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I have been playing video games for a really long time (longer than I like to admit, truth be told), but few stick out in my mind like Sim City. While it may seem like a rather silly concept, creating cities out of their base elements… decades later, when I drive by a new park, my inner voice says: “parks make people who live near them happier.” This lasting addiction (and my desire to share it with others) is why I am so delighted that EA has released SimCity BuildIt for Android!

If you’ve played the game before in any of the many versions, the gameplay will be familiar: supply your city with the necessities (like water, electricity, housing, commercial property, and industrial areas) and then spend your time growing it and solving problems (such as traffic congestion, fires, or pollution). EA has added a social element, allowing you to trade resources with other cities and interact with friends.

This isn’t the first time EA has tried to bring SimCity to mobile devices, but earlier versions tried to be entirely too close to the PC version. This time, they had simplicity in mind: understanding the need for adjustments to better fit smaller screens and mobile gaming habits.

If you have more than a little free time to lose, download SimCity BuildIt for Android. The game is free, but be warned… there are plenty of in-app purchases to embrace or avoid.

Categories : Android News
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hearthstone

Smartphone gamers are going to have to wait a little longer for the popular Hearthstone card game developed by Blizzard. While the PC and iPad editions have been out for a while now, the acclaimed game creators need more time to best accommodate smaller screens (but don’t worry, this delay doesn’t include Android tablets –that version is still on track to be released by the end of 2014).

According to Blizzard, as noted on their official Hearthstone blog:

“Throughout the past year, many of you have been asking about the release date for Hearthstone on Android. The team has been hard at work to bring Hearthstone to that platform, and is making great progress. We’re taking things one step at a time and we’ve got our sights set on a release for Android tablets, our next new platform, before the end of the year. We’re also close to having Hearthstone out to our iPhone and Android phone users, but it’s become clear that we need a little more time to get that version right. While we have a build up and running internally, it needs a bit more work, and we don’t feel like we’ll be ready to share it with you until early next year.”

Hearthstone is a game that is well described as deceptively simple, but insanely fun. Using your customized deck of cards, you can “sling spells, summon minions, and seize control of an ever-shifting battlefield.”

As much as it sucks to wait, releasing a poorly executed version of the game would likely do more harm than delaying it and doing things correctly; especially true when you consider there are already 20 million players, many of which will turn to the smartphone version as well.

Categories : Android News
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jawbone

DROP by Jawbone is a new kind of music app that lets you create and manage playlists using tweets. By inviting you to “drop a beat with a tweet,” users of the app can turn choosing the next song on your playlist into a social activity.

Inspired by the experiences of Jawbone’s audio designer and DJ-in-residence, Austin Soldner, DROP was created: always taking requests, the idea was to make it easy for groups of friends to create their own selection of songs. Once you connect DROP to your Twitter account, friends can easily add songs to the mix with a tweet like “@yourtwitteraccount drop hungry like the wolf”. Anybody suggesting songs will need access to Twitter, but only the listener needs to have DROP installed.

This might work great at a party, and it’s a really cool idea, but it sounds kind of dangerous to use on a regular basis if you have friends that like to torture you (endless stream of Justin Bieber songs, anyone?).

DROP is made possible by Twitter’s mobile platform, Fabric… but unfortunately only for iOS devices so far, Android users will have to wait.

If you’d like to give things a listen, download DROP by Jawbone for your iOS devices. The app is free, but you will need a paid subscription to Spotify Premium or Rdio Unlimited to actually take advantage of it.

Categories : Android News
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vatlib2

The Vatican Apostolic Libraryis now digitizing its valuable ancient religious manuscripts and putting them online via its website. All of the content is available for free.

The Library was originally founded in 1451 AD and holds over 80,000 manuscripts, prints, drawings, plates and books printed prior to 1500 AD. The titles are all written throughout history by people who had different faiths or religions, from all over the world.

