Monthly Archives: February 2017

Amazon Web Services problems take down websites, apps

28 February 2017

From MarketWatch:

Issues with a cloud storage service operated by Inc.’s Amazon Web Services division caused outages and curtailed functionality for websites and apps Tuesday. AWS’s S3 service, described by Amazon as “designed to deliver 99.999999999% durability,” was experiencing “high error rates” due to problems with servers located on the East Coast of the United States, the company said Tuesday.

Link to the rest at MarketWatch

Friends with online businesses hosted on AWS have told PG they’ve been having problems. He’s had one report of someone not being able to place an order with Amazon.

Here’s a link to the AWS status page.

Why Augmented Reality Will Be the Next Revolution in Retail

28 February 2017

From Strategy + Business:

In the summer of 2016, pedestrians on New York’s Fifth Avenue encountered crowds of (mostly young) people, hastily running into Central Park, smartphones in hand, shouting out Pokémon names and cross-street locations. Within days of its release on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go, an app that brought the 1990s gaming craze to virtual life, became a phenomenon. Its 40 million daily active users (at its peak) surpassed those of Tinder, Snapchat, and Twitter and created a level of in-app engagement that Facebook could only envy. It took complete control of the commutes, lunch breaks, and social gatherings of legions of people around the world. Intent on “catching” Pokémon in the wild, gamers thronged into museums, streets, even Arlington National Cemetery.

Although the Pokémon Go fad now has predictably faded, it holds important lessons for companies intent on reaching and engaging consumers where they are, especially retailers: The game, the first truly social augmented reality (AR) experience, enthralled the new breed of omniconnected consumers as nothing else had done previously. Players not only shared an insider world where they could fight each other, but they also walked together and gathered at PokeStops in the middle of the night. The people who embraced the augmented reality of Pokémon Go live in a world where the line between real and digital is so blurred that they essentially became one and the same — constantly augmented and improved by invisible technologies. And they are hungry for better, more personalized experiences.

. . . .

Lego’s AR Digital Box in-store kiosk allows customers to “see” finished products by holding the product box close to a screen (they can watch on the screen as a digital constructed Lego truck seems to spring out of the box it comes in, for example), and IKEA’s app allows shoppers to “place” digital furniture and other products from the catalog in pictures of their rooms at home.

. . . .

E-commerce has been steadily gaining a share of sales at the expense of local stores because online shopping is cheaper, is more convenient, and allows for easy in-depth research and comparison of products. However, physical stores still possess one major advantage: the ability to let customers see, try, smell, or taste the product live. For many digital-native brands, such as eyewear retailer Warby Parker, stores have evolved into “showrooms.” Augmented reality allows brick-and-mortar retailers to take these showroom experiences to the next level, creating unique experiences that blend digital and physical shopping. The virtual layer can provide a platform that allows improved communication, deeper engagement, and better personalization. As a result, brands deploying AR effectively will be able to provide differentiated interactions with physical products and customer experiences that seem richer than the ones provided by their online competitors.

. . . .

The essential effort of creating consumer awareness about brands and products often devours the majority of a retailer’s marketing budget, and much of it is wasted by reaching non-target consumers. AR represents a singular opportunity to adjust what is presented to a shopper based on demographic profiles and past in-store behavior, and allows companies to link typical awareness-raising efforts to a live recommendation engine. For example, for Tom, who typically buys a US$4.99 gel laundry detergent, Target could display an AR ad on his phone of a new, more powerful $5.99 gel, instead of posting a static endcap display in-store for a $9.99 laundry powder. The result is a more refined level of targeting that presents a benefit to retailers, brands, and consumers.

Link to the rest at Strategy + Business

PG tried to visualize a book signing via augmented reality.

Haven’t you felt

28 February 2017

Haven’t you felt a peculiar sort of worry about the chair in your living room that no one sits in?

Nicholson Baker

Don’t Worry If You Always Worry (It May Help You)

28 February 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

 When Penelope Malone got a traffic ticket recently, she says she fretted about it 24/7 for a month. Many nights she bolted awake with worry around 4 a.m., “like a piece of toast coming out of the toaster,” she says.

The ticket’s penalty? About $200.

“I am the world’s biggest worrier,” says Ms. Malone, a 63-year-old retired payroll company manager from Atlanta. “I get fixated on certain things and cannot get them out of my brain.”

Good news for worrywarts: New research illuminates what leads to excessive worrying—and what can be done to stop it.

For most people, worrying is a form of problem-solving where you look at challenges in the future and work them out before they happen, which can be constructive. Researchers call this adaptive worrying and have identified the top five areas that people worry most about: relationships, finances, work, lack of confidence and an “aimless future.”

But some people worry too much. Chronic worriers fret all the time, about everything. Pathological worriers are chronic worriers whose apprehension affects their functioning. They’re just as likely to fret over a real problem, such as a job setback, as they are to stew over something that may not be a problem at all, say the weather next week.

. . . .

How we learned to cope with threats as a child, whether our parents reassured us and what traumas we’ve been exposed to all affect how much we worry. And although worry is closely tied to anxiety, Dr. Davey says, it differs in that it is largely cognitive, while anxiety has a strong physiological component.

New research by Dr. Davey and colleagues, reviewing more than 50 scientific studies on worry and published in December in the journal Biological Psychology, shows that people who worry excessively believe that if they don’t agonize over every aspect of an event or challenge, something bad will happen.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Book store natural fit among other shops on ‘Nerd Row’

28 February 2017

From Tulsa World:

Tulsa is a city of “districts.” Among them: Blue Dome District. Brady Arts District. Pearl District.

