January 8th, 2011

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

From the standpoint of my work, yesterday was definitely a better day than the previous one, as I described in an earlier post, and thank goodness. I'm still mulling the day over, and probably will be for several more days (weeks?).

I was late arriving, but happy to participate in services with our Havurah. It's always pleasant at the Archers.

Once home, I put on disc 2 of the HBO series The Pacific, which purports to be the US Marine version of Band of Brothers, but it isn't gelling the same way. Somehow, I'm not caring about these guys like I did the paratroopers. I'll probably finish watching the saga (two more discs) unless it goes further downhill from here.

I finished off the night with putting on via streaming episode one of Farscape. I've watched this episode before, once, was unimpressed, and left the series be. However, I've done that before, and I've been told that I really missed out; cases in point includes Babylon 5 and the remake of Battlestar Galactica. I've heard a lot of people, over the years, saying a lot of good things about Farscape, and so since it's back on Netflix's streaming list, I thought I'd at least give it more of a try. Let's see how it goes.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Especially when I'm on hospital duty, I do a lot of driving in my work. It's one of the things that can be tiring about my job. However, it's also deadly dangerous. I continue to be amazed at the rampant stupidity of so many of the other drivers. It's terrifying.

Daily, I see people running red lights. Daily, I see people turning right ignoring oncoming traffic in the lanes that they're entering. I can't begin to count the number of times I've been nearly hit by people ignoring stop signs, or pretending that a rolling stop is a real one. You know the law about who goes first when two cars reach a stop sign at the same time? You know...the car to the right? Why doesn't anyone else in the Inland Empire seem to know this law?

But yesterday was the worst I've seen yet. I was driving on a major street, when I saw a school bus on the opposite side of the street with its red lights flashing, and its stop sign deployed. The law is that all vehicles driving in both directions are supposed to stop for this, and I did. The driver in the car behind me leaned on his horn, and stayed on it the whole time (four minutes) that we were stopped, even though the car to my left in the other northbound lane also stopped. I have to assume that the jerk had bribed his way into getting his license from the DMV.

I hope it made him very happy. Too bad the police weren't nearby, because I think that display of pique would have gotten him a ticket for disturbing the peace.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

I've had some experiences dealing with electronic reading devices over the years, and I felt like writing a bit about it.

I'm going to limit this to hand-held devices, rather than desktop or laptop computers. Certainly, you can use either for the job, but it's far, far different than the experience of holding a book.

I've worked with four different types of gear to use as readers. The first was a Sony DataDiscman, the second type was a Palm (though I've had two different types of Palms, I'm going to look at them as essentially one, because there was little difference between them aside from the first being a black & white screen, and the second being color), the third was a Sony PRS 700 digital book, and the latest is a generic E-Reader which has no identifying marks, and I haven't the slightest idea where it comes from.

The Datadiscman was an early attempt to produce an electronic book that was pretty much a failure. Here was an expensive piece of technology, and then to top it off, you had to buy discs to plug into it that had the "books" encoded into them. Very few books were ever put on these discs, aside from some reference materials. I had been given one as a gift, and picked up the handful of discs that seemed at least mildly interesting, but used it little because there was little to use. I think you can find them occasionally on Ebay, these days.

I can say that I've actually read a book on my Palm. The good thing about using PDAs to read is that you can download material freely from places like Project Gutenberg, and some of their files are Palm compatible. I also found software someplace that would take a text file, and make it into a .pdb for use on a Palm. The downside, though, was the screen was tiny, and I was paging like a madman trying to keep up with my reading speed. Not perfect, but vastly better than the Discman.

After the Kindle was released, Sony put out a couple of readers, and I was again gifted with the PRS 700. I liked the screen, both in size and in the ability to modify the font for legibility, though it was black & white only. I liked that you could purchase books online to add to it. I was amused that I could put music files on it, or possibly audiobooks, though I'd have to use an ear bud, since it had no speakers. I could even put on .txt files that I'd gotten from other sources, as well as .pdf files, to use on the item. However, it turns out that the item of technology was far more fragile than any of the previous readers I'd used. I had to send my PRS 700 back to Sony twice because of catastrophic failures. The good thing was that they were repairable; the first was under warranty, even. Still, I'm a bit gun-shy about carrying it with me.

Recently, my wife and I had noticed that we were seeing lots of electronic reader knock-offs for sale at all sorts of places, for example, Bed, Bath & Beyond! So when another person gifted me with a generic E-Reader from somewhere on the Western Shore of the Pacific Rim, I was skeptical about it. Still, it had speakers! And it was in COLOR! So I thought I'd give it a try. It was loaded with a movie, some music videos, some music files, and a couple of text files, some of which were in Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Seems like it works well, and it also appears to be more rugged than the Sony is. I've loaded it with a variety of material, and it's nice to see .pdf files that are in color showing their full regalia.

I suspect that there's going to be a lot of cheaper and cheaper ebook readers over the next decade, probably chock full of more bells and whistles than the early ones, and probably with more and more of the bugs worked out. NPR suggested this week that the future of electronic books is upon us already, and that their onset is starting to kill off some bookstore chains. Maybe. I know that I do love books, per se. But I also like the option to wander with an entire library in my pocket, as well.