Not only are paintings, religious iconography and books being published online, but also letters by from important historical figures, drawings and notes by artists and scientists such as Michelangelo and Galileo, as well as treaties from all eras in history.

Finding all of the new digitized material is not easy, the library has a few samples online, but honestly its tedious right now to view the rest. Users have to search the database manually by clicking on each title and scanning through all the pages in each book. By the end of the year, a new rendering engine is going to be implemented with a more robust site-wide searching system.

In order to properly digitize the rest of the library, the Vatican is estimating that it will cost €50 million and take fifteen years. They are looking for corporate sponsors and normal people who want to see this work.

One of the ways they are attracting corporate sponsors is to hold exclusive fundraising events. In June 2014 they had one and gave attending guests an exclusive guided tour of areas generally closed to the public, including the Library halls, laboratories and the caveau where the manuscripts are safeguarded, with dinner in the Sistine Hall. They also seeking donationsof €5 to save a single page in a manuscript, while donations of at least €1,000 will see the backer included on the official supporters list.

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Kobo has unveiled a brand new firmware update for their compete modern of line of e-readers. This includes the Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura HD, and the brand new Kobo Aura H2O.  It includes a bevy of enhancements, such as the ability to turn off the X-Ray inspired Beyond the Book. 

New Touch Zone: The new software adds a fourth option in the Reading Settings menu to customize the tap zones for turning pages and accessing the menu options. The new setting is optimized for one-handed reading.

Keyboard: The keyboard now offers the option to use accented versions of letters by long pressing on them.

Beyond the Book: This feature has been changed slightly to add the option to view related titles from the initial popup window.

Reading Progress: The reading progress feature can now be set to display info for the current chapter or the entire book, and can be set to show page numbers, percentage read, or time remaining in footer.

Dictionary Fix: A bug that caused users to have to re-select what dictionary to use each time has been fixed to remain on the selected dictionary.

Other Changes: There’s a new “You’ve finished” page added to the end of Kobo ebooks that shows reading stats, related titles, and includes a Facebook sharing option.

The update should be pushed out automatically to most Kobo e-Readers when you are connected up to WIFI and press the sync button. Like most firmware upgrades, not all countries receive it at the same time, as it would kill the servers to have millions of people updating it at once. If you want to get the jump on installing this, you can download it from HERE, then  Extract the downloaded file and place its contents in the .kobo folder by accessing it via Windows Explorer. Safely eject the Kobo from your computer and unplug the USB cable; the update will automatically install.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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fire-phone

Amazon announced their quarterly results today and the company as a whole has lost $544 million. One of the big proponents to the massive decline in profitability was the Fire Phone.    During their earnings conference call for investors, Amazon representatives suggested that they’d be taking a $170 million loss on the phone. This writedown would be “primarily related to Fire phone inventory” as well as “supplier commitment costs.”

According to Chitika and comScore, the Fire Phone was in use by less than 35,000 US citizens several months after the official launch. One of the big reasons was the exclusive telecom partner, AT&T. It is currently impossible to get a data and voice plan with any other service provider, which limits the audience.

In order to boost Fire Phone sales, AT&T has just launched a promotion where if you buy the phone, they will give you a Kindle Fire HDX 7 tablet. This is the model that came out last  year and has since been supplanted by the Kindle Fire HD7.

Can you imagine if Samsung, Google, LG or Blackberry released new phones and only sold them in the US and UK? These are two of the most saturated markets in the world and even these large companies would be on the boarder of profitability. This is what Amazon has done with the Fire Phone, instead of reaching out to a global audience they only sell it in those two countries.

I think Amazon should abandon their ambitions in being an integral part of your pocket.  They simply cannot give users a compelling enough reason to forgo Google Play and rely on an abysmal secondary app market.


Categories : Smart Phones
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Typewriters burst onto the literary scene in the 1860s’s and quickly became indispensable tools for authors to quickly write their next book. They fell out of favor in the 1980’s as the world started to embrace digital publishing, which provided the ability to spellcheck their work and send manuscripts quickly to agents and friends. A new product called the Hemingwrite, seeks to marry the old school typewriter with a modern digital version.

