If you want to get in to a heated debate with a true nerd, ask them if they feel numpad is a true necessity for a keyboard (and let me advise you ahead of time to avoid the arrow keys argument entirely). Honestly though, if you do a lot of work with spreadsheets that numpad comes in pretty handy. Microsoft agrees, and so if you happen to have an Android tablet, there is a keyboard now that lets you enter numbers with speed, ease, and precision (unfortunately smartphones are still out of luck, no matter how many numbers you plan to crunch on the smaller-format devices).
As handy as it is, the main keyboard is truncated, which means it really is designed for making numerical entry easier at the sacrifice of alpha-numeric typing (as I think about it, there are a few games out there that could benefit from this little addition as well).
No matter your take, this is yet another piece of evidence in support of Microsoft starting to really understand mobile users and the experiences they demand.
All this keyboard is missing, is that inexplicable noise that was produced by those journal ling calculators with the paper tape roll… if you are of a certain vintage, you will know exactly what I mean.
Microsoft Delivers Numpad to Android Tablets for Excel is a post from: Good e-Reader
Saturday, February 28, 2015
There are three major companies that market newspapers and magazines to libraries and there is a fair amount of concern about what ecosystem to invest in. Library budgets are finite and the average system can ill-afford in making the wrong choice when investing in digital content for their patrons. Today, we look at the three best ones out there and give you a sense on what they are all about.
All of the companies involved in magazines and newspapers in the library have their own apps. This is necessary to read the digital content and normally the branches will have detailed instructions on their website about where to download and how to use their apps. I think the most compelling aspect of this type of content is that there are no limits like e-books. You can borrow them for as long as you want and borrow as many titles, without limits.
Overdrive got into the digital newspaper and magazine game very late. The company launched their new service in February 2015 and relies on Barnes and Noble for all of their content. Currently, there are only 1,000 issues that libraries can purchase and its only available in the US.
Libraries that invest in the Overdrive ecosystem are always paying a bit more, because Overdrive is the market leader for e-books and audiobooks. They can get away with charging a bit extra, because the vast majority of libraries already deal with them.
Pressreader deals with both digital magazines and newspapers and has the largest catalog with over 3,7000 publications. The company also offers a hotspot solution, to be able to hook the entire library up with wireless internet access, so anyone can ride the connection to download content from PressReader or just surf the internet. Libraries all over the world can signup, something that they can’t do with Zinio or Overdrive.
One of the big advantages with the newspaper aspect of Pressreader is being able to get audio editions. Their apps have the capability of doing text to speech, so people who are visually disabled can have the articles read aloud. Secondly, the newspapers they offer are replica editions, which means they mirror the printed form. This allows you to see local advertising, classifieds and even the Sunday Funnies.
Zinio currently has around 500 titles that publishers have sanctioned for use in the library. Due to their relationship with Recorded Books it means that users need to setup 2 accounts: an RB Magazines account, which lets you check out magazines for free (as long as the library subscribes to them); and a Zinio account, which lets you read checked-out magazines online in your browser or read via an app.
Zinio isn’t really global, in the respects that the vast majority of their clients are solely in Canada and the US. I think this is one of the things that hinders their growth potential in this sector.
The Kobo Glo was originally launched in September 2012 and did quite well in North America and Europe. In recent years this e-reader was a bridge to overseas markets and sold all over the world. The Glo is now officially discontinued.
The main Kobo website now brings users to a 404 page when they try and purchase this low cost e-reader. This is the same thing that has occurred in the past when the Canadian based company discontinued the Kobo Mini.
Kobo currently has two openings in their product portfolio and they are actively developing the next generation of e-readers. Their codenames are Alyssum and Pika.
The Alyssum e-reader will be six inches and have a resolution of 1072 x 1448 and 300 PPI. This is very similar to the e-reader that Amazon released late last year, the Kindle Voyage. It is very likely that Kobo wants to heavily compete against Amazon with very similar hardware. Pika on the other hand will supplant the Mini, which was discontinued in 2014. It will be five inches and have a resolution of 800 x 600.
|Yesterday OverDrive announced that they have resolved a technical issue with their library ebook lending service that had caused a number of Kindle-formatted ebooks not to appear available for lending. The glitch affected newer titles added to the system since the beginning of this calendar year. Now that OverDrive has become aware of the issue, […]|
It’s the Raspberry Pi’s third birthday today (or as near as we can get: we launched on February 29 in a leap year). To celebrate we’re having a huge party/conference/scrum over the weekend in Cambridge – we’ve sold 1,300 tickets and I’m currently hiding in the press room to get this post written. I’m on a really overloaded WiFi network, so I’m having trouble uploading pictures at the minute: we’ll have some for you next week.
Three years ago, we made 2,000 little computers, and I remember looking at the pallet, and thinking: “Cripes. Can’t believe we’ve made so many computers. That’s amazing.”
We’ve sold half a million of the things just this month. Thanks to everyone who’s joined us on this extraordinarily weird journey – you’re all brilliant.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Microsoft is terribly fond of looking forward, almost too much so –to the point that they forget about the present. In their latest video featuring their vision of the future (linked below, if you are interested in watching it for yourself), Microsoft tries to prove something… that feels a little bit like ‘hey look, we’ll still be around’!
For the most part, the devices shown in the video are not entirely different from what we are using today (with a few exceptions). I am most fond of the bendable displays, with a tablet shown that looks very much like a book or magazine that is loosely folded and unfolded as it is being used. If this device works anywhere near as cadvertised in this video, I’d like to start begging Microsoft to take my money right now.
A stylus is also in play, though it isn’t entirely clear what or why it is there (sure it shows people writing with them, but that’s not terribly futuristic).
Displays are still large, but everything seems much thinner; a concept that seems like a terribly sexy idea until you consider how much more fragile that is likely to make them (if it’s easy to bend the iPhone 6 Plus, consider a tablet-sized screen that is even larger).
Wearables were not forgotten, with a somewhat strange wristband shown that was used to extend devices like large-scale, wall-mounted screens; headsets were excluded, which seems most unusual given Microsoft’s recent product launch for that very thing.
Microsoft’s predictions are only looking forward 5 to 10 years, so all things considered it really isn’t an issue of clairvoyance as much as it is a series of logical and educated assumptions regarding the direction being taken by the mobile device marketplace.
UK children are not reading classic books in schools such as the works of JRR Tolkien. Instead, they are being drawn to dystopian fiction by Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth.
The seventh version of What Kids Are Reading report has just been released and it analyses the reading habits of over 500,000 children in over 2,700 schools in the United Kingdom. It revealed that Tolkien's books have dropped out of the overall most popular list for the first time since the report began six years ago. In previous years, Tolkien's titles have featured within the chart's top 10 places, mostly among secondary-school children.
What are kids reading these days? Well for the most part they are enamored Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games series, Veronica Roth's Divergent, and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.
The report basically summed up that children’s reading habits fell into two "distinct" categories – either dystopian fantasies by the likes of Collins, Clare and Roth, or what it described as "irreverent, larger than life anti-hero comedies" such as Kinney's Wimpy Kid stories, Dahl's The Twits or Walliams' Gangsta Granny. "While the primary chart top 20 is split down the middle, featuring equal amounts of comedy and fantasy, by secondary school the 'most popular' charts almost exclusively feature darker conflicts from an epic fantasy genre," it said.
Why has Tolkien fell out of the top 10? Well, it can primarily be attributed to the fact that all of his works are now available in film. The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogy are now completed and likely the vast number of people interested in this franchise have seen the films. Whereas the Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments and the Hunter Games are ongoing.
Some of the most prolific authors sometimes had to work a day job to get their start or to maintain their sanity. Authors have found that being cooped up in your home all day writing can make you lose prospective and sometimes that greatest ideas stem from the doldrums of a menial job.
Earlier this week, we became aware that a number of eBooks added to our catalog this year were lacking the Kindle format. This has now been resolved, and the Kindle format of the affected titles is now available in OverDrive's Marketplace. All U.S. libraries' digital collections will be automatically refreshed with the Kindle format for any titles they have purchased that may not have had the format at the time of purchase.
As always, we will continue to add daily to our world leading catalog of over 2.6 million titles with all available formats. We look forward to continuing as the only provider of Kindle format eBooks for our U.S. library and school partners.
We thank all of you for reaching out. Please enjoy borrowing Kindle eBooks from your library's OverDrive-powered digital collection.
|Earlier in the month Kobo teased us with some “big news” that we thought could have meant that Kobo was getting set to release a new ebook reader or two, but that just turned out to be a letdown when the big news ended up being the return of Oprah’s book club. But that doesn’t […]|
|A reader sent in a tip yesterday about a popular service called BookBub that sends out daily email notifications highlighting various ebook deals, discount promotions and free ebooks from major ebook retailers. You can choose what types of notifications to receive across categories and genres that interest you. And the service is free to use. […]|
Some of you may have sniffed this in the wind: there have been some changes at The MagPi, the community Raspberry Pi magazine. The MagPi has been run by volunteers, with no input from the Foundation, for the last three years. Ash Stone, Will Bell, Ian MacAlpine and Aaron Shaw, who formed the core editorial team, approached us a few months ago to ask if we could help with what had become a massive monthly task; especially given that half the team has recently changed jobs or moved overseas.
We had a series of discussions, which have resulted in the relaunch of the MagPi you see today. Over the last few months we’ve been working on moving the magazine in-house here at the Foundation. There’s a lot that’s not changing: The MagPi is still your community magazine; it’s still (and always) going to be available as a free PDF download (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0); it’s still going to be full of content written by you, the community.
We don’t make any money out of doing this. Even if in the future we make physical copies available in shops, we don’t expect to break even on the magazine; but we think that offline resources like this are incredibly important for the community and aid learning, so we’re very happy to be investing in it.
Russell Barnes, who has ten years of experience editing technology magazines, has joined us as Managing Editor, and is heading up the magazine. He’s done an incredible job over the last couple of months, and I’m loving working with him. Russell says:
The biggest thanks, of course, has to go to Ash, Will, Ian, Aaron and everybody else – there are dozens of you – who has worked on The MagPi since the beginning. You’ve made something absolutely remarkable, and we promise to look after The MagPi just as well as you have done.
So – want to see the new issue? Here it is! Click to find a download page.
One of the most common questions and concerns we get at Good e-Reader is if you read Kindle e-books on a non-Amazon branded device? The answer depends on what type of e-reader or tablet you might have.
