Tag Archives: Gadget Features

Amazon to begin selling books — in its own bookstore

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Amazon’s first physical bookstore will open on Tuesday in Seattle.


Amazon

In a bit of irony, Amazon is opening up its first physical bookstore on Tuesday, two decades after launching the online book-sales effort that helped make it an Internet retail giant.

Like traditional bookstores, Amazon Books will feature wooden shelves stocked with about 6,000 titles, according to The Seattle Times, which got an early tour of the store in Seattle’s University Park. The company plans to analyze the troves of data its customers generate to determine which titles will appeal most to shoppers in its bookstore, perhaps avoiding the challenge of unsold inventory.

“We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, wrote in a company blog post. “The books in our store are selected based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments.”

With the move, Amazon begins selling books alongside other physical book sellers, businesses that have bemoaned the behemoth’s ability to undercut bookstores’ revenue by offering books at a discount. Some booksellers have even requested an antitrust inquiry by the US Justice Department, saying that the Seattle-based company’s business practices hurt the book industry.

Amazon certainly isn’t the first tech giant to go the brick-and-mortar route. Apple opened its first Apple Store in 2001 to showcase its computers and mobile devices. Microsoft, which has 110 physical stores across North America, opened a flagship store in Manhattan in September. Google and Samsung have also tinkered with the idea to some degree.

The titles in Amazon’s bookstore will be offered at the same price as those online. But in addition to books, shoppers at Amazon’s bookstore will also get to peruse the company’s devices, including Kindles, the Echo, the Fire TV, and Fire Tablets.

Might there be additional brick-and-mortar stores in the company’s future? Amazon couldn’t say.

“We’ll see,” said Deborah Bass, an Amazon spokeswoman. ‘We’re certainly excited about this one.”

Updated at 9:20 p.m. PTwith Amazon comment.

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Amazon launches Black Friday deals store

For the retail giant, Black Friday is no longer just a day, it’s a season. And that season has arrived.

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Virtual reality will need three to five years to take off, says HTC

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Sarah Tew/CNET

BEIJING — Virtual reality headsets could make a big splash next year, but it will take another three to five years before the technology becomes mainstream according to HTC, which is hard at work on its Vive VR headset.

The company’s chief content officer Phil Chen made the comment on Monday while speaking with journalists at the TechCrunch Beijing summit following his speaking on a panel alongside Dillon Seo, co-founder of Oculus.

“It will take some time for it to go to the masses,” Chen added, noting that the equipment needs to be refined, and enough content produced. But even so, the company is confident in the technology, with Chen saying he expects a billion VR headset devices to be sold in the next seven or eight years.

The smartphone maker has been working with game developer Valve on the HTC Vive, an upcoming VR headset similar to the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift. Following the November release of Samsung’s Gear VR, HTC’s own product be released in limited quantities before the end of 2015 ahead of a global release early next year.

Although the Vive has been marketed as a gaming device, the company is “bullish” on applying the tech to educational and healthcare areas, as well as using it as a platform to tell interactive stories, Chen added.

HTC made its name selling Android smartphones, but the business has been struggling in recent years. In a bid to revive sales numbers, HTC has been investing in virtual reality and smart devices, such as a fitness band designed in partnership with fitness gear company Under Armour, as well as launching the iPhone-like A9 midrange handset.

As for the HTC Vive, Chen declined to reveal its price or how many units will be released this year, but said the company wants to make the product globally available, and has been talking with potential content partners across the world. Most of the current content partners are located in Western countries, but HTC’s Vive team has also started to become active in Asia, he said.

“Japan and China are very pro-VR and we are starting to talk to everyone you can imagine who is in gaming or animation,” he added.

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Neil Patrick Harris and family show Star Wars pride for Halloween

Neil Patrick Harris, his husband David Burtka and their twin children dress up as iconic Star Wars characters to celebrate Halloween, and no detail is left out.

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Aaron Sorkin wanted to call his Steve Jobs movie ‘One more thing…’

Steve Jobs certainly had a sense of theatre. About to leave the stage at the end of another Apple presentation, he would turn back and utter the words that delighted fans: “There is one more thing…”

First used in 1998 to reveal his company’s return to profit, “One more thing…” was so synonymous with Jobs that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin planned to use the catchphrase when writing a big-screen version of the Apple co-founder’s life. “For a while I thought that would be the title of the movie,” he says in an interview with CNET, “but I couldn’t work a ‘one more thing’ into the screenplay!”

Click play on the video above for more from Sorkin on how he crafted the film’s unusual approach to telling Jobs’ story, and whether he thought Jobs was a genius.

