Saturday, July 21, 2012

Loathing Adobe and DRM

[Warning: rant.]
I don't know what I hate most: Adobe installation problems, or DRM.
In any case, they come up in a neat little package whenever I have to use Adobe Digital Editions, trying to read a DRM-protected non-Kindle ebooks.

I used all the instructions and tips I could find, and still I have used over 90 minutes of my Saturday night (there went my date with Sarah Chalke) trying to get a book onto a Kobo or my Iriver reader. (Both are supported, according to Adobe.) But I've just been going through a long string of having to update the app, otherwise I'm not allowed to use it, and then the app refusing to install in various entertaining ways. I finally got it updated, and launched. The I waited half an hour while it apparently had to download three copies of all the books (five!) I have in it. (It does not allow local storage!!!) And then the ereader device, both of them, did not appear in the app like they're supposed to. I tried everything.

Then I read that on Mac I have to reboot the app after connecting the reader. I smelled trouble! And I got it. On re-launching the ADE app, it again told me I had to either quit it or update it. And I had just updated it!
I just can't get it to work.

I experimented with this to see if I could get it to work, if I could I might buy a Nook with SlowGlow (or whazcalled). We can't buy Nook books outside the US, hurrah, but if I could at least read Google Play books on it... But it seems that's a hopeless dream. I'll just have to hope that a Kindle or a least a Kobo with frontlight is on the way.

Computers! Can't live with them, can't take a shotgun to them without alarming the neighbors.

Modern book burning


Nice, varied ebook-themed comic collection.

Are You Getting the Bandwidth You’re Paying For?

Are You Getting the Bandwidth You’re Paying For?, articleI certainly wasn’t expecting my Internet connection — which is generally quite reliable — to require so many phone calls and truck rolls to my house, but I’m glad I stuck with it in the end, since I appreciate actually getting the full bandwidth that I’ve been promised. It’s easy to imagine someone who’s not particularly network-savvy suffering with a lousy Internet connection, just because they don’t realize what they should be getting.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ebook revenues double in a year

Ebook revenues double in  a year, article.

... To over $2 billion, this report says. Now that's not chicken food in anybody's eyes, except maybe Apple, who continue to apparently view their iBooks service as the stepchild of the family, not getting much attention from either Apple or customers, and still has nowhere near the selection which Amazon or B&N have. It seems Apple still sees their hardware as their cash cow, unlike almost everybody else who is in the content market.
Apple may see the iBooks store as the same as the camera in the iPad: "it don't mean sheet to us, but people will complain if they ain't there, so we put them in."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Nexus Seven

OK, so I caved! I bought a Nexus Seven! It was my duty as a blogger.     :-)

Basically you can just read what the major reviewers say: it's great. One of the best 7-inch Android tablets you'll find, and one of the cheapest too. Kudos.

A major downside is the smallish and non-expandable storage. (And less content and apps than on iPad.) But otherwise it's mostly upsides: the battery life and speed are top-notch. And amazingly, the screen is actually as good as the iPad 3's, except half the size. Same sharpness and color fidelity.

I've been trying it out as ereader, and chosen difficult subjects, meaning Zinio magazines and full-layout scanned art books where you have to zoom in on the text to read it. (See my article.) And yes, it can be used even for this, at least if you have good eyes or good reading glasses.

The Kindle application is good, it seems to me. Very similar to the iPad's Kindle app. Though both of them suffer from the odd weaknesses of only one font, and too large leaps between text sizes. (I don't get these choices, surely it can't be because these things are hard to program in, for years small-developer apps have had lots of fonts and much finer size separation.)

In short, I'm reminded of an old joke from the early days of the mini-car, 30 years ago:  "Oh yes, my new mini car is great. I get great mileage, it's easy to find parking, the taxes are less... In fact, the only downside I can think of is actually that it's so small!"

Here's a review with some useful viewpoints, including some very varied experiences in the comments. For example this created some heated debate: 
When compared to iOS, Android sucks.  It is much harder to use and not at all intuitive.  I have more than one non-techie friend who have absolutely no problem using their iPads and they simply cannot figure out how to use their new Nexus.  Very few people call me for iPad advice, but they do call for Android advice. 

