Been thinking about machine bias again recently

Amazon AR haircut

Yesterday I met up with some friends to celebrate a birthday. We went to the Wharf in Castlefield, Manchester. Nice outdoor space with a massive teepee to help with Manchester’s typical rainfall.

I had a few drinks so visited the toilet a few times and of course washed my hands well so needed to dry them. A few times I tried the hand dryer but there was a red light, so assumed it wasn’t working from a fault or due to the spread of germs? Once I noticed the paper towels were refilled and used that.

However the last time I went in there was white man using the hand dryer, I was surprised and naturally thought it must be fixed now. So afterwards attempted to use it. Did it work, did it heck!

This doesn’t come as too much of a shock as its not the first time and there are many examples on youtube. However with a lot more knowledge now, I’m pretty peed off about it. I wanted to record it but needed a white hand to trigger it and at the end of the night, very few people would join my video experiment. I can tell you I moved, flipped, waved, even touched the sensor with my hand. Nothing would trigger it.

After returning to the table, I asked if the men had used the hand dryer but didn’t get a clear yes or no. So I’ll have to go back to the Wharf soon to film this I think.

Another interesting point also came up after the hand dryer discussion.

Amazon opens its first hair salon, where customers can use augmented reality to experiment with hair colors

I instantly wanted to know if Amazon’s AR app will actually work on non-white people? From all the press pictures, its all pictures of white skin women. If it doesn’t work on non-white skin, expect an explosion of coverage, but it would speak volumes about the total bias of this whole industry. Something many have covered but watching Coded Bias during Mozfest made super clear.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2021)

Deep fake technology

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing how Amazon won’t support public library systems and how good / prevalent deepfake technology is becoming.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with fashion taking on surveillance, Google finally being called out for the not so incognito mode in Chrome and introducing a progressive tax-like system following Apples store changes.


Meet the disruptors at publicspaces

Ian thinks: From the publicspaces conference where you can watch all the talks. I personally found Melanie Rieback and post growth entrepreneurship quite inspirational for all those new startups. We need more of this!

Evidence disappearing right under your nose

Ian thinks: This short documentary from VPRO, highlights the problem with archiving and moderation in critical cases like war crimes.

TransCopyright realised with Micropayments?

Ian thinks: Delivered at Mozfest 2021, Amber got me thinking when she mentions the dream of Ted Nelson’s TransCopyright (co-creator of hypertext) realised using web monetisation for attribution.

Why the excitement over non-fungible tokens?

Ian thinks: March become the month when most people heard the term non-fungible tokens for the first time, likely for a piece of art which sold for the equivalent of 69 million.

Some of the facts and myths surrounding China & America explained

Ian thinks: Useful overview from Wired magazine on the clear differences between the two but also the misconceptions which are portrayed by the media and each other.

We all knew Facebook is hooked on mis-information

Ian thinks: Interesting to see Facebook time their AI fairness paper on the same day. Who are they trying to kid?

A bank is the last place I think about when thinking purpose and human rights?

Ian thinks: I’m not so sure how much is honest in this video but Paypal, are not just saying the right thing but actually doing. Such a important difference from a lot of the D&I efforts being talked about now.

Forget GDP, Its time for a new metric and the UN is engaged

Ian thinks: Its great to hear the UN is considering a move away from GDP to natural capital. Its about time the alternatives are taken deadly seriously, for the benefit of us all. Of course BBC R&D are researching Human Values in a similar mind.

The walled garden is the new security through obscurity?

Ian thinks: Feeling comfortable behind a walled garden can make you reliant on them for security, but like the MIT piece makes clear this can be a bad mistake for your own security


Find the archive here

The tale of Amazon and the imported Qnap Nas

2 Qnap NAS boxes
Which one is the grey import?

I have almost no words for what’s happened recently with my Qnap NAS.

I decided a while ago that it was time to replace the server in my bedroom with a QNAP NAS. I had it with the heat during the summer and frankly it was long overdue. Plus a few people recommended them to me, plus pointed me at NAS compares. I bought the NAS from Amazon.co.uk as it was the cheapest by about 100 pounds, plus they had the 8gig version of the TS653D. Almost everywhere else had a 4gig only version. I knew I needed a bit of memory as I was going to replace my ubuntu server, which ran at 45-70c depending if it was transcoding for plex.

