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Quick review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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logo_KindlePaperwhite

So what’s the deal with the new Kindle Paperwhite?

I purchased a new Kindle Paperwhite book reader a few days ago.  Since I have two other Kindle devices – an original e-ink Kindle and Kindle Fire – I pretty much knew what I was getting.

Really, if you already have a Kindle e-book reader then the only reason to get the Paperwhite is for the built-in reading light.  If you have the earliest Kindle, the one with the keyboard sans touch screen, then the addition of the touch screen is nice but not essential.

One step forward, two steps back

The amount one reads, all other things being equal, is about both availability and convenience.  With the addition of the back-light, the Kindle Paperwhite adds another level of convenience.  With my older e-ink kindle it was something of a bother, or at least an inconvenience, to get an external light source just right in order to see the e-ink Kindle screen in a dark room.  Now, with the built-in reading light, all that inconvenience is eliminated.  As for availability, there are more books then every available for Kindle through purchase, public library lending, Amazon lending library, and books being place in the public domain.

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite takes two big steps back through, what I would call, “the great silencing of the Kindle”.  Unlike earlier versions of the e-ink Kindle e-book reader the Paperwhite is mute – it has no speakers… and it has no speakers because it is incapable of making any sound whatsoever.  No text to speech, no audio books, no music, no nothing.

Every product has a set of features.  Some people just count features – the more features the better.  Right?  Well, no.  Different consumer segments (and individuals) place a different value on each feature.

I’ll take a long-shot here and propose that there are very few avid book readers that would judge the value of text-to-speech as “low”, or “frivolous” to the point that this feature should be eliminated from a product.  Or, to put it another way, that the ability of an e-book reader to play audio books, and more importantly, the capability to convert any e-book to human speech would always enter into a buying decision.

The generic text-to-speech capability of the older Amazon e-ink Kindles along with voice navigation of the screen gave those with a visual disability the world of books that they may not have any other way with such convenience.  Now Amazon has taken that capability away.  Why?

Companies don’t do things without a business justification.  But, does the business justification outweigh the benefits the speech-enabled Kindle gave to certain under-represented segments of society.  Google as a company started out some simple values.  One of them was, “Don’t be evil”. (” …said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out”, ”  read more )

The Take

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is fine addition to the Kindle e-book reader line of products.  It’s outstanding feature is the addition of the built-in back light.  I find that I read more books more often on the Kindle Paperwhite for the simple reason that I don’t have to fuss with finding the lighting to read the Kindle in a dark room.  In a well-lit room there is little difference between the Kindle Paperwhite  and any of the older Kindle e-book readers.

Amazon took two steps back with the Kindle Paperwhite by silencing it.  No audio books and no capability to turn “any book into an audio book” though its excellent text to speech capability.  This was a wondrous feature.  My older Kindle e-book reader with aural capability will not find its way into the trash any time soon due to this lack of capability of the newest Kindle e-book reader.  The visually impaired have lost a friend at Amazon.

Amazon should take a look at Google’s informal corporate motto in their pre-IPO S-1 filing and re/think the Kindle product roadmap in this context.

We believe strongly that in the long-term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains.  (reference)

Read More

Read other postings on this site related to the Amazon Kindle  ( https://frrl.wordpress.com/?s=kindle )

Folks that have any e-book reader would benefit from Calibre

Folks that want the audio for a large collection of books in the public domain should check out LibriVox

Written by frrl

December 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

Quick Review: Snugg case for Kindle Fire & Amazon Basics Stylus

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If you read my review of the Snugg case for Apple iPad 3 then you know that I liked it so much I ordered the Snugg case for Kindle Fire.  The Snugg(s) are available at Amazon.com – free shipping and no tax.  At the time I added the Snugg for Kindle Fire to my order the marketing machine at Amazon suggested I add an Amazon Basics Stylus.  The capacitive stylus does the job of your finger on touch screens without leaving a mark (Hasn’t someone said to you, “That will leave a mark?”); well fingers do leave marks on shiny tablet screens.  So, yes, please add the  Amazon Basics Stylus to my shopping cart ($11).

The Snugg for Kindle Fire arrived today.  It’s the same design as the Snugg for Apple iPad 3.  Fits like a glove.  The Fire is securely held.  The border of the case around the Fire appears to protect the Fire if dropped from a low or moderate height (not tested, of course – send me your Fire and I’ll give it a try).  Pretty much everything I wrote in my Snugg for iPad 3 review applies to Snugg for Kindle Fire – including the smell of the case which is still lingering with the iPad Snugg case.

Amazon Basics Stylus

The Amazon Basics Stylus was an impulse buy recommended by Amazon during the ordering process for the Snugg.  I found that the Stylus is a great addition to the Kindle Fire when using the web browser, typing, and using some applications.  Given that the Fire has a smaller screen than the Apple iPads, the use of the Stylus gives you much more precision in screen gestures.  If you are one of those with larger fingers that often miss the letters on the virtual Kindle keyboard then the Stylus is for you.

The Take

The take on this one is easy.  The Snugg case for iPad 3 and Kindle Fire are both “buy” at a price point of $29.95.  If purchased from Amazon the order is fulfilled by Amazon and shipped free under Super Saver shipping.

My only nit pick on the Snugg for Kindle Fire is that it does not have a loop to hold a Stylus.  Snugg for Apple iPad does have this convenient loop that keeps the stylus with the case and with the device.

If you have the Fire you’ve invested $200 in your digital life.  If you have the Apple iPad then that’s at least a $500+ investment.  So spend the $30 on a decent case to protect these investments.  The Snugg for Kind Fire and Snugg for Apple iPad are well made, look professional, and do the job at a very reasonable price point.

Written by frrl

April 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Making Kindle Fire Speak: Kindle Fire ebook reader text to speech capability

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( How to make iBooks on Apple iPad read a full book to you – here )

My huge disappointment with the Kindle Fire was its inability to read aloud a book.  That is, text to speech.  This is a feature I use constantly on my Kindle e-ink  reader.  If you are like me, you can multi-task.  Do one thing and listen to a book in the background.  Or, for some books that require a bit of concentration, sit back and just listen attentively while Kindle e-ink  reader reads to you.

Let Kindle Fire Speak !!

There is a free Open Source Android book reader application that uses the internal TTS (Text to Speech) capability of the Kindle Fire to read a book

You can read the blog article here –
http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/android/text-to-speech-tts-on-kindle-fire.asp

and you can get the software here –
http://iweb.dl.sourceforge.net/project/crengine/CoolReader3/cr3-3.0.55/cr3.0.55-32-arm-mips.apk

Installation

The application, Cool Reader, is not delivered by the Amazon App Store.  You must install it manually – which took all of about 15 seconds.  I downloaded the application from the web browser on the Kindle. (Click the link above if you are reading this posting on the Kindle Fire).  The file is about 3MB.  After download I navigated to the Kindle downloads folder and then tapped on the installer package.  The installer started and asked to confirm the  install the application.  A few seconds later, Cool Reader was installed.

Please realize that getting apps in this way you are bypassing the Amazon App Store and any application vetting and security screening Amazon might do before applications are placed there for distribution.

The Take

My Kindle Fire suffered no ill effects from the manual installation of the Android application (so far, that I know of)

Cool Reader’s ability to pronounce words is not as crisp and clear as the Amazon Kindle e-ink e-book  readers… but it does work.

Enjoy your Kindle Fire’s new ability to read a book to you.

Read other articles on the Kindle fire on this site – https://frrl.wordpress.com/?s=kindle

Written by frrl

March 26, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Review of the Amazon Kindle Fire: comparison with the e-ink Kindle (video)

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From time to time I check in on the video blog of David L. Jones.

David is an electronics design engineer and, if you are into electronics engineering, he has a great video blog.

Get a cup of coffee and watch this 40 minute comprehensive hands-on video review of the Kindle Fire and comparison with the previous generation e-ink Kindle.

Highly recommended

Written by frrl

November 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Review of the Amazon Kindle Fire – Has Amazon lost its way on e-book readers?

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It might be unfortunate that Amazon has named its table the Kindle Fire.  In some sense it sets the expectation for potential buyers  that the Kindle Fire is a follow-on (and improvement) to the predecessor Kindle – a dedicated e-book reader.  The Kind Fire does  much much more than the predecessor e-ink Kindle.  But, is the Kindle Fire a better e-book reader than the predecessor e-ink Kindle?  I think not.

After you get past the glitz and all the new capability of the Kindle Fire over the e-ink Kindle and get down to actually reading books on the Fire, I think some people are going to be in for a major disappointment.

Sure, the Kindle Fire has a bright screen and crisp characters but it lacks certain functionality that traditional e-ink Kindle users have come to expect.

Bringing the world of books to the visually impaired – gone

Of some minor note, and appeal to a small segment of the e-book reading population, is the e-ink Kindle voice navigation capability.  For those who have a visual disability or failing eyesight the e-ink Kindle placed in voice navigation mode will speak as you navigate through the menus and move the cursor around the screen.  So, for example, on the home page of your list of books, e-ink Kindle will read the book titles to you as you scroll down the list.  Press enter and go to that book.  E-ink Kindle will tell you where you are in that book.  Use any  menu to navigate the book and e-ink Kindle will tell you exactly which menu item you are on.  Turn on text to speech and e-ink Kindle will read the content of the book to you.

The point is simply that e-ink Kindle can literally bring the world of books to the visually impaired.  I might even say that, with some basic training. a completely sightless person would be able to become engaged in the world of books with e-ink Kindle for a very low-cost.  With the Kindle Fire – all of this is gone.

No more Text to Speech

Even if you are not visually impaired the capability of e-ink Kindle to turn just about any book into an audio book was a great feature that many people enjoyed.  You could do something else and still listen to a book read to you by e-ink Kindle.  I personally “read” more books due to this feature.  In Kindle Fire, this capability is gone.

No Collections – an endless disorganized list of books to infinity

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

November 27, 2011 at 2:39 am

Review of the Amazon Kindle Fire – First Impressions

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Updated on Friday November 25,2011 with additional comments and links to Kindle Fire Tear down and articles

On Sunday November 20, 2011 I toddled down to my local Best Buy, laid down $208,  and bought a Kindle Fire.

On this particular Sunday there was a feeding frenzy at Best Buy – despite what they tell me about the economy and the fact that people do not have disposable income.  There were plenty of people disposing of their income on this particular Sunday.

Also, this  particular Best Buy has decimated the retail space dedicated to desktops.  The floor space that was dedicated to the display of desktop machines that I saw about a month ago has been reduced to about 1/3 its original size.  Tablet’s and laptops now fill that space.  When I went looking for the Kindle Fire I saw just about every other conceivable tablet on the market being displayed.

Although I went to buy the Kindle Fire, seeing all the other tablets on display, I decided to look around.  I asked the “Blue-shirted one” if they had the Kindle Fire in stock and how many they had.  He said they had the Kindle Fire and pointed to a cage of stock above the wall displays.  I looked up and saw they had about 200 boxes of Amazon Kindle Fire – so I had time to look around.

When I finally decided on the Fire I stood in line to ask the Blue-shirted one to get me one out of the cage.  I was the third in line.  “How many do you want”, he asked.  I said, “Just one’.  The guy in front of me bought six (6) Kindle tablets.  The woman behind me bought one.  When the manager saw the Blue-shirted one coming down the ladder with an arm load of Kindle Fire’s he went off to the store manager to inquire if there was a limit of how many tablets a person could buy at one time.  While waiting in line to pay I watched as the stack of about Kindle tables in the cage was diminished foot by foot.

Can hundreds and thousands of people be fooled into buying a Kindle Fire?  Is the frenzy an example of marketing genius?  Or does the marketing hype deliver on the promise?  Does Apple have anything to worry about?  Is the Amazon Kindle Fire an iPad killer?

After playing with the Amazon Kindle Fire for a few days – here are my first impressions

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

November 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm

More thoughts on the Amazon Kindle and ebook readers in general

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I’ve owned a Kindle for the past 5 months.  Over that period of time I have used almost all the features of the device.  I have several hundred books on the Kindle including purchased books, free e-books, PDF’s, and other assorted files such as MP3’s.

So, I’ve “been there, done that”.  Here are some observations after 5 months

  1. The most useful feature to me is the  ability of the Kindle to read a book to you.  The Kindle can play media that is a true audio book but, more importantly, the Kindle can turn almost any book (unless specifically disabled) into an audio book through generalized text to speech capability.  The voice of the Kindle is actually very good.  It is tolerable to listen to the synthesized female voice – at least, I got used to it.  So, I find that I “read” more books when I don’t have time to “read” a book when I can listen to the book being read to me.  The advantage of having  a book read to you is that you can concentrate on listening and thinking rather that combining the act of reading and listening.  The Kindle has a set of speakers on the back, and a headphone jack, so take your pick for the listening mode most enjoyable to you.
  2. Library books.  My local library and the library system to which my local library is a member is now offering to lend books in the Kindle format.  Basically what happens is you check out a book in the library collection and if there is a Kindle edition you get re-directed to the Amazon.com web site.  You download  your public library loan from Amazon.  The lending period is 7 or 14 days ( your choice).  You can download the book to Kindle or you can have Amazon deliver your library loan over wireless.  When the loan period expires the Kindle the library book is no longer readable on the Kindle (Digital Rights Management).  When the loan expires, you have a choice to purchase the book (good partnership for Amazon) or delete the book (unreadable) from your collection.  Public library lending in Kindle format mediated by Amazon is a real win.  Add the fact that most of my public library loans were “speech enabled” books you not only get a book in traditional form but also an instant “audio book” of the loan.
  3. Shared highlights.  Another win.  Since College, I have been reading with a pen or highlighter.  Most of the books I own are marked up.  Kindle lets you highlight and mark-up library loans.  If you borrow the book again, you get your highlights back.  If you buy the book, you get your highlights.  With the ability to highlight and with Amazon mediating the whole mess highlights can be shared.  On a recent loan, I found sections  of the book that were highlighted by hundreds of people.  It’s interesting to look to see what other people think is important.  Kindle makes reading a community event.
  4. Great battery life.  I only charge the Kindle once a month for traditional reading.  If you use the text to speech capability (or playing MP3 files) then you will get about 16 hrs of use before a recharge.
  5. Kindle e-mail drop box and conversion utility A capability that I seem to use more and more is a capability provided by Amazon to convert and transfer documents to your Kindle.  Every Kindle has an e-mail address that is hosted by Amazon (e.g. yourid@Kindle.com).  So, send a PDF, or any supported document to this address and Amazon will convert it and store it.  Next time you turn on the wireless on your Kindle, Amazon will transfer these documents (or converted documents) to your Kindle.  I use this a lot.  Send interesting things that you find during the day at work or web surfing to the @kindle.com address and you will find it waiting for you on the Kindle.
  6. Web Surfing.  The Kindle tries hard to make this work for you.  It has an “article mode”.  If you are reading a web page and the browser on the Kindle can find something that looks like an article (for example, an article in a newspaper) it will try to reformat it for you so you can page through it in readable text.  Nice try.  But, surfing the web on the Kindle has to be an “on emergency” basis.

The downside

I still  can’t get past the fact that, for me,  reading a book on Kindle is a diminished experience compared to a traditional (“real”) book.  Earlier this week the Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson was released.  Since this book was available in Kindle format I could have gotten the book “instantly” – there is no inventory problem and there is no waiting for a physical object to be delivered to you.  You don’t even have to travel to the bookstore to get it.  But, I didn’t want to read it on the Kindle.  Why?  Don’t know.  So, I waited and got the real thing.

The Kindle or any e-book reader will never replace a book filled with pictures, illustrations, and art work.  Unfortunately, these days, many books are only text.  Perhaps the advent of the Kindle and other book readers will motivate traditional book publishers to “up their game” to produce more beautiful books.  Books are about content for sure, but it’s also about the presentation of that content that make the reading enjoyable and extends the literary meaning of the words with imagery and illustrations.  Words alone can not express all that can be communicated.  For some books, art, illustrations, and photographs communicate what worlds alone can not express. The current format ebook readers can not reproduce this sort of rich communication – at least until that e-book reader was the size of a coffee table book.  And any e-book reader that big would not be viable.

The Social Consequence of Kindle

I found one of the Kindle commercials very curious.  In this 30 second commercial an attractive young woman asks a guy to go to the bookstore with her to get a new book.  The guys says that he has that book on his Kindle and it only took 60 seconds to download it.  So, no trip to the bookstore for these two.  And no trip to the bookstore means giving up any social interaction that this would have entailed.

In my neighborhood the bookstore is a social meeting place as much as it is a place to buy books.  This Barnes and Noble bookstore has the traditional Cafe as well as regular entertainment and lectures from authors.  The Cafe has an amply supply of board games available for free use and it is not uncommon to see people in the Cafe playing a game of chess or checkers or having a conversation on the topics of the day.  This Barnes and Noble has several book discussion groups that read different genre’s of books.  We certainly have fallen far from the Salon’s of France in the 17’th century but I could imagine, with a stretch of light years (in both distance and time), that when I see what goes on at my local bookstore there is a faint glimmer of what these used to be like.

So, when I see a commercial like this I wonder if the Kindle will create a generation of people reading books “alone, together”.  Weren’t you going to the bookstore?  Bookstore’s deliver a social experience that can not be delivered wirelessly to any e-book reader in 60 seconds.  Expediency at the cost of loss of social interaction.

