eBook app vs eReader

Although eReaders are relatively affordable in the US market, when it comes to Singapore, the price is still rather costly as compared to other digital devices. Of course you can always buy a Kindle online but without a local agent to assist with that 1 year warranty it seems kind of pointless. On top of that, Kindle is not open sourced. That said, even with Calibre, I find it a hassle still to use a program just to transfer eBooks, thus I went for Kobo even though Amazon eBooks are significantly lower priced than Kobo (again, with the DRM removal tools you can find on the net it doesn’t matter but I don’t want to go through all the steps just for a eBook that’s a few dollars cheaper).

But this post isn’t about whether Kobo is better or Kindle is better – that is totally up to the user to decide which brand is more suited for daily usage. No, this post is about why even bother with eReaders when nowadays you can simply whip out a tablet or phone and get the same content, same features as you would on an eReader. Yet I still paid 180+SGD for a Kobo Glo when I could easily use my phone instead.

To put it simply, an eReader utilizes e-ink technology which looks almost like real paper which is pretty awesome but traditional book lovers would argue why spend so much money on technology that looks like paper when you can just … use real paper? And modern book lovers would argue why spend so much money on an eReader when you can just load apps on your mobile devices?

Why?

For a myriad of reasons that could not be explained in one sentence. If you’re considering whether you should drop the money to buy an eReader, you should probably ask yourself the few common arguments to see if it’s worth it.

e-ink is not a novelty, not to me at least. Gone are the days where monitors produces so much glare that you can’t survive an entire work day without a polarizing filter – modern devices, whether it’s TVs, monitors or mobile phones are producing significantly less glare and strain on the eyes as compared to like say, a decade or two ago? Thus eReader’s selling point on less strain on the eye becomes less significant than before. People are glued to their mobile devices and have no issues staring at the screen as long as staring at a book, except for that frequent neck ache (but that’s a common issue across all mobile devices and eReaders are not immune to it).

I have a pair of sensitive eyes that finds comfort only in paper. Like everyone else I work long in front of a monitor (two actually but I digress), I’m also glued to my phone from time to time but those are the moments where comfort is not top priority. When you’re sitting down with a book in hand, the most important thing is comfort and that’s where the e-ink technology comes in. Whether it’s Kobo, Kindle or Nook, the e-ink screen provides the same comfort as you would in a paperback albeit different manufacturers does have some slight differences (which the user would have to research before buying).

With that point comes the argument from traditional book lovers of ‘why not get a real book then? All the reasons for this are detailed in the previous post – ebook vs book

On top of that, because Kobo is open sourced, I could easily load up other things to read like, my own writings. This becomes a very important point as eReaders don’t just come with e-ink technology, they come with digital features too like highlighting certain words, making notes, bookmarking or even dictionary feature. For my own writings, it becomes significantly easier to do editing (aside from boosting my own ego to see my writing in ‘print’). Back in the days of CRT monitors I’d sit in front of the monitor for hours just to find grammar or logic flaws and that was a lot of strain on my eyes and at the end of the day I don’t feel like looking at it anymore. If I don’t look at it anymore I can’t post it confidently and if I can’t post it then there lacks the motivation to write more (of course this is just one of the issues I face in writing and is not the whole reason why I took long hiatuses).

Another point worth mentioning is that Kobo has recently updated software for all their readers to support ‘Pocket’ app which allows you to save web articles (that support Pocket app of course) to be read on your reader offline at a later time – this just makes things even better.

I have to admit though, Kobo Glo when first released wasn’t all that great with issues like page lags when it came to huge volume books like trilogies – the most annoying of it all was “The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, trilogy of 5” and “The Millennium trilogy” – pages flip fine but as they reach somewhere in the middle the pages lag for like, few seconds at least. Over the years Kobo has released firmware updates that improved on this and now I have read 90% A Song of ice and fire (first 4books in 1 file) and it hardly lags at all. Fans of Game of Thrones would know how thick the books are in print.

Moreover they released Kobo Glo HD which can be considered one of the lower priced HD eReaders and it sure looks tempting but priority at the moment is the Lumia 950XL but I’m digressing.

This post is not meant to sell or promote eReaders or Kobo but rather for people who would like to make the jump from traditional format for reasons like mine, these are probably the few things to consider when making the decision.

If you live in Singapore as is looking for alternative eReaders like Kobo or Onyx do check out https://zoeblogshop.wordpress.com/.

P.S I’m not paid to write this but Kobo has improved my literature life significantly over the two years which I owned one and felt like I should write this to share my experience.

Before making purchase I also had my reservations on durability, battery life and such all of those concerns became insignificant when the product itself lasted the test of time.

eBook vs Books

The old age argument about how books are much more superior than ebooks always pops out when there’s a discussion on eBooks. While it is true that eBooks in price are not significantly lesser than their physical counterpart (for obvious reasons) and that eBooks can never replicate that page flipping feel or that musty smell of books stored for extended periods of time, eBooks aren’t necessary inferior to physical prints neither are they superior.

