Posts tagged ‘kindle’

Request

This is a crass request but could two of you hit the facebook like button on the right side of my home page so I can get a better URL (it takes 25). Thanks.

Blogging from the road with my ipad2, which is perhaps the greatest piece of gear ever, especially now with my portable Bluetooth keyboard. And I don't really even like apple OS that much, but this is one awesome device. As a better kindle replacement alone it Is worth the price.

The Technocratic Standard-Setting Urge

The Thin Green Line writes:

But other problems have such a straightforward solution the only question is, why haven't we implemented it already?So it is with the phone charger (H/T Mother Jones). How many old ones do you have kicking around in a drawer? If you're loyal to a particular phone, you may even have several identical chargers. Because they're electronic, you're also burdened with disposing of them properly lest they leach their toxins into some poor, unsuspecting landfill.

Not only that but chargers use a good bit more electricity than they need to and are vampires"”meaning they continue to draw power even when they're not, you know, charging.

Now imagine a world where not only did phone chargers use less energy, but they were universal, meaning any charger fit any phone. That would mean about 600 million fewer chargers each year stashed in drawers around the world and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 24 million tons a year"”not even to mention e-waste.

The UN's International Telecommunication Union has approved this universal dreamboat of a charger. It will use half as much energy on standby. Samsung, Nokia and Motorola have already agreed to use it. Of course, they're hemorrhaging business to BlackBerry and Apple...no word yet from those guys.

I wrote:

There are at least two problems with this.  The first is that consumers are all different.   A lot of cell phones (and other devices like my kindle) are standardizing on a mini-USB connection.  Should I use the UN's solution, which is likely inferior?  Why?  Most of the time I don't even travel with a charger, I plug the mini-USB into my computer to charge.  That way I only have 1 charger on the road, for my computer.  You want me to carry 2, in the name of having fewer chargers?   You might say, "well, I hadn't thought of this situation," and I would say, "that's the point - you can't, there are 6 billion of us individuals out there."

The second problem is innovation.  Who says that innovation won't demand a different type of connection in 2 years?  Do you really want your technology gated to some working group at the UN?  Go back in time and imagine the government locking in a standard on something.  We still would have 801.11a wireless only, or cars would still all have crank starts (but they would all turn the same direction!) or cars would all have the same size wheels.  If the UN had invented something 3 years ago, it would have been power only and not data.  Today, most cell phones have power connections and connectors that double as data ports.

There is always a technocratic urge in messy changing technology markets to swoop in and mandate a standard from above, even while the technology is still evolving.  The problem is that neither you nor anyone else knows everything.  Hayek described this information problem well but you make it abundantly clear on this site you have no familiarity with Hayek.  You extrapolate what seems to be a good solution from your narrow knowledge, but cause many of us to sub-optimize because you did not anticipate how I use my charger or what technology some cell phone manufacturer today may be developing that requires a different kind of charger standard.

The Glad Corporation = Satan

I am totally pissed off at the Glad Corporation this evening.  For over a year, I have been advocating the Amazon Kindle book reader (I now have a Kindle 2)  in part because it actually is superior to regular books for reading in the bath tub.  Just zip the Kindle into a clear Ziploc bag, and it is waterproof and quite easy to read.  And it is easy to turn the pages, unlike trying to put a regular book in a bag.

That is, until today.  For some reason, I misplaced my usual Ziploc bag.  So I ran to the kitchen for a replacement, and found to my horror the new bag design is no longer clear.  There is some kind of pattern in the plastic that is still sort of transparent but is far less satisfactory for book reading.  I wonder if anyone is selling black market old-Ziploc bags on eBay?

The never-ending need of American corporations to tinker with designs usually helps make for a better world, but it has a dark side too.  First the Edsel, and now less-than-transparent Ziplocs.

Postscript: We also used to use Ziplocs for cheap underwater photography.  It actually works OK, if you pull the bag tight across the lens.

Update #1: The freezer bags are thicker -- I am hoping that they are still clear.  I will run to the store tomorrow to buy a box and let you know.

New Kindle?

Via Engadget:

Looks like the rumor of a new larger Kindle is true. Amazon just sent us an invitation to a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 at 10:30am ET. You know what Amazon does at press events? It launches new Kindles!

As noted by Peter Kafka over at All Things Digital, the location of the Amazon event -- Pace University -- is the historic, 19th century HQ to the New York Times which is said to be partnering with Amazon on the larger Kindle. That makes for a perfect symbolic bridge from old to new media. We'll have to wait and see if newspaper subscribers can be lured across.

I was an early Kindle adopter and love my Kindle 2.  My only complaint is the lack of electronic versions of a lot of older books I would like to read (example -- various James Clavell novels) but I am hoping this is similar to the early phase of CD's and DVD's when publishers had not yet seen the market or had the time to convert older music and movies to the new media.

Price and Value

I am an early-adopter of the Amazon Kindle and must say that I have been thrilled with it, despite a number of design flaws I hope to see fixed in the new version.  Most of my complaints have to do with industrial design, not with the feature set  (from an industrial design scale where iPod=10 and the original MS Vista packaging =0, the Kindle and its case were about a 4.)

I was perusing a number of "reviews" of the Kindle 2 today.  Pre-release reviews can have a really wide spread, as they tend to be populated either by insiders who are trying to promote the product, or by folks who haven't used the product but have some problem with its basic concept (or manufacturer) they want to vent on.  Which makes pre-release reviews worthless.

One such person in the second category is "Bohemian," who seems to want to vent on Kindle because it is not open source, DRM-free, etc.  He is also upset that it does not have built-in solar power, lol.  But the line that really caught my eye is this one:

Overpriced - should be around $100

That is hilarious to me.  The Kindle has been absolutely sold out (at the current price of $300-$400) for months and months.  There is a waiting list, particularly since Oprah recommend it.  So how is the price too high?  My take on it would be the price is too low, since even at $359 demand is exceeding supply.

This is a common mistake by people across the political spectrum -- mistaking one's own personal assessment of value with what a price "should" be.  The correct statement for this review would have been "I would not pay more than $100 for this product."  And in a free society, he doesn't have to buy it.  But obviously there are a lot of people, in fact more people than Amazon can currently satisfy, who think the Kindle is worth at least $359.

By the way, one other note on DRM and proprietary platforms.  I am the last one to spend much time defending DRM, but proprietary platforms are totally normal for new technologies.  The thing that is often ignored about the Kindle is that ... it just works.  You log on, download the books you want, and they are there in seconds and display correctly and reliably.  I lost my first Kindle, and when the second one showed up, all my books from my first Kindle where already on my second.  No crashes, no need for tech support.

People give Microsoft loads of well-deserved cr*p for problems in its software and for playing too many proprietary tricks, but the real reason PC's can be a pain and can be tech support nightmares is because PC's are not very proprietary -- they are really a wide open platform, and try to integrate a hodge podge of components and software from a variety of sources, and sometimes things inevitably go wrong.  People tend to forget that the reason the Mac and the iPod are so compelling in the user-friendliness and stability is that they are proprietary, tightly controlled platforms.

I personally prefer the PC, because I like the flexibility and am not scared off by the occasional integration challenge.  Over time, I have realized that I am in the minority.  Most people want their electronic devices to freaking work, and don't care if they don't have access to the 100-item micro-configuration menu and probably will never have a desire to transfer the book file on their Kindle to be read on the LCD on their refrigerator.