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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Amazon ups the ante in 2011.

With its release of four new kindle versions this year, including the touch and the tablet, Amazon is digging in and daring others to step up before they put more of a strangle hold on the ebook market. Lets run them down, shall we?

Latest generation Kindle – Lighter, faster, and more affordable than ever – only $79

The Kindle Touch : Ringing in at $99, it has an IR touch system, similar to the latest Nook and Kobo, and there’s no physical keyboard . It’s slimmer, smaller and lighter than the existing Kindle, and looks almost nothing like your usual Kindle. The UI is different and the Eink is supposed to be the latest tech. There’s also a 3G enabled model for $139


Kindle Fire Tablet: 

Boasting a 7-inch IPS panel, Gorilla Glass coating, a dual-core 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage. Not bad. Considering the $199 price point and the fact that most of your media is synced online anyway it makes it even better. There’s also access to Android Appstore but not Google’s Android Market. As usual Kindle books, magazines, and the like via Amazon Cloud Storage. Whispersync now works with movies and TV shows so you can start your movie at home where you left off by syncing it with your TV. The Ui itself is different, not looking much like your typical Android UI. There’s also possibly a 10 inch version coming.

The device will also run a custom-built “split browser” called Amazon Silk, which “accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services Cloud,” according to a statement provided by Amazon.

“The Silk browser software resides both on Kindle Fire and on the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2),” Amazon’s statement also reads. “With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (i.e. which browser sub-components run where) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity, and cached content.”

Of course all this is what Android was built for as an Open source project. Now, let’s see how many developers jump on board and see if the Amazon’s app market will make having an Android based tablet not as lackluster as it seems for me as this point, being an owner of a Motorola Xoom. Will it trump the Ipad? No. I don’t think so. Apple has the market locked and I myself often gaze at my wife’s IPAD 2 with envy. Will it trump the Nook, which it seems to be where the target begins along with offering a well priced tablet option? Possibly. Time will tell.

See videos here on Engadget for Kindle Touch

 
 

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Adventures in Mapmaking

Click to enlarge

So now that the book is complete, there are still quite a few things left to be done. I decided now was the time to take my map from the numerous rough sketches I have to something more permanent and presentable. Bear in mind, I’ve never done a map before.

First, I went about searching for software. After several experiments, I settled on a combination of Fractal Terrains, Campaign Cartographer 3 and Photoshop. Why so many? When I drew my maps free hand, I just didn’t feel like they were representative of a true map. So that’s where Fractal Terrains came in. It randomly generates a world with all the amenities (climate, terrain, river possibilities etc etc.) I chose a part of a Fractal Terrain map of a world to use. Then I ported that into CC3 to do some editing to it before exporting it to JPEG. Why not build the full map in CC3? I’m still not sure I wanted to pay for the other addons I would need to get what I wanted done. However, I do have some meager experience with photoshop and there were plenty of tutorials as well as the fact that brushes are so darn easy to use.

I played around with the software for about a week, testing, throwing out, redoing, redrawing, sometimes getting very frustrated, because I wanted this done. But nothing good comes about unless you put in the work, so I settled down and did just that.

Then this past weekend after my final edits, I said to myself, “get the map done.” Two days later of trial and error and I’m almost done. Here is what it looks like at present.  THE WORLD OF DENESTIA

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Announcements, Artwork, Cartography, Epublishing, Tools

 

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Epic Fantasy Novel, Princep’s Fury reviewed

Princeps' Fury (Codex Alera, #5)Princeps’ Fury by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start this review by saying that I am a Jim Butcher fan. I love the Dresden files. I like the Codex Alera series. On to the review.

Princep’s Fury is a good book.

However if you’re expecting the witty, grit of the Dresden files, and the surprising outcomes Dresden has to offer then you may be disappointed. This series so far did have a couple twists but at this point, Princep’s Fury is a straight forward all out action, war, magic with some wartime strategy added that takes you along for a fast ride.

The Plot: The Vord are about to crush Alera unbeknownst to Tavi who has ventured off to the Canim lands as an ambassador. Tavi must find a way to deal with the Canim while the issue of him being the First Lord’s heir is up for debate in Alera. In Canea, they find out just to what extent the Vord incursion has expanded while at the same time having to deal with the ever aggressive, warlike Canim. In Alera, the First Lord sends Isana to seek the help of Antillus from the Shield Wall and broker peace with the Icemen after hundreds of years of war. A daunting task indeed. Amara and Bernard are given their own covert task which can make or break First Lord Gaius’ defense. Thrown in between is Aquitane’s move to finally consolidate power to himself. This simply all leads to war. And I loved it.

Scenes and Style When it comes to laying out the world, its creatures, his magic, the strategy used incorporating both the land itself and the furies, Butcher does an excellent job that at times makes me go “WoW!”. I simply love the furies, but then I’m a fan of almost all elemental magic.

The style of writing though at times left something to be desired. In the space of a couple pages, he must have used “he said quietly or she said quietly” about 6 or 7 times. This happened all throughout the book and sometimes the repetitions like this grated me. There were just too many examples for me not to notice.

Characters The meat and potatoes of the book. Combined with the scenes, the action, the magic and at times the plot is why I gave this book four stars. Seeing Tavi grow from having no magical power to what he is now, seeing him learn to lead men, learn to solve problems both small and large and seeing him strategize is an absolute pleasure. Of ocurse there’s his relationship with Kitai and seeing that grow gives us a few laughs, but also helps to establish Tavi even more. Reading Amara and Bernard and seeing them work as one shows the bond they’ve developed and touches me in many ways. Isana is as concerned as ever for her son, her peoples and others she doesn’t quite understand but does not arbitrarily throw them under the bus. Fidelias is as slick as ever, hiding what he truly is. The comparative differences between Marcus and Crassus are a nice touch. Of course watching the Vord Queen and the Canim as a whole are like individual characters and I find myself engrossed in both their worlds and trying to understand them. You will too.

Overall There’s not much more to say here. If not for the tendency to be repetitive during some parts of the dialogue and at times the constant attachment of adverbs to dialogue tags and repeating those, I may have given the book a 4 and a half. As it stands, everything else makes up for that hiccup and Princep’s Fury makes for an engrossing read that leaves you breathless from its neck breaking pace and had me wanting to read First Lord’s Fury. Which of course, I did. Pick up the series if you haven’t read it yet. It’s worth it.

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Reviews

 

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