A Kindle Program I Could Get Behind

John likes his Kindle. I love to read. I feel like I should be more excited about it, but I’m not.

I think the problem is that I’m emotionally attached to my library. I surround myself with my books. They remind me of what I’ve read, and even in some cases, who I was when I read them.

Unfortunately, while I’d love to flip through some of them more frequently, the physical form gets in the way. I know I would love to have all my books in electronic form, the same way that I have my CD library now on my iPod, or my DVD library on my AppleTV/Mac Mini.

I caught this article today about the Kindle, and I decided to put out there a plea for a program that Amazon could put on that would immediately convert me over:

Let me send you my books. Yes, my physical books. When I send you them, give me download access to the e-book form, for my Kindle. Let me trade you my paper for electrons, in high quality form.

Take my books, and either sell them through your marketplace, or donate them to libraries and schools. Spread them to others so they can enjoy them.

If I could get my existing library converted over to a form for the Kindle, I’d gladly give you my future purchases. I can rip a CD. I can even rip a DVD. But I can’t rip my books.

I’m guessing the royalties for the book publishers will be a problem. But likely not insurmountable. After all, there is some money on the table here, since the books can be converted into some small amount of dollars. And think of the marketing data you’d have on me once you knew in detail the hundreds of books I already own.

Just a thought.

LinkedIn As A Source of Record…

Very interesting article Friday on the former Miasolé CEO:

Short synopsis, from the article:

Dave Pearce, former CEO of Miasolé, has apparently joined a new company called Nuvosun, according to CNET.The company is trying to develop a film that will prevent moisture from penetrating — and degrading — thin-film solar panels, the story says.

OK, so that part may not be that interesting to you, unless you’ve been following the solar tech industry closely.  (Miasolé, pronounced MEE-AH-SO-LAY, is venture backed by Kleiner Perkins).  But check out this paragraph:

CNET said it contacted Pearce, but hadn’t heard back to confirm the details and cited a LinkedIn profile. Greentech Media also has been unable to contact Peace or to get others to confirm his new role.

However, one former employee confirmed that former Miasolé’s Pearce did have a LinkedIn profile, and the only LinkedIn profile for “Dave Pearce” that cites previous experience at Miasolé and Domain Technology — a thin-film hard-drive manufacturer where Pearce was previously CEO — lists him as president and CEO of Nuvosun.

I checked the original CNET article:

CNET News.com contacted Pearce, but have not heard back to confirm these details. However, we know for certain that Nuvosun is the name of the company. He’s listed as the CEO of Nuvosun on his LinkedIn profile.

That’s right – the information source that broke the news was a LinkedIn profile.

Now, I’ve seen this happen with friends and colleagues before – someone gets a promotion, a new job, or leaves a company.  They then update their LinkedIn profile long before the news has become public… and the LinkedIn Network Updates feed breaks the story for them.  (Note to audience – LinkedIn has a preference where you can turn off updates, which can be useful at times when you don’t want the story to break this way).

Still, this is the first time I can recall seeing a press story where the source of record that confirmed the story was LinkedIn.  In fact, it’s even the byline of the article:

A LinkedIn profile for Dave Pearce, former head of the Santa Clara, Calif., thin-film firm, lists him as CEO of NuvoSun.

Pretty cool, when you think about it.  I think this is going to become more and more common as LinkedIn becomes the preferred source of record for professional reputation, experience and education.

Memories: Apple ATG Summer Picnic, 1997

Thursday night, Carolyn & I went out with a number of close friends to celebrate her birthday.  Eric Cheng brought a very nice little present for us – a snapshot from the Apple Advanced Technology Group (ATG) Summer Picnic in 1997.

This snapshot is now the earliest known couple photo Carolyn & I have.  Friday, August 22, 1997.  At this point, we had been dating all of 12 days.

This is also, I believe, the very last Apple ATG Picnic, since this is also the year that Steve returned to Apple and officially disbanded ATG.

So a little nostalgia on the blog tonight.  Big thanks to Eric for the great picture.

The Secret to Reformatting a Western Digital WD 1TB My Book External Hard Drive

Little tidbit.

When you buy a Western Digital (WD) 1 TB My Book External Hard Drive, they usually come formatted for Windows using FAT32. Of course, if you are using it with a Mac, then you’ll want to reformat it using Mac OS Extended (HFS+).

The problem: When you try to reformat in Disk Utility, you’ll get a very cryptic error that says that there was an unknown error with the partition map.

The solution: If you go to the partition map and click the “Options…” button, you’ll be able to select which scheme to use for the boot records. It turns out, if the boot record scheme is set to “Master Boot Record”, you will not be able to format it as Mac OS Extended. Flipping it to GUID or Apple Partition Map will work.

Once you get to that magic dialog, it’s pretty clear what to do. Why Apple doesn’t communicate this error intelligibly when you attempt to format I don’t know.

In any case, there is an Apple Discussion Board thread that saved the day for me. I’m posting it here just in case it saves the day for someone else.

I’m now ready to try out Apple Time Machine for the first time…

Update (12/29/2008): It’s amazing, but this continues to be one of the most popular posts on this blog.  Everyone seems to have this problem.  Interestingly, it’s not unique to Western Digital drives.  I find that I need to do this with Maxtor and Seagate Free Agent drives also.  I just did this with the new Seagate FreeAgent 1.5 TB external.  Works like a charm…

New LinkedIn Feature: Viewers Of This Profile Also Viewed

So, in case you are wondering, this feature was kind of tricky to name. 🙂

Steve Stegman has a post on the LinkedIn blog today announcing a new feature we’re testing, currently dubbed “Viewers of this profile also viewed…”

Steve does a good job explaining the feature. It’s located on the profile page, on the right side. (You have to be signed in, and if you are looking at your own profile, you have to click the link that says “View My Profile as others see it…”) In a nutshell, for this module LinkedIn is showing, in the aggregate, the other profiles that people are most likely to visit if they visited your profile. It sounds simple, but actually there is some significant complexity in cleaning out the data to get a good set of interesting profiles to browse.

