Monday, June 15, 2015

The Barnes and Noble Nook Brand Can Be Saved


Barnes and Noble has been making dedicated e-readers since 2009 and the majority of their hardware design is done via their R&D center in Santa Clara. The original Nook e-reader was created in secret, in a tiny building that once housed the Palo Alto Bread bakery. In the last few years many customers have been abandoning the Nook ecosystem, due to a series of blunders. How can the bookseller get the back? Is it within their ability to release a true Kindle killer?

One of Barnes and Noble’s greatest strengths is that they are able to get their hardware in front of millions of people. They operate 649 retail bookstores in regional shopping malls, major strip centers and freestanding locations in 50 states. This has been one of the keys to growth, because people can come directly to them for sales and support.

The Amazon Kindle Voyage when it was released in November of 2014, was a game changer. It had the highest resolution available in an e-reader and featured dramatic new design changes. Page Press technology gave you a subtle buzz when pressed and an ambient light sensor automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen. Within six months Kobo released the Glo HD, which matches the Voyage e-reader, spec for spec.

I firmly believe that it is within Barnes and Nobles ability to release a new e-reader, that doesn’t match the Voyage hardware specs, but surpasses them. They have a new executive team, a commitment for the Nook platform to succeed and the last time they released a dedicated e-ink device was in 2013.

If I was in charge of Nook development for one single day, this is the e-reader I would mandate and the materials I would use for the ultimate Kindle Killer.

Screen: E Ink Carta Display using Regal Waveform
Resolution: 1430 x 1080 pixels and 300 PPI
Audio: Stereo Speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack for music and audiobooks using the Freescale SGTL5000: Ultra Low-Power Audio Codec
Processor: i.MX 6DualLite 1.0 GHZ Dual Core Processor
RAM – 2 GB
Internal Memory – 8 GB and no limits for user content
Ambient Light Sensor – MMA955xL: Freescale Motion Sensing Platform
Front Lit Display – People want to read in the dark and a solid front-lit display is critical.
Camera – A 2 MP camera using E Ink Segmented SURF Display
Battery – BC3770: 2A Switch-Mode Li-ion/Li-polymer Battery Charger – 8,000 page turns or 2 months
OS – Android 4.4
Waterproof – As the Kobo H2O has shown us, there is a large demand for people to read e-books in the tub, on vacation, on the beach and not have to worry about getting it wet or breaking it.

I think it is critically important that Barnes and Noble adopt audio capabilities in their next e-reader, because it could generate synergy with their Nook Audiobooks platform. They made it only for Android and it could drive sales. Even Amazon doesn’t properly take advantage of Audible content in their line of e-readers, giving B&N the advantage.

I also recommended a camera for the next Nook e-reader, not to take selfies or pictures of your cat, but for reverse show-rooming. It would give people a reason to visit the bookstore with their e-reader to get discounts on books by scanning QR codes with a dedicated QR Nook app. Whether you used your smartphone, e-reader or tablet a Nook QR app would allow you to visit a bookstore, scan a few books and buy the e-book version of it.

Barnes and Noble has always run Android on their e-reader devices, instead of Linux. This has opened an entirely new world for hackers to root their devices and install their own apps. This has prompted the bookseller to put safeguards in place to prevent this type of behavior, but I think they should embrace it.

We all know Barnes and Noble runs their own app store for Android and it used to be the only way for you to download and install apps on the Nook tablets. Because running your own store, developing SDK’s and constantly giving developers incentives to publish with you, B&N made the decision to get Google certification that allows the Play Store to be accessed. I think B&N should make an e Ink version of their Android App Store and optimize it so only great apps are available. It would discourage people from rooting, encourage developers to make apps for e-ink devices and provide a major selling point that no other company can match. After all, it only took us 3 weeks to port our Good e-Reader App Store from being a smartphone app, to being fully compatible with E-Ink and other e-reader companies are now bundling our store on THEIR Android devices.

The other specs really speak for themselves. They are using mainly new hardware from Freescale, who has been a firm supporter of e-readers since day one and the latest technology from e Ink.

Many people have accused Barnes and Noble of releasing “me too” products and has lost their innovative spirit. I think in order to appeal to their base of users they need to make it easy to use, have a clear branding message and leverage their established ecosystems (bookstore, Nook Audiobooks, Nook Apps) and package it into a device that will bring people from Kindle, to Barnes and Noble.

