Five more things to like about the Kindle 3

It's a nice view, anywhere you look at it. (From fuckyeahreading.tumblr.com)

No question about it: The Kindle 3 is perfect for reading eBooks, thanks to its much-vaunted, proprietary electronic ink technology.
The letters are crisp, clear, and sharp.
It precludes glare, strain, and other forms of visual torture associated with poring over a digital screen that doesn’t feature Angel Locsin’s Folded and Hung ads. [See: Angel Locsin’s Folded and Hung ads]
But that’s not the only thing the K3 offers.
While the add-ons may not be spectacular, these nevertheless increase the value to owning and using what may well be the world’s most famous eBook reader.
Which, I guess, is my way of saying: I love my Kindle 3 and I hope you love yours too. And if you haven’t gotten a Kindle 3 yet, go get one while the peso’s strong and the dollar’s weak and so I can shut the hell up about it already.

(The usual disclaimers apply. No arrangement, financial or otherwise, has been made between Amazon.com, its owners,  affiliates, and this self-styled, self-confessed Kindle 3 cheerleader. The check is still in the mail. Or so Jeff Bezos keeps on telling me. Right.)

1) It’s best for reading in the bathroom.

Here’s something that Jeff Bezos missed.
Owing to its weight, size, and form factor, the Kindle 3 is good for reading in the bathroom, especially while occupying the best seat in the house.
The K3 has dispensed with carrying a thick volume on the way to the can as well as the need for extra space in the toilet on which to place books, crucial when reaching for a roll of tissues.
Whether hunched like Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker or stretched out as if flying business class on someone else’s tab, the K3 is the best bathroom companion as the posterior comes home to roost.
Just make sure you turn on the lights.
(In case of a power outage or absence of reading lamps — common in certain cheap accommodations — you can always get the Mighty Bright book light.) [See: Mighty Bright booklight]
In the meantime, for the rich and ambitious, you can also use the K3 while in the tub. But remember: the K3 wasn’t designed for underwater use.

2) It’s an emergency music player.

iPod suddenly — and mysteriously — out of juice?
No sweat.
That is, if you’ve bought the K3 along.
Bigger but thinner than the Walkman, the K3 plays mp3 files stored in its music folder on its speakers or through a regular-sized audio jack for earphones. (You do need to drag and drop files beforehand using a PC or a Mac).
The feature is purely experimental though.
This explains why it lacks a shuffle, repeat, and loop mode and other related features found even in digital audio players made ten years ago.
But the K3 will keep on playing music even after the unit is turned off. Or once it runs out of power (which will take awhile.)*
(There are two ways to play music. For the first, go to Home, press the Menu button, choose Experimental, and scroll down to the play music command. For the second, press Alt and the space button. To skip to the next song, press Alt and the F key. To stop playing, press Alt and the space key. To make coffee, get off your butt.)

3) It’s a rudimentary web browser.

Let’s say you have a crummy phone (like some people I know).
As a result, you may be unable to access the internet even with the availability of a robust WiFi connection.
What to do?
Pull out the K3 and access the internet through its proprietary browser.
While the device will find it easy to detect and connect using the network, it will have difficulty recognizing certain graphic files and pictures on webpages.
Despite this setback, it’s still good enough for instant searches on Wikipedia and other sites.

4) Two words: Twitter and Facebook.

(Which is three words actually. But who’s counting? The Comelec?)
Struck by a witty aphorism, a moving account, a well-written passage you’ve read on the K3?
You can share them on your Twitter and Facebook accounts without changing screens, thanks to the K3’s social network features.
Of course, users need to manage their settings on the K3 first after they register their units on Amazon.com.
Don’t get too excited about sharing though.
If the passage is longer than two or so paragraphs, Amazon.com is going to cut it.
But don’t fret.
You can still share longer passages the hard way.
Just copy the “My Clippings” text file stored in the documents folder of the Kindle hard drive and take it from there.
In the meantime, if you want to overshare — if you know what I mean — there’s always torrents.

5) Yes, you can read comics and graphic novels.

Since the K3 can read PDF files, it can read comic books and graphic novels stored in that format.
Or at least theoretically.
But don’t bet the house on it.
After all, the K3 may find it difficult to load and render comics in color as opposed to graphic files drawn in black and white.
So it’s still touch and go.
And if you do succeed in installing and loading a comic book into the K3, consider it a small victory for yourself and the inexpensive eBook reader that — arguably — revolutionized the way humans read books.
*From the Go Get A Room Dept. It took my K3 18 days before it required recharging. Eighteen days — a lifetime for a device that I use everyday for tasks including but not limited to reading. Even my low-tech Treo 650 phone doesn’t last that long on a single, full charge. Meanwhile, charging the K3 took just about an hour or so.

