Announcements made at this year’s Secret Wars comic event brought an official end to the complex and sophisticated Marvel Universe (video coverage of the kick-off event is linked below so you can see for yourself). Once crowned the kinds of continuity, Marvel intends to apply almost 60-years of lessons-learned to a fresh universe (while trying desperately not to alienate die-hard fans of the franchise).
Instead of being an update on the original Secret Wars released in the mid 1980’s (within which, a variety of heroes and villains came together from universes near and far to battle each other), the plan appears to be a mash-up intended to bring all universes into one: Battleworld.
The good news? We don’t have to feign amnesia for the 616-universe. All of that history remains in tact, delightfully free from the complications and confines of current storylines.
The bad news? Marvel has confirmed the slaughter of at least a few beloved characters (though Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso also promised that other heroes will survive and thrive… or even see resurrection). Trying to anticipate who will remain is a guessing-game at this point, but it seems reasonable to assume that Captain America will make the cut ahead of Howard the Duck.
Three sets of comics will get things started:
Secret Wars: Last Days – These titles will address what the characters from the Marvel Universe have planned for their final days before the start of Secret Wars.
Secret Wars: Battleworld – If you want the full story, Battleworld is set to deliver a much-needed overview. Marvel Editor-in-Chief promises us answers to the questions already keeping us on the edge of our seats: “Who polices Battleworld? How do the various domains interact? What happens when those domains go to war? What strange, never-before-seen creatures inhabit this world? What familiar faces will make appearances?”
Secret Wars: Warzones – Once you are ready to dig a little deeper, Warzones will deliver stories of the individual nations found in Battleworld… with a teasers that will offer a glimpse of the future.
Think of Secret Wars as a means for Marvel to do some streamlining and restructuring –but certainly not simplifying. An encyclopedic knowledge of their publishing history may be a value-add here, but in a world filled with bottom lines it seems wise to capitalize on new-comers who may have only hopped on board after enjoying Marvel’s highly-successful feature films.
If this all sounds a little familiar, DC tried a similar reboot of their universe called “The New 52″ that combined bits and pieces of their existing material into a fresh product –though hopefully Marvel has more success maintaining interest beyond the initial launch excitement.
We don’t have long to wait now, with the first issue (written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Esad Ribic) readying for launch on Free Comic Book Day in May.
You may already be familiar with LibreOffice, known for being an incredibly popular open source office application (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). The good news, is the developers at Collabora are making the move to Android –beginning with a beta version of their LibreOffice Viewer. They warn that it’s not stable (and therefore not recommended for mission critical tasks), but they are also welcoming of all feedback and bug reports in an effort to make this app as successful as possible.
Easily capable of becoming a go-to app, LibreOffice Viewer can handle nearly any document type that is thrown at it:
- Open Document Format (.odt, .odp, .ods, .ots, .ott, .otp)
- Microsoft Office 2007/2010/2013 (.docx, .pptx, .xlsx, .dotx, .xltx, .ppsx)
- Microsoft Office 97/2000/XP/2003 (.doc, .ppt, .xls, .dot, .xlt, .pps)
Functionality is pretty basic at this point, but future releases (available weekly) promise to work with URLs and accessing external SD storage.
Ready to try an alternative for reading documents on your Android devices? Download LibreOffice Viewer Beta for free now!
Internet news devotees have had to become very selective about the articles they read due to the abundance of available content, which has led many to adopt dedicated digital platforms that only display news from sources they choose. Apps like PressReader and Newsbeat have stepped up to fill the gap, and offer customizable options for current news, including region-specific content and categorical selection. Digital newspapers and magazines have also grown in popularity, possibly in relation to the unreliable options flooding social media; OverDrive reported on its growth of digital content yesterday, citing the convenience of access to news through public library portals as a chief patron service.
One platform in particular, Press Reader, released a new video that explains its all-you-can-read digital news model, as well as its emergence as a leading provider of digital newspapers and magazines to the all-important library sector.
Press Reader bills itself to users as a premium content provider, meaning its not the same old headlines that are available scattered across news blogs. This has helped the crucial lending market make a trusted choice in subscribing for their patrons to access digital content.
Book Walker, one of the largest digital bookstores for IOS, android, and PC, owned by Kadokawa, announced today it’s sales ranking of 2014 for 10 categories. They are based on the sales made between December 1, 2013 and November 30th, 2014 from it’s 151,000 titles.
This year the Book Walker award goes to the top selling digital book of 2014 to Mamare Touno’s fantasy adventure series Log Horizon. The series follows Shiroe, a socially awkward gamer and his friends Naotsugu and Akatsuki trapped in an MMORPG with thirty thousand other players that were trapped in the game after an expansion pack gone wrong. Donning their in game avatars, they must face the game world which has now become their reality, while facing challenges and obstacles.
