The Amazon Kindle as a Tech Device

I have always been intrigued by electronic books. I have moved away from a book shelf of technical manuals and gone to a disk full of pdf files that do the same thing. I was a long term Safari subscriber back when it was only O’Reilly books. As a developer, it was invaluable. The search capabilities were just what was needed to get started and find a solution to a specific problem. The ability to download a chapter was perfect. It allowed me to take some reference material with me when I was doing some consulting work or traveling. With the announcement of the Amazon Kindle 2, I thought it might be worth researching. Fortunately, I know someone who does not mind too much if I borrow her Kindle as long as I give it back when I get home from work. I’m glad my wife is very understanding.

Some of the features of the Kindle that I like are:

1) the ability to get pdf docs onto the device for display and searching. I can download manuals and tutorials on software. It becomes a portable library. I can download hardware and software documents that go in to more detail that I care about. Getting the pdf docs there is a little tricky. I wish you could download it and copy it via USB connection but it needs to be converted and Amazon has an automated way of doing this through email. If you email the document to your Kindle address, it converts it and puts it on your home page.

2) reading blogs from the device is very easy. You can define search patterns and blog links using the Google Reader and put this as a bookmark. The Kindle has a browser that allows you to pull in web content. The browser is not full function and does have some limitations. It does not do flash sites, does not support ActiveX, and has limited support for JavaScript. I tried posting this blog from the Kindle and could not because the login button would not work. It handled the username and password as expected but would not follow the Go button to pass these values. It also caches passwords and does not prompt for a password if you tell it to remember me on this device. This is a good and bad thing because the Kindle itself is not necessarily a secure device. I’m sure the corporate security guys would ban using it inside or outside the firewall to connect to corporate resources. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to get VPN working on the device so connecting to corporate web sites hasn’t been a problem.

3) downloading training audio is supported but the mp3 player on the device operates like an old iPod Shuffle. There is no user interface to select what you are listening to and no way to rewind and listen to something that you missed. It is a neat feature and hopefully the v2 release will provide a richer user interface for audio.

4) I did a simple search in the Kindle store and there are a large number of Oracle books available, 98 using just the word Oracle. All but one on the first page was related to Oracle products. If I follow the related search for “oracle 11g” it returns 12 results. Following “oracle database” returns 59 results. Unfortunately, the $9.99 price tag for most hard cover books does not translate to technical books. The OCA Oracle Database 11g: Administration I Exam Guide, for example, is $38.87. This is understandable but I was hoping for a cheaper way of getting the book.

Overall, I want one. I like the idea of having a portable reference library in just under 11 ounces. Like the iPod, the cost isn’t in the device. The value is in the content and the ability to access information. I can see spending twice what the device cost for content. I can also see my wife wanting her Kindle back tonight so I better not get too attached to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *