Amazon’s 7-inch Tablet Wonder


All the tablet pundits predict that tomorrow Amazon will formally announce their 7-inch Android tablet which is rumored to be called the Kindle Fire. The predicted price is $250.00 and the machine will be geared towards surfing the net but mostly for buying more stuff from Amazon and streaming Amazon’s movie content but only in the US as Amazon is not permitted to stream to folks in this part of the world. Amazon Prime members in the US are currently able to stream many movies at no extra cost but Prime member outside the US will just have to suffer without any extra benefit for the same price. The Amazon device most likely will not have the E ink screen, but a color touch screen like any other tablet. The 7-inch tablet is supposedly designed to be addictive and cause people to be more tied to Amazon than they already are.  It is expected there will be a huge rush to buy this tablet as the mindless gift-buying for those special someones season approaches. On a related issue, Netflix is now allowed to stream to the Caribbean and Latin America but if you are a typical movie and TV series viewer from Trinidad and Tobago, you will find half of Netflix’s content is in Spanish with no English option. The other half is mostly garbage. However you can sign up to Netflix for the first month free and see if you have to stamina to weed through the garbage to find the odd gem.

I noticed only today there was a sudden price drop at Amazon of the Samsung Galaxy 7-inch, 16 GB, Wi-Fi tablet  from $350 to $300, indicating a tablet price war may be looming as tablet makers come to terms with another potential Amazon bulldozer. Hooray for the strong-minded consumer who is strong enough to survive outside the Amazon box.  I am not very sure how useful a 7-inch tablet will be in becoming a person’s soul mate but I think a 10-inch device will perform much better than a 7-inch one despite  being more expensive and  a shorter battery life. Good things will come to those who wait for the early-adopters bugs to be ironed out.

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Why Buy a Pentax K7


Pentax K7

The price and time are about right to get a Pentax K7 DSLR. Yes, it is still pricey at US$800, but when you consider that in May last year the K7 was introduced at US$1300, an $US800 price is a deal but still not a steal.  It’s the same camera plus two firmware upgrades.  It is the same camera that now has scores of reviews by both real and self-proclaimed experts to judge from. For me, to move from a Pentax K200D to a K7 is what the simpleminded call a no-brainer. An easy choice.

Shot with a K7 - pentaxforums.com

Shot with a K7 - pentaxforums.com

Having invested a poor man’s fortune in Pentax lenses and one Metz flash, I decided to consider upgrading to a K7. So what will I get from a K7 that I didn’t have with a K200D besides bragging rights? The most obvious is the ability to shoot movies at a reasonably high quality of 720p at 30 fps. The K200D was built before the days that DSLRs had a movie mode (Sony DSLRs still don’t shoot movies, and this has puzzled many a blogger for many months). I will get a few extra mega pixels, 14.6 vs 10.2 but that is not a deal breaker. The Pentax K7 has more exposure zones, 77 in all, which makes for more accurate exposures. DSLR owners love to tell others that their camera exposes accurately but say little as to why their photos still suck. The Pentax K7 has a nice 3-inch LCD display and also supports live-view. The K7 is weather sealed with 77 seals, and I suppose the reoccurring 7 in the specs gave the K7 its name. Weather sealing is not to be taken lightly especially if you are the type of semi-pro that shoots in the rain or shower. Similarly priced DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony are not weather sealed and require its owners to walk with Ziploc bags or beach umbrellas when shooting in adverse weather.  Pentax claims the K7 has an improved auto-focus system and its image processor has also been vastly improved. The Pentax K7 has a penta-prism viewfinder as compared to the less bright and cheaper penta-mirror types found in the Pentax K200D, Nikon D90 and the Canon Rebel EOS T2i. For the DSLR owner who has migrated from savoring camera specs and moved to photo composition,  the K7′s viewfinder coverage is 100% and not 95% that the similarly priced Nikon and Canon don’t boast about.

Will the K7 produce better images than the K200D? I think it will. Will the K7 make me a better photographer? Only time will tell.

The reason for the drop in price of the K7 can be competition, and possibly the release of a newer model soon. If there is a replacement for the K7 I am sure it won’t be cheap, and it will be some time before it becomes affordable to the masses of droolers. Pentax is not for everybody since it is hard to convince first-time DSLR buyers they should ignore celebrity-hype marketing and instead invest in good photography books and a camera made by Pentax, the company that made the first Japanese SLR in 1952.

Pentax K 7 official Sample video HD

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The Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago – The Nook, The Bad and The Ugly


I held and cuddled a Kindle in the palms of my hands on more than a few occasions and it made no emotional connection like the paper book it was designed to replace. The Kindle is supposed to be an alternative and an improvement to the paper book but I am not sure if people who are addicted to the mysteries and smells of books and bookshelves will appreciate Amazon’s creation.  I think one of the problems Amazon is trying to solve with the Kindle is not only how to make books more accessible but how to make more money by turning a want into a need. What you can’t do as easily with a Kindle compared to a real book is sniff the paper, ruffle the pages, put dog-ears on them or enjoy the thrill of breaking down a friend’s door to retrieve your long overdue book. I am not sure how resilient a Kindle is to the spilling of rum and Coke or withstanding a leaking chicken roti but most real books survive these everyday occurrences if acted on promptly. If these spills happen to a Kindle it might have to be returned to its makers for evaluation, deodorizing and a hefty repair bill. I would hate to think I can’t read any of my favorite books because the curry went out of control.

The Kindle is affordable to those who can easily afford to blow TT$320 at Movietowne twice a month. For those who can’t see or read too well, the Kindle can read to you in a voice reserved for curing bouts of insomnia. It is easy to read a book on a Kindle and the adults of tomorrow will wonder how people ever read a paper book without audio.  The Kindle is now US$189 down from US$259. Only yesterday on Amazon’s recently acquired popular online store, Woot, the Kindle was being sold for US$149 but those sold out in record time.

A common message in Trinidad and Tobago

The Kindle will work in Trinidad and Tobago as Amazon has negotiated worldwide roaming data charges with cell providers.  In Trinidad and Tobago we do not have the fast 3G networks like some parts of the US and Colombia which means we will have to settle for our books being delivered at not significantly slower times using GPRS/EDGE. What customers and potential Kindle customers in Trinidad and Tobago must also note is that not every Kindle book that is available to US customers will be available to us. Many new bestsellers will not be available and we in the backward Third World may have to wait months or forever to have these books on Kindle. Of the top ten bestselling Kindle titles today, only one is available in our region. Don’t blame Amazon for this but blame the wicked and greedy book publishing and distribution mafia. Also blame yourself for being a Third World citizen. Don’t panic too much as Amazon has made 417,446 Kindle books available to the Caribbean and Latin America. But when you consider US customers can buy around 620,000 books,  you feel you are being discriminated against.  A few newspapers are also available for subscription via kindle like the Shanghai Daily in English at US$9.99 a month and Brazil’s Jornal de Santa Catarina in Portuguese at US$11.99 a month.

There is one very serious issue which makes the Kindle unattractive to US residents and ugly to people not living in the US – the new Kindle has to be shipped back to Amazon to have the battery replaced.  The battery may last years but that is a hope and a guess. I can’t recall ever having to return a real book to Amazon or even RIK to so that I can read it. One other issue with the Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago and most countries outside of the US is that web browsing is blocked probably because of the high roaming data charges, so blogs are obviously not supported via the Kindle in our region. If the Kindle had Wi-Fi, web browsing may have been possible outside the US.

As far as the international market is concerned, Amazon has nearly all of the portable ebook market. Their major competitors in the US is the Nook from Barnes and Noble which is still a US-only device.  The Nook has nice features that are not present in the Kindle such as a colour LCD touch-screen, SD memory expansion, and Wi-Fi. Despite the Nook having Wi-Fi for downloads of books, any attempt to buy books using a foreign IP address or non-US issued credit card will be blocked. We are not a global society as some like to boast and people in the Third World should always know their lesser place. You can also get Kindle books on your iPad, iPhone, PC or laptop but the Kindle is pencil thin and easier and cheaper than an iPad to fall asleep with. Kindle for Google Android phones are supported in many countries but not as yet in Trinidad and Tobago. Kindle for Blackberry is not supported for customers outside the US, including illegal US immigrants who don’t have a US credit card account.

30 million dollar bikini

I doubt I will be getting a Kindle soon since the Kindle doesn’t solve any problems I have or satisfy any cravings except the need to show off. The Kindle is however a good device to travel with since airlines are now charging extra for every ounce of overweight luggage and bookshelves.

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Amazon, Where is my Shopping Basket and RBTT, You Suck!


There was an outage last night at Amazon which lasted hours and which is rare. There is still no word if the failure was caused by hackers, the Russians, the Chinese or a truck pulling down some T&TEC lines but when the dust settled my shopping basket was empty – over thirty items gone. To many this is no big thing but I use Amazon’s shopping basket to track prices of mainly photography equipment and some hi-fi stuff so when my shopping basket was somehow emptied in cyberspace, I nearly threw a fit. Maybe later today the basket will be restored but I doubt it. I am not sure if any other customers had their baskets emptied by the Amazon IT people but many who track prices will be annoyed. I am sure some would say I should be using Tracktor.com to track Amazon prices but that can be cumbersome if one is tracking the prices of many things.

Strangely, the Amazon outage coincided with the sloppy IT service RBTT has been providing customers in Trinidad and Tobago with recently as the bank ignore customer service just to provide the new Canadian massas with the control they paid for and now demand. Despite the hollow claims by the bank’s PR people, customers will not benefit from this computer upgrade – none. I doubt there are any customers in Trinidad and Tobago who can say the service at RBTT is better since the acquisition by RBC and in fact most can testify that the service at RBTT is now the sloppiest banking service in the country by far.  Their incompetence is now legendary and their staff’s response to customer queries is hopeless and usually idiotic.

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How to find a ghost


Haunting

At some point in everyone’s life they see ghost but are helpless because they have no access to a reputable ghost buster or seer woman. As foolish as it seems to the rational thinking adult who feels getting scared is limited to opening bills every month or listening to the Prime Minister speak or seeing his wife,  ghost hunting may seem like a novelty for children but it is not. Rational online stores like Amazon have realized the need to supply adults with not just books and sex toys but with those increasingly popular adult playthings (no, not inflatable life-size dolls) called ghost detectors or EMF (electromagnetic field) detectors.

EMF Ghost Detector available from Amazon.com

These Ghost Detectors are no joke and work on the principle that the EMF is greater than normal when a ghost is present. One can prove the detectors work by simply seeing the needle go wild when placed next to a member for the living dead such as a dead-horse politician.  Several ghosts have been caught and rehabilitated because of the use of well calibrated Ghost Detectors by professional Ghostbusters in movies. Police investigators are currently using state-of-the-art ghost detectors to find out if  fugitives  are back in the country or they are just seeing ghost.  For yet unexplained reasons, this Ghost EMF phenomenon occurs more in old houses where the former occupants, including at least one child, were mysteriously murdered or in houses that were built by sleazy developers on land that were formerly Red Indian, Amerindian or even political graveyards.

A Real Ghost

One first becomes aware that ghost might be a problem when the hair on one’s back suddenly sticks up while one is looking at boring world news at midnight. Ghost can go undetected for years and is usually mistaken by homeowners as bad plumbing or an upset stomach.  Users must remember that Ghost Detectors can only find the ghost to the accuracy of the nearest corner of the house and capturing requires the skillful use of a good size crocus bag and expendable friend.  For US$20.49 at Amazon, I can’t see how anyone can go wrong and ridding a house of ghosts not only because it makes for a good night’s sleep, but can increase its resale value tenfold – just advertise the house as Ghost-Free.

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Helping Haiti


ft.com

I am following the lead set by Wordtryst on the Haiti earthquake crisis.

Digicel is donating five million US dollars to Haiti and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is forking out one million US. Guyana is also donating one million US. I understand that Digicel is the largest single foreign investor in Haiti so their ties run deeper than the any country in the Caricom or even all the countries in the Caricom combined. Many countries are pledging aid to Haiti especially the US who are always ready assist in times of disaster because of their wealth and nature. I am not sure if any terrorists have pledged aid, explosives or even an imaginary cause to help the Haitians at this time.

Digicel, through full-page newspaper ads this morning, has informed the public of a number they have setup, or soon to setup, so residents of Trinidad and Tobago can use to send TT$ 3.00 per text to help Haiti – text 5151 with the word HELP. I think Bmobile, a company some strangely like to perceive as being a true local company, is still putting out full page Beyonce and Green Carnival ads while Digicel is on the right ball.

Donations can also be made using Amazon Payments to MercyCorp and also by using this Google Haiti Earthquake Page

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The Ultimate Gift Giving Guide by aka_lol – Part 1


When it comes to giving gifts the concept of it is the thought that counts is crap. That idea has outlived its usefulness since the Trojans and in today’s materialistic world, money is much better than making love. Thoughts come easy and to some, a little too easy that is why when it comes to giving, nobody really cares what you think. But even with money and Amazon reviews, choosing the right gift can be a problem and it’s still too easy to buy expensive junk because China commissions one coal-fired power station every week to supply electricity to factories making Christmas gifts for the world. Since advice on gift buying at Christmas time is as useful as a smashed car windscreen, I decided to add my advice to the list.

FOR YOUR MAN

For the man who has everything including an ornamental girlfriend or wife, I would recommend the Leica S-System’s Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3 inch LCD with Sapphire LCD Cover Glass and Platinum Service Package. If your man thinks he is serious about photography and has outgrown making sex tapes, then the Leica S2, which can be pre-ordered at Amazon for US$27, 995 plus shipping, is the gift to get. Naturally, you will have to order a lens or lenses separately and prices range from around US$5,000 to God knows how much. Always remember, if you give a Leica S2 with lens, hopefully you won’t have to give much else until Boxing Day at night.

FOR YOUR WOMAN

For the Woman who is anxious to please you instead of cook and clean,  there is not much to think about. Instead of giving the woman in your life a reason to chase after you with a golf club in the wee hours of the morning because you transgressed with a cocktail waitress,  I recommend  something that can be used to prevent, or minimize further transgressions – the Victoria Secret Sexy Little Things® NEW! Lace-up thong. It looks like, and sells for next to nothing so you will not regret it as it is also easy to wrap and stuff in your back pocket in cases of emergency.

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Kindle now available in Trinidad and Tobago – Yaay!!


bezos_kindleAmazon will finally be offering the Kindle for sale in Trinidad and Tobago from October 19th. It will be sold for US$279 which is about TT$1,775. I am not sure if local customs will classify the Kindle the same as a laptop or computer and charge no taxes or if it will be considered a high-end luxury device and add between 45 to 55 % tax. If  this luxury tax is added it will keep the Kindle, a reading device, out of the reach of anyone who aspires to be a book collector on a budget but especially those who are already saving for the new property taxes and migration fees.

If you don’t know what a Kindle is by now you are probably not passionate about books and have decided to close your mind to new ideas like ebooks and aluminum smelters emitting toxic dust. Kindle is a device and software platform launched by Amazon in November 2007 for reading digital media such as ebooks. The Kindle has been a great success since that time and like the Wii, people had to wait in line to get one. For details on the features of International Kindle, click here and here.

the_raw_feed_on_kindle-BIGThe main argument against the Kindle is that it is not paper and cuddly  and I also thought so until I picked up a 6-inch Kindle and enjoyed reading on it. Still, I don’t think it will replace paper in a hurry despite the fact the world has grown fond of cuddling up with battery powered devices of various sizes for years. The Kindle being offered to international markets will hold about 1,500 books and the rest can be archived by Amazon.  People with the International Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago will be able to buy Kindle books and download them wirelessly and tirelessly with just a click or two. It appears that Amazon will be using the local GSM/GPRS networks from Bmobile and/or Digicel.  Amazon said there will be no charge for using the network in Trinidad and Tobago – you only have to pay for the book.

