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Why Cory Doctorow won’t buy an iPad, pt 2 (podcast)

April 28th, 2010 · opinion

Cory just posted this over on Boing Boing:

Last week while I was stranded by the volcano, I did an interview with the TVOntario Search Engine podcast about the iPad and why I thought that its policy and infrastructure should make it a no-go zone for publishers, users and authors.

MP3 Link

I still disagree with him.

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Entourage Edge Review, pt 2

April 24th, 2010 · hardware reviews

Sorry about the delay; I had technical issues and then got distracted (my Spring Design Alex arrived on Wednesday). I would think that most people are familiar with the Edge, but just in case you’re not, here’s a brief description.

The Edge is an unique dual screen device the Edge is about the size and shape of a netbook. It has 2 screens, one is a 9.7” E-ink screen and the other a 10”LCD screen. (Obviously it does not have a keyboard.) Both screens are touchscreens; the E-ink has a Wacom screen and the LCD touchscreen is capacitive (fingertip friendly). It weighs 3lbs, and the weight is fairly evenly split between the 2 halves.

The LCD is on the right. There is a webcam above it, and 4 buttons and a jogdial next to it. There is a slot behind and below the LCD screen for a Wacom stylus; you’ need that stylus for the Wacom touchscreen.

All the ports, card slots, and battery are on the left half of the Edge. There are 4 buttons immediately to the left of the E-ink screen. The battery is on the lower edge, and there is a sim card slot, SD card slot, mini USB port, and a Wifi switch on the upper edge. On the left edge of the Edge are 2 USB Host ports, volume buttons, microphone & headphone jacks, and the power button.
[Read more →]

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Entourage Edge Review, pt 1

April 14th, 2010 · hardware reviews

This post was originally titled “How does the Edge compare to a netbook?”, but it seems to have gone sideways in a couple different directions.

When I first phrased the question, I was thinking of a laptop, not a netbook. But that was mainly because my main computer is a 12″ laptop, which is just barely too large to qualify as a netbook. (Netbooks are a subset of laptops, anyway).

BTW, I also wrote a post about how the Edge can export annotations. You can find it over here.

[Read more →]

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Entourage Edge Review, pt 0

April 9th, 2010 · hardware reviews

I know I’m a couple months behind everyone else, but this is one situation where I like it that way. This is not going to be an easy review.

I’ve had an Edge for 3 days now, and it has reinforced the impressions I got when I saw it back in December. It’s a fascinating tool, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to play with. I’m already beginning to form an opinion, but I won’t share it here.

This isn’t an ereader; it’s so much more than that. I don’t know that I will be able to make a clear recommendation (for or against) because there are a dozen or more reasons that might affect your decision.

E-readers are comparatively simple. They display text, and some let you annotate that text. Like I said back in December, the Edge can do so much more. The closest tool to an Edge is a netbook, not an ereader.

Just to give you an idea of where I’m going to take this review, here are some of the questions I plan to answer:

  1. How does the Edge compare to a netbook? What can one do that the other cannot?
  2. How is the Edge and a laptop used in comparison to the same laptop and textbooks? (ditto for desktop)
  3. Could the Edge be a complete replacement for a netbook?Would a desktop PC partnered with the Edge be better than the same desktop partnered with a netbook?
  4. Would a laptop partnered with the Edge be better than the same laptop partnered with a netbook?
  5. How does the Edge compare to an ereader in terms of usability?

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How Not to Use Ebooks as a Promotion Tool, pt II

April 8th, 2010 · opinion

April has begun, which means it’s National Poetry Month here in the US. Most poetry publishers will be doing something to celebrate this month, and FSG (a Macmillan imprint) is no exception.

FSG is repeating the mistake they made last year. As part of National Poetry Month, FSG is sending a new poem everyday. I’m on their mailing  list, and I have to say that the daily poem is a pleasant change from what I usually read.

