This time of year, everyone is coming out with essential reading lists to hopefully sell you a brand new e-Book for the holiday season! Here at Good e-Reader we simply enjoy the process of reading. This year, plenty of amazing fiction and non-fiction books came out and I take a look at the ones that riveted me the most.
In the video below, I go over by top 5 books of the year, and yes I own the print versions. I find the discovery process of finding a new book much more enjoyable when I leave my comfortable abode and participate in bookstore culture. On a side note, the New York Times just posted an amazing list of books that are my list to read in early 2015, so be sure to check that out.
Friday, December 19, 2014
The Boeing Black phone has been in development since 2012 and is primarily going to be aimed at military and government officials. The main selling point is that it will self-destruct if tampered with. On Friday, Blackberry CEO John Chen announced that his company will provide critical software to make it even more secure.
The Black phone features dual SIM cards and an expandable back panel for bio-metric scanners and satellite transceivers, the device has a unique tamper-proof covering that will erase data if it’s disassembled. Not much is known about the hardware, but its supposed to cost $20,000 each to manufacture and has high grade encryption for telephone calls and to provide logistics.
On a conference call John Chen proclaimed "We're pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform. That, by the way, is all they allow me to say."
The BlackBerry Enterprise Service is a key part of making the Blackphone secure. It is the Waterloo companies flagship product aimed at the corporate and government sectors. It allow clients to manage and secure not just BlackBerry devices on internal networks, but those that run on rival operating systems such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS.
We can hardly go a day without hearing about some big hacking scandal. Corporations are regularly attacked by state sponsored data invasions and its hard to have any semblence of privacy anymore. The Black phone is hopefully ushering in a new era where we can finally be secure, for a price.
Parents often find themselves struggling to keep their kids entertained during long commutes and sometimes Netflix for Kids doesn’t cut it. Amazon is trying to really make headway by constantly adding new content to their Kindle Freetime Unlimited program. This week, they have added over 4,000 new e-Books and television shows to their platform.
Kindle Freetime Unlimited is only compatible with Amazons line of devices, which limits its core audience. Fire, Fire TV and Fire phone customers can reap the lions share of media with access to e-Books, enhanced e-books, movies, television shows and apps. The platform also works on the new Kindle Voyage, but is limited to just e-Books. The cost for FreeTime Unlimited is $4.99 per month for one child, $2.99 for Prime subscribers, and $9.99 per month for up to four children, $6.99 with Prime.
Tons of new content was added just in time for the crazy holiday season, when long drives are the norm. Over 4,000 common core books from National Geographic, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Capstone Press, Lerner Publishing, Child's World, Cherry Lake, Sleeping Bear Press and Starwalk Kids Media was all added this week. Additionally, over 400 age-appropriate apps and games without any in-app purchasing or advertisements.
Finally, thousands of hand-curated movies and TV shows, including iCarly, Avatar and the Legend of Korra from Nickelodeon, Daniel Tigers Neighborhood and Dinosaur Train from PBS, titles from Sesame Street and more are now available.
If you tend to procrastinate buying gifts to the last minute, Amazon has some fairly good deals to insure your new Kindle e-Reader or Fire Tablet arrives quickly. Amazon is offering free two-day shipping through 4:00 PM PT on Monday, December 22 and free one-day shipping on Tuesday, December 23rd until 12:00 PM PT to all customers, regardless of Prime membership.
Amazon also has a few last minute deals on Amazon devices including:
$20 off Amazon Fire TV (now $79) through 12/28
$25 off Fire HD 7 (now $114) through 12/27
$20 off Kindle (now $59) through 12/27
$20 off Kindle Paperwhite (now $99) through 12/27
30% off 32 and 64 GB Fire HDX 8.9 (starting at $300) for one day only on 12/22
Starting in January 2015 VAT prices on e-Books will be changing all over Europe. The big change that is occurring is the amount of VAT you will pay will be determinate on the country you live in, instead of the originating country where the content is sold. In the UK for example, the tax will increase from 3% on each Amazon title to 20%. Will this create a boom period of VPN services and will customers be engaging in this type of behavior in order to save a ton of money?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo have been avoiding paying high amounts of VAT for years by selling from countries like Luxembourg. This change in EU law is designed to close that specific tax loophole, and provide a level playing-field for everyone.
