Monday, December 26, 2011

Kindle and physical books

I bought a Kindle Touch that was delivered just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  Obviously, I am not an early adopter.  There were 3 reasons I finally succumbed. 
  1. I used points I earned at work, so it was essentially free.
  2. A older book I wanted to read was $25 for the paperback, but $4 for the Kindle edition. 
  3. I could get library books on the Kindle, and never have to worry about returning them.
My first two books were Diary of a Player by Brad Paisley and David Wild.  And Winning Low-Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones.  Both were cheaper for the Kindle edition than a physical book.

(I wonder whether there is any psychological significance in the first book a user downloads? )

  I like the Kindle.  It is easy to read.  It weighs about the same as a paperback.  I can read bits of different non-fiction books and it remembers my place.  No stack of books lying around with bookmarks, nagging me to finish.

But I find myself in a quandary.  I like to read the paperback mysteries that Amazon sells 4 for the price of 3.  The Kindle editions are the same price as the paperbacks.  But without the 4 for 3 special.  So it would actually cost me more for the Kindle editions.

In the end, I don't think the Kindle will replace physical books for me.  I have book series that I want to continue collecting.  And I can't justify paying more for 4 Kindle books than for 4 paperbacks.  So, I will get the Kindle edition when it is the cheaper alternative, or if I want to get it from the library.  Otherwise, I will continue to buy physical books.

Which means I'm going to need more book shelves.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Middleman saved my day

I don't get sick often.  But this year I did not escape the cold that has been circulating around both work and the gym. (Same cold or different?)

Anyway, I came home from work early and took a nap.  When I woke up, I didn't have anything to distract me from my self-pity.  Too fuzzy brained to read.  Nothing remotely acceptable on daytime TV.  Couldn't play games on my phone because it is *broken*.

Then I remembered I had the entire series of The Middleman on DVD.  From IMDB: "A struggling artist is recruited by a secret agency to fight against evil forces."

The series was campy and corny, with sort of an Adam West Batman vibe.  There were subtle pop culture references like having the ghost infested sorority house located on Ray Parker Jr. Lane.  Unfortunately, there were only 12 episodes made.

It was the perfect pastime for a cold, rainy winter day when I wasn't feeling well.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

T-Mobile and the Bricked MyTouch

First off, I love my MyTouch 4G Slide.  I got the phone 3 months ago to replace an aging Cliq. The 4G connection speed is amazing and the video display is sharp and clear.  Game play on it is awesome.

And then it bricked on me.

I was playing games and listening to television.  I played some Angry Birds.  I played some Dabble.  I started to play Word Pop when the phone froze up.  Then shut down.

And stayed shut down.

I pried the protective back cover off.  I took the battery out.  I replaced the battery.  I pressed the switch.  Nothing.

I plugged the phone in.  I pressed the switch.  Nothing.   I took the sim card out and replaced it.  Nothing.

Resigned, I called T-Mobile about a replacement.

We discussed all the steps I had taken.  We repeated some of these steps.  It was decided, yes, I did need a replacement.

T-Mobile doesn't permit you to take the phone to a brick and mortar store for a replacement.  They prefer to spend the money to overnight the replacement - after reading you a litany of disclaimers and warnings about what will happen if the failure is really your fault.

And there is a $5 service fee for the warranty service.  A service fee!  To replace a defective phone.

Who does this?  If I buy a watch from Walmart and it breaks, they replace it or give my money back.  They don't charge me for the service.

My alternative is to go directly to the manufacturer, which will probably delay the replacement.  As I have reached for my phone multiple times this morning, delay is not an option.  So I am stuck with the $5. Which I am sure T-Mobile knows will happen.

On top of that, I am out the cost of the screen shield, because they do not replace accessories.  Even when the phone they sold me is defective.

Adding insult to injury, I am promised that the replacement will be "New or like new".  "Like new"as in used.  As in, I may get a used phone to replace a phone I paid premium money for only 3 months ago.

I was worried what would happen to T-Mobile when it merged with AT&T.  I shouldn't have bothered.  T-Mobile doesn't care about its customers any more than AT&T does.

I am *not* a happy camper.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Too much potential

It's isn't enough that I have a good job, good friends, and good health.

I must live up to my potential. 

I got good grades in school, so I had the potential to make a lot of money as a doctor or a lawyer, regardless of my disinclination to be either.

My hobby is stained glass art.  I have the potential to be a great artist.  But not the dedication, or the marketing inclination, to do so. 

I wrote the quiz book advertised on the right.  It had the potential to be a good seller.  I had the potential to become a professional writer.  Dedication, marketing, and temperament mitigated this potential.

But *having* potential can be a burden.  There is a sense that every book read for pleasure, every game of solitaire or Angry Birds, is a waste of ones potential.  I should be doing something useful, something to further my potential. 

This guilt is something I have been fighting, only partially successfully, for many years.  But the horoscope I got recently helps. 

Sometimes it’s OK to stop striving to live up to your potential.  What if you simply stayed put? 

I like where I am in my life.  And if that means I don't become a famous artist or a renowned writer, I am, mostly, okay with it. 

I have the potential to be happy.  .

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Post Office is killing itself

I will freely admit I do not know what the solution is to the Post Office's financial problems.  But I suspect decreasing service is not it.  The general reaction from industries facing full or partial extinction is to accelerate their own demise. 

If the Post Office delays delivery, customers will find alternatives.  Timely delivery isn't that important for the holiday cards and the few letters I write.  But it is of utmost importance for companies like Netflix and weekly magazine purveyors.  It is also important for people who send their bill payments via snail mail.  The calculation of when to mail a bill payment for timely delivery just became more complicated.  Once people have found an alternative, they are not going to return to the Post Office. 

I don't receive much personal mail.  I get the majority of my bills via e-mail.  And I resent the companies that do not offer me that option.  I order books frequently from Amazon and some of those arrive via postal delivery, but many are delivered by FedEx or UPS.  And now that I have purchased a Kindle, I will be buying fewer physical books.  I am part of the problem.

Newspapers are following the same path.  They decry the loss of readership, but offer less and less to those of us still subscribing.  The newspaper I get now, in a major metropolitan area, is thinner on several days a week than the newspaper I grew up with.  A small time newspaper.

Nor does it help the newspaper's plight that it refers people to the internet for more information.  Once a person gets into the habit of going to the internet for their news, their affinity for print news lessens. 

Formerly successful industries are fated to be destroyed by our rapidly changing technology.  Records are replaced by MP3 except by collectors and purists.  Pay phones have all but disappeared, the need replaced by ever cheaper cell phones.  Land lines themselves are becoming rarer.  Personal checks are being supplanted by debit cards and on-line banking. 

I don't know the solution, if there is one.  I know I would not return to sending and receiving my bill payments through the mail.  Nor would I give up my cell phone to save the pay phone industry.

Technology advances, cultures change, and industries become obsolete.  When was the last time you needed coal delivered to stoke your furnace?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bird house?

As is my general habit, I left the patio door open the other afternoon,   Why?  Well, there are very few bugs in AZ. And Angel can barrel out the patio door easier than she can the doggy door.  And the door sticks.  And I like to hear the birds chirping in the yard.

I put food out for the birds, then go upstairs to sit at the computer desk and check e-mail.  I hear a bird hit the window.  Again.  I ponder why a dozen twirlies and wind chimes hanging from the patio roof aren't enough to keep the birds from flying under it.

I hear an odd noise and see the dogs looking up, both in the same direction.  I see nothing.  Peripherally, I sense movement, but I still see nothing.

I hear another window strike.  This one is loud.  And coming from the living room.  I realize there is a bird  in the house.

I walk downstairs and a sparrow is fluttering against the south transom window in the living room.  Dust is flying everywhere.  (In my defense, the transom is 10 feet off the ground.) The windows are dusty and rain-spotted enough that the sparrow should realize it is a solid object.  But it can see the sky.  And it wants out.

I approached carefully, slowly, and the bird, of course, flies away.  Further into the house.

I open the window under the transom.  Most of the windows have screens, which are a hassle to remove.  So I only have the patio door and the one window open for the sparrow's escape. But it's a big window.

I follow the bird around the house, trying to either catch it, or encourage it to go outside.  It lands on the north transom window, bumping the glass.  It flies back upstairs, first into one bedroom, where it lands on a picture frame.  Then into the studio, where it tries to catch an edge on the peg board frame, then sits on the floor for a moment.

Angel is following me up and down the stairs.  She wants to see this creature I am pursuing and tries to enter the studio.  I fear the sparrow will become a feathery snack, and warn her to stay back.  Peanut, not liking hub bub of any sort, stays hunkered down in the loft. 

I think, maybe the sparrow is tired enough to catch.  I approach, but it flies back downstairs and hits the south transom again.  Less hard.  The sparrow is tiring.  But still, hitting the window again had to hurt.

When I approach, it flies upstairs again.  I can't find it upstairs despite checking every room.  I sense it fly past me again on its way downstairs.  Too tired to fly up to the transom, it finally discovers the open window and escapes.

I thought.

The dogs and I watch a little TV.  We go to bed.  I go to work.  I come home and refill the bird feeder. I reenter the house, through the open patio door.

The sparrow flies up onto the transom ledge again.  This time, there is no window strike.  Just a graceful, careful landing.    It appears that the sparrow did not escape after all.   Either that or it came back inside, which doesn’t seem likely.  I have no idea where it may have spent the night.  Somewhere high.  Maybe hiding among the beanie babies?

Puzzled, I open the south window again.  This time I also open the front door.  I tell Angel that No, she can't go outside.  I walk to the south wall.  The sparrow flies to the north transom.  It really has the hang of this landing process now.

We do this a again, back to the south window, then to north window.  When the sparrow is on the north window, I walk toward it from the side.  Instead of flying away high, it flies low.  And discovers the open door.

The sparrow gets outside and lands on the rocks just past the entryway.  It looks around tilting its head from side to side.  It pecks at the rocks.  I imagine it is amazed to find the outside world again.

I close the screen on the front door.  I close the patio door and the south window.  When I come back to the front door, the sparrow is still standing there. Just looking around.  Angel comes to stand next to me and the sparrow flies away.

Now it has a scary story to tell its birdie friends.