Twitter, an electric company’s “noble cause”

(From lonewolflibrarian.wordpress.com)

Twitter makes many things possible.

It provides tips to clean your coffeemaker [See: Three things I learned from Twitter] or a link to a catalog featuring a series of Mercedes Benz cars — and their specs — produced for the American market in the 1960s (which I got from the person managing Donald Draper’s Twitter account.)

This latest blog piece — which includes what may well be my third  attempt at podcasting — was similarly brought about by Twitter.

In a tweet posted at around four in the afternoon of October 19, my Twitter friend @nicknich3 said:

No, it's not the lanzones we're talking about here. It's the tweet before that, my friend.

His tweet’s shortened link, in turn, brought this:

This reminded me of portions of the interview I held last June with some executives of Meralco, the Philippines’ largest electric company, regarding the firm’s Twitter strategy. [See: How Meralco got its Twitter name back]

During the interview, Kirk Campos, the company’s corporate communications staff, said that he once attended an internet convention in Manila which dealt with social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

According to Campos, a speaker in the event said that Meralco’s foray into Twitter was “a noble cause” since it was going to open the floodgates of complaints from its customers. However, the speaker said that without knowing that Campos, and his supervisor, Joe R. Zaldarriaga, the company’s media relations manager, was in attendance.

For more, you can listen to a three-minute portion of the interview, which lasted more than one and a half hours.

Twitter, Meralco\’s noble cause

———————

From the Give Credit Where Its Due Dept.
As indicated in podomatic.com, the website where the podcast was uploaded, the interview was held last June 22, 2010 at the Meralco headquarters on Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City, Philippines. [See: Podomatic.com] Among those in attendance included Campos, Zaldarriaga, and Ernesto A. Fraginal, senior manager of the company’s call center operations. No credit goes to yours truly for failing to embed podcast. What the $%#@*&^+~!

Guy walks into a bar

Thanks, Fotosearch

Guy walks into a bar, inspects whatever passes for the decor, and asks how much for a beer?

The waiter, all-too-accommodating, proceeds to give a number, which appears reasonable, so the guy — who is accompanied by an acquaintance — sits down.

Guy orders one round for both.

Suddenly, the speakers go full blast.

Guy is irritated because he may be unable to hear the story of his new-found acquaintance.

Fortunately, management has immediately deemed it fit to turn the volume down to a more tolerable level. After all, waiters are trying to listen into the exchange taking place at the other table.

Some white-haired, middle-aged geezer wearing a loose T-shirt, a pair of shorts and slippers appeared to have arrived late for his date, a young, female hottie with upper body advantages. As the middle-aged guy slips into a seat in front of her, they both smile and laugh.

Guy who just walked into the bar and asked for the price of a beer is not amused.
How come, he asks himself, he’s stuck with male acquaintances on a Saturday night while old geezers like this one — swift dagger look to his left — bags the babes?

He is mystified.

The mix of contempt and regret quickly evaporates as the ice-cold beer arrives.

Both guys proceed to exchange life stories.

First guy is drinking just a few hours of the night away until he gets lubricated enough to write something, he says, without mentioning that he maintains a website.

It’s far too complicated, he says to himself, thinking of some people whom he occasionally meets, asking him: “Website, what’s that?”

Meanwhile, during his turn to talk, his acquaintance tells him that he once drove a BMW out of a twenty-foot metal container.

He says he was assisted only by his wits and two thin planks of wood.

Two planks of wood, he repeats. Two planks of wood.

It happened twice, he says, forgetting the name of the other sportscar.

Guy nods.

Interesting life you’ve led, he says, as he catches old geezer and the girl get into a cab.

He takes another pull at his bottle of beer.

It’s cold and crisp, just about every bottle of beer he’s had since he started drinking regularly at the age of 20.

“At least you were good enough to bring the car out safely,” guy says to his companion.

“You don’t know half of it,” the other guy replies. “Two planks of wood. They were thin — like plywood.”

He nods. The other guy nods. They drink.