Read the First Chapter of Ernest Cline’s Armada


Ready Player One is one of the most influential books for those of us that grew up in the 1980’s. It has 174060 ratings and 26598 reviews on GoodReads and the audiobook was narrated by Wil Wheaton. He second full length novel is coming out on July 15th called Armada and the book has already been optioned for a movie.

The concept of the book centers around a high school student who plays a video game that has him saving the earth against aliens.  One day, one of the alien ships is outside his school, he thinks he is going crazy. But what he's seeing is all too real, and his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save Earth from what's about to befall it. Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can't help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn't something about this scenario seem a little too… familiar?

Interested in this book? Here is the first chapter.

I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.

I blinked and looked again—but it was still out there, a shiny chrome disc zigzagging around in the sky. My eyes struggled to track the object through a series of increasingly fast, impossibly sharp turns that would have juiced a human being, had there been any aboard. The disc streaked toward the distant horizon, then came to an instantaneous stop just above it. It hovered there motionless over the distant tree line for a few seconds, as if scanning the area beneath it with an invisible beam, before it abruptly launched itself skyward again, making another series of physics defying changes to its course and speed.

I tried to keep my cool. I tried to remain skeptical. I reminded myself that I was a man of science, even if I did usually get a C in it.

I looked at it again. I still couldn't tell what it was, but I knew what it wasn't—it wasn't a meteor. Or a weather balloon, or swamp gas, or ball lightning. No, the unidentified flying object I was staring at with my own two eyes was most definitely not of this earth.

My first thought was: Holy fucking shit.

Followed immediately by: I can't believe it's finally happening.

You see, ever since the first day of kindergarten, I had been hoping and waiting for some mind-blowingly fantastic, world-altering event to finally shatter the endless monotony of my public education. I had spent hundreds of hours gazing out at the calm, conquered suburban landscape surrounding my school, silently yearning for the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, a freak accident that would give me super powers, or perhaps the sudden appearance of a band of time-traveling kleptomaniac dwarves.

I would estimate that approximately one-third of these dark daydreams of mine had involved the unexpected arrival of beings from another world.

Of course, I'd never believed it would really happen. Even if alien visitors did decide to drop by this utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, no self-respecting extraterrestrial would ever pick my hometown of Beaverton, Oregon—aka Yawnsville, USA—as their point of first contact. Not unless their plan was to destroy our civilization by wiping out our least interesting locales first. If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.

But now something miraculous was happening here—it was still happening, right now! There was a goddamn flying saucer out there. I was staring right at it.

And I was pretty sure it was getting closer.

I cast a furtive glance back over my shoulder at my two best friends, Cruz and Diehl, who were both seated behind me. But they were currently engaged in a whispered debate and neither of them was looking toward the windows. I considered trying to get their attention, but I was worried the object might vanish any second, and I didn't want to miss my chance to see this for myself.

My gaze shot back outside, just in time to see another bright flash of silver as the craft streaked laterally across the landscape, then halted and hovered over an adjacent patch of terrain before zooming off again. Hover, move. Hover, move.

It was definitely getting closer. I could see its shape in more detail now. The saucer banked sideways for a few seconds, and I got my first clear glimpse of its top-down profile, and I saw that it wasn't really a saucer at all. From this angle, I could see that its symmetrical hull resembled the blade of a two-headed battle-axe, and that a black, octagonal prism lay centered between its long, serrated wings, glinting in the morning sun-light like a dark jewel.

That was when I felt my brain begin to short-circuit, because there was no mistaking the craft's distinctive design. After all, I'd seen it almost every night for the past few years, through a targeting reticle. I was looking at a Sobrukai Glaive, one of the fighter ships piloted by the alien bad guys in Armada, my favorite videogame.

Which was, of course, impossible. Like seeing a TIE Fighter or a Klingon Warbird cruising across the sky. The Sobrukai and their Glaive Fighters were fictional videogame creations. They didn't exist in the real world—they couldn't. In reality, videogames did not come to life and fictional spaceships did not buzz your hometown. Implausible shit like that only happened in cheesy '80s movies, like TRON or WarGames or The Last Starfighter. The sorts of movies my late father had been nuts about.

The gleaming craft banked sideways again, and this time I got an even better look—there was no doubt about it. I was looking at a Glaive, right down to the distinctive claw-like grooves along its fuselage and the twin plasma cannons protruding from the front end like two fangs.

