Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jetbook-Lite eReader

Ectaco's jetBook-Lite eReader is one of the cheapest eReaders around at around$129...for which you get the eReader, a USB-to-mini-USB connector...and nothing else. So, what do you get for your money?

Specifications: 6-inch by 4.3-inch with a 5.1-inch diagonal VGA reflective monochrome TFT (non-backlit) screen, approximately 7.5 ounces, an ARM 200MHz CPU, 100 built-in MB memory with a SD 1.0 card slot which will support up to a 32GB SD card, a mini-USB slot, and powered by four (4) AA batteries which "live" in a battery compartment that bulges out of the leftside of an otherwise flat back... This actually makes for a very comfortable left-hand hold when used either in portrait or in landscape; but is not as comfortable if used right-handed.

The reader supports several file formats, including eReader (.pdb) DRM, Fictionbook (.fb2), Mobipocket (.mobi), plain text (.txt), EPUB, PDF,RTF, GIF, JPG, PNG, BMP, and HTML...

OK, as befits a 'bare bones' eReader there is no sync software, app store, special book store, etc. . When you connect it to your PC using the supplied mini-USB to USB cable the reader shows up as a drive and you can transfer files back and forth. The jetBook-Lite comes with memory almost full of a number of text books (classified into children's, detective, fiction, history, mystery, novels, poetry, etc. categories).

The bottom line after a couple of hours usage? Pro: A pretty nice eReader; comfy to use; a good screen that is easy on the eyes, and which does not have that annoying flicker when turning pages; and one that is easy to use. A good cheap eReader for anyone that eschews DRM and who does not need a system tied to a larger environment. Con: Although the cheapest eReader out there IMO it still is a little too pricey for very widespread use.... at around $50 or below you could perhaps have a couple lying around the home. While the plastic housing and buttons, etc. are actually fairly solid it still seems rather cheap and flimsy when compared to the all-metal Sony reader. This eReader is also definitely not a device for people who want one that is "auto-everything" e.g. automatic sync'ing, direct wireless download (like theKindle), iTunes-compliant, etc.

Pictures of the jetbook-Lite compared to a Sony PRS-300 Reader:

The Ectaco jetBook Universal Portable Reading Device Review
Ectaco jetBook Lite does everything it can to claim 'cheapest US e-reader' title, no matter the sacrifice
ECTACO jetBook-Lite
jetBook-Lite review by By Jerry P. Danzig (MobileRead forums)
ECTACO jetBook–Lite and eReader: SF writer Robert J. Sawyer’s mixed review

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Random charts

Source: In U.S., Canada Places First in Image Contest; Iran Last.

Great quote

OPR investigator to John Yoo: "What about ordering a village of [resistance] to be massacred? Is that a power that the president could legally—"

Yoo: "Yeah."

OPR investigator: "To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?"

Yoo: "Sure."

- DOJ Report on Torture Memo: Yoo Said Bush Could Order "Massacre" of Civilians

Per the final Justice Department report Yoo showed "bad judgment."

Random picture

Source: At White House, the Dalai Lama sidesteps trash. After meeting with the President the Dalai Lama leaves by a side (or is it back?) door. Another picture of him skirting the trash here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Random chart

Source: Current Worldwide Homicide/Murder Rates Interactive map.

Random charts

Source: The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded state retirement systems and the roads to reform. From the executive summary: "Of all of the bills coming due to states, perhaps the most daunting is the cost of pensions, health care and other retirement benefits promised to their public sector employees. An analysis by the Pew Center on the States found that at the end of fiscal year 2008, there was a $1 trillion gap between the $2.35 trillion states and participating localities had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises. To a significant degree, the $1 trillion gap reflects states’ own policy choices and lack of discipline: failing to make annual payments for pension systems at the levels recommended by their own actuaries; expanding benefits and offering cost-of-living increases without fully considering their long-term price tag or determining how to pay for them; and providing retiree health care without adequately funding it."

Monday, February 15, 2010


This blogger finds the announcers at the Vancouver Olympics (Bob Costas and crew) intensely annoying... and no more so than their coverage of the mens' skiing, and Bode Miller. A favorite in Torino (2006) Miller struck out and did not medal.

OK, no biggie! However, he apparently he committed the sin of not showing sufficient contrition for his "failure." So, although he was risking life and limb hurtling down the course while we (his U.S. fans) were sitting with our fat asses firmly ensconced in our Lazy-Boy's stuffing our faces with snacks, Miller did not apologize for 'letting us down.'

Costas and crew kept harping on this ad nauseum... What B.S! STFU!


During the presidential campaign season in 2008 there was momentary speculation that (then) Senator Obama might pick Evan Bayh (D-IN) as a running mate... The July 7th, 2008 entry, 'Keep it safe... and gray!' remarked that Bayh would be a safe, although a very bland, choice. In the end Obama went for Biden.

Well now Bayh is fading out from the Senate... not seeking re-election, see 'Not His Father's Son' Choice quote: "Good riddance to Evan Bayh, who set out to be every Republican's favorite Democrat -- and mostly succeeded."

