Electronic Book (eBook) Readers

I'm a reader. Not just the internet, but actual real life books. Being someone that is interested in technology I've been anxiously awaiting the mass adoption of electronic books. To that end, I spent some quality time with Sony's eReader. I found that I actually liked it better than reading a paper book. While there was certainly room for improvements with the Sony product (button placement, page refresh rates), I really enjoyed reading with it. It was actually more comfortable than holding a book. The biggest obstacle I had to buying one was that I use the local Library for much of my reading, and they didn't have any mechanism to 'loan' an eBook. Therefore I would have ended up spending a lot of additional money to read books.

The latest addition to this space, Amazon's Kindle, has been widely panned in many of the blogs I read. Now, I haven't done enough research to have a well founded opinion on the product itself, but I'm excited to see additional progress in this space by someone who can be a game changer. Amazon has the power and volume to make a real difference. And while for all I know, the initial stock could have been 10, Amazon apparently sold out within 5 1/2 hours.

I hope the Kindle is a success. The cost and impact of printing, shipping, and disposing of all these books is unnecessary in the current day and age. And why shouldn't you be able to take an entire library with you on a trip, instead of one 600 page book that is larger and heavier than your laptop.

The Kindle may not be the next 'iPod', but it is a step in the right direction, and innovation in a space that has been lacking it for a long time.


There have been a few minor spats regarding the move Redacted. First, the director, Brian DePalma, is frustrated with the studio (Magnolia Pictures, owned by Mark Cuban) over their refusal to include certain images in the film. There is a short YouTube Video of an press conference where DePalma and a studio rep verbally spar.

Second, Mark Cuban and Bill O'Reilly have been sparring over this film. Apparently O'Reilly feels that it is unpatriotic. The film depicts an alleged incident of rape and murder of Iraqi civilians by US Soldiers. Bill seems to feels that the film will motivate 'the enemy'. Mark has a summary of the interactions in blog posts here, here, here, and here.

One of Mark's main points against Bill is that he judged the move based only on the summary. He didn't actually watch the movie (it had not been released yet). Well, I have HD Net, which showed a preview of Redacted, so I was able the entire film in the comfort of my own home (for free). I'm glad it was free.

Frankly, it wasn't a very good movie. My biggest issue with it is that it is a 'fake documentary'. All of the movie is fake camcorder footage recorded by one of the soldiers, fake security camera footage, and fake television reports. I did not find this style compelling. I dislike reality television, but this felt like the worst of both worlds. It played like reality television, and the performances seemed to target style, but it was scripted so you ended up with actors following a script trying to act like they are being 'real'. It didn't work.

Second, I just didn't find the actual issue compelling. Yes, the alleged act is disgraceful, and only makes it more difficult to be successful with the mission. However, the whole movie encompasses what is essentially a subplot in every war movie. Platoon deals with the very same issues, with a much deeper level of emotional involvement. The characters in Platoon seem much more 'real' than in Redacted. I think the fake documentary made them less real instead of more. I'm sure there are incidents like this in nearly every war we've fought. It isn't right, and the people should be punished, but I just don't see this as a shocking or even particularly interesting film.

Football is Soccer

I saw this shirt on Scrubs and thought it was pretty funny:

Turns out Busted Tees sells it. I'm not sure your European friends will get it. Frankly, I'm not sure your American friends will get it either.

Memory Leak Kills Princeton's DARPA Entry

bThe Slashdot version of this story has the headline: "C# Memory Leak Torpedoed Princeton's DARPA Chances" This is sort of accurate. The issue isn't with Microsoft's implementation of C# or runtime, but with Princeton's code.

Bryan Cattle has a good writeup of what happened. Essentially, objects they thought were getting garbage collected were not because there were still references held to them. In this case the objects were registered as subscribers to events. By forgetting to unsubscribe the objects when they were done with them, they ended up with a 'memory leak'.

They eventually tracked down the problem with the use of the ANTS profiler. This is a great example of why it is important to really understand how the 'magic' parts work, and to verify that they are behaving as you expect. In this case, by not carefully tracking all the references to these commonly created objects, they ran into big problems.

Every 'real' developer should be proficient with profilers and use them as part of the development cycle to verify the system is behaving as expected. You won't necessarily catch every issue, but you'll have a lot better understanding of how things really work.

I find today that with the current generation of development tools, developers can function without really understanding what their code is doing. This usually works fine for small and mid-sized web or client applications, but can really cause problems with a project that needs to scale or function for long periods of time.

RubyConf Mac Monoculture

Tim Bray wrote a summary of the recent RubyConf. He did have one comment that caught my attention:

Everybody had a laptop, and it’s almost but not quite a Mac monoculture.
A Mac monoculture, among developers? It isn't news that the Mac makes a great development platform for any code that is deployed on *nix. The popularity of the Mac UI on top of the *nix platform makes it idea. It has long been gaining in rodes in the Java community, but I'm still a bit surprised to see a Mac monoculture at a non-Apple conference.

This is why there was such an uproar about Java and Apple recently. Like Ruby, Java developers find the Mac platform ideal for developing their server applications. Unfortunately, Apple isn't giving them the love back.

Still, Apple seems to do well anyway. So while I think Microsoft 'gets' how to build developer support a lot more than Apple, I don't see Apple hurting because of it. I still believe in the long run some additional attention to the developer class could really benefit Apple.

Writers Strike to Help Online Advertising?

Much has been written about the ongoing writers strike. As a fan of (mostly quality) scripted dramas, I'm bracing for dearth of television this year.

Several of my regular shows were already slated to start mid year. Law & Order, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost all begin their seasons in 2008. Already, it appears Lost may cut the season short. And from what I had read previously, Lost had stockpiled more shows for the spring than most shows.

Marc Andreessen has a long post about how to Rebuild Hollywood in Silicon Valley's Image. This is an interesting read, but I think the part he doesn't discuss is advertising.

The growth of online advertising has been impressive so far. A prolonged writers strike will even further reduce the appeal of traditional TV advertising. With new shows limited to reality TV, people will spend more time online. The dollars will chase they eyeballs. If the strike goes on for very long, look for a banner year for online advertising in 2008.

iTunes Export 1.3.2 Released

I released a new version of my iTunes Export utility.

iTunes Export exports your iTunes playlists as M3U or WPL files, allowing you to setup playlists in iTunes and use them with other software or devices.

This release is provides a few bug fixes for handling '*' and '+' characters, as well as songs with invalid "Location' entries.


Don't be afraid to suggest new features or bug fixes (eric@ericdaugherty.com).

Daylight Savings Time

Today, my clocks adjusted back to standard time. Unfortunately, my children did not.