Running the Numbers on Barnes & Noble

April 13, 2012

In the wake of media speculation of the impact of the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin and the secondary speculation of the impact on Barnes & Noble I thought I’d run a few numbers and see what story they might reveal. (more…)

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The Best of Today’s E-Book Readers

November 6, 2009

So much easier to use the title of the article I’m blogging that to think up another title that says the same thing: “The Best of Today’s E-Book Readers” is the name of a brief, superficial and badly-researched article in PC World, published November 2nd.

I note it for two reasons. The first is that the author gives the top prize to SONY not Amazon. Related to this is that the prize is apparently awarded to SONY because of its support of the open ePub format, versus Amazon’s proprietary format. My comments about the article, also posted to the site:

I feel this is a very weak and badly-researched article. My reasons:

1. ePub is an open format of the IDPF. Adobe supports it, but it’s not “Adobe ePub.”

2. “Eliminating paper saves resources”: this is a VERY tired and largely inaccurate statement. It has emotional appeal: eBooks don’t kill trees. Many eBook enthusiasts naively argue that the carbon footprint of eBooks is negligible, while printed books are environmentally evil. This assessment is far too simplistic. The millions of servers utilized 24 hours a day by companies like Amazon and Google consume vast amounts of electricity. So too of course do computers, most of which are also left on around the clock. The consumer electronics industry operates on a planned obsolesce model. Hardware usually cannot be upgraded sufficiently to support new features; it must be replaced. While the computer industry is making sincere efforts to encourage recycling, according to the Electronics Takeback Coalition (, “only 13.6% of the consumer electronic products generated into the municipal waste stream [meaning, that people tossed out] were ‘recovered’ for recycling in 2007. This compares to the overall recovery rate of all categories of municipal waste (which) was 33.4% in 2007.” The same source quotes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that 41.1 million desktops & laptops were discarded in 2007 in the U.S. All of this coincides with a time when the forestry, papermaking and printing industries are making great strides in reducing their carbon footprint.

3. Finally, the reviewer does not appreciate just how venal was Amazon’s miserable attempt to dominate the marketplace with the aid of a non-standard digital format, AZW. Now that all of the important competitors do support the industry-standard ePub format, surely SONY deserves more than 2 bonus points for its ongoing ePub support.

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It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My e-Book!

June 25, 2007

My current section on e-books (from way back on May 1) expresses many of my misgivings over their genesis and development. I also took note of their apparent impending return. Since then there’s a ton of data (mostly press releases of course) to suggest that a more important comeback is afoot, greater than I had previously gleaned. So I will have to update that section, and presumably get past what Cool Hand Luke suffered as some kind of “failure to communicate.”

In the meantime, I make note merely of the following: Sony’s latest e-book incarnation weighs 9 ounces (up several ounces from its original spec — though I admit I’ve gained weight in that time also). But I’m on my second Sony VAIO, a svelte and very capable 1.8 lb. computer.

I’d been waiting for a photo like this, recently gleaned from a Sony spammail, showing the two devices side-by-side¦

(May 4, 2008)…sadly, the photo disappeared during the last rework of my website architecture. I offer instead a photo of a gentleman on an airplane sitting with the reader…looks about the size of my VAIO…


I’m still waiting for the convincing argument as to why I’d add this e-Book to my existing arsenal of VAIOs and the (ever-frustrating) TREO. Stay tuned.

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Vista Hell

May 6, 2007

One of my clients is doing some work with Microsoft Vista. (I can’t figure it out: is it Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows Vista, or just Microsoft Vista?) So I bought a new Sony VAIO computer with Vista Business Edition pre-installed, knowing that if I tried to install Vista over Windows XP I would probably destroy everything I ever loved or cared for (digitally speaking).

Vista seemed alright for a an hour or two. There’s some cute little graphic do-dads in the interface. It’s very uptight about security, and that began to annoy me fairly quickly (I’ll write a whole lot more about this later).

I basically toyed with the computer for the first week or two, not spending a whole lot of time with it, preparing for what I feared would be a soon-to-be broken heart (digitally speaking). I stuck with my old XP VAIO as my main computer.

A few days back the computer offered me a bunch of software upgrades, most of them related to the software that Sony pre-installs on the computer. What could be wrong with installing those, I figured (not realizing how idiotic I soon would feel)?

