jordan.terrell
Just trying to make sense of things...

I Don’t Borrow Books to People

Tuesday, 28 July 2009 23:06 by jordan.terrell

That might sound like an incredibly random and selfish statement, but let me expand on this thought:

I don’t borrow books to people, but I will give them away as a gift.

Telling you this was prompted by a review of the Kindle 2 by Rockford Lhotka. Rocky basically said one thing he doesn’t like about the Kindle is the inability to borrow books to other people – something that is easy to do with a real book.

This doesn’t bother me at all.  Rarely do I borrow books to other people, and this is because I’m very particular about how my books are treated.  For instance, I try not to eat or drink around them in a way that might risk wreaking them.  I also refuse to write on my books.  I’ve seen people borrow books from someone they know and then write their own notes in the margin. In my opinion that is a just a little rude.

The other reason I don’t borrow my books out is because I tend to buy books that have longer term value.  Generally I won’t buy a book about a new technology stack that will be here and gone inside of a year.  I did, however, say “generally” – not never.

I do have a double standard though – I will borrow your book if you let me.  I will treat it will respect and care, and I’ll be sure to set expectations as to when I plan on returning it.

So for those who know and interact with me in real life, don’t take it personal.  However, I might gift a book to you if I’m done with it, or I think you really should read it.

One more thing – someone recently asked if they could borrow my Kindle. Uhhh… Not going to happen!

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Review: Kindle DX

Monday, 13 July 2009 09:16 by jordan.terrell

History

Six years ago the very thought of reading a book on a electronic device was something I cringed at.  This reaction was not due to a dislike of technology, but because the technology had not matured to a point where the experience even came close to reading a real book.  LCD screens, although having improved, did not work at all outdoors, caused eyestrain, and required much more power than was convenient.

I can’t remember when this happened, but I remember when a technology company made the announcement that they had developed electronic paper that they felt would be viable in a reader device.  The idea of a reader device working just as well outside and inside, having no backlight and thus causing no eyestrain, and requiring power only when the paper needed to be updated (i.e. turn the page) – all of this intrigued me.  However, I made the assumption that such technology would not be available to consumers for 10-15 years.

Then came the first-generation Kindle. Guess I was wrong on the timeline.  Everything about it sounded (to me) like a viable platform.  However, content for the Kindle became my next issue.  It seemed like the Kindle’s content was heavily weighted toward the crowd most interested in the latest New York Times Best Sellers.  As I looked through the content that most interested me (mostly technical/reference), almost nothing was available via Kindle.  So, I promptly disregarded the Kindle release.

Then came the second-generation Kindle.  Definitely an improvement over the first generation device.  By this time some of the content I was interested in was starting to become available, but not enough to justify buying the device.  At this point I noticed that the Kindle could have other content converted, as long as you emailed it to a special Kindle email address.  However, I found out that this butchered most technical content.  So, once again, I promptly disregarded the Kindle release.

The DX

A few months later Amazon announced the Kindle DX.  At first glance the biggest distinction I could make is that it was a bigger screen.  Nice, but what really caught my attention was this: “native PDF support”.  Excellent!  There was way more content that I was interested in available in PDF format.  On top of that, I could produce documents in PDF format and use it for giving presentations.

I ordered and received the Kindle DX three weeks ago – it’s been a game changer.  I’ve already finished two books on the Kindle and I’m working on my third.  I’ve been using it for many other purposes as well, one of which is giving a talk off of it.  The PDF support has been phenomenal, and it is THE reason I’ve enjoyed owning the Kindle.  I’ve got way more content on my Kindle than I could probably consume in two years, but that’s okay.  It allows me to carry things along as reference material, and it lets me take advantage of those 5-10 minute gaps between activities to get some reading in.  I’ve even purchased some Kindle content directly from Amazon, which is almost TOO easy to do.

I’m hoping they continue to add support for the PDF format (e.g. searching across multiple PDFs, dictionary lookup of words while reading a PDF). That being said, I strongly recommend the DX, even if you are not interested in technical content.  The PDF support alone makes this a great platform!

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Google Announces Their New Operating System

Wednesday, 8 July 2009 10:17 by jordan.terrell

Google is trying to trade in on their marginal browser success, Google Chrome, with the announcement that they are going to develop, release, and market a new operating system, Google Chrome OS.

An admirable project to say the least, with touted goals such as security and performance.  This is really the next step in Google’s quest to turn the PC into what really amounts to a thin client to the web.  For some, that will be great.  For those whose focus at a PC is on using the Web for email, twitter, blogs, weather, and local/world news, this may end up being a great platform for them.

As far as applications go – the kind that actually need the raw power of a CPU and GPU – games, image editing, video editing, and software development tools – someone who uses these kinds of applications will likely find this new Google OS…wanting.  At least the first iterations of it.

Personally, I do not subscribe to the “everything on the Internet” approach.  At least not when the Internet platform is composed of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, and Silverlight.  Right now this platform can handle only a subset of application demands.  This, on top of the fact that constant Internet connectivity, although improving, is not always a given.  Bandwidth is still an issue for many.  Privacy is another – I refuse to store my documents and other digital assets solely on the Internet.  I may publish them on the Internet, but I’m not about to push my computing platform into the cloud.  For some things, it’s just not feasible. I have HD video recorded that requires terabytes of storage space – where am I going to put that on the cloud?  When am I going to have the time to push that much data through the tiny little straws we call “broadband Internet”?

As I said, the Google OS is an admirable project.  Challenging the status quo with regard computer operating systems will likely result in new ideas and innovations.  That being said – I think Google is a little premature in what they would like to accomplish with this.  That also being said, I’m more than willing to “eat crow” and be proven wrong.