Steve Jobs

A lot has been said about the passing of Steve Jobs. The reason I am sad about his death is that Apple (under his leadership) was the first company to make technology products mainstream and fashionable. Gadget lovers like me had long been on the side-lines with their PDAs and gigantic smartphones but Steve Jobs changed all that – the iPod and iPhone made it normal to want to carry more than 15 songs around with you on the train, or to sit in a coffee shop browsing the web on your phone. The iPad is at long last a device which can be switched on instantly like an appliance, but can do almost anything you would desire to do on a full-sized laptop.

From the first Apple product I owned (the G3 slot loading iMac, released in 2001), to the  second (the first iPod – yes people laughed at me for wearing white headphones, and I still think the physical click-wheel device was the best of the classic iPods) to the iPad I purchased recently, they’ve all been accompanied by an enchanting Steve Jobs announcement. It will feel odd not seeing that again, and is something I will definitely miss.

RIP Steve.

Six months on, my Kindle thoughts

It’s been around six months since I stopped reading paperback books and moved to the Kindle. My reasoning behind doing so was not so much environmental concerns (I’m sure an electronic reading device isn’t exactly green to produce and keep charged) but convenience and hopefully a better reading experience. Having all your books on you, being able to synchronise your place with other devices (phone, tablet) for those occasions when you forget your Kindle and find yourself wanting to continue your book, and being able to adjust the size of the text.

Wi-Fi only would have been enough

I opted for the more expensive 3G option thinking I might take advantage of the free 3G to browse the web or buy books when I am out and about. I have rarely needed or wanted to do this. When I’m at home I can use the Wi-Fi, the same goes at work. When I’m on holiday there’s usually no shortage of Wi-Fi available (in Lisbon even the tour bus had free Wi-Fi!). In those situations where there is no Wi-Fi, frankly I can wait a few hours to purchase the next book. Oh and the web browser isn’t particularly useful, not when you have a smartphone in your pocket at least.

A better reading experience

In all honesty I can say that the Kindle is a more enjoyable reading experience than a normal book. Yes it lacks that woody aroma, and you never get to see the cover artwork in it’s full colour glory – but as someone once said, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover anyway. Being able to make the text bigger and control the line spacing really helps. Some books that were 900 pages long with a 8pt text size would have put me off in the past, but with a Kindle you don’t really pay much attention to how “fat” a book is, all you see is that percentage indicator gradually creeping up. The built in dictionary makes it so easy to lookup words that I actually learn a lot by looking up words I didn’t know instead of simply inferring what the meaning might be.

It’s still a gadget

Of course there’s no getting away from the fact that these things cost a lot of money, and the books themselves aren’t really that much cheaper than their paper counterparts (thanks somewhat to the UK VAT laws, which mean digital books are subject to VAT, but traditional paper books are not). Taking a expensive gadget everywhere isn’t always an option, and you’ll probably want to buy a case for it. Oh, and PLEASE don’t do what I did and put the Kindle in the same bag as a bottle of sunscreen (yes, the case was a good investment!).
However, that said, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives and my Kindle had survived trips to the beach. I’d definitely recommend a Kindle.