Thursday, February 19, 2015

YouTube Launching Kid-Friendly Video App February 23

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I’ve been begging for this app since my kids picked up their first tablets –people of all ages seem to love YouTube, but until now it really wasn’t safe for little ones to watch without strict supervision. It’s true that you could mark a video as having adult content, but that is based on user judgement (my 6 year old daughter loves watching videos about makeup and hairstyles, which quickly led to ‘related videos’ that included extreme body piercing and modifications… not something she should be watching just yet). Thankfully, it appears that Google heard our cries and is launching a child-friendly version of their video service next Monday.

As you would expect, the content in the kids app will be carefully moderated and curated using dedicated playlists and channels (with initial videos provided by partners like Jim Henson TV, DreamWorks, National Geographic, and a selection of popular YouTubers). Other features of the app will get parents equally excited, including a timer that can limit the amount of time spent during each viewing session and a toggle for muting/un-muting video sounds.

The good news is that the initial release will be for Android users. To balance that, the bad news is that it will only be available in the U.S. for now.

YouTube Launching Kid-Friendly Video App February 23 is a post from: Good e-Reader

HTC Tries to Hype Upcoming March 1 Product Launch

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Try as they might, nobody hypes a product launch like Apple… which is amazing because they pretty much let the tech community do it for them. The problem with this formula is that is it very difficult to duplicate, even for tech giants like HTC –though credit where it is due, a fairly clever Tweet this week has people talking at least a little bit. Apparently something huge is coming to us on March 1 (which is kind of a silly teaser when they have already confirmed that the HTC One M9 is the product of the day).

Those in the know figure the reference to ‘huge’ in the tweet isn’t so much referring to the gravity of their upcoming launch, but rather hints that there will be a larger-sized version of the HTC One M9; a device that would give consumers two size options while providing a (potentially) competitive entry into the phablet-device market.

The sequel to the popular HTC One M8 has big shoes to fill, but if the rumours can be believed, that shouldn’t be much of a problem (which is especially important when it is likely to come with an off-contract price between $750-$920USD, placing it directly in competition with the best from Apple and Samsung).

While nothing is certain, the new devices should sport 3GB of RAM, start at 32GB of internal storage, and boast a 20MP rear camera paired with a 13MP front camera capable of taking 4K video –the only unknown seems to be exact processor details, though the one consistent report says we can look forward to a 1.9GHz octa-core.

HTC Tries to Hype Upcoming March 1 Product Launch is a post from: Good e-Reader

There is a Lack of Meaningful Writing Grants

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People with aspirations to pen their first novel often have to juggle their family life, job and even live off of their savings to follow their dream. Writing an e-book or feature length novel is an arduous task and there isn’t many avenues to solicit funding. The average publishing advance from major company for a first time author is $10,000.  Government grants, although plentiful are highly competitive and don’t provide a livable income.

The video game industry relies on indie developers to move game design forward. Over the years we have had amazing titles such as Day Z, Minecraft, Flower and Journey win tons of awards and reap in millions of dollars.

Epic, the company behind the Unreal Engine has just launched a new grant program. They know development can be fueled by creativity and determination alone, finishing and releasing a commercial project often requires money. The company has made a fund that totals $5,000,000 to provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to select projects being built with and around Unreal Engine 4. Any project that has reached the "working prototype" stage of development is eligible for nomination, and all nominations will be considered based on merit.

The Unreal grant requires no revenue sharing or splitting the profits, unlike the traditional publishing industry. The Intellectual property and international rights belong to the developers. Epic sees the more developers using their engine, the more people that will gravitate to their platform, its win win.

Indie authors often use specialized tools to convert their e-book from one format to another or utilize their favorite writing program to pen their novel. None of these companies provide grants, ditto with companies that piggyback an authors sales, such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Self-published authors have few options if they have practical writing experience and want to get a grant. There are a number of organizations in the US that have programs for men, women and Native Americans. The problem, is that most of the time you have to be a paid member, with no guarantee that you will actually get a cash disbursement.

