Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Whispersync for Voice Saves Your Place

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:58 PM on September 15, 2012

People who love to read will take the opportunity to squeeze in another chapter, or a few more pages, any chance they get. Today, many people are reading books on their Kindle, (or other tablet device). Or, they are listening to the audio version of a book that they got from Audible.com. Whispersync for Voice is something new that connects these two options in a unique and time-saving way.

In order to use Whispersync for Voice, you will need a Kindle. You also will need to get the free Audible app for the iPhone, iPod touch, or Android. As the name implies, Whispersync for Voice will sync up your audio book with your ebook. You can put one device down, pick up the other one, and the book will continue exactly where you left off. No more wasting time trying to figure out where one version left off when you switch to the other one.

Start by purchasing an ebook for your Kindle. There will be a button that allows you to “Add Narration” for a few dollars more. Making that purchase is what enables your Kindle and Audible app to sync up with each other. There are about 15,000 books at Audible.com that work with Whispersync for Voice right now.

The latest generation of Kindle Fire, and the Kindle Fire HD 7” and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” will let you do something called Immersion Reading. It will let you add the professional narration to your Kindle so you can read the book and listen to it at the same time.

Sources Confirming Kindle Fire Ads will Have an Opt-out

Posted by Alan at 5:24 AM on September 9, 2012

There has been lot of controversy the past couple of days surrounding the line of Kindle Fire tablets that Amazon announced on Thursday.  If you haven’t heard, the talk has been around the ads that Amazon will be displaying on the lock screen.  It was widely believed that there would be no way to prevent these ads from showing up, regardless of how intrusive some users seemed to think they would be.

Now, multiple sources, including very reliable ones like Ars Technica and Engadget, are reporting that Amazon has contacted them and explained that users would, in fact, be able to opt out of these ads.  The option isn’t free, however.  Users will be able to turn off the ads for a small one-time fee of $15.  In a message sent to Ars Technica, Amazon stated that “With Kindle Fire HD there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15. We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We’re happy to offer customers the choice.”

Will many users take advantage of this opt-out?  My guess would be no.  After all, we all shop on Amazon and having the chance to get a deal is a pretty good trade-off for having to see an ad.

Amazon Shows Off New Devices in TV Ad

Posted by Alan at 4:47 AM on September 6, 2012

Amazon is expected to release a new line of Kindle devices when they hold their big Santa Monica, California event later today.  Rumors seem to indicate not one, but two new Kindle Fire tablets, as well new versions of the Kindle e-reader.  All of this has been expected for a little while now, especially when Amazon mysteriously announced last week that the Kindle Fire was “sold out”.

What wasn’t expected was the ad that aired during last night’s NFL season-opener between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.  The ad, which was a full one minute in length, showed the new devices, but gave no information on what exactly they were.  However, on closer inspection, there appears to be a larger version of the Fire tablet, perhaps a 10 inch, shown.   That would be the biggest bombshell, since it has been reported that Amazon would announce two 7 inch tablets.

What appears to be a 10 inch tablet is shown around the :35 mark of the ad (posted below, and every geek should appreciate the inclusion of the George R. R. Martin book).  Amazon has been rumored to be working on a larger version ever since before the original 7 inch was announced, but we have been led to believe that they had deemed it not marketable enough for release.

There have also been some recent leaks of an updated Kindle Touch reader, with a higher-resolution screen.  Electonista reports that “The most important change, however, will be the integration of an LED backlight, supposedly combined with battery improvements that allow the unit to go for weeks on a charge, a major selling point over tablets for e-reading purists.”

We will find out later today how close any of this speculation has come to actual reality.  The Amazon event kicks off at 10:30 am PDT, 1:30 pm EDT and will be streamed live on the web.

Tech Coming to the UK

Posted by Andrew at 5:06 AM on August 31, 2012

It’s a good time to be in a geek in the UK at the moment. Over the past week there’s been a raft of announcements for predominately US-based offerings making it across the pond so here’s a quick round up of the latest news.

NookBarnes and Noble are bringing the Nook to Britain and if the marketing is right, it could be hit. Public libraries are still popular and they offer ebooks in the .epub format, which the Amazon Kindle doesn’t support but the Nook does. Some shrewd money-saving marketing and the Nook could give the Kindle a run for its money. I have the original Nook which I’m hoping will be supported in the UK, despite it being no longer sold. Pricing for the current Nooks to be announced but Argos and John Lewis are on-board to sell the hardware.

Amazon rolled out its Android Appstore to UK residents and parts of Europe, presumably for the as-yet-unannounced launch of the Kindle Fire. Coming with the Amazon Appstore is the App of the Day, which will have some great apps for nothing so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those. I’ve installed Appstore on my tablets already and have downloaded a few apps – all looking cool so far.

If you are looking for a small tablet, I think UK readers will be spoilt for choice with the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire and Nook Color / Tablet all likely to be available soon.

AmazonLocal Finally, Groupon has some competition in the shape of AmazonLocal, offering similar group deals. At the moment it seems to be focussing on London with a few national offers. Presumably city or regional deals can’t be that far away. There’s a 2 hour flying lesson currently on offer for £99 which looks fun. (As an aside, I always thought Groupon was a rubbish name until someone pointed out it was like group-coupon. Duh!)

All round, it’s good news for geeks in the UK.

Hotel Bibles Replaced By Kindles

Posted by JenThorpe at 12:54 AM on July 9, 2012

Many of us will be traveling this Summer while we are on vacation. No matter what hotel or motel you end up spending the night in, one thing is for certain. Open the drawer on the nightstand, look inside, and you are very likely to find a Bible.

That Bible was probably placed there by Gideons International. The group puts Bibles in hotels and motels, in hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices, and domestic violence shelters. It also distributes Bibles to prisons and jails. Gideons International has been doing this since 1908.

However, starting this month, July of 2012, the InterContinental Hotels Group is about to make a change. There won’t be anymore paper Bibles placed into the 148 rooms at Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, England. Instead of having a Bible in each room, the hotel is going to replace it with electronic versions of the Bible that are pre-loaded on a Kindle eReader.

Each Kindle will be outfitted with Wi-Fi. Guests will be able to use the Kindle that is in their room to read the Bible for free. Or, if the guest prefers, he or she can purchase any of the other ebooks that are available in the Amazon Kindle store, and read those instead. For the first two weeks of this program, the hotel will allow guests to download any religious texts they like onto their in-room Kindle for free, (as long as their selection costs $8.00 or less). Guests can also choose a selection from the eBook titles that Amazon offers for free.

What guests will not be allowed to do is to take their in-room Kindle home with them. Each Kindle will be wiped after use. The ebooks that guests purchased will go on the hotel’s account, and will not be something that a guest would get to keep. To me, it is interesting to see an old tradition – leaving a paper Bible in hotel rooms – be updated with new technology.

Image: Holy Bible in Hotel Drawer by BigStock

How a Classic Book Got “Nookd”

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:22 PM on June 2, 2012

I love to read, but I’ve never quite trusted eReaders. To me, it doesn’t matter if the eReader in question is a Nook, or a Kindle, or any of the other varieties. It just isn’t the same as holding an actual book, made of paper, in my hands. The electronic version cannot replace the feel of the weight of the book as I pick it up, the sound of the pages turning, the texture of those pages, or that freshly-printed book smell.

A blogger named Phillip Howard, who writes the Ocracoke Island Journal found another way that eBooks are vastly different from paper books. The text in an eBook can easily be changed from what the original author wrote into something the author never intended.

Phillip was reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace on his Nook. He downloaded this classic work of literature onto his Nook for $0.99. The Nook is the eReader that comes from Barnes & Noble. As he was reading, he came across a sentence that stuck out. Something seemed different about it. The sentence read:

“It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern….”

That odd misspelling made the sentence jump out. Tolstoy never used the word “Nookd”. When Phillip compared the Nook version of War and Peace to an actual hardcover book version, he found that what Tolstoy actually wrote was:

“It was as if a light had been kindled in a carved and painted lantern…”

In other words, the work kindle had been removed from the text, and had been replaced by Nook. Conspiracy theorists on the internet are saying that this error was intentional, in an effort to prevent people from reading the word kindle and having that lead to the desire to purchase a Kindle from Amazon.

What most likely happened was that the substitution of the word kindle with the word Nook, (odd capitalization included), was nothing more than a Copy-Paste error.

The publisher may have originally put together a digital copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace in a format designed for the Kindle. Later, the publisher made a version that would be the right format for the Nook. It is possible that the publisher told the software to do a universal find-replace, and change the word Kindle to Nook – never realizing that the word kindle actually appeared in the text of the book.

