Tag Archives: Nook

PTJ 90: Court Cases and Fiber Races

El Kaiser has a new toy and he can’t wait to tell you all about it. This week he reviews the Mont Blanc E12 portable headphone amplifier from FiiO.  Let’s face it, ebooks are here to stay. J.D. fills us in on how to make margin notes and highlight our favorite passages on all the popular digital book readers.

In the news the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in  American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo; Lytro unveils a new camera; Rumors circulate that an Amazon smartphone will sport a radical new UI; Comcast reports its subscriber numbers are up; AT&T wants to beat Google in the Fiber Race; the AOL mail site is hacked; and Apple announces it plans to power all of its stores, data centers and offices with renewable energy sources.

Book Marks

Ebooks have grabbed quite a few eyeballs with their lower prices, wide selection and ability to  be read on a tablet, reader or computer with a minimum of fuss. While ebooks do have their conveniences, some people are still pondering how to make margin notes or underline their favorite passages in the text, which can come in handy for study or book club reference. But scribbling digitally in your ebooks is rather easy on most of the major platforms.

Take the Amazon Kindle, for example. Whether you’re using a Kindle e-ink or Fire tablet, (or even the apps Amazon makes available to read Kindle books on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone), you can annotate your ebooks. You typically just need to press and hold the word or passage until it highlights or you get an option to make a note within the text.

The notes and highlights you make in your Kindle books are also stored in your account on Amazon’s website — just log in to see them. If you choose, you can make your notes public so other Kindle users can see them on Amazon’s site. Although it can do so anonymously, Amazon’s site also keeps a public list of the most popular highlights from books, if you want to see what other people found noteworthy.

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK e-readers and apps have a similar tap-to-highlight passages and make notes. (You can share your favorite passages on social media if you want to brag on your literary taste.) Kobo, which has a line of e-readers and jumped into welcome users of Sony’s now-defunct Reader hardware also lets you mark up your ebooks.

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Got Google Play books, say, on your Android phone or tablet? You can take notes and highlight text there, too. Apple’s iBooks app for its iOS devices and OS X Mavericks Macs adds colorful highlight colors and notes with a tap or click. On the book’s Contents page, you can see all your musings throughout the text listed all in once place  for easy reference. Like the Kindle, your annotations sync up between all the iBooks devices you use.

While notes and highlighted passages in electronic books may lack the smudged immediacy or mental scorch-marks from the burst of late-night energy, they do have one major advantage — thanks to search and sync, they’re a lot easier to find within your books. And you also won’t wake up from a cram session with yellow Hi-Liter smeared all over your face.

Episode 55: Just Jammin’

This week we bring the jam! J.D. offers up alternatives to Photoshop as El Kaiser tries to find something decent to watch on Netflix and answers listener mail. In the news, the U.S. Emergency Alert System might be vulnerable to hackers; Google patches a 4 year old vulnerability in the Android mobile OS; bookseller Barnes & Noble get out of the tablet business; and the Mars rovers continue to do their thing on the Red Planet.

Episode 55 News: The Martian Chronicles

Another week, another collection of software vulnerabilities…For starters, the U.S. Emergency Alert System has a critical security flaw that could allow intruders to break into it and broadcast fake messages across the country. This is according to the security firm IOActive, which discovered the issue. The problem was due to a shared private SSH key for root privileges distributed in publicly available firmware images for the servers and computers that run the alert system. (Hackers are fond of creating messages about zombie attacks over public service signs and systems, so this could be tempting.)

malware2Bluebox Security found a big ol’ hole in Android last week — something about any app potentially turning into a nasty Trojan horse to get all up in your business. Google quickly whipped up a patch and pushed it out to smartphone OEMs for distribution and spokesperson said even though there’s a flaw, most users don’t have to worry about it.

As for Android, new numbers from Google this week that show that the Jelly Bean flavor of the system, (versions 4.1 and 4.2), have now combined to beat out the older Gingerbread 2.3 on active devices, with Ice Cream Sammich (version 4.0) firmly in third place. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 phones are thought to be behind the surge in Jelly Bean use over the past year or so. So now we wait for a slice of Key Lime Pie.

The Boy Genius Report Web site claims to have news of Amazon’s plans for its next batch of Kindle Fire tablets. According to the BGR, Amazon has three new versions of the Kindle Fire in the works to debut this fall. While Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are doing well, Barnes & Noble Way announced last week that it was getting out of the tablet business and leaving third-party hardware companies to build any future Nook tablets and the B&N CEO has now resigned. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has been mentioned as a potential buyer for the Nook business. Some are speculating that Barnes & Noble ditched the Nook in order to save its brick-and-mortar bookstores from extinction.

As promised earlier this year, Facebook is now rolling out its Graph Search feature across user accounts here in the US. (Graph Search is the new Facebook tool that lets users make very specific searches. If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, this might be a good time to review your privacy settings. In other social-networking news, Twitter updated its mobile apps this week with improvements to its own mobile search tool and direct message sync across all devices and platforms.

Apple TV, which added a few premium channel apps for cable subscribers last month, is reportedly in talks with Time Warner Cable to let subscribers watch their channels on the little black set-top box, according to Bloomberg News. And CNET reports that Beats Electronics is hoping to partner with AT&T for its new music subscription service.

Meanwhile, up on Mars, the Curiosity rover took a video of a Martian moonrise and its older sibling, the Opportunity rover just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its launch toward the Red Planet. While Martians used to be the stuff of fantasy, there’s a recent essay by Judith Shulevitz in the current New Republic magazine called “And the Martians Shall Save the University — Why Do We need the Liberal Arts? Because It Gave Us Sci-Fi.” If you like science, science fiction — or just find it really cool that a writer can dream up fantastic inventions to inspire engineers and researchers to build for real, give it a read. But first, go check your Facebook privacy settings.

Episode 44: Nibs! Nibs! Nibs!

J.D. shares tips on how to independently publish your own e-books and Pedro test drives some tablet and smartphone stylus pens. In the news the Associated Press has their Twitter account hacked; corporate espionage appears to be on the rise; Google Glass buzz heats up; and the Hubble Telescope celebrates its 23rd birthday.

Episode 35: What Time is it in Cupertino?

In this Valentine’s Day edition of Pop Tech Jam Apple blows El Kaiser’s mind — but not in a good way — and if you enjoy reading books on a portable device J.D. helps you build a giant e-library. In the news, a new app that lets you publish your own e-books; grammar school hackers; and how tablet computers can enhance education.

Library In My Pocket

Reading books on portable devices is nothing new — people figured out how to load text copies of public-domain works onto now-antiquated devices like Palm Pilots and early monochrome iPods years ago. But smartphones have turned out to be excellent e-readers and benefit from the fact that people tend to take their phones with them wherever they go these days.

Depending on what you want to read, you may not even need any money because the books are free. All you need is an app and some time. But which apps, and which apps work on which phone platforms?

If you’re looking for a reader that comes connected to its own online bookstore full of premium books – best-sellers, new titles, stuff written after 1923 — Amazon’s Kindle app works on just about every mobile platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, plus you can read the same books through your PC, Mac or Kindle hardware e-reader. And being Amazon, you have thousands of books to browse and buy there, as well as free titles to peruse.

Sony has a Reader app for Android, iOS, PC and Mac reading and Barnes & Noble has a mobile Nook app for Android and iOS to buy and download books from its online bookstore. While there’s no Nook App for the Windows phone platform, there’s one for Windows 8 and Windows RT. Nook also has freebies.

Google Play Books has an Android app and one for iOS, and books from the Google shelves can also be read on devices with Web browsers and certain e-readers, including the Windows Phone. Google Play Books has its share of free titles as well.

Apple’s iBooks app — with its connection to Apple’s iBookstore —works on iOS. The iBookstore has its own free books — just tap the Top Charts button or any of the categories to see a list of the popular freebies.

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If you like a social network with your reading, Goodreads has apps for Android and iOS, and Kobo has apps for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac as well (and BlackBerry). You can find Kobo free books here and Goodreads free books here.

Want to borrow an e-book from a participating library? Check out the OverDrive Media Console app (available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry).

Third-party apps for reading ePub, text and PDF books from independent sources (like Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive and indie stores) abound. Most apps stores have a ton of these and popular programs include:

With the right software and space on your phone, you can fit a whole shelf full of books in less physical space that a cheesy airport paperback takes up in your bag. And when you read on your smartphone, no one can really tell what you’re reading, so you can read the e-version of that cheesy airport paperback in peace.

Episode 27: That New Tablet Smell…

El Kaiser unboxes a new addition to his tablet arsenal, Google (and Samsung’s) Nexus 10, and J.D. gives us her first impressions of Apple’s redesign of their iTunes media player and media library application. In the news, tech companies concerned over International Telecommunications Union’s reworking of a telecom treaty that may negatively impact Internet freedom, thousands of Tumblr accounts are hacked, and the text message is finally out of its awkward teen years.

Comics Relief

For East Coasters, New York Comic Con rolls into the Javits Center from October 11-14, bringing fans and creators together on the West Side of Manhattan. But even if you’re not making the schlep to NYCC, if you’re a current or lapsed reader and haven’t checked out the digital side of comics, you have plenty of options for keeping up (and catching up) with your favorite titles on an Android or iOS device.

Many serious aficionados of the digital comic book favor the app simply called Comics by ComiXology, which has versions for Android, iOS and the Kindle Fire. The Comics app is best known for its huge selection of titles from mainstream and indie publishers and its Guided View mode, which shows you one page panel at a time in sequence. This can be great for reading big pages on the small phone. ComiXology also has a junior version of its comics-store-and-reader for iOS called Comics4Kids, which keeps the adult material out of sight.

If you are seriously partisan — either DC Comics or Marvel Comics — you can get specific apps for each, but both are powered under the cape by ComiXolgy’s technology. Marvel’s site has links to the Marvel Augmented Reality App, which lets you unlock exclusive bonus content when you scan Marvel products with your Android or iOS device; the site also has a Marvel Events app for conventions. DC Comics has other apps as well, like the family-friendly DC Nation. And DC has two apps tied to The Dark Knight Rises, but they only work on Nokia Windows Phones.

Some comic-book publishers have their own standalone apps, like Dark Horse and Star Trek comics. Other notable comics apps for iOS and Android include Comics+ and Komik Reader for Android and Panefly for iOS. You can also find some trade graphic novels in Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store.

Even if you read your comics on your phone or tablet, you may find yourself missing the hustle and bustle of your favorite comics shop on a Wednesday afternoon. If you want to mix and match your media, check the app store. Your store may have an app of its own — like good ol’ Midtown Comics here in Manhattan, which has an app for pre-orders, pickups and product searches. It’s the best of both worlds, and we’re not talking about Earth 1 and Earth 2.