Friday, November 14, 2014

Mandalay Digital Announces Plans to Acquire Appia


You may not be familiar with Mandalay Digital Group, but they boast being a company equipped with “a mobile services platform that works with mobile operators and third-party publishers to provide portal management, user interface, content development and billing technology that enables the responsible distribution of mobile entertainment.” It seems Mandalay Digital has their sights set on bigger and better things in app marketing with the announcement that they intend to acquire Appia in a $100 million stock, options, and debt arrangement.

Once the deal is complete, Mandalay Digital and Appia will operate under the combined title of Digital Turbine; a partnership intended to give mobile carriers a voice at the app distribution table (being able to prompt downloads through targeted marketing that will allow users to circumvent the traditional app stores).

Taking good advantage of Appia’s existing developer and advertiser network, the two companies could be a formidable force in the app distribution game.

News that Mandalay Digital is spending money may seem a bit surprising to some who recall hearing earlier this week that the company posted a loss of $5.3 million during their fiscal second quarter this year (though they did post revenue of $5.5 million this same period).

Mandalay Digital Announces Plans to Acquire Appia is a post from: Good e-Reader

Is anyone Going to use BBM Meetings when Hangouts is Free?


Blackberry at a big event in San Francisco this week unveiled BBM Meetings. The premise of this new platform is taking the BBM Video Voice Chat and allows 25 participants to join in on the call. There is screen sharing functionality in order to show off pictures or any other type of media. There are no PIN Numbers involved, you simply answer the call from the meeting organizer and you are good to go.

One of the more compelling factors about BBM Meetings is the cross-platform compatibility. There is official apps for the PC, MAC and Android, the iOS version is due out soon. BlackBerry is offering a 30-day free trial at $12.99 US and $13.75 for Canadians per host per month.

Blackberry is going to be competing against Gotomeeting and WebEX for corporate clients. Many small companies are using Google Hangouts for this sort of thing, but keep in mind, Hangouts only supports 10 users at a time.

Is BBM Meetings going to take off? Well, its hard to say when this program just launched. I know many companies who get me involved in calls for product releases or soft launches and they always go with the gold standard for meetings, WebEX. Its going to be a hard sell to try and get companies to make the switch, even though BBM Meetings is actually cheaper.

Download BBM Meetings today for Android from the Good e-Reader App Store.

Is anyone Going to use BBM Meetings when Hangouts is Free? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Offers New Improvements to eBook Samples


Amazon has offered samples of eBooks since they started selling them. It gives readers an idea on what to expect when you buy the retail edition by giving you a chapter or two to read for free. In the first time in years, Amazon has just updated the way it handles Kindle eBook samples.

Samples that you download from the Kindle book store will now be saved in the cloud so that you can access and read them on any supported Amazon device or Kindle reading app.  If you don’t want the sample anymore you can simply delete your samples from the cloud on any supported devices or Kindle reading apps, or from Manage Your Content and Devices.

Not all Amazon devices can handle the new way samples are delivered. The ones that are compatible are Fire HDX, Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD (2nd Generation), Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation), Kindle (7th Generation), Fire phone, Kindle for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch version 4.5 or greater, and Kindle for Android version 4.7 or greater.

One of the big problems with eBook samples in general, is you don’t really get a feel for what the book is about. After you make it through the table of contents, forward and any obligatory publisher information, you barely get chapter one. I have actually downloaded samples that had the first two pages of chapter one, because there was so much filler at the beginning.

Amazon Offers New Improvements to eBook Samples is a post from: Good e-Reader

Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – Nov 14 2014


This week a number of new casual apps have been released and hardly any big name titles. Today, we look at some of the best new apps to become available on the Good e-Reader Android App Store.

The Economist Espresso – The Economist Espresso is a new morning briefing from the editors of The Economist. Delivered to your smartphone or inbox before breakfast, it tells you what's on the global agenda in the coming day, what to look out for in business, finance and politics and, most importantly, what to make of it.

Assassin's Creed Unity Companion – Enhance your Assassin's Creed Unity experience by taking Revolutionary Paris into the palm of your hand. This Companion app is filled with activities and strategic information to deliver the ultimate second-screen experience. Resolve hidden glyph puzzles on famous Paris landmarks and manage your own Nomad Brotherhood to unlock exclusive missions and rewards in Assassin's Creed Unity!

