Friday, 4 April 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Amazon Launches the Dash, a Handheld Shopping Tool

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 04:10 PM PDT

It seems the amazon dashFire TV wasn’t the only gadget Amazon wanted to launch this week.

Earlier today Amazon unveiled the Amazon Dash, a handheld shopping device which combines a barcode scanner with a microphone. The Dash measures roughly 6 inches long, and it also has Wifi so it can connect to your home network.

It’s designed to be tied directly into an Amazon Prime Fresh account, enabling Amazon customers to simply scan or speak the name of a product they need. Sure, it doesn’t do much more than Amazon’s mobile shopping app, but the Dash looks to be designed to be much sturdier than your average smartphone.

slide2-image._V340762974_[1]The Dash is being given away free to select Amazon Prime Fresh customers, probably with the goal of making it easier to buy stuff from Amazon. Amazon is currently accepting applications from potential Dash testers, and of course they will need to live in one of the 3 markets where the Amazon Fresh service is offered: Seattle, southern California, or San Francisco.

Accortding to the statement Amazon sent me, they’re only accepting applications from customers in the California markets, and not Seattle:

With Dash, Prime Fresh customers can easily shop over 500,000 Amazon items for same-day and early morning delivery, including electronics, toys, fresh groceries, household essentials and local favorites

So was anyone surprised by the  voice recognition? I wasn’t, and not just because the Fire TV had voice search when it launched earlier this week.

Amazon has acquired at least 2 different voice recognition companies over the years, including Yap, a voicemail-to-text startup acquired in November 2011, and Evi, which was bought in early 2013 for its Siri-like virtual assistant.

I predicted in 2011 that Yap would show up in a retail service or product of some kind, so the only surprise is that it took two and a half years to work the bugs out.

And to be honest, I expected the tech to be integrated into a mobile shopping app, not the handheld device shown off in the video below:

The post Amazon Launches the Dash, a Handheld Shopping Tool appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Readmill is Shutting Down – What to do Next

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 10:54 AM PDT

It has nowdropbox readmill been a week since Readmill announced that they were being acquired by Dropbox, and now that the appropriate mourning period is over it is time to consider what to do next.

Exporting Your Account

Long time Readmill users should probably look into exporting their account details, which can be done here.

There’s no easy way to export your entire Readmill history so it can be imported elsewhere, but you can export a reading journal that summarizes the time you spent in Readmill. There are also an option for exporting your review and reading history so it can be imported into Goodreads or Booklikes.

Salvaging Your Library

Once you’ve started the process to export your account history, the next step is to rescue any ebooks you uploaded to Readmill. If you go to the export page and scroll down, you’ll see an option for downloading your Readmill library as a ZIP file.

Click it, and then scroll down a little further and read the instructions on how to transfer the DRM licenses. I for one would not have transferred any DRMed ebooks to Readmill, at least not intentionally, but even so I would still go through the steps to transfer the license (better safe than sorry).

I would also suggest transferring the license sooner rather than later. Readmill isn’t scheduled to completely close until July, if the DRM causes issues then it might take a few tries to get the license transferred.

Where to go next?

Once you have the DRM issue resolved, the next step is to look for a new home. I’m not much of a social reader, so I am going to leave this open to the comment section.

What’s a good alternative to Readmill? I know that both Kobo and the hated Kindle have some social reading aspects, and a couple different reading services similar to Readmill have come across my desk over the past few months: Fastr, Bookmate.

Has anyone tried either Fastr or Bookmate? What did you think?

Is there another service which I have not mentioned?

The post Readmill is Shutting Down – What to do Next appeared first on The Digital Reader.

E-ink Signs New Screen Tech Licensing Deal

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 08:49 AM PDT

E-ink is best W_1227585655[1]known for their award-winning epaper screen tech but that’s not that they do. E-ink’s Korean subsidiary, Hydis, is a leading screen tech developer and they just signed a new licensing deal with a Chinese screen manufacturer.

BOE Technology Group, which is reportedly China’s largest flat panel supplier, has signed a new patent licensing agreement with Hydis. The exact terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the parties have said that BOE will be using Hydis’s fringe field switching tech in the screens it produces.

In addition to BOE other flat panel suppliers such as  Taiwan’s AUOptronics, Innolux, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes as well as Japan’s Sharp have licensed the FFC patents. And of course E-ink’s screen technology can also be extensively found on the Sony, Pocketbook, and Nook ebook readers.

Horizon Securities analyst Stanley Hsu said ereader shipments reached a peak of 20 million units in 2012 and then fell to 16 million units in 2013. The drop in shipments has been reflected in E-ink’s income, which have fluctuated as the company sought other sources of revenue. E-ink CFO Eddie Chen recently told investors that E-ink’s revenues were expected to drop 10% next quarter.

The China Post



The post E-ink Signs New Screen Tech Licensing Deal appeared first on The Digital Reader.

