Monday, March 2, 2015

17th Century Assassins Poison Cabinet Disguised as a Book


Some people have failed to embrace digital books because they lack that tectonic feel and book smell. Books have always been hollowed out and things stashed in it, from money to jewelry.  If you were an assassin in the 17th century you might also hide the essential tools of the trade.

This cabinet is actually the real deal and not just a viral picture. It was initially offered for sale for 5200 euros via the German auction house Hermann Historica back in 2008. The auction catalog identified the book as a 'poisoner's cabinet', and much of the press coverage centered on its potential as an assassin's arsenal, but many of the plants included have, or were reputed to have curative as well as toxic properties.

At the very least, this would be an excellent conversation piece.

17th Century Assassins Poison Cabinet Disguised as a Book is a post from: Good e-Reader

Tinder Remorse Available For a (Variable) Price


Did you mean to swipe left instead of right? The user interface on Tinder can move pretty fast, especially for those of us who are maybe a little quick to judge. Fortunately, Tinder’s new “Rewind” feature is finally live… but it doesn’t come free. Included in the premium tier of their service, the cost to change your mind seems to vary greatly depending on a number of seemingly random factors.

Under 30? Pay $9.99 USD / month.
Older than 30? Pay $19.99 USD / month.
Wait, older than 30 but female? Pay $14.99 USD / month.
Reside in certain countries? Pay $2.99 USD / month.
Reside in certain other countries? Pay $23 USD /month.

With no official explanation, it would appear Tinder is doing a little market testing to see what people are willing to pay for past regret. For an app that feels like a somewhat fluffy dating tool, low prices seem critical –Tinder needs to catch us on the impulse buy (in the same knee-jerk, gut-reaction way that has made them popular in the first place).

On the upside, the price paid also gets us out of seeing ads.

Download the app for free if you happen to reside in the minority who hasn’t given Tinder for Android a try.

Tinder Remorse Available For a (Variable) Price is a post from: Good e-Reader

Jolla Revives Potential With Updated Sailfish 2.0 OS


Lucky attendees at Mobile World Congress are getting the chance to get hands-on with the updated, security-conscious, Sailfish 2.0 operating system. Inspired by the desire for increased security on mobile devices, Sailfish is starting to mature into itself –becoming a more full-featured, open-source operating system. Married to the Jolla tablet (made by the Finnish company staffed by former Nokia employees), the pairing may be ready to take on the likes of Apple and Google.

Considered a contender in the low-cost tablet marketplace, the Jolla tablet hardware offers competitive specs: 7.85-inch screen with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, Intel-based chip running 1.8GHz, 2GB of RAM, 32GB and 64GB internal storage options, and a microSD card slot. Nokia styling is present here as well, with flat and rolled edges on hardware that is compact and light (and affordable, with a final retail price expected around $249 USD).

Ultimately, it’s less about the hardware and more about the software. Sure Sailfish 2.0 is more streamlined, and continues to support Android apps (though not using the Google Play store)… but the real news is the added support for Intel’s Atom x3 chipset (giving a new push into licensing with other OEM hardware).

Based loosely on the old MeeGo platform (born of a partnership between Nokia and Intel), Sailfish OS is all about enhanced security by way of a deal made with the SSH Communications Security company in Finland (best-known for the development of the beloved Secure Shell encrypted communications protocol). As we move forward to a brave new world filled with mobile payment solutions and the like, interest in this kind of powerful ecosystem makes good sense (let’s not forget that BlackBerry made an entire business out of being trusted by government and industry).

Does anybody else have the nagging feeling that Sailfish is much less likely to dominate Android or iOS and more likely to be purchased and then assimilated by one or the other eventually?

Jolla Revives Potential With Updated Sailfish 2.0 OS is a post from: Good e-Reader

Samsung Debuts Design-Focused Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge


After the underwhelming release of the Galaxy S5, Samsung proudly announced their new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones at Mobile World Congress this week. Unfortunately for the tech giant, the cheap plastic feel of the S5 overshadowed its diverse and considerable list of features –ultimately reflecting poorly on profits. Taking cues from the highly successful iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched by Apple late last year, Samsung has opted for significant changes to the look and feel of their new smartphones (resulting in products that many describe as visually stunning).

Ditching the now-familiar plastic Samsung smartphone frame, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge feature metal and (Gorilla) glass. For lack of a more descriptive term, these are sexy smartphones; they look classy and ooze curb appeal (which matters, no matter what anybody says). I can only assume that these new designs will carry the same risk of bending and sense of fragility that has plagued the iPhone, but it’s a compromise that people seem to be willing to make (particularly for business users, the likes of which seem to be the primary target for Android lately).