I bought the NAS from Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0896YVN5L. There was no mention this was coming from America as a grey import. After I bought it I noticed it came from Texas, USA with via UPS and it took about 10 days. I didn’t think too much about it once it arrived, got it set up and moved all my data over (this took weeks!). However when I tried applying for the 5 year extended warranty thats when things got interesting.

5 years of warrenty

Having applied to Qnap, answered their questions, I sent them the invoice which I got from Amazon. However Qnap replied with.

From the invoice, this is sold by Amazon Export Sales LLC, and the customer also pay the import fee, the customer should know the unit is not from local distributor.
The note says: “Only products that are sold and purchased from the same region are eligible for a warranty extension.”. 

Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.

We went back and forth for a while but I got back on to Amazon. They insured me the NAS is a UK model. Qnap of course were not budging, the serial number wasn’t right and regardless if I bought it form Amazon.co.uk it was a grey import. I did think it was strange it was coming from America but I just thought it was where the stock was from. Plus Amazon kept confirming its a UK version.

Then finally I got into an exchange with Amazon customer services.

10:53 PM QNAP won’t provide a warranty for the NAS because its not a UK/EU NAS I bought it through the amazon.co.uk with pounds but say its a US version
10:54 PM Rizzwan | I can see it is Amazon global store order. Allow me a moment to connect you with them for further help.
10:55 PM Global order? I bought it through amazon.co.uk

Then Rizzwan was replaced by Tamsyn…

10:55 PM Tamsyn has joined and will be ready to chat in just a minute. Tamsyn | ​This is Ta​mmy from Amazon. ​ I’ll be assisting you.​
10:57 PM Here is the email I got from QNAP… (same as above)
11:00 PM Tamsyn |  Yes it is from a UK distributor
11:01 PM I need something from Amazon to prove this, as QNAP won’t extend the warranty otherwise I have given them the invoice already
11:03 PM Tamsyn | what is the for the return ?
11:05 PM I don’t understand?
11:05 PM Tamsyn | what is the reason for sending the item back ?
11:07 PM I can’t get a extended warranty for the QNAP NAS
11:08 PM Tamsyn | Reason I’m asking is because I can refund you
11:09 PM Its a sub £1000 device and want to make sure it doesn’t go wrong, so the extended warranty is important Can I exchange it instead? because all my data is on the device now
11:09 PM Tamsyn |  cannot exchange
11:10 PM Do you have anything else I can send to QNAP to prove its a UK/EU version? They want proof – “Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.
11:12 PM Tamsyn | We can send them an email what is the email
11:13 PM Its done through their support forum- as the email is no reply – noreply@qnap.com. If you can send me something I can try and get a email to send to them I’m sending them this… “I am talking with Tamsyn | Customer Service Amazon.co.uk and they confirmed it is from a UK distributor – Tamsyn is asking for an email address to forward you details of the UK distributor”
11:17 PM Tamsyn | yes that is fine
11:17 PM Is there a email I should ask QNAP to contact you on?
11:18 PM Tamsyn |  yes
11:18 PM Thanks… you understand why I don’t want to send it back but I really want to get this sorted out because I want to keep it for at least 3 years 11:19 PM Tamsyn |  Yes I understand 🙂
11:19 PM Thanks QNAP are slow to reply, so is there a way of holding the return based on the outcome of this conversation with QNAP They usually take about 2 days to reply
11:20 PM Tamsyn | okay that is fine
11:24 PM Thanks, and I guess once I hear back from QNAP I join this chat again Just for reference I’m talking with Gerry ********* from QNAP… “From warranty information, it shows the NAS unit was sold from Amazon US and not Amazon.co.uk
Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.

Then out of nowhere Tamsyn was replaced by Collen…

11:30 PM C Collen has joined and will be ready to chat in just a minute. Collen | Customer Service Hello, Ian Please note this was a global store order Sold and shipped by amazon US Order Placed: Tuesday, 3 November 2020 (GMT) C
11:33 PM Hold on Tamsyn said it was sold from a UK reseller a moment ago
11:34 PM Collen | Customer Service Please look at email from Tuesday, 3 November 2020 01:51 (GMT) C
11:39 PM Collen | Customer Service Global Store Amazon Marketplace order with Amazon Export Sales LLC C
11:45 PM Collen | Customer Service Do you wish to return the item for a refund? C
11:45 PM I would like to do an exchange as I am using the NAS, Ok I see it says Amazon Export Sales LLC This was not clear on the site when I bought it.
11:48 PM Collen | Customer Service We can only refund a USA item only on return We cant replace it C
11:48 PM Right I see, can I get a UK version then return the old one?
11:49 PM Collen | Customer Service Yes C
11:51 PM This was not clear at all when I bought it on the site
11:51 PM Collen | Customer Service However you will need to re order C

So in short Amazon mislead me by never making clear this was a grey import QNAP NAS. Yes when I got the invoice, I could see it was coming from Texas but it was too late by then. Simple as this, customer service lied to me and to QNAP.

Cheeky!

In the end Amazon/Collen did send me the return details and I had 7 days to return the QNAP NAS back to Texas. Annoyingly I had to print the return slips and I don’t own a printer, luckily colleague Jimmy helped out by printing them out for me. In the mean while I got in touch with QNAP, they pointed me in the direction of Scan.com and I was able to buy and get almost the exact same model sent to the next day. I say almost exact because I opted for the 32gig version as I was considering add more memory anyway and this would save me a lot of hassle.

Telling enough, Scan.com when I called them to confirm the speed of delivery, told me a few other customers have had the same problem with Grey imports sent from America and bought from Amazon.co.uk.

With the clock ticking, I was worried it was going to take forever to move everything across but I found it was super quick when I found this guide to move from one device to another. Pretty much start the NAS, update the firmware and slot the disks in the same slots. The migration took about 2hours in total, which is amazing. I was wondering about taking time off work to get this sorted but there was no need.

QNAP nas's
Which one is UK and which one is American?

Just enough time to take some pictures of them side by side then box up the grey import/amazon one, add all the labels then take it to the UPS drop off which just happened to be in China town. Can’t tell you why I didn’t get a taxi or take the tram half the way there, but it was certainly a work out for my lockdown arms.

4 weeks later I received my full refund from Amazon.co.uk and I’m sitting pretty with my QNAP NAS with 5 year warranty.

We the Privileged

Douglas Rushkoff’s latest medium piece is something I urge all to read.

Its a very uncomfortable read for us who have retreated to our homes with yearly salaries, beautiful gardens and not having to deciding between a  earning an income and risking our household lives.

How much are we allowed to use our wealth and our technologies to insulate ourselves and our families from the rest of the world? And, like a devil on our shoulder, our technology is telling us to go it alone. After all, it’s an iPad, not an usPad.

We are all guilty of this, its human nature but Douglas is right, we need to think again. Theres ways to make things better for us all not just ourselves.

Many of us once swore off Amazon after learning of the way it evades taxes, engages in anti-competitive practices, or abuses labor. But here we are, reluctantly re-upping our Prime delivery memberships to get the cables, webcams, and Bluetooth headsets we need to attend the Zoom meetings that now constitute our own work. Others are reactivating their long-forgotten Facebook accounts to connect with friends, all sharing highly curated depictions of their newfound appreciation for nature, sunsets, and family. And as we do, many of us are lulled further into digital isolation — being rewarded the more we accept the logic of the fully wired home, cut off from the rest of the world.

Guilty, I recently bought a new chromebook (currently typing this on it) but about to give my old one to my parents. I will take their old one back and likely donate it somewhere as its still useful but no longer supported.

The amount of sunsets I have taken has increased and reaching out to friends and family for a catch up has been great. All while complaining about 7 zoom meetings in a row. There is a aspect of relativity to account for this all but the point is digital isolation is only afforded to a privileged group of people.

And so the New York Times is busy running photo spreads of wealthy families “retreating” to their summer homes — second residences worth well more than most of our primary ones — and stories about their successes working remotely from the beach or retrofitting extra bedrooms as offices. “It’s been great here,” one venture fund founder explained. “If I didn’t know there was absolute chaos in the world … I could do this forever.”

