Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon have just released the Kindle I have been waiting for: one with a backlight integrated into the unit, touchscreen and smart cover!  The new model is called the Paperwhite and its features include:

  • Evenly backlight display.
  • Touch screen with multi-touch.
  • 62% more pixels for sharper text.
  • 25% more contrast.
  • More hand tuned fonts.
  • Excellant battery life.
  • Smart cover with auto wake/sleep.

I was particularly excited by this new model as I have a trip to Antarctica at the end of the month that will involve an epic amount of flights!  So I had a friend bring me one back from the states as the Paperwhite is not yet available in Sweden.

The new Amazon Kindle PaperwhiteThe screen is amazing the combination of even backlighting, more resolution and increased contrast really improves the reading experience and make the device easy to read in all lighting conditions I have encountered so far.

Going from the older third generation Kindle with Keyboard to the Paperwhite has been a bit of a revolution as the touch screen interface feels significantly more responsive than the old physical keyboard.  The device itself is smaller and more streamlined with the removal of the headphone jack and volume bottoms which I never used.

The smart cover is a case that complete enclosed the device when closed leaving only the power botton and charging socket exposed.  The cover has a magnet in it just like the iPad smart cover so opening the cover will wake up the device and closing puts the device to sleep which is a nice touch.

The only gripe I have is there is no way to see the books cover art without losing the bottom third of the screen to Amazon’s shop highlights which is annoying as I paid extra for the advertising free model.

This Kindle is a real upgrade compared to the previous generations: highly recommended!

Kindle Skeptic Converted!

I was skeptical about dedicated ebook readers until I bought a second generation Kindle last year.  The convenience of the device: its diminutive size and weight, the massive Amazon catalogue, the epic battery life, the huge internal book storage capacity, built in dictionary, wireless book delivery and the incredibly user friendly reading experience offered by the E-Ink screen combined to rapidly make it the most treasured electronic device I own.

I just received a third generation WiFI Kindle for my birthday and the new device manages to make the older model look completely outdated which is impressive given the iterative nature of the new device.  The first thing that strikes you when you hold the new device is its size: the new device is half an inch shorter and narrower than the previous generation which adds up to an impressive overall size reduction and means the newer device is seventeen percent lighter than the previous model while retaining the same screen size.

Compared to the 3G in the previous model the WiFi is an significantly faster experience: browsing the kindle store or downloading books is now comparable to the speed of the kindle App on my iPhone over WiFi.  I decided to go for the Wifi only model as despite owning a kindle for a year I’ve only ever bought one book when I wasn’t at home so I couldn’t really justify the extra cost for the WiFi & 3G model.  The battery life for the WiFi only Kindle is also significantly longer than the WiFI/3G version (three weeks versus ten days), this is no surprise given the differences in range for WiFi vs 3G: the 3G radio simply needs more juice.

There are several additional tweaks in the new device: the back of the device is now textured so you are less likely to drop it, the screen has 50% more contrast, you can now adjust text line spacing, the screen changes a bit faster and the storage capacity is doubled.  They’ve also moved the power button, headphone jack and volume control to the bottom of the device although I’ve never actually tried out the MP3 or audio capacity of the Kindle.

I would recommend the Kindle to any avid reader, I used to be a binge reader but I have been averaging a book a week since getting a kindle…

 

Information Dashboard Design

This beautifully presented book focuses on how to present time critical information in as dense and easy to assimilate manner as possible on status dashboards.  The author evaluate many different types of visualisations and graphs commonly used for this purpose and comes to the conclusion that the common choices e.g. pie charts, rev counters, gauges, bright colours, lots of needless graphics are exactly what is not needed.

Many real world example dashboards are presented and critiqued and the author offers up his own dashboards as examples and the differences in information density and ease of assimilation are quite startling.  This book is recommended reading to anyone interested in presenting complex data effectively.

The Productive Programmer

This book is about the patterns of behaviour that can improve the productivity of programmers.  The book is split into two sections: the first is mechanics which focused on the tools and the second is section is Practice which is focused on the philosophy of productivity for programmers.

One of the best parts of this book is YAGNI: You Are Not Going to Need It.  This can be explained as only designing and implementing what you need right now as simply as possibly as great harm is done daily to software in the name of possibile future requirements.  I’d recommend this book to any and all programmers interested in improving their productivity.

Flow

Most programmers have experience ‘Being in the zone’ while working where programming becomes effortless and time seems to pass without notice this optimal working state is what the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi terms ‘flow’.   In this book Csikszentmihalyi explores the concept of flow and what is requires to trigger and maintain this most precious of working states.  The book is aimed at a general (i.e. public non-scientific) audience and as such is very readable.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in productivity and getting ‘in the zone’ more often.

Debugging

I wish I’d had this book when I first started out as a programmer!

It does not cover debugging techniques e.g. debuggers like pdb but instead focuses on a general purpose debugging methodology that could be as easily applied to many disciplines not just software development.  Its very short and very focused on the topic at hand with no fluff and some very amusing war stories from the debugging trenches.

This book is useful to anyone who needs to figure out why something is not working and resolve the issue.  I own both the paper and electronic kindle edition so I can have it at hand at all times as a reference.