Microsoft founder Bill Gates has just posted his reading list for the summer. Every year he posts six novels that he wants to read or has read. This year he has a series of books that had made him laugh or were thought provoking.
Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh. The book, based on Brosh's wildly popular website, consists of brief vignettes and comic drawings about her young life. The adventures she recounts are mostly inside her head, where we hear and see the kind of inner thoughts most of us are too timid to let out in public. You will rip through it in three hours, tops. But you'll wish it went on longer, because it's funny and smart as hell. I must have interrupted Melinda a dozen times to read to her passages that made me laugh out loud.
The Magic of Reality, by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, has a gift for making science enjoyable. This book is as accessible as the TV series Cosmos is for younger audiences—and as relevant for older audiences. It's an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, like "how did the universe form?" and "what causes earthquakes?" It's also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity. Dawkins's antagonistic (and, to me, overzealous) view of religion has earned him a lot of angry critics, but I consider him to be one of the great scientific writer/explainers of all time.
What If?, by Randall Munroe. The subtitle of the book is "Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions," and that's exactly what it is. People write Munroe with questions that range over all fields of science: physics, chemistry, biology. Questions like, "From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?" (The answer, it turns out, is "high enough that it would disintegrate before it hit the ground.") Munroe's explanations are funny, but the science underpinning his answers is very accurate. It's an entertaining read, and you'll also learn a bit about things like ballistics, DNA, the oceans, the atmosphere, and lightning along the way.
XKCD, by Randall Munroe. A collection of posts from Munroe's blog XKCD, which is made up of cartoons he draws making fun of things—mostly scientists and computers, but lots of other things too. There's one about scientists holding a press conference to reveal their discovery that life is arsenic-based. They research press conferences and find out that sometimes it's good to serve food that's related to the subject of the conference. The last panel is all the reporters dead on the floor because they ate arsenic. It's that kind of humor, which not everybody loves, but I do.
On Immunity, by Eula Biss. When I stumbled across this book on the Internet, I thought it might be a worthwhile read. I had no idea what a pleasure reading it would be. Biss, an essayist and university lecturer, examines what lies behind people's fears of vaccinating their children. Like many of us, she concludes that vaccines are safe, effective, and almost miraculous tools for protecting children against needless suffering. But she is not out to demonize anyone who holds opposing views. This is a thoughtful and beautifully written book about a very important topic.
How to Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff. I picked up this short, easy-to-read book after seeing it on a Wall Street Journal list of good books for investors. I enjoyed it so much that it was one of a handful of books I recommended to everyone at TED this year. It was first published in 1954, but aside from a few anachronistic examples (it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States), it doesn't feel dated. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons—a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days. A useful introduction to the use of statistics, and a helpful refresher for anyone who is already well versed in it.
Should We Eat Meat?, by Vaclav Smil. The richer the world gets, the more meat it eats. And the more meat it eats, the bigger the threat to the planet. How do we square this circle? Vaclav Smil takes his usual clear-eyed view of the whole landscape, from meat's role in human evolution to hard questions about animal cruelty. While it would be great if people wanted to eat less meat, I don't think we can expect large numbers of people to make drastic reductions. I'm betting on innovation, including higher agricultural productivity and the development of meat substitutes, to help the world meet its need for meat. A timely book, though probably the least beach-friendly one on this list.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
OverDrive is excited to introduce our inaugural OverDrive Summer Read program, designed to encourage your students to keep reading all year long. This program aims to help prevent the Summer Slide by providing exciting titles young readers that are simultaneously available during the summer weeks. The below titles will be automatically added to North American and European OverDrive-powered school library websites in eBook and OverDrive Read formats (and Kindle format where available) with unlimited access from June 9-July 9. Public libraries who offer eReading Rooms will also receive this content on their eReading Room pages. Similar to the Big Library Read this program will enable young readers to enjoy these titles without any wait lists or holds during the summer.
The Fat Boy Chronicles by Diane Lang & Michael Buchanan. It's bad enough being the new kid, but as a freshman, Jimmy finds school less enjoyable than many of his classmates. Standing 5'5″ and weighing 187 pounds, he's subjected to a daily barrage of taunts and torments. His only sources of comfort are his family, his youth group, and his favorite foods. When his English teacher assigns a journal as a writing project, Jimmy chronicles not only his struggles but also his aspirations – to lose weight and win the girl of his dreams. Inspired by a true story and told in first-person journal entries, The Fat Boy Chronicles brings to life the pain and isolation felt by many overweight teenagers as they try to find their way in a world obsessed with outward beauty.
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas. It's 1942: Tomi Itano, 12, is a second-generation Japanese American who lives in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Although her parents came from Japan and her grandparents still live there, Tomi considers herself an American. She doesn't speak Japanese and has never been to Japan. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, things change. No Japs Allowed signs hang in store windows and Tomi's family is ostracized.
Things get much worse. Suspected as a spy, Tomi's father is taken away. The rest of the Itano family is sent to an internment camp in Colorado. Many other Japanese American families face a similar fate. Tomi becomes bitter, wondering how her country could treat her and her family like the enemy. What does she need to do to prove she is an honorable American? Sandra Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this story of a young Japanese American girl caught up in the prejudices and World War II.
Digital libraries that only serve elementary students will feature Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky. All other school partners will feature both titles. Contact your Account Specialist if you have any questions.
This weekend at Anime Central convention, Daisuki, a new anime streaming service, has announced that God Eater will be added to it’s summer line up. It was earlier this year that the anime adaption of Bandai Namco’s popular PSP game would be getting it’s own tv series to be directed by Takayuki Hirao with character designs by Keita Shimizu (Tales of Phantasia) along with music by Gō Shiina (God Eater games)
Daisuki describes the series as follows:
The series will star Ryūichi Kijima as the protagonist Lenka Utsugi and returning to their roles from the game series include:
Hiroaki Hirata as Rindou Amamiya
Daisuki will begin streaming the new series starting on July 5th and the stream will be available worldwide except for China and Japan. In Japan, the series will air on Tokyo MX TV, BS11 and other stations.
This past weekend, the staff of Fairy Tail held a fan event called the Dragon King Festival. Named after an event in the manga, this gathering included fan merchandise, guest appearances by voice actors and series creator Hiro Mashima himself, and a few very exciting announcements for Fairy Tail fans. It has been confirmed that Fairy Tail is getting another movie.
This will be the second movie, after 2012's 'Phoenix Priestess.' A teaser image for the movie was released, featuring the dragon slayer Natsu Dragneel half-formed into a dragon. This set fans ablaze with excitement and theories, as it was revealed as a plot point some time ago that dragon slayers, if their magic is used too excessively, can turn into dragons themselves. While most anime movies do not contain anything important to the series' plot, this movie will clearly have some relevance, even in the smallest of ways, to Fairy Tail's main plotline.
We will also be blessed with another OVA – original video animation. This is the seventh OVA for Fairy Tail, and the third to be based on actual material. This OVA will be adapting the bonus chapter "Penalty Game," which takes place after the Grand Magic Games, chronologically.
Mashima also spoke a bit about the next anime arc. The Tartarus arc was popular along readers, albeit a bit dark and depressing. A sneak peek at some of the animation was revealed, along with some information. Anime staff are always looking for extra bits to pad the story and make it longer, but this time they'll be taking bits and pieces that were supposed to happen in the manga, but time and space ran out and they had to be cut. Mashima mentioned three extra villains and a mini storyline that pertained to character favourite Laxus Dreyar, so it's very possible the anime will have more Laxus – not that anyone will ever complain about more Laxus.
The manga also received several stunning revelations in the latest two chapters. For the last five weeks, two chapters have been released at a time. All this has been to culminate an incredible ending for the most recent mini-arc, capping it off with some major plot twists. No spoilers, but it involves some unexpected family relations and a…reintroduction to a character, of sorts.
It's been an amazing few weeks for Fairy Tail fans, and though next week we'll be back to the usual chapter-a-week pace, things will only be getting crazier from here on out.
|Hoopla Digital offers a service much like OverDrive that provides free access to digital content from public libraries across North America. Hoopla gives library patrons access to over 300,000 movies, TV shows, full music albums, audiobooks, and now they’ve just added ebooks and comics to their selections as well. All you need is a library […]|
The smartphone’s creator has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the handset’s entry into the US market, with American backers able to pre-order the YotaPhone 2 for as little as $500. The campaign goal was a cool $50,000 and less than a day remaining they have reached over $80,000.
It is important to note that these phones are pre-orders and the entire concept of the crowd funding campaign was to gauge demand. Yota also made it very clear that the majority of this money would be used to pay the necessary licensing fees to have it certified by the FCC and other regulatory bodies. In reality, due to Indiegogo Flexible Campaign policies Yota Devices keeps all of the money they raised, regardless if they launch it in the US or not.
Yota Devices is a Russian company and they sold their first generation phone primarily in Europe. Their second generation model made it to the UK, where it was met with trepidation due to the high cost and unknown brand. Many carriers would not carry the device, which increased the cost further.
I think the entire YotaPhone concept is flawed. Relying on a notoriously shady website to generate funds just to see if there is a demand and the phone isn’t even certified in the market its trying to break into. Will Yota use the $80k they raised to certify it for the US market, or will they use the money to work on a 3rd generation model? Will they actually ship the phones to the users that ordered them without the FCC certification?
