In Other News

I walked up to 86th and Lex (Best Buy) to get a second powered USB hub (we could have a contest to see who has the most USB PORTS*), and got there early so I walked over to the nearby Citibank branch to use the ATM machine.  There was yellow police tape blocking the entrance and a sign in the door said, THE BANK IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

Of course the first thing that went through my head was, yikes – they really are going under.  I chatted with a woman on crutches who was also there to get in.  She also was a little spooked.  But then two cops came out of the bank and she knew one of them and asked what was going on.

The bank was robbed, he said.

She turned to me and said, I guess there’s gonna be more of that these days.

Well, at least we knew what it was.  I have to admit, I had never been close to a bank robbery before.  Kind of exciting.  I hung out for a while until Best Buy opened watching detectives going in and out of the bank.  After a few minutes, a woman took the sign off the window, and then took another piece of paper and put up the exact same notice.  The woman on crutches yelled through the door to her – That’s the same sign.  It says the same thing.

But the sign was replaced.  I don’t know.  Maybe the first one had a word spelled wrong.  I was sort of curious and tried to get closer, and now I could see that this one was done on Citibank Letterhead.

Well anyway – I went to Best Buy and ended up getting a Belkin Hub with 7 USB ports and a cooling fan platform for the laptop.  On the way up there, I had in the back of my mind to also buy the Sony 505 Reader if they had one in stock, but they only had them on the website.

I’ve been experimenting with finding books for the 505.  You know, just trying to think of some book I might like and then looking around to see if I could find it and how much the ebook would cost.  Along the way I found all sorts of programs for converting books from one format to another.  Some of them that would remove the digital management locks and so on.

I also looked through the 100 classics that SONY offers for free with the 505 purchase.  Great stuff.  A lot by Joseph Conrad that I never read.  Even B&H has the PRS 505 for a good price – I think it was $287.  And then I came across something on the Sony site where you could get one of their credit cards and after two months get a $100 discount off the reader.

The thing with the Kindle is – I just don’t like the look of it (not that I’ve been able to find it in any stores).  And you know, the whole wireless thing, and the keys and all…  Just seems like a kludge.  It doesn’t even come with a cover.  I’m sure that the wireless contract is a big part of the price.  And no expansion cards…

I mentioned before – I did spend a long time in Borders comparing the PRS-505 and the new Sony with the touchscreen.  I still like the 505 better.  Though I’m sure that more is on the way.  I remind myself of this guy who wanted a stereo but couldn’t bring himself to buy one cause he knew too much about what was in the pipeline.  Always something better around the corner.  And that was years ago.

In other news – domestic orders really did slow down for me during the last two weeks – but thankfully I did get a bunch of orders from overseas and Canada.  In fact, I think this was the first order I ever got from Norway.  Sort of goes with my theory that prices in the States go down while some countries currency remains stable.  It’s one of the nice things about the web.  Not something the local retailer can count on.

The very fancy flower shop on my block just put up a 30% sale sign.  Next to it, the Blue Danube Hungarian bookstore is now gone.  But all is not lost.  It looks like a new Jewish Deli is opening on my block.  Anyway – my theory is to watch the Korean Nail Shops.  We have about two on every block.  Will upper-east side women continue to pay to have their nails done?  How will Starbucks make out?  They both offer more than the product they sell, something you need in this city – a place to relax.  So we’ll just have to wait and see.

* USB PORTS CONTEST.  I currently have 4 (fan contraption) + 4 (laptop) + 6 (Dock for laptop) + 7 (USB Hub) = I think that’s 21 ports.  Of course I’m not using them all, but the laptop is booting and hibernating and all that stuff without any issues.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

9 thoughts on “In Other News”

  1. The thieves must have known that Citibank’s profits went up 9 billion in the first two months of this year, and assumed there was extra cash on hand. Sounds like an inside job to me.

    The news of the profits prompted a %30 rise in Citicorp stock and trigged a huge gain in the stock market. This may be the long-anticipated turn around, when the stampede finally gets going in the opposite direction.

    Where is Bernie Madoff when we need him? After all doesn’t the “con” in “con man” stand for “confidence”? And isn’t that what we all need right now, a little bit of confidence to get us back on the right track? I think 150 years in jail is a bit much for a 70 year old. I say give him two years, just enough time to finish a tell-all autobiography, and then let him out to do the ankle bracelet book circuit, all profits going to his victims.

  2. I think you’d be wasting money on an ebook reader at this point, with the current technology. It’s not like you are travelling constantly by air and need to shed valuable ounces.

    After all the computer issues you’ve had, I think you were moderately pennywise/pound-foolish to end up running your business on a low-end netbook then looking into pricey niche gadgets, as oppoed to, say, getting a Mac and spending less time tinkering and cursing at errors and finding kludges.

    But I’ve previously suggested you seem to enjoy spending the time with dealing with kludges and hardware/software problems. I guess you’d love an ebook reader then! 😉

    My iPod Touch has a free e-reader doc I downloaded called Stanza which makes reading documents of all kinds and ebooks quite easy. No e-ink, but I really don’t miss it. And it’s quite nice to be listening to music, then opening up something to read (while still listening to music) while on the bus.

    – E.

  3. 🙂 I think I would love an ebook reader; especially the Sony which makes kludges a real necessity in terms of finding books and converting them etc.

    Remember – I was born to kludge. It’s in my blood. In the early days, prior to the IBM PC introduction, I was brought into the PC age with a Kaypro. We would use a hole-puncher to make single-sided floppies (remember them?) into double-sided.

    So unlike Bruce Springsteen who was born to run; I was born to tinker.

    I give a big hats off to Apple for being the best software / hardware; and continue on my not always merry way.

    I couldn’t read a novel on an iTouch (and I tried) with my neighbors iTouch. (I used Stanza). Not only no e-ink, but short battery life and small screen.

    It’s not all bad to be a tinkerer. You sometimes tinker something that hasn’t been done before.

    The Kindle is downright ugly. But for e-books, they’ve got a pretty big library behind them which will only grow; and a very easy to use (it is Amazon) store interface (as opposed to Sony’s).

    I suppose that I have at least a thousand physical books in the house. I just don’t have room for anymore and that’s what first got me interested in the whole e-book thing.

    I do wonder where the e-book thing is going; whether it will ever be as popular as the iPod. I don’t think so for the simple reason that you can’t walk and read at the same time. The i-mp3-touch-pod-player can be used while you are doing other things. The e-book demands your attention.

    Since the average attention span continues to decrease (in part due to i-players) – I don’t hold up much hope for the e-book as a killer app.

    So anyway – put a check mark next to my name in your i-whatever as a stubborn tinkerer and leave it at that and I’ll put a check mark in the program I wrote next to your name signifying that you are a happy mac guy. (Oh the horror on the face of my long suffering Mac neighbor when he found out I had bought a Dell Laptop). Oh – the horror.

  4. The Touch might not have days of battery life but it’s more than sufficient for most reading, since it’s got something like 9 hours life with screen on full time, and people plug theirs in at the end of the day anyway.

    As for ease, a friend just finished reading ‘David Copperfield’ on her iPhone, and she said it was extremely easy to use, especially in darkened places like her sofa in the evening, because it, unlike the Sony and Amazon devices, has a backlight.

    If you enjoy tinkering fine, but I prefer to get things done without problems and if there’s something I WANT to tinker on, I’ll do it on my own time. I don’t want to be forced to tinker on things that should be working right the first time, and that’s why I use my Mac far, far more than my PC. (And why I use Mac apps on my Mac more than I run Windows apps on it.)

    It’s one thing to tinker with pdfs and Project Gutenberg public domain texts, another thing entirely if you think you can get more than a tiny percentage of your 1,000 books in ebook format now or in the next decade — and if you can you’d better budget spending $10 per book to do so. Sorry, this just smells of yet another unbaked technology that marketers see goldmines in and gadgethounds snap up only to dump within a year or two when the mass market doesn’t take to it. Palm pilot anyone? How about a nice brown Zune?

  5. “Sorry, this just smells of yet another unbaked technology that marketers see goldmines in and gadgethounds snap up only to dump within a year or two when the mass market doesn’t take to it.”

    Well that’s a prediction. Can’t do much with them except see what happens.

    I’m going to make a prediction. Within the next two years, a good e-book reader and more open format will emerge.

    Frankly – I wish Apple would make it. For me, it would just take a larger iTouch. Done deal.

    So let’s see.

    P.S. Being wrong is a very important part of learning, not to mention being able to test scientific theories. My blog (see memoirs) is filled with examples of my being wrong. Can you cite an example — something technical — where you got it dead wrong? I think admitting mistakes is an interesting subject in and of itself. If you want a techie thing I got wrong – so many of them. But I can start with the palm pilot. I got one pretty soon after they were introduced. I put my travel plans, hotel etc. and a bunch of other stuff on it before my first trip to Paris. On the plane to France, I was checking some directions when the screen went black. No reboot or changing batteries would bring it back. So I sat there on the plane with this dead weight in my hands (I had enjoyed learning grafitti or whatever the handwriting thing was called) but realized that I would have to take a print out with me if it was important. When I got to France, I dropped the Palm Pilot into the first garbage can I found and never used one again.

    P.S. Anyone else want to report their biggest tech mistake?

  6. I guess I’ve never had a big tech mistake because I don’t jump onto the bleeding edge of technology and I buy well-tested, well-reviewed gear that’s been out for a while, and I only buy what I know I need and will regularly use.

    My biggest ‘mistake’ was buying a 27″ GE-brand television made by who-knows-who that “only” lasted ten years. The mistake was in (a) buying from some Circuit City-type store that wouldn’t ring up the purchase until 20 minutes of the sales rep and then the assistant manager unsuccessfully pushing me to sign up for then pay with a store credit card, then getting twice-monthly mailings for a year from GE to get me to buy an extended warranty — at which they too were unsuccesful.

    My second biggest mistake was buying an IBM PC-AT in 1987 with a 5.25″ floppy and a 5-megabyte drive. Really high tech at the time, but ultimately an ugly pain in the ass. I swapped it for a then-new Mac Plus with two 3.5″ 800k floppy drives and never really looked back.

    By the way, Central Park’s winners were announced. The main winner’s shot is okay but I’m not crazy about the runners up. Your shot was better, as were some of the other photos submitted.

  7. I’ll bet I could start an entire blog dedicated to the worst tech mistakes people had made and give a prize to the top loser.

    Central Park winners, fairly uninspired; guess they went for color. I didn’t expect to win, but I am curious as to how many votes they got. Also, there was a fairly impressive list of photographers associated with the contest – though I’m not sure exactly how they works, i.e. was it the number of votes or the judges that made the final decision.

    I did it because it was one of those unpleasant things on my todo list: enter some photo contests. The only other one I did was that crazy Greatest B&W Photographers thing where I did get some runner up type honorable mention. (Crossing Brooklyn Bridge).

    This is something that my father keeps pushing me into. That’s another long story.

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