There was only one logical explanation for what I was seeing. I had to be hallucinating. And I knew what sort of people suffered from hallucinations in broad daylight without any help from drugs or alcohol. People who were cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, that's who. Cats with a serious marble deficiency.

I'd long wondered if my father had been one such person, because of what I'd read in one of his old journals. The things I'd seen there had given me the impression that he'd become somewhat delusional near the end of his life. That he may have even lost the ability to differentiate between videogames and reality—the very same problem I now seemed to be experiencing myself. Maybe it was just as I had always secretly feared: The apple had fallen right next to the Crazy Tree.

Had I been drugged? No, impossible. All I'd eaten that morning was a raw strawberry Pop-Tart I'd wolfed down in my car on the way to school— and the only thing crazier than hallucinating a fictional videogame spaceship would be to blame it on a frosted breakfast pastry. Especially if I knew my own DNA was a far more likely culprit.

This was my own fault, I realized. I could've taken precautions. But instead, I'd done the opposite. Like my old man, I'd spent my entire life overdosing on uncut escapism, willingly allowing fantasy to become my reality. And now, like my father before me, I was paying the price for my lack of vision. I was going off the rails on a crazy train. You could practically hear Ozzy screaming "All aboard!"

Don't do this, I pleaded with myself. Don't crack up now, when we've only got two months to go until graduation! This is the home stretch, Lightman! Keep it together!

Outside the window, the Glaive Fighter streaked laterally again. As it zoomed over a cluster of tall trees, I saw their branches rustle in its wake. Then it zipped through another cloud bank, moving so fast it punched a perfect circular hole through its center, dragging several long wisps of cloud vapor along with it as it tore out the other side.

A second later, the craft froze in midair one last time before it streaked straight upward in a silver blur, vanishing from sight as quickly as it had appeared.

I just sat there for a moment, unable to do more than stare at the empty patch of sky where it had been a second earlier. Then I glanced around at the other students seated nearby. No one else was looking in the direction of the windows. If that Glaive Fighter had really been out there, no one else had seen it.

I turned back and scanned the empty sky once again, praying for the strange silver craft to reappear. But it was long gone, and now here I was, forced to deal with the aftermath.

Seeing that Glaive Fighter, or imagining I'd seen it, had triggered a small rock slide in my mind that was already growing into a crushing avalanche of conflicting emotions and fragmented memories—all of them linked to my father, and that old journal I'd found among his things.

Actually, I wasn't even sure it had been a journal. I'd never finished reading it. I'd been too disturbed by its contents, and what they'd seemed to imply about the author's mental state. So I'd put the old notebook back where I found it and tried to forget that it even existed—and until a few seconds ago, I had succeeded.

But now I couldn't seem to think about anything else.

I felt a sudden compulsion to run out of the school, drive home, and find it. It wouldn't take long. My house was only a few minutes away.

I glanced over at the exit, and the man guarding it, Mr. Sayles, our elderly Integrated Mathematics II teacher. He had a silver buzz cut, thick horn-rimmed glasses, and wore the same monochromatic outfit he always did: black loafers, black slacks, a white short-sleeve dress shirt, and a black clip-on necktie. He'd been teaching at this high school for over forty-five years now, and the old yearbook photos in the library were proof that he'd been rocking this same retro ensemble the entire time. Mr. S was finally retiring this year, which was a good thing, because he appeared to have run out of shits to give sometime in the previous century. Today, he'd spent the first five minutes going over our homework assignment, then given us the rest of the period to work on it, while he shut off his hearing aid and did his crosswords. But he would still spot me if I tried to sneak out.

My eyes moved to the ancient clock embedded in the lime green brick wall above the obsolete chalkboard. With its usual lack of pity, it informed me there were still thirty-two minutes remaining until the bell.

There was no way I could take thirty-two more minutes of this. After what I'd just seen, I'd be lucky if I managed to keep my shit together for another thirty-two seconds.

Off to my left, Douglas Knotcher was currently engaged in his daily humiliation of Casey Cox, the shy, acne-plagued kid unfortunate enough to be seated in front of him. Knotcher usually limited himself to lobbing verbal insults at the poor guy, but today he'd decided to go old-school and lob spitballs at him instead. Knotcher had a stack of moist projectiles piled on his desk like cannonballs, and he was currently firing them at the back of Casey's head, one after another. The back of the poor kid's hair was already damp with spit from Knotcher's previous attacks. A couple of Knotcher's pals were watching from the back of the room, and they snickered each time he nailed Casey with another projectile, egging him on.

