Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reading on the Kindle

The Kindle I ordered arrived Wednesday.  I had already installed the Kindle for PC program on my desktop computer and had books waiting to put on the Kindle.  I was happy to learn that the Kindle will read PDF files, because I have journal articles, books from Google Books, and whole issues of the Florida Historical Quarterly in PDF form for my St. Augustine project (which I discuss on my genealogy blog; see at right for link).  So I have put those on the Kindle, too.  Now I can read and make notes for the project at various times.

Thursday I was on campus all day, and it was a gloppy, rainy, gloomy wet cold day.  Ugh.  But I was happy to sit in the History Commons or on a bench in the building where my Spanish class is, and after doing my required reading, I read on the Kindle.  Right now, I'm reading Mighty Fitz: the Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Michael Schumacher.  It is interesting, and I like reading about maritime incidents, having been in the Coast Guard.  The author seems to do a good job of reporting the facts and not getting terribly judgemental.   That is not to say that he doesn't speculate, but then, in the case of this particular incident, much is speculation.  In all, it is a sobering and sometimes chilling story.

Another thing I can do with the Kindle is type up my class notes and put them on the device, so I can study and review at odd times.  The free program Calibre, an e-book management program, says that there is some difficulty in converting Microsoft Word docx files, but the solution to that is simple:  have Word export the file as a PDF, and load that right onto the Kindle.  Easy peasy.

In the History Commons, I talked with the Departmental office manager, who was eating her lunch.  I told her I had a new toy, and it turns out she did, too.  She had bought one of the first Sony e-readers years ago, and had read it to death.  It did not owe her anything when it gave up the ghost, and she promptly ordered another one.  We compared our machines, discussing our preferences and pros and cons.  We agreed that the "e-ink" technology being used by apparently all the major readers is eminently easy on the eyes, and produces a very sharp image.  Illustrations, especially photographs, come out looking great, with exacting detail.  They appear like greyscale newspaper photographs, only much sharper.

My younger daughter had the bon mot concerning the e-ink technology, however:  "It's a high-tech Etch-a-Sketch," she said.

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