(reposted from bub.blicio.us)

Since I got the Kindle, I've started every morning skimming through the Wall Street Journal Marketplace, Personal Journal, and Technology sections. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to read about a new Kindle app for the iPhone while reading my Kindle. 😉

When the new Kindle was announced, it was inferred that interaction with other devices would be coming soon. Today, Amazon released the free Kindle app for iPhone / iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store (app iTunes link).

The Kindle and the iPhone app now sync with each other via Amazon's Whispersync. If you've started a book on the Kindle, that same book is available on your iPhone. Additionally, it will open to the page you left off reading.


Amazon sees the iPhone as a complementary technology. Battery life, small size, and eye strain might all get in the way of reading on the iPhone, with Kindle viewed by Amazon as the superior device for ebooks. However, they also know you won't always have your Kindle with you. According to Ian Freed, vice president for Amazon Kindle, “Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch is a great way for customers to catch up on their current book wherever they are, like in line at the grocery store or between meetings.” The funny thing is, I can actually see that happening. Well, maybe not between meetings, but when I'm stuck in line somewhere or waiting in a parking lot somewhere, I always play with the iPhone. Now I can read while I'm killing time. It's not a bad alternative.

Using the Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch app, you can

  • Access your entire library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers
  • Adjust the text size of books
  • Add bookmarks and view notes and highlights

There is a downside. For instance, I have been reading a lot of documents (books and papers) on the Kindle that did not come from Amazon. I've been using calibre to upload things via my computer. As far as I can tell, the iPhone app uses Amazon (not the Kindle) as its hub and therefore has no knowledge of anything else I might be reading that is non-Amazon. Amazon also didn't integrate book shopping into the app, and suggests you use your home computer or access their Kindle store from Safari on your iPhone. I'm also not sure how well this will work for folks who want to use their iPhone as an eBook reader without a Kindle. The app is very much an accessory for the Kindle device.

Hopefully other devices are on the horizon for WhisperSync. I'd love to see integration for Blackberry and the new Palm Pre. 

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Kindle 2 First Look

25 February 2009

Yesterday my Kindle 2 arrived. Today my husband ran off with it to his office, so I can't play with it. I did manage to finish a novel on it last night though.

At first, I was completely against the idea of ebooks. I swore that nothing could ever replace the printed page. Interestingly, in college I swore that nothing could replace pen to paper and 4 years later I ended up with a minor in Computer Science.

About 6 or so months ago, I saw a Sony eReader display in Borders and after standing at the display for about 45 minutes, I was convinced. The eInk Paper used for eReaders is actually easier on my eyes than regular paper. It was so much like a book, yet I couldn't destroy it by breaking the binding or dogearing the pages, or scribbling notes that I could never find again.

Another flashback – I started the wine blog accidentally. I was taking wine notes, pen to paper, but they weren't searchable. I couldn't ever find anything again. So I switched to online, to what eventually became my blog, and it became searchable.

The Kindle, in particular, has the ability to add notes, highlights, "dogeared" bookmarks, and to pull sharable clippings. And it's all searchable. One search can sift through all the books on the Kindle, as well as Google, Wikipedia, and a dictionary. I think, perhaps, this XKCD cartoon says it best.

At TK09 a few weeks ago, a good friend of mine let me borrow his older Sony eReader, as he'd purchased a new one. I used it on the plane and kept reading it once I got home. At some point, the husband took it and he got hooked as well. (He has a habit of running off with these gadgets, yes?)  I was completely thrilled with the eReader reading experience.

Last night, I finished a novel on the Kindle. It's a novel I started in paperback. As a paperback, it's slightly oversized and large – a bit unruly. I have a terrible habit of breaking the binding on books and since I borrowed this one, I was having a hard time keeping it pristine. (My books all appear to be well-loved.) On the Kindle, the book was suddenly irrelevant and out of my way. I guess I'm trying to say that it was the content that suddenly mattered more than the form factor. The Kindle itself was so unobtrusive that reading the book was more of a pleasure than usual.

Happily I'm not just limited to ebooks from Amazon. There are a lot of free books out there that are legal. Some friends pointed me to Feedbooks.com where I downloaded Pride and Prejudice and L. Frank Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Finally, there are the newspapers. I'm receiving the Wall Street Journal through an official 2-week free trial. I probably won't continue it, as I find $120 for a conservative newspaper a bit extreme. (I just love their tech reviews and the wine reviews.)  Through a straight RSS feed, I'm also receiving the Cincinnati Enquirer – my local paper. Although not as pretty or organized, it's still inherently readable and useful. Much more so than the actual paper, in truth, because it's searchable.

So there you go – my Kindle 2 review after less than 24 hours with the gadget. I love it. Not having had a Kindle 1, I have nothing to compare it to, but I'm perfectly content.

