Thursday, September 30, 2004

Palm Zire....into the handheld world

Today's email brought a special from the PalmOne Store on "Blemished" handhelds. Well, I fell into the "pit of weakness" and ordered a Zire 21. This is my chance to get that "ebook hardware" I have been lusting after all these years. I don't care a whit about a calendar or reading my books in color, so the price was really right. After shipping and tax, $59 and change. This is my first experience with handhelds, with the exception of the iPod which is really not the same at all. Still, it feels a little like the same experience to me. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Hope all goes well with the installation of the Palm Desktop on the Mac. We'll see. I checked the support docs at the Palm site and there are known issues, so again, we'll see. I have hopes for the eBook Reader on the Palm because I love it on the Mac and the Wintel machines. Good or bad - I'll report on it here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Dinotopia...ode to Zippo

Having never even heard of "Dinotopia", I rented the 284 minute long DVD set last weekend, and we sat down to enjoy what I thought would be probably a first installment of a three night viewing. I thought it might even be too silly, so I wasn't expecting very much. Well, it was fascinating. I think I was in an escapist mode anyway, and I was riveted. Two of us sat there through the whole thing, with only minor snack and exercise breaks.

What a romp. The story thickens with the detail of the world of "Dinotopia" and its residents whom we meet and appreciate on the way to the final crisis and the "finding of the light." The dino-people are entertaining, and intelligent, especially Zippo the librarian! The realistic dinosaurs and the settings were a tribute to James Gurney who created the "Dinotopia" book which was published in the nineties. The book is really a bound set of beautiful and imaginative illustrations as well as a story. The story *IS* the land of Dinotopia. Based on the gentle "Laws of Dinotopia", the culture does appeal to a better side of humanity than the usual fantasy-sci-fi outing.

And whoever said librarians are quiet and retiring has not met Zippo!

OmniWeb post the second...

Omniweb has become essential to my "browsing experience" to put it in today's vernacular. Possibly it even suggests the idea of a book title: "The Spirituality of OmniWeb as Browsing Experience". The tabs have the additional duty of creating multiple "desktops" which can be interchanged as you need a new default desktop for your browsing. I love this. Then, there is the bookmark list which I finally read the HELP on and figured out. So I now have a slick list of bookmarks which incorporate the Safari bookmarks I brought into OmniWeb and the default list OmniWeb supplies. I got rid of all sorts of links I didn't want, and the result is much better. I will admit the people at Omniweb could take a look at the bookmark SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) over at Opera. But this has been a minor irritant, and I can see where some people might like the rather intricate way one could set up the bookmarks. The premier look and feel of OmniWeb accentuates the technical acuity. So far I have downloaded from various sites, ordered from various sites, and made a point to do everything with it that Firefox is "iffy" about. I can't find a single thing OmniWeb doesn't handle flawlessly. I did have a couple crashes of the software the other night when I was busy doing some "cross-window" cut and pasting, and I think I may have overgrossed it myself.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Books, books and more books

Another shipment of brain food arrived from Alibris the other day. It is getting so that I must remove some furniture from the den to make way for books. Unfortunately, I also have a problem because I now have over twenty books I have not read and they are sitting around here and there staring at me as I walk by. If I sit and watch television, I feel their sorrow. Earlier on in life I always had read what I had on the shelves, but now they burgeon out of bounds. The advent of the computer has eroded away my reading time, and although I have to count my ereading time, that is also another area in which to build a book collection of unread titles. The bright spot in all this is that for the next several decades I ought to have something to do.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Old-tech paper punches

WHY can't someone invent a reasonably priced, non-problematic 3-hole punch?! The one I have at home you have to literally jump up and come down on it with force and then you hurt. The one at work that cost four times as much has one punch that doesn't function all the time, though there is a twisty thing to regulate that...but it doesn't stay in place. Absurdly, I just exchanged a new paperpunch of medium price for another because one punch would go down but not come up. And three of the ones I tried of the same make and model also had that problem. I have come to the conclusion that the whole species "paper-punch" is flawed. The design has not changed in decades, maybe over five decades. Inventing genius, your time is NOW.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The perfect browser quest goes on...

Just as the "perfect email service" quest has wound itself around and about over the past decade or so, so goes the "perfect browser" quest. Let's just leave IE out of it entirely. The only sites I use it on are sites which are required in my work and which are sadly made to function only in IE. Netscape is out of the picture, as it is now a vortex for spyware, and another piece of bloat. I don't need the mail and the composer and the newsreader, etc., etc.

Moving right along, there is Firefox, which although a fast, sleek and really nice little non-bloaty browser, has a few little glitches, and doesn't do well on a few sites. It also has a rather temperamental download facility, and on the Mac version has actually lost the download yet kept on grinding I know not where. It does this only randomly though, and is not always a problem. I have written about Firefox before, and at the moment it is my browser of preference on both systems.

Opera 7 is also on both systems, and Opera is a dandy browser, fast and efficient. The screen real estate is the problem with Opera, and the quirky handling of all those toolbars gets interesting. I have used Opera since version 3.5, and I have been sorry to see the usable screen area shrink. But Opera cares about web standards, and money spent on a license is money well spent. Opera remains extremely secure, and trustworthy, and the download utility is the best of any browser. I use it almost as often as I use Firefox.

