Archives: July 2010

Silicon Valley Is Not Most People's Reality

Silicon Valley Companies Icon

Silicon Valley Companies IconWriting checks casually for $100k, selling companies for hundreds of millions of dollars, and then throwing back drinks with semi-well known rappers (see videos below) … this is what Silicon Valley is made of. It’s also only two days of activity. The Valley is an environment where life-time successes are celebrated for half a minute before the next guy cashes a check bigger than yours. Dave McClure raised $30 million for an investment fund in under 6 months but is that really all it took? Definitely not. The founders of Playdom built and sold a gaming startup (now what most people would consider an empire) in a couple years. But is a couple years all it took? Hell no.
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Annotate PDFs On An iPad With Noterize

I receive a lot of white papers and product documentation in PDF files, and the iPad is a logical device for reading that documentation. When I am reading a white paper I like to highlight excerpts and make notes on the pages, which is not possible in GoodReader or Dropbox. For making annotations on PDF files I am using Noterize, which you can also use to write notes in either digital ink or in text with the keyboard.

The first step is to import the PDF file into Noterize, which you can transfer to an iPad via iTunes, or open from the cloud services Box.net or Dropbox. You open a file in a viewing mode, and double-tapping switches to editing mode, which displays several editing tools. You can create a text box anywhere on the page and type a note, or write using your finger or a stylus. Text can be highlighted in one of several different colors, and you can control the width of digital ink and highlight by moving a slider.

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Annotating a PDF in Noterize.

Of course you can just create new notes within Noterize by creating a new page and either typing or writing the information on the screen. You can create text boxes anywhere on the screen to place typed text around drawings or digital ink, which can be in multiple colors. Noterize also supports audio notes that are associated with the current page.

New notes that you create can be shared as PDFs, either as e-mail attachments or by saving them to cloud services or social networks. Curiously, there are many more options for sharing documents from Noterize than there are importing documents. When you share a document to Facebook or Twitter, Noterize uploads a copy of the document to noterize.com, and creates a link to the document that is provided in the update to the social network. The link remains active for two weeks, and looks like this in Twitter:

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Noterize costs $2.99, and based on my experience, I think it is very worthwhile app for that price. You will find Noterize in the iPad App store.

Automate An Android Phone

If you own an Android phone, how would you like to mute your phone by simply flipping the phone so that the screen is facing down? Today I discovered a way to mute my phone by flipping the screen and automate more tasks with an app called Tasker, which James Kendrick wrote about in his weekly column on jkOnTheRun.

For those familiar with computers, you can think of Tasker like a scripting language, you use it to program an Android phone to execute tasks that you define when certain events, what Tasker calls contexts, occur. For example, in Tasker I have defined a set tasks to occur when the screen orientation is face down. First, I have the phone vibrate to give me feedback that the phone is going to be muted, then silent mode is enabled, and finally, the display times out after seven seconds. I learned that Tasker only executes tasks when the display is on, so when I flip my phone to mute it, I then want the display to turn off. When I pick up my phone and turn it on with the face up, Tasker runs another task to turn silent mode off.

One of the first programs I used on my Android phone is Locale, which is similar to Tasker in that it executes certain tasks when the phone is at a certain location. Locations is another context in Tasker, so you can define certain tasks to execute depending on the phone’s location. For example, I have Tasker turn Wi-Fi on when I am home and turn Wi-Fi off when I am at the office. As you can see from my first example, Tasker is much more powerful than Locale.

In a sign of just how much of a geek I am, Tasker may be providing me the most fun of any app that I have on my Nexus One. You can spend hours discovering different ways to automate things with Tasker, which makes my phone even more personalized to me. The developers of Tasker host a wiki for users to contribute examples of how they automate their phone, which is a great place for ideas on how to use Tasker. Tasker does cost about $5 as it is in the UK version of the Android Market priced in British pounds. In my opinion Tasker is well worth the $5 that I spent.

What is jailbreaking?

Earlier this week there was big news from the U.S. government relating to smartphones as the Librarian of Congress ruled that jailbreaking a phone was not illegal. A provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to circumvent copyright protections in products.

The core software on smartphones is protected so that key files are not deleted or overwritten, which could result with the phone not functioning properly. Prior to the ruling this week, circumventing the protections on smartphone operating systems is illegal under the DMCA. I expect that the ruling will be challenged by smartphone OS companies, but in the mean time it appears that those who wish to jailbreak their phones can do so believing that they are not breaking the law.

Jailbreaking is the term used to refer to circumventing the copyright protections on the iPhone software. Rooting is the term used for the same act with Android phones. In summary the process of jailbreaking or rooting involves gaining read and write access to the file storage area on the phone where the operating system files are located.

Once read/write access is obtained tweaks can be made to the phone’s software to add functionality, and in many cases entirely new versions of the operating system is installed. In the early days of the iPhone, people jailbroke their phones to install applications on the phone because initially the iPhone did not support apps. Android users root their phones to install customized versions of the Android operating system that range to adding features like tethering, to providing a full upgrade. For example, by rooting a myTouch 3G, which officially only supports Android 1.6, one can install Android 2.1 on the phone.

