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Apr. 23rd, 2009

NewLook

The Kindle 2

Well I've had my Kindle 2 for almost a month now.  I figure that's enough time to get used to it and really have a feel for what I like and don't like.  I should let you know where I am starting from first.  I have been reading e-books for several years.  I have been almost exclusively reading them for 3 years.  I still pick up dead tree books for art books, illustration driven books of any kind, or page layout driven books.  The Kindle still doesn't change any of that, if a books main focus is graphics or intense page layout, get the dead tree version.

Up until this point I've been using various programs on my various models of Palm PDAs.  Mobi Reader, Plucker and eReader were the three I used, mostly I settled on Mobi.  Which is convenient because I can read all of my unprotected Mobi books on the Kindle since that is the format it uses.  On the other hand I have books that are DRMed that I can't read and tho the ebook retailer will let me register multiple devices so far I have not been able to get them to work with the Kindle.

I'm ready to leave those books behind for now tho.  The Kindle is a much nicer e-book experience.  First and foremost is the display, e-ink displays are so much nicer to read for long periods than and LCD.  I have to use a book light to read in the dark like a regular book since e-ink doesn't do back light.  Mostly this is ok, but I think they could have built in a pretty simple low power LED light solution for night reading.  Now of course this display is the same type of display used on the Sony e-book and the iRex Iliad.  It is also the exact same display as the one on the upcoming Foxit eSlick reader, which looks like it will have way better PDF support and will be cheaper than the Kindle.  I'm still betting on the Kindle experience.

I've made my way thru six books, a couple articles and a short story.  I'm a little over halfway thru my seventh book (David Weber's - The Short Victorious War), and I have several other novels all loaded up and ready to go.  I have a full copy of the Bible, the Dao De Jing and a pretty good cook book from Cooks Illustrated (this was a free book from Amazon). 

The Kindle comes with The New Oxford American Dictionary installed as it's built in dictionary, new dictionaries can be added but this has worked great so far.  Unless they release a copy of the OED for the Kindle I doubt I would bother with another one.  Using the dictionary is really simple while reading, just move your cursor in front of the word you want to look up and a two line definition pops up at the bottom of the screen, and if you want a long definition you can hit enter and it will take you to the full entry.  Once you are done, just hit the back button to return to where you left off.

I love the Whispernet (Amazon's always on cellular Internet connection via Sprint) and the ability to easily look things up on Wikipedia or Google when the dictionary just isn't enough.  Of course the whole reason Amazon is footing the bill on this is so that you will use it to buy books from them.  The Kindle store is easy to search and use.  Once you buy a book it really does download in seconds.  They have over 250,000 books available and this will only grow over time.  One thing I like that they have added to the normal Amazon store is a link on every book that does not have a Kindle version that says "The the Publisher! I'd like to read this book on the Kindle."  This is great because hopefully Amazon while have enough weight to push more publishers to put out e-book versions of their books.  Because there are some big holes in the e-book library.  Like for instance, all the Harry Potter books.  J.K. didn't want them released as e-books because she was worried about piracy.  I've got news for her, I downloaded an e-book version of the last several of her books less 24 hours after they were released, and I only found maybe a half dozen typos in three books. (I also had the dead tree versions to compare, but it was way more convenient to carry and read my e-book version.)

It's not perfect but it's a pretty nice product.  I kind of wish they had WiFi in addition to the Whispernet so I could use the web features outside of cell coverage or outside the US.  My clip on LED light works ok for night reading but I would like to see a slicker, slimmer, neater solution.  I'd also like a cover for it that offers protection but is a little easier to slip into a coat pocket or one of my cargo pockets. So far I'd have to say, yes I'm happy with my Kindle!

Mar. 26th, 2009

NewLook

(no subject)

Addressing tiarala from Twitter
"@MrBobaFett I'm curious about the appeal of the Kindle as a techie who totally doesn't get it. Why do you want one?"

I guess this has at least two parts to the answer. The first part is the general, why e-books? If you're not already excited about e-books then an e-reader probably isn't very interesting. I love e-books and have been reading them almost exclusivly for several years now. I like the convenience of being able to carry them with me where ever I go, my whole library in my pocket. I can get a new book almost on demand, I don't have to go out to a store or wait for delivery. I've usually had some form of built in dictionary which is helpfull because well I run into words I don't know sometimes.
Of course e-books without some form of a reader are a moot point. I have been using various Palm devices and a couple different e-reader programs. Mostly MobiPocket. It's great that it fits in my pocket and I can carry it all the fucking time. Also the backlit display is nice in some situations. It isn't perfect but works, however I am moving toward phasing out my Palm PDA for a Palm smartphone.
So I want to look at a dedicated e-book device. Battery life on smart phones are never great and when you use a display heavy app like a e-book you're going to burn them even faster. Also LCDs can get tiring to look at for long periods of time, plus the screens are small. This is a huge plus for the Kindle with it's large e-ink display. Easy on the eyes and able to be read in full daylight. Also the e-ink technology is very power efficient since it only uses power to redraw the screen, but not to maintain the image. Lots of ebook readers have that of course.
So why the Kindle over the Iliad or Sony readers? A big part is the always available free to use cellular data network, I can hit Wikipedia anytime I have signal. Now I have my normal library, a dictionary (it comes with one pre-loaded, but you can upgrade to something like the full OED if you want) and now I have a full encyclopedia. Downloading books at home and uploading them to the device via USB is no big deal, but being able to get new books where ever I am over the air is nice. Also I like the new text-to-speech integration. It means I can read my book on the way to work, then while I'm working I can contiue to listen to it like an audiobook, and after work it drops me a the page it stopped reading at and I can continue to read like normal.
There is a lot of potential for this device it wouldn't be too hard to make some upgrades to make it a more social device, which is where I really thing they should go with it. As suggested here.

