Friday, October 31, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Five, Getting the Most Out of Kindle

The Kindle can read Word documents, which is nice, but what is nicer is you can email those Word documents to your Kindle for .10 cents.
From Kindle
You can also publish a book on Kindle in a matter of minutes. As an experiment, I put a number of my writings (some never published) in Kindle format, then uploaded them to be published. Now anyone with a Kindle can buy it for .99 cents; I was going to make it .01, but .99 is the minimum for some reason. I think you make .35 cents for every dollar sold. You can't check them out here:
From Kindle
It's almost silly to buy books on the Kindle when there are literally thousands of classics in public domain. I've been downloading a lot from FeedBooks.com and ManyBooks.net. These books look just as nice as the ones you pay for.
From Kindle
One of the things I love about the Kindle is reading newspapers, blogs, and magazines; I like to keep books on my shelf, but newspapers and magazines are pretty disposable. Reading them on the Kindle works out great; I save a tree, and the navigation on them is pretty nice. It would just be nice to have more to buy.
From Kindle
From Kindle
From Kindle
From Kindle

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Four, Other Exerimental Features

To get to the Web, you go into the Kindles experimental area; this is why I suspect they might not give free Internet in the future...it's just an experiment.

There are currently two other things in this area. NowNow and Music. NowNow works a bit like ChaCha; basically Amazon has a site called AskVille (which looks an awful lot like Yahoo! Answers); when you ask a question, it goes to a person at AskVille, who sends you three answers straight to your Kindle within about 30 minutes. 
From Kindle
From Kindle
The music area is where you go if you have loaded any MP3's onto your Kindle; unfortunately, you can't have the MP3 on your SD card and you have to randomly play the song (you also can't skip it); Amazon didn't want to make a MP3 player and it is clear; it's simply meant to be background music while you read. It's a bit of a shame they didn't make it a MP3 player on top of a reader, because the built in speakers are pretty nice.

Hitting the ALT M key will bring up a Kindle version of the game Minesweeper; I don't know why this is a hidden feature, but it is.
From Kindle
Finally, the Kindle can also be used as a photo viewer. You can either drag and drop the the picture into your Kindle, or email a JPEG to your Kindle email address, and for .10 cents it will automatically load onto the device.
From Kindle

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Three, The Web

The biggest surprise about the Kindle is it has free Internet access; I don't know if they'll continue doing this, but I sure hope they do. Basically, it uses the Sprint network to surf the net--so anywhere Sprint is, you have the Internet. The downside of this is it drains the battery, but, when your not using the Web, you can simply turn it off.
From Kindle
It's not exactly 3G Internet, but for the price I'm paying I didn't think it would be. It's a bit like surfing the Net using a dial-up modem; so it's not ideal for seeing graphics, but it's great for blogs and checking and sending email!
From Kindle
If you are familiar at all with using the Web on your cell phone, then you should not be surprised by how it looks--like a mobile version of the Internet. You don't get YouTube, but you get the news...so I guess you just have to read about the funny video.
From Kindle
From Kindle
From Kindle
I'm all about free; I hate the idea of buying a data plan for my phone, and now I don't have to. I have my Gmail account set to forward all my incoming email to text message...if the email is urgent, now I have a way of replying while I'm on the road. If I bought a data plan, I'd be spending $360 dollars a year...that basically pays the cost of the Kindle!
From Kindle
From Kindle

From Kindle
Hitting the ALT key and the number 1 will launch Google Maps; supposedly you are supposed to see your position, so it's kind of like GPS (except it has no GPS inside...I think it's using the cellular signal?); unfortunately, I only saw this work once. I'd like to see this feature work better, because hitting the ALT 2 and ALT 3 keys will show you gas stations and eateries nearby you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Two, Reading a Book

After about 30 seconds of reading a book on the Kindle, you forget you are even reading a book on a digital device.
From Kindle
The first book I bought was the Bible; it helped me get over the guilt of spending nearly 400 dollars on a eReader! I expected this to take awhile, but, surprisingly, it download just as quick as any other book (30 seconds are less is pretty normal). Obviously, this is one book where navigation is important; with a simple click (no matter where you are) you can go to the Table of Contents page; here you can select the book, and then chapter you are looking for. All books work the same way. This is nice for most books...others, such as Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates, it's a little confusing, because her book doesn't have chapters; you can see in the image below how this becomes difficult, but not impossible, to find your place. Luckily, whenever you stop reading, it automatically remembers where you were in every single book.
From Kindle
From Kindle
Another nice thing about the Kindle is you can erase your books to save space, and then re download them at a later time; unlike basically all MP3 stores, which make you buy the song again if you delete it, Amazon keeps a copy of it online for you.

