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Sony "Reader"

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I debated whether this belongs here or in the Technology forum. Since the subject isn’t so much the science behind it, but just the “wow! cool!” factor, I decided to post here.

I recently bought a Sony Reader and just wanted to share, because I think it’s now the coolest gadget I own. It may sound silly, but I loved the idea of a digital book ever since watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Characters would read books, correspondences and schematics off of these flat computer pads. So I was thrilled to see an ad for this and practically ran out to buy it (actually I had to find a store that had it, it’s backordered everywhere and out of stock in most places).

The first book I read on it was The Golden Compass, and now The Subtle Knife. Basically I'll be able to do all of my casual reading this way, and save space for the "deeper" reading that requires paper books for underlining and writing in the margins.

The display is probably the most impressive part. It uses "Electronic Paper", named so because the display looks more like ink than pixels. Also it doesn't use backlighting, so it's very easy on the eyes. I learned afterward that Amazon has a similar product (called the Kindle) with more functions (it can receive newspaper subscriptions, and allows you to lookup words in its dicitonary while reading). I think mine is more stylish, though, and I really don't need the other functions.

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That sounds like a great purchase if one is interested in combining an interest in technological novelty and reading. I wonder if there is a market for Sony, the company that started the "music wherever you go" generation off with the Walkman, to create a product that would allow one to read or listen to an audiorecording of printed material.

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That sounds like a great purchase if one is interested in combining an interest in technological novelty and reading. I wonder if there is a market for Sony, the company that started the "music wherever you go" generation off with the Walkman, to create a product that would allow one to read or listen to an audiorecording of printed material.

The beginings are already there. The Reader recognizes and plays MP3 and AAC audio, although only unsecured at the moment. Their intention was to allow you to listen to music while reading, but it's certainly possible they will choose to support audiobook content in the future. One nice thing is that the ebooks themselves take up very little storage space, so I think it's easy to imagine the two being combined into one device.

Also, what with Amazon's "Kindle" having wireless capabilities, Sony is going to need to plan a direction that sets them apart.

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Their intention was to allow you to listen to music while reading, but it's certainly possible they will choose to support audiobook content in the future. One nice thing is that the ebooks themselves take up very little storage space, so I think it's easy to imagine the two being combined into one device.

Also, what with Amazon's "Kindle" having wireless capabilities, Sony is going to need to plan a direction that sets them apart.

I meant that, in order for Sony to set itself apart from Kindle or anything that Apple might come up with - or anyone else, wouldn't it be great if you could download either an ebook or an audiobook in MP3/AAC/whatever the next newest bestest format is and choose to either read or listen to the same material at will. My eyes get tired sometimes and reading is a huge part of my waking life. I would like to be able to learn or enjoy a variety of materials auditorily sometimes without having to go back and download the same material in a different format. I think that would be a revolutionary step and I would not view it in the same category as a gadget novelty (which has its own pleasurable value).

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I meant that, in order for Sony to set itself apart from Kindle or anything that Apple might come up with - or anyone else, wouldn't it be great if you could download either an ebook or an audiobook in MP3/AAC/whatever the next newest bestest format is and choose to either read or listen to the same material at will. My eyes get tired sometimes and reading is a huge part of my waking life. I would like to be able to learn or enjoy a variety of materials auditorily sometimes without having to go back and download the same material in a different format. I think that would be a revolutionary step and I would not view it in the same category as a gadget novelty (which has its own pleasurable value).

I think the ebook market has some growing to do before audiobook support would catch on. Publishers are still not on the same file standard - many ebooks from third party vendors are not readable on the handhelds, because they were formatted for display on the pc. That's the first hurdle I've read about, which would keep people who aren't seduced by the technology angle to buy into it. People can already listen to audiobooks on casset players and discmans, so that angle isn't going to cut it until the reader devices offer a higher quality, more comprehensive library to grab a much larger consumer base.

