Monday, 12 May 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 13 May 2014

Posted: 12 May 2014 09:30 PM PDT

If you’re looking for something to read this morning, check PW’s coverage of the Amazon-Hachette fight. It lacks context but it also has depth and nuance (link). Another link worth clicking this morning is Spurious Correlations; be prepared to waste several hours (link).

  • B&T Expands to Canadian Libraries (PW)
  • Much at Stake in Amazon-HBG Fight (PW)
  • Net Neutrality: FCC Shifting Gears On Its Internet “Fast Lane” Idea (ReadWrite)
  • OverDrive Expands With Japanese Partner (GalleyCat)
  • Spurious Correlations
  • Survey of nearly 400 publishers shows they will still rely on advertising, even as they believe ad sales won't bounce back (TNM)
  • Will digital content subscriptions follow the cable model? (Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies)

The post The Morning Coffee – 13 May 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Spain Wants to Kill off Spanish News Sites via a “Google Tax”

Posted: 12 May 2014 05:49 PM PDT

google-is-evil-300x270-1314103412[1]Ask any news site and they’ll tell you that Google’s search engine and Google News are two of the best sources of website traffic.

Google doesn’t charge websites anything for all the free advertising, but rather than count themselves lucky every so often someone comes up with the idea that Google should pay for the privilege of providing free advertising.

This idea has been tried unsuccessfully in Belgium, Germany, and elsewhere, and now the Spanish govt has decided to provide an empirical example of the definition of insanity.

In February the Spanish cabinet approved a draft law which would revise Spanish copyright law. One of the several provisions in the draft would require Google and other aggregators to pay for the privilege of linking to news sites and posting snippets.

This story was well-covered in February in English by El Pais and Global Voices Advocacy, so I won’t repeat what they wrote. But I would like to add a few points.

This is the classic Google tax, and like past efforts it will almost certainly fail. Similar attempts at taxing Google have been tried in Belgium and Germany, and both failed.

A new copyright law went into effect last year in Germany which required Google and other aggregators to pay for the privilege of sharing a link and a snippet. Google preemptively responded by changing the Google News ToS to opt-in and then delisitng any site which wouldn’t agree to let Google have the links for free.


And in Belgium, in 2011 the newspaper rights management company Copiepresse won a 5-year-old lawsuit in which Google was accused of pirating content by sharing links. Google subsequently complied with the court order to remove the offending links, leading to cries of Google’s vicious retaliation. And eventually, Google negotiated a settlement and was allowed to link to the Belgian sites again with permission after making a token payment to the newspapers (believed to be around 6 million euros).

Google probably regretted that token payment, because in 2013 they negotiated a similar peace-making settlement in France. Google was trying to head off a law similar to the one passed in Germany and currently under consideration in Spain, and avoiding that law cost Google 60 million euros. The money is not described as a payoff so much as it is a fund to help French newspapers figure out how not to lose money online.

And now the Spanish government wants to repeat the mistakes made in Germany and Belgium as well as the partial success in France. If this isn’t a perfect example of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result) I don’t know what is.

But to be fair, it is not clear to me whether this draft law has been passed into law. I could not find any Spanish language coverage which could tell me whether the draft was defeated or passed, but I did find a story about the Google Tax being challenged in the Spanish Parliament. A competing amendment has been proposed which would, among other changes, remove that clause from the final bill.

So at this point it is too early to say what will happen.

The post Spain Wants to Kill off Spanish News Sites via a “Google Tax” appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Office for iPad Hits 27 Million Downloads

Posted: 12 May 2014 01:09 PM PDT

Microsoftoffice ipad is saying today that Office for iPad, which was released about six weeks ago, is already a success. According to their latest figures, the app has been downloaded over 27,000,000 times.

Julia White, the general manager of Microsoft’s Office Division, shared the news during Monday’s keynote at Microsoft’s TechEd customer conference in Houston, Texas.

The app is a free download on both the iPad and iPhone but some features require an Office 365 subscription, which costs around $70 a year for a personal license or $99 per year for Home license.

In April, Microsoft said it had 4.4 million paid users of the Home version of Office 365. That doesn’t count the subscribers that chose the cheaper-priced personal license, an option which Microsoft first started offering last quarter. It also doesn’t includes users who are mooching off of their work’s Office 365 license, or those of us who were smart and downloaded Libre Office.

Business Insider-

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ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176C: Bay Trail Chip, 7″ Screen, Android 4.4

Posted: 12 May 2014 11:41 AM PDT

Intel’s asus_memo_pad_7_me176c_4quad-core Atom CPUs are rapidly driving ARM-based chips out of mid-range and budget tablets, and the next tablet to go over to the dark side is the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176C.

This 7″ tablet leaked today on a German tech blog. While we still don’t have firm details on the price or release date, the latest speculation says that it will cost $149 when it ships in the next few months.

The MeMO Pad 7 ME176C runs Android 4.4 KitKat on a 1.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 CPU with 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, and a microSD card slot.

