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The Amazon Crash and Burn, And How It Affected an Ordinary Blogger

Amazon crash and burn.jpeg

What a week for the cloud. On April 19, Sony took down the PlayStation Network in the face of hacker attacks that compromised the network. Two days later, large portions of Amazon Web Services crashed and burned, due to technical glitches. Amazon has since recovered, but the PlayStation Network is still offline. Much has been reported about the effect of the Amazon outage on major sites like Quora, reddit, and Foursquare. But many “ordinary” bloggers use Amazon services as well. How did it affect them? We spoke to a blogger whose sites were taken offline by the outage, and learned a few things.


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Access Your eBook Library On Multiple Computers with Calibre and Dropbox

Access Your eBook Library On Multiple Computers with Calibre and Dropbox | 40Tech

Calibre is, hands down, the best eBook manager out there. It can help you organize your entire library across devices, convert books from one format to another as needed or desired, and even use the built in server for over-the-air access to your books, from anywhere. In theory, anyway. In practise, there are many things that will get in the way of the “anywhere” part. Software and router firewalls, for example, may prove too complicated to overcome easily, leaving over-the-air book transfer dreams confined within the walls of home networks.

An easy way to mitigate these problems is to set up your Calibre library to be accessible from multiple computers — and the best way to do that is with Dropbox.

You will need:

  • At least two separate installations of Calibre eBook Manager
  • At least one Dropbox Account (free should be fine, but you can upgrade to a paid plan if you need more space)

Setting Up Your Library in Dropbox

In order to use Calibre with Dropbox, you first need to either start or move the library folder into your computer’s Dropbox folder. This can be accomplished by clicking on the Library button (it looks like a small shelf of five books) and selecting the new location. If you are starting anew library, select “Create an empty library at the new location.” If you are moving your current library, select “Move current library to new location.” Continue forward and wait for the library to be created/books transferred.

Connecting Your Library to Another Computer

Once your library is set up in Dropbox, install Calibre and Dropbox on a second computer. When Dropbox is installed, login and wait for the library folder you installed to sync fully over to the new computer. Soon there should be green checkmark icons all ’round and indicating readiness. Uthe Library button on this computer’s Calibre installation to once again set the location of your Calibre library in your Dropbox folder. This is the same as before, but this time you will need to select “Use existing library at the new location.” Again, wait until the folder is completely synced, otherwise you may get an error.

That’s it. You’re done! You should now have full access to your eBook library on two computers — more, if you were so inclined as to repeat the last steps a few times. Any changes you make in any of your Calibre installations (or in Dropbox itself) should be reflected in all, and you will be able to use the server for local WiFi transfers to your devices (if supported), without having to worry about complications that may cause you to pull your hair out.

If you happen to have been wondering, the answer is yes: you can also use this method across multiple Dropbox accounts using shared folders. This can be handy when you are using separate accounts among family computers or for work. I’m sure it could be used for other things as well, but we obviously don’t condone that at 40Tech.

Things to Remember

As you are working with the same library across multiple installations, it is a good idea to only work in Calibre on one computer at a time as doing otherwise may cause problems with the database.

It is possible that using this method across different operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux) will cause issues with case-sensitivity in filenames and metadata. As I understand it, this is due to more to how Dropbox must interact with the host OS’s file system. Recent versions of Calibre attempt to mitigate this problem, but according to the creator of the software, it does not solve it. In a thread about this on the mobilereads forum he says: “If you have multiple books by the same author and you change the case of the author name for one of the books on a case insensitive filesystem, then on a case sensitive filesystem, calibre will lose track of the other books.” Bottom line? Be careful changing information when working across OS’s.


So far, this method has proven to be a very effective way to manage and access an eBook library from multiple computers and locations. As an added bonus, you will have access to your eBooks from any computer or device capable of accessing Dropbox, even when Calibre is not present. On the Dropbox iPhone app, for example, you can find the book file you want and open it directly in an eReader application, including iBooks and Stanza, allowing you to bypass Calibre transfers altogether. As long as you have an internet connection, your library is with you — even when space on your device is at a premium.

How do you manage your eBooks?

Follow Up Poll: What One Freemium Service Is Most Worth Paying For?

Best Freemium Service poll.jpg

We asked, and you answered. We recently asked what freemium services had earned your cash, and you answered in force, suggesting many services for which you have paid. We mentioned at the time that if we got enough answers, we’d run a poll to assess the popularity of each service. So here we go – below you’ll see a poll that asks you to pick the one service that is most worth paying for. Cast your vote, and we’ll report back with the results.

The poll closes on Saturday, February 5, at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Image by Ho John Lee.

What Next-Gen Tech, Gadgets Are You Most Looking Forward To?

What Next-Gen Tech, Gadgets Are You Most Looking Forward To In 2011 | 40Tech

CES 2011 wrapped up about a week past, and from the the look of things, there is some pretty sweet new tech on the horizon. There are tablets, smartphone/laptop combos, tablet/netbook combos, concept cars/bikes, connected TVs, WiFi-connected refrigerators, unifying cloud storage services, and much much more.

After the jump, I’ve listed three of the things I’m most looking forward to, as well as links to a few articles from folks who were at the event. Have a read, be tantalized and amazed — and let us know what you are most excited about in the world of tech and gadgets this year!

Motorola Xoom

There’s a reason this year is being heralded as the year of the tablet — and there’s a reason that this tablet stole the entire show. Motorola’s Xoom tablet was the only one at the show using the new, optimized-for-tablets Android Honeycomb. It’s packing a 10.1 inch display, 1280×800 resolution, 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, and front and rear cameras. It’s ridiculously fast, can take 720p video, and will have 4G capability in the second quarter of the year.

Motorloa Xoom, Android Honeycomb, Best of CES 2011 | 40Tech

There’s no word on the price of this beauty, but it ought to give the iPad — possibly even the iPad 2 — a serious run for its money. Just the fact that it has all that power, supports Flash, and is on a network other than AT&T (Verizon) might be enough to sway some users. It is unknown whether there will be a WiFi-only version or not, or if anyone outside of Verizon will get a hold of it — but I hope that Motorola would be smart enough not to limit themselves.

Motorola Atrix 4G

Motorola came to win at CES this year, and their smartphone offering is, in a word, awesome! I own an iPhone and an iPad, and I thoroughly enjoy them both, but the geek in me is loving what companies like this are doing with Android. The phone itself is beefy (the dual-core Tegra 2 chip and 1GB of ram make playing 1080p video and Flash a breeze), but the coolest thing about it is the dock — which turns it into a laptop.


The phone just plugs into the back of the 2.4 pound laptop dock, and voila! You get an 11.6 inch screen with a compressed keyboard, a trackpad, and webtop software that lets you surf the full-sized web, even picking up where you left off on the phone. You can also access the phone’s interface, and run its apps in full screen. According to LaptopMag, you can even run Citrix Receiver, which allows you to basically run full Windows right there on the machine.

Very cool!


Real Networks Unifi: One Cloud Service to Rule Them All

Real Networks is coming out with a cloud service to combine all cloud services. Unifi will allow you to aggregate your multimedia files — or whatever files — that are on multiple devices and online services. This would allow you to keep just one central online media and file library to organize, manage, and access all of your stuff. Its incredibly convenient, especially as we are moving more and more to the cloud. The interface looks pretty good, too.

Real Networks Unifi | One Cloud Service to Rule Them All | 40Tech

Apparently, Unifi will be open for public beta in a couple of months, and Real Networks plans to offer the standard freemium model: 2GB of storage for free, with paid plans that climb up to 100GB. iOS and Android apps should be available around the same time as the beta lanch, with Windows Mobile 7 and Blackberry apps to follow. It ought to be useful for Google Chrome OS when it finally goes live, as well.

So those are the things that really stood out to me in CES 2011, but there were many, many more — good, bad, and weird. Here are a few links:




What tech are you most looking forward to? Anything you definitely did not like?

The Cloud Explained — by Kids

The Cloud Explained -- by Kids | 40Tech

photo by zakwitnij

It was my birthday the other day. I turned 35. Yep, 35, and I write for a blog called 40Tech. I’m mature for my age, ok? Either way, I was feeling pretty good about myself that day. 35 years old is young, right? Well, that’s what I thought until I saw this video by Accenture that has little kids explaining cloud computing.

I now feel positively ancient.

The video, called “Cloud Computing Here and Now — Our Youngest Experts Explain the Cloud,” features a whole bunch of cute, smarty-pants little rug rats that make websites and are working on video games that feature super-spies with heads made out of cheese puffs. They were born with the internet — broadband, even — and it’s as second nature to them as hair bands are to the rest of us. I mean the music variety, by the way, not the hold up your hair type — but I digress.

Watch this video. It may make you feel like somebody’s grandparent, or even great grandparent — but it is a very clear look into the future of tech. Well, the future from the point of view of a high-end consulting company that is obviously convinced of the impending takeover of cloud computing — and trying to sell people on it — but that’s not saying they’re wrong.

Watch the video below — What do you think?

How 10 Year Olds Explain Cloud Computing [ReadWriteWeb]