Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

$49 DigiLand DL 7 Android Tablet Now Available from Best Buy

Posted: 07 Jun 2014 12:04 PM PDT

DigiLand-DL-7[1]It is a truth universally acknowledged that one should never buy the cheapest device on the market – but that doesn’t mean we cannot look.

Following in the footsteps of Microcenter and Office Depot, Best buy is now selling a sub-$50 Android tablet.

Like the ultra-cheap tablets that came before, the DigiLand DL 7 has the absolute minimum specs needed to get a tablet out the door. It might not have the best performance among the bottom of the barrel tablets, but it does offer a feature not found on previous ultra-cheap tablets: a dual-core CPU.

The DigiLand DL 7 runs Android 4.4 on a dual-core 1.5GHz AllWinner A23 CPU with 512MB RAM, Mali400 GPU, 4GB internal storage, and a microSD card slot. It also has Wifi, two VGA resolution cameras, and a single speaker.

Screen resolution is the expected 800 x 480, and the DL 7 has a 5 point capacitive touchscreen.

All in all, there is very little to recommend this tablet over its similarly priced aside from the CPU (and I’m not sure that’s worth much either). The 2.1Ah battery offers an unknown amount of battery life, and the DL7 only comes with a 90 day warranty, which is never a good sign.


And as for the CPU, I have yet to be impressed by the performance of the chips made by AllWinner. Their CPUs are cheap, and with good reason. The several tablets I have found with AllWinner CPUs generally had performance about half as good as I was expecting. For example, a tablet with a quad-core AllWinner CPU performed about as well as a tablet with a competitor’s dual-core chip.

Please note that I am not trying to talk you out of buying this tablet; I’m just trying to lower your expectations a couple notches so you won’t be disappointed.

If you do get this tablet, let me know what you think.

via my competition

Best Buy


The post $49 DigiLand DL 7 Android Tablet Now Available from Best Buy appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Snooty Snobs Should Shut Up

Posted: 07 Jun 2014 08:43 AM PDT

Against YA: Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children.

The more I thought about that, the more pissed-off I got so I had to do this post to refute it.

The largest group of buyers in that survey—accounting for a whopping 28 percent of all YA sales—are between ages 30 and 44. That's my demographic, which might be why I wasn't surprised to hear this news. I'm surrounded by YA-loving adults, both in real life and online. Today's YA, we are constantly reminded, is worldly and adult-worthy. That has kept me bashful about expressing my own fuddy-duddy opinion: Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Gee, Graham, you know who else you're surrounded by?

Adults who read the comic strips in newspapers!

Was Peanuts not to your taste? Shoe? Calvin & Hobbes? The Far Side? Bloom County? What about Doonesbury? Or Dilbert? Would you have been embarrassed to look at anything other than an editorial cartoon? Or would you seek out only those by the esteemed Oliphant so you'd feel sufficiently "adult"?

You're also surrounded by people who still read comic books!

Ever try Batman: Year One? Or Watchmen? Or how about Maus? Would Maus have enough gravitas to pass your Snoot Test even though — my god! — it has drawings in it. Of animals playing the parts of people! Maybe you'd give Maus a pass because of Animal Farm? Or is Animal Farm now considered YA since it's generally assigned reading in schools to, you know, young adults? It's so hard to keep track these days of what's "YA."

Let's set aside the transparently trashy stuff like Divergent and Twilight, which no one defends as serious literature. I'm talking about the genre the publishing industry calls "realistic fiction." These are the books, like The Fault in Our Stars, that are about real teens doing real things, and that rise and fall not only on the strength of their stories but, theoretically, on the quality of their writing. These are the books that could plausibly be said to be replacing literary fiction in the lives of their adult readers. And that's a shame.

Oh look at you, up on your self-appointed throne, passing our indulgences and blessing certain books and types of stories like some Book Pope.

What self-aggrandizing egocentric hubris!

A better writer than you — or I and many other people — will ever be, had this to say about "serious literature" and "literary fiction" of the kind your type goes all soft and delirious over:

Interviewer: When did you decide to become a writer? When your teacher said that you were good?

Writer: Uh-huh. I forgot all about that. I decided to become a writer when I started reading the Atlantic Monthly and Harper's — two magazines with supposedly good writing. The New Yorker too. I would read these short stories they'd publish and they were absolutely nothing. They said nothing, they did nothing, they . . .

Interviewer: John Updike.

