Friday, August 28, 2015

A Glimer of Hope For Nook?

Things have not been looking good for Barns and Noble's Nook platform.  Between site problems, devices not selling well, closing the Nook international stores, and continual bad policy decisions (removal of direct download ability of books for example) it just keeps going from bad to worse.

However they haven't throw in the towel yet.  A new e-ink device is on the horizon.  The FCC has recently approved a new Nook device, and while most of the details are unknown, we do know it is model BNRV510, manufactured by NETRONIX, has Wi-Fi and a Li-ion 3.7Vdc,1500 mAh battery.

B&N is planning a store "refresh" September 3rd, this may or may reveal the new device.  However being that they do have several cases listed in their store (although without images or descriptions) it can't be much longer before the device is announced.

With this new development, I would guess that B&N is planning on keeping Nook going until at least after the Christmas season.  I think Nook Christmas sales numbers will either make or break the platform this year.  Regardless I still advise baking up your libraries with Nook for PC (google for it) and if you wish to ensure you can read your books in the far future, remove the DRM with Apprentice Alf's tools (google for it) via Calibre.

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever, Red Warp, and Soulmates.  Currently available on  Nook, iBook, Kindle, Smashwords, Oyster, Scribd, and Kobo.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Nook Stuation is Getting Worse All the Time

Years I ago I bought the first Nook, or the Nook First Edition as they call it now.  Great little device and is, in fact, still my favorite e-Reader.  Granted I did root it and installed a few extra apps at one point so that I could do better searches in my sizable library, but other than that I have no complaints.

Sadly the situation with Nook has been degrading for some time.  As I posted previously, Barnes and Noble shut down the Nook internationally on August 7th with the exception of UK.  Up until then you could download the Nook app in iOS or Android to purchase or read Nook books.  Well here is the new wrinkle: they have apparently shut down the UK book store as well.  A man by the name of Hisham El-Far discovered on August 11th that he could no longer access his Nook library.  Every time he tried to use the Nook app, it popped up a message saying "Effective August 7th 2015 the Nook App for windows is no longer available outside the United States..."  

This is interesting because it says specifically "outside the United States" making no mention of UK.  Hisham contacted Nook UK support and received the following messages:

@HishamElfar Pls try signing out and back in. U may also try our other NOOK Reading Apps for IOS and Android. We apologize for inconvenience
— NOOK UK Support (@NOOK_Care_UK) August 12, 2015

@HishamElfar We are no longer accepting MS Wallet as payment method, you may need to update your payment information on your NOOK account.
— NOOK UK Support (@NOOK_Care_UK) August 12, 2015

When he stated that signing out and back in and he didn't use MS Wallet with Nook they didn't respond.  So what is even worse, they didn't tell their own employees about the shutdown.  Now perhaps this is a glitch, but if so why wouldn't the error message mention UK instead only the United States?
While I still love my Nook devices I suspect that Barnes and Noble will pull the plug soon.  Therefore I suggest everyone download their books using Nook for PC or NookStudy (Google for them) or risk loosing all of your purchased content.  If you wish to make sure you can use the books you purchased elsewhere should the Nook be shut down, get Calibre (the free digital library system) and apprentice alf's plugin (Google for it) to remove the encryption/DRM.  I also suggest to do this sooner than later.  While I am very much against piracy, this is protection of ones legally purchased assets, nothing more.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Can Humans Trust Robots? Better Question Can Robots Trust Humans?
The question has always been can humans trust robots. But a group of Canadian researchers asked "Can robots trust humans?" Sadly this has been answered with a resounding no. The premise was simple: Create a non-mobile robot that depended on the generosity of others to move around with the idea to get the bot from one side of the country to another. Dubbed HitchBot, last year the bot made the trek across Canada and parts of Europe.

This year HitchBot's goal was to get across the USA. It was well on its way visiting several states, went out to sea one day, and visited a baseball game another. Sadly his tour met with a disastrous end when two weeks into his visit he met up with the wrong crowd in Philadelphia. Details are still coming in but it would appear that someone wanted to wipe the smile off of the robots face, for no good reason other than 'it was there'. It sure doesn't make this country look like a nice place to be when HitchBot went though Canada, Netherlands, and Germany without any issue.

Upon reading about this pointless destruction I am reminded of so many sci-fi stories written where humans were wary of trusting robots. Then in more recent years stories about robots 'getting the shaft' from humans, and taking their revenge. One of the more famous examples would be The Matrix where the robots had conquered the world and plugged humans into a simulation so they could harvest their radiated energy. It is scary to think that one day robots might take their revenge. But this incident makes one think it is only a matter of time for the simple reason that some people think it is fun to be cruel, and when the robots are able to emulate and react...look out. It just boggles my mind. 

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever, Red Warp, and Soulmates.  Currently available on  Nook, iBook, Kindle, Smashwords, Oyster, Scribd, and Kobo.