eBooks Editorial

While browsing Gizmodo, I came accross a good write up about eBooks, and their future and when or if it might come about.

The article makes some comparisons to the iPod and it’s penetration into the industry, but then says it similarities stop at the fact that the eBook changes the fundamental way in which the medium is used. You are not flipping the pages, you are not losing your place in the book if you set it down for a moment.

The author talks with book industry people about the fact that even if there was a viable color eBook reader, no publisher wants to take the leap into the digital book world and be there first. They’ll happily do it once it’s been done, but noone wants to be first. Not that I blame them.

The idea of an eBook is great and a little crazy at the same time. I would love to be able to have a favorite book searchable for a certian quote (or even for students for paper writing) or having quick bookmarks set up for maps or appendixes. The author makes mention of the fact that while digital books will come, there should not be a fear that print media will go away any time. After all, would you want to carry your digital book to the beach? Or have it toss around the back of your car until you get around to reading it? I think not.

Nintendo DS – Very Nice

Nintendo DS

The final look of the Nintendo DS has been announced and pictures are out there. My, my, this is a pretty gaming machine. Nintendo really took to heart comments about the DS that they got from E3 and made the system sleeker and shiny, and made sure it had all it could need built in.

Now if only I could see what stylus based game play would be like. It sounds great but, really, what is it going to do for actually playing games? We’ll see.

Where did it go?

While making some routine searches this morning, I found I was getting error messages from Google and it was an odd sensation. When you are used to using a tool and having it be reliable and quick, when it’s broke you arn’t quite sure what to do at first. I eventually gave up, and searched later when it came back up, but it supprised me that I was unable to really remember any other search engines that I could even want to use. Sure there could be altivista, or Yahoo, or MSN, but these didn’t really come to mind, let alone some of the newer ones I’ve heard about but would never use becasue of my bond to Google, and it’s browser toolbars.

Apparently, outage was due to a virus, as usuall it seems these days. People don’t patch their computers, or open an attachment from “Sal” that has “Hot deals for you on Via-GrA” and then pay the price. From technical perspective the virus is interesting. It looks at your “address book” and then searches Google and other engines for e-mail addresses that go along with the different domains (i.e. ben@bingo.com – the virus searches Google for other e-mails @bingo.com).

I thought about ranting concerning people who do dumb things with their computers, but then it’s not always their fault, and neither is it all Microsoft’s fault. But two things. One, after all these years of hearing on the news, and reading in the papers about not opening up e-mails from people you don’t know or wern’t expecting, you’d think people would learn. They don’t. Not that Microsoft has been doing better about letting their customers know, but hey let’s just release patch after patch and maybe it will be fixed someday.

Where’s the goods PC games?

I was pointed to this article on JoeUser.com from the creator of Galactic Civilizations and other stratagy games. It’s a typical blast of the PC gaming industry and it’s habits of releasing buggy, incomplete games, and then patching them later.

He goes into the history of his company, Stardock and how over the years they have lost out on so much in royalties from their publishers that this fear of “piracy” killing the industry is nowhere near correct. He envisions a future with more direct marketing via the internet and downloadable games available that are complete and don’t require a ton of patches to get right, but are done correct the first time out.

I’m torn with the idea of downloading newer games. While I do it currently and will in the future, I like the idea of a physical copy of a more major game purchase. I don’t mind having downloadable copies of puzzle games from say, Popcap, but if I were to want to get the latest Fallout, or Doom, I want a physical copy of all of the game. I want my CD there on the shelf or in a binder, and my key ready to go, instead of digging around or re-downloading the game and trying to find out where my e-mailed key was or if it still even is on the face of the earth.

And in a way, the CD’s represent my “library.” When I go over to someone’s house I find myself looking at their books on the shelf, and if they are a gamer, what games they have. That is one thing I like about console games, is that your library of games is there to see, and be commented on. “Oh, you have Metroid Prime? What did you think of the first person changes to the game?” I like having my gaming tastes being shown. You look at my games and you can see what I play.

Problem is, I like the idea of self publishing, and the way the internet can be a way around the retail racket. The way profit for the little guys can be had without selling their souls, and filling up landfills with oversized boxes that are just thrown away anyways. But it is always tempered with the fact that I would never want to give up my Fallout 2 manual and it’s humor, nor would I want a PDF of the Star Control 2 map that I have.

There is a balance somewhere, and I suppose the industry is going to find it, or at least it had better. The console is booming and knocking down the castle that PC gaming had for so many years. Where’s it going? Guess we’ll wait and see.

RSS Fiendish?

I found this article on RSS while reading Slashdot.

In it Chad Dickerson, of InfoWorld, talks of the growing pains of RSS (Really-Simple-Syndication) as the number of users of feeds go up, and the clients that they use are not “smart”. He likens the hits InfoWorld gets at the top of every hour to a DoS (Denial of Service) attack, because of so many different clients from all over all asking at the same time.

He makes an interesting observation in that but he doesn’t take it further or offer solutions. He gave the problem and left it at, “If RSS is going to go from fairly big to absolutely huge, we?re all going to need to do a little more work on the plumbing.” I’m a more recent convert to RSS “feeds” and getting used to using them instead of going from site to site to site and checking for updates. It’s usefull and wonderful, but not if the tool can’t be managed correctly.

I’ve heard solutions to the problem, and many of them have to do with making the RSS clients smarter, in that they only download the feed if it has been updated and not everytime. Doesn’t sound hard does it? The other major solution is fixing the users. I’ve had people tell me they have their RSS reader check their list of feeds once every 15 minutes, and then there are stories of people doing it every 5 or less. Please people stop. Sure the amount of data exchanged is small, if you are doing a small thing many times it adds up quickly, and especially for smaller sites (I’m really not worried about this one for any time soon) their bandwith bill most likely comes out of their pocket.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I think RSS has a great potential in the future, and I see a combo of it and something like BitTorrent could be an amazing way to publish writings and files in the years to come. Go the future.

Book – Marching Powder

Marching Powder : A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest JailMarching Powder : A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail

My wife, Jess, picked up this book while we were on a trip in an independant bookstore. The back of the book pulls you in with this crazy story of a prison in Bolivia where the inmates must buy their own cells, and in many cases their wives and children live with them. Anything can be bought, and you can bribe your way out of almost anything. The book was the story of Thomas McFadden, a drug smuggler, who was caught and imprisoned for over four years in this prison.

The first person narritive of the book is amazing and surreal. You almost feel at times the book is fiction and that the scenes come out of a movie. Thomas is likable, and though not a saint, he draws you into his story and how he became the unofficial tour guide of the prison, and ran his own restaurant amoung other things to make money inside.

The Scion xB

After seeing this orange box type car when driving around, and falling completely in love with it’s design appeal I had to find out what kind of car it was. Getting way to close, but close enough I could read the little “Scion” on the emblem. Who the hell is Scion? A little helpful Google brought me to the Scion homepage.

The little box/car that I had seen was the new Scion xB. The Scion line was created by Toyota to be a new “hip” line of cars for the Gen-Y crowd. Similar to Honda’s foray into the market with their Element (which is a great vehicle, of which I am very impressed). After reading a review of the car, I still want one. At the rate I’m going my new Volvo is going to be far off. Maybe I could get a used Scion xB in a year or two? We’ll see…