Archive for March 2010

Kindle DX Update Improves PDF Experience

A recent update to the Kindle DX answers my #1 complaint about PDF reading on the “big screen” Kindle. Now, the Kindle DX automatically crops the whitespace margins of a PDF file. By removing these “gutters,” the reading experience of a portrait-formatted magazine or journal article has been significantly improved.

However, I have to share an unexpected development: for some reason, I find myself preferring the long-duration reading experience on my first-generation Kindle to the reading experience on the DX. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it seems to be the subtle influence of three things:

  • The paperback-size of the 1st-gen Kindle is just enough smaller to be unobtrusive on the coffee table
  • The page-turn button of the 1st-gen Kindle is right under my thumb, so page turns are totally unobtrusive (people complained about the look of the 1st gen Kindle — I think it’s wonderfully ergonomic)
  • The amount of text on the smaller screen is enough to be read at regular reading speed (say, 300-400 WPM) but with less actual eye movement. While it’s not quite Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, it’s very pleasant.

Of course, the DX is much better for technical documents, source code, and magazines, but I’ve found myself moving novels onto my first-gen and keeping my DX by my desk.

Wordless Wednesdays — Jackson’s Chameleon

Jackson's Chameleon

Project Manager’s vs. Developer’s View

Zeitgeist of Programming Books

This press release, announcing “Learning iPhone Programming” and “Developing Large Web Applications” somehow struck me as perfectly fitting the zeitgeist of the development world today.

Recent Articles of Interest

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-14

  • Signing off so that I can watch the Oscars spoiler-free. Up “Hurt Locker”! Down “Avatar”! #
  • Edward Tufte takes Gov’t app’t to chair production of reports on recovery spending. http://bit.ly/aTiWaf #
  • First good rain in Kona in months yesterday afternoon. Cleaned out sky for gorgeous stars and blazing mars. #
  • Any other #oceanic cable subscribers get a black screen on the HD Oscar feed last night? Happy I caught it quickly and switched over to SD #
  • Was going “awww…” at new chick brood when hen of last week’s brood showed up and established “pecking order.” Chickens fight nasty. #
  • Felt the 4.4M EQ in Kalaoa, but it was minor shake here — “I think that was an EQ”-level. #
  • I may have to move back to the mainland just so I can see Tron in 3D. #
  • Got a strong opinion about Ruby IDEs? DM me — I’m writing an article… #
  • Writing Ruby program that solves problem: 1 hr. Getting ActiveRecord to work with ODBC on client’s XP machine: 2 hrs and counting. #
  • Today would be the 76th birthday of Yuri Gagarin, first human in outer space. He died in 1968. #
  • I segfaulted on a client’s machine and now power’s out on Oahu. Damn, I’m good. #
  • Great talk by Josh Wallawender http://www.twilightlandscapes.com at astro club last night. Automated observatories: new science for cheap. #
  • 602SQL ODBC driver : Segfaults with Ruby and C# on any access. Anyone ever work with this thing? Should I bother to try JDBC driver? PHP? #
  • The only way to learn C++ in 21 days : http://abstrusegoose.com/249 #
  • Chuck Norris turns 70 today. Now he’s Miyagi-Norris. Next: Zombie-Norris. More unbeatable every day. #
  • One thing I hate about initial engagements: Just identifying rather than exploring (and fixing) problems. “Maybe easy, maybe hard.” :-( #
  • RT @CTarleton: @HonAdv I would rather pay for tsunami safety than a special election, if you don’t mind. Thanks. (via @Cynthia_Hoskins) #
  • Nanoconchord: The time between discovering Jemaine Clement is in “Gentlemen Broncos” and moving it to the top of your Netflix queue. #
  • Told nephew we didn’t have robotics competition when I was his age. “How tech has changed the world” he sez. I’ll show you old, you little b #
  • iProcessing: The Processing language ported to the iPhone. http://luckybite.com/iprocessing/ #
  • Totally distracted by a totally non-critical email. If I could only channel the amount of work I put into being lazy… #
  • RT @agilenature: LOL: A day in the life of a programmer [PIC] http://adjix.com/xyfk #
  • Is Jerry Remy (RemDawg) going to be back announcing for the Red Sox this year? My MBL.TV subscription choice depends on it… #
  • Watching nephew’s robotic team compete at http://bbrobotics.org/mul_liveStream.aspx Kill! Crush! Destroy! #
  • Hawaii tweeps: Any truth to rumor discount meat trucks are cover for burglary ring? #bialoha #
  • Nephew’s robotic team battling leaders. SWEEP THE LEG! COBRAI KAI! #
  • Messier Marathon Star Party up at Mauna Kea VIS tonight. Sounds like >6 telescopes with 18″+ apertures will be there. #