Then maybe some integrated form of ebook/audiobook could be designed. But I agree it would be revolutionary.

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Now that I've looked at the Sony eReader out of curiosity, for casual reading, I still wouldn't choose either version because I find the screen too small. You avoid the eyestrain of a transitional screen, but I still wouldn't like an alternate form of eyestrain. I also find the iLiad a much cleaner format of buttons, more so than the Sony eReader or Kindle.

I haven't wanted to carry around a Tablet PC during my travels or even at home since I tend to wander around quite a bit and go for long walks, but I want the ability to scribble. It has become annoying not to have a particular coiled notebook with me to scribble in, so I ended up with an iLiad (version 2). My reading is more academic and work-related than casual, so for a variety of annotations and marginalia on pdf versions including formulae, reviewing contracts, doodling, feedback on papers, writing music on staff paper (supplied by iRex or you can upload your own), iLiad is great for me. I'm not interested at all in an all-in-1 device that combines all the BlackBerry functions with a reading device. For notes about my ramblings, I also bring maps with me and mark them up on the iLiad. Customer support walked me through a software download to enable me to merge my scribbledygook with the pdf without losing the pdf's original properties (like bookmarks, file info, etc.), which I had problems with, initially.

Just three things I'd want on the iLiad are perhaps to be able to add bookmarks to pdfs, a shorter charging time than 3 hours, and an upgrade from EInk to EInk Vizplex. I get my RSS feeds, listen to music, and I don't use highlighters to note up text anyway, so being able to note by underlining and writing only is great for me, and I do this for casual reads as well too, since my casual reads are more-or-less academic. I don't play games on the device, don't want a calculator or touchscreen functionality, just a stylus and keys, so the iLiad suits my preferences very well. A manganese (that's all you people who read manga) friend likes it for her leisure manga reading, too. I have been using a combination of ~60% actual paper and 40% iLiad to correspond with friends (we write letters, so I send pdfs), and when I take the device outdoors, the ratio goes to 40% paper and 60% iLiad.

I travel close to home nowadays, so the small capacity for memory expansion compared to the Sony eReader does not worry me and the wireless connectivity to transfer files is a key feature. I have found the quality of the product and SD card compatibilities good, so far. I think the iLiad is a good quality device and recommend it as a Tablet PC alternative, but I don't think it'd be the best for casual reading alone if that's all you want out of an eBook.

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I hadn't heard of the Iliad until now. Just the ability to write on the screen sets itself way apart from either the Sony reader or the Amazon Kindle. For only reading and note taking and not full PC functionality it would definitely be lighter and easier to read than a full tablet PC. Just from reading about it and looking at the photos, it looks like the device that Amazon should be using, not the Kindle.

It's becoming depressingly common for the best electronic devices to not be widely known or even available in the U.S. (e.g., some Japanese electronics, or in the case of the Illiad, a European company.)

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Thank you, Cometmaker, for the review of the Iliad. When I bought my Sony, I didn't know about this one. I did, however find it later after doing some searching on how the market was on digital books. It really is just a question of what you want to use the device for. The Ilian costs over twice as much as the "Reader" and it sounds like you are taking full advantage of the cost difference. For what I wanted - casual reading - Sony's product was just fine.

That said, I hope that both Sony and Amazon take notice and try to incorporate these functions in their later models. I would love to be able to upgrade to a later Sony device, carrying over the books I've purchased through their store, and be able to do things like underline and write in the margins. It would also double well as something to jot notes into.

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I hadn't heard of the Iliad until now. Just the ability to write on the screen sets itself way apart from either the Sony reader or the Amazon Kindle. For only reading and note taking and not full PC functionality

What PC functionalities do you consider missing? Sorry if that's a stupid question, but it's a Linux species, and can be modified to do even more than what is marketed. Some people configure it for file management, calculators, games, etc., which aren't relevant to me.

It's becoming depressingly common for the best electronic devices to not be widely known or even available in the U.S. (e.g., some Japanese electronics, or in the case of the Illiad, a European company.)

Really? I thought Earth was your home, not one particular country! :D What is the limitation to finding out about stuff that works for you, or seeking a source in Italy that will, say, make a shoe to your design because you don't see one that you like? iRex will ship to the U.S., and they do multilingual customer support, so as to that part of your comment, it is available for us.

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What PC functionalities do you consider missing? Sorry if that's a stupid question, but it's a Linux species, and can be modified to do even more than what is marketed. Some people configure it for file management, calculators, games, etc., which aren't relevant to me.

If it's also a general purpose Linux computer then that's another big advantage in its favor over other eBook systems, which are, as far as I know, completely closed (i.e. they could be running any OS, though probably Linux as well, but neither end users nor developers can access it.) I meant the ability to run Windows and large programs, such as Matlab or Mathematica or Word, as I can do on my heavier and more power hungry Fujitsu Lifebook tablet PC.

Really? I thought Earth was your home, not one particular country! :D What is the limitation to finding out about stuff that works for you, or seeking a source in Italy that will, say, make a shoe to your design because you don't see one that you like? iRex will ship to the U.S., and they do multilingual customer support, so as to that part of your comment, it is available for us.

Well, currently tied to America, but that could change someday.

My comment was mostly based on two factors; first, I just find it a sad commentary on the condition of the U.S. that it no longer represents the best in every category, whether it's cell phones, eBook readers, car radios (e.g. the advanced Japanese offerings for the Honda CR/V vs. the pathetic ones in the U.S.), the tallest buildings, the U.S. dollar, etc.

As well, for things such as electronics or machinery, I'm wary of importing something that wouldn't have support if there were problems, as well as arbitrary customs duties on it. That doesn't seem to be a problem with the Iliad, which is low priced enough to not be a big deal in any case. An Italian shoe, though, would probably not require elaborate support :D If the shoe fits, you wear it ...

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If it's also a general purpose Linux computer then that's another big advantage in its favor over other eBook systems, which are, as far as I know, completely closed (i.e. they could be running any OS, though probably Linux as well, but neither end users nor developers can access it.) I meant the ability to run Windows and large programs, such as Matlab or Mathematica or Word, as I can do on my heavier and more power hungry Fujitsu Lifebook tablet PC.

Just how power hungry is the Fujitsu in comparison, though? An update this year from iRex will save about an hour of battery life for my iLiad, but that's still only 16 hours, not days. Anything that lasts under 12 hours is impractical for me. Using various functions concurrently, I still have a battery life of about 13 hours. As to running Mathematica, no, it doesn't, but given that iRex customers are predominantly programmers, Midnight Commander, browsers, Excel, AbiWord, keyboard plugins via USB are all in use on the iLiad.

To me, the purpose of this particular device is not to have a smaller desktop even though the programmers are taking it that way (iRex tests consumer suggestions very well before it officially releases software modifications). Even if you want to run Mathematica, why not do it through webMathematica from just about wherever you are by remote access in an airport, or a workstation as I am doing now? If a person wants to run the program, it's for a particular purpose and probably took significant thinking and is likely not something you can precisely figure out in your head, so you're probably better off with a full size screen with a Tablet PC/an office setting to do it anyway.

My comment was mostly based on two factors; first, I just find it a sad commentary on the condition of the U.S. that it no longer represents the best in every category, whether it's cell phones, eBook readers, car radios (e.g. the advanced Japanese offerings for the Honda CR/V vs. the pathetic ones in the U.S.), the tallest buildings, the U.S. dollar, etc.

Our approach is not sad to me; we're always moving forward after creating something, whereas others take what we create and tweak it or amend it. Part of it has to do with the way our country was founded and its expansion west, and the overall attitude of her people. Rapidity, bigger-is-better, and gettin' on with it are not the basis of non-buggy software. It's a symptom of understanding life is finite and really wanting to live life, achieve things, and not dependon an afterlife or how to walk with geta-clad feet to achieve happiness. I'd dispute the statement that we've represented the best in every category. We sure never made the best of a lot of things, but we started the best of everything.

And Americans and American companies are building those skyscrapers in Dubai and Shenzhen and Shanghai, not the locals, who don't have the temerity. Sure, Shenzhen has a very beautiful collection of skyscrapers, but who has more skyscrapers in ratio to the number of people in any given city? It's still America. Dubai does have any one of our cities beat hands down, but what can you say when Sheikh Mohammed is more American than American bureaucrats?

As well, for things such as electronics or machinery, I'm wary of importing something that wouldn't have support if there were problems, as well as arbitrary customs duties on it.

We use imported goods every day, but we have little control over the typical selection. My personal preference is to seek goods that are not imported by someone else's discretion and assess them, and the level of customer appreciation, for myself. If I recall correctly, in America, one generally learns how to read a circuit diagram in Grade 6 and electrochemistry a bit thereafter. If the average adult American these days doesn't know how to tell from examining electronics or machinery whether something is good for him, that's unfortunate. And electronics retail stores in a sour economy are just fine with showing you the insides of whatever you want to see, I've found. DIYs are very cheap now, and open source libraries are constantly updated so it takes a lot less time than ever before to make what you want when you don't find it out there. There are even a DIY multitouch kits that start at $500-$1,000. I don't know what Microsoft Surface is going for, but it's definitely a lot more than $1,000. I want what I pay for (and personally use) to reflect the value of my work and mental effort used to earn the money I'm using and if I have to conference call with a Japanese interpreter and a Sony programmer to get what I want, I'll do it. It's not as if international calls are still trunk calls, and they don't cost much time or money.

Shoes don't need customer or B2B support? A trade-in shoe business can't be fully automated if said business resells to used shoe stores online and offline. There's no automated way to assess the quality of the used shoe as yet.

Sorry to derail the thread.

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Just how power hungry is the Fujitsu in comparison, though? An update this year from iRex will save about an hour of battery life for my iLiad, but that's still only 16 hours, not days.

That's still way better than any laptop that I know about. I have my tablet PC equipped with an additional battery that fits into the optical drive slot but under typical use, which isn't even continuous, the batteries will be dead in under 8 hours without some level of recharging.

The iLiad definitely sounds like a nice little Linux computer on top of its eBook capabilities.

Battery technology is severely lagging the rest of electronics, there's a desperate need for big improvements. I recall that the U.S. Army was (maybe still is) offering a fairly significant prize for improved portable power, for all of the electronic stuff that soldiers currently have to lug around.

I'd dispute the statement that we've represented the best in every category. We sure never made the best of a lot of things, but we started the best of everything.

I'll have to think about that... :D

And Americans and American companies are building those skyscrapers in Dubai and Shenzhen and Shanghai, not the locals, who don't have the temerity. Sure, Shenzhen has a very beautiful collection of skyscrapers, but who has more skyscrapers in ratio to the number of people in any given city? It's still America.
It isn't bad that the rest of the world is picking up the pace, but what is disturbing to me is that those Americans aren't busy building in America. By comparison the big cities of America are stagnating. I wonder what the typical age is of American skyscrapers? How much paperwork and permissions are needed to build a new one in New York City or Chicago? How many environmentalist regulations are stopping new projects?
If I recall correctly, in America, one generally learns how to read a circuit diagram in Grade 6 and electrochemistry a bit thereafter.

I quite seriously do not personally know anybody in America outside of engineers (and a few self-taught individuals such as myself) who knows anything about circuit diagrams, and not many who know anything about electrochemistry. I doubt that if you went into a large American retail electronics store and offered $100 to anybody who could accurately identify the symbols for resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transistors, with a brief description of each, without being able to look it up but only from their on-the-spot-knowledge, that you'd end up with more than one or two takers. Outside of some extraordinarily capable schools, I am not aware of any that routinely teach circuit diagrams and electrochemistry in the 6th grade or beyond (other than a bit in high school chemistry in some schools), and only some college degrees require any knowledge of either.

I think that the average American would consider and buy the more advanced electronic devices if they knew about them and were available at the local Best Buy or Frys; what I wonder is why those companies aren't carrying the best from around the world, and my current surmise is that it has a lot to do with U.S. government regulations, one way or the other.

I want what I pay for (and personally use) to reflect the value of my work and mental effort used to earn the money I'm using and if I have to conference call with a Japanese interpreter and a Sony programmer to get what I want, I'll do it.

It's already been established that you're not average. :D

I did personally go to a lot of trouble some years ago, for a business project to create a PC-based GUI program to design embroidery patterns, to reverse engineer a Brother industrial sewing machine, which involved disassembling 8080 machine code and relating it to a few cryptic xeroxes in Japanese relating numeric port assignments to various machine functions (such as controlling the needle and the plate holding down the cloth, and the x/y table motion.) But that seems like a lotta work normally. :D

Shoes don't need customer or B2B support? A trade-in shoe business can't be fully automated if said business resells to used shoe stores online and offline. There's no automated way to assess the quality of the used shoe as yet.

Sure, all businesses can benefit from modern processes and, potentially, local retail outlets. I think there's less risk in buying a new shoe though than a multi-thousand dollar piece of electronics that is difficult to support, and might be unusable without great effort and time because all of the documentation and displays are in Japanese, and may not even work in the U.S. (e.g. cell phone network).

You are certainly right about the problem of remotely buying used clothing, it turns out to be a significant problem (I learned something about that when I worked to develop a used-clothing internet site about some years ago.) For example, clothing is frequently custom tailored, and accurately describing its current dimensions becomes an issue, not to mention the problem of consistent identification of its condition (this in the context of many individuals offering the clothing for sale through the site similar to Ebay.)

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Battery technology is severely lagging the rest of electronics, there's a desperate need for big improvements. I recall that the U.S. Army was (maybe still is) offering a fairly significant prize for improved portable power, for all of the electronic stuff that soldiers currently have to lug around.

What sort of battery does the Fujitsu use?

It isn't bad that the rest of the world is picking up the pace, but what is disturbing to me is that those Americans aren't busy building in America. By comparison the big cities of America are stagnating. I wonder what the typical age is of American skyscrapers? How much paperwork and permissions are needed to build a new one in New York City or Chicago? How many environmentalist regulations are stopping new projects?

The media focus on the phenomenal growth of Dubai has left little mainstream information circulating about buildings erected in the U.S. If you click on any U.S. city here, and see what is being proposed, being built or already constructed, I'd say we're not stagnating.

I quite seriously do not personally know anybody in America outside of engineers (and a few self-taught individuals such as myself) who knows anything about circuit diagrams[...]

And I quite seriously know kids who learn the basics of circuit diagrams prior to Grade 6 - that was the upper estimate. Surely those same kids know what a dielectric constant is and how to create a capacitor from household items by Grade 6. I will have to confirm, but I’m quite certain kids in the Primary Years IB program do projects about capacitors in Grade 4 or 5. In Japan I believe kids generally learn about electricity & magnetism starting in Grade 3. But that's another topic.

I think that the average American would consider and buy the more advanced electronic devices if they knew about them and were available at the local Best Buy or Frys; what I wonder is why those companies aren't carrying the best from around the world, and my current surmise is that it has a lot to do with U.S. government regulations, one way or the other.

Well, the iLiad hasn't been well-marketed in the U.S., but even for Japanese products that are, I don't see the average American preferring quality over brash and gigantic even when prices are reduced on the foreign-origin products. Americans generally have low quality standards - for food as per the skyscraper farming thread, and for technology that have nothing to do with price or the stifling regs. In a weird way, this is actually a sort-of positive thing. In Ayn Rand's article on monument builders, she'd referred to cultures and people who were interested in recognition and fame, but America until recently has always been about living (and to a large extent still is). Chuang Tzu wrote about "a time before history" where people didn't record what they did because the point was the doing of things rather than referring to them. Americans are interested in short-lived things that don't outlive their immediate relevance and circumstances because they're busy living, not thinking about a future time or future generation. That's not to say I don't think Americans' quality standards should change, but what I think is the source of that general disregard for quality.

