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I bought a second-hand Cybook Gen3 ebook reader from my writing partner last month, and I've been using it long enough now to have some initial thoughts about it. This isn't a proper review, as I haven't been exploring all its features. What I *have* been doing with it is simply reading some of the books she'd loaded on it, mostly on the bus to and from work.

And the obvious question is — do I regret spending one hundred pounds on this thing? After all, I could buy quite a few paperbacks for that money. To which the answer is "no", and for a specific reason I'll get to at the end of this post. And it's not one of the obvious reasons, like saving shelf space or being able to carry a hundred books with me at all times, although I can see the advantages there.

Would I buy one at full market price? (Currently 269 pounds if shipped to the UK.) Probably not, but mostly because the wee beastie is physically fragile, and I fully expect that I'll manage to break it within a year or two given my current usage of it. I can see why other people would pay that for it, and why I might in other circumstances.

read more about the pros and cons )
And the killer app for me? I can read it on the bus without feeling car-sick.

If I try to read a dead tree book on the bus, I start feeling sick after a few minutes. I can read if I'm careful, but it requires a certain amount of thought and stopping as soon as I feel in the least bit queasy. I took the Cybook with me on the bus the first week I had it, mostly because otherwise I'd have to wait until the following weekend to have time to play with it — and was still reading at journey’s end. By the end of the week, it was clear that this was not a one-off. In the month since, I've found that if the bus is *really* bumpy I need to put the Cybook down for a minute or two, but I can usually read it without problems. I don't know why there's a difference (my guess is that it's at least partly to do with the Cybook being completely rigid), but since I spend around an hour a day on the bus at the moment, something that lets me read during that hour is *well* worth the hundred pounds I paid for it. While I'm doing that commute, you will have to prise my Cybook from my cold dead hands...
julesjones: (Default)
I know people love to hate Microsoft -- but they do sell good hardware. When I finally had to abandon my ancient Trust ergonomic keyboard because my new laptop wouldn't support an AT connector even through an adaptor, I went straight for a Microsoft keyboard -- the Microsoft Natural 4000. I've had it just over a year, so it's time to report.

The 4000 is a split-and-angled layout designed to reduce RSI. Even though I'd been using such a layout for the last ten years, it did take me a few days to get used to this one, as the exact slope and dishing of the keypads is slightly different to my old one. And I can remember how long it took me to get used to an ergonomic keyboard the first time. If you've never used one before it will take a while to adapt, especially if you're like me and have a fast but totally untrained typing method that wanders all over the keyboard.

It's well worth taking the time, as for most people a good split keyboard such as this will reduce the risk of RSI and help people who already have problems. This model is very comfortable to use -- the keys generally give good feedback without feeling spongy or requiring a lot of force, although the space bar needs something of a heavy hand. There's an integrated padded wrist rest, which is very comfortable and used properly reduces arm strain. There are foldaway feet to raise the back of the keyboard if desired, but there is also a clip-on platform for the front of the keyboard which gives a slight reverse slope, which is actually more comfortable for many people. (Note that it may not a good idea to rest your wrists/palms on the rest while actually hitting keys -- what it's good for is dropping your hands into a supported rest position for a second while you think about what to type next.) I have RSI that will flare up with very little provocation, and this is one of the two most comfortable keyboards I've ever used.

There's a collection of extra buttons, some programmable -- most of which I personally don't use, but which are likely to be useful to some people. The two that I do find I use regularly are the zoom lever, which is a godsend when trying to read webpages with tiny fonts, and the mute key, which lets me switch off the sound *fast* when I hit a webpage with annoying embedded sound.

The shape means that it takes up quite a bit more desk space than a standard keyboard. One word of warning -- I use a left-handed mouse, and you'll have to stretch for the mouse if you place it on the right.

It's relatively pricy by the standards of ordinary consumer keyboards, but if you have problems with RSI and this one works for you, it's worth the extra money, and it's a *lot* cheaper than some specialist keyboards.

(But don't let your cat knock a glass of wine over it, right, [livejournal.com profile] desperance?)
julesjones: (Default)
So my Cuecat arrived from LibraryThing today, and naturally I have wasted an enormous amount of time this afternoon playing with it. The verdict is that when it works, it's very good, but it does take some practice to get right and even then it doesn't always work. And of course it's only useful for books with barcodes. On the other hand, when it's working well and you have a stack of books, it's a fast way to get them into LibraryThing.

Unfortunately, because I am a filthy porn writer I'm having a hard time keeping a straight face while using the thing. Because it is astonishingly phallic...


Changing the subject back to food porn rather than book porn, an excellent way to deal with the bacon fat left from one's pasta sauce from dinner the night before is to use it for making an omelette for lunch. The filling naturally included today's tomato harvest, a 31g specimen of Mamma Mia. Also some chedder, and some shredded pieces of the rather nice herbed turkey breast slices from the Milk Pail. Yum.


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August 2017

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