So it is not lightly that I say I might just have to find a new hobby. We bought an iPad and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed reading on it. The ability to have several books with me at all times, and the much lower price of the books was very attractive. There was also the fact that I could keep copies of those books on my iPhone, meaning I’d have them with me whenever I had 5 minutes to read.

Over time, though, I’ve found some limitations that had me back in the bookstore. The iPad was heavy, it�s very hard to read in bright light, and its high price means you have to be very careful with it.

But then we bought a Kindle. When Amazon introduced a wi-fi version with a $139 price tag I was intrigued. Though I found the iPad difficult to read for long stretches, the convenience of having all your books with me at all times almost outweighed the drawbacks.

Having used the Kindle, I’m now completely sold on dedicated e-book readers. They have all the advantages of the iPad, and address many of its limitations:

  1. Almost perfect screen. The Kindle’s electronic paper display (EPD) looks strikingly like reading a printed page. It is remarkably easy to read and very easy on the eyes, even for long stretches – especially with the ability to adjust fonts to suit the reader.
  2. Non-reflective screen. Anyone who has ever tried to read an iPad outside in bright light knows it is very hard, and almost impossible for long stretches. The Kindle’s screen, however, isn’t reflective and is very easy to read in these settings.
  3. Very lightweight. One of the real knocks against reading the iPad for a long time is that at over a pound and a half it is heavier than even the longest hardcover books. The Kindle, however, comes in at just over 8 ounces, or less than the weight of most magazines.
  4. Ridiculous battery life. The Kindle’s battery life is reported to be over three weeks (!) without needing a charge. The iPad’s 12 hours seems almost embarrassingly paltry next to that.
  5. VERY cheap. At just $139, it will pay for itself fairly quickly just in the amount we save in lower ebook prices as compared to traditional books. Plus that puts it into the realm of devices I’d take with me to the beach, for example, where it might get broken or stolen. Not so for the iPad.

I now understand Apple a little better (but I like it even less)

Apple: Sure hard to loveI confess to being a Windows person since ver 3.0 (1990!) but the scarcity of Windows Mobile devices (in Canada, anyway) has pushed me to consider going over to the dark side. I finally broke down and went to the only Apple store in our city (Edmonton) where the store manager told me that to buy a phone I would need to make an appointment. Though it was only 7pm they were not able to book an appointment until the next day.

So I have to ask: is this the absolute height of arrogance, or am I entirely off base? Is this really the way this company is run?

Now I’ve heard the arguments in favour of Apple products in the past, and though I disagreed with them I at least understood them. What has always made me wonder about the adulation some people show the Apple corporate machine is the disregard Apple seems to show their customers.

I’m still not sure if I’ll go back and try an iPhone, but there’s no question Apple makes themselves hard to love.

Apple, net neutrality, now Starbucks. Is the internet at risk of becoming a vast wilderness where all anyone can see is the view from the highway?

Starbucks' inadvertantly wades into the net neutrality debate.I have to confess, Ive sometimes lumped the net neutrality folks in with the tinfoil hat crowd. At first I wasnt convinced net neutrality was really that big of a deal, and even if it was, I generally give corporations more credit than most who comment on these issues online.

But now Im not so sure.

With Starbucks announcement earlier this week of a proprietary digital network available in their stores, Im thinking it might be time to fire up my own tinfoil hat.

Dont get me wrong, I think Starbucks network is a great offering for its customers, but it further fragments an internet that is becoming more and more limiting.

If you own an iPhone or an iPad, and especially if you develop for them, youve already seen how limiting these platforms are. If you dont completely adhere to all of Apples often arbitrary developer rules (and sometimes even if you do) youll end up with an app that languishes in the wilderness because its not allowed in the app store. As a user of these devices, obviously you can use safari to go anywhere on the web, but I can count on one hand the number of users I know who use the devices that way.

Then theres Googles recent loss to the telecos collaboration with Verizon in the US on wireless internet. Sure they came out swinging in defense of an open, unbridled internet but only if you stick to wired networks and dont venture out of the house onto a wireless carrier.

Apple continues to limit their customer's freedom.With Starbucks digital network yet another huge company is limiting access to web content, this time based on physical location rather than device platform. Their new network offers a range of content supplied by their partners and tailored to your geographic location, but its only available inside their stores.

Im not entirely sure this is a bad thing at least at this point. Apple is right when they say their apps make their devices more secure than, say, Android phones. And Starbucks offers free internet which is awesome so adding additional and unique content to that offering might not be anything to get upset over.

But its certainly a trend worth watching, since I love the view from the highway, but at some point if you cant hike into the wilderness anymore well all regret it.