And now, the Nook report!

Nookish goodness arrived at my house today! Therefore, as promised, here’s my overall initial review post.

First and foremost, y’all may have heard that the Nook comes with insanely complicated packaging. This is absolutely true. When you first get into it, there’s a little slip of paper that has–I kid you not–a seven-step procedure for freeing it from the various layers of packaging around it. This all had the advantage, I suppose, of making damn sure that it got to me intact. But when you have to have special instructions for actually unpacking the thing, I think they might have gone just a touch overboard, y’know?

My reaction on getting it out of the first layer or so though was “It’s a Microsoft Ship-It award!” Because it looked like this, you see:

I had to get userinfospazzkat‘s help to actually liberate the thing; he’d already done the same with his own nook, and his hands are stronger than mine, so he was able to do the last couple of steps to pry the thing out of its plastic support tray. Once that was done, I was able to do the fun part: powering it up, getting its updates on it, and most importantly, firing up the books.

Overall I like the design and look of it. Once I put it in its cover, it’ll be about the size of a small hardback book, and not so heavy that it’ll be onerous to carry in my backpack. I’m not much of a fan of the way the screen flashes when you turn a page, but other than that, I find the e-ink very readable, at least in direct light. It’s not as useful in low-light conditions, so this may be an issue when reading on the bus after dark. I may have to resort to the iPhone as backup reading device then. I am also amused that its default screensaver is the various pictures of authors that anybody who’s ever been in a B&N store will remember as being the artwork on the walls. I like that enough that I’ll probably keep it, for now.

It downloaded updates on its own, which was nice, and it cheerfully went and got all of the ebooks I’ve already purchased from the Barnes and Noble ebook store. This was I admit a trifle confusing UI-wise, since I’d set some of my books as “archived” because I’d already read them, and got confused because I had to tell the thing to go ahead and download those–but I didn’t have to do that with the rest of them. But it was all good in the end.

Getting all my non-B&N content onto it was super easy. You can plug it into a USB port and have it mount as a drive, which is lovely. You can then dump as many files as you like in whatever directory structure you like onto it, which is also lovely. But there are several organizational issues with how the device actually shows you the files, to wit:

  1. Whatever directory structure you use is entirely irrelevant, because the actual device will just do a flat display of all the files it finds; it doesn’t care about your folder structure.
  2. There is currently no way to organize your titles past “sort by author” or “sort by title”, in the “My Documents” section; in the “My Library” section, where the B&N content resides, it’s a little nicer and you also get “Most Recent” as a sort option. But what I would really want to see here is the ability to mark a book as Read somehow, whether that be by a tag or by moving it into a Read folder or what.
  3. After looking at the lovely lists of titles and cover thumbnails in the iPhone’s various reader apps, the black and white file list is really kind of boring to look at. But this is only a mild objection on my part since the tiny cover thumbnails would lose something on this display and not really be worth displaying.
  4. A lot of my PDF files are coming through with really weird mangled names. I don’t know why that is, if it’s a metadata problem on them or what. I may have to see if I can fix those in Calibre or something.

Tomorrow I’ll give it a good test run with actual reading, and report back on that. So far at least I’m favorably inclined to it, but man, I hope they improve the organization of files on the device in future firmware releases.

And oh yes, I also had to take a picture of this, because Kendis says hi:

I was going to do this anyway

But the Amazon vs. Macmillan brouhaha over the weekend has pretty much bumped up the priority on this: I just dropped my first round of shiny royalties on a Nook. The actual device and a pretty cover to put it in pretty much comes to roughly the amount of royalties I got, and that’s quite fine with me. Barnes and Noble thinks it’ll ship probably around the 12th, so it’ll be a couple of weeks before Nookish goodness actually reaches my house; this too is fine, since it ain’t like I’m lacking for things to read.