But that seems like a lotta work normally. :D

Yes, but I agree but that's because sewing machine embroidery is not worth the time. For a worthwhile activity in my hiearchy of values, I don't mind the work to get or make a quality product that works for me, and that keeps working for years with an ever-increasing scale of productivity involved because you don't have to repair or replace it. Even had the program varies stitch tension, an x/y machine can't capture the nuances of hand embroidery especially on different types of cloth [link].

I think there's less risk in buying a new shoe though than a multi-thousand dollar piece of electronics that is difficult to support, and might be unusable without great effort and time because all of the documentation and displays are in Japanese, and may not even work in the U.S. (e.g. cell phone network).

I really enjoy reading about new gadgets available in Japan via J@pan Inc. newsletters, and tekronomicon.com precisely because quality electronics are so intuitive nowadays that you don't need to read through extensive documentation or get a lot of support. A lot of electronics from Japan are multi-thousand Yen, but are from multi-thousand dollars. 40,000 Yen is roughly $400 USD which pays for the Sanyo Xacti DMX-CG9 [specs]. In Japan, the camera is even marketed as "easy even for beginners or women". :D For electronics which are less "beginner and women" friendly, multilingual documentation translation is available these days. I used to do translations for pharmaceutical products and hospital electronics and tools; why wouldn't there be excellent Japanese to English translators who can do consumer electronics for you for a reasonable price or barter arrangement? Absolutely cell phones and related communication devices would be pointless, but there's lots of excellent, quality products for excellent prices that I'd rather spend my money on than restrict myself to what's available in the U.S. just because of a language barrier.

My point about eBooks is that even now the iLiad is a make-it-almost-whatever-you-want product, and availability and quality aren't issues. If there's one thing Americans are good at, it's innovation, and iLiad sales to American programmers will only spur better and better homegrown quality.

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What sort of battery does the Fujitsu use?

The main, and the augmented, battery are Lithium-ion.

The media focus on the phenomenal growth of Dubai has left little mainstream information circulating about buildings erected in the U.S. If you click on any U.S. city here, and see what is being proposed, being built or already constructed, I'd say we're not stagnating.

I'll take a look.

And I quite seriously know kids who learn the basics of circuit diagrams prior to Grade 6 - that was the upper estimate. Surely those same kids know what a dielectric constant is and how to create a capacitor from household items by Grade 6. I will have to confirm, but I’m quite certain kids in the Primary Years IB program do projects about capacitors in Grade 4 or 5. In Japan I believe kids generally learn about electricity & magnetism starting in Grade 3. But that's another topic.

I fully believe that, but I thought you meant the usual American school, not the IB schools or schools in Japan, and as a result, the typical American's knowledge. Marva Collins and others have certainly shown that any kids can be challenged orders of magnitude more than the typical U.S. public school. I recall reading some time ago that there are virtually no young amateur radio operators left in the U.S., but there are thousands in Japan (real amateur radio requires both theoretical and hands-on practical electronic knowledge.)

That's not to say I don't think Americans' quality standards should change, but what I think is the source of that general disregard for quality.

That's an interesting perspective that I hadn't thought about before.

Yes, but I agree but that's because sewing machine embroidery is not worth the time.

I probably didn't adequately stress that this was for a commercial project intended to sell a PC program to owners of those machines. For the most part the embroidery patterns were for commercial and not decorative stitching (the machines could even punch through leather to stitch it, for example.) I wouldn't have expended the significant effort and time involved if it had been for a single machine.

The Xacti is a nice looking little video camera.

