Monday, December 27, 2010

Praise be the Kindle!

Ugh! Now that was a horror journey. Stuck in Schipol airport for over twenty-four hours while KLM did a passable impression of a headless chicken repeatedly running into the same brick wall. To be fair, I can’t really begrudge an airline when their planes are grounded by snow. The frustration arose when the snow cleared, the sun came out and KLM’s systems went into meltdown trying to clear a day’s backlog of passengers.

I say system, but there was little evidence of any system or process here.

I’ve always hated the automated systems airlines have been sneaking in to replace human operators. Machines are only really useful when they’re carrying out the same simple function every single time. Deviate from this and the machine becomes useless, which was exactly what happened here. Want a new boarding pass for the next available flight because your last flight was cancelled? Gronk. Fizzle. Klunk. Bleugh.

So it was time to join the queues. Oh, the queuing!

Thank god for my shiny new kindle. Amazon have done some fairly bone-headed things of late, but they’ve got a winner here (unless they keep up with the bone-headed practises of going in and deleting books their punters have already bought—sigh). I picked mine up about a month back. As a replacement for print books, it’s a little on the expensive side, but I was fortunate enough to have a $100 gift voucher lying around after coming second in one of Literotica’s competitions.

Buying new books was a little on the non-intuitive side, mainly because the little shopping basket appears to have vanished and it took me a little while to find the Download-to-Computer option (no Orwelling books I’ve already bought, thank you Amazon!). .pdf files can also be uploaded to the kindle, but I found the display of them to be extremely variable (and I haven’t got round to reading the manual to figure out anything beyond Open, Read, Go!).

I couldn’t determine if there was a back light option, so when the lights went out on the plane, that was the end of reading for me (and those extra hours of Zzz’s turned out to be damn useful as it happened), but this is no different to dead-tree technology anyway. While queuing the kindle really came into its own. I worked through more books than I’d normally carry and it was slimline enough to fit in my jacket pocket without threatening to burst it like the latest Stephen King doorstopper. One downside is either the extreme cold weather or being bashed in my bag has caused the on/off switch to stick a little.

It’s a nice piece of tech anyway and I’m hoping to catch up on some reading and maybe discover something fresher than the usual bookstore dross. Please don’t kill it through your idiocy, Amazon.


  1. Sorry to hear you got stuck out there. I can imagine a Kindle would be a lifesaver in those circumstances! I got one for Christmas, too, so ignore my question about delivery costs on Eka's---I'll just buy the ebook version.

    I'm sure you know by now but there's no backlight---it's basically smart paper and nothing else. I've heard good things about a case with a built-in LED that runs off the Kindle's battery and am considering getting one for myself. Since you got your Kindle for cheap maybe you'll find it worth spending about fifty squid on the case!

  2. Thanks! I might check out that case.