Category Archives: ebooks

My new o’Reilly eBook on Mobile App Analytics

Mobile App Analytics o'Reilly by Wolfgang BeerThanks to Dynatrace i got the chance to sum up my experiences of analyzing and optimizing mobile apps within a brand new o’Reilly eBook ‘Mobile App Analytics’. Mobile app user experience plays the most important role for app publishers in global marketplaces, as a negative experience quickly destroys your brands reputation and decreases your business revenue. Successful app publishers measure mobile app performance, monitoring crash reports and observing your users behavior and react quickly on issues before the users react with bad user reviews.

If you are quick you can grab a free copy of my ebook here.

 

 

e-Ink Displays – Underestimated Technology for Rough Industrial and Outdoor Interfaces

e-ink display in rough outdoor usage scenario

e-ink display in rough outdoor usage scenario, image source: http://www.eink.com

Since the first commercial appearance of e-Ink Displays around the year 2008, a large collection of cheap e-book readers, such as the Sony PRS505 or Amazon’s Kindle, were successfully introduced on the consumer market. As the e-Ink technology became mature in this field of application, millions of e-book readers are in active use today and the amount of sold e-books is nearly the same level as of traditional books.

E-Ink technology was first mentioned in 1997 based on research started at the MIT Media Lab. Joseph Jacobson and Barrett Comiskey are listed as inventors on the original patent filed in 1996.
E-Ink displays offer some great advantages over alternative display technology, such as extremely low power usage, incredible high contrast and the ability to preserve the static image for an unlimited amount of time without the use of any energy at all. E-Ink displays on the other hand do not offer much multimedia capabilities as they are mostly operating on grayscale, or very simple single color modes. Also their slow reaction times prevent e-Ink displays to show any videos.

Beside the widespread use of e-Ink displays in e-Ink ebook (or even as prototypical Smartphone display) reading devices, their use within industrial applications and rough production or outdoor scenarios is still underestimated. As e-Ink displays offer perfect contrast and preserve the displayed image over an unlimited amount of time, these displays could be the perfect choice for machine interfaces.
Following examples show the use of e-Ink displays in various interesting applications, such as static information on pillboxes, showing information directly on a mountain bike or even to directly show information on a snowboard.

e-Ink display on a pill box

e-Ink display on a pill box, image source: http://www.eink.com

e-ink display on a snowboard

e-ink display on a snowboard: image source: http://www.eink.com

Watch a short film explaining the basic concepts of e-Ink technology:

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneReady Player One, a science fiction novel written by Ernest Cline, is set in the year 2044 after a global energy breakdown and economic recession. As resources are rare these days, the remaining people live under poor conditions in crowded megacities, where they spend their time working and living in a virtual world called OASIS. OASIS is a massive multiplayer online simulation game created by computer game programmer genius James Halliday and his close friend Ogden Morrow. Halliday, with no heirs or other living family, dies suddenly and leaves a treasure hunt video will that promises the ownership of OASIS and his company to those who can solve puzzles hidden in OASIS. Three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) are hidden throughout the universe of OASIS and pass through the matching gates will receive his fortune and controlling the virtual  OASIS universe. As Halliday grew up during the 1980s pop culture, the treasure hunt is a funny retro story about the rise of arcade and computer game during the 80s.

Those of you who grew up during the late 1980s, playing arcade games and owning an Amiga or C64 computer, will definitely love this book as i did!

Book – The Human Face of Big Data

Did you ever wondered what the Big Data Hype means to us in reality? Information and communication technology, advanced network bandwidth and intelligent data analysis and prognosis enable fantastic insights into our modern society. No matter if you are collecting data within urban areas, such as the different ways Pizza delivery is taking in Manhattan on a Friday afternoon or analyzing the crop in large agricultural facilities. Within the book The Human Face of Big Data, the authors Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt present the human and society dimension of this new hype on analysing and prognosis of all kind of information.

The Human Face of Big Data captures, in glorious photographs and moving essays, an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us to provide a healthier life for our children. To provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe. To help us conserve precious resources like water and energy. To alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness. To peer into our own individual genetic makeup. To create new forms of life.  And soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface . . .

The Human Face of Big Data

Onyx Smartphone with e-Ink Display

Onyx e-Ink Android Smartphone

Onyx e-Ink Android Smartphone, image source: blog.the-ebook-reader.com

The Chinese company Onyx, which is mainly known by their Onyx-Boox ebook readers, announced these days to publish an Android smartphone that integrates an e-Ink touch display. To use e-Ink displays has several advantages as well as some major negative aspects too. As many e-Ink based ebook readers already proved, e-Ink displays offer great readability in direct sunlight. The perfect contrast of e-Ink displays is not comparable with traditional displays. Also the fact that e-Ink displays can show and persist scenes over days without using energy is a really cool feature that helps to run the Onyx smartphone for at least a week without reloading. Negative aspects of e-Ink displays are the low update frequencies and very reduced color capabilities at best, which makes it hard or even impossible to use e-Inks for multimedia applications. This Onyx phone is definitely not the best choice for multimedia evangelists but it could prove a valuable design for outdoor purposes, passionate e-book readers, travelers or elderly people with debility of sight.