(Technically, I am not going to spend those exact moneys on the device, I think–just because it’ll be nice to keep them in the account they’re sitting in, quietly gathering interest. I’m actually paying for the thing out of my primary account. But I figure that as long as I have the money, I don’t really give a flying damn what account it comes out of. The important thing is, shiny candy-like buttons! And ebooks!)

I’m also feeling the need to show Macmillan authors some solidarity, so I think my next round of ebook buying is going to be all Macmillan authors! I need to round out my John Scalzi collection anyway.

Since the cover I wanted isn’t actually available yet (a nice leather green one with an embossed quote about how a good book is the best of friends), I have instead selected the punctuation-themed one with a big ampersand on the front and a question mark on the back. This has the added bonus of being nethack-y, and will likely make me do a double-take the first few times I read something on the thing, thinking “AIGH THERE’S A DEMON ON MY NOOK”. Or, if I look at it from the back, wondering if I’ve actually identified this scroll yet.

The obligatory iPad reaction post

And now, for my answer to the question much of the rest of the Internet has been asking: will I buy an iPad? (y/n)

Immediate near-term answer: no.

I am of course an Apple user. Maybe not a hugely ardent Apple devotee per se, but I do quite like my MacBook and my iPhone, which still have plenty of useful lifespan left in them and which satisfy my current computing needs quite nicely. For that reason alone I’m not seeing any reason I need to get a third device.

The more pertinent question for me might be, will I buy an iPad when my current laptop eventually needs replacing?

Current answer to that, although possibly subject to change depending on how future generations of the device develop: no.

One: the size and shape of it would make me reluctant to carry it on my daily commute. While the weight is good, just 1.5 pounds, the size and shape do not convince me that I could safely carry it in my backpack. Plus, I would absolutely not put it in my backpack without a protective shell of some sort, which would add extra weight. Also, just the sheer shape of it makes me wonder whether it would fit into the size and style of backpack I carry anyway.

Two: While the lack of keyboard doesn’t bother me at all–I’m quite used at this point to the virtual keyboard on the iPhone and using one on the iPad would not be a problem–the lack of ability to multitask does. If it can’t let me run my usual suite of programs at the same time, it’s just not an effective home computing device for me.

Three: Lack of storage space local to the device is not a huge dealbreaker for me, but it is a point of concern. I’m used to syncing my iPhone with my laptop when I get home in the evening. But if the iPad were to be my home computing device, I’d clearly need some ability to sync it up with one of our household servers. Syncing my personal documents out to a third-party site such as Google Docs or MobileMe or whatever is not really a path I want to go. Those options are fine as off-site backups, but when it comes to working copies of whatever writing I’m doing, I want them local and on my house LAN.

Four: While as an ebook author I am very much interested in the iPad serving as a new way to get ebooks to people, I’d be way more interested if the iBooks store opens up to other Mac devices and ideally other platforms as well. Selling books in epub format is good. Selling them without DRM so that you could read them in whatever app on whatever device you wish would be better. Right now though the fact that the iPad has an iBooks store isn’t enough to make it nudge that Nook I’m eying out of the running for “e-reader device I’m most likely to purchase.”

Last but not least, since Sarah at Smart Bitches called Apple on this and it bears repeating: speaking as a female computer geek, I gotta say, seriously, ‘iPad’ as a name? Um, no. ;) While the issues I’ve touched on above might improve as the device develops, I’m sorry, the part of me that’s still twelve years old will be giggling over that name for some time.

But hey, we’ll see what happens. In general I’m in favor of shiny computing devices, so if this one finds its niche, more power to it. And I’ll be interested to see what people say once they actually get them into their hands.

Sunrise over Lake Washington

When I was walking down the hill to the bus stop, the sunrise over the lake was stunningly pretty. There was quite the cloud formation going on over the treeline and the lake, and sunlight was pretty much setting the entire thing on fire. Best of all, it was bouncing off the lake as well so there was this great lovely span of pink before me as I was heading to the corner.