Painter Mobile – Free yourself from your studio with Painter Mobile for Android. Experience this incredible new art app on your Android device. Sketch and paint on the go and then import your work directly into Painter to add the professional finishing touches. Now you can take your art to the streets and find new inspiration anytime, anywhere with Painter Mobile.

Sleep Better with Runtastic – Track your sleep, monitor your dreams, improve your bedtime habits & wake up better with Sleep Better from Runtastic! Sleep Better offers you a simple and engaging way to improve your sleep quality, whether you struggle to fall asleep, want to learn how your daytime activities influence your sleep efficiency or simply want some new alarm sounds to help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to seize the day!

Javelin Masters 2 - The good old Track & Field gameplay has finally been reinvented on touch screen. Swipe your finger FAST back and forth between step buttons to run. Throw exactly at the right time for the best possible throw.

ReleaseMe – The goal of the game is to get the red block out of the board by sliding the other blocks out of the way.

Peggle Blast – Take your best shot with a blend of luck, skill, and joyous thrills in Peggle Blast! Clear the orange pegs as you rack up bonus points, and hit style shots that'll make you smile for weeks. Learn from Peggle Masters and harness their powers to score big in peg-popping quests across expansive sparkling levels. Join the millions who adore the magic of Peggle in the latest chapter of one the world's best puzzlers.

Candy Burst – Swap and match many sweets to gain points. Collect as many sweets as possible before you run out of time.

Dots: A Game About Connecting – CONNECT one dot to another, connect four dots to make a square

Google Messenger – Stay in touch with friends and family. Messenger from Google is a communications app that helps you send and receive SMS and MMS messages to any phone. You can also send group texts as well as your favorite pictures, videos and even audio messages to your contacts.

Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – Nov 14 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader

eBook Subscription Services are Not Viable


Penguin Random House UK CEO Tom Weldon has proclaimed that eBook subscription websites such as Amazon Unlimited, Scribd and Oyster are not viable business models. “We have two problems with subscriptions. We are not convinced it is what readers want. ‘Eat everything isn’t a reader’s mindset. In music or film you might want 10,000 songs or films, but I don’t think you want 10,000 books.”

Weldon also said the company did not “understand the business model”, and who made money. But he acknowledged that subscription could work “in certain markets around the world in emerging economies where access to books and bookshops is extremely limited”.

The entire notion of Netflix for eBooks has been the holy grail of the publishing industry. Publishers have only begun to embrace it during the last year, although Penguin and Random House have not really committed themselves yet. The ones who have, such as Hachette and HarperCollins mainly do it with their older backlist titles and rarely upload anything new.

Is the eBook subscription concept viable? Entitle, Oyster or Scribd does not divulge specific figures, so it unknown what type of user base they actually have.

eBook Subscription Services are Not Viable is a post from: Good e-Reader

Nook Pioneer Theresa Horner Leaves Barnes and Noble


Theresa Horner the VP, Digital Content at Barnes & Noble has left the company. Depending on who you talk to she was either fired or left on her own volition. She played a pivitol role in the formation of the Nook division since its launch in 2011. The last major project she spearheaded was the second generation self-publishing system, Nook Press. Doug Carlson, CMO and EVP of Digital Content and he is now running Nook Press.

Barnes and Noble has lost over one billion dollars with the entire Nook division, that includes eBooks, e-readers and tablets. Over last year they have replaced much of the old guard and replaced them with fresh new talent. Some of the most notable departures in the last year was Jim Hilt, head of global eBook sales, and before him digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein.

The hope with the new talent is to bring fresh prospective to the entire Nook experience and this is evident in the recent initiative Sync-Up. This is a new system that allows customers who buy a print book to be able to get a discount on the digital edition. Another byproduct of the new blood is the fact Nook outsourced the hardware for their new tablet line to Samsung, instead of developing everything in-house, like they did in the past.

Update: Apparently Barnes and Noble is cleaning house right now in the Nook division and many people are afraid of losing their jobs.

