Archive for December 2014 - Page 1


    Sony Pulls 'The Interview'

    Sony Pictures Logo

    Back on November 24th, 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked. All of the Sony Pictures information was stolen, including, but not limited to current and past employees Social Security Numbers, the amount actors and actresses were paid for a particular film. The hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment was due to the release of their movie titled The Interview.

    The premise of the The Interview is that two individuals are assigned to kill the leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un. The source of the hack has been rumored to be North Korea, due to movie being released. Today we learned that North Korea was indeed the source of the hacking. Subsequently, Sony Pictures has decided to pull The Interview for its December 25th release date. The statement from Sony Pictures is:

    In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers. Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

    While it is sad that Sony Pictures has to pull the movie, it is entirely understandable why Sony has chosen to do this. There have been some good responses by individuals on Twitter regarding Sony Pictures pulling the movie.


    European Union E-book Pricing

    Beginning January 1st, 2015, prepare for E-book prices in the European Union (EU) to rise. There reason for increased e-book prices is because the EU is going to be changing the rules on Value Added Tax (VAT) that is require for e-book prices. Currently, e-book retailers like Amazon and Apple have been using the Distributor's country of origin, Luxembourg, as the rate for VAT. Why choose Luxembourg, it is quite simple, they have the lowest VAT out of all EU countries at 3%.

    The rules for online purchases are changing. Instead of being based on the distributor's country of origin, VAT must now be based upon the purchaser's country. This means that publishers will need to adjust their prices on Amazon and Apple.

    Publishers should have received emails from both Amazon and Apple regarding these changes. Within Amazon's email, they stated that they will automatically make the necessary adjustments, on or shortly after January 1st, 2015. However, Apple states:

    The customer prices you deliver to iBooks are customer facing prices which include VAT, while Apple's commission and the publisher’s proceeds are calculated after VAT is deducted. We will not be making any automatic adjustments to your prices to reflect any new VAT rates. Unless you update your prices on iBooks, your proceeds for some book sales in the EU may change.

    See the table at the bottom of the page for what the new VAT rates will be in each country.

    The differing approaches to e-book pricing has me thinking "Where should the burden lie for making adjustments to e-book prices?". Should the burden be placed on the publisher to manually adjusts all of their prices, or should this be a service of the e-book distributor (Amazon and Apple). I am honestly not sure where the responsibility should be placed. Currently, if the publisher is solely responsible for setting prices, and the distributor does not modify the price in anyway, shape or form, as is the case with Apple, then the publisher should be responsible for setting the prices. However, if the distributor has ultimate discretion over pricing, as is the case with Amazon, then the distributor should be increasing the price.

    There are some that will argue that the distributor should automatically be updating the price, and I can see this argument. However, Apple is forcing publishers to change their prices. With Apple, you can schedule the date that a new price goes into effect, so you do not have to do this on January 1st. Conversely, Amazon does not allow you to do this, likely why Amazon is going to handle updating the prices on the publisher's behalf.

    I have created an E-book pricing calculator, so you can calculate the minimum amount you would need to set your e-book at in each country in order to take into account of VAT, and maintain the same general revenue from each book sale.

    VAT Rate Applied to eBooks (By Country)
    Czech Republic21%

    Jam Classic Review


    I, like many people bought a number of items from Amazon over the Thanksgiving weekend. One of the items that I bought was a Jam Box. I was in the market for bluetooth speaker that would work with my iOS devices. The speaker would be used primarily while I am in the shower. I chose this speaker mostly because it was a Lightning Deal, and it was a good price.

    My requirements for a bluetooth speaker were:

    1. Cheap. I did not want to spend a lot on the speaker since I would be using it in the shower.
    2. Bluetooth 4.0. I wanted to make sure that it supported Bluetooth LE (Bluetooth 4.0).
    3. Rechargeable. Given that I was going to be using it off and on, I didn't want to have to deal with replacing batteries.

    Before I jump into the product itself, let us discuss the packaging. The container that the Jam Classic comes in is a plastic container. Inside of it there are three items. The Jam Classic, the USB cable, and an instruction manual. The top unscrews and here lies the USB cable and manual. You can discard the manual if you want, because you honestly will not need it. There is a black plastic cap that needs to be removed. Once this cap is removed, you have access to your Jam Classic. The plastic jar casing is reusable, so you should keep it and use it for something else. The stickers that are on the sides of the plastic jar are removable without much effort, this does not the sticker on the bottom of the package nor the one on the top.

    Now that the textual unboxing has occurred, here are my thoughts on the Jam Classic itself.

    Jam Classic in Blue


    The speaker works quite well. It has paired with every bluetooth audio device that I have own. The setup is very easy. You enable bluetooth on your device, it will discover the Jam Classic, you select the Jam Classic and it pairs. All Audio will go out through the Jam Classic.

    The Jam Classic can perform three basic functions, Volume Up, Volume Down, and Pause/Resume. All of these are buttons on the Jam Classic. Since the connection is Bluetooth, you should expect to be able to perform these functions, and they work as anticipated.

    With most other audio items, as you turn up the volume, the audio becomes quite distorted, so you have to find a happy medium. This is not the case with the Jam Classic. During tests, I was able to turn up the volume all the way on my iOS device and turn up the volume all the way on the Jam Classic, and the audio was audible with a bit of distortion, but it was not completely unbearable as some analog solutions can become.

    The bass on Jam Classic is actually really good on bass. To some, it may be too bass heavy. The amount of bass that is generated by the Jam Classic can be felt quite well, if you have a bass heavy song.

    The Jam Classic is also capable of being a speaker phone, if it is a feature that you require. I do not use that feature, but it is nice to have if I was in need of having a bluetooth speaker phone.


    While the Jam Classic does work with my iPhone 6 Plus and my iPod Nano without any issues, it did have some random issues while paired with my iPad Air 2. The issue that was occurring was that you could not pause what was playing on the iPad Air 2. It is not consistent and could just be an intermittent issue.

    The only real downside of the Jam Classic is the length of the power cable. While it is a standard Micro USB, it is a mere 10 inches, which is fine for my usage, but it may be too short for others. Since it is a standard micro-usb connection, you can easily replace the cable with a longer one, but it would be nice to include a slightly longer USB cable.

    Outside of the two items listed above, there is nothing else negative to say about the Jam Classic.


    If you are in the market for a bluetooth speaker, you cannot go wrong with the Jam Classic. It is simple to use, easy to set up, and pretty inexpensive. While it may not compare to some higher end companies, like Bower & Wilkins, Denon, or even Bose, it does a great job at being a speaker that does what you expect.