Largely the success of Log Horizon is thanks to the fact it’s digital edition is only excursively available to Book Walker and had the two anime adaptions airing at the same time. Other winners include;
No Game No Life
“Sora and Shiro are two hikikomori step-siblings who are known in the online gaming world as blank who remains as an undefeated group. One day they are challenged to a game of chess by Tet, a god from another reality. Winning the game, they are offered to live in a world that revolves around games, accepting the prize as a joke, they find themselves in a reality called Disboard.”
Again My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong”
“This story follows loners, Hachiman Hikigaya and the beautiful Yukino Yukinoshita, who despite their varying personalities and ideals offer help and advice to others as part of their school’s service club.”
Arpeggio of Blue Steel
“By 2039, global warming had cause sea levels to rise and large amount of territory to be lost. A group of warships clad in mist appear in every corner of the ocean and begin attacking himan ships. Seven years later, a humanoid life form that pilots a sub appears before Gunzo Chihaya and offers her assistants to man kind.”
Appraisal Case Files of the Omnicompetent Q
“Featuring the heroine Riko Rinda, an appraiser with an incomparable gift for instantly seeing through all mitigating facts and circumstances to the true value and essence of whatever is presented to her for assessment.”
Invaders of the Six-Tatami Mat Room?!
“Kōtarō Satomi decided to live on his own at the beginning of his high school life and chose Room 106 of Corona House due to cheap rent. Unfortunately Kōtarō soon discovers that numerous other supernatual girls also want his room for various reasons and aren’t willing to back down. As a result, Kōtarō and the girls find themselves forced to live together as they try to settle who will end up with the room. ”
Knights of Sidonia
“The story follows Nagate, a low-born youth in a society of genetically engineered humans, refugees that escaped the destruction of Earth one thousand years earlier and now occupy the massive ship Sidonia. When Nagate’s talent as a pilot is revealed he becomes one of Sidonia’s elite defenders against the Gauna, shapeshifting aliens bent on eliminating humans from existence.”
Tokyo Ghoul Remastered
“Strange murders are happening in Tokyo. Due to liquid evidence at the scene, police conclude the attacks are result of of ‘eater’ type ghouls. Friends, Kaneki and Hide come up with the idea that ghouls are imitating humans so thats why they have never seen one. Little did they know that their theory will become a reality.”
Okitegami Kyoko no Bobiroku
“This story follows a detective named Kyōko Okitegam who is also known as the forgetful detective. She forgets everything in a day but can solve cases the same day. An unlucky yung man named Yakusuke Kakushidate somehow ends up as the suspect in every caseand he always asks for the detective for help.
Many publishers often think their current Digital Rights Management solutions are enough to combat e-book piracy. This is why the vast majority end up using Digital Watermarks or Adobe DRM in order to make it hard to upload material you have purchased to file sharing websites. Rightscorp, likely the biggest anti-piracy player in movies, music and television shows told Good e-Reader that “we estimate that there were 500 million e-Books distributed in the United States on peer-to-peer networks in 2013 and this will grow to 700 million by 2018.”
Rightscorp has developed digital loss prevention technology that tracks copyright infringement and ensures that owners and creators are rightfully paid for their IP. They developed extensive tracking analytics that allows them to see what content is being distributed through Bittorrent and file sharing sites and then goes after the people involved. In April 2014 they made the company decision to market their services to the publishing industry and actively go after eBook pirates.
Business is booming for Rightscorp right now. The company has just announced that it has closed over 170,000 cases of copyright infringement to date, up 40,000 since November 2014, representing an approximate 30% growth within a 2 month period. They have received settlement payments from subscribers of more than 200 ISPs and has approval to collect on over 1.5 million copyrights.
We are firing on all cylinders and have been able to consistently generate growth on many of our operational metrics,” said Christopher Sabec, CEO of Rightscorp. “The latest count includes more than 1,000 cases closed on the Comcast and Google Fiber networks, which control the largest markets in the U.S. It seems clear that the entire industry is now beginning to recognize our solution as the most effective in preserving the rights of copyright holders – artists and content owners. We will continue to work hard to protect those who create and own intellectual property.”
Overall, the publishing industry is not really concerned with eBook piracy. Many of the top companies such as HarperCollins, Hachette, S&S and Penguin have told me that piracy is a minor blip on the radar and does not hamper sales to any discernible degree. They all admit it is an extreme minority of tech savvy individuals and statistically people who pirate eBooks tend to be the biggest purchasers of digital content. There has even been some notable authors such as Tim Ferris that harnessed the power of Bitorrent to promote his book, the 4 Hour Chef. He recently said “Torrent conversion is NUTS. Of 210,000 downloads earlier this week, more than 85,000 clicked through “Support the Author” to the book’s Amazon page. We all had to triple and quadruple check that to believe it.
Sales of eBooks reached $3 billion at the end of 2012, up from $68 million in 2008 according to a recent article posted onYahoo! Finance. The article also cited that Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, said that “Kindle owners buy more books now than they did before they owned an e-Reader”. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates “consumer eBooks will drive $8.2 billion in sales by 2017, surpassing projected print book sales, which it thinks will shrink by more than half during that period.”
Rightscorp has not seen the traction in the e-Book space as they have with other media. The company has told me that “While Rightscorp has closed some cases with e-Books, we do not yet have large catalogs of e-Books like we have with movies, television and music.”
This goes to show that publishers believe in the power of DRM to such a large degree that they don’t really care to go after e-book pirates at this stage in the game. They are more concerned with Amazon having too much power in e-book sales and distribution and trying to find alternative avenues to generate revenue, such as e-Book subscription websites like Scribd and Oyster.
Amazon launched their Japanese e-Book store in 2012 and in order to read e-books, manga or comic books you basically needed to use the dedicated Kindle app for Android or iOS. Now users have another option, Kindle for PC has officially launched in Japan.
The premise of Kindle for PC is to keep your content synchronized across multiple devices. It also allows for a ton of versatility for Japanese text and displays anything you would buy from the Amazon digital bookstore. All of your purchases will be able to be viewed in both landscape and portrait mode. Customization options include changing the background color, font size, font type and access the dictionary.
Amazon launched the Kindle Cloud Reader in Japan last September, this is their online based HTML5 e-reading app. It was fairly limiting, because it was relegated to only reading novels, not magazines, newspapers or manga.
The debut of Kindle for PC comes at an opportune time for Amazon. Earlier in the month the company launched Kindle Free Manga Magazine. This is a platform that has a revolving pool of single issues and magazines, all available for free. The initial lineup includes the recent issue of Shueisha’s Grand Jump magazine, as well as Manga Action, Comic Ran Twins, Comic Zero-Sum, Manga Box service, and Square Enix’s Hobo Gekkan Otameshi Gangan.
Haruichi Furudate’s high energy volleyball manga, Haikyuu!!, has already been slated for a second season. Fans of the show weren’t surprised to hear this at all, given the show’s popularity when it aired last April. But while waiting for a release date of the second season, Haikyuu!! fans will be happily tided over by the news of a compilation film.
The film is part of the Haikyuu!! Itadaki Project 2015. Production I.G, the company who animated Haikyuu!!’s first season, have released a slew of information concerning the volleyball boys. As well as the second season of the anime and the compilation film, there is to be a summer event. Considering that the second season will most likely air in July, the summer event could be something celebrating the return of the anime. Production I.G also promises more announcements are on the way.
The compilation film will consist of the first season of Haikyuu!! condensed into a series overview lasting about two hours. Although nothing has yet been confirmed, anime compilation films usually contain additional pieces of animation, often made in a higher quality than the animation designed for TV. Even the prospect of new animation alone is enough to entice viewers, but with the second season on the horizon, watching the film will be a great way to catch up on the series and remind yourself of everything you’ve missed.
Sports anime has been one of the fastest growing genres over the last three years, and it seems Production I.G is looking to milk it for all it’s worth. The company already produces another popular sports anime, Kuroko no Basuke. It’s no surprise they would want to bring focus on Haikyuu!!, a manga that has sold over two million volumes. As for fans of the Karasuno High Volleyball Club, we’re simply excited to see what else the Haikyuu!! Itadaki Project 2015 will contain.
Well-lit vanity mirrors? Shower benches for leg shaving? Kinder lighting in the corridors? Why not?
Some critics of Virgin Group Ltd., the chain of entertainment and service industry offerings owned by billionaire Richard Branson, have scoffed at the corporation’s latest attempt to win over a key demographic with its new hospitality chain, Virgin Hotels. The luxury hotel chain is making a concerted effort to meet the needs of the growing numbers of female business travelers, but it’s not just makeup mirrors and smooth legs.
One key feature of this hotel chain is a divided room that allows the guest to accept deliveries like room service or luggage service through the main room door, while staying locked behind a second door with a peep hole. Corridor lighting has been enhanced to ensure that there are no dark corners for someone to lurk in. Of course, there are the less intimidating amenities like larger closets to accommodate business travelers’ suits and dresses, helping to ensure that the purpose of the trip comes off as stylishly as possible.
