Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coming Soon...?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Kermit and Derek


Thursday, October 21, 2010

No need to kindle the Sony...?

It's not that long, dear reader (and I know there's one of you) since I was expressing my frustration with the Sony e-reader - nothing wrong with the reader, but compared with Amazon's Kindle there were few books available, and what is available is more expensive.

But - there have been developments!

Did you know that it is possible to borrow e-books? A quick trip to Ferndown Library got me signed up to the Dorset e-library, and a whole host of books to download, free.  (It's a wonderful system - after the 7or 14-day loan period they can't be read on the reader: they've been 'returned'.) And guess what?  That's right: you can't borrow them for the Kindle!  Yay - score 1 for the Sony!

More developments
And that's not all.  It turns out that free software is available that will allow me to buy 'Kindle' books and convert them to e-pub format for the Sony (or vice-versa, but who cares?)  Haven't tried it yet - but I will.  And I'll let you know.

Sorry, Tim.

Ah, no, it didn't work.  The software (Calibre) is fine - great, in fact.  And it does convert Kindle format to epub, easily.  BUT: I downloaded two 'Kindle' books.  One of them I had to pay for, the other was on their 'free' list.  The free one converted fine.  But the other was effectively locked: DRM,it's called - Digital Rights Management.  Under the pretext of protecting copyright, Amazon lock the books they sell (at least some of them and as far as I can tell, their site doesn't indicate which ones.  I'd guess 'all the ones you pay for') to prevent them being converted.  And I say 'sell' - do you know that they don't 'sell' ebooks to you, they lease them?  There've been cases recently where they've deleted copies of books from everyone's Kindle, and they defend their right to do so.  (You agree to it I guess when you sign up - you know, in that bit you tick to say you've read when in fact you haven't?)
Why do I say 'pretext'?  Because when you've paid for the books, the authors get their royalties - it doesn't matter to them what gadget you read it on.  The only folks Amazon are protecting are Amazon: they sell (sorry, lease) you the book and they're insisting you purchase a Kindle.  Like I said - pretext.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ashkenazy plays Chopin - and Argerich plays too

I think he's the greatest pianist of them all, though my son prefers

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Enemy

‘For over a century now, belief in the devil has seemed to be on the way out.  The toothy red imp with the tail and the trident has become a secular figure of fun, while Protestant theologians generally have banished the personal devil of the Bible to the lumber-room reserved for broken-down myths.  No doubt this state of affairs is just what the devil has been working for, since it allows him to operate now on the grandest scale without being either detected or opposed.’ (J. I. Packer)

Even if they believe in God, a growing number of people do not believe in the devil at all; it’s a peculiar thing, says Spurgeon, when a man is persuaded not to believe in his own father!

‘We are opposed by a living, intelligent, resourceful and cunning enemy who can outlive the oldest Christian, outwork the busiest, out-fight the strongest and outwit the wisest’ (John Blanchard)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil—Heb 2.14

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:57

Monday, October 11, 2010

Victor Borge and Phonetic Punctuation

I was sure that I'd included Borge once before, but I can't find it anywhere.  So - here's one of his most famous items.  Notice how funny, how clean, how inoffensive...  There used to be comedians like that - though not many like this.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kindle the Sony e-reader? 

A year or so ago I bought my Sony e-reader.  It's unusual for me - though I love gadgets, I can rarely afford them.

I love it!  I've always loved books - the sight, the sound, the smell; but mostly, to be honest, the words.  I love to read.  The e-reader allows me to carry dozens - hundreds, if I want - of books around with me.  It remembers what page I'm on for all of them.  I can change the size of the print.  I can make notes.  It's great.

Lots of books - ancient and modern - are available to read on it.  Some of them are free - Project Guttenberg is making available as many books as copyright allows, as quickly as possible - and there are others.  All was going well until one friend - AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE - bought an Amazon Kindle.

Kindle is Amazon's own version of e-reader, and the two are, apparently and unfortunately, mutually incompatible.  You can't buy Kindle books and read them on the Sony, or vice-versa.  It does just about everything the e-reader does.  It's perhaps not quite as sophisticated - no touch-screen, for example; it's got a keyboard instead.  But hey - it downloads books, you don't need to be near a computer to do it (don't ask me - something to do with wi-fi or 3G or something).  And get this: there are more - lots more - books available for Kindle than for Sony.  And they're cheaper.

For instance: I like thrillers.  Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher thriller, 'Worth dying for' was published last week.  Amazon are selling it in hardcover for £7.59 (rrp £18.99) and the Kindle version - available immediately - they are selling for £6.64.  Cheaper.  Waterstones, on the other hand, are selling the hardback for £9.49 (dearer than Amazon - no surprise) and the e-book for (wait for it) £13.58. That's right - I said £13.58.  More than twice the price of Kindle.

Worse (and even for a Yorkshireman there are worse things than money.  Not many, but some.)  There are so many more books available for Kindle it's ridiculous.  (I've said that,haven't I?)  I'll leave you to do the relevant searches yourself.  But try some Christian authors - Packer, Don Carson and the like.  Have a look. 

So I wrote - politely - to Waterstones (note some of the prices have changed since - but not for the better):

You may not be the right department to raise this with, but I don't know who else to approach.
I bought a Sony e-book reader from my local Waterstones branch around a year ago.  It's brilliant in almost every way - but I'm beginning to think Kindle is better...
For example, today, Lee Child's new thriller 'Worth dying for' is released.  You have it in hardback for  £8.99 ; but you are selling it in its electronic format for £13.58.  Amazon's kindle version, though, is £6.64.  I know you'll say that 'the publishers set the prices' but, since the ending of the NBA, that's not really the case, as witnessed by the very fact that the hardback version's 'full price' is £18.99.
Even worse when comparing kindle and Sony ebook is the variety of books available.  Waterstones list 11 Dick Francis titles in electronic format; Amazon list 51 in kindle...  When we look for books other than the most popular thrillers, the situation is even worse.  Again, you may say it's the publishers who decide what formats are available and you're listing all those titles that are available.  But if the purchase power of Waterstones and WH Smith together cannot influence the publishers, we all need to move to kindle!  (Consider: with the almost £7 difference in price for the Lee Child book mentioned above, a mere 17 books would repay the investment.  I easily download 17 books in a six-month period.)
Please can you tell me: are there plans afoot to make a greater variety of ebooks available soon?  And will Waterstones price them more competitively?  Or should I order a Kindle?
Gary Benfold

Give them credit - they replied.  I didn't think they would.

Dear Gary,

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the price difference between ebooks and other formats online.

There are a number of reasons why the prices are different online but as this is an exclusive product prices may vary, I would like to inform you that in the future there will be reductions and promotions as the item becomes more popular.� We are doing all we can to lower the prices, but unfortunately we are unable to supply you with a time scale as to when this will be done.

I do apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kind regards,

Heather Jackson
Customer Service Team


Well, thanks Heather.  Thanks for taking the time.  But - well, it's not really an answer, is it?  I hope you don't mind me pointing that out.   'There are a number of reasons...'   I'm sure there are.  What are they?  'There will be reductions and promotions...'  Good.  But 'in the future'?  Next week?  Next year?  Next decade?  Why are you unable to supply me with a time-scale?  Is it because it's so long that I would go and buy a Kindle?  

And - why don't you address the question of the difference in number of books that are available?  Am I not right in thinking that - without actually saying it - you mean 'Yes, you'd be better off with a Kindle'?

So, dear reader, if you're thinking of an electronic reader - I'd go for a Kindle, myself.  In fact, I may get one myself, even if it means kindle-ing my Sony.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Penelope Keith and the Parker Pen

This advert predated 'The Good Life' and was, I think, in part responsible for PK getting the role of Margo.  I'd meant to schedule it for yesterday, and have only just noticed it didn't appear.