An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times: "Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62. He took pains to emphasize that he had not revised his position on atheism, articulated in his best-selling 2007 book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, although he did express amused appreciation at the hope, among some concerned Christians, that he might undergo a late-life conversion. Mr. Hitchens's latest collection of writings, Arguably: Essays, published this year, has been a best-seller and ranked among the top 10 books of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review."
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Nate the greatest writes "Got a Kindle Fire? Here's your chance to try the new Kindle Format 8. The new format is in beta testing right now with a limited number of publishers, and a few days ago one of those publishers leaked the tools and the guidelines to me. It turns out KF8 isn't all that new. I've looked at the code, and I'd call it an attempt to graft a number of Epub features onto the existing Kindle format. It simply adds a lot of new formatting and is only slightly more capable than Epub. There's a number of screenshots at the link as well as a demo file. You can probably also find more KF8 ebooks in the Kindle Store; look for the Kindle Fire exclusive magazines and graphic novels."
destinyland writes "Amazon's released their list of 2011's best-selling books, revealing that 40% of the best-selling ebooks didn't even make it onto their list of the best-selling print books. The #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks of the year weren't even available in print editions, while four of the top 10 best-selling print books didn't make it into the top 100 best-selling ebooks. 'It couldn't be more clear that Kindle owners are choosing their material from an entirely different universe of books,' notes one Kindle site, which points out that five of the best-selling ebooks came from two million-selling ebook authors — Amanda Hocking and John Locke — who are still awaiting the release of their books in print. And five of Amazon's best-selling ebooks were Kindle-only 'Singles,' including a Stephen King short story which actually outsold another King novel that he'd released in both ebook and print formats. And Neal Stephenson's 'Reamde' was Amazon's #99 best-selling print book of 2011, though it didn't even make it onto their list of the 100 best-selling ebooks of the year. 'People who own Kindles are just reading different books than the people who buy printed books,' reports the Kindle site, which adds '2011 may be remembered as the year that hundreds of new voices finally found their audiences.'"
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Students and teachers in grade school through higher education are using the iPad to augment their lessons or to replace textbooks. Jennifer Kohn's third grade class at Millstone Elementary School in Millstone, New Jersey, mastered the iPad with minimal training. For the most part, the students didn't need to be taught how to use their apps, Kohn says. College students are also turning to the iPad to do what they do instinctively well: saving themselves money. Marianne Petit, a New York University staff member, recently began taking credits in pursuit of another certification, and uses her iPad in place of textbooks. 'The price of the iPad pays for itself after a single semester,' Petit said. 'iPad books cost so much less it's a legal alternative for students who are using BitTorent [to pirate books].' Like the PC before it, Kohn noted that the iPad isn't a panacea for educators: It has its appropriate time and place. 'I don't use them with every lesson or even day. It's not always appropriate to lesson or objective of what I'm trying to teach,' Kohn noted."
Nate the greatest writes "Can you play an MP3 file? Then you can jailbreak the new Kindle Touch. A new hack was posted this morning that roots the Kindle Touch/K5 and opens the way for future hacks. The hacker also reveals that the K5 runs on HTML5, which should make it a lot easier to come up with new apps. Epub, anyone?"
Nate the greatest writes "Amazon just announced a $6 million pool of money that it plans to pay authors. All you have to do to get a share of the loot is commit to sell your ebook exclusively through the Kindle Store and agree to let your ebook be lent to Kindle Prime members. Amazon has already signed up a number of authors, including 31 of the top 50 self-published ones (J. Carson Black, Gemma Halliday, J.A. Konrath, B.V. Larson, C.J. Lyons, Scott Nicholson, Julie Ortolon, Theresa Ragan, J.R. Rain, Patricia Ryan, and more). It looks like Amazon launched this to support the Kindle Owners' Lending Library that Amazon launched just over a month ago. When it launched it had around 5 thousand titles as well as some less than voluntary participants. But there's a catch. Authors are required to give Amazon an exclusive on any title in the program. That means they're giving up the rest of the ebook market. Would any authors care to weigh in on the deal?"