My dinky little iPhone camera doesn’t really do it justice, but here it is anyway:

(ETA: Grf, for some reason the photo isn’t coming through on the version of this post mirroring out to LJ and Dreamwidth. Possibly due to a recent WordPress upgrade on my part! Anyway, if you’re looking at this from anywhere but the WordPress blog, try looking here for the picture.

ETA #2: No wait duh. I didn’t see the picture because AdBlock Plus was eating it. Oops!)

I wanted to call this out particularly because the last couple weeks of weather here have been classic Seattle winter: rainy and windy and awful. The last day or two though, it’s cleared up. And it brought us the lovely sunrise, so!

Meanwhile I would also like to note that the tally of books purchased or otherwise acquired has jumped significantly for the month! Continuing the January theme of “Buying Things Written by userinfodesperance“, I ordered the two missing books of his Outremer series from Powell’s, and a copy of Dispossession from Mr. Brenchley himself. I was particularly interested in that one, since a) its cover is the source of his userpic, and b) it involves amnesia in the plot, and y’all know what a sucker I am for an amnesia plot. ;)

I do think I’ll have to have me a Chaz Brenchley marathon sometime soon.

Also! I volunteered to do a bit of coding work for Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell, as I posted before. Took me a couple hours this past weekend to get her something approximating what she’ll need; it’ll need a bit of fine-tuning perhaps, but it’s at least in the ballpark. She kindly paid me for my time in the best way possible: a Fictionwise gift certificate! So I have a new pile of ebooks to add to the list of things purchased/acquired thus far this year:

  • Magic Bites, Magic Burns, and Magic Strikes, the Kate Daniels novels by userinfoilona_andrews. Urban fantasy. In the case of the first two, re-buys of books I’d previously purchased in paperback form
  • Dead to Me, by userinfoantonstrout. Urban fantasy. Another re-buy in ebook form
  • Unperfect Souls, by userinfomarkdf. Urban fantasy. Pre-order of the forthcoming next Conner Grey novel
  • Three Days to Dead, by Kelly Meding. Urban fantasy.
  • Deadtown, by Nancy Holzner. Urban fantasy.
  • Sentinels: Wolf Hunt, by Doranna Durgin. Paranormal Romance.
  • Exception to the Rule, by Doranna Durgin. Suspense/Romance.
  • Beyond the Rules, by Doranna Durgin. Suspense/Romance.
  • The Knights of the Cornerstone, by James P. Blaylock. Fantasy. Re-buy in ebook form, since Fictionwise was selling it for only 84 cents!

This brings the Books Acquired tally for 2010 thus far up to 22. Go me!

Javascript clues needed!

Hey folks, Smart Bitch Sarah, who y’all may know of as one half of the fine duo of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, has put out a call asking for assistance at Javascript. She needs code that can choose between 3-4 ads with associated URLs, for a mobile app, each time the app is refreshed.

Now, this seems like a reasonably easy Javascript problem to me, and I know how I’d go about doing it on a web page. But what I don’t know is how you’d go about integrating this into a mobile app. Anybody out there know offhand of any extant scripts that could accomplish this? Alternately, any specific tips on how to plug code I’d whip up on my own into whatever she’s already got for the app?

(Note: what I’ve described here is pretty much all I know of what Sarah needs; she’s not technically inclined, so she pretty much needs a nice simple solution for this.)

Thanks in advance for any tips, all!

Attn: Mac Geeks

So oh hey, Mac OS update this week! Snow Leopard to to all reports sounds really, really shiny. But the potential bugaboo for the Murk is that with this release, OS X is dropping support for Power PCs, and one of our Macs, the older laptop we’re using as a Time Machine server, is a G4 and won’t run the new OS.

I haven’t been able to find any word yet on whether Time Machine in Snow Leopard will continue to happily talk to a Time Machine server running Leopard. Anybody know one way or another? I’d hate for this to be a dealbreaker for getting the upgrade, since we could get a nice family pack upgrade for the house Macs for fifty bucks.