I’m a Kindle Schizophrenic

Last night, while I was cleaning out the attic in my house, I uncovered a few old magazines and pamphlets, most from the late 20′s. Awesome! In amazing shape, it was awesome to flip through the pages and image that someone 80 years ago could have been sitting up there doing the exact same thing. If paper media went extinct, what would my grandkids find in 80 years? A cracked up Kindle? Definitely not as cool.

Perhaps this is why I’m a Kindle schizophrenic. One minute I want a Kindle and the next I think it’s an absolute waste of money.

On one hand, the thought of being able to carry a virtual library in my pocket (or bag) is appealing. I envision the technology – and hefty price tag – forcing me to do the reading I’ve been avoiding.

On the other hand, I think about all of the books that are already in circulation. The ones that I can borrow from the local library for free or pick up at a garage sale for a couple of cents. Sure the convenience is not there, but since I’m not a world traveler, I can certainly afford the calorie burn associated with lugging a book or two.

One thing I am certain of: I have no interest in a larger Kindle that is designed to read newspapers and magazines. There’s a press conference scheduled for tomorrow that will likely unveil just that. Can Amazon help revive old media? Probably not.

First and foremost, there is a content issue – not a content delivery issue. So unless Kindle will allow users to interact with their favorite “print” publishers in a new and exciting way, I can’t see too many people getting jazzed up about this.

Also, everyone I talk to, whether they are 20 or 70, claim they will never let go of the physical product. EVER. I have no reason to believe they are all lying. The number of “physical” readers might dwindle as the years and decades roll by, but it will not disappear.

And it never should. I’m more convinced of this than ever before.

But I was also the guy who always thought he’d want his CD artwork. Maybe I’m not just a Kindle schizophrenic – but a man with multiple personalities. ;-)

Early Adopters Are Entitled to Nothing

iphone_16gb

The iPhone doubles in memory to 16GB and the iPod touch climbs to 32GB. Forget the celebrations in the street. If you’re really quiet, you can actually hear tears of sorrow.

Prices change. Things improve. Life goes on.

For some reason, that’s a difficult concept for consumers to comprehend. The first thing they do is hit up the blogs and forums to see if the company will “make good” since they were early adopters.

With technology evolving at lightning speeds, do early adopters deserve price adjustments? Rebates? Leniency on returns?

Jack of All Blogs says ‘NO.’

It stinks, but life is a lot about luck. One minute you’re crossing the street. The next, you’re dead. Tough break.

Just because something is shinier and more powerful with a longer battery life and water resistant shell, doesn’t mean you get a refund on the model you bought last month. Sorry.

If a restaurant changed its prices or beefed up its portions the day after you ate there, would you demand compensation? No.

If your predecessor at your place of employment made $10k more than you, would you be able to squeeze it out of your boss? Likely not.

What if you voted in an election and then the elected changes their entire platform. Guess what. You’re NOT getting your vote back.

In life there’s no going backwards. No mulligans.

These folks are just mad that they no longer have the latest and greatest, which is the driving force behind the early purchase to begin with.

Sorry gang. The reality is, you’re still ahead of the curve. Lighten up.

Larger Gadgets Will Rise Again

apple

Is it just me or is anyone else glad that the Consumer Electronics Show is over and that MacWorld is winding down?

Like the next guy, I’m a sucker for lighter, smaller, and shinier – but there comes a point when enough’s enough. I’ve heard more Apple rumors than I’ve heard presidential primary results.

And now, thin continues to be in. It’s not just Lindsay Lohan’s waistline that’s shrinking, but the MacBook too. At just 0.16” at its thinnest point, the thing is impressively emaciated. And so are the specs with a slow processor and limited upgrade potential.

We’re suckers for skinny, but if you look beneath the surface – at the MacBook or Lindsay – you’ll see that beauty is only skin deep. Or in this case, as deep as the bones perturbing through the skin.

All trends have a cycle. Will we see a day where BIG makes a comeback? Big women, big gadgets, big cars?

Supersize had it’s time. And it will rise again.

As a consumer-driven society we need people to know what we own. Hell, if the iPhone got to the point of a microscopic chip that could be implanted in your brain, how would you show it off at the mall?

Small has its limits.

Boomboxes had their rise.

Our cell phones won’t return to brick-size, but there will be a balance. Jack of All Blogs guarantees it.

The Jesus Phone is Not All That Fast

It was supposed to be the end-all, be-all of phones. Scoble was all excited over it (which made him look really stupid, in my opinion), and the 400,000 or so bloggers have set the blogosphere abuzz with postings about the iPhone, and the 700,000 people or so who have bought the iPhone in its opening weekend.

But the iPhone isn’t all that great. Forget the jazzy new touch-screen glass interface. Forget that it seems to have missed out on some basic phone features. What I’m talking about here is how the iPhone is being bragged as an all-in-one device, especially an Internet-connected device. Sure it has WiFi, but WiFi access points are very limited after all. And when you’re out there in the real world, you have nothing else to rely on but your cellular service.

