Month: February 2009

Amazon lets publishers and writers disable Kindle 2′s read-aloud feature

Amazon lets publishers and writers disable Kindle 2′s read-aloud feature

Publishers and authors now have the power to silence the Kindle 2 e-book reader. Inc. reversed course Friday on the device’s controversial text-to-speech feature, which reads digital books aloud in a robotic voice. The company gave rights holders the ability to disable the feature for individual titles.

This remains a fascinating case which has implications for the disabilities community. I think the publishers would lose if it went to trial and that Amazon could prevail but no doubt some publishers would pull out of the deals they have with Amazon letting Amazon publish their books in this form and that ultimately would hurt Amazon and readers.

I wish the publishers and authors would think of this feature less as a replacement for digital audio books and more as a feature that allows a wider audience to enjoy their books, an audience who might not buy a book otherwise. With this feature enabled a person who is blind or who can’t read can have complete access to the same books that everyone else is reading. And, don’t forget that one still has to purchase the book to have the Kindle 2 read it. This amounts to nothing more than greed.

Pawning art

That Old Master? It’s at the Pawnshop

Last fall, Annie Leibovitz, the photographer, borrowed $5 million from a company called Art Capital Group. In December, she borrowed $10.5 million more from the same firm. As collateral, among other items, she used town houses she owns in Greenwich Village, a country house, and something else: the rights to all of her photographs.

In other words, according to loan documents filed with the city, one of the world’s most successful photographers essentially pawned every snap of the shutter she had made or will make until the loans are paid off.

Wow. I think their business is going to go through the roof in the next few years.

[via Dale Allyn]

Zack Arias

Zack Arias is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta. He does a workshop called OneLight which is out as a DVD as well.

My friend Dale sent me a link to this video journal he did as a guest blogger for Scott Kelby:

Great stuff, the video journal, his work, his style. He’s successful and humble. Rare these days. I’d take one of his workshops for sure knowing that I’d have fun and learn a lot.

[via Dale Allyn]

From a Visionary English Physicist, Self-Adjusting Lenses for the Poor

From a Visionary English Physicist, Self-Adjusting Lenses for the Poor

The glasses work on the principle that the more liquid pumped into a thin sac in the plastic lenses, the stronger the correction.

Silver has attached plastic syringes filled with silicone oil on each bow of the glasses; the wearer adds or subtracts the clear liquid with a little dial on the pump until the focus is right. After that adjustment, the syringes are removed and the “adaptive glasses” are ready to go.

Currently, Silver said, a pair costs about $19, but his hope is to cut that to a few dollars.

His glasses correct nearsightedness and farsightedness but not astigmatism. Silver stressed they do not replace the need for people to go to an eye professional who can diagnose health problems such as glaucoma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Absolutely incredible. He needs a MacArthur Fellowship to scale this, or Gates Foundation money.