Monday, 18 August 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 19 August 2014

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 08:44 PM PDT

The reading list is quite short this Tuesday morning.

  • Almost a year with Scribd. Has anything changed with my reading? (TeleRead)
  • In Exposing Followers, Medium Fails Readers (ReadWrite)
  • Inkshares Looks to Marry the Old with the New (PW)
  • A note on Robin Williams to the Audible team from Don Katz
  • Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right (Hugh Howey)

The post The Morning Coffee – 19 August 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Firefox is Dead to Me; Long Live Chrome

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 07:58 PM PDT

Chrome-logo-2011-03-16[1]I have been an enthusiastic user of Firefox for over 9 years. I’ve convinced dozens of people to switch from IE, I’ve guerrilla-installed it on other people’s computers, and I have generally been a fanboy.

But as of this evening, Firefox is dead to me.

I can live with Firefox being a memory hog, and I can live with the increasing instability (it crashes about once every other week), but earlier this evening Firefox  crossed the one line I cannot ignore.

As of two hours ago, the Firefox web browser on my laptop stopped being able to access the admin pages on my blog. It returns a 400 error, which will not go away no matter what I do.

As much as I hate change, I cannot cope with an app which is this screwed up. Firefox has to go.

And so I wrote this post in Chrome.

I’ve already moved my bookmarks, confirmed the the logins details transferred, and I have installed several of the plugins I can’t live without (Adblock Plus, Ghostery, etc). Over the next few days I plan to transfer one activity or task at a time, and once I have fully migrated to Chrome I will gleefully delete Firefox.

I’ve had Chrome as my backup web browser for several years now, and I have been intending to switch to it for at least a year now; I’ve even said that “I am one bored weekend away” from junking Firefox. Thanks to the latest utter fuck-up from Firefox I am switching sooner rather than later.

And I am not the only one to make the switch.

The latest data from Adobe tells us that Chrome is the leading web browser in the US. With a 32% share, Chrome edged out Internet Explorer (31%) and handily beat Safari (25%). Firefox, on the other hand, came in a distant 4th place with under a 9% market share.

As I reported back in June:

With 8.7%, Firefox come in a distant but not too surprising 4th place. Mozilla’s web browser has suffered a steady decline from nearly 20% market share three years ago; Adobe says that the decline is due to the lack of a mobile browser, but I say it a result of Firefox becoming increasingly less pleasant to use.

Chrome is readily trouncing Firefox and IE, and we need look no further than the global data offered by Statcounter to see that Chrome accounts for 38% of the web browsers tracked by the analytics. IE comes in second with 15.5%, and Firefox is still holding on to a distant third place, but as you can see in this chart Chrome is trending steadily upward while FF and IE are trending downward.


This might be news to you, but I for one am not surprised.  My user experience with Firefox has grown steadily worse over the past few years, so I can easily imagine that users are abandoning it in droves.

What about you? Have you made the switch from Firefox to a better web browser?

The post Firefox is Dead to Me; Long Live Chrome appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Google Now Selling & Renting e-Textbooks in Canada

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 01:48 PM PDT

google play booksWith Inkling, Kno, and Coursesmart all having gotten out of selling digital textbooks to students, you’d think that a company as smart as Google would think twice about entering the market. But you would be wrong.

Google went against the flow today, and expanded their digital textbook efforts to Canada . College students in Canada can now take advantage of Google’s high prices and difficult to use apps.

The textbooks are available via the Google Play Books apps for iOS, Android, and via the website. According to Google, students can “instantly search within a textbook for a particular word or phrase, bookmark chapters and pages, highlight and annotate key passages and get quick access to dictionaries, translation tools, Wikipedia and Google search.”

The search engine giant has been selling and renting digital textbooks out of Google Play Books since August 2013, and so far as I know this is the first time that Google has expanded the service outside of the US. And on a related note, I’ve checked and it appears that Google has not expanded the service to any additional countries.


The post Google Now Selling & Renting e-Textbooks in Canada appeared first on The Digital Reader.

ReadZap Wants to Deliver Your Next Read to Your Inbox

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 11:47 AM PDT

readzap logoAre you running short of reading material on your mobile device and looking to get more delivered to your inbox?

Me neither, but just for the sake of moving this post along, let me show you ReadZap.

This recently launched service wants to enable users to “get new book recommendations, and comment and share your observations with your friends, all without leaving the comfort of your inbox”. It sends out ebooks in short text installments to users’ cell phones and other mobile devices, letting them read with whatever connected device they have at hand.

I personally can’t see the value of this service, but I do know that the developers believe that the time is rip for a device and platform independent service that keeps users from being “tied to entities that control how and when you can access the content you’ve paid for”.

That sounds good, and while I am all for readers choosing whatever works for them I would point out that this idea has been tried before at least once, with little visible success.

In 2006, way back in the dark ages of the ebook era, there was an ebook startup called Daily Lit. That company got its start in emailing chunks of public domain works to subscribers, and later expanded into selling ebooks which were delivered in chunks to your inbox. After passing through a couple incarnations, Daily Lit was sold off and used to build Rooster, an iPhone app with a similar idea.

Daily Lit was a novel idea – in 2006. And since it solved the delivery/discovery problem it also wasn’t a bad idea for that era, but the same cannot be said for 2014. While Daily Lit served a purpose in 2006 (and solved a problem for at least some users), in 2014 no one really has any trouble finding new ebooks or getting those ebooks on to their mobile device.

Thanks to the plethora of book promotion sites, the average reader can find more ebooks in a day than they can read in a decade. And given the storage capacities of your average mobile device, you can now store more ebooks on a device than you can read in a year.

And that is why I don’t see the use of a service like ReadZap. Would you use it?

I really would like to hear a contrary opinion, and the comments are open.

The post ReadZap Wants to Deliver Your Next Read to Your Inbox appeared first on The Digital Reader.

JK Rowling Posts New a Harry Potter Background Story on Pottermore

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 09:19 AM PDT

pottermore cauldron warbeck celestinaThe Harry Potter series may have concluded years ago but the story continues on Pottermore. Earlier today JK Rowling published a new background bio on a character from the book, the “international wizarding singing sensation Celestina Warbeck”.

The 500-word biographical sketch provides new details about this obscure character.  Celestina Warbeck isn’t actually in any of the Harry Potter stories, but she is referenced several times as Molly Weasley’s favorite singer.

In addition to the sketch, Pottermore also posted an audio track for one of Celestina’s songs, You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.  Both the audio track and the new bio can be found in the ‘Floo Powder’ Moment in Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Users will have to register with Pottermore to access the content.

If you don’t want to register, I found the song on Youtube. I also found the lyrics.

Cauldron is the first song ever posted on Pottermore, but it will not be the last. Universal is ramping up their Harry Potter theme parks and they are using Pottermore as a subtle  tie-in advertising effort.

The post JK Rowling Posts New a Harry Potter Background Story on Pottermore appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Fire Phone Update v3.5.1 Adds New Features

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 08:32 AM PDT

fire phoneAmazon’s two month old smartphone got its first update today.

The update  includes a bonanza of new features as well as UI improvements, tweaks to improve the battery life, a new option for deleting emails, and more.

While this update will be music to the ears of Fire Phone owners, I don’t see anything here that would interest me enough to consider buying one. How about you?


  • Quick SwitchWith a double-press on the home button, Quick Switch allows you to easily alternate between or shut down running apps and tasks. To learn how to use Quick Switch, go to Switch Between and Close Recent Apps.
  • App Grid CollectionsCreate folders of apps or content right on the app grid. To learn how to use Collections, go toNavigate Your Fire Phone.
  • Carousel PinningPin your favorite apps to the front of the home carousel. To learn how, go to Navigate Your Fire Phone.
  • 11 Frame Lenticular PhotosCreate Lenticular photos using 11 still images instead of 3. To learn how, go to Take Photos & Personal Videos.
  • Enhanced Carousel E-mailDelete e-mails directly from the home screen. To learn how, go to Email Basics.
  • Improved Video SharingShare high-resolution videos via MMS or e-mail. To learn how, go to View Edit & Share Photos.
  • Improved Battery LifeDozens of system updates for enhanced battery performance. To learn more about optimizing battery life, go to Conserve Battery Life.

