Amazon’s Kindle Fire – What it is, what it should be

As you probably heard, Amazon has its new E-reader, the Kindle Fire and pretty soon you’ll be able to buy it.  It’s a pretty cool idea.  Let me break down what it is:

1.) A new E-reader.  Okay, not necessarily any better than the old kindles, with its iPad like screen with color.  Its hard drive should handle more books though, assuming you haven’t clogged it with apps.

2.) A Honeycomb device.  Yes, with a version of Android and the ability to install certain approved apps, it’s an Android.

3.) An AMAZING deal.  $199 for the most expensive one, pushing down the cost of all the other kindles.  The cheapest kindle is now $79.  No bullshit.

4.) An Amazon Store.  Yes, now you can buy Amazon stuff anywhere you can connect the device to the internet.

There of course limitations on the device.  First and foremost, it’s smaller than an iPad, which may be good or bad depending on how you intend to use it.  It doesn’t have a mobile connection beyond wifi, which some people may find hard to handle (of course, I have a mobile hotspot in my phone, so there’s no need to fret about that with me) but the biggest question shouldn’t be what it is or isn’t but what it should be.

Mobile devices like the iPad and the kindle are in a funny place in the realm of usefulness.  On one hand, they mean not having to carry books or a laptop if all you want do is write an email, read a book or watch a video.  On the other hand, they aren’t great for writing anything long (unless you opt for a keyboard, like with the Transformer) and they have limited capability because of their drive size and in many cases, an inability to attach an SD card.

I like that the Kindle fire pushes the price point down, way down in fact, but what I’d like to see from these devices before I spend any money on one are the following features:

1.) easily make presentations with them.  I want a projector that connects wirelessly with the device, or a laptop.  That makes it much more useful.

2.) Video editing.  I think the larger devices like an iPad are well situated for video editing provided that the app doesn’t try too hard (not too many effects etc.), can connect to a computer after (output your project file and media to say, an Avid workstation) and finally, I’d like to see more of an ability to connect to external storage so you can work more easily.  If I could plug a 64gb sd card into an iPad, edit in low res from that and match my project file to the HD files on my Avid, I’d be a pig in shit.  Adobe, take note.  You too, Final Cut Pro.

3.) network with other devices.  I think it’d be amazing if I could carry say an iPad around in a backpack, snap some shots with a DSLR and wirelessly transmit them to the iPad where I could edit them in photoshop, rather than having to lug around a laptop.  It doesn’t have to be full photoshop, but just a few more of the basic tools from Adobe (more than you get in Photoshop Express) would be magnificent.  Couple that with software that allows you to send the photos home to a printer and you’ve got a great setup.

I think right now we’re at the stage where people marvel at the tech without really knowing what to do with it.  People need to get over the niftiness and get down to the business.  Tools are tools.  What you do with them is entirely up to you and your creativity.

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RFID Blocking Wallet

I’ve long touted the coolness of NFC chips, the ones now found in phones like the Nexus S that can read RFID tags and transmit data to other NFC chips.  Well, get yourself ready for the new RFID blocking wallet, which is very important because with these phones one can steal another’s RFID info.  I know what you’re thinking, you have to get very close to do that.  Yes, you would.  Like, as close as one gets on public transportation or perhaps bumping into someone on line at Starbucks.  Either way, get one before someone steals your shit.

County Comm, which makes this wallet also makes one for your Passport, which is great because now all US Passports are issued with RFID tags.  Think about that next time you travel.

A New Lens Kit & The Future of DSLRs

Check this out!  An assortment of lenses for Canon DSLRs so you can shoot movies that look like movies!  Only one problem though.  It’s all a little late.  It’s late because of cameras like this.  Sony (and soon I imagine many of the other camera brands) have come to realize that they should put the same tech that goes into DSLRs into proper video cameras that don’t need a ton of attachments in order to be handheld or shoulder mounted without a load of trouble and expense to keep steady.  Sony had the right idea.  The direction I think all this is going is that DSLR and “video camera” will become terms more for the shape of the device than the use.  If the sensor is the same, then the camera is basically the same.  The biggest advantage with the Sony is that it doesn’t stop recording video every twelve minutes.  I think that this will push the DSLRs into being more video friendly.

All that being said, here’s my prediction for the future of this tech: Video Cameras will become less like M-1s and more like sub machine guns; video cameras will be like DSLRs that have shoulder mounts and pistol grips that can be easily removed and packed away in case the user wants to travel light and use the device to take still photos, and DSLRs will focus more on being DSLRs with an emphasis on steadyshot tech (a pendulum that makes the camera steady itself) instead of shoulder mounts to try to turn the camera into a video camera.  Sony’s new NEX7 is a perfect example of where cameras are headed: highly portable, high power, small footprint.

