through the presented audio (left to skip ahead, right to see your listening history). Want to hear something specific? Use the integrated search to find the programs you like best.
This is another app that evolves: tag stories as interesting so NPR One can learn what you like.
Technical features of the app are what you would expect: skip, rewind, pause, and share individual shows, stations, and podcasts. The user interface is described as sparse, but many will appreciate the short learning curve and ease of use this affords; simple is refreshing.
If you love public radio, start enjoying your favourite stations by downloading NPR One for free now.
Coding music on a Raspberry Pi with Sonic Pi has quickly become a great way to learn programming concepts and to pump out some thumping beats. Last year I worked with Dr Sam Aaron, live coder and academic at the University of Cambridge, to teach KS3 pupils text-based programming on Raspberry Pis as part of their ICT & Computing lessons. Since then Sonic Pi has proved incredibly popular in classrooms worldwide. The scheme of work we used is available for free in the ‘Teach’ section of our resources for any educator wanting to teach computer programming in a fun way.
Since our classroom collaboration, Sam has been busy working on Sonic Pi version 2.0 and together we have been wowing attendees of Picademy with the potential of Sonic Pi for the classroom. We have also been working on Sonic Pi: Live & Coding, a digital research project funded by NESTA to turn a Raspberry Pi into a musical instrument with Sonic Pi, working with schools, artists, academics and the Cambridge Junction, which will culminate in a Sonic Pi: Live & Coding Summit this November. In fact, this week at the Cambridge Junction, 60 children have been participating in the project, having coding music battles, and jamming with musicians.
To coincide with the summit, we will be launching a Sonic Pi: Live & Coding competition in September to find the best original sonic pi composition created by a child or young person in three age categories. We will have 5000 Raspberry Pis to give away at random for those who take part, and the semi-finalists of the competition will be invited to perform their original work live at the summit in November in front of an audience and panel of judges to potentially be crowned the first ever Sonic Pi Competition winner!
So what are you waiting for? Download Sonic Pi version 2 for your Raspberry Pi by following these instructions, and then take a look at the Sonic Pi 2 article by Sam in the MagPi magazine, and our new Sonic Pi Version 2 Getting Started resource. Take this opportunity to practice and get a head start on the competition!
Good e-Reader has been chronicling the e-reader industry right around the time Amazon released their second generation model and started to compete against Sony. We have seen the rise of Kobo, Nook and a host of European companies offer a dedicated device that was designed just to read eBooks. You would be surprised how many emails we get about the benefits of a dedicated e-reader when compared to a smartphone or tablet. Today, we look at some of the main ones, to help you in your quest to find the ideal device for your lifestyle.
Long Battery Life
I am a self-admitted gadget fiend, finding solace in new tech toys. One of the problems I have noticed with smart watches, fitness bands, smartphones or tablets is the deplorable battery life. You have to charge these puppies every single day, unless you carry around a solar charger or spare battery.
e-Readers such as the Nook Glowlight, Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Aura were designed to last a really long time. You could basically read every single day for a few hours and it will last about a month
It is all about the screen technology that powers the readers that make them last so long. e-Ink was designed to only draw power when the screen is refreshed. It draws no power when you are simply reading.
Reading in the Sun is Glorious
I am sure everyone has run into the situation where you need to hunt around for a bit of shade and get out of direct sunlight. LCD screens tend to reflect light like nobodies business because the average screen has multiple layers.
Take the iPad for example, it has an in-plane switching (IPS), light-emitting diode (LED), liquid crystal display (LCD) that produces crisp, clear colors under normal conditions. It’s not laminated the same way the iPhone screen is, so it’s even slightly more reflective when it catches rays.
When it comes down to it most smartphones and tablets have a glossy screen. I believe most e-ink screens are optimized for a matte screen, which allows our eyes to relax in a more natural state. E-paper is not reflective by nature, so even under direct sunlight you can read a book perfectly, ideal for the beach.
Reading in the Dark is Rad – Tablets, well they might kill you
When it comes to reading in the dark people often use their tablets or smartphones. This is one of the worst things you could possibly do.
If person uses any type of tablet that has a backlit screen, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire in the dark, it can suppress the release of melatonin. So what is melatonin and why is it a big deal? Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night and under conditions of darkness in both diurnal and nocturnal species. It is a "timing messenger," signaling nighttime information throughout the body. Exposure to light at night, especially short-wavelength light, can slow or even cease nocturnal melatonin production. Suppression of melatonin by light at night results in circadian disruption and has been implicated in sleep disturbances, increased risk for diabetes and obesity, as well as increased risk for more serious diseases, such as breast cancer, if circadian disruption occurs for many consecutive years, such as in night shift workers.
Reading at night is hardly advisable on a tablet, but is better with an e-reader. Most modern devices from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Onyx and Icarus all have front-lit display screens. Instead of the light emitting from behind the screen, like a tablet, the light stems from small LED lights on the bottom of the bezel that shine upwards. This gives you even light distribution across the entire screen, illuminating all of the text.
e-Readers are Durable
Let me be perfectly honest. I have a really expensive tablet, that cost over $1,100. When I bring it out in public it is hard to really enjoy it because I am so worried I might drop it on the floor, it might get pinched or I simply am absent minded and will lose it. So when it comes down to it, I often just leave it at home, instead of bringing it out. Same with vacations, its hard to chill by the pool or go on hikes and have it get wet or exposed to the elements.
e-Readers are fairly low cost. You could get a top of the line mode for under $129 and it could take more of a beating than tablets ever could. On our Youtube Channel we have done drop tests with most e-readers released in the last three years, they all survived. This is because they don’t have glass, they use e-paper and most of the bodies are high grade plastic. Tablets do have glass and they break or chip really easy. I mean, how many people have you seen out in public with broken iPhone screens because they fell a few feet and hit the concrete?
When it comes right down to it, e-readers are far superior in battery life, are inexpensive and can take a beating. They are simply not a target for thieves and you can feel free to bring it during your commute, without people sizing you up.
Reading for long durations on an ereader is very easy on the eyes and studies have proven that tablets are really bad.
Have I missed anything? What do you guys prefer to read on, phones, tablets or e-readers?