Are you ready for a “row?”

Bound for Glory Books is a book store located at 4264 E. 11th St. Kris Rose proudly says the store she co-owns is part of “Nerd Row,” a collection of unique shops located west of the 11th Street and Yale Avenue intersection.
Among the book store’s neighbors are a gaming store (Dice Addiction), a toy store (All Star Toys), a comic store (Mammoth Comics) and a store (Good Mischief) that offers weird resale items.

Jerod Nunnally, owner of All Star Toys, came up with the “Nerd Row” label, according to Rose. It was meant as a term of endearment.

. . . .

“He welcomed me to Nerd Row, and we started laughing about how apt the name was for our little strip of shops. If you like one of the stores on our strip, chances are you’ll also like another store as well, if not all of them. We definitely cater to different breeds of nerds: Sci-fi nerds. VHS horror movie nerds. Vinyl nerds. Indie movie nerds. 1960s underground comics nerds. Feminist nerds. UFO nerds. Art nerds. You name it.”

Link to the rest at Tulsa World

A Very Good List of Vital Writing Advice — DO NOT IGNORE!

28 February 2017

From Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds:

Hello, America. I am the Internet’s Chuck Wendig, and contrary to what I usually do on this here Website, I’m going to offer some Vital Writing Advice. I am the recipient of a lot of emails, and between the emails where people are mad at me for ruining Star Wars are the emails where people ask me for advice on buying various chairs and pastries, and in between those emails are the writers who want to know how to write. “Internet’s Chuck Wendig,” they plead, “please tell us the secret that will turn us into Super Mega Ultra Rockstar Writers like yourself.”

. . . .

I will share them with you now, in defiance of the Galactic Author Guild’s autocratic laws. YOUR OPPRESSION ENDS HERE, G.A.G., I AM BRINGING THE TRUTH TO THE PEOPLES.

Quickly now, absorb this information before it is taken down! HURRY

. . . .

3. Also Run Screaming Past Your Self-Doubt. Your self-doubt is a jerk. It’ll jog alongside you, trying to convince you to just stop and lay down and give up. You can’t give up. Keep running. Run faster than your self-doubt. Steal a car. Steal an actual car. Drive fast past it. Then reverse and back over it. Hear the crunch of its bones. That’s what it gets for sassing you.

4. Write What You Know. And what you don’t know, you can always learn. And what you can’t learn, you can always steal from other authors by hitting them with rocks and opening their heads like coconuts. Each writer’s brain is like a fruit containing many seeds, the seeds of knowledge. Kill authors and eat their brains.

5. Don’t use adverbs. Adverbs are witch’s traps.

. . . .

16. When In Doubt, Pterodactyls and Frankensteins. Stuck in your story? Just throw in some pterodactyls and Frankensteins. Always peps up a dull story!

. . . .

20. Molt. When in doubt, shed your flesh. Let your true author spirit emerge from the leavings of your discarded scale and leathery epidermis.

Link to the rest at Terrible Minds and thanks to Angie for the tip.

Here’s a link to Chuck Wendig’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Rakuten Kobo and launch ‘Kobo Plus’

28 February 2017

From the Kobo Newsroom:

Booklovers from The Netherlands and Belgium will never run out of things to read thanks to Kobo Plus. The new subscription service jointly created by Rakuten Kobo, leader in the digital eReading space, and premier online Dutch and Belgian retailer, offers readers the largest all-you-can-read selection of digital books in The Netherlands and Belgium, with titles ranging from new releases and bestsellers to classics and old favourites, including both Dutch and international titles. Customers can try the eBook subscription service free of charge for 30 days.

Digital reading enables people to carry their entire libraries with them wherever they go— gone are the days of having to choose which book to take on vacation or on the daily commute. In 2014, Kobo and partnered together, making it possible to access thousands of eBooks anywhere, on any device. The Kobo Plus subscription service is the next step in making the largest selection of books even more accessible, offering more than 40,000 titles—16,000 in the Dutch language—with considerable growth expected in the coming months.

. . . .

Kobo Plus was developed in close collaboration with leading Dutch publishers. The subscription service operates on a fair-share model, with payouts funded by subscription revenues, which enables a self-sustaining service built for the long-term—encouraging publishers to offer a wide selection of books from all genres. Kobo Plus was designed with the booklover in mind, and provides book recommendations tailored to individual readers’ interests.

Patrick Swart, CEO of Dutch publisher WPG Uitgevers, says: “As with any new business model, it will take some time for those involved to become accustomed with this new way of delivering books to readers. For publishers, a new business model entails a different approach to marketing books and for our authors it means they get compensated in a different way.

Link to the rest at Kobo Newsroom and thanks to Melissa for the tip.

PG is more than a little suspicious about authors being “compensated in a different way.”

AAP Sales: September Inches Up; Trade Books Up 1.3%

27 February 2017

From Shelf Awareness:

In September, total net book sales rose 0.7%, to $1.471 billion, compared to September 2015, and represented sales of 1,207 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first nine months of the year, total net book sales fell 5.8%, to $11.131 billion.

. . . .

In September, adult book sales slipped 0.7%, to $493.1 million, while children’s/YA rose 4.6%, to $187.5 million. Trade e-book sales fell 14.9%, to $96.2 million.

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

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