Besides being beautiful, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are packed with all of the expected leading-edge features: 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED displays, 3GB of RAM, 32/64/128GB options for internal storage, 16-megapixel cameras complete with optical image stabilization, a home button with a fingerprint sensor (finally!), infrared heard-rate monitor, integrated support for Qi and PMA wireless charging, along with a louder speaker (which is especially great for those of us using our smartphones as alarm clocks!).

It can’t all be good news. The prettier look and feel resulted in the loss of beloved microSD card slots and waterproofing; somewhere there are Apple executives smiling a little wider with this news. All things considered, extending your internal storage with microSD cards is an antiquated concept versus using cloud storage these days and waterproof smartphones aren’t really an industry expectation (and who truly trusted that anyway?).

Without question, Samsung has taken a chance with these new smartphones –it’s entirely possible these changes will alienate loyalists who enjoyed the way things used to be. There is also little doubt that Samsung will have to field accusations and criticism over having followed behind Apple yet again (one only needs to put the iPhone 6 beside the Galaxy S6 to see the similarities)… but there is no harm in listening to the demands of the mobile device industry and making adjustments accordingly. Clearly Samsung is hoping it will all add up to good business sense, units sold, and profits logged.

These latest offerings from Samsung will be available across the world beginning April 10, but we will have to wait a while to know exactly how much they cost.

Samsung Debuts Design-Focused Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge is a post from: Good e-Reader

Students Continue to Resist Digital Textbooks


Every single year new statistics and polls emerge about digital textbooks in the classroom. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Google have all tried very hard to offer digital editions for rent and resale, but they have not caught on in a meaningful way. A new report by the University of Washington found that even when eTextbooks are given away for free, students continue to buy print.

A recent pilot study from the University of Washington showed that about 25% of students who were given free versions of digital textbooks still went out and purchased a physical copy of the same book.

These are people who aren't supposed to remember what it's like to even smell books," said Naomi S. Baron, an American University linguist who studies digital communication. "It's quite astounding."

Meanwhile a  Student Monitor survey polled college students and found that 87% got their textbooks as physical books, whether renting, purchasing new or buying used.

Why are students continuing to buy print editions and not worry about digital? Many students believe that they comprehend the information better when they can read it on a page, build a cognitive map, and reference their highlighted and handwritten notes, and there is research to support these claims.

Students Continue to Resist Digital Textbooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

Samsung Pay Makes Bid to Win Mobile Payments War


Samsung had a lot to talk about during their address at Mobile World Congress this week, not the least of which being a new mobile payment system. Designed to compete with the likes of Apple Pay and others like it, Samsung Pay promises to offer more choices to financial institutions interested in letting their clients pay using mobile phones.

Much like the other options already available, Samsung will take advantage of near-field communications (NFC) –but what sets them apart (and makes all of us a little more excited than we have been about competing services) is that they will also support magnetic secure transmission (MST) and barcodes. Loosely translated, this means Samsung Pay could be supported by nearly any electronic payment terminal (which should mean an increase in the current and meagre 10% adoption rate for mobile payment technology).

Speaking about their new service, Samsung CEO JK Shin noted that Samsung Pay is intended to “reinvent how people pay for goods and services and transform how they use their smartphones.” His statement seems realistic, when you start to read the things banking spokespeople are saying in response. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is just one of many, stating that: "Samsung Pay is another significant move in that direction for our 17 million mobile customers."

Samsung Pay will come preloaded on the latest Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones this summer, with initial support expected for the US and South Korea. Other regions, including Europe and China are planned with no schedule provided (it appears those of us in Canada may have to wait a while to give it a try).

Which mobile payment service are you most interested in? Are you likely to embrace Samsung Pay as soon as you are able?

Samsung Pay Makes Bid to Win Mobile Payments War is a post from: Good e-Reader

Huawei Announces MediaPad X2 7-Inch Monster Phablet


On top of being a company whose name is rather fun to say, Huawei joined those making big announcements at Mobile World Congress. During their unveiling of a phablet-style smartphone, we learned that the new MediaPad X2 is a little hard to grip (literally)… with a screen measuring a mere 7-inches (somewhere out there Shaquille O’Neal is delighted that there is finally a phone made especially for him).

Two versions of the MediaPad X2 will be available: one featuring 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, the other with 3GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Other specs for the device include a 1920×1200 resolution display, 5000mAh battery, 13MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing camera, Cat 6 LTE support, and boasting a 2.0GHz Kirin 930 ultra-octa chipset.

