Monday, April 27, 2015

Google Wants to Buy (and Protect) Your Patents


Anybody even halfway paying attention to the news these days will be familiar with patent-trolls and the never-ending quest for patent-owners seeking to protect their ideas from others wishing to capitalize on them. Google understands better than most, and wants to do their part to put an end to that ridiculous (and confusing, and expense, and frustrating) game. By creating a sort of patent marketplace, current patent-holders interested in selling their intellectual property rights can open a dialogue with Google (who just might be interested in buying it).

This patent purchase initiative is a little bit white knight (saving smaller innovators from the expense of possible patent-troll litigation while also making it more likely that good ideas have the requisite production power behind them)… but it’s not without benefit for Google if they can purchase inspiration and turn it into a resounding success.

It also shouldn’t be discounted, that a single patent may not hold much use to a company or individual –but it may be of significant assistance to a company like Google who could apply the innovation to another product or service already being developed.

Google will begin accepting patent holder submissions on May 8, 2015 and continuing until May 22, 2015. Anybody participating can expect a response by June 26, 2015 (with payout to follow sometime in late August 2015).

They may buy none. They may buy all. They may run this program once, again and again. It’s all an experiment.

It should go without saying that there are plenty of details included in the fine print –be sure to take a closer look before you make a decision regarding the future of your patent.

Google Wants to Buy (and Protect) Your Patents is a post from: Good e-Reader

Coating on Butterfly Wings Key to Reducing Screen Glare


Everybody with a smartphone or tablet understands how difficult it is to read your screen in direct sunlight (or other situations where glare comes into play). It’s one of the reasons I turn to my e-reader after all of this time, because at least it does a little better job –but there is no question that the resolution is lacking and it limits the usefulness of the device. Many manufacturers have tried and failed to conquer the glare-monster… when the solution may have been (literally) fluttering under our noses the entire time: a coating present on the wings of the glasswing butterfly.

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology discovered that the glasswing’s wings reflect very small amounts of light (due to pillar-like nanostructures, the details of which are far beyond what my non-biology-skilled brain can understand). Basically it all adds up to clarity coming from biological chaos –which we desperately need to find ways to duplicate. If (when) we do, the glass on our mobile devices should reduce glare and repel water.

It isn’t just smartphones and tablets that would benefit from this advance, consider other possibilities: watches (smart and otherwise), camera lenses, and especially eyeglass lenses (anybody else with a toddler out there will be especially excited to imagine a world with fewer smudges in their line of sight).

Coating on Butterfly Wings Key to Reducing Screen Glare is a post from: Good e-Reader

Making Sense of Messenger Add-On Apps


All kidding aside, social messaging is as popular as it is powerful. Many people are quick to joke that fans of technology love messaging between mobile devices entirely too much –pushing old fashioned telephone conversations toward extinction. Any grandparent living a distance from their grandchildren will tell you that this new style of messaging bridges gaps unlike any voice call ever could; sending photographs and videos is effortless and painless. Facebook gets it, and they want to dominate it. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference last month, their new Messenger platform was introduced (making it a little more obvious why the company invested billions in other technologies like Instagram and WhatsApp).

So what? Even though Facebook Messenger boasts over 600 million active users, it isn’t like there is a lack of popularity with other services (not the least of which being plain-old SMS ‘text messages’)… and sure, they have added other ‘value-added’ features like voice calling and location sharing… but they also have vision (and more importantly, platform independence).

So how do you win friends and influence people in this arena? Open things up for other developers and users to place their mark on the product, personalize it, and capitalize on the most popular social media platform available –while also making it independent and reasonably non-dependent (improving on both will prove critical to its long term success).

How does it work? By taking advantage of add-on apps, which thankfully are installed (and removed) using traditional app store methods and not using some bizarre in-app, convoluted process.

If you want to see how these things work, take a look at a few of my favourite add-on apps:

  • Ultratext for Messenger – Boasts being the fastest way to make a GIF message (customize and send your creations in under 5 seconds)!
  • GIF for Messenger – These developers want you to be able to quickly express just how much you love pizza (or that girl you have had your eye on, or that new song everybody is humming). Access your favourites again and again from your own library of recent creations.
  • EmoticonAR for Messenger – This add-on uses facial recognition to identify the mood of every person in your snapshot and match them against several built-in mood statuses: happy, sad, tired, great, wonderful, troubled, excited, blessed, loved and sexy.
  • Imoji for Messenger – Turn any image into a sticker!

As you can likely imagine, there are countless others I could point you toward –and it is just the beginning… my only hope is that the average users (above high school age) doesn’t go overboard. I like a clever GIF as much (or more) than anybody, but I may go a little crazy if suddenly every message I receive is cluttered with them.

Making Sense of Messenger Add-On Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

Chinese Smartphone Companies to get Worldwide Exposure from Qualcomm


Qualcomm is setting up a new business unit that will help Chinese smartphone makers with getting worldwide exposure.

Huawei and Xiaomi are getting a fair amount of attention in the Americas and Europe. Innovative new offerings have encouraged people to forgo mainstream brands like LG, HTC, Sony and Samsung.

Qualcomm is betting that it could find companies who have a compelling product, but lacks the ability to sell it overseas. Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president of Qualcomm China, stated that an office was set up in Shenzhen in early 2015 which will provide Chinese smartphone makers the ability to “connect with overseas markets:”

Qualcomm derives half its revenue from China and this is a market where having an office and local staff is critical. There are a number of notable phone companies and start-ups that could benefit from the global distribution network. But, Qualcomm is facing exterior forces that are maneuvering against them.

Qualcomm, which is the biggest maker of chips for smartphones, gets about 2/3 of its profits from licensing its wireless patents. That business model was the subject of a 15-month investigation by Chinese antitrust authorities, which analysts believe was prompted by several major Chinese smartphone makers complaining that Qualcomm was pricing its technology unfairly. This resulted in a landmark $975 million dollar fine and prompted Beijing to curb their reliance on foreign firms.

I think the only way Chinese phones can make an impact in the wider global market is if they have something to difference themselves from the competition. The OnePlus One is garnering a ton of media attention because it they feature an OS done by the CyanogenMod team. Firefox, Tizen and Sailfish are also going to be more popular in the coming years, so there is room to impact the market in an meaningful way and build brand identity.

Chinese Smartphone Companies to get Worldwide Exposure from Qualcomm is a post from: Good e-Reader

Good e-Reader Radio Show – Kobo Glo HD, Pocketbook Sense and Growing up

When I was a young lad growing up, the Scholastic Book Fair was instrumental for buying books. The company has tried to modernize to the smartphone generation by trying out various e-book platforms. Today during the show Michael talks about their attempts and what they are doing now.

There are some new e-readers coming out soon, the Kobo Glo HD and Pocketbook Sense. Are these models worth upgrading to?

Good e-Reader Radio Show – Kobo Glo HD, Pocketbook Sense and Growing up is a post from: Good e-Reader

Captivating Illustrations from 1906 Edition of War of the Worlds


Brazilian artist Henrique Alvim CorrĂȘa illustrated a number of drawings for the Belgian edition of H.G Wells classic, War of the Worlds.  Only 500 copies were ever made, primarily due to the artists untimely death at 34. The art is currently up for auction and is captivating the publishing world due to his terrifying take on the aliens.


H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds. Wells' tale preyed upon turn-of-the-century fears about the apocalypse and other Victorian superstitions (and social prejudices) about the unknown. CorrĂȘa's fantastical, murky style is fitting of Wells' dark themes. The Martian fighting machines resemble frightening legions of massive spiders


These illustrations are especially riveting for people who live near water towers in their towns.  Imagine looking up to those water towers and hear the tripod horn blast from the movie.


Captivating Illustrations from 1906 Edition of War of the Worlds is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo to Exclusively Publish Jian Ghomeshi e-book


Kobo has picked up the exclusive digital publishing rights to the upcoming title, Jian Ghomeshi – Secret Life. The book will reveal details and background info about the superstar radio interviewer, his tell-tale past and how his actions conspired to getting fired from his post at CBC Radio One.

Jian had a spectacular fall from grace, amidst heavy controversy on his personal life. The upcoming title will be penned by Toronto Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, and is slated for release in late June.

In an industry first, the book will be published by Kobo, which will offer the digital version, and ECW Press, one of Canada’s most diversified independent publishers, which will offer the print version to the North American marketplace.

Kobo to Exclusively Publish Jian Ghomeshi e-book is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Wheel of (BASIC) Excuses

Back in the day, over at IEEE Spectrum magazine, the editorial elves had a sheet of paper stuck on a wall, with a spinning arm which pointed to any number of plausible excuses for not having handed in homework an article in time.

The offices were renovated last year, and Stephen Cass thought that it was time to update the paper version, bringing it kicking and screaming into the 1980s with a Raspberry Pi-based BASIC system. You can’t fit many excuses on wheel drawn on a sheet of paper. With a big enough SD card, you can fit all the excuses onto a Raspberry Pi.


I remember struggling with getting BASIC to do things fast enough to be useful when I was at school back in the dark ages. The RISC OS version on your Pi is much evolved from the BBC BASIC we knew and loved in (squints) 1980-something; it’s also much, much faster by virtue of all that extra RAM. Stephen was pleased and alarmed by this.

Stephen didn’t put the code for the spinner in his original piece, because he had the aberrant view that nobody would be interested. Happily, he’s fixed that and pasted everything into a comment below his article. (Hit “See more” to view the whole block.)

There are, of course, plenty of non-journalist applications for this snippet of code: games for the kids, allocating chores, automating decision-making…we hope some of you will end up adapting it and letting us know what you did below.

Join us at DigiP: 100 Days and Counting!

The countdown is on: there are officially 100 days to go until Digipalooza '15 and we are busy working to make this the best DigiP yet! We recently captured a planning meeting in session where things turned a little… musical.

As you can see, we work hard, play hard (and sometimes even sing and dance) – come join in the fun at DigiP! Register today at

Questions? Email and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #digip15.