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Ask Slashdot: I Want To Read More. Should I Get an eBook Reader Or a Tablet?

EggyToast Really depends on the subject matter (415 comments)

If you're reading fiction, get a Kindle or other e-ink device, because these guys have the advantage of being lightweight, have long battery lives, and "disappear" when you're reading. You just read and read and can enjoy yourself.

If you're reading non-fiction, especially non-fiction with charts, graphs, and the like, get a tablet. They support more advanced features with ePub.

Finally, the device in many cases also ties you into a store. If you're just interested in loading up your own PDFs, you have free reign to select any tablet. If you want to read books from the iBookstore, you have to go with the iPad. If you like the Kindle store or the Nook store, you can choose most tablets OR their own tablet offering.

more than 2 years ago
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Facebook Is Killing Text Messaging

EggyToast Re:Good (270 comments)

I believe that is the point -- people are choosing to use other forms of messaging and finding that they're as good, if not better, among their contacts compared to SMS. As such, they are saving themselves the unlimited texting fees.

An unlimited texting plan on AT&T is $20/mo, and on Verizon, the $5/mo tier only gets you 250 messages. The $10/mo plan gets you mostly unlimited texting. So, people are deciding "hey, everyone I text is on FB, and I can ping them on their phone the same way. Plus I can ping people who don't even have phones and are sitting at home."

So, it's more flexible, and it's cheaper. People then drop their unlimited data plans (which are add-ons and not part of the contract structure), which eats into the planned revenue for the carriers. What's worse, the carriers have no plan to recoup this fee once it's gone. They'll need to make up the shortfall by increasing data plan costs.

more than 2 years ago
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Acer CEO Declares a Tablets Bubble

EggyToast Re:Fever? (692 comments)

What's neat is that you've found a great use for the device even without a lot of the things that make it really uniquely different from desktops and laptops. Personally, I think of tablets as an incredibly social computer. Look how many people easily pass around iPads, or will hold one and poke at it while another person is standing or sitting right there. And with the screen, there's no question of weird viewing angles, unlike many laptops, so it actually feels like a shared experience.

What I think is even more neat is how a single device can play multiplayer games. That's unheard of in the current PC/Laptop marketplace, where you can put a computer on a table and have 2-4 people playing the same game. Part of it is the ergonomics -- it's much easier to share a single "slate" compared to a folded laptop -- but it also has to do with the new OS. That's the real reason that the iPad and non-Apple Tablets are succeeding at all; they're not trying to be laptops. They're saying "I am a device you poke at, and that means I do different things. Therefore, I will have a different interface, different applications, and different outputs."

That's really neat! And it's what was needed all along to create a thriving tablet marketplace. Not just "Windows with touchscreen support," because, honestly, no one gave a shit about touchscreen support. That's why all previous Windows tablets failed.

more than 3 years ago
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Oxford Scientists Say Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

EggyToast Re:Obviously brain size establishes intelligence (716 comments)

Teaching a cat to flush is actually a really bad idea. Why? Because flushing is fun! And the cat will then sit and flush and flush and flush and flush and flush...

about 4 years ago
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What If We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

EggyToast Re:Degrees (380 comments)

A counter-argument to you could be that this university could have *some* tenured professors, but then we end up back at the beginning -- some tenured professors doing long-term, deep research, and some adjunct professors that often have real jobs, perhaps teach more classes, etc. (In other words, I agree with you)

I think the idea overlooks the purpose of higher education. While some argue that it's just like a vocational school, universities still exist largely to further knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Journalists, op-ed columnists, and parents may complain that universities are not preparing people for the workplace with their classics degrees, but the university would say "we may help people develop to become better employees, but we are not a four-year job-placement service."

I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about with the "Business School Product" stuff, though. People who complete MBAs at actual universities get a good education that's much more than widgets and sales (I just finished an MBA at a top university). Yes, there are more MBA degrees from fly-by-night online universities, but just like other degrees, where you actually go to get the education counts for quite a bit. For example, scientific research out of Princeton is useless because it's an undergraduate-only program -- there are no grad students or post-docs working on serious research for serious science journals.

more than 4 years ago
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E-Books Are Only 6% of Printed Book Sales

EggyToast Re:I agree, but (437 comments)

This is a crazy idea, but maybe people like both? I prefer books on my Kindle but I'm not going to avoid a book I want to read because it's not available -- I'm going to get it from the library. Maybe that's not the solution that reluctant publishers want to hear, though...

