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A Fallacy in the ‘Cloud’ Argument
October 1, 2014 | 3:12 pm

cloudI have carefully been avoiding the iOS 8 upgrade, following numerous reports from both the blog world and my own father-in-law about bugs, glitches and slowdowns. Yet somehow, something, somewhere on one of my many Mac products got upgraded, and now my Safari bookmarks are all messed up. And it has highlighted for me a fallacy in the whole 'beauty of the Cloud' argument that I had no considered before. I suspect the culprit was something in OS Mavericks---I turned on my computer one morning last week to find an ominous grey screen forcing me to 'update' my iCloud password before...

Jolicloud Drive adds cloud EPUB reading capability
June 30, 2014 | 11:30 am

Origin 6302014 111244 AMJolicloud was originally conceived as a web-based “operating system.” The web version of it showed the same home screen, with all the same web apps, that a user might have configured on the Ubuntu-based JoliOS operating system for computers or tablets. The problem was that apparently the JoliOS Linux operating system never really became popular enough to support, and Joli discontinued it. Since then, it seems to have been casting about for something to keep it from being just another collection of bookmarks to web apps. It has renamed itself “Drive,” and now bills itself as a way...

App Review: Google Play Books for Android
June 17, 2014 | 12:19 pm

Screenshot_2014-06-17-10-57-52I hadn’t paid much attention to Google Play Books before. I’d installed and even paid for readers like Aldiko and Moon+ (TeleRead review), and snagged a couple freeish ones like UB Reader, but Play Books just sat in my app drawer, unused, like most of the pack-in Google apps. But when I came across this Lifehacker piece calling it “the best e-reader for Android,” I figured it was worth trying out. And darned if I don’t by and large agree. Offering a simple and easy-to-use reading interface and cloud reading-position sync with all books, Google Play Books is...

Google Play Books adds from-device uploading in impending update
December 11, 2013 | 11:16 am

Android Police notes that Google Play Books has gotten an update that allows you to upload e-books into its cloud directly from your device, rather than being restricted to doing it only via the web site. I hadn’t realized Google Books could do cloud storage of your own e-books at all, but given that Google Play Music does cloud storage of your MP3s, I suppose I should have guessed. Need to see about trying that out. There are a few other improvements, too, like landscape mode, lower brightness settings for low-light reading, and so on. The update probably won’t...

Is Merging All Your Online Services Into One Ecosystem a Good Idea?
October 19, 2013 | 10:20 am

data integration As a Goodreads user, I was intrigued by the growing data integration Goodreads is enjoying with the Kindle ecosystem now that Amazon owns Goodreads too. It would be handy, I mused, to be able to rate and review books right from the Kindle. But...I guess that if you weren't a Goodreads user, all the unfilled in stars and the prompts to comment might just be visual clutter, wouldn't they? Two other recent episodes give me pause on the growing drive to merge all your online services into one uber-ecosystem. Call it Amazon, call it Google or Facebook or iTunes, it's the...

Morning Roundup: Facebook ‘likes’ and the first amendment; E-readers ‘more effective’ for some dyslexic readers; more
September 20, 2013 | 8:42 am

Cloud Customers Have Bigger Worries than NSA Gate (GigaOM) Nirvanix’ fast shutdown spooks current and would-be cloud storage customers more than the prospect of government spying. At least for now. *** Questions (and Answers) from the Society of Scholarly Publishing (The Scholarly Kitchen) Consider today’s post a bit of shameless self-promotion if you will, but at last summer’s SSP meeting many attendees were shanghaied into a side room and asked about their experiences and thoughts on scholarly publishing. The results are below: *** Yes, a Facebook 'Like' is Protected by the First Amendment (Techdirt) Last year we wrote about a troubling case, in which a district court...

Google donates cloud computing patents to non-aggression pact
August 10, 2013 | 12:00 pm

1266961996_patent-symbolHere's an interesting story, via our friends at GigaOM: Google, in an effort to protect innovators experimenting with 'cloud' computing from nuisance patent lawsuits, has donated 79 of its patents to general use by others. As the article explains: On Thursday, the company designated 79 more patents to be part of its “Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge,” which amounts to a non-aggression pact under which anyone can use the technology described in the patents—anyone, that is, who doesn’t use patents to attack Google first. I find this a fascinating move on Google's part. How many...

The Bloom is Off the ‘Cloud’ Rose: How Google went from essential to evil in one short week
March 20, 2013 | 4:27 pm

GoogleIf there is one thing that writing about technology has taught me, it's that things change, fast. People lament the publishing  'power' of Amazon and they forget that before Amazon, Fictionwise was the e-book destination. Remember Hotmail? Not the leader now, are they? Remember Netscape? Also gone. Things change, fast. And here is my latest example. A week ago, I spent probably 80 percent of my online time on Google products. I used Google Drive to store documents and work on them at home and at school. I used Gmail and Google Calendar for both contacts and scheduling, YouTube for video watching, Google Reader for...

Google to close down Google Reader as of July 1
March 13, 2013 | 10:19 pm

Google ReaderThere is a risk to relying on cloud services, as I’ve found to my chagrin time and again: they may not always be there when you need them. Etherpad servers have crashed, taking the only copy of my writing with them. Web-based IM service Meebo shut down, leaving me scrambling to find a replacement. And now comes the latest blow: Google plans to close down its Google Reader RSS reader service (along with a number of other, lesser-used services) as of July 1. I used Google Reader exclusively to find stories to reblog when I was writing more actively here—I would...

Buy Once, Sync Anywhere: Could it really be that simple?
December 4, 2012 | 8:23 pm

The UK-based startup known as ValoBox has been in business for a little over a month now—it launched just a few days before Halloween of this year. To explain the basics of the company's business model in layman's terms, it essentially offers two different digital reading services that seem fairly compelling, at least at first glance: It sells e-books on a 'pay-as-you-go' system, allowing readers to purchase, say, a single page or a single chapter of a book. And it makes those books available to read via a Web browser on your computer, your tablet, your smartphone ... anything with a browser, really....

The Risks of Cloud-Based E-Books
August 8, 2012 | 9:34 pm

As keen as I am on library e-books, I’m as much a booster of the buyable variety. I want people to be able to own e-books for real, ideally without DRM. More and more of our books, music, and even personal files, however, are in The Cloud beyond our direct control. Not on our desktops, smartphones or tablets, but on remote severs, maybe thousands of miles from us, perhaps even continents and oceans away. What’s more, this issue has library angles as well. Steve Wozniak, Apple cofounder, has warned about the pitfalls of cloud computing in general, and a security breach of Apple’s iCloud only reinforced his point. All...

Amazon cloud music player lines up label licenses
June 13, 2012 | 8:53 pm

CNet reports that Amazon is closing licensing deals with record labels to cover its cloud music service, Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. According to an anonymous source, it has already come to agreements with Universal Music Group, EMI, and Sony Music Entertainment, and is in talks with Warner Music Group. Although Amazon launched its services without licenses, touting fair use rights for users to upload and stream their own content, getting licensed would mean Amazon could add new features that go beyond fair use. While we don't know what new features Amazon will offer, the...

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