Tag Archives: Kobo

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Dear Facebook, Redux

No sooner than I post my post and happily move along to writing my review of well, a very nicely illustrated children’s book about mice who cook delicious cheese soup, which reminds me, I need to get the recipe, than I am posed with my first dilemma about not having a Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account. I may still have a Tumblr account but don’t remember how to get into it. I did mention in my previous post that there is a good side to social media. It has just boppopped me on the head and reminded me of its existence. It’s ridiculous that I needed a reminded, because I have helped fund a few projects on this site–Kickstarter–and really think it’s the future for people who are in any way clever about anything and want to do something about it. For me, specifically, this is in the way of art and publishing, but I get pulled in the tech direction sometimes; that’s how I first found out about the site. My boyfriend is a gamer, and he started to help fund some PC games he thought looked interesting. I’ve checked out the games since, and was particularly pleased when a bear simulator, yep, a bear simulator, where you get to be the bear, was successfully funded. That was one cool idea. Who’d have thunk it? All the projects I have donated toward, however, have been publishing or art projects, and they have all (yay!!) been funded–except for one, which is in tech, that I read about on Softpedia (I will admit that Softpedia for Mac is my homepage) and immediately thought, “I am so there!” because there are a lot of things Apple does really well, except wireless and keyboards, in my experience. I have learned to live with the keyboard. The wireless issue I’m still pretty darn ticked off about, not that my posting a post or a whole series of posts would do anything, but seriously, Apple, I’m beginning to question my commitment to SparkleMotion. I know I’m not a tech person. I wish I was. I can fix some things, I just can’t tell you how I did it. I can break them, too–I learned that on a PC, unless you know what you’re doing, you don’t mess with the .dll files. But I have a Mac again. Don’t mess with the registry or the library unless you have a really good reason. I have done that and my computer lived to tell the tale. But the wireless–months now, Mr. Cook, months. Worse things have happened at sea, but while I may have issues with the dark side of social media, there is the light, and that’s what I’m here to discuss.That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally think someone should be flying from the yardarm. Looking for networks, on…looking for networks…on…looking for networks…on. You get the idea. If this is something I have done to prevent the happy union of my iMac and my Airport Whatchamacallit Tower thing (memory issues, did I mention the memory issues? My RAM, not the computer’s) however they both shall be happy together, I am fully willing to admit it was my fault, but I really don’t think it was. Anyway, again, not the main topic of discussion.

By de-activating my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I also cut off two of the areas of information dissemination for some of the good things on the internet, in this instance, the Next Keyboard for iOS, and I really hope I won’t get in trouble if I use the picture they have on their site. It probably says somewhere in the tiny print that I can’t, but for now I’m going to say, in all honesty, I don’t remember seeing that in tiny print. See, this is where the moral conundrum comes in, and I’m not talking about the picture. For the developers of Next Keyboard, they needed some help to get the project off the ground, so they turned to Kickstarter.

Now, my best friend and I have discussed how, in the olden days (no, not the 80s, even though things from then are now considered practically antique on Etsy) there used to be Patrons of the Arts, people who, when they found someone whose art they liked, would support them while the artist did whatever work the patron wanted. That way, an artist could live, though not exactly doing whatever they wanted, now that I wanted. I imagine that if any cherubs on the ceiling had been making rude gestures, we’d have heard about it by now. But music, art, writing, there were patrons for all of these things. Now, while you wouldn’t think so to look at it on the surface, society doesn’t value these things as much, unless you’re from a certain socio-economic level of society and up. Before anyone gets huffy, look at school curriculums, and the teachers on staff of public schools across the nation, and find out how many of them have full time music teachers and full time art teachers. At ONE school. I know of districts who employ full time art and music teachers yes, but on Monday they’re at Chestnut Elementary, Tuesday they’re at Walnut Elementary, Wednesday they’re at Filbert Elementary (I had to get that one in before I stopped, this is Oregon), and so on. The arts are languishing at lower levels of education. If you look on Kickstarter, I’d wager there are more than a few projects to try to get some sort of art, music, or literature program at an elementary school somewhere. And there’s no stratification in society. Oops. I’m not supposed to be talking about these things. No news. I can’t just forget everything now, though, can I? The important thing is, Kickstarter is making a difference. Five of the documentaries that made it to the Academy Awards were funded through Kickstarter. That’s the only one I can think of right off, but the number of video games on Steam funded through Kickstarter–55 (I had to ask my boyfriend that one). These people on Kickstarter are making a difference, and by funding them you are helping them to make a difference. Check out Kickstarter’s website after you look at Next Keyboard’s info here, and, especially if you’re an iOS user, send a little love their way:

photo-1024x768
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robjama/next-keyboard-the-perfect-keyboard-for-iphone/widget/video.html

So, I guess, one has to weigh out the pros and cons. For me, I know I won’t go back on unless I have to–but I will help people how I can from here, because they deserve it. These are brilliant and talented people, programmers and artists (an interesting juxtaposition, because in a way, it’s all art; isn’t there beauty in a perfect program?). Social media gives these projects the attention they need to succeed. On the same theme, I wouldn’t want it just to be limited to things like this. I think most of what happens and goes on is just fine. I was normally able and even eager to discuss news items and support the causes I believe in, and will be able to do so again, once I’ve recovered some resiliency. Facebook, in my experience, in the groups I “hung out” around, was fine. Twitter confused the h*ll out of me, quite frankly. It was worse than Facebook in terms of reporting every single thing someone does. But it also seemed much more likely to have gangs of, for lack of a better term, thugs (I don’t like the term trolls–trolls are from fairy tales and I’m sure if one were to do enough research, there were nice trolls. Not in Norway, though, if you’ve ever seen the Norwegian movie, Trolls, which I highly recommend. It’s just a downright awesome movie. And there was that phase back in the 1970’s, which then repeated recently, with the fuzzy haired trolls–I loved those. So, no, I won’t call them trolls). They’re thugs, and they’re out to beat up people’s reputations and online personas without caring that there are real people involved, seemingly at the drop of a hat–they literally seem to go around looking for arguments. That I won’t abide. The unfortunate thing about that is no sooner than you kick one off, they’re back with a new email and new username before you can say “venomous thug generator.”

I don’t understand people who have no moral qualms about having more than one username that they go under, say, to cast more votes in something, or to manipulate a situation using different names so others actually think there are more people involved than really are. I’m creeping back to the dark side again, aren’t I? Maybe I’ve either just had more bad experiences with others on the internet, I’m a thug magnet, or I’m just very thin skinned. Probably all of the former, coupled with the fact that I have a strong sense of right and wrong, but I am willing to admit, oh, this is bad, but I have to do it, I have to, there are at least 50 shades of grey. No, there are a lot more than that, it just takes a discerning eye. LOL. I know because I look in the mirror. ūüôā I prefer silver, even though it makes me sound like an elf. Not that I have anything against elves. Let’s just not go there.

There are some people, especially after reading this post, who might say that giving anyone the freedom to blog is as bad as signing in with Facebook. That may or may not be true, although after having some trouble learning (am still learning, thank you) about my new Kobo, having a small explosion about how it’s supposed to be partnered with indie bookstores but I couldn’t get the books I bought at indie bookstores on my Kobo, downloading the user’s manual, in English (Kudos to Kobo for how many languages they offer support in), I learned that it’s supposed to have facial recognition and you can turn it on by moving it in small circles in front of your face. I am guessing there is some prep to this, for example, it learning my face, which will simply not happen–I am odd enough in real life without moving an eReader around in front of my face to turn in on, and doing it in the privacy of my own home, and thinking about what it would like, would just make me laugh, also most likely rendering it useless. So I found that out and ended up getting the Aldiko app to upload all the books I had bought, along with the free goodies (All Romance eBooks, great for free reads, and they carry lots of good diverse fiction as well, AND I realized last night–yes, sometimes I have the supreme gift of oversight, if you hit the Omni lit tab (how many times have I looked at that Omni lit tab?) it’s a whole, regular bookstore! OMG! Thank you, Aldiko! I seriously wouldn’t have checked that out if not for that app, and we’re talking years that I have been using ARe. I am not saying how many, it’s just too embarrassing). I am annoyed that the libraries won’t mingle. This is one of the places my tech knowledge falls flat on its face and cries mercy. They’re not computers, but…they sort of act like them…I can’t fix it! I can’t figure it out! I’m a reader, Jim, not a miracle worker! Not with these chameleon tech things. iPhones included. Though I have managed to get my Kindle working, somewhat, again after it futzed out.

And so we’ll come full circle here. I think a lot of the difficulty is from attempting to use wireless at home that is simply not a happy camper. Do you or do you not want me to use my iDevices at home, Mr Cook? Because for some reason, this Looking for networks…on…looking for networks…on…looking for networks…on…looking for networks thing doesn’t seem to be working to well for them, or their VPN. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a conspiracy, after I started having problems with the VPN not be able to stay on. A collaboration? Cast aspersions, me? In this country? Wait, homing in on news territory again. Sigh. So I have to resort to my TV hero memes, like Trust no one. Fix the wi-fi and I’ll have to stop casting aspersions, won’t I? Prove me wrong. I just want things to work, that’s all.

Alright, I think I’ve gone on enough. I want to do some reading. I have a challenge goal to meet.

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Censorship in our Brave New World

There appear to be some issues with self published eBooks being taken down from some online stores amid accusations of “indecent and immoral content.” Instead of being taken as a case-by-case basis, some proprietors have determined it best to remove all self-published material, regardless of subject. The original complaint was against allegedly distasteful erotica. So now fantasy, historical fiction/romance, science fiction, etc. all have to take the brunt of these accusations. Every self-published author is now apparently some sort of depraved, sick individual. It’s not even a matter of quality control.

It’s a matter of content. So who gets to censor, and who gets to set the standards?

One site in the UK has actually taken their page down until they manage to remove all self-published material from their shelves, and has a holding page up with this statement:

A statement from WHSmith:
Last week we were made aware that a number of unacceptable titles were appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours. This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self published eBooks due to the explosion of self publishing, which in the main is good as it gives new authors the opportunity to get their content published. However we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them.

It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out. We offer over one million titles through our eBooks partner Kobo, many of which are self-published titles. Due to the massive amount of self publishing a number of these titles have got through the screening process.

We are taking immediate steps to have them all removed. While we are doing this we have decided to take our website off-line to best protect our customers and the public. Our website will become live again once all self published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available. When our website goes back online it will not display any self published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again.

We sincerely apologise for any offence caused.

In the mean time if you have any questions for our customer support team you can contact then here (customer.relations@whsmith.co.uk).      

What a statement–“until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again.” It also could use a good edit. I’m a vegetarian. I’d really rather not see any books on BBQ or Slow Roasting Chicken. I don’t like guns, so I think we should get rid of all those titles as well. Oh, that takes out quite a number of mysteries, doesn’t it? Action/Adventure, too. I’m afraid of the water, so there go any nautical, Navy SEAL, or books about the Marines. Poor Patrick O’Brian! And books on pirates. My kidneys are going bad, moderately damaged. Better get all the cookbooks with too much salt out of there–it’s better for everyone’s health in the long run. And I find the idea of steak and kidney pie, well, extremely hurtful in this light as well, so out with those. I don’t particularly like the outdoors, let’s get rid of all the books on hiking. I can’t afford to travel, so I find it offensive that there are other people always talking about all the places they’ve been or are going to visit. Out with all the travel books on other countries.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Why should I choose what anyone else can read? We have freedom of speech, at least supposedly, in the United States. I can only assume that the UK would as well. I’ve never been there. Can’t travel, remember? It sort of sucks sometimes, being one of the 99%. But I do have some rights, according to the constitution. Oh, but wait, we have politicians here who can’t remember how laws are made, what am I saying? I imagine they’d love to hop on this censorship train. The Tea Party may be more at home going by ship, though…

I didn’t have a question for WHSmith, but I did have a comment:

The only offense that has been caused here is the blatant censorship exhibited by a kneejerk reaction to a limited number of titles, not the entire body of work that is self-published.

This reaction is akin to making a blanket statement about an entire ethnic group or population. It is the equivalent of profiling by law enforcement. It is morally and ethically questionable, and smacks of an Orwellian mentality.

If paper burns at a temperature of 451 degrees Fahrenheit, what happens to eBooks? Luckily, you’re even saved that issue with a single click of a delete button.

Who makes the decisions of what is and isn’t acceptable? Who are our moral¬† police? In our “Democratic” United States, it appears that the ones who think they would be responsible for a task such as this would be the GOP and the Tea Party. Anyone who is following current politics in the United States knows just how moral and ethical they are.

As opposed to folding under pressure to appease the madding, misled, moral unintelligentsia in the quest to retain their almighty pecuniary tributes, I would urge you to consider where your actions will lead. Is it a moral and ethical place, or is it a place full of landmines and Molotov cocktails? Who will join you for happy hour then?

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
–Martin-Niem√∂ller-Foundation

Sincerely,
Wendy Clements
Writer

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Oscar Wilde

Hm. I would address this question to any online bookseller. I used to be a bookseller, for an independent bookstore. A real store. Yet even I mourned the death of Borders. It was one of the few places left for people to gather, talk, drink overpriced coffee and be surrounded by books. Granted, they never had the books I wanted, but still… I live in a university town. Our Borders closed. We have two branches of a used book store that has the potential to be a very good bookstore, another used bookstore which is loved by the community and provides wonderful events, and a couple of specialty bookstores. And the christian bookstore. We have a Barnes and Noble, however rumor has it they’re pulling the same sort of stunt on their online faux brick and mortarless presence. I haven’t verified that. The same claims were made of Amazon. I haven’t verified that either. Oh, wait, yes I did. Finn Marlowe now only has two books up. Not His Kiss to Take is missing. It’s at Smashwords, though–free.

I don’t know how many books are missing from Amazon. All self-published titles will be from WHSmith. Truthfully, things are so vague, other than “unacceptable” titles causing “offence” that I don’t even know what they’re talking about. There are plenty of books published by traditional, big 5 publishing houses with material in them I find offensive–some worse than what I’ve ever read in the self-published works I choose to read. Note the word in the last sentence. Choose. Choice. No one is forcing people to buy books of erotica. I think people are making that decision themselves. I don’t think they magically jump from WHSmith’s page to readers’ Kobos of their own volition, while managing to smuggle the money out of the readers’ accounts at the same time. Do these people who find the material offensive¬†force themselves to read it so they can state their case first hand, or do they just read the blurb and look at the cover? Because really, blurbs only give a slice of the pie, American or British.

Books are such an easy target, and they look so innocent, but they scare some people to death. They might talk about something different from the status quo. They could be revolutionary. Although I don’t think it was a book that started either the French Revolution or the American Revolution. It just takes some people, as Jon Stewart put it, stringing these long words together into completely incomprehensible sentences that don’t even obfuscate the true meaning because there wasn’t any there to start with. See, I can do it too, except I¬†think mine made sense.¬† Keep people confused. Confused people are easier to lead. When it becomes frightening is when it’s the misinformed leading the confused–a few very loud, dramatic, flag waving Palins to drown out the voices of reason and sanity.

The Tea Party is really such a waste of good tea–I only hope it isn’t Irish Breakfast, because that’s my favorite. They give tea a bad name, and I really think it would be such a nice thing to institute in the United States–afternoon tea. Some time to relax. Take a break from the frenetic pace of our lives. Read a good book. Instead we have people vying for the role of Mad Hatter. Maybe he’s available for the role of book censor. I don’t know what his political leanings are, or what his personal tastes in reading material are, but he has heard a lot of, “Off with their heads!” And I believe he possesses the requisite questionable sanity.

‚ÄúThe books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.‚ÄĚ
–Oscar Wilde

i read banned booksBenjamin Franklineyechart-banned-books