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Segway in the Wild

18 August 2008

I only mention this because it’s so uncommon. I saw a Segway in the wild the other day.

Today, I read that Segway has acquired $5 million more in funding, just 2 months after accepting $35 million. My hopes is that they’ll take that money and create something a bit more user-friendly. Perhaps they’ll even apply some design principles to their innovative mode of transportation that make it, well, more appealing and marketable.

With gas prices the way they are, probably never to drop back down to the pre-$3 days, the Segway might actually start making gains in the market. But have you seen one? I’ve seen Elliot Masie tooling around his conferences on one, but that’s at Disney. I’ve seen Segway Tours for everywhere from Disney World to San Antonio. But have you actually seen a regular guy, tooling down the street on a Segway?

We couldn’t believe it when we saw exactly that yesterday. This wasn’t even in downtown Cincinnati, but in the suburbs. Florence, Kentucky, to be exact. A happy guy tooling down the sidewalk between Meijer’s and Panera – on his Segway.

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My hobby (and hopefully one day full-time job) is writing about food and wine. Magazines even pay me for this!  It becomes a problem when I conduct a phone interview. I take notes, but truthfully, I take poor notes. I have always depended on recordings.

Up until recently, I used a poor-man’s recording device. I would conduct the call with two phones off the hook – one on my ear and one on an iPod with a mic attached. This always worked. My last interview, however, was with a rather soft-spoken rock star about his vineyard. So soft-spoken, it turns out, that my jerryrigged method couldn’t pick up a word he said. So I called in my Twitter friends, many of whom are podcasting/recording gurus. They ran my sound file through every piece of software and equipment they could think of. You can still barely hear my rock star. For all intensive purposes, that interview is lost.

Then my husband, an avid reader of BoingBoing, came across this post by Mark Frauenfelder. I immediately ordered the Olympus WS-110 digital voice recorder and the matching TP-7 telephone recorder. I just got around to testing them and it’s fantastic. I gave my husband a call and both ends of the conversation are clear as day.

It works by basically flipping around a headset in your ear. There is a small mic that is in your ear, but the biggest mic is facing outwards, towards where you’ll hold that phone when you put it up to your face. Because this works by basically tapping YOU and not the phone, you can use it with any phone.

The TP-7 recorder works with any recorder, I think, but I purchased the Olympus because it’s tiny, it’s USB, and it seems to have a wealth of features I haven’t even explored yet. I’ll probably use it (sans telephone recorder) at conferences.


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, Pownce, and FriendFeed.

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It’s been a while since a particular daily strip really took my fancy enough to post it here. Today’s Pearls Before Swine, however, really sums up how I feel about people walking around with the bluetooth headset on outside of their cars or offices.

Click to view the full-size image.

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I’m a gadget fiend. Really. I love them. I buy them, and then they lose their newness and I get bored with them. My husband often makes me wait a month or two before buying anything, just to see if I forget about it (and thus, never needed it in the first place).

I love my current iPhone. I won it last August, although I would have purchased one around that time anyway. The rosy newness of iPhone Gen 1 has not worn off. I don’t even mind my AT&T data plan, which was $10 less than I paid for my Blackberry data plan and included bundled text messages.

I was all excited about the 3G iPhone announced on Monday too. I was going to rush out and buy a white one on July 11, blinded as I was by color and price. Then I started stumbling onto new information.

continue reading »

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Later today, right here in this post, I’m going to attempt to live-blog the Apple WWDC keynote that everyone (myself included) is so excited about. One of the reasons I’m doing this is because I want to test out CoveritLive.com, a nifty live-blogging application. Now, I say I’m going to attempt the live blog. It depends on a couple of things. I need to at least HEAR the keynote, and iPhone Alley is delivering that. However, The Digital Lifestyle is videostreaming the event, and SEEING is better than just hearing. I’m not the only one tuned into this information though, which means that I could lose the connection, the streaming could be down, and all sorts of technical things could go wrong, which means the live blog won’t happen.

But I’ll try. For those of you on a feed, the liveblogging shows up as an embeddable widget. To read the liveblog transcript, at the moment, you’ll need to actually visit the blog.

Find Michelle Lentz here at Write Technology, on bub.blicio.us, on Twitter, or Pownce.

Flipping for the Flip

24 March 2008

In November at Learning 2007, some friends of mine led a panel on using Streaming Video . All of the panelists showcased their Flip Ultra video camera.

By January, I had one. I bought it for $120 at Best Buy. I bought white, but had I wanted to embarrass my husband further, I could have purchased pink – other options include orange, black, and green. I love this because it works with both my Mac and my PC. I love that the software is basically a portable app – built-in to the hardware and only launches when I plug the USB stick into my computer. I love that there are no cords or extraneous cables.

