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Kindle Touch to launch in Europe April 27

Amazon’s Kindle Touch will finally make it across the pond to Europe, five months after its U.S. launch — but not the advertising-subsidized version. The BBC is reporting that April 27 is the launch date of the touchscreen-driven Kindle in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. However, notes the Beeb, “there will not be… Read More

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T-Mobile sued by Israeli firm over near field technology

Wireless carrier T-Mobile USA is facing a lawsuit over its near field communication (NFC) technology. Israel’s On Track Innovations (OTI), which has products that include the COPNI (Contactless Payment and NFC Insert) device to add NFC capability to non-NFC mobile phones, said it filed the patent infringement suit against the Bellevue, WA-based carrier in New York… Read More

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Amazon adds DRM to ‘DRM-free’ Harry Potter eBooks

Those expecting to unwind with all seven Harry Potter volumes in glorious, DRM-unencumbered pixel are likely in for a disappointment, according to early buyers. An original announcement about the pending digital publication of J.K. Rowling’s epic said Rowling’s Pottermore site, “will sell DRM-free eBooks of the series for the first time.” Apparently, not exactly. Nate Hoffelder of… Read More

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Microsoft embraces, extends open source mapping

File this under “the enemy of my enemy is my friend:” Microsoft is reportedly lending “big support and big dollars” to an open source mapping project in order to counter Google Maps. OpenStreetMap, which is run by the U.K.-based non-profit OpenStreetMap Foundation, is a self-described “free wiki world map” which operates much like Wikipedia. Volunteers… Read More

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No Comcast bandwidth cap for on-demand Xbox video

Comcast is releasing a few more details on its promised Xfinity TV for Xbox 360 service with what might be an unexpected plus: video streaming to an Xbox through the service won’t count against Comcast’s monthly 250GB broadband cap. In an updated FAQ on the Comcast site, Comcast notes the cap won’t apply because, “the… Read More

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HasOffers sees opportunity in Apple’s UDID blocking

Apple reportedly has begun rejecting new iOS apps that access unique device identifiers, leading to developer concern — and potential upside for ad tracking firms including Seattle’s HasOffers. Over the weekend, TechCrunch reported that Apple had begun bouncing new apps that use the UDID (Unique Device Identifier), an alphanumeric character string specific to each individual… Read More

Mike Daisey

Playwright Mike Daisey: ‘I would like to apologize’

Ten days after being put in an unflattering spotlight after public radio’s This American Life retracted its story about him, playwright Mike Daisey has posted a public apology on his blog. Daisey, whose one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” both raised awareness of issues at plants operated by Apple device manufacturer… Read More

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7 steps to raise a geek child

It’s inevitable. New babies are coming into the world. I began to notice this when former colleagues were no longer available for a chat, coffee or Words with Friends. Instead, I heard them use long-forgotten phrases, terms such as “t-ball practice” or “play date.” And I suddenly realized my geek acquaintances were producing little geeklets…. Read More

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How car dealers embrace, and erode, the web

We may finally be seeing how business, when faced with a technological threat, adapts. Not by changing practices. But by waiting until it can develop antibodies to overwhelm the intruder. Twelve years ago, I bought my first car online. Routine as it might sound now, it was a Big Deal back then. The web (still… Read More

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Microsoft and education: lead or cheerlead?

In the Seattle area there is a powerhouse co-founded by Bill Gates, dedicated to using advances in technology to change education. And then there is Microsoft. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has, over the past several years, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into education reform in the U.S. With grants to, and through,… Read More

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When eBooks attack, mass paperbacks die

The mass market paperback is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet. Ailing for months, its demise is now all but assured by Amazon’s recent bold announcement. Not the over-analyzed, over-iPad-compared Kindle Fire announcement. Rather, by the far less interesting news – to the gadgetphiles – that the least expensive, wonderfully readable and portable Kindle… Read More

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Practical Nerd: Microsoft toys with itself, again

A favorite tech industry truism is that Microsoft got where it is today by copying others. Now, it’s finally copying itself. With the type of fanfare usually reserved for the announcement of each holiday season’s must-have Elmo toy, Microsoft last week launched its “playful learning” initiative, fully propelling Kinect for Xbox 360 into the children’s… Read More

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Practical Nerd: Survival tips for Startup Weekend EDU

I was a first-time mentor at a Startup Weekend recently and, appropriate to my day job, it was focused on education technology. This Startup Weekend Seattle EDU was only the third time a Startup Weekend was dedicated to turning entrepreneurs loose for an entire 54 hours to innovate in education (the first two were in… Read More

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Practical Nerd: When Amazon can’t be trusted

Recently, I bought a new Android phone. It didn’t come with everything I wanted, so I turned to my default shopping resource, Amazon.com. I did a search, set the options to only show “Prime Eligible” shipping, found the accessory I wanted … And stopped dead. Instead, after reading several buyer reviews, I purchased from a… Read More

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Practical Nerd: Irresistible startups, immovable education

I’ve advised a number of startups over the years and have been directly part of at least two. I discovered what many entrepreneurs know: it’s a maddening, exhausting, adrenaline-filled, glorious existence in which there’s never enough time, resources, sleep or toilet paper (when I was at iCopyright we brought our own). So when I heard there… Read More

A shirt promoting Microsoft Bob.

Practical Nerd: The hidden price of “free”

In tech, nothing quite equals the siren lure of “free.” I still recall a friend of mine from Microsoft being amazed at the continued appeal of the lowly t-shirt. She described, in an awestruck-yet-cautionary tone, trade show attendees who happily applied Microsoft tattoos to their faces in the hope of being spotted on the show… Read More

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The Practical Nerd manifesto

What does it mean to be a Practical Nerd? I mean, being a standard-issue nerd is no longer a challenge. Not like when I grew up, when “nerd” was a term of derision, a reason for even the art and drama geeks to shun you, and a near-guarantee that someone at junior high school graduation… Read More

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Practical Nerd: A plea for independence from bad accessory support

Editor’s Note: “Practical Nerd” columnist Frank Catalano spent three hours this Independence Day weekend struggling under the oppression of one technology company’s failed accessory support. The only positive result: This open letter to Léo Apotheker, president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. In August 2009, I purchased an HP Mini 1151NR through Verizon Wireless. This was a… Read More

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Practical Nerd: When content is KING-FM

Is there a place for an old linear medium in a bright shiny digital media world? That is the question that you might think haunts Classical KING-FM Seattle. Not only is it an old mass medium — radio — but its core content comes from composers who are, in many cases, hundreds of years dead…. Read More

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Practical Nerd: Three ‘secrets’ of the digital classroom

If you think you understand what’s happening in digital education because you follow digital consumer or business developments, think again. Because there are three digital technologies changing K-12 education that you’ve probably never heard of. I’ve worked in both consumer and education digital technology for nearly 20 years. The prevailing wisdom used to be that,… Read More

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Practical Nerd: Privacy vs. stupidity, a case study

This one goes out to you, Herbert. And to you, Phil. And yes, even you, Correspondent-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named. I’m afraid you’re all idiots. Because you are case studies showing that no matter how fervent the hue and cry is about Facebook’s privacy policies or tracking cookie abuse by marketers, a major threat to individuals’ privacy — and… Read More

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Practical Nerd: A Norwescon vision of tomorrow’s tech

I have seen the future. And it wears goggles and Victorian clothing. At least, that’s the immediate impression you might get after visiting Norwescon 34, which was held this past weekend near SeaTac airport. More than 3,500 attendees sold out the 2011 iteration of the long-running regional science-fiction and fantasy convention, in which “steampunk” (a… Read More