IndieGogo’s Fraud Problems Are a Good Reason to Avoid the Site

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 08:03 AM PDT

With lower artem-shipitsyn-gobe-indiegogo-healbe[1]standards than Kickstarter, Indiegogo has always been (in my mind) an iffy site where I couldn’t really be sure that crowdfunding campaigns supported a real device or simply a fake mockup.

I’ve been concerned about Indiegogo ever since I noticed that the PopSlate iPhone case launched in November 2012 but still hasn’t shipped, but now that I see they have actual fraud going I will be avoiding the site completely.

PandoDaily has been following the tale of a wearable called the Healbe Gobe that can supposedly measure your glucose with a skin sensor and deduce your caloric intake. Unfortunately, this miracle device is probably bogus:

Since last writing about the GoBe, Pando's investigation has focused on the medical claims behind the device. Ten days ago, when we spoke via Skype, Shipitsyn explained the device's science to me as follows: when you eat sugar, the insulin causes your cells to open up and release water, which Healbe measures through the GoBe's impedance monitor – a device that can track fluid levels – and allows Healbe to calculate your glucose level.

"That's some straight Ghostbusters, Peter Venkman bullshit," says Zubin Damania, a Stanford-educated, Las Vegas-based doctor.

In fact, all of the experts we spoke to agreed that an impedance monitor has no way of making any meaningful correlation between the level of fluid in our body and glucose levels. There also appears to be no medical literature showing anybody having tried to make Healbe's link between fluid in our cells and glucose.

Even if true, the technological breakthroughs claimed by Healbe couldn't "just magically come up out of thin air," says Ries Robinson, the CEO of Medici Technologies, who has a Masters in mechanical engineering from Stanford and a degree in medicine from the University of New Mexico.

In spite of the complete lack of medical credentials, work history, scientific research, or any other background details which would back up or verify the claims made by the device’s maker, Indiegogo has yet to pull the campaign. They haven’t even suspended it or added a warning message.

This campaign is about to reach the million dollar mark and Indiegogo’s only response was to change their FAQ:

What's the right thing to do if your crowdfunding platform guarantees to detect "any and all" cases of fraud, but then is shown clear evidence by Pando of a near-$1m fraudulent campaign happening right now?

If you answered "suspend the fraudulent campaign," you're right.

If you answered "quietly delete the no fraud guarantee from our website," you're Indiegogo.

I'm not joking. Following a week of reporting by PandoDaily in which we exposed the junk science, corporate smoke and mirrors and flat lies behind Moscow-based Healbe's Indiegogo campaign, Indiegogo finally took action yesterday. Not by suspending the campaign to protect its users, not by doing anything at all to ensure that thousands of people aren't about to be swindled out of close to a million dollars… but by deleting the reference to their foolproof fraud detection from their support pages.

While I don’t expect Indiegogo to be infallible, I do expect them to correct their mistakes and not simply cover their own ass by changing the rules. This is a tacit admission that they know the claims made about the Healbe Gobe are questionable at best, and rather than pull the campaign they’re going to pretend there is no issue.

I plan to avoid Indiegogo in the future, and I think it would be a good idea or everyone to avoid the site.

One of the cornerstones of crowdfunding is trust. Indiegogo has shown that we cannot trust them to protect backers against unscrupulous campaigners, and that’s why I trust this site about as much as I would trust a used car salesperson.

The post IndieGogo’s Fraud Problems Are a Good Reason to Avoid the Site appeared first on The Digital Reader.

iFixit Rips Open the Fire TV, Finds Few Surprises

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 06:47 AM PDT

HaveAmazonFireTV-FireStanding you been waiting for the FCC paperwork to clear so you can get a look inside the Fire TV?

Your wait is over. The repair specialists at iFixit have posted a set of teardown photos of the Fire TV and both of its controllers, revealing 2 ordinary looking controllers and a single board computer.

Both the guts of the gaming controller and the remote control look pretty much like all of the other controllers I’ve broken open over the years,  and aside from a few new additions like a microphone and RFID tag there’s little to comment on.

But the Fire TV is a different matter. This set top box sports a massive heat sink which takes up most of the volume in the case. I don’t know that the Fire TV is going to get hot enough to cook, but it is clear that the hardware designers expect the single board computer inside to put out a lot of heat.

amazon fire tv ifixit teardown

It also looks like they may be anticipating putting a Flash drive inside the Fire TV. Do you see the gray rectangle in the upper left corner which isn’t covered by the circuit board? That is plenty of space to fit an SSD.

While the Fire TV does ship with 8GB of storage, some people will want more storage and for them a 64GB or 128GB would make sense. Of course, i don’t see a connector on the circuit board for a drive, which suggests that anyone who wants the additional storage going to have to wait until the next model.

The Fire TV shipped on Wednesday running Android on a year old smartphone chip with 8GB of storage and a $99 price tag. Early reviews are mixed, leaving this blogger relieved that he didn’t rush out and buy one.

amazon fire tv ifixit teardown


The post iFixit Rips Open the Fire TV, Finds Few Surprises appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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