While some news sources have openly stated that female guests have no need of these extra features because “they’ve done okay without leg-shaving benches thus far,” Virgin’s founder sees it a little differently, considering the numbers of women who travel for business, not just for vacation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Virgin determined early on that appealing to female business travelers was part of that approach. Company executives cited a 2011 report from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University that highlighted the market opportunity: While females accounted for only a quarter of business travelers in 1991, they now comprise about half.”
It may seem gimmicky to some, but in a crowded hospitality industry, hotel chains are working overtime to meet the needs of guests in a way that make them stand out. Anyone can offer a bed, a bath, and a bagel in the lobby each morning, but companies are actively working to provide features that make travelers choose their accommodations based on features like wifi that remembers you from your last visit, free digital newspapers and magazines through apps like PressReader, the ability to read the news from “back home” while traveling, and more.
Any time a library can report an increase in circulation, patron engagement, offered services, and catalog content, it’s a cause for celebration. Libraries as vital parts of healthy communities are in a constant state of defense, so growth in the sector is good to hear. But when the libraries in question are school libraries who cater to the needs of emerging readers (and future voters who will determine the strength of public libraries down the road), it’s even better.
OverDrive, one of the world’s leading providers of digital content to public and academic libraries, released news yesterday of record growth of its ebook catalog.
“As of January 1, 2015, nearly 12,000 schools and districts have incorporated the OverDrive service into their curriculum and library plans, a 50% increase over the same time last year. OverDrive now works with K-12 partners in 38 countries, with 10 countries added to their global network in 2014.”
eBook adoption in school libraries stands to result in a significant savings for both public and private centers’ budgets, given the typically lower cost of titles and the elimination of damaged copies. One of the chief complaints in school adoption of digital titles, though, has been lack of content from publishers, a factor that OverDrive has worked hard to eliminate.
“OverDrive’s school eBook catalog has also reached record size, with 24% growth over the last year, adding more than 100,000 new titles and bringing the total digital catalog available to schools to more than 2 million titles. Audiobook availability has increased 15%, with more than 5,500 new titles available to school partners through OverDrive…In addition, the 2014 acquisition of Teacher’s Notebook has given K-12 partners access to teacher-created curriculum materials from more than 500,000 educators.
One of the most exciting parts of the announcement is the seamless incorporation of audio narration with digital titles, a factor that has been proven to increase not only comprehension and reading levels in students who utilize it, but also to play a key role in fostering reading self-selected texts for pleasure.
“In 2014, OverDrive also introduced Narrated eBooks, a feature that provides a single eBook file synchronized with audio. Publishers supplied hundreds of popular children’s titles in this new format, which are now available for schools and libraries.”
With a 234% increase in new visitors to the OverDrive site (over 2 million year-over-year), and 6.26 million visits to the school digital content website in 2014 alone (an increase of 276% over the previous year), K12 academic libraries are finally making solid headway into digital adoption.
If you buy a new smartphone from Google Play in the near future, you will be able to use Google as your new wireless carrier. The company has just ironed out agreements with Sprint and T-Mobile to sell voice and data plans directly to consumers.
Google has been experimenting with internet access with its Fiber program in a very limited capacity and via their Loon project sought to provide free WIFI access in remote places. This new endeavor is positioning Google to become a top tier wireless carrier in the US.
Currently, there are four major carriers in the United States: T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon, and while T-Mobile has made efforts to shake up the wireless industry with its Un-Carrier initiatives, wireless service in the United States remains much pricier than in other countries, with subscribers getting less data for more money. The thought behind the Google branded service is to be able to directly bundle their data enabled phones at a discounted rate if you buy them from Google Play.
Google will not actually be competing against these big players but has engaged in a licensing program. They will be quite similar to other players in this sector, including Boost Mobile, FreedomPop, and Straight Talk.
The Wall Street Journal has verified this rumor, writing “Google hinted at its wireless ambitions in a letter to the FCC last week, which said higher-frequency spectrum might be used for ‘the next generation of unlicensed broadband services,’ including complements to Wi-Fi networks, ‘or entirely new technologies and innovations.’ ”
It remains to be seen how the Google wireless plans unfold in the real world. We don’t have an actual date or in what capacity users will be able to signup. It looks dubious if Apple will include them as a carrier option to opt into for unlocked iPads and iPhones. Many industry experts seem to agree that the best strategy is to sign up customers who buy Google branded devices, such as the Nexus Phone or Nexus tablet for data.