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Books

Amazon Restores Some Heft To Helvetica For Kindle E-Ink Readers (teleread.com) 84

David Rothman writes: Props to Amazon. The Helvetica font will be restored to a more readable weight than the anorexic one in the latest update for E Ink Kindles. Let's hope that an all-bold switch—or, better, a font weight adjuster of the kind that Kobo now offers—will also happen. I've queried Amazon about that possibility. Meanwhile thanks to Slashdot community members who spoke up against the anorexic Helvetica!
Books

Uborne Children's Books Release For Free Computer Books From the '80s (usborne.com) 117

martiniturbide writes: To promote some new computer coding books for kids, Uborne Children's Books has put online 15 of its children books from the '80s to learn how to code games. The books are available for free in PDF format and has samples to create your game for Commodore 64, VIC 20, Apple, TRS 80, Spectrum and other. Maybe you read some of them like "Machine Code for Beginners" or "Write your own Adventure Program for MicroComputers." Should other publishers also start to make their '80s and '90s computer books available for free?
Books

Amazon's Thin Helvetica Syndrome: Font Anorexia vs. Kindle Readability (teleread.com) 156

David Rothman writes: The Thin Helvetica Syndrome arises from the latest Kindle upgrade and has made e-books less readable for some. In the past, e-book-lovers who needed more perceived-contrast between text and background could find at least partial relief in Helvetica because the font was heavy by Kindle standards. But now some users complain that the 5.7.2 upgrade actually made Helvetica thinner. Of course, the real cure would be an all-text bold option for people who need it, or even a way to adjust font weight, a feature of Kobo devices. But Amazon stubbornly keeps ignoring user pleas even though the cost of adding either feature would be minimal. Isn't this supposed to be a customer-centric company?
Books

Interviews: Ask 'Ubuntu Unleashed' Author Matthew Helmke 59

Matthew Helmke (personal blog) is the author of the newly published 11th edition of Ubuntu Unleashed (published by Pearson); this updated edition of the book will cover the OS through Ubuntu's 15.10 and (forthcoming) 16.04 releases. Helmke is also a former Ubuntu Forum administrator, a musician, an entrepreneur, and a long-time Slashdot reader who now leads a "nice quiet life in Iowa." Ask Matthew about what it's like to be a Linux book author and community leader, and his thoughts on Canonical, the goods and bads of modern Linux distributions, and the future of Ubuntu -- especially relevant with the upcoming release of the first Ubuntu-based tablet. (Remember, Matthew isn't responsible for gripes you may have with either Ubuntu or Canonical, but he might have some good solutions to particular problems.) Ask as many questions as you'd like; we just ask that you keep them on-topic, and please stick to one question per post.
Books

Ask Slashdot: State-of-the-Art In Amateur Book Scanning? 122

An anonymous reader writes: I have a shelf full of books and other book-like things ranging from old to very old that I would like to turn into PDFs (or other similarly portable format), and have been on a slow-burn quest for the right hardware and method to do so on a budget. These are mostly sentimental — things handed down over generations, and they include family bibles, notebooks, and photo albums, as well as some conventional — published, bound — books from the late 19th and early 20th Century. None of them are especially valuable as antiques, as far as I know; my goals in preserving them are a) to make them available to other people in my family who are into genealogy or just nostalgia, and b) so I can read some of those old, interesting books (et cetera) without endangering them any more than it takes to scan them once. I was intrigued by the (funded, but not yet available) scanner mentioned earlier this year on Slashdot; it seems to do a lot of things right, but like any crowdfunded project, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding hasn't yet arrived. It's also cheap, and that fits my household budget. What methods and hardware are you using to scan old documents? Any tips you have from a similar project, with regard to hardware, treatment of the materials being scanned, light sources, file formats, clean-up and editing tools, file-size-vs-resolution tradeoffs? In the end, I'm likely to err toward high-resolution scans, since they can be knocked down to size later if need be, but I'd be interested in hearing about what tradeoffs you've found to work for you.

One big question that I'd like to have answered: Is there stand-alone Free / Open Source software, or even just cheap software (I am mostly on Linux, by choice, but won't leap onto a sword to keep my Free Software purity) that makes for easy correction of the distortion introduced by camera-based imaging? If I could easily uncurl and keystone-correct pages, then a lot of input methods (even my phone) are suddenly much more attractive. My old Casio camera could do this 10 years ago, but I haven't found a free software desktop utility that lets me turn photos into nicely squared-up pages.
Books

Kindle or Not, a Resurgence In Used Bookstores 133

The growing availability of books via internet (whether instant, in the form of downloads from Amazon's Kindle store or the Google Play store, or in physical form by post) puts pressure on conventional bookstores. The Washington Post reports, though, that some bookstores are thriving, and some new ones are getting started, in a particular niche: used books. The phenomenon springs in part from the disappearance of many large chain bookstores, leaving gaps that smaller and nimbler shops can fill; as the article points out, a used bookstore in many places is the only one around. Nonetheless, It is by no means an easy business. Many used-book retailers — with either bad management or bad locations (or both) — still struggle against the digital headwinds. For one, Amazon is still just a few clicks away. But some used-bookstore owners have made a shrewd move: widening their customer base by listing their inventories on Amazon’s third-party marketplace, an idea many new-book retailers despise. (The Washington Post is owned by Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos.) My favorite bookstores have mixed stock (used and new), serve coffee, and specialize -- the process of discovery is still easier at a place like Ada's Technical Books in Seattle than it is browsing through Amazon recommendations.
Input Devices