Txtr Beagle – External eInk Smartphone Display/Reader for 10 Euro

Txtr, one of the leading European ebook marketplaces, recently announced txtrbeagle a low end external eInk reading device. By offering no cable connection, no WLAN and only Bluetooth to connect to a specific Smartphone-App that converts and transmits books in raw image format, the txtrbeagle dispenses a powerful CPU as well as power consumpting multimedia features. This low energy strategy allows extremly long periods of operation with just two AAA batteries and a price around 10 Euro. txtrbeagle offers a resolution of 800×600 and an internal 4GB storage, which is enough for storing 5 books in raw image format. According to it’s extreme low price as well as it’s easy connectability to smartphones, several companies already announced ideas to use txtrbeagle as external eInk display for various application scenarios.

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game, written by Orson Scott Card in 1985, for me belongs to the top 10 in modern science-fiction stories, due to a fantastic story that deals with computer games and human intelligence. The book, which is based on a initial short story, won several awards, such as the Hugo and the Nebula awards.

Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, the novel’s protagonist, lives with his kind parents and his sadistic elder brother Peter, until the government recruits him to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Since the human world barely survived two conflicts with the Formics, an insectoid alien species, which are called Buggers by most of the people, the government proactively recruits and trains children in an orbiting Battle School. The children are trained to fight against each other in strategic battles, where each battle group tries to score against other groups. Soon it becomes clear that, in spite of his youth, Ender is one outstanding strategic player that never looses a battle. It seems as if Ender could be a natural born player who could save the earth if the next wave of predominant alien Buggers appears to overrun mankind…

Book Review: Daniel Suarez, author of Daemon, Freedom and Kill Decision

Daniel Suarez became one of my favourite tech authors within the last years. Daniel Suarez, who was born on 21. Dezember 1964, is a US software developer, system consultant and primarily an amazingly cool science-fiction author. He started to write under an anonym Leinad Zeraus, before he wrote his three best selling thrillers Deamon in 2006, Freedom (TM) in 2010 and his newest title Kill Decision in 2012. You can find more about Daniel Suarez on his webpage.

Deamon 

Deamon, written by Daniel Suarez in 2006, is one of the best and most thrilling tech and science-fiction novels i have read within several years. The story begins with some misterious kills which are all somehow connected to the natural death of the great cyber game designer Matthew Sobol. Sobol, the genius owner and creator of one of the most successful, interconnected computer games, definitely had a plan for the world after he passes away. So it is detective Peter Sebeck who has to find all the parts of this genius puzzle to rescue the world from Matthew Sobol’s demonic plan.     

Freedom (TM)

Within the second part of his amazing debut title ‘Demon’, Daniel Suarez thrills his readers with continuing the story of an unstoppable computer virus that starts to blackmail banks and whole industries. This virus is the beginning of a public revolution against copyright industry, corrupt financial industries and even against police and governments. This story tells a tale about an artificial intelligence supported public revolution that frees our minds from trademarks, copyright and corrupt capitalism. All in all a really great finish for Daniel Suarez’s Deamon thriller.

Kill Decision

Kill Decision is Daniel Suarez recent book, which deals with drone war and swarm intelligence. It tells us a story on anonymous wars where swarms of machines pull the trigger against humans. Linda McKinney is a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies the social structure of ants. Her research results are stolen by an unknown force that tries to overrun the american homeland with a drone army. Together with Odin, a secretive Special Ops soldier who has detailed inside knowledge on this faceless enemy, McKinney has to arouse the world before it is too late to stop this machine intelligence.      

eBook Shop that rescues out of print sci-fi books from copyright

image source: singularityand.co/

Singularity & Co. is a eBook store that tries to rescue sci-fi books that are gone out of print and could fall in a copyright limbo. So the Singularity & Co.’s mission is to buy the rights of these sci-fi books in order to publish them as ebooks, which i find is an excellent idea. Singularity & Co. got around 50K $ startup funding by their popular Kickstarter pledge. They even try to build an open source desktop book scanner.

We’ve seen too many sci-fi books that are out of print, out of circulation, and, worst of all (given the subject matter) unavailable in any digital format. Meaning, as of now, these books may never be seen in the future imagined in their pages. That’s just not right.

Segway Unicycle Lego Bot

image source: robotsquare.com

Laurens Valk, the author of several Lego Mindstorm Engineering books (The Unofficial Lego Mindstorm NXT 2.0 Inventor’s Guide and The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book), recently published an update for his Segway Lego Mindstorm bot. The new design is running with one wheel only: an Unicycle. It uses the standard drivers from his previous design with some minor modifications. Beside his Mechanical Engineering studies, Laurens published a number of robotic books as well as some really amazing Lego designs.