I am not sure myself what to think of Android. I can figure out most things, but it does not seem as fun or inviting as iOS. Though the latter still has some grave weaknesses, for example it can be very tricky to select text.

Here is an interesting comparison-style review (video) from I like, they are usually entertaining, though their usually short formats prevent all that much crossing. But they find a lot of interesting things.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Reader's block" and the racing bike

In this episode of Kindle Chronicles, one of Len's listeners writes to him about an interesting phenomenon: She is and has been an avid reader all her life, but in periods, slowly getting worse, suffered from what she calls "reader's block", meaning she'd get stuck reading and couldn't make progress in a book, sometimes just staring at a page for hours.

Now that's a grim fate, but the most interesting part is that once she started reading on an ereader instead of paper books, the problem disappeared! She's read a good many books on her Kindle, and there's no sign of it returning.

Now what would cause that? I have no idea, but I think it's an interesting counter-balance to the idea that even I used to have, that e-reading would struggle to get just nearly as good as paper reading, when in fact it turned out that I'd only been e-reading (after iPad came around) for a couple of months when I found that I now greatly preferred it to paper reading. That surprised me.

It's not that I have any problems as such with reading on paper (except if the type is very tiny and I don't have my reading glasses). But I'm just more attracted to e-reading. I don't know why, it just feels more "alive" to me.

I'm reminded of when in my twenties I got a quality racing bike instead of the traditional solid, heavy bicycle. The lighter weight and the nimbleness of the racing bike simple made bike riding fun, it had never been that in my life. Further, distances seemed about 40% shorter. For a couple of summers then, I rode the bike to work, about 25 minutes each way. With my old bike, it'd have been 40 minutes I think, and it would have been a dreadful chore.

I think that when you take out several small delays and annoyances from something, the transformation in the experience can be much bigger than you'd foreseen.

More apps on an ereader

Here's a tip to run Android apps on a Nook Simple Touch e-ink reader (no backlight). Requires a bit of geek work, but a very good idea. Though it can't run all Android apps by far, some of those it can makes it much more versatile for reading RSS feeds and such. The lack of those things is one of the bigger limits of ereaders (as opposed to tablets). In fact I think it's silly that nobody has made an ereader which does all that stuff. Perhaps they are all afraid of cannibalising their ebook sales?

ereader holder

Thanks to Stephen for pointing to this DIY small-tablet holder.

The clamp goes on the lamp head, only the lamp shade has been removed. No screwing required. (That sounds familiar.)

Nook and Kobo in browser

B&N has released Nook for web, an ebook reader in your browser.

And just yesterday I found Kobo reader as a plugin for the Chrome browser. The interface seems good.

I like Kobo. The reader itself is nice, for example the rubbery surface is one of the nicest I've tried for an ereader/tablet device. And unlike Nook, Kobo is available in many countries outside the US, like UK and Singapore. The latter I know only because I have a friend in Singapore, and even Kindle is not available there, but Kobo is, and a good selection of books. That's well done by Kobo, getting all the rights and such sorted is surely by far no trivial task!

I think their market share is tiny compared to Kindle+Nook, so it's pretty amazing how well they are doing in so many areas, including various quite nice devices. It'll be interesting to see if they are still around in ten years, I hope so.

Most popular book by FAR

This is from the Google Play store... Good grief. And some people think I am a dirty old man because I have a site with cute nudie girls...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pick up milk, bread, iPad

Now they're selling iPads in the supermarket?
I know nobody like Apple to able to stretch the market vertically. A premium brand. That you can buy in the supermarket.

New Android prices

I must say the pricing development in Android tablets has been swift. Although it was also necessary! Two years ago the normal price for a good 7-inch tablet was about $600 if one didn't get a phone line contract. And it seems like now the new standard level is going to be around $200! One-third in two years, that's pretty amazing.

And starting with the Google Nexus 7, these tablets will be much less feature-scraped than the Kindle Fire 1 (except still low storage). Meaning they will begin to put more competitive pressure on the iPad for the first time.
OK, they also don't have cell phone net connection, but I never had that and never missed it. If I need to connect in the wild, I just go through my iPhone's hotspot.

Hey, does anybody know about the plans for 4G network in Europe and UK? It sounds like valuable technology, super-fast connection out there, but so far it seems it's really only extant in the US?