Monday, January 5, 2015

Lenovo Announces e Ink Fitness Band at CES


E Ink is looking to expand its business beyond e-readers and focus more on niche devices like the Sony Smartband Talk smartwatch and YotaPhone 2. These alternative markets saw the e-paper company experience 40% growth in the third quarter of 2014.

The Lenovo VIBE Band VB10 wearable accessory is designed to let users live their lives more connected and with less worry. Equipped with features like E Ink display, up to seven-day battery life with the display and Bluetooth always turned on, fitness functions, phone notifications and waterproofing, the VIBE Band helps users stay fit, connected and in the know anywhere they go. The E Ink display means no glare and a clear display – even in sunlight.

Users can receive instant notifications – calls, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and more – with space for up to 150 characters on the crisp display, while fitness functions & tracking monitor fitness levels and activity to help users stay focused on their health goals. The Lenovo VIBE Band VB10 works with any Android or iOS mobile device and is competitively priced at $89.

Users will be making obvious parallels between the Vibe Band and the Pebble.  Wrist notifications, waterproof for 30 minutes at up to a meter, weeklong battery life, fitness tracking, low-powered screen, and an affordable price point. The Pebble has an extensive ecosystem of apps that likely Lenovo won’t be able to match, and doesn’t have a true e Ink display.  I think the only way the Lenovo band will be relevant is if this is the first product of an upcoming product line, and not a one time thing.

Lenovo Announces e Ink Fitness Band at CES is a post from: Good e-Reader

Lenovo Windows App Enables Handwriting Entry for Text Fields

Lenovo Windows App

In a digital world, we’ve been doing the best we can to avoid ever having to hold an actual pen again. The problem is, there are some times that it would be handy to use an actual writing device –something Lenovo understands. They also know that we don’t want to open up a special app to do a little doodling, so their latest app offering called WriteIt taps into the accessibility layer in Windows 8 in such a way that you can enter handwriting into any text field (whether it is on a webpage or an input field inside any other piece of software).

WriteIt is very flexible and easy to use, so much so that you don’t even have to keep your handwriting within the boundaries of the input box you are working with (as long as you start inside the lines). Sophisticated optical character recognition will do its best to figure out what you were trying to write –and initial reviews say it is pretty accurate (though I’d like to see how well it does with the strange tilt and form of my father’s left-handed scribbling).

I’m thinking that for the average person, this app isn’t something that would be used very often… but in a world where our signatures are held in such high regard, it might bring comfort to the idea of using tablets in more official capacities (signing contracts, purchase orders, etc.).

Lenovo Windows App Enables Handwriting Entry for Text Fields is a post from: Good e-Reader

Google Cast for Audio Announced


Apple has been offing iTunes Match for a few years now, so it was about time Google stepped up to the plate and joined the music-streaming-from-the-cloud game. Offering you the ability to stream music from your devices (including smartphones, tablets, and laptops –including those powered by iOS, MacOSX, and Windows as well as Chromebook), Google Cast is all about crisp and high quality sound for compatible speakers, sound bars, and A/V receivers.

Combining iTunes Match with AirPlay capabilities, Google Cast is app-independent… meaning you can use you choice of a growing number of music and audio-related apps, including: Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, TuneIn.

Initial hardware will be available from leading brands like Sony, HEOS by Denon, and LG as early as Spring 2015.

If you’re curious, take a look at the official launch video linked below for a more detailed look at Google’s new service.

Google Cast for Audio Announced is a post from: Good e-Reader

e-Book Prices Stable After VAT Increase


Many readers were concerned that when the VAT increased on e-Books all over Europe they have to have to pay more. This was not the case as retailers and publishers have helped cushion increase in price, so little has changed.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo all based their European headquarters in Luxembourg where the VAT was only 3%. This allowed these companies to sell digital books all over the continent at reduced prices. The VAT structure changed on January 1st 2015 where the amount of tax people pay is now defendant on the country they live in.

The Bookseller conducted a survey of 168 e-books taken across-genres and from frontlist, mid-list and backlist and ranging from large to independent publishers (including those on agency), Amazon-published and self-published authors has found little change in prices from 23rd December to 2nd January and from 2nd to 5th January. The price stability suggests retailers, perhaps in conjunction with publishers, have worked together to cushion the extra tax costs.

Of the 17 traditionally published e-books available on only two went up in price – You Are Here by Chris Hadfield (Macmillan), which rose from £6.29 to £6.64 and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Vintage), which rose from £5.99 to £6.29. Among the smaller publishers, of the 12 titles recorded, just two rose in price; The Gods of Olympus: A History (Profile) and The Swimmer by Joakim Zander (Head of Zeus).

Readers can now rest assured that the e-book prices have not increased by 20% and e-Books basically cost the same amount as before, and in some cases have only risen slightly.

e-Book Prices Stable After VAT Increase is a post from: Good e-Reader

Pioneer Library System combines innovative ways to access physical and digital content

PLS1The Pioneer Library System (PLS) in Central Oklahoma made headlines when it became the first library in North America to install the EnvisionWare 24-Hour Library, an automated outdoor kiosk that dispenses books, audiobooks and DVDs to patrons at any time.

True to their innovative spirit, the PLS staff wasn't satisfied with providing their community with groundbreaking technology for borrowing just physical materials. So in early June, PLS integrated onto their two EnvisionWare vending machines the OverDrive Media Station (OMS), a touchscreen that allows patrons to browse the library's OverDrive digital collection and send titles to their preferred devices for borrowing.

"This is a library that's changing with the times, and we're really looking to be that store that's always open, so to speak," PLS Assistant Director Lisa Wells said.

Located on the east and west sides of Norman, OK, PLS' EnvisionWare-OMS systems are situated on the campus of a middle school and outside a new library branch, respectively. PLS Visual Library Coordinator Adriana Edwards-Johnson said the OMS component has served as a "great introduction" to PLS' OverDrive digital collection. After browsing the collection and making selections, patrons are taking advantage of the systems' secure WiFi connection to safely borrow digital titles with their devices, she said.

"People just love it. They love having that ease of access," she said.

The OMS' popularity is reflected by PLS' digital circulation numbers. Since June, the month OMS was integrated onto the vending machines, the library has averaged 2,400 more monthly checkouts than its previous record.

More patrons are using PLS' digital services, too. From June-November, the library exceeded its previous monthly record for patrons with a digital checkout by an average of almost 500.

"This is a great example of how OverDrive is developing products and working with partners to bring a library's OverDrive collection to more people in more places," said Clay White, OverDrive Product Owner.

In recognition of its leveraging of emerging technology to better serve the community, PLS was a finalist in local news organization The Journal Record's "Innovator of the Year" awards. Wells said she appreciates OverDrive's support in moving PLS' vision for a "one-stop-shop" for library services forward.

"I think our customers are the real winners when we're able to pull together two great resources at one location," she said.


Brian Byrne is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive.

Blackberry Abandons Flash in their Internet Browser


Blackberry has officially abandoned Adobe Flash in their main internet browser for all Blackberry 10 enabled smartphones.  This move was prompted by Adobe ceasing active support for the platform as the industry seems to have embraced HTML5.

When users upgrade to the BlackBerry OS 10.3.1 update for all supported phones it now removes support for Adobe Flash on the Blackberry browser. Some users were wondering why this happened and initially thought it was a bug.  BlackBerry has now offered an explanation as to why this has occurred.

According to BlackBerry, "BlackBerry 10 OS has been on the market for the past two years, and we continue to have the highest mobile HTML5 test score. We understand how important web browsing is to you, which is why we have always invested in giving you the best possible web browsing experience."

If you need to have a Flash enabled internet browser there are many to choose from. You might want to check out Dolphin Browser, which continues to be the most popular ones out there.

Blackberry Abandons Flash in their Internet Browser is a post from: Good e-Reader

Das Wordclock

We loved this project from Bernd Krolla – it’s beautiful, it’s useful, it taught him some stuff he didn’t know already – and it’s way, way cheaper than buying something like this ready-made in a store would be.

This is not the first Wordclock we’ve seen, but it’s by far the most elegant, and it’s beautifully made. It does more than tell the time; you can change the colours using capacitive touch, display low-res images on it using each letter as a pixel, and send ticker-style messages.

Bernd sent this video to me just before Christmas, and I was planning on blogging it this week anyway – but he surprised me this morning with a GitHub repo where people wanting to make a Wordclock of their own can find all the code they’ll need. He’s also made a build writeup available.

If you want an English layout, the ability to add more words to the set, or a differently shaped display, check out Miniature Giant Space Hamster’s instructions on using genetic algorithms to create an optimal layout in your own language. (Go for the eyes, Boo!) Or you could just adapt a layout you find online – but where’s the fun in that?

Collection Highlights: World Languages


Do you have any Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese speakers (or learners) in your community? If so, make sure to check out our World Languages edition of OverDrive Collection Highlights, above, where we share some of our favorite Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese-language content for sale in OverDrive Marketplace. We've got thousands of wonderful titles in these popular languages, including bestsellers, children's books, cookbooks, and more!

Note: For the best audio experience, we recommend watching this presentation in Chrome.

Carrie Smith is a technical writer at OverDrive.

Good e-Reader App Store Enhanced for Speed


Its the New Year and we have been working very hard on making our Good e-Reader Android and Blackberry App Store faster than ever. We have put a priority on refining the way we handle images and serve our downloads. The end result is a more robust website and for anyone using our App Store Android App, you will notice a dramatic increase in performance.

One of the ways we handled the speed increase was pushing more of our image assets to Amazon S3. We did this because its more scalable to have Amazon deliver the content faster to users in the US and overseas. We have also adjusted the way we handle our SQL queries. As most of you know, WordPress is very database intensive and being able to balance thousands of users online at once is very challenging.

It comes down to this, in the past the website took around 15-20 seconds for the entire app store to load. Now that our enhancements are live this has been reduced to five seconds. The App Store client has also benefited from this speed increase and it should immediately open, instead of having to wait ten seconds for everything to load.

Now that we got the performance issues out of the way we got some big plans for 2015. The major thing we are working on is paid app support for developers. This will really boost our library of quality content, to insure that the latest AAA games will be available. A few months ago we completed work on our virtual wallet system, so users can pay for apps, check their balance and add funds to their account. Phase 2 is paid app support and we have some big name developers getting games ready for our launch. We hope to have this all done in the next four months!

We hope you all dig the speed increases we have made and invite you to check out our app store website at and if you have an Android phone or tablet or a Blackberry 10 enabled device, you can download our app store right to your device.

Good e-Reader App Store Enhanced for Speed is a post from: Good e-Reader