Saturday, May 1, 2010

Unexpected Surprises

Scott D. Parker

In all of my recent writing about ereaders, the one thing I did not have was a modern (circa 2010) reading device. That vacancy has now been filled. Last weekend, I bought an iPod Touch. It was the best device that met my current circumstances. Ideally, I'd like to have an iPhone but I'm satisfied with my current provider. But this iPod Touch will now be replacing my smaller iPod (for music), my Moleskine notebook (for calendar and capturing ideas), and my Palm Pilot (for reading ebooks). For the past week, I have been configuring the Touch with the apps I knew I wanted: the reading apps. I downloaded Stanza, Instapaper, Kindle app, Nook app, the free science fiction app, a free Bible app, and a PDF reader. Yessiree! I am ready for some reading.

My favorite so far is Stanza. In this past week, I have discovered I prefer the "swipe" page advancing feature over scrolling. I'm not necessarily speaking about the physical action of swiping finger across the screen to turn the page. I'm talking about the action of turning the virtual page rather than scrolling. It's easier on the eye since I tend to follow scrolling text with my eyes and that can get tiring. It's nice to be able to tap the right side of the screen and have the page advance. I have used calibre to format all my ebooks and make them available for Stanza. It's a good system.

For you Mac users out there, Instapaper is tres cool. It takes snapshots of web pages, strips most of the ad content out, and makes the resulting text available for downloading. Coolest of all for me--a non-iPhone user--is that I can read this content offline since it downloads to my device. With a desire to limit my time in front of my Mac when I'm at home, this app is essential.

Reading on the iPod Touch was the feature I most wanted. What I didn't expect was the writing apps. I write most blogs using MacJournal. That way, I have a record of the blogs I compose. Turns out there is a MacJournal app (what *doesn't* have an app nowadays). After an initial sync, I now have all my journals available on my iPod. It's an unexpected bonus feature to the device.

Even more unexpected were the two apps from Hog Bay Software, TaskPaper and WriteRoom. I have both desktop apps for my Mac. They are both text-based apps, minimalist in execution, letting you focus on just the things you need to do without the need for fiddling. The iPhone apps do the same thing. And that's not all the apps do. I can sync any file from these two apps to so I always have a backup. Moreover, these apps can sync directly with Scrivener, my favorite writing program. Lastly, since I like writing standing at my desk, now I can write, stand, and pace.

I don't want to make this a tech review post. For that, it will make more sense to write up my actual experiences later on, after I've used the apps in a day-to-day environment. But it is an exciting and new way to get ideas down on "paper" and out of my head. I'm looking forward to some good and creative times with this little device. I've enjoyed writing this post on it.*

*I added the links on the Mac.


pattinase (abbott) said...

It really worries me that I understand so little of what you are talking about here. It seems like I'd better get onboard with this technology before I am left behind.

John McFetridge said...

I've been reading on my iPod Touch and it's easier to get used to than I expected.

Unknown said...

Oh, Scott, wait until you get an iPad. The damn thing has pretty much become my primary computer and has replaced my Kindle as my e-reader. Brilliant piece of machinery

Scott D. Parker said...

Pattti - It will all come to you. Frankly, up until I got the iPod, I didn't knowuch about this either.

John - Coming from the Palm Pilot, reading o. The iPod is heaven!

Keith - When I first heard about the ipad, I didn't see the need for it. Now that i've used the iPod and played with the ipad at the Apple store, I can see myself using one all of the time. The iBook interface is splendid and I expect the I'll be buying more and more books electronically. Moreover, I can see it being an educational tool for my son. Just imagine when he goes to college, having an ipad as his only source of textbooks. This is the future.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

I think I might end up being the only person on this blog without an e-reader. I saw my friend's iPad the other day....very nice. I like the look and feel...just can't ever imagine reading a book on it. I like paper. So let's hope paper never goes away or I'll be screwed!