iPhone app aims to program your dreams (‘Inception’ anyone?)   Leave a comment

Harvard PhD student Daniel Nadler is trying to bring a really rudimentary version of the movie “Inception” to life with a new iPhone app that aims to help you “program your dreams.”

Called Sigmund, the 99-cent app builds off of pre-existing sleep science to help people “program” the content of their dreams from a list of 1,000 keywords. After you select one to five words from the list, a sorta-soothing, sorta-robotic female voice reads the words you select during the deepest moments of your sleep cycle – the REM cycles – when you’re most likely to dream vividly. In a sleep study that was the basis for the app, 34% to 40% of participants’ dreams were memorably altered by the suggestive readings, he said.

“Obviously what goes on in the sleeping brain is not entirely remembered so it could actually be a higher incorporation rate,” he said.

You don’t have to fall asleep to the sound of the voice repeating the same words over and over. Before you go to bed, you tell the app what time you’re going to sleep and what time you plan to wake up. It reads the words you’ve selected only during the points in your sleep cycle when you’re most likely to be dreaming, based on averages of when REM cycles tend to occur. So if you’re sleeping 4 hours, you’ll get the words at different times than if you’re sleeping for 8 hours. The iPhone sits next to your bed and plays the words over its internal speaker.

How well it works and whether consumers will be comfortable with the idea of programming dreams remains to be seen, however. Nadler, who is studying economics but has a fellowship at Harvard’s Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative to research sleep-dependent learning, said his team combed the dictionary for words that would influence dreams in positive ways only.

But if you take a look at the list of words offered by the Sigmund app, it’s pretty easy to imagine some dreams that would be totally creepy, if not downright terrifying. A dream, for example, that includes “mountain,” “meadow” and “rain” might be soothing, but throw in “tiger” and “anaconda” and, depending on your sub-psyche, things could turn south. I tried the app last night and didn’t sleep well at all because I was so worried that the “panda” I selected would attack me instead of being cute.

Also unnerving: There’s a “romantic” category of words that includes bland-enough stuff like “boyfriend,” “girlfriend” … but also “sex,” “nightclub,” “bikini,” “lover” and, weirdest of bunch, “flute.” There’s something unsettling about letting loose these sorts of randomly grouped words on your subconscious.

“We took out any verbal stimuli that has any potential negative connotation because we don’t want people reinforcing any negative emotion that they may have, much less dreaming about things that may cause them to harm themselves,” Nadler said. But take a look at the “adventure” category and it’s pretty easy to see how “army,” “battle,” “combat” and “harem” could have “potential negative connotations.”

Nadler obviously didn’t design the app for these reasons. He wants to end nightmares. People can, of course, choose whichever words from the list they’d like. It’s not like you have to have a dream about a “battle” with a “zebra” unless you’re working on a really weird screenplay. And Nadler says the app has been pretty successful at helping people to avoid recurring nightmares and to replace them with dreams of their choice.

Some of the app’s early users agree.

Romain Zamour, a 23-year-old Yale Law student, said by e-mail that the app “makes me dream more” and changes his sleeping consciousness in interesting and unexpected ways:

Sigmund influences your dreams in subtle ways. For instance, one night, I entered the words: “black cat.” I did not dream about a black cat. I had a very vivid dream of walking around Paris in the evening with a girlfriend. But, at a decisive moment in the dream, a black cat appears and watches us silently. This is really fascinating: you wake up in the morning, you know that the words you chose probably influenced the dream, and you try to figure out how.

Nancy Xie, a 20-year-old Harvard student, also reacted positively to having her dreams programmed:

I entered ‘running, mountains’ the first time it worked and had a really vivid dream jogging on a trail in the Sierras, a place that I had been to a number of times. It really took me back there.

Still, it’s not something she wants to do all the time, she said by e-mail:

Influencing my dreams is not something I want to do every night, just like watching a movie is not something I want to do every night. I make an event of it. But when I do use it, I use it a few nights in a row, because it works best that way.

