Amazon’s War of the Words

Inventing the future of reading:

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The next day I flew to Silicon Valley and visited Amazon Lab126, the Amazon subsidiary that develops all of the company’s Kindle products. A tremendous amount of thought and research has gone into these devices. At Lab126 there is a “reading room,” where test subjects are asked to read on various devices for hours at a time. They are filmed and studied. People reading in a chair will, naturally, hold their Kindle differently from people standing up (on the subway, for example), but even people sitting in a chair will shift their positions over time. Eighty percent of page turns are forward, by the way, but 20 percent (20!) are backward. On the conference table before us were the dozens of iterations of possible page-turning buttons for the new Kindle Voyage, buttons that would have been on the back of the Kindle, a switch button, and also arrows alongside the screen—a > for forward and a < for back—the most visually pleasing design and by far the most intuitive, but then in testing it turned out that people liked to turn the Kindle and read horizontally, which meant that the arrows were pointing, confusingly, up and down. (The designers settled on two sleek lines for forward and two cool dots for back.)

Google set to update Street View

via Google

Today we’re making our Street View coverage more comprehensive than ever before by launching our biggest ever update–doubling our number of special collections and updating over 250,000 miles of roads around the world. We’re increasing Street View coverage in Macau, Singapore, Sweden, the U.S., Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Canada. And we’re launching special collections in South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico, among others.

Using GIS to solve common problems in local government, city planning

Here’s a short piece I recently wrote about a group of Texas counties collaborating on GIS solutions. This will be of interest to anyone who attended my presentation at SXSW last year on the importance of open data and data visualization in government.

The consortium operates under the direction of the East Texas Council of Governments (ETCOG), an already chummy and productive network of counties and other governmental entities with a shared commitment toward smart government. GIS encompasses the technology and analysis of electronic maps and the data they represent. It’s like your GPS, but with a brain and a hard drive, allowing officials and workers to spot geographic trends with satellite images without so much time in the field. The East Texas GIS Consortium’s goal is to share otherwise costly GIS systems, similar to a co-op, creating savings that ultimately benefit East Texas taxpayers. The city of Rusk, for example, mapped its fire hydrants and analyzed the data to identify underserved areas. By spotting deficiencies in hydrant service, officials can preempt disasters and other emergencies.

Read the entire article.

Woman scammed by wooden iPad salesmen

Via The Smoking Gun:

Ashley McDowell, 22, told deputies that she was approached by two black males who claimed to have purchased iPads in bulk and were selling them for $300 apiece. After McDowell explained that she only had $180, the duo agreed to sell her the device at a cut rate. But when McDowell drove home and opened the FedEx box containing the iPad, she instead discovered the wood with the Apple logo. The “screen”–which was framed with black tape–included replicas of iPad icons for Safari, mail, photos, and an iPod.

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