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Review: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
December 22, 2013 | 11:11 am

coverI finished reading Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, which I mentioned in my post yesterday. I quite enjoyed it. Even though I read the news reports of the events it describes as they happened, you don’t get the big picture until you read a book like this, that looks back and puts everything together in the proper context. The book covers the development of the iPhone and Android phones, touches on the iPad and what it meant, goes over the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit, and then wraps up...

Office Max store closings offer bargain tablet, e-reader opportunities
December 22, 2013 | 7:35 am

CAM00515[Bumped due to factual correction.] Looking for a good tablet bargain? Check out your local Office Max or Office Depot store—it’s possible you might find one that’s going out of business. Offices Max and Depot merged this year, and my local Office Max store is closing. (Probably because it’s right down the street from an Office Depot.) An employee at the store told me this closure was due to the merger. I have since been contacted by a representative of Office Depot who said that no closures have been announced and any closures are “part of the...

The iPhone made Google rethink Android
December 21, 2013 | 10:12 pm

The Atlantic is carrying an excerpt from Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution. I found it interesting enough that I actually bought the book and have been reading through it, and will probably have more to say on that in a day or so. This except, from Chapter 2, talks about Google’s reaction to Apple’s iPhone launch. Essentially, they were poleaxed by Jobs’s demonstration. (How little they knew—Chapter 1 covered how that first iPhone demonstration was carefully stage-managed to disguise the fact that their demonstrator phone was half-baked with a...

Google has a new reason for you to use Google Plus
December 17, 2013 | 12:15 pm

google plusGoogle has been doing everything they can to get users to sign up for Google Plus. They require customers who want to leave a review in Google Play to join, they make it difficult to leave YouTube comments, and every time I have set up an Android device Google has pestered me to sign up for their social network. So far none of these tricks have worked on me, but Google's next program just might. College Humor has posted a new video for Google Blackmail. You may think that no one knows all of your dirty secrets, but Google does. And if...

Deal alert! 2013 Nexus 7 tablets, $40-$50 off
December 12, 2013 | 7:30 pm

Here’s a great deal on the 2013 Nexus 7. Office Depot has the 16 GB version for $180, $50 off list (sold out online; in-store pickup only), and the 32 GB version for $230, $40 off the $270 list (currently available both on-line and in-store). Sale ends 12/21. Of course, sales tax will apply to those purchases if you’re in a state where Office Depot has stores. (Amazon at one point listed the 32 GB 7 for $239 with free shipping, which would be better than $230 + tax, but the price and stock seem to fluctuate throughout the day...

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...

Google Auto Awesome may be a bit too automatic
December 9, 2013 | 7:40 pm

Screenshot_2013-12-09-16-14-32How far is going too far to get consumers interested in your services? It’s a question Google must have to ask itself repeatedly. Sometimes, as with the Google+ privacy debacle of a couple years back, they get it wrong. And I ran into another possible case of it this morning. I’ve been trying out the Nexus 7 that my brother got for his 3-year-old daughter to play with. It’s a nice little machine, has Android 4.4 Kit Kat on it, and makes my Nook HD look like my Nook HD made my Zeepad look in terms of speed. I might just...

Review: Google Chromecast
December 5, 2013 | 6:11 pm

CAM00395-1I’ve had my Google Chromecast for a couple of days now. I’ve unboxed it for YouTube, and I’ve written up a lengthy review for Answers.com. To summarize, by and large, it’s a great little device. In some ways not as useful as the Roku yet (in particular, no Amazon Prime or local media streaming), in other ways it blows the little black box right out of the water. One of the Chromecast’s biggest advantages is when it comes to searching media. With the Roku, and many other devices like it, you have to plink your title into the search...

Booklamp and discoverability: Nice try, but still has serious shortcomings
November 30, 2013 | 12:14 pm

A random comment on an IRC channel today recalled my attention to Booklamp, and the Book Genome Project, which we’ve mentioned a few times in years gone by. It’s been a couple of years since it was introduced, and I decided to take another look at the site and see what it looks like. Booklamp is a means of tackling the discoverability problem: how do you find a book you might want to read in the modern world, when you might not often visit a library or even bestir yourself away from your computer? I certainly can’t fault it...

Queens library members can start borrowing tablets next week
November 15, 2013 | 4:52 pm

Nexus 7 People in Queens, N.Y. will be able to use tablets for free starting next week. Google donated 17,000 Nexus 7 tablets to the New York State Community Action Association, and Queens Library received 5,000 of those units. The library is going to lend the tablets to library card- customers starting Nov. 20. The tablets will be at seven Queens locations, and customers can borrow them for a month with the option of three renewals, according to InfoDocket. The tablets will come with pre-loaded content with educational information, resources for job searching, computer skills training, immigration and citizenship information and more. The tablets will...

Judge Chin dismisses suit over Google Books mass scanning as fair use, setting stage for appeal
November 14, 2013 | 8:26 pm

Juli already mentioned the big news of the day: Google has prevailed in the Authors Guild’s copyright case against it for scanning millions of books for its Google Books project. Judge Chin determined that Google Books constituted a fair use, granted Google’s motion for a summary judgment, and dismissed the case. But let’s look at the background a little. This ruling comes a few months after an appeals court ruled back at the beginning of July that Judge Chin needed to hold up on deciding whether the Authors Guild could claim class action status and look at the fair...

Ada’s Technical Books shows how bookstores can survive in an e-book world
November 8, 2013 | 12:39 pm

adas-booksHere’s an interesting story about a Seattle bookstore that’s moving into new quarters—the quarters used by an old Seattle bookstore that moved. Ada’s Technical Books is moving into the old Horizon Books house. The article has plenty of interesting detail about the renovations made to the old house, including adding plenty of outlets for laptop use, but the part that I found most notable was this: [Co-owner and manager Danielle] Hulton had never worked as a bookseller before, and she credits Ada's success in part to her lack of experience in the field. She sounds...