Saturday, August 28, 2010

PDFs on the K3

I was asked about PDF files on the Kindle 3.

It handles them surprisingly well.

You can zoom in them with the AA button. But often you don't even have to, because while I still bitch a little about the (improved) contrast, I can't complain about the resolution/sharpness. In short, this is a fantastically sharp display. Even reading a Missing Manual book in PDF, which was designed for larger pages on paper, while showing small text, they are clearly legible at full page width with the screen in horizontal orientation. I had not expected this. (Admittedly it's a minus that these books, like many other modern ones, use  sans-serif fonts with very thin strokes, this is not helpful here.)

There may be issues with some files. At least, I tried TidBITS' Take Control books as PDF, and it seems I only get blank pages. Odd, let's hope there's a solution to that and that it's not common.

A note on the lighted cover. It's really nice physically. And the light is very good for the small size and the small battery usage (LED lights). And it's a good solution if you like to read, but others in the room want it dark.
But the light, obviously, is quite uneven, and I find the lower third of the page much harder to read than the top. So I wouldn't use it if I have good light available.

I would say though, that if you're getting the case anyway, consider the one with the light. OK, it's twenty-five bucks more, but hardly more bulk or weight, and if you need it occasionally, it's great.

These leather cases though, double the size and weight of the tiny Kindle, so if you appreciate super-light-weight use and travel... maybe make a cover out of bubble wrap.       :-)

By the way, you can get my blog on the Kindle now, at least in US and UK, perhaps Europe. You have to pay a small fee. 

Kindle 2/3 comparison (updated again)

 Hey, how about that, it's now small enough to fit in some breast pockets. You can use it as an iPod to read text to you or play music. (The plug is at the bottom, and so is the space bar, so you don't have to take it out of the pocket to start/stop it.)

OK, just got the Kindle 3 today. (I refuse to call it "Kindle (latest generation)".)

In short, I feel that there is no dramatic improvement in any quarter, but that each of the important aspects are improved just enough that it matters. Contrast is a bit better, speed is a bit better, size is a bit better, and usability is a bit better (better button placement and feel, now there's a back button on the right as there should be).

 (New one on the left in both photos.)

It's funny how the improved contrast feel like the text is sharper, only it's not. But I think better contrast does this also in photos. A print with too-low contrast will feel less sharp, despite that it may be pin-sharp.

If they can do this once or twice more (improve contrast by 50%), then it'll be about where I think it oughter be. But this is usable.

Man, how time goes when you're having fun. I "just sat five minutes" to play with settings on my new toy, making this post and such. And when I was done, my tea was cold... in my Thermos mug! It had been two hours. Dang.

I have now been reading a bit on the K3, and I'm pleased. The differences, especially the screen contrast, are just enough that with good lighting it is very easy to read, finally.
And also this means that I have decided what I've been in doubt about: yes, LCD screens are a bit harder on the eyes, this is more relaxing. This seems obvious to some, but I've not had good comparisons, because in print, text size is usually a compromise between readability and space concerns (and aesthetics, small text looks great if you don't have to read it), and perhaps white paper is actually a little bit too white. For me it seems that a very light grey with black text is ideal.

BTW, the K3 is so light and small that the leather cover doubles the weight and bulk! 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Casualties of eBooks and Why It Is Different This Time

Adam Engst and Andy Ihnatko on the Casualties of eBooks and Why It Is Different This Time, audio discussion from two of my favorite writers. These guys know their stuff, they are funny, and they are both passionate about books.

Are E-Books Worth the Money?

[Thanks to TCGirl]

Are E-Books Worth the Money?, WSJ article.

A bit funny, that article, the author holds it as an advantage for some ebook readers that they don't have any wifi or 3G connection, because "That means fewer impulse purchases". 
But he has some interesting points, and he mentions one statistic which made me sit up:
While e-books are still in an early stage—the Association of American Publishers says that so far this year they account for 8% of consumer books, compared to just 3% in 2009—the growth rate is dramatic. (This is one of the problems besetting Barnes & Noble, which has just announced a quarterly loss following a decline in sales of traditional books.)

That is amazing. Up from three to eight percent in one year! Profits are much bigger on ebooks than paperbooks, and as sales rise, Amazon and others will push the devices like crazy, because it's now or never to grab for market domination. I think it's possible that in a year, you can buy a Kindle for $50, and a smaller iPad or iPad-like device for $200.

It is starting. Remember CDs? Buying any this year? I bought maybe three CDs last year, and those were only the ones I could not find on iTunes or even over bittorrent.