Amazon uses e-book technology that is quite different from their competitors. The industry standard right now is EPUB, which is what Barnes and Noble, Kobo and virtually ever other e-reader on the market uses.
The Kindle format is distinctively Amazon and it has been upgraded and refined over the years. Amazon first started selling e-books using the MOBI format since 2005. In recent years the company has been heavily using the AZW format and Kindle Format 8 for enhanced e-books.
It is important to note that the Amazon e-book format is totally incompatible with most e-ink readers on the market. If you have a device that only runs EPUB or PDF, you are out of luck. The exception to this rule is if you own a handful of e-readers that have come out in the last twelve months. The Icarus Illumina HD second generation, Onyx Afterglow 2, Onyx BOOX T68 Lynx and the Energy Sistem PRO all run a vanilla version of Google Android. This allows you to install the Kindle e-reader app on them, so you can buy and read e-books.
If you own a tablet or smartphone, you can read Amazon Kindle e-books, provided you download one of their official apps. They currently support Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows and a myriad of others.
Can You Read Kindle e-books on a Different e-Reader? is a post from: Good e-Reader
Too many times it happens: a good anime is cut short before the manga is finished. Whether the anime concludes several story arcs too early, leaving behind an open and unsatisfying ending, or it diverges from the plot of the manga entirely to create an ending of its own, it leaves fans feeling a little bitter. And for many, we’re still here waiting for that next season. It has happened before – Fullmetal Alchemist, after giving the plotline a complete overhaul in the anime, returned with a second season of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which discarded everything that had happened previously and followed the manga to the end. Inuyasha received a second season to finish off the manga five years after the original anime finished airing. Even the timeless classic Sailor Moon recently underwent a full reboot to better adhere to the story told in the manga. With those thoughts in mind, here are, in no particular order, 5 anime that could use a similar treatment.
1. Soul Eater
The manga by Atsushi Okubo about Shinigami, death scythes, withes, and demons, was a smash hit from the beginning. Fat paced, filled with action, the supernatural, inappropriate moment and a good dose of humour, Soul Eater was a staple in the world of anime since the first episode. Buts fans of the show started to realise something was of when, around episode 30, the plot began to change. The plot of the anime veered off in a wildly different direction than the manga, and ended 2009 while the manga continued until 2013. Many viewers have stated that Soul Eater needs to receive the same treatment as Fullmetal Alchemist: a second season that dismisses the inaccuracies of the first season and continues the manga to its proper end. And yes, we know about the spinoff, Soul Eater Not! – and somehow, we don’t think that counts.
2. Ouran High School Host Club
It isn’t considered one of the most popular anime in the world for nothing. It’s hard to find someone in the anime world who hasn’t seen Ouran yet, mostly because fans of the show will mob you if you don’t. But there’s no reason not to watch Ouran. The show is a satirical crack at shojo stereotypes, yet it still manages to be genuine and heartwarming. And yet, very few have read the manga. This in itself is a shame, for while the anime only had a 26-episode run back in 2006, the manga persevered until 2011. The anime featured an ending that left the story wide open for further adventures, and it is safe to say that there isn’t a person in the world who could turn down a second – or third, or fourth – season of the classic anime.
3. Ookiku Furikabutte
Alternatively titled Oofuri or Big Windup, this anime is the anomaly on the list. It already has a second season. While the manga began in 2003 and is still continuing today, Oofuri has had two anime runs – a 26-episode season in 2007 and a 14-episode season in 2010. But even having that second season wasn’t enough to satiate fans. As with every sports manga, the team had to get low before they could get high, and the anime ended on a low. While not overly vocal, the fan of Oofuri have been sitting and waiting patiently for almost five years to see their favourite baseball boys succeed, and will most likely continue to wait until their bones turn to dust. With the rise in popularity of sports anime, this is the time for that third season to arise!
4. Blue Exorcist
Nothing much needs to be said about this one, other than: why did it end in the first place? A supernatural adventure about the son of Satan who runs around exorcising demons? Who could possibly say no to that? And yet, Blue Exorcist’s anime run ended in 2011 after just 25 episodes. The manga is still widely popular in Japan. The author, Kazue Kato, has even extended the expected length of the manga due to its popularity. So why no second season? This still remains a mystery, and with no good reason against it, fans still eagerly await the announcement of a continuation.
5. Fruits Basket
Forget a second season. What this anime needs is an entire reboot, Sailor Moon style. Often cited as one of the best shojo manga out there, Fruits Basket had an impressive run from 1998-2006. But despite the length, the manga’s anime adaption only ran for 26 episodes in 2001. Because the manga was only half through at that point, the anime staff merged events from the manga and altered the storyline to make it fit into the short one-season run. Because of this, the very heart of the manga was lost. Important characters were never introduced, backstories were changed, and some important character features were changed (Akito, anyone?) Several fans have already epxressed interest in seeing a Fruits Basket reboot, so its safe to say it would succeed. Whether any studio decides to make one is a different question entirely. This is one we’ll just have to get lucky on.
One of the benefits of buying tangible books over the digital editions is some of the artistry that goes into designing the book covers. One fine example of this are the possible new Chinese variants of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
These amazing covers were designed by artist Jian Guo and are part of a competition held by the publisher WenJing Publishing. The company has been soliciting entries for the past year for the upcoming re-release of the Chinese version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The original design for the books featured unimaginative covers with images directly ripped from the Peter Jackson movies.
