Thursday, November 6, 2014

Amazon Echo Speaker Listens and Responds to Voice Commands

amazon-echo

Amazon describes their new Echo device as a speaker, but fans of Iron Man will understand when I describe it to be a lot more like J.A.R.V.I.S.! Designed around the sound of your voice, the Echo is always on and ready to respond to your every command –beginning with the wake-word ‘Alexa’. Sure it also plays music (from local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn), but all the while it is ready to answer questions like: “Will it rain tomorrow?” or “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” (plus being eager to deliver the news, forecast the weather, set alarms and timers, and help manage your shopping lists).

The accuracy remains to be seen (or experienced), but Amazon claims the Echo can hear you from quite a distance (thanks to a circular array of seven microphones that use ‘beam-forming technology’ that will hear you from any direction).

The Echo also has its head (brain) in the cloud, running with help from Amazon Web Services. What this means for consumers is an ever-expanding database of knowledge with the Echo learning as you use it, adjusting itself to your speech patterns and vocabulary.

Using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and controlled by a companion mobile app (even when you are away from home), Amazon has packed a lot of features into a small package measuring about 9.25 inches high and 3.27 inches wide.

Amazon Echo is currently available by invitation only for $199 USD, though membership really does have its privileges –those subscribed to Prime can grab one for only $99 USD.

Amazon Echo Speaker Listens and Responds to Voice Commands is a post from: Good e-Reader

Is Reading eBooks on your Smartphone a Product of Availability Bias?

Reading

There is no denying that there are more smartphones in the world than tablets and dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle. It is also important to note that the overall reading population in the US is massive. The books market, in terms of total books sold worldwide, is bigger than both movies and music. In a recent interview with Willem Van Lancker, the creative co-founder of eBook subscription service Oyster he said that future of books is not your tablet or e-reader, but your smartphone. This is quite the bombshell, but is it due to availability bias?

Availability bias is a human cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the probability of events associated with memorable or vivid occurrences. Because memorable events are further magnified by coverage in the media, the bias is compounded on the societal level. You only have to look at the blitz media coverage of any phone issued by Apple to see the societal impact and lifestyle psychology.Very rarely do you see the same type of effect on a new e-reader or tablet.

There are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2014, according to estimates The International Telecommunication Union. This is equivalent to 95.5% of the world population. Tablet sales so far in 2014 have only accounted for 270.7 million units.

Every major report by statistical organizations all proclaim that people are reading more on their smartphones than any other device. This is primarily due to it always being in our pocket and easily accessible. The devices also are heavily subsidized with phone carriers often giving you free upgrades every few years, whereas e-readers and tablets do not enjoy the same type of upgrade cycle, you basically have to pay full price.

Some people see phones as gateways to dedicated e-readers and tablets. Once you become immersed and maintain a habit of reading on a daily basis, making the switch to an e-reader or tablet makes you a more valuable consumer that is more likely to spend more money on eBooks.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, and Scribd all report that its their Android and iOS apps that get the most traction and they are all primarily optimized for smartphones. These companies realize that that is that their audience are using the most to buy and read digital books or fan-fiction.

What device is everyone using to read on a daily basis? Is it the quintessential smartphone? Are you using it primarily because its the one device always with you? Is there something to the availability bias argument? Weigh in on the comment section below.

Is Reading eBooks on your Smartphone a Product of Availability Bias? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Unlimited Audiobook Subscriptions have Finally Arrived

scribd-audiobooks

Major publishers have finally warmed up to the entire notion of unlimited reading for a low monthly price. This has allowed Scribd, Oyster and Entitle to formulate solid businesses to cater to the needs of voracious readers. Audiobooks on the other hand have been a hard nut to crack, until now there has been little support for the concept of Netlflix for audiobooks.

Scribd has just unveiled an ambitious enhancement to their eBook subscription platform by including 30,000 audiobooks. Users do not have to pay any extra fees or hidden costs, if you have a subscription with them, you can listen to as many audio editions as you desire.

There are a number of notable audio titles at launch, including the Hunger Games, Ocean at the end of the Lane, The Spy who loved me, Brave New World and tons of other great content.

Right now Scribd charges $8.99 a month and is only available in the US. They are mainly focused on Android development with apps on Good e-Reader, Barnes and Noble, Google and Amazon. The company has promised a solid iOS app by the end of the year.