Now, last night I downloaded the very classy OmniWeb for Mac OS X (there is no windows version). Omniweb 5 is a beautiful creature to behold. From the beauty of the OS X "look" to the speed, tabs on the side and overall smooth browsing, this one is a keeper. I intend to write more on Omniweb. For now, the bit where you can bring up a text editing box in any web form is so so cool. And the spellcheck - well, it doesn't get much better than this. Obviously this program is worth paying for. Last night I wrote a piece of email in one webmail account. I just clicked the tiny x (a feature of Omniweb)in the lower right of the text form which has always been too small in that mailer, and up came the textediting document window, and I was able to revise and see the whole message, and as I typed in the document it automatically transferred into the actual form box on the site. OH MY, how absolutely cool that is.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Palm Zire thoughts...

If one had a Zire, one could take ebooks wherever. To be bibliographically armed would be nirvana. Doctor's offices, waiting for my tires, all these tasks made so much more pleasant by reading, yet not carrying a book. HHHmm....but there is the cost. Lately I have been cruising the PalmOne site, and a very nice site it is. I keep going back because of the appealing and informative blurbs and the eReader store, so finally I began to read about the hardware itself. The real downside is that I hate to have things that rely on my PC because it becomes a tangled web of service contracts, and the possibility of one or another hardware peripheral going is just old. Not that I have had trouble in the past with hardware, but you never know, and I like to travel light on the ether. When you get a digital camera, a 'Pod, a handheld or any one of the other goodies, you then need to concern yourself with compatibility, upgrades, etc., and in the event that one of the hardware items is outpacing the others, or becomes outdated you are faced with working that issue out. So I have held out this long on the Palm. After becoming addicted to the 'Pod, well, I know my weakness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Blog bog

I am getting bogged down here with the blahs of Fall. The weather can't be to blame - and although the workload increases, it isn't backbreaking. No, it's just the blahs. Does anyone read this stuff? HAHA. Well, at least it is my outlet for all the speeches my poor family and friends are thus spared.

Books, how they take from computime, don't they? I haven't finished "True Grit!" I am waiting on my own copy. I have been reading a couple of ebooks, Robert Lewis Stevenson's "Across the Plains with Other Stories" and the story I'm on is a lyrical overview of French locales which became artists colonies in his time. The stories in this book are really non-fiction travelogues. And in another eReader window, I have "Dead Men Tell No Tales" by E.W. Hornung, better known for the "Raffles" books. Good stuff.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Rushdie and Peter S. Beagle

A huge hurrah was given by a friend of mine to the works of Rushdie, so I am reading "Haroun and the Sea of Stories." I have read "East, West", a book of short stories he had written a few years ago, and I found them interesting and witty.

I think that I have allowed myself to Blog these many months without ranting about the writing of Peter S. Beagle. I fell over "Folk of the Air" while cataloging gift books into the library. I read it at once, then bought a copy in hardcover of the first edition, shockingly cheap and available only through the used book trade once again, and sent this to a reading friend. I was amazed and impressed by the book. while at once fantastic and weird, it was also so contemporary and so "California." I had never really given one moment's thought to the Society for Creative Anachronisms, Inc but having read "Folk of the Air" I looked them up on the web. Beagle pokes a lot of fun at the group, but in its way the novel glamorized them a bit. I enjoyed the story of the "old Hippie," Joe Farrell, and his wanderings through the mazes of magic, mayhem and mystery. The crowning glory of this novel is the powerful Athanasia Sioris, Mother Goddess extraordinaire. I did acquire my own copy of the book after a few months. My shelves would not be complete without it, although I try to keep my resident book collection to the bare minimum. Shelving is finite, and books are a movable commodity, so my permanent keepers are not allowed to flow to far afield from my available space. That's the ideal, that's the measure I try to work from anyway.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Alibris for Portis and McGuane...

Well, overcome with eagerness to continue the present state of "bibliomania" I cruised Alibris today and ended up with a bursting basket of Portis and McGuane. With trade paperbacks going for $2.95 and stated as Very Fine, how could resist? I am getting all of Portis's novels and several of Mcguane's. Let's hope I like Thomas McGuane. Everything I've read points to liking his writing, and the library afforded me a glance at a few of his books, and they looked interesting. Apparently McGuane is considered a Western writer of literary eminence.

I also decided to grab a couple Ludlum's. Well, I have heard good things about "Road to Gandolfo" and "Road to Omaha." Earlier works that have an edge of irony and hilarity not found in say - the "Bourne Trilogy."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

More Charles Portis...

Now I have finished "Norwood." Another wonderful novel. Charles Portis is truly a writer to amuse and fascinate. His lean "to-the-point" style is unembellished by the hackneyed adjectival blather of so many novelists. I guess I have to differentiate between "pop-best-seller-creators" and writers. Or is it "AUTHORS?" If this distinction were to be drawn, Charles Portis would fall into the "AUTHOR" category, one whose works will be read decades after their creation, having, as they do, stories centered on human life and character.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Masters of Atlantis...

I just finished reading "Masters of Atlantis" by Charles Portis. The first Portis novel I've read, but not the last. The experience of reading Portis was like discovering another hobby.

Unfortunately he has written only five novels thus far, and it has been awhile since the last. The movie "True Grit" is an adaptation of one of his five novels. I never thought about reading it, but now I certainly will. While I was reading I could only think of "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" by Vonnegut, and "Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. Both of those books were poignantly told stories of misfit individuals who tried to make a world while somehow shining a light on our world. The difference is that, while the two novels above were funny, Portis is hilarious. I mean I actually hurt from laughing at the ludicrous statements, the sudden surprise twists and the just plain silly nonsense this book offers from cover to cover. All told in the tale of a secret society of very few whose origin was the scamming of our innocent central figure by a con artist he met after leaving the Army. Mr. Jimmerson never realizes he was conned, and he succeeds in gathering a coterie of faithful to the Gnomen Society, and there begins the epic which ends years later in a mobile home in Texas. The years between are a story you should not miss.