Overall these book covers feature Chinese characters and lovely, monochromatic illustrations that draw on many of the design elements of Tolkien's original paintings for the trilogy's covers, elaborating on the iconic ring and towers with intricate Asian lines and flourishes. If you look closely there is a noticeable stained glass motif that permeates across all three book covers.
In the above image you can see The Fellowship of the Ring in green, The Two Towers in red, and The Return of the King in blue.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The global tablet market is starting to mature and there is not as much demand for new devices as last year. It is currently being estimated that 221.4 million units will be shipped in 2015, slipping by 11.9% compared to 2014.
Leading the market will be Apple, with iPad shipments of 54.2 million units, representing a decrease on year by 16.6%, the report, titled 2015 global tablet demand forecast notes. Other leading international vendors will combine to ship 90.7 million units, growing by 0.1%. White label tablets, which are customized for small and indie level companies will be hit the hardest, with shipments falling 20.0% to 76.5 million units.
If you want to get a sense of the exact percentages, Apple will account for 24.5% of total shipments, Samsung Electronics for 16.3%, Lenovo 5.3%, Asus 4.2%, Google 1.7%, Acer 1.7% and Amazon 1.6%.
220 million units is still a fairly solid figure, but this research is basically saying that people are switching to larger smartphones and keeping their tablets longer. These days, there simply isn’t a compelling enough reason to upgrade your device every year.
Wattpad is likely one of the breakout fan-fiction communities in the world and the Canadian company has just released new app for iOS that prioritizes erotica and romance.
Wattpad After Dark is a new effort to showcase erotica and romance titles that are self-published on their platform. This is an obvious effort to capitalize on the entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. I think the aspect that is most compelling is that everything is free.
The app is highly curated and does not display everything that is adult rated on the Wattpad service. The content is being sorted by some interesting channels, such as “southern romance,” “urban,” and “panty droppers.” As on Wattpad itself, users can comment and vote through the app.
Publishers are really hoping that the next big novel stems from fan-fiction. There certainly is a market for it, as 40 million people have joined Wattpad and they cumulatively read 11 billion minutes of stories a month.
Overdrive has been delaying the Kindle editions of e-books in the United States on titles from major publishing companies. No new Kindle edition has been available from Penguin since December of 2014 and since February 2015, not a single e-book from any major publisher has become available. Is this due to a falling out with Amazon or their current contract expiring? Or something else entirely?
Libraries all over the US have been caught off-guard by the revelation that Kindle e-books from major publishers has slowed to a trickle. Each library has its own library representative from Overdrive and they have not been forthcoming or proactive in letting their clients now what the situation is. It is not until they are approached directly that they acknowledge there is a problem, but they don’t know what it is.
The delay in Kindle editions are all from titles that stem from major publishers. This comprises of companies such as Simon and Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Penguin/Random House. The only e-books that are available in the Kindle format are the ones being sourced are self-published titles from Smashwords and small presses.
David Burleigh the Director of Marketing & Communications at Overdrive said they are aware of the issue and they can’t tell me what the problem is, because its confidential. They did let me know they are developing a new program though, and initially it could be the reason why there are bugs in the system.
“OverDrive is working on a new Preorder program that will make titles available to its partners early in the publication cycle, as many as 6 months prior to the date the titles are released to the public. In OverDrive's Marketplace, partners can add Preorder titles to their public-facing sites, allowing end-users to place holds until the title's street date. At that time, the title will be available for download/viewing. If any holds were placed on the title, they will be fulfilled.”
David went on to say “under this program, partners will not be invoiced for these titles until the titles' street dates. This will ensure libraries are charged only when the titles go live. At launch, we will begin with a segment of our catalog, including the Big 5 publishers among others, and additional publishers will be added in the following months. OverDrive's Preorder program is expected to launch in the coming weeks.”
I remain unconvinced that the refinement of a system to order e-books farther in advance is the root cause of Kindle e-books not becoming available. Libraries have always been able to preorder titles, as soon as its available in the publishers catalog. The only thing that is changing is being able to order it even further in advance, which is just a refinement of an existing system, not reinventing the wheel. (Overdrive just told me that and “to be clear, the Preorder program is an OverDrive program and has nothing to do with Kindle)
Many different libraries have been reaching out to me since I broke this story and we are (speculating) that Amazon is getting out of the library business and severing their relationship with Overdrive.
Amazon is likely getting out of the library business with their sole client because they have developed their own Kindle Lending Library and more recently their Kindle Unlimited subscription system. Instead of hyping a 3rd party, Amazon really wants to make these two systems work and are throwing all of their marketing efforts to promoting them.
When Overdrive was first getting started in marketing their digital distribution services to libraries, they were the only company to secure a relationship with Amazon. They leveraged the fact they were the only company to offer e-books in the Kindle format and used it as a competitive advantage to spread like wildfire all over the United States. 3M Cloud Library and Baker and Taylor both tried to enter negotiations with Amazon, but were meant with disdain and apathy. Ultimately the talks broke down. If Amazon was ever serious about the library business, why would they only deal with one company and not all of them?
Due to their relationship with Amazon, Overdrive is now the dominant worldwide player that offers audiobooks, e-books, magazines, newspapers, music and videos. They have gotten so far ahead of their competition that they don’t need to trump the Amazon card anymore to convince libraries on the virtues of going digital. Currently, over 95% of all libraries in the US have an e-book collection and for the most part its been provided by Overdrive.
Its important to note that Kindle e-books via Overdrive has always been exclusively available in the US. The service has never been available in Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom. Likely, Amazon pursued this relationship with Overdrive as a test, if it were successful, they would expand. USA first and everything second is apart of Amazons DNA. They always launch products and services in the US first, to see if it gains traction (Fire Phone, Fire TV, Fire Stick, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Unlimited, etc etc) and then if its deemed a success they normally roll it out to key international markets like Germany and the United Kingdom.
The amount of money Overdrive is paying Amazon to support the Kindle e-book format is not financially viable anymore. There was a time when e-readers were the dominant device to read e-books on and most people took advantage of the “Send to Kindle” function. This has dramatically changed in the last few years as more people are using the Overdrive Media Console app on their tablets and smartphones. Everyone else is using the HTML5 solution and there simply isn’t a need anymore to support dedicated e-readers, like the Kindle Voyage or Paperwhite.
|Amazon has issued a software update, version 4.5.3, for the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7 to add support for Amazon’s exclusive Firefly feature, which can be used to scan and identify physical products and media to get more information about them, plus you’ll get the option to purchase of course. Firefly can also […]|
Barnes and Noble has announced their intention of spinning off their college bookstore division into its own autonomous unit called Barnes and Noble for Education.
Barnes and Noble for Education will be its own publicly traded company and the anticipated restructuring should be completed by late August. This is around the same time period in which Nook Digital will also become separated from the bookstore chain into its own company.
There are currently over 714 B&N stores on college and university campuses in the United States. In the last financial quarter the educational unit garnered over $751 million in revenue and is fairly stable in terms of growth. Likely investors will be flocking to invest in Nook Education when it becomes available.
Barnes and Noble is basically splitting themselves apart right now. By the end of the year the bookstore chain, college bookstore unit and Nook Digital will become three different companies with completely different ways of operating. This might be for the best, because no longer will most decisions have to be made by the same executive team. If the College bookstore wants to expand their textbook rental system, they are only accountable to themselves and not the same executive team in charge of everything else.
Will splitting the college bookstore into its own company actually happen? Barnes and Noble has had an extensive track record in recent years in flip flopping in all major decisions.
|Once again Barnes and Noble is backtracking on one of their earlier business decisions. Last June B&N announced that would be spinning off the Nook portion of their business into a separate company. As it turns out, that’s not going to happen. Barnes and Noble’s new plan is to separate their college business, which consists […]|
Anybody carrying a smartphone knows just how powerful those pocket-sized computers can be. Further to that potential is the reality that mobile devices have moved from luxury to necessity, particularly in the corporate world. In the beginning, Microsoft dominated this business market –with Apple showing promise as their primary competition. According to an announcement from the Official Google for Work Blog, Android isn’t ready to bow out just yet. By taking advantage of their new Android for Work program, Google is bringing a group of high-profile partners together to help businesses implement more devices using their platform.
According to Google, Android for Work contains four key technology components:
There is no question this is a step in the right direction. The corporate world prefers to deal with others like them –which has always been the struggle for open source platforms gaining widespread adoption in that sector. Businesspeople want somebody to call when things don’t work, and Google is partnering with the kinds of companies that can offer consistency, security, and relevance.
It will take time to tell whether they can be persuasive enough to be successful, even with a program like Android for Work. Google is eager to boast having billions of activated devices, but fails to mention just how many are underpowered or fail to be subscribed to working data plans. Even with that said, there is no reason why iOS has to be the defacto standard for the corporate world without a little healthy competition from other full-featured platforms like Android.
Every season comes a plethora of brand new animes to be watched, but with so many new releases, how do you figure out which are worth it? Well today I will be reviewing an anime that was released during the 2014 winter line up and that has been making quite a buzz.
Death Parade, written and directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa, is a series that originally spawned from a short film entitled "Death Billiards" which was originally produced by Madhouse for the Young Animator Training Project and was released on March 2nd, 2013. The television series began airing in Japan from January 9th and is licenced by Funimation.
Somewhere in an unknown location, a mysterious place called Quindecim resides to make judgement on those who has passed. Upon death, humans go to a place as we know to be heaven or hell, but at the instant of their deaths, humans that have passed at the same time instead arrive at a bar where a quiet bartender named Decim works. There they are challenged to games, wagering their lives in which the end results reveals the secrets to what led them there.
Welcome to Quindecim
Are you looking for an anime that’s full of suspense, drama, comedy, dark humour as well as life or death situations? Well then Death Parade is definitely for you. I have to say the summary for the anime was interesting and this past weekend I decided to take the plunge to watch it since I was in between shows, and I have to say, I was thrilled with my decision.
The anime sets itself up very well from the first episode by welcoming you with an incredibly upbeat and fun OP by BRADIO. Right after the opening theme, we find ourselves watching a couple that have come to a mysterious hall, with no current memories of where they are. After wandering down the hall, they are greeted by a gorgeous post-modern bar called Quindecim. Enter Decim, the arbiter and bartender. After a very confusing introduction to the rulese, the couple have no choice but to play the game with their lives on the line.
