After much internal debate and turmoil, I finally succumbed to the idea of purchasing a Kindle. I must say that I’m quite pleased with the product, having been an early adopter of the Sony Reader and paying dearly for it, with the added insult to injury when Sony decided to drop support for it’s PRS 500 on the Mac a couple of years later. Yes. I own a Mac now. I cannot ever imagine visiting the Free Software Foundation again, having turned over to the dark side so radically by purchasing more than one DRM-infested, anti-libre product of the agents of darkness in the same year.

Back to the Kindle. It’s got a great big 9.7″ display that’s very crisp. The battery life is good, and e-ink technology just seems to be getting better. Screen repainting has room for improvement – I don’t see much of a difference between my three year old Sony and the new DX when it comes to the page refresh speed. I do see a marked difference in the sharpness of the image which makes reading PDFs with small text much more easy to handle. The auto rotating screen is nice except when trying to read in bed and if you don’t mind reaching out awkwardly to flip the page. The Sony Reader on the other hand has smarter button placement.

The highlighting feature is a cruel joke. Anything that requires you to maneuver a tiny joystick to select text clearly hasn’t considered the important market segment with hand-eye dis-coordination. Also, the placement of the said joystick – otherwise referred to as a 5-way controller – is poor IMHO. The DX is also great for magazines and PDFs with it’s large form factor. The built-in 3G is dangerous and runs the risk of bankrupting the Kindle owner.

I’m curiously watching the Kindle’s forays into social features such as showing the popular highlights by exploiting the naivete of users that opt to store their highlighted text on the Amazon servers for safekeeping.

In summary, I do love my new Kindle, despite its shortcomings.



I was under the impression that my thinkpad R50 had an IR port, but for the life of me I can’t seem to find it. I’ve been scouring every inch of my R50 all morning and came up with zilch. What’s strange is that IR was detected at some point in the past when I turned on my PDA but I wasn’t paying attention then and I haven’t been able to get it working since. And yes, I’ve recently purchased a PDA. A battered, old Sony Clie, cos it’s about time I got a little organized. And so far it has been working out well. I just wish I had gotten one sooner, but somehow the image of PDA wielding yuppies made the prospect undesirable a long time ago.

I deliberately went for the Sony Clie for several reasons:

1) It’s cheap.

2) I like the fact that it’s Sony.

3) Palm OS.

4) I don’t need most of the new-fangled features. All I need to do is manage lists and track events / meetings. Oh and rudimentary memo capabilities.

The SJ30 meets all the criteria. Although graffiti is pretty cool and easy to use, I prefer the pull up keyboard. I’m old fashioned that way.

Over the past few days, I’ve been using it exclusively, and daily TODO lists on paper is just a distant memory of more painful times. I still lug my battered notebook (the dead tree variety) to meetings to maintain my old fashioned, conservative, techno-Luddite image and synchronize notes to my PDA in the privacy of my cubicle.

Oh and I’ve installed Chess and Go so I can play while pretending to be planning my day.

Sony Reader Wishlist

Here’s a list of things I’d like to see in a future version of the Sony Reader.

1) Wireless – Not so much for surfing (although that would be nice), as transferring files from one device to another. Subject to DRM restrictions for files that are locked of course so publishers have not to worry and at the same time let open content be freely transferred amongst users.

2) Open up specifications to BBeB – Considering the latest series of PR blunders that Sony has made, allegedy in good faith, I think it’s in their best interest to realize that closing up protocols and specifications is stupid.

3) Search with some form of text input mechanism – Something I’d need eventually, and so will a lot of people. The current UI doesn’t scale, I don’t want to have to scroll through a hundred docs and PDFs to find what I want.

4) Highlighting and note-taking capability would be nice. This would require a decent text input mechanism. If this platform is ever going to succeed in academic circles, I think this would be a much welcome feature.

5) An optional backlight. Personally I don’t need this feature, but I know people who do.

6) Strip the mp3 player and cut the price. $350 is a big price tag for something like this. I would have preffered the price to be around $100 – $150. I guess it’ll get there eventually.

7) Colour. Colour Eink technology is out there, I hear. Fujitsu is already doing it.

8 ) Be good to project Gutenberg. Better wrapping, that sort of thing.

9) Support Linux. Be nice. Give back.

10) A root shell? Please?

It all comes down to that, really.

The Sony Reader that I ordered last week has finally arrived and I’m quite impressed with the little gadget. The best feature of it is probably the screen. It’s unbelievably easy to read. If you’ve ever used LCD/CRT-based screens to read e-books, you know what I’m talking about. The screen uses E-ink technology that eliminates flicker altogether. In addition, it doesn’t need any power to keep displaying a page, but only draws power when a screen needs to be repainted. And it’s built-in Lithium ion battery lasts for approximately 7500 page flips. It also includes an mp3 player, which might have been best left out. It comes preloaded with 1984, which I’ve wanted to read for sometime, having lost the paperback in a tragic traveling incident.

Coming back to the screen, it has no backlight, so reading in the dark is out of the question, but considering the long battery life, I have no complains. The angle of vision is excellent and causes very little glare, so it’s quite easy to read in even bright conditions. The downside is that it’s grayscale, but colour screens are probably just around the corner.

And then there’s the fact that it’s running a great operating system.

Messing with the Colonel

I’ve been reading Linux Kernel Development by Robert Love recently, and it’s exactly the book I’ve always been looking for. A number of kernel books have spent a long time in my wait queue gathering dust and becoming obsolete with every passing day. I’ve gazed longingly at the venerable Lion’s Book on many many occasions only to push it back in the queue because I felt I needed to finish another book first before I could move on to it.

I put an end to all the procrastination and dived into RML’s book and it was glorious. Seriously folks, five stars. It dives straight into the key aspects of the kernel with code commentary and examples. It doesn’t attempt to present all the details of the various interfaces and subsystems that it covers and leaves that as an excercise to the reader. Armed with something like LXR, this has never been easier.

Also, for those aspiring to mess around with the internals while at it, do check out UML (User Mode Linux) which is already in mainline 2.6 and excellent for creating sandboxes to play with.