Monday, September 22, 2014

Play Alien Creeps: Tower Defense Extraterrestrial Style


There are plenty of games around just like it, but sometimes you need a little tower defense strategy game time to help you unwind. To that end, Alien Creeps TD is a game worthy of your attention. Brought to you by the developers at Outplay Entertainment, Alien Creeps TD is equal parts challenging and addictive. A quick tutorial when you begin the game will get you started, and in no time you will be using the energy gained from dead aliens to build more towers!

As you embark on each campaign, choose which research to pursue that will supplement the defensive weapons you have available to fight of the hoards of invading aliens. Just when you think you’ve dominated enough enemy forces, in flies the helicopter with your reinforcements and you are left wondering if you can beat just one more wave of bad guys. Of course, my favourite part has to be the air strikes… where you sweep in and take care of business in a serious way.

Progressing through each level means you earn resources that allow for the purchase more training for your heroes (or even recruiting new talent), all of which feels very satisfying.

The graphic quality inside the game is quite impressive, with just enough animation to keep you engaged without adding to load times or unnecessarily increasing complexity.

I have to say that I intended to put this game down about a dozen times before I was able to; anybody who is a sucker for a good strategy title might just face the same fate.

If you find yourself in the mood for a little good old fashioned tower defense, download Alien Creeps TD and try your hand at saving earth. The app is free to download and play, but in-app purchases promise to speed up your progress for those of you who are a little less than patient (like me).

Play Alien Creeps: Tower Defense Extraterrestrial Style is a post from: Good e-Reader

Patent Reveals Possible New BlackBerry Keyboard Design


Since the beginning of the smartphone, BlackBerry has held fairly strong (with very few exceptions) to the idea that users want a physical keyboard. With the upcoming BlackBerry Passport, this philosophy stays true –and if a patent application that was recently discovered is any indication, nothing will be changing anytime soon.

Text from the patent application indicates a three-row keyboard that is designed to be partially hidden:

“A keyboard portion is configured to move (with respect to a housing) between a deployed position and a non-deployed position. A cover pivotally couples to the housing and is configured to at least partially cover the keyboard portion when the keyboard portion is in the non-deployed position and to reveal the keyboard portion when the keyboard portion is in the deployed position. By one approach the cover is configured to move the keyboard portion between the deployed position and the non-deployed position as the cover pivots with respect to the housing.”

Unlike the fold-out keyboards seen on smartphones of yester-year, this design seems to be a merging of (the best of) two worlds: the ability to use actual keys for typing without being so -obvious- about it. Reading between the lines (so to speak), leads us to believe that when folded, one row of keys would remain visible –likely giving way to gestures or special functionality to be enjoyed while in this format.

Also flying around right now are rumours of new BlackBerry devices code-named ‘Visa’ and ‘Victoria’ that could feature a 5.5″ touch display on a LCD unit powered by Qualcomm Snapddragon 801 MSM8974AB; whether they also feature a version of this patent-protected keyboard is not yet known. It also isn’t known when we will see the new smartphones, but analysts are guessing at a release in the second quarter of 2015.

If BlackBerry can pull off innovation like this elegantly (and quickly), consumers may get excited –but a lot will depend on the success of their upcoming Passport device, due to be launched at three simultaneous events being held in major cities later this month

Patent Reveals Possible New BlackBerry Keyboard Design is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Unveils New Crowdsourcing Program for KDP Authors

Young woman reads electronic book sitting on the grass. Shallow depth of field.

Amazon Publishing currently has 15 different imprints that span every single literary genre. These books are not only sold online for Kindle e-readers but also physically printed and sent over to bookstores. Finding the next great book to throw their marketing engine behind has always been a risky proposition. Amazon is quietly approaching authors who self-publish under Kindle Direct Publishing for a new program that will kick-start a book and potentially earn a new publishing contract with Amazon – in 45 days or less.

Within the next few weeks KDP Authors will be asked to submit their complete, never-before-published book and cover. After a few days, Amazon will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites. Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by the Amazon team for potential publication.

Readers who are selected for Amazon publishing contracts will get incentives that compete with first time contracts by major publishers. Authors will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue. Amazon will also acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages, but the author will retain all other rights, including print.

As a small reward to the people who nominated the eBook to become published will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.

The titles selected for this yet unnamed Amazon program will not have their books published by Amazon Publishing. This is mainly why they are not offering book editing or cover art design. Instead, Amazon is hoping to give authors another reason to exclusively publish with them and forgo submitting their titles to the competition. It would make sense that this new program is the first phase for using KDP as a feeder system for Amazon to make more money off of the next great author. If anything, this might be a nice visibility booster for people with a good book and a great cover, who are struggling to be found.

