Kindle Fire vs Apple iPad

I've had my Kindle Fire now for a few weeks, and as an Apple/ iOS fanboy, I have to admit I actually like it. However, I find myself liking it despite of Android, not thanks to it. Here's my initial thought on what is good, and bad with this device, in a heads-up comparison with the iPad.

Physical device

This is an easy winner to pick. the iPad is vastly superior in pretty much every category. However, it's also more than 2x as expensive. I have no idea why the Kindle is shipped with such small storage capacity, and what's worse, no SD storage slot! Again, what are they thinking, this is the "killer" feature of Android hardware, making them expandable. Alas, the Kindle Fire is not... However, I do like the size of the Kindle, it's extremely convenient, since it fits nicely into my cargo shorts front pocket. I can now carry a "book" with me no matter where I go. It is damn heavy though, and I honestly don't know why. This thing is a brick!

The touch screen on the Kindle Fire is much less accurate than the iPad. Perhaps it's a software issue (it got a bit better with the software update), perhaps it's the smaller size. But I find it really difficult to type on the Fire, much more so than on the iPad.

Winner: Apple iPad hands down.

Applications and app store

This is the easiest comparison, and it's pretty much a wash between the Android apps and the iOS apps. Pretty much everything that I need and is used to from my iOS experience exists in the Android / Kindle app stores. However, for reasons I can not understand, I'm not allowed to download Android apps from the Google Market app-store! Is this not supposed to be an open platform? At least let me download the apps that are free, for example, the Linux Journal reader. I know, I know, I can ask a friend with a registered Android phone to download the app for me, but again, wtf.

The Amazon app-store is pretty nice though, and I really do like that I can download the free apps without having to type in my password over and over again. I understand why the Apple store requires me to authenticate before purchasing apps, but why would it need to do that for free apps? Now, the Amazon app-store is too liberal here, and actually lets you, deliberate or accidentally, install expensive apps with little confirmation.

I've installed several apps from the Kindle app-store that works incredibly poorly on the Kindle. I've even almost been tricked into installing spy-ware already (although, I managed to avoid it thanks to the the reviews on the app. But Amazon, and I'm guessing Google, clearly have to do a much better job protecting consumers from this crap. There are certainly crappy iOS applications out there, and it saddens me to see that the closeness of iOS and the App Store actually seems to help. Please Google and Amazon, make this work in an open platform and market.

Winner: Apple Store, by a small margin thanks to it's much better screening of applications.

Internet device

The Kindle fire works fairly well for web browsing, and various other network and "web" type applications. For its small size, it's quite nice. There's one big caveat here: the email client is a complete disaster, and a joke. It's hard to read and navigate the mail boxes I have (I use IMAP), and it's impossible (as far as I can tell) to make in-line comments in replies. All it supports is top-posting... I know I can (and probably should) install a better client, but come on Amazon, you clearly can do much better than this.

I don't have much experience with the "cloud" integration with the Kindle, other than it does seem to work. With the iPad though, the new iCloud stuff works great, and I'm quite happily synchronizing between all my iOS and OSX apps without any problems.

Winner: By far, the Apple iPad.

Reader device

This is where the Fire excels, the Kindle application (which does work nicely on the iPad) is obviously great on the Kindle Fire. I love reading on this thing! That combined with the small size makes it the perfect reader. The iPad has no serious flaws in this regards, with its Amazon Kindle app, and the iTunes reader. But, it's not by any means as convenient as the Fire.

Winner: Kindle Fire.

Summary

So which device is the best? Well, overall, the iPad is a much better portable "tablet" device. But, if what you need is a Kindle reader, with some decent internet / Web applications, the Kindle is a good device. And, the Kindle has a very nice price tag, to say the least!

Hacking: 

Swap and UUID

I recently had to repartition a disk (using parted), to resize some partitions. This meant redoing the swap partition. In my /etc/fstab, all mounts are done via UUID's, including the swap. So, poking around a bit to figure out what the UUID is/was for my new swap partition, I did the following:

root@jake 272/0 # mkswap  /dev/sda4
Setting up swapspace version 1, size = 3894268 KiB
no label, UUID=7d0f43ed-85f9-4e05-be8f-42cf12104bad
root@jake 273/0 # blkid
/dev/sda2: UUID="7b0741cd-a19a-4111-a3fe-3ed4d74706ba" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda3: UUID="49fac9f3-3547-420f-afc0-88dfac70459f" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda4: UUID="7d0f43ed-85f9-4e05-be8f-42cf12104bad" TYPE="swap"

Then it's just a matter of using the new UUID for the swap partition (/dev/sda4) in /etc/fstab, e.g.

UUID=49fac9f3-3547-420f-afc0-88dfac70459f /                       ext4    defaults        1 1
UUID=7b0741cd-a19a-4111-a3fe-3ed4d74706ba /boot                   ext4    defaults        1 2
UUID=7d0f43ed-85f9-4e05-be8f-42cf12104bad swap                    swap    defaults        0 0
tmpfs                                     /mnt/tmpfs              tmpfs   size=192m,noatime 0 0

My desktop

Recently, I decided to simplify my office setup: Software, hardware, email folders, everything! As such, i decided to only keep my two MacBook's in the office, and move everything to the basement (for now). I also replaced the three 24" monitors with one 30" monster Dell. This is what the new setup looks like:

 

So what's here? The laptop to the right is a MacBook Pro, with 8GB and (soon) a 240GB SSD drive. This connects to the Dell 30" using a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort, running at 2560x1600 resolution. The laptop screen resolution is 1440x900. Next to this laptop is also my Chumby! This replaces all my old Linux desktop use, long term, I'm planning to build a combined file server and Virtual Machine server to have just one high power box running 24x7. I'm not there quite yet, but next hardware upgrade will be a monster box with lots of disk and lots of RAM and CPU.

The laptop to the left is a MacBook Air with 4GB RAM (sigh, Apple, why, why?) and 256GB SSD. This is my primary Go Daddy work laptop (thanks to my manager, who somehow managed to pull that through IT). This is also my main travel laptop at this point, it has everything I need, and it's lightweight, and fast!

The keyboard is a Gouldtouch "split keyboard", for Mac. Love it!

Missing emacs symlink on Fedora Core

I just finished installing Fedora Core 16 on a new router I'm planinng on installing up in our little cabin. Things went mostly well, except the symlink to Emacs was missing. The horror! The RPM was most certainly install, but no emacs in my path was to be found. Well, it turns out, for some reason (who knows why ...), the installer did not finish creating the Emacs symlink. It's quite possible it missed other links too, but Emacs was obviously the number one priority. Poking around a little, it was easy to restore life as we know it:

sudo alternatives --install /usr/bin/emacs emacs /usr/bin/emacs-23.3 10

Hacking: 

Clearing page caches in Linux

Brian France pointed this out to me, it's useful stuff, particularly when benchmarking I/O.

To free pagecache:

  • echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

To free dentries and inodes:

  • echo 2 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

To free pagecache, dentries and inodes:

  • echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

It's a good idea to sync first, to assure that all dirty page caches are dropped.

Ubuntu upgrades and BTRFS snapshots

One of my VMs is running Ubuntu with BTRFS on the boot disk. During an Ubuntu upgrade, I noticed a significant increase in disk space usage, and it turns out Ubuntu created a snapshot on my BTRFS volumes. Now, this is pretty neat, but once I verified everything was working fine, I wanted to delete the old snapshot. It turned out to be a bit more trickier than I though, but with some help from Sami Haahtinen, I got it to work. First, to list the sub volumes, I did

ubuntu-server (16:07) 3/0 $ sudo btrfs subvolume list /
ID 256 top level 5 path @
ID 257 top level 5 path @home
ID 258 top level 5 path @apt-snapshot-release-upgrade-oneiric-2011-10-13_12:41:44

The next step, which was crucial, is to "mount" the full disk BTRFS is using, without specifying a sub-volume:

ubuntu-server (16:09) 4/0 $ sudo mount /dev/mapper/ubuntu--server-slash /mnt

Your disk name will obviously differ (most likely), but after this, you can now delete this sub-volume:

ubuntu-server (16:09) 5/0 $ cd /mnt
ubuntu-server (16:10) 6/0 $ sudo btrfs subvolume delete '@apt-snapshot-release-upgrade-oneiric-2011-10-13_12:41:44'

Hacking: 

Upgrading Ubuntu from command line

Ubuntu 11.10 was just released, and I eagerly decided to upgrade my "server' VM to "Oneiric Ocelot". My installation has no GUI, so I could not use the normal tools I'd use to do the live upgrade. So instead, I had to figure out the command line tools to use. Now, this is well documented, but is still worthwhile to repeat.

$ sudo apt-get install update-manager-core
$ do-release-upgrade -d

That's pretty much it, just follow the destructions on the screen (oh, and recommended not to do this over an ssh session).

Hacking: 

Moab 2011: Day 4

Today we went through Chicken Corners:

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Everything was mostly great, except when my extra fuel bladder (tank) dislodged and hooked up into the rear break. Not fun! We got a good 45 miles on the bikes in the morning, and I didn't even run out of fuel like last year. The EFI tuner must be helping. As usual, we decided to take a few shots goofing around as well:

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In the afternoon, we decided to do Slickrock, but only got a few miles on it, and then turned around. Everyone was tired, and Ted banged up his ankle again. Better save the energy, and ankles, for tomorrow. Only two videos uploaded today:

http://contour.com/stories/moab-day-4-2

http://contour.com/stories/moab-day-4-1

Moab 2011: Day 3

Finally a full days worth of riding, no broken bikes! Well, at least that's how it started... We went to 7 Mile Rim in the morning, getting a good ~18 miles in with a lot of fun riding. This is me to the left, on the Husqvarna, and Randy to the right on his Yamaha:

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Randy's dad, Ted, of course had to be a showoff, and did a nice wipeout:

P1000289

We moved on to Wipeout Hill, which Randy of course decided to run. This thing is really steep, and he almost had it... But not quite.

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After lunch break, we spent the afternoon doing Porcupine Rim, Porcupine Trail, and parts of Fins and Things again. We rode for about 22 miles, and a good time was had by everyone. The bikes still works well, mostly, we're off to the Yamaha store tomorrow morning, to buy a new bark buster for Randy... Here are a few movies from the day as well:

http://contour.com/stories/moab-day-3-1

http://contour.com/stories/moab-day-3-2

http://contour.com/stories/moab-day-3-3

http://contour.com/stories/moab-day-3-4

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