Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Amazon “Buy it Now” Links now Showing up on Washington Post Website, But I Don’t Think They Belong to the WP

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 04:34 PM PDT

News broke on Slashdot on Saturday that Jeff Bezos’s newspaper now used Amazon affiliate links, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.

9488661337_1193b1c49b_b[1]While reading a story in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, I saw that the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences. For example, in this article, a sentence about the sales figures for differing covers of The Great Gatsby read: At Politics and Prose, the traditional [BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [BUY IT NOW] cover.

While I can confirm that the buttons are cluttering up that article, I’m pretty sure it’s not as big of a deal as it first appears.

In the order of least to most important, here’s why I don’t think there’s a story here:

One, this type of link is not a new concept. It’s one of the common forms of web advertising, and it’s existed for a decade or more. Sure, the links on the WP website are more obnoxious than average but they are not that out of the ordinary.  So there’s no reason to bash the WP for adding them (the rest of the advertising, on the other hand … ).

Two, The links don’t reference the WP. If you click one you will see that the affiliate tag appears to belong to Slate, which does not belong to Jeff Bezos. Slate belongs to The Washington Post Company, the media company which sold the WP newspaper to Jeff Bezos. It’s not clear how Slate affiliate links ended up on the WP website, but I do know that:

Three, The affiliate links are not showing up in all articles. I checked a half dozen articles, and I cannot see any links to Amazon. Update: Pando Daily found affiliate links in an article and a letter to the editor. I guess the links are spreading.

Based on the points cited above, my current working theory is that the affiliate links are the result of a technical snafu of some kind, but I don’t have enough information to say for sure.

I’ve tried to reach out to someone at the newspaper for an explanation but I can’t find contact info. Until I get more info I will assume that this is less nefarious and less important than it was originally described.

At the very least, there are too many unanswered questions here to reach a definitive conclusion.

If I learn anything new I will update this post.

image by clasesdeperiodismo

The post Amazon “Buy it Now” Links now Showing up on Washington Post Website, But I Don’t Think They Belong to the WP appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Leaked Photos Show 5.5″ Screen from the iPhone 6, iWatch Still Nowhere to be Found

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 10:30 AM PDT

640_e0be72816f542de1ea8d2e63d851b45eNew photos showed up in Taiwan late Friday night which appear to show the screen panel and other parts for the larger iPhone 6 model.

Apple Daily hasn’t revealed where they got the photos, but they say that we’re looking at components for what they say is going to be called the iPhone 6L, Apple’s soon to be flagship phablet.

Their gallery includes the battery, screen panel, and the logic board. While we have seen a couple of these components before, we haven’t seen them in the same place. I’m betting that they all fell off of trucks while on the way to the factory where the iPhone 6 is being assembled, and I find them a pretty compelling argument that we will see the 5.5″ iPhone sooner rather than later.

Apple is expected to hold a launch event in early September to show off the new iPhone 6; we now have enough leaked components to suggest that the 5.5″ iPhone 6 will likely make an appearance. The actual ship date, however, is still unknown.

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And on a related note, I think it’s worth pointing out the utter lack of leaks for the supposed iWatch. I know that I have already said I don’t expect to see an iWatch this year, but since I made that prediction the chorus in support of the iWatch has grown louder. Many people, including such respected luminaries as John Gruber, believe that the iWatch will be introduced this year. He obliquely referenced it last week:

It looks like Motorola’s designers tried to draw as much attention as they could to the 360′s stupid flat-tire display shape.

The only way this could get funnier would be if it doesn’t even ship until after Apple announces their wrist wearable thing next month.

As I sit here looking at the many leaked components for the iPhone 6, I have trouble believing his prediction. The iWatch would have leaked by now if it were anywhere near ready to launch, and yet we have not seen any components.

I know I am in the minority here, and that is fine with me.  Last year I was one of the few to call out cheap plastic iPhone rumor as nonsense, and I was right. There was a plastic iPhone, but with a price tag of $549 it certainly wasn’t cheap.

And so I feel confident in saying there’s no evidence of an iWatch.

The post Leaked Photos Show 5.5″ Screen from the iPhone 6, iWatch Still Nowhere to be Found appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Review: Acer Iconia A1-830 is a Disappointing iPad Mini Clone

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 09:29 AM PDT

acerICONIAa1-830[1]Acer might not be the biggest tablet maker but they are a well known name with an established reputation for quality.

Alas, sometimes Acer’s generally adequate tablets miss the mark.

The Iconia A1-830 is a mid-grade 8″ tablet which launched in April 2014. I didn’t get a chance to review it until July and August, and now that I’ve spent some time with it I am glad that I didn’t buy it myself. This is a rather disappointing tablet that actually made the cheaper Hisense Sero 8 look good.

Review Date: 18 August 2014 – Review unit loaned from Acer

This tablet has been reviewed extensively (and mostly negatively), so rather than write a full review I am going to write a shorter post with just some of the highlights. You can think of this post as a personal rant rather than a review, if you like.

Pro & Con


  •  It looks pretty.
  • It has an Origami cover.
  • It is white.


  • The Touchscreen behaved inconsistently, sometimes responding to my touch and other times ignoring me. Also, I frequently had problems getting the onscreen keyboard to appear.
  • Bloatware – The Iconia A1-830 ships with an excess of apps I don’t want, including just about every app made by Amazon. What’s more,
  • Battery Life was around 5 hours, much shorter that the 7 plus hour battery life of the Hisense Sero 8.
  • Performance – In spite of the excellent Antutu benchmark score, the performance did not impress.
  • The Touchscreen – Did I mention that the touchscreen was terrible?


acer iconia a1-830 1

You can find the specs for this tablet at the end of the post, so I’ll skip the general details.

This is a well-built tablet at first glance. It’s sleek and uses high quality components  to offer a convincing imitation of an iPad Mini (albeit one with microUSB and a microSD card slot). It has a powerful CPU, adequate storage, great cameras (both the 2MP and 5MP cameras took excellent quality photos), and my review unit came with an origami case.

But as much as I like the general appearance of this tablet, actually using it was an unpleasant experience.

I found the touchscreen on this tablet to be seriously defective. It is inconsistent to the point of practically being unusable. And it’s not just that I am having trouble getting it to respond to my touch; I am having trouble with activities as basic as calling up the onscreen keyboard.

I don’t know if this is strictly a hardware issue or a combination of a software/hardware problem, but I frequently have a problem with trying to make the onscreen keyboard appear. That blocks me from even simple tasks like sending an email or searching for an app in Google play, and it hampers the tablet to the point it is unusable.


I did test the battery. I would estimate that the 4Ah battery will last long enough for 5 hours of video – far less than the 8 hours claimed by Acer. If you turn down the backlight, turn off the Wifi and choose a less intensive task you should be able to make that should stretch for a couple additional hours.

Five hours of battery life is not bad, but it’s also nothing to write home about.

I was reviewing $99 budget tablets this time last year which had a similar runtime, and a couple months ago I reviewed the Hisense Sero 8. That tablet cost considerably less and had a longer battery life.

In short, the battery life of the A1-830 is unimpressive. I expected more from a name brand tablet.

acer iconia a1-830 1 acer iconia a1-830 2 acer iconia a1-830 3 acer iconia a1-830 4 acer iconia a1-830 5 acerICONIAa1-830[1]

images via Cnet


The less said about the pre-installed software, the better.

In addition to the usual stock Android apps and Google apps, Acer also shipped this tablet with a few Acer apps as well as every single app made by Amazon, including Audible.

I have the suspicion that Acer made a lot of money from companies that paid for their app to be added to the bloatware. This would explain why the McAfee app was included.


As you can see in the screenshots below, this tablet has a decent Antutu score – almost twice as high as truly cheap budget tablets. This score reflects the impressive hardware components, and it is well into the same range as premium smartphone like the Galaxy Note 2.

I don’t know whether it is poor system software if if there is simply too much junk running in the background  but unfortunately, the actual performance doesn’t live up to the test scores. I found this tablet to be laggy. Even simply things like waking it up or unlocking the lock screen had a brief lag.

Given the test scores and price tag that is simply unacceptable.

Screenshot_2014-08-16-10-34-12 Screenshot_2014-08-16-10-33-54


The Iconia A1-830 was nearly universally panned when it shipped in April, and with good reason. It’s not a terrible tablet, but it is disappointing and did not live up to its original $180 price tag.

My standards are lower than most reviewers, but even when I review this tablet with the current $140 price in mind, it’s still a disappointing tablet. The Iconia A1-830 offers laggy performance, an inconsistent touchscreen, and less than impressive battery life.

I went into this review with the expectation that this tablet would be better than the Hisense Sero 8 I reviewed last month, but much to my surprise I am going to suggest that you buy that other tablet. It might not have the brand name but it does offer better performance, a better experience, and better battery life.


Rather than buy the

Where to Get It

At the time I wrote this review, the A1-830 was selling for anywhere from $140 to $166.


  • OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • CPU: 1.6GHz Dual-core Intel Atom Z2560
  • GPU: Power VR SGX 544MP2
  • RAM: 965MB
  • Storage: 11.5GB internal (9GB accessible), microSD card slot
  • Screen: 7.9″ IPS panel, XGA 1024 x 768 resolution
  • Touchscreen: 5 point capacitive
  • Cameras: 2MP (front-facing), 5MP (rear-facing)
  • Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth
  • Battery: 4 Ah
  • Battery Life: 5 hours
  • Weight: 380 grams
  • Dimensions: 8″ x 5.4″ x .3″

The post Review: Acer Iconia A1-830 is a Disappointing iPad Mini Clone appeared first on The Digital Reader.

NeoLibrary Will Offer an Online Library Service for eBook Enthusiasts

Posted: 15 Aug 2014 09:56 AM PDT

A new service is in the works which aims to provide an online personal libraries for ebook fans.

NeoLibrary promises to offer ebook readers the management options which Dropbox and other online storage services lack.  The service is currently in a limited beta, and according to the landing page NeoLibrary enables users to upload, categorize, tag,  note, and search through their personal library.


I haven’t used the service myself (I’m still waiting for an invite), but I look forward to a new entrant in this niche.

Off the top of my head, I know of just one company that offers a similar service. It was launched by the document hosting specialists at Pincette back in 2011, and is called Personal Book Space.

The name might not sound like much but the service has at least a few features to recommend it. It supports full-text search, lets readers sort by metadata, and it can extract the cover images and show them when you browse your library. Best of all, PBS supports the OPDS standard, meaning that the service can be integrated into reading apps like Aldiko, Marvin, and more.

I don’t know how much NeoLibrary will cost, but Personal Book Space costs $10 euros a year for up to 5GB of space. That is considerably more expensive than Google Drive, which gives away the first 15GB free, but does Google Drive (or its competitors) offer the same features?

More to the point, do you know of any similar services?

The post NeoLibrary Will Offer an Online Library Service for eBook Enthusiasts appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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