Nadler, who created the app with the help of two other developers, hopes more people will be making “events” out of their dreams in the future. As people get busier and busier, he said, there’s all the more need for people to get entertainment or professional value out of their dreams. Eventually, he hopes people will be able to use apps like this to program studying and learning into the dreams as well.

If you check out the app, let me know in the comments section which words you programmed into your dreams and how well it worked.

I saw this article on CNN and I couldn’t help but read this. How interesting and not suprising because there is an application for everything now. Recording my dreams? I’d buy it if it worked. I think thats a very cool app because of moments when you want to remember your dreams but you just can’t OR when you want to try and dream about it again because you know you really enjoyed the dream. It’s so annoying when you can’t remember so having an application that does that for you sounds great! I hope it works

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Posted April 19, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized

Olympic host London is ready for the world   Leave a comment

 

As the giant clock standing proudly in the middle of Trafalgar Square creeps under 100 days this week, London will be grateful it is missing one of the most common aspects of previous Olympic countdowns.

Panic.

Against the odds, the capital of the United Kingdom is already proudly announcing itself as ready to host the greatest show in sports, more than three months before the famous flame will be lit on the night of July 27.

With 100 days before the games, London is poised to raise the curtain on its venues. (AP)Most Olympic preparations are beset with a variety of pitfalls and setbacks – Rio de Janeiro is already said to be well behind in its planning for 2016 – and while London has not been totally free of difficulty, all problems have been dealt with without too much fuss.

One hundred days is nothing more than a statistic. And the significance of this week and the impending announcement of the latest Olympic slogan will be little more than a symbolic reminder that the time when the greatest athletes in the world converge on one city is nearly here. The message from London – its organizers, citizens and administrators – is simple.

“We are ready,” said Lord Sebastian Coe, two-time Olympic 1500-meters gold medalist and chief of London’s organizing committee. “It is thanks to some remarkable people and their work ethic. The last time I saw that kind of focus was the group I had around me in my athletics career.”

London had a lot to live up to after the previous Summer Olympics in Beijing, where the lavish spending of the Chinese government created an extraordinary visual spectacle and a master class in organization excellence. London’s venues do not have the decorative splendor of the Bird’s Nest or Water Cube, but they are up, finished and have generally avoided scathing judgment, even from the notoriously skeptical British media.

When London was awarded the Games on a night of intrigue and drama in Singapore in 2005, when politicians and sports figures like David Beckham danced and celebrated, there was general delight from the British public, especially when those sorry French faces from the failed Paris bid were shown on television. But there were real concerns that the main stadiums could turn into a major problem.

England’s sorry reputation in regards to sports stadium construction was primarily thanks to the debacle over Wembley Stadium, the home of the England national soccer team, which was four years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of pounds over budget. The Olympic Park, however, has been relatively trouble-free with the main stadium not only delivered on time but likely to see future positive use as the home stadium of one of the city’s many major soccer teams.

The Olympic Stadium, situated in the inner-east part of the city, is the centerpiece of the Games and will host the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony as well as track and field events.

“London has raised the bar when it comes to leaving a lasting legacy,” International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said.

Of course, some of London’s venues didn’t need any work at all. The tennis tournament will be staged in the stately surrounds of the All England Club, home of the Wimbledon championships and the most iconic setting in the sport. A 198-years-old Lord’s Cricket Ground is host to the world’s oldest sports museum and will host the Olympic archery events, while the Games will get a Royal touch when beach volleyball is held in Horse Guards Parade, just a short walk from the Queen’s main residence of Buckingham Palace.

 

Sebastian Coe continues to direct the finishing touches as the opening ceremony approaches. (AP)London has never tried to replicate the full majesty of Beijing. Even without the impediment of a tough economy and the public scrutiny on unnecessary spending by those in power, the city would not have had the resources to do so.

