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Thursday, December 31, 2009

For the New Year: Matisyahu Performs "One Day"

Stumbled upon this live performance of Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu. I had his first album Live At Stubbs in 2005 (with the notable "Kings Without a Crown) but have lost track of him. After stumbling on this performance I'm definitely going to get his music a listen again.

I ask you all reading this to really listen to this song and its lyrics. Turn off the TV and any other distractions and even put on headphones.

Let us all have a Happy New Year.

See you then!

JJ

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: Amazon Kindle 2

First Off: Merry [Post] Christmas to you all readers! Secondly, thanks to my girlfriend for this one piece of cool technology for giving it to me as a Christmas present.

Ok ok, so this really caught me in a surprise. Especially about my post "Thinking of Purchasing an E-Book Reader?" Well, for Christmas, my girlfriend got me Amazon's #1 selling product: The Kindle 2.

Quick note: Please take note Apple and any other company whose products relies on using a USB connection--include an AC adapter just how Amazon did so! We are buying your $150+ products and we have to hook it up to a computer and/or buy an adapter to charge it?! Just do us a favor and include it. Thanks.

I really didn't see this coming. But as a lover of books and technology, this is something I want especially when it's given to me. =) Low and behold sitting before me is the Amazon Kindle 2 with it's glorious 6" [more on that part later] e-ink display.

There was so much buzz on this product when it hit Amazon's shelves that almost everyone knew what an E-Reader was by the end of 2007. At least I did since I'm a big collector of books to read [and just to own it knowing it's good but haven't had the time to start it].

The big selling point to this whole new technology is its electronic ink display that mimics print in real life. It is not an LCD screen in which it squeezes the batteries dry in hours but instead a display that reflects light like normal text printed on paper that can lasts for days of continuous use. Ok, just read the Wiki entry on it if you really want to understand it.

In short though: the display is the best display for text I've seen by far. So good in fact, you'd think it's a demo model in which the manufacturer left a sticker on it to pretend it's on. Yep, it's that good.

The unit itself is easy to hold and has a good even weight--not too light and flimsy and not too heavy so that you won't tired out when you're laying down and reading it.

The built in keyboard is strange to see since no other e-book readers have them but after using it, you begin to figure out how would I live without it.

The favorite part is highlighting sentences and making annotations on different parts of the book. Then afterwards, I can look up all my notes/highlights easily.

The other cool part of having a keyboard? I can search any word and it will tell me where exactly where that word appeared throughout the entire book.

The display is actually "on" but it's really in sleeping mode. The screen changes everytime you put it to sleep and displays a random book art cover, enticing you to pick it up sooner than you think to read a few pages.

There is a 5-directional joystick on the unit in which you use to make highlights and select items in the menus. It is a bit small and bit stiff to get use to though. I'd prefer a trackpad so 1) it would be smoother to use and 2) you don't have to hear constant clicks. [I can just imagine a neighbor I'm sitting to hearing these clicks. Ugh.]

On the side of the Kindle are buttons to flip through its pages--Previous Page and Next Page (on left) and Home and Next Page (on right side). They are properly placed and I haven't had an accidental page flip so far. As mentioned earlier, the clicks of the buttons are annoying in my opinion and wish it was dampened some how.

Yes, those are blogs and you can subscribe to them view Amazon's Kindle Store. The bad part is that you have to pay for them [I know I know: blogs are free!] The good part is there's always a way around things and thanks to Stephan Windwalker's The Complete User's Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2 , there's a program called Calibre in which you can get countless blogs onto your Kindle. Downside? It's only free since you have to manually plug in your Kindle via USB to your computer. Upside? It's free, you can manage all your e-books, and you can make your own PDF files to upload onto your Kindle.

After reading a bit into Stephan Windwalker's guide, you can really use the included 3G wireless internet that allows you to buy Amazon's books to actually check your email [perfect since it references Gmail], Twitter feeds, Google Reader, and Facebook. Yes, this is really for reading books and blog/magazine subscriptions but to have an extra feature such as simple browsing is a real kick. What does this mean? No more hotspots or free WiFi to find. Downside? It's slow; it's basic internet meaning no Flash and remember: it's a 16 shade grayscale screen you'll be using to surf the web.

Just remember though that 3G wireless internet is meant to buy books and Amazon's book selection is second to none. I've bought 90% of my books on Amazon to begin with [love the free shipping and tax free purchases. Plus, the prices are the lowest for sure compared to any store].

With that being said, not all books are available on the Kindle [so this allows me to still love books, it's cover art, the feel of its pages, and the beauty of its book binding]. The majority of the books that are available are the popular good stuff--New York Times Bestsellers for one. That's not to say it's only that but there are plenty to choose from for sure.

I am not sure of the time that I can spend with the Kindle before have to recharge it but if you did need to, the micro USB port is on the bottom and yellow light gleams [the small hole to the port's left]. When it's fully charged, a green light emits and lets you know when it's fully charged.

