Points for the last Monday in November, 2010

The Thanksgiving holiday and weekend is over. Apparently this year’s Black Friday was a success. I contributed to that success but Mrs. Crucis couldn’t find her bargain.

I think because of the Holiday, the “crisis du jour” was absent. The TSA appears to have ducked and many of the body scanner/molestation lines at airports were shutdown late Wednesday. According to the Triple-A, highway traffic was up 16%. Whether this increase was because of the new TSA procedures or if people were traveling in relief from the more recent political season. Likewise, here at the Court, I don’t have a specific topic but a couple of subjects to ponder. Case in point: Kansas City is in mourning today with the news that conservative radio host, Chris Stigall is leaving for a new job in Philadelphia as morning show host at WPHT.

philadelphia.cbslocal.com

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – CBS RADIO’s The Big Talker 1210 AM announced today an enhanced lineup of personality based programs which will begin to rollout on Monday, January 3, 2011. Leading off the day on-air and online at www.CBSPhilly.com will be one of America’s up and coming talk show hosts, Chris Stigall who joins the station from KCMO Talk Radio 710 in Kansas City where he has hosted morning drive since 2006. From 5:30-9:00AM Stigall will discuss local and national policy, the economy, the biggest news stories and issues that affect all Philadelphians, coupled with interviews of the day’s news and decision makers.

Stigall’s last broadcast day in KC is tomorrow, the last day of November, 2010. Mrs. Crucis listened to Stigall every morning. She would get up early and do her daily walk while listening to him. She wasn’t quite in shock because she’s been expecting Stigall to go national at any time. Frankly, I think he’s as good as Michael Savage and some of the other nation-wide radio hosts.

***

I believe the next generation of personal computing is upon us. In this last year there has been a shift—in reading habits. 2010 is the first year that sales of ebooks and digital magazines exceeded that of their dead-tree counter-parts.

I am a reader. I have not willingly tossed any book that I’ve bought in my life. I have lost some. I have had some damaged beyond repair due to water seepage. I have sold some paperbacks to a used book reseller just before our last move.

I mourned each loss.

A decade or so ago, Baen Books created their Free Library.They made books available for downloading in various formats and all free! I downloaded every one. I even kept copies at work and they kept me company many long nights when I was working a call center turn-up or when a network failure occurred and I worked with tech on a conference call to restore service. Like many situations, there would be minutes of intense activity followed by longer period waiting to see if results were successful. Those books help me stay awake and alert.

A few years ago, Amazon released their Kindle e-reader. Amazon was not the first. There have been a number of electronic readers for years. But the appearance of the Kindle started the flood of ebooks. I finally broke down and bought an Aluratek Libre Pro ereader last summer. It was cheap—under $100, and I could afford the investment if it failed to meet my expectations.

It did. I haven’t bought a paper book since. I’ve also saved money. Ebooks are cheaper than paper books. Since I’m now retired (officially,) that is important.

One reason the Aluratek ereader is so cheap is that it uses a LCD screen instead of the more popular eInk or ePaper technology used int he Kindle, KOBO, Nook and SONY ereaders. That technology has a very irritating affect. The page flashes black every time you change a page.

The Alurateks LCD screen also had a very irritating feature. It was dark. I like to read in bed. There’s a single lamp on the night-stand. Reading the Aluratek LCD screen in dim light is a strain. After 10-15 minutes, my eyes would be watering and my vision was strained.

So, I’ve been looking for a replacement—an upgrade. Something with new technology and something that could be used for more that just an electronic book.

As a parting perk on my retirement, I was able to buy an Android-based phone using my employee discount. I fell in love with that phone and the Android operating system. I seldom use my phone for talking. My wife is a texting addict. We text (When did a poor noun become a verb?) each other constantly during the day. Texting has replaced shouting up and down the basement stairs. It is ideal fro short communications that don’t need an immediate response—or any response at all.

The point of all that is that I’ve been looking for an Android based ereader. There are a number of Android based devices just coming on the market. Many are not phones although some, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab will be sold by some major communications carriers like Sprint and have wireless and wifi communication built-into the devices.

These are in the same class as the non-Android iPad but a $100 or so cheaper and will have the advantage of an open source operating system. Just look at the plethora of Android apps available in the marketplace.

B&N has their color Nook that uses an abbreviated version of the Android system, Borders has two versions of Velocity Micro Cruz, a reader and a tablet. Even Amazon is reported to be working on some form of color Kindle although the details are sparse.

When I saw the “Black Friday” ads from Borders and saw the $50 off on the Velocity Micro Cruz Tablet, I bought one. I have an internet friend who bought one a couple of weeks ago when they were first available and she had problems. I’ve investigated the device, compared the features with its counterparts from B&N and other providers and the PRICE!

I succumbed to temptation. I bought one on-line. When it arrives, I’ll write up a review.

The upcoming year will produce more tablets or slates as some call them. There is one from HP that will use a version of Windows 7. Dell is due to release a tablet-like device but I’ve not heard what operating system it will use. There are rumors that Apple will do something to reduce the price of its iPad. ASUS, the Taiwan PC hardware manufacturer is releasing a table-like device. You can also cruise through Amazon and see all the tablets available there. Most of them are Android based and all that I’ve investigated have built-in WiFi—as does my phone. (BTW, have you noticed the spread of WiFi hotspots? They’re popping up like toadstools after a storm.)

Google has been pursuing Microsoft and their Android operating system is planned to compete with Windows. Microsoft has become complacent. They haven’t really produced anything that is innovative. Each new release of Windows is just a refinement of the previous version. Google has been smart. Like Linux, they’ve made their operating system open-source. The multitudes of Android apps is testament to Google’s success.

This coming year will be interesting for the personal computer user and the those who just surf the internet. True portable computing has arrived.

3 thoughts on “Points for the last Monday in November, 2010

  1. I, too, am so sad that Stigall is leaving, but I knew he would one of these days. Goin' big time! We'll see what we get next.

    Good luck with the new gizmo! I was browsing Amazon today and saw all the new tablets and I didn't know there was such a thing. I am still quite happy with my gen 2 Kindle. Bought a new cheapie version ($139) for my father's 90th BD and he's already read at least 20 books since mid-September! The Old Gentleman got his in August but is still piddling with it while he reads books still. My traveling pal is a voracious reader and has taken to reading on her computer so that she can read all night and not disturb her husband. I'll likely stick with the Kindle until it dies and I have to think of something else.

    I enjoy the savings in book purchasing, but primarily it's a space thing. Tiny house, thousands of books plus the dregs of my old bookshop. The rationale I use is that the money I save on fun reading I can then spend on special books to add to the permanent collection. And I don't have to worry what to do with all the paperbacks that accumulated everywhere. When it's all said and done I probably spend the same amount on books, but have fewer stacks and piles.

    I'll await your impressions of the new toy.

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