Scribd to offer paid-for web content


Scribd, for those of you not familiar with it, is a bit like Youtube, but with words instead of video. Sounds a bit tedious? You’d be right. Finding anything worth reading is frankly a chore. But this week Scribd launched a function that will allow its users to upload a document and charge others to view it.

In the new Scribd store, authors will be able to upload document, set their own price and keep 80% of the profit. Users will be able to download copies in PDF for use with the soon-to-be released in the UK, Kindle 2. And, with an iPhone application in the offing, Scribd look to have their bases covered.

“One reason publishers are excited to work with us is that they worry that publishing channels are contracting as Amazon and Google are gaining control over the e-book space,” said Jared Friedman, chief technology officer and a founder of Scribd.

The announcement comes hot-on-the-heels of Rupert Murdoch’s plans to start charging for access to NewsCorp’s newspaper websites and may mark the start of paid-for web content.

“That it is possible to charge for content on the web is obvious from the Wall Street Journal’s experience,” said Murdoch.

“The current days of the internet will soon be over,” added the eery media mogul.

But rest assured, Techdigest has no plans to start charging its handsome and intelligent readership anytime soon. Yeah that’s right – you guys! What do you think? Do Murdoch’s plans NewsCorp’s web content have legs? Or will you just get your news elsewhere if you have to pay for it? Could this be the rebirth of the newspaper? Let us know in the comments.

Wolfram|Alpha – A new dawn in search?

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This morning hailed the launch of Wolfram Alpha, sorry “Wolfram|Alpha”. A new type of search that looks to provide you with concrete answers, rather than referring you to another site which might have the answer.

Wolfram|Alpha is the brainchild of British-born Stephen Wolfram. Despite having a name that makes him sound uncannily like a Bond villain, Dr Wolfram’s aim for the Wolfram|Alpha project is to, “collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything”. Well it’s good to be ambitious.

So does it work? Ish, would be my answer. Can it tell you how big the US is in square miles? Yes, down to three decimal places (3.179 million square miles or about 1.037 x 10 to the power of 14 feet squared). Can it tell you the population of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso? Yes – 1086505.

But can it tell you how big Wales is? Or how much the moon weighs? Or, as John Humphrey’s asked on this morning’s Today program – which population is shrinking faster, the population of Sparrow or the population of Haddock in the north sea? No, no it can’t.

Wolfram’s aim is to create a compendium of knowledge, not with the intention of rivalling Google to provide answers, think of Wolfram as an encyclopaedia with a search bar. But is it better than Google?

We asked both: what were the results of the Scottish devolution referendum? Google’s top hit gave us the answer, in figures and as percentage and by unitary authority and how that compared against the 1979 ballot.

Wolfram gave us…”try Scottish.” Google 1 – Wolfram 0.

Dinner party dorks will have a field day with this, and I’m sure it’s got plenty of wholesome practical applications but for now Wolfram seems too US-centric and fiddly for it to be a really useful internet tool.
(via BBC)

Pure launches DAB Sirocco 150 dock/radio


Strapping an iPod dock to your audioware has been a no-branier for a little while but getting Apple to certify your product as “Works with iPhone” is a good bit of one-upmanship from Pure. Ladies, gentlemen and DAB freaks, meet the Sirocco 150 mini-system designed with digital music in mind.

It’s got SD and USB slots, as well as the dock, for playback of MP3 and WMV files. No specific mention of AACs, so I can only assume that that’s through pod/phone only action. Naturally, it takes CDs too and, of course, there’s DAB provided you can actually pick anything up where you live.

The unit offers 25 Watts RMS and each speaker has a 4″ mid bass and a 1.5″ tweeters. It’s out in June for £149.99 and, whatever you feelings may be about compressed music files and digital radio, you have to admit the Pure Sirocco 150 hits aesthetically.

Not sure why they left the dock as an external plug in seeing as it’s a main feature. Probably something to do with internal space in the main box. How’s that for some benefit of the doubt?


Medion Akoya P6618: 16" entertainment latop – just £599


Dell might have ceased offering value for the time being but you can always trust Medion to pipe up with a bargain of a 16″ entertainment laptop when times are hard.

The Medion Akoya P6618 comes with a 16:9 HD 1366 x 768 TFT and an Intel Centrino system with Core 2 Duo T6600 2.2GHz processor and 4GB of DDR2 to push it all through. Add to that a very respectable 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GS graphics card and a 500GB HDD for just £599 and you’re looking at a pretty good, all round deal.

Sure it’s DVD drives instead of Blu-rays, the screen ain’t no LED and there’s solid state storage but what do you expect for the price? You’re still hooked up with HDMI ports, a good set of on board speakers, a 4-in-1 card reader, Gigabit LAN, draft-N wireless, eSATA, 32-bit Vista and enough software to do pretty much whatever you want. If you’re looking for an economic entertainment PC, then all you need to do is go to Aldi in 3 days time, or maybe even now by the looks of things.

Tokyo Flash Kisai Denshoku – still purely ornamental


Let’s be honest about Tokyo Flash watches. They’re a conspiracy by Japanese people to undermine Western culture by making sure that nobody knows what the time is – ever. The Kisai Denshoku, here, and its buddies are designed to look irresistibly appealing but completely useless as chronographs.

There’s some nonsense about the number of bars representing hours – most likely hours until the West’s self-destruction through enforced disorganisation – but I don’t buy it for a minute, or second or whatever units they want to represent. The clever part is we get to pay them for the privilege. £163.70 and you too can speed the revolution. Fool.

Tokyo Flash

Obama gives the Queen an iPod


On Barack Obama’s official visit to Buckingham Palace last night, he handed over an iPod to the Queen as a gift, stuffed with video of her 2007 visit to the U.S. and a bunch of tracks from Broadway musicals including “Cats”, “South Pacific” and “Oklahoma!”.

Not that impressive, really, is it? It wasn’t even engraved with the Royal Seal. She’s already got one, too – a 6GB iPod Mini, which Prince Andrew suggested she buy in 2005. Her Maj was a little more classy – giving Obama her traditional gift of a framed photograph of herself and Prince Phillip.

(via Telegraph)

Photoshop Magnets – for your geeky designer Valentine


Do you, or someone you know, spend a little bit too much time in Photoshop, tweaking those digital camera images a little more until you really can’t see the difference any more? Well, here’s the perfect birthday present, or Valentine’s gift, I suppose. It’s a set of magnets that look like the myriad of menus and toolbars that come in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Brazillian company Meninos sell these magnets on their own for $25, with a 20″ magnetic whiteboard for $65, and with a 40″ whiteboard for $95. That seems rather on the bargainous side, to me. Just a pre-order for the moment, though – they’ll be shipping on Feb 15th, so your Valentine will have to make do with an order confirmation until it arrives.

Meninos (via Technabob)

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