Scan a Book In Five Minutes With a $199 Scanner? (teleread.com) 221

New submitter David Rothman writes: Scan a 300-page book in just five minutes or so? For a mere $199 and shipping — the current price on Indiegogo — a Chinese company says you can buy a device to do just that. And a related video is most convincing. The Czur scanner from CzurTek uses a speedy 32-bit MIPS CPU and fast software for scanning and correction. It comes with a foot pedal and even offers WiFi support. Create a book cloud for your DIY digital library? Imagine the possibilities for Project Gutenberg-style efforts, schools, libraries and the print-challenged as well as for booklovers eager to digitize their paper libraries for convenient reading on cellphones, e-readers and tablets. Even at the $400 expected retail price, this could be quite a bargain if the claims are true. I myself have ordered one at the $199 price.
Books

Ask Slashdot: An 'Ex Libris' For My Books In a Digital Age? 149

New submitter smalgin writes: While I cannot boast an extensive library, it keeps growing every week. I share the books I like the most with my friends and acquaintances. Unfortunately, some of them are sloppy and forget to return my books, so to speak. I would like to put some mark, sticker or a stamp (Ex Libris) on my books to make them recognizable later. However, living in a digital age (blah blah yada yada) I cannot help but wonder how I could improve the ex libris beyond an ink stamp on a title page or a glued-on postcard-sized monstrosity some libraries use. Has anyone tried using RFIDs to identify his books? Please share your experience.
Books

Book Review: Abusing the Internet of Things 26

New submitter sh0wstOpper writes: The topic of the Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining a lot of attention because we are seeing increasing amounts of "things", such as cars, door locks, baby monitors, etc, that are connected and accessible from the Internet. This increases the chances of someone being able to "attack" these devices remotely. The premise of Abusing the Internet of Things is that the distinction between our "online spaces" and our "physical spaces" will become harder to define since the connected objects supporting the IoT ecosystems will have access to both. Keep reading for the rest of sh0wstOpper's review.
Movies

Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76 35

New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."
Books

Neurologist and Author Oliver Sacks Dead at 82 31

Physician, writer and humanist Oliver Sacks has died of cancer at age 82. Sacks was famous for "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" and other books, including his account in "Awakenings" (later made into a well-recieved film) of administering treatment which resulted in several patients emerging from their comas. The Guardian reports: When he revealed that he had terminal cancer, Sacks quoted one of his favourite philosophers, David Hume. On discovering that he was mortally ill at 65, Hume wrote: “I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution. I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company. “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”
Sci-Fi

FBI Informant: Ray Bradbury's Sci-fi Written To Induce Communistic Mass Hysteria 282

v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."
Sci-Fi

Hugos Refuse To Award Anyone Rather Than Submit To Fans' Votes 1044

An anonymous reader writes: You may remember way back in April there was a bit of a kerfuffle over the nominees for the Hugo Awards being "too conservative" based on a voting campaign organized by a group of science fiction fans who wanted to promote hard science fiction over more recent nominees. This was spun as conservatives "ruining" a "progressive" award. The question was left: would the final voters of the Hugo awards accept these nominees, or just take their ball home and refuse to give out anyway awards at all? The votes are in and we know the answer now: they'd rather just not give out any awards. (Wired has a slightly different slant on the process as well as the outcome of this year's awards.)
Books

Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Is Trying To Save a Huge Storage Room of Manuals 48

martiniturbide writes: Remember Jason Scott of Textfiles.com, who wanted your AOL & Shovelware CDs earlier this year? Right now -- at this moment! -- he trying to save the manuals in a huge storage room that was going to be dumped. It is a big storage room and some of these manuals date back to the thirties. On Monday a team of volunteers helped him to pack some manuals to save them. Today he needs more volunteers at "2002 Bethel Road, Finksburg, MD, USA" to try to save them all. He is also accepting Paypal donations for the package material, transportation and storage room payment. You can also check his progress on his twitter account.
Books

XKCD Author's New Unpublished Book Becomes Scientific Best-Seller 90

An anonymous reader writes: XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe will be publishing a new book in November, but it's already become Amazon's #1 best-seller in two "Science & Math" subcategories, for mechanics and scientific instruments. Inspired by a cartoon describing NASA's Saturn V rocket as "the up-goer V", Randall's created a large-format collection of blueprints describing datacenters, tectonic plates, and even the controls in an airplane cockpit — using only the thousand most common English words. "Since this book explains things, I've called it Thing Explainer," Randall writes on the XKCD blog, trying to mimic the humorously simple style of his book. Randall's previous book of scientific hypotheticals — published one year ago — is still Amazon's #1 best-selling book in their "Physics" category, ranking higher than Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time."

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