I think I’ll just stick with the old-fashioned books made of paper, thanks.

Image from Bn.com.

Ford has In-Car Tablet Compatibility

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2012

Ford has produced a brand new feature called SYNC. This is the perfect name for the first system designed to give you in-car tablet compatibility. In other words, SYNC will allow drivers to hook up their favorite tablet device to their car, and access it through voice commands while they are driving.

The voice commands make things safer. Drivers won’t need to actually look at their tablet, or touch it, in order to listen to an audiobook, a podcast, or a song. It truly makes a tablet into a hands free device, and does not require the driver to take his or her eyes of the road.

This is exciting in many ways! This is the first time that drivers will be able to safely make use of their tablets while they are driving. The voice commands that a driver uses to access their tablet make the road a safer place to be. We live in a world where people have gotten into car accidents, and died, while trying to send or receive a text message. The SYNC allows drivers to be entertained without making them into a distracted driver.

Imagine how great this would be for road trips! Tell your tablet to start reading you an audiobook. Choose your favorite playlist, and listen as you drive through places that you have never been before. The SYNC will charge some tablets and e-readers when they are connected through SYNC’s USB connection. You won’t have to worry about finding an outlet to plug your tablet into long enough to charge it. The Ford SYNC will do that for you!

Right now, Ford engineers are testing the SYNC’s compatibility with the new iPad3. The SYNC is already compatible with the original iPad and the iPad2. Other SYNC-compatible devices include: Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle Fire, HP Touchpad, HTC Flyer, Barnes & Noble Nook Color, and the Sony Tablet S.

The SYNC also allows you to make a hands-free call with your phone. Answer the phone with the push of a button. Make a call using a voice command. SYNC automatically downloads the names and numbers programed into your compatible phone. Tell your phone to call Mom, and it will do exactly that.

While you cannot put SYNC into an older model Ford, there are several different 2012 models of Ford vehicles that are SYNC compatible. They are the 2012 version of the: Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Mustang, Taurus, Escape, Edge, Explorer, Flex, Expedition, Transit Connect, F-150, E-Series Wagon, and Super Duty.

Image: Autoshow by BigStock

Polkcast Creates Your Personal Cloud

Posted by Andrew at 9:00 PM on February 24, 2012

Polkast LaptopPolkast thinks that it’s better to have your files in your control in your home or office rather than the nebulous cloud. Andy talks to Dave from Polkast on how they do this but still give you access from your smartphone.

Polkast consists of two components, a server app that’s installed on the PC or Mac where all the documents and files are stored. A client app goes on your smartphone or tablet, and both iOS and Android devices are supported, including the Kindle Fire.

The client app is much like any media player interface with icons for music, photos, videos, documents and so on. You can browse for the media you want and show photos or play music.

For a single PC or Mac, Polkast offer a free service, no matter how many client devices connect. For multiple PCs or Macs, the premium service costs $4.99 per month (though this option doesn’t seem to be available on the website yet).

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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3feet Universal Smartphone and Tablet Stand

Posted by Andrew at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2012

3feet Universal Smartphone and Tablet Stand3feet almost need no introduction. Their universal smartphone and tablet stands are well-known for their neat design and their (probably) unique feature of being dishwasher-proof.

Being universal, the 3feet stand works with iPads, TouchPads, Playbooks, Xooms, iPhones, Nexus, Galaxies, Lumias, Nooks, Kindles… Pretty much anything that’s reasonably flat and you want to see. The 3feet can hold a device at three different angles.

Moving away from the gratuitous product placement, there’s now a wider range of basic colours (11) and the opportunity to have different colours for different parts of the stand. The stand is made from recycled plastic and it’s all made in the USA.

Available from good retailers for around $20.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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Protect your Kindle with Solarmio

Posted by Alan at 8:41 AM on February 15, 2012

These days many of us own the Amazon Kindle, and unfortunately many have found out just how fragile the device can be.  Solarmio, who recently won an Innovation Award at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, has some solutions to protect your favorite e-reader.  The new Solarmio Kindle case will not only protect the device, but it has a few other handy features like a light for nighttime reading with a separate battery to power it for up to 50 hours.  The case not only can be charged by a standard USB cable, but also has a solar panel cover that can keep it charged as well.

The Solarmio cover is available now for $79.99.  You can see a full demonstration in the video below, as well as find out more by visiting Solarmio on the web, where you can also purchase this cool case for your Kindle.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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