There is no sense that this has been done “on the cheap,” though. The last time the Games were in London, it was very much that way: The 1948 Games were held just after the end of World War II when food rationing was still in force in Britain and athletes were hosted in hostels and dormitory-style accommodation.

London 2012 will have a professional look to it, with hopefully more than a dash of British charm thrown in. The organizers, Coe in particular, are determined to keep the character of the country and provide a festival to warm the heart just as much as last summer’s Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton achieved.

Coe has the same passion as a politician as he did as an athlete with a fierce will to win. He is very much the public face of the Games, far more so than London Mayor Boris Johnson whose awkward flag-waving during the Closing Ceremony at Beijing was a mild embarrassment.

Any Olympics has its issues to deal with and London is no exception, although its troubles do seem considerably more minor than those of its predecessors. A protest during the University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge two weeks ago, when a man jumped into the River Thames and disrupted the race, caused a rethink in security policy. Also, the official mascots – one-eyed aliens called Wenlock and Mandeville – have attracted varying degrees of ridicule and pre-Games sales have been slow.

Then there was the official request sent to legendary The Who drummer Keith Moon to perform at an Olympic event celebrating great figures in British music history. Unfortunately, Moon passed away 34 years ago, although his manager did kindly offer to arrange a séance to see if he could be contacted.

Such headlines have created mirth rather than any genuine concern about London’s organizational capacity. The only serious doubts have surrounded the infrastructure changes promised by the city itself.

Security will be a strong issue, with 40,000 soldiers having been drafted in to beef up the safety presence in the wake of street riots last year and the threat of terrorist action. The day after London was awarded the Games in 2005, suicide bombers killed 52 people on the city’s transport system, but since then, London has come a long way. And its time is rapidly approaching.

The two-and-a-half weeks of the Games themselves will pose a huge challenge. For now, the city is as ready as it can be

 

 

Posted April 19, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized

Why the end of the $60 video game is near   Leave a comment

(Getty Images)There’s a war going on in the video game world, but it’s over dollar signs, not virtual land.

A boxed copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the world’s top-selling console game, costs $60. Angry Birds, the world’s biggest mobile game franchise, costs $1 for software that you can download in under a minute. The pricing gap between what’s traditionally considered the highest-tier premium games and the fast-evolving mobile, tablet, and social gaming market is widening, and it’s spelling disaster for countless game makers caught in the middle.

According to The NPD Group, physical content sales were down 8% in 2011. This year hasn’t been a cakewalk either, with sales continuing to slide. Though some of the blame can rightfully be foisted upon the decline of the once-mighty Wii, it’s apparent that people aren’t buying games like they used to, and the industry is scrambling to figure out why.But most agree that it begins — and likely ends — with the high cost of new games.

The sentiment that games cost too much is certainly not new. Wired’s Chris Kohler recently outlined a list of reasons games cost too much and combated the argument that the used game market can be blamed. Nexon America’s CEO Daniel Kim told GamesIndustry International that “Free-to-Play” games (often called “Freemium” because users are incentivized to pay small premiums for more content) are not going away and the traditional model will have to change.

He’s right. $60 has always been an embarrassing, crippling barrier of entry compared to gaming’s entertainment peers. A brand new book, DVD, or CD rarely breaks the $20 mark, and even the highest tier Blu-rays cap out at around $30. Why are new games so pricey?

Publishers have long blamed console games’ high price on a plethora of issues. Skyrocketing development costs is a biggie, as is piracy. Most recently, publishers are taking aim at the used game market, charging thatthe buying and selling of used merchandise is taking cash out of their pockets. But whatever impact on profitability these concerns have, it doesn’t change two monumental problems:

Psychologically, $60 just sounds expensive. This isn’t anecdotal, this is common sense.  Unless you’re financially independent, $60 outright repels a vast slice of the entertainment consumer populace that the games industry desperately needs to convert to grow and survive.

People are having fun playing more affordable games. The choice and product quality at the bottom end of the pricing scale — anything under $15 or so — has grown tremendously in a relatively short period of time. Games like Draw Something, Angry Birds, and Infinity Blade aren’t only played by ‘casual’ gamers.