Here is the kicker. Even myself, has considered could I actually do this for much longer? Of course I don’t have a summer home, live in a very hot flat with a shared garden, etc. But I have a 1gig a bit fibre connection, the expertise, experience and technology to do this for much longer. I also don’t have kids so could happily do this (working from home) for quite a bit longer. I’m actually aiming to be the very last person back in the office because except for my work laptop SSD problem I can do almost everything I need for work remotely. I certainly am protecting myself as I am at slightly more risk than most but I already mentioned how I’m considering my location for working. I know a lot of people are thinking the same if they don’t need to be close to work or in cities. For me this is more of a reason to be in the city and maybe the prices of city centres will become more affordable in the long run? I’m very aware of my privileged position being able to actually consider these options with a career I love. We all need to remember and act on this… but I’m the wrong person to be saying this…

I have also been watching Anand Giridharadas who is pointing in the same direction as Rushkoff. Our self interest has clouded our vision. He gave this powerful talk at a recent TED event, which included this quote (mainly aimed at Americans)…

If you live near a Whole Foods Market , if no one in your family served in the military, if you are paid by the year and not the hour, if most people you know finished college, if no one you know uses meth, if you married once and remained married, if you not one of 65 million americans with a criminal records. if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually you may not know whats going on and you may be part of the problem.

I guess if you were translating that to the UK it would be…

If you live near a Waitrose supermarket, if no one in your family served in the arm forces, if you are paid by the year and not the hour, if most people you know finished college, if no one you know smokes pot, if you married once and remained married, if you not one of 11 million people with a criminal record. if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually you may not know whats going on and you may be part of the problem.

All really powerful thinking and connects directly with another blog I recently posted.

Amazon halo…be afraid be very afraid

There is so much I wanted to say about the Amazon Halo health/fitness tracker. The Twit.tv video above pretty much sums up my thoughts. I haven’t read through the halo privacy policy yet, but others are picking bit out already.

Amazon Halo privacy concerns

Wherever there are body scans, always-on microphones and a tech giant in the same service, there’s bound to be security concerns. Amazon knows this, and has already outlined what privacy will look like for future Halo users.

Halo health data is encrypted in transit and in the cloud, and sensitive data, like body scan images, are deleted once processed. Meanwhile, voice analysis is processed entirely on the user’s smartphone and deleted after. Nothing is recorded for playback — users can’t even listen to their own speech samples.

All Amazon Halo data can be managed and deleted in the Halo app. Your Halo account is also separate from your Amazon Prime one, so anyone you share your Prime account with won’t be able to access your private health information.

This for me is one of the things people in the Quantified Self movement were always worried about.

Do you trust Amazon with this much personal data?
Whats the actual pay off?
Is it all actually worth it?

Then you have to ask the question what makes it different from other quantified self devices and systems?

There is something about Upload which feels like the good place?

 Upload (2020)

Not sure what it is about Amazon’s Upload but it feels like the Good Place? (maybe the early days of the good place?)

Just like the good place, it full of comedy and silliness but there is something deeper underneath the jokes and smiles. Yes the subject matter is similar, the afterlife? But there is also something emotional interesting about the show and its good to hear there will be a another season.

I did think there is plenty which can be taken from Black mirror’s San junipero and it seems Amazon got right in there with this. Originally I thought it would be awful but  I expect to run for another few seasons.

Bezos’s possible trillionaire status is the worst of capitalism and inequality

There is a lot wrong with the world especially our western capitalistic society. The very thought/notion of one person being personally worth one trillion (in less than 10 years) is just unthinkable with all the problems in the world.

Bill Maher sums it up nicely in new rules. Although not a fan of relying on these rich white men to share the wealth, Jack Dorsey recent pledge did take me by surprise. Especially how transparent he is with it all.

The whole Bezos issue reminds me of the talks and books by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, especially the spirit level. (I still haven’t read the inner level yet)

In their influential 2009 book The Spirit Level, the epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrated conclusively the pernicious effects of economic inequality. In more unequal countries, outcomes are worse for almost everyone in areas such as public health, education, obesity and social mobility.

