Category Archives: technology

Kindle Paperwhite 2013–My thoughts

pw_tnSo my wife told me to order the new Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday. I figured they would fix the issues with the screen and I could sell mine for a good price since, lets be honest, this latest version isn’t much of an upgrade. I went to read the reviews and the first one-star review I read gave me pause. He is experiencing the same screen issues I saw with the first-gen Paperwhite. The same issue that had me send my Paperwhite back several times. But it was only one guy, the other one-star complaints were bordering on ridiculous.

But then I scratched my head and I asked myself… what hardware differences exist between this model and last years? … Supposedly a faster processor – this wouldn’t matter to readers as we don’t have apps on this thing.. so whether or not this is true? Doesn’t really matter.

Secondly, they changed the case. There is now a large Amazon logo on the back. Some folks complained but Amazon explained that the name Amazon is more familiar worldwide than Kindle – which adorned the back of the first-gen Paperwhite. I’m not really one to care about stuff that is going to be hidden in a case anyway. I’ll call this a wash.

Finally, they redesigned the light guides so there are less uneven spots like what last years model had. This is the hardware aspect that interests me the most. I was promised even lighting in the first-gen model, and it took me a lot of returns to get one that most closely delivered on that promise.

So what changes will matter most to readers? Software. There are some new features, such as the device remembering when you look up a word. It tosses the word into a deck of on-screen cards so you can expand your vocabulary. This could be of some use to me since I tend to use the same twenty-six words over and over again. It’s true. This article was written with only twenty-six words. Count them.  .. okay, don’t. I lied about that. But it could come in handy. Who doesn’t like appearing well edju-ma-cated?

Then there is upcoming Goodreads integration. If anyone is patient enough to write a book review on the Kindle, they are a better person than I. The integration though seems to have more to do with what your friends are reading and recommending. Similar to what we saw with Barnes & Noble’s NOOKfriends software.

Another new feature is Page Flip. An option that lets you bounce between different areas of the book, like those maps in Game of Thrones without leaving the page you’re on. Improved footnote handling is also advertised. Now the callouts are handled on the current screen, without bouncing you to another part of the book.

There are a couple of other little things both hardware and software wise that seem less notable. But the biggest changes are software.. and it sort of irritates me that existing owners aren’t given the opportunity to purchase a software upgrade. I see nothing in that new software feature set that requires a faster processor.

I’m sure at least a few of you would consider a $20-$30 upgrade to the new software if you were interested in the new features. Especially considering $20-$30 is more than Amazon is making on the hardware they are selling. We hear all the time that Kindle’s are a loss leader; it’s the books and apps that they make money on. Why not make a chunk of change on the OS too?

I guess the whole point of this was to think my decision to buy out loud. I really like my Kindle Paperwhite 2012 but it does have just the tiniest bit of uneven lighting. It’s very minor. But I am very interested in some of the software features, particularly the upcoming Goodreads integration. And Page Flip will come in handy when reading Game of Thrones, so will X-Ray for that matter – but that’s not a new feature.

So yes, I think the Paperwhite 2013 is worth a shot. But you can bet that I’ll be getting a perfect model this time. No compromise. The Paperwhite 2012 is almost perfect, the new software isn’t compelling enough to accept ‘almost perfect’ again.

Wish me luck. This could be the last eInk eReader I buy for a very long time.

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Sneak Peek: Kindle on Windows 8

How could this happen? How could Microsoft and NOOK allow Kindle to release a Modern UI app before NOOK? Microsoft is in a partnership with NOOK now. I mean they spun off the NOOK business to a whole new company. I should be doing a sneak peek of NOOK on Windows 8, but I’m not. So let’s take these lemons and make lemonade.

This is what your new Windows 8 Start menu looks like. Well, give or take a few apps that I added.

You can click to enlarge many of the images in this sneak peek.1

I downloaded the Kindle app from the Store app.

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Once you install Kindle, you’ll have an app tile that looks like this:

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Click on that and you’ll launch into the Kindle Modern UI app. Logging in is the first order of business. Fill out your Amazon account email address and password and click Register this Kindle.

