The Green Light

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us"

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In Defense Of Books


Some time ago, I read the following article about Ikea’s classic Billy Bookshelf. If you don’t feel like clicking the link, I’ll briefly summarize it for you. Ikea is redesigning their bookshelf to accommodate ornaments and photos, not books. Ikea is betting that the advent of devices like the Ipad and the Kindle has effectively killed the physical book as we know it. 
Many readers of this might cheer this idea on, as there are many flaws with physical books. First of all, they have very limited functionality. They are a merely a collection of words that tell a story. Compare that to an Ipad, which can be used to read books, in addition to watching movies, tweeting ,throwing birds at pigs, and stalking exs on facebook. 

Pictured: Your Ex

Also, if you lose a physical copy of a book, it is gone forever. E-books are backed up on servers so they are effectively impossible to lose. Furthermore, for a book to exist, trees have to die, one could easily argue that anything that can slow the spread of deforestation should be quickly adopted and standardized. 
The preceding points make a lot of sense however, I can’t endorse them just yet, because as it stands every e-reader currently on the market falls short when compared to a physical book. Allow me to go device by device and show how they all fail in comparison to physical books. 
(By tablets, I am including devices such as the Ipad, the Kindle Fire, Nexus 7 etc.) 
First of all, every single tablet is backlit. This might sound appealing on paper (I can read at night without a booklight!) But in practice it is a nightmare. As Jeff Bezos noted, reading on a tablet is similar to reading a piece of paper with someone shining a flashlight from the other side. It can easily cause eye strain if someone does this for a long period of time. So, if you plan on reading a novel on a tablet, don’t plan on reading for more then ten pages at a time. Unless you enjoy bleeding retinas. This back-lit also makes reading books outside utterly impossible. So forget about reading on a beach, by a pool, or anywhere near a window. 

Also, tablet battery life can last for about 10 hours, which is impressive from a technological standpoint, but it makes the device ineffective for long form reading. If you have to stop reading because you have to hunt down an outlet, the truly immersive effect of reading loses some of its power. 
There is a reason that both Amazon and Barnes and Noble released seven inch tablets as opposed to larger ones with larger screens (like the 9.7 inch Ipad.) Namely, that a screen size that large is really awkward for reading. Also, the newest Ipad weighs exactly 1.5 pounds. Which doesn’t sound that heavy but it can easily tire your hand out if you are holding it to read for any extended amount of time. 
Furthermore, the multipurpose nature of tablets takes away the most unique ability that books still possess. When someone is immersed in a book, the rest of the world fades away. It is wholly unique and intimate act of creation between author and reader where the author’s words and the reader’s imagination combine to tell an epic and engaging story. The uniqueness and intimacy of this process is shattered when your tablet interrupts your reading experience to inform you that someone is challenging you to Words With Friends or tweeting at you. While this might seem small, it really does cheapen the whole experience of reading when you are consistently being bombarded with notifications. 

True proponents of digital reading often cite the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook as the true evolution of the art of reading. They are much lighter then tablets, and their battery life lasts in the months (!). Furthermore, they are single purpose devices which means the gluttony of notifications won’t have as much of an impact compared to tablets. Also, their e-ink screens allow them to be read in direct sunlight. 
However, e-readers still fall short when compared to actual books due to several negative factors. 
For one, they are incredibly clunky to navigate. E-ink requires the screen to refresh every page turn or two which is ugly and slow when compared to the simplicity of turning a page. Speaking of page turning, there are few experiences as simply pleasurable as flipping through the pages of a book scanning the words and sentences till you find what you are looking for. There is no way to replicate this experience with a six inch E-ink screen. 
An electronic device with a two month battery life in undeniably impressive, but it still fails when it is being compared to a book that never needs to be charged. Now, it is unlikely that the battery on an e-reader will go out if it’s owner keeps an eye on the battery, but is still possible. Which is something that readers shouldn’t have to deal with. 

Phones (or PMP’s Like the Ipod Touch) 
Every negative (minus the weight issue) from the tablet section applies here, plus one very large one.

Doing any serious reading on a screen this small is laughably bad. 