Demostration of inquality in action
From Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s the spirit level book, this cartoon is just perfect.

 

Every once in a while its a win win for all, except the algorithms

Tampon box in disabled loo

Every once in a while I like messing with the algorithms which rule our world. As Cory says in this critical piece, found via Ade,

Machine learning is fundamentally conservative, and it hates change. If you start a text message to your partner with “Hey darling,” the next time you start typing a message to them, “Hey” will beget an autosuggestion of “darling” as the next word, even if this time you are announcing a break-up.

This isn’t a new thing and I have to thank Miles who gave me the idea a long time ago to mess with the algorithms every once in a while.

Every once in a while, when I feel the recommendations are getting pretty good I buy something completely different. For example with Google I’ve done some very strange things, but the impact isn’t so clearly felt as with shopping algorithms.

Recently I bought tampons which were 2 for the price of 1 on Tesco online. I bought them because I wanted to screw up the algorithm but more importantly I wanted to support my female colleagues (extra special shout out to Jasmine) who have been fighting the good fight to provide women & girls with free sanitary products in BBC buildings. As they really should have!

Maybe this is a triple win, one for my colleagues, two for messing up Tesco’s recommendations and three for my pocket? What ever it is, I noticed Tesco recommendation now includes pointers to shampoo products which I certainly don’t need  but makes me laugh the algorithm is so easily manipulated.

Already planning similar on Amazon and Ebay…

Well worth watching: The Boys TV series

The Seven from the boys

I just started watching the Boys and I got to say its right on point. This review sums it up.

For me the whole series is a total and effective satire that lets us see what would become of the world if fiction becomes reality: heroes lose interest in saving the world (or take advantage of its status), are forced to do things that are not right, to follow the company’s own interests and do not go out to end the crime if they are not followed by a camera that captures each of their movements, even though they are always transmitting that image of exemplary citizen when in fact they are greedy and treat their fans badly.

It’s also chilling to know that people in power act as judges and executioners to decide what crimes are profitable and what millions of dollars they rent their superheroes to other cities so they can be safe. The precision in the denunciation of The Boys is one of its strongest points since satire towards these characters is not new, but combining it with the theme of corporate America and wild capitalism gives it a clear differential touch.

The series is a total hit and is perfectly developed, to the point of making it impossible to miss because chapter by chapter the anguish increases. So if you have free time, I strongly recommend you to watch this satirical series.

I’d echo the last paragraph, I’m surprised I haven’t heard about it before. Its a very different show from the Watchmen but full of interesting points on society and couture.

You should disclose smart speakers to guests

Someone at Mydata mentioned this interview during our panel last month and finally had a read. Very happy BBC got the Google’s Rick Osterloh to say “I disclose smart speakers to guests.

After being challenged as to whether homeowners should tell guests smart devices – such as a Google Nest speaker or Amazon Echo display – are in use before they enter the building, he concludes that the answer is indeed yes.

“Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way,” Rick Osterloh begins.

“It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.”

And then he commits.

“Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

I very much agree and I think everybody should do this. Will people do this? Not a chance, although I wish they would. I do tend to go into a room and jokily say the different wake words. Just incase…

I remember writing about my Airbnb in Barcelona experience and I have to say Airbnb’s criteria of what a camera is good.

This area of social data surveillance is tricky but something which is being researched/explored by the likes of myself at BBCR&D.

Will breaking up GAFFA do any good?

Elizabeth Warren wants to break up the monopoly of the big tech companies (GAFFA) nothing that new as Tim Berners-Lee’s been saying similar for a year or so.

I do find it interesting watching the calls for Europe to get in the game, but then applying the same metrics to the European market? Something is not quite right there? Why would you want a copy of GAFFA’s, therefore recreating the cycle again?

Android eink reader wish-list complete?

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

I remembered the blog I wrote over 5 years ago!

In a few things I’d like to see on my Kindle

I’ve gotten into this lovely routine where I have Calibre automatically turns my subscriptions into ebooks for me and then I connect my Kindle to the USB to automatically sync the items. Then I sit in a nice coffee/tea shop reading my google reader unread subscriptions, readitlater, instapaper, etc. With the experimental webkit browser any links I want to check out, I can check them out using the cafe’s public wifi. The only issue is I really want some way of bookmarking with delicious or even readitlater the important stuff that I read.

This is a while ago and of course I switched from instapaper to wallabag. Then installing the actual app on the android tablet completely changes everything. Of course if Google reader still existed I’d install that, but I’m using Greader pro, which does similar with the standard android intent menu. Also added Diigo to replace delicious bookmarks.

I don’t know if you can add bookmarklets to the experimental webkit browser but that would be ideal.

My other alternative is some kind of note taking app on the kindle its self. I know you can add annotations to books but it seems getting them off isn’t as straight forward as it should be. Although I love just being able to read stuff on the kindle screen, I wouldn’t mind some blogging app. The keyboard is not bad and being able to draft up a blog entry would be great, specially when you google reader on the device its self. I’m also wondering if I can make use of Conduit again to do some transferring of notes, like I had planned for my Sony Ereader.

I have simplenote installed on the tablet, but also google tasks. The keyboard isnt bad so typing a blog post might not be ideal but I can start drafting one. Once again as I’m using the actual android app and they all have their own syncing mechanism when theres connectivity.

So in ideally I’d like to see a full blogging app, a browser with bookmarklets and Ideally a evernote client.

I can draft a blog with simplenote, save bookmarks and links via diigo and store notes in google tasks & simplenote.

Its all good, well almost

Of course now I’d like Bluetooth for access to a physical keyboard and maybe speakers/headphones and some tweaks to the software, especially around the previous/next buttons. Ideally USB C over Micro USB and although I have seen one OS update already; I’m still interested to see what happens if they upgrade to Android 5+. Material design seems very incompatible with the current generation of eink/epaper screens unfortunately.

Android eink tablets are a dream reader?

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

I recently bought a Energy Pro HD 6 inch tablet from Amazon (oh the irony) to kind of replace my Kindle Paperwhite 2.

I wrote about my thoughts previously in passing

I just discovered Wallabag to replace Instapaper. Before I was using readitlater which became Pocket. I switched to Instapaper because of the deliver a mobi ebook to kindle every morning feature (heck I pay for this feature). But since i’m considering a epaper display android tablet which means it could read anything including PDF, RSS, ePub and Mobi. Plus I wouldn’t lose my kindle books because the Amazon app will run on it too. Having a smarter epaper device will squeeze out instapaper and likely mean I will read even more than I currently do (well worth the investment). I still far prefer to read longer stuff on a epaper display.

but its time to dig more into it. Especially because there are quite a few people interested in a critical review

I heard about eink/epaper tablets running Android a while ago but hadn’t really done any more research. Then I saw a friend at work with one he just bought. I had a little play and pretty much decided I was getting one.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

The tablet is multitouch (which is weird on a eink display), runs about the same rez as my kindle paperwhite. Its almost the exact size including the thinness. Unboxing was nice and you tell they had spent a little time thinking about that experience. Its also eink not epaper which most people won’t care about but eink is a registered product, and usually more expensive that epaper (which the Pebble watch for example uses).

Its battery life so far seems pretty good. I turned off notifications, turned on wifi and no shutdown mode which you can enable if you want stupid battery life. So as I write this, I have charged it once when unboxed and its on 71% battery and thats over 2 days ago. There is a standby mode it switches to after a while, once again this can be set and changed in the settings. The one thing which is a pain is you can’t set a actual lock, which is something to consider as you hook up your google account. I disabled my gmail and other things.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

Putting in the google account details was a bit of a pain due to my very long password and 2 factor auth. I was tempted to put keepass on it but the keyboard is the default google jelly bean one and theres no auto suggest stuff. You don’t want to type a lot of stuff on this tablet, especially with the screen refreshing. Its good for short notes, but not writing a essay. If it had Bluetooth, you could connect a bluetooth keyboard but it doesnt.

