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Other posts by Paul St John Mackintosh

Stephen King takes a rod to the rich
March 28, 2015 | 3:23 pm

king-thumb.jpgStephen King is anything but my favorite horror writer - and after all, he can afford to ignore my snark. Literally. And that's precisely the point. But in that regard, he just substantially redeemed himself in my eyes - with a scathing and passionately profane article in The Daily Beast on just what he thinks the taxation policy towards his c.$400 million celebrity net worth ought to be. Just as a reminder, the context was a radio address by Paul R. LePage (R.), Governor of King's home state of Maine, claiming that the celebrated author had moved out of state because...

Clean Reader, the auto-censor of mealy-mouthed dreams
March 27, 2015 | 10:25 am

Clean Reader, the ereader app that "prevents swear words in books from being displayed on your screen," looks almost old news now, since it's already been hit by such a shitstorm of the profanity it professes to screen out that it's likely to find the going very difficult from here on. For one thing, Smashwords has come out publicly against the app, which comes only second to a boycott by Kindle in terms of stopping an ebook-linked product in its tracks. Smashwords' Mark Coker said: Books are works of art, and the art is manifested by the author's word choice. You...

Lovecraftian beer to rise from the deep with Innsmouth Olde Ale
March 26, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Rhode Island’s Narragansett Beer, which has already paid tribute to the Ocean State's favorite squamous stepchild, H.P. Lovecraft, with its delirious Lovecraft Honey Ale, is now planning to roll out (the barrel with) another Lovecraftian potation: Innsmouth Olde Ale. Latest in its Lovecraft Series, the new brew is due to debut on April 13th. Lovecraft's celebrated "The Shadow over Innsmouth" is a natural for the kind of creative riff that Narragansett seems to be specializing in these days - although the original decaying and depraved seaport of Innsmouth was supposedly located in Massachusetts, not Rhode Island. For one thing, Neil Gaiman's...

Contest inn-vites you to write your way… inn
March 26, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Here's one of the most delightful literary contests you could ever want to participate in - and all for a mere 200 words. Janice Sage, current owner and innkeeper of the charming Center Lovell Inn in southwestern Maine, is holding an essay competition to select the new owner and designated innkeeper of the premises. Full detailed contest rules are available here. Janice Sage is, if anything, upholding a tradition with her contest. "Have you ever dreamed of owning a Country Inn and restaurant in New England?" she asks. "Well, here is your chance! Located in southwestern Maine overlooking the White Mountains is The...

ALA awards Lemony Snicket Prize to Ferguson public librarian
March 26, 2015 | 12:25 pm

The American Library Association has announced the award of the the second annual Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity to Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Public Library in Missouri. The award, co-founded by Daniel Handler, author of the Lemony Snicket books, and "co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact." Bonner was honored for his work in keeping the Ferguson Public Library open in August 2014 during the riots and other unrest which followed the shooting of unarmed teenager Mike...

So much for the myth of distracting digital devices: Distraction may actually help creativity
March 25, 2015 | 10:25 am

Anti-ebook device-hating Luddites are probably not going to like to hear this, but a new piece of research suggests that the kind of distractions from email, social media, and other extraneous inputs that they rail against may actually boost your creativity. The study, entitled "Creativity and sensory gating indexed by the P50: Selective versus leaky sensory gating in divergent thinkers and creative achievers," published in Neuropsychologia by the Northwestern University team of  Darya L. Zabelina, Daniel O’Leary, Narun Pornpattananangkul, Robin Nusslock, and Mark Beeman, has found evidence that an openness to distraction "may help people integrate ideas that are outside of focus of...

Cyanogen announces $80 million funding round
March 24, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Cyanogen, creators of (almost) everybody's favorite alternative iteration of the basic Android mobile OS, has announced "the completion of an $80 million round of Series C financing," led by Premji Invest and including existing investors Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, and Tencent Holdings Ltd. More interesting, perhaps, is the list of "new strategic investors" now participating in the round, including " Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm Incorporated, Telefónica Ventures, Smartfren Telecom, Index Ventures, Access Industries (the US-based industrial group headed by Len Blavatnik), Rupert Murdoch, Vivi Nevo, and several yet to be announced partners." A Series C financing round for a venture capital-backed company...

Weirdbook Magazine relaunches
March 24, 2015 | 10:25 am

Weirdbook Magazine, one of the more celebrated and imaginative titles of the science fiction New Wave and modern-day resurrection of weird fiction, is now relaunching, with what claims to be Issue #31 - albeit after a very long hiatus. As explained in Michael Ashley's Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-fiction Magazines from 1970 to 1980, Weirdbook Magazine first appeared in 1968, and "as a rare market for new weird fiction, it attracted pieces from new writers." Co-founder W. Paul Ganley "sustained Weirdbook for a remarkable 30 years, winning two World Fantasy Awards for his efforts." Paul Ganley is still on...

Elliptic Labs announces the mother of all screen swipes
March 23, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Elliptic Labs, who I covered last year about their Touchless Gesture Recognition Engine, has just announced the latest step forward in its technology: "‘Ultra-fast Ultra-far Interaction’; split-second speed and a remarkably large field of response for touchless gesturing." According to the announcement, Elliptic Labs' "ultrasonic gesture technology has been made exponentially faster, allowing devices to precisely respond a fraction of a second after gesture commands are given." Elliptic now claims to offer technology that works up to 2 meters (7 ft) away from and 180 degrees around a device screen. According to Elliptic Labs CEO Laila Danielsen, "This technology first is an excellent...

Education alliance urges Congress to support dedicated school library funding
March 23, 2015 | 12:25 pm

Congress_large_extra_large.jpgThe American Library Association (ALA) has announced its support for "a coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations and media groups―including Scholastic Inc., ESCO Information Services and the Association of American Publishers" which has just sent a letter to the U.S. Congress "to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which provides federal funding for national K-12 education programs." The coalition's letter "asks Congress to incorporate the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act in ESEA reauthorization, which would expand federal investment in school libraries in order to offer students the...

Inkshares introduces Inkshares Credits to publishing crowdfunding system
March 23, 2015 | 10:25 am

I previously covered Inkshares, which purports to be "both a book publisher and crowdfunding platform," acting as  sort of bridge between the Smashwords style of self-publishing platform and the crowdfunding publication approaches that you see on Indiegogo and elsewhere. Now the platform has announced "a unique feature to both crowdfunding and publishing: Inkshares Credits—a rewards system that reinvests the sales success of books published back into the readers who made a book's publication possible." Inskhares explains: Inkshares Credits can be used to back a book project or purchase any book on the Inkshares platform. As a full-service publisher, any book project that...

My experience so far with Android Lollipop 5.1
March 22, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Screenshot_2015-03-21-07-50-24 Previously I posted about my experience on my Nexus 7 2012 edition with the Android 5.0 Lollipop upgrade. And my first positive impressions of the new Android iteration got a lot of negative response. So here goes again. My machine has just upgraded to Android Lollipop 5.1, and here is my experience so far. Do bear in mind that my first good experience with Android 5.0 Lollipop got a lot more frustrating later on, with long lags switching between apps, frequent "not responding" messages, etc. I don't know whether this was some kind of accumulation of cruft or similar cumulative problems,...