Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lost Place

It should be simplicity itself, but after the e-reader updated its software, it also mercilessly eradicates all traces of your "last read place" in every book in its memory. Not a problem if you're buying books from the virtual bookstore, but very much a problem if you are reading "side-loaded" books downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg. Side-loads are second-class citizens in the e-reader world, and any hiccup in the ecosystem is bound to disrupt the existence of these otherwise innocent files. So: post-update, I have new fonts, but lost wherever I was in Tolstoy's epic War and Peace. (I'm somewhere between "War" and "Peace" at the moment. That's not much help.)
Naturally I thought I'd grouse about this on the Internet, but of course it took about ten tries to get the tablet to recognize the Neo and vice versa: either one was ready or the other, but not both -- a pair of shy dance partners making hesitant steps in a complex USB tango.  That seems to be sorted out now, though I have no idea what magic combination of plugin/unplugging/swearing did the trick. I'm going to capture this entry quick, before attempting to change rooms and get back in range of the home wi-fi router which, inexplicably, is 80% strength in the hallway, but 0% a mere three feet away.
Why am I doing all of this? Because technology makes my life easier.
Last week, our office IT guru took a much-deserved vacation, which was the Secret Signal that triggered various systems in our office to misbehave. Much debugging-via-text-message later, I was glad that in my day job, I generally only have to work with software, and then of problems of my own devising. There are special circles of Hell dedicated to vendors with slightly-but-not-fully-compatible technologies. After last week, I was ready to banish them there myself.
Meanwhile, I've been going through an abridged version of The Wind in the Willows with my youngest child: it's lushly illustrated, and something that I've enjoyed reading, in turn, to each of my kids as they approach age six or so. I'll link to the edition we're reading, if I can track it down online. I can't help but think that the typewriter and the automobile and airplane were seen by Kenneth Grahame were great disruptions in the quiet, country English life. I have to admit to being more than a little jealous of Ratty and Mole, "simply messing about in boats" and dealing with Toad's wild obsessions with speed, noise, and danger. We've lost that place for good, except in books, haven't we?
Here's the book, and while moving to the other room to get wi-fi, my wife called me aside to help download a knitting pattern which should have been simplicity itself... but took two adults 20 minutes and, ultimately, a Unix shell window. If that sounds crazy or overly complex, it was.
The previous was pecked out on the screen, because in the pattern-download-time, both of the devices put themselves to sleep, proving to be lousy dance-partners in the name of energy conservation. More swearing applied in liberal amounts later, and the magic formula appears to be:
* Plug cable into Neo
* Power up Neo
* Power up tablet
* Plug Neo into tablet
* Hope
I'm ready for that picnic now, Ratty.


Bill M said...

The simplicity of the digital world.

Richard P said...

Thanks for reinforcing my commitment to books on paper.

mpclemens said...

In utter fairness, I cannot beat the convenience of carrying around a 1200+ page book in a jacket pocket, or being able to hold it comfortably with one hand while reading in bed. But the next time I decide to update, I'll use a good old-fashioned bookmark to note my place first.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how a good cuss can straighten recalcitrant technologies out.

I too recently started in on a cyclopean tome (Infinte Jest, which lacking the latter part, is damn near the former), and found myself wishing I'd gone the e-book route. No one likes reading a doorstop.