Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Always impressed by Neal Stephenson.

October 19, 2008

I’m just back from a trip and many notable things occurred.  In no particular order:  I bought and read Anathem on my Kindle; I gave a 3 ½ hour presentation and I met someone in person whom I admire hugely.  Thus the last 4 days have been eventful.  This is meant to be an introduction to some thoughts rather than a dear diary.

Every time I read Neal Stephenson, I am brought to face my own intellectual shortcomings.  He is a true mental giant.  His books show that he thinks more productively in a day than I do in a year.  It is a tough reality to face.  Reading a 900 page book like Anathem requires commitment from even strong readers.  Writing it is unimaginable to me.

His work entertains me but more importantly, it inspires me to work harder to know more.  His online acknowledgment list provides a great place for me to start.

He’s going to be in Toronto on October 30th.  If I weren’t so busy right now, I would go.  I wonder what it would take to bring him to Cleveland?

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Shopping with The Kindle.

July 12, 2008

I told my friend Howard (from FNPL) that the Kindle is a life changing device.  His response was “Oh yeah?  So was the 8 track player in my old Vega.”  It’s hard to top that, but if you read a lot, the Kindle really will change your life.

It’s not the screen which has fixed contrast and is not back-lit.  The screen seems to be designed to work best in bright light.  I’ve had it at the pool and it is perfect in sunlight.  In dim light, one blogger said it best:  “it’s like reading wet newspaper.”  Again, while quite functional, the screen isn’t the mainstay here.

The game changing aspect of the Kindle is the built-in wireless service.  This is wireless service as in cell phone data service and it is free.  More precisely, they probably get paid when you buy books, but you don’t pay them anything directly as a consumer.  This service lets you buy any book Amazon sells for the Kindle anywhere.  Want a book on how to keep your kids busy on a rainy day?  Done!  Want to learn about improving your focus?  Done!  Want to buy a romance novel?  Er, done?

You can also read sections of books before you buy them.  This has created a dilemma for me.  I’m cheap, you see.  So if I download a bunch of samples from books, I could figure out which ones I like and then request them at the library.  Sure it would take longer to get the books, but they would be free!  I have to resist this.  The whole point of the Kindle is that you get what you want immediately.  No bookstores, no libraries, no gas money to get you to these places either.  It’s the biggest bookstore in the world that you put in your briefcase.

The 1st book I bought was Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. I’m going to use it mostly for reference.  That’s another Kindle advantage.  It’s also a reference library anywhere you need it.

So yes, in 20 years, I’ll look back fondly on my 1st Kindle as the amazing device that it was, although probably not the same way Howard thinks about the 8 track in his Vega.
The Kindle