Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stop Your Facebook Friends From Spreading False News Stories


Please brace yourself, I have a few truths to reveal… and they may come as a surprise to many of you (if my Facebook news feed is to be believed). It doesn’t matter how many times you share the post with all of your friends, Costco will not give you a free $500 gift card. Nobody has a stash of yet-to-be-released iPhone 8.5’s that they are just dying to give away to 200 lucky Facebook users who like and share their post. A sick child will not get a new heart if you share their heart-string-pulling photograph. I am also begging every single one of you to do a single Google search to validate any news you plan to share about a celebrity that has (supposedly) passed away.

Thankfully, Facebook understands the pain many of us feel when we see our friends falling for these ridiculous hoaxes. A feature being added to the site will allow those of us who do our research to flag a post as being false news (as well as a few other designations such as being pornographic, advocating violence, annoying, or distasteful); doing so will remove the post from your feed, so you can forget it ever happened. The more flags a post receives, the less it will be seen in general (though Facebook will never actually delete a post).

Of course, there is a downside to this added moderation: idiots and bullies get the same functionality as everybody else.

At least it’s a step in the right direction, and one I suspect will be fine-tuned over time. My suggestion some time ago was that Facebook force users to click a disclaimer before sharing or adding content that begs for confirmation that the content contained within the post was fact-checked first… and if not, accept that they risk eyerolls and sighs of disbelief from their friends.

Now that Facebook has potentially solved this problem, I’d really appreciate it if they got to work on some kind of alert system that would let people know that their mothers will not think they aren’t loved if you stop sharing those sappy greeting card poems within 10 seconds of reading it… and maybe give them a heads up that I do still love them as a friend even though I’m unwilling to describe in a single word the way we met as a comment on their status.

Stop Your Facebook Friends From Spreading False News Stories is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Dream of Used eBooks is Over


The dream of an used e-Book site may be over. A Dutch Court of Appeals has ruled that Tom Kabinet must shut down within three days or pay a daily fine of €1,000.

Tom Kabinet is a Netherlands based used e-Book website that was first established during the summer of 2014. Their launch immediately put them at odds with the Dutch Publishing Association. The publishers believe Tom Kabinet infringes on copyrights. Research suggests 90% of all eBooks that are listed on the site are pirated and that criminals are reselling books they download from torrent websites.

The core business model of the company is facilitating the sale of e-books that users post on their website.  They don’t actually host the actual book, but digitally watermark each title to prevent reselling of the same copy over and over.  When a book is sold, Kabinet takes a small commission for their role in the transaction.

Things initially looked to be going in favor of the Netherlands e-Book service in July when the court decided that that Tom Kabinet can stay open for business during the court case.  The main argument that was employed was the Oracle and Usedsoft  case that was decided in Germany some months sooner.

“Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a license agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that right-holder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the license agreement prohibits a further transfer, the right-holder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy. He can therefore download onto his computer the copy sold to him by the first acquirer. Such a download must be regarded as a reproduction of digital product that is necessary to enable the new acquirer to use the program in accordance with its intended purpose."

The entire saga between Tom Kabinet and the Dutch Publishers Association was supposed to be all wrapped  up on December 23rd, but due to the Christmas holidays, the judgement was postponed until just this week.

Where does this leave Tom Kabinet now? Well, it is tricky. The Dutch Court ruled that they have to close up shop within three days or pay a hefty fine. They also said the business model appeared to be legal in principle.

When many other companies would have simply closed up shop, TC is continuing to fight. They are trying to purge all of the questionable books from their site in a bid to be legitimized, but it might be far too late that now. In the courts and publishers eyes they are a pirate site that is leveraging a court case as their sole argument and it failed.  It looks like the dream of a legitimate used e-book site might be over, for now.