This tablet sports a 7″, 1280 x 800 resolution IPS display. According to the leaked specs it will have a 5MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, Wifi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It has a 3.9Ah battery which should get up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge.

asus_memo_pad_7_me176c_2 asus_memo_pad_7_me176c_1 asus_memo_pad_7_me176c_4 asus_memo_pad_7_me176c_3

According to the leaked benchmarks, this tablet is going to be a solid performer. Its Antutu score was around 32,000. That is a considerably higher score than the Kindle Fire HDX or the Nexus 7 (2013). In fact the MeMO Pad 7 ME176C  scored about twice as high as the Fire HDX, which retails for $229.

If this thing really hits the market at $149, and the general quality matches the benchmark, then this is going to be one hot little tablet.

The post ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176C: Bay Trail Chip, 7″ Screen, Android 4.4 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Screenshots Confirm the Pocketbook Ultra Will Have a Camera, Text to Speech

Posted: 12 May 2014 09:51 AM PDT

pocketbook ultraPocketbook released a set of screenshots this morning which inadvertently reveal more details about the Pocketbook Ultra, their upcoming high-end ereader which has yet to be officially announced.

The screenshots show the interface that Pocketbook will be using on their next ebook readers, and while there’s no specific mention of the model it does appear that these screenshots came from the Ultra.

The Pocketbook Ultra will be a 6″ ereader with a Carta E-ink screen and a rear facing camera and OCR capabilities. Or at least that is what the leaks have suggested and now the screenshots have confirmed.

If you flip through the screen shots you’ll see that they are in grayscale, just like what you would expect from an ebook reader with an E-ink screen. The text is in Russian, so there isn’t much that I can get out of it, but if you look at the first and the last screenshots you will probably notice the word “KAMEPA”. If you phonetically translate that from the Cyrillic characters you will get the word camera.

That is about the limits of my abilities to read Russian, but the other screenshots show symbols which suggest features like text to speech. And if you can read Russian you will probably be able to pick up other clues.

The screenshots are embedded in a gallery below, and if you want to download a copy of the screenshots here is a ZIP file.

Do you see anything interesting?

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Samsung’s 13.3″ Tablet to have WQXGA Resolution Screen, Codename Warhol

Posted: 12 May 2014 08:11 AM PDT

samsung ativ q 2Rumors have been circulating for nearly a year now that Samsung had a 13.3″ tablet in the works, and the first proof that the device was real may have just leaked.

GSMArena has posted a scrap of a spreadsheet which they say came from a source inside Samsung. According to the leak, Samsung is indeed working on a new and larger tablet.

The tablet, which carries the codename Warhol, is going to be larger than the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet which shipped earlier this year. It will come in both Wifi and 3G variants, and it will reportedly have the same WQXGA (2,560 x 1600) screen resolution.

That’s about all we know about the new tablet from the leak, but on the plus side this leak also appears to confirm the two Galaxy Tab S tablets which leaked last week.


Samsung and Apple were both rumored to be working on a 13.3″ tablet last year. Neither device has made an appearance yet, but I don’t doubt that both tablets are in the works.

In fact, my only question about the 13.3″ tablet is why the screen resolution isn’t higher.

Samsung-Ativ-Q-4[1]As you might recall, last June Samsung unveiled the Samsung ATIV Q, a Win8/Android laptop convertible that collapsed down to a thickish tablet. That device had a 13.3″ screen with a resolution of 3,200 x 1,800. The Activ Q does not appear to have ever been released, but it does offer a hint of what Samsung is capable of making.

Does anyone else wonder why Samsung showed off a 13.3″ screen with a resolution better than WQXGA, but never shipped it?

If I had to guess, I would bet that the 13.3″ screen from the Activ Q had QA issues, leading to the Activ Q being suspended. That would explain why the same screen isn’t being used on the upcoming tablet. Of course, that is pure speculation.

The post Samsung’s 13.3″ Tablet to have WQXGA Resolution Screen, Codename Warhol appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Smashwords Details Scribd’s New Anti-Piracy Efforts

Posted: 12 May 2014 06:10 AM PDT

Scirbd scribd-logo-blk_100x28has been working long and hard to overcome their infamous reputation as a haven for ebook pirates. They’ve developed an automated filter system called BookID, and last night Smashwords detailed how BookID works for indie authors.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works:  BookID automatically scans all Smashwords-delivered books, and analyzes the text for semantic data such as word count, letter frequency, phrases, and other elements. BookID then creates a digital fingerprint of the authorized Smashwords book, and uses this fingerprint to automatically detect and remove unauthorized versions.  It proactively removes all files at Scribd that match the same fingerprint, and also uses this fingerprint to proactively block the upload of future unauthorized versions.

According to Smashwords, Scribd recently rolled out a major update to BookID. The service has removed nearly 48,000 copies of ebooks by Smashwords authors since Scribd first added Smashwords titles to its ebook subscription service last year. Around 14,000 different titles were uploaded to Scribd, some of them by multiple users.

While that sounds like good work in preventing piracy, it’s not clear just how many of those copies were actually pirated copies. There have been numerous reports that Scribd has taken down public domain works and works uploaded by their creators.

But on the plus side, there is at least one report that Scribd is also prompt in correcting the false positives, which is more than you can say for the similar ContentID system at Youtube. There’s something to be said for staying small and niche.

More information on BookID, including details on how non-Smashwords authors can submit their titles to the system, can be found on the Scribd website.

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