2008-06-26

Chocolate

Anni just got an awesome writeup in the Merc! You should totally order some of her goodies the next time a special occasion comes 'round — I highly recommend the bonbons and handmade marshmallows.

OMG Bananas

This is really scary (I <3 bananas, and they're a staple in the smoothies I make for breakfast), but the book looks like a great read. And it's Kindleable.

[via Salim]

2008-06-25

How Times Change

50 years ago in Burma:
"The Sixth Buddhist Council was inaugurated at Kaba Aye in Yangon (formerly Rangoon, Burma) in 1954, 83 years after the Fifth Council in Mandalay. It was sponsored by the Burmese Government led by the Prime Minister, the Honorable U Nu. He had previously authorized the construction of the Mahā Pāsāna Gūhā, a great artificial cave built from the ground up and completed in 1952, to serve as the gathering place, much like Rajgiri's Sattapānni Cave in India had housed the First Council immediately after the death of the Buddha. This new "cave" measured 220' by 140' inside and could seat 10,000 people..."

"The complete traditional recitation of the Theravada Canon took two years, from 1954 to 1956. The Pali Tipiṭaka and its allied literature in all the diverse national scripts were painstakingly examined, their differences noted, necessary corrections made, and all the versions collated."
Note: there have only been 6 councils in the past 2500 years, and a full third of them took place in Burma.

Of course, we all know what's going on there today...

[bonus: photos from the month I spent there in 1/2003]

2008-06-23

Kindle

I got a Kindle a few months back, thanks to thumbs-ups from Sippey and Ev. Per David's request, here are a few thoughts:
  • I mainly got it to more efficiently annotate the books I read. I'm always taking notes and highlighting passages that resonate with me, but when I'm done reading, books go back on my shelf and I rarely pick them up again (though my mind continues referencing them, likely inaccurately). So I've taken to typing my notes into Google Docs so that they're searchable (and less Bus Factor-prone), but this takes lots of time. Thankfully Amazon's engineers store Kindle annotations in an ASCII file, which means I can easily copy/paste my notes into Docs. And unless I'm mistaken (which is likely), they also back up this file via the Whispernet, further bus-proofing it.
  • So far, reading and highlighting seem to be the only user-facing features I'm using. I do the other stuff (listen to audiobooks, search wikipedia, etc.) on my iPhone.
  • Buying books for it couldn't be simpler — a single click on Amazon's site and the book appears on the Kindle a few minutes later. It's indistinguishable from magic.
  • I've also started reading PDFs on it (such as Getting Real, the SVN Book and Producing OSS), which have long been languishing in a "to-read" folder on my laptop. This alone makes it a worthwhile purchase, and I wish there was a bookmarklet to send anything web-based to it. Leonard? ;)
  • Apple's spoiled us with good design, which makes bad design all the worse. Apologies to those involved, but I just find the Kindle's design terrible. It's nearly impossible to hold it without accidentally clicking a button (page forward/backward on the sides, volume on the bottom), and it's practically all angles. And why a Back button?
    • However, the vertical scroller is way cool.
  • You can't really charge it via USB, which I discovered on a recent week-long trip where I didn't bring along the AC charger.
  • I wish I could lease it from Amazon, rather than own it. When an improved next-gen model is available, I'll certainly upgrade, so what to do with this one? With iPods, I can always find a family member or friend to give my older one, but I doubt any of them would be interested in an old Kindle...



Overall, I'm satisfied with it and use it every day to read, think and annotate. Looking at all the books on my shelf that I still intend to read, I wish more of them were available electronically, because they mean that much more reading, highlighting with a pen, and typing up my notes...

Some other folks' thoughts on theirs:

2008-06-22

REI Rocks

<3 REI. All reward/membership/affiliate programs - airline miles, Amazon Associates gift certificates, credit card points, etc. - should work like this:

2008-06-01

Desert Island Series

My friend Matt introduced me to the desert island concept back when we were at Miami, and it's stuck with me ever since. The constraints it imposes are what make it so interesting - Matt's primary use was musical, i.e. a desert island album is one that can be played in its entirety, and you never feel the need to skip a track. Further, it's an album you'd like with you should you ever find yourself stranded on a desert island.

I keep a little log (in Docs) of my desert island music, books and movies, as my list evolves as I grok things new to me. Since I read more books and listen to more music than I watch movies, their lists are a bit more substantial. Here's where they currently stand, in reverse chronological order from when they made the cut:

Music
Books
Movies