Having owned an eBook myself for a couple of years, I can only say both formats target very different audiences with different needs, so both camps of supporters should just reign in their opinions to accept that both formats are just different.

While eBook companies are advertising how convenient the e-format is, it’s only understandable that they do so because its business. To us as a consumer, it’s more of what works for you and what doesn’t.

I’m not an avid reader to begin with but I do enjoy good books from Tom Holt or Raymond E. Feist; the times I spent getting lost in their world. While I do enjoy and treasure that book flipping experience and occasionally sniffing the book scent, it became increasingly impractical someone with inconsistent reading habits like me.

For one, I read only when I have time and free time is a very rare thing to come by nowadays. Sometimes I stop in-between a chapter and stop altogether for a few months. In between this time, I have a tendency to lose my bookmark and it’s a very turn-off thing for me.

Secondly, I tend to read in times where light it’s not readily available. Of course, one can argue that there’s mini torches that clip onto your pages – book light – but it doesn’t illuminate the entire page properly and evenly; if it works for you, it works, but not for me. And also, because I’m sleeping with my partner, the light can be quite disruptive to her sleep at night. As again, because of my reading habits, I don’t always wake up in the middle of the night to read so when I want to, I can’t remember where I last placed the book light.

Lastly, and the tipping point for me to jump to eBooks is space. As physical space shrinks over time (how is it possible you ask? It is when you’re not living alone in a space designed for 1 person), it becomes increasingly hard to store books or find them after every book sale I come home from; it’s a huge headache when you’re not rich enough to afford a huge space. On the other hand, I can afford digital space but only because eBooks don’t take up so much space – a thick paperback is less than 1mb in size and we all know how cheap 1mb is nowadays – and it just fits into my life nicely.

This post is not about which format is more superior that the other but rather to prove that it’s more about suitability rather than superiority.

To address one of the oldest argument of all “try bringing an eBook to camping” – I don’t like to do camping so that’s kind of invalid. What about running out of battery? I can’t remember when was the last time I gave my Kobo Glo a full charge, honesty. Yes I hardly use it but even so, for that kind of battery retention it’s pretty impressive.

Of course among eBook users there’s another argument of why should we spend money into a eReader? Well, that’s another discussion for another time.

If you live in Singapore as is looking for alternative eReaders like Kobo or Onyx do check out https://zoeblogshop.wordpress.com/.

P.S I’m not paid to write this but Kobo has improved my literature life significantly over the two years which I owned one and felt like I should write this to share my experience.

Before making purchase I also had my reservations on durability, battery life and such all of those concerns became insignificant when the product itself lasted the test of time.

How I finally got Skydrive to sync on Microsoft surface RT

It was the holidays, it was my birthday and I had some extra cash as gift so I decided to spent a bit on it over a want of owning a Microsoft surface RT tablet

Like a lot of other Surface owners I quickly discovered many of its flaws but those didn’t affect me as much as not being able to connect to skydrive. I’ve googled (and even binged) the net to no avail; no one had a solution that worked for me.

Skydrive is the core reason I chose a Surface over Androids and Apples (and the magnetic keyboard over other Windows 8.1 tablets/laptops. Seriously, nothing else comes close to tempting when it comes to form and design, granted, Surface 2 is much better but meh, the price is totally out of my willing-to-spent-on budget for a tablet)

Alas, I reluctantly followed on advice to restore factory settings and it worked! But that wasn’t a magical solution that worked for everyone. So here I’m going to list down what I did to make it work and hopefully some distraught owner who has been struggling over this issue for months can finally have a peace of mind.

What I have:

1. A fully configured Windows 8.1 PC (that uses Microsoft account to sign in)

Before buying the surface, I’ve already owned a Windows 8 PC and upgraded to Windows 8.1 (according to others on the net it is safe to upgrade now) and signed-in using a Microsoft account (a.k.a your hotmail, live.com or outlook.com).

I’m sorry to say that Microsoft has really forced it’s users to use a Microsoft account in Windows 8.1 and if you want a solution of NOT using a Microsoft account, you won’t find it here.  

Also, I’m not going to go through all the trouble to reinstall Vista to see if it works. Alas, this is not a techie blog, I’m just sharing a solution I stumbled upon because solution for this issue is so scarce on the net.

2. A fully updated Surface with Windows 8.1 RT

The surface out of the box had so many updates it scares me (it started an innocent 26 updates and then 64 updates AFTER 26, and then the rest I’ve lost count) but once it updates to 8.1, you won’t have to go through the horror of sitting through all those updates again even if you restore factory settings.

What I did:

1. Reformat

Open up the charm bar (the annoying side bar that many people couldn’t get used to) go to change PC settings and restore factory settings.

Choose the one that wipes out everything in your drive. (I don’t know about refreshing, if you have a lot of data you might want to give refreshing a try before wiping out everything).

2. Choose the right settings

I think what I really did wrong here was to customize settings and configure it as a new PC (old habits die hard). DON’T DO THAT.

If you already have a Microsoft account AND is using it to sign-in into another Windows 8.1 device, use –

1. Express settings

2. Configure as other Windows 8.1 devices

3. Choose to sign in with Microsoft account

And it should replicate all your settings on another PC to this tablet and that is a sign that Skydrive is being connected to your PC (because all your settings on another device are stored in Skydrive). Open up Skydrive app in Metro UI and make sure the settings for ‘View files offline’ is on and it should start syncing in a while. (It’s slower in surface but it downloads everything eventually.)

Do note that it doesn’t sync in sleep mode though.

TOTALLY OPTIONAL:

Okay Skydrive is finally working on Surface?

Awesome! But if you’re like me who chose the 32GB version, you’d find the tablet left with no more than 16GB of storage space left and if you’re frequently working with Skydrive like me, this could be a huge issue.

I’m not going to list out all the steps on how to expand your storage (it’s all over the net) but I’m just going to say –

I used a 64GB Micro XCSD card, formatted it to NTFS (default is FAT) and I could move default folder for Skydrive to the memory card and syncing works as well, for now.

Yesteryear struggles

Last year was most unproductive as a writer, with all the changes happening I was more focused on handling daily matters and little on writing new content.

Before stepping into work life, I’ve heard, and read about how working writers struggle to pen a page or two everyday before sleeping or before working. It sounded achievable, albeit next to impossible and I was prepared for it.

As the old saying goes, easier said than done.

It’s not that I have never worked full time before but it definitely was a first to work in a SME struggling to survive rising costs.

Longer working hours were inevitable and at times I really wished to quit but circumstances forbade so.

And so, I stayed on, from an engineer to a document controller. It wasn’t promotion neither is it considered as progress but heck, one has to do what one has to do.

Now that I’m growing used to this sort of lifestyle, my hands are naturally itching to write. For the next few weeks, I’d be exploring new perspectives hopefully churning out something new.

Most updates will be on facebook fan page though so do keep a look out for new stuff.

Delays on new story

‘My hero’ was planned to be uploaded months ago but was held back because it is too close to home. Sure, writing it was easy when things were getting angsty and all but as we move on to resolution and make up phase to repair the damages, it becomes increasingly difficult to revisit the past.

In the mean time, I’m working on the new layout and focus for this blog while playing with new ideas and new ways to write.

Yes, Schzool will have a sequel and yes, no more self pitying tone from Zookeeper but that too is going to take a while as everyone grows into young adulthood.

Here’s a belated happy 2013 for yer all out there. Very late but well, better late than never.

Hardly any time …

It’s kind of sad that in certain areas of the industry overworking is a norm which eventually results in high turn over rates in a company. Perhaps if one’s passion is in the industry itself, that wouldn’t have been a big issue at all but for someone like me, it’s obstructing the 101 things on my list to complete.

Before work started for me, I’ve read plenty of writing advice and some of which said something along the lines of no matter how busy you are, there will be time to write. Sadly, it doesn’t work this way all the time. If work has already drained too much out of you to the state of health being compromised, how is it possible one is still able to write?

It is, only if one is one of the few who sleeps little and work more. I happened to meet a few of these people during different workplaces and sadly, attempts of mimicking their lifestyles usually land me in failure. That is probably why they are the upper management while I’m just another worker.

Schzool is 1.5 chapters away from completion and if you can’t get enough of Zookeeper and Tandoori, sorry to say the later years of Schzool isn’t going to be written anytime soon. It’s long overdue yes, but really, I’m merely human, just human and not any sort of special human.

In other news, yes, the current facebook page is a little screwed up at the moment, actually it has been like that for the past few months, that’s because I blocked my personal profile for personal reasons which isn’t going to be revealed. What will be done about it? The initial plan is to build another site from scratch, host it and link it to another account which will be purely used for publishing posts and nothing else. This site will have shared content with Nurvy, a collaboration to bring non-mainstream on content to the mainstream society.

BUUUUUUUUT – (with a single ‘T’) This idea lacks a solid foundation to flourish into reality yet. For one, there is no general direction, for two, neither of us are designers of any sort, for three, well, for three, without a proper direction, there is no where to start.

Hopefully, this will change along the way.

Interlude

While life has taken the better of me, it sure isn’t stopping me from thinking up more ideas to write. However, finding time to pen them all down is a problem, as it is with many working adults. Sad to say Unker Stories won’t be back up anytime soon – it’d definitely come back around September or October but not so soon.

To make up for the hiatus, I’d try to post up some drafts or random excerpts to keep this place going and perhaps less dead.