A non-fiction book illustrating the power of sport to unify people. More specifically it deals with the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final between South Africa and New Zealand and this single game’s immense significance in bringing together white and black South Africa under a single banner. On this day The Springboks (S.A. national rugby team) were transformed from a symbol of Apartheid and exclusion to one of unity and hope. Once a team supported pretty much exclusively by Afrikaners, The Springboks on final day enjoyed the support of countrymen of all races. It is this point to which the author anchors this book. For sports fanatics, you will not find a play by play account of how the final resolved itself on the field and for the politically curious you’ll find a great deal of Mandella biographies out there that will sate your thirst for knowledge more assuredly than this book. This doesn’t appear to be the intention of the author. What Carlin attempts here, and succeeds in doing, is to highlight the power of single seminal events in the progress of seemingly unachievable peace. A game involving 30 players on a rugby pitch achieved more in terms of progress between Afrikaners and black South Africans than innumerable bullets and deaths. There are some harrowing tales of injusctice and deprivation carried out in the name of the inhumane and unimaginably cruel Apartheid regime detailed in the book but the real message is hope and it is a message that resounds in the reader long after the final page has been turned. If Carlin’s aim was to produce a piece of inspirational writing, has achieved his goal.
We have recently added a new feature to the site in the form of a free, easy-to-use Cover Designer that enables authors to design their own book covers right on the site. We are working with Aviary to offer the use of their online image editting package, Phoenix, which is essentially a stripped down, simpler version of Photoshop. It is perfect for our author’s needs and really simple to use. You can create a decent cover in a few minutes simply by importing an image, adding some text, playing around with the layout and you’re done! You can have a look and play around with it yourself by signing in and going to the ‘Publish’ page on Our Writers’ Bloc. (http://www.ourwritersbloc.com/publish)
Since leaving the hot seat at Microsoft, Mr. Gates has thrown himself wholeheartedly into his philanthropic endeavors through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Billster, however, has found some time in his undoubtedly chocca schedule to become a book reviewer too. He pops his reviewer cherry on Levitt and Dubner’s ‘SuperFreakonomics’ in his recently launched Blog ‘TheGatesNotes.com’. For those interested in assessing his critiquing chops check it out at:
Steve Jobs is legendary for his ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy with his incredible talent for building hype around new product launches and this morning’s press conference in Cupertino, California shows no signs of disappointing. Shortly after 10am Pacific time, Jobs unveiled the latest product in the Apple range, the iPad. He describes it as being in a third space, somewhere between a mobile phone and a laptop. Apple is now the largest mobile technology device company in the world, outselling Sony, Nokia and Samsung with over 250 million iPods sold and the company generating revenue in excess of $15 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2010 alone. Not bad for a company started by a couple of geeks in a garage 34 years ago.
In terms of using the iPad for reading ebooks, it uses the ePub format, (all of the books on Our Writers’ Bloc are available to download in this format), which is looking set to potentially become the universal standard in ebooks in the future. Jobs claims the battery life lasts up to 10 hours – impressive for a device that size – and it runs all of the iPhone apps out of the box. Will be buying one of these asap! [http://www.ourwritersbloc.com]
Apple iPad Product Page: http://www.apple.com/ipad/
Detailed Specs from Wired’s Gadget Lab: http://bit.ly/9QTnPA
Finished Marc Horne’s Tokyo Zero and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hoping that the frenetic pace wouldn’t let up and I wasn’t disappointed. Horne has crafted a good thriller here. There is plenty going on but the author very nicely weaves his prose in such a way that the reader doesn’t drown in detail. The back story is intriguing; so much so that a prequel would be very welcome. As an aside, the author’s references to 2000AD brought back some fond memories. And some not-so-fond…why did Hollywood have to run with a PG-certified Judge Dredd? Maybe, with all the ‘rebooting’ of comic book characters going on Dredd might get another roll of the dice. With David Fincher revitalising him in the same way Chris Nolan worked his magic on Batsy. Ah, I can dream I suppose…
I’m reading Tokyo Zero by Marc Horne at the minute. It’s a fast paced thriller that revolves around the machinations of a doomsday organisation. I’m around about half way through it now and have to say that Horne doesn’t take his foot of the accelerator with pen in hand. Quite the attention-grabber of an opening setpiece too. To date the book has had 36,000 downloads so nice work Marc. The book is available to download from the site right now.
[from Wired] You can now go to Google’s website and pay Google directly for a phone that bears the search giant’s corporate logo and the rather boring name of Nexus One. (Even if it is named after a robot in Blade Runner.)
This is quite a shift from the company’s original stance as a neutral distributor of the Android mobile operating system, used by multiple carriers on multiple handsets. Now Google is competing with the very manufacturers that use its OS.