Still, I agree that I'm not sure what the point of this original post is. A new technology doesn't sell as well as an equivalent, older technology? I'd argue that books are a bit different from movies or music in that books actually physically contain the story -- there's no extra layer of technology involved in enjoying them. That's probably never going to go away, unless paper becomes precious (in which case we have a lot of other things to worry about!). For those with a little extra money who prefer e-ink, though, why not sell them an e-book version of a story? A publisher should see each sale as pretty much the same thing.

more than 4 years ago
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Xbox Head Proclaims Blu-ray Dead

EggyToast Re:Figures don't lie (547 comments)

I agree with you, and the fact that broadband speeds have remained relatively flat in the US are another argument against streaming taking over. People buy blu-ray for the HD video and audio; streaming can't even offer surround sound currently. I like getting Indie movies and DVD-only movies via streaming, from Netflix -- because it's a free addition to my account with them.

The Xbox heads and the Apple heads talk about how streaming is going to be on top -- are they talking about buying a movie from iTunes but accessing it from your Xbox? Or buying it from Amazon and getting a free download to your iPhone? No, they're talking about locking in the consumer to their platform. Of course they're going to talk about the death of their competitors.

What, we expect them to say "Streaming is great for a select few, but it isn't a good way to make money and is limited by factors outside of our control." C'mon, they're in PR!

more than 4 years ago
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Security Concerns Paramount After Early Reviews of Diaspora Code

EggyToast Re:After how long? (206 comments)

Yeah, they've only focused on the "fun stuff." Or rather, it sounds more like their purpose was "Facebook's so annoying to use. Let's make one that works like we want!" without really caring about the backend stuff. Maybe they assume that the "open source community" will do all the backend stuff for them -- even though they're the ones getting paid?

more than 4 years ago
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King's Dark Tower Series To Be Adapted For Film, TV

EggyToast Re:GDI NOOOO! (238 comments)

Funny, considering the LotR movies were rated PG-13.

more than 4 years ago
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Sony Breathes New Life Into Library Books

EggyToast Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (374 comments)

Agreed; it's hard to be upset about DRM on free products. It's not like anyone's paying for anything, so the idea of "ownership" is rather moot.

more than 4 years ago
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Video Quality Matters Less If You Enjoy the Show

EggyToast Re:This is mostly true (366 comments)

I think people will still enjoy a good movie, but this sounds so binary. "Do you enjoy this movie? Y/N" And then reduce the video quality and ask again.

What about taking everyone who enjoyed the movie and then showing it to them at a higher quality? "Do you enjoy this movie more now? Y/N"

I know for my favorite movies I'm excited when them come out on Blu-Ray because it means I get to enjoy them that much more. I don't overlook the cinematography because of the poor reproduction from DVD or streaming or broadcast TV -- I revel in the extra details. For example, Fargo is a pretty good movie; I hear it was popular when it came out. On Blu-Ray, you can see details like the fact that Buscemi's character hasn't shaved in days, something you miss in the smoothed-over DVD release. Maybe that doesn't matter to the general public, but as a cinephile it's the little details that really suck you in to a film.

more than 4 years ago
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Barnes and Noble Bookstore Chain Put In Play

EggyToast Re:Maybe if they charged sane prices (414 comments)

Without Barnes & Noble, though, there's more opportunities for small indie bookstores. If there's a B&N around the corner, why go to an indie with a smaller selection and cat hair? But if the only alternative is buying online, indie stores become much more viable -- especially since indies can stock used books, something which B&N and Borders doesn't. Without B&N it also means that it becomes viable for other non-book stores to sell books. Many coffee shops sell a few CDs -- why not add a small book section? As long as people read books, there'll be places to buy them.

more than 4 years ago
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Electric Car Subsidies As Handouts For the Rich

EggyToast Re:'limousine liberalism' (589 comments)

Right, it's slightly myopic to complain about how these cars and incentives are created for wealthy individuals, considering that electric cars are only really useful in the US if you own another [gas-powered] vehicle. If incentives encourage people to buy one of these as a secondary car, rather than an otherwise equivalent gas car, then it's done its job.

more than 4 years ago
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Our Video Game Heritage Is Rotting Away

EggyToast Re:Vectrex (492 comments)

I don't think they need to be on a pedestal, but I do think the ability to play them as they were released is important, even if it's just as a "museum arcade" type of thing. We don't use lead-acid batteries but seeing the bulk of them and how people wired up electrical circuits 100 years ago is absolutely worth preserving. Same with old computers that used vacuum tubes; they're woefully slow but it's a part of our technological heritage.