It drove me nuts when Knotcher bullied Casey like this—which, I suspected, was one of the reasons Knotcher enjoyed doing it so much. He knew I couldn't do a damn thing about it.

I glanced at Mr. Sayles, but he was still lost in his crossword, clueless as always—a fact that Knotcher took advantage of on a daily basis. And on a daily basis, I had to resist the urge to knock his teeth down his throat.

Doug Knotcher and I had managed to avoid each other, for the most part, ever since "the Incident" back in junior high. Until this year, when a cruel act of fate had landed us both in the same math class. Seated in adjacent rows, no less. It was almost as if the universe wanted my last semester of high school to be as hellish as possible.

That would have also explained why my ex-girlfriend, Ellen Adams, was in this class, too. Three rows to my right and two rows back, sitting just beyond the reach of my peripheral vision.

Ellen was my first love, and we'd lost our virginity to each other. It had been nearly two years since she'd dumped me for some wrestler from a neighboring school, but every time I saw those freckles across the bridge of her nose—or caught sight of her tossing that curly red hair out of her eyes—I felt my heart breaking all over again. I usually spent the entire class period trying to forget she was in the room.

Being forced to sit between my mortal enemy and my ex-girlfriend every afternoon made seventh-period math feel like my own private Kobayashi Maru, a brutal no-win scenario designed to test my emotional fortitude.

Thankfully fate had balanced out the nightmare equation slightly by placing my two best friends in this class, too. If Cruz and Diehl hadn't been assigned here, I probably would've snapped and started hallucinating shit midway through my first week.

I glanced back at them again. Diehl, who was tall and thin, and Cruz, who was short and stocky, both shared the same first name, Michael. Ever since grade school I had been calling them by their last names to avoid confusion. The Mikes were still engaged in the same whispered conversation they'd been having earlier, before I'd zoned out and started seeing things—a debate over the "coolest melee weapon in the history of cinema." I tried to focus in on their voices again now.

"Sting wasn't even really a sword," Diehl was saying. "It was more like a glow-in-the-dark Hobbit butter knife, used to spread jam on scones and lembas bread and shit."

Cruz rolled his eyes. "'Your love of the halflings' leaf has clearly slowed your mind,' " he quoted. "Sting was an Elvish blade, forged in Gondolin in the First Age! It could cut through almost anything! And its blade only glowed when it detected the presence of orcs or goblins nearby. What does Mjolnir detect? Fake accents and frosted hair?"

I wanted to tell them what I'd just seen, but best friends or not, there was no way in hell they'd believe me. They'd think of it as another symptom of their pal Zack's psychological instability.

And maybe it was, too.

"Thor doesn't need to detect his enemies so he can run off and hide in his little Hobbit hole!" Diehl whispered. "Mjolnir is powerful enough to destroy mountains, and it can also emit energy blasts, create force fields, and summon lightning. The hammer also always returns to Thor's hand after he throws it, even if it has to tear through an entire planet to get back to him! And only Thor can wield it!" He leaned back.

"Dude, Mjolnir is a bullshit magical Swiss Army knife!" Cruz said. "Even worse than Green Lantern's ring! They give that hammer a new power every other week, just to get Thor out of whatever asinine fix they've written him into." He smirked. "By the way, lots of other people have wielded Mjolnir, including Wonder Woman in a crossover issue! Google it! Your whole argument is invalid, Diehl!"

For the record, my own personal choice would have probably been Excalibur, as depicted in the film of the same name. But I didn't have the heart to join the debate. Instead, my attention drifted back over to Knotcher, who was in the process of lobbing another giant spitball at Casey. It nailed him in the back of his already damp head, then fell to the floor, where it joined the soggy pile of previously fired missiles that had already collected there.

Casey went rigid for a second on impact, but he didn't turn around. He just sank back down into his seat while his tormenter prepared another saliva salvo.

There was an obvious connection between Knotcher's behavior and the abusive drunk he had for a father, but the cause of his sadistic behavior didn't excuse it in my opinion. I clearly had a few daddy issues myself, but you didn't see me pulling the wings off of flies.

On the other hand, I did have a slight anger-management problem, and a related history of physical violence, both well documented by the public school system.

And, oh yeah, that whole "hallucinating alien spacecraft from my favorite videogame" thing.

So perhaps I wasn't in the best position to judge the sanity of others.

I looked around at my classmates. Everyone in the vicinity was staring at Casey now, probably wondering if this would be the day he'd finally stand up to Knotcher. But Casey just kept glancing up at Mr. Sayles, who was still engrossed in his crossword, oblivious to the intense adolescent drama unfolding in front of him.

Knotcher launched another spitball, and Casey sank even lower into his seat, almost like he was melting.

I tried to do what I'd been doing all semester. I tried to manage my anger. To focus my attention elsewhere and mind my own business. But I couldn't and I didn't.

Watching Knotcher torment Casey while the rest of us just sat and watched filled me not only with self-loathing, but with disgust for my whole species. If there were other civilizations out there, why would they ever want to make contact with humanity? If this was how we treated each other, how much kindness could we possibly show to some race of bug-eyed beings from beyond?

A clear image of the Glaive Fighter reappeared in my mind, cranking up the tension in my nerves a few more notches. I tried to calm them once again—this time by reminding myself of the Drake equation, and the Fermi paradox. I knew there was probably life elsewhere. But given the vast size and age of the universe, I also knew how astronomically unlikely it was we would ever make contact with it, much less within the narrow window of my own lifetime. We were all probably stuck here for the duration, on the third rock from our sun. Boldly going extinct.

I felt a sharp pain in my jaw and realized I was clenching my teeth—hard enough to crack my back molars. With some effort, I unclenched them. Then I glanced back at Ellen, to see if she was watching all of this. She was staring at Casey with a helpless expression, and her eyes were filled with pity.

That was what finally pushed me over the edge.

"Zack, what are you doing?" I heard Diehl ask in a panicked whisper. "Sit down!"

I glanced down. Without realizing it, I'd gotten up from my desk. My eyes were still locked on Knotcher and Casey.

"Yeah, stay out of it!" Cruz whispered over my other shoulder. "Come on, man."

But by that point, a red film of rage had already slipped down across my vision.

When I reached Knotcher, I didn't do what I wanted to, which was to grab him by his hair and slam his face into his desktop as hard as I could, again and again.

Instead, I reached down and scooped up the soggy pile of gray spitballs resting on the floor behind Casey's chair. I used both hands to pack them all together in a single wet ball, then slapped it down directly on the top of Knotcher's head. It made an extremely satisfying splat sound.

Knotcher jumped up and spun around to face his attacker, but he froze when he saw my face staring back at him. His eyes went wide, and he seemed to turn slightly pale.

A collective "Ooooooh!" emanated from our classmates. Everyone knew what had happened between me and Knotcher back in junior high, and they were all electrified by the possibility of a rematch. Seventh period Integrated Math had just gotten a hell of a lot more exciting.

Knotcher reached up and clawed the wet ball of chewed-up napkins off his head. Then he hurled it angrily across the room, unintentionally pelting half a dozen people. We locked eyes. I noticed a rivulet of Knotcher's own spittle dripping down the left side of his face. He wiped it away, still keeping his eyes on me.

"Finally decided to stick up for your boyfriend, Lightman?" he muttered, doing a poor job of concealing the unsteadiness in his voice.

I bared my teeth and lunged a step forward, cocking my right fist back. It had the desired effect. Knotcher didn't just flinch—he lurched backward, tripping over his own chair and nearly falling to the floor. But then he righted himself and faced off with me again, his cheeks now flushed in embarrassment.

The classroom was now dead silent, save for the incessant click of the electric wall clock, ticking off the seconds.

Do it, I thought. Give me an excuse. Throw a punch.

But I could see the fear growing in Knotcher's eyes, subsuming his anger. Maybe he could tell from the look in my own eyes that I was on the verge of coming unhinged.

"Psycho," he muttered under his breath. Then he turned and sat down, flipping me the bird over his shoulder.

I realized my right fist was still raised. When I finally lowered it, the entire class seemed to exhale in unison. I glanced at Casey, expecting him to offer me a nod of thanks. But he was still cowering at his desk like a whipped dog, and he wouldn't make eye contact with me.

I stole another glance at Ellen. She was staring right at me this time, but she immediately looked away, refusing to meet my gaze. I scanned the rest of the classroom. The only two people who would make eye contact with me were Cruz and Diehl, and they both wore expressions of concern.

That was when Mr. Sayles finally looked up from his crossword and noticed me hovering over Knotcher like an axe murderer. He fumbled with his hearing aid and powered it back on; then he looked back at me, then at Knotcher, then back at me again.