Android Police

The post Amazon Fire Phone Update v3.5.1 Adds New Features appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Brings Whispersync for Voice to the UK

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 07:48 AM PDT

faultfeaturedoc._V345199048_[1]It’s been a long time since having inanimate objects talk to you was a sign of insanity, and that’s a good thing today because Whispersync for Voice, Amazon’s service for syncing your reading and listening positions across Kindle and Audible devices, launched in the UK today.

The Bookseller reports that the service is now live on Whispersync for Voice had initially launched in late 2012 with the Kindle Fire HD, but it was only available via Today the service formally goes live with the UK Kindle Store.

Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz said: “We hear from many Kindle and Audible customers in the US that Whispersync for Voice has profoundly changed the way they read.” He added: “In fact, switching back and forth between reading and listening has become their preferred way of experiencing stories. We are thrilled to be able to open this up to UK listeners and readers for the first time.”

The Whispersync for Voice service is available across all Kindle devices as well as Kindle and Audible apps. There are currently 25,000 titles available for Whispersync for Voice in the UK Kindle Store, including 10 titles which are free this month as part of a launch promotion, and an additional 17 titles which are being sold for 99p.

All of these titles are public domain ebooks, which has its issues. The ones I have tried are poorly formatted, but the addition of the free audiobook partially makes up for that.

Tell me, do you use Whispersync for Voice much?

I’ve tried it once or twice, but I’m not an audiobook person. No one talks as fast as I can read, so I generally get impatient with the narrator. (Plus I have at times gotten into arguments with the narrators and have been forbidden from listening to audiobooks. And if you think that is strange, you should hear the 3 way arguments I get into with myselves.)

The post Amazon Brings Whispersync for Voice to the UK appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Kobo Aura H2O eReader Clears the FCC, Has Wifi and a 6.8″ Screen

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 05:20 AM PDT

Meet the Nook Aura HD
Meet the Aura HD

The drought of news about new US ebook readers ended today with the discovery that Kobo’s next ebook reader has made an appearance on the FCC website.

Kobo (or rather their hardware partner Netronix) has taken the sensible precaution of placing most of the useful info under an embargo, but there were a few nuggets of information scattered across the filings.

I can confidently report that the new Kobo device is described as having a 6.8″ screen, and that it was tested for Wifi. There is also a mention of a microSD card slot but no hint that the new device has audio support.

It looks like we might have a replacement for the Kobo Aura HD, the 6.8″ ereader which launched last spring. That device sported a 1GHz CPU and had a capacitive touchscreen frontlight, and a 6.8″ Pearl HD E-ink screen with a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080.

All in all, there’s very little to say about the FCC filings other than that they happened, and given the rumor that popped up last month I find I have more questions than answers.

I claim this land in the name of Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and their stockholders
I claim this land in the name of Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and their stockholders

Last month the ever reliable @evleaks reported that Kobo was going to release a waterproof ereader called the Kobo H2O. As I reported at the time, even though there was no evidence to support the rumor I thought it had a good chance of coming true.

Making an ereader waterproof was a logical next step for a device that could be used in full sunlight, but just as importantly one of Kobo’s competitors already has a waterproof model on the market in Europe. The Pocketbook Aqua is an unimpressive budget device with a premium price tag, but it shows that at least one ereader maker is thinking in this direction.

Update: This device is named as the Kobo Aura H20 in the PDF for the FCC ID label. (There was a second page to that PDF which I missed when I first looked at the PDF.)

Alas, while the FCC filings are tempting, they don’t definitively confirm that rumor. This new Kobo device could just as easily be based on the prototype ereader that Netronix showed off at a trade show a couple weeks ago.

Charbax caught up with Netronix at that show and showed us an ereader with a 6.8″ E-ink screen, Wacom touchscreen. It ran Android 4.1:

It is entirely possible that Kobo sent their version of the Netronix prototype through the FCC last week, and not the waterproof model. There’s also a chance that the prototype and the rumored waterproof model are one and the same.

There’s no way to tell at this point, so we will just have to wait and see.


The post New Kobo Aura H2O eReader Clears the FCC, Has Wifi and a 6.8″ Screen appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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