No. This is not a huge iPhone. Amazon did take design cues from Apple though and I'm not mad at all. The first Kindle was something from the 90s although some people like it's boxy curvy design. This time around in version 2.0, Amazon shaved the sharp corners for smooth rounded edges and a nice aluminum back to finish it. The speakers are on the back [strangely enough] and this is for the Text to Speech feature in you can choose a female or male voice to read your book in that robotic smooth talk.

I've tried it and I think I'll read to myself.

On the very top is a headphone jack to listen to your Text to Speeches or listen to music that you can upload when you plug it to your computer.

Another copycat of Apple: no removable battery. That sucks if you're traveling far far from an outlet or computer. I do hope for yall that the battery does last itself and if anything, turn off the internet to preserve battery! Also, no expandable memory. You're stuck with 2GB [really around 1. 6GB] of space to store your content.

Size comparisons to an iPhone and Apple Magic Mouse.

If you haven't known already, Amazon's Kindle software is available on iPhone, PC and soon to be Mac [if it hasn't already]. Amazon is not only pushing the Kindle but also the software that is used to purchase new books as low as $10 [and of course free].

A nice feature of the stand alone software is its utilization of Whispersync, which allows you to continue where you left off on your Kindle on your iPhone and vice versa. Seamless it is!

Although some may argue that they can just use their iPhone or other mobile devices to read e-books, it definitely isn't the same as using a device with the e-ink technology.

When I read text on the iPhone, I know that I am reading text off of an iPhone.

When I read text off of the Kindle, I read the text as if I'm reading off a book. The device "disappears" as Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, describes it.

So $259 to read stuff?

Some have already chosen sides. If you want to read a book, then read a book! Flip pages and not worry about slow refresh rates!

The other side will say that it economical--keeps it green by reducing shipping costs, pages, and labor. It is convenient to download books in mere minutes and far cheaper than buying the book itself.

Whichever side you choose, whatever you do make sure to actual view it first and read one page. If you feel that the technology is worth it to read off of a e-ink display screen with a great second-to-none book marketplace then go for it. If you feel that the $259 can already pay for "real books" and don't want to deal with electronics and being afraid to drop a "book," then forget it.

I still find it an amazing piece of technology and will look forward to reading off of it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Published: The Graduate [my graduation photo sign in book]

Jasef Jaicee Camar...
By
Click above to see preview!

Special thanks to my girlfriend Cherry who took the beautiful photos for my guestbook that is designed for personal messages and sign ins.

The pictures were taken at my elementary school John F. Kennedy in Daly City rather than my graduating school University of San Francisco.

"The Graduate" is the name of my graduation party and yes, it's taken from the movie starring Dustin Hoffman and even my graduation invites are modeled after its movie poster.

My special touch on the title's font is that it's actually my handwriting imported from a free handwriting-to-font web service.

Here is the Introduction page for my graduation guestbook:

Introduction

I've graduated from University of San Francisco but I decided to take these pictures at my elementary school John F. Kennedy in Dally City. Going back here reminded me of my childhood and how much I've grown as a student and a person. If you walked with me through the school's grounds, I can tell you stories. If you were to walk with me at USF, I can tell you what I've learned in the classroom.

It has been quite a long educational road. Although I graduated from a nursing class, I'm far from graduating from life. While I've ridden the highs and lows of school that has included studying, cramming, making presentations, passing and failing exams, I've only strived for a grade. I know that life is more than just a grade. I am sure I will strive for whatever is good not only for me, but for my family and friends.

I've learned a great deal from school and I know my education never ends. To all my teachers, thank you for your lessons of english, sciences, math, and nursing that has made me a competent person. To all my teachers outside of my classroom including my friends (JFK, SBA, TRP, OLPH, SI, USF), my family (Camara & Custodio), and especially my mom Jo, thank you for your life lessons that have made me a compassionate person and more. Please continue to not only teach me, but support, care, and love me as you have already done. I am forever grateful to you all.

Everyone owes a debt. I owe so much to God for everything, and I owe so much to you all for making me who I am today that I cannot fail in this life. I will lose at times, but I will never fail.

Thank you forever a million times over.

--
Here's a pic preview of my very own pictorial:




I'm teaching my girlfriend photography and this is her very "first" photoshoot and I must say I'm very proud of her on what she's learned in exposure and composition!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Review Update: Apple Magic Mouse Battery Performance

Just a quick update: from my initial review of Apple's Magic Mouse on October 31, the Energizer batteries that were included finally ran out today.

Overall, short of two months usage in my view is quite lame considering the cost of batteries and so that is why after I deplete my stock of AA batteries, I will be using rechargeable batteries from here on out. I recently purchased Eneloops that will replace my year old rechargeable batteries used for my photography equipment [namely flash units] and will buy a couple of more sets to fully replace the old set.

To save money, I'll use the old set of rechargeable batteries for the Apple Magic Mouse that I use at home and the Mighty Mouse that I keep in my laptop bag on the go.

Overall, I am super happy with using my Magic Mouse because of its multi-touch capabilities [and yes, there's really more to than forward/backward web browsing--I can do 2 finger swipes in addition to left and right, up and down; 2 finger taps/clicks; 3 finger swipes left, right, up, down; 3 finger taps/clicks--and my favorite part: how the multitouch features can be be programmed to any application!]

More details soon...