Electronic books, or “e-books”, are coming. Some would say they are already here, with several major releases such as the Sony Reader and iRex iLiad over the last year or so.
What is the big deal? Haven’t we been able to read books on computers or electronic devices for years? Yes, but try reading pages upon pages of text on a glowing computer display for hours and hours: your eyes will suffer. LCD displays without backlighting have viewability and resolution limitations. Most of the attempts at electronic books until the last year or so have lacked a great deal of the convenience and eye-friendly readability of the paper alternative. That is, until the development of e-Ink.
E-Ink or “electronic paper” is a totally different kind of display technology that is far more like the paper it is attempting to replace than anything that has come before. I’ve been watching the various e-Ink based devices for some time now, and made the leap a couple of weeks ago: I ordered an iRex iLiad. I’ve had it for just over a week now.
So what is it like? Is it worth the price I paid? Read on…
All the cool people in the world use Macintoshes. If you use something other than a Macintosh you are, by definition, not cool. It goes without saying that the only real innovation that takes place in the world takes place on a Macintosh, and the greatest innovations that occur on Macintoshes occur within the Holy Shrine itself: Apple.
My friend Chris and I make a regular habit of going together to airshows. I’m not terribly knowledgeable about aircraft, but I greatly enjoy the chance to walk up close and see the planes. And watching the performances put on by the incredibly skilled pilots that headline the major shows is something I look forward to.
I’ve been watching e-Ink technology, waiting for it to be mature enough to make it a practical choice for supplementing/replacing my paper technical books. Products using this technology started to become available a little over a year ago, and I wrote a bit about them at the time.
A couple of days ago I hooked up a USB headset. For fun, I also activated Windows Vista’s voice recognition system.
It works, after a fashion. Some of what I’m typing here I’m typing more or less directly using voice recognition. But I have to do a tremendous amount of correction. Let me give you an example. The following text I will type directly using voice recognition, without any corrections.
I’m a technical worker. I think that the more generic term for my kind of work is “knowledge worker”, but whatever you call it, my stock in trade is generated by my gray matter.
I am not a genius: far from it, in fact. Every complex thing I figure out takes a tremendous amount of effort on my part. I’m good at seeing correlations: logical interactions or the like. But that doesn’t mean that I just pick up a book and instantly understand something. I really wish I did.
Part of my work involves designing and writing computer software. I come from an era when it was actually possible to understand a programming language more or less completely. I develop in several language frameworks these days, but even the simplest of them seems to me to be beyond the capabilities of one person to truly understand.
Lionhead games released a game called “Fable” (note: site uses Flash plugin) a few years ago. I dismissed it because a few folks who liked “goofy/cartoonish” style games thought it was a great thing.
I picked up a discounted XBox version of Fable over the weekend. Not XBox 360, but XBox- it runs under emulation mode in my XBox 360, though. This means that the graphics aren’t great. But after playing the game for (according to it’s in-game stats) a bit over 7 hours, I can say I truly regret not trying it sooner.