Kindle as “Future of Reading”? More like Present … of stupidity.

I don’t usually pan products here but the Kindle coming out from Amazon tomorrow is *really* a bad idea.   Not because it wouldn’t be neat to have a great reading device to replace books, but because of the demographics involved here.   Amazon is going to be lucky to sell enough Kindles to keep this project going through Christmas.     Part of the challenge for the Kindle is that it’s ugly.   Butt ugly based on the picture, though some are saying the Kindle picture does not do it justice.

Newsweek Reports with a title that is now in first place for journalistic hyperbole gone mad. 

But even if the Kindle was an AppleEsque stylish, techological beauty, who do they think will buy these things?

The early adopters of techology – folks like me who have a lot of computers, a laptop, and a fancy phone *already have* devices where we can read blogs and websites and books.   Oh yes, most of that reading is free on my laptop, where the Kindle is going to charge you – even for blogs if early reports are correct.  Sure it would be nice to have a portable reader for the coffee shop when I don’t have a real book to bring there.     But I *do* have a real book around somewhere that I do bring to the coffee shop if I’m not bringing my …. laptop … which gives me more than just reading capabilities.    Can I blog from the Kindle?    I’m not going to carry a Kindle AND my Laptop around with me.

OK, so what about those folks who are not attached to their technologies pretty much every waking hour?   The folks who may not even have a laptop to carry around.    They are going to budget $399 for a .. ummm …. ugly Kindle?  Huh?  The folks who don’t particularly like computers or gadgets and don’t think it’s fun to have a laptop at the coffee shop are going to jump right out and buy an ugly, new, unusual ….. uber gadget?     No.    What will the marketing say “Luddites of the world wake up and get out your wallets, because the Kindle is the high technology for YOU!”

As Matt Ingram notes, what in the world is Jeff Bezos smoking over there?.    The Kindle is yet another gadget designed by the folks who have everything for the folks who have everything, and therefore brings to the marketplace pretty much … nothing.  

OK, I’ve been mean and harsh because I think the Kindle is going to fail pretty dramatically.   I also feel bad because I understand Jeff Bezos is a cool, nice guy.    Yikes, I’ll never get a job selling Kindles door to door now, but the ugly Kindle truth is more important than that.   However, I would have to say that *some day* we may see lots of this type of device in libraries and coffee shops as a great way to bring people fresh and hugely diverse content without subscriptions to hundreds of magazines and papers and blogs and websites.   That is the neat part of this idea, but unfortunately for it to work the Kindle would need to kindle a lot of interest in the device as much as the idea, and this won’t do that.

23andMe and Me

I just ordered up my Genome at    They’ll send the kit over the next few days, I’ll swab my saliva and send it back, and they’ll analyze the sample.  Then I’ll be able to see a list showing most of my genome. every single nucleotide pair of mine.  Obviously reading that report could get kind of boring …. “HOLY Crap, there’s *another* GATC sequence!”  Which is why 23andMe has a lot of cool online information and tools to graph and understand your relationships to your genome, your ancestry, and more.   It’s staggering that only a few years after cracking this holy grail of biology it’s available to everybody.   “The Language of God” for more about the philosophy of one of the key players in the quest for the human Genome.  

 Yes,  $999 is a lot of pizza and beer, but OMG how could I not do this?   I’ll report more here as I learn more about my genes. 

Most Dangerous Cities in America along with the safest

CNN reports results from a recent study of crime in American cities, noting these as the most dangerous and safest ten USA Cities in each category:

Ranked Most Dangerous

1. Detroit, Michigan
2. St. Louis, Missouri
3. Flint, Michigan
4. Oakland, California
5. Camden, New Jersey
6. Birmingham, Alabama
7. North Charleston, South Carolina
8. Memphis, Tennessee
9. Richmond, California
10. Cleveland, Ohio

Ranked Safest
1. Mission Viejo, California
2. Clarkstown, New York
3. Brick Township, New Jersey
4. Amherst, New York
5. Sugar Land, Texas
6. Colonie, New York
7. Thousand Oaks, California
8. Newton, Massachusetts
9. Toms River Township, N.J.
10. Lake Forest, California

Since the results are the result of weighted crime stats it’s true you might come to different conclusions about safe and dangerous, and of course safety and danger are not just a function of crime.   I think I’d take a slight crime boost if it meant a big reduction in dirtiness and pollution, though usually most of the bad stuff goes together.    I was amazed at how Philadelphia was so much nastier in terms of downtown cleanliness than the Amish country around Lancaster, PA and I’m always surprised in San Jose and Silicon Valley how much dirtier and harsher the cityscape is compared to the nearby suburbs, which are generally “too tidy” for me.    Here in rural Oregon you kind of feel cozy when you see dozens of dirty lawn flamingos in the yard and 14 used cars in somebody’s driveway.

CNN Reports

Recycling Computer Parts

Recycling old computers and monitors, especially the toxic stuff, is a problem that is going to get bigger and bigger.     A recent report suggests we are not handling this problem very well, and I know from my local recycling experiences this is seems to be case here in rural Oregon.    Of the 2 million *tons* of old computer parts (mostly PCs and Monitors I assume) most find their way into landfills.    Some 300,000 to 400,000 tons of parts are processed through “recycling” facilities, but the latest scandal suggests that most of this material is then send overseas where it may be contaminating other countries.

I have not followed up on this story, so it is possible that it’s like some other environmental red herrings where the economic benefits to the other countries are so great and the risks so trivial we won’t be doing anybody any favors by closing down the business, but obviously this type of situation looks ominous.

Technology and toxics is yet another topic where reason must prevail over scare tactics so we can develop clear, clean and economical solutions to complex environmental problems.  For example compact flourescent bulbs, when broken, leave trace amounts of mercury.   I learned this a few weeks *after* I swept up a broken bulb on our porch, completely oblivious to the fact this was – technically – toxic waste.   Does this mean we should not use compact flourescents which offer huge energy savings?   No, it but it suggests we need new technologies and different rules for how to handle mercury cleanup to avoid making a nation of lawbreakers.  Perhaps a Gov’t approved “mercury cleanup kit” so schools and businesses won’t need to start closing when somebody drops a bulb.