Last weekend, while down in Devon, I lost my Kindle. Entirely my own fault, and primarily due to being a dickhead – but still, bloody annoying.
I ordered a replacement pretty much immediately, and hoped that Amazon had improved the method for restoring all the books I’ve got onto the device. It’s been a bloody awful experience the last couple of times, but the last time was three years ago. So, knowing how swiftly they release new stuff on AWS/Cloud, it’s got to have been worked on, surely?
Welllllll, yes and no.
The experience is a bit better – at least now it keeps a record of what books have been put into Collections (think of each Collection as a bookshelf) which sort of makes things easier. But not much – because you can’t actually select, for example, a set of Collections and say “Deliver these”.
Instead, it’s still horrifically manual, and dirt-slow. You have to go to the Amazon site, and then “Manage Content and Devices”. If you only have a few books, then great, that’s fine. I haven’t – I’ve got about 600. So even selecting the maximum of 200 books at a time – which is sort-of easy, although still involves scrolling the page down until it’s got that full 200 listed, and then “select all” – then takes forever to actually push them to the Kindle.
With the Collections, once the books have been pushed to the Kindle, it should then put them into the right places – so that’s at least a small improvement. Last time, I had to re-add books to the Collections as well, which made the entire thing a massive pain in the arse.
The thing is, none of this should be difficult. So long as one does backups of the device (and the Sync process is actively encouraged by Amazon, so one can read a book on one device and then continue it on another) then it should be a simple matter of going “Copy the stuff from this backup onto that machine”, in the same way it does for my iPhones.
All told, even with the improvements, it’s a rotten first experience with a new device. It surprises me just how bad it actually is – the entire thing seems to be something that Amazon doesn’t expect to happen, or that’s only been tested with five or ten books. I wonder if it’s something Amazon will ever get round to fixing…
A long, long time ago, someone on Twitter repeatedly introduced me to the chemically geeky “Things I Won’t Work With” blog, which basically did what it said on the tin. Chemical compounds and experiments that were… on the energetic side, shall we say? The way it was written made me laugh, and I loved seeing the sporadic updates.
Then it disappeared, and I pretty much forgot about it.
Only it turns out to have been (still sporadically) updated, but on a different site – something I found out this week. I’d been on The Twitter to mention to that original someone about a newly reprinted copy of “Ignition!” (which , from memory, had been one of the inspirations for “Things I Won’t Work With”) and then other Twitterers reminded me of the name of the blog.
“Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants” is fascinating. Originally written in the early 70s, it hadn’t been reprinted in decades – (but there’s obviously been some demand for it, as the publishers weren’t going to go to the effort if there weren’t) but it was on my ‘want to read’ list if I ever found a copy. When I saw earlier this year that it was being re-printed, and available as an eBook as well, I pre-ordered immediately, and it arrived this week.
The book itself has an irreverent style to it, which is fine – and even understandable, considering that the author was part of a very select group involved in all this stuff. I’m not a full-on chemistry geek, so some of it is a bit mind-boggling, but it’s been a great read. I’m really glad I managed to get it in the end.
Just to top off a pretty expensive fortnight, while I was away over the weekend the Kindle broke. As with previous ones, the screen film cracked, so half of it is working and the other half isn’t. In short, fucked.
As it turns out though, I can’t be too annoyed (annoyed, sure, but not too annoyed) as it turns out I’ve had this one just short of three years. Considering that before that I had a spate of broken screens in less than a year, it could’ve lasted a lot less time.
Yes, I’d rather these things were more resilient, were designed to last longer than 18 months.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how things have progressed with Kindles, and whether they’ve improved the ways to reload content onto a new device. It was horrific three years ago, so I’m hoping for improvements, it’s fair to say. (And if that doesn’t happen, I’ve got a backup from the old device – so maybe I’ll just be able to roll that onto the new one.)
Whenever I’m going somewhere, whether to meet friends, or just for a timed event, I tend to be pretty early. Stupidly early, in some cases – mainly because I just figure “Well, once I’m there, I can find something to do“. At worst, I have a Kindle and a phone, so I’ll always be able to do something with that time.
I don’t expect others to follow the same thing, though – that’s just a world of hurt, because then I’d still be earlier than the expected early time, and it can get stupid. (I have one friend who’s of a similar mind-set, and we ended up being – unconsciously – competitively early for a while, ’til we realised it was just getting dumb)
Sometimes, though, it turns out that there’s a good reason for being early to things. Saturday was one of those times.