My point about eBooks is that even now the iLiad is a make-it-almost-whatever-you-want product, and availability and quality aren't issues. If there's one thing Americans are good at, it's innovation, and iLiad sales to American programmers will only spur better and better homegrown quality.

It's definitely a device I'm going to keep in mind, especially because of the programmability, thanks for mentioning it.

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Thanks for the link to skyscraperpage.com, very cool site. New York City really does objectively stand out as the greatest city in the world when seen from the perspective of high rise buildings. It reminds me that I should digitize and post the photos I took from the top of the World Trade Center (#2 I think) in the early 90's, the view of Manhattan was really magnificent.

Looking at Chicago, I noticed a link to a page for the Chicago Spire, slated to be taller than the Sears Tower and one of the tallest buildings in the world, if not the tallest. I look forward to seeing it after completion.

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Thanks for the link to skyscraperpage.com, very cool site. New York City really does objectively stand out as the greatest city in the world when seen from the perspective of high rise buildings. It reminds me that I should digitize and post the photos I took from the top of the World Trade Center (#2 I think) in the early 90's, the view of Manhattan was really magnificent.

Looking at Chicago, I noticed a link to a page for the Chicago Spire, slated to be taller than the Sears Tower and one of the tallest buildings in the world, if not the tallest. I look forward to seeing it after completion.

Yes, thanks for that Chicago link. That is certainly one building I will want to see.

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Thanks for the link to skyscraperpage.com, very cool site. New York City really does objectively stand out as the greatest city in the world when seen from the perspective of high rise buildings. It reminds me that I should digitize and post the photos I took from the top of the World Trade Center (#2 I think) in the early 90's, the view of Manhattan was really magnificent.

Please do. I know I would love to see them. I wish I could find the pictures I took from the crown of the Statue of Liberty. I went with a friend and his mother when I was in grade school. I have a terrible fear of heights and we had to climb the stairs the whole way because the elevator was down. The view was so breathtaking when I got there I wasn't bothered by where I was.

Looking at Chicago, I noticed a link to a page for the Chicago Spire, slated to be taller than the Sears Tower and one of the tallest buildings in the world, if not the tallest. I look forward to seeing it after completion.

That is gorgeous!

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Couple interesting developments with the Sony Reader and the iLiad from iRex.

Sony has released a new version of the Reader, which has incorporated a touch screen, the ability to highlight and annotate books, and a built-in reading light. I was excited to see all that, but from what I am reading in reviews the new design has significantly reduced the display contrast, and the screen reflects glare and shows smears left from the touch option. Also the touch feature actually makes some simple tasks like turning the page or increasing the text size more complicated than they were before. One thing that was nice about the PRS505 is it has two sets of page-turn buttons so you can hold it like a book in either hand without needing your other hand to “flip” pages. With the PRC700BC you need to drag your finger over the screen, which sounds cool but makes the device more cumbersome. And the 505 had a button that changed text from S, M, L with each click – why mess with something so simple and easy? While I’m glad that they are trying out new technology, this design is a step back and I’m surprised it made it to the shelves. People are actually exchanging their 700 model for the “old” 505.

I noticed that iRex is marketing their iLiad in 3 versions: “Bookworm”, which only has reading functions and I believe is cheaper than the original (although still much more expensive than other ebook readers); “Versatile”, which is similar to their original in that you can write on it and now it has wireless capability; and “Professional”, which is larger, with a full page-sized display good for reading reports and making notes. They seem to be trying to pickup all the business consumers, instead of competing for the casual readers. I’ll be curious to see how that works out.

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Thanks for mentioning the iRex products, Cometmaker. I wasn't aware of them.

I'm still using my pathetically antique eBookMan since both the Kindle and the Sony Reader seem to be half-hearted attempts at a device that could be terrific.

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I'm still using my pathetically antique eBookMan since both the Kindle and the Sony Reader seem to be half-hearted attempts at a device that could be terrific.

Half-hearted?

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