The Hemingwrite is designed to aid both the new and established writer by providing a robust writing tool that completely removes all distraction from our daily connected lives. Wifi connectivity has been included to sync to the cloud but without a browser or email client there will be no playing angry birds or checking email. The Hemingwrite is designed for one thing and one thing only: putting words on a page.

This device features a full fledged mechanical keyboard, so you get that tectonic feel of interacting with a high-grade keyboard. You can see what you are writing, thanks to the six inch e-Ink display, the same e-paper found on the Amazon Kindle. This will result in over ten weeks of battery life, perfect for a small writing retreat.

One of the things I really like is the built in syncing processes with a number of online storage services, such as Google Docs, Dropbox or Evernote. This will give you a place to store your eBook and serve as a backup source for all of your revisions. If you want to just write, the developers behind this product boast that device storage will easily handle over one million pages.

The Hemingwrite is still in the prototype phase. The device has actually made it as a semi-finalist for Engadget’s Insert Coin inventor’s competition and will be debuting the device at the Engadget Expand NY conference on November 7th and 8th.

Categories : E-Paper
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Microsoft has announced their first quarterly earnings report for 2015 and
the Surface 3 tablet is seeing massive success. Surface revenues measured $908 million, which is transforming their hardware division into almost a billion dollar business every three months. The company is also building revenue from phone hardware, taking in $2.6 billion from quarterly handset sales through what was once Nokia’s hardware business. Microsoft reported $478 million in gross margin from phone hardware as it continues its effort to build market share for Windows Phones.

Microsoft is betting big on the new Windows 10 OS, which is now in technical preview. This  might be a game changer because the Redmond company is adopting the “One Windows” strategy, which will unite phones, tablets, and PCs under a single operating system. Today, the Windows market is fragmented between Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8 — three separate systems which aren’t fully compatible with each other. With Windows 10, the number-skipping upgrade which will arrive sometime next year, Microsoft will eliminate those incompatibilities with a single cross-platform OS.

Categories : Business News
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Adobe came under fire a few weeks ago when news was brought to light that critical user data was being sent to their servers from anyone using Adobe Digital Editions 4. The most important aspect of this story was that it was being done in clear text, with no encryption. Adobe has just patched ADE 4, to solve this issue.

Adobe Digital Editions is used by millions of users all over the world that buy eBooks from online stores and want to send them to their device. In addition, this program is also used by people who borrow digital titles from their library and want to load them on their e-Reader.

There is no automatic update tool packaged in ADE, which means you have to manually update the program for MAC or Windows.

Adobe has confirmed that they have added “Enhanced security for transmitting rights management and licensing validation information. With this latest version of Digital Editions 4.0.1, the data is sent to Adobe in a secure transmission (using HTTPS).” In other words, it is no longer being sent in clear text and instead is being encrypted.

Categories : E-Book News
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The Amazon Fire TV up until now has been a US exclusive and now the streaming television and app box has just hit the UK. Customers will be able to order it online or found on the shelves of Tesco, Dixons and Argos.

Fire TV is a streaming multimedia box that allows users to watch television and movies from the Amazon Instant Video service. It also has a number of apps users can install, such as Curzon Home Cinema, Netflix, YouTube, Demand 5, BBC iPlayer, BBC News and Sport, Sky News, and Spotify.

Unlike Apple TV, the Fire TV has a huge library of games that have been optimized for large screen televisions. You will likely want to invest in the official Game Controller,  priced at £34.99.

I actually like the overall design and UI of Fire TV, it gives you a ton of value if you live in the US or UK. It features a quad-core processor and pumping out 1080p HD video with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. Gaming, listening to music or watching a movie is a solid experience.

Categories : Technology
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kindle-basic-touch-data

The new Amazon Kindle Basic 2014 edition is the first entry level Kindle to ever be shipped with a touchscreen. This makes it way more intuitive to interact with reading eBooks or just browsing around. Today, I will teach you how to load your own eBooks on this e-reader.