Text is either so small that it is unreadable, or it’s legible, but each “page” is about two sentences long. It’s horrific, I really can’t understand how anyone can remotely enjoy this. 

The Ownership Issue 
While it is impossible to lose an e-book, something much worse could happen to them. The publisher could simply erase it from your device. This happened in 2009 when (of all books) 1984 and Animal Farm were yanked from the kindles of those who had purchased them without notification.

While all of these customers had their money refunded, that can’t help dispel the feeling that you don’t really own any e-book you purchase. The most telling portion of that article is this: 
“Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading “1984” on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” he said.” 

Considering this, would you feel confident buying an e-book knowing it could vanish at any moment due to large corporate motives? 

The Customization Factor 
One often lauded of e-readers (and e-reader software) is the ability to customize the text size and even the font that is used in the books. Many people cite this as a huge boon as it allows people to customize how their books look. 

"Fuck You Helvetica!"

However, this level of customization actually damages the reading experience. Font and type set aren’t selected at random. They are carefully chosen to help amplify the story that the author is telling. Something like House of Leaves totally ceases to work if someone is changing the entirety of the font in the novel.

Try formatting this on a Kindle

I know that might sound nit-picky, but technology is supposed to push things forward, and in my opinion, the benefits of e-readers are outweighed by the negatives. So, I firmly believe that the best technological innovation for long form reading is Gutenberg’s 15th century wonder. 

But Magazines,Newspapers and Textbooks Need to Die 
While I believe that tablets aren’t great tools for long term reading, they really are amazing devices that make consuming content (well, some content) incredibly enjoyable and easy. One such area where they triumph is reading shorter informative articles, like those found in magazines and newspapers. The articles found in both magazines and newspapers can often be measured in paragraphs (or 1-2 pages.) because of this, the short battery life of tablets and the notification and brightness negatives aren’t as much of a problem when you are dealing with short form reading. Furthermore, the added benefits of wireless delivery and deforestation prevention make tablets great tools for reading magazines and newspapers. Also, the ipad’s screen which is so large that it makes reading novels nearly comical, feels perfectly natural when dealing with an image heavy magazine page. 


I believe that ipad’s also serve as a great replacement for school textbooks. Many college students pay exorbent fees for physical textbooks that none of them really desire. Giving them the option of downloading a light, searchable e-textbook  is nothing short of a godsend for college students. 

In Conclusion: 
While tablets and e-readers might render traditional magazines and newspapers superfluous, they have a long way to go before they can replace the excellent experience of reading a physical books. 
Also, books smell great. Tablets and e-readers don’t.

Filed under books kindle iPad comic books

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Proper Spoiler Etiquette

The major source of online complaining that I’ve encountered (besides ones related to slow-loading gifs and Grumpy Cat) revolve around a film/TV show/or book being spoiled for them by someone online. From an overly-descriptive film review to an exclamatory tweet. the internet is filled with information relating to life, love, and death that can really ruin a fan’s night.

Despite all of the complaints about spoilers, there has never been clear consensus about when and where it is appropriate to discuss a story’s key plot points and surprising twists.

Until now. Imma set it straight this Watergate. Below is a chronological guide that perfectly describes how much important plot information can be leaked in conjunction with when the work was released.

-First, I need to be provide a clarifying note. A spoiler is considered to be a vital piece of information about the plot that cannot be gleaned by either reading a book jacket or IMDB synopsis. This also extends to reveling information that was showcased in a trailer. That information is promotional and cannot be considered a spoiler.-

Day 0-7 

During the first week of release for all forms of art, you are prohibited from revealing important plot points on any social media site. Individuals who are trying to remain unspoiled go to these sites for (can you believe it) social reasons, and they don’t need to see you break down act 3 of Man Of Steel just because you went to the midnight showing. Reviews and online discussions are fine as long as either the link or opening paragraph of said pieces clearly establish that spoilers will likely be contained within. A good example of this would be.

Star Trek Into Darkness post release discussion here. 

A poor example would be

The Mandarin is an actor! Discuss Iron Man 3 here.

