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Why I went for a Lenovo A7-10 instead of a Kindle Fire HD 6
June 24, 2015 | 4:16 pm

IMG_20150623_202217For some time now, I'd been toying with moving on from my Google Nexus 7 2012 edition. Partly it was the weight: at 340 grams, the Nexus 7 is a pretty porky beast for its size. Also, I wanted a cheap and cheerful tablet that I could sling in my pocket and not worry about, ready for use when I wanted to write something. The Nexus 7 was just a trifle too unwieldy for that, and too costly to be casual about. For a long time, I toyed with getting a Kindle Fire HD 6. Price was a big point in...

Cloud or external storage for your backups?
June 10, 2015 | 9:49 am

Calibre Portable travels with you on a USB stickMoved by the plight of a writer buddy who complained on Facebook about two external hard drives crapping out on him, and his laptop locking him out, I felt moved to raise the issue of what backup option works best. After all, a writer can lose reams of critically important work as a result of a tech meltdown (or, before Luddites start mocking, as a result of a house fire or a briefcase being inadvertently left at a station ...) So, let's look at the options. Hard drives and solid state storage are one possibility, seductive for those who worry over...

Camping Without Power: How Did It Go?
June 9, 2015 | 2:12 pm

camping without power[caption id="attachment_130117" align="alignright" width="300"] Can you tell we've drunk all the REI Kool-Aid?[/caption] We are back from our camping trip, and while we weren't entirely happy campers, that was because of the daily rain, not the power situation. I'd intended to take some pictures of us with our well-charged technology, but by the time I'd thought of it, we were well into our second day of non-stop rain. The lighting was just too bad for pictures. Instead, you'll just have to admire my comfy cot! As I had predicted, we had way more supplemental power than we needed. I had been concerned about...

The race to juice up the Raspberry Pi with Windows
May 31, 2015 | 7:36 pm

model-b-plus-300x225 The little Raspberry Pi is one of the best loved hobbyist basic PCs and programming kits, running cut-down versions of Linux on a board around the same size as a credit card - and at an incredibly low price. It's been through various iterations, and the latest Raspberry Pi 2 Model B with its ARMv7 processor has serious enough specs to be the core of a genuine desktop system, including a full suite of Ethernet, monitor, and USB ports. And if you're not seeing the ereader possibilities of this, think of a desktop you can carry around in a business card case. Earlier generations...

Getting Ready to Camp Without Power (sort of)
May 28, 2015 | 11:14 am

camping[caption id="attachment_129467" align="alignright" width="239"] Like our new tent?[/caption] I know. First world problem. Camping is supposed to be getting back to nature and unplugging, so why is camping without power even something to write about? Because my husband and I have grown to depend on our gadgets for both life and entertainment. Yesterday, my husband said, "I'm not sure this camping without power thing is going to work out." A tiny bit of context. We used to camp in a trailer, and we've almost always selected camp sites with electric (though we routinely got along without a water hook up). Last year, after...

Might subscriptions be the best option for tech news?
May 28, 2015 | 8:00 am

Not long after I posted my essay about how hard it is to make any money blogging, Bloomberg View has an article showing that even the major tech industry blogs face the same problem. Noting that Kara Swisher and Walter Mossberg’s Re/Code just sold itself to The Verge operator Vox Media after only 18 months, Bloomberg columnist Katie Benner suggests that the subscription or paywall model might be a better strategy for tech news sites in the long run. According to the article, Re/Code is only able to pull in 1.5 million unique views per month—not enough to satisfy...

Has your writing got rhythm? Find out with Typedrummer
May 14, 2015 | 12:25 pm

logoWriters: concerned about the rhythms and cadences in your sentences? Try plugging them into Typedrummer, an unique online wheeze that's basically a drum machine for text. Each letter is apparently keyed to a particular sound or beat, meaning that you can produce the most mind-destroying monotony by simply holding your finger on the same key. On the other hand, actual sentences yield more complex and actually attractive sounds. Created by Kyle Stetz, Typedrummer feels like one of the most insanely addictive ways to test your writing mettle. The resulting beat can be shared online from the site. And I can confirm...

Grim Fandango brings back one of gaming’s greatest stories
May 12, 2015 | 10:25 am

hallway  I realize that Teleread isn't a gaming site, but this once, it's worth making an exception for one of the greatest stories in computer gaming history. Set in the world of Mexican funerary traditions, Grim Fandango tells of Manny Calavera, travel agent at the Department of Death, who embarks on a noir-flavored adventure through the Land of the Dead for the sake of the lovely and virtuous Mercedes Colomar. And courtesy of Double Fine Productions, the whole tale has now been remastered for desktop and mobile OSs, resurrecting the story for a new generation, and is now available for both iOS...

The $9 computer is a thing with CHIP
May 11, 2015 | 4:25 pm

As a Scot, I'm periodically going to celebrate my parsimonious tendencies - and a new Kickstarter campaign has given me the chance to do just that. The CHIP project aims to put a full computer on a chip costing just $9. According to Next Thing Co., the creators, "at 1Ghz and with 512MB of DDR3 RAM, CHIP is powerful enough to run real software, and handle the demands of a full GUI just as well as it handles attached hardware. Best of all, CHIP runs mainline Linux, which means it’s easier than ever to keep teaching it new tricks without inheriting...

Universal Stylus Initiative pushes new standard for onscreen writing
April 27, 2015 | 12:25 pm

The Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) has been launched by a consortium of tech players "to develop and promote an industry specification for an active stylus." This seeks to establish "industry-wide standards for interoperable communication between an active stylus and touch-enabled devices such as phones, tablets, computing and entertainment platforms." Founding members include Dell, Intel, Lenovo, Sharp, Synaptics, and Wacom. For anyone skeptical about the appeal of onscreen writing, and particularly with active digitization, the USI has put some numbers against its plan. Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research, said in the announcement: "To date the market has been limited by proprietary touch controller-stylus solutions, which...

Android Wear update offers Wi-fi, new capabilities
April 22, 2015 | 4:25 pm

An announcement on the Google Official Blog has signaled the arrival of an update to Google's Android Wear smartwatch platform, which addresses some notable shortcomings of the series, particularly Wi-Fi support. "Now Android Wear supports watches with built-in Wi-Fi," states the blog. "As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you’ll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your favorite apps." Other improvements in the update include always-on screen apps, gesture control (wrist flicks to scroll through alerts), and emojis. The Wi-Fi update means that for...

Your new literary competitor: IBM Watson
April 21, 2015 | 12:25 pm

As if competition from the giant online slushpile wasn't enough, seriously writerly folk now have an even more alarming threat: computer-generated works. And if you're a cookery writer, this is now a genuine and serious prospect. Because IBM's artificial intelligence/cognitive computing system IBM Skynet ... oops, I mean IBM Watson ... has now been set to work on human gastronomy, in partnership with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), and has whipped up "a new book...introduced on April 14, 2015 – Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson. It features more than 65 original recipes exploding with irresistible new flavors developed by Watson...

Templates on way for Google Docs editing
April 21, 2015 | 10:25 am

Google Docs may not be the first choice of writing and editing software for all authors, especially compared to venerable Microsoft Word, but Google's free text productivity solution has a lot going for it - not least integration with Google Drive for cloud-based backups, and its privileged position on the ever-more-popular Chrome OS devices. Now thanks to a scoop on Android Police, it looks like we could have a headsup on template solutions in the offing for Google Docs. These speculations are based on teardowns - essentially forensic decompiling of a particular piece of software - of the APK packages for...

PC sales decline means what for Windows?
April 15, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Two more or less simultaneous research polls just released show sales of traditional PCs in significant decline, although actually surpassing the even more pessimistic expectations of analysts. As recorded in the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, "worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.5 million units in the first quarter of 2015 (1Q15), a year-on-year decline of -6.7 percent, and slightly ahead of previous projections." Gartner, meanwhile, recorded a 5.2 percent year-on-year quarterly decline in global PC shipments for 1Q15. With PC sales continuing to fall, ebook enthusiasts should be looking hard at their choice of reading platform for the future...

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...

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...

The Battle Over Digital Assets
February 13, 2015 | 10:25 am

digital assetsGigaOM has a great write-up about Facebook's new 'legacy contact' feature, a new settings preference for American users which lets you designate a person who can access your account to perform certain functions in the event of your death. It seems like a benign thing, but as the article points out, it may be a more devious new feature than it first appears. Law-makers in several states are in the process of creating 'digital assets' legislation to specifically address not just a Facebook account, but other digital accounts a person may have. Could Facebook be trying to exempt themselves from compliance...

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