October 3rd, 2011

Nicole Peeler, _Eye of the Tempest_

If you arrived here via The Googley, you should know that I passionately believe in spoilers. As in, sharing them all. If that bothers you, you need to leave _right now_.

In Book Four of Tempest Rising, Jane spends a lot of time with "Blondie", the Original she just doesn't quite trust -- even after Blondie saves her life and starts the long process of Explaining Everything. No, Jane starts to trust Blondie _after_ she meets Cthulu's Cousin. Because Cthulu's Cousin says she should trust Blondie.

You think I'm kidding. I am not.

I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, the ending seriously annoyed me. Not in a way that makes me disapprove of the author's morals a la Jim Butcher. No, this annoys me the sense that a tease annoys me. The whole damn book is Jane Not Quite Having tab P slot V sex with Anyan. (And given that the book involves her descending the Sow-Vortex, crawling into a whole, meeting something big with tentacles, battling a sex predator and a harpy -- different creatures -- and receiving a Magic Sword, the possible interpretations are, um, more than I'm prepared to get into here. Let's just call it Jungian and move on. Did I mention she speared a white dove to death by putting a sword in a sheath as one of the tests to get into the room with Cthulu's Cousin? Nope? Oh. Well, there's more, too. Stroking crystals, things coming up out of a cavern floor ...) On the other hand, they do have some other fun, and Anyan gets turned into a dog (no, really a dog) and all sorts of other interesting things happen. The agonizing over being unworthy is a bit angsty at times, but traditional for a Champion.

This is _not_ the book to start this series on, however, I still think the series is worth it, and here's why: (1) Maine! How cool is that. (2) Nothing about The One or Destined to Be Together type of thing. (3) Lots of books have background characters who aren't heterosexual. And these books have a lesbian couple, one of whom is not just interested in women. Which is cool. But Jane's orientation isn't entirely heterosexual, and I'm highly entertained by that.

Some kindle articles

h/t my husband


The experimental browser was always just that, and being able to browse the web for free over a 3G connection was never something Amazon promised as a long term deal. Looks like it may be coming to an end.

I posted previously that it was sort of cruel to put out a shopping device, er, tablet in mid-November with 2-day free shipping for stuff fulfilled by Amazon. Other people have noticed.


Yelp and chain restaurants

Ezra Klein points to really cool research by Michael Luca which rallies a "novel dataset combining reviews from the website Yelp.com and restaurant data from the Washington State Department of Revenue". Basically, we all more or less know that we go to chain restaurants because they are predictable -- predictably mediocre, but at least not awful in the way that an independent restaurant can be. Turns out Yelp means we don't have to make this choice quite as often, because we can reduce the risk-of-awful enough to try independents.


On the one hand, you could file this under, Duh. On the other hand, quantifiable! Super cool.

I particularly liked that Luca says this:

"For Seattle alone, the website had over 60,000 restaurant reviews covering 70% of all operational restaurants as of 2009. By comparison, the Seattle Times has reviewed roughly 5% of operational Seattle restaurants."

Reviews by unreliable amateurs of the restaurant you are thinking about going to are _far superior_ to reviews by trained experts of restaurants you are never likely to set eyes on, much less enter and eat at. Same principle for lots of other things, too; it's no wonder newspapers have so many problems.

ePub and the kFire

People who buy ereaders do not necessarily want to be paying for all of their reading material on those ereaders. As a person who used to have to decide between lunch and a couple used paperbacks, I remember when I would have felt that way, if ereaders had existed. Now, I'm so price insensitive I'm liable to say something, er, insensitive. I'll try _really hard_ not to do that in this post.

Library e-books are one approach. Until Amazon announced (and then launched) content through OverDrive, people who wanted library books on their ereader often asked for those library books to be ePub. The thinking has been that once we've all digested the launch of kindle format on OverDrive, the demand for ePub would be reduced. But it hasn't been eliminated, for a variety of reasons, including one my friend N. poignantly brings to my attention: libraries in other countries.

Will Amazon support ePub on the Kindle Fire (or any other Kindle)? Probably not. And even if they did choose to support ePub on the Kindle Fire natively, it might or might not satisfy the goals of the people who want it (that is, if you've got an ePub formatted book with DRM and it isn't Amazon's DRM, why would Amazon support that DRM? And why would the owners of that DRM help/let them do so?).

The Amazon AppStore already exists. When it rolled out, there was a lot of speculation regarding what, precisely, Amazon had in mind for this AppStore (viz. make money off everyone else's tablets or roll out a tablet of its own? We know the answer now, obviously). But it seems wildly unlikely that Amazon would run an AppStore and then not let you buy the Apps in that Appstore for use on its own device. It's possible. Just wildly unlikely. So one answer to the ePub/kFire question is, are there Apps in the Appstore that can deal with ePub? The answer is Yes (Aldiko and and Moon+ are on the top of the list); notably, there's a _Kobo_ App available (for free!) in the Amazon Appstore (altho I have not yet found a Nook ereader).

Finally, Amazon's policy on the Kindle Fire with respect to rooting seems to be: we won't help you, but we won't work very hard to stop you, either; the expectation is that people will do this more or less from day one.

So if, like N., you are wondering whether you will be able to read ePub library books on the kFire, the answer is a qualified "Yes". If you are prepared to root the kFire, almost certainly. Probably even if you _are not_ prepared to root the kFire. And if you'd like to do some experimentation in advance, you could run an experiment in advance by borrowing an android tablet or smartphone from someone, buying the Aldiko or Moon+ apps _from the Amazon AppStore_, getting one of the books onto the device and attempting to read it through Aldiko and/or Moon+. If it works, you can be reasonably certain it will also work on the kFire.

Will people who want Amazon to support ePub "natively" be made happy by this solution? NO.