The Nook Nearly Nails It

Nook Simple Touch

I bought a Nook Simple Touch a couple weeks ago, just in time for a vacation reading binge.

I can’t improve much on John Abell’s review for Wired, The Nook Nails It, as I agree with everything he says there.

This is the best reading machine I’ve come across so far: It’s light, easy to read, compact, and elegant. There’s no ugly keyboard reminding you that you should probably be writing something instead of just kicking back with a book, or a magazine: It’s just a reading device, plain and simple.

With it, I’m reading far more than I was before, and I look forward to continuing that trend when vacation ends, by reading on the train and in the evenings at home. I even got a clip-on book light for reading in bed or in the tent: Works great.

The Nook’s touchscreen works very well. It’s easy to highlight passages, somewhat less easy to make annotations, and page-turning is a breeze with left or right hand buttons, or swipes or taps on the touchscreen. Like John, I wish there were some kind of “back” function, as it’s occasionally easy to get lost among the endnotes, but that’s a minor quibble.

In all, an excellent e-reader.

There are a couple of more serious drawbacks that keep the Nook Simple Touch from perfection:

Very limited wireless delivery. The Nook has Wi-Fi, which you can use to purchase books and magazines and newspapers. (And you can read the full text of any e-books in B&N stores, a nice touch.) Periodicals are delivered to you automatically. But to get anything else onto your Nook, like PDFs, you need to plug it into a computer via USB and sync. There’s no wireless sync, and there’s no way — as there is with the Kindle — to e-mail documents to your reader. That’s a big drawback for one of my main uses for the Nook, which is reading articles I’ve saved to Instapaper. I use Calibre to fetch those stories, which works very well (although I feel compelled to add that Calibre is the ugliest piece of software I’ve come across in a long time). But I have to remember to dock and sync the Nook whenever I want to get the latest Instapapered stories. Bummer.

Text rendering is a little buggy. For instance, superscripts (like footnotes) add a bit of extra leading to the line spacing above them, which is distracting and sloppy-looking. Occasionally hyphens just disappear, so instead of “twenty-four” it displays “twentyfour.” (This happens with both PDFs and with e-books purchased from Barnes & Noble, so I think it’s some kind of intermittent rendering bug.) Text resizing doesn’t work all that well on some PDFs, with a huge jump from “pretty small letters” to “gigantic headline type” and nothing in between.

Both of these should be straightforward to fix through a firmware update and, in the case of e-mailing to your Nook, the addition of some kind of back-end support. If not, I’m hoping that someone will soon hack the Simple Touch’s Android-based OS and figure out how to make it happen.

The Nook Nearly Nails It

Infiniti Hybrid Is a Green Sedan for Silver Foxes

 

 

If you’re old enough to remember the energy policies of the Carter administration, green enough to have donated to the Nature Conservancy and young enough to get a rush of testosterone from dusting that polo-shirt-wearing jerk in his BMW, Nissan has the car for you.

And though its styling walks a fine line between “grandpa’s luxury sedan” and “soccer mom sports car,” the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid pulls off this delicate balancing act with grace.

The result isn’t superb on looks. As you’d expect, meeting so many different design goals results in a car that looks a little, well, melted-together. It’s not going to make anyone’s heart race on the inside, either, with slightly old-fashioned styling exemplified by the quaint analog clock in the dash.

But it is one fun ride.

Full review: Infiniti Hybrid Is a Green Sedan for Silver Foxes | Product Reviews | Wired.com.

Infiniti Hybrid Is a Green Sedan for Silver Foxes

How to Make a Clock Run for 10,000 Years

Photo of West Texas landscape with sun rising over a ridge in the foreground
The 10,000 year clock will look out over a spaceport and the West Texas desert.

High on a rocky ridge in the desert, nestled among the brush, is the topmost part of a clock that has been ticking for thousands of years.

It looks out over the ruins of a spaceport, built by a rich man whose name was forgotten long ago.

Most of the clock is deep inside the mountain, below the ridgeline. To get there, you hike for days through the heat; the only sounds are the buzzing of flies and the whisper of the occasional breeze. You climb up through the brush, then pass through a hidden door into the darkness and silence of the clock chamber. Far above your head, in the darkness, a massive pendulum swings slowly back and forth, making the clock tick once every 10 seconds.

No one knows who built it, or why. They built it well, and even now it keeps perfect time. All we know of these strange people is that they were obsessed with the future.

Why else would they build something that had no purpose except to mark time for thousands of years?

* * *

The rich man is Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and he has indeed started construction on a clock that he hopes will run for 10,000 years.

For Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, the clock is not just the ultimate prestige timepiece. It’s a symbol of the power of long-term thinking. His hope is that building it will change the way humanity thinks about time, encouraging our distant descendants to take a longer view than we have.

Full story: How to Make a Clock Run for 10,000 Years | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

Or clock here to read the whole story on one page.

How to Make a Clock Run for 10,000 Years

First iPhone in space to launch with last shuttle mission

An iPhone floats in front of the space station's cupola, in this rendering by Odyssey Space Research.

 

When the final space shuttle mission launches later this year, two iPhone 4s will be on board.

The iPhones will be running an experimental app called SpaceLab for iOS, designed by Odyssey Space Research. Once the space shuttle Atlantis docks with the International Space Station, crew members will use the iPhones to conduct four experiments, using the iPhones’ cameras, gyroscopes, and other sensors.

Full story: First iPhone in space to launch with last shuttle mission | VentureBeat.

First iPhone in space to launch with last shuttle mission