The Arts Council of Canada is one of few choices to get a grant, but the application process is daunting and only a few people once a year are approved. The average cash disbursement is only $5,000, which certainly does not pay the bills for any length of time.

I guess the big program with grants is that they don’t provide a livable income for the duration of your research, writing, cover art design, marketing and editing.

There is a Lack of Meaningful Writing Grants is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Unveils Digital Writing Contest

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Kobo has just unveiled a new literary prize to celebrate the digital works by Canadian authors. The annual award is created for debut authors in three categories: Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Mystery and Non-Fiction. Each winning author will be awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize as well as promotional, marketing, and communications support; winners will be announced in June.

The reason for focusing on debut authors? "In the world of digital sales, 'new' is a hard road to travel," said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo. "In the online world, sales history, bestseller ranking and click-through rates equal visibility and discoverability, and breaking through with a first book can be the most difficult step. This award was created to support debut Canadian authors by helping kick-start their careers not only with a monetary prize, but also through marketing and sales support."

Starting today and until March 31, debut books published in 2014 by Canadian residents can be submitted in one of three categories: Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, and Genre Fiction. Submissions can be made by publishers or directly by authors. A winning book from each category will be chosen through a multi-pronged judging process led by top Canadian authors – Charlotte Gray for Non-Fiction; Miriam Toews for Literary Fiction; and Ian Hamilton for Genre Fiction (Mystery), advisors who can help shape new writers' careers by imparting knowledge gained through their varied experiences within the industry.

Winners will also have access to key Kobo team members as part of the Meet the Experts element of the award program. This initiative will focus on providing advice and guidance on best practices for success in the world of publishing.

"We wanted to try something a bit different in a literary award. Our idea was to create something that would help build a career and not just be a cheque and a sticker on the cover, hence the combination of prize and promotional support. We also wanted to create a linkage between new and established, allowing a respected and beloved author a chance to bring a debut writer to the reading public. And in doing so, it gives us the opportunity to celebrate both the new author and the established one together, hopefully finding new audiences for both," said Tamblyn. "And finally, we wanted to make sure that genre fiction, literary fiction and non-fiction all got equal treatment. Each category has its own audience of passionate Canadian readers looking for something new."

"It has never been more important to promote the role that the written word plays in our daily lives, and it has never been more important to celebrate and support Canadian writers and writing. While we sell books all over the world, we love that we can shine a light on the amazing talent right here in Canada."

What are the Details?

Eligibility: The award is eligible to Canadian residents who have published debut books during the 2014 calendar year in the categories of Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction (Mystery this year; a different genre will be highlighted each year), or Non-Fiction. All submitted books must be available at Kobo.com.

Nomination process: Publishers and authors (traditionally published and self-published) can submit debut books published in 2014 at www.kobo.com/emergingwriter.

Selection: The author judges will select winners from a shortlist created by Kobo booksellers based on a combination of literary merit and reader engagement – completion rates, reviews, and ratings will factor into the final decision. Find out more about the official rules HERE.

Who are the Judges?

Charlotte Gray – Author Judge – Kobo Emerging Writer Prize – Non-Fiction

Charlotte Gray is author of nine acclaimed books of literary non-fiction. Born in Sheffield, England, she came to Canada in 1979 and worked as a political commentator, book reviewer and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history.

Charlotte’s most recent book is The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country. It won the Toronto Book Award and the Toronto Heritage Book Award, and was long-listed for the B.C. Non-fiction Award, and shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Award, the Ottawa Award for Non-Fiction and the Evergreen Award. An adaptation of her 2010 bestseller Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike was broadcast as a television miniseries on the US Discovery Channel, under the title Klondike. Her previous seven books, which include Reluctant Genius, Sisters in the Wilderness, Flint & Feather, and A Museum Called Canada, were all bestsellers.

