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Chris Meadows

Tor and BitLit offer discounted e-books to print book owners
May 4, 2015 | 11:53 am

bitlitTor has just announced it will be using BitLit to make DRM-free e-books of TorForge titles available at a discount to people who can prove they own the physical version of the book. It joins HarperCollins, which began using the program last year. BitLit is an iOS or Android smartphone app that allows readers who can prove they own a physical copy of a book to buy the e-book version at a discounted price. It works by taking “shelfies”—shelf-by-shelf photos of your bookshelves with the spines out—and then attempting to recognize which books you own. Once it’s matched one,...

Why own media when you can rent the library?
April 30, 2015 | 2:51 pm

eatIs ownership of media passé? Over the last few years, I’ve noticed an interesting trend develop. It started with music, as “all-you-can-eat” services like Pandora and Spotify popped up to offer users a chance to listen to as much music as they wanted either free with advertising, or for a small monthly fee. Amazon, Google, and Apple soon followed suit. Then came video, as the holy trinity of Netflix, Hulu, and (again) Amazon launched streaming video services for television and movies. Next, it moved into e-books, with Oyster, Scribd, and, yes, Amazon launching services. (Amazon doesn’t seem...

Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now
April 23, 2015 | 5:52 pm

Hugo-Awards-logoThe Hugo Puppies affair proceeds apace. As it will for at least the rest of this year, and probably the next as well. Everyone is having their say, and some excellent things have been written about the whole matter lately. I’ll get to those in a moment. The Internet Breaks the Hugos Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No,...

Gen Con, other businesses displeased with new Indiana religious freedom law
March 26, 2015 | 2:36 pm

protestAs I’ve said before, Gen Con’s reputation as the largest gaming convention in North America eclipses its status as one of the largest writing conventions in North America, offering guidance on all aspects of writing and publishing. On Monday, March 23, Gen Con’s CEO sent a letter (PDF) to Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence, warning that a controversial religious freedom bill he was about to sign into law would affect Gen Con’s decision whether to stay in Indianapolis past the expiration of its contract in 2020. This morning, Governor Pence signed that bill. I covered the particulars in a post...

Boxes of writing ideas: The Storymatic and Rory’s Story Cubes
March 14, 2015 | 11:53 am

IMG_20150314_103250On the Internet, it can be a thin line between reading and writing, especially if you take part in one of the many shared writing universes that float around. But sometimes people who want to write need sources of inspiration. That’s where writing workshopping tools come in. I already reviewed a book discussing how to use tarot cards for workshopping writing ideas, and that’s a fine thing as far as it goes. But tarot cards’ greatest strength—their rich depth of symbolism—can also be a weakness for writers new to tarot, since they might well spend more time puzzling over...

HP Stream 7: A mediocre tablet but a great micro-laptop
March 7, 2015 | 6:29 pm

IMG_20150305_180333372_HDRI’ve had this HP Stream 7 tablet for a couple of days, and my first impression is that it’s fairly mediocre from a tablet standpoint, but it seems like a terrific micro-laptop. With one major caveat I’m still inclined to look upon it as a great bargain at $79—especially since it included a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take the tablet off their hands. I have come across one showstopper bug that colors my whole experience: its Wi-Fi adapter seems notably finicky....

Microsoft offers $79 HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet
March 5, 2015 | 1:58 am

hpstream7If you’ve ever thought you might like to try a Windows tablet, but didn’t want to risk a significant cash outlay, Microsoft is currently offering a great deal on a name-brand tablet. Microsoft.com has the HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $79, including a one-year personal subscription to Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take it off their hands! The tablet has a 1.33GHz Bay Trail quad-core Intel Atom chip, 1 gig of RAM, and 32 gigs onboard storage. Unlike the Windows RT Surface tablets,...

Grim and gritty Power Rangers fan film brings fanfic back into legal spotlight
February 25, 2015 | 7:27 am

power-rangers-video-124799A new legal battle over fanfic might be shaping up. In the last couple of days, music video director Joseph Kahn and producer Adi Shankar released a 15-minute short film reimagining Power Rangers as a grim and gritty dark future drama a la Pacific Rim. The film stars name actors, including James Van Der Beek, Katee Sackhoff, and Die Another Day’s Will Yun Lee. And it almost immediately ran into legal trouble. A “NSFW” version (violence, language, nudity) was up on Vimeo for a few hours before getting taken down by a DMCA infringement notice from Saban. A safe-for-work...

Wall Street Journal blasts Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich for overcharging, malfeasance
February 18, 2015 | 7:13 am

Well, there goes the Wall Street Journal again. In a paywalled opinion piece (just Google “All Along the Apple Watchtower” to read it), the Journal once again takes aim at Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich. The editorial complains, among other things, of Bromwich’s $1,100 per hour fee being too high, that he’s ranging farther afield than his mandate should allow, that he’s in bed with the Justice Department, and, of course, that he’s a close personal friend of Judge Cote. It really is a piece of work. For example, giving Bromwich’s rates in isolation, and the $2.35...

Audible.com offers great audiobooks, lousy player applications
February 14, 2015 | 10:45 am

Audible has a great selection of audiobook downloads, and reasonable prices—especially if you buy during one of their frequent sales, using the discount offer for buying them together with certain Kindle e-books, or using one of their monthly credits. But since Audible’s books contain DRM, in some respect they are only as good as their player—which, sadly, is not all that great. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. It’s something I can do during the parts of my day job that don’t require a lot of brainpower, and it’s fun to hear a good book reading....

Interactive graphic novel Midnight Rises by John Scalzi interacts with new mobile shooter game
February 5, 2015 | 6:07 pm

midnightrisesInteractive book apps may not yet have set the world on fire, but there is at least one place for them—as an adjunct to video games. On January 28, 2015, Industrial Toys LLC released Midnight Rises, an interactive graphic novel application for iOS. The e-comic serves as a prelude to Midnight Star, a mobile shooter game which Industrial Toys LLC released for iOS today. (Both applications are expected to come to Android “sometime soon.”) Midnight Rises was written by John Scalzi, with art by Mike Choi and music by Serj Tankian. The first chapter is free; the next two are 99...

Minimum wage hike puts San Francisco bookstore Borderlands Books out of business
February 4, 2015 | 6:52 am

BorderlandsBooks1Is the real danger to bookstores minimum wage hikes? News broke the other day that a beloved San Francisco bookstore, Borderlands Books, will be closing because it will no longer be able to operate at a profit. It was barely hanging on, but the recent minimum wage hike to $15 an hour would drive it into the red. In an explanation on its web site, Borderlands writes: Many businesses can make adjustments to allow for increased wages.  The cafe side of Borderlands, for example, should have no difficulty at all.  Viability is simply a matter...

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