During the release, Huawei assured would-be users that it isn’t uncomfortable to hold –but a headset may make phone functions a little easier to handle (while also enjoying 12 hours of streaming online video, 15 hours of Internet surfing, or 60 hours of music playback).

We have no idea yet what this beauty will cost us, but it does feature the more stylish aluminum casing we have come to love from the likes of Apple and their iPhone lineup.

I have to admit, that my tiny little hands would be challenged by a 7″ phablet –but after falling in love with my iPhone 6 Plus, it’s easy to understand why somebody with more finger-span might enjoy having that little bit of extra screen real estate.

Huawei Announces MediaPad X2 7-Inch Monster Phablet is a post from: Good e-Reader

Yen Press Announces a Trio of New Manga


There was a lot of excitement this weekend when Yen Press, a North American manga publisher, announced a brand new trio of mangas to be released scheduled for this summer and fall! Yen Press teased the announcement via twitter though we didn’t have to wait long for the exciting news! Though they did say there would be "no light novels this time around, but stay tuned!", we can hope to see a new development soon! So let’s take a look at the new mangas that will start hitting shelves this summer and fall!

gunrose days

Rose Gun Days Season One
An alternate history about a Japan split between American and Chinese influence. Set to be released in the Fall.


Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Reaper of the Icy Blade
Taking place 9 years before the events of the game, the story follows Kurasame Susaya during his time as a student of the Peristylium Suzaku and as a member of the "Four heavenly Kings of Suzaku" Set to be released in July.


A story between an attention grabbing but conventional girl and a more anonymous boy who is secretly pierced and tattooed. Set to be released in October

Yen Press Announces a Trio of New Manga is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sony Replaces VAIO With Ultrathin Xperia Z4 Tablet


Sony has been making a lot of changes lately, not the least of which being the new Xperia Z4 tablet the company announced at the Mobile World Congress this year. Designed to compete with Apple’s iPad Air 2, the Xperia Z4 is designed to do a lot more: in light of the VAIO laptop line being discontinued, Sony needs a tablet with the power and persuasion to engage business customers.

The Xperia Z4 comes equipped with a 10.1-inch display, 2K resolution, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core 64-bit processor, connects to the world using 389g Wi-Fi / 393g LTE, has 32GB of internal storage, uses a long-life 6,000mAh battery (with STAMINA mode still available, that auto-magically turns off background processes when you aren’t using them), and measures at an amazingly thin 6.1mm. It’s also true that the tablet will work with your PlayStation 4 Remote Play, but Sony also maintained my favourite feature from Xperia tablets past: it is waterproof (so not to worry if you spill that Super Big Gulp during your next epic gaming session)!

In an attempt to bring more value to the deal, Sony has also added a Bluetooth keyboard and the Microsoft Office productivity suite to their Android tablet. Unfortunately, initial reviews for the keyboard are entirely underwhelming: many of the most frequently used buttons have been made too small (such as the tab, backspace, and right-side shift keys), and the keys in general offer an unpleasant and hollow tactile response (which makes users less likely to turn to the keyboard for long-term use).

While the Xperiz Z4 runs Android Lollipop, there are customizations in place, including a Windows-style Start Menu type app launcher –which may serve to make the average business user more comfortable with using a mobile operating system in their day-to-day corporate ecosystem.

My general feeling is that the Xperia Z4 will fail as a laptop replacement, but will serve as a stylish choice in the Android tablet mobile device space.

Sony Replaces VAIO With Ultrathin Xperia Z4 Tablet is a post from: Good e-Reader

Anime “Charlotte” Gets A New Key Visual


In December of 2014, Studio Key of VisualArts announced a new project coming up in 2015. Charlotte will be based on an original story by Jun Maeda (AIR, CLANNAD, Angel Beats!). P.A. Works will be animating the project, and Na-Ga will be providing the character design. This will be the first time the team has worked together since Angel Beats back in 2010, and we’re very excited for the outcome! Charlotte’s release is in celebration of Key’s 15th anniversary.

This past weekend, the official Charlotte website has updated with a new key visual featuring our two protagonists with special abilities. Yu Otosaka and Nao Tomori. Though very little information has been released, if you were a fan of Key’s visual novels or their anime adaptions, which are always beautifully animated, well scripted and very emotional, then be on the look out for Charlotte!

Want to keep up to date with further updates? Then head on over to the official website for Charlotte

Anime “Charlotte” Gets A New Key Visual is a post from: Good e-Reader

German Court Finds E Ink Patent Invalid, Files in Favor of Trekstor

Back in 2012, E Ink Corporation filed a lawsuit against Trekstor, an ebook reader distributor based in Germany, for selling various ereaders that used epaper panels from a Chinese contract company, OED Technologies, that supposedly infringed on E Ink’s patents for electronic ink. It’s was an interesting case because E Ink Corporation is pretty much […]

Play The Impossible Game on Nook Simple Touch (Video)

This post is a few years too late to interest most people, but every once in awhile it’s fun to look back at older devices to see how people are using them now. Nooks aren’t very popular anymore. Barnes and Noble has done a lot to hurt the Nook brand in their quest to build […]

Big Birthday Bash – the aftermath

We are all very tender, aching and sleepy. It was a fantastic weekend.

1300 of you came to see us at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory over the weekend, where you listened to 24 lecture theatre talks, took part in 14 workshops, shared hundreds of incredible projects you’d made with your Pis, and ate 110 pizzas.

2015-02-28 13.21.11

2015-02-28 13.20.57

The workshops were amazing: thanks so much to everybody who helped run them. Here’s Imogen, age 10, who is a Scratch pro (we loved your maze game, Imogen!): this is the first time she’s ever done any robotics, and we thought her robot turned out just great.

Alan McCullagh came all the way from France, where he runs the Rhône Valley Raspberry Jams, to join the other volunteers teaching kids in the Beginners’ Workshop.


(Private note for Alan: ROWER. I said ROWER.)

The projects on display were brilliant. Phil Atkin brought along PIANATRON, his Raspberry Pi synthesiser. Pete from Mythic Beasts (you can only see his hands), who is such a good pianist I’m always too embarrassed to play in front of him, was joined by Jonathan “Penguins” Pallant on the “drums”. (Jonathan gave me an update on the penguins project: the Pis all survived the Antarctic winter; however, the solar panels did not, so some more work’s being done on how to manage power.)

We loved watching kids see the music they were making.

magic keyboard

Some kids learned a bit of history.

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Others got to work on custom devices.

2015-02-28 14.34.33-1

Brian Corteil’s Easter Bunny (which he lent us last year for YRS) made an appearance, and laid several kilos of chocolate eggs.


We found more kids in quiet corners, hacking away together.


Workshops aren’t just for young learners: here’s Dave Hughes, the author of the PiCamera library, giving a PiCamera workshop to some grown-up users.


There were 24 talks: here’s our very own Carrie Anne explaining what we do in education.


A certain Amy Mather made a Pi photobooth, the results of which, in this particular instance, I found horrifying.


Vendors set up stands to sell Pis and add-ons on both days. Here’s Pimoroni’s stand, as gorgeous as ever.

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All the cool kids played retro games.


Poly Core (Sam Aaron and Ben Smith) provided live-coded evening entertainment. (My Mum, who came along for the day, is still adamant that there must have been a tape recorder hidden in a box somewhere.) They were amazing – find more snippets on their Twitter feed.

Dan Aldred brought a newly refined version of PiGlove. The capitalisation of its name is of utmost importance.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 14.17.00

Ben Croston from the Fuzzy Duck Brewery (and author of RPi.GPIO) uses a Raspberry Pi controller in the brewing process, and made us a batch of very toothsome, special edition beer called Irration Ale (geddit?) for the Saturday evening event.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.52.17

There was cake.


It was a bit like getting married again.


There was more cake.


After the beer (and raspberry lemonade for the kids) and cake, several hundred people played Pass the Parcel.

The foyer centrepiece was a talking throne which we borrowed from an exhibition at Kensington Palace (thank you to Henry Cooke and Tim from Elkworks for making it, and for your heroic work getting it to Cambridge!) We understand a door had to be removed from its frame at Kensington Palace to get it here.


A selection of members of Team Pi were photographed on it. Please note the apposite labelling – the throne uses a Pi with RFID to read what’s on the slates out loud. (Ross has cheese on his mind because we interrupted his burger for this shot.)


And we appear to have lost Eben. He was last seen heading towards Bedford in an outsized, Pi-powered Big Trak.

Enormous thanks to all the exhibitors and volunteers – and most especially to Mike Horne, Tim Richardson and Lisa Mather, who made this weekend what it was. We can’t thank the three of you enough.

There was so much more – we were so busy we didn’t get pictures of everything, and I didn’t manage to get to talk to anything like as many of you as I’d like to have done. (Does anybody have a picture of the gerbils?) I’ll add links to other people’s accounts of the weekend’s events as they come in.

Thank you to the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory for letting us take over the building for the weekend.

Thank you to our incredibly thoughtful and generous sponsors for the pass-the-parcel gifts, the contents of the goodie bags, and other giveaways:

  • 4tronix
  • @holdenweb
  • @ipmb
  • @whaleygeek
  • Adafruit
  • AirPi (Tom Hartley)
  • Bare Conductive
  • Brian Cortiel
  • CamJam
  • CPC
  • CSR
  • Cyntech
  • Dawn Robotics
  • Dexter Industries
  • Django
  • Eduboard
  • Energenie
  • Farnell
  • GitHub
  • IQaudIO
  • Low Voltage Labs
  • Manchester Girl Geeks
  • ModMyPi
  • MyPiFi
  • NewIT
  • No Starch Press
  • O'Reilly
  • PiBorg
  • Pimoroni
  • PiSupply
  • RasPi.TV
  • RealVNC
  • RS Components
  • RyanTeck
  • Sugru
  • The Pi Hut
  • UK Space Agency
  • Watterott
  • Wiley
  • Wireless Things

Tableware and Decorations were kindly sponsored by:

  • @WileyTech
  • @RealVNC

 Wood and Laser Cutting was generously sponsored by:

  • @fablabmcr (FabLab Manchester)


Make your digital collection unique with curated collections

With the addition of the Curated Collections tool in OverDrive Marketplace, it's easier than ever to showcase titles in your digital collection. Many libraries and schools have already taken advantage of the ability to create interesting custom collections that highlight their digital catalog in a new way. Librarians and school media specialists often create book displays and suggested reading lists for physical titles; Curated collections make it easy to translate that skill into the digital world.

Some examples of cool curated collections we've spotted on our library partner sites include:

For fans of the podcast 'Serial'

"All the Light We Cannot See" Read-Alikes

Toronto in Fiction

Celebrate Valentine’s Day

The book behind the film

CBC Novels That Make You Proud to Be Canadian!

*Links above are subject to change as libraries update their collections. The curate tool is ideal to rotate collections in and out to offer better exposure to a wide variety of titles, outside of just best-sellers and your most recently added content.

Some of the collections listed above are adapted from Recommended Lists, created by OverDrive's team of Collection Development librarians. You can browse the ever-expanding lists in the Collection Development section of the Partner Portal. Coming soon, we'll launch a Readers' Advisory campaign to tie-in with the next Big Library Read book with a corresponding curated collection that you can easily add to your site. Keep an eye out for more details in the coming days!

Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.

Digital Is the Only Strategy to Save News Outlets

In an interesting juxtaposition in how ebooks were slow to “save” libraries, digital newspapers haven’t been the “hit the ground running” salvation of newspapers, especially small town or locally owned news outlets. While it’s true that print subscriptions are declining and digital is on the upswing, one keynote speech highlighted the data that says digital adoption isn’t happening fast enough to overcome the rate at which print is declining.

These figures, presented by The Dallas Morning News' Jim Moroney at the Key Executives Mega-Conference, demonstrate the problem publishers face.

“Moroney, CEO and publisher of The Dallas Morning News, says the big number problem is print advertising – let’s say 85 percent of overall revenue declining at 5 percent a year. The small number is digital advertising revenue. Even if a publisher has achieved a comparatively strong 15 percent of overall revenue in the segment growing at 10 percent a year, it will take 10 years for digital ad growth to exceed print revenue decline.” (link)

But Michael Depp of NetNewsCheck highlights a different angle to this slow but steady approach, namely by saying that at this point, publishers can’t afford to not invest in digital newspapers and advertising.

“There are two fronts on which I'd ask for how much longer any publisher can afford not to invest. The first, as Moroney stressed, is their cross-platform marketing strength. If a publisher can't offer an SMB the full arsenal, then they are going to find someone else who can. This doesn't always mean a paper has to barrel forward into new business acquisition, such as the DMN has done, but it can be achieved through strategic partnerships and reselling opportunities for a start.

“There's another equally crucial area of investment that forks off in at least two ways, and that's in audience data…Papers need to get the best understanding they can about who is consuming their content, on what devices, where and when, starting with their loyal subscribers.”

One aspect to digital newspapers that can make them more appealing to readers is the Netflix-style all-you-can-eat delivery that apps can provide. While subscriptions are largely offered through entities like public and academic libraries or major hotel chains, individual users can still access these digital apps for a greater spectrum of titles to choose from than simply receiving the free digital subscription to their local newspapers with sign up.

Digital Is the Only Strategy to Save News Outlets is a post from: Good e-Reader