I’ve clicked through over a dozen people in the past couple of days, and I continue to be surprised at how well it works. My results are excellent, but given my relatively public role at LinkedIn, I assumed my profile gets enough views to generate good aggregate results.

(In case you are curious, here are the 5 profiles you are most likely to visit if you visited mine, as of today)

Let’s see – Dan is our CEO, Jamie & Allen & I report to Reid, and Elliot is on my team. Definitely not hard to see the connections here. 🙂

As an example of a typical user, let’s look at my mother’s profile:

The first three are pretty obvious, but for some reason, Jonathan isn’t as popular as Elliot or Elizabeth?  Hmmm.  🙂

If I click through to Daniel’s profile, I see the following:

Now that’s 5 for 5!  Brother, sister, mother, brother, wife.

I’m finding that following just this module, I can browse LinkedIn in a really fun, new way.  Some of the results are pretty surprising.  It adds just a bit of serendipity (dare I say it?) into browsing people.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a quick post about the “People You May Know” feature on LinkedIn. This new module is yet another interesting way to look at the ways people are related – this time informed by the millions of clicks that hit LinkedIn every day.

Kudos to Steve and the analytics team for this new, interesting view.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (12.2 MegaPixel DSLR)

Canon launched today the latest successor to their successful line of digital SLR cameras, the Rebel XSi:

Gizmodo: Canon Expands Rebel Alliance With Live View 12-Megapixel EOS XSi

The rumors are true. Canon’s took power features from the high-end EOS models and creature comforts from the PowerShot line, and merged them into the 12.2-megapixel EOS Rebel XSi DSLR, with Live View LCD view-finding (previously only seen on EOS-1D Mark III), a 3″ LCD screen with 230,000 pixels, and the Digic III processor found in nearly every new Canon model. There will be two kits, body only for $800 and one with a starter 18-55mm lens for $900.

After over 6 years with point-and-shoot digital cameras, my friend Eric finally gave me the courage to jump to a full SLR a couple of years ago, and I haven’t looked back.  The pictures are so much clearer, the camera so much more responsive, I can visually see in my photo library the line between my pre & post DSLR days.  I can’t imagine going back – I’d rather just use my cell phone camera for quick shots.

I got the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, which was the 2nd generation.  The XTi moved the bar to 10MP, an updated processor, and some other features, but I could resist the minor upgrade.  The XSi seems pretty compelling, though.

I’ll have to ask Eric about it… 🙂

Yes, You Can Get 1080P out of a Mac Mini

As I posted last night, I’ve hooked my new Intel Core Duo Mac Mini to a Vizio 42″ 1080P LCD.

If you read the specs at Apple, it says the Mac Mini, with 64MB DRAM driving it’s Intel GMA 950 video, can support a 1920×1200 based resolution on a monitor.  I assumed that this meant it could drive any 1080P display, which is 1920×1080.

It turns out, there are a few hurdles that could get in the way of succeeding in getting a Mac Mini to drive a 1080P TV display.  Some of the hurdles are simple, but one was quite tricky.

Here is the solution, for all those intrepid Mac warriors out there:

  1. Getting the Max Resolution on the Vizio.  The Vizio display says on the box it only supports 1366×768 for computer display.  This turns out to be the onboard limitation for their VGA port.  If you use a DVI to HDMI cable, you can drive the full 1920×1080 through the HDMI port.  I used a 10ft DVI to HDMI gold plated cable from Fry’s.  (Price $19.99)
  2. How to Get Sound on the Vizio.  I bought a cheap 3.5mm Mini Plug to RCA Red/White 6 inch cable (Price: $2.79).  I then used a standard 12ft Red/White RCA Audio cable to plug connect the Mini to the Vizio TV.  The second HDMI port on the Vizio is paired with an auxiliary set of RCA Red/White jacks, seemingly designed for this situation where your HDMI does not actually carry audio.
  3. How to Get 1080P, not 1080i, out of the Mac Mini.  This is the tough one.  When you go to the Displays control panel on the Mac Mini (Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5), you are given lots of video choices.  However, the maximum resolution says 1920×1080 (interlaced) at 60Hz.  What gives?   I’m not sure, but it seems like a bug.  The secret is to enable the checkbox that says “Show displays in menu bar”.  If you do then, a displays icon appears in the menu bar.  Click it to get a drop down menu of all display resolutions.  Interestingly, there are now two 1920×1080 options, which are labeled identically.  Choose the other one!  You’ll now be driving full 1080P (confirmed by the Vizio).

I’ve searched the web, and this issue is tricky enough that lots of people complain about the lack of the ability to drive 1080P from the Mac Mini.  Most of the debates seem to argue that it depends on the TV.  I don’t buy it.  I think the issue is a bug in the Mac OS display detection in DVI/HDMI scenarios that is somehow hiding the 1080P option.  Either that, or the Mac Mini for some reason thinks that 1080P is too much for it for some other reason, and the drop-down menu is missing that filter to remove it from the list.

I’m not going to spend time on the why.  The point is, if you are looking for the how, you just got it.

BTW Leopard is a huge improvement for applications like this.  The improved network browsing and FrontRow application are incredibly well-timed.   It’s going much better than I expected.