Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Half Life of Dedicated eReaders

The term half life is drawn from physics and refers to the time it takes for the energy in a radioactive substance to naturally deplete to half.  Generally the first half is relatively rapid with the second half taking an exponentially longer time.  In physics, it is the first half that matters as that is the  most energetic period.  The second half matters to those left to cope with the radioactive residue.

It can be used analogously in other ways too.    Some of the older readers, if they cast their minds back far enough, will remember Video Cassette Recorders, VCRs, introduced in the 1970s and lasting until DVDs and Hard Drive recorders usurped them in the new Millennium, devices rapidly being usurped by the growing Clouds.  There are plenty of VCRs still kicking around and plenty of legacy films and home movies to go with them, but no new material has been produced for them in years.  Some users will hang on to their devices until they grind to a halt, but most of us moved on years ago.  The half life was probably about twenty years, maybe more, and in hindsight will appear to have been rather a long period for modern technology such as dedicated eReaders, for example the Amazon Kindle.

Regular readers will know that I've been a user of the Amazon Kindle for quite some time, possibly I was one of the earliest adopters this side of the pond.  It's a fine device and I've read dozens of books on it.  However I've recently become the owner of a Google Nexus 7, the seven inch tablet released a few months ago.  Naturally I downloaded the Amazon Kindle App as that provided me with access to all of the books I've bought.

Having just spent nearly two weeks on holiday in Spain, with me reading four or five books on the Nexus 7 and with my other half reading a similar number of books on my Kindle it occurred to me that the Kindle and other dedicated eReaders still have an advantage over the tablets computers such as the Nexus 7.  Namely, their ability to be read in full daylight.  I did manage to read the Nexus on the beach but it was reasonably difficult at times whereas the Kindle managed superbly.  However, like most people, I don't read on beaches, or outside come to that, very often, so the advantage is marginal.

Now compare the added utility of using the Nexus, as I did, to access my emails, surf the net, view photographs and even draft this blog and it is clear that the cost differential doesn't add up to much at all.  Plus, if there isn't someone at Apple, Amazon, Google, Asus or one of the other major manufacturers of tablets working on a way to make them more readable in direct sunlight then I'll eat my recently purchased and now, thanks to the British weather, effectively redundant straw hat.

This coming winter is clearly looking like the year tablets come of age - I doubt Apple's dominance will be broken but the emergence of devices like the Nexus 7 such as the new Amazon Kindle Fire and the B&N Nook which  is strongly tipped to be launched in the UK before the Christmas season will create a new swathe of tablet users.  It's possible that e-ink eReaders such as the basic Kindle and the Kobo Touch will still sell well but my guess is that they will sell lower numbers than last year.  e-Ink devices have had their half life and although they will still sell in niche numbers and will continue to be used for the odd hot holiday for many years to come my guess is that it is true tablets that will rule the roost for the next couple of years.

I'm not making any forecasts about the half life of tablets, however - they appear to be here to stay at the moment but I guess we all thought that about the e-Ink Kindle a couple of years ago.  But I may make a video about the rise and fall of e-Ink, available on either VHS or Betamax, available from all good video shops soon.


Take a look at my books, read up on my Biog here

Want to see what B L O'Feld is up to?  Take a look at his website here

Worried/Interested in the secretive world of DLFs?  Take a look at this website dedicated to DLFs here, if you dare

Friday, 14 September 2012

Was Fred Hoyle Partly Right?

Few of us believe that the new iPhone - or any of the earlier incarnations of the iconic device that should just be a phone for that matter - are purely the result of human ingenuity.  While the plasma TVs get faster, bigger, better; while tablet computing moves from concept to mature industry in less than five years it is clear that the rate of progress is moving so much faster than a planet of dedicated engineers working around the clock should be able to achieve.

Yet the rate of change is getting faster and faster, year on year.  OK, I freely admit I'm a bit of an intellectual dullard compared to your average Apple engineer or your run-of-the-mill Microsoft programmer, but only the blind or the stupid would believe that all this progress is man-made.

There are rumours and there are conspiracy theories.  Always will be, I guess.  There are some who believe that the modern developments are aided by alien contributions, that we are benefiting from extra-terrestrial seeds from space.  It's not a new notion, Fred Hoyle suggested it a long time ago, naming it Panspermia.  And although Fred was known to get the odd important thing wrong he was also right a lot of the time, too.

So it is with interest that I stumble across a new website that claims that the burgeoning new technology is more than the result of human endeavour; it claims that Digital Life Forms, or DLFs as it refers to them, has been the real reason for the good digital life we are all enjoying.

Take a look, make your own mind up!


Take a look at my books, read up on my Biog here

Want to see what B L O'Feld is up to?  Take a look at his website here

Monday, 10 September 2012

Dancing With Amazon

When I launched Project:Evil at the end of July I set the price at free as an introductory price. I've done this before, notably with The Last Simple which had been set to free for months with relatively little interest.  I like the idea of giving a few books away: it lets the early adopters a chance to try, perhaps to recommend.  It's also a painless way to check if your product is working OK without asking consumers to pay for the privilege.

However, the only problem with this approach is that it seems impossible to get Amazon to play ball.  I know, I'm probably a tad too small to persuade them to do anything, but I can see shed loads of free books listed, they even have a top 100 list for free books.  They just don't let authors decide to list for free.

Unless, that is, they've taken the Amazon shilling and signed up for KDP Select.  Regular readers will know that I'm a tad underwhelmed by Amazon's blunt attempt to bribe authors to give them monopolistic control over their books by pumping a fund to reward KDP Select members whose books get borrowed from the Amazon library.  I'm not a fan of monopolies in general and really don't agree with bribery so I've chosen to refrain from joining.  However, one of the benefits of being a KDP select member is that you can list for free four days a month.