How much extra will customers be paying now for e-Books? Lets take a brief look at what is happening at Amazon. Each digital title from Amazon.co.uk will be priced for 20% VAT and sales in the Irish Republic will pay VAT at 23%. Sales from Amazon.de will be priced at the German 19% VAT, while sales in Luxembourg will be at 3% VAT. Amazon.es will be charging 21% VAT and Amazon.it will be charging 4% VAT.
Digital readers on average will be paying 17% more for each e-Book they purchase and this has the average e-Book lover really riled up. There are alternatives, so do not fret. If you have never heard of it before, a virtual private network (VPN) allows users to make some small changes to their modem and router. It basically allows you to change your local internet address in your home country, to another. If you live in the UK for example, you can establish a VPN to Luxembourg, and only pay 3% VAT on all of your e-Books.
People using VPN’s to access content not in their geographic area is really nothing new. People have been using it for over a decade in China to bypass the Great Firewall and access the internet. Thousands of Canadians use it on their televisions to access to expanded content from Netflix, Hulu+ or WWE Network. International users are also using VPN addresses in order to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, Scribd and Oyster, which have a limited footprint outside the US.
It is legal to use a VPN to order to save money on purchasing e-Books? Well, pretending to be based in another country is classed as tax avoidance, which is legal under European Law. So fundamentally, many users agree that using a VPN to save on VAT is something they intend on doing.
Will readers be flocking to VPN services within the next few weeks to save money on VAT? That is the question. I know the main reason why people flocked to digital initially was to save money on buying books. The average hardcover new release normally costs $30, whereas the digital variant is often $9.99 to $12.99. Simply, your dollar stretches further when you buy the e-Book version, but in Europe this will all change.
Oyster has just signed an e-Book deal with Bloomsbury that will see 1,000 titles added to the US only platform. Some interesting reads include Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.
We're excited to partner with such an incredible publisher to make these titles available to our readers and make our library better than ever.
There are over 500,000 e-Book titles in the Oyster catalog. Readers who pay the monthly subscription fee will not only be able to enjoy Bloomsbury titles but also great content from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.
Several people have mentioned the idea of using the Pi to help relatives and carers support older people in their own homes by monitoring aspects of their daily routine as well as things like the indoor temperature, but until now, we hadn’t seen anyone write up a system they’d implemented. So we were very interested when we received an email from Jamie Grant, telling us how he had used a Raspberry Pi-based home monitoring system to help him support his late mother in maintaining her independence.
An early Pi adopter, one of Jamie’s first projects was home power monitoring. After installing a system to plot electricity usage in his own home using CurrentCost hardware and a Raspberry Pi, he was struck by the “kettle spike”, a power spike that shows clearly that someone is up and making tea. His mother was very elderly, was living alone and had a worsening serious illness, and it occurred to him that the kettle spike would provide a useful indication that she was OK. He decided to install the system at her house, adding some wireless PiR (passive infrared) motion and door sensors. Jamie called this first version HomeCare Guardian; power and sensor data were displayed in a simple webpage. Here’s another screenshot, showing the system in 2013, after about a year of development:
From this single page, Jamie could see whether his mum was OK and going about her usual daily routine, and a sensor at the front door indicated when she took a taxi journey to visit her friends and when she returned. He says,
Jamie has continued working on the wireless sensors and their power requirements: his latest PiR motion sensor is powered by just two AA batteries and has a battery life of over a year, and his new door sensor has an estimated battery life of over three years. With sensors for motion, door opening, indoor temperature and water (to provide flood alerts) ready to go, he hopes to add a humidity sensor soon. The same system, he observes, could also be used for checking an unoccupied property for flood or frost risk as well as other aspects of security. Very recently he has been working with an Android app developer, and they’re hoping to add an alerts app facility soon.
The system has been renamed as Pi HomeGuard, and you can see a working live site, all running off a Raspberry Pi, at www.pihomeguard.com. Jamie is interested in taking this prototype further and making it more widely available, and would be glad to make contact with people who’d like to become involved; if this describes you, say so in the comments, and we’ll put you in touch.
|Yesterday Amazon announced that they’ve added thousands of new titles to their kid-friendly FreeTime Unlimited subscription service just in time for the holidays. The new content from Disney, Nickelodeon, Toca Boca, Sesame Street and Oceanhouse Media is now available for download to subscribers. For those unfamiliar with Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, it’s a subscription service designed […]|