I think more likely, Amazon is tired of authors who make a name for themselves selling their eBooks with Amazon then signing with traditional publishing houses for lucrative print contracts. The end game for this new eBook project is to publish audiobooks and eBooks and rope the authors into just dealing with Amazon and then saying “hey, why don’t we give you a bigger reason to continue to publish with us?”

Amazon Unveils New Crowdsourcing Program for KDP Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Maze Runner Game Arrives on Android


The Maze Runner phenomenon is running wild –beginning with a book series by James Dashner and evolving into an action film currently in theatres, the trilogy is now complete with an officially licensed mobile game released by PikPok (developed by Sticky Studios). Players are invited to follow a group of teenagers known as the Gladers around a complex maze in which they have become trapped.

The game itself is a level-based runner, not unlike Temple Run. Using familiar touchscreen gestures, swipe left and right (or up and down to jump or slide) as you map the maze and search for clues –collecting them all (while “dodging falling boulders, fiery pits, and gushing aqueducts”) will let you advance to the next level.

Skilled play will land you with upgrades and boosts that make play easier, and logging in daily will provide additional rewards.

Jeroen De Cloe, CEO of Sticky Studios, describes their game:

"The Maze Runner has been an exciting and fun property to work on, especially as many aspects of the film translate very well into the gaming world. We've managed to condense the thrilling action of the film into a portable, snackable gaming experience that both fans of the movie and gamers alike will enjoy."

If you would like to give The Maze Runner a try, download it now! You can get started for free, but be aware that in-app purchases will be required to eliminate ads and to enjoy other upgrades.

The Maze Runner Game Arrives on Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

BOOM! Studios Innovates Digital Comics with Sleepy Hollow


The second season of Sleepy Hollow is all set to debut on September 22nd and Boom! Studios is hoping to capitalize on the demand. The comic book company is releasing a series of digital shorts that focuses on the central characters prologues.

The first two prologues are already online, via the show's Facebook page and BOOM!'s Tumblr page, and center around Ichabod Crane and Jenny Mills. Both shorts are written by Bad Robot's Mike Johnson, with art by Matias Bergara, and take place prior to the first season — a long time prior, in Ichabod's case.

There are five digital shorts planned and in the near future they will be repackaged and sold online in a graphic novel format. I think it is very interesting that Boom! decided to engage in digital comic shorts. Something like this is rarely done in the comic book industry, and most of the time they do full digital editions, that take longer to produce.

BOOM! Studios Innovates Digital Comics with Sleepy Hollow is a post from: Good e-Reader

HarperCollins Now Adding Digital Watermark DRM to eBooks

HaperCollins has started using a new digital watermarking DRM, in addition to regular ebook DRM, to add additional security to their ebooks. HaperCollins and LibreDigital are the first companies to start using Digimarc’s new Guardian Watermarking DRM technology, which inserts unique, traceable code into ebooks at the time of transaction. The watermark DRM gives publishers […]

Boyue T62 E Ink eReader with Android 4.2 Now Available on Amazon

If you think the new Kindle Voyage is too overpriced or it doesn’t have the features you’re looking for in an ebook reader, there’s another new Android-powered ereader now available on Amazon called the Boyue T62. Last month while reviewing the Icarus Illumina HD, it turned out that it was actually a rebranded Boyue T61. […]

Snakes and Ladders, Pi style

Les Pounder is a big player in the Linux & free software community in the North West. I first met him a few years ago when he was running Barcamp Blackpool, Blackpool GeekUp, Oggcamp in Liverpool, UCubed (Ubuntu & Upstream Unconference) in Manchester plus Linux user groups and other events. When I set up the Manchester Raspberry Jam in 2012, it was modelled on the style of a UCubed event – and Les came along to help out.

Les was working as a systems administrator around the time the Pi came out. Within a year or so of the community blossoming and his involvement growing, he decided to embark on a new career with the Pi at its heart. He got some work running CPD for teachers, introducing them to the Pi and to coding, he started writing articles for Linux Format, he started putting Raspberry Pi projects together for Element14, and since Linux Voice began he’s been contributing articles and Pi tutorials for them. He’s also currently working on a book with Wiley on Raspberry Pi & Arduino projects.

