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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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Daily Deals: I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can and Shopper’s Paradise HD

I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon is today book within Daily Deals on Amazon. Today price is $0.99.

Barbara had it all: a successful career as an award-winning documentary film maker, a strong relationship, and plenty of friends. But a lingering problem with anxiety drew her into a dangerous Valium addiction. Her story is an honest, gripping look into addiction, her ill-advised cold-turkey withdrawal and the hospitalizations that followed, the worst the psychiatric field has to offer, and her painful yet persistent pathway back to functioning. Through it all, Gordon is a beacon of hope, actively choosing life over the alternative, even after journeying to the darkest depths of the human psyche.This beautifully written classic is a must read for anyone battling their own psychological demons, anyone in the mental health field, and everyone in need of an inspiring survivor story. Praise for I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can:Spellbinding seems too mild a word. -Detroit Free PressGordon’s story rings with authenticity. -Washington PostNot only a frightening account of the tortured journey of her mind and soul, but a beautiful story that is filled with life and hope. -Philadelphia Bulletin

Some words about the Author

Barbara Gordon is the author of the best-selling drug-addiction memoir, I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can. In addition to having been a writer for NBC’s The Today Show, Barbara is also a three time Emmy award winning film maker. She has written for Parade and numerous other magazines. She has given scores of lectures and speeches throughout the US.

 

Shopper's Paradise HD
For those who loves to play in financial games Amazon give good chance to get Shopper’s Paradise HD for free within Appstore Deals.

Become a retail tycoon and outsmart your competition before the last customer leaves town. In Shopper’s Paradise HD, it’s up to you to build a retail empire that will rule the business world.

Empire Builder

Build or buy stores, movie theaters, hotels, and warehouses. Hire and manage employees, and get the best locations. Keep tabs on specific employees such as cashiers, clerks, and managers. Schedule sales to get more customers in the doors. Watch your town grow as you grow a variety of businesses.

Homeland Security

Make sure you don’t suffer from “inventory shrinkage” from thieves. Hire police officers to keep your complex safe. Maintain your properties and catch shoplifters that cut into your profits.

Shopper’s Paradise HD features a variety of maps such as Easyville, Pharmacity, and Snake Road, among other scenic locales. Play at three different levels of difficulty. Can you build that Shopper’s Paradise that every retail maven dreams about?

Kindle vs Playbook: Is the BlackBerry Back in the Race?

While the big talk in tablets lately has been all about newly affordable Android based devices like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, RIM has yet to drop entirely out of the race.  Their previous effort, the BlackBerry PlayBook, failed to excite as much interest as they had hoped (partly due to the lack of basic functionality like an email client).  This past week, however, brought us the new PlayBook 2.0.  It is a new and improved device on a completely upgraded operating system that packs possibly the most impressive performance available at the moment in the $200 area.  Will this be enough to propel the floundering RIM into the lead?

While the Nook Tablet has done a fairly good job of demonstrating that numerically superior hardware isn’t necessarily what you need to come out on top in the tablet market, the new PlayBook is a completely different experience.  In addition to addressing the problems that their original tablet OS offering had RIM has included support for Android app conversion by developers, a fully featured web browser at least the equal to anything else available on a mobile device today, and more.  The hardware includes everything one would expect based on similarly priced competition, along with Bluetooth support, GPS, microphone, dual HD cameras, HDMI 1080p output, and slightly better internal speakers than other offerings.  This isn’t an insignificant upgrade and the performance in a hands-on test backs it up quite well.

The only thing working against the BlackBerry comeback seems to be the lack of a competitive ecosystem.  While there are certainly apps available, many of those that you would expect to see, based on top sellers in Apple, Google, or Amazon’s App Stores, are simply absent.  Of those that do make an appearance, there are rarely free versions since RIM does not permit any sort integration with the company’s own advertising service and there are still questions among developers as to the long term viability of third party advertising integration based on early reports that such would not be supported on PlayBook OS 2.0.  For now you can get a great device with a fair number of apps, but the entire ecosystem is smaller than Amazon’s in-house Android App Store which is itself often complained about as being too sparsely populated.

Unlike the original PlayBook, this is not a device that is shipping with a large number of inherent flaws as best I can tell.  If it came down to choosing right this minute then the Kindle Fire is still probably the better choice based on useful apps, but that will not necessarily always be the case.  The biggest factor will be user adoption.  If enough BlackBerry tablets get sold, developers will start paying attention and the ecosystem will flourish.  RIM already claims that their developers make better returns than any other platform’s, which could be a big plus given a larger user base.  The trick will be getting the word out and keeping people interested in the near future.  At the same price as a PlayBook, customers can grab a $200 Kindle Fire and have most of what they want right this minute rather than having great hardware without the desired functionality.  We’ll have to keep an eye out to see how they choose to address this.

Daily Deals: Lament and My First Tangrams

Today Amazon advertises debut novel by Maggie Stiefvater “Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception (Gathering of Faerie)“. This book has many positive reviews (140) and average mark is 4.2 What is very good for Amazon. The price within Kindle Daily Deals is $0.99.

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (Gathering of Faerie)Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan, a gifted harpist who regularly plays for weddings and other events, has the kind of stage fright that makes her physically ill before a performance, which is an inauspicious way to start a romance; but while vomiting before a competition she meets a gorgeous boy who comes into the restroom to hold her hair. He is Luke Dillon, a flautist who proceeds to accompany her in a truly stellar performance. As four-leaf clovers start appearing everywhere, Deirdre develops telekinetic powers and encounters strange, unworldly people who seem to bear her ill will. Her best friend, James, also a talented musician; her beloved grandmother; and her mother all are in danger, as Deirdre is targeted by the queen of Faerie. Deirdre eventually discovers that she is a cloverhand, a person who can see the denizens of faerie, and Luke, not the only immortal who has her in his sights, is a gallowglass, an assassin assigned by the queen of Faerie to kill Deirdre but who falls in love with her instead. This beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary debut novel, with its authentic depiction of Celtic Faerie lore and dangerous forbidden love in a contemporary American setting, will appeal to readers of Nancy Werlin’s Impossible (2008) and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Illustrations by Jeffrey are fitting. Grades 9-12. –Diana Tixier Herald

Some words about the Author

Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have revolved around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical writer (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists (she’s made her living as one or the other since she was twenty-two). Maggie now lives a surprisingly eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia, with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dog.

If you are interested in this book click here to get to Amazon site.

 

My First Tangrams

Also you can download from Amazon site the following game My First Tangrams for free. This deals words only one day. Tomorrow Amazon will make new deal.

Smart Fun

My First Tangrams includes 36 Tangram-style puzzles that have been simplified for young children. Featuring vibrant colors, smooth animations, and a clean interface, this app helps kids recognize shapes and objects while improving spatial skills and having fun.

Bells and Whistles

Puzzles appear on a wooden backdrop, with the puzzle outlines on the left and colorful puzzle pieces randomly arranged on the right. The pieces are already properly oriented, so rotation is not required. Simply touch a puzzle piece and drag it to the appropriate space. If correctly placed, you’ll be rewarded with the sound of a bell.

Puzzle-Solving Star

My First Tangrams features kid-friendly objects including a boat, a fish, a house, a flower, and much more. You’ll also enjoy relaxing background music while you play. Best of all, you’ll feel like a puzzle-solving star when you hear the applause after successfully completing each puzzle. Have fun learning shapes and solving puzzles with My First Tangrams.

Amazon Kindle vs Acacia: Patent Troll Tries Again

By now Kindle users have become familiar with the idea of sponsored screen savers on their eReaders when the devices are on standby.  They are generally unobtrusive, don’t get in the way of the reading experience, and can even offer some decent deals from time to time when you get lucky.  Not many people argue against them anymore, especially since Amazon now allows users to pay the price difference between a Kindle with ads and a Kindle without ads to have the whole mechanism disabled entirely.  Unfortunately, the idle screen’s ads have opened Amazon up to a claim of patent infringement from one of the biggest “Patent Trolls” in operation.

The company making the accusation, Network Presentations Solutions, is a shell company operated by Acacia Research Group.  Acacia Research Group, as some might remember from last October, has taken on Amazon before with regard to Kindle devices.  Last time it was a variety of issues regarding the Kindle Fire.  This time around, they have acquired the rights to a patent for any personal computing device that shows ads on a screen after a certain designated period of idling.  Naturally this would include all recent Kindle offerings, in addition to other companies such as Kobo that have followed in Amazon’s footsteps, one would think.

What are they hoping to accomplish with this suit?  The requested ruling would require Amazon to pay a substantial penalty, recall and destroy every Kindle device ever sold with the Special Offers screen savers, issue a copy of the court ruling along with an admission of wrongdoing to everybody who has ever owned a Kindle, and generally appear contrite and humbled.  More realistically, Acacia is hoping for a substantial payday when Amazon settles to avoid the potentially huge ramifications of losing.  Patent Trolls are not held in particularly high regard at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they always lose in court.  Amazon isn’t exactly the most beloved company around at the moment either, after all.

While there seems to have been no word as to what, if any, progress has been made on the last Acacia vs Amazon lawsuit, it is a fair assumption that Amazon is not in the habit of quietly accepting this sort of thing.  They have placed a great deal of faith in the Kindle line, both eReader and Tablet offerings, and such vaguely applicable patents have questionable standing when held up to scrutiny.  Remember that a software patent holder needs to be able to prove that its patent involves a non-obvious solution to a problem.  It is hard to say whether or not advertisements in place of screen savers would really qualify in the eyes of the court.

Chances are good that this is not the last time we’ll be seeing Amazon hit with patent litigation.  Patent Trolling is huge money and there is a lot of profit to be made in anything somebody can make stick to the Kindle.  With the next generation of Kindle Fire just around the corner and the possibility of a Kindle Phone being whispered about in vague rumors about the distant future, Amazon is just going to be even more open to these things.  Hopefully the added expense of an occasional settlement or legal dispute won’t be enough to scare them off of ongoing hardware development.

Daily Deals: A Noble Cause and Whiteboard Pro

A Noble Cause

For thrillers lovers Amazon offers a good chance to get the following book: A Noble Cause by J. Gregory Smith just for $0.99.

Mark Noble plans a surprise proposal to his beautiful girlfriend during a romantic Caribbean vacation. But before he can pop the question, his girlfriend disappears, and his father–a world famous celebrity doctor who seems to have perfected mind-control–is killed in a mysterious fire back home in Pennsylvania.

When Mark investigates both his girlfriend’s disappearance and his father’s death, he realizes that the two events are connected. He attempts to unravel the mystery with the help of his eccentric grandmother and the courageous crew–one a former Navy SEAL–of her luxury yacht, putting all of their lives in danger as Mark faces a rich and powerful foe determined to pry from Mark a secret he doesn’t even know he possesses.

Breakneck pacing and taut plotting mark Greg Smith’s sophomore effort, a top-notch thriller with keen intelligence and shocking twists that create a brooding, vice-like compression that leaves little room to breathe.

 

Whiteboard Pro

Jot down ideas, sketch plans, or just doodle with Whiteboard Pro, an Android app that offers a simple way to let your creativity roam. Draw shapes and erase them, just like on a real whiteboard. Choose from a variety of easy ways to fine-tune your drawings, and share your creations with your friends.

The Board That’s Never Boring

Whiteboard Pro is all about simplicity. The toolbar interface is a snap to use, and it makes creating a drawing quick and intuitive. Whether you want to express your inner creative self or just play a quick game of tic-tac-toe, you’ll find it easy to get started.

Don’t be fooled by the app’s ease of use, however; there are still plenty of opportunities to customize your work. Choose from four instant shapes (line, rectangle, circle, and freehand), four colors (black, red, blue, and green), and three line widths. It’s easy to set these features and create one-of-a-kind images with very little legwork.

As you draw, use the pan and zoom features to add details. Saving, opening, and deleting files is a breeze, and the “infinite undo” feature means you can modify your work at any step along the way.

When you’ve completed your masterpiece, you can share it via e-mail, picture message, Bluetooth, Evernote, Catch, and more. You can also export any drawing to PNG, JPG, or SVG formats.

Amazon Kindle Loses Access to 5,000 Titles in IPG Dispute

In response to some arm twisting by Amazon, the Independent Publishers Group has decided to take a stand and pull all of their titles from the Kindle Store.  While the Kindle is a great device and the Kindle platform is possibly the best on the market for the consumer right now, this is a move that both makes sense and needed to happen.  The only question now is whether or not either side will be willing to explore the options presented by the situation rather than simply holding their ground and waiting to see who blinks first.

Basically, the problem is over pricing.  The Big 6 Publishers have enough clout to force Amazon to accept the Agency Model price scheme with all of their titles.  I’ve gone into why this is not a good thing plenty of times before and will do so again in the future, so it isn’t really worth indulging in today.  Smaller publishers, including the IPG, sell their content to Amazon wholesale.  This means smaller profits on each individual sale and it allows Amazon to exercise more control over the prices offered to readers.  This is also not necessarily a good thing, as in this case when Amazon is using their position as the main supplier of eBooks in the world to force their suppliers to offer more favorable terms than they can afford.

So we have Amazon wanting to lower prices on Kindle Editions and the IPG wanting to maintain their profits at a level roughly similar to what is made off of print books (based on statements taken from the IPG’s main site).  What we really need is not for one side to win over the other so much as a more adaptive model to emerge.  It makes sense for new releases of Kindle books to be priced similarly to their printed counterparts.  There should always be a premium on new media like that, although the savings inherent in using the eBook format should still be reflected in the price for readers.  When it comes to older titles, though, something else needs to be done.  Unlike physical reprinting, there is no ongoing cost of production.  Aside from the author royalties, they are pretty much pure profit for publishers and distributors.  Perhaps a tiered system would make more sense?

Regardless of any proposals for revamping the system, this is probably going to end messily somehow.  While the loss of a mere 5,000 eBooks won’t make a huge dent in the Kindle’s selection, the press surrounding the drama taking place won’t help Amazon any.  They are as likely to be persuaded to offer somewhat better terms just for the PR boost as to ignore the problem entirely.  On the other hand, the IPG is going to be hurting fairly quickly from the lack of Amazon as a channel.  They can’t last forever.  Where this goes will be based on the support they receive and the pressure that can be brought to bear on Amazon.  If you get the chance, lend your support in some way.  They’re going to need it, and Amazon is going to need an overhaul of some sort sooner or later to keep quality content coming in for their Kindle customers.

Daily Deals: Slumberland and Radiant HD

Slumberland: A Novel

Today Amazon unveils a new Kindle book deal: Slumberland: A Novel by Paul Beatty just for $1.99.

Critical darling Paul Beatty’s highly original, widely praised novel of race, identity, and underground music. After creating the perfect beat, DJ Darky goes in search of Charles Stone, a little know avant-garde jazzman, to play over his sonic masterpiece. His quest brings him to a recently unified Berlin, where he stumbles through the city’s dreamy streets ruminating about race, sex, love, Teutonic gods , the prevent defense, and Wynton Marsalis in search of his artistic-and spiritual-other.

Ferocious, bombastic, and laugh-out-loud funny, Slumberland is vintage Paul Beatty and belongs on the shelf next to Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead, and Junot Diaz.

Some words about the Author

Paul Beatty is the author of two novels, Tuff and The White Boy Shuffle, and two books of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African- American Humor. He lives in New York City.

 

Radiant HD

Today only you can get the following game for free: Radiant HD

Radiant HD gives you arcade shoot ‘em up goodness the way you like it, blending retro tropes like limited movement (right and left only) with modern takes on the genre such as upgradeable weapons and on-screen power-ups.

Battle on one of three difficulty settings through a three-part story with over 100 levels. Collect power-ups, upgrade an impressive arsenal, and dodge your foes to stay alive. Destroy over 10 huge bosses like the Planet Cruncher, the Hunters, and the Supervisor. The challenges may be steep, but the power at your disposal is staggering.

Blasting asteroids, groups of baddies, and larger enemies can reveal credits in 25, 50, and 100 increments. Collect these and every few stages you’ll get a chance to spend them on upgrades to your guns. Each weapon can go up to level 10, and the rate of fire and number of rounds fired with each shot will improve as you buy upgrades. Invest wisely in each of these interchangeable extensions like you would in a role-playing game to smooth out your weaknesses and prepare for any challenge that may come your way.

Radiant HD doesn’t just ask you to dodge rocks and return enemy fire; it rewards you for your destruction and smooth moves with helpful power-ups. Like collecting credits, other power-ups may appear when you destroy your enemies. Unlike credits, though, these goodies will sate your need for instant gratification.