The Dream of Used eBooks is Over is a post from: Good e-Reader

Looking Forward to Microsoft’s Windows 10


Any of us who have been around in the tech industry for a year or twenty will remember that before Apple was what Apple has become, there was Microsoft… and they were the company you loved to hate (and hated to love). There was a time when we waited on the edges of our seats to see what was coming up in the next version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system (and then we would salivate while also joking that there is no way we’d be installing it until there was at least one major service pack). Thanks in part to the availability of solid alternatives plus a little sprinkle of Ballmer (whose goofiness made a lot of us take the company less seriously), it’s been a while since we cared about a new version of Windows. Until now. Windows 10 has now been previewed, and it actually sounds pretty fantastic.

Windows 7 was pretty solid. Windows 8 was basically a disaster. Windows 10 promises to pull the best from past versions, while leaving behind the stuff that just didn’t work.

At the top of the feature list is a makeover to the desktop experience that intends to provide a consistent user experience across all platforms (mobile and otherwise). Hard to disagree with that approach, given how interchangeable technology is these days –but what else can we look forward to with Windows 10?

  • Cortana – Designed to be Microsoft’s version of the ever-popular digital assistant, Cortana looks like a combination of both Apple’s Siri and Google Now. If demo’s can be believed, Cortana listens more clearly (and responds more accurately) to voice commands than any of the competition.
  • Universal Apps – Long gone are the days when users are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on individual software titles (especially when they only work for one platform and you end up buying secondary clients and access apps for your mobile devices as well). As an added bonus, Microsoft’s Xbox One is also included here.
  • Project Spartan – So many people have a foul taste in their mouths over Internet Explorer. It’s wavered back and forth between being the only browser worth using and then the one that needs deleting (if only you could) more times than I can count. Microsoft isn’t abandoning their flagship browser entirely, but they are planning a new and separate web browser that is light-weight and Chrome-like.
  • Updated Control Panel and Settings – Simply stated, Microsoft wants to give users more control without over-complicating things. With the addition of the new Action Center, a series of toggles will control common options like switching WiFi on and off. Configuration of notifications happens here as well, with syncing across all devices so if you handle something on one device it’s taken care of everywhere (Apple users will really appreciate this, I can’t tell you how many times I end up dismissing things like calendar alerts across all of my hardware).
  • Continuum – A bit of a niche for those using convertibles, but very cool nonetheless. When docked with a keyboard and such, apps will behave in a windowed manner –pull them off the dock and use them tablet-style and the user interface adjusts accordingly. As long as this works as advertised, Continuum is all about the elegance and refinement that the corporate world really likes to get behind.
  • Gaming – Finally! Microsoft is bridging the gap between their Xbox and all other Windows-based hardware by providing apps and interfaces that let you use it all together.
  • Free Upgrades – As long as you are already running Windows 7 or 8.1, and you upgrade within the first year, Windows 10 will be free. This price-point is important because at this stage a large number of Windows users will only upgrade now when it falls under the heading of “what the heck, it’s free”.
  • Skype Integration – Featured front and centre just like iMessage and FaceTime, Skype is the hub of text and video messaging for all Windows devices. If either Apple or Microsoft really wanted to impress me though, they’d make them fully compatible with each other (without having to use a different third-party app on both platforms).
  • Microsoft Office Free for Mobile – Another stolen note from Apple’s playbook perhaps, but it seems Microsoft is finally going to offer their Office Suite (including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) free of charge on Windows Phone and small tablets.

You may have noticed that I left Microsoft’s HoloLens out of my ‘features list’. This was intentional, due in large part to my confusion over why it was included in these announcements. It is an AR platform that displays 3D projections using a pair of rather goofy looking wireless goggles. No sense in talking much about it yet, the release date was very vague (in the Windows 10 time frame they suggested)… and typically with Microsoft this means to expect more than a few delays. For whatever my opinion is worth, I think Windows 10 is Microsoft’s last chance to impress the corporate world and prove they are still relevant –so trying to look all space age and Google-like just cheapened the rest of their news.