Charlotte appears regularly on radio and television as a political and cultural commentator. She was a celebrity panelist, championing Jane Urquhart's novel Away, in CBC Radio's annual battle of the books, Canada Reads. In 2004 she was the advocate for Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, for the CBC series: The Greatest Canadian. She has been a judge for several of Canada's most prestigious literary prizes, including the Giller Prize for Fiction, the Charles Taylor Prize for Non-fiction and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. In 2014, she was short-listed as “Author of the Year” by the Canadian Booksellers Association.

An Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, Charlotte is the 2003 Recipient of the Pierre Berton Award for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history. She is former chair of the board of Canada's National History Society, and sits on the boards of the Ottawa International Authors Festival, the Art Canada Institute/Institut de l'Art Canadien, and the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa. Charlotte is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Miriam Toews – Author Judge – Kobo Emerging Writer Prize – Literary Fiction

Miriam Toews is the author of five previous bestselling novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding, A Complicated Kindness (Canada Reads 2006, Canada Reads Canadian Bestseller of the Decade 2010), The Flying Troutmans, and Irma Voth, and one work of non-fiction, Swing Low: A Life.  She is a winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and the Writers Trust Marian Engel/Timothy Findley Award. Her most recent novel, All My Puny Sorrows, won the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize, was a Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist. She lives in Toronto.

Ian Hamilton – Author Judge – Kobo Emerging Writer Prize – Fiction (Mystery)

Ian Hamilton is the author of the wildly popular and bestselling Ava Lee novels, which will be adapted for television by CBC. The first book in the series, The Water Rat of Wanchai, was the winner of multiple awards including the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, a Toronto Star Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year, and a Quill & Quire Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year. The Disciple of Las Vegas was a finalist for the Barry Award for Best Original Trade Paperback, and The Wild Beasts of Wuhan was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery. Most recently, The Two Sisters of Borneo was an instant Canadian bestseller and, in July 2014, BBC included Ian Hamilton on their list of "crime writer[s] to read now."

Kobo Unveils Digital Writing Contest is a post from: Good e-Reader

New “Aquarion” series to be Unveiled

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Satelight, a Tokyo-based anime production company has published a press release about The Anime Japan 2015 event to be held at Tokyo Big Sight on March 20-22. They will be joining the even with it’s parent company, Sankyo to announce the 10th anniversary project for the Aquarion anime franchise which includes a new anime series. Their booth will display Sankyo’s Pachinko machines, introduce anime titles, sell related merchandice and hold events with staff

The first anime series Sousei no Aquarion was aired for 26 episodes in Japan from April to September 2005, followed by a two episode OVA in 2007. The sequel anime Aquarion Evol was also aired for 26 episodes from January to June 2012. As no other news has been released as of yet, we will just have to wait patiently for the Anime Japan 2015 for more information!

New “Aquarion” series to be Unveiled is a post from: Good e-Reader

How to Enable Text-to-Speech on iPad & iPhone for Kindle, iBooks, etc

Last week I posted a text-to-speech review for Kindle devices and a reader left a tip about how to enable text-to-speech for Kindle ebooks using an iPad or iPhone. The iOS Kindle app doesn’t support TTS normally but you can use a screen reading accessibility feature on iOS devices running iOS 8 and newer to […]

New Industry Takes to Digital Magazine Apps

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A variety of industries and business sectors have already seen the benefits in customer loyalty, marketing, and promotion that can come from digital publications, especially in the form of multi-device compatible apps. The hospitality industry, the higher education sector, libraries, and even hospitals have taken to using digital magazines to reach the client base they’re most interested in, and companies like PressReader and OverDrive‘s digital periodicals catalog have helped make this possible.

A new segment has emerged in digital magazine apps, and that’s the transportation industry, notably with the launch of a new in-house digital magazine from Miami International Airport (MIA). Aptly named MIA Connections and launched in conjunction with the Miami Herald‘s digital publishing division, this free magazine app will provide travelers with news, updates, historical information, cultural happenings, and more. It can be accessed for free from the airport’s wifi connection, which offers access to limited websites (most of which are travel-related) without a connection charge or provides an extended internet connection for a fee.