Anyway, the net result was that these upgrades (I assume it’s these, as I haven’t done anything else to the puppy) somehow disabled my DVD drive. I got a dialog box that first alerted me to the problem that contained the text: “Please try to close the tray after close all the using softwares or after shutdown the system and then start the Windows (stet).”

After decoding this message, I went through all of the steps that the average computer dummy tries — a bunch of restarts, playing with the control panel, trying to uninstall the driver and so on. All to no effect.

Although it was late in the evening when frustration turned to rage, I discovered that I could still obtain online chat support. What follows is my conversation with Sony’s technician:


user Thad has entered room

analyst Casey_ has entered room

Casey_> Hi Thad. Welcome to Sony Online Support. I’m Casey. Please allow me a moment to review your concern.

Casey_> Thanks for waiting, Thad. I’m sorry that the DVD Drive is not working. I’ll be happy to assist you with this.

Thad> Thanks

Casey_> Have you made any Hardware or Software changes since it last worked normally?

Thad> I installed all recommended software updates which included several for VIAO media center, etc.

Thad> I also tonight did a roll-back to yesterday, although probably I installed the updates a few days ago

Thad> No hardware changes

Thad> Also, the problem started before the roll-back — the roll-back didn’t help

Casey_> Please check whether you see yellow exclamation mark on any of the devices listed in the Device Manager Window.

Thad> Yes, on that drive

Casey_> I would like to forward a link to a page where you can view the steps to troubleshoot this issue.

Casey_> When you receive the link please click on it to open the page and let me know if you are able to view it.


Thad> OK

Thad> I did restart — it doesn’t detect the drive

Thad> “Restart the computer.

NOTE: Wait a few seconds for the CD/DVD to be detected before double-clicking to access it.

Ensure the disc is clean and free of smudges, fingerprints and scratches, and that it is inserted correctly.

NOTE: The label should be facing up for CD and single sided DVD discs.

Try a different disc in the drive.” —- I DID THAT

Casey_> Are you able to view the page?

Thad> Yes…did you not see my response? I quoted from the page — the drive does not appear.

Casey_> Thad, please follow the steps in the article as each step is a possible solution. Also click on the sub links provided on the page for further information.

Thad> Also, did a virus scan 2 days ago

Thad> Please read the page again yourself. It is not relevant. What part is relevant if the drive does not appear?

Casey_> Did you perform all the thirteen steps mentioned on the page?

Thad> YES!

Casey_> The troubleshooting steps listed on the page should resolve this issue. If you have completed all of the steps and the issue is not resolved, service may be required.

Casey_> Shall I forward a page where you can locate your nearest service location and setup a work order for the repair.


Casey_> Please enter the Model #, the Zip Code and the Date of Purchase to initiate the service.

Thad> How am I expected to understand this instruction:

Thad> “Reset the computer BIOS to the default values.” That’s far beyond my knowledge, understanding or ability

Casey_> Thad, I’m sorry, Let me forward another link where you can view the steps to reset the BIOS. Let me know when you’re there.

Thad> I’ve used this computer for a total of 8 hours. I’m heartbroken!


Casey_> I’m sorry for the inconvenience you’re experiencing with the CD/DVD Drive.

Thad> Thanks, for the link. Let’s give up now. I appreciate your earnest effort!

Casey_> You’re welcome.

Casey_> Please perform the steps mentioned on the page. This should resolve the issue.

Casey_> Also please click on the sublinks for more information.

Thad> And then I will fly to the moon in a rocket I designed myself!

Casey_> If the issue persists please feel free to contact us here again at your convenience.

Thad> Good night. Thank you.

Casey_> Thad, I wish you a happy journey.

Thad> To the moon?

Casey_> Is there anything else I may assist you with today?

Thad> Yes. Solve my problem! Bye bye.

Casey_> Thad, we value your feedback, if you could share your thoughts about this chat session by filling out the short 3-question survey that will appear after this chat is completed it would be highly appreciated.

Thad> OK

Casey_> I enjoyed chatting with you, hope you had a positive experience and enjoyed this chat session.

Casey_> Thank you for contacting Sony Online support. Please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Thad> You betcha!


You may have gathered that I was lying about going through the 13 steps (12 might have been more appropriate, but certainly no more effective). I’ve now performed them, as well as a few bonus steps (such as uninstalling all the Sony upgrades). The drive still does not work.

I could wax bitterly upon my feelings about all of this but I think I’ve said enough.

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