Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tucson Monsoon - July 2013


Last week we had a Tucson monsoon.  I was working at the hospital.  When I came out of the hospital the monsoon was over, and only the puddles remained.  While driving home I saw two large trees were knocked completely over by the road near my house.  When I got home I was surprised to see this.



This bush was perfectly healthy before the monsoon.  It grows like a weed, and looked great in the front yard (with the emphasis on the past tense).  Jami thinks it may have been hit by lightning.  Maybe it was just the wind, I don’t know.  I already lost a tree in the front yard (that was dead before we moved in), and the bush in the background has seen better days (lost some branches due to underwatering).  I didn’t want to lose another plant on my watch.  So I got resourceful like MacGyver.  I got out my always faithful rope, and asked Jami to come outside and help me.  She said, “You’re not going to tie that bush back together with that ghetto rope, are you?”  My dear wife knows me so well.  She pushed the bush back together, and I tied it in place.  Many thanks to first and foremost my Dad for teaching me the trucker’s hitch knot, and secondly to the Boyscouts of America for teaching me many other basic knots including the clove hitch and two half hitches which were used in fixing my bush.  Jami and I laughed as we worked, and at the ridiculousness of tying our bush back together.  Here is the finished product.
It looks pretty good.  I tried to cover the roots back up, and I poured water over them.  So far the bush seems to be doing pretty good a week after it got split in two.  Here is the ghetto work inside the bush.

Hopefully the bush makes it.
            Then when I went to check the garden in the back yard I found that five of our corn stalks were knocked over by the wind.  They are just starting to produce ears of corn for us, so I wasn't going to let that happen either.  I solved that problem with a similar solution. 




Lincoln and Atley had a great time working outside as well.


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Since Atley was already in the stroller and Lincoln was on his bike with the helmet, I decided now was a good time for a walk, especially with the rain having cooled everything off.  I was surprised to see the wash was actually running with water in it—cool!  It was the first time I have ever seen water in the wash, and the water was moving very fast.  It was so nice to hear a river flowing.


  video
 
 
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Lincoln spotted this toad while we were out walking.  Toads come out after it rains.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For the Wife: Nook Simple Touch w/Glowlight or Kindle Paperwhite


I've decided an E-reader will be a perfect gift for my wife this Christmas. But which one? Nook and Kindle seem to be the big dawgs in this market. I gave their top E-reader models a look, but dang Barnes & Noble and Amazon have the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Kindle Paperwhite for the same price. That right there spoiled my usual strategy of deciding between competing products.

So I spent several hours analyzing the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight when I should have been studying for my final exam coming up in 2 days.  So I thought I would post what I found here.  This information is current as of today December 12, 2012.  I found myself reading so many things about the Kindles and the Nooks, only to realize the information was 2 or 3 years old.  And in this techno market, that's ancient history.  From all of my jumbled scatterbrain notes I put together a table to analyze the two.  I ordered it so that the features most important to me were at the top, and the farther down on the table they are, the less important they are to me.  A shaded blue box means that that E-reader won that category.  So here it is.


Nook Simple Touch w/GlowLight
Kindle Paper White
Price
$119
$119
Epub capability
Yes
Yes, with free Calibre program
Price of books
More sometimes, but competitive.
Same or less.
Library books
Yes
Most libraries, most books (1)
Light for Nighttime
Yes
Yes
Book Selection
Slightly less maybe.
Slightly more maybe.
Wi-Fi + 3G
No
No (2)
Lending
Nook to Nook, 2 weeks, once
Kindle to Kindle, 2 weeks, once (3)
Ads
No
Yes (4)
Comfortability
Nook wins (5)
Doesn't have groove in back
Crisper Image
Nook lost some with Glow Light
Kindle wins
Internal Memory
2 gigabytes
2 gigabytes
Wall Charger included
Yes
No (6)
Battery replaceable by self
Yes
No (7)
Place to add memory
Yes (8)
No
Push buttons
Yes
No
Touch Screen
Yes
Yes
Evenness of light
Nook Glow Light is brighter at top
Kindle wins
Battery life
1 month (9)
2 months
Text-to-speech
No
No (10)
Speakers
No
No (11)
Access to the Cloud
???
Yes
Built in dictionary
Yes
Yes
Aps
Yes
Yes
Brighter Light
Nook has a dimmer light (12)
Kindle Wins

