Showing posts from July, 2013

Art and Business

We've been engaged in a discussion about book covers on one writer's email discussion list. The consensus is that the cover is super-duper important because people won't click on your link or read your book if it isn't wonderful.

Being the iconoclast (and realist) that I am I suggest that maybe it takes more than a good cover to sell a book, and that there is a point of diminishing returns. By that I mean that a poor quality cover
certainly is going to not attract readers and may well discourage them from reading your book. However, on the other hand, the assumption that you need to spend lots of money on a "high quality" (read: expensive) cover to be successful, probably isn't the truth either. There is a point between good and great cover design where the sales do not justify the expense. In other words, good covers do sell more books than bad ones, but great covers do not sell a significantly higher number of books than good ones. 
Of course, this raises …

Axiom Stationery Wins Top Printing Awards

Axiom’s Fire Station inspired stationery system recently stole the show at the Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast 2013 Graphic Excellence Awards – winning Best of Division One and the Judges Choice award. Influenced by the move to the restored Fire Station No. 6last year, Axiom rebranded the company literature with a nod to the new location. The stationery kit leveraged architecture of the building, as well as the No. 6 station designation, throughout all elements. The kit included letterhead, envelopes, business cards, mailing labels, thank you notes, and even included a stamp with a photo of the original Fire Station from 1914. The stationery package was designed by Axiom and printed by Bart Nay Printing. This latest award is the stationery system’s third of prominence. Axiom’s stationery system also received a Best of Category Lantern Award from the Business Marketing Associationand a Gold ADDY from the American Advertising Federation.

Verizon could owe Apple $14 billion off iPhone sales shortfall

Verizon has sold more than 10 million iPhones over the last several months, but a new report finds that the nation's largest carrier could still wind up owing Apple billions of dollars for failing to meet expectations.

Apple's iPhone has been selling more slowly than expected, thanks to the high-end smartphone market becoming somewhat saturated. A report from Moffett Research looked at the numbers and estimated that Verizon might wind up owing Apple up to $14 billion if it doesn't effectively double its iPhone sales from last year, according to the LA Times.
In 2010, Verizon reportedly agreed to $45 billion in purchase agreements through the end of this year. By Moffett's estimate, most of that money is due to Apple since Apple is one of the only manufacturers with the sway to require a purchase commitment of this fashion.
'It is likely that Apple would be reluctant to simply ignore these commitments, since many other carriers around the world are probably in a simila…

Steam Summer Sale 2013 Kicks Off With Steep Game Discounts

Steam today kicked off its annual summer sale, which will provide deep discounts on popular games until July 22.
The summer sale from Steam, Valve's online game retailer, will offer three options for gamers: daily deals, flash sales, and community's choice.
Daily deals will provide discounts on specific games for 24 hours. Now listed on Steam's website is Bioshock Infinite for $29.99, down from $59.99, complete with trading cards. Defiance also gets a 66 percent discount, from $39.99 to $13.59, and Left for Dead 2 is 75 percent off at $4.99.
For the next 23 hours, Steam will also offer discounts on Endless Space, Mars: War Logs, Hotline Miami, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Call of Juarez Gunslinger, Toki Tori 2+, and Don't Starve.
The Steam Summer Sale also features shorter, eight-hour sales. Available now are Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition for $8.99 (down from $29.99), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition for $35.99 (down from $59.99), Grid 2 for $29.99 (usually…

PC business still waning as Microsoft's Windows 8 fails to lift it

The collapse of the PC business is accelerating. Worldwide shipments fell by more than 10% year on year in the second quarter, recording an unprecedented fifth successive period of decline as the market undergoes a fundamental shift towards tablets, smartphones and touch devices.
China's Lenovo emerged as the top seller according to separate data from research companies IDC and Gartner - though even it saw a year-on-year fall in total sales.
But amid a market where Taiwan's Acer and Asus saw shipments crash by more than 30% and 20% respectively, Lenovo's emergence at the top over long-time leader HP, the American PC maker and technology company, marked a figurative passing of the torch. Its principal market was China, which represented more than 50% of its 12.7m shipments.
Gartner says worldwide PC shipments fell to 76.0m, from 85.3m in the second quarter of 2012; IDC put the figures at 75.6m, and 85.4m in 2012. Gartner also revised down its figure for PC shipments in the yea…

Xbox One Sells Out At Best Buy

I'm glad to see it finally happen. I knew it was inevitable. Xbox One might finally be catching up with PS4 sales, even with the $100 extra price tag.