That being said, the top perennial franchises like Halo, Elder Scrolls, Battlefield, and Madden aren’t going anywhere, at least for a while longer. Games that critics and consumers universally laud as “must-haves” can continue to support this massive premium.  But it’s the mid-tier titles, the unestablished IPs, the riskier endeavors, the worthwhile games that don’t quite master the magic formula, that will never get off the ground. Even highly-praised franchise entries like Rayman Origins struggle, and publishers like THQ have been threatened with NASDAQ delisting despite enjoying sales that “exceed expectations.” Black Rock, creators of critical darlings Pure and Split/Second, were denied sequels by publisher Disney to focus on freemium content and eventually shuttered entirely.

The most egregious example of old-school thinking is the release of Plants vs. Zombies on PlayStation Vita.  One of the rarer “crossover” successes, the game costs $3 on the iPhone but a whopping  $15 on the Vita for an identical product. Why? Because it’s a dedicated gaming device and core gamers are accustomed to paying higher premiums. How long can this madness last?

It’s not just Facebook and smartphones that threaten to steal that audience. The consoles themselves have thriving online stores in Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, offering gaming alternatives with high production value and more relaxed pricing. Just look to successes like Battlefield 1943 (over 1MM units sold), Xbox’s Castle Crashers (sold 2.6 million), and recent PS3 hit Journey, which quickly became the PSN’s fastest-selling title ever.

If the Old Guard would just drop the charade that $60 is the only feasible price point, they might find an unexpectedly higher volume of purchasers to mitigate the reduced revenue per gamer. I realize that the $60 Call of Duty costs some tens of millions more to develop, market, and distribute than the $1 Angry Birds, but is there really a $59 differential there? Someone wiser than me in economics can surely model up a theory that finds a middle ground.

This article is talking about the pricing of video games. Where do video games get off costing $60 when I can go buy a game on my iPhone for $1? That’s one of the reasons the sales of  video games are down. People are finding other, cheaper ways of entertaining themselves and I don’t blame them. Why on earth would you ever pay that much to play a game? You could do a lot with $60 bucks. How come a DVD only costs $20 bucks and a video game costs $60? Both of those things take millions of dollars to produce but one is twice as much. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and unless they bring down their prices, buying video games will be down too!

Posted April 19, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized

Tell me again. Why do we think Apple will make a TV set?   Leave a comment

After four years of speculation there’s still not a shred of hard evidence

A lot of analysts talk about Apple’s (AAPL) plans to make a television — an actual TV set, not just a set-top box — but last week, Jefferies’ Peter Misek did something most have been careful not to do.

Citing “increased confidence” that Apple’s iTV is coming, he wrote into his published forecasts the revenue from its sales: 2 million units in the second half of 2012 and 10 million in 2013. He even factored in a “halo effect” for what he now believes will be called iPanel, whereby anybody who buys one will also purchase either an iPad or an iPhone.

Hold on just a minute. How do we know this thing is coming?

In his latest note, Misek cites three reasons:

  • The $800 million Hon Hai (A.K.A. Foxconn) spent to buy a 50% interest in Sharp’s  large-panel TV plant in Sakai, Japan.
  • Reports that small quantities of polarized films, filters, and IGZO components have begun to ship to Apple’s Asian panel suppliers.
  • Reports Apple is doubling the size of its already massive North Carolina data center.

Suggestive, yes. Dispositive, no. I can can think of a half dozen explanations for each of Misek’s reasons that have nothing to do with Apple making TVs.

More to the point, there are plenty of very good reasons Apple would NOT want to get into TV manufacturing business. For starters (with thanks to Marco Arment and others):

  • The market is crowded with low-cost producers
  • The margins are terrible
  • The machines are big and heavy and often require professional installation
  • They need large retail display areas and lots of warehouse space
  • There’s no single global market. (It’s NTSC in the U.S., PAL in Europe.)
  • People tend hold on to the TVs for decades. (Apple prefers to sell products that get frequently replaced — every two years for iPhones, every three years or so for Macs.)
  • Dealing with the cable companies that control the local delivery of content is like dealing with mob.