Footnotes for table:
(1) 11,000 libraries now support Kindle E-books. I checked at my library here in Tucson, Arizona. They do support Kindle, but Penguin Publishing does not. So I guess any books published by Penguin Publishing are not available to Kindle users at my library.
(2) To get the Kindle Paperwhite 3G you have to spend $179.
(3) The Kindle and Nook have basically (maybe exactly?) the same lending rules. Kindle relaxed their rules recently. They made it so you could lend your books more than once. I think you can lend them once a month. They also made it so more of their E-books were lendable. The caveat here is that you have to be an Amazon Prime Member to get the relaxed lending rule perks. It costs $79 annually to be a Prime Member.
(4) It costs $20 to remove the ads, which you can do at anytime.
(5) The concave surface on the back of the Nook Glowlight makes for a nice grip, and it has a slight rubberized coating. The wider sides allow you to hold the Nook comfortably without touching the screen. The Nook Glowlight weighs slightly less.
(6) The wall charger costs an extra $10 for the Kindle Paperwhite.
(7) To replace the battery in the Kindle Paperwhite you have to send it to the factory.
(8) You probably won’t need it, but it is nice to have additional memory if necessary.
(9) The Nook Glowlight lasts two months with the light off.
(10)&(11) Kindles E-readers were previously equipped with speakers and text-to-speech capability, but those features have been removed in Paperwhite. I thought that would have been pretty cool, but it did at least make my choice easier.
(12) You might think the Kindle Paperwhite wins this one, but I don't really think this is an advantage. It's a case of "less is more." Even the Kindle says you are supposed to use the dimmer light in the dark. I think the light was made to read in the dark, but for some reason everyone thinks the Kindle Paperwhite is better because the light is way brighter. The bright setting is to read in an already lit room—what is the point of that? Isn't the point of any E-reader to look like a piece of book paper, not like a computer screen? And you can never turn the lights all the way off. Yes I know it looks like the lights are off when it is on the lowest setting, it just seems wasteful to my sensibilities.

Extra Thoughts:
This was a really tough choice to make. One thing that helped me decide was the Nook with Glowlight gives you more stuff for the same price. Ad-free viewing and a wall charger are included with the Nook Glowlight, features which cost $20 and $10 extra respectively for the Kindle Paperwhite. Also Barnes & Noble seems to be out to please the customer a little more. You probably think I'm crazy for saying that. And yes I know Amazon has a fantastic, well-earned, true reputation for customer service. But hear me out. The Nook came out with E-book lending first. They also came out with a touch screen before the Kindle. They were also the first to put in a light for nighttime reading, something customers were really wanting. Even though Amazon has perfected the light and made lending better (for a $79 annual charge), Barnes & Noble was the first. I am hoping Barnes & Noble will make further strides in customer satisfaction before Amazon, perhaps better lending rules that you don't have to pay for.

Being able to read Epub E-books was important to me. Even though the Kindle can have them all switched over to Mobi by Calibre for free, this was just another step I didn't want my wife (the Nook is a Christmas present for her) to have to deal with. So I like that the Nook can read Epub directly. 

I did lots of price checking of many types of E-books. Usually the prices were the same for the Kindle and the Nook Book, but sometimes they were a little more for the Nook. But with Epub I could almost always find another seller online who was selling it for the Kindle price or maybe even a smidgeon lower. You can use E-book comparison websites to compare prices of any book (InkMesh.com is one particular comparison site). Some sites that on occasion have lower prices than Amazon and Barnes & Noble are BooksOnBoard.com, Diesel-ebooks.com, and ebooks.com (none of these sites have formats for Kindles). Also of note is that Amazon has many of the classics for Kindle for free, while Barnes & Noble charges for them (they are solely a bookstore after all), but with the magic of the internet and comparison websites (and oh yeah, the library has plenty of E-books) it is easy to find Epub websites that also have the books free for Nooks.





Even though I was leaning slightly towards the Nook by this time, one thing made it particularly harder to decide.  My wife's mother and granny have Kindles. So they could have lent books to each other. But since the lending rules aren't that great anyway for the Kindle (unless you pay $79 a year) or the Nook, I figured this was a small price to pay. There are lending websites and Facebook pages set up so you can borrow books from anyone in exchange for a small sum ($1.99 on one site) or if you have a book someone else  wants to read. So the Kindle has the advantage here simply because it has more users, and therefore a larger population to share with.






One last thing I heard in many comments sections, but couldn't really find a solid source for. It seemed many people had Kindles that broke easily. I didn't see anybody complain about broken Nooks. It may just be a side effect of having a larger Kindle population, so more people report broken ones. And the people also said Amazon was really quick at replacing the broken Kindles for free under the 1-year warranty. But what happens after the warranty? Let's just say I have a lovely, sweet wife who has had more than her fair share of broken cell phones, and a potentially fragile device was something I would rather avoid. Apparently the case for the Kindle is a good protector. I'll probably pick a Nook case up for my wife too.

Conclusion:
What it eventually came down to was this. I found a brand new Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight on Craigslist for $80. That's only $11 more than Kindle is charger for their basic E-reader this holiday season! The guy had won it at a raffle from work, and he didn't want it. That made my choice so much easier. Ha ha.

I hope this helps you sift through all of the information out there. Good luck in choosing your E-reader! If you have personal experiences with these devices (I would especially like to hear about durability issues with the Kindles and Nooks), or have some other information that would help other readers decide please leave a comment. Thanks for reading!



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