Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Introducing a Bookshelf with Built in Reading Light

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When you read at night, often you need to turn on a lamp in order to read and then turn it off when your done. What if the light would automatically turn off when you were done reading? This is the thought behind the  LiliLite, which is an all-in-one bookmark, bookshelf and reading lamp, the device sits at that rare intersection of being functional and really nice-looking.

The shelf is made of steam-pressed plywood and bent in a way that accommodates both your to-be-read pile and your current pre-sleep pick, includes a light that turns on automatically once a book is lifted from the shelf. When finished, one simply replaces the book to turn off the light.

I think this bookshelf/light system is a perfect coupling: an ideal accessory for the avid reader.  It clears some bedroom clutter, keeps books an arm’s length away, and adds light right where it’s needed.

SIM Cards Might be a Thing of the Past if Apple Gets Their Way

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Whenever you purchase a new smartphone or data enabled tablet you normally have to take the SIM card out of your old device and insert it into the new one. This process might be a thing of the past if Apple and Samsung get their way.

The two companies are talking with the GSMA (GSM Association) to start embedding electronic SIM cards in smartphones and connected devices as early as 2016, according to a report from the Financial Times. These e-SIMs would stay embedded in the phone so they aren't user replaceable, but would allow users to switch between carriers with ease. In addition, the  removal of SIM card slots might free up some extra space to pack in more useful hardware technology.

Apple already tried the no-sim feature with the iPad Air 2, which allows customers in the US to be able to switch carriers on the fly via the settings menu. This is totally beneficial because you are not locked into an exclusive contract and can take advantage of limited promotions or deals that offer a ton of data.

Not only are hardware companies trying to make SIM cards a thing of the past, but telecom carriers are also on-board.  AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telef√≥nica and Vodafone all want to make this happen as soon as possible.

eBook Pirates in the UK to Get 10 Years in Jail

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Most of us are likely guilty of pirating the odd e-book or downloading a few songs from the internet. If the United Kingdom gets their way, the maximum jail sentence could be increasing from two years to ten years.

The proposed measures are mainly targeted at the distributors of pirated content – the people creating copies of movies, sometimes before release, and uploading them to be downloaded by thousands upon thousands. It also is targeting large scale piracy operations where they host the content and either give it away for free or charge monthly subscription packages.

The new law will not throw the average user in the slammer who pirates e-books, so you don’t have to worry about stripping the DRM or visiting the Pirate Bay, but it will chiefly target large large commercial operations.

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “The government takes copyright crime extremely seriously – it hurts businesses, consumers and the wider economy both on and offline. “Our creative industries are worth more than £7 billion to the UK economy and it’s important to protect them from online criminal enterprises. By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals.”

Samsung Unveils Galaxy Tab S2 Tablets

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Samsung is one company that really wants to make tablets viable and consistently releases devices to appeal to people who play games, but also e-books, magazines and newspapers. If you are in the market for a super high end device, the Galaxy S2 might be up your alley.

Samsung says the Galaxy Tab S2 is the company’s “thinnest and lightest tablet of its size ever”. It is 5.6mm thin, with the 8-inch version weighing 265g and the 9.7-inch version getting a weight of 389g. Both versions have a Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2048×1536.

Both versions of the tablet will have Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, along with an octa-core processor, with four cores running at 1.9GHz and the other four at 1.3GHz. Both will also have 3GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera and a 2.1MP front facing camera. Both Galaxy Tab S2 models will have a fingerprint scanner, and a way to run two apps on the screen at the same time.

Samsung hyped up the device, saying  “The tablet also presents deeper contrast and more precise detail to provide a best-in-class reading experience with the Super AMOLED display delivering 94% of natural tones to show true-to-life colors (Adobe RGB color standard). Users can now enjoy galleries of vividly detailed photos and effortlessly shop online while viewing the most accurate images on the Galaxy Tab S2.

In addition, the Galaxy Tab S2 continually offers its advanced screen technology to display bright and natural content for a more comfortable visual experience. Adaptive Display intelligently adjusts gamma, saturation, and sharpness based on the application, the color temperature of the viewing environment and ambient lighting. Also, Reading Mode modifies the screen’s brightness level to help users to read content for longer periods of time without straining their eyes.”

New Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Tablets Arrive in August

Yesterday Samsung issued a press release announcing the upcoming global release of two new tablets in the Galaxy Tab S2 line, and they just might be the best tablets ever for ereading. There’s a 9.7-inch model and an 8-inch model. Both feature high-end Super AMOLED displays with high pixel density and an iPad-like 4:3 screen […]

Bedbot – furniture with a tech twist

Fine woodwork has always been a mystery to me. I blame the church summer camp I went to when I was nine, where the boys got to build wooden doorknockers shaped like woodpeckers, and the girls – you guessed it – got to paint them with flowers. (This also meant that half the children didn’t get to take a doorknocker home with them at the end of the week. Very poorly thought out, Rev H.)

I once made a shelf to go inside an airing cupboard.

Perhaps I assign too much value to things I could never, ever contemplate making myself. But I’ve a suspicion that the rest of you will also think this project is pretty darn amazing: here is Bedbot, created by Peter Roca, the sort of person who can casually say, “The drawer front is a ¾″ thick piece of curly maple that I had laying around”.

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Peter calls Bedbot a Daytime Initialisation Assistant. In short, Bedbot is there to ease Peter from sleep into a state of energised morning wakefulness. It is a very over-engineered alarm clock.

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Peter did a gorgeous job of constructing the furniture itself. He then designed and built the hardware that lives inside Bedbot, wrote the software (which includes a rather snazzy user interface in QT), put in a touchscreen from Adafruit, and an OLED screen to tell the time with.

Peter says:

It tells time
It can wake me up in the morning
It can play FM radio (f*** AM)
It can play internet audio streams
It can play audio from a headphone jack in the back
Anything else you can think of that requires the internet, speakers, a touchscreen or a radio antenna.

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He’s made an online Board Explorer to show you around the hardware (beware: this won’t work on mobile devices) which is well worth your time. There’s also video of Bedbot in action which we can’t embed here, which Peter has made part of his exceptionally thorough build diary and writeup – go and check it out. You’ll find all the software he used on GitHub.

Thanks for the writeup, Peter – we love it. It’s a beautiful object: we hope it continues to cheer up your mornings for a long time to come.

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