This HD version of Radiant is optimized for tablets and high-end handsets (Galaxy Tab, Galaxy S, DROID, Desire, Incredible, myTouch 4G, G2, EVO, Nexus One, Nexus S, etc.). Try the non-HD version if you have a lower-spec device.

Amazon Kindle Borrowing Scares Penguin Away From Helping Libraries

Obviously there has often been a bit of strain in the relationship between publishers and libraries, much of the time with arguments along the same lines as those currently used against media piracy, but eBooks have been an especially touchy issue.  To illustrate how serious they are about disliking eBooks in general and the Kindle in particular, with regard to lending at least, Penguin has chosen to abandon eBook availability in libraries entirely for the time being.  This is hardly the first time a major publisher or even Penguin in particular has reacted publicly against eBook lending, but it could be the first time there was anything resembling a sane rationale behind it.

At the moment, the vast majority of libraries in the US offer any eBooks they have available to borrow using the OverDrive service.  As essentially the only major platform that libraries have the option of using, pulling out of OverDrive means pulling out of libraries.  Unfortunately, publishers see the partnership that this service has developed with Amazon to provide Kindle compatibility as being damaging.  Currently when a Kindle owner wants to borrow a library book, they pass through Amazon’s web page.  This allows the retailer an opportunity to offer suggestions or advertisements and thereby potentially monetize library lending.  There is ample evidence that publishers really dislike Amazon and the Kindle platform in general already, and this extra bit of opportunity is even more of a problem than the already distasteful fact that libraries let people read without spending money.

Sadly, this could spur some of the competition for OverDrive into a more prominent position.  3M, for example, is working on ways to take a part of that market for themselves with a new service by giving publishers more of what they want in terms of control.  What do publishers want?  Mostly they want things complicated.  An oft-expressed complaint about eBook lending is that it is too fluid.  Borrowers should be required, they maintain, to be at the library when they borrow at the very least and even that is a minimum standard.  As much friction as possible is desired so that eBooks do not become more convenient than paper books.  The 3M example is particularly relevant since they are discussing offering kiosks that users would be required to use any time they want to borrow an eBook.  While it defeats the point for many people, these publishers would generally prefer them not to borrow in the first place anyway.

Now, pulling out of OverDrive over Amazon’s sales opportunities makes sense in a few ways given the concern about the company’s increasing influence and the fact that other OverDrive partners don’t have similar options.  By offering no alternatives and openly embracing a philosophy of obstruction regarding eReading as a whole, however, Penguin is sending a message to their customers that they just don’t care who gets hurt by their sluggish reaction to new media.  They want to drive people away from the Kindle by making life harder for Kindle users, but really this just damages their own position.  Making a move like this without offering libraries other options was at best premature.

Daily Deals: Gold Box Deal of the Day: “Best American” Series 2011 and Aces Traffic Puzzle Pack

The Best American Short Stories 2011: The Best American Series

Today Amazon shares with set of books - “Best American” Series 2011. The “Best American” series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Today only, the 2011 anthologies of short stories, science & nature writing, essays, “nonrequired reading,” mystery stories, travel writing, and sports writing are just $1.99 each. Here are short description of each book in the collection with some reviews on them.

The Best American Short Stories 2011 includes:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, Allegra Goodman, Ehud Havazelet, Rebecca Makkai, Steven Millhauser, George Saunders, Mark Slouka, and others.

“I am a big fan of short fiction, and I am always looking for opportunities to read a good short story or two. In the years gone by, when I was not as busy with my work, I’d probably read a story or two a week, mostly in the New Yorker or some similar magazine with a literary bend. Recently, though, I’ve drifted away from those publications and don’t get a chance to read short stories as often as usual. I still make a point of going through the “Best American Short Stories” collections at the end of each year. They keep me abreast of what has been written lately, but each year’s edition can swing widely in terms of the quality of writing. I felt that in recent years stories, incredibly literary and well-written as they were, have become stale and too workshop-like. Fortunately, after reading this year’s collection I have a renewed sense of optimism about American short story. In my opinion, this is perhaps the best collection in three to four years and well worth reading.

The first few stories in this collection did not really impress me all that much. The American authors still seem to be more obsessed with the inner states of the protagonists minds, interpersonal relationships, and overall moods and sentiments than they are with the plot development and a delivery of just good old storytelling. However, the quality of the stories picked up and soon enough I was reading stories that had a lot of emotional impact and had you thinking and coming back to them for days after I finished reading them. A few of the stories that stood out for me were Nathan Englander’s “Free Fruits for Young Widows,” Ricardo Nuila’s “Dog Bites,” and George Sunders’ “Escape From Spiderhead.” Many others took chances with the narrative style, plot twists, and the points of view. They were as interesting and provocative as they were well written. Overall, I am really happy with this year’s choices and hope to see many such good stories in the upcoming edition of this collection.” –Dr. Bojan Tunguz

The Best American Mystery Stories 2011: The Best American SeriesThe Best American Mystery Stories 2011 includes:
Lawrence Block, Brendan DuBois, Loren D. Estleman, Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, Ed Gorman, Richard Lange, S. J. Rozan, Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, and others

“Ranging from homespun to lush and tropical, this year’s crop of 20 stories offers a variety of tastes and textures.

But exotic doesn’t always mean compelling. Charles McCarry’s “The End of the String,” set in Africa, lumbers like an elephant toward a conclusion as momentous as a mouse. “Diamond Alley,” Dennis McFadden’s quiet tale of small-town teens confronting the murder of a popular classmate, packs a far greater punch. Family stories are equally powerful. In Christopher Merkner’s chilling “Last Cottage,” a young couple tries to outlast a neighbor determined to oust them from their waterfront home. Across cultures, mothers protect. In Richard Lange’s “Baby Killer,” Blanca struggles with an acting-out granddaughter. And although embarrassed by her profession, a Chinese mother helps her detective daughter in S.J. Rozan’s “Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case.” An absentee father’s return challenges a wife who’s moved on in Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Stars Are Falling.” But Chris F. Holm shows in “The Hitter” that sometimes the greatest threat is to the dads themselves. Families don’t always grow through birth or marriage, as Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin reveal in “What His Hands Had Been Waiting For.” And of course, some families are just plain toxic, as Lawrence Block’s “Clean Slate” and Loren D. Estleman’s “Sometimes a Hyena” aptly demonstrate. But nasty behavior isn’t just a family affair. Eric Barnes shows teenagers wreaking havoc for no particular reason in his slow-moving “Something Pretty, Something Beautiful.” And in “A Long Time Dead,” Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins show that evil can turn up where it’s least expected.

It has its highs and lows, but the best of Coben’s Best is really first-rate.” – Kirkus

 

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011: The Best American Series The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 includes:
Atul Gawande, Jonathan Franzen, Deborah Blum, Malcolm Gladwell, Oliver Sacks, Jon Mooallem, Jon Cohen, Luke Dittrich, and others

“I’ve been reading this series for more than ten years. It has consistently been the single best way for the harried resident of the 21st century to come up to speed on what is going on in the crazy, achingly beautiful, wonderful world of well done science. This issue….it is simply the best ever. You want thrills and chills? Occasionally like to read something scary enough to give you a tingling spine and goosebumps? Do you enjoy having your mind subjected to a scientifc Shock and Awe campaign from time to time? Are you the type that has been known to lapse into a nirvana like state when exposed to repeated “Eureka!” moments, pummeled into bliss by overdoses of intoxicating insights? Well, then. If your answer is yes to any or all of the above questions, drop that trashy beach novel, toss that overly serious mono-topic non-fiction tome that you’re dutifully, with all the determination of a nuclear powered icebreaker, forging through, and buy this book. Buy it yesterday, and enjoy it for many tomorrows.

I’m not going to list each story’s theme. But here’s what you can expect: the best contemporary science and nature writers of 2011 allow you to see outward into the universe with the power of the Hubble Space Telescope, look inward with the detail of tunneling electron microscopy, and most importantly of all, allow you to look into an extremely highly polished mirror. And you’ll see in this mirror, in exquisite detail, how we humans react when confronted with birth, life, sex. How we act when our desire for gastronomic delicacies threatens the existence of a non-human species. What we do when long held assumptions shatter into a bazillion little bits, like the safety glass in car windows, when new evidence explodes, or implodes, a more comfortable and more familiar way of looking at life. Does this all sound too melodramatic, too grandiose? Well then. You’ll also found out why eating slightly ripe, or very ripe, food out of dumpsters might actually be good for you. And cheap, to boot.