If that doesn’t sound good, I don’t know what does! The animation is gorgeous in itself, the character designs are interesting and the overall atmosphere really sets you in the mood. I found most of the games left me feeling somewhat emotional (Yes, I will admit one of the episodes made me cry!).
Though while the theme is dark, if you watched the original Death Billiards, you will have already gotten a feel for the theme, the show does have it’s uplifting moments that really make you forget that the stakes of the game is either reincarnation or the void. Death Parade has the storytelling literary techniques that a great psychological thriller should have and often deals with subliminal philosophical, religious and cosmological meaning and conceptualizations of life and Death.
If you haven’t checked out this anime, I highly recommend that you do! You really can’t go wrong with a compelling story that keeps you guessing, and the outcome is never quite what you think!
Kim Gordon, vocalist, bassist and founding member of the critically acclaimed band Sonic Youth is the coolest woman alive. Possibly to ever exist. And she proves this in her new memoir Girl in a Band. Okay, I suppose this may just be my opinion but it would be impossible to exaggerate the enormous impact she has had on the modern music scene and the Riot Grrl movement.
Gordon has always been known for her aloofness and reservation when it came to publicity and the spotlight of fame. I was honestly very surprised when I first heard she was penning a memoir so I wasn't sure what to expect before reading. While I wouldn't consider this a "tell-all" memoir by any means, her honesty and openness throughout the book was gripping and inspiring on many levels.
With bravery and class, she writes of her childhood in Southern California, growing up and dealing with her brother's diagnosis with paranoid schizophrenia, to New York’s art and music scene in the eighties and nineties and the formation of a groundbreaking band that made it possible for bands like Nirvana to prevail. The most gut-wrenching aspect of the memoir is Gordon's candid narrative of her divorce after a 27 year marriage to bandmate Thurston Moore. But the overall story is bittersweet as she emerges from the breakup stronger than ever.
Girl in a Band is a must-read for all Sonic Youth fans as well as any fans of 90s Alternative music. However, people not familiar with Gordon's band or peers will be taken in by her emotional stories and fascinating account of a life lived outside the box.
Jeffrey Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal sat down with Time, Inc.’s CEO Joe Ripp to discuss the merits and relevance of magazines like People, a title that has steadfastly maintained its dedication to a monthly volume in the era of instant mobile news.
“For Joe Ripp, chief executive of Time Inc., the competitive landscape has translated into the sale of once-prized real estate, and a coming move to lower Manhattan that will save on rent,” wrote Trachtenberg.
“We've got a legacy business that is shrinking and it's going to continue to shrink,” stated Ripp. “Go to any airport right now. There are fewer magazines being displayed. People are engaged with their iPhones; they aren't reading magazines the way they used to. And when they are on the plane now they have Wi-Fi on board, so they're doing their emails.
“They aren't reading less of our content, however. If they are interested in celebrities they are still getting celebrity news; if they are interested in cooking they are still getting cooking information. They are just consuming it in different places.”
Ripp makes a profound point about formats over information. The clamor for the information hasn’t changed at all, though the format has shifted exponentially, perhaps even more so than for book publishing. Just as with books, though, there are books that you collect and books that you consume; print lends itself to titles that readers want to own for years to come, while ebooks were ideal for books that readers enjoyed and then promptly moved away from. The same can be said of magazines, specifically in instances in which the content is timeless, as opposed to something like celebrity news, which Ripp pointed out is in a constant state of motion.
With even the publishing industry admitting that it’s moving forward and leaving paper largely behind, a confession that the book industry is still waiting for, it’s important that outlets be prepared to meet consumers where they are when it comes to reading. Airports like Miami International have recently moved into the digital magazine space, as have a number of universities; hotels, motels, and other hospitality industry services have already made a smooth transition to offering digital content in exchange for customer loyalty, and public and academic libraries are adopting a digital circulation in greater numbers than ever before. If industry icons like People don’t catch up quickly with a faster-paced content offering, selling their real estate will be only one of many concerns.
Big box stores such as Walmart proliferate the United States and each location tends to take up close to 2.5 football fields. In total Walmart accounts for 698 million square feet of land in the U.S and the environmental impact is quite staggering. When these stores close, they often fall into a state of disrepair and most retail companies cannot justify such a large location. One former Walmart store in McAllen, Texas has been transformed into an amazing library.
The McAllen Public Library features 123,000 square feet and is currently the largest single floor library in the US. It originally opened in late 2011 and has been going strong ever since. In the first few months they experienced an increase of over 23% in loans. The next largest is the Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park, Kansas, at 90,547 square feet.
The library has a massive collection of over 355,794 books and a massive collection of digital content, such as audiobooks and e-books.
The library even has an acoustically separated lounge for teens as well as 6 teen computer labs, 16 public meeting spaces, 14 public study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 children's computer labs and 2 genealogy computer labs. Other new features include self check-out units, an auditorium, an art gallery, a used bookstore and a cafe.
Can you honestly think of a better use of a former Walmart than a library? This location was straight up abandoned for over seven years because the retailer opened a new location 1.5 miles down the road! I know a lot of bookworms in Texas that have actually made a pilgrimage to this location to check it out. Word to the wise, on Saturdays there is a farmers market right across the street.
I have a Raspberry Pi project that I'd love to use street maps for, but it would be a daunting challenge for me to figure out how to read map data and write the code to draw the maps on screen. It's why I was delighted to discover Tangram ES, which is a library for rendering 2D and 3D maps using OpenGL ES 2 with data from OpenStreetMap. The library works on a number of devices, including of course Raspberry Pi.
Patricio Gonzalez Vivo (from the video above) and the team at Mapzen are responsible for the open source project, which is an offshoot of their WebGL map rendering library, Tangram. While Tangram ES is still a work-in-progress, they've been using Raspberry Pi 2 to speed up their development of the library and they're ready for more people to take it for a spin.
Structured a lot like a research and development lab, Mapzen is a startup founded with the idea that mapping done collaboratively, transparently, and in the open can produce more resilient software, and ultimately, better maps. Their focus is on open source tools and using open data to create the building blocks for future mapping applications, including search & geocoding, routing, and transit, in addition to the rendering work they’re doing with Tangram.
Patricio is a graphics engineer on Tangram, responsible for implementing different graphical features such as tessellation, lights, materials, environmental maps, and other CG effects. The team also includes Brett Camper, who is Mapzen’s co-founder, as well as Peter Richardson, Ivan Willing, and Karim Naaji. The ES version of Tangram was started by Matt Blair and Varun Talwar.
“Last December Karim and I thought it could be interesting to get Tangram ES running on a Raspberry Pi,” said Patricio. “At the beginning we thought it would be difficult and probably slow, but at the end we were surprised by the speed of the app and how easy the implementation was. Cross-platform C++ development is possible!”
“In a way, the Pi is an ideal test platform for developing graphics software that targets low-power systems,” said Matt. “The OpenGL ES 2 implementation on the Pi is the strictest that we've encountered, so it has become our gold standard for ensuring correct usage of OpenGL. The only major missing piece on the Pi was a compiler that supports C++11, which Tangram uses extensively. However since the Pi is a complete Linux distribution, installing the packages we needed with apt was a breeze.”
Don’t have to take Matt’s word for it; you can install and test drive Tangram ES on the Raspberry Pi right now:
Installing Tangram ES
Using Raspbian, here's how to install the Tangram ES library from the command line and execute the included sample code:
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Google has been working on a new way to read websites by developing a dedicated Reader Mode for Chrome. This basically strips away most of the website design and advertising in order to provide a more visceral experience. This feature has been available for mobile since late last year but now is available for computers.
If you’re on a smartphone or tablet you can open Google Chrome you can turn on the Reader Mode flag at chrome://flags#enable-reader-mode-toolbar-icon, relaunch and tap on the “Reader mode” icon in the toolbar to try it out.
Reading mode is not available as a built in feature for Chrome for computers right now but you can manually install the extension via the Chromium’s open-source DOM Distiller. Once its installed you should notice a new “Distill page” menu item.
Google is basically trying to bring reading mode into the prime time by making it somewhat difficult for the average user to turn it on. In the meantime, Apple Safari is pretty well the industry leader when it comes to a solid reading mode on their line of iPhones and iPads.
To celebrate the Chinese New Year we are excited to offer any library or school 100 free Chinese eBooks when they add the Chinese User Interface to their digital library website from now until March 31st. OverDrive offers more than a dozen language options, including both traditional and simplified Chinese, that you can add to your library site at no cost as a way to better connect with more of your community.
To add any additional languages to your site simply contact your OverDrive Account Specialist and if you choose to add Chinese you will receive 100 free Chinese titles! You can also shop our Chinese New Year Sale where over 7,000 Chinese titles are currently 30-50% off.
To see how major library and school systems are supporting their Chinese-speaking communities with our multilingual UI check out one of these great sites:
Adam Sockel is a Social Media Specialist with OverDrive
Nothing sound like a better idea than taking apart your Android phone… well, at least until you actually do it. I still remember the first iPhone I took apart in an effort to replace a cracked screen. Sufficed to say, it didn’t go terribly well. Thankfully the experts at iFixIt have released an online repair kit that should make things a little easier for those of you looking to get under the hood of your Android-powered mobile devices.
Don’t be naive. Smartphones and tablets may look sleek and simple, and no matter how many times you tell yourself that there can’t possibly be that many little bits inside… you will be wrong. These things are filled with microscopic clips and stickers and little screws and wires and ribbon cables and gadgets and gizmos and stuff and such. Breaking inside your Android device should only happen with an exception amount of caution and care. Now, if it’s cracked and basically useless anyway –what the heck! Whynot give it a try?
The iFixIt site is filled with manuals and instructions for a wide variety of makes and models, covering: smartphones, tablets, wear, TV, and video. They also provide sources for buying tools and replacement parts. If my advice means anything, consider picking up the proper prying tools and one of their organizational tools –the magnetic project mat with the dry erase surface is a life-saver when you pull 75 teensy little pieces out of that phone or tablet; I can all but guarantee you won’t remember exactly where you pulled them from, or what their orientation was, in a few hours… which is how long this little project is going to take.
