February 1st, 2008


First Kindle review

My first stab at a Kindle review, posted to BlackPlanet.com:

It's a bit simplistic and doesn't go into detail because it's not aimed at my "core" audience - you guys, nerds. There are plenty of nerds on BP, but that wasn't a targeted post just at the nerds or anything. (Don't take offense, but let's be realistic - if you're reading my LJ, you're probably a nerd. ;) )

We'll see how the discussion goes over there. And now, we'll see how it goes right here too. ;)

So - anyone have an Amazon Kindle out there? According to Steve Jobs, no one even reads any more, unless it's the track name of their favorite mp3.

Anyways, I just got mine a week ago, after being back-ordered for a month, and I have to say - as someone who loves to read, it really is a great little device. If you're not up on the latest news, the Kindle ( http://www.kindle.com/ ) is an e-book reader. It uses the new e-ink technology, which works sort of like (and looks a lot like) an Etch-a-Sketch. What it means, though, is that it's not hard on your eyes like a normal screen - it reads almost like a real printed page. (And in some ways it is - it uses magnetic ink to basically "print" on the screen.)

It also comes with free unlimited wireless service, Amazon's WhisperNet, which is basically just Sprint's EVDO service rebranded and for free. What it means, though, is that you can browse Amazon's catalog of books from anywhere, and download new books (or try a free sample of the first chapter or two) anytime. The first book I downloaded was Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father, and it literally took around 10 seconds to download it. (My next book was Neil Gaiman's Interworld, because, let's face it, I'm a nerd.)

As a book reader, it really is cool - I can carry the equivalent of 200 books in my backpack, all the time. While I haven't taken the plunge, you can subscribe to the New York Times and other newspapers and magazines and get them automatically delivered as soon as they are released. The convenience can't be beat.

The wireless features mean that if you want, you can use the web browser that's included - and it works, but it's slow, and the screen is black and white. It's not bad for looking something up quickly, but honestly is a little painful. If the browser was as fast as the internet connection, though, it'd be great.

It also has a dictionary built-in, so when you find a word you don't know, you can look it up while you're reading and then go right back to the story. It's got a few hidden features, like Minesweeper, and apparently has experimental tie-ins with Google Maps so you can see where you are on the map at any given time and look for nearby restaurants or coffee shops or whatever. But really, that's mostly fluff.

The Kindle is good at one thing - getting and reading books. If you like to read books, it's a great device. If you don't, it's pointless and all the free internet access in the world won't make it worthwhile.

Oh my...

The Navy has had a successful test fire of its first rail gun prototype.

If you don't know what a rail gun is, it basically fires a solid projectile using magnets, at very high velocity. These projectiles contain no explosive; they are simply fired so fast that the impact completely destroys the target, in theory.

The initial tests were at around 10,000 megajoules, and fired these projectiles at over 5,000 miles per hour. There are videos and more details here:


The amazing thing, though, is the way the projectiles leave a firey trail in their wake, as far as I can tell essentially igniting the air they pass through with the sheer heat of friction. It makes the AIR BURN, people. *drool*