Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ExaGear Strategies Delivers Desktop Applications to Mobile Devices


The cool thing about the developers at Eltechs is that they understand we have strong attachments to our old-school PC strategy games. They also understand that in this modern world, our mobile devices rule and we don’t turn to games on those desktop systems the same way anymore. Now, with their ExaGear Strategies app, we can emulate these favourite games on Android devices.

Using ExaGear Strategies is simple, but does require a little bit of set-up as the app itself is basically just a launcher (meaning you will need to insert your games –in a manner of speaking). It is important to understand that you will also need a licensed copy of any PC game that you are going to run.

Don’t forget that gameplay is going to be a little different when migrating to a touch-screen, but it’s a really cool concept that means you don’t need to choose between traditional and mobile gaming.

If you’d like to give it a try, download ExaGear Strategies for free now. Currently the controls (which aren’t free, and must be purchased in-app) in the game are adapted for use with Heroes 3, Disciples 2, and Civilication 3, but more cool games are promised soon!

ExaGear Strategies Delivers Desktop Applications to Mobile Devices is a post from: Good e-Reader

World of Tanks Blitz MMO Action Game Arrives on Android


Anybody who knows about MMO action games on the PC will be thrilled to hear that the developers at Wargaming have brought World of Tanks to Android and iOS. There are plenty of MMO options out there, but few are as successful as World of Tanks –boasting a roster with over 100 million players worldwide. The mobile game draws heavily from the PC version, with “over 100 massive tanks, stunning graphics, and intuitive touch-screen controls.”

If you are looking for a simple little game, World of Tanks Blitz probably isn’t what you are looking for (although it is shockingly easy to learn and to get the hang of). Take one of 4 tank classes (light, medium, heavy, an destroyers) into one of 10 unique battle arenas or out for strategic 7v7 multiplayer gameplay, complete with in-game chat functionality and real-life physics that demonstrate realistic tank movement and damage mechanics.

It’s all about strategy in the end –choosing agile tanks that move quickly, or looking to the serious firepower found in heavy tanks… unless you appreciate specialized tank destroyers that let you launch more focused attacks.

Whether you are new to this title, or already addicted to the PC version, download World of Tanks Blitz for your Android device now. The game is free, but you can enhance your experience (and your equipment) with more than a few in-app purchases (so be ready).

World of Tanks Blitz MMO Action Game Arrives on Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon wins Online Auction for .Book Domain

Amazon UK Distribution Centre

ICANN has been running a series of auctions over the course of the last year for a new series of custom domain names. Amazon has been battling it out against rival publishing and self-publishing companies in an effort to attain the lucrative .book TLD. Amazon has just won the auction despite a filing by the Association of American Publishers in 2013 that opposed its bid, and described the possible control of the .book TLD by the retailer, or by any private company, to be counter to the public interest.

Reportedly Amazon won the domain with a closing bid of $10 million dollars and was competing against Google and Bowker in the late stages.  There is no knowledge currently if Amazon gave an incentive to these two companies to dropout or if they did it willingly.

It will be interesting to see what Amazon intends on doing with the .book domain name, if they intend on providing vanity URL’s for authors who self-publish under the KDP program.

Amazon wins Online Auction for .Book Domain is a post from: Good e-Reader

WHSmith Extends Kobo Contract 4 More Years


UK bookseller WHSmith has been carrying Kobo e-Readers since 2011. Sales have been brisk and the two sides have reached a new agreement that will extend the partnership until 2018.

During a recent earnings call, the bookseller has acknowledged that eBook sales have not seen the dramatic gains they have in years past. "According to publishers the rate of growth and penetration of eBooks has slowed with value penetration estimated to be around 15% – 18%, with growth closer to 20% than the 100% we have seen in recent years."

Dispute the nominal growth potential of the eBook industry in the UK, WHSmith and Kobo are both bullish about the success of e-readers and multi-function tablet reading apps for the foreseeable future.

WHSmith Extends Kobo Contract 4 More Years is a post from: Good e-Reader

Barnes and Noble Experiments with Discounted eBooks when you Buy Print


Barnes and Noble is experimenting with a new initiative this holiday season called Sync Up. There will be a special curated section of paperback books in each bookstore location and upon purchase you can also elect to buy the Nook eBook edition for up to 70%.

The B&N Sync Up! program will only be in effect until the end of the year at 650 stores nationwide. Here is how the program works, you want to look for the new  B&N Sync Up! display in any store and chose one or more of the select paperbacks. Simply bring it to the register, and the clerk will activate the NOOK Book offer upon checkout and a unique access code will be printed on the customer's store receipt. For additional convenience, customers can also choose to have the code printed on a gift receipt or emailed to them. To redeem the offer, the customer or the gift recipient can visit, enter their code and download the digital edition within seconds.

Through the new program, customers can choose paperbacks from a collection of perennial favorites and bestsellers including Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, Outlander (Outlander Series #1) by Diana Gabaldon, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, plus many more fantastic reads. More details are available at

I think this new sync up program is a tremendous idea and something they should have tried a long time ago. Barnes and Noble is in the perfect position to try out pilot projects like this, to distinguish themselves from Amazon and Kobo. Could you imagine a future where this is the norm? Walk into any B&N bookstore, buy any book and get the eBook for a huge discount? I for one, love the sync up idea.