Unlimited Audiobook Subscriptions have Finally Arrived is a post from: Good e-Reader

Fire OS 4 Update Rolling Out to Fire HDX Tablets

Amazon has started issuing an over-the-air software update to their line of Fire HDX tablets. The new software version is 4.1.1 and it includes a number of changes and new features. The update is a major one and changes the software from Fire OS 3 to the new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” software that comes […]

Kindle Voyage Getting Lots of Complaints About Uneven Lighting

The Kindle Voyage was released a couple weeks ago now, and it looks like the frontlight gradient issue that I mentioned in my Kindle Voyage first impressions review is a common complaint mentioned by many among the first wave of reviews. Looking over the user reviews at Amazon, there are 260 reviews posted for the […]

Weekly eHighlights: Adult edition

We have an incredibly strong list of titles you won't want to miss this month, and we're going to break them into three carts to make it a little easier. The titles below are what we believe will be the ones you do not want to miss. They're either sure bestsellers, prize winners, notable books, books with a lot of buzz, known authors with a holiday title, or something already selling well.

Don't miss the other two carts coming this week: More November Fiction and More November Nonfiction.

Enjoy!

ehighlights_adult_110614

 

Click here to view the Marketplace cart of these titles.

The Usual Suspects: No Introduction Needed:

 

Fiction

Donna Andrews – The Nightingale Before Christmas – Penguin eBook
David Baldacci – The Escape – Hachette eBook
Stephanie Barron – Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas – Random House eBook
Rita Mae Brown – Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – Random House eBook
Robyn Carr – Virgin River Christmas Box Set – HarperCollins eBook
Jonathan Carroll – Bathing the Lion – Macmillan eBook – World Fantasy & Bram Stoker Award-winning author.
Michael Connelly – The Burning Room – Hachette eBook & Blackstone audiobook read by Titus Welliver – Harry Bosch series.
Patricia Cornwell – Flesh and Blood – HarperCollins eBook – Kay Scarpetta series.
Robert Crais – The Promise – Penguin eBook
Clive & Dirk Cussler – Havana Storm – Penguin ebook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Scott Brick – Dirk Pitt series
Janet Evanovich – The Job – Random House eBook – O'Hare and Fox series
Michael Faber – The Book of Strange New Things – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Josh CohenBestseller list already.
Richard Ford – Let Me Be Frank with You – HarperCollins eBook – Frank Bascombe series
Karin Fossum – The Murder of Harriet Krohn – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt eBook – Scandinavian mystery
Tess Gerritsen – Die Again – Random House eBook – Rizzoli & Isles series
William Gibson – The Peripheral – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Lorelei King
Mira Grant – Symbiont – Hachette eBook and Blackstone audiobook read by Christine Lakin – Parasitology series
Mark Greaney – Tom Clancy's Full Force and Effect – Penguin Group eBook – Jack Ryan series
John Grisham – Gray Mountain – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Catherine Taber – Legal thriller about Big Coal.
Jack Higgins – Rain on the Dead – Penguin eBook – Sean Dillon series
Elin Hilderbrand – Winter Street – Hachette eBook & Blackstone audiobook read by Erin Bennett – Bestselling author's first Christmas novel.
Tanya Huff – The Future Falls – Penguin eBook – Enchantment Emporium series
Larissa Ione – Revenant – Hachette eBook – Lords of Deliverance series
Ha Jin – A Map of Betrayal – Random House eBook – National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award winning author. Kirkus & PW stars.
Sara Jio – The Look of Love – Penguin eBook & Blackstone audiobook read by Julia Whelan and Cassandra Campbell – Bestselling author.
Craig Johnson – Wait for Signs – Penguin eBook – Longmire series
Denis Johnson – The Laughing Monsters – Macmillan eBook and audiobook read by Scott Shepherd – National Book Award winning author.
Darynda Jones – Seventh Grave and No Body – Macmillan eBook – Charley Davidson series
Sophie Kinsella – Shopaholic to the Stars – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Clare Corbett – Bestselling series.
Robert Knott – Robert B. Parker's The Bridge – Penguin eBook – Cole & Hitch Western series
Dean Koontz – Saint Odd – Random House eBook – Odd Thomas series
Stephen Lawhead – The Fatal Tree – Thomas Nelson eBook & audiobook read by Simon Bubb – Bright Empires series
Eric Van Lustbader – The Death and Life of Nicholas Linnear – Open Road eBook – First all new Linnear book in 20 years.
Susan Mallery – Fool's Gold Series Volume 1 – HarperCollins eBook – Bestselling author.
Jodi Ellen Malpas – Denied – Hachette eBook – One Night series
George R. R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass – Lowball – Macmillan eBook – Wild Cards series
Cormac McCarthy – Gardener's Son – HarperCollins eBook – Screenplay of award winning movie by McCarthy.
Alice Munro – Family Furnishings, Selected Stories 1995-2014 – Random House eBook – Nobel Prize winning author.
Chuck Palahniuk – Beautiful You – Random House eBook – Social satire that turns Lysistrata sideways, by the author of The Fight Club.
James Patterson – Hope to Die – Hachette eBook & Blackstone audiobook read by Michael Boatman & Scott Sower – Alex Cross series
James Patterson & Ashwin Sanghi – Private India – Hachette eBook & Blackstone audiobook read by Amerjit Deu & Raj Ghatak – Private series
James Patterson & Maxine Paetro – Private Vegas – Hachette eBook – Private series
Anne Perry – A New York Christmas – Random House eBook
Jodi Picoult – Leaving Time – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur & Mark Deakins
Valerie Plame – [Burned] (https://marketplace.overdrive.com/TitleDetails?crid=1b2e2add-6ade-47ee-a175-e991eb970285) – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Negin Farsad – Vanessa Pierson series
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child – Blue Labyrinth – Hachette eBook & Blackstone audiobook read by Rene Auberjonois – Pendergast series
Anne Rice – Prince Lestat – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Simon Vance – Vampire Lestat series
Nora Roberts – All I Want for Christmas – Penguin eBook
Nora Roberts – Home for Christmas – Penguin eBook
Nora Roberts – In from the Cold – Penguin eBook – MacGregor series
Marilynne Robinson – Lila – Macmillan eBook
Patrick Rothfuss – The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Kingkiller Chronicles
Gena Showalter – The Darkest Touch – HarperCollins eBook – Lords of the Underworld series
Nalini Singh – Archangel's Shadows – Penguin eBook – Guild Hunter series
Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Milla Vane, Lisa Shearin – Night Shift – Penguin eBook – 4 stories by 4 top Paranormal Romance authors
Alexander McCall Smith – The Handsome Man's Deluxe CafĂ© – Random House eBook – No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series
Wilbur Smith – Desert God – HarperCollins eBook & audiobook read by Mike Grady – Ancient Egyptian series
Danielle Steel – Pegasus – Random House eBook – Family chronicle set against the background of WWII.
Brad Taylor – No Fortunate Son – Penguin eBook – Pike Logan series
Nancy Thayer – An Island Christmas – Random House eBook – Christmas and a wedding on Nantucket.

