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Other posts by Paul St John Mackintosh

Android One strengthens Google’s emerging markets armlock
September 22, 2014 | 12:25 pm

androidone5-600x400Announced at the the Google I/O 2014 development conference in June 2014, Android One is Google's new reference platform for emerging markets, with a sub-$100 price tag and solid hardware specs, including a 4.5″ screen, dual SIM slots, SD card port, FM radio, etc. Wasting no time, Google has already brought the new platform to market, via initial product releases in India from Karbonn, Micromax and Spice Smart Phones. The new handsets are already attracting some good reviews, with strong marks for the critical areas of screens, performance, and above all, the solid qualities of the stock Android OS iteration basic to Android One. "Always the latest...

Android accelerates away from Apple
September 22, 2014 | 10:25 am

switch from ios to androidA recent article on Android Central entitled "The Insane Pace of Android" encapsulates a lot of what's going on in the Android ecosystem - and why that should be a first concern among anyone looking to buy or upgrade a mobile device. Apple is basically eating Android's dust. Especially in dusty Third World countries outside the U.S., which may not be the first concern among Wall Street money guys - either in their stock picks or their buying choices - but which add up to a user base that is dwarfing iOS, and outdistancing it more every day. "There's an entirely...

Scottish literature after the referendum
September 21, 2014 | 2:29 pm

The referendum on Scottish independence gave Scottish literature, and Scottish culture, greater prominence as a separate force in the English-speaking world than at any time in recent decades. Arguably, that's no less than the post-war generations of writers that have numbered Iain Banks, Alasdair Gray, Edwin Morgan, and Irvine Welsh deserves. But the dissipation of all the hope and optimism of the Yes campaign on September 18th, and the recriminations afterwards against the British establishment, are darkening the mood and cbecking a lot of that impetus. Alasdair Gray himself described the result in Scotland's The Herald as "a great pity"...

Inside the Swedish Writers’ Union
September 20, 2014 | 10:22 am

While at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, I met with the vice chair of the Swedish Writers' Union (Sveriges Författarförbund), Sweden's formal and officially sanctioned support institution for writers, in the context of discussions on official support for writers. The Swedish Writers' Union is "the central professional organisation for writers and literary translators in Sweden," as their materials state. "We safeguard the economic and moral interests of our members by defending freedom of expression and of the press, and keeping up to date with copyright stipulations and the laws regulating copyright." This is the feedback they gave me on how their body operates. "To become a...

Interview with Peter Watts
September 19, 2014 | 4:08 pm

Style: "Neutral"I asked Peter Watts, author of the brilliant and genre-redefining science fiction novels Blindsight and Echopraxia, a few questions about his own working methods and the genre (or genres) he works in. Here are his responses. TeleRead: Do you see any ingrown shortcomings in the genre/subgenre you work in, and do you try to correct those? Peter Watts: I don't think I'm competent to answer this question; I'm not sufficiently familiar with the genre to make valid generalizations about its shortcomings. One of the few things that really bugs me about my life at this point is that I don't get much...

Apple Watch shows Cupertino has lost the plot
September 18, 2014 | 12:25 pm

AppleFor anyone following the checkered history of digital wearables and smartwatches, the advent of the Apple Watch drips with bathos. It's like watching a flabby, ageing Mr. Incredible-style former superhero lumber up for the big confrontation, only to discover it's all over. Apple's days of identifying and defining entire new consumer product categories are long in the past. The window was wide open for years, well signposted, speculated on - and Apple missed it. Financial markets and analysts alike were less than overwhelmed by the Apple Watch and the companion iPhone 6. The Register tracked Apple's stock price initially hiking to $102.92...

Step on up, Lovecraftians, for the S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship
September 17, 2014 | 2:25 pm

An interesting opportunity has arisen for horror, dark fiction, and Lovecraftian writers and aficionados: The S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship, "for research relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs," is being offered by Brown University. The Fellowship "was established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press," and is "named for S. T. Joshi, Brown alumnus (’80, MA ’82)  and prominent Lovecraft scholar," and is designed to support a six-week research period at the John Hay Library, "home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world," with a $2,500 stipend. "Located in historic Providence, Rhode Island...

Styluses in the cheap seats
September 17, 2014 | 10:25 am

IMG_20140916_180514As I reported a while ago, premium brand pen manufacturers are at last catching on to the message that styluses are an increasingly popular, and stylish, commodity. Luckily for those of us not in the One Percent, though, they also seem to be improving at the bottom end of the market, with increasingly cheaper and better choices available for the normal user. I'm not getting paid anything for endorsing these, because who would do that for such cheap items? Rather, they're just stylus options that I found outclassed the opposition as anything other than status symbols. One option is the Bic...

The 2014 Forbes sick list – or, why shit pays
September 15, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Let's kick this off with one comment from a writer - a fairly successful and well-respected one. As H.L. Mencken said: "No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." And if you needed proof, here it is: The 2014 Forbes list of the World's Top-Earning Authors. "The top-earning authors list is perhaps the world’s most exclusive book club, with very few paths to entry," writes Forbes staffer Natalie Robehmed. Oops, silly me: There was I thinking the Nobel Prize in Literature was...

Shock, horror: Techology doesn’t destroy reading habits, younger generation not cabbages
September 15, 2014 | 12:25 pm

reading habitsIn news that will come as no comfort to Jonathan Franzen and other Luddite technophobes, the Pew Research Internet Project has found that if anything, younger Americans are more likely to read books than their immediate seniors, have more respect for offline/dead-tree sources of knowledge, and are at least as involved with their local libraries as their elders. "Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%)," says the Pew Research summary. "Despite their embrace of technology, 62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is 'a lot of useful, important...

Planet Agent’s guide to UK agents already in firing line
September 15, 2014 | 10:25 am

agent hunter transparency-index-graphic1The UK "database of all UK literary agents, their agencies and publishers" Agent Hunter has released research, summarized in the form of the infographic included here, on the state of the UK agenting environment that has already attracted complaints and objections. As quoted by The Bookseller, the president of the Association of Authors Agents, Sam Edenborough, has protested that Agent Hunter is making “shrill criticisms.” Agent Hunter's claim is that "We’ve taken the massive amount of data on our site and produced the first ever comprehensive analysis of Planet Agent." The negative comments in the analysis focus on the exclusivity, lack...

Cause for concern for copyright holders over EU DG Market Commission roles?
September 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

bookstoreSome alarmed articles have been put about about the transfer of the European Commission copyright portfolio to Commissioner-designate for the Digital Agenda, German Guenther Oettinger, who inherits this from the Internal Market & Services Directorate General (DG Market) arm, where it was siloed in units D1 and D3, according to a report in The Guardian. Oettinger will now oversee an office known hitherto as DG Connect, to be renamed DG Digital Economy and Society. Since Oettinger's predecessor Neelie Kroes was widely criticized by publishing and creative industries figures as too friendly to technology groups at the expense of rights-holders, it's hard to...