Tiny wearable camera, rubber band loom, Picklemeister [Gadgets 005]

In each episode of Gadgets the editors and friends of Boing Boing recommend technology they love and use. This time Xeni, Jason, and Mark talk about superior shoelace replacements, a rubber band loom, a wearable camera, a krautmaker, a handheld marine VHF radio, and a fitness tracker with a 1-year battery. Plus a great website for finding free fonts.

Read the rest

DMQZ - post apocalyptic crime novel, free Kindle

I just grabbed DMQZ, a free Kindle novel, on a recommendation. Sounds a bit like the excellent Last Policeman.

In the wake of the global pandemic known as the "little dormouse," the line between the Safe Zone and the Quarantine Zone divides New York City. The shores and waters of the East River are the "DMQZ," the uninhabited area that separates uninfected Manhattan from the slowly dying borough of Brooklyn.

Jacob Hale is a Manhattan police officer rising in the ranks of the Safe Zone military government until a bank heist gone wrong lands him on suspension and under suspicion. On a quest to clear his good name, Hale finds himself drawn into a web of conspiracy, terrorism, and revolt - and into the orbit of a mysterious woman who may be the key to it all.

DMQZ

Itsy Bitsy - free horror ebook by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Itsy Bitsy is a free 78-page Kindle story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Swedish horror writer of Let the Right One In. I have not read it yet, but from the description below it sounds like a paparazzo gets punished, so I am looking forward to reading it. A young celebrity lives on my street and the paparazzi tear up and down it like maniacs. One day they are going to kill a pedestrian.

Destined to become a modern classic, the short story Itsy Bitsy is guaranteed to make you think twice before you take a picture of someone in a bikini. In this creepy shocker, horror author superstar John Ajvide Lindqvist gives new meaning to punishing the paparazzi.
Itsy Bitsy

MAD #1 is free as a Kindle e-book

My friend Jon Lebkowsky (an editor at bOING bOING and the co-founder of Fringe Ware) says, "Your Popeye post sent me to Amazon, where I discovered you can acquire old original issues of Mad Magazine (and various other comics, including Batman #1 and Superman #1) for the Kindle. Best of all, Mad #1 is free!" (It's also free on Comixology)

Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic, a Kindle Serial

Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: the Thirteenth Rib by David J. Schwartz is the first Kindle Serial I've tried. Serials are one time purchases episodically delivered as the author completes shorter installments.

Kindle Serials hold the hope of performing like an old time radio show. I enjoy looking forward to them.

Very much in the vein of the Magicians by Lev Grossman, Gooseberry Bluff is set in a future where magic is real and taught. The first episode hooked me as a Federal Bureau of Magic agent is sent undercover to investigate a community college professor's disappearance, apparently related to a larger demonic summoning/terrorist plot.

Schwartz uses 30-40 page installments to develop the story very well. I hope this format catches on.

Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: the Thirteenth Rib by David J. Schwartz

Kindle user claims Amazon deleted whole library without explanation

When your Kindle is wiped by Amazon without explanation, refund, or appeal, it’s time to wake up and realize the truth: ebook readers treat you as a tenant-farmer of your books, not an owner. You have no rights, only a license-agreement that runs to thousands of words, and that you’ll never fully satisfy.

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Kindle Paperwhite reviewed

Joshua Topolsky, representing the consensus: "Amazon wants to make great reading devices for the masses, and with the Paperwhite, they just took the game to a whole new level."

"Start reading Why the Kindle Will Fail on your Kindle"


Rick Munarriz's 2007 Why the Kindle will Fail is now free of charge to Prime members. [Amazon via John Moltz]

Kindle Fire half of all Android tablets

The Kindle Fire by far outsells tablets running more standard cuts of Android. Adds MG Siegler: "Google planned to take 33% of the total tablet market in 2011. Yet they barely have 33% of the Android tablet market." [Electronista via parislemon] Rob

Amazon strong-arms Independent Publishers' Group, yanks all titles from the Kindle store

Eileen Gunn sez, "Amazon, seeking to force independent book distributor IPG to accept a new, less favorable contract, has struck out at all the publishers and authors whose books are distributed by IPG. Not to mention all the readers with Kindles: You want a Kindle version of the American Cancer Society Nutrition Guide? You're out of luck at Amazon. Maybe you should have bought a Nook."

Or maybe the distributor should have thought of that before allowing DRM for some or all of its catalog, which means that people who bought Kindle editions of their books to date are now locked into Kindle and can't convert their books for other platforms. Otherwise, IPG could switch to Nook books (insisting that they be sold DRM-free) and advertise that readers are free to convert their old Kindle books to run on the Nook, or their new Nook books to run on their old Kindles.

Suchomel writes: "Amazon.com is putting pressure on publishers and distributors to change their terms for electronic and print books to be more favorable toward Amazon. Our electronic book agreement recently came up for renewal, and Amazon took the opportunity to propose new terms for electronic and print purchases that would have substantially changed your revenue from the sale of both. It's obvious that publishers can't continue to agree to terms that increasingly reduce already narrow margins. I have spoken directly with many of our clients and every one of them agrees that we need to hold firm with the terms we now offer. I'm not sure what has changed at Amazon over the last few months that they now find it unacceptable to buy from IPG at terms that are acceptable to our other customers." Suchomel reiterated to us that the company's terms of sale for ebooks have not changed.

Amazon Removes Kindle Versions of IPG Books After Distributor Declines to Change Selling Terms

Penguin fights Amazon by cutting off libraries' access to the books they've paid for (Updated)


The American Library Association has weighed in on Penguin's dispute with Amazon's Kindle library lending program, calling on the publisher to restore access to its books to library patrons. Penguin and Amazon are in dispute over the terms of sale and lending for Penguin titles, but Penguin's response has been to order Amazon to lock down the ebooks that libraries acquired -- using their precious and dwindling collections budgets -- so that patrons can no longer check them out (Update: Amazon says Penguin and Overdrive, the e-book lending service, took the action without Amazon's involvement. See below).

The fact that Amazon is capable of doing (or allowing) this -- the fact that books can be revoked after they're sold -- is a vivid demonstration of the inevitably disastrous consequences of building censorship tools into devices.

“Penguin Group’s recent action to limit access to new e-book titles to libraries has serious ramifications. The issue for library patrons is loss of access to books, period. Once again, readers are the losers.

“If Penguin has an issue with Amazon, we ask that they deal with Amazon directly and not hold libraries hostage to a conflict of business models.

“This situation is one more log thrown onto the fire of libraries’ abilities to provide access to books – in this case titles they’ve already purchased. Penguin should restore access for library patrons now.”

ALA calls for Penguin Group to restore e-book access to library patrons

(Image: modified version of The eBay haul..., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from chumpolo's photostream)

Update: Amazon's Andrew Herdener writes in to say the revocation was not the result of a dispute between Penguin and Amazon, as reported by the ALA. Instead, he says, the action was taken by Penguin and Overdrive, the service that provides library e-book loans for the Kindle platform, without Amazon's involvement. — Rob, 6:10 p.m.

"This has nothing to do with terms between Amazon and Penguin. This decision was not ours, and we did not make any changes in our service (the change, a surprise to us, came from Penguin and Overdrive)"

"Amazon made no changes to its backend -- none. The arrangement for public library lending is between Overdrive and the publishers. Overdrive acquires the rights from publishers like Penguin to loan books to library patrons. Overdrive chose to stop the service that lends the Penguin books to Kindle owners."

Kindle Fire reviewed

Glenn Fleishman reviews the Kindle Fire for The Economist: "The Fire is not an iPad killer. But nor does it need to be."