The first edition of the magazine-which is available in both English and Spanish, contains an in-depth look at the art that is on display in the airport, along with information on the retailers and restaurants located inside the airport.

Airports and other transportation hubs are quickly realizing that the travel experience extends beyond the airport, but that the overall impression of the city starts the moment passengers arrive in the airport, whether its for arrivals or departures. While travelers were once viewed as a captive audience–after all, how else are you going to fly to Miami if you don’t pass through that airport–there’s been a significant shift in the way travelers are catered to. This is largely due to influences from not only the hospitality industry, but also the convention planning sector and the startup environment. As cities look for ways to lure both major conferences and new businesses to their regions, the airports, train stations, and bus stations have become part of the enticing equation.

New Industry Takes to Digital Magazine Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

Reviewing the latest Zuckerbook: Gang Leader for a Day

We are now in the third installment in the Mark Zuckerberg list of Zuckerbooks, and the overall theme of getting the world to read books that will open their eyes to new ideas and ways that the world works persists. The book Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh fits into this theme perfectly, and while it shares some themes with the last book, as a reader, it was nice to have something a bit (ok, a lot) shorter with a narrative feel.  I read the first 100 pages of this book in one, quick sitting, completely engrossed.  This book proves old adage of the truth being stranger than fiction.

Venkatesh tells his own story as a brand new Sociology grad student at the University of Chicago in the mid to late 1990s.  His field is one that requires in-depth studies of human existence, and he chooses to study the African American populations in the housing projects just outside the realm of the university, though they might as well be on a different planet for how similar they are to each other.  He begins his study by awkwardly stumbling into the Robert Taylor Homes with an ill-conceived survey for the residents, and is held there by local Black Kings (BKs) gang members as they try to figure out which rival gang he might be from and what his motives are in visiting them (mostly because they cannot conceive that he would be so na├»ve as to wander into unfamiliar gang territories).  It is during this time that he is introduced to JT, the leader of the local branch of the BKs, and the man who would be his guide into how not only how gang members live, but also those in the Robert Taylor Homes whose lives are intertwined with the BKs.

By getting to know the leader of a gang, Venkatesh hopes that he will be able to learn more about the economic structure which gangs use to operate, viewing them as a business model.  It is this desire to know the structure and inner workings of the BKs that leads him to eventually be "gang leader" for a day (hence the title), and spend the day with JT and his associates as they go about a normal workday.  It is this research that made Venkatesh stand out among his peers, and get him a featured spot in the book Freakonomics later in his career.  It is a hidden side of gang life, and fans of shows like The Wire will appreciate the many different layers of the BKs that we are shown.

We are presented a world of drugs, violence, and desperation, as Venkatesh writes that all are "hustlers", himself included.  I appreciated Venkatesh's battle with himself to remain an impartial observer of their actions.  The language is rough and uncensored, and anyone who is sensitive to such things would be advised to avoid reading.  Regardless, we are given a glimpse into the end of the Robert Taylor Homes and into the lives of the residents in a way that few have been before, all because Venkatesh won the trust of those around him by genuinely caring about them and being interested in their lives.  This is an important, empathetic read for all.

 

The Raspberry Pi Guy interviews Eben and Gordon

On Monday, Matt Timmons-Brown, The Raspberry Pi Guy, took a day out from revising for his GCSEs to come and do some video interviews with Eben and Gordon. We really enjoy working with Matt; he asks difficult questions, and I think that many of you will find this interview particularly interesting, as Eben talks about plans for open-sourcing the Pi’s graphics stack, what’s going on with the display board, what’s up with Windows 10, and much more.

Thanks Matt – come back to Pi Towers when your exams are over! (Next time, we want more Gordon!)