Windows 10 e-reader app review: Nook reader

nook-starting-screenGiven that we’re now in the age of Windows 10, it seemed like a good time to take a look at the Nook universal Windows app. The last time I reviewed the Nook e-reader apps was all the way back in 2011, and a remarkable amount has changed since then.

I’ve had mixed luck with Barnes & Noble’s e-books through the years, but I used to be a regular customer—early on I figured I might as well keep buying from Nook, since it already had (most of) the books I’d bought from eReader and Fictionwise. As a result, I still have nearly 200 titles in my Barnes & Noble library, and I might as well be able to keep reading them.

Downloading the app is simple enough: just click or tap on the Windows logo shopping bag on your status bar to open the Windows Store, then type “Nook” in the search box and it pops right up. (It calls itself “Nook for Windows 8 v1.9,” but it works just fine on Windows 10.) Downloading and installing it is just as simple as installing any Windows universal app.

As with any universal Windows app, Nook will work with both PCs and Windows mobile devices, though since I don’t have a Windows mobile device I can only review how it looks on my desktop.

Launching the app brings up a multi-paned page with access to your library, or you can scroll the screen to the right (with your finger, or your mouse scroll wheel) to access several panes of Nook Store shopping options. Clicking on the title to any of these panes drills down into another screen with more options. For example, clicking on “My Library: View All” opens a broader view of your library, where you can click on “All,” “Books,” or “My Files” to view different sections. You can also sideload your own EPUB files from directories on your computer.

nook-textOnce you’ve chosen a book, it opens up a view of the text. You can page forward and back using the scroll wheel, or right-click on it to bring up the menu bars with options to access various bookmarking, annotation, or formatting functions. You can also left-click on words to highlight or annotate them. If you compare the photo here to the ones of the old PC app in my earlier review, you’ll note it looks a lot more polished by comparison. It might not be Google’s Material Design, but it nonetheless does look like it belongs in Windows 10.

nook-menu-barsOn a related note, it looks like I might owe the old Nook PC app an apology. In my earlier review, I complained that the Nook reader put blank lines between the paragraphs as well as the indentation—but now that I check again, I find the Young Wizards book I reviewed at the time still opens with the excess blank lines, whereas other books don’t. It turns out that was the fault of the e-book file, not the software itself.

nook-fontsThe formatting options available in the “Text” menu are pretty good. The menu is a lot more like those on mobile apps rather than Windows apps now—you no longer choose font size by point, but from a row of different-sized letters. There are options for line spacing, margin width, number of columns (from 1 to 4, or automatic based on font size), font, and theme. There aren’t too many fonts available, but it has my favorite reading font of “Georgia,” so I’m happy.

One area where the formatting options have backslid is that there is no longer any way to disable full justification, and there’s no automatic hyphenation. The books don’t look too bad on a desktop-sized screen all the same, though.

Turning pages is swift and responsive; the text slides left or right to move to the next or previous set of pages. The text find function is fast and snappy, too. I could see using this to read my Nook titles or my own EPUBs and not feeling too boxed-in by a lack of choices. In fact, it actually has more formatting options than the Adobe Digital Editions I normally use for reading EPUBs on my desktop—and unlike ADE, its user-interface gets out of the way when I don’t need it.

That said, it does have one more annoying aspect. The Nook app is full-screen-mode only. You can’t restore it down to take up only part of the screen, and you can’t move it from one monitor to another—not even using the shortcut of Windows key plus arrow that works on just about everything else. It remains stuck to your primary display. If you right-click at the top of the screen where the title bar should be to bring up the movement options, everything but “Minimize” and “Close” is greyed out.

There’s no particular reason why this should have to be the case. I’d guess it was because the app has to work on both tablets and desktops, but other Windows universal apps such as Netflix and Hulu restore down and move from screen to screen just fine. Maybe it’s because it’s a Windows 8 app rather than Windows 10?

