Tech round-up for July 3: When books stop working, Epson's Home Cinema projector, monitoring your IoT devices, Sega Genesis Mini

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, Epson’s Home Cinema projector is bright, Princeton’s IoT Inspector will help you watch the watchers, and Sega’s Genesis Mini console. But first, when ebooks stop working.

What happens when your books stop working

I love electronic books because they are convenient and accessible. I don’t love that they can suddenly disappear and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it.

That’s what’s happened to anyone who ever purchased an title through Microsoft’s ebook store because the bookstore is closing.

The company is automatically issuing refunds to anyone who made a purchase. But the fact that they will just disappear from any device is very modern era.

Printed books you’ve purchased do not disappear if the publisher stops operating or the bookstore goes bankrupt.

This is possible because all books purchased through Microsoft’s ebook store had digital rights management built into them. That’s the technology that is ostensibly to prevent piracy, but in truth don’t actually work very well for anyone.

Cory Doctorow was shaking his head about it all last week.

In 2004 he presented a talk at Microsoft’s Research Group in which he suggested that DRM systems are “bad for business” and a “bad business-move for MSFT”.

In a Twitter thread about all this, game designer Rob Donoghue includes some links to places where you can purchase ebooks from a digital store that does not use DRM.

Epson’s newest projector casts a bright light for viewing anywhere

One of the funnest things to do in the summer is to stay up late and eat popcorn outside while watching a movie. This is best done using a projector throwing the image up on a wall or a strung-up sheet.

Given the experience I had with the Epson Home Cinema 1060 ($800), it’s my pick for the job.

The device casts a brilliant light that provides 1080p resolution viewable even in places where the ambient light is bright. I set it up in the communal cafeteria space in a Kelowna hotel where my daughter’s ball team was staying, and the images were clear and vibrant even under the flourescents.

Even the built-in speaker was passable.

I was using an iPad connected to the projector with an HDMI to stream the films, but if you’re going to use the Home Cinema 1060 to present a slide deck or photo gallery, you can connect to the device with Epson’s smartphone app and send content wirelessly.

The projector is portable enough that you can throw it in a backpack and set it up wherever need it. Which makes it perfect for those warm summer nights on the deck.

New software lets you monitor the smart devices in your home

As we make our homes smarter with programmable lightbulbs, internet-enabled doorbells, and occupancy-sensing thermostats, it’s a good idea to keep track of what those devices are doing. A new app developed at Princeton can help.

The IoT Inspector is an application that you run on your computer (it’s only available for Linux and macOS at this point; a Windows version is pending).

When your computer is on the same wireless network as the various internet connected devices in your home, the IoT Inspector can figure out what they’re doing and catch any potential problems with privacy or security.

It’s a way to become aware of the fact that your TV might actually be listening to the room. Or that your smart speaker is always connected, even if it isn’t monitoring.

The IoT Inspector app itself collects data on your usage, as the program is part of a research study. The goal is “to measure and visualize these risks, both for research and for the user” the developers write.

Sega jumping on the nostalgia train with Genesis Mini console

Nintendo’s done it. So has PlayStation. Now, Sega is bringing 42 of its classic arcade games into your living room with the Sega Genesis Mini console. It arrives on September 19 and will be priced at US$80.

The hardware is based on the original Sega Genesis which was released in October 1988 in Japan and August 1989 in North America. The Mini is about half the size of the original model and it comes with two replica controllers USB Genesis controllers.

Games from the 16-bit Sega Genesis that will be on board the Mini include Tetris, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Virtua Fighter 2, and, of course, Sonic the Hedgehog.

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