Barnes and Nobel Nook

It’s no secret to those who know me that I read a lot. I also have a habit of reading several books at the same time. According to my girlfriend that’s messed up but alas I usually have several topics I’m interested in at the same time and depending on the interest that’s most peaked at the time I’ll read a different book. Due to this I’ve been following the e-book reader market.

I bought an Amazon Kindle about a year and a half ago and have absolutely loved it. It’s nice being able to carry my entire library with me wherever I go. It’s also convenient since I don’t have to either drive to a book store to purchase a book or order it online and wait for the title to be delivered. Before getting my Kindle I spent a lot of time in Barnes and Nobel carousing books. Now I stop in there maybe once every couple of months to browse their non-fiction titles since the Kindle store has a pretty horrible selection in that department.

Well Barnes and Nobel yesterday (or maybe the day before I forgot) announced their entry into the e-book reader market, the Nook. Of course this requires a comparison of the two products.

The Nook stands out from the Kindle in a few areas. The first, and most obvious, is the LCD touch screen located below the ePaper display. This is where you do all your navigating and controls. More on that in a bit. The second difference is the Nook uses AT&T’s 3G network instead of Sprint’s. But to alleviate the pains of using AT&T’s network (seriously their network has less coverage than most bikinis) the Nook also includes Wi-Fi. Two other features the Nook has that the latest Kindle doesn’t (although the previous model did) is a replaceable battery and a memory card slot.

I guess I’m going to cover my thoughts on the differences. First I want to talk about the LCD touch screen being touted as the chief wham-bam feature of the Nook. I don’t like it. Yup you heard me right I don’t like it. My reasoning is three fold. First LCD screens suck power every second they are one. Displays using ePaper technology only use power while they are actively switching pages meaning while you are reading a page no power is being used by the display. That means the LCD screen on the Nook will drop the battery life and long battery life is one of my favorite features of e-book readers.

The second issue I have with the LCD is viewing it outside. See ePaper displays work very well in direct sunlight so you can comfortably use the devices outside. LCDs on the other hand become very difficult to read in direct sunlight so the Nook has a contrast here. The main reader works best with a lot of light while the navigation screen works best without direct light hitting it. This seems like a duality in usefulness to me.

The third issue I have with the LCD screen is the fact LCD screens are backlit. This means the LCD screen is going to be much brighter than the ePaper display that you actually read from. The problem is the human eye is drawn more towards bright items then items having no source of light. Unless there is a way to easily kill the backlight on the LCD while reading a book I would find this to be quite an annoyance after some time. Again this is coming from a person who can plop down and read for a couple hours straight, I doubt it would be any sort of issue if you only read a few minutes at a time (but if that’s you why waste your money on an e-book reader?).

I hate AT&T’s network. You don’t hear this often but I love being on Sprint’s network. Why? Because I get data coverage almost everywhere and phone coverage in even more places. I can get high speed data in a podunk little town like Winona, Minnesota and basic data in Caledonia, MN (where AT&T coverage is practically non-existant). When my friends on AT&T have coverage issues I have three or four bars normally. Hell my phone works in my apartments garage. So needless to say I really like being able to purchase books on my Kindle from practically anywhere without the need for Wi-Fi. But having the option of Wi-Fi for times when data service coverage is unavailable is a great idea which I highly approve of.

With that said there are some features of the Nook I really like. There is a method of loaning books to friends which the Kindle completely lacks. Honestly I don’t really lend books to friends but it would be nice to have the option should the situation arise. The truth of the matter though is we need to eliminate DRM all together. Of course I believe it will take the publishing industry many years to figure this out. Hell look how long it took the music industry until they started allowing DRM free MP3s to be sold and later songs sold on the iTunes music store.

The removable battery is a huge plus in my book. I still have the first generation Kindle and hence a removable battery. But alas I’m not one to phase our my devices overly often unless a new device has new features that can justify an upgrade to me. I do run into battery failure issues with my devices and do desire a method to replace the battery myself when that occurs. This is one of the issues I have with the iPhone and iPod series of products. With that said I can’t imagine a situation where I’d need to replace a battery in an ePaper device due to depleting the battery through use. Seriously I can go a couple weeks with my Kindle without needing to recharge it so long as I keep the wireless switched off.

Barnes and Nobel is claiming 1,000,000 e-books when their store goes live. Amazon’s Kindle store currently proclaims 350,000 titles. Depending on what titles Barnes and Nobel is claiming (for instance they mention free e-books which are probably out of copyright titles which means I can also get them free on my Kindle) this could be a huge boon. I know the Kindle store has some odd gaps in their titles (Jurassic Park still isn’t available). If Barnes and Nobel can get a larger selection of titles that would jump them ahead pretty far.

The Nook does support native PDFs by the looks of it. Many papers I read are in PDF format and I can get them on my Kindle after a dance involving a free e-mail address that sends the PDF to Amazon to convert it. The Kindle DX natively supports PDFs but it’s also a huge honking device compared to my paperback sized Kindle. The more natively formatted formats supported on a device the better in my opinion.

I’ll hold my final judgement until the Nook is actually released but I really don’t see any major advantage it has over the Kindle and the LCD is a huge disadvantage on a dedicated reading device in my opinion. But one fact is certainly true competition is good and the Nook will give some heavy competition to the Kindle.

Barnes and Nobel are also claiming special in-store features. This is really meaningless to me since one of the advantages, to me, of an e-book reader is not having to go to a store to gain any features. But again I highly doubt any main feature of the Nook will depend on going into a Barnes and Nobel store to use it.

