Sunday, December 11, 2011

Google Currents to take on Flipboard and Zite

The war of the news reader has started. First it's both Flipboard and Zite bringing their iPad news reader to iPhone. Now we have Google Current for both android and iOS.
I feel it is not as polished as the other two, although it does support offline reading. Personally, I think with all connectivity available now, offline reading is less compelling. Unless you are reading a book.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Changing my eBook reader from iBooks to the Kindle App

It is not because I have a Kindle 3 reader, which incidentally is for the wife My primary reader is the iPad, or the iPhone if I am waiting in line at the doctor's office.

iBooks was my the default reader, but I find the lack of controls in iBooks to be main reason for the change to the Kindle app.

iBooks' performance on my original iPad is not good, and the sluggish page turning animation is probably the culprit. This hampers my reading experience. At least for the Kindle App I can turn the animation off. Not so for iBooks.

Another thing is the page margins. iBooks IMHO has too much white spaces, and we are not given any options to change it.

In short, the extra step to convert an ePub book (iBooks) to Mobi (Kindle) is a a big deal considering that the reading experience counts for everything. Fancy book turning animation may look good in a demo, but for some, simplicity is the key. At the very least iBooks should provide the options, which they do not.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

An evaluation of the Amazon Kindle 3 eBook reader

Amazon Kindle 3
I've just received my Kindle 3 today in Singapore.

Here's my experience with the Kindle 3 after using the iPad in the past year for reading eBooks.

1. The e-Ink device is actually better for reading. But with the low light situation in my living room, the advantage was negated. Reading outdoors, the Kindle is brillant! With my reading mostly indoors and at night, the iPad (with backlighting) may be better for me.

2. No touch sceen. The buttons took me a while to get used to, after initially trying to touch the screen to do something. The keys and buttons are actually quite ok once you get familiarized with them.

3. Battery life. I assumed that with the electronic ink, I should be getting on average at least a month's worth of reading on a single charge. I think this is one of the advantage of a e-Ink reader.

4. Reading PDFs. Some PDFs are okay but have to be read in landscape mode. Overall, the resolution of the device meant that any serious PDF reading is out.

5. eBook Format. Have to convert ePub eBooks to the Kindle's Mobi format. That's one thing that I wish Amazon will try to include in the future, i.e. the support of the ePub format.

6. Two experimental features on the Kindle 3:

  • A web browser.
  • An mp3 player.

Let's just leave them at that, experimental features. The kindle 3 is really best used as a dedicate eBook reader.

7. eBook store. Now we are talking about the biggest advantage of the kindle. Amazon currently still has the most eBook titles. Buying them here in Singapore still requires some workaround, but the good thing is any eBook purchase will automatically be synced not only on the Kindle and also the Kindle reader app on my iPhone/iPad.

Verdict: Very readable, a big selections of Books, very light and a great form factor. Perfect for reading eBooks with some compromise for reading PDFs. For anything else, buy a tablet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Google finally releases an official Blogger iPhone app

You can't view comments or add links to external sites. Hope they will add the features soon.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Documentary - Bill Gates - How A Geek Changed The World

An excellent documentary video on Bill Gates just before his retirement from Microsoft.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Histamatic iPhone App - Base Comparison Chart

This app (paid) has better quality then the free Instagram so fills a niche area of photography for me.

This chart would be bigger if there is a flash on my iPhone 3GS. Still, this is good guide for me to choose what lenses to use as there is not much difference with different film types.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The problem with eBooks

I've been reading eBooks ever since the palm pilot days. Whatever one can say about the disadvantage of reading from a 160x160 pixel screen, we can't deny the advantage of having a library of books at your beckon and call in a small device.

Fast forward to the present and many of the obstacles for reading ebooks are being resolved, judging from the sales of eBooks in recent years.

Hardware to read eBooks are also not longer an issue as a reader can now choose to read on any device to their liking, whether it be a laptop, an iPad or a dedicated eBook device like the Kindle. The only decision a consumer have to make now is the choice of the book store, Amazon, B&N, iBooks.

So what's the problem? Simply put, one still can't buy a book outside the US. In this age of globalisation, it is unthinkable that book publishing industry still has no solution for the sale and distribution of what essentially are just packets of data. There are similarities to the music and movie business. As this post is about eBook, I won't digress there.

In my case, my Amazon account refuses to sell me any ebooks for the Kindle app in my iPad. This is probably because it has detected my Singapore address or that my credit card is not issued by a US Bank. Ironically, I am able still able buy the same paperback book from Amazon but have a pay almost as much as the book's cost to ship the book half way around the world to Singapore.

Technology with the eBook has made the book publishing more efficient, and it frustrating to see it crippled by the outdated publishing rights and legality. The industry has to catch up, and a solution is required immediately.

Of course, there are ways to circumvent this barrier. I can buy an prepaid Amazon gift voucher, remove my payment information, and use the voucher for Kindle eBooks. Similarly, the same solution can be applied to the iBooks store with the purchase of the prepaid Apple Gift Voucher and a US Apple ID without payment details.

But that's not the point. A consumer shouldn't be jumping hoops for the failure of the book publishing industry.

Incidentally, I've been receiving emails from Amazon regularly trying to sell me a Kindle. I bet it would not shipped outside the US, so why bother?