That is the big advantage of the ereader/tablet. Unlike others, there is a massive store of apps which can be put on the device (including a lock screen I assume). Currently I have Wallabag, Instapaper, Greader, Tasks, Wikipedia, Simplenote, Google drive, Amazon Kindle and a couple more thing installed. It comes with a file manager, a epub/mobi/pdf book reader and few other things like a comic book reader.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

I always wanted Kindle apps to take notes, etc but Amazon kept tight control over that SDK. Because of this the ecosystem of apps was super limited, making it almost useless. There are some apps which just don’t work on the ereader, mainly because they are built for Android 5.x (lollipop) upwards. The reader comes with a special launcher which is simple and mainly monotone, I can see it working for Android 4.4 (kitkat) but not Android 5, 6, 7 due to material designs user interface requirements. Not sure how security will work on this device, as Google isn’t doing patches for such old operating systems but thats another reason to keep it simple.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

Another thing the ereader has is MicroSD storage. I threw all my ebooks on to a 1gig micro SD card and it indexed them all no problem. Sure I could put much higher storage in the device but 1gig holds a lot of ebooks, even PDFs. It also has the default Android mass storage file transfer and MTP mode when plugging in a MicroUSB cable for charging and storage. The backlight seems to be almost exactly the same as the Kindle paperwhite 2 with the same level of light but it seems brighter.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

In the first few days of using this device, I’m amazed how useful it is and why I didn’t ditch my kindle earlier. Just the ability to read epubs on a eink screen makes it winner in my book. Actually reading books on it is simple and not much different that reading on the kindle. I did find the Amazon app painful to read with but its just the app chrome which isn’t setup to deal with eink displays. Greader and instapaper are almost perfect with the ability to use the volume buttons to control the page. The side keys on the device are really just volume keys, but the device has no sound at all. Having audio would be a massive plus agreed…

I expect I’ll write another review in the coming months but right now I’m a big fan and can’t wait to drop this in jacket pocket instead of the kindle. Will have to think about who might want my 2nd hand kindle for xmas…?

Theres a much more detailed review of the Ereader vs the Kindle if thats what you are after right now. But expect a follow up…

Using Amazon Glacier on Ubuntu

2015-04-27 10.55.13

Looking at my little home server, I noticed a Spideroak warning telling me I am up to maximum on online storage. I assume the reason for this is the 1391 pictures I took over the course of the 2 weeks in Tokyo.

Rather than just pay for the next band up, I thought I’d give Amazon Glacier a chance. because frankly I don’t need to view the pictures all the time. I uploaded the best ones to my Japan photoset on Flickr already.

Can I say one thing!

Amazon Glacier is certainly not ready for the general public!

Yes I’m using Ubuntu and yes I was seeking to do it with a GUI but boy oh boy… Amazon webservices is very very developer focused.

In the end after about 4 hours, I finally settled on using Simple Amazon Glacier Uploader, which uses Java 1.6+. It was that or try and use Wine to emulate a Windows app called FastGlacier. Don’t get me wrong there are many clients but not many for Mac and even less for Linux.

The thing which I think most people will miss is the fact you need to setup a user just for the uploading. Once you do that you need to setup a bucket and then give that user permissions to control that bucket. This is done in the policy control, without this you will get lots of errors which don’t make a lot of sense.

I’m still waiting to verify my test upload worked but I believe its correct now. If so, then the next few days would be the time I could really do with Hyperoptic fibre broadband. My picture count is currently at 91.9 gigs over 68794 files…

Dropbox as furniture design company

This Alabamiana Library Is A Beaut

Dropbox as furniture design company” – @iledigital (Jon Rogers)

When Jon first said this to me, I had to think for a second. Then I got it.

Amazon, ibooks, etc all have their own proprietary ways of holding your ebook. But imagine if you  used many different sources to gather books and organise them. Some digital and some physical (like I do) These are sync’ed using Dropbox or other syncing systems and instead of being displayed as files, appear like dropbox’s photos stream. A far more useful way to display books you have and heck why not make it sharable while your at it?

Next leap… Instead of it being just a digital thing, how about as a physical manifestation? Dropbox could sync the physical and digital together, like a wispersync for binding digital and physical items. Maybe it slots a bookmark into position or folds over the top edge of a page?

But one thing you don’t want is some ugly as sin apple skeuomorphism bookshelf in your living room. It would need to fit with the rest of the furniture and surrounds. Making Dropbox a furniture design company. Not such a massive leap in imagination I would say…