Derek's Blog Page

Can a libertarian curmudgeon survive in a post 9/11 America? Is it possible to create the perfect meal on a Baby Q grill? Will Elaine finally succumb to her innermost desires? Check out my novels - which I am excerpting to separate blogs as I write them. Just click on my Profile button to access their links.

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Location: Citrus Heights, California


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cybook has a problem with the display!

Line in my Cybook's display.

Great! So there I was uploading a few HTML ebooks that I'd re-formated to Mobipocket and when I was done I unplugged it. At that point, the Cybook switched back from the "I'm plugged in and charging/loading" screen to the main menu. I noticed as it flashed over that there appeared to be a line in my display. So I switched to the images I have on there and sure enough, my Cybook now has a row of dead pixels! Given that I've had this for a little over a week, I'm not a happy camper.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Cybook Gen3 Again.

One of the things about this that both excites me and frustrates me is the ability to read Mobipocket formatted ebooks. And the Cybook does this quite well... except that it doesn't open Secure Mobipocket ebooks! It will, at some point be recognizable by Mobipocket as a 'registered' device, but for now, if you're shopping at Fictionwise, buy the ebook in Muliformat and then download the *UN*secured Mobipocket version.

This, of course, is not a problem with ebooks purchased from Baen's Webscriptions as none of them have DRM imposed. If you buy a Baen ebook and download the ebook in Mobipocket format, just drop it onto the Cybook through the USB cable and you're good to go. Or you could download it in HTML format because the Cybook also reads HTML - and text, and soon to read unsecured pdb ebooks, rtf ebooks and even PDF ebooks. Eventually, if I understand correctly, it will even handle FBReader FB2 ebooks.

I'm loving the crisp display and the ability to choose between six font families and nine font sizes within each family without having to re-compile the ebook!

And, as a side note, thanks go out to Dean Sutherland, who donated $5 to help defray my expenses in buying lighting equipment to take better product photos for the review of the Cybook. I've had to invest over $200 for all the lighting, light-tent and display racks so I could use any donations readers can give. Again, a big THANKS to Dean Sutherland!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back to the Bookeen Cybook Gen3 ebook reader


Enough with the cutsie pictures of birds and flowers.

I've now had the Cybook Gen3 for just one week. And I'm beginning to like it. Notice I said 'beginning'. I've owned a Sony PRS-500 for over a month now and for the first few days the Cybook was here, I didn't really care for it.

Don't get me wrong, the new Visplex eInk display is, to my eye, much sharper and noticeably more contrasty than the older eInk display found on the PRS-500. But Sony's device seemed somehow... more polished... more finished.

And it finally 'clicked' in my mind what the problem was with the Cybook. It's too danged LIGHT! That's right, my PRS-500 is heavier than the Cybook and even more so when I put the PRS-500 into it's softcover case. And, subconsciously, I felt the Cybook was 'flimsier' than the PRS-500 as a result.

So what happened to change my mind? I dropped the Cybook. I was attempting to pull it out of the cargo pocket in my trousers when I bumped my arm and let go. It promptly fell three feet to the hard, linoleum floor in the kitchen. The Cybook was on at the time - I'm tending to just leave it on during the day - and my first thought was "Ohmygod! I broke it!". Then I flipped it over so I could see the screen and there was my ebook, right at the page I left it. Still, I couldn't help wondering if maybe it had frozen there upon impact. Crossing my fingers, I paged forward. It changed to the next page! I called up the contextual menu and returned to the Library, and it did as I commanded! Finally, taking a deep, deep breath, I turned it off and then, after waiting a minute, turned it back on...

Hooray! It came right back up! This happened two days ago and I've been using it ever since.

Now I wouldn't recommend anyone go around dropping a $300+ ebook reader, but I'm now completely satisfied with the hardware.

As for the software, I like what I can do, but I must point out that I can't really do as much as I want to because I don't have the most recent firmware updates. Those come this next week. Considering what will be added by then, I don't believe it would be fair to Bookeen for me to make serious criticisms of what is, essentially, 'beta' software.

I have mastered BookDesigner to the point where I can make a pretty good conversion of text, html and rtf ebooks into the Mobipocket format. And I've found that the Mobipocket format versions of Baen's Webscriptions ebooks work great on the Cybook. I haven't yet purchased an ebook in Mobipocket format from either Mobipocket or Fictionwise. I'm about to do so. I'll let you know more later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back to my photography - temporarily.

House Finch on my Pergola

Taking a break from all my gushing over the Bookeen Cybook Gen3 eInk-based ebook reader. Don't worry, I'm still loving it and using it. But I did a bit of work on one of the images I've taken of House Finches that congregate in our back yard and decided to post one of them. It's a 1600 x 1000 pixel image, so it is formatted for a widescreen monitor, but it is large enough that one could trim off the right edge to format it for a more standard 4:3 ratio monitor.

Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dare I say I like my new Cybook Gen3???

The opening page of 'Roswell, Texas'.

I've had my Bookeen Cybook Gen3 since Saturday and I'm beginning to get the feel for using it and formatting the books I want to load in. (I've got several dozen non-DRM ebooks already in HTML format from Baen Books and I'd rather exercise my skills at re-formatting them into Mobipocket's .prc format than download them pre-formatted. I use BookDesigner 4.0 with the 7/30/2007 update applied.)

But I don't just want to read ebooks. I also want to read graphic novels. My current favorite is "Roswell, Texas" available for reading at BigHead Press. So I downloaded a sample page from the storyline and converted the bitmap into jpeg and then uploaded it into the Cybook. On the top of the screen, you can see the results. Not bad, considering the page is full-color.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It arrived!!!

It arrived! Yes, the engineering samples from Bookeen, of their new Cybook Gen3 ebook reader, have arrived at NAEB LLC and I got my sample/review unit this morning! I've charged it up and I've taken a photo of it side-by-side with my Sony PRS-500. Both of these ebook readers use the 6" e-Ink display from PVI Inc. but the Cybook uses the newer 'visplex' version which has a somewhat brighter background.

If you haven't heard, the nice thing about e-Ink displays is that they use very little power - many people report being able to leave the devices on for 10 days to 2 weeks without running out of power - and they can be read indoors or outside without getting a washed-out screen. This latter is a big problem with PDA and laptop displays - all of which use backlighting to shine light *through* the screen.

I'll be doing a review of the Cybook Gen3 and posting it on Feel free to also drop by our (NAEB's) website. We'll be marketing the Cybook Gen3s as soon as they become available, either later this month or early next.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We had a visitor stop by today.

A Green Lady

We had a visitor stop by the house today. Her picture is at the top of this column. As you can see, I couldn't resist snapping her portrait as she rested on our back-yard screen door. It was just a quick shot using the E-300's 14-45 with a +4 closeup lens and the built-in pop-up flash. I went with autofocus as my movement made her quite nervous and skittish. Tomorrow, if she's still there, I'm going to switch to the Sigma 55-200 with the same +4 closeup lens and get a tighter frame on her head and shoulders.

While I like the image, it brings out the need for a good ring-flash in my equipment kit. I could have gotten much closer with the lens, but the pop-up flash was blocked partially, giving a vignetting along the bottom edge. If you click on the image you can save the 1280x710 jpeg.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The NAEB (Bookeen) ebook reader.

Dare I say it? The Bookeen Cybook Gen3 sample units that we at NAEB LLC (Not Another E-Book LLC) have ordered are here in the US and I should have my review unit by Friday or Monday! That means I can compare this against the Sony PRS-500 Portable Reader System and give everyone a run-down on the features of the Cybook Gen3. I'll be posting my opinions at Baen's Bar and at MobileRead as well as our own NAEB website so please stay tuned. In the mean time, please feel free to go to Bookeen's own website to see the features list and sample photos of it in action. Bookeen Cybook Gen3

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back in action.

A Family of California Quail

An Aster in Bloom

I've been busy these past few months getting myself ready for gastric bypass surgery; it's been intense. The upshot is that I'm not going to be ready until I lose down to 500 pounds. But my mother, who's 69 and weighs around 310, WILL be going through gastric surgery either later THIS month or early in October. She's going for the sleeve gastrectomy where they narrow the stomach dramatically, but don't do any re-structuring of the intestines. I, of course, will do everything I can to support her in her efforts to adjust to life after gastric surgery as I'll be seeing what adjustments I have to make when I have it.

Along the way, I went ahead and purchased an Olympus Evolt E-300 back in January and I've been exploring digital photography using a digital SLR. Wow! Having RAW image format and the ability to change lenses makes quite a difference. However, I lust after a 10 megapixel camera instead of the 8 megapixels that the E-300 offers. And the Canon EOS 400D, also known as the Digital Rebel XTi, both offers 10MP, but it also has a wider variety of 3rd-party lenses available. So I'm going to switch.

In the meantime, I've decided to post two of the images I've taken with my E-300. I've formatted them in 1600x1000 pixel format which makes them suitable for widescreen monitors. Feel free to download them to use as wallpaper.

The first one shown at the top of the post is of a family of California Quail that comes through our back yard from time to time.

The second one is of an Aster that is planted outside the front door of our home. I loved the contrast between the color of the blossom and the dried base of a withered blossom.

More later.