Best Buy has stopped taking pre-orders for the Xbox One. You can still pre-order the system from Walmart, Target, and Gamestop for the time being, but don't be surprised when those sell out too. Amazon also has pre-orders available, but not for the Day One version. I can't help but think Best Buy just didn't get as many Xbox's ordered as the other stores. What do you think?

Xbox One News: Console Sold Out At Best Buy, Find Out Where to Still Find It

By Frank Lucci | First Posted: Jul 10, 2013 12:46 PM EDT

Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, speaks during the Xbox E3 Media Briefing at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
It appears as though stocks of next-gen systems are starting to dwindle, as several different retailers have begun reporting being sold out of the units allocated to them by Sony and Microsoft. Yesterday it was Gamestop who reported that they were out of PlayStation 4's, and now Best Buy is out of the Xbox One.
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The page for the Xbox One-Day One Edition confirms that the console is sold out online. The page also confirms that the system is not available for store pickup. Best Buy still has two different packages for the PlayStation 4 still available, however.
While Best Buy may no longer be an option for gamers to preorder the Xbox One from, many different retailers still have the system available. The standard a…

Nokia Lumia 1020 Shows Up in Yellow, White and Black, New Tech Specs ...

What, you thought the rumor bonanza concerning Nokia's soon to be unveiled cameraphone was going to stop just because there was a recent flood of information via very reliable sources? Oh, you are so naïve!
As long as the EOS, I mean Lumia 1020, I mean Lumia 909 is not official, the leaks, speculations and unofficial reports will keep on coming. The latest such report emerged hours ago from WPCentral, which is another fairly trustworthy source, but the odd thing is the online publication debunks some of the info revealed earlier.
For one thing, we're back to square one in regards to the handheld's potential market name. Specifically, the Lumia 1020 moniker is back in the cards and Lumia 909 is out.
More importantly, we're hearing this latest Nokia crown jewel will come with 2 GB of RAM in tow, which would be quite the step up compared with the 1 gig inside the Lumia 920, 925 and 928. No word on the CPU powering the 1020, but if the Finns are to upgrade the RAM, I think it…

Report: 64GB version of Nokia Lumi...

There's just a few hours to go until Nokia finally reveals its long-awaited Lumia 1020 flagship, but the rumours and leaks just keep on coming. After numerous image leaks, and yesterday's apparent disclosure of the handset's full spec sheet, there doesn't seem to be much left for Nokia to announce.

One aspect of the device's specs that raised a few eyebrows was that its storage will apparently be limited to 32GB, with no microSD card slot to allow users to expand it. That looks like it won't be a problem for buyers in some markets though, as WPCentral has got its hands on a draft press release from Telefónica, indicating that a 64GB version will be made available exclusively on the company's networks in Europe and Latin America.
Telefónica operates in parts of Europe under the O2 brand; it operates the Movistar network in Spain and Latin America, except in Brazil, where its local network offering is branded as Vivo.
The document refers to the device as the …

Nokia Lumia 925 available at T

After launching in the UK last month after a promised T-Mobile debut in the US, the carrier is finally detailing its plans for the Lumia 925 today. Available as an exclusive, T-Mobile plans to launch Nokia's latest flagship on July 17th priced at $49.99 with 24 monthly device payments of $20. The Lumia 925 is effectively a slimmer version of the Lumia 920 that launched back in November. It's made from aluminum, with a polycarbonate rear and optional colorful wireless charging covers.
T-Mobile's announcement comes just a day before Nokia will hold its 'zoom reinvented' event in New York City. The Finnish smartphone maker is expected to launch a successor to the Lumia 920 and 925, dubbed the Lumia 1020, with a 41-megapixel camera. Nokia is believed to be planning an exclusive partnership with AT&T, a rival to T-Mobile, to market the Lumia 1020 as a hero device this summer.


