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Location: California, United States

I am a neolibertarian minded individual who feels that freedom and individual rights take precedence over the wants of government. I believe government exists to serve the people and not to protect us from ourselves. I am an advocate for private firearms ownership, smaller government, reduced taxes and freedom to live your life however you choose, providing you do not directly hurt others.

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If you enjoy reading, you really must get one of these. I carry mine with me all of the time and read at least 5 books per month on it.

A Feast For Crows
This latest installment of Gearge R. R. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series isn't quite as gripping as the previous books but is still a pretty good read.

Book 10 in the Sword of Truth series continues to keep the reader riveted while repeatedly emphasizing the duty and importance of self defense.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
A follow up to Guns, Germs, and Steel that explains the geographic, environmental and socio-economic reasons that can cause civilizations and communities to collapse.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Enjoying My Amazon Kindle

(image not actual size)

I got an Amazon Kindle about 8 months ago and I love it as much now as I did then. I can't believe how many books I read now (5+ novels per months plus various other things). I keep it within reach nearly all day long. The built in memory holds roughly 200 books so no matter what mood I'm in I always have something on hand that suits me. The e-ink technology is MUCH easier on the eyes than a computer screen (no flicker and no back light), and the adjustable font size is great for when you are desperately trying to finish an engrossing chapter at 2AM while you can barely keep your burning eyes open.

Although it costs around $350, it has already more than paid for itself. Here's how: There are countless multitudes of free legal ebooks readily available on the internet. I'm not talking about stealing, file sharing or piracy, but legitimate honest to goodness free books. Since ebooks are quite small (roughly 1MB each), they can be downloaded almost instantly and transfered to the Kindle via USB. Sites like actually let you download free books in Kindle format. Other sites such as Baen Free Library give away legal free ebooks from popular science fiction authors. Some popular current authors such as Cory Doctorow give away ebooks free in hopes that it will gain them a larger following and thus a larger customer base. I quite literally have THOUSANDS of free books that will take me forever to read, which means I'm now spending much less money feeding my reading habit. If you want current books and don't mind spending around $10 for them, you can use the built in free EVDO wireless internet connection to download them from Amazon directly to the Kindle device without any need for a computer. The original purchase prices comes with unlimited free EVDO internet access so you can download books and surf the web nearly anywhere in the U.S. where you can receive a cell phone signal. The e-ink is a bit slow to refresh and the browser is primative, but sites like and WikiPedia look pretty good. I've used my Kindle to read and post to, access Google Maps to find my approximate location on a map and find nearby restaurants and businesses. I admit, the web browser leaves a lot to be desired but you can use it as much as you like for free, something that's pretty nice as a side benefit to a full featured ebook reader. Here are some of my favorite things about the kindle:
  • Not much bigger than a mass market paperback yet it can hold hundreds of books and offers access to the internet
  • Battery lasts a long time (more than a week when I have the EVDO modem turned off)
  • Great for traveling as I no longer have to fill my carryon luggage with heavy bulky books
  • All content on the device is searchable, which makes it easy to look up facts and find favorite passages
  • You can use the built in keyboard to take notes and mark up your favorite texts
  • It's a great way to read popular fiction without filling your real book shelves with one-time reads that don't add particular value or distinction to your home library
Here are my few complaints about the kindle:
  • Would like a higher contrast screen. Current screen is good, but white background is not pristine white and is a more like the off-white paper used for newspapers
  • It should really come with a better case that offers a bit more protection and security
  • Would like a smaller "next page" button so that it is not as easy to accidentally advance to the next page
  • Would like a more robust web browser (I know, it's an ebook reader and not an iPhone, but I think with a minimal effort they could have made the browser much better)
Other features that people might like to know about:
  • It has a head phone jack and volume controls for listening to mp3 files or even audio books
  • It has an email address that only accepts mail from addresses you designate, so you can send txt files, word docs, pdfs and kindle files directly to your device
I know this probably will just look like an ad to most folks, as I am admittedly an affiliate. Nevertheless I thought I share this review with everyone in the hope that others will enjoy it much as I do and find themselves reading more. In this media saturated world where everyone has multiple TV's, computers, iPods and other forms of entertainment, it's all too easy to give up reading. This device makes it so convenient that people who own will find themselves reading more, which means that they will get more mental stimulation than most other forms of passive entertainment.

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