Anyway, I got over the disparity, listed Project:Evil on KDP for $0.99 and on Smashwords (and therefore Apple, B&N,Kobo, WHSith, Sony etc) at $0.00.  And it seems to have been quite a popular price point with literally hundreds of copies downloaded on Amazon and B&N that I know of - the eBook return figures are incredibly slow sometimes from some eBook sellers.  There was an interesting side effect of the launch - The Last Simple was discovered and twice as many copies have been downloaded of that compared to Project:Evil over the same period.

With the launch of the BLOMI website I decided to lift the promotion - it had run for over a month and I'm pleased that there are a lot of you guys and gals out there who have had the chance to read a couple of my books for free, but it's time to move onwards.  So on Saturday I instructed Smashwords to raise the price to the same level as Amazon, but realised that it does take time to take effect with the main eBook sellers - if you hurry you may find both books still listed for free for the next few hours.

So this morning I was a little surprised to open my Amazon sales account to see that four copies of Project:Evil had been purchased overnight, which is nice, and that they had been price matched to $0.00, which was unexpected.  Now what I don't know is if Amazon stumbled across this, whether someone contacted them and if they did if it was sparked by me putting a price on Smashwords or not.  Whatever the trigger, it is still being pulled as I'm heading for a hundred such price-match downloads today already.  Obviously there's a word circulating somewhere in the US!

Anyway, I'm expecting the price match situation to continue for a few days until the other stores catch up with the price change, so if you've been thinking about downloading Project:Evil or The Last Simple and need it to be free then I'd suggest you take a look right now - I don't know how long this can last.


Take a look at my books, read up on my Biog here

Want to see what B L O'Feld is up to?  Take a look at his website here

Why not investigate the secret world of DLFs? here

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Project:Evil Has a Website

B L O'Feld Megalomaniac Industries (BLOMI), a notoriously secretive organisation, has launched a Corporate website.  The website contains information on the company values (a particularly short piece of data there), information on various projects, biographies of the key company personnel and, for those with scant regard for their own survival, recruitment information.

As a frequent visitor to their headquarters in Basildon, somewhere in the South Seas, to research my in-depth report on Project:Evil (their recent attempt to hold the planet to ransom) I was invited to write up an interview with Barry Liam O'Feld, CEO of BLOMI for Megalomaniac Monthly. You can read the interview on the BLOMI website.

If you've read Project:Evil or just want to know more about this villainous organisation, a company that strives to be less likeable than a party of corporate bankers on a bonus spending spree, then be sure to visit the BLOMI website.  You can even email some of the key players, even Friend them on Facebook, but please don't email them your bank details, no matter how insistent they are. And if you do, don't include your PIN. I know, it sounds unlikely but these are very persistent people and they do pride themselves on being, well, evil.

And if you do email them your PIN please don't mention the identity of your firstborn.

But apart from some slightly dodgy practices around misusing other people's bank accounts and children - heck, they'd happily enslave anyone regardless of age, gender or profession (they claim to be an equal opportunity organisation)  they seem like really nice guys.

 So why not pay them a visit? Mr O'Feld insists on it, and you don't want to upset him!


If you're not too busy reading up on BLOMI, sending them your bank details or squandering your first born on them then you can visit my website to take a look at my books

Friday, 7 September 2012

Let The Battle Commence

Amazon revealed today that they will, finally, be releasing the Kindle Fire in the UK ready in time for Christmas.  It was part of a much larger press release that includes new versions of the Fire, already the number 2 tablet in the US.  Among the news was that Amazon are targeting iPad territory head on with a larger screen size.

This comes after a summer where Apple have hinted heavily that they will be releasing a seven inch iPad, a device that Steve Jobs strongly resisted - I don't know if he ever said 'over my dead body' but essentially that would appear to be the case.

It also follows the release of the Google Nexus, a seven inch tablet that the new Fire is competing against pound for pound, dollar for dollar.  It's a very competent device too - I've been using one since its release.

So, running up to the holiday season, UK consumers have a plethora of tablet devices to choose from, or hint to their partners about.

There's the iPad, of course, leading the pack.  The advantages of the iPad are many: it has a brilliant screen, it works very smoothly, it is well established as the market leader and it has that superlative iCloud environment to support it.  The downside is that it expensive - fine if money isn't an issue, but for those of us in the real world....

Then there's the seven inch tablet war that will rage on in the background.  We had the Kobo Vox last Christmas and that's a fine machine but lacking a camera for Skyping.  Now we've got the Nexus, already creating a stir (most people ask if it's an iPad when they realise I'm not holding my usual Kindle).  Coming up sometime in the autumn is the Nook - don't ask when or where but B&N reckon they've forged an alliance with a major UK retailer.  The natural contender should have been Waterstones, but they've swung behind Amazon.  It could be WH Smith who are currently one of the Kobo resellers and the one who was well and truly shafted earlier this year by Kobo, but I'm not convinced as they host their eBook site on Kobo.  Finally we have the Fire coming up, and that is going to have a lot of promotion that will push the tablet concept across the board.

This is going to be a big year for the tablet industry, and a bad one for print.  It may not look like it at the time; we need the tablet effect to percolate through, but in a year, maybe two we will look back and realise that the print world has changed into a decline.  We will be reading books, magazines and newspapers routinely on our tablets - not exclusively by then but fast forward to, say, 2018 and it will be the norm and new print books will be relatively rare items.

Stand back and watch the fight unfold.


You can read about my books on my website