You can read other articles on this site related to the Amazon Kindle here –
https://frrl.wordpress.com/tag/kindle/

Written by frrl

October 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm

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Review: Kindle vs iRiver Story HD Ebook Reader

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It’s the battle of the Ebook readers.  While I am still struggling with the whole concept of Ebook readers you can take a watch of this very comprehensive side by side comparison of the Amazon Kindle versus the iRiver Story HD Google Ebook reader.

One notable difference I will mention is that the iRiver does not have audio capability.  For some, the capability for an Ebook reader to read (text to speech) a book to you is really a huge win – not to mention that the Kindle can play  MP3 files and also surf the web with its built in web browser.

This is a very long hands-on review of 45 mins.  So, get a cup of coffee and take a watch.
(Spoiler: want the bottom line – skip ahead to minute 40 of the video)

From Dave over at the EEVblog.

 

Bonus – Tear down of the iRiver – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUZuyL4eRCQ

Written by frrl

August 3, 2011 at 6:27 am

Review of the Amazon Kindle: Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Kindle

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Read part 1 of the Amazon Kindle review here.  Tools and links to ebook libraries here.

When I was at the grocery store I grabbed a container of Hummus.  There was a young woman stocking the shelves near me.  When she saw me grab the Hummus she said to me, “How can you eat that stuff?”.  I told her that if she didn’t like it she didn’t eat enough of it and that Hummus could  be an acquired taste.  Kinda like Starbucks coffee.  Some say it tastes bitter.  But after you drink enough Starbucks and eat enough Hummus you might come to like them both – even if you hate them on the first try.  Goat cheese anyone?

That’s kinda like the Amazon Kindle.  I “hate this thing” but yet I can’t put it down.  Without the touch screen, “cursor-ing around” on what is essentially a character-cell display using the tiny keys reminds me of the late 1970’s when you would cursor-around on a forms based DOS PC display.  I did finally master text highlighting, making marginal notes, and making bookmarks on the Kindle – although the technique seems archaic without a touch screen.

The “like” parts of the “I hate this thing” are: the portability, the battery life, and the wireless access.

The Kindle is very portable.  It’s hard not to pick it up and just use it.  When you switch it on it starts instantly and picks up where you were last reading.  I used to think that I could just use my laptop – a 14 inch  ThinkPad – and read all the books I want.  But, even though the laptop is small and portable it is simply not as quick and as portable as the Kindle.  When the Kindle is sitting there on the table I just can’t not pick it up and start using it.

The battery life is amazing.  I did some research on the e-ink technology (electrophoretic) that Kindle uses.  It turns out that once the e-ink is set no power is required maintain the display.  If you turn the wireless off (no need of this while you are reading) it would seem that the only power needed would be for the CPU to scan the keyset and other input ports.  Power seems to be needed for the display only when you flip to the page.  The Kindle will “flash” in inverse color (B/W) to set the pixels in the display and then that seems to be it for the display.  I have been using the Kindle for about a week and perhaps put 20 miles (hours) of reading on it.  The battery shows about 95% capacity.  (Technical spoiler alert: Battery draw – 2.4 mA Kindle idling compared to 76 mA for a typical LED – see links below)

Getting books for the Kindle could not be easier.  I really get a kick out of e-mailing stuff to the Kindle.  You can obtain books from many sources and once you get them simply e-mail them to the Kindle.  These e-mail messages really go to Amazon for conversion.  After conversion they are stored at Amazon until you turn on your Kindle wireless.  Once the Wi-fi is established your books will be automatically delivered to the Kindle.  Or course, you can shop the Amazon store directly from the Kindle and books are delivered as soon as you purchase them.  I have only “purchased” free books so far from the Kindle store.  Tuns out that “Buy” is pre-selected when you ask for book details.  Impulse buyers beware.

There is some interesting experimental stuff in the Kindle: a MP3 player, text-to-speech, and a web browser.

Buying Information for Mobile Book Readers

Like Hummus or goat cheese you may not think you like it until you tried it – and tried it long enough.  If you are looking for a mobile book reader I would suggest you do your research.  At $139 for the Kindle from Amazon with free shipping and no tax it’s almost a throw-away – unlike a full tablet.

So far the best site that I found for information and research on mobile book readers is –

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

May 15, 2011 at 3:13 am

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Review of the Amazon Kindle: first impressions

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My Kindle arrived today.  Ordered at the beginning of the week with “Super Saver” delivery (read: free) my Kindle sat in a “Shipping Soon” state at Amazon for 3 days.  Then it shipped via “Ensenda”.  Not UPS.  Not US Postal Service.  It shipped “Ensenda”.  I know what a UPS truck looks like; I know what a US Post Office truck looks like.  If you see a beat up wreck of a personal car deliver your package…  In any case, it got here.

When you open the box it looks like there is a plastic overlay on the display with an image and some writing.  That’s not a plastic overlay.  That is the Kindle display and it arrived “awake” telling you it needed to be charged.  You can charge the Kindle from a USB port or from the supplied AC adapter.  My Kindle charged to full capacity in about 30 minutes.  Off to the races.

Here are some first impressions

  1. The display is e-ink technology and it takes some getting used to.  There is no backlighting and you need to make sure you have a good light to read the Kindle.  In fact, best case would be to read the Kindle outside in full sunlight.  Reading indoors, you are going to have some good light and adjust to as needed.
  2. Although the ads for Kindle say there is no reflection like a traditional display there is a glare depending on the angle of the light source as it hits the Kindle.
  3. I use an Apple iPod Touch a lot.  If you are a touch screen user you will soon come to realize the benefit of this technology.  The Kindle uses buttons and menus.  Navigating menus with arrows and buttons on the Kindle is a step backwards.  The Barnes and Noble Nook has e-ink technology plus a touch screen for navigation – a much better solution.
  4. Acquiring books for the Kindle is near effortless and a good example of frictionless commerce.  Buy a book (some are $0.00) at Amazon and it will be instantly delivered to your Kindle over wireless Internet.  Amazon keeps track of all your books and will allow you to read these books on any Kindle reader that is linked to your Amazon account (iPhone, iPod Touch, PC, Mac, iPad, etc.)
  5. Your kindle has its own e-mail address.  Send the Kindle a supported document type and it will appear on your Kindle devices
  6. The Kindle can talk.  Some books are voice-enabled.  For these, Kindle has text to speech in your choice of male or female voice.  The voice is robotic sounding, but acceptable.  In a sense, any book you have on the Kindle  can be an audio book.  If you listen to audio books on a regular basis you will come to appreciate what a professional reader can bring to the experience of hearing a book read to you over a robotic voice. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

May 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Reading together with Kindle

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The new secret handshake among bookworms

I’ve noticed a new greeting among bibliophiles. The question is invariably asked, when one is caught in the act, “Nook or Kindle”? After which ensues some discussion about the relative merits of each or whether a good old-fashioned physical book is preferred.

I thought I might join the 21st century of modern book reading. My Kindle is on its way.  In anticipation of the delivery of the magical device I installed the PC version of the Kindle reader on my PC.

“Cover and pages may have some wear or writing…”

I used to lend my books to others to read. One particular person told me that they liked to read my books because of the underlining, highlighting, and marginal notes that I wrote into my books. “I want to see how you think”, said that person.  Of course, different people see significance in different parts of a book. When someone marks up a book it give some insight into what that person thinks is important. Marginal notes provide additional bits of information on the reader’s perspective.  Call it “meta-reading”.

I buy a lot of used books from Amazon.com. In the description of the used book there is usually some indication by the seller if the book is “marked up” – had highlighting, underlining, and/or marginal notes. Some people want to buy clean books – no markings. I’ll take a marked-up one, no problem. The markings are sort of a remnant from the previous reader(s) – a sort or trail of readership.

Kindle Popular Highlights

So, it was interesting to see a feature of the Kindle called “popular highlights”. Popular highlights let you “mark up” a book with highlighting and marginal notes just like some readers like to do in physical books.

But it gets better than that. The Kindle is wireless allowing the ongoing communication of the Kindle device with the Kindle service back at Amazon.com. So, it is possible for your highlighting and marginal notes to be pushed up to the Kindle service.  It’s there for safe keeping.  And, if you think one level further, the capability is now there for your Kindle book markups to be shared with others.

That is exactly what Amazon has done. The Popular Highlights feature of the kindle allows a Kindle user to see what other people have highlighted and noted on a particular page of a Kindle book as they read the book.

Here is a screenshot of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The window at the right shows Popular Highlights by the community of Kindle readers that read this book and marked it up with highlights.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

May 4, 2011 at 8:43 am

Stupid Survives Until Smart Succeeds

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Stupid Survives Until Smart Succeeds”

What an interesting concept.  It goes along with this story

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders

Bookselling had never really been about bricks and mortar. It had always been about sharing authors’ ideas in ways that customers were willing to pay to enjoy. Barnes & Noble understood. They were slower than Jeff Bezos at recognizing how the web would shape consumer behaviour, but they still took barnesandnoble.com public within two years of amazon.com. That’s impressive catch-up adaptation.

As a result of still playing the game of adaptability against amazon.com, they still kept learning from experience and their competition. It’s one of those positions where each rival benefits from moves designed to get ahead of a rival. Together, and with others in the industry, including Sony and Apple, they are growing the market. Together with the other players they are moving further ahead of non-players.

So while amazon.com were first to develop an e-book reader – the Kindle – barnesandnoble.com were still able to bring out a viable alternative – the Nook – within a couple of years. Borders took another year to even start selling e-books. The service was provided by a third party. And they never did develop an e-book reader of their own. The difference is significant, more than enough to slow or stop any effective adaptation.

Every situation provides information. If you know what the situation is demanding then you can try to adapt but the connection between situation and response can be damaged. The connection can get slower. It can stop working. Or it can send distorted signals. A disconnect between what the situation needs and what is done can become permanent. You can have a chronic mismatch between situation, intention and action.

[ In 2011 Borders, the nation’s second-largest book chain, filed for bankruptcy protection. ]

Many people get the quote from Darwin wrong. It’s not “the survival of the fittest”. The correct quote … “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

The situation changes every day.  As the tagline for the History Channel says, “History. Made every day”.  And they say there is a recession.  How many traditional companies and organizations – merely surviving – will fall victim to Smart seizing the disconnect between situation and response?  The opportunity exists every day; the possibilities are unlimited.  Change is unstoppable.  What are you waiting for?

Written by frrl

April 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Quick Review: Snugg case for the Apple iPad 3

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A couple of weeks ago I ordered an Apple iPad 3.  I took Apple up on their offer on having my iPad custom engraved if I purchased it on-line.  Little did I know that in choosing this option, the iPad would be shipped  from China.

So, in addition to getting an Apple iPad 3 I also got a tour of China via FedEx shipping.  My Apple iPad 3 had quite a journey.  It’s first location was CHENGDU China (website), then to GUANGZHOU China (website), and then through ANCHORAGE Alaska to MEMPHIS, TN then up to the midwest to my home.  I took advantage of learning about these cities in China via Wikipedia and Google Earth.  Thanks Foxconn (website)

With that journey under its belt, I was wondering what shape the box would  be in when it arrived.  Well, the FedEx guy arrived in the morning with the box and it was in remarkably good shape.  I opened the box and extracted my new Apple iPad 3.  It was the best of all possible worlds (read).

Protecting your new Apple iPad 3

After the iPad took a journey of thousands of miles from China to my home  it would be irony if it were to meet its end at the last nanometer.  So I went looking for a case to protect the Apple iPad 3.  You would think this would be easy – but there are literally a hundred choices.  And, do iPad 2 cases fit the iPad 3?