Barnes and Noble Experiments with Discounted eBooks when you Buy Print is a post from: Good e-Reader

On Books and family…

grandmasbooksRecently I was helping my aunt move furniture into a new home from the one my father’s family had grown up in. While taking a break, I was given the opportunity take some of my grandmother’s possessions home with me if I wanted. My grandmother passed away when I was in college, but for the majority of my life she suffered severely from Alzheimer’s, so by the time I was old enough to interact with her, it was too late to truly get to know anything about her life. Family has always been important to me but with all of my grandparents passing away when I was very young, it’s been difficult to discover our family roots. I’ve longed to know not just who my grandparents were, but also what their interests were — what made them tick.

It’s because of this that going through my grandmother’s things was so moving. Having an affinity for reading, I wanted to take some of the books she had read when she was growing up. One thing I did know was that Grandma Lilian also loved to read. I was excited to see what dusty treasures I might find in her small collection. I’ve always loved Russian literature and so it took my breath away when I came across tattered copies of Anna Karenina, War and Peace and collections of plays by Chekov and Ibsen. Suddenly I had a connection with my grandmother I never new existed. Despite never getting to talk about literature, never getting to hear even a single book recommendation, I had come to love Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Ibsen just as she had.

When I got home, I sat down on my couch and couldn’t put down these new heirlooms. It was so moving to think that these books, simple pages of ink and words, were held by my grandmother. I got the urge to reread A Doll’s House but as my new copy was over 100 years old, I hesitated to leaf through it, fearful it would come apart in my hands. Instead, I grabbed my iPad and went to my local library’s digital collection and sure enough, there it was. With my grandmother’s copy looking down on me, safely nestled on our bookshelf, I began to read the digital copy. The same words Lilian had read so long ago. The only difference is this ink will never fade, these pages will never tear.

People love to write articles with flashy headlines about why eBooks will never beat out physical copies or how eBooks will lead to the end of the paper book. Neither of these types of articles are true. Physical and digital books coexist beautifully and this is a perfect example. The physical books I now cherish are a connection to the grandmother I barely knew. It’s something I can hold in my hand that she did as well. The eBooks of these titles hold special meaning because anywhere I go in the world now I can bring with me the stories my grandmother loved that I do too, without ruining a century’s worth of memories by ripping a page. Books have the power to move us, to connect us in ways we never thought possible. The format is inconsequential, it’s the stories that truly matter.

Adam Sockel is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.

Amazon Brings Kindle Store to the Netherlands

Today Amazon launched a localized Kindle store in the form of a dedicated website,, specifically for residents of the Netherlands. The new Dutch Kindle store features a selection of over 3 million ebooks, but only about 20,000 are Dutch-language ebooks, and of those just 1221 were written by Dutch authors. Amazon is also advertising […]

Let the BattlePi commence…

Recently I visited the University of York Computer Science department for the second year running to see the Raspberry Pi being used to great effect on the new intake of students. Last year I visited to judge Blue Pi Thinking, and since it was such a great success they decided to repeat the exercise this year.

The students are sent a Raspberry Pi before they come to university, with a special build and a document that describes the challenge.  There are three main reasons for doing this. The first is to give the students a common computing platform that they can use throughout the year to base different projects/assignments on. Secondly, the students will learn a great amount and will kick start their education; and finally it becomes a real social event for the students to get together (some actually help each other out) with beer and competition (which of course go hand in hand!)

There are two elements to the challenge and the students can choose either (or both or neither!) The first is Blue Pi Thinking, where the challenge is to develop something creative; the second is BattlePi.


BattlePi is a game of battleships played automatically by the Raspberry Pi with a server through which two Raspberry Pis can communicate. The students are given the (well commented Python) software which initially just chooses random positions to make shots at. The student then has to modify the python code to implement better AI in both firing position and ship placement. At the end of freshers’ week the students all come together (with beer of course) to test their creations.


The Blue Pi Thinking creative competition whose aim is basically to create something was run as a judged event. The following are examples of projects that were created:

  • Playing card recognition. From first principles, the student had captured a picture of a playing card, thresholded it, segmented it to find the pips and count them (OK, it doesn’t work with face cards yet!) Then they apply an edge following algorithm to the pip to work out if it’s a heart, club, diamond or spade. I’d just like to say… Awesome!
  • Ultrasonic theremin. This student had taken a standard ultrasonic transducer and used it to create a theremin, again of some awe.
  • Raspberry Pi mosaic creator. This project was another very complex algorithm, which takes a picture on his Android mobile phone using his own app and transmits it to the Raspberry Pi. Then the Pi calculates the best match from a set of images for small sections of the image based on a calculated ‘average’ colour for the region. Then the software makes up the final image as a mosaic of the select set of images, and transmits it back to the phone!

Throughout the year the students will be using their Raspberry Pis to continue their education, and help develop next years BattlePi competition. Will Smith and Emma Hogson, who are in charge of undergraduate admissions have offered Raspberry Pi their complete BattlePi materials including all the software and instructions so we can give it to other universities…something we’re looking into with great interest.

May the worldwide BattlePi commence – watch this space!