I love my Flip, but there are caveats to the thing. The zoom isn’t exactly high quality. Also, users should remember that this camera is made for You-Tube-quality video. It doesn’t provide exactly high-res, high-end pictures. It also takes AAs. I’m more of a rechargable battery girl, but now I just carry AAs with me.

It’s perfect for certain things. For instance, it was perfect for filming the Peabody ducks or when we saw Dancing with the Stars live and already had front-row seats.  It’s not so good when you’re sitting far away.

I’m not the only one who loves the Flip. A new report shows that FlipUltra already has 13% of the market share. As the article points out, when HD starts to filter down to inexpensive video, this could all change. But right now, You Tube is what we want and how we share our video. The Flip Ultra plays perfectly into this.

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Yesterday I talked about creating a mobile web site using MobiSiteGalore. Once I created a mobile version of the Write Technology main web site, I got curious. Was there a way to take my Typepad blogs, such as this one, and create mobile versions using the same content? It seemed to me like an easy and great way to repurpose RSS feeds.

My research led me to Winksite. Winksite is a product of Wireless Ink, run by David Harper. Winksite is a free service allowing you to build a mobile web site. Like MobiSiteGalore, it’s customizable. There isn’t much yet in the way of Help or published Support (hey guys, I’m free at the moment!), but I assume it’s coming. Although Web 2.0 apps in general aren’t very good at providing documentation.

Winksite differs from MobiSiteGalore in several ways. Winksite depends a lot on RSS feeds, which is a pretty fantastic idea. First, content is controlled via channels, in addition to being able to create pages. I haven’t yet found a way to combine multiple channels on pages or more importantly to me, reorder predefined channels. However, with a little help from David Harper, I was able to easily reorder custom channels. Although it does allow you to set a background and color, you can’t customize the site with logos, headers, and footers as you can with MobiSiteGalore. Both sites are quite easy to use. When I needed support at MobiSiteGalore, I found my answer in their user forums. When I needed support at Winksite, I sent an email through their site and received rapid support.

The two sites seem to be aimed at different audiences. Whereas MobiSiteGalore sticks to strict site building for the mobile set, Winksite has broader aims. WinkSite allows you to build a mobile community.You can implement mobile messaging and collect "friends." You can also, as I did, easily "mobilize" your blog. That feature alone makes Winksite worth using. It simply takes your RSS feed and turns it into a mobile page. You lose all the fun stuff, such as the information in the right column on this blog, but it’s mobile. You don’t want all that stuff in the way.

I’m intrigued by the idea of creating a Winksite for mobile learning. You could create a community of similar learners or a class of students, all able to communicate on-the-go through this one, easy to use mobile web site.

For the Write Tech site, I’m using MobiSiteGalore to create the content web pages for the business site. Within that mobile site, I link out to a mobile version of this blog, created and hosted by Winksite. It’ s a perfect combination for me.

I also "mobilized" our wine site. For that particular site, I’m strictly using Winksite to pull in RSS feeds from both the wine blog and the wine Twitter feed.

 | Posted by | Categories: Go Gadget Go!, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

MobilewebI created a mobile web site for Write Technology. In fact, I created it in less than an hour. It’s taking longer to redirect a subdomain to the site than it did to create it.

More and more folks are accessing the internet on the go, from mobile phones. When I had my Blackberry, I surfed the web a lot. Big companies, like Delta or Typepad, would positively annoy me if they didn’t have a mobile site. The Blackberry just wasn’t conducive to graphic intensive web sites. In fact, neither is the iPhone if I’m not near a wireless connection. EDGE is just pretty darned slow, but still useful. 

Creating a mobile site just got easy. Today I got an email from the Masie Center that pointed out a new, free tool that allows you to create your own mobile website. The company, mobiSiteGalore, offers an online tool for mobile site creation. After you create your site, you plug in your FTP information and the mobile site is automatically uploaded.

The online tools are pretty easy to use, and they have a rather useful Help Video that explains everything. Remember that mobile phones are often on limited bandwidth, like EDGE, and that loading a lot of graphics is terribly slow. It also helps when mobile sites are number enabled. If you press a 2 from my mobile Home Page, it should take you to the About Us page.

All pages created at MobiSiteGalore are run through the dotMobi  standards checker, ensuring each page meets appropriate standards. According to MobiSiteGalore, "The newly introduced WAP 2.0 standards are more flexible, and universal
in nature and will overwrite the earlier standards for mobile websites.
mobiSiteGalore allows you to quickly and easily create a complete
mobile website fully compliant with the latest WAP 2.0 standards and
the Mobile Web Best Practices as laid out by W3C."

All that’s left for you to do is design the page, using their easy to modify templates, and upload it to your site. If you want to take it a step further, you might want to register a .mobi domain name. I just registered writetech.mobi, but it will take a few days to be active. (A .mobi domain is not necessary for mobile visitors though.)

 | Posted by | Categories: Go Gadget Go!, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |