Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 17 March 2014

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 09:16 PM PDT

Top stories this Monday morning include a debate on gender-specific books (link), a look at the year-old library in Philly’s airport (link), why your monitor should be oriented vertically (link), abandoned libraries (link), and more.

  • The 5 reasons young people aren’t buying ebooks (Voxburner)
  • 6 Abandoned Libraries (
  • Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex (The Passive Voice)
  • Have a Layover? Hit the Library (
  • Spring Cleaning Who Has Access to Your Data (
  • This Handy Hack Makes Any Receipt Printer Spit Out the Constitution (Gizmodo)
  • You’re Looking at It Wrong — Why the Web Demands Vertical Screens (Mashable)

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Xiaomi to Launch 5.5″, Octa-Core Redmi Note Phablet

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 08:25 PM PDT

This xiaomi redmi noteChinese smartphone maker’s first tablet is still a ways off but their next phablet is due to arrive shortly.

The Redmi Note, which I am sure in no way refers to the Galaxy Notes, was teased by Xiaomi this past week in a leaked flyer. It’s going to sport a 5.5″ screen and run Miui, Xiaomi’s custom version of Android, on an 8-core Mediatek CPU when it goes up for pre-order next week in China.

Xiaomi hasn’t released all of the details yet, but the flyer does say that this smartphone has 720p resolution. Engadget is also saying that it will have a 13MP camera. They’re estimated that the Redmi Note will probably be priced somewhere between the 699 yuan ($113 USD) price tag of the original Redmi and the MI2a’s 1,499 yuan ($243 USD).Redmi-Note[1]

The original "Redmi" phone has a 4.7″ screen. It too runs Miui, only on a quad-core CPU with 1GB of RAM. It was only launched a couple months ago, in Singapore no less, where it is selling for about $130 USD. It looks like the Chinese company is going to be turning Redmi into a family of smartphones, but there’s no word on where the Redmi phones will be available.

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Turkish Airlines Launches Digital Library App for iPhone, Android

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 04:40 PM PDT

Turkish turkish airlines sky libraryAirlines announced on Friday that they were launching a new digital library service for their frequent flier program.

Sky Library, which is open to Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles members, offers readers access to a selection of professional publications, business magazines, kids books, short nonfiction works, and self-improvement books. It also includes a single album of Turkish music, and there is a placeholder for a promotional video.

Many of the works are short so they can be read on a single flight, including titles that cover management, marketing, and other business topics. There are also summaries of prominent pieces that are selected by professional editors.

The airline is saying that this digital library is a first for the industry, and they could well be correct. The only similar program I can recall was Virgin America’s RED in-flight entertainment system. When RED was announced in 2007 Virgin America promised that it would have a section for ebooks (in addition to the other media available at launch), but that part of the platform had not been deployed when I flew on Virgin America in  late 2012.

You can find the Sky Library app in Google Play and iTunes, and you can find out more by visiting While the press release suggests that the Sky Library is available to Miles & Smiles members, the website appears to be open to all.


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Xiaomi Launches New Version of Android for Tablets

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 12:33 PM PDT

Android is 115554pxiygcevleje3lzc[1]widely associated with Google, but they’re not the only ones who have developed custom versions of the OS. Amazon, Chinese companies like Meizu, and even Samsung have customized a version of Android to run on their devices. That includes Xiaomi, which has been developing a version of Android which ran on their smartphones.

And now Xiaomi has announced a new version of their MIUI firmware for Android tablets. It’s been customized to run on the Nexus 7 Wifi so most tablet owners are out of luck, but if you have one and are feeling adventurous you should check it out.

This is strictly a beta release, so it’s not for everyone. You can find more details here.

 miui nexus 7 xioami

MIUI is based on Android, and the latest version of MIUI (v5)  was developed from the open source parts of Android 4.4 KitKat. I can’t find any firm info on app compatibility, which is probably a good sign that existing Android apps will run MIUI Android about as well as they run on any other version of Android.

In addition to a custom home screen, MIUI includes an app store and other content stores (one of Xiaomi’s main sources of income). This $10 billion firm launched a pay-as-you-go ebook store in China last November which had been developed by the Chinese ebook startup Duokan.

114424baa93a3uava7aq92.png.thumb[1]Xiaomi is primarily a Chinese smartphone maker, but they do also have a presence in Europe. They have released a total of 8 smartphones, including models with specs comparable to Samsung’s premium smartphones but only costing half as much.

One thing Xiaomi hasn’t released until now is a tablet. Sure, rumors have been circulating since last year that Xiaomi has been planning a tablet, but the only proof that the rumors weren’t simply gossip was a set of benchmark test results for a 9.2″ tablet which leaked earlier this month.

Now that Xiaomi has released a tablet firmware, I would bet that 9.2″ tablet is going to be Xiaomi’s next product.


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5 Sites With Truly Free eBooks

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Free ebook sites are so common now that they are not just a dime a dozen, they’re a dime a gross. All of the major ebook stores have free ebooks, and you can find even more free (and legal) sites with a simple Google search.

But sometimes I need a site that has ebooks worth reading, doesn’t have DRM, and doesn’t require an account. And that’s why I put together this list of I go to when I need reading material and am in a hurry.


logo_feedbooks[1]Feedbooks is by no means the biggest free ebook site and it’s not the easiest to navigate, but it comes first in my list because the ebooks are well-formatted and are available in Epub, Kindle, and PDF. It’s nice to have that last option because there have been times where I was using a device which did not have a reading app other than Adobe Reader. (Yes, it does happen.)

Also, Feedbooks has a mobile site, and that makes it a lot easier to download ebooks to the tablet I want to read them on.

Baen Free Library

Baen_logo_small_color[1]The Baen Free Library isn’t nearly as big as it was back before Baen Books started distributing ebooks to the Kindle Store and elsewhere, but it’s still a good source of mil-SF.

And if you have time, you might want to also check out Fifth Imperium. This site hosts copies of the CDs which Baen sometimes bundles into first edition hardbacks. They only have the CD images to download, so that site doesn’t fit the requirements of this post.


smashwords_logoSmashwords is widely known as an ebook distributor, but they also have an ebook store with a lot of free original content.

Thanks to a recent update, this site is mobile-friendly. It also offers a wide variety of formats and does not require that you register before you download.

Manybooks - logoThis is one of the original free ebook sites, and it’s been around since long before the Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007. It pretty much only has public domain titles, and the last time I checked they were reasonably well formatted.

Project Gutenberg – Australia

project gutenberg australiaI’m sure everyone who has read an ebook knows about Project Gutenberg, but fewer people know about the a similar site based in Australia (there’s one in Canada, too).

PG Australia made this list because it complements The sites work under 2 different sets of copyright laws, and that means there are titles that one site can legally upload that cannot be found on the other site.

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