Unfortunately, FSG sends the poems not as text, but as images. Yes, I understand that formatting is incredibly important, but this causes more problems than it fixes. Let’s start with the obvious. I block pictures in emails as a security measure. (Gmail does this automatically). Actually, last year I sent a couple complaints about not getting the poem before they explained. BTW, both of the email clients I looked at recently block images automatically.

One thing that just occurred to me is that the images FSG sent cannot be read TTS software. I wonder why FSG hates the disabled.

And these images are also difficult to use on a mobile device. The poems do not share a common font family or font size, and for the most part the image resolution is too high for most mobile devices.

Is HTML really too much to ask?

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A brief review of the SmartQ V7, pt 2

April 7th, 2010 · hardware reviews, smartq, software reviews

This is the second part of my review, and you probably should read the first part. In this part I’m going to compare the 2 units and discuss where the V7 falls short. It may sound odd that I am already dismissing the V7, but I really don’t see a reason to buy the SmartQ V7 at all. It has a capable and cheaper predecessor which has fewer bugs and equal performance. If you want to buy a Linux tablet, the V7 isn’t it. Actually, if you want a small tablet of any kind (Linux, Android, WinCE), the V7 isn’t it. [Read more →]

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How Not to Use Ebooks as a Promotion Tool, pt I

April 5th, 2010 · opinion

This was going to be the second in the series, but since the free ebook is only available for the next couple days I decided to discuss it first.

Who: University of Chicago Press

What: a free ebook every month (this month it’s an autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Last by Leo Durocher)

What’s wrong with it: The free ebooks are encumbered by Adobe DE DRM, and require Adobe DE. While this may be annoying, it’s not the problem.  The problem here is that the download process is broken, and has been broken for every free ebook for the last 3 months. At a minimum, I usually have to try to download the ebook several times before it works. Why is this bad, do you ask? Simple. They’ve made it easier and more pleasant to go find a pirated copy than to get a free one legally. How does that promote their sales, exactly?

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Pocketbook 302 Review, pt 1 (hands on video)

March 1st, 2010 · hardware reviews

I got one of the first PB302 while I was at the O’Reilly conference last week. I’m going to follow my usual pattern of posting my impressions before posting a full review. I’ve covered the Pocketbook 302 before, and I’ve taken several photos (here and here).

It’s a 6″ ereader with touchscreen. The design is sparse, but the buttons are well placed. There is a stylus, microSD card slot on the upper edge, and the headphone jack & 2 USB ports on the bottom edge (it has USB host). The battery is user replaceable (there is a panel on the back). The PB302 also has an accelerometer, Bluetooth, and Wifi, and includes support for WPA and WEP security. The Wifi works rather well.

There are only 5 buttons on the front of the PB302. There are 2 on either side of the screen, and an escape button below the screen. Normally, I’d name all the buttons based on their function, but here’s the first neat feature of the PB302: you can remap the 4 buttons so they perform different actions. They default as page turns, but you’re offered a broad selection of alternatives. I’m frankly surprised at how many different actions there are; I honestly can’t think of one that’s not in the list. You also have the option of mapping functions to the power button. Press and hold will always turn off the 302, but tap and double-tap can be set to any of the options.

Reading software

It’s using Adobe Reader Mobile and FBReader. It appears to have full feature support for FBReader. Screen refresh is slightly faster than the Nook. Since we know the Nook has one of the latest generation Marvell chips (and the 302 doesn’t), I’d say that the PB302 comes out ahead in this comparison. I’m quite happy with it as a reader.

General Impressions

The touchscreen is highly reflective (I’m told they’re working on it). Even so, I’m satisfied with the PB 302 as a reader. It meets my minimum requirements: sleep mode, adequate format support, & one handed operation. I’ve gone though most of its abilities and I can’t find any shortcomings.

Extra Features

With the 302, you have the option of installing your own apps. It comes with about a dozen apps installed: games, dictionary, clock, sketchpad, web browser, RSS feed reader. It was the browser and RSS reader that originally caught my eye. Both of them work rather well.

I wish it had an email client, though.

Video

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