Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bits and pieces - 09-27-09 - Update

Lots of news this last week.  Catching up here...
UPDATE 9/28/09 to add alternative smaller photos of the Kindle DX screen.  See bottom of this blog article for the smaller ones.

Len Edgerly's The Kindle Chronicles podcast continues with its weekly good stuff, and the last two weeks brought us a couple of really fun, interesting interviews.

 Friday's interview: Brad Stone.
  "Brad Stone, technology reporter in The New York Times’s San Francisco bureau, talks about secrecy at Apple and Amazon,  Dan Brown,  a Kindle developer apps store,  and the brilliant description his 22-year-old daughter had of his Kindle recently."

A trip to Belmont Library, Massachusetts:
  "Maureen Connors, left in photo, is director of the Belmont, Mass., Public Library.  She and Emily Smith, technology librarian, told me all about their impressive Kindle experiment on a visit I made to the library on Sept. 16."
  Len also provides video of the checking-out process for Kindles, including a mobile-light version also.

GOOGLE BRINGS US LIFE MAGAZINE, full original run 1936 to 1972
Google announced its partnership with LIFE Inc. " digitize LIFE Magazine's entire run as a weekly: over 1,860 issues, covering the years from 1936 to 1972."  I found out via a retweet by Jan Zlendich of the original tweet by @idigg of this great news.

 Don't miss The LIFE photography collection with its 10 million images, 97% of which were not published in the magazine.  These are all included in the Web and Image searches of Google.

FREE ONLINE TEXTBOOKS Offered by The University Press of Florida
The University Press of Florida will be offering free online textbooks and reduced-price print copies.  Nice trend!  
' The plan is to eventually provide free online textbooks for every general education class taught at any of Florida's 11 state universities, said Meredith Babb, director of the press.
  All they can do is offer the free books, Babb said. Professors can decide to adopt them or not.
  "Eight hundred dollars a semester [for textbooks] is stupid," she said. "Maybe the students will force the professors into some of these options. That would be nice." '
 Most of the textbooks are being made available in print as well, at 40 to 50% less than the prices of similar textbooks at other stores, she added.
  They also plan to make the e-books available in as many formats as possible.
  Thanks to Suzanne Preate and DigitalKoans for the tweeted information.

This pleasant surprise has even Apple stalwarts excited.  After stories that the Mac Tablet/iPAD will likely go for $800 next year when it is ever released, this one is likely to be not much cheaper, but Windows has always charged less, which is why it has about 95% of the business market despite the quality of the Apple offerings.

  GottaBeMobile summarizes the Gizmodo scoop with additional pictures and embeds the video, but here's the easier-to-read Youtube video of a computer rendering of what the 'tablet' may be able to do (these are inevitably smoother than the actual processes) .  It's said to be a prototype in the last stages of development.

  The Los Angeles Times's David Colker asks: "...but is it real?"
  Microsoft is coyly neither confirming or denying any of it :-).  ' "We do not comment on unreleased products," company spokesman Doug Free said. '

  The article points out that everything shown in the videoclip is done with fingers or stylus and no keyboard is shown. While the video'd tablet user is shown making many handwritten notes, handwriting recognition isn't shown in the video even though Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system is said to have handwriting recognition features.  That would be something.  This seems far down the road and if Apple does anything that it's rumored to be doing on a tablet, they may be out with theirs, supposedly, in February.

MY KINDLE DX - a bit off-topic about my new camera that took a picture of it)
  I got a new camera for a trip because I didn't want to bring two cameras as I had 3 years ago on my last trip.  This one will do the work of two.  Its megazoom lens goes from 28mm to 560mm with excellent clarity, though smaller cameras like this one with this kind of long-zoom flexibility always have a bit more noise/grain and also 'purple fringing' or chromatic aberration seen in big enlargements than the larger cameras will.  However, in-camera adjustments by the manufacturer at the time of shooting can cause other problems, and the fringing at 100% size (which is huge) is easily eliminated with the $25 PT lens utility, which is painless and amazing and sold by 'word of mouth' among photo nuts.

  I bought the older one (Canon SX10 IS), which is increasing in price these days because the new one (Canon SX20 IS) crams more megapixels into the same sized sensor and produces more noise and chromatic aberration than the older model.  This is okay with 4 x 6 photos but not as good at 8x10 and above.
  The attraction of the SX20 is its High Definition video.

  At any rate long-distance shots are amazingly clear and it gets closeups of things I cannot even see in the default wider/normal shooting settings.  If anyone reading has one of these, I saw good recommendations at forums (Amazon now owns, a fantastic site) to choose to shoot with sharpness =-1 and contrast =-1 and then you can edit afterward and wind up getting a very clean photo in the big enlargments.

  So, I took a photo of my DX at the ice cream shop to see if it could render the text and screen better than my other camera did, and it does.  It should, since it costs more. But it's better than I expected.  As you can see, the screen is extremely readable.

  UPDATE 9/28 - I was reminded that the photo I had originally put up was larger than the browser screen and when some browsers, by default, then resize-down the photo to make sure the full shot fits the screen, the resized version is barely legible.  So now I've now substituted the cropped version that you probably just clicked on above (it leaves the font size the same but cuts out the bottom of the Kindle) and a smaller, full shot which will fit a browser window.

(Apologies for all the experimenting.) Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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  1. Hi Andrys,

    Thanks for the link to the Courier tablet info. While just a concept at this stage, it holds a lot of interest for me with regard to the (potential) touch screen/stylus and handwriting interface. Something like this is kind of what I had in mind as at least the foundation for what I was envisioning as a useful “classroom Kindle,” in our discussion last week. Take care.

  2. Batman, I did think you'd like that news. And Microsoft has some handwriting recognition capability in Win7 so it's not unlikely it might be used here. Intersting times.


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