In a fit of inspiration, guy says to himself, “Hey, why don’t I write about this cool restaurant?”
———————
This piece of “fast fiction” — for the lack of a better definition — is an unpaid piece for Chickenalicious Restaurant, a newly-opened bar at 22 A Matapang corner Malakas Streets in Barangay Pinyahan in Quezon City. Forgot the price of the beer but you can call them up to ask 227 4323. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. House specialties (which is served with rice) include Chicken Inasal (P83), Liempo Inasal (P70), Pork Inasal (five pieces P100), Grilled Boneless Bangus (P105), Pinaputok na Pla-Pla (P110), Sirloin Oversized Steak (P120), Pansit Canton/Bihon (P75). Chickenalicious Restaurant also takes bulk orders, its says in its flyer.
Just to make it clear: No consideration, financial or otherwise, has been made between the owner of this website and any employee, relative, owner, or stakeholder of Chickenalicious Restaurant.

With a little help from my friends

From all over, I have received various forms of assistance — unfortunately, none of them financial — but most of them unexpected. (Good enough.)

And to them, my benefactors, I dedicate this blog entry.

Meanwhile, friends who have decided to risk their reputations by sticking with me through thick and thin all these years (i.e., long-term friends, college buddies, et. al.) deserve separate, individual blog entries, commending their support, loyalty, etc. (I’ll get to that soon. After all, I’ve written enough stuff about you.)

In any case, this sudden outburst of gratitude was the result of having received a set of photos for the header of this blog.

It came from Nikka C., a former co-worker whom I will repay by sending two books her way. Thanks, Nikka, I appreciate the photos very much.

Others who deserve my thanks include:

Alan R., for free beer, pizza, and advice (journalistic and otherwise);

Doc Caloy R., for putting up with the visits to his clinic in which the only thing we talked about were old Mac computers. I hope the Color Classic I gave you is still running;

Toff H., for fixing my Palm V years ago and offering to take up all my old electronic junk. I should have shipped some your way but they were just too heavy;

Butch D., for putting up with the irregular house visits, unreasonable requests, and failure to keep in touch regularly;

Mr. mid-sized food company chief executive (whose name I now forgot) who replaced the batteries on my Palm V ten years ago;

And last but not least, the older unidentified woman who lent me her pair of scissors while at the post office which moments later, I returned broken but didn’t tell her about it. (Sorry if you felt betrayed by some random stranger. But really, that pair of scissors was nibbling its way towards retirement, ma’am.)

To all of you, thank you. (And to the Guy Upstairs, The Big G., or whatever other crazies may call you, thanks.)

Small town blues

Some folks who have gone away and taken holidays in the Big Apple have nothing but fondness for the city that never sleeps.

This is not surprising.

After all, besides being one of the world’s financial capitals, the city has something for everyone — literally.

While Broadway shows and museum exhibits are among the city’s many tourist attractions, New York features establishments so specialized and esoteric that not even the most parochial-minded Manhattanites — who believe that Times Square is the center of the universe — know that these exist.

Despite being temporarily incapacitated by the September 11 attacks, the city and its residents have moved on, showing the world that its sense of community remains unshakable.

To further emphasize that the city will not be content to rest on its laurels, Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006 unveiled an ambitious plan during the US’s Earth Day celebrations.

Besides vowing to plant a million more trees in the said metropolis, Bloomberg said his administration will impose fees on cars during rush hour, a plan which aims to cut emissions and reduce traffic congestion.

Moreover, the mayor, famous for establishing a financial news service bearing his name, said his administration will raise an estimated $30 billion to improve mass transit.

Although the city’s legislature has already pooh-poohed Bloomberg’s programs, it is at least nice to know that the mayor cares enough about New York to actually even spend time thinking about such plans.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly something which Metro Manila city officials are famous for.

Although many well-intentioned experts have long proposed programs to make the metropolis a little bit livable — to use the term loosely — appeals for urban renewal and upgraded infrastructure have either fallen on deaf ears or rarely strayed beyond the confines of the drawing board.

For instance, even as far back as four years ago, has any Metro Manila resident heard of programs with real, practical benefits to improve city living?

Save for painting the whole metropolis pink and implementing a program called “Metro Guapo” — ask yourself, is that even world-class? Seriously, Metro Guapo? — no such programs for Metro Manila (except for cities such as Makati) exist.

And let’s not get started on traffic regulations across the whole megacity — they vary across the metropolis’ 16 cities and municipalities.

So unless we choose local and national leaders with coherent, sensible platforms on May 10, our small town blues aren’t going to fade away very soon.

———————
Text above was salvaged from an editorial I once proposed to write more than four years ago when I was working as a deskperson for a newspaper.

From And the Credit Goes to Dept. Rebus of I (heart) New York designed by Milton Glaser from Wikipedia.