That said, there are a lot of people rooting for Apple to do what it does best: smooth and simplify the proliferation of remotes, the tangle of cables, the nightmare interfaces that is today’s television.

We know Steve Jobs was keenly interested in TV, and not just as a hobby. Before his death he famously told his biographer that he had cracked the interface problem — perhaps using voice commands. And we know that he was trying to talk the networks into letting Apple sell a monthly subscription service that would offer viewers, in essence, the best of television without the headaches.

But as Asymco‘s Horace Dediu pointed out last December, these are software, not hardware problems. They can all be accomplished by perfecting what he calls the solution that’s “hiding in plain sight.”

It’s called Apple TV.

It costs $99. You plug it into your existing HDTV, or beam the signal wirelessly over Air Play.

You don’t need to buy a new TV set from Apple.

One more thing. No one has championed the idea of an Apple-branded TV set longer or more enthusiastically than Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, who has been writing about it since 2009. But what set him going down this path? The answer came in a Munster profile published last Friday in Bloomberg Businessweek:

“Somebody close to Apple said we needed to be doing more work on the television and that started it all,” Munster says. “You start with these crumb trails, then it turns into a dirt road, and now it’s a paved road.”

Indeed it is. But what if Munster’s tipster was trying to lead him to Apple TV, the set-top box, and not some still-mythical TV set?

 

After so many years of Apple being on top of computers, music, and tablets, it surprises me that haven’t conquered the world of televsion sets yet. I guess with companies like Sony going down the drain, who used to be an industry leader in technology, this is a prime time for Apple to start cranking out television sets. I can’t imagine how high tech these sets are going to be and I see their target audience someone that is already familiar with Apple products. I’m interested to see what they come up with in regards to TV sets, it should be intense.

Posted April 18, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized

AT&T’s $350 million plan to groom new U.S. workers   Leave a comment

While Americans struggle to finds jobs, some of the country’s biggest companies insist they’re struggling just as hard to find workers with the skills they need.

“We are interviewing 11 people to find one qualified candidate,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told CNNMoney in a recent interview. “It’s stunning to me.”

 
AT&T (T, Fortune 500), which draws 90% of its revenue from the United States, says it’s at a disadvantage compared to other global technology giants. It sees a growing talent gap between this nation and foreign countries, particularly in highly technical fields, but it doesn’t have the option of outsourcing heavily.

“We have people putting fiber in trenches, building cell site and installing set-top boxes in homes,” Stephenson said. “Those aren’t the kind of jobs you can fill abroad.”

AT&T’s solution: A $350 million commitment to a program called “Aspire,” which provides grants to schools, non-profit organizations and researchers for ventures aimed at increasing the country’s high-school graduation rate.

AT&T says it has spent $100 million on the program over the past four years, but it recently scaled up its investment, pledging an additional $250 million in funding over the next five years.

There’s irony to AT&T investing so heavily in developing its future workforce while its thinning its current roster. AT&T has 256,000 employees, almost than 10,000 fewer than it had a year ago.

But like its high-tech and telecom rivals, AT&T is weathering a sea change in its increasingly digital industry. As its classic landline business dies off and its wireless business grows, the company needs workers with a new set of technical skills.

That’s where Aspire comes in. One of the venture’s features is a job-shadowing program that has included more than 100,000 students so far. The program made it up to AT&T’s top ranks, with Stephenson himself participating for a day.

Alex Elizardo, now a junior finance major at the University of Texas, remembers the spring day in 2008 when he followed AT&T’s CEO around the telecom giant’s Dallas headquarters.

“It all happened at a really fast pace,” Elizardo recalls. “He’s always looking at the time and multi-tasks a lot. He’ll check the stock price, go to a meeting, check with his secretary, check the stock price again, and go to another meeting.”

