Category Archives: Personal
Alright so I have returned safe and sound. Here’s a compilation of the videos I shot during my holiday. Enjoy!
In 10 days from now I’m going to Tokyo for 10 days, holidays. I thought it’s fitting to post my top 10 anime moments of the last 3 years, starting with #10 – counting to #1, from today. So let’s go.
#10: Rosette’s and Chrono’s last sunset
Anime: Chrono Crusade
Our kitten in the house, Fluffy, meets Maru (the world’s most famous internet cat), for the first time
What is this invisible Forcefield Technology?!
I mostly do reviews of animes around here, but let’s give a gadget review a go, shall we? First you need to know that, while I have a good apartment, I don’t have THAT much space for shelves. So what options does one have if you still want to read books, but don’t have the space?
You could, for one, buy a tablet. While that has a lot of sex-appeal (and I’m still using that little gizmo btw.), it may not be such a good choice when it comes to books. The display is refreshing and flickering, and your eyes can get tired of that after a while. So what other options do you have?
While (the) Facebook usually has a lot of characters with a lot of things to say, most of the time not many of those are interesting, or have a story to tell. Okay – it’s a social network. But I find myself using it too much now. I want to go away from that. I’ll still use it, but in moderation.
So not too long ago I was pointed in the direction of something that completely passed by my years in IT: The Kindle. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not living on the dark side of the Moon. I knew this device existed, that’s not the point. The point is that I was not aware of it’s hugely appealing advantages, which, I think, are pretty superior compared to normal tablets.
Let me give you the short and painless version of those. If you didn’t know about those, I’m pretty sure that, like me, you’ll be pretty interested in getting one.
E-Ink Pearl display
E-Ink, also commonly known as electronic paper, is a special form of display that utilizes a different approach. It was developed by E-Ink Corporation. The technology essentially uses two layers, separated by a gap of 10-100 micrometers. Trust me, you can’t make out the difference. Electrical charges are used to charge actual ink particles positively or negatively, making them cling to the upper or lower layer. This process requires ultra low-consumption of battery power. Now you know why the Kindle has superior battery life. More information here: Electronic paper.
Using the process described just now results in something extremely awesome: an image that does NOT requires constant refresh (like on LCDs and TFT screens). You will not see any flicker or notice anything that can possibly hurt your eyes, because there is none.
Reflecting light rather than emitting light
The display does not emit light (most LCDs and TFTs have a back light), which results in a readability extremely close to paper, and books. Combine the Kindle with your lamp on the nightstand, and… oh boy. This also works in direct sunlight. This makes the Kindle’s display vastly superior compared to tablets. At least for books, newspapers, and magazines.
And here’s the kicker:
Display does not require battery power
You read that right. Again: display does not require battery power. You may think something like “bullshit” or “what’s that bogus!”. You see, with this kind of display, the only power you ACTUALLY need, is to charge the micro-capsules inside the display correctly. After that, the image is kept indefinitely (INDEFINITELY!) on the display, even if the battery runs out. This makes the lowest Kindle last at least 1 month on one charge. This also means you’d have to sit there, for one month, 24/7, and constantly hit the “Next” button in order to run it down in one month. I hope that drew you quite the picture. The more expensive Kindle lasts two months, btw.
That said, it should not come to you as a surprise that I actually went to the next best gadget place and got my hands on one. In my case it’s the Kindle 3 Keyboard, with built-in 3G functionality. More on that in a moment. So that you see that I’m not lying to you, here’s an image of the thing with a modified screensaver image:
If you have a Kindle 2, 3, or 3 DX, and you want to replace the standard screensaver images, follow this guide. This is at your own risk.
For the rest, here are some other images of the device I’m now having a lot of fun with.
My Kindle’s main menu. Not much to look at, but hey, it’s for books, really. So KISS-approach applies. It works.
Now. You may have gotten on to the fact that I like anime. From there it isn’t so far away that, I too, took my liking to the source of animes: mangas. For the untouched: Mangas are hand-drawn japanese novels in somewhat comic-like form, however they are quite different to normal comic books. Most of the time they are the source of anime shows, and sometimes differ from the anime show.
Mangas, mostly, come in form of scans of the actual book. This results in an array of JPEG files, numbered in order. Luckily for us, the Kindle does JPEGs. It also does some other formats: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion (Source).
