New Google Touchscreen Chromebook: Google announced today that it will begin shipping a new touch screen Chromebook laptop called the Chromebook Pixel shortly. The Pixel, like its lower end (and cheaper) counterparts, is a laptop designed around cloud computing*1 so it doesn’t have a large storage capacity at 32 gigabytes (aka GBs). The small storage capacity is because Google’s expectation is that users will store their documents, photos and media in the cloud through Google’s cloud system.

Google’s new Pixel model features a better screen than the previous Chromebooks, an i5 processors and the cellular models will connect to Verizon’s LTE network so they should be quite speedy. And of course, because the new Pixel Chromebooks have more bells and whistles they cost more than the old Chromeboosk– $1,299 for the Wi-Fi version and $1,499 for the LTE (cellular) version. And although I agree that eventually most computer users will likely use cloud based storage and applications as the standard… I think it is a bit early to so heavily emphasize a cloud based computer especially at the prices Google is charging for the Pixel Chromebooks. Paying $199 for an entry-level Chromebook or even $349 for a Samsung Chromebook with the intent of using that Chromebook as a second computer at home or at the lake or as an inexpensive computer for some one who only does light online computing – that makes sense to me. Paying $1,499 for a Pixel touch screen LTE model doesn’t. After all you can buy a great laptop running Windows 8 with a touch screen or even a MacBook Air for less money than the entry-level Pixel Chromebook costs at $1,299 and you can do more with those laptops because they have more storage space and more features than the Chromebooks.

Here’s a link to a USA Today article that focuses on the new Pixel Chromebook series titled Google unleashes touch-based Chromebook:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/02/21/apple-google-microsoft-chromebook-pixel/1936285/

And if you’re interested in information on other Chromebook models here’s a link to the Google Chromebook page which offers a description of the different Chromebook models – all of which are cloud based:

http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromebooks.html

External Battery Packs For Your Smartphone: The tech site Mashable features a cool article today that briefly discusses the Bar & Mini portable batteries that will, when you connect them to your smartphone, give you many extra hours of cell phone use time. Both external battery packs cost less than $40 and are small enough to easily fit in a purse or backpack.

Here’s a link to the article which is titled External Battery Packs Add Hours to Your Phone, Even iPhone which offers more information on the subject:

http://mashable.com/2013/02/21/jackery-external-battery-pack/

Independent Book Sellers Sue Amazon & The Big Six Publishers Over E-Book DRM: Three independent book sellers, Posman Books of Manhattan, Fiction Addiction of Greenville, SC and Book House of Albany, NY are suing Amazon and the Big Six publishers*2 over the use of the restrictive Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that those publishers build into their e-books as a means towards fighting digital piracy. The suit claims that Amazon as the largest seller of e-books uses a proprietary form of DRM*3 to sell e-books published by the Big Six publishers and essentially locks independent book sellers out of the e-book market because they cannot produce Amazon DRM formatted e-books.

I think the suit is interesting not because the independent book sellers want a slice of the e-book pie and are having a hard time in getting it. Because of course, the independent book sellers aren’t saying they are against DRM software per se just that they are against the proprietary form of it that Amazon uses.  The interesting part of the equation to my mind is that I think that it just might come to pass, through the litigation, that the courts decide the DRM isn’t legal – I’ll cross my fingers for that! Because this DRM issue to my mind is a smaller part of a larger issue — that issue being the lack of ownership of digital content. E-Books and other e-formatted items are being treated by large e-book sellers and publishing companies as if they were pieces of software. And just as you’d have to license a copy of Microsoft Office for personal use which of course limits what you can do with it – you are licensing the digital content you “buy.” And the licensing of e-books and other e-content allows publishers and e-book stores to limit which devices you can read their e-books on and even whether you can loan an e-book or sell an e-book to someone else. This is a grey area at the present time. The large publishing companies would rather keep control of e-books and license them than sell them but really you should be able to buy an e-book just as you would a printed book and then loan the e-book to your friends and family members and sell it later at a garage sale if you wish. Or, even donated that e-book to your public library if you want to – and those things are not things you can do with e-books at the moment.

And going back around to the topic of why I find this law suite interesting – the reason, which I am honestly getting to! Is because I think it is just possible that the courts might decide DRM isn’t legal and order its use be discontinued. I know there is a long shot chance of that happening but I think it is just possible because the independent book sellers are crying foul over the use of DRM by Amazon and the Big Six Publishers and even though they aren’t suggesting the use of DRM being discontinued…. I can see that option – legally saying DRM software can’t be used and all e-books must be sold without it — being the only way for there to be a level playing field among all e-book book sellers both large and small.

And after my mini-soap box speech – here’s a link to an article, titled Indie bookstores sue Amazon, big-6 publishers for using DRM to create monopoly on ebooks, about the law suit from the PaidContent site:

http://paidcontent.org/2013/02/20/indie-bookstores-sue-amazon-big-6-publishers-for-using-drm-to-create-monopoly-on-ebooks/

Have a great day!

Linda R.

*1) The term “Cloud Computing” or “Cloud Based” simply translated means that you have to be connected to the Internet to use the computer and that your documents, photos and other media are stored online (i.e. on Google’s servers and not your computer) and accessed through the Internet. These cloud based computer don’t have much storage space built in so you can’t download and store a great deal of stuff (files, music, videos etc.) on a cloud based computer.  In contrast, most computers, i.e. non-Chromebooks, sold today offer a solid amount storage space with the expectation that you will store lots of photos, documents, music and videos on those computers.  And to give you an idea of the difference – the new Pixel Chromebooks have 32 GBs of storage built into them and the iMac I bought 2 years ago has a 4 terabyte storage capacity and each terabyte is made up of 1000 gigabytes – so a 32 GB storage capacity is consider a rather small one by 2013 standards!

*2) The term “The Big Six” publishers refers to the six largest publishers in the United States:  Simon & Shuster, HarperCollins, Penguin, Macmillan, Hachette and Random House.

*3) If you’re wondering:  “What on Earth is DRM anyway?” The basic answer to that is that DRM is restrictive software that publishers insist be incorporated into e-books as an anti-piracy/anti e-book duplication and anti e-book-loaning tool and which doesn’t allow you to read e-books on any device you own and/or to loan, sell or give your e-books to someone else. And that DRM is also the reason that if you have an e-ink Nook (in other words a Nook without a color display) that you have to download library e-books to your computer before you can drag and drop them onto your Nook – because essentially the DRM software has to be unlocked in order for you to read the library e-book and it is unlocked via the download process from the STLS Digital Catalog into the Adobe Digital Editions software on your computer. If all of that sounds confusing – please ask a member of our tech staff to elaborate that next time you are in the library!

References

For the Best of Google. Google. Online. Accessed February 21, 2013.

Martin, Scott. (2013, February 21). Google unleashes touch-based Chromebook. USA Today. Online.

Owen, Laura Hazard. (2013, February 21). Three indie bookstores file lawsuit against Amazon and Big Six publishers. PaidContent. Online.

Smith, Andrea. (2013, February 21). External Battery Packs Add Hours to Your Phone, Even iPhone 5. Mashable. Online.

 

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s