Kindle First Impressions

February 1, 2008

My Kindle arrived last night, and I’ve had just enough time with it to form some early impressions.


Yes, the thing is butt ugly. It badly needs a pass through Apple’s industrial design group. Or even Dell’s. But that’s okay, it’s early days, and you buy it to read ebooks, not look cool. That’s why you have the iPhone.

I’m a little more concerned about the build quality — the buttons, particularly the Previous/Next/Back paddle buttons, feel a little fragile. I’m not sure if they are, but I’m a little nervous about how many times I’m going to click them before they stop responding.

Worse, you can’t avoid the things. Between the big navigation buttons, and the keyboard, there is very little room to grab or hold the unit without hitting a button.

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Treo 650 – Forget the Wi-Fi

March 13, 2005

I’ve complained previously about the lack of a decent phone with the features I wanted plus wi-fi, bluetooth, and a decent speed data plan from the carrier.  Much of this was specifically aimed at the Treo 650 when it launched; I felt that leaving wi-fi out was completely brain-dead.

Now, after just shy of a week with the Treo 650, I’ve come to a surprising conclusion—I don’t care.

Or not much anyway.

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The Mac Mini^h^h^h^h Maybe

January 15, 2005

Apple came out with the Mac Mini on Tuesday.  I’ve been busier than hell this week, so I haven’t had time to do much more than go out to, read the features, and oooh and aaah about the packaging.  It’s another brilliantly packaged piece of Apple techno-pr0n, of course.  I completely missed the stupidity angle, at first blush.

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Ditching Smartphones?

December 17, 2004

The Bluetooth Weblog is wondering how many of us agree that overly smart phones have negligable value.

Slate’s Paul Boutin says that instead of shelling out over $600 for a Treo smartphone, why not just get a cheap cellphone like the Nokia 6600? His reasoning is that how many of the Treo’s “wonders” will you really use, such as the QWERTY keyboard and fast wireless connection? Plus, Boutin says you can add a number of features to the Nokia without having to spend a bundle of money to do it.

What I want (at the moment) in a phone is pretty simple: let me get rid of carrying both a phone and a PDA, and use it in a pinch for wireless connectivity from my notebook.

From a functional standpoint, this means I want:

  • GPRS and something faster (EDGE, whatever), available both on the device and from my notebook via Bluetooth.
  • Functional mail reader, with at least a prayer of being able to reply (even if it’s hunting and pecking an on-screen keyboard with a stylus.)
  • A web browser that’s at least marginally usable in a pinch.
  • 802.11 (g, preferably, so I don’t slow everything else down) support for the above two items, that can be used to speed things up if it’s available.
  • A screen big enough (in both width and resolution) to make reading e-books comfortable.
  • A version of Mobipocket Reader.
  • Wireless iSync to my address book and calendar (bluetooth or wi-fi).

Beyond that, I could care less whether it’s Palm, Windows Mobile/Phone, Series 60, or something else entirely.

I want one device that provides me with phone service, mail service, and a good e-book reader (the latter two being 99% of what I do with a PDA, and I use both a lot) for when it’s the only device I’m carrying, and I want it to be able to get at least usable connectivity for my notebook I’m carrying that.

My old 3650 isn’t -that- far off.  Add Edge/EvDO/3G whatever support and a bigger screen, and I could get by with it for a good long while.  It has scads of battery life, gets good reception where most other people’s phones crap out, and syncs via iSync.  Unfortunately, reading mail or e-books on it is a line-at-a-time affair, and sound quality is mediocre.

Ultimately, a phone could replace my iPod too, and I’d be happy.  Perhaps the new Apple / Motorola deal may eventually do that, but it’ll be awhile before we know.

A Real Solution to Spam? (Mailblocks Review)

July 7, 2004

Mailblocks - a better way to do e-mail

Everybody complains about spam.

I built my first website shortly before Mosaic and web graphics came along (yes, I’m older than dirt), and I’ve owned my own domain since shortly thereafter (and numerous more over the years). Back in those halcyon days, we all put our e-mail addresses on our web sites. We even posted to Usenet with our own addresses. Then came spam, and address harvesters, and it was too late to do anything — e-mail addresses that I’ve owned forever are on every spam list that is peddled. For better or worse, though, I still want to get mail from people who’ve had my address since back when, so I keep those addresses, and have put up with the bombardment.

Over the last year, it’s gotten particularly bad — hundreds and often thousands of junk messages a day. Bad enough that if I’m on a dial-up line, I can’t hardly download them fast enough to filter them. Forget about using mail on a PDA or smartphone.

Something had to give.

Something did…

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Send in the clones.

June 13, 2004

Checking in from the other side of the playground for a moment, I’ve had a little time to upgrade the old “Pismo” PowerBook I mentioned the other day.

Sticking fresh RAM and a hard drive in it couldn’t have been much simpler.  The keyboard lifts up, and there are five screws to remove to get the processor daughter board out, and remove the drive carrier.  Another four screws and slide the new drive into the carrier, put everything back in, and fire it up.

That’s where the really amazing part started…

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Express Goodness

June 7, 2004

Airport ExpressI don’t often blog about stuff that everyone else is blogging about, but the new Apple Airport Express (“with airtunes”) is just a little too nifty to ignore. I need about three of these things, yesterday.

Seriously, this is almost a stroke of genius—a router or a bridge, plus the ability to connect to stereos and printers.  I do have a need for another 802.11g bridge (or access point), but the additional goodies make me want another in the living room near the home theater, and another next to the printer that I’m tired of switching between the PC and my powerbook….  It’s easier to justify adding one for these purposes as you can always convince yourself that “hey! this will improve my wireless coverage too!”.  It doesn’t hurt at all that it’s attractive and tiny…

Plus another one for my notebook bag…

How is it that Apple can find their way into my pocket so easily?

Update: Airport Express Lowdown

Update: Airport Express – Shipping & Discounted?

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PowerBook & iBook Portable Power

April 15, 2004

One of my least-favorite things about most notebooks is having to carry the “power brick” along. 

MacResQ MiniAC Adapter

Most power bricks on modern “high power” notebooks are large, heavy, and use a standard computer power cord.  By the time you’ve got everything stuffed into the bag, they seem to take nearly as much room as the computer themselves, and add noticeably to the weight.

So naturally, one of the first PowerBook accessories I purchased was the MacResQ MiniAC adapter

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Notes from the Hinternet

April 7, 2004

My mother’s health took another bad turn, so I’m off in the wilds of western Nebraska once again… Unfortunately, one can’t time these things, and I’m also in the middle of babysitting a couple of critical processes for clients, so I’ve got to be able to get online and work, also.

There must be some sort of Luddite-field that operates as one gets near this place. It was one thing in January for my old moth-eaten P3 ultralight notebook to give up the ghost when I got here, and for my pocket PC to have a sympathy meltdown at the same time, but this time the trip managed to crater a Powerbook only a few weeks old…

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How to use a Windows iPod on a Mac

March 16, 2004

I’ve got a rather large library of MP3s (don’t start — I spent a lot of time ripping and organizing my own rather extensive CD collection in order to enjoy my fair-use rights).  Since I want to enjoy said rights on whatever machine I happen to be working on, I leave the collection on a server so it’s available on machines through the house.

Over time, my tool-of-choice has become J. River Media Center, the Swiss Army Knife of media tools.  It slices, it dices, it handles large libraries and actually has a decent iPod interface.  It’s also a Windows-only product.

When I got the Powerbook, I had a minor dillema—why should I spend limited notebook space on music when I had a perfectly good portable music storage device in the iPod?  Since iPods can be formatted in two flavors (Mac or Windows), I assumed I was going to have to bite the bullet and move the iPod over to Mac, and learn to live with iTunes to organize my library.

To my surprise, when I plugged it into the Powerbook, Windows format and all, iTunes had no problem at all recognizing it and playing files off of it like normal.  Hurrah!

For the acid test, I ripped a new CD on iTunes, copied the files to the iPod, moved the iPod back to my desktop and imported the new songs into my library with Media Center.  Success!  It even maintained the ratings I initially set on iTunes when I was ripping (and listening to) the CD.  (It did lose the playcount, however)

I love it when stuff just works…

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