Nokia's new Lumia 925 was made official for T-Mobile back in May, but today, the carrier is finally revealing pricing and availability for the new handset. It's also T-Mobile's latest 4G LTE device, which the company ended up also launching more markets for, reaching 157 million people in the US.

The Lumia 925 will be available starting on July 17, with pre-orders beginning the day before on July 16. The phone will cost only $49.99 down, with 24 monthly payments of $20. This totals $530 for the device off-contract. The phone sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor running at 1.5GHz, with 1GB of RAM and up to 32GB of internal storage.
Like the Lumia 920, the 925 doesn't have a microSD slot, but Nokia and Microsoft partnered up to offer SkyDrive storage for these users with 7GB of free storage for Lumia 925 owners. Since the phone runs Windows Phone 8, SkyDrive is seamlessly integrated into the phone's software.

The 925 also has an 8.7-megapixel PureView cam…

LG Display launches world's thinnest full

LG Display has launched the world's thinnest full-HD LCD panel for smartphones.
The panel measures 5.2-inch and will enable smartphone makers to offer thinner full-HD smartphones and larger visible display space on them. The panel is 2.2mm thin and comes with a 2.3mm bezel. The company claims that its new panel is both slimmest and narrowest among existing full-HD LCD panels designed for mobile devices. Additionally, LG says the panel will make devices easier to grip as well as it's lighter in weight.
'Today's introduction of the world's slimmest full-HD LCD panel represents an exciting advancement for the high-end smartphone segment, and is possible due to our world-class expertise in IPS and touch technologies,' said Dr. Byeong-Koo Kim, Vice President and Head of LG Display's IT and Mobile Development Group. 'LG Display will continue its commitment to developing products that maximise consumer value as well as opening new doors for the mobile and tablet…

ifttt Puts Internet Automation Into an iPhone App

ifttt today released a free iPhone app of the same name, which stands for 'if this, then that,' and which puts the power of Internet automation at your fingertips. The amazingly simple yet powerful service helps users create 'recipes,' such as 'if there is an upcoming event on my Google Calendar, then send me a text message reminder' without ever looking at a line of code.
While ifttt has long included text messages and phone calls among its list of supported services that you can add to recipes, the iPhone app actually adds a few mobile-specific new features. For example, it added support for several Apple apps, including Photos and PhotoStream, Contacts, and Reminders. You could now create a recipe right from your iPhone that could save all your PhotoStream photos to Dropbox. Another example would be to instruct ifttt: 'Send me a text message at 7a.m. daily with the current weather forecast.'
When you enable a phone number in ifttt for either text messa…

MIND? FACE? Good thing they called it Xbox

21 hours ago

Before Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox One, the Internet was awash in speculation about the thing's name. Was it going to be the 'Xbox 720?' Maybe just plain old 'Xbox?' Or, God forbid, 'Xbox Infinity?' Those are all well and good, but how about something like the 'FACE 3?'
'FACE' (short for 'Full Action Center,' err, 3) is just one of the colorful monikers that very well could have been the name of Microsoft's upcoming next-generation video game device if some of the company's branding team had had their way. It could have just as easily been called - no joke - 'MIND,' an acryonym for 'Microsoft Interactive Network Device.' That's according to the video game magazine Edge, which recently compiled a list of the many other names for the Xbox that Microsoft's gaming team tossed around and eventually scrapped. Xbox may sound like a funny name in its own right, seeing how it originated as…

Google reportedly prepared to spend $500M marketing Moto X

The Web giant's handset unit is also taking steps to limit 'bloatware' pre-installed by carriers, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.

(Credit: Motorola)
Google is apparently going all in to support the Moto X, the first flagship handset released by Motorola Mobility since being acquired by the Web giant a year ago.
Google is expected to allow the unit to spend up to $500 million marketing the highly-anticipated smartphone in the U.S. and overseas, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The device is expected to be available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless this fall, sources told the Journal.
With an emphasis toward customer convenience and customization, Motorola has reportedly taken steps to limit 'bloatware,' the apps and services pre-installed on handsets by carriers that are often useless and difficult to remove without rooting the device. Customers will be able to choose the colors for the back of the device and the tri…

Terminator 2

It's not quite as advanced as in Terminator 2, but a way of 3D printing liquid metal could offer a new range of flexible electronics.
An alloy of metals gallium and indium that is liquid at room temperature forms a thin skin when exposed to air, which is strong enough to hold the liquid's shape.
Michael Dickey of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and colleagues put the alloy in a syringe and were able to squeeze out wires, about a centimetre tall, that stood vertically despite their liquid centre.
Bendy electronics
'The fact that they are liquid means you could surround them with another material like rubber to make metallic structures that you can stretch and deform,' says Dickey. This would be useful for creating bendy electronics. The team also created towers of liquid metal droplets, all held together by the skin, illustrating how the metal can form 3D structures.
It should be easy to swap the syringe for the nozzle of a 3D printer, potentially letting you prin…


One of our favorites from CES 2013 is finally here with North American LTE.
At CES 2013, which was over six months ago, a smartphone caught our eyes and captured our hearts enough for us to call it one of the best things we saw at the show back in January. That phone was the Sony Xperia Z, which at the time was one of the first handsets leading the way with the new high-end 1080p display resolution. It wasn't the only phone at CES that had a full HD screen, though. So what set the Xperia Z apart? Aside from some very elegant aesthetics, it was also waterproof.
T-Mobile today is making official its plans to carry the Sony Xperia Z starting July 17 for $99.99 down with 24 equal monthly payments of $20. Those who don't want to go through T-Mobile or just want it now can get it straight from Sony for $0 down and $25 a month for 24 months, or for $579.99 upfront starting today at Sony Store at any of its 38 U.S. locations or online. Both T-Mobile and Sony are offering a free Sony W…

Sony Xperia Z review: Go ahead, throw it into water

14 minutes ago

We shelter our gorgeous smartphones in bulky cases, cry when we drop them into sinks, and fear using them in the rain - all because we know that their delicate bodies can't handle a bit of water. Well, no more of that, says Sony.
Sony's Xperia Z certainly isn't the very first water-resistant phone - Samsung's Galaxy 4 Active recently hit AT&T - and it won't be the last, but it is one that you might actually like. It is a tall, slender beauty with a 5-inch display - with a 1920 x 1080 resolution - and a body that's less than a third of an inch thick. Even Apple's king of design Sir Jony Ive would likely give this thing a nod of approval. Unfortunately there's a physical downside: The phone can be incredibly awkward to hold and use if you aren't used to the XXL screens which seems to be trendy lately.
Once you get past that part, you've got a great Android device. Sony thankfully didn't go overboard when it came to skinning Goo…


T-Mobile will allow customers to pay $10 a month to get early upgrades to new devices twice a year.

NEW YORK CITY -T-Mobile announced a new device upgrade program for its no-contract customers Wednesday that allows its no-contract customers to get their hands on the latest and greatest phones at a subsidized price.
The upgrade program, called Jump, makes it easier for people to upgrade to new devices and pay a lower price instead of replacing their current devices at full price. To participate in the early upgrade program, customers will pay $10 a month and they will be able to upgrade their devices twice per year. The program also works as device insurance and includes protection against malfunction, damage or theft.
Earlier this year, T-Mobile announced new no-contract plans that requires customers to buy devices at full price. Customers can also pay for devices in monthly installments. But if they leave the T-Mobile service, they must pay the full price of the device.
Some consumers co…

Nokia Lumia 925 available at T

After launching in the UK last month after a promised T-Mobile debut in the US, the carrier is finally detailing its plans for the Lumia 925 today. Available as an exclusive, T-Mobile plans to launch Nokia's latest flagship on July 17th priced at $49.99 with 24 monthly device payments of $20. The Lumia 925 is effectively a slimmer version of the Lumia 920 that launched back in November. It's made from aluminum, with a polycarbonate rear and optional colorful wireless charging covers.
T-Mobile's announcement comes just a day before Nokia will hold its 'zoom reinvented' event in New York City. The Finnish smartphone maker is expected to launch a successor to the Lumia 920 and 925, dubbed the Lumia 1020, with a 41-megapixel camera. Nokia is believed to be planning an exclusive partnership with AT&T, a rival to T-Mobile, to market the Lumia 1020 as a hero device this summer.

Instagram adds Web embeds

An example of an embedded photo from Instagram. (Photo: Instagram)
Photo-sharing service Instagram is making it easier for its users to share their photos and videos on the Web.
On Wednesday, the service will add Web embeds, allowing users to grab a special block of text that they can paste into a blog, article or web site.
The service will only be available to users with public profiles.
Content displays similarly to Instagram's web site, where viewers can see the user who uploaded the photo or video as well as an area for likes and comments.
The new feature follows Instagram's larger endeavor into the video realm. Last month, they added the option to capture videos lasting up to 15 seconds long. It also includes custom cover frames and stabilization to fix shaky clips.
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Coursera Hits 4 Million Students

Daphne Koller (Photo credit: clibou)
Coursera founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng don't think small. Their Palo Alto, Calif., online-education company is less than two years old, yet it already has attracted more than 4 million student signups. Now Coursera has raised $43 million in fresh venture capital, tripling its cash available for growth.
Coursera is one of a handful of fast-growing startups (others include Udacity and EdX) that use the internet to provide free, college-level instruction. Subjects span everything from computer science to history, poetry and health-care policy. Coursera's instructors include globally known professors from at least 73 universities worldwide, ranging from Brown to the University of Tokyo. The U.S. accounts for less than half of Coursera's overall student enrollment; other prominent countries include Brazil,India, China, Canada, Britain, Russia and Germany.
So what comes next?
Some clues can be found in Coursera's latest choices of back…

YouSendIt Changes Its Name To Hightail As It Aims To Become Known For More ...

YouSendIt has accumulated some 43 million users since it was founded back in 2004, with a straightforward name and a straightforward mission of helping people store and send data on the web.
Thanks to a rebrand occurring today, those millions of users are about to have to learn a new name for their service. Out with YouSendIt, and in with Hightail.
The folks at YouSendIt/Hightail say the change is happening because the pioneering file sharing company has actually evolved its offerings to go beyond its core 'sending' capabilities, through some smart acquisitions as well as through organic product development. The brand new name is meant to fit its modern identity.
The name change is just the latest in a series of big moves that have been occurring at YouSendIt/Hightail under the leadership of Brad Garlinghouse, who took the helm at the company as CEO just over a year ago.
It's a bold move in the middle of a time of big growth and change in the cloud storage space, so we invite…

Some Observations upon Completion of my Last Private Commission

I rarely use this space for purely personal observations. I have done the occasional rant, but it's mostly about "out there." However, I decided to return to the original use of blogs as public versions of personal journals just to work through a few feelings.

About a half hour ago, I completed work on a web design project for a client. I helped him format and publish his ebook and then set up a webpage for him. I still have to upload his new website to the webhost, but that's just mopping up stuff.

What makes this important to me is that it is my last private client. When I retired a  year ago, I thought I would probably be teaching part time at my former college , writing books and doing a lot of private advertising work. Well, it turned out
that my college had to cut just about all adjunct faculty positions in my department. But I did have several private jobs. Seemed like a plan.

Along the way, I started publishing a lot of my own materials including novels, books o…

Google Maps For Android Gets A New UI, But Drops Latitude And Offline Maps ...

Remember that new version of Google Maps for Android that Google previewed back at I/O in May? It's here! The new app began rolling out to Android devices this morning, bringing with it a new interface (including one built just for tablets) and a handful of new features. The iOS build, meanwhile, should be updated in just a few days - and it'll bring proper Google Maps support back to the iPad, to boot.
Alas, the interface revamp means a few old features had to get the chop.
Google says the update should be 'gradually rolling out to Android 4.0.3+ users over the next few weeks'.
Here's the old and new interface, side-by-side (though the differences are much more apparent in the video below):
If you've been running the Maps app that Google released for iOS back in December (three months after Apple ditched Google Maps in favor of their own, not-at-all-ready-for-prime-time app), the new Android interface probably looks pretty familiar - and it should. The core of the…