"What's going on, Lightman?" he asked, leveling a crooked finger at me. When I didn't respond, he frowned. "Back in your seat—now."

But I couldn't do that. If I stayed here one second longer my skull was going to implode. So I walked out of the classroom, passing right in front of Mr. Sayles' desk on my way out the open door. He watched me go, eyebrows raised in disbelief.

"You better be on your way to the office, mister!" he shouted after me.

I was already sprinting for the nearest exit, disrupting one class after another with the staccato screech of my sneaker soles on the waxed corridor floor.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally burst out of the school's main entrance. As I ran for the student parking lot, I swept my gaze back and forth across the sky, from one horizon to the other. To anyone watching from inside the school, I must've looked like a complete mental case, spectating some tennis match between giants that I alone could see—or maybe like Don Quixote, tilting at a few windmills before he gave them the La Mancha beatdown.

My car was parked near the back of the lot. It was a white 1989 Dodge Omni that had once belonged to my father, covered in dents, dings, peeling paint, and large patches of rust. It had sat neglected under a tarp in our garage throughout my childhood, until my mother had tossed me the keys on my sixteenth birthday. I'd accepted the gift with mixed feelings— and not just because it was a rusted-out eyesore that barely ran. It also happened to be the car in which I was conceived—while it was parked in the very same lot where I now stood, coincidentally. An unfortunate bit of trivia that my mother let slip one Valentine's Day, after too much wine, and one too many back-to-back viewings of Say Anything. In vino veritas—doubly true in my mother's case when a Cameron Crowe movie was added to the mix.

Anyway, now the Omni belonged to me. Life is a circle, I suppose. And free wheels are free wheels, especially to a broke high school kid. I just did my best not to think about my teenage parents going at in the backseat while Peter Gabriel crooned to them on the tape deck.

Yes—the car still had a functioning tape deck. I had an adapter cable for it, so I could play music off my phone, but I preferred to listen to my father's old mixtapes instead. His favorite bands had become my favorites, too: ZZ Top, AC/DC, Van Halen, Queen. I fired up the Omni's mighty four-cylinder engine, and Power Station's cover of "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" began to blare out of its half-blown speakers.

I hauled ass home as fast as I could, weaving through the maze of shady suburban streets at what was probably an unsafe speed—especially since I spent most of the trip looking up instead of at the road in front of me. It was still only midafternoon, but a nearly full moon was already faintly visible overhead, and my gaze kept locking onto it as I scanned the heavens. As a result, I almost ran two stop signs during the short drive home, then came within a few inches of getting broadsided by an SUV when I coasted through a red light.

After that, I put on my hazard lights and drove the last few miles at a crawl—still craning my neck out the window, unable to keep my eyes off the sky.

Let’s Play Fallout Shelter for iPad

fallout shelter

Fallout Shelter is a new iOS app that just became available in the last 24 hours. This title is the first-ever mobile game from Bethesda, set in Fallout's dystopian post-apocalyptic world.

Fallout Shelter is a worker placement game where players take on the role of the Overseer. You’ll welcome new members into your vault, build structures inside to care for them and send them out into the wastes on deadly adventures.

You can build and expand rooms to generate water, power and foot for your shelter. The more people you attract to your shelter the better rooms you can unlock and start making weapons, Radaway, and Stimpacks.

Today, we take a look at Fallout Shelter for the iPad, giving you around 15 minutes have gameplay and commentary.

Amazon Changes the Structure of KDP Select


Amazon has just announced sweeping changes to their Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. Under this new model, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read rather than their share of total qualified borrows.

Here are a few examples illustrating how the fund will be paid out. For simplicity, assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:

  • The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The authors that will benefit the most from the KDP Select restructuring are those who publish episodic or serialized fiction. There has been an influx of this type of material on Amazon in the last few years, since the books are easily read, digestible and there is freedom for the author to pivot based on consumer feedback.

In other Amazon news the company has announced they are increasing the global funds for KDP Select. There is an extra $7.8 million to the May KDP Select global fund on top of the previously announced $3 million base fund, bringing the total fund to $10.8 million. July and August should also see the total revenue pool around $10 million as well.

Onyx inkBOOK has e Ink Carta Screen and Runs Android Apps


Onyx has been teasing a new e-reader for the last few weeks and the company has formally announced the new inkBook. This device has an e Ink Carta display, which gives the same core reading experience as the Kobo H2O and Kindle Voyage.