The dog who believes he's a sea lion

"My dogs name is "Grizzly". When he was a little pup he lived with a Sea Lion pup. A bit confused, Grizzly thinks he is a Sea Lion. He has a fascination for dolphins and sea creatures."

Gotta love this dog. 16 years old, and going at life full tilt.
There's an actual whale in the last third of the video.

Crazy Photographer

Crazy Photographer, post/pictures.

Update: it's a bit exaggerated. (Thanks Craniac.)

Baen Free Library

The Baen Free Library. Tons of free books, and also an interesting essay on "piracy".
(Somebody once pointed out that calling file sharing "piracy" is trivializing the human tragedy of real piracy which is still a living business. I have a friend who experienced it as a child.)

... Hey, I just now see that good ol' Kathy "KD" Wentworth, who I went to writing workshop with in 1990, is represented here! Kool.  She's a sweet and fun woman, and a good writer.

It took a couple of minutes for me to find the books in formats other than web pages, but it turns out that one can't find them via the "series" index or the "author" index, only through the "books" index (click link on the left). But then there are more formats than you can shake a Nook at.

Oddly, many of the book pages say "Ebook Price: $6.00", even though on the same page you can download the book for free.

Talking about free ebooks, check out Seth Godin's multi-author What Matters Now, a free PDF of super-short articles. It an unusual book and it's designed for easy screen reading in landscape format.
(You can even read it on the iPhone's high res screen if you have good eyes.)
(Tip: you can lock or unlock screen rotation on the iPhone by double-clicking the home button, swiping right, and clicking the circular lock icon.)

Seth Godin cuts off the book publishers

This article led me to this post by Seth Godin.
He has become powerful enough to leave traditional publishers behind, focusing on direct sales to his audience. The question being, how many could do that successfully?

Here's a commentary on it. And an audio interview (MP3 file).
An interesting detail: we see Seth Godin, one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs/writers/speakers in the world, and we don't think maybe he wasn't always. But he says in the interview that between 1985 and 1999, he failed at "at least thirty significant projects". Wow.

The first-linked article mentions that in the US alone, there was over a million book titles published in 2009!  Wow, that's a sobering thought for a writer.
Interestingly, less than one third of those were published in the traditional way, the rest are print-on-demand and such. That's almost double that of 2008, which was double of 2007. Talk about a growing medium.

The big dog

[Thanks to Mark]

One day you will no longer be the big dog...
just the old dog....
and it's nice to be surrounded by friends.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Color theory

Here's a chart with many basics of color theory in one place. Although to be honest I think one need to have studied the theory before, to be able to get much out of such an abbreviated format. It's just a quick-reference chart. But hey, it may make some curious about the subject.

Photos coming soon

Unloaded graphics in my email app added a little unintentional humor to this commercial email.

(It's from Viv Thomas in UK. Their site is nothing special, but they have made some very good adult DVDs (the Pink Velvet trilogy for example), with really cute girls going at it with each other, and the girls don't have high hair, or thick makeup, or black lingerie, or plastic tits. It's way more cute and natural than 98% of adult fare.)

Pogue reviews K3 (update)

David Pogue reviews "what everyone (except Amazon) is calling the Kindle 3". (Yeah, I wonder what the reasoning is behind not calling it "3"? It's just confusing to have no separation of models. Accessories have to be described as fitting "the latest generation", not very precise.)

It's a very positive review, which makes me happy, for I ordered one weeks ago, and I should get it within a few days.

I already (today actually) got my red leather cover with a clever little LED night light built in (does not add to the bulk, it draws power from the Kindle and is very flat and pulls out from the corner), and it really is a very nice object. Very pleasing. It should look nice with the "graphite" colored Kindle. (Took them long enough to realize it should be darker than the grey screen.)
(Hah! The cover is almost half the price of the device! Funny.)

Like Pogue says, the Kindle is now competing with the iPad in precisely the areas it has going for it: size, price, and weight. It's roughly a third of the price, a third of the size, and a third of the weight. And it seems this is striking gold, if you order now in the UK, delivery is two or three weeks later than originally promised, so I guess they're selling better than ever. (Actually, I think this is the first model which is being sold from the UK, so that may aid the size of the crowd who wants one.)
(A UK review here from The Independent. Weird article, though, it really does not say much.)
Update: TCG found this unpacking video from a publishing CEO.

What I'd like is something with a good screen like the iPad's (smaller would be OK), and weighing less than 300 grams. Should that be so hard? Why have all the ebook readers that awful e-paper? Battery life? Would it be so terrible to have to charge it every couple of days?

OK, I'll see tomorrow, they do say the new Kindle's e-paper is not quite as awful (dark) as the older models'. But still, there should at least be room for a model with an LCD screen, no? 

Has anybody heard anything about why all the makers have selected the e-paper screens? 

Mountain road body-surfing

This looks like fun, and not a little dangerous.

I can't imagine he overtakes a motorcycle, and with a good margin too! He must be going damn fast. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jackie Evancho

In the series of Little People With Big Voices...

It must be a difficult life to explode into stardom like this, especially at such a tender age.

Interesting that when he mentions her dress, she glances down, like a man. She is not a woman yet, a woman is always aware what she's wearing. (There was an episode of the (very good) Dilbert animated show which featured this.)

Unspeakably horrible hands

The Fifth Invader Force, I guess.

Some funny characters


These are ❝funny characters❞. I just found out about OS X's special characters palette (System preferences/Language and Text/Text/Edit menu), and I wanted to see it they would reach all the way into a blog post.

Porn Industry Successfully Commercializes iPhone’s FaceTime

Porn Industry Successfully Commercializes iPhone’s FaceTime, article.

I saw it coming. 

“The happy client from the United States ordered a ten minute show with Brees Kelly but was satiated enough to hang up after just over five minutes,” the company said in a statement.

Now that's funny, to quote Snoopy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Making web TV/Cali Lewis

Doubtlessly a key ingredient in Cali Lewis' success is that she just is durn cute. I know that's why I looked up her podcast in the first place.
But it is also a good podcast (vodcast, videocast, whatever). It's entertaining, and often has interesting information. I watched a couple of episodes of it on my iPhone 4 over lunch in a café yesterday. (It really is an amazing new world.)

I had been vaguely wondering just how amateur or professional the production actually is. And the most recent episode tells the answer: professional! Wow, the lights alone...

I find it interesting that anybody can make decent video, even pretty good, with just an iPhone or iPod Nano. But at the same time, if you want it to be really professional, it takes a lot more work and money. Almost paradoxical, the amount of effort it takes to cross this little bridge from "good" to "really good".

Hope For Autism & Asperger's Syndrome: My Story

TCGirl found this very interesting video told by a young woman, Taylor Morris, who used to be autistic. She seems highly capable and communicative now, more than most people in fact, and it's nice to see that the condition can change, I didn't believe it could.

"I love being able to say that I'm a successful person, and I'm not a normal one."

Indeed. Many people, not the least kids, are scared of not being "normal". But nobody is normal. And appearing normal is a lot of work, for no reason.

It's great when you get this rare phenomenon of a person who can explain something about her and a group of people, which they normally can't communicate.

America in Color from 1939-1943

[Thanks to Jimmy]
America in Color from 1939-1943, picture post.

Color pictures, particularly such good ones, were very rare indeed pre-war.

(As usual, click for big pic)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stanza reader software

Before the iPad, the most popular and respected ebook reading app for the iPhone was called Stanza. It took a while for an iPad version to appear, but it's been here now also for a while, and since I only have three or four major ebook reading apps on the ol' pad, naturally I decided I needed one more.

It's a good one though. It's the first I've seen (compared to Kindle, iBooks, and Nook) which lets you choose from *all* the fonts in the system. The text size adjustment is virtually stepless, which I love, most apps have too crude steps. It has stepless variation of margins. The other apps don't even *have* such an adjustment. It has in-app access to many online book sources, paid and free. (Oh, and amazingly, the app itself is free too.)

I've only used it a bit so far, but right now, it's a clear Recommended.

How to trick people into thinking you're good looking

[Thanks to Miserere]

I think something has happened to satire in the past decade or so. Perhaps because a ton of more people now have access to making it. It seems that they miss the little point of little *hints* for the audience that it's satire.

For example, it's very common now in DVD Extras to have interviews where the actors are *ragging* on each other, in a way that's completely socially unacceptable, and it's clear that it's meant to be funny and a satire, but often it's not really funny, and easily mistaken for reality. I think that's a mistake.

I think this girl lands on the right side of the line though, just.

Mobile Flash a Lesson in Disappointment

Mobile Flash a Lesson in Disappointment, article.
"The problem appears to be that in order for video to stream smoothly — or in some cases, even at all — the Flash content needs to be reencoded for mobile devices. Unfortunately for Adobe, one of the features the company touted with the release of Flash 10.1 was that the same Flash video files would play equally well on desktop computers as well as mobile devices."

Money As Debt

Anna found this very interesting movie which explains in simple language how it came to be that banks can create money out of thin air, to their own enrichment, and to the danger of depositors and of society as a whole, as Iceland and Greece are only some of the latest countries to have shoved in their face.

Mizu Shell iPad sleeve and MacAlly BookStand

I've been in denial about my iPad case addiction, but I went for a walk today, and what do you think I came home with? Two new iPad cases, is what.

The Mizu Shell is great. In the store it had a clear color and was called Morfica Hard Silicone Shell, but it seems it's the same product. (I like the clear one best, I wonder why it's not on their site.)
I've had two prior rubber shells, but they have failed, they sort of slip off on the side while you hold the pad. But this one is just the right mix of flexible, soft, and strong/hard, and it sits on the iPad like they a welded together, it's beautiful. And it makes the holding more comfortable, and protects as well as a thin casing can. It does not *look* like anything much, but it really feels great in the hands because it has great friction, you don't need the hard grip you need on a bare iPad. In short it makes you feel more confident about holding the thing.

The other one is MacAlly (It's Mac-Ally, not Ma-Cally like everybody says. It's an ally to the Mac, see.) Bookstand. It looks great and functions well, only question is if it'll last. This review says it all:

Lion warning...

(Click for big pic)

Quotes of the week (or whatever)

In the fight between you and the world, back the world.
           -- Frank Zappa

Reality continues to ruin my life.
           -- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.
           -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Unusual globes, and roommate

Unusual globes, articles/gallery.

Many years ago, I had a roommate (we lived four in an apartment, fun times) who I saw one day I came home, sitting staring meditatively at a world atlas. I asked what he was doing, and he said he was thinking about what we were going to do about this world.

This was a guy who's a nice guy, but he could not even handle his own life. He always had money problems, he did office cleaning  for a living in his thirties even though he hated it. And worse, he was no good at it, he couldn't clean anything to save his life. Items he had done in the dishes were never clean! Another friend took over the room when I moved, and she later told me that she currently had a project of teaching the guy to do the dishes properly!

Funny enough, I heard that years later, the guy won one of the biggest lottery prizes ever to be given in Denmark! I hope it has done him some good. I know he gave a lot of it to one of those churches who are really good at getting people to donate. I just hope he kept some for himself.

The Bull, hand-built car

A hand-built muscle car? In any case, it's a beauty and a beast all in one.

Mac Finder tip

Here is a tip I found out about by accident:

In OS X Snow Leopard (and perhaps earlier), the sidebar on the left side is not the only place you can drag a folder for quick access later. You can also use the top right of the window, in the toolbar. Just drag a folder up there, and it will sit there in future windows.

To get rid of it, extraordinarily, you can't drag it off, you have to use the contextual menu. (And more oddly, you have to control-click on the name, not the icon.) You can also command-drag it off (thanks Adam Engst).

I find that this helps to keep the left-side list of favorite items short, for quicker eye-scanning.

The downside is that these shortcuts are only visible in Finder, not in Open and Save dialogue windows. 

Leopard print purse/camera bag

[Thanks to TCGirl]
Leopard print purse/camera bag, article.

This one is a bit strange. How big is the crowd of people who wants a $700 purse, and also shoots with a semi-pro DSLR camera? (And they say only the Nikon D90 fits, even.)

But heck, I could be wrong, it seems many people just love it, based on the comments on her site. And I admit that when I first saw it, I thought it was Krazy Kool.

Laura, 14, sails off in secret on record breaking global yacht trip

Laura, 14, sails off in secret on record breaking global yacht trip, article.

Everybody agrees she has the skills to do it, but there's doubt about the social situation, so the courts tried to stop her.
Here is her site

Pocho my friend

I like the stories of unlikely friendships.
(A person on YouTube has seen them in real life.)
I think this is a crocodile, rather than an alligator.

A few fun pics

[Thanks to Bob T]

I think we've seen the last one before. It's usually labeled "only in America". But not quite. In Copenhagen I would often come to meet a friend in the fitness center. And I would take the stairs four flights up, I don't have the patience to wait for an elevator for that. And all the beautiful, young, fit people who were habitual customers of the centre would all take the elevator!

Philocalist said:
I think you'll mfind that the helicopter / Jaws shot has been discredited as a comp, even after the nomination!

Aw durn it. I thought it was too good to be true.