Because You Suck, We Hate You, But We Want Your Money

H&K may think you suck and hate you but they also want your money. Because of this notable fact they are rather angry at the Australian government. The Australian government placed a ban on importation of the H&K R8. The R8 itself is a special version of their SL8 which has the gas system removed so the gun functions like a bolt action rifle. This is required since Australian subjects can’t own semi-automatic rifles.

Well according to the Australian government claims the rifle is too similar to the G36 and have barred it’s importation. Now H&K not only thinks you suck and hate you but they feel the same about the Australian government. Honestly I agree with H&K on this point.

Don’t Use a Taser Like a Gun

Taser just released an advisory stating police shouldn’t use Tasers on peoples’ chests. I guess what works for guns doesn’t work for Tasers.

I think this presents a issuea. When using a firearm most schools of thought say you should aim at center mass which normally is the chest. The chest is a large target full of all sorts of organs the human body need to survive. Shooting somebody in this area makes for an easier target that will potentially cause a lot of trauma.

It’s About Time

Nothing dreadfully much to report here but Apple finally released a new mouse. I know not a big deal it’s a fucking mouse. But this one finally eliminates that damned trackball that always ended up not functioning after a short while due to dust and other crud getting under the ball. Instead this one is a multi-touch mouse which means no buttons are on it at all and the mouse works off of the same touch gestures as the trackpad on newer Apple laptops. I’ve been waiting for a company to do something like this for about ten years now, honestly was it really that hard?

Report from the Gun Show

As I posted earlier there was a gun show on Saturday and Sunday. I decided to head there on Saturday morning with one of my shooting buddies and one of my co-workers. First I’m going to talk about my co-worker. He has never been to a gun show and his exposure to firearms, from my understanding, is limited to shotguns used for hunting. He wants to eventually get a permit to carry but has no experience with handguns.

Well I figured a gun show would be a great place to bring him up to speed on the different types of handguns. We showed him semi-automatic pistols and revolvers. We explained the differences in shooting a very tiny handgun vs. shooting a larger handgun. We explained the differences between calibers. Heck we tried to cover everything we could. I feel accomplished as he seemed to learn quite a bit and hopefully the experience motivated him to get his permit to purchase (required in Minnesota for purchasing pistols and military pattern semi-automatic rifles).

But the best part was showing him the lies the general media says about gun shows. Of course since he never attended a gun show before he had no experience but believed what CNN, MSNB, CBS, etc. said. My co-worker believed it was a place where you could walk up to any table, pay cash for a gun, and walk out without performing the background check and paperwork. He was surprised when I picked up a Glock 30 and showed him the process for purchasing a firearm. I had to fill out the ATF form, present my driver’s license and permit to carry, and of course go the NICS check performed. It was an eye opener for him and I firmly believe everybody who thinks gun shows are a major source of illegal arms should attend a show and watch the process people go through to get guns.

As for the shot itself there are some things to note. First of all the prices of AR-15s and AK-47s are coming down. They aren’t at the same point they were before the Obamessiah was elected but are getting closer. Also I’d like to note the huge number of both types of rifles at the show, the shortage is officially over here in Minnesota. The same can be said of ammunition which has slowly been returning. Most of the vendors had plenty of ammunition in stock for all the popular calibers. The only thing that was in short supply were primers which are slowly trickling back in.

There were some good deals to be had and some horrible ones. It was obvious once again that if you attend a gun show check every table before you buy anything (unless that thing is rare enough where you are legitimately worried somebody else will buy it and nobody else will probably have it). On one side of the gun show the Glock 30 I picked up was going for $100.00 more than where I got it from. They were both brand new and came only with the standard load out (two magazines).

There weren’t as many people walking around selling personal guns this time. Likewise the number of people in attendance was quite a drop from the earlier gun show held at the same location around the beginning of the year.

My friend tried to sell his AK in .223 but was unable to do so. If anybody out there is looking for a like new AK rifle that shoots .223, has a milled receiver, and comes with eight magazines let me know and I’ll put you in contact with him.

New 1911 with Amazing New Features

Wow I just went over to The Firearms Blog where I saw a picture of what appears to be a brand new 1911 with some amazing features. Here is the picture:

Nothing a few interesting things? Well first the gun doesn’t have an ejection port. This may seem strange but this 1911 seems to be advanced enough to not actually shoot the bullet and eject the casing but shoot the bullet and casing out together. I’m not sure if this is a new caliber or bullet design but it certainly will make recovering your brass a bitch.

This gun also appears to have some kind of double trigger system. I’m unsure what this is supposed to do although I theorize it’s a method of getting around the ATF ban on machine guns. If a gun fires two or more rounds per trigger pull it’s a machine gun. Meanwhile if you have two triggers lines up together you can pull one and fire the first round. After that the front trigger will move back to press into the rear one firing another round with one trigger squeeze. This is obviously a self defense gun as this will assist the user in performing double taps.

This is certainly going to be an interesting gun when it’s officially introduced. I’m surprised it was covered in a campus newspaper actually. I’m guessing some students there helped develop it.

Brief History of the Swiss Army Knife

The BBC has a nice article covering the history of the Swiss army knife…

I’m one of those people who carries a Swiss army knife on his person every day. Mine has several gadgets that I use almost every day including a small LED pen light. For every slot, screw, and hole there is a tool on my knife to work with it. I honestly would have a hard time getting through the day without it.