Archive for October, 2012

The indie-writer movement has spawned a plethora of self-realizations over the last 18 months, thus having a domino effect in our day-to-day mundane routines that were once an ecstasy dream-filled haven of writer goals.

The fact that we indies feel compelled to be online and ever so-connected 24/7 may drive our friends and family insane. From whence we were held-up, in a sustaining self-hostage scenario, writing day and night, night and day, week after week and month after month, has to have alienated a few lovers and caused a few divorces. Not to mention our teenagers driving pins into cyber voodoo dolls as they curse us for paying them less attention than our laptops.

Alas, ’tis the curse, the double-edged sword of rebellious independence. Now that we have have finished our Stockholm Syndrome relationship with our novel, we create more work by becoming publicists, not just for ourselves but for our fellow writers. Not a mortal sin but a guilt-driven bond to help thy neighbor. As if that is not enough, we begin a blog and then a newsletter. Suddenly after a few interviews, we are now advisors to the literati. Yes we can ! Yes we must! But don’t forget to Twitter that blog and Facebook that newsletter…or is it the other way around…

I soon got on Reddit and then found several other NETWORKING sites recommended by an Online GURU only to find every waking hour filled with typing emails and trying to read every book under the E sun. Omg, am I having an HP Lovecraft epiphany or just carpal tunnel syndrome…. 

As I read other blogs and communiques from my beloved authors I noticed a funny thing. They soon were sending out emails explaining why they couldn’t keep sending out blogs. My conclusion was that indeed one does have to stop and smell the roses. That being online, on the mobile phone, laptop or iPad more than 8 hours a day was altering my creativity. “I am a human being not a human machine” I uttered to myself at the Starbucks at Plaza Hollywood in Cancun.  But I looked around and found every Mexican inside and out on their mobile or lapto even while they chatted to another human being. the conciousness had been altered. That Orwellian feeling overcame my entire body as I rushed to the bathroom to escape the overwhelming state of cyber chaos. I slapped cold water onto my blushing face. I quickly snapped out it and realized that I was dreaming within a dream.

My crowing rooster alarm awakened me as I lay across the keyboard, the sun rising above the thatched roof outside my bungalow. I could smell the tequila from the night before and noticed my long list of notes and to-do list.

I read the list outloud and began writing….All The Right Moves….

Dr. Commoner, a biologist, was a leader among a generation of scientist-activists who recognized the toxic consequences of America’s technology boom.


With its new Kindle, the suitably named Paperwhite, Amazon has joined Barnes & Noble and Kobo in releasing a reader with a screen that can glow in the dark. Good thing, too: If you are in the market for an e-reader like the Kindle or Nook, and you can afford it, there’s really no compelling reason to buy one that doesn’t have a screen that lights up.

A luminescent e-reader screen is one of those new technologies, like HDTV or the bidet, that spoils you so badly, and so thoroughly changes your preferences and expectations, you won’t want to go back to a device without it once you’ve tried.

Electronic ink, or E-ink, readers have always offered the best and most natural electronic reading experience. Though tablets like the Kindle Fire and iPad allow you to surf the web, check email, and listen to music, reading on them in the sunshine is nigh-impossible, and staring at an LCD screen for too long at night can be a real pain in the eyes. Not so on a Kindle or Nook, both of which satisfactorily replicate the look of ink on paper and can be stared at for hours and hours, or for however long it takes to finish the latest Fifty Shades book.

The big problem with these E-ink screens has always been that you needed a lamp, or clumsy clip-on light, to see the screen in the dark (where most Fifty Shades reading is done, I am told). The light-up E-Ink screen — pioneered by Sony and perfected by Barnes & Noble in the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight (catchy name!) — solved this problem by making the screen illuminate when you needed it to (i.e. on a dark plane, or at night in bed) and allowing you to turn the lights down when it’s bright (at the beach, or in a tanning bed).

And so here comes the Kindle Paperwhite, which adds a completely necessary — nay, essential! — illuminating e-reader to the Kindle family. It’s thin; it’s lightweight; it fits naturally in one hand, so that you can easily hold the Kindle with one hand while beating eggs with the other; and, yes, the screen can light up, on a brightness scale from 1 to 24, depending on the darkness of your surroundings.

Now, let’s not tiptoe around what must be a glaring issue for some: The Kindle Paperwhite is essentially just Amazon’s version of a Barnes & Noble product. The Nook with GlowLight was released back in April to much fanfare and adulation; Amazon’s own glowing tablet reader, on first glance, feels like a response or a me-too, rather than a pure invention. If the tablet market were a comments section, Barnes & Noble would have shouted “FIRST!!!” five months ago.

It is with good reason, though, that Amazon has also put out an e-reader with an illuminative screen: It really, really had to. Why buy an e-reader that you couldn’t use in the dark when you could buy one that you could? I do so much of my own reading in bed at night, on airplanes or in the depths of caves. Traveling with a lamp can be frustrating, and I’d hate to disturb my seatmate and/or the bats by turning on the overhead light. Better that the screen could just illuminate itself.

Amazon’s lack of a luminescent e-reader put it at a real disadvantage; late or not, Bezos and co. were wise to release one.

About that screen: It’s terrific. Amazon has said that the Paperwhite’s screen is better than that on the Nook, and they’re right. The illumination feature, which Amazon detailed in a video here, works well and spreads the light evenly over most of the screen; it replicates paper much more naturally than does the Nook with GlowLight, where light creeps in from the edges. As on the Nook, you can scroll your finger up and down on the screen to select your brightness level. (I’m about a 7 in the daytime and 21 at night, if any like-minded ladies want to chat about it later.)


kindle paperwhite

The most noteworthy aspect of the Kindle Paperwhite is not the new light; nor is it the fact that the name “Paperwhite” is so close to the word “paperweight,” which is certainly not the reputation a company wants its gadget to establish. Rather, it’s the fact that Amazon has completely done away with all external buttons, save the power button. There are no page-turners, no up-and-down scroll, and no keyboard: It’s all touchscreen, all the time.

It took me a little while to get used to not having at least a home button, and it will probably take any new Kindle Paperwhite owner at least a few days to get used to the total absence of buttons and lack of obvious controls on the touchscreen. This can be confounding. When you are reading a book, for example, the text fills the screen. If you want to get back to the homescreen, you have to touch the top of the screen, which brings up a menu that contains the home button (unless you touch the top of the screen too far to the right, which flips the page). Ditto for highlighting a word to save it, share it, highlight it or look up the definition: It works well most of the time, but occasionally you accidentally turn the page.

Though inconvenient, it’s a concession I’m willing to make for the light.

The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight has certain advantages over the Paperwhite. It’s lighter (6.9 ounces versus 7.5 ounces) and it has an SD card slot for extra storage. Navigation is far easier on the Nook, with its home button and handsomely designed homepage.

In the end, though, people buy e-readers to read for long periods of time, and the Paperwhite features a better, crisper screen than does the Nook. While Barnes & Noble may have been first with a lit E-Ink reader, Amazon has improved on the prototype model in the most important place: the display. While I’ve given both glowing (ha!) reviews and can heartily recommend either, the edge here belongs to Amazon, on the strength of the screen alone.

The Paperwhite comes in two models (or, really, four): A Wi-Fi only version costs $119, and you can take off the “special offers” that appear on the lock screen and at the bottom of your homescreen for $20; a 3G version, which allows you to download books wherever you are — and not just where you have an Internet connection — costs $179 (plus $20 to take off those ads). I don’t find the “ads” all that obtrusive: If it were my money, I’d save my $20 and buy a wall charger. The Paperwhite, like all Amazon tablets, comes with a power cord that you can charge by plugging into your computer; a wall charger is a little extra.