Finally, it’s worth noting that this app will still let you get around Barnes & Noble’s annoying decision to disallow downloading its e-book files. Finding where it actually puts them took some doing. It turns out to keep them in the hidden directory C:Users[Username]appdatalocalpackagesBarnesNoble.Nook_ahnzqzva31encLocalState, and it names them by seemingly-random series of letters and numbers. (So if you’re looking for a specific one, you have to go by the date and time you downloaded it.) Also, if the titles had DRM on them on the Nook store, they’ll still have it after you download them. But if you have some reason for wanting to have access to those files all the same, well, there they are. (Just be sure not to do anything illegal with them!)

In the end, the Barnes & Noble Nook Windows app offers a reasonable EPUB-reading experience, especially if you’re one of the Fictionwise/eReader early adopters who ended up with titles in your Nook library that you never bought from Barnes & Noble. And given that it’s free, if you’re running Windows 10 you might as well install it and try it out. Some of the reviews on the Windows Store note it has problems running on Microsoft Surface tablets, but it works fine on the desktop for me.

The post Windows 10 e-reader app review: Nook reader appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

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FreeCAD 0.16 release notes

FreeCAD 0.16 was released on 18. April, 2016, get it from Download. This is a summary of the most interesting changes. The complete list of changes can be found in the Mantis changelog. Older versions at:

Satnogs Rotator FreeCAD.jpg

Satnogs Rotator (


Expression support has been introduced, which allows to define formula relationships between properties of objects. Expression support is a major leap forward for making better parametric models in FreeCAD. Expressions offer easy interface for making models controlled by spreadsheets.


Sketcher solver behavior has been majorly improved. Not only it became faster and more stable, it also doesn’t hang anymore on unsolvable sketches. And automatic document recomputes triggered after each tiny tweak to the sketch can now be switched off, allowing smooth editing of sketches buried under deep dependencies.


FreeCAD now supports touchscreen 3D navigation. This makes it possible to use FreeCAD without a mouse on a convertible laptop with touchscreen and pen, away from a desk.

The FEM workbench has made tons of improvements. It has proven to be useabele for various kind of mechanical analysises.

Multiple material.jpg


  • Support for expressions/formulas
  • Three new navigation styles: Gesture Navigation (with touchscreen support on Windows), Maya Navigation, and OpenCascade Navigation.
  • Customization of workbenches list (list can be reordered, and any workbenches can be made hidden from the list)
  • Recovery tool
  • New save options (Revert, save as a copy)
  • New homepage

Part Workbench

  • New tools for joining walled objects (e.g., pipes): Connect, Embed and Cutout
  • New feature: make face from a sketch (parametric)

Part Design & Sketcher Workbench

  • New Feature: Toggle Mode for Reference/Driving constraints
  • New Feature: Continuous creation mode
  • New Feature: Non-driving constraints (aka Driven constraints)
  • Major speedup
  • Advanced solver control
  • New features: tools for duplication, mirroring and rectangular array
  • Support for expressions/formulas in constraints and properties

Spreadsheet Workbench

  • Added functions: round, trunc, ceil, and floor.

Draft Workbench

  • New DXF importer: The Draft Workbench now features a brand-new DXF importer, fully coded in C++, inherited from HeeksCad, which doesn’t need anymore to download external components, and is now much faster and able to load much larger DXF files. An option in the DXF preferences allows to switch back to the old importer if needed.
  • A new Mirror tool allows to do mirroring of objects “the Draft way”
  • Many DXF templates have been added to the corresponding built-in SVG templates, making the export of Drawing pages to DXF much better.
  • Rectangles,wires and lines can now be subdivided, allowing all kinds of new shape combinations.

Draft subdivisions.jpg

Drawing Workbench

Drawing spreadsheetview.jpg

Arch Workbench

  • Materials support: Arch objects can now have a material attached, which uses FreeCAD’s builtin materials framework. These materials are shared among other workbenches. These materials are fully supported by IFC import and export.
  • The Section plane can now do clipping of the 3D view, showing the section in realtime.

Arch clip plane.jpg

  • Several improvements to the IFC importer such as new options for treating large IFC files, better support for extrusions (now detected on import) and curved segments, and support of 2D annotation objects. The import of Analytical IFC has been added. At the moment import of geometrical representations off all analytical objects is supported.
  • Better meshing options for DAE and IFC formats.
  • A new Arch Schedule tool allows to create different kinds of schedules from a BIM model.

FEM Workbench

  • GUI FEM commands have keyboard short cuts now. An preference dialog for FEM was introduced. The binary path of CalculiX is one of the preference settings.
  • GUI analysis container Analysis member uses drag & drop. They can be moved in and out of a analysis container. Since there is now support for multiple analysis, member can be moved into another analysis too. Multiple constraints can be created in an analysis.
  • GUI one click analysis A one click analysis button has been added to the GUI. It does purging results, writing CalculiX input file and does the analysis for the selected solver. It is detected if multithreading is available for CalculiX and uses the maximum possible threads.
  • Input file FreeCAD’s build-in editor supports editing CalculiX input files (*.inp). Syntax highlighting was implemented too.
  • Netgen mesh object The GUI and property editor of the Netgen mesh object has been reworked. Tetraeder meshing off one order and second order elements is supported as well as adjusting meshing parameter.
  • Constraint force and constraint fix objects It is now possible to add Forces and Fixes on edges and Vertexes.
  • Constraint pressure object A new object for pressure load on faces has been added. The pressure (load per area) is passed directly to CalculiX which means the node loads are not calculated by FreeCAD but CalculiX instead.
  • Constraint prescribed displacement object A new object for prescribed displacements has been added. The prescribed displacement can be added to vertexes, edges and faces. For shell and beam analysis’s it is possible to fix the rotational degrees of freedom.
  • Beam section object The new beam section object allows to define rectangle cross section for beam FEM. There is support for different beam sections in one analysis by defining reference shapes for each cross section
  • Shell thickness object The new shell thickness object allows to define thicknesses of shell plates. Like in beam section there is support for multiple shell thicknesses in one analysis by defining reference shapes.
  • Material object Multiple materials are supported for edge, shell and solid meshes. Like for the beam section and shell thickness objects a appropriate FEM Mesh is needed to use the multiple material.
  • Solver object As a base for multiple solver a solver object has been implemented. All analysis properties moved from analysis to solver.
  • Frequency analysis A frequency analysis can be made. The number of eigenvalue or eigenshape to calculate can be adjusted in preference GUI.
  • View provider Shell and beam FEM-Meshes can be viewed in FreeCAD and thus the results of such analysis too.
  • Python API Methods for working with FEM-Meshes and making an Analysis from python have been added.
  • GMSH Macro An interesting external developing is the Macro_GMSH which makes it possible to use GMSH for meshing. Very useful for all not able to compile FreeCAD with Netgen or for meshing shell- or edge meshes.
  • General Improvements Due to the heavy development taking place, there have been tons of improvements on the code base of FEM module.

Path Workbench

Exercise path 02.jpg

A new Path Workbench has been added to FreeCAD. This workbench, although still under development, already implements some CAM operations, and allows to export full G-code programs for a variety of CNC machines.

In its current state, the workbench allows to create profiles and pockets around Part-based objects, create complex paths by joining several partial paths, inspect and edit the g-code contents of paths, manage tooltable, and choose between different pre-processing and post-processing scripts when importing and exporting G-code. It also already provides a complete python API.

Additional Modules

A couple of new addons workbenches have been created by community members. These workbenches are easily pluggable into an existing FreeCAD installation. Among them are:

  • An Animation Workbench allows you to create animations from your FreeCAD models, by defining the movement of a camera and exporting a sequence of images.
  • A Kerkythea exporter macro permits to export your FreeCAD documents to the free Kerkythea renderer.
  • A work-in-progress Menu is also already available.
  • Finally, an addons repository has been created to gather all the interesting workbenches, modules and other macros that are flourishing around FreeCAD. This repository features a installer that takes care of the installing and updating of these addons for you.

Macro installer 02.jpg

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AWS powers new big data services with giant hard disks

Amazon Web Services is going retro to help companies deal with big data workloads. The cloud provider announced Tuesday it’s launching two new volume types for its Elastic Block Store service that are powered by traditional, spinning disk hard drives. 

The new Throughput-Optimized HDD and Cold HDD EBS volume types let companies store files cheaply in a way that’s still useful for big data workloads like MapReduce and Kafka. The Throughput-Optimized service is aimed at apps that use data frequently, while the Cold HDD service is built for applications that reference items less frequently. 