Random charts

Source: Obama’s Ratings Are Flat, Wall Street’s Are Abysmal.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Musical chairs...

... or who gets stuck with the blame for the economic crisis! (a pictorial representation...) Greedy bankers!

Just in time...

Picture credit:

The July 12th, 2008 entry 'Lobbing (more than bombs)' cast a jaundiced eye on reporting on IRAM "lob" bombs... their "sophistication," their purported tie to Iran, etc. Now, as the issue of Iran's enrichment activities is heating up and leading to sanctions, as pressure is being ratcheted up, we get ... reports of IRAMs... "a rarely used weapon that U.S. intelligence officials say is connected to Iran."

Previous related blog entries:
"Sophistication" - Jan 17th, 2010
The pattern continues II - Dec 27th, 2009
Backward Iraqis - Apr 28th, 2008

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another view...

The April 10th, 2009 blog entry 'More disarmament' evaluated the good, the bad, and the 'ugly' of President Obama's Prague speech, and concluded: "... it remains to be seen how serious this effort really is, and how well it will be translated into concrete actions. The augurs in this regard may not be that good. As a speech, an 'A', otherwise mark this down as 'TBD.'"

Given his recent request for a large budget increase spending on nuclear weapons, some are asking how this squares with his call for nuclear disarmament.... The Obama disarmament paradox says: "... how is the president's budget compatible with his disarmament vision? The answer is simple: There is no evidence that Obama has, or ever had, any such vision. He said nothing to that effect in Prague. There, he merely spoke of his commitment "to seek . . . a world without nuclear weapons," a vague aspiration and hardly a novel one at that level of abstraction. He said that in the meantime the United States "will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies..."

A little too severe, even for this skeptical blogger...

Random charts

Source: Women in the United States Congress: 1917-2009 and African American Members of the United States Congress: 1870 - 2009

16.8% women... and we insisted that Iraq set up a quota of 25% of seats in their parliament for women (something that would be totally unacceptable to many at home...)! From the report: "The percentage of voting female representation in Congress (16.8%) is slightly lower than averages of female representation in other countries. Women represent 18.4% of national legislative seats across the entire world. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which maintains a database of worldwide female representation, ranks the United States 70th worldwide..."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mental health break

The boyz... Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's...

The margin

Sometimes the margin between hero and/or goat is extremely narrow... Recover the onside kick, score, and win... hero. Fail to recover the onside kick and lose... goat. SB XLIV Can't-Miss Play: Saints' surprise.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Random picture

Un billet de zéro roupie pour lutter contre la corruption en Inde

A zero rupee note to fight corruption in India

Une ONG du Tamil Nadu a mis en place un stratagème ingénieux pour déstabiliser les fonctionnaires corrompus : un billet de zéro roupie, symbole d’une volonté d’éradiquer une pratique généralisée dont pâtissent les plus pauvres en Inde.An NGO in Tamil Nadu has put in place a clever ploy to destabilize corrupt officials: a zero-rupee note, a symbol of the determination to eradicate a widespread practice that hurts the poorest in India.

Glisser discrètement un billet entre le mains d'un fonctionnaire pour faire avancer un dossier reste une pratique courante, voire conseillée, dans de nombreux pays. C'est notamment le cas de l'Inde qui, selon Transparency International, devancerait même des pays comme la Georgie ou le Swaziland en matière de corruption.

Discreetly slipping a bill into the hands of an official to get an application advanced is a common, even recommended, practice in many countries. This is particularly the case in India which, according to Transparency International, is even worse than countries like Georgia or Swaziland as far as corruption is concerned.

Pour remédier à ce problème presistant, l'ONG 5th Pillar (cinquième pilier), basée à Chennai, a mis en place une opération originale qui s'inscrit dans la digne lignée de la philosophie gandhienne, afin de protester contre les pots-de-vins: un billet de zéro roupie à offrir à toute personne cherchant à se faire graisser la patte. Il y a même fort à parier que c'est l'unique billet sur lequel le Mahatma aurait été fier de voir imprimer son portrait.

To remedy this persistant problem the NGO '5th Pillar' (Fifth Pillar) based in Chennai has developed an original idea worthy of the tradition of Gandhian philosophy in order to protest against bribes: a zero-rupee note to deliver to any person seeking to have his palm geased. It is even likely that it is the only ticket on which the Mahatma would have been proud to see his portrait printed.

Read the rest of the article here.

Fantastic idea!

Random chart

Source: Reconstructing the CIA bombing

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Random charts

Source: The President's Bigger Budget. Looks at the President's propsed FY 2011 budget (the fiscal year starting on October 1st, 2010)...

Great quotes

"An attempted attack the priority is certain, I would say." - Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence. The occasion was his appearance before the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence, and this was his response when Senator Diane Feinstein asked: "What is the likelihood of another terrorist attempted attack on the U.S. homeland in the next three to six months, high or low? Director Blair?"