Nook Pioneer Theresa Horner Leaves Barnes and Noble is a post from: Good e-Reader

e-Reader App Glose Makes eBooks a Collective Experience


Glose to a new e-reading app that is currently available for iOS, Windows and has an upcoming Android App. The premise is fairly unique, the eBooks become a collective experience where you can read other peoples notes on any given passage or see popular phrases that were highlighted.

You can actually buy eBooks from Glose and you can see how many people are in the process of reading the same book and how many times people have commented within the entire digital edition. There are 300,000 titles from major publishers such as Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette and Macmillan. Basically, there is no shortage of quality content and the prices are on par with Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

I think Glose makes a ton of sense for non-fiction titles. If you want to read a book on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, you can read the comments from history buffs and decide if its worth reading or not. Many people use fiction as an escape and seldom want to engage on a social level.

Not only can users employ highlights and annotations to get their point accross on how they feel about a specific passage but they can also attach media elements such as photos or even videos. Other people can upvote or downvote your annotations so that the next readers can easily find the best annotations.

I really like the premise of Glose, although to take advantage of their social media elements you have to buy your eBooks through them. You cannot import your own titles into the platform, which makes you reliant on dealing with them exclusively. This might be worth checking out as a novelty, but will not be a substitute for your e-reader or favorite online bookstore.

e-Reader App Glose Makes eBooks a Collective Experience is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sharp Debuts 4.1 Inch Screen with 736 PPI


Sharp has just made the highest pixel density screen in the world that should hit smartphones and VR enabled devices sometime in the next two years. The new 4.1 inch IGZO LCD screen with WQXGA has a mind boggling resolution of  2,560 x 1,600 pixels. That works out to 736ppi which  blows away the current reigning champion Samsung with their S5 screen that has 576ppi.

According to Sharp, the new display has the same PPI as that of a 4K display, which means you will likely see a dramatic enhancement in streaming videos and gaming. This could also pave the way for a new breed of VR headsets, which Oculus, Samsung and Sony are betting big on.

This new screen could also be tremendous at making digital magazines, newspapers really shine on the small screen. eBooks too, would also be really solid because you would not be able to even discern pixelation on any of the fonts.

Will any manufacturer dare deliver a smartphone with such a 4.1-inch 2K display? Sharp will reportedly start providing interested firms with sample panels sometime next year, and mass production could be ready to get underway by 2016.

Sharp Debuts 4.1 Inch Screen with 736 PPI is a post from: Good e-Reader

Word Wise and Family Library Sharing Hit the New Kindle e-Readers


Amazon has issued the first major firmware update for the Kindle Voyage and new $79 Kindle Basic Touch edition today. A number of notable features are now available, such as the ability to share all of your purchases with family members, making it easy to accumulate a vast library of content.

New features include:

Word Wise—For readers learning English and children learning to read, Word Wise makes it easier to understand more challenging books more quickly. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading without having to stop and look up a word. To see the various meanings the same word can have in different contexts, just tap on the word to quickly bring up a card with definitions, synonyms, and more. You can adjust the number of definitions you see with a slider, dialing them up or down as you learn and grow your vocabulary. Word Wise is already available on thousands of titles, including The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Wonder.

Family Library—For the first time, you can access not only your own Kindle books, but also books from the Amazon account of a spouse or partner.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited—For as little as $2.99 per month, kids get unlimited access to hundreds of hand-picked chapter books and early readers, all curated for age-appropriateness, so parents don't have to spend time and money guessing what their kids will enjoy. Includes favorites such as the Harry Potter series, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce, and Newberry Medal and Honor winning books such as The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

Expanded X-Ray for Books—X-Ray now makes it easier to explore as you read—quickly flip through all the images in a book, and use the new timeline view to easily browse the most notable passages.

Deeper Goodreads Integration—Goodreads on Kindle now allows you to easily share your reading progress updates, add books from your Kindle library to your Goodreads shelves, and see your friends' updates, ratings and reviews when looking at a book on Goodreads.

Enhanced Search—Makes it even easier to find what you are looking for by combining and previewing results from your Library, Goodreads and the Kindle Store on the same page.

About This Book—See information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark it as "Currently Reading" on Goodreads.

