Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Simple Joy of Browsing Sans Cookies

I'm not one to champion open source crap browsers, or anything ridiculous like 'online privacy', but I've recently found a simple joy in browsing the text of the internets on one of the most low tech high tech devices I've seen in a while: my new Kindle.

I've read all of one short story on it, but can immediately say without hesitation that if you're on the fence with this one, to just suck it up and take the plunge. It's pretty good, and here's why:

Full, free internets. Everywhere. Free.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of flash powered shockwave sites that want me to click or rollover every button or widget on the site. I am, however, a huge fan of big blocks of text, and can safely say I never have (and never will) complain that something is TL or that I DR it. I never understood jackasses on internet forums that find themselves confronted with text who then proceed to complain about it. TV might be a better alternative.

For those with a willingness to filter out anything fancy, though, what you find is a pretty nice device that is only going to get better with time.

When I bought the Kindle, I knew I wanted one for reading, and didn't do a whole lot of research. I wanted to be surprised, and I have a tendency to read a review, focus on the bad points, and then obsess over them once I have something in my hands. I had heard that wikipedia access was included, on demand, anywhere, but didn't have any inkling that you could just punch a URL in there and go freely about your business. Typing and having it come up was pretty exciting, even if it was only in greyscale.

I immediately went shuffling around the interwebs to a few blogs, all while a few bullet points rattled around in my head:

- this is free. The kindle itself isn't ($260), obviously, but for all the bullshit hype the iPhone makes about being able to go online at the drop of a dime, there's something to be said about free internet access without being tied to some $80/month plan. I already pay for internet at home. I don't want to pay again for it for my phone. I think surfing the internet on a cellphone is stupid. 240x320 is ridiculous. Typing URLs on a number pad is silly. Reading seven words at a time, and then scrolling, sucks. Yes, the iPhone is also a cell phone, and blah blah blah apps, but I've got a prepaid cell that has cost me 50 dollars so far, and it still has time on it after 3 months back in the states. Amazon, in order to allow you to buy books anytime, just decided fuggit and threw in access to the whole intertron. They could have easily cut all access to any page not on their domain, but they didn't. Very nice.

- yes, it isn't a PC. I can't play WoW on it, or use a full fledged browser that does cookies and all that crap. I also can't, like... do spreadsheets, or whatever people use PCs for. Then again, with my big gaming laptop (or my mom's little fancy netbook), I can't just pop it open at a park and be online unless there's a specific wifi hotspot, and even then, the battery would run dry just powering the cooling fans and screen. I never even bother using a laptop that isn't plugged in anymore. I just think of them as 'more portable' than a normal PC, but they still need to be tethered to some outlet somewhere. The Kindle only uses energy to REDRAW the screen, and push traffic across the connection. If you leave it static, and walk away, it isn't using juice. You can think of it like a USB drive... it takes energy to write the data, but then when it sits in the drawer, the data just stays in place. It came in the box with the screen 'on', telling me to charge it before use, and I thought that it was some sticker I needed to peel off the screen. It's hard to explain how the screen looks, but it's really READABLE.

Some of these images are color adjusted, so it's hard to really tell how it just looks. I have the lights kinda low, and all my pictures started to look like I live in some fucking lodge and blog by a fireplace in a room made entirely of Knotty Pine, so I tweaked the color balance a bit. It's hard to explain what it looks like, because it's like describing a piece of paper. If the lighting in your room is yellow, it'll look yellow. If you bask in fluorescents, it'll be whiter.

You can clearly see Hatch's logo, but Jong's isn't there... I wonder if it just surrenders when it sees something above a certain image size? Some sites are little wonky, I need to 'next page' once to get past Tobold's navigation bar, and Penny Arcade comics show up, but they're small, and barely readable. Again, this is supposed to be a portable book, it excels at handling raw text.

What's that? You wish I had a 50mm Macro lens and would take a 4 second exposure with the aperture closed all the way down? Sure! I'll even throw a penny in there for scale!

The font sizes are adjustable on the fly between about 6 different sizes... above is my normal size, and below is if you hate your eyes...

I even made a swanky little cover for it when I saw they wanted 30 bucks for one on Amazon:

Yeahh... that's FLEECE, baby!


I seriously can't say enough about this thing. It takes PDFs and Mobi books if you feel like catering to your inner eyepatch, or you can download books from anywhere directly from Amazon. There are a bunch of sites like that offer free original stories written by internet superstars in the making, or you can legally get any number of a zillion 'classics' that are now public domain (anything from Mark Twain to Tolstoy to Sun Tzu's Art of War to the collected works of Aristotle). Plus you know, the internet. ;)

On a somewhat related sidenote, I've been MIA from blogging for a little while following the drama of Los Angeles. I have an interview on Tuesday for some (normal, IT, tech support) job to just start paying bills, but I've been devouring Warcraft III map making tutorials, and have a pretty good handle on triggers and scripting. I've made a map with what are all the standard 'kill ten rats', 'go find timmy', and 'bring me back 10% droprate wolf tail' quests, just to see how they're scripted and how it all fits together.

It seems pretty straightforward. I'm still not giving up on this, I just got a little soured on it for a sec. For every person that was cheering me on, there were three telling me how stupid I was, etc etc etc. I felt like I had taken poetry (as an example), that I just liked writing on my own... then I worked on some manifesto poem bible for submission to the poetry society of whatever, and then they returned it to me with red ink all over it telling me how I was doing it wrong. I got a little burned on poetry in general for a few weeks, and just needed a break. But I do love writing (not poetry, though?), and I do love what I've been writing about. I'm not gone, just ramping back up to speed. To bring it full circle, if you don't see me commenting so much, it's because I'm reading all my blogs on my Kindle, and CBF to type up responses on the login hating browser. ;)


Tomas said...

I haven't encountered one of the Kyndle's quite yet, but I got my hands on a Sony Reader and thought they were quite amazing.

I want to get one eventually, because I know I'll thoroughly enjoy it, but I still need to commit to investing in it. But, from my experience, the books from Kyndle's bookstore are sometimes much cheaper then paper copies and that in itself would pay for it in time.

Also, on a more random note, how are you enjoying Aion thus far?

Rich said...

i have to shamefully admit I still haven't bought it.

I've been caught up in the job search, and suffering thru Ony pugs that rage quit break up after one wipe. Aion is still on my to-do list, but I just have bigger fish to fry atm.

Tesh said...

Ah, the cruel irony that my most recent post has two huge pictures, when I usually just write walls of text.

Good to see you're still hammering at the scripting stuff trying to build that door wedge, Ixo! I remember trying out the StarCraft scripting stuff... I didn't have the patience for it, but I saw that it was powerful and could empower a lot of creativity.

When do we get to play your maps? ;)

Krunchy said...

If you do manage to make a way wherein the player can complete quests in the Warcraft III engine, I'd love to try it. I'm always intrigued by people who can take a system confined by a set of rules and make it do something different.

Jeremy said...

That cover you made is pretty sweet. I borrowed a Kindle from the library and it had a generic-y black leather one, hard and unforgiving, and more trouble than good. I like yours much better.

Jong said...

I haven't heard of Kindle before. I should look into it. It sounds so smart considering I'm currently paying $80/month just so I can read blogs & guild forums when I'm at the airport.

Healbot said...

I'm a long time lurker, but thought I would break my silence and ask...where on the intertron are these classic books you can get for free ? Could you provide a link please ? I was tempted to write that in intergeek speak like say "link plox!" but yah....

Sage said...

Just wanted to make sure you knew this, Ixo (I apologize if I'm correcting you on something you know), but the WC3 editor codes for shit. You'll need to find a Jass editor(, and rip out all the failcode, then replace it with wincode (Imagine if WoW's basic interface made the game run at 1/10th speed, or something).

Several maps to look at:
Swat: Aftermath: RTS/objective style map. It's made of win. (still chugging with 20k lines of Jass code, when most maps can't handle over 6k, probably the most complex map out there)

TKoK: Eastern Kingdoms: Might be more what you want/the direction you're going in? Not sure about the efficiency, however.

I hope all of this helps.

I also feel your pain with Ony pugs, but I needs mah 245 Weapon + tanking Helm.

Rich said...

I do know about JASS (, but I'm still using the building blocks of the editor to learn what to be looking for.

Once you know "(Units in (Playable Map Area) Matching (((Matching Unit) is A Hero) Equal to True)) and do (Actions)" by heart you can start to write the code itself, but the editor is a lot of dropdown lists and multiple choice options to choose from, and you can usually trial and error your way through a few options, and know from then on 'that's how that would work'.


FREE BOOKS: I use, and then click on Public Domain (, or just putz around looking at new stuff. I actually read a short 15 minute story by some random guy that was actually pretty sweet ( With unknown authors, it's obviously hit or miss, but that's what blogging is... using the internet to publish the unknown. It's exciting.

googleing for 'kindle public domain' will turn up other sites that focus on this. Feedbooks can even be accessed directly from the kindle's browser, and will DL directly onto the machine, otherwise you can drag and drop via the USB connection on your main PC.

Rich said...

forgot the big one: direct from amazon. just search books from low to high:

lol huge URL

and all the public domain books on amazon come to the top of the list ($0.00). they deliver to your kindle directly.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've been lurking away.
I had been thinking of the Kindle & the Sony e-reader until I finally got an iphone & discovered that it can access free books as well.
(My monthly phone bill is 60-something, I didn't get stuff like text messaging, and I got the fewest minutes I could, which suits me fine, plus I have a small discount as a gov. employee)
If a site has tiny fonts, or is particularly wide, I turn to landscape mode and zoom a little. I never have to read stuff 5 words at a time. XD
I'm glad you're enjoying the Kindle though. If they come out with a paperback sized one that has color I'll be sorely tempted again. ^^
Best of luck with the WoW-related job hunt too!