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Worldess Wednesdays – Anchaline Pool, Honaunau

DSC_0082_3_4HDR_tonemapped

Recently Bookmarked on Delicious…

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-07

  • Applying for data-centric jobs. I think of myself as an algorithm / performance guy, so it’s weird to write cover letters with DBA stuff… #
  • USA vs CAN hockey game was epic. Hope it helps NHL. Togue-wearing syrup-suckers: health-care AND gold? #
  • Skinput from CMU and MSR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCgY_RIvDyE Possible apps: “Ouch! Quit it!” and “Stop poking me!” #
  • eWeek Labs is looking for a Senior Analyst (software/hardware reviewer). Man, if I were in SF, I’d be on that job like a roomba on a rug. #
  • #FiveMinuteEnergy should rewrite my .HOSTS file so that all IP addresses redirect to my dev server #
  • Proved jQuery is adequate for a project thought to only be possible with Flash/Silverlight, but how much time to be lost to browser tweaks? #
  • “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” is all sets and props. Wow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDk9jjdiXJQ #
  • Got my first CC statement with “If you only pay the min amt, it will take you…” statement. Happy that carrying $0 is my #1 rule… #
  • Serenity Now!!!!!!! #
  • Has Roger Ebert given you $4.99 worth of value in your life? http://bit.ly/aEfuZQ #
  • Ballmer practically choked saying “The AppStore, where Apple did a great job…” #
  • Bing Maps with Photosynth integration available at http://www.bing.com/maps/explore #
  • Schadenfreude, my old friend http://bit.ly/cNmQhk #
  • LINQ to Mongo! http://blog.wekeroad.com/2010/03/04/using-mongo-with-linq #
  • If they have this, you KNOW they’re about to unveil Iron Man: http://bit.ly/cEYvlv #
  • I just got the Mac Heist bundle. 7 fantastic apps worth $260+ for only $20 and got 3 great bonus apps free! http://bit.ly/heist-it #
  • “CoverScout” from the MacHeist bundle fills in your missing album art. Didn’t think it would be that big a deal, but it’s a blast to use. #

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Misleading Photo For New Microsoft Tablet Formfactor

Twitter’s buzzing with technolust based on an Engadget article picturing a Microsoft concept-computer.

03-05-10courier

Looks lovely, but the photo is misleading. It shows lines of cursive writing that are fraction of a size of the reader’s fingernail. Take a look at this blowup:

screen-shot-2010-03-05-at-105756-am

Based on my fingernail, that cursive writing is about 3mm tall. You might be able to read 8 point cursive handwriting on a high-resolution dispay, but there’s no way under Heaven that you can write anywhere near that size, especially not using a stylus on a glass screen.

In fact, using a stylus on a Tablet PC, you write about 33-50% larger than you do on a piece of paper because your cursive writing is based on the muscle memory of pushing a pen or pencil over paper, which is more resistant. Personally, my experience is that on the 12″ diagonal screen of my Tablet PC, it “feels” like a writing area close to a 4″ x 6″ index card.

Don’t get me wrong — the Microsoft Courier looks like a great form-factor. But the user experience implied by that photo is not realistic. It’s perfectly possible to imagine that what’s shown is a zoomed-out page and that when you’re writing and sketching you’re zoomed in to a much smaller viewport. But the user experience that everyone dreams of — the user experience of a digital Moleskine notebook — requires innovation in either the screen surface or the stylus tip. As far as the iPad and the idea that dragging your great big finger across a piece of glass is going to be an acceptable way to write or draw, the sooner you give up on that hope, the better.

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