 

Nonfiction

Karen Armstrong – Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the authorKirkus, Booklist, LJ and PW stars!
Robert B. Baer – The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Keith Szarabajka – History of political murder by the man whose life was the basis for the movie Syriana.
Robert Beachy – Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern IdentityRandom House eBook – History. Already at the top of Amazon's lists.
Maeve Binchy – Maeve's Times: In Her Own Words – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Kate Binchy – Collection of columns from the Irish Times spanning five decades. Great reviews.
Rick Bragg – Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story – HarperCollins eBook – Pulitzer Prize winning Bragg spent two years with Lewis. Kirkus star.
George W. Bush – 41: A Portrait of My Father – Random House eBook – 1 million print run.
James Carroll – Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age – Penguin eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Already ranked 7 at Books on Tape.
Dick Cavett – Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks – Macmillan eBook – Foreword by Jimmy Fallon.
Deepak Chopra – The Future of God – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Ranked 5 at Books on Tape.
John Cleese – So, Anyway – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Ranked 2 at Books on Tape – Cleese on Monty Python, his life, and what makes something funny.
Kara Cooney – The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – An expert on ancient Egypt speculates on this gender bending female pharaoh and what caused her downfall.
Kirstin Downey – Isabella: The Warrior Queen – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Kimberly Farr – Gripping biography of the most important woman in European history. Kirkus star.
Bruce Feldman – The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks – Random House eBook – ESPN analyst Feldman had unparalleled access to the behind-the-scenes world of pro football, including spending significant time with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.
Jessica & Julian Fellowes – A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, Recipes – Macmillan eBook – Packed with photos.
Mick Fleetwood – Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac: The Autobiography – Hachette eBook – After 46 years on the road, it's time for this.
Ina Garten – Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – Random House eBook – Beautiful photos.
Herbie Hancock – Herbie Hancock: Possibilities – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Memoir of the legendary jazz musician.
Kathryn Harrison – Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Cassandra Campbell – Harrison examines Joan as a sexual being as well as a warrior and perhaps a schizophrenic.
Barbara Leaming – Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story – Macmillan eBook – Well known biographer looks at how post traumatic stress affected Jacqueline Kennedy's life after the death of her husband.
George R. R. Martin – The World of Ice and Fire – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Roy Dotrice & Nicholas Guy Smith – Lavishly illustrated history of the Seven Kingdoms from Game of Thrones, plus more.
Jim Gaffigan – Food: A Love Story – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – A comedian on food. Top seller at Amazon.
Atul Gawande – Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Macmillan eBook – Bestselling author tackles dying gracefully.
Chris Hadfield –You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station – Hachette eBook – Bestseller.
Neal Patrick Harris – Choose Your Own Autobiography – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Choose correctly and you'll have an incredible life. Skip Doogie Houser, M.D., and you may find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas!
John Jobling – U2: The Definitive Biography – Macmillan eBook
Boris Johnson – The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Simon Shepherd – Biography by the current mayor of London. Ranked 9 at Books on Tape.
Anne Lamott – Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Ranked 3 at Books on Tape.
Alexander Lee – The Ugly Renaissance: Sex, Greed, Violence and Depravity in an Age of Beauty – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Arthur Morey – The sublime monuments of the Renaissance were created by flawed and tormented artists who lived in an ugly world.
Hermione Lee – Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life – Random House eBook – The acclaimed biographer tackles one of the most brilliant novelists of the 20th century.
Shawn Levy – De Niro: A Life – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Mark Deakins
Mark Leibovich – Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles in Courage and Self-Delusion – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Joe Barrett – The Washington elite and wannabe elite.
Jill Lepore – The Secret History of Wonder Woman – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – By a National Book Award finalist.
