Why I’m never going to buy a Kindle

I want a Kindle. I think they are cool because:

  • You can carry around 100s of books in the space of one. I routinely carry 4-5 books with me on long trips – in my carry-on. I always carry at least two: one fiction and one non-fiction.
  • You can take electronic notes. Notes, quotations, highlighting and underlining are all stored electronically. You can then search for that particular quote or stat you are looking for.
  • It always looks like you are working! Nobody can tell if you are reading a novel or reviewing a document for work.

So why don’t I buy one? I have two shelves full of books I haven’t read yet and it seems like a waste to rebuy them on the Kindle, so I’m waiting until I’ve read them. The problem is, every time I finish a book, I swap it for a new one, so I’m never going to get to buy a Kindle!

OLPC: new laptop/ebook for kids has touch screen

One Laptop Per Child just announced a new version. It will be half the size of the first version and look like an e-book. However, turn it sideways and one of the touch screen will become a keyboard. The new device will cost $79 and will be marketed as a text book replacement.

You can see a whole photo gallery on Gizmodo or read more about the device.

This device is really exciting and I hope that OLPC:

  • continues to use open source software,
  • learns how to effectively work with the large group of volunteers that would love to help them in their mission,
  • gets their supply chain issues worked out.

They’ve got an awesome vision and a great product and I hope they succeed!

(This is also starting to look a lot like Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. How cool is that?)

Family tree social networking

This family tree application looks really intriguing – you get to enter in your family tree and as your relatives sign up, they can add to it. Not only can you see all the relationships, you can contact them.

While I don’t usually worry too much about privacy on the web, this one actually seems a bit scary. All my relatives and their birth places on the web. And anyone can add the info. I could add it for my whole family without them even knowing. Note that you can keep the information private – it’s not necessarily published for the whole world.

iPhone is replacing laptops, not phones

I’ve been waiting for my cell phone and my laptop to merge. I want something much more powerful than my cell phone but much smaller than my laptop. Devices like the Nokia n80 and the iPhone are coming close. So I found this curious: a new study says that the iPhone is replacing more laptops than cell phones. A third of iPhone owners carry a cell phone too! Many of them Blackberry owners who like the Blackberry keyboard to send email with. The study implied that those iPhone users read the mail on the iPhone and answer it on their Blackberry. That sounds a bit crazy to me – definitely an opportunity for either the iPhone or the Blackberry.

Most importantly for seeing where the iPhone could go – a quarter of iPhone users no longer carry their laptop with them.

Shure headphones

I really liked my Shure headphones that Frank got me for Christmas a few years ago. However, when they broke – or rather just stopped working – I decided to just go back to the default iPod headphones. Not a good decision. The background noise on the BART train and on the airplane yesterday were so loud that I couldn’t hear my podcasts at full volume! (I managed to listen to one of my audiobooks on the airplane at full volume – I guess it’s no wonder my ears are ringing now.) So I’m buying a new pair of Shure headphones.

These are in your ear, fitted earphones that are noise isolating – meaning they block out external sounds. (Not always safe for running outside but great for noisy gyms, airplanes and airports. At the gym, I can actually listen to my own music and I don’t hear the music on the stereo speakers at all.)

They now have earphones that connect to both your audio player and your cell phone. Since I’m in the market for a headphone for my cell phone, I looked into that, but the reviews were terrible.

The earphones come in different levels of quality from 1 to 5. Since I’m not an audiophile and I mostly listen to books and podcasts, I’m getting the 1 version (SE110). (The price difference is substantial.)

Cheap mini-laptop

I bought an ASUS Eee PC last week. I was looking for a very light-weight and yet inexpensive laptop for travel that could run Linux well. I love it. My shoulder loves it.

After having used it on a business trip, here are my initial pros and cons.