Writer: Yes, I include him. And they were terrible, they just bored me. There was no life to them, and yet, these people were getting famous writing these stories, and I thought, I know their secret: They try to write about nothing at all, in the most boring way possible. No, I really felt that. I said, this must be some kind of snob inner circle secret. I must write something very boring that says nothing at all for pages and pages, and say it so boring that everybody gets bored. Then you think, this is really good writing, because I'm so bored, and nothing is said. So I tried the other way, I tried to say: A guy comes home from work, his wife screams at him, and he murders her. Like, a factory worker. They didn't want that. So . . .

Interviewer: They? Who are they?

Writer: The editors. I don't know, I guess I became a writer, not so much because I thought I could be a writer, but because all the known writers that were famous seemed to me to be so very bad. But for me to just stop and let them take over with their dull badness seemed to be an atrocity. So I started typing, trying to say it the way I thought it should be said –what was happening, but in a simple way.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

My god! Who would dare say such a thing?

You'll find out later.

In the meantime, Graham, it's your type who are driving people away — far, far away — from books.

Nothing gives me the feeling of having been born several decades too late quite like the modern "literary" best seller. Give me a time-tested masterpiece or what critics patronizingly call a fun read — Sister Carrie or just plain Carrie. Give me anything, in fact, as long as it doesn't have a recent prize jury's seal of approval on the front and a clutch of precious raves on the back. In the bookstore I'll sometimes sample what all the fuss is about, but one glance at the affected prose — "furious dabs of tulips stuttering," say, or "in the dark before the day yet was" — and I'm hightailing it to the friendly black spines of the Penguin Classics.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.


More than half a century ago popular storytellers like Christopher Isherwood and Somerset Maugham were ranked among the finest novelists of their time, and were considered no less literary, in their own way, than Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. Today any accessible, fast-moving story written in unaffected prose is deemed to be "genre fiction" — at best an excellent "read" or a "page turner," but never literature with a capital L. An author with a track record of blockbusters may find the publication of a new work treated like a pop-culture event, but most "genre" novels are lucky to get an inch in the back pages of The New York Times Book Review.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.


At the 1999 National Book Awards ceremony Oprah Winfrey told of calling Toni Morrison to say that she had had to puzzle over many of the latter's sentences. According to Oprah, Morrison's reply was "That, my dear, is called reading." Sorry, my dear Toni, but it's actually called bad writing. Great prose isn't always easy, but it's always lucid; no one of Oprah's intelligence ever had to wonder what Joseph Conrad was trying to say in a particular sentence. This didn't stop the talk-show host from quoting her friend's words with approval. In similar fashion, an amateur reviewer on admitted to having had trouble with Guterson's short stories: "The fault is largely mine. I had been reading so many escape novels that I wasn't in shape to contend with stories full of real thought written in challenging style."

This is what the cultural elite wants us to believe: if our writers don't make sense, or bore us to tears, that can only mean that we aren't worthy of them.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Now the reveals.

The writer in the interview was Charles Bukowski.

I can see your haughty sneer from waaaay over here, Graham.

Now to wipe it off your smug face.

The long passages I quoted above are from The Atlantic magazine. Is that more to your standard? Are the intellectual chops of B.R. Myers sufficiently "adult-like" for you? (If you can't think of any answer, you'll probably Google and find this: The Soul-Sucking Suckiness of B.R. Myers which, I warn you now, contains this sentence: "To date, I have yet to read a comprehensive debunking of the Myers bunkum." — maybe because it can't be. So don't even.)

I don't flatter myself that this obscure blog that has lately become a meeting place for those interested in inexpensive Chinese tablets will ever pass before the sanctimonious eyes of Ruth Graham. God forbid! She might need eye surgery (further up and back and under the bone is where repair would perhaps more fruitfully be attempted but ECT has come a long way since the old days so there's always that first). But I had to have my damn say about this.

Read whatever the hell you like. Read whatever the hell interests you.

Leave the prissy Ruth Grahams of the world to their sentences of "strangled ways."

They fully deserve that pretentious shit that will never have the longevity of Dickens or, my god!, the fictional father of all genres: Sherlock Holmes.

The post Snooty Snobs Should Shut Up appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Verso Books Shows That it is Possible to Use Customer-Friendly DRM While Still Calling Customers Pirates

Posted: 07 Jun 2014 08:24 AM PDT

20155523_13dfa5c00b_b[1]I have long been a supporter of milder types of DRM like digital watermarks. This DRM is more customer-friendly than encryption DRM schemes like Adobe Adept while still being equally effective at stopping piracy.

I used to see digital watermarks as a way for publishers to show that they don’t see all of their customers as potential ebook pirates, but apparently some are using the DRM and still regarding their paying customers as filthy pirates.

Verso Books, which opened their own ebookstore in March, is one such publisher who treats their customers like pirates.

As you may know, digital watermark is a term for a type of DRM which (usually) involves subtle additions to a file in order to mark it with identifiable info which can be traced back to the original owner. Verso Books uses a digital watermark platform provided by Booxtream, a Dutch company which also provides DRM to the Pottermore eboosktore, the official Harry Potter site.

Yesterday a reader (who for obvious reasons will not be named) forwarded a copy of an ebook purchased from Verso Books. This ebook is so full of notices that it contains DRM that it implies that the customer is needs to be constantly reminded not to pirate the ebook.

In addition to a notice at the back of the ebook (which claims there is no DRM, LOL), Verso Books also defaced the ebook with a huge splash image right after the cover that includes the buyers name and email. Also, the end of each chapter includes a footer which identifies the email of the buyer.

And that’s not all.

That footnote is also present on the title page, copyright page, TOC, bibliography, forward, the about page, and every other page in the ebook. That footnote is so prevalent that it is a slap in the face of legitimate customers. It says that customers are too stupid to be honest and have to be constantly reminded that the ebook has DRM.

Or as my source put it:

Personally, I felt like I was constantly being sent a stalker’s note saying, “I know where you live.” It put me off reading the books entirely.

What I find sickening is that while they do state their use innocuous sounding and (sadly for me) not as eye-catching “watermarking,” Verso’s site repeatedly makes statements such as, “Verso ebooks are free of Digital Rights Management (DRM-free).” That sample is from their ebook license.

It very much reminds me of listening to an NSA official saying that data is only “collected” when they decide to officially look in the vast collection they’ve made, that they didn’t “collect” data when they collected all our data and stored it vast digital data storage centers.

Verso Books stands as an example of how not to use DRM and how not to treat their customers. This publisher is so fearful of piracy that they have harmed the reading experience. No matter whether you are for or against the use of DRM, I am sure that we can all agree that this is not a good outcome.

image by Kris Krug

The post Verso Books Shows That it is Possible to Use Customer-Friendly DRM While Still Calling Customers Pirates appeared first on The Digital Reader.

If Apple is Launching a Wearable in October then Where are the Hardware Leaks?

Posted: 07 Jun 2014 12:10 AM PDT

iwatch_def1A new rumor circulated yesterday which said that Apple was going to release a healthcare-focused wearable.

Everyone has reported on it at this point, but the rumor originated with the Japanese newspaper Nikkei, which claimed:

The new watch-like wearable gear will run on this OS, which will be equipped with a centralized function to manage users’ biometric information via smartphones. It is expected to hit the market in October.

Though the details of services have yet to be released, specs for the new product are being finalized, according to industry sources. It will likely use a curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touchscreen and collect health-related data, such as calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose and blood oxygen levels. It will also allow users to read messages sent by smartphones.

Apple appears confident of the new product. According to a parts manufacturer, it plans monthly commercial output of about 3-5 million units, which exceeds the total global sales of watch-like devices last year. This confidence is backed by its partnerships with high-profile hospitals — it has teamed up with the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, U.S. health institutes based in Minnesota and Ohio, respectively, to develop specific ways of analyzing the collected data and applying it to actual health management.

While some details mentioned above have been reported elsewhere, I have trouble believing that Apple will be launching a wearable in October.

Update: Re/Code is reporting a similar rumor from a second source. All they have is the launch date.

Sure, Apple did announce Healthkit earlier this week, and they also announced partnerships with the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and other hospitals, but that doesn’t mean that Apple is necessarily going to launch a wearable this Fall.

My problem with this rumor (besides the Nikkei report being written in a tone which suggests that they don’t have inside sources) is that there has been a marked lack of leaks. While over the past few months there have been multiple leaks related to the larger iPhones, I can’t recall seeing any leaked components, specs, images, or other details related to a wearable.

The cardinal rule for Apple products is that you don’t believe the rumors until after several hardware leaks prove the rumors true. That rule worked for the Retina iPad, the iPad Mini, and most new iPhone models, and in the case of Apple’s rumored wearable I think it is only prudent to apply the same rule.

So tell me, have there been any leaks related to an Apple wearable?

I may have missed something, but I cannot recall any solid leaks. And without those leaks I’m just not convinced that new hardware is on the way.

The post If Apple is Launching a Wearable in October then Where are the Hardware Leaks? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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