Articles by David Rothman

Sadder Puppies: Chinese SF novel wins 2015 Hugo

By David Rothman
August 23, 2015 // 8 Comments

Hugo Awards judges have resisted the the Sad Puppies movement, which allegedly gamed the nomination process for one of science fiction’s most respected competitions. In a ceremony last night in Spokane, Washington, the judges refused to give out awards in such categories as Best Novella and Best [...]

People to judge short-story contest for literary robots. What if someday the bots are judging US?

By David Rothman
August 22, 2015 // 1 Comment

Someday will robots be able to collaborate with novelists and otherwise be literary, with or without tweed jackets? Writer-artist Jamie Bridle opines in the Guardian. He also gives his take on what he calls “the first short story award for algorithms,” and HuffPo weighs in as well about robots [...]

Samsung’s e-reader for Paul Bunyan? 18.4-inch screen. Spruce Goose of Android tablets?

By David Rothman
August 22, 2015 // 4 Comments

Back in the 1940s, multimillionaire Howard Hughes came up with the Spruce Goose, a gigantic wooden sea plane that flew one mile for a minute at an altitude of 70 feet. No one had ever built a larger aircraft: the wings spanned 320 feet. The Goose could have carried 750 battle-ready troops. Could [...]

Are e-books good for us as primates?

By David Rothman
August 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

Kim Stanley Robinson, the science fiction writer, once gave an interview in which he called for human activities to be more primate-friendly. Enough with technology disrupting our routines! So here’s a question. Do e-books or p-books better satisfy our needs and desires as primates? Before I [...]

How to sell e-books through your own Web site

By David Rothman
August 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

Who says farmers must be the only ones selling directly? Here’s a dream. What if someday bookstores and libraries teamed up to offer search-and-discovery tools—to make it easier to sell e-books without relying so much on, say, the Amazon juggernaut? Suppose you could even push your titles [...]

The iPad Pro as an e-book machine—and possible savior of frogs

By David Rothman
August 20, 2015 // 2 Comments

Whenever the big-screened iPad Pro shows up—perhaps in September or later this year—it will matter to the e-book world. Maybe not instantly. But in time. A 12-13 inch screen would be a vast expanse of real estate by tablet standards. My bet is on 12.9 inches. This would be noticeably [...]

Kindles used as Frisbees at Florida high school? 5,217 devices owned, just 44 checked out last year?

By David Rothman
August 20, 2015 // 3 Comments

Here’s a story to make any K-12 tech booster weep, if it’s true. A 1,750-student high school in Florida is said to have owned 5,217 Kindles and Fires over the years. But the kids supposedly checked out just 44 of the devices in 2014. “In 2010,” reports TV station WFTS in Tampa Bay, [...]

Getting the PDF to ePub conversion right: OverDrive’s new goal for the cell phone era

By David Rothman
August 19, 2015 // 2 Comments

Hate e-books? If you’re an academic, it’s easy to back up your biases. You just inflict PDF on subjects in P vs. E experiments. PDF  generally offers less control than ePub over such trivial details as font size, at least if you want lines to break in the right places. I hate PDF for, say, [...]

Eternal life for rechargeable batteries?

By David Rothman
August 19, 2015 // 0 Comments

That’s what MIT and Samsung are together aiming for. No, you would not recharge your iPad once and be done with it forever. But if MIT and Samsung succeed, your tablet or phone wouldn’t retain less and less juice as it aged. You’d always get a full charge. Good news for cash-strapped [...]

New router from Google looks like a fat Pringles can and supposedly takes the fright out of WiFi setup

By David Rothman
August 19, 2015 // 0 Comments

Google’s new WiFi router looks like a fatter, drabber version of a Pringles potato chip can. It also reminds me a little of Amazon Echo, the talkative virtual assistant. Microphone inside? Presumably not, but a speaker can send audio signals to your Android mobile device to help get it connected [...]

Work and poop at Amazon: Bathroom stalls as cubicles. True story?

By David Rothman
August 18, 2015 // 2 Comments

From an ex-Amabot writing in Motherboard (found via a university press employee): ​"​The worst floors were the ones dominated by engineers. I regularly saw people bring their laptops into the bathroom, where they would sit on the toilet and write code. (I’ve never seen anyone clean their [...]

How safe is it to leave Kindles, Kobos and other E Ink devices in the car? Or in the sun for a long time?

By David Rothman
August 18, 2015 // 2 Comments

The word from E Ink is apparently, “Very safe.” The company brags about “Comprehensive environmental robustness based on multi-year investment in sealant methods, moisture protection, UV block and mechanical protection.” So is it that way in real life? A MobileRead post raises questions, [...]

‘CliFi’ makes the big time again, via The Atlantic: TeleRead contributor Dan Bloom originated the word

By David Rothman
August 18, 2015 // 0 Comments

Climate Fiction: Can Books Save the Planet?  is TheAtlantic.com’s new piece on cli-fi (used with or without the hyphen). TeleRead contributor Dan Bloom popularized the word. Yes, cli-fi is short for “climate fiction.” As usual, Dan does not get credit, but to the best of our [...]

Pathetic! Dropping comment sections can be media arrogance at its worst

By David Rothman
August 17, 2015 // 6 Comments

Jessamyn West, a well-known librarian who moderated for the MetaFilter Web site, has a thoughtful essay in Medium on how sites can do comments right. It’s obvious to me. Editors and publishers should expect intelligence and civil replies to writers and to other commenters. Trolls should be [...]

NYT Amazon expose withstands attacks from the company’s defenders

By David Rothman
August 17, 2015 // 3 Comments

The New York Times’ expose of brutal working conditions at Amazon drew attacks over the weekend (here, here, here, here, here, via The Digital Reader—along with a memo from Jeff Bezos). I’ll still side with the Times. The defenses tended to center around individuals’ experiences. Keep [...]

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