Friday, March 6, 2015

Apple Gives Overhaul to iPads in Education Offering


The first few iterations of any new project are always going to suss out strengths and weaknesses. To this end, Apple has listened to feedback aimed toward their iPads in Education program and is making more than a few changes (at just the right time, when educators are starting to make plans for the next school year beginning in the autumn).

Changes to the program are focused primarily on making content easier to download, and devices easier to administer. Having to link downloads to an Apple ID makes sense for devices being used by a single individual or family, but the requirement lead to the creation of generic accounts that offer little security while adding a lot of hassle.

Also exciting is news that younger students (below 13 years old) will be eligible for their own Apple IDs in 2016 –which means they will have access to services like iCloud while still paying all due respect to COPPA requirements protecting the online privacy of children in the United States. It may seem like a minor thing (if you will pardon the pun), but providing this type of continuity honors the important role technology now plays in the learning process (one child, one account).

Apple’s reveal came from an email delivered to their educational partners, the full text of which reads:

In iPad one-to-one environments, schools are seeing more engaged students, better attendance, and higher test results. You can see this happening in districts and schools like Prince George's County, and Essa Academy.

We understand that some schools are not able to give every student an iPad and are sharing devices across classes and students. We want to make learning with a shared iPad a great experience for these students as well as their teachers and administrators. We are already at work on significant changes to App distribution, Apple ID, and Apple Deployment Programs that we are planning to deliver next year to make using iPad in the classroom even better.

To simplify large deployments, including one-to-one and shared use, we want to make app distribution even easier. Today, Apple IDs are required in order to deliver apps and books to students. We are working to change this in the fall by allowing schools to assign and distribute apps to a device without an Apple ID. As currently planned, this will greatly reduce the number of steps needed to setup a device.

This change should eliminate the need to create generic Apple IDs solely for the purposes of getting content onto iPad. Schools will also have the option to prevent students from making personal purchases without approval.

We realize the complexity of obtaining parental consent for Apple ID for students under 13 can be a challenge, especially in large districts. We are working to change the Apple ID for Students program in 2016 – during the upcoming school year. With these planned changes schools will have the ability to create and manage Apple IDs on behalf of students that can be configured to access iCloud. It will also allow system administrators to reset student passwords. And, the new approach will still meet COPPA requirements.

We are improving the Apple Deployment Programs by unifying individual services into one program, simplifying the administrator experience. This will make it far easier to enroll, manage, and support a large deployment—and reduce many of the steps schools have to go through to get setup.

Today iPad is engaging students in their learning in ways we couldn't have imagined. Alongside inspiring leaders, innovative teachers and engaged communities, we believe iPad is the best device for any student, grade and level. We will work to make it easy to get iPads into the hands of all students and teachers. The feedback we receive helps guide what we need to do to get there.

With the presence of iPads in educational environments continuing to improve the test scores of the students using them, making it easier for schools to implement them is never a bad thing.

Apple Gives Overhaul to iPads in Education Offering is a post from: Good e-Reader

Pebble Raises Ridiculous Capital on Kickstarter for Watch Sequel


Known by the world as Kickstarter’s darling, the makers of the tremendously popular Pebble smartwatch are hoping for a repeat performance. A little bit ahead of the launch of Apple’s wearable debut, Pebble wanted to raise $500K to produce their new Time Steel product. It appears a few backers have some interest in the new wearable; with 20 more days to raise funds, nearly 66K people had promised Pebble almost $16.7M dollars.

There is no question that this is another Kickstarter success story, but it really isn’t a win for the crowdsourcing concept. Many would-be backers have described their Kickstarter experiences as being similar to shopping in an online store. That kind of logic is hard to argue with when Pebble has basically used it as a means by which to offer pre-orders for their latest timepiece.

It’s unfortunate if not inevitable. Places like Kickstarter were brought to life so the little guy could bring a great idea to market, even without the capital to do so (funding creativity, as they say). It kind of ruins things when an already well-funded company like Pebble uses it to generate enthusiasm for something they would have released anyway. Their behavior smells opportunistic and is clearly a publicity stunt… which violates the spirit of the site, and is more than a little disappointing.

No matter, Pebble is still a worthy contender in the battle for dominance in the wearables market –but that could change after Apple’s next event on March 9, during which we expect to hear a lot more about their highly anticipated watch.

Pebble Raises Ridiculous Capital on Kickstarter for Watch Sequel is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Aura HD is Officially Discontinued


Kobo has officially discontinued the Aura HD e-reader which was the first 6.8 inch device the company had ever launched. When this e-reader originally came out it caught Kobo off guard how much consumers loved it. CEO Michael Tamblyn told Good e-Reader that this model accounted for 25% of all hardware sales in 2013.

