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Neil Gaiman, Daniel Handler, give the gift of reading for the 2014 National Book Awards
November 22, 2014 | 12:34 pm

What makes a great writer? How about the forbearance and humility to stand in Washington Square on a freezing morning and give away free books to a random crowd of the reading public? Because that's what Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) did for the National Book Foundation's Great Book Giveaway, organized with the Uni Project, "a nonprofit committed to increasing access to books and learning opportunities through pop-up, open-air reading rooms," and featuring a free distribution of the finalist titles in the 2014 National Book Awards, "as well as books by Daniel and Neil which they graciously...

Android latest: Lollipop does not suck
November 22, 2014 | 10:32 am

My first-generation Nexus 7 tablet recently updated itself to the latest version of the Android OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop, thanks to Google's commitment to keep the entire Nexus system abreast of the latest developments in its platform. And so far at least, despite some other reports to the contrary, the experience has been almost entirely favorable. Lollipop is supposed to be all about a change and improvement in the user experience, with faster and smoother operation thanks to the new Android Runtime (ART) environment that replaces the old Dalvik virtual machine with its just-in-time compilation method. On that score, it does seem...

Saltire Society’s Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland ballot includes great Scottish women writers
November 21, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Scottish cultural and intellectual advocacy body the Saltire Society is approaching the culmination of a near year-long campaign to find the Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland, still open for formal nominations until St. Andrews Day, Sunday 30th November. The list has already attracted a slate of some of Scotland's - and the UK's - most outstanding women writers and cultural figures, including such obvious choices as Liz Lochhead and Naomi Mitchison, and perhaps less expected ones such as Ena Lamont Stewart, Scotland’s first major female playwright, and Janet Paisley, writer and coordinator of the first Scottish PEN Women Writers Committee. "Members of...

Library A to Z shows how to crowdfund library advocacy
November 21, 2014 | 2:25 pm

One of the more heartening initiatives by advocates of the UK's library system in the face of devastating - and ideologically dictated - "austerity" cuts, is the Library A to Z, which "has created a visual A to Z celebrating the wide range of services, resources and facilities that make libraries so fantastic." The site contains: "materials, including illustrations, book, posters, cards and other advocacy materials that you are free to share and re-use,"as well as "links and information about what you can do to support libraries." But its own story is almost as important and encouraging as the resources...

More on the Kindle Paperwhite Update
November 21, 2014 | 12:25 pm

kindle paperwhite updateI received the new Kindle Paperwhite update at some point yesterday. When I went to use it last night, there was an alert from Amazon---complete with explanatory e-guide---highlighting features of the new OS. Some of it didn't interest me. We can't use FreeTime in Canada. and the family sharing was a moot point since the Beloved does not have an Amazon account. But I was interested to check out the 'improved' collection handling. The e-guide promised that, as people have often requested, Amazon has added some filters to make it easier to distinguish between Cloud and on-device content. Here was how...

The infographic way to decide whether self-publishing is for you
November 21, 2014 | 10:25 am

Henry Herz-Flow-Chart-660px-5 The Independent Publishing Magazine, which had the good taste to mention me and Chris Meadows in their breakdown of "The 12 Publishing Shakers You Should Be Following," has also found a wonderfully useful infographic courtesy of The Write Life, which put together a flow chart based on a questionnaire by author Henry Herz designed to answer that vexing question for most aspiring writers these days - "Should You Self-Publish or Go Traditional?" With a fair dose of wit, Herz leads you through the decision-making process, and of course, much of the advice and analysis is down to his personal opinion of...

Morning Links: iOS 8.1.1 on older devices. Apple ends patent war on Android?
November 21, 2014 | 9:00 am

ios 8.1.1How iOS 8.1.1 Affects Performance on Older Devices (Lifehacker) Which is to say, if you're still rocking iOS 7 on an older device, it's probably best to stay there. *** Apple Ends Patent War on Android, Deal Suggests (GigaOM) Apple has decided to end a bitter legal war against Google and Android phone makers, and to turn away from patent tactics that have cost the smartphone industry billions of dollars, according to reports and new court filings. *** Kobo Now Lists File Type and if it Has Adobe DRM (GoodeReader) When you are browsing the online Kobo catalog their is a new section at the bottom...

Medieval manuscripts show the beauty of drawing with words
November 20, 2014 | 8:25 pm

The very wonderful Medieval Books blog from Erik Kwakkel, book historian at Leiden University, has just run a great feature on the medieval art of drawing with words: in other ... ahem ... words, where "decoration is created by words, which were meant to be read. This intriguing scenario blurs the divide between text and illustration: it challenges how we define both." The customary kind of manuscript illumination is obviously the more accepted form of this, as in works like the Lindisfarne Gospels with their incredible decorative pages - probably the closest that the Western tradition has ever come to the Islamic school of...

Motorola’s ‘Duet’ tells a story as only a smartphone can
November 20, 2014 | 7:41 pm

Screenshot_2014-11-20-18-35-16I was just answering a message on Google Hangouts in my Moto X when I saw a blue stylized figure of a ballet dancer dance across the bottom of the screen. It left a glowing blue circle that I tapped on, and I was presented with a screen that said “Duet”. This puzzled me, as I certainly hadn’t installed anything by that name lately. A quick Google revealed that this was a new animated short from Motorola’s Moto X Spotlight Player. Directed by veteran ex-Disney animator Glen Keane, “Duet” tells the story of a boy and a girl who...

Neil Gaiman talks for UK Arts Council
November 20, 2014 | 6:25 pm

011711-neil-gaiman.jpgThe newly launched Arts Council of England magazine Create, for all the issues around its basic premise, has garnered material from some very significant creative figures, Neil Gaiman being one of them. He took the opportunity, in the course of a long interview with Toby Litt in the magazine (available to read in full here), to speak about writing, reading, and libraries, and the importance of the latter in education and general development. After recounting his love of libraries from his first experiences of them at age three or four, Neil Gaiman noted "I’ve probably been in about six or seven hundred libraries...

Review: Inateck Kindle Paperwhite Case
November 20, 2014 | 4:25 pm

inateck kindle paperwhite caseIt's getting to be that time of year when people will be deciding on gifts to give for the holiday. With the Kindle Paperwhite now being marketed as the mid-range offering in Amazon's eInk reader line up, I'm betting there will be a number of them wrapped in colorful paper soon. However, if you've owned such a device in the past, you know that it's not enough to buy the reader. You also want to protect the reader, and the folks at Inateck recently sent me a case to review. Gotta say, I love it. The [easyazon-link asin="B00JP7R7DC" locale="us"]Inateck Compact Kindle...

Indiewire shares top filmscripts for free download
November 20, 2014 | 2:25 pm

movie.jpgAny scribe or scribbler looking to get ahead in the screenwriting business and tap into the floods of money sluicing down those old LA storm drains could do worse than look at some of the best representatives of recent filmscript practice. But how to do it? Well, that's where Indiewire comes in. They explain it this way, so you can safely lay your fears to rest about their subhead: "Get your free scripts here! Download 'em while they're still legal"... One upside of awards season is that studios often share scripts for awards contenders in hopes it will bolster their shot...