Author Archive

Remembering 9/11 · September 10, 2011

A few years before 9/11/2001, I took my mother to New York to see a show.  We stayed in the Marriott at the World Trade Center.  My mother told me then how she remembered vividly the bombing in the parking garage of the North Tower a few years before that (the unsuccessful attempt to knock the North Tower into the South Tower).  We’d walk out of the hotel in the morning, stand right close between the two towers and stare straight up.  They were so tall that we got this sickening feeling and felt like we were falling backwards.

I don’t remember how I first became aware of the planes hitting the WTC towers, whether it was someone calling me to turn on the news or if I had turned it on myself that morning.  I was still home getting ready for work, and living nowhere near any of the attacks.  I remember feeling thankful for that, and then feeling guilty for feeling thankful.  It seemed at the time to be very surreal, like it was larger than life and couldn’t really be happening.

I had work friends in NYC that called me and were talking to me about what was going on.  Their office could see some of what was happening.  One of those friends had worked previously in the WTC and counted himself lucky to have changed jobs.  I had a friend call me from DC and tell me about the Pentagon.

Later in the day when the towers fell, that’s when it really hit home for me.  There was no more “they’ll get in there soon and rescue those people” or “maybe this won’t end horribly”.  I remember seeing people jumping from the windows of the towers, way too high up to survive, and the rolling clouds of rubble that engulfed Manhattan for blocks.  I kept asking myself “how can these newscasters remain so calm and commentate on such horrifying tragedy”?

I don’t recall hearing much about the flight that went down in Pennsylvania much that day, but more in the days after.  When they stopped commercial air flights, I looked up at the sky and it seemed eerily empty and calm.  I remember the armed military presence at the airport security checkpoints, the end of non-ticketed people at the gates, and the random inspections that seemed all too frequent for awhile.

I don’t know anyone personally who was lost on 9/11/2001, but that was a day when I learned a lot about the world in which we now live.  It was a kind of innocence lost.  10 years later our lives have a new meaning of “normal” in many respects, and we still pursue those remaining that we hold responsible for that loss of innocence.  I will never forget the feeling of that day, those who lost their lives, or those who fought and continue to fight to protect our lives and our freedom.

Less 365 – A GREAT Idea! · July 20, 2010

I can’t remember whether I found this on Facebook or Twitter, but Randy Reddig posted this idea on his blog and it’s awesome.  The basic concept is to get rid of one thing in your house, everyday for a year.  I’ve thought about all the stuff I’ve accumulated and doing something like this with it for some time, but never put it into motion.  Now there’s a movement, and I’m on board!

To take his vision one step further, I’ve created a workbook for myself with a couple of spreadsheets: one tracks the stuff I’ve gotten rid of and how I did it with each, and the other is a brainstormed list of stuff that I can potentially get rid of in case I get stumped.  I’m also allowing myself the following rule: If I donate, sell, give away, or trash multiple items on the same day, such as a garage/yard sale, eBay, craigslist, etc, I can count each of those items as a different day’s Less 365 accomplishment for the next X days.  That way I can give myself a break for awhile if I need it by putting in more work ahead of time.  I’m also allowing books to count toward my goal, where Randy isn’t.  He must have much more shelf space than I. :-)

I’m also brainstorming what my actual goal will be here.  I know I won’t hit 365 items, as I’ve already skipped a couple of days this past weekend, so it needs to be something reasonable.  I also need to figure out what the reward is for achieving that goal, since it’s always nice to work toward and get a reward.

For now, you can follow the movement on Twitter.  Comments are welcomed!

The eReader Decision · July 14, 2010

Two days ago, I finally went out and got myself the nook.  As the months have passed since my original posts on eReaders, the decision became an easy one.  While I don’t intend this to be a fully-informed feature comparison, etc, I’ll tell you my reasons why.

The first is the Agency Model that book publishers have forced retailers into using.  In a nutshell it means that regardless of which eBook store you use, the price for the same eBook at each should be the same, even though that price may be higher (across the board) than what you’d expect.  That right there says a lot to me: 1) The playing field has somewhat leveled and the choice of which bookstore your device is tethered to is less part of the decision, and it becomes more about the device and its features.  2) There’s no really good reason anymore to argue for proprietary data formats, because nobody can claim that their bookstore has the lowest prices and their device is the one everyone should buy, using that to trap consumers into their proprietary format and future devices for life.  While I don’t believe the Agency Model allows for good market competition, I think it has the potential to force  retailers into dissolving their proprietary formats, then banding together in support of returning to a model that fosters healthy competition and a realistic pricing model in this space, much as the digital music stores have.

Other eReaders are emerging on the market, but for various reasons they are not a good fit for me.  In my two other posts on eReaders, I mentioned two in particular that I was watching: the Alex Reader by Spring Design and the Ocean by Copia.  I liked the Alex because it’s also a dual-screened Android device, like the nook.  They went to market with a $399 price point, however, which is twice what the fullest featured nook costs right now and that’s a complete deal-breaker for me.  (And I have no plans to inadvertently help fund the lawsuit Spring Design has brought against Barnes & Noble about the similarity between the Alex and the nook.)  The Ocean is the most attractive eReader I’ve seen so far, but Copia has been stringing people along for months now with nothing to show for it, not even the release of their supposed social network that their readers are meant to tie into.  People won’t buy into hype forever; I’m the case and point in this instance.

Everyone’s talking about the iPad and comparing it to an eReader.  Well, first of all it’s not.  It’s an over-sized iPhone that runs the iPhone OS, but doesn’t have a phone.  So it’s a tablet, without a fully functional operating system behind it.  By its nature as a tablet it has a backlit screen, which can make reading for long periods of time hard on the eyes and drains the battery.  The eInk in eReaders takes no power to display something on the screen, only when changing what’s on the display screen.  That’s why the battery life of eReaders is so long.  So if you want a Fisher-Price-sized iPhone without the phone, which allows you to read eBooks through your bookstore’s iPhone app, get the iPad.  Otherwise, get an eReader and read.

So, in the end I bought the nook: an Android-powered, dual-screened eReader tethered to Barnes & Noble, a bookstore I’ve come to loathe.  But I’m 100% ok with that.  The nook is still the most attractive device for me, from a technical standpoint.  It runs on Google’s Android platform, which I like.  That also means that (fingers crossed) at some point in the future I may be able to use the Kindle for Android app on it and also buy eBooks from Amazon.  The battery is user-replaceable (key for me on almost any device I buy), and I can add more memory which is also key.  I bought the 3G version, which really only means I paid $50 more for the ability to use B&N’s bookstore wherever I am, because the 3G allows you to do nothing else.  Borders (the bookstore I prefer) just opened their eBook store that supports the open ePub format, which can be used on a wide variety of eReaders.  I can purchase and sideload them onto my nook using Adobe Digital Editions.  I’m able to use public library eBook loan systems with the nook, as well as other, independent eBook sites like and fictionwise.  I’ve also discovered a great tool that you can download and use to manage your eBooks from these various sources that works well with the nook, called Calibre.

I highly doubt this is the last eReader I’ll ever buy.  This one suits my needs and desires now, and I think it will for the foreseeable future.  I can only hope that the next time I need to shop around for one, the market has evolved to the point where it really is all about the device’s features and not to which vendor’s bookstore it’s tethered.  Another factor in the decision at that time will be whether or not I can transfer all of the eBooks I’ve purchased between now and then, proprietary format or not, onto that new device.