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It is going to spend just a quick moment Loading… your Amazon library. You can see that there are a couple of initial options: Cloud, Device and Kindle Store. These function pretty much as you’d expect. Cloud represents the whole of your Amazon ebook purchases. Device represents just what you’ve downloaded locally to your Windows 8 PC. Kindle Store is where you can purchase more Kindle books.

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After the Loading… has finished you’ll default to your Cloud library. I went ahead and downloaded some books locally so this next screenshot actually shows you what’s on my Device (Windows 8 PC).

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“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking, “You skipped how to download books?”

Well, yes. But it’s very easy. Double-click the book to read it and it automatically downloads. Alternatively you can right click on a book and a menu will popup along the bottom and give you some options. Here, I’ll give you a screenshot.

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There is something in Windows 8 called pinning. It allows you to pin things to the new Start page similar to how you’d pin things to your Start Menu or Taskbar in previous versions of Windows. The Kindle app lets you pin books to your Start page. You right-click on a book and that menu I just showed you will pop back up. I’m going to pin a new book by Benjamin Wallace called Dumb White Husband vs. Babies: A Guide for the Unsuspecting Father. There is an icon labeled Pin. When you click it you’ll see the following popup. You are free to name the book whatever you want. I decided to change the name of mine to Dumb White Husband vs. Babies.

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The Pin icon turns to an Unpin icon and you’ve created your Start page shortcut to the book. Here is a screenshot of what that looks like.

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And of course you can move things around to your liking.

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If you click that pinned book shortcut then you’ll launch right into the book where you left off.

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So that covers the launching titles portion of the event. The Kindle Modern UI app is pretty full featured too.

When you are in the text and right-click you’ll see the following menu:

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Library takes you back to your book library.

Back takes you back to the previous page. Since I launched right into the book, I have no “back” to go to.

Go to takes you to a particular place in your book.

View gives you display options.

Bookmark will place a bookmark. Is that too “stating the obvious?”

Notes/marks will display any notes you’ve taken as well as show you where you’ve bookmarked.

Sync will sync both your reading location and your library. So if you just bought a new Kindle book on your PC and told it to deliver to your Windows 8 Kindle App this should force the process of download it. That said, I haven’t needed it. Newly purchased books have shown up as I’d expect.

And we’ve already covered Pin to Start.

Let’s look closer at some of those options.

Here are the Go to options

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Here are the View options:

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The least exciting option of all, Bookmark. Kind of a throwback to the days of paper, eh?

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They also have a nice dictionary feature that pops up when you right click on a word.

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Of course, it’s not perfect. There is no recognizing context.

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Somehow I doubt the author was told that his heart would melt the first time his children called him a style and technique of a group of early 20th century artists. Or maybe he did. Who am I to say?

Now you can also select a whole block of text and choose to Highlight it or write a Note by right-clicking.

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Highlight does exactly as you’d expect. It smears a nice highlighter yellow line over the text. In case you were wondering I wasn’t able to figure out how to change the color of the highlighter. Maybe they are saving that feature for another revision of the software.

Right-clicking and choosing Note brings up a Create Note textbox. Just fill it out and click Save.

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The area you just noted gets highlighted in the same highlighter yellow as choosing the highlight text. The only way to distinguish the two is the fact that there is a blue note icon above the highlighted text.

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The software keeps all of your highlighted and noted text organized in the Notes/marks option I showed you earlier on that option bar that slides down when you right click in the text.

The Notes/marks option will produce something that looks like this:

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I think the Amazon folks did a great job of producing a very functional Modern UI app. I have to imagine that NOOK’s will be similar if not almost entirely the same. It’s hard to do too much radically different when considering what an eReader is supposed to do. But in this case, I’d be happy with a NOOK offering that provides this same functionality.

In closing, I’d like to thank Benjamin Wallace for letting me use his book’s text in my blog post. He’s a great guy who writes some truly funny books. You can reach Ben in the following ways. [ Twitter ] – [ Facebook ] – [ Website ]

And don’t forget to pickup his latest Dumb White Husband vs. Babies.

