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Thoughts on the Kindle

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My first impression was, “This doesn’t feel like the future. This feels like the past.”

The E-ink is incredibly clear and renders pages that are great for reading – when it eventually renders, but the screen itself feels like an old piece of Casio Digital Diary LCD technology. And having the screen switch to black (or reverse colours, i.e white text on a black page) momentarily every time you refresh (or turn) the page is just as tiring to read over a long period of time as the bright LED smartphone and tablet screens.

Screen refresh time is an issue not just for page turning (which leaves you staring at a black page for a fraction of a second, before your eyes have to adjust back to white again), but also for text entry, which is slow, with letters forming as pixelated outlines before they are filled in with ink. This makes text entry quite a strain on the eyes too. But not so big an issue since you don’t use the Kindle to enter text much.

My biggest gripe is with the clunky interface, with the home, menu, cursor, Aa and Sym keys. It’s just terrible, not because many users expect a far more intuitive and touch-based interface these days, but because the menu and page scrolling (when viewing a magnified PDF) systems are worse than the interfaces found on early feature phones.

Quite a disappointment, and I walked away without buying one. Guess I’ll be waiting for a Kindle Touch or a smaller, paperback-sized iPad.


Written by tokyotribe

April 23, 2011 at 12:56 am

Posted in Tech

How I use Twitter today (redux)

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I’m now using Twitter as my RSS reader.

I do this because I don’t want to have to check my RSS reader separately when I already get a lot of the same content on Twitter. That and the temporal nature of a Twitter feed suits how I want to consume RSS feeds. I don’t want to open my RSS reader, find 1000+ unread articles every time, and feel compelled to try to read some of these past and buried articles. If I miss out on some articles, that’s fine. I just want to see and read what these RSS sources are writing today, and that’s how Twitter behaves, so it works for me.

I do this by creating a Twitter list called “rss” and using it to follow Twitter accounts of blogs that I would normally want to read in my RSS reader. For blogs that don’t have Twitter accounts, or where their Twitter account doesn’t only contain articles but also conversations that I’m not too interested in, I create a Google RSS bundle of the RSS feeds that I want to read on Twitter, generate an RSS feed out of that bundle, create a new twitter account for these RSS feeds, and link the bundle’s RSS feed to the twitter account using Twitterfeed. Then I follow this Twitter account in my RSS list.

That last set of steps is unnecessarily complicated, but it works.

After doing that, I found that I only had 24 Twitter accounts in my rss list (one of which is a Twitter account for the RSS bundle of 15 RSS feeds). Which means only 24 Twitter accounts are giving me value, and the rest are just noise?

Written by tokyotribe

March 20, 2011 at 4:50 am

Posted in Tech

Zombie Widgets

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Conversations about development can sometimes be really funny:

“I don’t think we want to handle the case that his edited widget will resurrect the deleted widget.”

“Yes, we don’t want to handle zombie widgets. They may eat other living widgets.”

Ok, it was funny at the time…

Written by tokyotribe

October 11, 2010 at 7:03 am

Posted in Dev

Does money buy happiness?

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On 7 September 2010, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the following paper by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, titled “High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being.”

PNAS abstract page
Full paper (pdf)

Kahneman and Deaton found that income improves emotional well-being (experiential happiness) up to a point – $75,000 per year, in fact – beyond which higher income no longer contributes to higher emotional well-being. Higher income does, however, improve evaluation of life (remembered happiness or life satisfaction) beyond the $75,000 level.

The applicability of the $75k limit across different countries and cultures aside, what’s interesting about the study is:

1. There appears to be a well-defined limit to income, and that limit is not some astronomical figure, beyond which having more money does not improve our emotional well-being or experiential happiness, i.e. how happy we are in our daily lives.

2. The distinctly different effects of income on emotional well-being and evaluation of life suggest that the two potentially valid forms of happiness are indeed quite distinct, and we may want to ask ourselves, which is more important to us?

Perhaps many people pay too much attention to evaluation of life (life satisfaction) and not enough attention to emotional well-being (everyday, experiential happiness), and for that reason, pursue income and wealth often at the expense of emotional well-being. (Being in a high income job that you hate would, I’m sure, very quickly generate diminishing marginal returns to emotional well-being.)

At least now we have some empirical data showing that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Written by tokyotribe

September 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Economix

QuikReview: Puzzlequest for iPhone

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If you like jewel-matching puzzle games(like Bejeweled) and you like fantasy RPG quest games, then Puzzlequest is the game for you.

Pick a character class, choose your skills, then travel around the world map picking up quests to complete and level-up. Battles are fought through jewel-matching puzzles that generate mana you can use to cast spells.

Quests follow a fairly engaging storyline that’s light enough to pick up whenever you feel like it, with a large array of side-quests to keep you going for a while.

And the game gets deeper still with levels of skill specialisation and citadel-building (which unlocks new spells) that you can delve into if you want.

All in all, a deep and engaging game with long gameplay potential, good for a long-term campaign as well as the time-killing puzzle battle now and then.

Plus, you never really die in the game – you just have to retry the battle again, which guarantees addiction for sure.

Written by tokyotribe

June 27, 2010 at 5:37 am

Posted in Games, iPhone, QuikReview

QuikReview: World Cup iPhone apps

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Tried a bunch of them to stay up to date with the 2010 World Cup and finally settled on two that were stable, rich and had sensible user experiences.

Very rich app, that tells you what you want to know – live scores, match timetables (for your timezone), scores for each stage and latest news. Live scores are up to the minute, so you won’t miss a goal if you’re not in front of your TV.

The added bonus is that beyond the World Cup, also serves live scores, results, fixtures and news for other leagues like the Champions League, EPL, Serie A and Bundesliga. Handy all-in-one for football fans.

International Football

Straightforward app for the latest World Cup live scores, results and fixtures. The UI is fancier than’s and to some extent works well in focusing attention on latest scores and results.

The offering feels a little more limited, although they have plans to serve other leagues in future. In the meantime, it’s a good app if all you need is the your latest World Cup fix in a quick prominent display.

The choice between the two probably comes down to UI preference.

Written by tokyotribe

June 27, 2010 at 2:48 am

Posted in iPhone, QuikReview

QuikReview: Song Summoner Encore Lite for iPhone

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Fun little turn-based RPG ditty from Square Enix. The hook is that the characters in your party are generated using tracks you select from your music library. Yes, that’s a little gimmicky, but fun, nonetheless, to find out who you’ll get next. So far I’ve landed myself a C-rated archer and a B-rated monk.

Final Fantasy tactics fans will find the character classes and battle mechanics familiar, and you can generally count on Square Enix for a fun storyline.

Not sure yet how deep the free lite version goes, but the high $9.99 price of the full version is keeping me from upgrading right away.

Verdict: Worth a go on the lite version for free and waiting for the $9.99 full version to go in the bargain bin.

Written by tokyotribe

June 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Games, iPhone, QuikReview