I tried conversion to PDF and MOBI formats, but none of those approaches really worked well. And then, as it so happens on my travels in the web, I found a tool named Mangle.
Basically you point it to the folder containing your JPEGs, give it a nice name, and hit “Export…”. When Kindle is connected, you can point the export right to the device, or point it to a folder on your hard drive for later export.
If you choose to manually export the manga, place the created folder in
Create the pictures folder if it doesn’t exist. After you unplug Kindle, it will show it as a new book.
Here’s a page of Love Hina, Vol. 5 (Naru looks cute here):
I won’t tell you how to get free ebooks other than the official Kindle store. However, for news(papers), there are two choices. You can either go to the Kindle store and subscribe to some there. You will get all the advantages of having the medium when ever it is released, flying right into your device.
Or, you could use a little gem I found, named Calibre.
It can do pretty much anything known to man when it comes to ebooks, and that includes conversion from a variety of formats into ebook format, such as MOBI (among others). The tools is not just for Kindle – it supports almost all ebook reader devices, and their formats.
I have three favorite features of this tool:
Find your favorite among a catalog of thousands of news sources, define when to download them (days of week, every day, etc).
Send newspapers to your Kindle email
After news are fetched and converted, they are sent to your @kindle.com address. Automagically. Just tell Calibre your Kindle email, and you’re set. Also define which email it is sent from and make sure it’s among your list of trusted emails (you can set this on Amazon.com).
Manual transfer of content with the Calibre web server
In case you have larger items to send to your Kindle, you can start Calibres own web server, point the Kindle’s web browser to it, and start downloading the files manually. They will show up in your main menu.
One of my favorite publications is Popular Science, so this is how it looks on the Kindle, created by Calibre. It is almost identical to a subscription from Amazon itself.
There is however One More Thing:
In essence, it’s a cloud service by Amazon, made for the Kindle. If you get the Wifi-only version, this will kick in when you enable wireless on the device. Once you do that, it will synchronize anything it does not have yet. Say you purchase a book on Amazon on your PC – this will sync over. Wirelessly. If you put in bookmarks or notes on your Kindle, and, say you have an iPhone with the Kindle app, and some books, those will sync back into the cloud and on your iPhone. You can, of course, also shop the Kindle store on the device itself.
So far so good. That in itself is not so much of a big feature… BUT! There is also a 3G enabled version of the Kindle. And this is where it gets good.
You pay 50 Euro extra for the 3G. There are no contracts. No fees. No fine prints. No catches, and no back doors. Amazon pays for the 3G. Anywhere in the world. This means, the device has global 2G/3G coverage, wherever you go (and where Amazon has paid, obviously). So all of the features I just mentioned, suddenly become available to you anywhere, anytime.
The Kindle also has a browser on it which allows you to search a variety of things, like Wikipedia, Google, or go to the web directly. The browser is WebKit, so… I may mention to you that these search functions too become available once you purchase the 3G version.
All of those features are free. Forever. You only pay a little bit extra, once. If that’s not something, then I don’t know what is.
So that’s Whispernet.
I hope I drew quite the picture for you. I personally find myself being absolutely stunned by this little fella, and I can see myself filling it with books I always wanted to read, very quickly. I am already using it on the train for Manga and newspaper publications, it’s an absolute joy to read on it. Sure the device is 16-color greyscale – but you want books, right? Even images, when converted correctly to grayscale look amazing.
This one is nothing short of epic and I can’t believe this passed by me in the last years. Better late than never eh?
I absolutely recommend this device to truly anyone who likes to read just about anything. This device effectively converts books into the digital age without losing any of the appeal of actual books. It’s a device that really knows what it’s doing, you get EXACTLY what it says on the tin, plus all of the features I mentioned.
I got the Kindle 3 with 2G/3G/Wifi and built-in keyboard for 179, which is approximate to the price on Amazon.com.
Marcus McKay, we’re done here.
Every year I make my own CDs with music I listened to through a given year. The covers are always of different design, each year, to reflect something that had an impact.
“Aionios” is Greek and means ‘timeless’, ‘everlasting’. The cover is designed after EVE Online, and continues the Anime Wall of last year.
So here are the covers. I’m pretty happy with the outcome.