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October, 2009:

Amazon international Kindle ships, buyers remorse imminent?

I got the notification that my Amazon Kindle order shipped today, with delivery expected in a couple of days.
In my excitement, I hopped over to the Kindle book store (accessed via Amazon.com as opposed to the .co.uk) to queue up some books and previews ready for its arrival.
It’s accurate to say that I’m left a little deflated and disappointed by the titles available right now.
I  was initially surprised to find that there isn’t an obvious way to see any of the popular Best Sellers listings, be it NY Times or perhaps anything else localised for the UK.  All I could do was list _all_ of the Kindle books and sort by ‘Best Selling’.
Top of the list was Glenn Beck with “Arguing with Idiots”.  Maybe I should know more about him but other than him being on FOX and maybe talk radio, I don’t.  I decided to get queue up the “sample” of his book anyway.
BTW the list price of this book for Kindle is $13.79 (or £8.44) including VAT & international wireless delivery via Whispernet.  Match that against the Digital List Price and Print List Price of $29.99, as well as Amazons price for the Hardcover ($16.47) that’s a pretty decent saving.
Scrolling down the list, there wasn’t really anything on their Best Selling list that took my fancy.
I remembered that Dan Brown had a book out recently and thought I’d grab the sample of that too.
Unfortunately, it seems that none of his books are available on Kindle.  Let’s clarify that, none of his books are available on Kindle for UK customers.
The explanation from Amazon is “Due to copyright restrictions, certain Kindle Titles are not available everywhere.”
I bet this is going to become a talking point as Kindles are shipped around the world.
I decided to go through the New York Times best seller list (http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/bestseller)
Hardcover Fiction
1. THE LOST SYMBOL, by Dan Brown
2. A TOUCH OF DEAD, by Charlaine Harris
3. THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett (yes)
4. THE PROFESSIONAL, by Robert B. Parker
5. THE LAST SONG, by Nicholas Sparks
Only one of the top 5 were available to UK buyers.
Of the UK Sunday Times best sellers list for paper backs (http://tinyurl.com/d9av7f):
1. Cross Country, by James Patterson
2. The Gift, by Cecelia Ahern (yes)
3. The Private Patient, by PD James
4. Once In a Lifetime, by Cathy Kelly
5. Arctic Drift, by Clive and Dirk Cussler
Again, only one of the top 5 were available to UK buyers.
This could make for an interesting couple of days.  There are at least 3 books on those two lists which I’m unable to get at present.
Additionally, I looked for books by Max Brooks (World War Z, Zombie Survival Guide) and found that they aren’t available to me either.
Of course, let’s not forget that Internation Kindles have only started shipping today.  There is plenty of time in the next 48hrs for Amazon to iron out the copyright issues that they use to explain the titles that aren’t available.
Perhaps they should at least have a ‘notify me/download sample when this title is available’ mechanism, I hope they are working this through now.
It’s not all doom and gloom, there are of course many titles available right now.  At least I was able to get a sample chapter of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” 😀

I got the notification that my Amazon Kindle order shipped today, with delivery expected in a couple of days.
In my excitement, I hopped over to the Kindle book store (accessed via Amazon.com as opposed to the .co.uk) to queue up some books and previews ready for its arrival.
It’s accurate to say that I’m left a little deflated and disappointed by the titles that are unavailable for UK buyers right now.  This could make for an interesting couple of days worth of tech news.

(more…)

Moving to eBooks?

bibliophile |ˈbɪblɪə(ʊ)fʌɪl|nouna person who collects or has a great love of books.

I travel a lot for work and quite often my flights are longer than just a couple of hours.
This means that my MBP battery life isn’t long enough to sustain the entire flight and besides, I don’t often get to fly First Class so space is quite limiting.
I therefore usually carry a book or two in my carry on luggage.  Ranging from business style ones (Crucial Conversations, anyone?) to fiction, they can add substantial weight to my bag.  Not forgetting the expense of course.  If i’m bored at the airport, I’ll check out the bookstore there.  For example, I bought a whopping book from Dublin airport last week which wouldn’t even fit in my bag.

I’ve coveted the Amazon Kindle for a long time now, pretty much since it was released and especially since they launched the Kindle DX earlier this year.  I know I’d need a US mailing address to open a US account and get it delivered but that’s fine.  The only thing that has stopped me getting one yet is that I am concerned at not being able to buy books for it.  I just don’t know if you can purchase books “off Kindle” – i.e buy them on my MBP and transfer them to the Kindle via USB.
The last couple of times I’ve been to the US, I’ve had the Kindle 2 in my ‘shopping basket’ about to hit the “order” button but backed out at the last minute. (more…)

X360 or PS3?

I own both (as well as a very underused Wii).
Historically, i’ve invested far more into the X360 than the PS3 both in terms of buying games and actual game time.
Most of my friends also own X360’s so back when I had lots of free time for gaming, I spent time playing online over the fantastic Xbox Live network.
There is also the small matter of the ongoing gamerpoint competition.  It seemed ridiculous back when we all started out with X360s a couple of years back but we ended up getting hooked into trying to beat out each others scores.
This meant that when a game is multi-platform (as most are these days), I get the X360 version because of the achievement points.  Sad but true!
I have only four games for the PS3 (2 downloaded from PSN), Metal Gear Solid, Little Big Planet, Zombie Apocalypse (PSN) and Wipeout (PSN).
However, having since gotten an even MORE time intensive job as well as marriage, my game time has slipped dramatically.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been contemplating moving to the PS3 as my sole gaming entertainment provider but I’m not sure I’m ready to take the plunge.
With todays release of FIFA 2010, I’m tempted take the chance and go with PS3.  However that means limiting my online play to strangers and my 360 owning friends pull further away on the gamerpoint front..
Decisions, decisions..

Yes, I know this is an oft talked about topic but I don’t mean it in a “Which is better?”, fanboy way.
I own both (as well as a very, very under used Wii) but historically, i’ve invested far more into the X360 than the PS3 both in terms of buying games and actual game time.
I’m trying to decide if I should continue with the almost 100% support of the X360 platform or whether the time has come for me to start moving over to PS3… (more…)

Clearing the BIOS password on a Dell D610

Seeing as I work in technology, that obviously means I’m the first port of call for friends/relatives with any kind of computer issue.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my wifes friends asked if I could take a look at her lappy – a Dell D610.
She hadn’t used it for a few years as she got a newer lappy, now couldn’t remember her password which left her husband SOoL when he wanted to take it with him whilst he’s away with work.
As here were a bunch of photos on there of their kids when they were younger I couldn’t simply reinstall the OS and go.
Getting the pics off was pretty easy – Installing the OS was not.
I managed to get the photos off with my trusty 3.5″IDE->USB adaptor.  Took the disk out, hooked it up to my MBP and copied them off.
Well, it wasn’t quite that simple as I didn’t realise OS X wouldn’t search an NTFS drive (probably something to do with spotlight writing the index but being unable to write to NTFS natively).
After a bit of drive wrangling, I managed to get the device to show up in Windows 7 under VMWare Fusion and quickly found the pics.
Right, just the OS to go.
I burned an iso of XP with SP3 slipstreamed in and went about trying to get the lappy to boot from CD.
Once I realised that the boot menu was having no effect, I checked out the BIOS.
Yup, completely locked out with an admin password.
This meant I couldn’t change the boot priority or anything.
Bugger.
A bunch of Googling turned me on to a method of wiping the BIOS completely by shorting out the EEPROM.
It took me a while to work it out and I absolutely refused to pay the jackass with the youtube video promising to show you how to do it for a fee.
So, in the interests of freedom of information, here is how to clear/reset/remove the BIOS password on a Dell D610.
Notes and disclaimer:
This worked for me.  If it doesn’t work for you, i’m not responsible for that.
You will be cutting metal from the casing.  You need to be careful not to leave any residue on the motherboard incase it shorts anything out.
As part of the process, your machines service tag details will also be cleared.
1. Get your BIOS locked Dell D610.
2. Get a paperclip or safety pin.
3. Get a phillips or crosshead screwdriver and some metal cutters (heavy duty wire cutters should do it).
4. Remove the power supply, battery, CD drive and HDD.
5. Unscrew pretty much all of the screws on the bottom of the D610.
6. Remove the bottom case.
7. With the rear of the laptop closest to you, you should see a white label covering the modem on your left.  There should be some black plastic covering which stops the CMOS from touching the motherboard.
8. Just above that, there are some holes in the metal casing. You need to access a chip underneath that area.
9. CAREFULLY remove the metal.
10. Take your paper clip and prepare to short out the two pins 2nd from the left.
11. Power on and short those pins for about 5 secs.
12. If you are doing it right you’ll hear the fan kick in.
13. This message will show on the screen.
14. You can either press FN+x or let it reboot.
15. Now you will be able to go to the BIOS and make whatever changes you need.
It’s actually a pretty simple process once you know what chip is where, although you must be extremely careful when cutting the casing.
I hope that helps someone and saves them a few bucks.

Seeing as I work in technology, that obviously means I’m the first port of call for friends/relatives with any kind of computer issue.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my wifes friends asked if I could take a look at her lappy – a Dell D610.

She hadn’t used it for a few years as she got a newer lappy, now couldn’t remember her password which left her husband SOoL when he wanted to take it with him whilst he’s away with work.  To make things a little less straight forward, there were a bunch of photos on it of their kids when they were younger, so I couldn’t simply reinstall the OS and go.

Getting the pics off was pretty easy – Re-Installing the OS was not.

I managed to get the photos off with my trusty 3.5″IDE->USB adaptor.  Took the disk out, hooked it up to my MBP and copied them off.  Well, it wasn’t quite that simple as I didn’t realise OS X wouldn’t search an NTFS drive (probably something to do with spotlight writing the index but being unable to write to NTFS natively).  After a bit of driver wrangling, I managed to get the device to show up in Windows 7 under VMWare Fusion and quickly found the pics.

Right, just the OS to go.

I burned an iso of XP with SP3 slipstreamed in and went about trying to get the lappy to boot from CD.

Once I realised that the boot menu was having no effect, I checked out the BIOS.  Yup, completely locked out with an admin password.  This meant I couldn’t change the boot priority or anything at all.

Bugger.

A bunch of Googling turned me on to a method of wiping the BIOS admin password completely by shorting out the EEPROM.

(more…)