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Other posts by Chris Meadows

For Jeff Bezos, customer convenience is king
April 6, 2014 | 3:11 pm

Forbes has another profile of Jeff Bezos. Seems we’ve been seeing those a lot lately, what with that recent book on the man. This one looks particularly at Bezos’s intense focus on customer satisfaction. Actually, “satisfaction” doesn’t seem to go quite far enough, because “satisfaction” implies a middle-of-the-scale response. Bezos wants the customer wowed. He wants to make everything as convenient as possible, even to the point of shaving fractions of a second from page load times. That kind of obsession might be easy to make fun of, but give the man his due: he’s running a multi-billion dollar corporation that...

Amazon waves magic wand, creates Amazon Dash for instant Amazon Fresh shopping
April 4, 2014 | 8:05 pm

amazondashAs many successful products and services as Amazon has launched over the last few years, sometimes it seems like Jeff Bezos must have a magic wand. It turns out, in fact, that he does, and now he’s making it available to select Amazon Fresh customers, too. Gizmodo has the word about the new “Amazon Dash,” a wand-shaped device that incorporates a bar code scanner and a microphone with speech recognition (undoubtedly the same speech recognition as Amazon just introduced in the Amazon Fire TV), along with WiFi connectivity, to allow people to add things to their Amazon Fresh grocery...

NewEgg butts another patent troll off the bridge
April 3, 2014 | 5:50 pm

neweggWhen I ordered my clattery new Cherry MX Brown-springed mechanical keyboard at NewEgg, and it arrived yesterday, I wasn’t thinking of NewEgg’s tireless efforts when it comes to fighting patent trolls. But perhaps I should have been. Ars Technica reports on their latest victory, against a company called Macrosolve which claimed to have patented the ability to use questionnaires in a mobile app. Although it had formerly actually produced real products, Macrosolve at this point is merely a patent troll making a hand-to-mouth living shaking down companies for settlements and immediately paying them out to cover legal fees...

Publishers go off deep end, pay consultant to tell them what they want to hear
April 3, 2014 | 1:24 pm

Diogenes-statue-Sinop-enhancedSo, let me get this straight. Frank Luby, a consultant speaking at Digital Book World, says that e-books are more convenient than printed books, and therefore, they should cost more. Is this some kind of a joke? Apparently not; it was posted April 2, and people elsewhere seem to be taking it seriously. This is so wrong I hardly even know where to begin. It’s true that I can see how publishers would want to hear what this guy has to say. Basically, he’s telling them only what they already believe themselves. And it’s a belief they...

Pay what you want for two science-urban-fantasy books by Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin
April 3, 2014 | 11:22 am

Reboots-FrontCovHere’s a mini-pay-what-you-want e-book bundle for this month: a pair of whimsical science-urban-fantasy novels from Mercedes Lackey and one of her Secret World Chronicle co-authors, Cody Martin. (I used to play City of Heroes with both of them.) The way it’s set up is, you can get the first book for free, or you can order both of them for a minimum of $1.99, suggested price of $3.99. I’ve read the first book; it’s highly amusing. The premise is pretty clever. It’s set in a science-fiction universe in which various supernatural critters—werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc.—have become useful in outer...

Adblock Plus launches ‘Acceptable Ads’ campaign—but how many people will find any ad ‘acceptable’?
April 3, 2014 | 6:04 am

adblockplusAd-blocking browser plug-in Adblock Plus has released its criteria for “Acceptable Ads.” Though the blog post in which they announce them doesn’t say so, presumably an “Acceptable Ad” is one that Adblock Plus wouldn’t actually block (though the blog post, it should be noted, does not actually mention anything about a willingness on Adblock Plus’s part not to block such ads—which might just be because of one teensy problem with their definitions, which I cover below). These magical criteria are as follow: Acceptable Ads are not annoying. Acceptable Ads do not...

(Nearly) completely open laptop project launches crowdfunded production run
April 3, 2014 | 3:16 am

novena-1068_pledge-bodyIn January, I covered the hardware hackers who had created a design to build a completely open laptop computer from scratch—including designing and building their own custom circuit boards. It didn’t look terribly pretty, and it wasn’t cheap, but the designs were completely open and publicly available to all. They were planning to crowdfund the design and production of a more-streamlined version. At the time, I wondered what the crowdfunded version of the laptop would end up costing. Now we know. Wired reports that the campaign is ready to launch, and these custom machines are anything but cheap. You can purchase...

StoryBundle releases video game book bundle
April 2, 2014 | 7:47 pm

The Humble Indie Bundle started out selling video games, but branched out into e-books down the road. This makes it almost, but not quite, symmetrical that its competitor StoryBundle, who started with e-books all along, has now come out with a bundle of…e-books about video games. The base price for this bundle is $3, which gets you six DRM-free multiformat e-books, mostly non-fiction: How to Do Things With Videogames by Ian Bogost Atari Inc.: Business is Fun by Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel SCROLL: Collection 01-11 by Ray Barnholt...

Dropbox uses file hashes to comply with DMCA requests. So what?
April 2, 2014 | 2:50 am

Surprise! Dropbox has anti-piracy measures in place. You’ve probably seen the stories by now. When you right-click that file on your drive and ask for a public link that you can share so your friend can download it, Dropbox runs a hash on the file—it basically takes the file’s fingerprint by assigning a specific character to particular bits. If it finds that hash matches a list of hashes that have been declared verboten by DMCA request, it tells you that you can’t share it. (Likewise, it hashes files so that it can save space by only storing one copy of...

Beware the First of April!
March 31, 2014 | 6:26 pm

The dark time is upon us once again. Tomorrow marks April Fool’s Day. (In fact, in some parts of the world it’s April 1 already.) Remember to be careful believing and sharing what you read for the next few days until the joke posts age off the pages. If it seems too good (or too terrible) to be true, it probably is. (That said, Google’s AFD prank this year is as funny as usual. Google has a great knack for coming up with hilarious “pranks” there’s no way you’ll think are true.) And do try to catch some of...

Book editors really do edit books. Really! They’ll tell you so themselves!
March 30, 2014 | 3:18 am

find-an-editor1What does it say about what people think of you if you have to write a lengthy editorial insisting that, no, really, you actually do do your job? That’s how a piece by book editor Barry Harbaugh in The New Yorker comes off. Entitled, “Yes, Book Editors Edit,” it insists that, despite Amazon claiming otherwise, book editors at major publishers actually do edit books. The fact that this piece had to be written in the first place possibly says more than does the entire piece itself. Especially since there are just a few problems with it. ...

Amazon doesn’t know it’s supposed to fail
March 29, 2014 | 9:00 am

I happened upon a Bookseller piece by Agent Orange (who I’ve mentioned before) noting that UK publishers have been making a lot of noise about the putative foolishness of Amazon’s plans. It’s funny how they seem to keep doing that, and Amazon never seems to pay any attention, isn’t it? Agent Orange notes: It is depressing how often we have been here before. Publishers pour scorn and disregard on Amazon. Amazon presses on with its plans regardless (announcing it is massively expanding in the UK this coming year) and a year or two later publishers discover...