This Week at Mobile Tech Manor #28- double twisting the night away


mobile-tech-manor-large-22I spent a lot of time with software and phones this week as well as thinking much about what I do here.  I found a new way to get my music and video content from my notebook to multiple phones on different platforms.  I also thought about my reading methods and whether the Kindle 2 might fit them better.  Join me for a recap of my week.

Like many of you likely do with your careers, I often give thought to how I can improve what I do here at jkOnTheRun.  I always try to make it clear why I feel the way I do about a given gadget I’m covering, or about some bit of technology I’m writing about.  I feel I usually do a good job at that but last week I did something that I now realize I should have done differently.

I’m not going to get into specifics as I don’t wish to rehash it but I wrote a post last week that irked a few people.  That in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes if you challenge folks to think out of the box some will end up getting a bit miffed at the conversation.

That was not the situation with the post I did and I’m not happy with how I wrote the post.  The post was reporting something in the news along with an opinion of mine as to how that would perhaps play a role with something affected by that particular bit of news.  I felt I made it clear in the body of the post that what I was predicting was my opinion but the problem was created when I put my opinion in the title of the post.  I felt at the time that the title was a good place to state my opinion since I was explaining it in the post.  I now realize that was not a good thing to do and after a lot of thought about it I am going to make a concerted effort to keep my opinions in the post body alone and clearly marked as such.

We bloggers often give our opinions; that’s a lot of what blogging is.  I like to give my opinions about things and believe that many readers enjoy that.  This particular problem occurred because that opinion was put in the title of the post and some saw that and felt misled.  That was certainly not my intention. That’s never my intention.  I like people to be straight with me and that’s what I like to be with others.  This led me to feel bad about misleading some, even unintentionally.

Upon careful examination I figured out why this got blown up to the point that it did.  I realize that when you read a post title on a blog like jkOnTheRun, you are fairly forgiving because it is a blog, after all.  The problem was that’s not where many folks read that post title.  We haven’t really talked about it much but the GigaOM network has some nice syndication deals with some pretty big players in media.  Due to those syndication deals our jkOnTheRun content often appears in places like the New York Times, CNN/ Fortune and  Those are some serious media outlets and readers react differently to posts they read on one of those outlets as opposed to our little blog.

That’s what happened in this case, the post under discussion appeared on CNN/ Fortune so the post title that contained my opinion was interpreted much more seriously than perhaps it would have been on this blog.  This has me thinking that I must be much more careful with this sort of thing in the future, as I can never predict when a post will be picked up by these big outlets.  I need to keep my opinions in the post body and make it clear that’s what they are.  I strive to be a reliable source of information and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.

The Kindle has landed (again)

Enough about the serious self-analysis, let’s get on to the fun geeky stuff.  The Kindle 2 is shipping and you find talk about it all over the web.  It looks pretty nice and I think they changed the device in some improved ways to make up for problems with the original version.  I haven’t played with a Kindle 2 yet so I can’t really comment much about it, I like to do that from a hands-on perspective.

Seeing all this talk about the Kindle has me thinking about my book-reading habits and wondering if I would benefit from a dedicated ebook reader like the Kindle.  I have been reading ebooks for years and have gravitated to reading them on my phone.  I have read countless books on Windows Mobile phones, BlackBerrys and the iPhone.  I find the reading experience enjoyable and don’t give much thought to the fact that the screens are pretty darn small.

Dedicated readers like the Kindle certainly offer a more enjoyable reading experience due to their larger screens, if for no other reason.  Reading on the big screen would be more akin to reading a “real” book with real pages, no question.  After giving this a lot of thought I’ve come to the conclusion that using the phone for an ebook reader is still the way to go for me.

To understand my reaching this conclusion you have to know something about my reading habits and typical schedule.  Just about the only consistent time of day that I read is at night, in bed.  I read for a good half-hour (or longer if the book is engrossing).  This would be a good place for a dedicated reader with a large screen if not for one problem: I am usually still reading when my wife goes to sleep, so having my light on is not an option. That rules out readers like the Kindle as they have no backlighting, so I can’t read in the dark.  My phones don’t have that problem so they actually work better in this case.

Any reading I do during the day is catch-as-catch can.  I don’t have a set period during which I can read.  I have to snatch bits of time here and there to read as the opportunity arises.  The key phrase in that last sentence, here and there, is very true as I can be anywhere and find time to read.  The phone fits this lifestyle perfectly and works well for me.  I never fail to capture these random bits of time with a good book due to using the phone as my reader.  I can’t see myself using a Kindle or a Sony Reader for these reasons.  They are nice and all but don’t fit my life.

Friends Matt Miller and Om Malik each made good cases for using the Kindle 2 as their ebook reader.  Matt is enjoying reading books on his Kindle during his long daily commute and Om wished he had a Kindle during a long flight recently.  Both of these scenarios are perfect for having a device like the Kindle for reading but truth be told I am happy reading on my phone at times like these.  For me the problem is not having to carry yet another device with me for reading books.  The problem lies when I don’t carry the reader with me and have time appear unexpectedly for reading.  Using my phone means I don’t miss those opportunities: My books are always with me.

A Storm(y) week

I used the BlackBerry Storm all week and haven’t touched my iPhone or G1 once except for some testing.  The Storm is handling all my needs fine and I’m becoming quite the on-screen clicky keyboard demon.  I can input text as fast as I can on a real phone keyboard, which I admit is not that fast.  I do miss the Wi-Fi on the iPhone at times but most of the time the Storm’s 3G suffices.

I’ve been testing TeleNav for the Storm and it makes a really fine navigation device.  TeleNav works well and the big screen of the Storm makes it easy to see the navigation screen in the car.  Not everyone will find it worth $9.99 a month for TeleNav, but I find it worth it.  The in-car searching capability and real-time traffic information make it blow my old TomTom away.

A free program just released this week has helped me use the Storm for entertainment on the run.  Doubletwist is a program that works on a Mac (Windows version in closed beta) that makes it a simple drag-and-drop to get music, photos and videos onto the BlackBerry Storm.  This is not that incredible but Doubletwist also works with the Android G1, Nokia E and N-series along with other phones.  That makes one single solution that works with all of these different phone platforms, and for someone like me with lots of phones it’s been great.

I have used it with the G1 and the Storm and gotten a lot of music and videos copied to both.  Of course the content must be DRM-free (don’t get me started about DRM), but the copy process couldn’t be faster and easier.  The phone must be hooked up to the Mac via USB and is automatically recognized once connected.  Doubletwist automatically brings a list of my Mac content from iTunes and iPhoto, which can be copied to the phone.  Video is automatically encoded during the copy to fit the particular phone, and all I’ve tried look really good during playback.

ebook of the week

This week I’ve been enjoying the beta of eReader on the Storm and am reading an interesting murder mystery by Julie Garwood.  “Murder List” is a compelling story of a killer who is systematically killing off all the people he thinks the object of his obsession wishes to be killed.  It’s well written and I’m enjoying it.  This is one of the free books I picked up from eReader a while back and it looks like it might still be free.

The week is over

That’s the main activities that occupied most of my time this week.  It was busy, a little soul searching, a new phone and some good software.  Thanks for sharing this time with me.


Faeiz Hindi

James, since you are such a big ebook fan, how do you handle the situation of sharing books you have read with friends?

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