To get all of that data into AWS, customers can now call on a new 80TB Snowball storage appliance. That joins the existing 50TB Snowball, which was already available for users to order from AWS and get delivered to their data center for data transfer. Using the Snowball, users can ship their data securely from on-premises servers to Amazon’s. 

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Startup Legal Setup Guide

The Startup Legal Setup Guide

When you start a startup, it’s much more exciting to focus on building a product and a business than the legal details of incorporation and company setup. But these legal and structural details are important, and will have lasting implications for the entire future of your company. Mistakes like forgetting to file an 83(b) election or neglecting to register the business with your state and city could have severe tax penalties.

Even if you are working with a professional lawyer or an automated incorporation service like Clerky, it’s beneficial to have a personal understanding of the different steps in the process, and what options you may have. For instance, your incorporation charter could include a special provision to include Series FF stock, which allows founders to sell off a portion of their shares in a future funding round without increasing the tax burden for other employees (selling normal stock would cause the 409A valuation to increase, thus increasing the effective taxable value of other employees’ stock).

Over the years, a number of friends have asked me for advice about this legal setup process. For the sake of posterity, I’ve created a public Airtable Base containing the legal knowledge I’ve gained throughout the process of co-founding Airtable (and my previous startup, the YC-funded Etacts). Without further ado, here it is! You can create a copy of it (“Copy Base” at the bottom), at which point you can modify it to your own liking. If you have questions or feedback, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]!

Click “Copy Base” to create your own copy

Thanks very much to Justin Hurley, Jude Gomila, Henry Ward, Jason Boehmig, Cai GoGwilt, Vaughn Koch, and especially Julie Picquet (who personally spent dozens of hours helping to put this together).

And of course, no legal setup guide would be complete without a disclaimer from our lawyers : ).

DISCLAIMER: This startup legal guide (“the guide”) has been prepared for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. By using the startup legal guide, you waive any rights or claims you may have against the publisher of this guide in connection therewith. The information contained in this startup legal guide is provided only as general information and may not reflect the most current market and legal developments and may not address all relevant business or legal issues; accordingly, information in the startup legal guide is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete. Further, the publisher of this guide does not necessarily endorse, and is not responsible for, any third-party content that may be accessed through the startup legal guide.

Neither the availability nor use of this startup legal guide is intended to create, or constitutes formation of, an attorney-client relationship or any other special relationship or privilege. You should not rely upon this startup legal guide for any purpose without seeking legal advice from licensed attorneys in the relevant state(s).

You agree to use this startup legal guide in compliance with all applicable laws, including applicable securities laws, and you agree to indemnify and hold its publisher harmless from and against any and all claims, damages, losses or obligations arising from your failure to comply. This startup legal guide is provided on an as-is basis with no representations or warranties, either express or implied, including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. You assume complete responsibility and risk for use of the startup legal guide. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusion may not apply to you. The publisher expressly disclaims all liability, loss or risk incurred as a direct or indirect consequence of this startup legal guide.

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Mad scientist shrinks Arduino to size of an AA battery

aaduino-back The hardware tinkerers and prototype mavens out there will invariably have stumbled across the Arduino platform. Completely open source and always pushing the limits for collaboration, there are a ton of different development boards available, but none are as awesome as Johan Kanflo’s AAduino. Behind the delightfully punny name, you’ll find an Arduino-compatible board the size of an… Read More

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Cheaper Vizio 4K TVs With Built-in Google Cast Are Here

An anonymous reader cites a Mashable report: Cutting-edge technology always comes at a premium for early adopters, but it never stays premium for long. After launching its new P-Series 4K TVs with built-in Google Cast last month, Vizio is bringing the feature to its lower-priced TVs. The 2016 M-Series 4K TVs start at $849.99 for a 50-inch and rocket up to $3,999.99 for an 80-inch. They support high dynamic range (HDR) with Dolby Vision. The E-Series 4K TVs are much cheaper. They start at $469.99 for a 43-inch and go up to $1,699.99 for a 70-inch. Vizio’s also selling non-4K full HD E-series TVs with SmartCast starting at $229.99 for a 32-inch and going up to $369.99 for a 43-inch.

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