Although it’s had a disappointing start at the US box office, the movie — ultimately titled just “Steve Jobs” — has some Hollywood heavyweights involved. Oscar winner Sorkin is joined by an Oscar-winning director, Danny Boyle, and Oscar-winning actor Kate Winslet. Meanwhile Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender stars as Jobs, and his performance is already tipped by Variety for possible recognition at this year’s Academy Awards.

Sorkin is known to TV audiences for creating and writing “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom”. “Steve Jobs” gave Sorkin an opportunity to work once again with some of the people behind his previous two films: “Moneyball”, which saw him nominated for several awards, and “The Social Network”, for which his screenplay earned him an Oscar, a Bafta and a Golden Globe. For the new film, Sorkin adapted the in-depth biography written by Walter Isaacson — with a twist.

Steve Jobs in photos: 35 years of an American…

“Before I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I didn’t want to do, and that was write a biopic,” says Sorkin. “I didn’t want to write a cradle-to-grave story where we land on the greatest hits of the protagonist along the way.”

Instead, Sorkin spotted “points of friction” between Jobs and the people in his life, and structured his screenplay around those interpersonal conflicts. Specifically, he structured the story as three acts playing out in near real-time and depicting events backstage at three key product launches from Jobs’ career.

The same characters meet up with Jobs in each of the three segments, and although they’re based on real people, the conversations and meetings are almost entirely imagined by the filmmakers. Sorkin has been repeatedly forced to defend that dramatic license while publicising the movie.

Sorkin chose the launches not because of the significance of the products themselves, but for the drama that was playing out in Jobs’ life at the time. At the heart of the film is the rocky relationship between Jobs and his young daughter Lisa. “I chose the Mac because Steve was still denying the paternity of Lisa in 1984,” says Sorkin, “and because the Macintosh was the first product that Steve felt complete ownership of. This was his baby…and it failed.”

The second act depicts Jobs launching the NeXT Computer after he had been ousted from Apple, a time Sorkin describes as “the king in exile.” The third act, in which Jobs has returned to Apple and triumphantly unveils the iMac, is “the king returns.”

Interestingly, the first two launches chosen by Sorkin see Jobs unveiling products that weren’t quite ready. Sorkin acknowledges the role of Jobs’ infamous “reality distortion field”, a trait that saw him willing things to be true by sheer force of personality. But he also believes that these premature launches show Jobs was someone who “dreams big” and “swings for the fences.”

And was Steve Jobs a genius? Sorkin believes the results speak for themselves. “He marshalled the forces that created not just the most successful company in the history of the world, but also these products and devices that so many people feel emotional about. My verdict is yes [he was a genius]. Would I like to have his brain and his imagination? You bet.”

“Steve Jobs” is in theatres in the US now, and hits UK cinemas on 13 November.

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Young Star Wars fan with cerebral palsy celebrates Halloween in Millennium Falcon costume

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We’d hire this Han Solo to take us anywhere in the galaxy.


Chantelle Leck Bailey

When you’re a Star Wars fan, you want to have fun on Halloween while wearing your favorite Jedi, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Sith Lord or Han Solo costume.

If you’re a kid who needs to use a walker, though, wearing a complicated costume can be somewhat difficult.

That didn’t stop crafty parents Chantelle Leck and Patrick Bailey from making the coolest Star Wars costume in the galaxy for their 5-year-old son, Sebastian, who happens to have cerebral palsy.

“Coming up with ways to incorporate a walker into a costume is tricky,” Chantelle Bailey posted on Facebook. “This will be the third year in a row that (his brother) Holden has wanted to be a Jedi, so we decided Sebastian should be Han Solo. And his walker, obviously, had to be the Millennium Falcon!”

Because of Sebastian’s cerebral palsy, his parents had a lot to consider when creating this one of a kind Star Wars costume. But they incorporated everything they needed perfectly, making this the kind of Halloween costume worthy of a boastful Wookiee roar.

“We can’t do a mask, hats are hard, he doesn’t wear his own glasses, and something evil didn’t seem to gel with his sweet personality,” his parents posted on Youtube.

The main body of the Falcon costume is constructed using simple materials such as corrugated plastic, random hardware parts, and even a button that when pushed can play Han Solo quotes from “Star Wars.”

“Sebastian is not verbal, we have installed a speech button which has a recorded ‘Trick or Treat’ between and four different Han Solo quotes, such as ‘Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid,'” his mother posted on Youtube.

The long pole with a handle is attached to the Falcon as an attendant guide bar, to keep Sebastian steady as he goes trick or treating. His parents also included a Bluetooth speaker that plays the Star Wars theme music.

For past Halloweens, Sebastian’s parents have created elaborate and creative costumes for him, including Clark Kent as Superman in a phone booth. We can’t wait to see what Sebastian dresses up as for next year’s Halloween.

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