dave562 writes "The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust arm said it was looking into potentially unfair pricing practices by electronic booksellers, joining European regulators and state attorneys general in a widening probe of large U.S. and international e-book publishers. A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that the probe involved the possibility of 'anti-competitive practices involving e-book sales.' Attorneys general in Connecticut and, reportedly, Texas, have also begun inquiries into the way electronic booksellers price their wares, and whether companies such as Apple and Amazon have set up pricing practices that are ultimately harmful to consumers."
nk497 writes "The European Commission is investigating Apple and five publishers regarding ebook pricing, after raiding ebook firms earlier this year. 'The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition,' the watchdog said."
angry tapir writes with an update on the drawn out legal battle between Google and everyone else over their Books service. From the article: "After a so-far fruitless three-year effort to settle the case, Google and the plaintiffs suing it for alleged book-related copyright infringement apparently are moving away from seeking a friendly solution. Google has notified the court that it intends to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by authors and publishers in 2005, in which they allege copyright infringement stemming from Google's wholesale scanning of millions of library books without the permission of copyright owners. Google Books has been at the center of copyright-related controversy since 2005 when the Authors Guild of America and Association of American Publishers sued the search giant. This has been followed by other legal wrangles, including a 2010 suit by the American Society of Media Photographers, lawsuits in France and Germany and conflict with Chinese authors over the book-scanning project."
Michael J. Ross writes "Web designers and developers alike are increasingly enthused about the capabilities offered by HTML5, which is generally considered the combination of the latest version of the Web's primary markup language and its related technologies. Consequently, publishers have rushed to market a wide variety of books that purport to explore the inner mysteries of HTML5, even as the standards — and how browsers implement them — are still in flux. In characteristic fashion, O'Reilly Media took the time to wait for some of the dust to settle, and attempted to create a resource more approachable and solid than those thrown together quickly. The final result is Head First HTML5 Programming." Read on for the rest of Michael's review.
oik writes "NPR's Fresh Air this week had an interesting interview with Jeffrey Rosen, one of the authors of Constitution 3.0 , which addresses a number of issues to do with interpreting the US Constitution in the face of new technologies (both present and future). Many of the topics which he touches on come up on Slashdot a lot (including the GPS tracking cases). It's well worth listening to the program (link in the main page), of which the linked article is just a summary."
brothke writes "It has been a decade since Oracle started their unbreakable campaign touting the security robustness of their products. Aside from the fact that unbreakable only refers to the enterprise kernel; Oracle still can have significant security flaws. Even though Java supports very strong security controls including JAAS (Java Authentication and Authorization Services), it still requires a significant effort to code Java securely. With that The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Javais an invaluable guide that provides the reader with the strong coding guidelines and practices in order to reduce coding vulnerabilities that can lead to Java and Oracle exploits." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
An anonymous reader writes "Sci-fi author Charlie Stross has written a post about how the Big Six book publishing companies have painted themselves into a corner in the rapidly growing ebook industry. Between user-unfriendly DRM and the Amazon juggernaut, they're slowly pushing themselves out of business. Quoting: 'Until 2008, ebooks were a tiny market segment, under 1% and easily overlooked; but in 2009 ebook sales began to rise exponentially, and ebooks now account for over 20% of all fiction sales. In some areas ebooks are up to 40% of the market and rising rapidly. (I am not making that last figure up: I'm speaking from my own sales figures.) And Amazon have got 80% of the ebook retail market. ... the Big Six's pig-headed insistence on DRM on ebooks is handing Amazon a stick with which to beat them harder. DRM on ebooks gives Amazon a great tool for locking ebook customers into the Kindle platform.'"
Michael J. Ross writes "With more people accessing the Internet using mobile devices than computers, web designers and developers are challenged to make sites that work well on both categories of hardware — or resign themselves to the greater costs and other disadvantages of maintaining two versions of each web site (a mobile-ready version as well as one for much larger screens). Fortunately, recent advances in web technologies are making it easier to build web pages whose contents and their positioning are automatically modified to match the available screen space of the individual user. These techniques are explored in detail in a recent book, Responsive Web Design, written by Ethan Marcotte, a veteran web designer and developer." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.