Day 8-14 

After one week has passed, it is now acceptable to discuss key plot points for films as well as single episodes of TV shows. Most Individuals have had ample time to see these, and it is appropriate to discuss the key story elements in a free and open manner.

However, this does not extend to spoilery discussion regarding either novels or Netflix television shows. Novels take much longer then 90 minutes to finish, so extra time must be allotted for individuals to finish them. This also applies to Netflix shows such as House of Cards or Hemlock Grove. These shows have their entire seasons released at the exact same time. While some individuals might binge watch all 13 hours of programming, others might not have the time (or the patience) to do this. As such, everyone should refrain from free discussion of spoilers for either of these two art forms.

Day 15-Infinity

From this point forward, all key plot points of any art form can be discussed freely and openly. 




While I believe this guide works well for digital interactions, It doesn’t hold true in one key area of face-to face interaction. Allow me to clarify

Day 0-Infinity

If you are having a face-to-face discussion with someone and they state that they are just about to read a book/ see a movie/ watch a TV show that you are familiar with, it is never okay to spoil it for them. For example, if your friend tells you:

"I just started watching Buffy. This show is great!”

Don’t reply to this with

"It really is! Have you gotten to the part where Faith killed that guy yet."

Don’t do that. It’s obviously not okay.

I hope you have enjoyed this selection on proper spoiler etiquette. Please follow it, don’t be a jerk like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan.

Filed under spoilers star trek the walking dead khan

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Apple’s iPad has proven to be a revolutionary and ubiquitous product in the (relatively) short span of three years. It’s kick started what Apple has called the post PC era. This describes an environment where your PC takes a backseat while your iPad (or possibly android tablet) becomes your dedicated computing device.

I believe that this idea is fundamentally flawed. While tablets are superior to laptops  for content consumption (especially reading) they pail in comparison to laptops when it comes to productivity. 

However, I believe that there is a device which can serve as an ideal secondary computing device for everyone. That device is the Chromebook

In contrast to the ubiquity of an iPad, Chromebooks are not well-known outside of tech circles.  Chromebooks are laptops that don’t run Windows, Linux, or OS X. They just run a chrome browser. The advantages of this are the fact that your computer can’t get viruses and everything is automatically backed up in the cloud. The downside of this is that when you lose your internet connection, the device becomes basically useless.

Many people might view that last sentence and scoff at the fact that I could recommend this product to anyone. However, if any device were to lose it’s internet connection, it would become basically useless. Popular apps like Gmail, Netflix, Steam, Google Maps,  and the wealth of information available on the internet would be rendered inaccessible. Due to this, a Chromebook’s requirement of an always on internet connection isn’t quite as important as it might seem.

Chromebook’s also have several advantages over tablets like the iPad. The first is multi-tasking. Tabbed browsing allows for true, manageable, multi-tasking in a way that is just impossible on an iPad.  As I write this, I am listening to a song that is playing on in a separate tab. If I wish to interact with that song in any way, it’s just one click away. Attempting to the same action on an iPad would require maneuvering through separate apps. While the latter action might not sound difficult, it takes significantly more time then it does on a Chromebook.   

Another benefit of using a Chromebook is the fact that it comes with a full keyboard and track pad. Because of this, a Chromebook is infinitely more productive then a tablet. Using Google docs with a full keyboard is far more useful then touch typing on a glass iPad screen.

Many people attempt to account for a tablet’s shortcomings by buying a separate Bluetooth keyboard. This isn’t a great solution because:

  1. It requires you to buy a separate device, with a separate battery to be charged. 
  2. Because the iOS isn’t designed to work with a mouse and keyboard, using one is still a relatively janky experience compared to the smoothness of a Chromebook.

Finally, Chromebook’s have one more advantage over tablets. Pricing. A quality Chromebook costs $250. That’s half the price of an entry level iPad and almost $100 cheaper then an iPad Mini.

When you couple all of these factors together, the superiority of Chromebooks becomes obvious. If more people were to opt for these machines over tablets, they would find themselves with more capable devices for half the price.


Filed under ipad google apple chrome