Showing posts from November, 2007

More Thoughts on the Kindle

Some insights after reading a book and a couple Journals on The Kindle:The next/previous page buttons are really useful; I can get into this rhythm where I press the next button by flexing my hand as it holds the device.The next/previous page buttons, being so large, make it difficult to change your grip on the device (including pick it up) without clicking one or both.Next buttons adorn both sides of the device; I can hold The Kindle with either hand, in varying positions, and still turn the page, a feat impossible with paper books.The device does inline lookups for back-matter and other notes, which makes reading them much easier than with a paper book.I have seen minor ghosting on a few occasions, which Amazon acknowledges. The artifacts are not annoying, but I expect better.When connected via USB, The Kindle appears as a USB mass storage device.Battery life is impressive. The battery is at 50% after several days with wireless turned on. I do not even turn the device off; rather, I…

Review of the Amazon Kindle

My Amazon Kindle is here, unpacked, charged, and sporting a couple books.First off, let's address my most scathing comments: the "thing is hideous" and "horrid in appearance." After face time with the device, I still find it unattractive, although its not as 1980s as it looks in photos. The biggest issue is the keys; they consume nearly a third of the device, when ideally the screen should occupy 95% of the face. Nor is the white color appealing. It worked for the iPod, which was small, but not for the Kindle—white is not a flattering color for those of size. It is also going to get very dirty.The goal, I suspect, was usability over elegance. For all its ugliness, the device fits comfortably in your hands. The color helps it blend in, ensuring that the focus is on the text and not the contraption. The shape mimics a book and common book operations—such as turning the page—are natural. The tradeoff was intentional.Even given this design decision, the keyboard is…

Microsoft, Innovation Engine

Funny post over at Google Blogoscoped: What If Gmail Had Been Designed by Microsoft?Joking the other day, I mused on how bad it would be to work at Microsoft: I would have to give up Linux for Vista, Android for Windows Embedded, iPod for Zune, Google for Live, Firefox for Internet Explorer, Gmail for Exchange.In all seriousness, I do not even know what to say to that record. They have an answer for everything, and it is the wrong one.

Kindle Powered by Linux

My Amazon Kindle is not yet here, but I came across the device's source code notice, which reveals the book reader's OS: The Amazon Kindle is powered by Linux, specifically a 2.6.10 kernel and an assortment of familiar user-space bits1.On initial study, nothing particularly brow-raising jumps out among the kernel changes: some driver modifications, XIP on MTD, a backport of kstrdup and kzalloc, squashfs, Samsung's RFS, and a procfs interface for forcing the reset of TCP connections.Most notable is a power-saving infrastructure named fpow, which provides device-level power management and aggressive system suspend functionality that is responsible for the device's excellent battery life. The architecture, which is based around an Intel PXA250 chip, is alternatingly labeled Fiona and Lab126 in the source. The former is the codename for the Kindle as a whole (some URLs leak the name). The latter, interestingly, is apparently an Amazon subsidiary that is "an…


Amazon's Kindle is out and available for purchase. I ordered a device and it will arrive tomorrow at Google Boston (we are hiring, by the by). I make that early sacrifice so you do not have to.Initial thoughts:The thing is hideous. Absolutely horrid in appearance. Much of this is due to the fact it is white, but the bar set by Apple is not even grazed. Joey, aghast at "all those buttons," remarks that "it looks like it was designed in 1989."As speculated, the EVDO connection powers a mobile marketplace—service is free and transparent with a Kindle purchase—called Whispernet. You can browse the book catalogue, purchase content via your Amazon account, and download, all directly from the device and over the highspeed cellular network. No computer required.It seems to only support Amazon's proprietary AZW format—you can't even read unencumbered PDFs.Purchase includes a email address, which you can use to email yourself "Microsoft Word (…

A Dozen Years Later

When I first compiled a Linux kernel—version 1.1 or 1.2 I believe—the ordeal took well over an hour.Working on the preemptive kernel, with some sort of Pentium III, I spent about 20 minutes on each fresh build. Hacking on inotify—I am recalling the different projects were I rebuilt the kernel a hundred times a day—the time spent was under ten minutes.Somewhere since then recompiles dropped to several minutes, and then a minute or two. I don't know when I actually crossed the chasm, but today I noticed my first sub-minute kernel compile: 48 seconds. And this is with gcc 4.2 and gnome-terminal, no friends of the cause.Just as titillating, with my 2400 "baud" modem, it took me two hours to download all of 1.2's whooping two megabytes. Today, I can download all 43MB of 2.6.23 in 15 seconds at almost 3MB/s. As a comparison, it would take two days to download a modern kernel with my old modem.This is a 150x increase in compilation speeda and 11,500x speed up in network per…

Android SDK

Watch the video, get the SDK, take the challenge, change an industry.And kick-start your developer knowledge with the Androidology video series: Parts 1, 2, and 3.Over at O'Reilly ONlamp, an excellent technical discussion of the Android architecture and SDK.


Questions and Questions

Why aren't dual layer DVD's layer transitions done during scene transitions—that is, why is the pause always at the worst possible frame, and not after a fade to black?Musharraf Declares Martial Law is News with a capital n, but you would not know it from watching, you know, the news.