This model has experienced poor retail visibility in the last four months and and it is no longer available anywhere. Kobo has removed the sales button on their main website and all of their global worldwide partners are basically all out of stock. You cannot order them online anymore and you might get lucky in a random bookstore in Europe, but for all sense and purposes this e-reader is gone.

The only large screen e-reader that Kobo is actively marketing is the waterproof H2O model that came out in 2014.

Kobo Aura HD is Officially Discontinued is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo is Developing Windows Phone 8 e-Reading App


Kobo has developed a new e-reading app for Windows 8 phones and is actively looking for people to participate in the beta test program. The purpose of this invite only program is to get feedback based on a wide variety of real usage scenarios and essential features that would make the app better.

Beta Builds will only be released to the beta participants so you can rest assured that the only difference between betas and the final product would be a bit of polish here and there.

If this sounds like something that you're interested in, then please send an email to with your email address associated with Microsoft Store so you can download the beta builds.

Kobo is Developing Windows Phone 8 e-Reading App is a post from: Good e-Reader

Is this the Future of Digital Magazines?


Magazine publishers are constantly talking about the future of their medium. Will people continue to buy the print edition or gravitate towards digital? Are customers satisfied with a replica edition or do they want something more unique and original?

AnOther Magazine has their finger on the pulse and has just released a digital first: a high-definition, moving magazine cover with a bespoke soundtrack. Rihanna's moving image filmed by Inez and Vinoodh is displayed on the digital screen which wraps around 440 pages of fashion, interviews and more.

It is important to note that this isn’t an app that the company has developed but they are marketing it as a boxed set that includes a 9 by 12 tablet on the front and a more traditional magazine contained within.  There is an audio soundtrack that can be listened to via the 3.55 mm headphone jack.

This boxed set is retailing for $125 and was unveiled today at Paris Fashion Week. Is this the future of publishing? I could see special anniversary issues and end of the year best of issues being the most compelling. What if the Time Man of the Year issue had interviews and motion animation displayed on the front cover and people could use as an artistic centerpiece in their homes?  The possibilities of technology such as this are endless.

Is this the Future of Digital Magazines? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Unveils Comic and Manga Previews in Japan


Amazon Japan has just unveiled a new function that will allow customers to read free previews of comics and manga. You will be able to send the content to your e-reader, smartphone or tablet.

Free Previews have been around for quite sometime in most major markets that Amazon operates in. Japanese readers have only been able to read previews in the Kindle Cloud Reader, which launched in September 2014. Now, anyone using the Kindle App for Android, iOS, Windows and Amazon branded devices can sample something before making a buying decision.

Amazon Unveils Comic and Manga Previews in Japan is a post from: Good e-Reader

Digital News Readership Continues to Gain New Ground

Newspaper outlets were initially slow to adopt digital publishing in a full-force manner, with many still experimenting with systems like paywalls and subscriber-only content in order to avoid alienating their paid print subscribers. But new data is showing that news outlets have nothing to fear from digital; even as print sales and print advertising revenue continue to decline, digital readership–especially among the demographics that have basically grown up with instant news access via the internet–is on the rise.

According to an article by Erik Sass for MediaPost, there are reports of the “digital audience for U.S. newspapers reaching a record 173 million in January 2015, according to comScore data cited by the Newspaper Association of America. That figure is the highest ever, up 19% from 146 million in January 2014, and 4.8% from 165 million in December 2014. The latest figure represents 82% of the total U.S. adult online population in January 2015. Furthermore, newspapers' digital content reached 91% of U.S. adult women ages 25-34, and the same proportion of U.S. adult men ages 35-44.”

Interestingly, there was a sharp increase reported in the numbers of readers who limit themselves not only to digital consumption, but also to utilizing only mobile devices for digital newspaper reading. That fact should speak volumes to publishers and providers alike. Publishers need to ensure that their content, especially their all-important advertising content, lends itself to mobile reading. Digital content providers like subscription providers or other sources such as libraries and the hospitality industry need to ensure a seamless experience for people who plan to read on the small screen.

More importantly, the data revealed crucial information about exactly who is reading on their mobile devices, which should give publishers and advertisers the leg up in providing targeted content that speaks to readers.

“Within the mobile-only group, the fastest growth in proportional terms came among young women ages 18-24, as this subset soared 155% from 3.2 million to 8.2 million over this period. Not far behind were men ages 34-44, with the number of mobile users in this demo up 122%.”

There’s one final piece of information that publishers and providers must understand about the way digital newspapers are currently consumed. Last year, digital advertising revenue accounted for just over $3 billion, or roughly 14% of total newspaper ad revenue; at the same time, digital subscriptions through both stand-alone apps and service apps like Pressreader accounted for almost $11 billion, meaning the money is coming from the readers, not the advertisers.

Digital News Readership Continues to Gain New Ground is a post from: Good e-Reader

Crunchyroll Adds Kite and Godzilla vs Megalon to it’s Rosters!


Crunchyroll, the popular media distribution for anime and manga, has announced on Thursday that it has added two new old school favourites to it’s rosters! Kite (OVA originally released in 1999) and Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) are up and ready to be viewed either in the English dub or subtitled format! Premium Crunchyroll users can immediately view these classics in the US and in Canada, though free users will have to wait patiently till April 5th (Though it’s never a bad thing to start up that subscription anyways!)



Released in 1972, Godzilla vs Megalon, has to be one of the most aggressively funny Japanese Monster movie ever made! If you’re ever feeling down, definitely give this movie a go if you haven’t seen it!

Crunchyroll’s description:
"For a while, things have been peaceful on Earth. When the undersea kingdom of Seatopia is threatened by Japan’s atomic testing, the Seatopians fear for the survival of their civilization; they send their secret weapon, Megalon, to destroy Tokyo and eliminate the human race. Earth gets one last chance when the sleeping Godzilla is rudely awakened. It becomes a titanic tag-team of apocalyptic dimensions as Godzilla and robot superhero Jet Jaguar fight Megalon and Gigan in an all-out rubber suit rumble to determine Earth's fate "



While we have our inner five year olds screaming in delight for Godzilla vs Megalon, Kite (OVA released in 1999) is on a whole different level. There have been a few sequels as well a Live Action take on it (Which I would encourage to check out, because how could you not watch anything with Samuel L. Jackson in it!), but still nothing can top the original high style and fantastic action scenes. And if any of you are wondering, the Crunchyroll version that is being streamed is of streaming equivalence to Media Blasters Kite Remastered release, which made it’s debut on Blu-ray in 2013.

Crunchyroll’s description:
"She may be cute. She may be young. She may seem innocent and naive, but don’t be fooled. She’s a cold-blooded killer, and if you’re on the wrong side of the law, you may be her next target. "

Crunchyroll Adds Kite and Godzilla vs Megalon to it’s Rosters! is a post from: Good e-Reader

By Librarians, For Librarians… and cats.

It's no secret that OverDrive loves librarians. Librarians are information superheros. To quote Judy Blume, "Librarians save lives…" In celebration of librarians, our own punk-rockbook jockeys banded together to compile a list of titles for librarians (and their cats) to enjoy.

Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya – Crafts and cats go together like books and tea. Liven up your #MakerMonday with an adorable finger puppet or picture frame forged from feline fur.

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris – Aurora Teagarden is my favorite fictional librarian. She will inspire you to become an amateur sleuth.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle – After a long day at the library, unwind with a literary cocktail. Bridget Jones's Daiquiri is particularly delicious.

This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson – Lend this title to every person who asks, "Why do we need librarians when Google exists?".

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne – A memoir about your average Tourette's-afflicted, weight-lifting librarian.

Click here to view these titles and more in Marketplace.

Title availability may vary based on platform or region.

Michelle Ross is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive. She aspires to one day use her librarian skills to solve crime.

Astro Pi: Flight Hardware Tech Specs


Stop! Before you read anything please watch NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman giving us a quick fly-through of the ISS.

In the video you see various computers and screens on the walls and it’s crazy to think that two Raspberry Pis will soon be there alongside them. Even crazier to think that you can get your code running on them!

What would you make them do? A space tamagotchi perhaps?!

So let’s have a look at the flight hardware shall we?


…and here is a picture of everyone’s favourite spaceman, British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, taking a short break from his training to check it out for himself.


Image courtesy of ESA

Tim is going to get a rather awesome (and expensive) space grade aluminium case with heat dissipation fins, Velcro strips and support arm attachments for his Astro Pi. No you cannot buy this case, trust me it will be prohibitively expensive! What you’ll get is what you see in the pictures above. It will either be free as a reward for submitting a good primary or secondary school idea by the 3rd of April or, if you buy one, around £30 + delivery. There will be another announcement when they are on sale.

Below is a summary of the Astro Pi software and hardware. If you have any questions please comment below. We’re all standing by to answer you!

Python API

  • Installable through PIP
  • Provides effortless access to all of the hardware features below
  • Full documentation will be available on GitHub here
  • Example code
    from astro_pi import AstroPi  ap = AstroPi()  ap.show_message("One small step for Pi!",text_colour = [255,0,0])

    This will just scroll the text One small step for Pi! on the LED matrix in red.

Note: The data sheet links below are only for those of you who really want that information, most humans don’t need to look at them at all!

I²C Sensors

  • Inertial measurement sensor: ST LSM9DS1 (data sheet)
    This is a 3D accelerometer, 3D gyroscope and 3D magnetometer combined in one chip. It will give you the pitch, roll and yaw orientation of the Astro Pi and therefore the ISS itself. It can also be used to detect when the ISS booster rockets are being fired or just as a compass to find the direction of North.
  • Barometric pressure and temperature sensor: ST LPS25H (data sheet)
    This will give you a measurement of air pressure in Pascals or Millibars as well as the temperature in centigrade.
  • Relative humidity and temperature sensor: ST HTS221 (data sheet)
    This gives you the percentage of relative humidity as well as the temperature in centigrade. The sensor is good enough to detect the water vapour in human breath so you could use it to detect the presence of the crew working near the Astro Pi.


  • PCB-mounted 5-button miniature joystick: Alps SKRHABE010 (data sheet)
    Up, down, left, right and middle click. This will emulate the keyboard cursor keys and Enter for the middle click. Accessible via standard Linux event system /dev/input/event*
  • Additional GPIO push buttons will be accessible on the side of the aluminium flight case for functions such as controlled shut-down and reset. These will also be usable in your code via GPIO interrupt detection or polling. You are welcome to re-create them manually on your Astro Pi with any type of push button you have to hand.
  • Standard Pi Camera Module (sensor data sheet)
  • Pi NoIR Camera Module


  • 8×8 RGB LED matrix with ~60fps refresh rate and 15-bit colour resolution (RGB 5 5 5): Cree CLU6AFKW/CLX6AFKB (data sheet)
    Accessible via frame buffer driver /dev/fb1 where each pixel is 16 bit (RGB 5 6 5). This is the only real form of visual output that the Astro Pi computers will have up on the ISS. For a number of technical and safety reasons we are not allowed to plug the HDMI or Composite outputs of the Raspberry Pi into anything on the ISS.

Micro controller

  • A small MCU drives the LED matrix and scans for joystick input: Atmel ATTINY88 (data sheet)
    It’s not the intention for this to be reprogrammable by the user.

For more information on the Astro Pi: Your Code in Space competition please visit and click on How to Enter in the toolbar at the top.

No Tax Break on eBooks in the EU

A reader uses her Nook ereader
There’s a fun throwaway scene in the iconic climate change movie, The Day After Tomorrow. Two intellectuals who are holed up in the New York Public Library to ride out the next ice age are gathering books to burn. One of them grabs a copy of Nietzsche’s works, but they argue over the implications of burning such an important thinker’s book. The nerdy high school student calls up to them and says, “Guys? There’s a whole section on tax law down here that we can burn.”

The humor is that tax law is not only good for kindling, it’s plentiful because it could fill the first floor of a library with its droning minutia. It also changes each year, and the surprising results of those changes have left more than one consumer irritated. Just ask anyone in the US who filed this year and had to provide proof of health insurance or risk facing a $500 fine.

But that’s nothing compared to the head-scratching that the EU’s highest court has caused when they upheld the ruling this week that ebooks were not books, and therefore would be taxed at a higher VAT rate than their print counterparts. How much higher? As much as 20%, where print books are more typically in the 3% to 6% range. Two countries, France and Luxembourg (who, coincidentally, have strong agreements and corporate locations with Amazon) have been skirting the ruling for quite some time, and have actually been sued by the EU for only collecting the lower VAT rate on ebooks. Those governments have been eating the rest of the tax cost, leading some to accuse Amazon of paying hefty incentives to the governments to offset that burden.

Fortunately, this is an issue that may not be over. The reason the court gave for calling ebooks a separate product than a book (and therefore subjected to a different tax rate) is that a separate device must be used and presumably purchased in order to read the ebook. That statement threw the door wide open to punish the film and music industries, since their end products also require some other forms of technology to use them. By that logic, anything could fall suspect: sure, you can eat an apple straight from the tree, but flour must be mixed with other ingredients and then cooked on another implement. Will there be separate taxes on different types of products within the same category, and will consumers have to prove how they actually consume the product in order to avoid the additional taxes?

That is obviously a fairly ridiculous example for the purposes of illustrating where industry watchers already fear this precedent could lead, but what is clear is that the tax structure surrounding the entire book industry has been called into question in Europe for some time, largely with the advent of corporations like Amazon having one set of rules, and local booksellers being subjected to another.

No Tax Break on eBooks in the EU is a post from: Good e-Reader