Amazon tends to release firmware updates slowly. So you likely won’t get it right away. Alternatively, you can manually download and install the update by visiting  and copy the file to the root of your device by plugging your Kindle into your PC using the USB cable. Once you do this and click the update button in the settings menu your Kindle will self-update.

Word Wise and Family Library Sharing Hit the New Kindle e-Readers is a post from: Good e-Reader

B&N Offering $5 eBooks with the Purchase of Paperbacks

Barnes and Noble has introduced a new promotion called B&N Sync Up where they are giving customers the option to buy the ebook copy of a book for $4.99 when purchasing the paperback version. The deal is being offered at Barnes and Noble retail stores only; you don’t get the same deal when purchasing books […]

Jacquard looms, and a Pi simulator

I’m not alone at Pi Towers (hi Lorna! Hi Rachel!) in being a textiles nerd. There’s a 200-year-old cushion made of strips of worn-out Regency clothes (which nobody is allowed to sit on) in my living room; Mandarin sleeves I’ve rescued from rummage bins in Hong Kong and framed on the walls, and a rotation of vintage wedding kimonos and obis that hang up at the end of the hall. I have a theory about textile art being considered domestic, female art – and therefore, for cultural reasons I don’t care for very much, deprecated in comparison with other sorts of art, and a hell of a lot cheaper per square foot than paintings or prints in frames. If you’ve got a big wall to decorate, you could do a lot worse than hitting eBay and wallowing in kimonos.

What’s all this got to do with Raspberry Pi?

In case you hadn’t already noticed, I am also a computing history nerd. Last weekend I spent several hours in the Fashion Museum in Bath, thinking tranquil thoughts about Spitalfields silk, Jacquard looms, and the way some of these beautiful textiles relate directly to the history of programming. The Jacquard process for weaving was invented in the early 1800s; and we get excited about them because Jacquard looms were the very first programmable machines used in manufacturing.

paisley shawl

This shawl, from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, was woven in 1840 on a Jacquard loom. Click through for a zoomable image; the detail is phenomenal.

Punchcards were threaded together and fed into the loom, each card full of holes representing one line of weaving. It was a flexible system: your chain of cards could be as long or as short as was needed, and to weave a different pattern on the loom, you could simply swap out the set of cards. Imposing that flexibility on a mechanical system was a completely novel concept, and those punch cards were a first step on the road to what became the computer programming that all those of you with Raspberry Pis are familiar with. (Charles Babbage used the Jacquard punch card concept around forty years after the invention of the Jacquard process to store programs in the Analytical Engine – and they’re still not obsolete. Those American voting machines that cause so much controversy were still employing punch cards in the 2012 election.)

Jacquard loom and cards

Punch cards in use on a Jacquard loom

It can be hard to visualise the relationship between the holes in the cards you can see above, and the individual lines that create the pattern on the brocade you can see next to them. So Macclesfield Silk Museum (which I have only just found out about, and am going to make a beeline for next time I’m in Cheshire) put a Raspberry Pi to work to make this demonstration model for museum visitors.

Today, textile professionals can buy specialised software for designing and producing Jacquard fabrics: a direct line of descent from Joseph Marie Jacquard’s two-century old innovation. (Check out this blog post from Florence, where you can see some modern examples of fabrics woven using modern Jacquard software.)

Joseph Marie Jacquard - a portrait woven in very fine silk on a Jacquard loom in 1839. 24,000 punch cards, each with 1050 positions, were used to weave this portrait, which is in the collection of the Science Museum in London.

Joseph Marie Jacquard – a portrait woven in very fine silk on a Jacquard loom in 1839. 24,000 punch cards, each with 1050 positions, were used to weave this portrait, which is in the collection of the Science Museum in London.

Next time you’re out shopping for curtain fabric, or buying intricately woven cushion covers, step back for a moment and think about the computing history you’re holding in your hands. Computing’s everywhere.

New Kindle Software Update 5.6.1 Adds Family Sharing, Word Wise, and More

Amazon has started rolling out a software update for the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite, and entry-level Kindle. The new software version is 5.6.1. The software number is the same across all three devices, although the actual update file is different for each model. The software adds the advertised features that we’ve been waiting on for […]