Sunday, April 5, 2009

All Hail the Harlequin Frog

I would like to introduce you to the South American Carrikeri harlequin frog. This fiery skinned frog was rediscovered after laying low for 14 years. It lives in the mountain forests of Columbia. The bad news is that the same researchers who found this Carrikeri harlequin, had trouble finding other harlequin frogs in the region.

ASUS 1000HE Netbook as Kindle Clone

Thanks to Paul Biba at Tele-read for the tip that you can press ctrl-alt-arrow to rotate the screen on a 1000he and use the netbook as a Kindle-like device. The navigation is hitting the pagedown and pageup buttons. Here I am checking out Susan Jacoby's new book, The Age of American Unreason over at Google Books. Google Books is great, but you don't get all the pages. E-books have this book for 15.95. My friend, Michael Twittered to me that there is always Project Gutenberg, but that is great if you want to read an old classic like The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Clearly, if I want to read something a bit more recent it is cheaper to just buy a used book over at Thrift Books, Biblio, or Amazon and pay $4-$5 bucks.

Don't get me wrong. My preference for books are used paperbooks. Recently, I bought used paperbooks and there is nothing more nostalgic for me. One of my fondest memories when I moved to Menlo Park back in the late 1970s is finding this great used book store that would by back your books and gave you store credit to get more. Nothing motivates a young person to read more than being able to pay for books with one's meager allowance and be able to earn more books by bring fully read books back. Of course, they went out of business.

There is something tactile and social about physical books. You can feel and smell the pages and underline passages and make notes. You can share your book with friends and they make great gifts. If somehow an electronic pulse knocks out all of electronica in the world ala Dark Angel, you still have physical books to keep you company and entertained.

That being said, I think it is cool that my netbook can be repurposed to become an ebook reader. The awesome thing about ebooks is that like used books, you are not killing new trees for entertainment. Making paper and inks does have an effect on the environment. One issue is storage of books. Books take up a lot of room and ebooks could help unclutter our homes.