Tuesday, October 21, 2014

San Antonio International Airport Unveils Free eBook Terminal

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If you are passing through the San Antonio International Airport you can now borrow eBooks for free. Two Digital Library kiosks have been installed by the Friends of the San Antonio Public Library at a cost of $26,000.

The San Antonio Public Library has introduced a new innovative new feature into the kiosks that will allow out-of-town travelers to get a temporary library SAPL card that they can use right in the airport. The cards are good for 24 hours and have a limit of three items that can be checked out for seven days.

The kiosks are primarily used as a rapid charging station but also allow you to gain a library card. Once you attain a temporary card, you can use it to log onto the libraries main website to  borrow audiobooks, eBooks, music or videos.

I really like this concept. The entire notion of a free library card that expires after three days of use, but allows a traveler to borrow media for a week is really excellent. I hope this idea catches on, it serves as a solid introduction to the library system and hopefully gets the traveler to use their own local libraries digital services when they get home.

San Antonio International Airport Unveils Free eBook Terminal is a post from: Good e-Reader

PhotoMath App Solves Equations Using Your Smartphone Camera


Several years (decades) ago, when I was in high school, I remember teachers rather snidely telling us that we needed to learn all of these things because “it isn’t like we will be walking around with whole computers in our pockets.” The sassy teenager in me desperately wants to go back in time to wave her smartphone in their faces right about now. That same teenaged girl would have loved PhotoMath, an app that lets you use your smartphone’s camera to scan images of math problems from your textbooks.

Sure it lacks some of the old-school charm that those brick-sized Texas Instruments calculators had (I’m hoping at least a few of you can picture what I mean without having to use Google), but with the press of a button you can bridge the gap between hovering the viewfinder over your math homework and seeing the correct answer on the screen.

Math and science teachers are going to have very mixed feelings about this app. Usually their first retort is to point out that the answer is meaningless without showing the steps required to get you there –but PhotoMath shows you those too. That makes it a pretty fantastic cheating tool, but also a pretty remarkable teaching and learning one as well.

Initial reviews of PhotoMath are a little mixed, stating the app easily handles simple equations but can struggle with those that are more complex (though I’m certain this will improve with time).

Unfortunately for those using Android devices, PhotoMath is only available for iOS and Windows Phone right now –but a compatible version has been promised to us in early 2015.

PhotoMath App Solves Equations Using Your Smartphone Camera is a post from: Good e-Reader

BlackBerry Plans Enterprise Event For November 13th

2012 Consumer Electronics Show Showcases Latest Technology Innovations

It seems like the mobile device market is moving faster than ever, a point proven by yet another launch even this fall –this time it is BlackBerry with a round of enterprise branded announcements. CEO John Chen will join a few of his top executives in San Fransisco on November 13, intending to debut a selection of hardware and software. Given the theme, we may be lucky enough to see the release of their much-anticipated BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12 (that includes the company’s updated mobile device management solution).

It wasn’t that long ago that we last saw BlackBerry up on stage, with their Passport launch event happening this past September. That event brought consumers the Passport, which may be an unusual looking smartphone, but initial responses have been positive. To appease BlackBerry loyalists who may be less interested in something that looks so different, the Classic was also shown off (but not released) earlier this year, offering users the QWERTY keyboard they love combined with the touchscreen they need in this modern day… so maybe it’s time for a true launch now.

Last, but not least, BlackBerry users should expect to see the release of OS 10.3.1. This is especially good news for existing OS 10 devices that haven’t yet received the 10.3 update as they can dive right in with 10.3.1.

Keeping up this momentum may be the way BlackBerry stays afloat and corrects their course in this mobile marketplace. For those of us who really enjoy a Canadian technology success story, let’s hope it isn’t too late.

BlackBerry Plans Enterprise Event For November 13th is a post from: Good e-Reader

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update


Apple seldom gives people a reason to upgrade to each new iteration of the iPad. The last major breakthrough was the Retina Display that made its way to the iPad Mini and iPad 4. This allowed readers to enjoy high-definition comics, magazines and digital media that Android users have been asking for awhile. Is the iPad 2 a worthy investment if you already have the one that launches last year?



The iPad Air 2 managed to shave off 18% off the thickness from the first generation Air; it’s now an almost impossible 6.1mm thick, and 1.4mm slimmer than the original iPad Air. At 437g, down from 469g, it’s one of the lightest large-screen tablets on the market.

Apple’s iPad Air 2 contains a new chip called the A8X, an SoC that’s faster than the A7 in the original iPad Air or the iPad Mini 2 and 3 and the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple would only say that the chip’s CPU is about 40 percent faster than the A7 and that it has a GPU that’s 2.5 times faster. It also has 2GB of RAM to keep things speedy on a hardware level.

In practice, the iPad Air 2 is capable of running programs usually seen on laptop computers. This includes the impressive video-editing capabilities of iMovie and the newly launched app Replay that synchronizes photos and videos to music. The processing boost also comes into its own when playing big-name games like FIFA 15, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, or the 1GB download Asphalt 8: Airborne.

One of the new features, not found on an Apple tablet before is Touch ID, the easy-to-use fingerprint reader introduced on the iPhone 5S, which makes security better and is needed to use the new Apple Pay service for buying things without using a credit card or typing in a credit card number. Apple Pay only works when making in-app purchases online, not in stores. Could you imagine waving your tablet around in a store? Anyways Touch ID is even more useful now than it was before; iOS 8 enabled third-party developer support for the fingerprint sensor, so you can use it to access sensitive account information or passwords.

When it comes to cameras, I can’t stand to take photos on my tablet. I have been using iPads since they first came out and buy each new generation. I don’t think I have ever taken a single picture, but than again I am likely not the target demographic. The iPad Air 2 steps up to 8MP resolution, whereas the iPad Air 1 only had a 5MP rear facing camera. The new camera has a Image Signal Processor (ISP) as part of the new A8X chipset. On the software side, the new camera comes with Burst Mode, as well as slow-motion video capture in 720p at 120fps. There’s still no LED flash on front or back this time around, however.

Here's what the iPad Air 2 doesn’t have: A higher-resolution screen, a bigger screen, longer battery life, a snap-on keyboard, Beats Audio, better speakers,or a lower base price.

Apple Introduces new SIM technology


Apple has introduced a new way to change carrier companies for data plans without having the swap out the SIM card. This convenience is limited to just a few countries and carriers at launch — Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T in the US and EE in the UK — but over time, the selection of willing operators may improve.

The way this works is an option in the settings menu for internet access. You can change who you deal with on the fly and the SIM is automatically changed to the carrier you want to deal with. This may pave the way for incentives to keep people loyal or special events to get everything to switch to your company at once for a limited promotion.



The Apple iPad Air 2 has a staggering resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Nothing much has changed since the iPad 4 and this tablet is still the flagship model that companies turn to, for HD content.

For example, Comixology a few years ago developed a new HD comics standard called CMX HD. This dramatically increased the resolution and vibrancy of digital comics. SD comics often take up about 80 MB of storage, but HD editions often are as large as 300-400 MB. This is a privilege only Apple users enjoy, and has still not crossed over to Android, due to the fragmentation of screen sizes and varying degrees of resolution.

Apple was able to ultimately trim down the iPad by using a laminated, optically bonded, no-gap display similar to the ones used on the iPhone and even the Microsoft Surface tablets. Not only does the new panel save vertical space by eliminating any gaps of air between the display layers, but it also makes the screen significantly less reflective. This is meant to reduce the amount of glare hitting the screen, whether you’re reading in direct sunlight or watching movies under harsh fluorescent lights. I’m happy to report that it works as advertised

Wrap Up


The iPad Air 2 is not worth the upgrade if you already have the Air 1. Aside from the enhanced hardware, better camera and Touch ID, there simply isn’t anything compelling. The Absence of NFC relegates Apple Pay to being able to make App Store purchases, without having to type in your password. This might be useful for busy households with kids, who you don’t want them racking up thousands of dollars with Candy Crush micro-transactions.

The Air 2 is worth it to upgrade to, if you have a three or four year old Apple Tablet, you will notice a dramatic improvement when it comes to reading, but you are better off buying the iPad Air 1 if you can get a good deal on eBay or your local tech store.


9.7-inch, 2048×1546 display with 264 ppi
Antireflective coating
A8X 64-bit chip, M8 motion coprocessor
8MP iSight (front-facing) camera, 1.2MP FaceTime HD (front-facing) camera
Touch ID
802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
6.1 mm thick, under 1 lb
MSRP: Wi-fi – $499 (16GB), $599 (64GB), $699 (128GB); Wi-Fi + Cellular – $629 (16GB), $729 (64GB), $829 (128GB)


Anti-reflection screen coating
Faster processing
More RAM
Wireless Connection is faster
Touch ID


Very Minor Upgrade
No Mute button or rotation lock
Apple SIM does not work in Canada or Australia

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kindle Voyage vs Kindle Paperwhite Comparison Review

Now that the Kindle Voyage has been released, it’s time for a comparison review between it and the Kindle Paperwhite to see if the Voyage is worth spending an extra $80. Both ebook readers have all the same software features. It’s the hardware differences that separate the two. Both have 1GHz processors and 4GB of […]

Amazon e-Readers and Tablets Ship Today

Kindle Family

The complete modern generation of Amazon tablets and e-readers have begun shipping today to customers who have placed pre-orders. This includes the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Fire HD 6 and HD 7, Kids Tablet and the HDX 8.9.

Amazon originally announced their complete modern lineup of devices on September 17th and actually never orchestrated a media event for it, which was a stark departure from previous product releases.

The Kindle Basic Touch was the only e-reader that Amazon actually shipped out a few weeks ago and has been getting fairly solid reviews. We did a bunch of comparisons against the 2013 Basic edition and also the Paperwhite 2, and it actually is a viable investment if you have an older Kindle and want to upgrade.

Spec wise, there is not a compelling reason to buy the HD6 and HD7 if you have the Fire tablets that came out last year. The resolution on the HD7 is a paltry 1280 x 800, whereas the model that came out last year was 1920×1200. The only modern device Good e-Reader recommends is the Voyage and Basic Touch, there is a solid reason to upgrade to both of these if you have older e-ink based readers.

Amazon e-Readers and Tablets Ship Today is a post from: Good e-Reader

OverDrive APIs by the numbers (infographic)



You work hard to bring readers to your digital library, and we can help. OverDrive APIs are just for that: by integrating with library OPACs, APIs help to expose your digital titles to more readers and make searching and browsing for titles a breeze.

More than 1,650 libraries use OverDrive APIs within their library OPAC, enabling 1.3 million checkouts to date in 2014. OverDrive’s API usage has been soaring each quarter this year, in part thanks to integration with third party vendors such as Boopsie, SirsiDynix, Polaris Library Systems, and Innovative Interfaces Inc. Check out more fun facts including the top API users, reader habits, and top rated users in the infographic to the right (click for full size).

Matt Enis of Library Journal recently wrote an article about how readers are accessing eBooks and other content, and how OverDrive APIs work hand-in-hand with library websites. Read the full article, here.

Kobo Aura H2O Review and Video Walkthrough

The new waterproof Kobo Aura H2O was released at the beginning of the month. Yesterday I posted a PDF review and a comparison between it and the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s taken awhile for me to post reviews for the H2O because the new Kindle and Fire HD 6 arrived first, and I had to focus […]

ToyCollect. A robot under the sofa.

On Saturday December 6 (we’re letting you know ahead of time so you’ve got absolutely no excuse for not finishing your build in time), there’s going to be a special event at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam, held at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. Pi Wars is a robot competition: unlike the televised Robot Wars you’ve seen in the past, though, nobody’s robot is going to be destroyed. There are a number of challenges to compete in (none of which involve circular saws, which will please some of you and sadden others), some additional prizes for things like innovation and feature-richness – along with the Jim Darby Prize for Excessive Blinkiness, and more. We’re absurdly excited about it. You can listen to Mike Horne, the organiser of the Cam Jam (and writer of The Raspberry Pi Pod blog, and occasional helper-outer at Pi Towers) explain more about what’ll happen on the day, on this episode of the Raspi Today podcast.

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Mike’s expecting people to come from all over the country (it’s amazing how far people travel to come to the Cam Jam – I bumped into friends from Sheffield and from Devon at the last one). It should be a blast. We hope to see you there.

I was thinking about Pi Wars this morning, when an email arrived from Austria, complete with some robot video. Dr Alexander Seewald used a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino to build a tiny little robot, small enough to fit under the sofa, to rummage around and rescue his two-year-old daughter’s lost toys. (I do not have a two-year-old daughter, but I do have cats, who take great delight in hiding things under the sofa. Once, horrifyingly, we found a mummified burger down there. It had been some months since we’d eaten burgers. I could use one of these robots.)

The robot has a Pi camera on the front, with a nice bright LED, so the operator (using a tablet) can see where the bits of LEGO are. The voiceover’s in German, but even if you don’t speak the language you should be able to get a clear idea of what’s going on here.

Dr Seewald has made complete instructions available, so you can make your own ToyCollect robot: there’s everything you need from a parts list to code on his website (in English). It’s a nice, complete project to get you started on building a robot that has some use around the house – let us know if you attempt your own. And see you at Pi Wars!

New Onyx Smartwatch with e-Ink Screen Revealed


Onyx has been making e-readers for the last five years and has recently expanded their portfolio to include an e-ink based smartphone. The company is expanding into the smartwatch arena, and unlike the Pebble, it will have a true e-ink screen.

The new prototype features a 1.56 inch e-Ink display and is bundled with a plastic wristband. It was designed to be waterproof, so it should be able to deal with the daily trials and tribulations.

The Onyx smartwatch can synchronize with a phone over Bluetooth, includes a pedometer for tracking steps, and has three buttons on the side of the device for navigating watch faces, menus and other settings.

One of the obvious benefits of the SOSMART watch is the fact it has true e-ink display. This should dramatically increase the battery life, because the screen does not draw power unless activity is occurring. The Pebble, likely the poster child of smartwatches only has a two day battery life, the Onyx should last a month.

Charbax from ARMdevices got a chance to check out an early prototype at the HKTDC show in Hong Kong recently, where he found out that future versions of the watch could include touchscreens, GPS, and other features.

New Onyx Smartwatch with e-Ink Screen Revealed is a post from: Good e-Reader