Saturday, May 30, 2015

Losing the Signal Book Review – The Blackberry Story


Losing the Signal – The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry came out on Tuesday and this was a book I eagerly anticipating. It tells the tale of engineer Mike Lazaridis and businessman Jim Balsillie from their early years in highschool to the formation of RIM, whose first office was above a bagel shop.

This book was written by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. They are staff reporters at the Globe and Mail and have been following Blackberry since the very beginning. They got direct access to the two former CEO’s who haven’t done anything in the media since they left the company. Do you know why they left? It primarily had to do with the failings of the Blackberry Storm, post-dating shares to get maximum value and the ensuing legal drama. Getting sued by NXP over wireless patents also drove Balsillie to be a manic depressant.

Speaking of Balsillie, he revered The Art of War as a kind of spiritual guidebook for a small Ontarian company facing ruthless global competitors. “It is not a friendly world out there,” says Balsillie. Sun Tzu,taught him that “you can’t panic. You have to stay focused. You go into a state. Emotionally you become formidable. You go into a warrior state.”

What I found especially compelling were the early years of Research and Motion and how US Robotics and other companies tried to withhold paying for orders to financially hurt the company. Another interesting fact was that Blackberry has a brand grew fairly organically. Businessman would be glued to their device during meetings and people asked what it was. It grew exponentially from there. When RIM first taking online orders, their first customer was Michael Dell, of Dell Computers.

You get a strong sense from reading this book on how telecom carriers were totally unprepared for the data revolution. Canada, the US and UK were all using EDGE and 2G data connections when RIM first starting releasing phones. They actually told them that their internet browser had to be very bones because their networks could not handle the amount of data. Vodaphone and others actually bucked about paying Blackberry the service fee for each phone sold, because Blackberry had their own servers to handle pushed email. Things all changed with the advent of the iPhone, and carriers started investing billions in expanded networks. RIM was caught off guard by the iPhone and was pressured by Verizon into releasing the Blackberry Storm, a critical flop.

Losing the Signal is not a cultural analysis of BlackBerry's effect on the ways we think or behave. Instead it primarily delivers a thorough account of the business maneuverings that allowed a small Canadian company to become a global player. This book is the first truly comprehensive account of the history of Blackberry and a very solid read. Likely the best book I have read since The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone.

Losing the Signal Book Review – The Blackberry Story is a post from: Good e-Reader

Barnes and Noble Nook Press is Bad for Authors


Barnes and Noble operates a self-publishing program called Nook Press. The second generation platform launched in early 2013 and focuses on getting indie authors to submit their books for inclusion into the Nook bookstore.  It is my belief that Nook Press is bad for authors and solely exists to financially gauge them at every opportunity.

Last year, the former General Manager of Nook Press and VP of Content Acquisitions Theresa Horner wanted to devise a way for the self-publishing platform to make some serious money. She opened up a dialog with Author Solutions and deal was struck in October.  One month later she was fired from Barnes and Noble.

The Author Solutions deal finally allowed Barnes and Noble to make a lot of money from their cadre of self-published authors.   This includes a $999 package to get e-book cover art and formatting done or a $2,100 package that includes “Expert Editorial Assessment”, which basically informs  the author what they are doing wrong and how B&N can fix it.  There is also an illustration option starting at $275 or 3 different tiers for book editing. Basically if there is a way to gauge an author to pay money for something from e-book formatting to an ISBN number, they are doing it.

Many aspiring authors are unaware that it is not Barnes and Noble that is conducting these services, but instead everything is outsourced to Author Solutions. Whenever an author is sent over to the 3rd party company, B&N earns a hefty commission.

Author Solutions has a terrible reputation in the writing community for the deceptive methods it uses to ensnare authors, its sub-standard and over-priced services, and its high-pressure sales tactics aimed at selling completely ineffective (and ridiculously expensive) marketing packages. The company is also being sued by many different authors who claim they exist as predatory monsters, who see authors only as profit. Things are so bad right now that even the Authors Guild has severed ties with them.


The fleecing of indie authors does not begin and end with Author Solutions. Last week at Book Expo America Blublish has announced a free two month trial for Nook Press authors and after the term is up will automatically be upgraded to a $99 a year package.  Lots of people have said that Blublish is basically the equivalent of installing Google Analytics on your website. In reality it’s basically the paid version of hosting a WordPress website.

I applaud any new platform that can legitimately prove a resource for self-publishers, and this one looks quite professional.” Said author R.E. McDermott, “I have a pretty simplistic way of evaluating things. This is touted as a marketing site, so I had a look at the authors offering testimonials as to how Bublish had helped their sales. The problem is, if you look at them on Amazon, NONE of them are selling very many books. That's not a put down of either the authors or their work, for all I know, they might all be wonderful. But if this is a MARKETING site, showcasing authors who aren't selling.”

Barnes and Noble Nook Press is obsessed with charging authors for everything they can. Have whack cover art? You can pay for that. Need assistance with Word to EPUB conversions? You can certainly pay for that too. Not sure what you need done? You can pay for that knowledge and then pay for whatever they recommend. All along the way you can expect emails, newsletters and telephone calls trying to get you to upgrade your existing package. All for the good of your book of course.

Nook Press is bad for authors. The platform is considered second rate by the publishing industry. You would be better off going with Kindle Direct Publishing. They give you a free author page where you can promote yourself and empower you with knowledge, so you can understand the marketing process, instead of mindlessly paying Barnes and Noble.

Barnes and Noble Nook Press is Bad for Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader

Top 5 Streaming Anime Shows – June 2015


There is plenty of excellent anime that started in the early Spring and is currently ongoing. Crunchyroll and Funimation both have the bulk of the content and each have their own license to stream specific franchises. Want to discover some excellently written shows or zany circumstances? Our top 5 list will cure all of your ills.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – The story follows the exploits of Bell Cranel, a 14-year-old solo adventurer under the goddess Hestia. As the only member of the Hestia Familia, Bell works hard every day in the dungeon to make ends meet while seeking to improve himself. Bell looks up to Aiz Wallenstein, a famous and powerful swordswoman who once saved his life, and with whom he fell in love. Bell is unaware that several other girls, deities and mortals also develop affections towards him; most notably Hestia herself.

Seraph of the End – In 2012, the world allegedly comes to an end at the hands of a human-made virus, ravaging the global populace and leaving only children untouched. It is at this time that vampires emerge from the recesses of the earth, likely followed by age-old horrors of the dark thought only to be myth. The vampires sweep the earth and claim it in a single violent stroke, subjugating the remnants of humanity and leading them beneath the surface to safety. The show is about heroes, wielding cursed weapons imbued by demons to fight the vampires.

Plastic Memories– Plastic Memories takes place in a city in the near future, in which humans live alongside androids that look exactly like humans and have human emotion and memory. SAI Corp, the leading android production company, has introduced the Giftia, a new android model with the most human-like qualities of any model. The lifetime of a Giftia is 81,920 hours (roughly nine years and four months), and if they pass their expiration date, it causes personality disintegration and memory loss. As a result, the employees of the Terminal Service (responsible for retrieving androids who are close to reaching the end of their service lives and erasing the androids’ memories) must go to the owner of the Giftia and collect it. Those assigned to the Terminal Service work in teams consisting of a human (called a “spotter”) and a Giftia (called a “marksman”). The story follows protagonist Tsukasa Mizugaki and a Giftia named Isla, both of whom work in SAI Corp’s Terminal Service No. 1 office. You can think of this as an Android romantic comedy.

Assassination Classroom – The Earth is threatened by a powerful creature who destroyed 70% of the Moon with its power, rendering into the shape of a crescent moon forever. The creature claims that within a year, Earth will also be destroyed by him, but he offers mankind a chance to avert this fate. In class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, he starts working as a homeroom teacher where he teaches his students not only regular subjects, but the ways of assassination. The Japanese government promises a reward of ¥10 billion (i.e. 100 million USD) to whomever among the students succeeds in killing the teacher, whom they have named “Koro-sensei”. However, this has proven to be an almost impossible task, as not only does he have several superpowers at his disposal, including the capacity of moving at Mach 20, but he is also the best teacher they’ve ever had. I really like this one, its comedy gold and each episode stands up well on its own.

Ultimate Otaku Teacher – The story follows Jun’ichirō Kagami, whose sister Suzune is angry at him because of his complete disinterest in the real world. As Jun’ichirō is interested in nothing but anime, manga and games, Suzune forces him to go on a job as a physics teacher substitute at the same high school from which he graduated. Jun’ichirō proves himself a capable and hardworking teacher who comes with unorthodox methods based on the seemingly useless knowledge he obtained as an otaku to teach and motivate his students.

Top 5 Streaming Anime Shows – June 2015 is a post from: Good e-Reader