Thursday, February 12, 2009

Alternative to the jetsam

One of my students, who I am sure was getting ahead in his reading for class yesterday, ahem... was using a Kindle. I had never seen one up close so I asked him about it after class. He said it was a nice platform to read e-books, it was power efficient, and relatively easier to use. (He claimed, perhaps sarcastically that the new version was "sexier" than his. As I have never thought of personal electronics in these terms, I am still not sure what he meant. )

I am not in a position at the moment to spend a lot of time reading "Pride and Prejudice" or any other text that would more than likely come in an e-book fashion. Recently I have found mself longing for a copy of Barendregts "The Lambda Calculus". My guess is that it is not published in e-book form. Nor should it be for all sorts of aesthetic and ethical reasons. (Or maybe it should through some form of poetic justice.) Regardless, as I have mentioned before, I predominately read, and sometime only scan, a lot of different papers, usually in postscript (PS) or PDF format. Unfortunately the Kindle will not handle PS yet. My student told me that it would handle text based PDF. My question is how it will handle tables and mathematical formulas. If it handles a large collection of arbitrary symbols relatively well it may fit my needs as I still do not like reading things on the computer screen.

However I am not sure I can justify buying another piece of "sexy" electronics. More plastic that I probably will not use as much. Though the new Kindle is much thinner and lighter. Another issue is that here in Wyoming I would not be able to use as much of the functionality as the download network (you can order books via the "cell phone" network and download them in the same fashion) has not quite made it here. (G3 network, same one used for iPhones). And on top of that, my benefactor (Amy) and I have other expenses at the moment that preclude 360 dollars spent on something we may not put to full use. So, although I will probably still investigate it some more, I will probably have to wait on the Kindle.

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