Anyway, that's my long rambling answer.

Mar. 25th, 2009

NewLook

Reading List

OK, so here is my reading list for 2009.  It might be kind of ambitious but I'm going to try.  Heck I've already got 4 done.  Which isn't really that impressive.

Song of Ice and Fire Series - George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
Dance with Dragons


The Chronicles of Prydain - Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr *currently reading*
Taran Wanderer
The High King

Old Man's War Universe - John Scalzi
The Last Colony
Zoe's Tale


Green Sky Trilogy - Zilpha Keatly Snyder
Below the Root
And All Between
Until the Celebration


The Dresden Files - Jim Butcher
Turn Coat

Discworld Series - Terry Pratchett
Pyramids
Guards! Guards!
Faust Eric
Moving Pictures


A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket
The Austere Academy
The Ersatz Elevator
The Vile Village
The Hostile Hospital

Honor Harrington Series - David Weber
The Short Victorious War
Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile

Stand Alone
Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
The Daemon - Daniel Suarez

Mar. 23rd, 2009

red

How many times can a man turn his head, Pretending he just doesn't see?

On Friday Democracy Now! aired a segment that everyone should see. I would recomend not watching or listening while at work. I was listening to the podcast and found it very hard to maintain my composure and keep working. It is heart wrenching, the video is even more painful.

They re-aired the live TV footage from Isreali Channel 10 News when Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish called anchor Shlomi Eldar on his cell phone moments after the doctors home had been shelled by IDF tanks and killed his daughters and neice. This happened back in January and I'm sure people are familiar with at least that much. They go on to show an interview with Doctor Abu al-Aish in his shelled out home from a few weeks ago. The details he relates from the event are extremely upsetting and disturbingly graphic.

I do not see how anyone can watch this and not see that the price that was paid is too great. This should never have happened, but it did and will happen again unless something changes. Sadly even with something like this happening to someone as well known as Doctor Abu al-Aish I doubt we will see any progress from the IDF. Will the Knesset offer anything besides condolences?  This needs to stop, and if President Obama wants to be a promoter of change and hope he needs to step up and say the same.

Feb. 8th, 2009

o'rly

Gun Free Zones

This is a few years old but still an amusing look Gun Free Zones.  Beware the power of signs!  They are also good for keeping people off your lawn I'm told.

Jan. 28th, 2009

NewLook

Felica Day's Guild

If you are a gaming geek and you have not yet seen The Guild then you are missing out. If you have seen it before and were not aware there is now a season 2 of it running. You can see delayed episode on the website thru their flash player, or you can download them for free as soon as they come out from the Zune store.
Also it turns out that Felicia Day is not just the main character, but she is the writer for the series too. It seems she not only stars in geek entertainment, but she is also a real gaming geek. She apparently plays D&D 4th ed, and is currently an 8th level Wizard. (I'm not stalking her, just follwing her Twitter feed.)

Jan. 22nd, 2009

NewLook

MLK Jr

OK so I shouldn't listen to Martin Luther King Jr speeches while I am at work. It doesn't matter how many time I hear his Beyond Vietnam speech, I still cry everytime.  Then one year later minus a day he spoke for the last time before a group of  striking garbage men.  His evocation of the parable of the good Samaritin is crushingly effective.  I listen to these and feel deprived that I was never exposed to these in an formal educational context.

These are things that I find lacking in the classroom.  God I wish I had it in me to go back to school and become a teacher, to be able to fill in some of these holes that I remember from my own education that I only discovered later in life through non traditional education.

If you haven't heard or read these speeches, I highly recomend them.  I usually have them on my Zune, and I need to add more of them.

Jan. 15th, 2009

NewLook

(no subject)

This is why I don't "stand with Israel", people like Mordechai Eliyahu.  By his logic I am guilty of torture.  I guess all non Jewish Germans are also Nazi's. Neither state is worthy of (no state is) blind support.  However those civilians in Gaza are no more guilty of the rocket attacks, than those random civilians in Israel who are hurt by the rocket attacks are guilty of the bombings and starvation of those in Gaza.
Does he really not see that he is using the same damn thought process as those in Hamas who are launching the rockets into his country?!

Jan. 8th, 2009

NewLook

(no subject)

Palm did it. They finally made a smart phone that does not suck. I am thrilled that it looks like Palm is set for a comeback.
Behold the Pre.


OK I think I've found my next phone. Sadly for some reason they hung this on Sprint as an exclusive for 6 months. God only knows why. If in the next six months we don't start hearing solid intel the Verizon is getting these I am getting a new phone service. Android sounded like a cool idea, but... Android who? Thank you Palm for bringing what looks like an A game. Please include some sort of emulation to allow me to run my old Palm apps that are not hardware dependent.

Also, Verizon if you even think about locking down this phone or charging me more for my service I will still leave you. There is not a good reason a phone service can't provide me with unlimited data and voice like $60-$80.

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NewLook

Good Job

Wow, check it out. Police officer does his job, and does it right. Good on him. He can keep his job.

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