I took a look at the Apple cover that magnetically attaches to the iPad 3 as my first choice.  Forget it.  This may protect the face of the iPad but not the rest of it.

To cut to the chase, I picked the Snugg case for iPad 3.  It’s available for $29 at amazon.com with free shipping and no tax.

Here’s the skinny

Neutral

The packaging does not indicate that this is for any specific model of the iPad (iPad 3 is thicker than the iPad 2 by a tad)

Pros

  1. It is well made.  Flawless stitching.  Fits the Apple iPad 3 like a glove. 
  2. There is a velcro flap that tucks under the iPad when inserted that holds it securely.  The device will never accidentally fall out.
  3. The hole for the iPad 3 outward facing camera is in the right place (some iPad 2 cases will have a hole that is not properly aligned
  4. Most (see Cons) of the iPad 3 controls are easily accessible
  5. The iPad 3 fits inside the case, meaning that, if dropped on its edge, there is some amount of protection.  The expectation is that the case will absorb the shock before it hits the metal of the iPad 3 itself.
  6. It has a loop for a stylus – if you use a stylus rather than a finger
  7. The cover has magnets that keeps the cover closed
  8. Wrist strap to grab and secure the iPad when not using it in a fixed position

Cons

  1. The claim is that this case is leather.  I don’t think so.  At least I don’t think this case came from a cow – more like it came from petroleum.
  2. The case has a distinctive smell.  Kinda like a new car smell.  I have owned this case for a couple of days and it still has the odor.
  3. The slide switch and the button on the right side of the device are a little hard to get to when the iPad 3 is in the case
  4. I could do without the Snugg logo on the inside of the case.  Why not give me a place to put business cards or some other use?  The Snugg logo is on the outside of the case embossed in the material.  That should be enough free advertising as I carry it around.

The Take

The take on this one is a “BUY”. 

In fact, after having the Snugg Apple iPad 3 case for a few days I decided to buy the Snugg case for Kindle Fire.  Oh, Kindle Fire.  Yes.  the “other” tablet.  Move over Fire, there’s a new Sheriff in town.

Watch a quick video… this is for the iPad 2 Snugg case… identical for iPad 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U68E0FCfypM

Written by frrl

April 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Henry Ford: On Mens Desire for Corporate Advancement

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Heny Ford was one of the great industrialists of the turn of the 20th century.  He was born July 30, 1863 in Wayne county, Michigan and died April 7, 1947, Dearborn, Michigan.  Henry Ford revolutionized transportation and American industry through the mass production and the assembly line. (read more).

If you didn’t know – and now you do know, Henry Ford wrote a book, “My Life and Work”.  In this book you will find Ford’s thoughts on all sorts of subjects.  For example, here are a few chapter headings: What is an Idea?  What I learned about business.  The terror of the machine.  Wages.  Why be poor?  Why Charity?  Democracy and Industry.  And, What we may expect.

Published in 1922, My Life and Work  is now in the public domain and available for Kindle for free –
http://www.amazon.com/My-Life-and-Work-ebook/dp/B002RKR216/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1315949697&sr=1-1
(The Kindle reader is free as well for many devices)

If you are interested in the history of the industrial age in general or the history of the auto industry in particular or even the Zeitgeist of the time as told by one of the greatest people of the industrial age then this is a must read.

There are tons of interesting observations by Ford on the nature of work and man’s relation to work and business.

It’s now nearly 100 years after Ford wrote this book and Ford’s observation about Men and advancement in the corporate world has not changed much over 10 decades.  When I read the paragraphs below I remembered my experience of an employee who asked an executive in an “all hands” meeting with about 1,000 people listening… “What do the goals of this company have to do with me?”

To many other employees this was a legitimate question.
To the executives, this question was a shocker.

The education of any corporate executive, if they do not know simple facts already, should include the reading of this passage from Ford’s My Life and Work prior to being handed the key to the executive washroom.  It will save the executive years, if  not decades, of frustration over failed plans for employee innovation, expensive learning and  talent development programs, and any other device or machination intended to advance employees to the head of the class.

From My Life and Work by Henry Ford Chapter 6 – Men and Machines

There is no difficulty in picking out men. They pick themselves out because—although one hears a great deal about the lack of opportunity for advancement—the average workman is more interested in a steady job than he is in advancement.

Scarcely more than five per cent, of those who work for wages, while they have the desire to receive more money, have also the willingness to accept the additional responsibility and the additional work which goes with the higher places.

Only about twenty-five per cent are even willing to be straw bosses, and most of them take that position because it carries with it more pay than working on a machine. Men of a more mechanical turn of mind, but with no desire for responsibility, go into the tool-making departments where they receive considerably more pay than in production proper.

But the vast majority of men want to stay put. They want to be led. They want to have everything done for them and to have no responsibility. Therefore, in spite of the great mass of men, the difficulty is not to discover men to advance, but men who are willing to be advanced.

The accepted theory is that all people are anxious for advancement, and a great many pretty plans have been built up from that.

I can only say that we do not find that to be the case. The Americans in our employ do want to go ahead, but they by no means do always want to go clear through to the top. The foreigners, generally speaking, are content to stay as straw bosses.

Why all of this is, I do not know. I am giving the facts.

Has much changed in 100 years? Read a related article and a thesis on why engineers turn down offers of advancement
https://frrl.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/the-quandary-of-career-advancement-of-technical-engineers/

Resources

Kindle Reader for your PC
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311

Henry Ford, My Life and Work (free Kindle edition)
http://www.amazon.com/My-Life-and-Work-ebook/dp/B002RKR216/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1315949697&sr=1-1

Written by frrl

September 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm

The question of the Millennium for Amateur Radio

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I stumbled on this in an amateur radio discussion forum

The question –

I don’t get it. I know people, friends even, who shrug their shoulders when I talk about having talked to somebody in another country. “Big deal, I can do that on the Internet”. Well sure, anyone can do it on the Internet, but can you say that you sent a radio signal directly from your house? They insist that ham radio is obsolete, that cell phones are way better, and that we don’t do anything useful. I try to tell them about Skywarn, about public services I’ve helped out with, and they still just act like it’s no big deal. I just leave them with “Well, if we’re so useless, then what were hams doing during 9/11? The police and fire repeaters went down with the towers, as well as cellular services. Hams were helping out with communications.”. They still just shrug their shoulders. Then again, these same people shrug their shoulders when I say I make my own beer. “Big deal, you can get beer at the grocery store”. (faceplant)

A response posted in the same forum –

My hands-down favorite description of Amateur Radio is three paragraphs by Ernest Lehman, K6DXK (SK July 5, 2005) from his novel “The French Atlantic Affair”. The following breathless prose about the wonder of Amateur Radio is the opening of Chapter Seven of the novel. Memorize it and then recite it with appropriate passion when someone asks what you like about Amateur Radio.

Yes, Dr. Berlin, but what do you hams talk about? Is what they usually said to him, and he’d realize then that they’d never understand, and he’d change the subject. But sometimes, though rarely, he’d come across someone who really dug his hobby, and then you couldn’t get him off. He’d go on and on about the feeling it gave him of being able to move himself through time and space, annihilating time and distance, his mind, his body, his consciousness out there roaming the planet like some cosmic spirit, and the sense of power, benign power, not the evil kind, knowing that his voice was rattling a loudspeaker in a far-off room in Bombay, or going out through an open window in Johannesburg to someone walking by on the street outside, or filling a room carved out of ice below the frozen wastes at the South Pole.

The here and now, the physical and geographical limitations that all beings are stuck with, would fall away from him as he immersed himself in the action on twenty meters on a good night in spring when the sunspots were dancing and the ionosphere was in a reflective mood and the short path was open to Europe and the Middle East and the Antarctic and Australia, and maybe Africa would come sneaking in the other way around, and later the Far East and Indonesia, you never knew what. He’d close his eyes, or gaze hypnotized at the speaker, and he’d listen to them and talk to them, voices in the night, his night, that is, with the moon shining into the den through the great beam antenna that rose from the lawn outside…

…And while it was his night in California, it was tomorrow morning in Oslo and Hil was getting ready to shovel the snow from in front of the garage so he could go to work, and in Brisbane it was late tomorrow afternoon and Tommy had just gotten home from a rainy day at the lab, and Toshi in Kyoto had just finished tomorrow’s dinner, and then later, Phil was talking to him from his car speeding through the Malaysian jungles to pick up Margaret at her French lesson in Penang, and Phil would lower the car window and let him hear the street noises of Penang even as he sat in his den in the house in Bel Air while the guy right next door was listening to the eleven o’clock news on Channel 2, …

… for God’s sake, and you ask me what do we talk about? We don’t talk about a [darned] thing and it’s terrific.

So, what are we to make of this?

Why does the Millennial generation have a hard time understanding Amateur Radio?

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Written by frrl

July 17, 2011 at 3:00 am

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Let the music rain from the cloud

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What do you do if you’re Amazon and you have to dent Apple’s iTunes juggernaut and its upcoming launch of its cloud music service? Compete on price—early and often.

That’s what Amazon is doing in spades today. Its 99 cent one-day offer for Lady Gaga’s new album is exactly what it should be doing if it’s going to grab some of Apple’s market share. And guess what? You fork over 99 cents. You get Lady Gaga’s album, which I had no intention of buying until it was 99 cents. And you get 20GB of Amazon’s cloud storage

Meanwhile, you may stick around despite a few server glitches. You may even stick with Amazon’s Cloud Player and buy more storage in the future.

Peter Fader, marketing at professor at Wharton, lays out Amazon’s challenge in a http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/ article:

“Amazon isn’t part of your daily life. Consumers touch Google, Microsoft and Apple all the time. They are only reaching out to Amazon when buying something. Amazon wants to be a part of people’s lives multiple times a day.”

With Amazon’s Kindle, likely tablets, streaming video and cloud music the company is grabbing everyday users. If Lady Gaga and a 99 cent album is what it takes to acquire customers Amazon will take that loss leading bet all day.

Yes, that’s right. Amazon wants to be part of your everyday life. So, I took a chance.

I was already an Amazon Cloud Drive user. You get 5GB of storage for free.

So, I took them up on their offer – $0.99 for the new Lady Gaga Album: Born This Way. What’s $0.99? And that is not for one song – that’s $0.99 for the entire album.

I place my order and I get a note from Amazon saying they upgraded my Amazon Cloud Drive from 5 GB of storage to 20 GB of storage for one year. My choice to renew this upgraded storage in a year.

When you buy the music at Amazon you can choose to have them store it for you and you listen to it on-line with Amazon Cloud Player.  Or, download it to your local PC, Mac, or MP3 player.  Since we are “always connected” I left it on the cloud.

What about my Apple iPod Touch?  Can I stream my MP3 music to my iPod?  Amazon does not have a dedicated Cloud Player application for the iPod Touch or iPhone.  BUT you can fire up the Safari browser on the iPod Touch and point it to Amazon’s Cloud Player on the web.  Respond “continue” to the message that says your browser is not compatible with Cloud player.  Then start listening on the iPod Touch.

So, Amazon wants to be part of my (and your) digital life..

  1. I have Amazon Cloud Drive (20 GB) with all sorts of media on it. (Worried?  AxCrypt)
  2. I have Amazon-purchased music  and can upload more MP3’s that I purchased from other places.
  3. $0.99 for the Lady Gaga Album – all the songs
  4. During May, Amazon has 1,500 albums for $5.00 each
  5. “Play the Cloud” on almost any internet connected device (including iPod Touch and iPhone)
  6. Amazon keeps all my Kindle books, bookmarks, and notes – which I can read anywhere.

Part of my digital life?  Nice start.  I’m there.  (Until something better comes along)

Read the full article from the Wharton School on the competition among Amazon, Google, and Apple
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2768

Written by frrl

May 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark

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I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. – Stephen Hawking

I came across this interview with Steven Hawking (read it).

Over the past year I read about a dozen books written by physicists about various aspects of dark matter, the nature of reality, quantum reality, and so on.  I also read The Grand Design by Hawking and wrote a review of the book (read it).

What struck me about The Grand Design is its polemic against religion.  Of all the other books I read this year with similar topics none of them really mentioned anything about god or about religion.  My general observation has been that when physicists are promoting a book and are asked a question about god they generally avoid the question or say that god is not in the domain of physics or science.

But not Hawking.  The Grand Design is as much about religion as it is about Physics.  There is an unrelenting criticism of religion as the primary inhibitor of man’s progress in understanding the workings of the Universe.  And of course there is no need of god as the “first mover unmoved” (Aristotle (more) )

Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in.  – Stephen Hawking

If it’s not crystal clear in the interview cited above, it is clear in The Grand Design:

1.  God was not needed for the creation of the Universe
2.  Miracles do not happen and there is no active role for God
3.  Man has no free will.  Free will is an illusion.

For the chief malady of man is restless curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no purpose.  –Blaise Pascal

Pascal’s Wager – the gambit on the existence of god

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Written by frrl

May 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Tools for building your ebook library of classic books

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Have you noticed that Sony launched its best ebook reader a couple of days ago, with an AT&T 3G modem for fast wireless connection? Not by accident, Google has now announced they’re offering over a million public domain books in EPUB format – the exact format compatible with Sony’s Daily Edition reader. – Mashable

Getting a Kindle sent me on a chase on how to manage e-book libraries.  I ran across this tool – Calibre – that you might want to know about.  You can load it up with e-books, convert various formats, and send books to your mobile e-book reader.  If you don’t have a portable e-book reader then use Calibre to read book on a PC, Mac, or Linux machine.

Will reading come back in style?  According to market research by Amazon only 10% of the US population read books.  Will the easy accessibility of books through these popular wireless book reading devices change that?  Or, is there just something fundamental about the American people where cultural literacy is no longer valued?

Check out this 8 minute video on how to manage e-books with Calibre

Download the free software from here –
http://calibre-ebook.com/

Then start building your library of classic books from these resources

http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://openlibrary.org/
http://www.manybooks.net/
http://www.planetebook.com/
http://www.bookyards.com/
http://books.google.com/ebooks
http://www.ebooks-space.com/ebooks/Google.html

The really big review of Kindle –
http://blogkindle.com/category/kindle-hacks/

Written by frrl

May 12, 2011 at 5:48 am

The Law of the Lid Part II – The intractable definition of career success

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Surprised to see Lady Gaga at the front of the Fast Company list of the top 100 creative people for 2010? – well, maybe not.  A little more reasonable is number two on the list – Eddy Cue  ( read it )

Steve Jobs may own the limelight, but Eddy Cue, 46, holds the key to the Apple kingdom. Cue runs arguably the most disruptive 21st-century Web businesses: iTunes and the App Store, the latter of which is poised to create a $4 billion app economy by 2012. The unassuming Cue shot up through Apple’s ranks in the late ’80s, going from desktop support to Hollywood power broker, cutting deals for movies and music. Cue’s next campaign will be challenging Amazon’s Kindle dominance, with the Cupertino cocktail of the iPad and the iBook store.

It’s good to see someone who made it from “desktop support” to Apple Vice President.  That is quite a trip – from helping someone with their desktop hardware or software to leading a part of the Apple enterprise that is projected to tap a market to generate $4 billion in revenue.

If Eddy is 46 years old now as Apple VP in 2010, and if he started out in the 1980’s as desktop support – then that is a nearly 20+ year career journey.  Good for him!

The intractable definition of career success

It’s amazing the diversity of the definition of career success.  If Eddy, at 46, was still a desktop support person, would he be considered a failure?   Is there a “right way” and a “wrong way” when it comes to careers?  How and why is Eddy Cue, at 46, a Vice President at Apple and not a desktop support person? 

Is preference for progress or personal achievement an  unfair bias?

Is it an unfair bias to say that people “must” have a career progression – and if not, they have failed in their careers?  What about the “bias” of progress in history?  Is it a foregone conclusion that we must see progress in culture and history?  What if the colonization of America by Europeans resulted in the Europeans taking on the culture of native american indians and keeping the status quo?

If America was, in 2010, simply a static repetition of the native american culture and “progress” that we see today in 2010  (science, culture, technology) was erased then would America be a “failure” against its potential?  What makes one way better than another way?  If America never landed a man on the moon, never became a superpower, never built great cities, or did anything that America is known for, would it be considered a failure aginst its potential?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Are personal careers like the progress of a nation or culture?  Is “progress” demanded, and is it “natural”?  And if the progress in your career is like the progress of history and culture then is the lack of progress considered some sort of failure?  A failure of ability to achieve potential.  Again, why is “progress” better than no progress?  What about mediocrity?  What’s so bad about mediocrity – or just being “average”? It certainly takes less effort to be average than it takes to be remarkable?  Why be remarkable?  What drives people toward achievement?  And, why is mediocrity acceptable, and preferred, by some people?

If the worldwide global culture was still “swinging in the trees” would it matter?  Or, is there something “natural” in human being that progress is natural, and that lack of progress is somehow to be avoided,  undesirable, and to be discouraged?

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Written by frrl

June 21, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Welcome to the Revolution

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Stats from Video and Social Media Thought Leaders

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Written by frrl

May 8, 2010 at 4:21 am

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“A Computer for your fingers” – iTouched the iPad

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Quite by accident, I found myself in front of the Apple “store within a store” at Best Buy. 

There they were.  Three iPads laying on the table, fully powered up, and waiting for someone to pick up and play with them.  Here I was; there they were; it was a match made in heaven.  So I picked one up and gave it a workout.

Here are some observations Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

April 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm

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