Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Hands


I did post a photo of my own hands for Photo Hunt once, for the Wrinkled theme! This time I give you the young hands of my granddaughter as she showed off one of her treasured silly bands.


Monday, January 17, 2011


It's so dark and so early. It's raining really, really, wet rain, and it really means it.

Today is Blue Monday. According to the radio it is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Now I must admit I wasn't feeling uber depressed, just a bit Monday morningish.

I have just got off my train, off the platform onto the concourse. I guess I am feeling.. less than utterly slim, if I thought about it, but I just can't be asked to beat myself up over it too much just now. Whatever...

So of course I pop into a convenience store at the station to get something utterly unsuitable for breakfast ^_^.

While I stand at the counter making my guilt inducing purchase I notice faint singing. Not a radio, more... ethereal.

I turn to walk out of the store trying to figure where it was coming from. As I walk out I notice a young Hindu woman stacking the shelves.

It was her, quietly singing something to herself. It sounded cheerful and as I pass we catch each other's eye for a moment and smile at one another.

I walk on with a hint of a bounce in my step, smiling slightly and feeling somehow good, my mood elevated.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Shadow


I walked into my dining room the other day and noticed the liqueur bottles were casting shadows and snapped a photo. Sorry a tad out of focus on the left. Better if you click it maybe?


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Babble-on in the street of Babel

A few recent thoughts from Miss Moggs.

The other day, not long before 11 in the morning, I happened to find myself in the Real Life version of London Town... in Oxford Street in fact. Some might call it a shopper’s paradise.

For those of you who have never been there it is lined with mostly up market and nice stores. Some are uber multi floor department stores (think Macey’s). Think fancy strip mall, complete with red buses going slower than you can walk, because of the traffic.

It would be possible to spend all day there... *sigh*

But just then I couldn’t tarry... I walked half the length of Oxford St, watching those poor stores disappear forlornly behind me, one by one, giving me the store equivalent of puppy dog eyes in my imagination (poor neglected things)... in shoes that I had thought were perfectly ok, when I set out that morning.. but came to realise were just a bit pinchy.

You might figure if I had any sense I should have worn trainers... Nahhh. Maybe ok for the journey to work but not for Oxford St, or where I had been, in otherwise nice clothes.

So anyway... There I was walking down Oxford Street. I was quiet the whole way, taking it in, listening to snatches of conversation and people watching, along with some practically automatic wistful window shopping... and do you know?

It slowly dawned on me that I was not hearing a single word of English. Now I can manage to shop and order food in several languages. I recognise more, but there were languages I was hearing I didn’t even recognise.

Maybe the English speakers just weren’t talking?. I wasn’t, but then I was not with anyone and I don’t do an upmarket 'bag lady having animated conversation with herself' routine. Apart obviously from the perfectly normal thinking out loud "Hmmnn... The red or the black?" sort of thing, that I wasn't doing just then.

I kept thinking “this can’t keep up”... but it did. In the heart of a capital city of a nation who’s first official language is English.

It made me think of the tower of Babel... only stretched out along the ground instead.

What did I do in the end? A very quick shot of “retail therapy” before I had to be somewhere else ^_^ They spoke English in the store.

* Image of Oxford Street courtesy of Wikimedia here

Friday, January 7, 2011

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Free week


It's some time since I participated in Photo Hunt and it's very easy to get out of the habit but I was determined to start again in the new year. First up is a free week with your choice of any image. As usual this doesn't help me at all, as free choice tends to paralyze me with indecision.

I took this photo on a walk during the Fall. It's not easy to see but it shows an interesting thick ribbon of fog lying low on the water all along the harbour with North Shore mountains in the misty distance. Also hard to see is a raven perched on the remains of the tree. What a great photo, not! You can click to enlarge it for more detail if you are so inclined.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kindle, Amazon's ebook Reader

Thanks to my daughter I am now the proud owner of a Kindle ebook reader, in its bright red cover, which I received as a Christmas gift. Miss Moggs raised some good points in her post here and I have some thoughts and answers to some of those she expressed as I have explored my Kindle this past week.

But first a few generalities about ebook or electronic book readers which have been around since the nineties in a limited way, but they really seemed to take off in popularity when the Kindle was launched by Amazon in November 2007 and sold out in 5 hours, despite its $399 price tag. It was sold only in the United States and had a 250MB memory which was the equivalent of 200 books.

Today, three years later, the third generation Kindle, which is an international version sells for $139 for the WiFi version or $189 for the WiFi/3G (cell phone connection) version and has 4 GB of memory, equivalent to over 3500 books and also includes a text to speech option. Since its release in August 2010 this third generation Kindle has become Amazon's top selling item, of all time, eclipsing even the sales of the 7th and last Harry Potter book. Not only that but Amazon is now selling more ebooks than hardcovers although paperback sales still remain larger. While the number of ebooks varies from country to country, depending on the laws, in the United States Amazon offers 800,000 titles, increasing every day.

Of course there are other prominent ebook reading devices such as the Sony and the Nook from Barnes and Noble, each using a different file format and thus ebooks are not interchangeable among the various devices. Both these allow you to read ebooks borrowed from the public library system whereas the Kindle does not. Apple launched the iPad in April 2010 and while essentially much more than an ebook reader it does have that capability and you can buy ebooks from the iBook store of Apple. Naturally they are a different file format again from the others.

A new interesting development is the array of Kindle apps or applications for various devices which allows you to buy ebooks from Amazon without ever owning a Kindle. There's a app. for your Blackberry, your Android phone, your PC computer or your Mac, one for your iPad, one for your iPhone or iPod touch. Yes, I downloaded the Kindle app. for Mac before I had my Kindle and had already downloaded some freebies from Amazon, books which are in the public domain like Pride and Prejudice. Similarly Nook has come up with these apps too so you can buy books from Barnes and Noble without owning a Nook. However the Nook app. for the Mac is not as good as that for the Kindle as yet.

The beauty of these apps is making the ebooks able to be purchased without being tied to the specific ebook reader and it was these apps which made my daughter choose the iPad for herself since the apps allowed all the different file formats to be read on that device. Obviously Amazon and Barnes and Noble took the introduction of the iPad very seriously and wanted in on the action of selling books to their owners. This is just as well for iPad owners since the iBook store has a very small selection in comparison with the other two stores.

Having owned the Kindle now for a couple of weeks, I have found it very easy to use and set up. It comes preloaded with two dictionaries and the user manual installed but I have added 52 items to the library so far. I already had an account with and buying books is very easy and quick. Most I have acquired are freebies in the public domain or offered as one day freebies and I found a blog called Books on the Knob which is very informative about bargains for all ebook readers. Another called I love my Kindle is also a useful blog with a lot of information about the Kindle. I did actually pay money for a couple of books although at discounted prices.

My problem is the many books I own, including a half dozen recent additions, which I still have to read and the fact that I have $50 in gift certificates at Chapters to use up so I am not rushing into buying a lot for the Kindle.

This is a pretty basic model so the library is a list of titles of the ebooks, no pretty covers to remind you of what the book is, you have to remember them by title and author. Rather like black and white TV versus colour TV. It is very easy to read and not an unpleasant experience, although I do have a tendency as I get immersed to try to turn the pages instead of hit the forward arrow button. As one who likes to flip the pages back and forth on occasion to find something, yes or skip to the end, I find reading a book on such a device or even on the computer screen can be a bit irksome. Where I see the strength of such a device as the Kindle is going on holidays with a load of books in your pretty little device, instead of a suitcase full of books but for everyday reading I'm still a book person.

I was offered an iPad as a Christmas gift but really felt that would be a very expensive luxury at this point since to my mind it's really a mini computer and frankly I would rather use my computer. No doubt I will get one at some point, but I'm transitioning there with the Kindle.

In her post Moggs made an emphasis of owning a book where it truly is yours to do with as you wish versus owning the rights to read an ebook on the device of your choice but not much more and she was correct. A limited number of ebooks you can lend, but one time only and for a 14 days in a rather complicated procedure. The ebooks you purchase belong to your account at wherever you purchased them and they are archived there. They can be downloaded to more than one device up to a certain number of times and family members could share an account and have the books on each person's device. Should you sell or give away the Kindle the books do not go with it and you should deregister the Kindle from your account. Yes you can gift a specific ebook to another person but at the moment it is delivered immediately which may not be what you want if it's a gift.

While it is very convenient to buy books so easily, if you lose the Kindle or it is stolen another person can also easily buy books on your account at your expense until you deregister the Kindle.

Yes, it's a new world with ebooks and ebook readers. But I love books and bookstores, new and secondhand, and libraries so I can't see myself converting completely to ebooks. Then again I love the techie toys so I'm happy to play around with this Kindle. Will it be simply a toy for me or a serious reading device? Time will tell but many of my daughter's serious book friends are completely hooked on their Kindles and many of my online dunnetworks friends are too. As Janice said in her comment on Moggs's post, at least we are saving trees!

* Apologies for the photos which were taken hastily after dark.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Novel Approach to eBooks

Moggs Tigerpaw wrote this post recently with her thoughts on eBooks and eBook readers a while ago but it got lost in the shuffle. I received a Kindle for Christmas so I will have a few thoughts of my own which I will post a little later in the week.

A previous post I did and more especially the comments on it made me think...

We were discussing “electronic books” and “readers” like the Kindle. Then I had a thought.

When I buy a real book in a bookstore I take home something that is my property. I can keep it, or lend it to someone, or sell it and get some of my money back to maybe buy another book. The words are part of the book.

I can go to a secondhand bookstore and browse for something that may have been out of print for years.

If it is still in copyright then I can’t copy all or part of it without the owner’s permission, but I become the owner and can give or sell it. I can make a little dedication inside the front cover if it is a gift.

It is not the same with a Kindle. You might own the electronic gadget that is the Kindle, but not the words in it, a bit like a book with blank pages. What’s more, as best as I can tell, you can’t lend the words to someone else because of digital rights management, you can’t sell them either, or buy them second hand and get any money back. Unless you sell the Kindle too.

Some novels I only want to read once, but someone else might like to read it. Some are old favourites.

You can’t lend to someone or even give the ‘digital books’ to charity as things stand. All you really have bought is permission to display the words on the screen of your personal kindle. You downloaded a file.

I wonder how will that all work with libraries? Charity/goodwill stores? What will happen to all those wonderful second hand book stores.

Will schools have to pay for a new text book for every student instead of recycling them to the next class intake each year? Corporate licences?

Could you still buy a particular book as a gift or would it be more like iTunes where you basically buy a prepaid store card. Half the fun is finding and buying a particular book for a particular person as a gift.

It seems to me there need to be some thinking.. some changes in the law behind copyright and licences maybe. It seems to me that books may still be better value for some time to come until those changes develop. Or else Lending a book to your friend might be illegal file sharing and you could end up in court.

What about keeping reasonable backups?

Until Digital books can be treated more like the real thing legally I think I will be slightly uncomfortable with them. Second life allows for that sort of thing. You can buy clothes and items that you can give or sell to other people but not copy.

Also the only equipment you need to read a real paper book is the book, a light source your eyes and the ‘software’ in your brain. I worry some what we might loose if we only look at what we might gain without asking questions and insisting on answers.