The built in dictionary is a bit sluggish, but easy to get to. Whenever you are stuck on a word and want to know what it means,  simply click the scroll, click look up, and the Kindle looks up every single word on the line you have pointed at; it takes about 10 to 20 seconds to return the results; it still beats digging up your dictionary to find the definition.
From Kindle
From Kindle
You also have the ability to highlight and take notes on a particular passage; I haven't played around with this much, but I imagine it would be great for college students who have put textbooks on their Kindles. Typing on the Kindle has a bit of a delay, which I don't mind too much; it would bug me if I was using it to type a term paper, but when all your doing is typing in web pages and book titles, you hardly even notice.
From Kindle

Monday, October 27, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day One, Out of the Box

I'm going to spend the next week giving an overview of basically every Kindle feature. I think at the right price it will be in the hands of every book reader (or even Web reader) in the very near feature. If you hate the idea of eBooks, then just ignore me. If not, then read on.


Today, I'll go over the overall look and feel of the device; over the next couple days, I'll show you what the free Internet looks like (yes, free), and some of the other less talked about features.


The first thing that really struck me about the device was the box; you can tell a lot from a gadget by the amount of time spent in packaging. The box is basically shaped like a book (creative, right!); I put my box on my bookshelf.

From Kindle
From Kindle

When I turned the Kindle on for the first time, it look fake--I didn't think words could ever be so clear on something. It's just like words in a book. When I took it outside there was absolutely no glare.

The first thing you see when you turn on the device is the main menu. On this menu you can sort books by title, author, or most recently read/added. You can also choose to show only magazines, newspapers or books. When you stick a 4 gig card into the Kindle, and load it with thousands of books, this main screen becomes problematic...it would be nice to have the option of hiding some of the books; otherwise you'll spend twenty minutes hitting next page to get to the book you want.
From Kindle
What really separates the Kindle from Sony's reader is the ability to download books without a computer. In less then a minute, you can go to the store, pick the book, and have it downloaded onto your device. And there's a huge amount of books already available (unfortunately, there's not many magazines). You also have the option of previewing as many books as you can fit; the previews usually contain about 20 to 50 pages, which is enough to help you know if the book is worth reading.
From Kindle
From Kindle

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oprah's Favorite Thing is My Favorite Thing Too!

Those of you who didn't hear, Oprah picked the Amazon Kindle as her new favorite thing in the world. I happen to agree; last week I got a royalty check that was quite a bit more then expected and I decide sense I never really bought anything with my advance that I would splurge and buy myself a Kindle and my wife a phone (the Nokia E71). I'm impressed. Very impressed. It's not just the books that make this thing so incredible...it's the stuff that comes with it (like free Internet (albeit slow Internet, but free nonetheless).

This blog has been pretty dead for a week (sorry about that), but I hope to spend at least a couple days going over some of the features. I had previously said that the price tag is much too much (something I still agree with), but I believe very much that this thing is the future, and I'm going to show you why soon.

If you want a Kindle now, then don't forget to put in the OPRAHWINFREY coupon code when you check out for 50 dollars off that purchase (so $309 instead of $369).

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Genius That Was David Foster Wallace

David Lipsky wrote a profile of David Foster Wallace in the October 30 issue of Rolling Stone (Issue 1064). It is by far the most in dept profile of the author and his darkness that I've read. An excerpt of the piece can be found here, but it's worth taking the time to read the entire story.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, October 17, 2008

Did Indiana Jones Pull Out the Hancock?

You’ll recall earlier that I made a reference to “Pulling a Hancock” (which is the point when a good movie becomes bad…sort of like “Jump the Shark” when a good TV show becomes bad); someone commented that it was actually called “Nuke the Fridge” (a reference to when the latest Indiana Jones movie went from good to bad).

I was eager to see it for two reasons: one, because I enjoyed the first three movies, and two, I wanted to see if indeed did “Nuke the Fridge.” I finally had a chance to see it, and am ready to give my thoughts.

First things first, Indiana was bad, but nowhere near as bad as Hancock. It’s bad. At one point Shai LaBeouf was literally swinging through trees on vines; and the aliens in the plot had potential, but it just never carried through. The whole movie was full of bad clich├ęs and even worse jokes. But let me stress—it’s not as bad as Hancock. Nor is that Nuke the Fridge scene where a good movie becomes bad—the movie is consistently bad.

Despite the silliness at times of the movie, I could actually see LaBeouf going on to make a whole spin-off of Indiana films, which, I’m sure, is exactly what Lucas and company is planning on.

Unlike Hancock, which outright angered me, I was perfectly fine with the cheesiness of Indiana; it’s a summer action flick—I want to enter the theater and be entertained, not enlightened. It had good action sequences, so I can’t complain that it didn’t do what I thought it should have. It just had an overall lameness that made it hard to come even close to the original movies, but it at least kept me entertained.

So I’m sticking with “Pulling a Hancock” on this one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber?

Was anyone else sick of hearing about Joe the Plumber last night in the Presidential debate? I was sick to the point that I wanted to find out who poor ol Joe actually is. Turns out he actually he's A.) not a licensed plumber B.) Obama's tax plan has nothing to do with him...yet; Joe the plumber is just worried that he might eventually be affected if his business takes off.

What's most interesting about Joe, however, is the gossip around him...namely that he very well could be related to Charles Keating, who was involved in a banking scandal in the eighties and has ties to McCain. Apparently, Keating's son-in-law is Robert Wurzelbacher, who was involved with another banking scandal that he served 40 months for. What's mighty Joe's last name? Wurzelbacher. I wouldn't make the connection if his last name was Smith, but how many Wurzelbacher's are there in Ohio?

So is Joe really just a poor guy hoping to achieve the American dream? Or is he McCain's tool?

The Standard

My list of top five best hotels has a new addition, and no, it's not Circus, Circus (although that is a fine hotel). It is the Standard in Los Angeles. Diana and I stayed there on the last leg of our vacation, because we did not want to drive back to Orange County after the New Kids on the Block concert.

I wasn't expecting much from the hotel; I had been there briefly, but only to the roof top bar (which is a most to checkout if you're in the downtown area), and it looked trendy, but I didn't imagine the rooms to be anything more then something you'd see at a Holiday Inn.

Below is my picture tour of the hotel that now ranks number three on my list of great ones...

The bed was a on a platform, so it was basically 12 inches off the ground. Notice in the background there's glass windows...that's the shower! So when you take a shower, you stare right into the bedroom.

Part of what made the hotel so cool was the ironic, comedic little things throughout the room...like this condom! Talk about instructions everyone could follow!

This is a fresh new roll of toilet paper! Again...great instructions!


The top floor of the hotel is open to the public in the day (I think there's a charge at night). These water beds are great for reading a book!
You can't stay in a great hotel without a beautiful lady!

My new favorite shirt!
More lodge seating on the top floor.
I'd love to see what this roof top floor looks like in an earthquake.

And FYI, what is my current list of top five hotels? They are as follows:

1. Waldorf Astoria - New York, NY
2. The Palace Hotel - San Francisco, CA
3. The Standard - Los Angeles, CA
4. Jeremiah Essex House - New York, NY
5. Century Plaza - Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Orleans - A Picture Tour

Here's the official picture tour of our side trip down to New Orleans (with a bit of Baton Rouge mixed in)

This is probably the most New Orleans picture we took! Black guy with cane, cap and suit! You don't get anymore iconoclastic then that! (Okay, so we cheated, this was actually in Baton Rouge)

I was expecting Bourbon street to be more scummy...it's nothing next to the red light district in Paris and Amsterdam.

The old state capital of Louisiana (in Baton Rouge); I felt like I had been transported to England.

Rain and churches make the best pictures!

If you're in New Orleans this is the bookstore to check out. It's on Pirate's Alley, right of to the side of that cathedral in the picture above, and it's where Faulkner stayed when he lived in the city. Rumor has it, he would sit drunk on the balcony and throw things at the nuns at the church next door.

French donuts are amazing! Please open a Cafe Du Monde in Orange County....

Outside the National World War II museum...I honestly didn't know we had a WWII museum, but we do and it's in New Orleans.


They had awesome propaganda posters inside the museum...can you imagine having this kind of stuff around the city as part of America's effort to fight the war on terror?!

The highlight of the New Orleans trip...a swamp tour about 30 miles North of the city.

Apparently all that mossy green stuff was not always there; after Katrina the swamp had no way to drain into the lake; they're hoping to have engineers open it back up once they're done making repairs on the city.

The question most people have asked is can you still see the effects of Katrina...this is one example of yes. The population of New Orleans is still not anywhere close to what it was before, and it was pretty common to see homes boarded up and completely abandoned. Anyone you talked to had a story of loss. With any luck more organizations will sponsor conferences in the city, because that's what they need.