Kindle Touch: Embracing e-Reading

I bought a Kindle Touch over the summer for two reasons: 1) I wanted to take a bunch of books with me on vacation, and didn’t want to pack four hardcover novels and 2) I was jealous of my daughter’s Kindle.

StarGirl, age 9, got the Kindle Touch from her grandparents for Christmas and spent the next six months devouring books on it. Early in the summer the family went to Sandy Hook, N.J. for the day, and I decided to give it a try. I was curious about how well it held up in direct sunglight, which is something my iPad has a notoriously difficult time with.

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The Mysteries of Internet Explorer 9’s Compatibility Modes

It’s amazing what a little free time can do. Back in Autumn 2011 I worked hard to come up with wireframes, design comps, and an HTML build out of the new Nuketown. It was built on HTML5 and CSS3 and it was all going swimmingly … until I looked at it in Internet Explorer 9.

The entire design fell apart. IE9, which I thought had better standards support than its predecessors, simply didn’t understand HTML5 elements like “nav” or “figure”. It refused to style them, and without the formatting, the design collapsed. About the same time work got nuts, and most of my free time was devoured by work projects. I probably could have pressed ahead with Nuketown, but truth be told I just didn’t have the energy to fight the good fight.

Flashforward a few months. My big projects are complete, and I finally found some time to figure out what the hell was going so wrong with IE9. An hour of searching and experimentation revealed the answer: IE9 mode.

You see, Internet Explorer has a long history of “modes” — ways of operating that supported (or broke) certain standards. It was quirky to say the least, and I’d forgotten about it. By default, Internet Explorer 9 operates in compatibility mode, which apparently means it tries to display everything as a sucky old browser would, while choking on the latest HTML5 standards.

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cnn.com: Return of the Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 was the second computer I owned. The first was a Timex Sinclair (an ancient bit of technology that used a tape recorder for storing programs, and had a too-small, inflexible chicklet keyboard. Of course, it’s big advantage was that it was mine — while my mom taught me to program on an Apple II+, the Timex was the computer that I wrote my first original programs on.

The Commodore was a huge leap leap forward. For one, I got to hook it up to the spiffy new color TV I got for Confirmation. For another, it had an external floppy drive! No more having to carefully advance through the tape recorder, looking for exactly the right number to execute my program at. And the Commodore 64 had an amazing 64 kilobytes of memory, which made it ideal as a gaming platform for one of my all time favorite computer rpgs: Ultima II.

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Initial Thoughts on the iPad

I’ve had some time to play around with my friends’ Apple iPads since it was released. My initial impression? It’s gorgeous … but limited. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend on what you want it for.

Apple built the iPad as a consumption device, and it excels at that role. While some dismiss the iPad as little more than an oversized iPad touch, this misses its primary appeal: it’s huge, glossy screen. Yes, I can look at PDFs and comic books on an iPod touch, but what I see is a tiny fraction of what appears on the iPad. On a tablet, comic books loaded using the Marvel app display full-screen and are easily readable. You can zoom in if you like, but it’s not essential.

The same goes for PDFs — while there are several different ways to get PDFs onto your iPad, once they’re loaded they’re far easier to read than on a phone or a smaller device, like the Kindle or Nook. It surprises me that the iPad doesn’t do this natively – PDF support has always been strong in OS X – but perhaps the Adobe Flash spat is carrying over to this as well.

Web sites look great … unless they’re dependent on Flash, but honestly I dislike Flash sites and I already knew it would do that. My favorite sites tend to be blogs and text-heavy sites, and all displayed beautifully on the iPad. I see it as a great platform for casual reading with one caveat: weight.

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The Blue Dolphin Splashes Down at Nuketown

This is my first-ever post written on my family’s spiffy new Asus Eee PC netbook, aka “The Blue Dolphin”, so named because it’s small and blue, which led my wife to describe it as a baby blue dolphin on Twitter.

Anyway … we decided to get a netbook as a direct result of our summer vacation; I could have used it at Origins, and it would have been handy to have for writing on Butler Island on Lake Champlain (where we spent a week hanging out with family friends).

It’s a cute little machine — it ships with a 160 GB hard drive, wireless N support, a 4 cell battery capable of up to eigth hours of use (assuming you use the Asus power management tools), three USB ports, an SD card reader, an ethernet port and Windows XP.

I’ll forgive it for that last bit; I don’t have the energy to hack this thing to run Mac OS X, and if I have to run Windows, XP isn’t too bad (though I am curious about trying Windows 7 on it). The whole thing cost about $300 from Amazon. which made it a fairly inexpensive experiment.

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