Not to mention that merely talking about old games -- 3 lives, no ending, wave after wave of bad guys -- doesn't sound like much fun. Yet playing them is still oddly addicting, even for people who pick them up for the first time. I think the actual original is more informative for "how things were" than an emulation, because the emulation just looks like a crappy modern game. The old game cabinets, overlays, screens, and boards are much more illustrative of the past than a little blob of code that accomplishes the same thing.

more than 4 years ago
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Reading E-Books Takes Longer Than Reading Paper Books

EggyToast Re:Not statistically significant (186 comments)

Agreed. Even if it's a small percentage slower than a paper book (which could simply be attributed to the slight delay from the e-ink refreshing, compared to turning a page), the fact that I can have a book with me wherever I am means I read a TON more. Some time after lunch at work? Whip out my iPhone (which syncs on the Kindle app). Wife trying on some clothes in a store? Whip out the iPhone.

more than 4 years ago
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Reading E-Books Takes Longer Than Reading Paper Books

EggyToast Re:Not statistically significant (186 comments)

I'm young (recently 30) and have great vision, yet I just recently discovered, thanks to a Kindle, that smaller font sizes make me sleepy. When I'm reading something, on a computer, book, kindle, whatever, if the font is small and I'm a bit tired, it takes a little more concentration to read the tiny font -- which subsequently tires my eyes out. With a comfortable font size, I can read for hours without feeling the least bit drowsy.

And I don't think it has anything to do with screen size, either, as I've read whole novels on my iPhone -- with a reasonable font size, of course. But it wasn't until I had a device that let me simply change the size of the font instantly that I even noticed the issue. Now it makes me think differently about older people reading; I think my drowsy grandparents, who tear through paperbacks yet often fall asleep reading them, aren't actually just "old and tired" -- I think they simply go through the same thing my young eyes do.

But to corroborate your main point, my parents love using their iMac and my grandparents recently got a "hand me up" laptop that they use for games and other stuff. In both cases, they just had to get over the "will I break it?" factor, and then they were zooming like any other human when confronted with an interesting object ;D

more than 4 years ago
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Prices Slashed For Nook, Kindle E-Readers

EggyToast Re:EBOOK PRICES (255 comments)

I rent books from the library. Some even offer e-books. I get to read the books and then give it back after a few weeks; it's great! You should see if one's been set up in your area!

more than 4 years ago
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Prices Slashed For Nook, Kindle E-Readers

EggyToast Re:EBOOK PRICES (255 comments)

Even if DRM protection is not easy to remove, I find it hard to believe that if one of these companies suddenly went bankrupt, their assets wouldn't be purchased by a competitor. What's more, if they suddenly disappeared overnight, then there would be no one to update their DRM format -- giving hackers a stable target. Arguably, once the company disappears it would be easier to bypass their DRM, as there'd be no legal team to send out C&D letters to hackers.

more than 4 years ago
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Prices Slashed For Nook, Kindle E-Readers

EggyToast Re:EBOOK PRICES (255 comments)

It's always there, and takes up no space, but sharing is an important factor in buying a book for many people. I just had a friend ask me for some suggested reading, and a couple of the books were e-books with DRM. If it was a paper book, I could've loaned it to him.

It's not terrible, but it's an example of how DRM is more of a nuisance for those being "good consumers" than any actual protection for copyright holders. Instead, my friend just got the books from the library.

more than 4 years ago
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AOL Dumps $1.2 Billion Worth of Acquisitions

EggyToast Re:Come and go. (122 comments)

And even those web sensations might be limited. Look how hard Google has been trying to get into more social networking -- Orkut is dead (except in Brazil), Buzz is lame -- and even they have a hard time of it, despite being massively popular in other avenues.

more than 4 years ago

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