Kindle_2_-_Front-700Typically, ebooks are cheaper than paper books, and for example,  Cafe au Lait by Liane Spicer sells for US$6.99 in paperback but for US$4.79 in Kindle format. That is about a 30% saving, not including the cost to ship the book to Trinidad via a Caribbean Express box.  The Kindle is tempting because of the lower book prices and it is tree-friendly.  What the Kindle will also do for the book world is reduce the incidents of book borrowing and recovery through threats and violence. The Kindle is a black and white, or more correctly, a few shades of gray device, which would rule out certain types of porn. Still, I am for the Kindle even if it threatens property tax as the main reason for poverty.

Details of Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago

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Stealing Michael Jackson’s Music


michael-jackson-cd-dvd-550

I should have something better to write about than Michael Jackson, considering Government arrogance and indifference is at an all-time high, but I take comfort in knowing this unbearable arrogance is a surest sign of a falling Government and it would only be a matter of time before this current bunch of Ministers are replaced, just to show them who is really boss.

I wonder how many Michael Jackson’s fans who are now mourning his loss and signing condolence books actually bought his albums or legal downloads. True, he sold 750 million albums in his short lifetime but he would have sold much more if people didn’t think it was right to steal music. Part of Michael Jackson’s problems was his lack of will to manage his financial life as well as his image but with the success of peer to peer file sharing services, and accusations of being a pedophile, his income dwindled to the point where he had to vacate his Neverland Ranch and rent a $US110,000 per month mansion in LA.

bad-550Despite a halfhearted attempt by the Trinidad and Tobago Government to educate the public about intellectual property and why we should not steal it, there is a lack of will to shut down illegal DVD stores. The alternative to an illegal $10 DVD in Trinidad and Tobago would be a legal $200 one. That would be politically unpopular and there are very few countries in the world where the population can tolerate, constant flooding, a high crime rate, interference in democratic institutions plus expensive DVDs. In Trinidad and Tobago, DVD stores are selling nicely packaged, pirated Michael Jackson DVDs and CDs and there will be no police action, either by car or bicycle on these smooth criminals.

michael-jackson-thriller-550People argue that legal DVDs and CDs are too expensive and legal MP3 downloads of foreign music is not available so that is why they must be stolen. People in the developed world have no idea what it means to be third world until they try to buy an MP3 from iTunes or Amazon using a Trinidad IP address. Our region is not supported, they say. “We have the money so what is the problem,” some would scream but as Naipaul is fond of saying, we are just a dot.

amazon-mp3-Trinidad and tobagoSo we steal because they won’t sell. Didn’t the cable company in Trinidad pirate HBO and Showtime for years without suffering any Government interference? Apparently, once you steal the Government doesn’t interfere – the government only meddles to stay in power. Nevertheless, there are websites such as MP3VA that sell MP3s to the Third World but their legal standing is questionable and not just because they are Russian. But you can get legal, high quality, downloads to buy from selected labels and artiste from HDtracks.

While people mourn Michael Jackson’s death they illegally download his music. We in the dotty Third World crave to be First World and use any means possible to appear to be by playing the same music and mourning in the same fashion, even if it means acting unethically,  if not illegally.

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Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer


US Cover

US Cover

UK Cover

UK Cover

Jeffrey Archer’s new book, Paths of Glory, was released today in the US. I haven’t read the book and I find Amazon USA’s price of $18.45 US for a new hardcover book, too expensive. Hopefully, the price will come down soon since it’s recession time and book prices must be sympathetic to pockets.

Jeffery Archer has released the first nine pages of Paths of Glory . This is always a good marketing tool and it is similar to snacking on popcorn – you can’t read only one chapter. Naturally, the book has different covers in the UK and the US. I am never sure why this is so but book publishers seem to think the Americans and the British have different taste in book covers. For this book, I think Americans associate blue with glory and the British, gold.

I don’t want to prejudge Paths of Glory but if it’s anything like A Prisoner of Birth it will be a good read.

Paths of Glory is also available on Audio CD from Amazon at $26.37 US.

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312539517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312539511

·  Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches