Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Biggest Company You've Never Heard of

I am not surprised that private corporations can be intimately entwined with governments, but I was quite surprised by the extent that one company is involved in so many different aspects of government. This Youtube video gives a glimpse of just how Big Brother your big brothers actually are. Private prisons (which should immediately be made illegal in every country, for obvious reasons), defense networks and nuclear arsenals, schools, and many others come under the umbrella of Serco, the biggest company you've never heard of.

NOOKstudy Could be Worse...

So my campus bookstore, which is run by Barnes & Noble, is recommending the NOOKstudy ereader application for textbooks. I like ereaders and will download one if it's free, which this one is. So I installed it and tested it out- not bad, could be worse. The interface is simple, not really much to it. It actually matches my school colors, which is a bonus. You can create "courses", which are just folders for different books, and there is an "archive" where unused books can be placed, without actually being deleted, thus freeing up your library for those books you actually read. There are various sort options and a couple of layout options, and the ability to "sideload" books which you purchased or acquired elsewhere.

As with many education-themed readers, like the software we used to use here at the old Alma Mater, you can highlight text in a variety of colors, add notes, add bookmarks, etc. You can copy, and print a certain number of words or pages. A nice feature is that you can save a file, such as an LibreOffice or Word document, to the reader- it's saved as a pdf document. That way you can incorporate your own notes and research into your library. That said, I can do the same thing with Evernote or OneNote. There is a text-to-speech reader built in, but it honestly sucks. Can't they improve computerized speech after all this time? Convenient keyboard commands make it helpful for those, like myself, who don't use a mouse with their laptop. All in all, it's a decent reader.

What I don't like is the fact that, even to download free, DRM-free books, they expect you to have a credit card on file with them. No, no, NO. Ain't gonna happen. I hate asshole businesses who demand your credit card number even when you don't wish to purchase anything. They hope to get those accidental or impulse purchases, or, worse yet. Good thing you can just sideload any book. Also, you must set up a B&N account to even install it. Talk about pushy. Plus, since they make use of Adobe pdf files sometimes, they expect you to sign up for an Adobe account? I didn't even know there was such a thing- I've used Acrobat reader for a minute (before switching to Foxit) and never had to have any account. But apparently you may ditch this account later in the NOOKstudy options. Also, it comes with some sample books- Dracula, Pride and Prejudice, and some others, but they are not the full books, just snippets. That's fine, but what sucks is I see no way to remove these books from the library. That's all I need is a bunch of junk cluttering up my library. And I don't want to archive them, I want to remove them. I can remove sideloaded books by browsing to the "My B&N Books" folder that is installed under My Documents during installation and removing the files, but these books (samples) are downloaded directly from B&N every time they are opened. And, from what I've read from other reviewers, the actual B&N selection of ebooks is paltry at best.

I guess I can tolerate this application, since I do like to save money, and since ebooks are cheaper than printed ones, that helps. It's a decent application that has caused no ham as of yet. We shall see next week, when I can afford to buy my Summer semester books, whether they have anything to offer. I just wish Ibis reader came in a portable app. That is a great site.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I just realized...

I have a blogs! I forgot all about it. Oh well, not like anyone ever read it. Nobody important, anyways. ;)