There are risks to jailbreaking and rooting phones, and the process can be fairly technical. A misstep along the way can render the phone completely inoperable. Smartphone OS companies don’t like jailbreaking because it changes their product in ways they didn’t intend, and mobile phone companies don’t like jailbreaking because it could be used to circumvent controls put in place to protect their networks. The people who jailbreak their phones do so to add functionality, and to come up with unique modifications to their phones that nonone else has, similar to how some people modify their cars.

This Week In Social Games – July 30, 2010

weekThis week in social games was an exciting one. EA selected Live Gamer to power microtransactions, we had a chance to interview Alex St. John of Hi5, Chief Revenue Officer of Offerpal and Robert Winkler of the MMO Dawn of the Dragons, a brain IQ game called InGenius saw tremendous growth, Disney acquired Playdom for over 700M, Habbo saw growth on Facebook, action-adventure MMO Warrior Epic expanded to South East Asia, Depict 1.6 was selected as an OpenFeint Gold game, Mazda launched DriverVille to promote its new Mazda2 in North America, Zynga confirmed its joint venture with Softbank as well as its $150M in funding, Playdom signed a 5 yr deal with Facebook.

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Week In Review: New Kindle; iPhone Apps; Enhanced eBooks

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Happy weekend! Here is a roundup of eBook news from this past week.

Amazon announced a new $139 Kindle and Jeff Bezos talked about it on Charlie Rose. We live blogged it.

The Author’s Guild estimated royalties in the Wylie Agency & Amazon Deal.

The U.S. Copyright Office legalized cracking DRM-enabled digital content in order to consume works in noninfringing ways.

Stieg Larsson sold more than a million eBooks on Kindle alone.

Simon & Schuster launched a serial teen novel online where readers can vote on the outcome. The publisher also released its first enhanced eBook.

The Zombie Survival Guide was released as an iPhone app.

Lit agent Laurie Abkemeier released an iPhone app.

A Kindle was stolen in NYC.

We examined the role a 2001 legal case between Rosetta Books & Random House has on current eBook deals.

Author Meg Pokrass was featured in our Digital Writer Spotlight.

We examined the right price for an eBook.

Project: MyWorld is the "Placebook" for a New Generation of Social Gamers

project my world From the mind of Dave Jones – the creator of Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto – comes a new social gaming experience for a new generation. Dubbed “the ‘Placebook’ for a next generation of social games”, Project: MyWorld combines social media, social games and virtual worlds in one of the most ambitious online gaming endeavors to date. Just unveiled earlier this week, Project: MyWorld could really shake things up in the gaming world when it goes live early next year. Read on for more about what Project: MyWorld promises, and whether or not it can deliver.
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Digital Writer Spotlight: Scott Kelly

webooklogo.pngAuthor Scott Kelly won the hearts of readers on one community writing site, collecting hundreds of positive reviews as he built a following. Follow this link to read more of his work at the online writing site, WEbook (writing under the pseudonym KidTruth).

WEBook president Ardy Khazaei explained why he selected this writer: “Kelly has used WEbook and PageToFame to help build a robust online readership for his novel Frightened Boy. He has been an active member of the WEbook community since 2008, exchanging feedback with other writers and building a network of followers. As of July 2010, ‘Frightened Boy’ has been read by over 2,500 people and received over 300 positive reviews. We are excited to see Scott’s success on WEbook and look forward to seeing him succeed throughout the digital and print publishing landscape.”

Welcome to eBookNewser’s Digital Writer Spotlight. We’ve launched this feature to recognize the established and emerging voices within these communities. On a regular basis, we will feature hand-picked reading recommendations from community leaders at writing sites–see all the writers at our Best Online Fiction Writers directory. If you want to nominate a writing community, email eBookNewser with your recommendation.

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5 Casual Connect Trends That Kept Coming Up

benaroyalogo Casual Connect is over, and it’s remarkable how close the group gets, even at 2,000 attendees, by the third day.  It’s almost impossible to walk the floor to see the final day sessions without running into someone who you genuinely want to connect with… casually.  Having said that, there were a few topics that kept coming up in my many conversations during the conference, during the after parties and with speakers after presentations.  I take a look at the 5 that seemed most popular after the jump.

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Nigerian President Shows the World how Politicians Should use Facebook

president goodluck johnson Exhibiting poise, insight and respect, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has risen to the top of the list of politicians using social media effectively. Johnson set up a Facebook account a little over a month ago and has posted at least once a day since. However, it is not simply the number of posts that makes his account one to watch for interested politicians and pundits, but rather the content therein – he discusses many dimensions of the government’s actions and policies, even reversing one of his decisions based on the comments that citizens left on his Facebook page. Read on for an in-depth look at what makes his use of social media such a success.
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