Posts in category 'books'

  • A Little Family History

    So we went to visit my Granda Kosinski on the Easter weekend… first time in, like, 5 months, much to my chagrin. Anyway, she lives down in Camrose, so we did the drive down there and visited for a couple hours and did the usual… talked talked talked. Well, during the course of discussions, we some how landed on the topic of books, and I discovered a rather interesting little factoid: apparently my great-grandma’s, and hence also my grandma’s, favourite book was/is “The Count of Monte Cristo”! Heck, my grandma owns two copies of the book, and while we were chatting about it, proceeded to describe some of the major plot points, something I can barely do with any book I’ve read. Now, this in and of itself is interesting, particularly since my great-grandma, when first introduced to the book, couldn’t actually read, and so only knew it because she heard other people reading it out loud. But the other thing that makes this all rather ironic, at least to me, is that TCMC is one of a small handful of books that I consciously chose not to finish (one of the others being “The Plague”, by Albert Camus, but I think I can hardly be blamed for that one).

    Anyway, I think I can do nothing but make another attempt at the book, so back into the queue it goes. Which means I should get to it sometime… next year, maybe.

  • E-Books... They Don't Suck!

    So, in my on-going search for ways to justify the purchase of my PDA, I’ve decided to try and read my first e-book on the thing, specifically “The Da Vinci Code”.

    Okay, quit laughing. I’m entitled to read a little pulp from time to time, too, ya know. So piss off! And, hey, it can’t be as bad as Decipher. No, seriously, it really can’t. If an author tried to write a book worse than that, I’m pretty sure his/her own lower intestine would reach up and strangle him/her, Douglas-Adams-style.

    Anyway, surprisingly enough, the experience has been remarkably positive. I absolutely love real, physical books as much as the next guy (actually, probably more… I have this really nasty habit of “stopping in” to book stores and walking out with two or three new items to add to my collection. Which would be fine if paperbacks still cost $5, rather than the current going rate which is upwards of $10… frickin’ wallet rapists), and still think that the classic paper book provides a superior overall reading experience, although that’s probably at least in part due to nostalgia. But I have to admit, this whole e-book thing might not be so crazy after all.

    Now, going in, I knew that e-books have some problems:

    • Eye fatigue.
    • Difficult to see in bright-light conditions.
    • Poorer “random access” facilities.
    • Less durable (for obvious reason).

    In my case, the first two were my major concerns, especially given my poorer vision. But, as it turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought. The screen on my TX is clear and readable. The brightness controls make it pretty usable in a variety of light levels (though reflection is an issue). And as for the other issues, well, I can deal with them. Plus, e-books have a few advantages:

    • Smaller pocket-print, thus easier to carry around.
    • Easy to read one-handed, or even no-handed with autoscroll.
    • Ability to adjust fonts, colours, etc, to suit the reader.
    • Can carry around a whole collection of books easily.
    • Very easy to just power on and read. The reader automatically remembers where I was and opens directly to where I left off.
    • Works in dark environs. I could read while Lenore’s sleeping, if I wanted.
    • Allows me to easily read material from resources like Project Gutenberg without having to print stuff off.

    As for actual software, I really can’t say enough good things about PalmFiction. Unfortunately, the only things the author can say are in Russian, so you kinda have to fumble a bit with it. But once you do, wow! The feature set is incredible!

    • Reads txt, PalmDoc, Word files, RTF, and others, and can even read compressed files.
    • Can display the text using anti-aliased fonts converted from TTF sources.
    • Supports any screen orientation, so you can read left- or right-handed.
    • Can display in true full screen on hi-res devices. No wasted screen space!
    • Does a great job of word wrapping and hyphenation.
    • It’s FREE.

    And there’s probably many more features I neglected to mention. Truely an awesome program, and far better than trying to read PDFs using PalmPDF.

    On a separate but related note, the next e-book on my list is a Russian work called The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. ‘course, I was originally planning to read The Golden Calf by the same authors, as recommended by Arkadi, our resident Syberian. However, the folks at that site haven’t completed the translation, and the last thing I want is to be left hanging halfway through. ;)