In case you wondered if this is still the same old Microsoft, rest assured they are… few companies hold huge launch events with only the vaguest of release dates for the wares they are showing off. In this case, you can expect Windows 10 to ship sometime (later) in 2015. Almost certainly. Probably. Likely. We hope.

Now, with that said, I do want to see it in action when it comes out.

Looking Forward to Microsoft’s Windows 10 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sword Art Online: Lost Song PS3 Trailer Released


With the end of Sword Art Online’s second season fans are eagerly awaiting the next, though it might be some time before the series returns. But for now fans can now enter the SAO universe with the upcoming game "Sword Art Online: Lost Song".

Announced at last year’s Tokyo Game Show, the new game will be released in Japan on March 26th and will be available for the Playstaion 3 and the Playstation Vita platforms. The new game will be localized in English later in 2015  as well as traditional Chinese in other Asian countries. The game will be an open world RPG with an original storyline.

Set within ALfheim Online, Characters will be able to take flight and be able to engage in  epic aerial battles with the help of Kirito’s friends. So far, Bandai Namco has revealed the characters that will take part in the action will include Kirito, Asuna, Leafa, Silica, Lisbeth, Sinon and Philia. Also recently announced will be Klein and other character who’ve made appearances in the past of Sword Art Online Strea and Argo.

While we don’t know too much abut the game’s story yet, the producer Yosuke Futami has previously spoke why it will take place in the alternate ALfheim online and about how it will focus less on the death game aspect and more abut Kirito and friends having fun in the world, for a change.

There will also be a special edition of "Sword Art Online: Lost Song" available that will include a soundtrack CD, bonus Blu-ray content, a poster and a special booklet. Included will be the localized English and Chinese versions of the game that Bandai Namco says will contain better translations than Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment.

The "Sword Art Online" anime had started as a series of light novels written by Reki Kawahara that has then adapted into two seasons of anime that can be seen on Crunchyroll and season 1 on Netflix. You should really check this out, Season 1 is very good.

Sword Art Online: Lost Song PS3 Trailer Released is a post from: Good e-Reader

Attack on Titan Crosses Over into Maple Story


Have you ever wanted to join the Survey Corps and join the relentless battles against the titans? Now you can! Nexon’s Maple Story, an online 2D side-scrolling MMORPG, and Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan are now joining forces!

Characters that are level 30 and higher will have access to a portal that will take them to the world of Attack on Titan where special coins will be needed to participate in episodic content. Train with Mikasa and Eren to become a successful team member to the survey corps and use omni-directional mobility gear! Once training is over, be prepared for the episode of defending the Wall Rose from the Colossal Titan’s attack! Those who survive the attack will be rewarded with with valuable items to be able to recreate some of your favourite AoT characters such as Eren, Mikasa, Levi and Armin!

The new crossover has been available in the Japanese version since November last year but will now be available to play in the English version! Do you have it takes to take on the Colossal Titan and protect your friends? Now you can find out!

Attack on Titan Crosses Over into Maple Story is a post from: Good e-Reader

James Patterson Gives away 1,000 Free Copies of Self-Destructing e-Book


James Patterson has a new book coming out soon, Private Vegas and 1,000 fans will be given a free code to download it for free in the next five days. The catch? Users have 24 hours to read the new title before it self-destructs, disappearing forever.

The 1,000 free e-Book titles will be distributed through a new iPad app and has a 24 hour timer when you open it for the first time.  The book’s website shows which readers are currently devouring the book, how far along they are, how much time is left, and the speed at which they are reading.  There is also a cool map that shows people around you that are also have the digital book.

“I’ve been in the business of thrilling people for almost 40 years,” said Patterson in a press statement. “So much has changed and I want to make sure I keep my readers on the edge of their seat. Faced with imminent destruction, the act of reading against a clock allows fans to become a character in their own thriller.”

The book shows up in shops on January 28th, so these free e-books is the only way you can read it before its released to the general public. If you are feeling financially flush, maybe you just sold your company, there is a real self-destructing book you can buy for $300,000.

If you pay the $300,000 you will receive a first class flight to an undisclosed location. Two nights stay in a luxurious boutique hotel and a well-trained bomb squad to handle the self-destructing book. Users can read the book through a pair of solid gold binoculars and then watch the book blow up in spectacular fashion. Once this is all over, you will get to meet James Patterson for a five course dinner and get a ton of autographed books. This an entire experience should make for a good tale to regale your friends with the next time you get asked “so what did you do this weekend?”

James Patterson Gives away 1,000 Free Copies of Self-Destructing e-Book is a post from: Good e-Reader

Facebook to Add “Hoax” Button

With the steady stream of news coming across the internet, there is no shortage of opposing viewpoints, political leanings, and outright bias to the reporting. It can make uncovering the actual facts rather difficult, especially when coupled with the anonymity provided by so-called news sources. But even more alarming–though humorous, depending on who you ask–is the abundance of satirical news sites that publish tongue-in-cheek variations on the latest headlines.

While satire has long been a respected form of writing (even if journalism might be a strong word for it), readers of ages past had to seek out these works and were fully aware of the attempts at humor. Unfortunately, the internet has brought satire into the mainstream with sites like The Onion and DuffelBlog, and many readers are no longer as aware that the information is not only false, but is intentionally so.

Facebook is now working out a way to help readers sift through the headlines, not with the aim of censoring satirical content, but rather putting a disclaimer on the article. The goal is to improve the spread of actual news while not discouraging the entertainment value of ludicrous headlines.

While concerns have been raised about the ability of readers with a political agenda to “block” legitimate news by flagging it as hoax-worthy content, other sources have said it’s about time users had steps to take to help prevent comedic attempts from being misconstrued as factual content.

“One way to fight the virality of falsehood is to take Facebook's approach and turn the dial down on how often such stories show up for users,” says Marcus Wohlsen in an article for WIRED. “But in doing so, the company calls attention to the fact that the News Feed is not neutral. Facebook has not only an ability but an interest in exerting control over what you see and click. It's not a conspiracy. But it's another reminder that if you rely on social media alone for news, you might not be getting the whole story.”

Facebook to Add “Hoax” Button is a post from: Good e-Reader

Resources Restyled

Back in April, when we launched a revamp of our whole website, we introduced a section of free learning resources. Recently we’ve been working on a new and improved design for the layout of this material, and we’re launching it today for a selection of our resources.


The new look and feel of our free learning resources

Our new in-house designer Sam has produced the templates along with a brilliant set of icons, components, characters, illustrations and bespoke GPIO and wiring diagrams.

The Learn and Make activities are:

We have also revamped a number of Teach resources, each containing lesson plans and links to the Programme of Study:

As well as a new guide to for teachers:

We think they’re looking great – and hope you all do too!


We’ll be migrating all of our resources into the new template in the coming weeks. The content still all lives on GitHub, and you can still collaborate; if you’re a regular contributor, you’ll notice that there are some extra files to make the templates work.

New recipe cards for our learning resources

Gotta collect ‘em all!


Remember all our resources are available for free under a Creative Commons licence, so you can print, copy, share, modify and do anything you want with the materials – we don’t want to restrict educators in any way! We know some of our Raspberry Pi Certified Educators from Picademy have been using their own modified versions of our worksheets to teach the Computing curriculum – it’s a great way of tailoring the material to the needs of their own students.

Those of you who are coming to see us at BETT this week will see we’ve also been giving out recipe cards for each of these new style resources, which again have been beautifully designed by Sam. Teachers – if you miss us at BETT, you can download these recipe cards to print out for your wall displays.

Carrie Anne leading the first session of the day at BETT

The education team out in force at BETT

Check out the rest of our teach, learn and make resources look through our BETT schedule on our website.