I’d be missing an opportunity to promote us both if I didn’t tell you to check out dumbwhitehusband.com and read my guest post on my wife trying to kill me running [ here ].

While I’m in the process of promoting some worthy folks let me also mention the woman who designed the cover for Dumb White Husband vs. Babies along with many (all?) of Ben’s other books. That woman is Patty Wallace and you can see her samples and contract her to design your book cover or branding all from MonkeyPAWCreative.com.

Time is Money: FreeMyApps

Do you know there are companies out there that will pay you to try their apps? FreeMyApps is one such app/company. Basically how it works is an app developer comes to them and says ‘we’ll pay you to get your audience to download our free app’. FreeMyApps takes their money, assigns a credit value to the app and tells you to download and use the free app for 30 seconds. When you do, you’ll get that credit value added to your account. In return, you can exchange those credits for things like iTunes gift cards, Amazon gift cards and currently Postagram gift cards.

It’s a win-win-win. We get gift cards. FreeMyApps gets money from the app developer. And the app developer gets thousands of new downloads of their free app which gives them a) exposure and b) help climbing the App Store charts which is how a majority of folks find out about new apps.

The question that remains is Would you like to get paid to try out apps? There is a minimum time investment, no monetary investment, and it actually pays off. I’ve been doing it for a while now. Here are the things I’ve earned on my iPhone.

IMG_15357/28/12 – $10 iTunes Gift Card
6/27/12 – $10 iTunes Gift Card
5/11/12 – Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy ($4.99 Value)
3/15/12 – iPhone ($4.99 Value)

Try not to pay too close attention to how long it took me to earn each reward because I have gone through streaks of checking the app daily and a whole lot of ignoring it for weeks at a time. I missed a lot of point generating opportunities.

So let me show you how this works.

On your iOS device, go here: http://m.freemyapps.com/share/url/ad72160a

It will walk you through the setup which does involve installing a “verify settings” profile. This just allows FreeMyApps to make sure that you had the app open for 30 seconds.

Then it’s just a matter of downloading apps and earning points. I’ll show you.

When you launch the app (web shortcut, really) you’ll see the following loading screen:

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When it loads completely you’ll see your credits balance as well as what apps you can install to earn points. To download, you just click the credits button next to the app. For the app below you’d click the +120 credits button.

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The only app I have available is The Daily however you’ll notice in the text that it says iPad ONLY! That means I can’t download it. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying. There was an app on there recently called CoolIris that also said iPad only but it was a universal app that worked on iPhone. I got credit for that install. So go ahead and try the iPad apps too.

When you login for the first time though you’ll have a lot of apps listed.

You can tell which apps you’ve received credit for because they will show up as redeemed. If I scroll beneath that banner that invites me to Share FreeMyApps with Friends, I’ll see this:

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I mentioned I’ve been doing this for a while. I can scroll for 10 screens before I get to the bottom. I have a lot of redeemed apps.

In any event, each app has a point value. As you saw above Lemon.com Wallet is offering you 200 credits to download and use their free app for 30 seconds. The Daily was offering 120 credits. And it seems that most apps have a value of around 80 credits.

So how many credits are required for a gift card. That, my friends, is a good question. So lets look at what FreeMyApps is currently offering (as of August 1st, 2012):IMG_1533

$2 Amazon Gift Card – 600 credits.

$10 iTunes Gift Card – 3000 credits.

$15 iTunes Gift Card – 4500 credits.

$4 Postagram Gift Card – 600 credits.

$5 Amazon Gift Card – 1500 credits.

(not pictured)

$1 Amazon Gift Card – 300 credits.

$10 Amazon Gift Card – 3000 credits.

$15 Amazon Gift Card – 4500 credits.

$25 Amazon Gift Card – 7500 credits.

$25 iTunes Gift Card – 7500 credits.

$50 iTunes Gift Card – 15000 credits.

As you can see there are a ton of different gift card denominations with the exception of Postagram which is new to the FreeMyApps rewards family. There are usually some Xbox Live gift cards available too but the rewards change too. Sometimes a $10 iTunes Gift Card is available, and sometimes it’s sold out. But they have been pretty steadily available as of late.

Last week I did the math. If you get the minimum amount of credits per download and you play each app for only the 30 seconds required, then it’ll take you a whopping total of 18 3/4 minutes to earn a $10 gift card. Now what’s cool about that is the fact that you’ll get apps that are worth far more than the minimum amount of credits. For example, today’s Lemon.com Wallet was worth 200 credits. As for the time spent, that’ll probably increase because sometimes you’ll stumble across an app you end up really liking. For example, I downloaded and enjoyed No Zombies Allowed so much that it’s still on my iPhone today.

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One last thing. The first time you load the app you’ll either be excited by all of the credit earning opportunities or you’ll be overwhelmed thinking about all the apps you have to install. If you fall into that latter group don’t be discouraged. After you run through the initial pool of apps it becomes a really easy thing to maintain because you’re just checking for new apps on whatever interval you decide works for you. You can also follow FreeMyApps on Facebook and they’ll announce when they have new sponsor apps.

You can find them here: http://www.facebook.com/FreeMyApps

Here is my workflow in case you were wondering how I handle the app:

1) Download new app through FreeMyApps which redirects to AppStore
2) Use new app for at least 30 seconds
3) Go back to FreeMyApps and see if I got credit – Is it showing redeemed? If not, I go back to the app and use it some more.
4) If I liked the app, I’ll keep it. If I didn’t like the app, I’ll immediately delete it.

If you like what you saw here and want to turn a little bit of effort into gift cards then I’d ask if you’d please use my referral link to start today: http://m.freemyapps.com/share/url/ad72160a (use this link in the Safari web browser). I’ll get 100 credits (a pittance, really) and you’ll get the satisfaction of helping the guy out who told you about this awesome service.

Thanks all. I wish you many, many free gift cards.

If this helped you, or if I’ve helped you in the past, I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation. If you’re not interested, no biggie. Forget I mentioned it. =)

Calibre–Running a Content Server

There are probably a hundred or more tutorials out there to do this very thing but I figured I’d give it a shot too since my tutorials tend to be more visual than the others. For the sake of giving you an experience that will more closely resemble your own I performed a fresh install of Calibre on one of my PC’s so you can see Calibre without the tweaks I’ve made to it.

So here is the default layout of Calibre. I tossed a few books in there for the sake of the illustration.

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You can click the Connect/share button and then click Start Content Server to start the server immediately, but you’ll probably want to do a little configuration prior to doing so.

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So let’s get into the configuration piece.

Configuring:

Click Preferences – It’s that gear icon right next to Connect/Share.

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Inside Calibre Preferences you’ll find an icon that looks like a networked device and the text under it will read Sharing over the net. Click Sharing over the net.

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It’s important to note that your PC isn’t going to start sharing your books out over the Internet unless you open a port (hole) in your firewall to allow that traffic into your home network. Personally, I don’t do that because I don’t feel as if the benefit is worth the risk. You can decide for yourself but doing so is beyond the scope of this article.

Back to configuration. In the Sharing over the net preferences you have a few options.

Server port: The default is 8080 and in most cases this is going to be fine. If you are going to open your firewall up to the outside world you may want to change it to something higher like a random number between 10000 and 65000. This just provides the tiniest bit of security by obscurity.

Username: The default is calibre and again in most cases this is going to be fine. Unless you’re going to be serving your books over the Internet. In that case, it may be wise to protect your library with a Username and Password. My content just shares inside my house, so I don’t bother.

Checkbox: Since I always want my library sharing within my house, I put a checkbox next to the option below that says Run server automatically when calibre starts. You do have to manually start the server once to get this setting to go into affect. I’ll show you how below.

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Click Apply in the top left hand corner.

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You’ll get a warning that a restart is required. Click OK.

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You’ll be back in calibre-Preferences now. Go ahead and close that window.

You’re back in the main Calibre app view now.

Click the Connect/share button and then click Start Content Server.

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One of two things is going to happen.

1) The Content Server will start and you’ll be ready to start accessing your books on your other devices via the server.
or
2) The Content Server will fail to start and will let you know that the port you chose is in use. No big deal. Just go back into Preferences / Sharing over the net and choose a different port number. In setting up this demonstration I had this happen to me. I had to change my Content Server to port 8081.

You’ll know your Content Server is running when the Connect/share icon turns from blue to green.

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Congratulations! Your books are available from any device on your network. To access what we’re sharing you’ll have to visit your machines IP address or name. My PC is named WHS in this example, so my URL would be http://whs:8081. Remember I told you that port 8080 was used on my test box so I had to switch to 8081. It’s also possible that your network may not handle the PC name well, so I could also use my PC’s IP address. In my case here it would be http://192.168.1.3:8081.

It is very unlikely that your PC name or IP address will match mine so the URL will be unique to all of you, in most cases.

If you aren’t sure how to find your IP address – [ here ] – Ignore the Via the web option because that will show the public IP address of your Cable/DSL/Dial-up modem and your PC likely has a private IP address unless you connect directly to the modem and directly to the Internet.

Now that we know the address of our Content Server, let’s see what it looks like.

On iPhone:

Click the images for the full (non-blurry) look.

Photo May 22, 2 50 34 PM

Here is after clicking the link that says Switch to the full interface (non-mobile interface).

Photo May 22, 2 51 30 PM

There is a Get button below each book cover. If I click that I see the following:

Photo May 22, 3 04 34 PM

If I click Open in “iBooks” I see the following:

Photo May 22, 3 04 46 PM

On NOOK Color & NOOK Tablet:

You’ll see the familiar mobile-view again.

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I’m going to click on the epub button next to the Calibre Quick Start Guide. You’ll see it begin to download in the notification bar below.

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To find the file you go to library. Click my stuff.

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Click My Files. Click My Downloads. Anything that you download from your Calibre Content Server will download into this directory.

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It’s not pretty but it’s functional.

I tried to see if this would work on the NOOK Simple Touch but it seems as if the v.1.1 update disabled the hidden web browser.

On iPad:

The iPad interface immediately loads to the full site version as opposed to the mobile version. Otherwise, functionally, it’s the same process as the iPhone.

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In Conclusion

If you have a large eBook library and don’t want to have ALL of your sideload content installed at once taking up precious room then Calibre Content Server is a good option. The more books you have, the more you’ll probably love this option. For those of you who are constantly asking about Genre options – you can populate the tags feature with the genre type. Then when you’re looking for a good fantasy read, you click the fantasy tag. When you want a horror novel, click horror to bring up your books in that genre.

I have never bothered with the option of serving content outside of my firewall to the web for a couple of reasons. The greatest reason is any open port in your firewall is another door for an attacker to enter through. It may never happen, but I’d rather not take the chance. It’s pretty likely that I’m going to know if I’m near the end of a book. I can pull down my next read, or my next several books if I’m on vacation, while I’m on my home Wi-Fi. But to each their own. My co-worker has his Calibre library shared out and has never had an issue.

I hope you enjoyed this and found it interesting. I hope it gave you a idea of how to get started with the Calibre Content Server.

If this helped you, or if I’ve helped you in the past, I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation. If you’re not interested, no biggie. Forget I mentioned it. =)

The Next Tablet Wars

The 7-inch tablet wars are about to get very interesting. If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground then you have heard some pretty seriously exciting rumors. The first into the rumor arena was Google. Google is believed to be working with ASUS on a 7-inch tablet that would potentially be the first ever Google Nexus Tablet.

For those are you are unfamiliar with the Google Nexus line, it is traditionally a flagship Google device that sports top-of-the-line technology and contains a vanilla build of the Android OS. If you aren’t familiar with Android cell phones, then you may be a little confused by the “vanilla Android” statement. There are a lot of Android phones out there and they are made by a lot of different companies. Motorola, Samsung and HTC – just to name a few and to differentiate themselves from each other they tweak the Android OS with skins.

HTC calls their skin HTC Sense. Motorola called their skin MOTOBLUR but has since decided to shift development focus away from it. These skins, while in some cases pretty, would slow updates to the devices since Google would release the update and then the companies would have to update their version of the operating system. As you can imagine, it doesn’t make much financial sense to keep updating old phones and so ultimately customers would be left behind. Not so with the Google Nexus line. Nexus phones are stock vanilla Android so there is no having to reengineer anything, the updates are made available very quickly.

So the whole point of that sidebar was to tell you that a Google Nexus tablet means you can expect timely updates from Google with great hardware. If the latest rumors can be believed then we can expect one more great thing and that is the price tag. Google was originally rumored to release their tablet at a $250 price point. And that is a good price for a 7-inch Android tablet. However, Google is rumored to have delayed their tablet until they can deliver it a little closer to the $199 asking price of the Kindle Fire. A Nexus Tablet at $250 is hard to pass up for those in the market for one. A Nexus Tablet at $199 may actually force people who weren’t necessarily in the tablet market to take notice.

For example, if you were thinking of getting a Kindle Fire because you wanted a full color eReader then the Google Nexus may actually be a better fit because you have full access to the Google App Market (Google Play) and you can download the mobile apps from Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (NOOK) and Kobo. You can buy your ebooks from anywhere instead of limiting yourself to a single storefront. You can hunt for the cheapest price and buy there. You keep your options open. So a Google Nexus Tablet at $199 is exciting. But it may not be the most exciting rumor out there.

Google-Nexus-Tablet-new-550x322

What is the most popular tablet on the market today? Has anyone heard of the Apple iPad? Yeah, Apple has also entered the rumor arena. Apple is rumored to be introducing a 7-inch tablet in the fall. The “iPad Mini” is expected to have 8GB of storage and have the same beautiful Retina display the iPhone and new iPad currently enjoy today. This tablet is expected to hit the market at $200-$250. At that price point and at that 7-inch size, Apple is very clearly firing a shot at Google who until lately has had the eReader market locked up thanks to Android’s presence in the Kindle Fire, NOOKcolor and NOOK Tablet.

Come this fall, especially if the Apple rumor is true, you can expect a LOT of tablet holdouts to finally choose a side in the tablet wars. The question is whether their tablet of choice will be sporting a little green robot or a shiny bitten Apple.

So what do you think? If these devices make it to market, will you be buying one?

My take on DRM

There are few more contentious topics in ebooks, or digital media, in general, than DRM. Digital Rights Management.

What is it? What does it do and why in the world would I want it?

DRM is meant to protect unlawful copy of copyrighted material. It is meant to insure that the copy of 50 Shades of Grey that you bought for your NOOK doesn’t get sent to your 20 best girlfriends. It is meant to protect the publisher and I guess author’s ability to collect money from an increasingly portable medium.

This protection is considered important because it is a lot easier to copy a digital file today than it was in the analog days. When you had to walk to the Xerox machine and copy a physical book one page at a time. Although that method had protection too, it was called laziness and .25 a sheet copies. Although that didn’t stop my High School Biology teacher from Xeroxing the entire contents of Richard Preston’s “The Hot Zone” for us to read in class. That being said, he probably had a school copier and use a student aide to overcome the archaic copy protections of the 90’s.

In any case, I often get asked my opinions on DRM thanks to my helping moderate a NOOK fan page on Facebook. When I say I’m often asked my opinion, I mean I’m asked “What’s your problem, man? You on some kind of power trip? You suck!” In their sincere appeal for clarity I’ve decided to share with you my own two cents on the issue.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to DRM, or more accurately, the removal of it. The first school of thought is: It’s Illegal! The second school of thought is: It is NOT Illegal. My take on the matter is: I’m not a lawyer. And either are you. Or maybe you are and I’m grossly out of touch with my demographic. Which until now I thought consisted of my wife and mom occasionally. – Love you both!

But I digress. My official stance on DRM is that it is a pain in the ass. Furthermore it is annoyingly easy to remove, which means that it’s really more of a deterrent to honest, good folks who weren’t likely to rob you blind anyhow. What are authors and publishers really afraid of you may ask and the answer is piracy. The author and publisher are concerned that you’ll buy The Hunger Games and send a copy of it to every person you know with an eReader. It’s a legitimate concern, but DRM isn’t the fix and they know it.

Great, so what’s it mean?

Barnes & Noble actually uses a combination of your full name and your credit card number to generate your DRM key. With that information the NOOK or NOOK software is able to unlock the file and you can view it. However, without the key – your file is useless. So long as the NOOK DRM servers are standing you should never have a concern with your DRM protected files. You are who you say you are and the files will unlock every time. However, if B&N decides to shut down the server, that leaves a lot of us with books up on their server, in their cloud, out of our reach.

It is very unlikely that we would be taken in such a fashion but the concept itself isn’t unthinkable. You really need look no further than a Microsoft developed DRM called PlaysForSure. Microsoft closed their MSN Music store and shut down the DRM approval servers. Prior to doing so they let everyone know so they could generate a local key to keep their purchased music playing. But what if you don’t back up your machine properly and lose that key? All of the music you purchased is now useless. Further claims made against PlaysForSure is that that key was married to the PC you owned, so you couldn’t copy it to a new computer if you purchased new. That, my friends, is why DRM is bad, m’kay?

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So what do we do about it?

Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it? There are a number of ways to remove DRM from your digital files. Google is your best friend is this regard. As for the legality – remember, I’m not a lawyer. The major legal battle field seems to be between fair use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Fair use allows you to backup software, music, etc. you own, while DRM prevents it in most cases. Cracking DRM can be considered illegal depending on your intention. If you break DRM to make a backup, the law would seem to say you are alright to do so. If you do it to share your book with a friend, then you are committing an illegal act.

Now here is where the law gets a little foggy. That Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it a criminal act to develop a piece of software that removes DRM as well as distribute it. So it’s a chicken and egg kind of deal. Someone has to break the law, so you can make non-DRM protected copies. Someone has to break the DRM. Illegal. Someone has to write an application that can do it en masse. Illegal. Someone has to distribute that method. Illegal. So you can backup your books without fear of losing them someday. Which may or may not be legal.

Are you thoroughly confused? I know I am.

 

So what do you personally do?

That, my friends, is a question that I am not going to answer. Again, because I’m not a lawyer. No one should be able to sue me for removing DRM, but you shouldn’t be able to be held indefinitely without trial in this country either but apparently our current administration thinks that’s alright now. So I’ll plead the 5th, while I’m still able to do so but I’ll drop a few opinions.

In my opinion, I should be able to whatever I like with the books I own as long as it is for my own use. So if I want to buy an ebook from B&N and read it on my NOOK, cool. If I want to read it on my phone, cool. If I want to read it on my iPad in iBooks since their book sync technology is so much further along than the NOOK, then I should be able to. If I want to serve up my personal library in Calibre via the Content Server, I should be free to do that as well.

It is my opinion, that if you are removing DRM for your own use, and not to the detriment of the copyright holder, then you should be free to do so.

In my opinion, DRM is like securing your bike to a tree with a piece of rope. Honest folks are going to understand the bike is being held for its legitimate owner and will leave well enough alone. Criminals are going to cut your rope and take your bike. DRM is just as easy to remove in the case of ebooks. That means that DRM is only inconveniencing the honest customers since it isn’t working against the real threat.

It seems you dislike DRM, so why do you get your panties in a bunch on Facebook?

The answer to that is an easy one. Because I’m asked to. I’m not the creator of our group. I’m just asked to enforce the rules that the groups owner set.

But also because I don’t think we have any lawyers. IF ripping DRM is illegal, I don’t think you should necessarily run around in a public forum like Facebook talking about doing it. Unless you’re N.W.A., I would leave the whole “F*** the Police” shtick out of the public eye.

God, this is so long. Would you wrap this up already?

Fine. In summary, I can condense all of this into the following: DRM is idiotic but protecting our authors and the publishers’ investment in them is a good cause. DRM is just simply not the way to go about protecting that investment.