I was going in to London for a concert in the evening, and then booked a lunch at Hibiscus as well. My plan was to park up at an Underground station I knew well, Tube into Central London (well, kinda – I still wanted to walk as well), go for lunch, wander around London a bit/lot, get back up to the concert venue, meet up with another friend, go to the gig, and then get back to the car and drive us both home. That plan survived until the first stage…
What I hadn’t realised was that the Northern Line (the only line from the station in question) was shut for the weekend. No trains at all. Of course, London Underground being the useless shitbricks they are, there were no signs at the entrance to the station or car-park, so I’d paid for parking (fortunately only £2 for the day), walked into the station, to be faced with “Nope, no trains”. The useless bell-end outside had no idea how I’d get back from the gig at all – well, he suggested taking no less than four buses, at midnight on Saturday-into-Sunday. So that was no use.
But, I’m well early at this point. So it’s time for a replan. Drive down to the concert venue, find somewhere close-ish to park, and juggle things from there.
And that’s what happened. Drive down (only about four miles, in fairness) and find a side-road with parking. Permits only, but only Monday-Friday. It’s a Saturday, so I’ll go for that. Check the parking meter. Nope, that Mon-Fri only too. Double-check with the online-app for paying, and nope, can’t take any money for that parking, sir.
Then start walking to find where the hell I am – I know I’m closeish, but not exactly where – turn the corner, and oh look, there’s the venue. Literally two minutes, car-to-venue. Wander past to find a bus into central London, oh look, there’s one that’ll do it, hop on, and job done.
That entire re-plan and reorganisation, and I was still at Hibiscus 45 minutes early…
So sometimes there’s a really good reason for being idiotically early to things. If I’d been cutting things fine already, that change would’ve completely chiffed me for the day, and been uber-stressful all the way. As it was, it was still an absolute doddle, and everything went well.
Indeed, it actually made life easier – because coming out of the gig, we were in the car and out of London before we’d probably have even got to the original station…
In 2014 I read 105 books.
I know this because for the books I recorded it all on GoodReads, where I’d set myself the challenge of ready 100 books in a year. I did the same in 2013 and cleared the total easily, ending up at about 130 for the year.
This year I read less – mainly because I had three months while working for The Twat in London where I didn’t have the time to read much at all, due to excessive work and travel times. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d have been up around the same level again this year. As it was, I just scraped over the bar.
I’ve set the same target again for this year, and expect to do it, but probably by a similar margin to this year. The reason? I want to read some more of the classics, some stuff that makes me think more – and thus is perhaps a bit harder to get into.
There’s also going to be – probably – less reading time, as I want to be doing the other stuff on the project list as well. I don’t know if it’ll work out that way, but that’s the general intention. If I don’t make the target number, I’ll be OK with it this time, because there’s a lot of other stuff happening too.
Come Jan 2016, we’ll see how I did on all of it.
I am, on occasion, a bloody idiot. Last night was a prime example of that.
I went to the cinema to see the new Captain America film, and also had a meal. Because I was out like that, I took my Kindle, and because it was chiffing cold, I also took a jacket. (I’m normally pretty immune to cold, and don’t bother with jackets or coats at all)
When I got to the cinema, I put the jacket down by the side of the seat, with the Kindle in its inside pocket.
When I left the cinema, I also left the jacket – because it’s not in my mental software to get it, I completely forgot about it. I am, in short, a complete fucking idiot.
I went back this morning first thing (I had a day off anyway, for a number of reasons) to see if they’d found it, but no-one had handed it in. I’ll check again, just in case it’d been held over somewhere, but the odds are that the jacket and the Kindle are gone.
Of course, things could have been so much worse. It could’ve been an expensive coat/jacket, I could have left my wallet in the jacket as well. The Kindle could have had my payment details in it, or personal information. A couple of years ago, the loss of something like this would have knackered me, would have led to some financial juggling and so on just to replace it.
Now though, I’ve already registered it as lost, ordered a replacement, and it’s really not a big problem. It’s annoying – and of course a reminder that I’m a fucking idiot – but it all could have been so much worse. Indeed, it’s gone some way to showing me the changes that have happened over the last year or so, and in that, it’s no bad thing.
Collect Plus have created a network of locations – usually corner-shops, garages/filling stations, newsagents and the like – where you can drop off a parcel for delivery. It is – I assume – a kind of private mail/courier company, the sort of thing that’s risen from the ashes of Royal Mail’s service (or lack thereof)
So far, from my side, it’s been a pretty positive experience. I went over to the local(ish) collection/drop-off point on Sunday – yes! getting a parcel sent on a Sunday! – and went through the necessary bits. I’d printed off the label from Amazon, stuck it to the box, and all was prepared. Then I simply gave it over to the person on the till, got my receipt, and job done.
I got the email today from Amazon to say that the parcel has been delivered to them – not the world’s fastest process, but it’s cost me nothing to do, and it’s all run pretty smoothly so far. It’s also been a lot quicker, easier, more effective and less painful than anything Royal Mail ever managed…