So a good mobile Internet device should be able to give you broadband access from anywhere. What does the iPhone have? EDGE.

EDGE? WTF? If you don’t know what EDGE is, it’s simply GPRS multiplied several times over. And GPRS maxes out at 30 Kbps or so. So that means EDGE will max out at either about 200 Kbps or 400 Kbps, depending on the network (I know my math sucks, but this is what the marketing materials say).

But trust me, even mobile networks in backwards, underdeveloped countries can support speeds faster than 400 Kbps! They have true 3G (whereas EDGE is technically 3G, but very slow compared to other technologies). They have HSDPA and all sorts of acronyms that stand for “very fast mobile internet.” But the iPhone, which is supposed to be the epitome of advancement and evolution in mobile technology can just support EDGE!

How ironic.

I’m not sure if this is just a limitation of AT&T, the sole carrier that offers the iPhone, or that if they limited themselves to EDGE so users will have broadband across AT&T’s coverage. But they could have done better. EDGE sucks, really. I expected better of Apple.

Flash – Love It, Hate It

flash-slide.pngI’m not so fond of those animated thingamajigs blogs and websites often have these days. They range from video apps like YouTube and MetaCafe, and photo slideshows like slide.com and even Flickr. Some sites even have the tenacity to display animated banner ads in Flash!

Why do I hate them? For one, they tend to eat up memory and processing power, especially when I have a lot of tabs open on my browser (whether it’s Safari or Firefox). That’s even when they’re in the background. Secondly, they eat up bandwidth, especially those that decide to automatically turn on and play by themselves, without even asking me to click a thing.

Some of my friends have flash embedded on their social networking profiles (particularly on MySpace and Friendster, which let you do horrendous customizations). Worse, they automatically play some songs or videos that I just find tacky. I tend to avoid visiting these people’s pages altogether.

I’ve lost a draft blog post, or two, or three, because of these Flash animations that just pop up and freeze up my browser when I’m browsing other sites (for reference, quoting or links). Good thing the latest version of WordPress has auto-save, but that doesn’t always do the trick.

It’s also darn slow. Friends send me links for photos on auto-slideshow services like slide.com, but I would rather not wait for the entire animation to load (I have no patience to wait for the status bar to reach that 100% mark). I would rather go to a photo sharing/community site like Flickr.

But wait, Flickr uses flash, too. However, that’s only for those views where you need to drag and drop items for organizing, or when you want to create a flash badge or button, or when an image has annotations. Otherwise, flickr photo pages are just plain ol’ HTML. It’s not as obtrusve as other applications, and Flickr doesn’t make you wait just to see a photo.

Flash is good because it’s more or less the standard already for animated web content. You don’t have to ask users to download different proprietary plugins, and you can be sure that most are able to view your content. But sometimes it’s just too much, especially if the animations load up automatically, and if they take a long time to load. If it’s the bulk of the content (say it’s a video that a user wants to watch), then fine. But if it just impedes in the user experience, then it’s best to do away with animations of all kind.

That’s why I prefer reading blogs using my RSS reader.

Think Global, Sue Local

You thought running a big tech giant is easy? Well, it’s probably easy enough if your company deals with manufacturing tech goods and the like. But when you’re main business mostly involves the Internet, and thus spans countries and continents, it’s sometimes difficult to deal with laws and whatnot in those countries.

Take for example the Youtube fiasco involving Thailand and its revered king. Or what about Microsoft getting successfully sued in the EU for antitrust? Remember “Gmail” vs. “Googlemail”?

What’s the common denominator? The business is global, but the issues are local. Youtube was blocked in Thailand because of a single video offensive to the Thai monarchy. Microsoft was asked to unbundle Media Player and IE from Windows in the EU. Someone else owned the “Gmail” trademark in the UK, so Google had to use “googlemail” instead in some European countries.

Here’s another fairly recent one. Google is currently in trouble in the EU for potential violations of privacy laws. The BBC says that an advisory group to the European Union has asked Google to clarify its policy of retaining users’ search data for up to two years.

So now Google may find the need to again tailor-fit its policies and services to conform to the law in the EU.

I don’t think this is an issue elsewhere. Or if it is, this has likely been resolved. Frankly, I don’t care whether this affects my country or not. I’m not doing anything illegal or incriminating anyway.

OMG! Apple Just Patented The Lanyard.

nano_lanyard_buds.jpgSurprising news via cellphone9. Apple has filed a patent for the lanyard.

Apple is starting it. They filed a patent for the oh so typical lanyard you string around your neck to hang the iPod to make it do more things. Like flash lights to the beat of your heart when jogging or interface with other wireless devices. The future of the lanyard is now!

Okay, I guess it’s not really your typical lanyard that just serves the sole function of letting you strap your phone to your wrist or hang it around your neck. It’s more of the high-tech lanyard gadgetry, wherein you can plug in accessories and other peripherals. In short, the lanyard is a peripheral in itself–something that adds connectivity features to your device.

MacNN says it’s more than your regular strap.

Apple’s patent generally relates to lanyards for handheld electronic devices and more particularly, lanyards that incorporate electronic circuitry. Apple’s next generation of lanyards discussed in the patent go far beyond today’s designs to accommodate their upcoming iPhone and other future iterations of the iPod. In some cases, the lanyard itself will add functionality beyond those of the attached devices, such as adding telephony to any iPod, lighting effects that relate to heart rates for joggers and additional input facilitators such as buttons, touch pads or sliders.

But this is the kind of news that tends to make me critical of how far companies will go to grab the rights to a simple technology. Sure, you have to specify what exactly a technology should be and do, to qualify as a patent holder. Then if someone else wants to do something exactly like how you do it, he must pay royalties.

Of course, there are arguments for and against patenting technologies. And this pretty much centers on innovation. Some would say that patents are stifling to innovation since it becomes costly to develop products based on another entity’s patents, since you have to pay licensing fees or royalties. Others say that patents encourage innovation, since an inventor can potentially earn from whatever new technology he invents or designs.

It’s the same double-edged sword for consumers. We’re happy because companies like Apple can invent the iPod, the Mac and the iPhone–all based on several technologies that they own the rights to, or have paid licensing fees for. But then the other side of the coin is that we consumers also have to shoulder part of the cost of licensing technologies, as part of the retail price.

So Apple reinvented

the wheel

the lanyard. Some day these people will think of a way to plug in the lanyard directly to a port at the back of our heads so we can hardline music to our brains!

Google Has Aces Up Its Sleeve

rss.jpgJust when you thought that Google has been putting on a show of strength with its dominance (not inly in the search industry, but also in web apps and new media), it pulls up another ace from its sleeve. Google Reader, which has been lagging behind other popular RSS feed reading clients like Bloglines and Netvibes in terms of user base, has recently started releasing reader statistics. This is mostly important for letting feed service providers and analytics software get a more accurate representation of its readers.

And guess what people found out: Google Reader actually leads the pack! A lot were surprised when their feed readers suddenly jumped up several times over.

Apparently, when Google Reader was still not releasing feed subscription stats, it had been bundled in along with “others” in statistics. But it was actually better than, say, Bloglines, which many consider to be the more popular reader, in terms of the number of people using it.

So then what does this mean for us? It means there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Google. Google may be the 950-pound gorilla that smaller service providers and web app creators may have to face, but then it’s not only the big things that one has to watch out for.

Pr0n in High Definition? No Thank You!

cat-dvd.jpgThe New York Times is reporting that some factions of the adult entertainment industry are having problems with the rise in popularity of the high-definition video format–both Blu Ray and HD-DVD, which are in fierce competition against each other today.

The problem? It’s just too real! High-def makes things so detailed, so vivid, and so pronounced, that you can see imperfections with the naked eye (okay, no pun intended!).

They have discovered that the technology is sometimes not so sexy. The high-definition format is accentuating imperfections in the actors — from a little extra cellulite on a leg to wrinkles around the eyes.

Producers are taking steps to hide the imperfections. Some shots are lit differently, while some actors simply are not shot at certain angles, or are getting cosmetic surgery, or seeking expert grooming.

Perhaps to most people, this is the idea–for the watcher to actually feel the scene as if it were right next to him/her.

True, watching movies in high definition might help more with the illusion of reality. I mean if it’s detailed and clear enough, you might as well be actually there in the scenes you’re watching. However, the idea of watching adult movies this way seems a bit discomforting somehow. More so if the imagery looks so real that it mimics real life too accurately–and that means full of imperfections.

Jesse Jane, one of the industry’s biggest stars, plans to go under the knife next month to deal with one side effect of high-definition. The images are so clear that Ms. Jane’s breast implants, from an operation six years ago, can be seen bulging oddly on screen.

“I’m having my breasts redone because of HD,” she said.

The stretch marks on Ms. Jane from seven years ago when she gave birth to her son are also more apparent. But she deals with those blemishes in a simpler way: by liberal use of tanning spray.

At any rate, pornography is said to be a driver of technology. Perhaps these guys will figure out a way to take advantage of HD without necessarily having troubles with the disadvantages. Maybe they’ll develop some magic makeup that makes blemishes disappear in an instant. Until then, imperfections would have to be either zapped out in post-production or cut away with surgery.

WordPress, Akismet : Google or Yahoo?

Lorelle’s entry yesterday touched something I have been thinking of a lot lately. And the topic came up today in a discussion with a colleague as well.

WordPress is a great platform, but a service which has become even more admirable is Akismet, the spam filter created by Automattic.

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