Sometimes, just once in a while, artists (in this case, writers), lift science out of the dry text book pages, out of the logical march of mathematical equations, and hold the nature of this world that we live in up for inspection with such clarity, such luminescence, that awe is the only response one feels capable of. Which this book does, 25 different times in a row.” –Daniel Murphy “Dan Murphy” (Redmond, OR USA)

 

The Best American Essays 2011: The Best American SeriesThe Best American Essays 2011 includes:
Hilton Als, Katy Butler, Toi Derricotte, Christopher Hitchens, Pico Iyer, Charlie LeDuff, Chang-Rae Lee, Lia Purpura, Zadie Smith, Reshma Memon Yaqub, and others

“Best of Anthologies often catch a lot of flak on Amazon, but this year’s Best American Essays is superb. I’ve loved each piece I’ve read. Individual pieces cover a variety of topics, styles, and backgrounds. Two of my favorites so far are Pico Iyer’s “Chapels” which is a meditative piece about finding quiet, and Madge McKeithen’s “What Really Happened,” which I can’t even describe here because I would mess it up.

The pieces in this anthology will expand your worldview and deepen your understanding of all the ways we are alive and human.” – Happy Epsilon

 

 

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011: The Best American SeriesThe Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 includes:
Daniel Alarcón, Clare Beams, Sloane Crosley, Anthony Doerr, Neil Gaiman, Mohammed Hanif, Mac McClelland, Michael Paterniti, Olivier Schrauwen, Gary Shteyngart, and others.

“The BANR 2011, besides having the most interesting and fun short fiction, non-fiction and assorted other offerings, is unique in its creation, being the product of lots of time and effort by high school students. They have chosen a little something for everyone: a wonderful essay about Roger Ebert, two funky and interesting story length cartoons, many short stories that make you think, and, of course, the best “wikileaks revelations” of 2011!! Based on your personal taste, you may not like everything in this book, but I know you will like a lot of it. Let’s hear it for non-required and fun reading!!” – L. Jackson

 

 

 

The Best American Travel Writing 2011: The Best American SeriesThe Best American Travel Writing 2011 includes:
André Aciman, Christopher Buckley, Maureen Dowd, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Ariel Levy, Téa Obreht, Annie Proulx, Gary Shteyngart, William T. Vollmann, Emily Witt, and others

“The criteria for selecting the pieces that make up this collection are stated in the Forward and in the Introduction to this collection of essays. Travel writing isn’t guidebook information and a series of lists. Rather it is storytelling and approaching a place or certain locale from a different perspective that illuminates the subject matter by storytelling. It is a window into life as we don’t know it. It presents the unexpected.

The travel writing in this anthology does just that. Each author presents life in a new and different light that makes the reader pause and think. We are given insight into the culture, geography, and history of a certain place or people through another’s observation, description, analysis or comment.

The beauty of this collection is in the variety of places in the individual pieces and the particular voice of each author. Some essays are light and playful while others are quite serious. Ben Austen’s “Southern Culture on the Skids” is a far cry from William Vollmann’s “A Head for the Emir.” Annie Proulx’s “A Year of Birds” could also be described as excellent nature writing. “Miami Party Boom” by Emily Witt displays an edgy youth culture totally unfamiliar to suburbanites.

I’m not sure the articles in this volume are the very best of travel writing today since there is so much published in print and online, but each of these articles did provide the unexpected in an entertaining manner. Each essay presented a new experience for the reader, giving meaning to present life in an engaging manner that was fresh, original and creative. That’s what I like.” —  Anne Burnik

 

The Best American Sports Writing 2011: The Best American SeriesThe Best American Sports Writing 2011 includes:
Paul Solotaroff, Sally Jenkins, Wells Tower, John McPhee, David Dobbs, Wright Thompson, P. J. O’Rourke, Selena Roberts, and others

“I buy this book every year for my brother at Christmas. He looks forward to it and he expects it! He likes the variety of stories written by excellent journalists and authors.” – C. Register “Rubeslippr”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aces Traffic Puzzle Pack

Also, today Amazon offers to download a game for your Kindle Fire for free - Aces Traffic Puzzle Pack

Parking Lot Blues

Honk! Honk! You’re trapped! You’re stuck in a crowded parking lot, so you must use masterful strategy to maneuver the cars and clear a path for your grand escape. With 480 different puzzles, Aces Traffic Pack is a challenge for even the most sophisticated drivers. This puzzler offers 80 puzzles per level from Novice, Amateur, Rookie, Pro, All Star, and finally Ace. You’ll always have to come up with a new escape plan.

Get those limos out of the way
The bird’s-eye view of each parking disaster provides a clear field of vision and perspective. For further ease of use, apply the gridlines to help visualize your next move.

King of the Road
You can’t be a road king if you don’t keep track of your stats. Aces Traffic Pack keeps a variety of records. Keep tabs on your overall stats, level stats, and even stats for specific puzzles. The online high scores and statistic tracking adds a competitive element, so you can compete against yourself or challenge a friend to beat your best time or lowest move count. See which puzzles you’ve easily escaped, which are giving you traffic nightmares, and which ones you’ve haven’t solved yet.

Aces Traffic Pack features colorful backdrops of cityscapes with open starry skies and the rumbling of car engines. The racecar-themed interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, but there’s nothing easy about figuring out your escape route.

Color E-Ink Kindle on the Horizon?

Don’t give up on e-ink Kindles yet.  After the success of the Kindle Fire and the tablet boom, I was beginning to think that e-ink was on its way out.  However, there are new speculations floating around in the tech world about Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) supposed order of color e-ink  screens.

If that is so, we might be seeing a color e-ink version of the Kindle sometime next summer or early fall.  The timing is based on the past yearly refresh of the Kindle lineup.

I think this would give e-ink a much needed jump start to reclaim its place in the electronic sales market.  Tablets are showing unprecedented success, and are threatening to leave the e-ink devices behind to become a niche market unless they don’t do something about it.

The biggest advantages of a color e-ink Kindle over an LCD tablet are that it doesn’t cause eye strain and suck up battery life.  I love my iPad, but I can’t sit and read it for longer periods of time.  My Kindle’s battery lasts for a couple of months, whereas my iPad’s battery lasts about 10 hours or less depending on use.

Looking at it from an accessibility standpoint, there are certain vision conditions that cause the user to be sensitive to bright lights.  E-ink is obviously a lot friendlier to that type of condition.

The e-ink Kindle began as a single service device designed for reading.  The electronic paper style that the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other e-ink readers use is designed to simulate the experience of reading a real book.  Adding color would provide better graphics for comics, newspapers and magazines.  To me, comics are a better fit for paper rather than LCD.

I am excited about this new development.  I think in the long run there will be hybrid e-ink and LCD tablets out there on the market.  I don’t know about you, but it can get cumbersome toting around several different gadgets that each fulfill a different purpose.   By adding color, e-ink is a step closer towards making a device like that a reality.

 

Daily Deals: All About Steve and Astral Plague

All About Steve: The Story of Steve Jobs and Apple from the Pages of Fortune

Today Amazon offers to get the book All About Steve: The Story of Steve Jobs and Apple from the Pages of Fortune  written by The Editors of Fortune. This book comes with great discount and costs only $1.99.

Steve Jobs’ legacy is clear: The most innovative business leader of our time, the man FORTUNE named CEO of the Decade in 2009. Now from the pages of FORTUNE comes an anthology of 17 classic stories spanning the years 1983 to 2011 about the cultural icon who revolutionized computing, telephones, movies, music, retailing, and product design. The stories lay out in unparalleled detail the career of a man with relentless drive and a single underlying passion—to carry out his vision of how all of us would use technology. Writes managing editor Andy Serwer in the book’s foreward: “In the end he was proved right a billion times over, and his company Apple became one of the most successful enterprises on the planet.” All these stories are the product of deep reporting. In many cases FORTUNE’s writers spent hours interviewing Jobs and delving into his mind. The result is a singular journalistic collection, which will leave you with a comprehensive picture of Steve Jobs and Apple, a picture that is complex in the making yet simple in its triumph.

 

Astral PlagueDefend humanity from destruction in Astral Plague!

Zap ‘Em

Play as Captain Riley of the spaceship SEPP Paladin, and blast your way through the cosmos. Your mission: To defend humanity against the invasion of hostile aliens. The motives of these Cholerans are unclear, but they are bent on destroying everything in their path!

Zap those aliens to smithereens in this fun, addicting action game. Play through tons of varied levels, and get lost in the deep storyline.

Get Hooked

Astral Plague’s gameplay is simple but unique. Combining classic top-down shooters and “tower defense” elements, it is a test of both your reflexes and strategic skills. The intuitive touchscreen controls make it easy to steer the ship and shoot the bad guys.

Play through multiple chapters filled with rich story and varied levels. Engage in planetary protection, escort convoys, and see how long you can survive. Upgrade your arsenal with in-game power-ups , and tailor the SEPP Paladin to your playing style.

Kindle Touch Will Launch Amazon’s eBook Efforts in Japan This April

Recent reports via The Nikkei indicate that Amazon will finally be bringing their bestselling Kindle eReader line to Japan in April of this year with their newest model, the Kindle Touch 3G.  It will carry a  20,000 yen price tag (~260USD), which seems a bit high compared to what the same model is going for elsewhere, but this will actually be rather competitive with existing 3G eReader options in Japan.  Amazon has teamed up with Japanese cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo to offer 3G access which, as with all other Kindle 3G products, will require no data plan or monthly fee of any sort.

This will be a big step for Amazon in a number of ways.  Not least of these is the fact that they are entering into an uphill battle against both established competing hardware providers and a whole new publishing industry that has demonstrated a tendency to be far more resistant to the eBook as a medium than their US counterparts.  Sony and Panasonic are among the more recognizable names that already have a presence but this will also involve going up against Japan-based Rakuten, the company that recently acquired Kobo as a subsidiary and which has an impressive presence in the market already.

When dealing specifically with the issue of eBook supply, many have noticed that Japanese selections are pointedly missing from current Kindle Store offerings.  This is not really a coincidence.  Even localized Japanese eBook stores, such as that offered by Sony, reportedly tend to offer tens of thousands of titles compared to hundreds of thousands in other markets, and these don’t always even include bestsellers.  Either there are some accommodations already planned for building relationships with Japan’s book publishers, or Amazon intends to rely even more heavily than usual on their ability to attracted talented self publishing authors to the Kindle Direct Publishing program.

While this will be a great thing for fans of eReading in Japan, there is unfortunately not yet any real reason to get hopes up regarding a Kindle Fire offering.  Currently it is expected that the UK will be the first to have access to the Kindle Fire outside of the US and even that is taking an absurdly long time for many peoples’ tastes.  The transition to Japan would require a far more extensive localization effort than even the Kindle Touch 3G will require as well as an impressively large amount of infrastructure development for Amazon.  That says nothing about the complications of digitals video rights acquisition, which one would imagine to be a major concern in this case but which I lack the ability to offer any informed commentary about at this time.

Regardless of how much of the Kindle Family makes the trip, it is good to see Amazon expanding their efforts in non-Anglophone countries.  While this tends to provide more complications at first, it’s worth it to get the Kindle out there.  Hopefully this effort in particular will be more than just a passive offering of Kindle hardware and KDP, so as to draw more publisher attention to the potential for digital publishing in Japan.

Daily Deals: How We Decide and Wikinvest Ad-Free

How We Decide

How does the human mind make decisions? How can we make our decisions better? Answering these questions is the goal of prominent science writer Johan Lehrer. His answers come from tapping into leading-edge neuroscience and the real-life experiences of deciders, from airplane pilots to gamblers. Want to read about it? Just get the book “How We Decide” just for $0.99 within Daily Deal today only.

The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience to help us make the best decisions.

Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate, or we blink and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind’s black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they re discovering that this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it’s best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we’re picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to use the different parts of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.

Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of deciders from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players. Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?

Wikinvest Ad-Free

 

Wikinvest Portfolio for Android tracks all of your investment accounts, all in one place. Set up your investment and finance accounts on Wikinvest.com, or add them directly from the application so you can follow all of your investments wherever you go. Wikinvest’s secure connection automatically imports your stock, ETF, and mutual fund holdings into one view and updates nightly so you never have to enter your trades or holdings into a portfolio management tool again.

Every Time, It’s Personal

Import holdings from more than 60 brokerages, including Ameriprise Financial, Edward Jones, Etrade, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, Hewitt, Janus, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, OptionsXpress, Prudential, Salomon Smith Barney, Scottrade, Sharebuilder, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Thinkorswim, T. Rowe Price, UBS, USAA, Vanguard, Wachovia, Zecco, and many more.

Don’t see your brokerage in the list? Let the developer know. You can still use the Wikinvest Portfolio even if your brokerages aren’t supported by setting up your portfolios and watchlists manually on Wikinvest.com or in the app.

Rotate to compare your performance to major indices with performance and account value charts. Stay up-to-date with the markets each day with real-time quotes and news for your entire portfolio along with top news and quotes from the general markets. Then, research your next investment with company charts, news, community analysis, and fundamentals data.
Safety and Security First, Always

The app’s servers are protected by 24/7 on-site security and use 256-bit SSL encryption for all of the data. None of your data is personally identifiable. This portfolio tracker is read-only; you cannot make trades from this platform. Wikinvest has been reviewed by Verisign, McAfee, TRUSTe, as well as security experts from Amazon.com.

Brokerage import is limited to U.S. brokerages that support OFX at this time. More brokerages will be added in the coming months. Options and fixed income products can be imported, but historical prices are not supported at this time.

New Handwriting Tool for the Kindle Touch

There are a multitude of Sudoku puzzles and variations of Sudoku puzzles on the Kindle.  Many of them are quite popular and addictive.

If you aren’t familiar with how Sudoku works, here’s a brief explanation.  It is a number strategy puzzle that is meant to give your brain a good work out.  There is a large 9×9 grid that contains 3×3 grids already populated with a few numbers to get you started.  The goal is to fill in all squares in the grid with numbers 1-9 without putting the same numbers in a row or column.

Puzzazz, the developer of multiple Sukoku style games for the Kindle has created a new puzzle that uses actual hand motions to enter in the numbers.  This makes inputting the number so much faster because you don’t have to worry about either finding the number on a tiny physical keyboard or accessing the on screen keyboard available on the newer Kindles.

In other words, instead of using the Kindle Touch’s on screen keyboard to input numbers into the Sudoku puzzle, you have to trace the number by hand.  Once you put it in, it will convert automatically into a digital number.

Whoever said handwriting is extinct?  With everything going digital, it will be interesting to observe how it affects handwriting.  Touchscreens are making e-readers and tablets so much more interactive, which can take handwriting to a whole new level.

The cells on the grid can be small.  So, you can either trace the number in the actual cell, or trace it across the screen.  The number will go into the cell that you start tracing it in.

Sudoku Unbound #3 is available to all e-ink Kindles, but the Kindle Touch is the only one that supports the handwriting tool.  It is the first of hopefully many more hand controlled  puzzles to come.  Most of the popular Kindle games and applications have been upgraded to support the Kindle Touch.

Daily Deals: The Shop and Dominoes

The ShopFor those, who love thrillers, Amazon offers The Shop by J. Carson Black just for $0.99

In Aspen, Colorado, a pop star and her entourage are brutally murdered in their luxury chalet. The lead assassin, ex-Navy SEAL Cyril Landry, has no qualms about carrying out his mission until the instant before he kills the young star—an intense, shared moment that will ultimately drive him to find out why these people had to die. Landry transforms from mercenary to hunter as he delves into the depths of The Shop, the shadowy organization that has hired him to execute people across the country.

Thousands of miles away, in a seedy motel in Gardenia, Florida, a local police chief is found shot to death. The scene has all the signs of a romantic rendezvous gone wrong, but Detective Jolie Burke isn’t so sure. As she digs for clues, the tangled threads of evidence lead to a disturbing place: Indigo, the lush tropical estate of the powerful Haddox clan and home of US Attorney General Franklin Haddox. As Jolie continues to pursue the truth, she quickly discovers that Haddox will do anything to protect his country’s ugly secrets—even kill.

Landry’s quest to uncover The Shop’s motives throws him into the dark currents of Jolie’s investigation, and they find themselves working together as an unlikely duo: a cop and a killer, joining forces to expose a shocking conspiracy that ascends to the highest offices in the land.

Intricate and fast-paced, The Shop is a breathtaking thriller in the vein of Nelson DeMille and David Baldacci.

 

DominoesThe game of Dominoes has been around for thousands of years. Historically carved from ivory or animal bone, the oldest known domino set was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. Dominoes games have been played by kings and presidents, and now Dominoes the app, from Polyclef Software, brings this ancient game to your Android device.

Straight Dominoes, AKA Muggins

Dominoes keeps things simple with one basic domino game. Known as Straight Dominoes, Fives Up, All Fives, or Muggins, it is the most common variation of the game and is relatively easy to learn. Each player starts with seven dominoes from a 28-tile double six set. Players take turns laying down tiles, making sure that each tile has a value that matches the tile they are laying it next to, and scoring points whenever the total of the open ends adds up to a multiple of five. The game ends when one of the players reaches 250 points.

You Against the Computer

Dominoes features a computer AI opponent that will help you hone your skills for the next time you’re playing against a real person. The interface is intuitive–simply drag dominoes on to the playing area just like you would in real life. Point totals are calculated automatically. In order to make the best use of limited screen real estate, some of the inner dominoes may become hidden as play progresses, but there is an option to show all played dominoes at any time.

A Few Simple Options

Keeping with the simple theme, Dominoes has only a few options to choose from. You can select one of four different board colors, and can play with or without sound. Players can alternate turns, or the first player out can go first each round. Lastly, games can be re-set at any time if things aren’t going well.

Amazon on Netflix: No Monthly Instant Video Service Planned For Immediate Future

Since just before the official announcement of the Kindle Fire, and clearly in preparation for the anticipated release, Amazon has been making efforts to beef up their Amazon Instant Video selection.  Many of these new acquisitions have even been made part of the Prime Instant Videos library, which allows customers subscribing annually to the Amazon Prime service to stream available content to any compatible device whenever they want with no additional purchase necessary.  More than anything, this is the reason that new Kindle Fire owners find themselves enjoying a month of free Amazon Prime membership.  It works well to get potential subscribers hooked.  More and more, however, people have been viewing the ever-expanding collection of titles as a direct assault on Netflix.

As the most popular video streaming service on the internet today, Netflix caters to over 24 million subscribers and accounted for about a third of all internet bandwidth being used as of last fall.  They have had some issues recently after mishandling the publicizing of rate hikes necessitated by expiring streaming rights deals as well as a poorly thought out attempt to split the company into two separate entities specializing in only one aspect of the physical media and digital video combination that customers have come to expect, but subscriptions have since rebounded and there is little sign that they are in immediate danger.

When Netflix CEO Reed Hastings mentioned in a letter to shareholders that he is expecting Amazon to start breaking the Instant Video service away from Amazon Prime in favor of a monthly model more analogous to what Netflix is known for, it was finally enough to elicit comment from Amazon.  Brad Beale, the Head of Video Acquisition for Amazon, made clear in a recent interview that it is not the intent of the company to change the way they’re handling things in the near future.  He seems to have avoided implying that this was something that would never happen, but at least for the moment Netflix is safe.

The logic behind the decision is sound.  Amazon Prime is already less expensive than even the cheapest Netflix subscription.  The video content you get with it is not nearly as extensive at this point as what Netflix offers, but nobody claims that it is.  By subscribing to Amazon’s service though, even if your goal is just to take advantage of the Kindle Fire’s integration with Amazon services, customers also get free 2-day shipping on anything Amazon sells.  The video streaming might not be the biggest money maker in the world, but the associated shipping benefit has a tendency to make impulse purchasing far more appealing.  This translates into more regular profits as well as customer loyalty.

Compared to that, it is hard to imagine a huge desire on Amazon’s part to start attacking Netflix on their own terms.  For the moment, at least, video distribution appears to remain a relatively small part of the company.  The Kindle Fire is obviously meant to change that and it does a good job of showing off the content, but the day when physical goods are less important to the company than digital sales has yet to arrive.

Daily Deals: House of Thieves and Tracing ABC

House of Thieves

When winter time is about the end we wish summer time most of all. Amazon could not sell you summer, but could help you to be there by using power of your imagination. While reading the next book House of Thieves by Kaui Hart Hemmings you will be in Hawaii just for $0.99.

In her debut collection of short stories, House of Thieves, Kaui Hart Hemmings has set the magnificent islands of Hawaii as a backdrop to describe bold frustrated adolescents and adults as they wrestle with themselves and each other over the age-old issues of deprived freedom, misguided love, being cool, and being true; and as they experience together the loneliness of feeling miserable in paradise.

The nine stories in House of Thieves are told from varied points of view–a father, a child, a young woman, an adolescent boy, and more. Rooted in the circumstances and situations of island people, they reveal the mundane cycle of small triumphs and tragedies that make up the lives of ordinary people everywhere. A single mother’s discovery of a pornographic magazine in her thirteen-year-old son’s room sends her down a spiral of jealousy that ultimately guarantees her loss of him. A middle-aged man struggles with this secret hatred for his brother and finds a way to enact a revenge whose absolute destructiveness promises to heal him. A white man who is left by his native Hawaiian wife struggles to understand why he and his daughter, abandoned together, feel such deep resentment for each other. A boy who insists on the illusion of his happy family suddenly recognizes his father’s lack of real love and comes to “the understanding that certain things are severed and they can’t grow back again, the sorrow from loving a place that doesn’t love you back.”

Hemmings’ tart, confident voice plunges headfirst into the unfamiliar world of a Hawaii far from the tourist track, providing glimpses of the islands’ divisive racial and class issues, as well as the proud heritage of kings and warriors and the legacy of colonialists and missionaries. Her unceremonious dealing with issues like drugs, sex, and abandonment and her entirely unself-conscious prose allow her stories to wash effortlessly like an ocean wave, portraying with unsentimental insight and wry humor the complex forces that bind family members together in love and hate.

Tracing ABC

 

Get your little one on track to perfect penmanship with the Tracing ABC app for your Android device. Ideal for children four years and older, the Tracing ABC app has a simple and engaging interface designed to help children print letters, numbers, and various shapes with ease and confidence.

It’s as Easy as…

Choose among four practice options: capital letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and shapes. For the beginners with clumsy little fingers, the Guided Tracing Mode is a good place to start and Free Style Mode offers more of a challenge.

Just Learning

The Guided Tracing Mode displays a large, transparent letter on a chalkboard. A bright, green star indicates where your child should begin, followed by a path of fading yellow stars. To properly print the letter, your child will follow the yellow star path, beginning with the brightest, green star. If it’s necessary to lift the chalk for a new line, a new bright green star will appear indicating such.

Guided Tracing Mode makes it impossible to go outside of the lines. It’s best for simply familiarizing your child with the letters, and providing positive feedback and encouragement.

I Think I Got It

Free Style Tracing Mode offers a more organic writing experience when your child is ready for more of a challenge. While the star path is still there, the chalk line follows the exact path of your child’s finger. If your little one gets sloppy, the line will turn red. Each effort is awarded one, two, or three stars. Children may also be encouraged to simply try again.

A is for Alligator

After successfully tracing a letter, the overhead screen is pulled down displaying a word and photo of something beginning with that letter. Likewise, children will see a photo which represents the numbers and shapes as well.

Official Kindle App Coming to Blackberry Playbook 2.0?

Tomorrow we will finally get a chance to try out the new Blackberry Playbook 2.0, but we already have a bit of a surprise regarding its features.  According to an advertisement that seems to have inadvertently been slipped onto Best Buy’s Canadian site, for the first time ever Playbook users will have their own Kindle app.  There is a great deal of speculation at the moment over whether or not the Blackberry Tablet OS 2.0 update (now Blackberry Playbook OS) will be what makes the brand relevant again after their abrupt decline in recent years, and this would definitely be a good sign.

While many reports are taking it as a given at this point that the native Kindle app will ship with the hardware, there is still plenty of reason to be skeptical.  One of the big features of the update is that it will allow Android developers to easily port their apps for use on the Playbook.  Given that opportunity, it is easier to see Amazon just converting their Kindle for Android offering than making the effort to develop native software for an operating system with a comparatively narrow user base and uncertain future.

It is also possible, given the phrasing of the advertisement that has spurred all of this speculation, that it meant nothing more than that Playbook users will be able to make use of the Kindle Cloud Reader web app.  The exact lines in question read:

“Plug in to BlackBerry App World and read, write and game like never before. With thousands of apps for every use, you’ll never run out of new and exciting options. Pick up Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, read the latest magazines, or connect online with Facebook and Twitter apps. With access to Kobo and Kindle, you can enjoy new late night reading without ever leaving your living room.”

While this says there should really be something, it doesn’t rule out any of the options.  The current Twitter “app”, for example, is simply a link that takes users to their web interface.  Since the language in question has since been removed it may even have been in error completely, but this wouldn’t be the first time that early leaks like this turned out to be accurate.

There has been a series of announcements about RIM’s policies with regard to apps, including imported Android apps, that lead some to question the ongoing viability of the platform.  When the tablets finally start getting out to the public it will be more possible to gauge their impact on the market as a whole.  For those Blackberry fans who pick up the new Playbook, however, it is definitely good news that there will be some method for accessing Kindle libraries.  With luck, this will be the start of a resurgence of the Blackberry line as a major contender in the smartphone and tablet markets.  More competition generally means better products for everybody.  The Kindle Fire is my current favorite for the price, but nothing is ever perfect.

Daily Deals: Washington’s Crossing and Calculator

Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History)

Today Amazon offers to spend several evenings reading about great history moment of America. The name of book is Washington’s Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) by David Hackett Fischer. The price is $1.99
Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, George Washington–and many other Americans–refused to let the Revolution die. On Christmas night, as a howling nor’easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis’s best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington’s men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer’s richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning.

Calculator

Add the handy Calculator app to your Android device, and you’ll wonder how you got along without it. From the simple yet beautiful interface to the added features, Calculator is a must-have. Designed to replace the less-than-desirable stock calculator on Android devices, this calculator not only looks great but also has an intuitive design and full functionality.

All-in-one Calculator

This calculator app is ideal for kids, college students, and adults. It’s perfect for simply managing your budget as well as for tackling those tough trigonometry problems in your math class with Sin, Cos, Tan, inverse trig, and hyperbolic functions. You can even change the calculator’s functionality on the fly. Leave the calculator in portrait view to see just a simple calculator, or turn the calculator on its side to reveal a scientific calculator.

You can choose between three different calculator layouts depending on your needs. The Default Layout features a standard 10-key calculator in portrait mode and scientific calculator in landscape mode with advanced functions such as square root, exponents, factorials, and more. It can also calculate in both Radian and degree mode. The Business Layout adds a ‘%’ key in portrait mode and a ’00′ key. The Simple Layout keeps the 10-key calculator in both portrait and landscape mode when all you need is a simple calculator.

Other Great Features

Change the look and feel of the calculator to suit your preference. The app includes a variety of different skins to match your device. The memory buttons (M+, M-, MR, and MC) are fully functional. Calculator will even remember the value stored when you close the app.

Calculator looks great from the smallest to the largest screens as well as low and high-density screens. Calculator supports App2SD for 2.2+ Android devices.

Kindle for Android, Reading Apps & Good E-Reader

Earlier this month the Kindle for Android app got a bit of an update.  While nothing huge, it did finally bring the Real Page Numbers to Android users.  In addition to this, they managed to pare down the size of the download required to use the Kindle platform from 10+mb to a more manageable 8mb.  This might seem rather minor, but considering the lack of space on many Android devices as well as the fact that some users have reported sizes of up to 25mb (can’t reproduce that, but the claim has circulated), this is a definite improvement.

Much as I like the Kindle app however, and I do, there are some things that I would like to be able to do that it does not provide.  Real Page Numbers are nice, but situational at best given that they still only exist in a fraction of the available Kindle Editions.  Now, I have posted here before about the ability to download and install the Nook app through non-Amazon sources and this works quite well.  Sadly I believe that the specific method I mentioned several months ago has been blocked off, though.  This difficulty became a non-issue thanks to Good E-Reader being kind enough to open up their own free app store.

While you can find a fair selection of general purpose apps present that they felt were worth keeping around for people, the folks over at Good E-Reader are concentrating mostly on reading.  This covers books, magazines, comics, and all such things along those lines.  There are only free apps, but this allows the site to operate without adding in any of the inconvenient restrictions that currently plague locked-in Android device owners wishing to pick up something useful. It is definitely worth checking out.

In terms of reading on your Kindle Fire, for example, some people find it more convenient to have access to the Nook app’s extra level of brightness control than to be able to simply invert the contrast of the page.  Others will appreciate the level of social media integration offered by the Kobo app.  In either case, at least you will be able to open EPUB formatted eBooks, which the Kindle Fire lacks any form of native support for at the moment.  You won’t have luck with everything (Google Books, for example is still not working in my experience) but for the most part they’re doing a good job of making the latest popular selections available without all the hassle.

Overall Amazon has done a good job of giving customers what they want, both in terms of the software they provide and the hardware they sell.  I can understand the urge to retain control over what gets installed on Kindle Fire devices, especially since if anything goes wrong it is likely to be Amazon’s Customer Service that gets the call.  They have left the door pretty wide open to install most things, though, provided you know how to find them.  In some cases, it’s more than worth the effort it takes to get the most out of your experience.  Kindle Fire software updates do not remove any apps when they occur, so it shouldn’t be an ongoing hassle.

Daily Deals: I Moved Your Cheese and Mahjong Artifacts

I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else's MazeWhat is usual association with book written by a Professor from the Harvard Business School? It is boring. But this book is different. Telling about complicated things in easy way is the main advantage of the book. It’s name is I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze. The name of the author is Deepak Malhotra. And today’s price is only $0.99.

With more than twenty-five million copies in print, Who Moved My Cheese? has become a phenomenon. It does offer some reasonable advice about adapting to change. It’s certainly true that some of the events shaping our lives are beyond our control, and instead of struggling against them we must adapt and move on. But for all its good intentions, it ultimately advises us to unquestioningly accept our circumstances without exploring any possible alternatives—like mice in a maze mindlessly chasing after cheese.I Moved Your Cheese takes a different point of view and offers an alternative approach. Harvard Business School professor and bestselling author Deepak Malhotra tells an inspiring story about a new generation of mice who begin to challenge assumptions and ask important questions. Rather than just accepting their situation and dutifully chasing the cheese, Max, Zed, and Big begin looking deeper, examining and reassessing what they’ve been told are their limitations, and set out to chart a new course.Innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, problem solving, and business growth— as well as personal growth—depend on the ability to challenge accepted notions, reshape the environment, and play by a different set of rules: our own. We are not powerless to change our circumstances. We can control our destiny. By ana- lyzing our assumptions about the limitations we seem to face, we can, like Max, Zed, and Big, discover how to overcome them. But first we need to understand the ways we unknowingly hold ourselves back. As Zed explains to Max, “The problem is not that the mouse is in the maze but that the maze is in the mouse.”

Mahjong Artifacts

Also Amazon give you opportunity to get puzzle game for your Kindle Fire for free: Mahjong Artifacts.

Ready to search the world looking for treasure? Mahjong Artifacts will take you on an epic puzzle-quest! The prequel to Mahjong Artifacts: Chapter 2, you’ll be occupied for hours with everything it has to offer.

This is a classic Mahjong tile matching puzzle game–match and remove two tiles with the same symbols that can be shifted either left or right without disturbing any other tiles. Clear out all the tiles to finish the layout before you run out of moves to make.

But that’s not all–Mahjong Artifacts also features special tiles with powerful abilities that open up new strategies to clear tiles. Use them wisely, and you’ll get far.

Game On!

Three game modes offer a wide variety of play experiences. Story mode features the epic artifact-hunting quest, with 25 layouts in five exotic locations. Classic mode allows you to choose from 100 layouts to clear. Then there’s Endless mode, which challenges you to keep removing tiles from an ever-rising tower. How long can you last?

Mahjong Artifacts boasts 27 beautiful backgrounds, five artistic tile sets, and music tracks inspired by ancient cultures. Exercise your planning skills and guile to take out all the tiles!

Amazon Adds More Big Networks to it’s Prime Instant Video Collection

Amazon introduced a couple of big perks to the Prime membership in the past year.  For $79 a year, you can get free two day shipping along with free book and movie rentals with Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and Prime Instant Video.

The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library allows one book checkout a month, and includes a fairly good sized collection of books.  I’ve checked out a couple of them so far and have enjoyed having this option.

The latest news involves the Prime Instant Video collection. Amazon just announced that they sealed a deal with Viacom, which means that they now offer TV shows from hit networks such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TV Land, MTV, and VH1.

When Prime Instant Video first started, there wasn’t much of a selection, but it now offers around 15,000 titles and is well on the way to giving Netflix a run for its money.

There are shows for kids like Spongebob and iCarly, as well as Dora the Explorer. Adults can check out Glee, Lost, 24, or The Wonder Years.  Newer shows still have to be purchased or rented, but aren’t limited to Prime members.

Prime Instant Video can be accessed on a Mac or PC, an internet enabled TV, or on the Kindle Fire.  With the videos on the Kindle Fire, you have a lot more portability as long as you have access to wi-fi.  Amazon includes step by step instructions on how to access and download movies and TV shows here.

Amazon’s streaming video collection is growing rapidly.  Netflix is still ahead since it includes unlimited DVD by mail, but I don’t think it will be long before the two are in fierce competition with each other.

So, keep tabs on Prime Instant Video.  Amazon is constantly adding new titles, and working out deals with major production companies.

 

 

Daily Deals: Kind of Blue and Robin Hood: Twisted Fairy Tales

Kind of BlueToday Amazon offers for all who loves to read detective the book: Kind of Blue by Miles Corwin just for $0.99.

When a legendary ex-cop is murdered in L.A., the pressure’s on to find the killer. Lt. Frank Duffy needs his best detective on the case, but his best detective, Ash Levine, quit a year ago.A tenacious, obsessive detective, Ash resigned after Latisha Patton, the witness in a homicide case he was working, was murdered. Without his job, Ash is left unanchored-and consumed with guilt that he somehow caused Latisha’s murder.When he’s asked to rejoin the force, Ash reluctantly agrees. Getting his badge back could give him the chance to find Latisha’s killer. Ash dives in headfirst into the shadow lands of Southern California to investigate the ex-cop’s murder. But even when he has a suspect in custody, something about this case doesn’t sit right with Ash, and he continues working the increasingly dangerous investigation while quietly chasing leads in Latisha’s murder.Unable to let either case go until he has answers, Ash finds that his obsessive nature, which propels him into a world of private compromises and public corruption, is a flaw that might prove fatal.

Some words about the author: A native of Los Angeles, Miles Corwin is an award-winning reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the critically acclaimed The Killing Season, a national bestseller. Corwin is also the author of  And Still We Rise, and Homicide Special. He lives with his family outside Los Angeles, California.

 

Robin Hood: Twisted Fairy Tales

Robin Hood and his gang are ready for an adventure, but this adventure is a little–well, mismatched. Help pave the way for the prince of thieves by comparing two beautifully illustrated scenes from the story. To a rookie, they would appear to be the same; however, the trained eye knows better. The benevolent thievery of Robin Hood rests on your shoulders. The story must go on but it can’t until you reveal the subtle differences in each illustration.

Match the Mismatch

Viewing the split screen, use your finger to touch the mismatched spot on one of the illustrations. A small circle on the other illustration will hover over the exact spot you’re touching. Let it hover for a second over the mismatched place to indicate you’ve made a decision. If you’ve correctly identified a mismatch, you’ll earn points. Tread carefully, though–you’ll lose points if you’re incorrect.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Each scene has a determined number of mismatches. The story cannot move forward until you find a specific amount. Choose to move on once you’ve found the bare minimum or find them all.

At points in the story, Robin will interrupt your keen eye in need of a little advice. Should you assault the caravan again or find the UFO? Robin leaves all the big decisions up to you.

This mismatched tale has four possible endings so don’t assume there are no consequences to your decisions. Remember, you’re making fairy-tale history here.

Kindle Store Coming To Seattle?

Sources have recently reported that Amazon may be about to open up a whole new direction for their Kindle marketing.  Before the end of this year we can expect to be seeing the first small store or stores arriving in Seattle.  This seems to be intended as a preliminary effort directed at determining the viability of such outlets as a real money maker, but there is some reason to think that this could be a big factor in the future of both the Kindle and Amazon’s new publishing imprints.

With Barnes & Noble’s recent decision to effectively ban all of Amazon’s new efforts in the field of publishing, the company is going to be needing new ways to showcase their products.  These boutique style stores would offer them the chance to make up for the lack, especially as it seems likely that their intention is to increase their involvement in publication rather than let it fall away under external pressures.

While it seems less likely, given that focus will probably be at least somewhat important, there is even the chance that this will be Amazon’s biggest move so far to show off their product lines in various other areas aside from books and eReaders.  Their AmazonBasics consumer electronics line has at least some connection to things like the Kindle Fire, even if their Strathwood furniture wouldn’t fit so well.  Hard to imagine that even a small store could be properly stocked using nothing but three Kindle eReaders, the Kindle Fire, some accessories, and whatever books they are able to get published before the end of the year.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that Amazon has been rumored to be working on building themselves a physical presence.  Unlike previous instances, though, the details do seem to add up here.  In addition to the fact that the proposed pilot store would be in Seattle, home of Amazon and a state where sales taxes are already being collected by the company, the initial report indicates that they have already contracted store design through a shell company.  It will be small rather than something intended to compete head to head in every area at once with other retail giants like Walmart, which also makes a good deal of sense for a company that derives a great deal of benefit from being highly distinct from such stores while still offering amazing savings.  Most importantly, unlike the 2009 rumors Amazon has not jumped in to quash this one before it takes hold.

While there are downsides to building a Brick & Mortar presence for the Kindle line, especially given the numerous partnerships that Amazon maintains with the likes of Best Buy and Target to keep their hardware available on the local level, being able to highlight something with as much investment behind it as the Kindle Fire and its anticipated successor might well be worth the risks.  Hopefully over the next few months we will learn more about how Amazon intends to show off the Kindle to their advantage.

Daily Deals: Resurrection and Going Nuts

Resurrection

If you like to read science-fiction books Amazon offers to your attention the #1 Kindle Bestseller in Science Fiction in the US and the UK: Resurrection by Arwen Elys Dayton just for $0.99.

The Kinley built a ship capable of traveling faster than light. It carried a group of scientists to a small, distant planet – a primitive place called Earth. It’s mission was peaceful observation. But when the ship was destroyed, the Kinley crew found themselves stranded in ancient Egypt, participants in the pageant of life in the time of the Pharaohs. They buried remnants of their technology deep beneath the desert and sent a last desperate message home?

Five thousand years later, the Kinley homeworld hovers on the brink of extinction. An enemy that nearly obliterated their race has risen again?now with the ability to destroy them for good. A lone Kinley soldier named Pruit is sent on a desperate mission: to follow the ancient beacon back to Earth and recover the secrets to faster than light travel.

It is their last hope. Technology that once allowed them to cross vast reaches of space might allow them to outrun their enemies and find a safe world to call their own. But Pruit?s mission will be harder than she can imagine. Her quest will draw her enemies after her and will awaken ancient foes on Earth. As she gets closer to what she seeks, she will find each adversary willing to risk everything to stop her. Each hoping to steal the knowledge for themselves. The rivals will meet in modern-day Egypt and their struggle will alter the fate of worlds.

Going NutsGoing Nuts is a fun game for Android that involves navigating a cute flying squirrel through dense forests while gathering acorns. Enjoy power-ups, upgrades, exciting 3D graphics, OpenFeint achievements, and much more.

Go the Distance

As you fly though lush trees, burnt forests, and other landscapes, avoid colliding with trees and be sure to watch out for owls, bad nuts, and TNT tied to balloons. After each flight, see how far you flew and how many acorns you gathered. Level up and gain rewards by completing goals like collecting 50 nuts total or flying 1,000 meters in one try. You can also smash through obstacles with helmets or dress up as a classic stunt-person.

Go Shopping

After you’ve collected a stash of nuts, you might want to visit the Shop where you can buy power-ups, upgrades, and outfits. Get a Crash Helmet that allows you to survive one collision with a tree, a Magnet that pulls acorns toward you, or a Head Start that gives you a big flying boost. These and other goodies will set you back a few hundred or thousand acorns.

If you’re in the market for some new duds, you’ll be happy to know that the Shop offers an assortment of squirrel outfits, from Stuntman and Hot Rod to Skeleton and Flower Power. You can also check out your stats to find out how many acorns you grabbed, your longest flight, and the details of all your deaths.

Go Nuts

If you feel like flying all out, look into the various fun achievements available, including collecting 1,000 frozen nuts to achieve the Winter Coat, hitting 10 owls for the Avian Flu, and flying 200 meters without collecting a single nut to earn the Allergic to Nuts achievement. Show off with OpenFeint leaderboards and have fun Going Nuts!