Les recently set up the Blackpool Raspberry Jam – and at their inaugural event he demonstrated a new project he made which brings the traditional board game Snakes and Ladders in to the digital world of IO with the Model B+. It’s called Pythons and Resistors. Over to Les:

For this project we will look back to our childhood and bring a much loved game from our past into the future. The humble board game.


Board games have been a traditional family pastime for many generations but with the rise of computer games their novelty has started to dwindle. These card and paper based games have little to offer the children of today who have been brought up on a diet of downloadable content packs and gamer scores.

But what if we could take a game from yesteryear and adapt it using the Raspberry Pi?

Meet the latest interactive board game: Pythons and Resistors.


The board game is based on a simple snakes and ladders setup, with 100 squares in total via a grid of 10 x 10 squares. The object of the game is for 2 or more players to roll a dice and move their game piece to match the number given on the dice. If the player lands on a python’s head, then they will slither down the game board to the tail of the Python. If the player lands on the bottom of a resistor then they will climb up the game board. The winner is the first player to reach square 100, which is at the top left of the board.




See the full tutorial in the Element 14 community and see the final code on Les’s GitHub.

eBook Piracy Becomes a Top Concern


The UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has shut down a pirate eBook website called OnRead. This service provided over two million eBooks and bestsellers for a monthly fee. OnRead is claiming innocence, even though their entire domain has been seized by authorities.

OnRead made a name for themselves by providing an illicit Neflix for eBooks concept. Their low monthly fee attracted many e-reader, smartphone and tablet owners looking to get around paying anywhere between $9.99 to $29.99 for the eBook.

One of the alarming indications about how this site operated without publisher sanction was their terms of service. It stated "all materials presented on this site are available for the distribution over the Internet in accordance with the license of the Russian Organization for multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS) and intended for personal use only. Further distribution, resale or broadcasting is strictly prohibited," the recent archive reads.

ROMS is a Russian collective rights management organization that was originally founded in 2010, but the authors guild. It is ironic that this organization basically turned into a puppet for audio, video and eBook pirates to safeguard themselves by saying any content may not be resold and is only for private use.

eBook piracy is becoming a large concern for many nations and their publishers. According to research by Dutch firm GfK, only 10% of all eBooks on devices were actually paid for, with most of the digital books being pirated. Meanwhile a survey conducted by Book Industry Study Group fond that during the Spring 2013 semester, 34% of college students in the United States illegally downloaded course materials from unauthorized websites. In 2010, the percentage of textbook piracy 20%. According to figures published by Russia: Beyond the Headlines, 70% of Russians read eBooks, nearly a quarter more than the number who did a year ago. Yet 92% of those readers download their books from pirate websites.  eBook piracy resulted in €350 million ($467.1 million) in lost revenue for the €3 billion Spanish publishing industry in 2012.

Some publishers are seeking to combat piracy, such as HarperCollins. Recently, they announced the advent of digital watermarks to work in conjunction with standard Adobe DRM. It is quite easy to remove standard eBook encryption, but is quite difficult with the watermark. This serves as a deterrent for anti-piracy agencies that scan the internet for books posted on file sharing, pirate and torrent sites and serves them cease and desist letters.

Cory Doctorow said in a recent interview with Good e-Reader  “Saying piracy is not acceptable is like saying gravity makes my back hurt. There is a difference between a problem and a fact. You can say that the Earth is only 5,000 years old, but if you want to make money in the oil industry you have to dig where the Earth would be four billion years old." The problem-versus-fact scenario that Doctorow refers to is one that he feels is being fostered by people who see a difference in readership and sales.

"You can very firmly believe that it's incredibly bad for people to pirate things, but there's no future in which the internet makes it harder to copy. There's no articulatable theory of reducing piracy on the internet that doesn’t come from someone trying to sell you something. What I say when people claim that piracy is unacceptable is, 'Well, what do you plan to do about it?' You end up diverting a huge amount of money into alienating people."

The entire modern generation of internet users feel entitled to everything and have no moral qualms about what they do. From various interviews and research we have conducted over the years, there are three main reasons why people pirate. The first reason is the type of person that grows  up pirating content and has absolutely no moral qualms about doing so. The second is people who have a lack of a stable income or fixed income and still wants to satiate their literary thirst. Third, in the eBook realms people tend to pirate books they cannot get locally due to geographical restrictions or the lack of an official copy (such as Harry Potter).

When users buy into the whole OnRead system of eBooks, they know what they are getting involved in. The website may be shut down, but the users paying the monthly fees, will simply find another site to fill the void.

eBook Piracy Becomes a Top Concern is a post from: Good e-Reader