Building the Nexus One (or, to be precise, contracting HTC to build it) may well tick off Google’s current and future Android partners. So, what features were so important to Google that it would take that risk?
And why would you want to buy one at the seemingly steep, unsubsidized price of $530?
The answers give a few clues to the next generation of smartphones: fast, always-connected, expandable and fully dependent on the internet. And while the Nexus One isn’t completely there yet, it’s a few steps closer to the ideal Android phone.
No-BS sales model. Google wants to make it easier for people to buy phones, and once they buy them, to control their relationships with network carriers. So, you can buy an unlocked version for $530 (the phone works with “nearly all” GSM SIM cards, says Google) or pay $180 for a two-year contract with T-Mobile. Google says later on, there will be other carriers and other plans.
I used my Nexus with T-Mobile, which had good 3G coverage in New York City and zero network coverage of any sort in my place in western Massachusetts. I was able to make phone calls, though, by swapping my SIM card with the one from my AT&T iPhone. (As Google acknowledges, this combination gives you voice calling, but not access to AT&T’s 3G network. Bummer.)
At $80 a month, the T-Mobile plan is $20 a month cheaper than what Verizon charges on the Droid Android phone. Hopefully, some of the future plans will be dirt-cheap, allowing people to amortize the initial cost of the unlocked phone.
Cool Design. Physically, the Nexus One is as pleasing as any phone in the market. The HTC-manufactured device (built to Google’s specs) is like an iPhone with curvy corners, cast in a classy burnished gray with a black frame around a brilliant 3.7-inch 800 x 400-pixel OLED (!) screen. There are four hard-wired touch controls on the bottom of that frame, including one that instantly brings up a search box. (Well, it is a Google phone.)
The home screen features “live wallpaper,” a dynamic and fun collection of animated backgrounds. It calls into question, though, whether this frill has a price. At one point, I peeked at the phone’s power meter and found that screen was eating up half the energy. This is a real problem: When I failed to recharge the Nexus during the night, it would inevitably be dead the next morning. The battery’s official ratings are impressive — seven hours 3G talk time, seven hours video. Indeed, talking or using media didn’t run things down too quickly, but the promised and paltry five hours of 3G internet use — along with the drain from the screen — is an issue for a device that urges you to use the internet all the time.
You can replace the removable battery on the fly, but Google clearly intends for customers to make use of the power management widget that dims the screen.
The Nexus One offers one of the more coherent implementations of the Android interface, which can sometimes be a bit rough around the edges. It’s easy to switch between the five screens that hold app icons and widgets, and you can get a thumbnail view of any of the screens by touching a dot on the home screen. Widgets are hit and miss: The Facebook widget just highlights single updates. But the constantly updating news and weather widget was always worth a look, as evidenced by the update onscreen as I write this: “Sheen’s mother-in-law has misgivings.”
One of the signature design features of the Nexus is a tiny tricolor trackball that glows when you have messages or notices. This isn’t terribly helpful for navigation because it’s just as easy to scroll with your finger. As for the glow: Uh, don’t we typically stash phones in our pockets?
Like other Android phones, the Nexus One does not support multitouch gestures on the screen, so iPhone immigrants will be frustrated by the lack of two-finger maneuvers, especially when trying to resize web pages.
Speed. One of Google’s core values is that when things run things faster people use them more and like them more. True to its principles, Google has loaded the Nexus One with a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. I haven’t done the metrics, but the thermometer meters that indicate how fast something loads on the Nexus definitely zip by faster than on other phones. The speed provides a halo effect that really heightens the pleasures of using the Nexus One.
Heightened senses. Probably the best feature in the Nexus One is the ubiquitous voice recognition. Just about every time a text field appears — in search, in maps and even in e-mail — you can press a microphone key on the virtual keyboard and just say what you want to put in the field. If you take it easy and enunciate your words as if speaking to a fairly dense child, a reasonably accurate transcription of your words will appear on the screen. There are the usual cosmic misunderstandings, but expanding voice recognition is a welcome step toward our eventual liberation from Lilliputian physical keyboards and unforgiving soft keyboards.
This brings up a puzzler: The Nexus One, like other recent Android phones, has a solid navigation system that makes use of Google Maps and GPS, and it doesn’t cost anything. But the voice that gives you turn-by-turn instructions is the same grating metallic female voice heard on earlier versions. It’s weird that a device built around speech recognition should lag so much in speech synthesis.
The 5-megapixel camera, with zoom and flash and editing features, takes good pictures and clear video, and can location-stamp them with GPS.
- Manufacturer: Google
- Price: $530