Jennifer Lopez – True Love – Penguin eBook – Autobiography includes 200 photos.
Thomas Maier – When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys – Random House eBook – 14 Churchills and 15 Kennedys and how their lives intertwined.
Molly Guptill Manning – When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt eBook – When Nazis burned books, outraged American librarians sent 120 million free paperbacks to the troops, and changed history.
Al Michaels – You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television – HarperCollins eBook – By the play-by-play voice of Sunday Night Football.
Tara Mohr – Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Headed for the bestseller list.
Azar Nafisi – The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Mozhan Marno – What Reading Lolita in Tehran was for Iran, The Republic of Imagination is for America.
Mark Owen – No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL – Penguin eBook – By the bestselling author of No Easy Day.
Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help – Hachette eBook and audiobook read by the author – By the TED Talk speaker, rock star, and crowdfunding pioneer.
Amy Poehler – Yes Please – HarperCollins eBook & audiobook read by the author – Bestseller.
David Ritz – Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin – Hachette eBook – The definitive biography.
Andrew Roberts – Napoleon: A Life – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by John Lee – Ranked 10 at Books on Tape. New information and research included by an award-winning biographer.
Fred Schruers – Billy Joel – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Kirk Thornton – Based on 100+ hours of interviews with Joel.
Barry Sears – The Mediterranean Zone: Unleash the Power of the World's Healthiest Diet for Superior Weight Loss, Health and Longevity – Random House eBook – Bestselling author.
Brooke Shields – There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me – Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Shields tells the real story of her childhood with her strong willed mother who was determined to make her a star.
Martin Short – I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend – HarperCollins eBook – Full of entertaining anecdotes.
Joanne Huist Smith – The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle
– Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – How a random act of kindness transformed one of the bleakest moments in a family's history into a time of strength and love.
Richard Norton Smith – On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Paul Michael – 14 years in the making, by the acclaimed historian.
Bryan Stevenson – Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and RedemptionRandom House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Stevenson has spent his life trying to free innocent people from prison. Kirkus & Booklist stars. Finalist for Kirkus Prize.
C. A. Taylor – *Inside HBO's Game of Thrones, Seasons 3 & 4* – Chronicle Books eBook – The official companion book to the series.
Chuck Todd – The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House – Hachette eBook – Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News uses his insider contacts to chart out the early years of Barack Obama's Presidency.
Nick & Kanae Vujicic – Love Without Limits: A Remarkable Story of True Love Conquering All – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by David Franklin – How an Australian man born without arms, and a girl growing up in Mexico despairing of finding a man with strong character and faith, ended up together.
David Foster Wallace – The David Foster Wallace Reader – Hachette eBook and Blackstone audiobook read by various, including the author – A selection of the acclaimed writer's work.
Weight Watchers – Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook: Over 500 Delicious Recipes for the Healthy Cook's Kitchen – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt eBook
Kim Zetter – Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Joe Ochman – The story of the virus that detroyed Iran's nuclear program. PW Star.

Click here to view the Marketplace cart of these titles.

Don't miss the other two carts coming soon: More November Fiction and More November Nonfiction.

*Geographical rights may vary by title

 

Rendering camera images in Minecraft in real time

Ferran Fabregas worked out a couple of months ago how to render .jpg images in the Minecraft world using Minecraft Pi Edition. Our logo seemed an obvious place to start.

pilogominecraft

And Ferran has just made that good idea an absolutely fantastic idea, by adapting it to render images captured in real time from a Pi Camera.

Here’s his face, in all its pixellated, Minecrafty glory.

minecraftface

This is a really, really simple project to replicate at home – all the code you’ll need is on Ferran’s website, so if you’ve got a Raspberry Pi camera, you’re ready to go. Links to screenshots of your own in the comments below, please!