From Geeks are Sexy Technology News: Amazon targets large groups with Kindle distribution tool

Amazon is introducing a podcast like distribution tool for documents, aimed at schools and businesses.

The new free tool, Whispercast, allows an organization to link multiple devices in a form of network, though files only transfer in one direction. Managers will be able to put individual Kindles into separate groups (for example corporate departments or different school classes) and then automatically send materials to everyone in a particular group. Users will need to be on Wi-Fi rather than 3G to get the content.

The system will work with personal documents, meaning a teacher could create and send a lesson schedule to every pupil, or a human resources department could distribute a new staff manual. The Whispercast service will also allow organizations to send documents to anyone with a device that runs the Kindle app.

As well as personal documents, organizations can distribute Kindle books through Whispercast. For example, a school could buy an electronic textbook “in bulk” and send it to an entire class. It’s not clear if there’ll be special pricing for such purchases.

The idea is that the system will work whether users bring their own Kindles or if the organization buys devices for them. For those who hand out Kindles, there’ll be tools to centrally register them, require a password, control Internet access, and decide what if any material users can buy on the Kindle. There will also be a tool to block users from carrying out a factory reset or deregistering a Kindle and transferring it to their own account.

Amazon is also offering bulk discounts to schools or businesses that buy a batch of Kindles. It’s not offering specific discounts but rather inviting buyers to ask for a quote.

(Image credit: Amazon)


from Geeks are Sexy Technology News

From Ars Technica: California universities to produce 50 open-source textbooks

California Governor Jerry Brown gave his pen a workout yesterday. In addition to signing legislation prohibiting social network snooping by employers and colleges, he also signed off on a proposal for the state to fund 50 open source digital textbooks. He signed two bills, one to create the textbooks and the other to establish a California Digital Open Source Library to host them, at a meeting with students in Sacramento.

According to a legislative summary, the textbook bill would “require the California Open Education Resources Council to determine a list of 50 lower division courses in the public postsecondary segments for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials would be developed or acquired.” The council is to solicit bids to produce these textbooks in 2013. The bill makes clear that the council has the option to use “existing high-quality digital open source textbooks and related materials” if those materials fit the requirements.

The law specifies that the textbooks must be placed under a Creative Commons license, allowing professors at universities outside of California to use the textbooks in their own classrooms. The textbooks must be encoded in XML, or “other appropriate successor format,” to facilitate re-use of the materials.

from Ars Technica

From Discover Magazine: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Deserts

cracked, dry desert

3  There are parts of the Atacama Desert in Chile where no rain has ever been recorded. Scientists believe portions of the region have been in an extreme desert state for 40 million years—longer than any other place on Earth.

5  If you get lost in the desert, you don’t have to urinate on your shirt and wear it on your head like Bear Grylls to avoid dying of thirst. You can suck water from the branches of some palms, such as buri and rattan.

9  The world record for crossing the Sahara by bicycle was set in 2011 by Reza Pakravan, 36, a market security analyst in London, who made the 1,084-mile journey in 13 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes, and 14 seconds. He started in Algeria, cycled south, then turned east through Niger and Chad to reach Sudan.

16  In northeastern China, a Green Great Wall of shrubs and trees now being planted may win back the edges of the Gobi Desert. The wall will eventually stretch 2,800 miles from outer Beijing through Inner Mongolia…

Image: Shutterstock

from Discover Magazine

From MAKE: Paper Marbling

The art of paper marbling has been around for a long time. You sometimes see the covers of books or stationery decorated using this technique. On Make: Projects, Marcia Friedman shows how to create Japanese sumi ink marbling, a particular style of marbling which produces beautiful swirling patterns of black, white, and gray.

Suminagashi images from Flickr user juni xu

In the video below, a marbling artist demonstrates a more premeditated design by painting on water and then carefully laying down paper over it.

How-to: Japanese Sumi Ink Marbling

Watch Dale Dougherty right now to learn more about marbling paper, live on Maker Camp! (12pm PST)



from MAKE