There are too many questions swirling around this companies business model for the US market. I know many serious digital readers might think this phone is amazing, due to the 4.8 inch E INK screen and 5 inch AMOLED display. Regardless, I would recommend to not invest in it until its commercially available from a legit website.
|The Yotaphone 2 is offically headed to North America in a few months after being released in parts of Europe and Asia in December. Yota is running an Indiegogo campaign to bring the Yotaphone to wider markets. For those that make a contribution in the first 48 hours of the campaign, by May 21st, you […]|
Securing your digital life with two-factor authentication (2FA) is pretty common nowadays. A password alone just doesn't hack it. (Or does it?) Typically, 2FA on the web requires a one-time code, sent to your phone, as well as your password to log in. Other systems may use factors such as biometrics (e.g. fingerprints) or hardware dongles. (My own bank requires me to use a silly little (very losable) card reader every time I want to transfer a fiver.)
Thinking inside the box
Pablo Carranza Vélez decided to apply the principle of 2FA to a physical object, a Raspberry Pi controlled safe deposit box. To get into the box you need both your personal entry code and the code sent to your phone. This then triggers a solenoid to unlock the box.
Lots of cool stuff going on
The box uses resin.io and Authy API. Full details, schematics and code can be found on Pablo's hackster.io page. It's a simple concept but there's lots going on in terms of hardware and software—Authy, resin.io, MongoDB, node.js, Bootstrap, breadboard circuits, solenoids—to make a great project and an interesting proof of concept. It's also an excellent introduction to the contemporary technologies used and there's even some computer science with a nod to state machines.
A pre-emptive note thing
"Just hold on this minute!" shouts a completely imaginary concerned reader. "You could (literally) brute force it with a sledge hammer/ hack it with a giant Wile E. Coyote magnet/ steal the building it was attached to / drill a hole in it and send in a tiny monkey to feebly tug at the solenoid." Well yes, you could. To all of them.
Our advice is: do not make one of these to store your ultra-rare U2 Panini stickers in as they might get nicked (my brother swears to this day that it wasn’t him who drew NHS specs on Bono in red biro). The 2FA safe box is a thought provoking Raspberry Pi / IoT project, not the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, lawks! (I've always wanted to write that, it's a cracking name :))
Google has announced a new font that they have developed that will replace Droid Serif for all of its e-Books. Literata has been in the works since April 2014 and is "perfect for long reads on all devices".
Google worked on the new font in conjunction with the TypeTogether design team. In a recent blog post they said “A new book typeface was needed that would provide an outstanding reading experience on a whole range of devices and high resolution screens running different rendering technologies. Additionally, the new Play Books type is meant to establish a recognizable visual identity for Google's native eBook App and stylistically distinguish itself from other eReader competitors.”
The competitors that TypeTogether refers to is Amazon, who developed their own hybrid version of Caecilia, that was optimized for e-ink screens. It was first shown off in the first generation Kindle Paperwhite and has been the font of choice for subsequent models.
Why did Google even bother developing a new font? Well, when Droid Serif was first developed it was for low resolution smartphone screens. People these days are reading books on super large phones, like the Galaxy Note and 10.1 inch tablets. Obviously an outdated font is not going to cut it anymore and Google had to modernize in order to keep reading e-books on their own platform more viable.
Not much is known about the new font right now, but there are 1,100 characters per font, and it supports PanEuropean languages. I can find no license from Google that applies to this font, except the “All Rights Reserved” embedded in the font itself. So we must assume that Google does not want the font distributed outside the Play Books app at present.
If you want to check out the new font for yourself, it can be found in Google Books version 3.4.6.
Just last month it was announced that the Dragon Ball Super anime will be hitting the Japanese airwaves in July after it’s last series ending almost 18 years ago. The July issue of Shuiesha’s V Jump magazine is revealing on Thursday that Toyotarō will be launching the manga version of the upcoming anime series, crediting creator Akira Toriyama with the original story.
The new manga will launch in the extra-large August issue of V Jump. The announcement notes that while the story of the new anime and manga still remain a mystery, it will in "no doubt exceed everyone’s expectations."
Toyotarō previously drew the three chapter manga adaption of the recently released Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F (Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection’F’) film.
Dragon Ball Super will premiere on Fuji TV and other channels in July on Sundays at 9:00 AM, so be sure to set those alarms! This will be the first new television series since Dragon Ball GT which ended back in 1997. The story of the new anime series sis set a few years after the defeat of Majin Buu, when Earth has become peaceful once again.
It’s been only a month since the initial announcement of Dragon Ball Super and yet it feels like it’s coming so fast! Like so many other anime fans, the Dragon Ball series is what paved the way for me into the anime-loving life style and I’m counting off the days till the new series begins!