The Onyx InkBook features a six inch e Ink Carta display and a resolution of 1024 x 758 px (212 dpi). It has a built in lighting system that allows you to read in the dark. This new e-reader does have a touchscreen, but also physical page turn buttons on the left and right side.

Underneath the hood is a Dual-Core Cortex A9 1.0GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. There is 8 GB of internal storage, which is double what most companies use. If this isn’t enough, you can take advantage of the MicroSD to expand it up to 32 GB.

This e-reader seems fairly ideal, it has support for multi-touch gestures, so you can easily pinch and zoom PDF documents. It also has support for users to load in their own dictionaries, which should appeal to the type that are chronically unhappy with the default ones.

Is this e-reader worth you time? Onyx is not a household name, and their devices aren’t normally commcerically available. You will never seen them in a retail environment the company primarily uses an online environment to sell their products. The average person will likely have never heard of Onyx, and its a bit of a shame because in the last year they have really stepped up their game releasing some quality devices, such as the Afterglow 2 and T68 Lynx.

The Onyx InkBook is available right now for 124 € and is available to order from HERE.

New Onyx inkBook Released with Carta Screen and Android 4.2

Today Arta Tech announced the released of a new ebook reader available on called the inkBook. It’s available to order for 124 euros. The Onyx inkBook is a 6-inch ebook reader with an E Ink Carta display, a capacitive touchscreen with multitouch support, a frontlight, it has physical buttons on each side of the […]

Jane Green announced as the Digipalooza ’15 Keynote Speaker

We are excited to announce Digipalooza's keynote speaker: New York Times bestselling author Jane Green!

Jane GreenJane is the author of 16 previous New York Times bestselling novels, with her latest novel, Summer Secrets, being released on June 23. Summer Secrets is available for preorder now in OverDrive Marketplace. Green is published in over 25 languages and has over 10 million books in print worldwide. She has had her own show on BBC Radio London and is a regular contributor on radio and TV – appearing on television shows including Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart Show and The Today Show.

Green also contributes to various publications, including anthologies and novellas as well as features for The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and Self. You can learn more about her at

Digipalooza will be held at the Cleveland Convention Center August 5-7, 2015. While spots are limited (and filling quickly on the heels of this announcement), registration is open until June 30th! Be sure to sign up today to hear Jane Green's keynote speech as well as the latest in digital media trends from industry experts, collection development & marketing ideas and success stories from expert librarians and school media specialists. Also you’ll be the first to learn about new features, products and innovations from Team OverDrive. Register today at!

Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive and can't wait to see Jane Green (and all of you) at Digipalooza!



Kite mapping

This is something I’ve been meaning to try for myself in some of the ruined iron-age villages up on the moors in Cornwall and Devon one summer. Richard Hayler and his son learned about kite mapping at last year’s EMF festival, where the younger Hayler won the workshop competition. The prize? Two kite kits.


Richard had noticed that most kite mapping projects use cheap, second-hand consumer cameras from eBay; if the camera has a continuous shoot mode, and a bit of cardboard could be wedged over the shutter button, it’s useable. But Richard realised:

However, even a second-hand camera could set you back £30 or so – comparable to the cost of a Raspberry Pi A+ and camera. I’d been thinking about a Pi-based kite-mapper over the winter and when I saw that AverageManVsRaspberryPi had released a new version of the excellent ProtoCam board for the A/B+, I decided to see what we could put together.

Why use a Pi and camera board? You get tons of extra functionality. The Haylers could calculate how high the kite was flying, add some image stabilisation, and ensure the Pi was only taking pictures when the camera was pointing straight down (essential in blustery weather). It gives them the potential to add GPS logging to the pictures, and much more. Alongside the ProtoCam (we love these little boards – they’re a prototyping board that you can slot your Pi camera into, and are brilliant for adding buttons, leds, displays or whatever else you want to the camera), they bought a Freescale Xtrinsic Sensor Board, which incorporates an altimeter, an accelerometer and a magnetometer, and can be plugged straight on to the Pi’s GPIO pins.


Stacked together, the whole payload looks like this:


Richard walks you through the build and through the tests they ran over at his blog; since then, he’s also run some more test flights and has refined the hardware with a case and some other tweaks. The results are joyous.




This is a terrific project for schools to get into: in an environment where cross-curricular resources are increasingly important, kite mapping is something that can roll history, geography and, of course, computing up with physics and maths. Not bad for a day out with a kite.




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