Spice up your life

In my small world — a world of basic needs (running water, decent cellphone signals, and free copies of Pinoy Parazzi) — chili is big.
You got that right: Chili.
Chili makes a mediocre meal good, a good meal perfect.
Whether liquid or solid, chili is the best agreeable companion for every meal, next to a hottie and a cold alcoholic drink.
But then again, that’s just my opinion.
Which explains why I always keep a jar of chili handy — it’s always useful for correcting kitchen emergencies, which fortunately happen rarely owing to the utter lack of trying. However, that’s another story altogether.
Anyway, whenever I go out, I never pass the chance to try the house chili.
And thanks to my limited culinary adventures, I have discovered that the best chili in Metro Manila, perhaps even in the Philippines, isn’t for sale.
It’s for free — you just have to visit Kowloon House along Matalino Street in Quezon City to enjoy it.
To do so, you first have to pick something off the establishment’s menu, which is posted right up above the kitchen that also serves as the counter for orders.
And there, my friend, lies the rub.
Ordering food at that Kowloon branch is more difficult than getting the attention of a government worker five minutes before his/her coffee break.
Just this Saturday, I dropped by, relishing past, pleasant thoughts of Kowloon’s beef mami, consisting of tasty meat chunks so large and rich that if you eat them everyday for the next two years, you’d either suffer from a heart attack or choke to death.
My reverie about beef mami was interrupted when I was ignored a couple of times by the servers.
Had I been younger, I would have raised holy hell, demanding that I be waited on hand and foot, just like any regular asshole.
But times were now different.
Besides being older — and supposedly less assholish — I was wearing a tattered T-shirt that had more holes than the ozone layer.
In short, I looked like an old, loserish fogey in the making that deserved to be ignored.
Only until I sat down and grew a foot-long beard did a waitress take notice.
When my order arrived — a bowl of beef mami and a can of Coke — I asked for some chili.
Just like my supper, my request for chili was faciliated at a pace slightly faster than the speed of a three-legged turtle.
The chili was consumed the minute it arrived because the serving was no bigger than my thumbnail.
Partnered with a chunk of beef, it was delicious.
But taken individually, the chili was a meal in itself, giving off a melange of flavors — strong hints of garlic, pepper, and a sweet fruit which I can’t quite place (pineapple?).
After I consumed it in one go, I asked for some more.
However, the establishment refused to be generous, giving me the second serving in just about the same quantity.
I finished my meal and nearly licked the chili off the sauce plate it was served in.
And as I settled the bill, I discovered that I learned another lesson — or at least I think I did — from this whole experience of chili cutbacks: The best things in life may be free but sometimes you just can’t get enough of them.
———————
From the Digital Imaging Dept. Cropped photo shows Sophie Monk in an advertisement for PETA. Thanks, Zimbio.com.

Gonzo journalism and the Ibogaine effect

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson must have been a real SOB when he was alive.
Just look at what happened to Maine politician Edward Muskie, who in 1972, was trying to secure the nomination to become the US Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
Thompson’s imagination got in the way of Muskie’s ambitions.
Sometime during the period, good old HST wrote that Muskie took Ibogaine.
He said that the psychoactive drug was administered by a doctor who flew in from Brazil, a claim he would later say was something he just made up while beating a deadline.
This didn’t help Muskie’s chances any.
Someone else — Senator George McGovern, a Governor from South Dakota — later secured the nomination but he lost the presidency to Richard Nixon.
Whatever consequences Thompson might have on the course of United States history — with or without what is now called the Ibogaine effect — remains debatable.
However, one thing is certain.
Thompson was one of the best writers and journalists the English-speaking world has ever read, heard, and seen.
“Some people will say that words like “scum” and “rotten” are wrong for objective journalism which is true but they miss the point,” he once said.
Like most personalities here and abroad, modesty was never one of his virtues.
Thompson loved the camera, as shown by the various pieces of footage shown in the same 2008 documentary about his life, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, a copy of which was lent to me by Karl Kaufman.
He was also a womanizer, a gun freak, and, according to his landlord, a tenant who failed to pay his rent on time.
But even before he killed himself in 2005, these character flaws were overlooked.
After all, the man invented Gonzo Journalism, a form that many of us — including deadline-beating deadbeats such as myself — can only dream about replicating.

———————

From the Gratis et Amore Dept. HST’s picture, taken during the 1988 Miami International Book Fair is from Wikipedia. Entry was first published under the title of Hunter Thompson, inventor of Gonzo journalism.