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.
Barnes 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.
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!)
Welcome to The Gadget Professor’s NetCast. Show #71 hosted by Don Baine.
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We also feature our weekly free software picks and some more NEXUS 7 Tips!
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Posted by KL Tech Muse at 10:44 AM on August 30, 2012
I have tried a lot of news aggregators over the years, including Google Reader, Reeder, Shrook, NetNewsWire, NewsFire on the desktop. On iOs I have tried Zite, Pulse, Flipboard just to name a few. I keep trying new ones because I am never quite satisfied with the one I am using. One of the problems I have with most of them is they are based on sources. I have realized over time that I am interested in following ideas or concepts. Where they comes from is less important to me then the idea itself.
That is idea behind Prismatic, which is available on the desktop and now on the iPhone, (although it works fine on the iPad). When you first sign into Prismatic you are asked to connect either Facebook, Twitter or Google Reader account. It will then offer suggestions based on your interest and who you follow. Prismatic may suggest an actual site such as Lifehacker, but they may also suggest a subject such as beer or computer security. They may also suggest a person to follow. If you want to follow suggested subject you simply click on the plus sign and it is added to your home list. If you want to delete a subject from your home list just click on the X. To look at a subject you simply tap on it and it will bring up a brief summary view of that feed. You can swipe up and down the feed. When you find something you like, just tap on it and it will take you to a longer summary, tap on it again and it will take you to the original article. To go back either hit exit or the arrow. If you want to get back to your home screen from the summary screen just swipe to the left. Below the title of an article Prismatic will also suggest other topics that may interest you based on the article. Click on that interest and it will be added to your home feed. If you want to like or share an article you simply place a finger on it and then slide up to the appropriate icon. Right now sharing is limited to Facebook, Twitter and email. I am hoping they will add more options in the future.
The Prismatic UI could use a little work, it looks a little outdated and lacks the wow factor of Flipboard. I also wish I could save to Pocket and share to Google Plus. Despite this complaints, Prismatic both on the desktop and now on the iPhone offers a lot to be happy about. If you are interested in following an idea or subject rather than a source, then I recommend trying Prismatic.
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 8:29 AM on August 29, 2012
Last year Grooveshark made a brief appearance in the Google Play Store (known as the Android Marketplace at the time), but was pulled due to disputes with music labels. Those disputes aren’t entirely resolved and the music service is still in the midst of legal wranglings with three of the four major labels.
With the lawsuits in mind, it was a bit of a surprise that Google decided to reinstate the app, which has continued to be available from the Grooveshark web site as well as third-party app stores. The app wasn’t expected back in the store until all of the legal issues had been cleared up, as Google tends to distance itself from inviting potential lawsuits. There was no announcement made regarding the reinstatement being made or even why it was done.
The app is free from the Google Play Store, but mobile music streaming will cost the user $6.99 monthly. Use of the web service is free of charge.
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 4:22 PM on August 28, 2012
Google recently introduced the Nexus 7 tablet and it became an immediate hit and probably the most popular Android tablet on the market with the possible exception of Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The Nexus 7 can only be purchased online through the Google Play Store or at select retail locations like GameStop.
While Google hasn’t been pushing the advertisements for the tablet, other than a few AdSense ads, today they gave it perhaps the best piece of real estate on the internet – the Google home page. The ad is small and unobtrusive, appearing just below the search box. It states simply “The playground is open. The new $199 tablet from Google.” When clicked, it directs the user to the Play Store, where they can purchase the 8 GB $199 tablet or the 16 GB $249 version.
While Nexus 7 sales are expected to surpass the Kindle Fire in the not-too-distant future, Amazon is also rumored to be rolling out a new version of their tablet offering, possibly with a 10 inch Kindle Fire to compliment the current 7 inch version.
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I like Kickstarter. It’s a world full of promise, where great ideas vie for money. I’ve pledged for a handful of projects, most of which met their funding targets and of those, all delivered on their promises. A few of the products weren’t as I expected but who hasn’t bought something that they later regretted?
For sure, it’s not always million dollar projects at Kickstarter. Plenty of projects fail to meet their targets and many of them rightly so. I’m not going to name names, but you don’t need to look very hard for projects that have no merit whatsoever (IMHO). Conversely, there are many worthwhile projects that don’t make the cut too.
But what of those projects that do get funded but don’t deliver on their promises? Fortunately, there haven’t been too many of them and while Kickstarter distances itself from the projects themselves, it encourages project owners to return the funding if the project gets into difficulties. But there are no guarantees…if the money is gone, it’s gone.
In a consumer and customer-oriented world, an older world perhaps more accurately describes our role. Patron.
From Oxford Dictionaries, definition of a patron:
1. a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, or cause: a celebrated patron of the arts
The definition makes no mention of reward or goods and it’s easier to comprehend with the more artistic projects on Kickstarter given the historical context of the term. Regardless, it applies equally well to the technological ones in that there might be a hope of a product at the end of the project but there is no certainty.
Don’t get me wrong – I like Kickstarter and will continue to support projects there. However people need to understand the risks. At the moment, Kickstarter occupies a useful unregulated niche but I fear that a few high-profile failures losing millions of dollars will draw it to the attention of the authorities and regulation. I sincerely hope that day won’t come, but until then, remember you are patron at Kickstarter.
My first impression of the car is that is a very nice looking vehicle. It defiantly has a Ford family resemblance. From the Grill and headlights on back, you can tell it’s a new Ford. The C-MAX is a name plate that has been used by Ford since 2003 in Europe and late this year, they are bringing it to the US. Totally redesigned for 2013, the C-MAX is built on the global chassis that the Ford Focus is based on, and will be built in Wayne Michigan for the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid (Energi) versions.
Our drive started off in West Hollywood California towards the coast and up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. We drove in a good mix of Highway, City, and Mountains. In the 100 or so miles we put on the car, it averaged 38MPG according to the on-board readout. The EPA Estimates that the C-MAX Hybrid will get 47mpg highway and 47mpg city if driven conservatively.
The C-MAX has 50 more horsepower than the Prius V, which is a similar sized vehicle, and gets 7 more MPG. I did get a chance to drive the Prius V as a comparison and in the Mountains, the C-MAX definitely didn’t seem to be working as hard to climb the hills. I could really feel that extra 50hp!
The C-MAX Hybrid will be hitting the Ford showrooms sometime later this year at a price of around $25k.
If I were in the market for a small car (Hybrid or not) the C-MAX would be high on my list.