Writing longer texts can require patience and concentration. That is why various tools that make writing free from the clutter around have become quite popular. Of course, these are just tools or programs on your computer.

Examples such as WriteRoom , OmmWriter , and Byword come to mind . These tools are quite great, but when writing texts for a blog, they inevitably become another layer of work, because after completing the article all the written text will have to be copied to the blog post editor, letters and paragraphs will most likely have to be reformatted, links will not work, etc.

For those who write a blog using the WordPress engine, I recommend looking at a new, still emerging product – Artsy Editor . In essence, it will be a wordpress plugin that will replace the built-in WYSIWYG editor and work similarly to the applications listed above. True, visually it most closely resembles the Byword interface.

It is currently possible to apply for a 50% discount coupon. If the final price is not too expensive, then I will buy it myself.

Most Statoil filling stations have friendly and welcoming sellers. As in all companies, Statoil happens to be a salmon. For example, yesterday at the statue of Biķernieku Street there was a situation when the machine filled only about half of a paper cup with a cappuccino drink. When asked by my girlfriend why the machine poured so little, the seller did not so kindly point out that everything is in order, and there is 250ml, as written on the advertising poster.

As I don’t have much experience with Statoil refilling, I wasn’t sure how much was actually poured into the mug. I allowed the possibility that Statoil has reduced the portions, and there really is 250ml, although the eye still looked too little. Well nothing, there was no convincing argument, so we left.

I took a proper measuring cup at home and measured how much 250ml then and how much we ended up throwing. The difference can be seen in the attached picture – it is about 80ml, which is equal to a glance at about 32% of the liquid, or 32% of the money. It can happen in any way, but you have to have the right attitude and good service. I will know in the future.

Late last year, I decided to buy a Kindle . Quite a lot of people in Latvia have already managed to do it, others are still waiting and thinking about whether the investment will be worth it. In this article, I will explain the reasons why I finally decided to buy it myself.

I read a lot. In fact, most of your work day. And by reading, I don’t mean just reading books, but eyeing the monitor, keeping track of letters and lines. Of course, I also have a lot of “articles” – letters, lines and reruns of articles I have written. The programming code is especially difficult to understand, because there are all the big letters , different special symbols, between which there must be the correct spaces. In short, I read a lot.

So one day I realized that I felt tired of looking at the LCD screen. Whether it’s a laptop, iPad, or iPhone. I have “sat down”. I simply can no longer and do not want to read on the screen materials such as technical literature.

I know I’ve said bad words about the Kindle before. Both here on the blog more than 3 years ago, and recently on twitter . Then suddenly something happened. I would really like to reiterate what the only and real advantage of the Kindle is; it is – electronic ink .

I thought before that I would need another device for reading only – I can read on anything I have at home, and any device is already doing it and 100x more. This is true, but the Kindle is not intended to replace all of its multifunction devices (computer, tablet, smartphone). This realization came to me very late. But came.

I live with the Kindle for about two weeks. So far, the reading experience has been great – I feel much less eye strain and I can read much larger volumes. I’ve read two medium-thick books that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. This is the most important thing.

I don’t particularly appreciate other things like button size, layout, speaker quality, etc. It doesn’t matter to me, I don’t walk around with this unit 24/7 to squeak about design flaws. I will write a few observations a little below, but even if what is written does not seem to be very positive, it must be understood that all this is insignificant, because the most important thing is reading. And it’s great.

Pag, why not printed books?
Nothing is unambiguous. I believe that there are books that are designed to be perceived visually (drawing, web design, some books about advertising) – they will be better to buy as physical, printed books, because the experience will be perceived on a visual and sensory level. I have a couple of such books and that’s ok , I don’t crave digital.

On the other hand, there are books that are focused only on content. Then it doesn’t matter how the content is delivered “to the brain”. I choose the digital format because it has a few advantages, such as the ability to search for text throughout the book, postpone, delete, and add notes.

Printed books take up a lot of space, they are not practical to move (take on a trip), whereas the Kindle weighs 250 grams and is 0.8cm thick. The Kindle allows you to store 3GB of e-book content, which should be enough for a long time. But maybe it all has something to do with childhood’s disgust for the obligatory literature, and therefore also for thick books. I do not know..

Design, irons and feelings
At first glance, this e-reader seems to be small, it seemed too small to me at first. Get used to the form factor a little later. The more I look at it, and the more I use it, the more I feel the size and dimensions are perfect. The reader is suitable for holding in one hand, it is easy to take with you on a trip.

As I mentioned before, my only and true argument for buying a Kindle is e-ink. You can read about its operating principles even on wikipedia . One major benefit of this technology is that no electricity is consumed during reading. This only happens when the page is “flipped”, as well as when using a WiFi connection, such as when downloading a new book. Usage time will vary depending on the intensity, but on average you can safely do two to four weeks without charging the machine.

Content and Availability The
Amazon Store has around a million books available on the Kindle e-reader. In terms of accessibility, the biggest problem is with books that are not in English (Latvian, etc.). You can find self-scanned books on the Internet. They can be easily converted to a format that the Kindle understands, but be aware that formatting and other things may be lost (such as the table of contents, “clickable” references to another page of the book, and the like).

Price
There are free books, there are books that are relatively inexpensive ($ 5-$ 10), several are priced from $ 30-$ 40. The biggest mystique for me so far is the price of electronic versions of books, which is often higher than the price of printed books.

Here is one example. A book on improving MySQL performance is currently available for $ 29.99. The same electronic version of the book (Kindle) costs $ 33.34.

This approach is completely incomprehensible and unmotivating.

More in terms of prices. I recommend that all supporters of legal content then go to the book publisher’s website and see if it is not possible to download the book at a lower price. As you can see, in my particular case, the Kindle version of the book from O’REILLY (publisher) costs $ 27.99. In contrast, the printed version at the publisher costs $ 49.99, which is $ 20 more expensive than the Amazon store!

As I am saying, the pricing policy is unclear. Summary – you need to look for a book in different stores, the prices are worth comparing. It should start with the publisher.

Formats and workflows
By default, the Kindle understands a few standardized formats, such as mobipocket (mobi), pdf, txt, tpz, as well as its own DRM- protected azw format. If you use the Amazon Store, you might as well forget about formats. Formats are needed to know what content to copy to the e-reader in case the official store is not used.

There are two ways to insert a book into the reader – either by connecting your Kindle via USB to your computer, or by using Amazon’s free service for downloading books wirelessly. The buyer is given a virtual e-mail address (vaards@kindle.com) to which electronic documents can be sent. This account is linked to the Kindle device, after processing / checking the sent document, it is delivered to the device if it is on and connected to the Internet, which is possible thanks to the built-in Wifi adapter.

As part of this free service, Amazon also offers to convert uploaded files. Currently it is possible to convert pdf, doc, html, as well as a couple of image formats. Detailed description in the explanatory section .

If the book is available on your computer in another format, you can convert it to a format that your Kindle understands. I myself use a tool like caliber (open source), which can convert formats and all sorts of other tricks, including creating a Kindle understandable format from RSS feeds on websites and sending it as an electronic document directly to Kindle (via Amazon service).

In short, I convert content from non-standard formats to MOBI format, send the converted file to my @kindle mailbox and wait for it to appear in the e-reader.

I will just add that there is a problem with PDFs. They are suitable for higher resolution devices, so converting them to a Kindle-understandable format (mobi) may result in loss of formatting, distorted pictures, and other artifacts.

Oh, and I’ll add that Amazon’s standard DRM format (awz) isn’t that drastic, as Kindle books can already be read on all popular devices, including desktop PCs (Windows, Mac), mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7). A web version will also be launched soon , allowing Amazon customers to read books from any device with a semi-modern web browser. In this case, DRM restricts the copying of files rather than their use. But DRM is DRM. Amazon, by the way, allows publishers not to introduce DRM protection in books (this is not a mandatory requirement when selling books), so that this comes from publishers rather than from Amazon.

Nice things, but not as buying arguments
These are definitely not the things I bought a Kindle for, but maybe it’s worth knowing that the device knows a few more things. For example, play music. This is done by copying mp3 files and inserting diapers into the audio output, or an analog standard device. The Kindle even comes with small speakers that might sound like a parody of listening to music. However, these speakers are not all for music, but are primarily intended for text-to-speech, which is actually implemented at a fairly good level.

There is also a web browser on the Kindle. An experimental tool that is not designed for regular internet browsing because it is very inconvenient and slow, but can sometimes be useful if your phone runs out of battery or if your phone is out of hand.

Price and Purchase after 01.01.2011
As taxes have been raised since January 1 (jeeej unity!), Which I also wrote about in a blog before , many might be interested in what is with taxes and how customs clearance takes place.

Then so be it. First of all, the Kindle is shipped from the United States. Even if you go through an English co.uk. store, you will be sent to the US page at the time of purchase. This means that the tax applies and must be paid.

The six-inch Kindle with WiFi is priced at $ 139. Delivery to Latvia costs $ 20.98. VAT is charged on the purchase of the product, the cost item is under the name ” Import Fees Deposit ” and amounts to $ 33.60. So, all together at checkout it costs $ 193.58.

It seems that the supply company can also charge VAT to the seller, which in this case is quite certain that this is the case, as I did not have to pay anything more at customs clearance. Of course, you can’t do without a little chakra, but at least it wasn’t as crazy as last time (you can read about it here ).

So, the product is delivered by a private, international courier, in my case UPS. In order for the company to declare the shipment received, I have to scan and print (or copy) a passport or driver’s license. The following text must be written on the printed passport:

I authorize SIA “EKL / LS” (authorized representative of UPS services) to provide direct representation and please declare the shipment with the product code with the highest rate.

Then scan the paper again and send it by e-mail (or fax). It’s not too big a chakra if you have everything you need at hand. In my case, I got a call from UPS, told me to send only a scanned document. I did it. When I was driving home from work, another person called me and said that I would have to do it again, but I also had to write the text on top of it. On the evening of that working day, I could no longer do it, so both lost time and double chakra the next day, doing it all again.

If I counted the days correctly, then the Kindle arrived at the Latvian customs within 3 days after dispatch. From customs to my hands – another 3 days. I don’t know like others, but I still feel like butter. although thank you to the great power that you didn’t have to go to the airport and offices yet.

In summary,
Amazon has released a great product. In my opinion, it could also be twice as ugly, I value its basic function and e-ink screen the most. This product is extremely successful. This is also confirmed by online reviews, as well as, for example, the fact that I ordered a Kindle in the beginning of December, but it came after more than a month. Apparently, many had this gift this Christmas.

For a couple of years now, I’ve switched completely to the Mac platform and I always have iPhone and / or Android-based phones in my pocket. I have not followed Microsoft’s development, mostly because it has stagnated for decades. Between XP and Windows 7 was how much, 10 years or? And even now it cannot be said that there is fundamentally new innovation.

But in a slightly different opinion, I’m talking about Windows Phone 7 , which is now probably the real name for Microsoft’s mobile platform. The title of the article is just a sarcastic reminder of the original name of the platform, which seemed as stupid to me as Balmer’s usual performances , or the sudden celebrations that are apparently regularly celebrated in Microsoft store stores.

Going back to my main point .. I’m not a fan of Microsoft products, but it seems to me that Windows Phone 7 could even be a very competitive product for the average user. It is true that this platform does not have an Apple ecosystem and device / content integration, nor an Android openness ideology, but if Microsoft (or adapters) developed the basic functions of the phone (calling, contacts, SMS, calendar, web browser) and included a couple of fully perfectly developed applications (Photo galleries, Youtube / Video, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), then for some people I would recommend this phone as the most suitable smartphone . Nowadays, it seems that as a result of fierce competition, even the iPhone is starting to become difficult for the average user.

Do you remember how many years Microsoft pushed for the “transformation” of its desktop operating system for mobile devices? All those picks (drivers), drivers and device incompatibilities? I’m not sure how things will turn out, but I think Windows Phone 7 is the first OS since the iPhone (2007) to offer its own, semi-unique version of the user interface , rather than trying to copy every little detail. And that’s great. Some presentations can be viewed on the relevant Microsoft advertising page .

I can change my mind as soon as I see another low-quality Taiwanese plastic phone design, or when I take this phone in my hand and find that the whole user interface twitches like a poisoned monkey, but to this day my thoughts are on paper .

As of today, you can download the native Google Latitude iPhone client from the App Store .

Visitors to the blog may have noticed that I created an iPhone application ” iMeet ” a year and a half ago , which does something very similar. Of course, Google has more influence and this will become a more popular solution, but I hope that my iMeet will not disappear with it.

I myself still believe that iMeet is a more functional tool that provides more options, even if you can see your friends in real-time mode (location update every 10 seconds), which Google Latitude does not provide. It is even possible to send messages in the application itself, receive automatic notifications about nearby friends, as well as many other things.

I may write a more detailed comparative article a little later. Now you need to take a coffee and think deeply about whether it is worthwhile to continue developing iMeet at all. I’ve also started the Android version, but it’s hard to deal with heavyweights like Google.

Edijs from läbums.lv has baked an article about HTC Desire HD phone. The article is very good, but I wouldn’t be so interested if Eddie didn’t talk about this phone compared to the iPhone 4.

What is interesting is not a comparison in essence, type one better than another, but a pure user’s view of everyday functions and feelings. I agree with a lot in the article, I see a lot differently.