The good:

  • It’s light. Only 2 pounds. I will carry my laptop around more now. (I carried it to dinner when normally I would have gone back to my hotel room to dump it off.)
  • It’s cheap. I got mine for $350.
  • It’s small. It doesn’t take up any room in my bag and it’s easy to carry one handed.
  • It runs Linux out of the box. (And for those not familiar with Linux it has a nice graphical menu to launch common applications.)
  • It comes on IMMEDIATELY. Hit the button, it’s on. (Well, maybe 5 seconds later.) For travel, when you want to take a quick note, or check an itinerary, this is really nice.
  • The power cord is also very small and light.

The not so good:

  • The screen is small. Like really small. Like my Dell Inspiron 700m screen now seems huge. I didn’t really have any problems with it – it just takes some getting used too. I did have to use the mobile version of Google Reader as the regular one was not usable on the small screen.
  • The battery only lasts two hours. Luckily the power cord is small so I just carried both and plugged in where ever possible.
  • The keyboard took some getting used to. (It’s small.) For me the biggest problem was they put the up arrow to the left of the right shift key and shrunk the shift key. I kept hitting up every time I tried to hit the shift key. If you don’t like small keyboards, you’ll hate this. (Frank doesn’t even like my Inspiron.)
  • The wireless didn’t automatically connect me to anything. I had to manually connect every time I opened the laptop.

I’m enjoying it. For a second computer for travel, it’s great. Note that Asus is coming out with a version with a larger screen for an unknown price.

Excellent Digital SLR article

If you are interested in digital photography and have wondered just what those digital SLR cameras are all about, then A Rookie Guide to Digital SLR Cameras is a must read!  I learned a lot.  But beware.  The article managed to do what Frank has not been able to do for years now: it convinced me that we need a digital SLR camera.  The author even recommended the camera and the equipment, so when I have a spare $1600, I know what I’ll do with it.  (After I buy my Kindle and iPod Touch.) 

One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging much on My Man’s Man about Frank’s awesome meals is because I can’t take good pictures of the food.  The exposure and the flash mess them up.  With a digital SLR camera I could get some much better shots.  (I won’t say awesome, but much better for sure.)  So here’s what I added to my wishlist (at the recommendation of Mike, the author of the article above.)  The links are his:

  • Nikon D80 camera: $760
  • Nikon 50mm 1.8f lens: $105
  • Nikon 18-200mm VR lens: $700
  • Hoya Circular Polarizer: $30

Technology enables art – technology doesn’t kill art

Reading The Bookman’s Wake I stumbled across this passage where the main character is talking about a hand printing press:

Here he had practiced his voodoo, making wonderful things on quaint-looking equipment, just like this.  I felt a strange sense of loss knowing that someday we would attain technological perfection at the expense of individualism.

Just the opposite is true.  Technology enables more people to practice "their voodoo."  A hundred years ago, if I was interested in publishing I would have had to find a publisher, one willing to teach, travel to them, give up my life, apprentice to them, … just to learn one trade!  Now if I’m interested in publishing, I just google it on the web and in a few minutes I have a ton of information and a lot of free tools to try my hand at it.  Most of us who are interested in publishing and typesetting will probably remain mediocre – mostly because we aren’t interested enough in it to pursue it.  But a few will be great.  Same with photography.  Because of cheap digital cameras and photo editing software, we can all try our hand at photography.  Most of us will be mediocre, but many will be good and a few will be great.  Just look at Flickr.  In the days of film and manual photo developing, few could afford to dedicate enough money and time to photography to see if they like it.  Technology enables people to explore lots of art worlds, to try them out and for those that love it, it enables them, it doesn’t hold them back.  Technology opens the doors to more potential artists.

Computer display on a contact lens

Part of my dream computer is becoming reality.  (I really want a computer that’s part of me like Peter Hamilton dreams up.)

Today researchers have shown that you can add an electronic display to contact lenses. 

In the future people will be able to see a display hanging in the air – just like in the science fiction books.  Nobody else would see it.  Although it will first be used for things like cell phone caller id but could eventually be used for everything you normally see on a computer screen.

You can read more about the initial research on the University of Washington website.