Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Is Amazon pulling your Kindle?

Earlier this year, Amazon announced that they were now selling more e-books than physical books. Is it a coincidence that they make this announcement not long after they introduced their new Kindle 2 e-book reader?

Personally, I don't know anybody that owns a Kindle, but maybe I don't enough of the right people! Anyway, everything I say is just conjecture and my opinion!

It makes economic sense for Amazon to promote e-books over traditional books - they don't need a warehouse to stock them, they don't need to buy them in advance so cash flow is better, they don't need to pay staff to pick and pack them, they don't need to post them, so no packaging costs etc., and of course you can't pass them on to your friends when you've finished.

There are some environmental reasons why e-books make sense of course - they don't consume paper, which for reading things like novels (which you don't tend to keep) and daily newspapers makes sense, there are no distribution costs - no diesel for lorries to send them around the country etc. I don't know what the overall environmental footprint e-books have compared to printed books - I suppose it depends on how many e-books you'd buy versus the number of printed books.

What concerns me most is whether Amazon are telling the truth about the number of e-books sold in order to big up the Kindle, to make people feel they're missing out unless they have this latest gadget - is it just a marketing ploy to get people on board?

I have to confess that do buy from Amazon - they have an excellent range of books at reasonable prices, good if not free postage costs, and are usually my first stop when looking to buy something. I also don't tend to buy/read much fiction, so maybe I'm not their ideal customer.

Maybe I'm just too cynical. I have an iPod Touch and have downloaded Apple's e-book reader as well as Kindle software, but the screen is just too small to be useable. I have a relative who has an Apple iPad and he doesn't buy any daily papers now, instead, he has subscriptions to the electronic versions which get delivered automatically each day.

I just think that a lot of the joy of a book is in the holding and feeling, which is difficult to get with en e-book reader. Is this just a gadget that a market has been invented for and isn't really needed?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New Shed Door

A few years ago, I decided to 'improve' my shed. I had already installed a small (10 watt) solar panel on it for lighting etc, but I wanted to experiment with insulating it and generally 'pretend' to be building a bigger dwelling, to get some experience along the way.

The original shed - note door hinges on the
right side - soon to be changed!

My neighbour had just had laminate flooring put down and had some of the underlay material to spare - it had foam/polystyrene on one side and foil on the other - I thought that would be OK as a liner. I then bought a large roll of loft insulation and put that between the battens of the walls and roof. Finally, I used tongue & groove panelling to cover it all up and provide a nice finish inside.

My shed with insulation and panelling being installed.

I built a framework for a bench and even fitted a hand-powered water pump in case I wanted to make myself a cup of tea. I know it was overkill, but I had a great time and learned loads (I would do all slightly differently now - but that was the whole point - it was an experiment in building).

I boxed in my solar electric system (that also was a mistake I learned - never assume you'll know where you want lights and sockets, because things always change!).

Note door - left hinged and stable-style (plus window). Large solar
panel is just leaning there temporarily!

The plan was to make a new shed door too, but after spending a lot of time on all the stuff so far, I needed to get on with other things that I had neglected, so that was put on hold for a while.

The original shed door was hinged on the right, but shortly after we had the shed, I changed the hinges to the left to make access easier with the growing shrubbery outside. I then decided it would be nice to have a window in the door, and make it a stable door, so I reused the shiplap cladding and turned it from vertical to horizontal. All was well initially, but two things happened 1) the shed heaved slightly, so although the door was perfectly straight and level, the opening ceased to be, and 2) I never used the door as a stable door - good idea, but pointless really.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to start the new door. It's actually quite hard to make a door fit a skewed door frame (when you're using straight wood that is), so to help everything stay at the angle/bend I wanted, I decided to make a basic framework and then clad the inside with plywood - this means, once fixed, the door is permanently braced and won't ever droop. Having fixed the back, I used some polystyrene insulation sheets (a friend gave them to us - they were actually packing materials that some products came with and were due to be chucked out), and then lined the front with exterior shiplap cladding and painted it.

New door showing basic framework with plywood back - this keeps
it 'skewed' to fit the deformed frame.

Plywood panel can be seen in more detail here.

Almost finished! Rigid polystyrene insulation (recycled) under the cladding.
Glass and door furniture to be fitted.

This is were I'm up to now.

I've realised that I must like 'doors' quite a lot - looking though my photos (collected from trawling through the net), it seems that quirky doors seem to attract me! Doors are perhaps more important that we think - besides being physical barrier between inside and outside (which at night time means the difference between warm and cold), they are the threshold, the divider, the line you cross between spaces, so a quirky door makes people realise that they are indeed crossing into a new, perhaps even sacred space.

I thought I'd post a few photos I've found of various doors. Hope you enjoy them!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Word of the day: Incongruous

incongruous |inˈkä ng groōəs|
adjectivenot in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something the duffel coat looked incongruous with the black dress she wore underneath.DERIVATIVESincongruity |ˌinkənˈgroō-itē; ˌi ng-; -kä ng-| noun ( pl. -ties)incongruously adverb


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