Let me remind you that I am the owner of both iPhone 4 and Desire. I also do development for both of these platforms. I still see the iPhone 4 as a more productive platform for both everyday and specific tasks , but I also see places where the Android OS is much more powerful. I would have a lot to say about both of these platforms, but I am disgusted to see silly comparative discussions of parameters, where each “front” screams without any arguments, understanding, knowledge and experience of the other platform. Eddy’s article, in my opinion, is not like that.

As of January 1, 2011, goods priced in excess of $ 10 and ordered from the U.S., China, or other countries outside the European Union will be subject to VAT. Let me remind you that so far the limit has been EUR 150. The VAT tax itself will also increase from 21% to 22%. The message is a couple of months old, but it seemed important to remind you about it.

As some things are only available when ordering from abroad, it turns out that I will have to pay the relevant market value + delivery costs + VAT for almost everything in the future. It all sounds like a robbery, so I’ll consider going back to using mail forwarding companies

Last night, Apple confirmed the version of iMeet 2.0, which I am extremely happy about. Today, the innovation should already be spread across global App Stores.

If you have not heard of iMeet before, you can get acquainted with this program by visiting the relevant entries on this blog or by going to the official website – http://www.imeetapp.com/ .

NEWS
This is a huge upgrade , with lots of new features that make iMeet even more usable. The list with descriptions is below:

Now for free – if iMeet cost $ 0.99 before the upgrade, it’s now available for free download;
Automatic location restoration – previously the user had to turn on iMeet to restore their position, then with version 2.0 the location is automatically restored in the background (in the background). For this tool to work, you need a device with certain parameters – it is currently available on the iPhone 4 and soon on the iPad. There is one important nuance – if the user has not turned on iMeet, then the location is restored after a “significant location change”, which actually means that the position changes when radio towers, wifi stations change, as well as after a longer time interval. This approach provides longer battery life, as GPS and data transmission are very resource-intensive. I was able to design the application so that the location is updated all the time, but then such a function would significantly degrade the viability of the battery.
Notifications about nearby friends – the user can define the distance within which they want to receive notifications (push notification service) about nearby friends. This feature works on all iPhone models, but provided at least iOS 4.0+ is installed.
Freeze view – You can set iMeet to “track” changes in your friends’ position. When the feature is activated, iMeet adjusts itself (fades, shifts) the view as needed. This is useful when a small scale (deeply blurred ) is installed and a friend changes location significantly – once it meant regular fingers with your fingers around the map. Now, for example, when driving a car, it is possible to “freeze” the view and the map itself will follow the users.
GPS Accuracy Indicator – The GPS signal accuracy indicator, or circle, is now visible around the user, showing the region in which the friend is located. So far, there have been several times when a friend is depicted on the map in an inaccurate place (because, for example, in the basement, or the like).
Direction of travel indicator – If a friend has turned on iMeet and is on the move, others can see its direction of travel, which is indicated by an arrow above the icon.
iPhone 4 support – redrawed icons for the “Retina” screen, tested functions and used iPhone4 supporting functions;
User Base
iMeet is currently used by more than 30,000 users. I guess someone in this number might be interested in judging the potential of iMeet and how much it is currently used.

iPad
In principle, the iMeet code is ready for use on iPad, but it requires iOS 4.2, which is not yet publicly available. As far as creating a universal application (one program works on both platforms), I would like to wait a while for users to update their iPhones to version 4.2. So – yes, the iPad version will be, but it looks like the upgrade will appear early next year.

Web version
I’m currently working on the web version of iMeet, which will allow people to keep track of their friends’ locations without turning on their phone. It will include basic functionality – your current location of friends, emails sent and received, and the location of your phone, or what Apple calls the ” Find My iPhone ” feature in MobileMe. In any case, this is under development, but if someone wants a private invite, I can provide it – send a request with the email you registered with iMeet and a link in return.

Updated homepage
The iMeet homepage has also been updated, with short and clear displays of key ficuses and screenshots. Go to http://www.imeetapp.com/ to learn more.

In conclusion
Well then so. I hope iMeet 2.0 becomes even more popular than the previous version. Use a lot and give a message about how you like it. You can download the latest version from the iTunes App Store .

I warned ~ 3 months ago about iPhone 3G and iOS 4.0 performance issues. So now I’ve tested 3G with iOS 4.1 – performance issues are largely fixed. I can safely say that it is finally worth a swim.

If I’m not mistaken, 4.1 will be available to the general public sometime next week. Of course, it won’t be the same as the three-year-old version 2.0 that came on top at the time as pre-installed on 3G, but compared to the 4.0.x versions, this one will at least be usable.