The then-senior in high school came away from the exhausting experience impressed by how much Stephenson seemed to enjoy his job — and by what a “financial whiz” he appeared to be. Elizardo said the CEO’s drive inspired him to pursue a career in finance.

“Originally, I couldn’t give anybody a reason why I wanted to go to college,” Elizardo said. “I wanted to go to college because it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t have a strong sense to better myself. Participating in that day, I said, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do.’ Now I would love to be a business executive at a Fortune 500 company.”

Obviously, Elizardo’s case is one-of-a-kind. Not every student with potential can get a kick in the pants from a CEO of a major corporation.

But AT&T sees job shadowing opportunity as a key outreach tool. The company cites a Junior Achievement study that found 8 of 10 students who go through job shadowing are significantly more likely to graduate than their peers who don’t.

“Small connections really can stir change in a child,” says Charlene Lake, AT&T’s head of the Aspire program. “They understand that these jobs are within their reach.”AT&T has partnered with government agencies like the Department of Education as well as organizations like America’s Promise Alliance and other local efforts. The initiative is the core philanthropic program that AT&T sponsors.

It’s certainly not alone: Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) has a big commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) training programs, and Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) runs similar initiatives.

Stephenson acknowledged that such programs go beyond altruism.

The lion’s share of AT&T’s jobs are for workers out on the front lines, deploying fiber, installing antennas and working directly with customers. Those jobs don’t require a lot of engineering talent, but they do require quick learning and adaptability to new technologies, Stephenson said.

The reward is a high-paying job: Many of the most-skilled variety pay between $90,000 and $130,000 a year, AT&T claims.

“This is a bigger problem than $100 million can solve, but we’ve got to move the needle on this,” Stephenson said. “It’s not a matter of choice for us.”

 

Posted April 18, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized

Amazon’s Knock-Off Problem (35 Shades of Grey, Anyone?)   Leave a comment

FORTUNE – Perhaps it should be called Spamazon.

Until recently, if you had typed “Steve Jobs Isaac” into the online retailer’s search box, the first choice that popped up wasn’t the best selling book by Walter Isaacson, but instead one with the same name and a similarly sounding author, Isaac Worthington. The book appears to be selling, even though Amazon’s one reviewer gives the book a single star and calls it a “poorly produced pamphlet.” Presumably, Worthington’s book is based on exclusive interviews with Jeve Stobs.

There are a number of books on Amazon with similar titles to much more popular ones. Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy romance novel that has created buzz around the world, is the No. 1 selling book on Amazon. Also available on Amazon: Thirty-Five Shades of Grey. Both books are written by authors with two first initials – E. L. James and J. D. Lyte – and both are the first in a trilogy about a young girl who falls for an older, successful man with a taste for domineering sex. The publisher of the bestseller Fifty says the book is “a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.” The author and publisher of Thirty-Five, which came out in early April, apparently believe that description fits their book as well, word-for-word. Also selling on Amazon is I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Twilight New Moon. Neither is the book you are likely looking for.

And if you want to buy bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow on Amazon, be careful where you click. A number of Amazon shoppers looking for the book by Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman ended up with Fast and Slow Thinking by Karl Daniels, which until recently was also on Amazon. Says Kahneman of his doppelganger, “There is no such expert, it’s a rip-off. The comments on it are quite amusing – rather shocking that Amazon allows this sort of thing.”

It’s perhaps more shocking that Amazon (AMZN) not only sells the books, it’s also helping their authors create them. All of the apparent copycat books that Fortune found on Amazon were made through CreateSpace, which is a division of Amazon. Authors can use CreateSpace’s system to design and self-publish their own books. The books then go on sale on Amazon and other sites. Amazon splits the proceeds with authors. It’s a different relationship than most publishers have with their authors, but there is no way for consumers to know that. On Amazon and other sites, CreateSpace is listed as the publisher of the books.

“It’s the book equivalent of spam,” says lawyer Eric Rayman, a former attorney for Simon & Schuster. “Amazon should be taking steps to stop this. It’s bad for consumers and it’s bad for the book business.”

After Fortune contacted Amazon late last week about the apparent fakes, the company removed the pages for the Worthington and Daniels books from its site. A spokeswoman says Amazon is no longer selling the books. Both books, though, are still for sale on other sites with Amazon’s CreateSpace listed as the publisher. An Amazon spokeswoman says the firm has a process in place to detect and remove books that don’t “improve the customer experience.” The spokeswoman said Amazon has rejected or removed “thousands” of books. “We expect to keep improving our approach,” says the spokeswoman. A spokesperson for Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, declined to comment.

Karen Peebles, who is the author of I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, says she has self-published around 10,000 books though CreateSpace, not all of which are in her own name. “I am a single mother who home schools her children,” says Peebles, who says she sells “thousands and thousands” of books a month. “Self-publishing is a great way for me to make income. I receive a pretty nice royalty every month.”

Peebles says CreateSpace has guidelines, but they are minimal. Not only has Amazon never rejected one of her books, Peebles says she’s never even been questioned by the online retailer, not even about the one with a nearly identical title to the international bestseller by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Peebles says her book, which she has sold “hundreds, maybe thousands” came out before Larsson’s. It didn’t. Larsson’s book was first published in 2004, and released in the U.S. in 2008. Peebles’ book has a 2008 copyright, but it wasn’t released by Amazon until mid-2010, well after the Larsson book had become popular in the U.S. Says a reviewer who gives Peebles’ book one star on Amazon, “Perhaps I will enjoy the author’s next book, ‘I am the Girl who Played with Fire.'”

Worthington’s Steve Jobs book, like many of the other apparent copycats that Fortune looked at, is oddly formatted. The text on the first few pages of the book, which is all that was available for preview on Amazon, is huge and is similar to the language on the Wikipedia page about Steve Jobs. The back cover of the book has the exact same text. There is no other book by Isaac Worthington for sale on Amazon, and neither the site nor the book has any information about the author. Karl Daniels also appears to be a reclusive one-book wonder. Both the Daniels book and the Worthington book are copyrighted SWI Books. Amazon declined to give Fortune any information about SWI or say whether Amazon sells any other books from the company on its site.

Last week, the Department of Justice sued Apple (AAPL) and five book publishers. According to the suit, Apple and the book publishers conspired to push up the price of e-books. The moves were reportedly made to take market share away from Amazon.

Spam books are a growing problem for consumers and the book industry. Mark Coker, who is the founder of a Smashwords, a distributor of self-published books, says he regularly receives books that are exact copies of other books, or a compilation of stuff that is readily available on the Internet. He says his company refuses to distribute these books. Coker says odd formatting is an easy tip-off that a book is copied from elsewhere. Nonetheless, he says he often sees books that his company has rejected show up on Amazon and elsewhere. “I’m surprised Amazon lets books like these go through,” says Coker. “Whoever created these books are obviously trying to confuse consumers.”

I have seen a version of this article all over the internet in the past week, which I can imagine is not good press for Amazon, who thrives on selling books. I can’t imagine why Amazon would approve to sell these knock off books but you know they are kicking themselves now. I would suggest to them to take these books off their website and maybe invest time and money reevaluating what books they approve.

Posted April 18, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized

Starbucks CEO says make your own coffee   Leave a comment

Howard Schultz has spilled the beans on where to get the “best cup of coffee known to mankind,” and it’s not where you’d think. The Starbucks CEO wrote in Business Week recently that the best cup of joe is made right at home with a simple French press – and not by a barista at your Starbucks. (Although, in fairness, you can buy his preferred Bodum French press at Starbucks.) It’s not the wisest PR move, but then again he knows not very many of you are going to brew your own.

Whats the purpose of him saying that for the purpose of his business?

Posted April 17, 2012 by annabellecunningham18 in Uncategorized