DSLRs aren’t in competition with video cameras.  They’re in competition with your camera phone.

DIY Fixup & More

I’ve become a big fan of fixing bags with zipper pulls attached using parachord (which you can get from most army surplus stores) and chord ends.  County Comm makes these, which I’ve been using for a while to put zipper pulls on bags and things (even a swiss army knife of mine) but you may notice that they now sell glow in the dark chord ends.  These are very interesting to me.  I use the “international orange” chord ends because they are highly visible even in the dark, but these, you can’t beat.

While you’re there, check out their pens and their bags.  All mil-spec.  All good.  These things won’t die no matter how much you beat them up, and I especially like that all their pens are Fischer Space Pens, but better designed than the official Space Pen.  One thing you may notice about the pens is that the caps don’t go on the back of the pen.  That’s good.  That means when someone asks to borrow your pen, you keep the cap and get the pen back.

I’ve become a big fan of fixing bags with zipper pulls attached using parachord (which you can get from most army surplus stores) and chord ends.  County Comm makes these, which I’ve been using for a while to put zipper pulls on bags and things (even a swiss army knife of mine) but you may notice that they now sell glow in the dark chord ends.  These are very interesting to me.  I use the “international orange” chord ends because they are highly visible even in the dark, but these, you can’t beat.
While you’re there, check out their pens and their bags.  All mil-spec.  All good.

Website Fail

I don’t know if you read my other blog, but I recently posted some photos of a major sign fail in my apartment building in New York.  I thought that this sort of idiocy was limited to people who didn’t really grasp the subject.  In fairness, the guy who wrote those signs doesn’t speak very good English (despite living on this street in New York for decades, apparently) but Volvo, you really need to get your head out of your ass.

On the page for one of their cars, they list the AWD (all wheel drive) mileage as 0 mpg.  0.  Zero.  Zilch.  If there’s no AWD option, shouldn’t they just say n/a?  Fools!

Netsplitz

Apparently Netflix is about to have a major split.  I don’t think this is the best idea.  Unless there is a major problem with the DVD rental model or the streaming model there’s no advantage in creating a new brand.  The Netflix brand may have lost 1 million of its 25 million subscribers when it decided to nearly double its fees, but it’s confusing to constantly rebrand and honestly, the people who really care about this stuff will know it’s really Netflix under a new name, so it won’t confuse the right people anyway.

Netflix, if you want to improve things, here’s what you need to do:

1.) Keep your business as one brand.  Save the money you’d otherwise spend on new marketing and just provide more value for the customers.

2.) Become a theatrical distributor.  Or buy one.  Either way, you’re positioned well to take a few risks on back end deals, buying indie films otherwise in financial and distribution limbo, then flogging them to renters, and finally Netflix subscribers.  Get the jump on the increasingly niche indie market.

3.) Try developing some of your own content.  With Google in the game, developing its own content, Netflix should provide some sort of “free” content on its site (like the BBC iPlayer, which shows recent BBC programming for free) and then the bulk of its available programming on the subscription service.  New model.  No FCC.  Show whatever content you like.

And just in case you don’t think that growth and moving up in the world is that important because hey, you don’t have to worry about much competition, think of RIM (the creators of the Blackberry) and then read this.  Yes, Facebook is moving into your territory.  Be afraid Netflix.  Be very afraid.

And that’s it.  Really.  Netflix, you’re going the wrong way right now.  Think big.  Don’t have a split personality.

A Bevy Of Mobile Phone Lenses

Check this out.  I’ve been thinking how cool this would be for ages.  Since you can now get a DSLR lens mount for the iPhone I’ve actually considered getting an iPhone just because I love taking pictures with my Nexus S.  Now, assuming this will work with my camera, I have some new options.

It’s interesting, thinking of how you want to take photos these days.  Part of me says take a mobile phone camera or a DSLR and don’t bother with anything else.  Nowadays though the point and shoots one can buy are increasingly powerful, so what should you bother with day to day?  A big canon DSLR may be fine when you’re a pro or on vacation in the Amazon, but really, for every day you need a good small point and shoot.  If you don’t have the pocket room though, his could become something to expect from mobile phone makers.

One other thing I’ve thought of, since writing the above.  I have a friend with a 3D camera on his phone.  It has two lenses.  I wonder what happens when you put one of each of these lenses over the lenses in his 3D camera…