Even if you aren’t looking to repair anything, consider taking a stroll around the iFixIt website –you may gain a whole new appreciation for the complexity of your mobile devices (and understand a little more why they cost as much as they do).
The Shueisha Ribon magazine’s April issue is unveiling on March 3rd that Nana Haruta "Tsubasa to Hotaru Shojo" romantic comedy manga is going to be inspiring more anime!
The anime will begin it’s run on March 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th as segments within the chilren’s television program "Oha-Suta" (Good Morning Star) on TV Tokyo. The cast of Kanae Ito as Tsubasa Sonokawa, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Aki Hidaka and Takahiro Sakurai as Yūma Toba will be returning for these new shorts. The magazine also hits that the scenes during the school trip and culture festival will be animated!
The very first adaption of Haruta’s manga was a special that was screened at last year’s Ribon Fest 2014 event.
The story follows Tsubasa Sonokawa, a 15 year old girl who falls in love with her upperclassman after saving her at a train station, where she fainted from Anemia. Tsubasa thought the meeting was fate and began to visit him at his class every day however, he told her that her feelings were too "heavy". She once again meets another boy after taking over her friend’s job as a boy’s basketball team manager. Tsubasa learns that she might have more of a connection with this boy named Aki than she first thought.
Haruta began the manga in 2013, and Shueisha will ship the fourth compiled volume of the manga in Japan on March 13th. The first chapter is available to read for free on Ribon’s official website!
"Since we opened our doors we've been busy weighing the feedback of over 29,000 enthusiastic Scouts who have nominated the books they want to read next," said Dina Hilal, general manager for Kindle Scout. "These first 10 titles signal a new option for authors, who can choose to have their books discovered and supported by Amazon customers even before they are published."
Kindle Scout’s process allows authors to submit their titles to the platform and then have Scouts nominate them for publication. Once a book is accepted, it goes on to be published by the digital Kindle Press imprint, in exchange for which the author receives 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and featured Amazon marketing. While some critics may say that the authors are forfeiting 20% of their potential royalties (given the 70% offered through simple KDP self-publishing), the advance and marketing options are slated to make up for that. Further, the book will have a following of readers before it ever reaches the digital shelf, thereby increasing its likelihood of sales.
"Having Eddie & Sunny chosen for publication by Kindle Press has been nothing short of a dream come true," said author Stacey Cochran. "The reader enthusiasm galvanized during the Kindle Scout campaign was exciting beyond anything else I've experienced as a writer, but the thing that's been most surprising in all of this is the community experience and friendships I've made with the other writers I've come to know through Kindle Scout after connecting on social media."
Amazon provided some interesting data on the behaviors of these so-called Scouts who look for newly submitted titles:
The long-standing Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (ABNA) were put on hold this year as the company works through this more inclusive opportunity. Rather than having one single winner in each of a handful of categories, the ongoing process stands to make exponentially more titles available to readers. For a list of the ten titles that are currently available for pre-order due to nominations by Kindle Scouts, click HERE.
|Yesterday Amazon announced that they will be publishing their first wave of ebooks next week selected through the Kindle Scout program. About four months back, Amazon launched the Kindle Scout program that gives authors the opportunity to submit unpublished work where readers choose which titles they want to see published based on reading a sample. […]|
After much preparation we are super happy to announce an exciting new project from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
The Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists is a mentoring programme for creative people interested in technology aged 16 – 21 years old. If your passion is the creative arts, and you’re wondering how you can use technology to enhance that, this is for you.
Ben and I are heading up the programme, and the first year will run from April 2015 to April 2016. We will provide individual and group mentoring via online video chats, industry networking and technical support. It’s free to participate. As well as costs of food, travel and accommodation, each participant will also receive a Raspberry Pi 2 starter kit and a £300 materials grant, and the group will receive a £1000 grant for exhibition costs.
Applications are now open and the deadline is 9am on 31st March 2015.
We are both certified Arts Award Gold Advisers – so participants will have the opportunity to complete Trinity College London's Arts Award Gold accreditation; a Level 3 Award, a QCF credit value of 15, and 35 UCAS points.
We will also have some amazing partners helping us out with mentoring and site visits: Victoria and Albert Museum Digital Programmes, Writers’ Centre Norwich, FutureEverything, Pimoroni, Saladhouse and Hellicar&Lewis.
For full details on the programme, and how to apply, visit the new Creative Technologists page.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
When dedicated e-ink readers were the only game in town, people flocked to them in droves to do their digital reading. When the iPad and Android tablets started to gain traction, people switched to them to read manga, magazines, newspapers and digital comics. Sony might give people a compelling reason to switch to their brand of tablets because its using a 2K display, which will really make vibrant content stand out.
Sony has confirmed that it will shortly release the Xperia Z4 Tablet. The device has made an appearance on the official Xperia Lounge app, before being swiftly pulled. We do not know the full specs of the device, but the screenshot confirms it will have a 2K display, "the latest ultra fast processor" and "industry leading battery performance". It will likely be announced at Mobile World Congress in Spain next week.
When it comes to digital reading, resolution is king. This is partly was has led to the success of the iPad has being the definitive tablet for reading. The main reason is the Retina display, which allows comics to be read in pure HD and developers spend a copious amount of time optimizing their content. Android really hasn’t had a slew of devices that really take resolution to the next level, but the new Z4 might do the trick.