First of all, Amazon Kindle e-readers read AZW and MOBI as a primary format that are easily found online. Many European bookstores actually sell eBooks in MOBI format and embed them with digital watermarks to curb piracy. There are also many bookstores and websites all over the internet that sell or allow people to download them. Sure you can buy or download, but whats the step steps?

Amazon has feature many people are unaware of. It allows you to send attachments via Email to your Amazon Kindle. If you have have registered an Amazon account and attached your Kindle to do, during the setup, you are half-way done. You need to visit your Account Management Page and then visit Settings. Near the bottom you will see a few email address and the associated devices. It should give your first name and a few random numbers, mine is michael_95121@kindle.com. You can then enter that email has the destination email address and attach any MOBI books you have downloaded from the internet and in a few minutes they will be on your Kindle Basic!

I really like a program called CALIBRE. It does some powerful stuff, like allowing you to add coverart to an eBook you have downloaded that may not have one, or to change the authors name. The feature I dig the most is being able to convert eBooks from one format to another. EPUB is one of the most common book formats out there, and is 100% incompatible with the Kindle. In the video below, I will show you how to convert an EPUB book to a MOBI one and also how to use this program on a very general level.

Finally, many people simply copy books to their Kindle Documents directory via a file manager or Windows Explorer. You can get a sense of the internal directory structure of your e-Reader and where you should be copying books manually.


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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we do a side by side comparison with the Kindle Basic 2013 edition with D-PAD and the enhanced 2014 model with a touchscreen. In this video you will get a sense on how they perform with eBooks, PDF files, Shopping and check out the main differences.

The Kindle Basic 2013 model has physical page turn buttons, a D-Pad for navigation and hardware buttons to bring up the virtual keyboard or access the home screen. Typing on the virtual keyboard is a real  pain, especially when you have to enter complex WIFI passwords or to take notes when reading an eBook. It also lacks a true home screen and main navigation menu to access the store or library. This is as bare bones as you can get, there are no translation features, X-Ray or GoodReads.

The Kindle Basic Touch 2014 edition has the same firmware as the Kindle Paperwhite 2. This gives you a true home screen, with a UI at the top that can easily grant you access to the Kindle Store, GoodReads Search or access your settings. The touchscreen is really refined, I remember not to long ago they were completely woeful.

If you have an older Kindle Basic, without a touchscreen this video will give you a compelling enough reason to upgrade. It costs a paltry $79, with Special Offers, which is a fancy way of saying it displays advertisements on the home screen and screensaver.


inbox

Already having Gmail under their belts didn’t stop Google from continuing to rethink email. Apparently it was years in the making, but only now is Inbox a reality (promising to give you focus on the things that really matter).

In a blog post announcing Inbox, Google employee Sundar Pichai described the service:

“With this evolution comes new challenges: we get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracks—especially when we’re working on our phones. For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do—rather than helping us get those things done.

If this all sounds familiar, then Inbox is for you. Or more accurately, Inbox works for you.”

Key features of Inbox allow you to better organize your email categories using bundles (grouping together things like bank statements or utility bills), highlight key information from important messages (with examples like flight itineraries or event information), and reminders (letting you focus on your priorities so that you don’t need to keep track of tasks and appointments, complete with a Snooze feature). Also included with Inbox are what Google calls Assists, described as little bits of information that make your life easier. As an example: if you make a restaurant reservation, Inbox will add a map to your confirmation email.

Inbox is currently in a beta phase, with used only gaining access via invitation; there is no word on when it will see open release.

Those of you who love Gmail just the way it is may need to be a little concerned: Google has a history of abandoning projects in lieu of new ideas (speaking as somebody who still feels the sting of Google Reader having been discontinued)… and it is easy to see that they have several services starting to overlap (Google Now has a lot of similar personal assistant functionality).

Categories : Android News
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