Quest for the perfect reader is almost over

Those who know me know that I’ve been searching for a perfect ebook reader device for years. I’ve used mobile phones, Palm PDAs, pocket PCs, laptops… About 7 years ago I got excited about prospects of E-Ink technology, promising to deliver just what I needed. Unfortunately, E-Ink has turned out to be utter disappointment, so far delivering little but bold promises. It took years and years for the first E-Ink devices to turn up on the market.

A few years ago I finally got my hands onto Sony PRS-500 E-Ink reader. Got disappointed with it after a week and sold it. A year ago I bought another E-Ink reader - that time BeBook. I still have it, but now my wife uses it. And I’ve got myself something better. That is iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like E-Ink readers. But even after all those years E-Ink remains to be a promising technology. Guys, it’s about time to deliver on promises. Maybe one day… But now, E-Ink has more cons than pros: devices are expensive, screens are slow, the screen contrast is poor. And versatility is even poorer - every E-Ink reader is practically useless for anything but reading, making you carry yet another device in your bag. And if all those weren’t enough, many manufacturers lock the devices to just a few supported DRM-enabled book formats (this is for you, Amazon).

In few short years, iPhone delivered what E-Ink failed in decade. The truth is, the iPhone’s screen is brilliant. I don’t know how they did it, but it’s bright, highly contast and it (almost) doesn’t fade in sunlight. Yes, it’s resolution is not as high as of some VGA PDAs and laptops, but it still looks better than any other LCD screen I’ve seen. Reading from that screen is a pleasure. Honestly, if I am provided a choice to read from either E-Ink (in its current state) and iPhone’s LCD, I’d probably choose iPhone.

And unlike the dedicated readers, iPhone is immensely versatile. I don’t know the statistics, but it’s got to be the most popular mobile software platform out there. Thousands and thousands of software titles are available. And there is no problems with ebook types either - Software like Stanza and Calibre make reading almost any kind of book a simple task.

All in all, for all of you who has been waiting for a perfect reader - the wait is almost over. iPhone has delivered yet another revolution. Now is the time for a major publishing houses to wake up.

How to get a root password

It’s been a month since I started playing an involving adventure game “Get a root password for a weekend” with a very large multinational consulting company. That quest requires carrying out a complex sequence of actions, each of which is unknown in advance. A single error leads to a failure and necessity to start all over again. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Now I am almost through my second attempt. And I almost failed again.

So, to get a root password you have to:

  1. No less than in 2 weeks before day “D” create a change docket in a change management system.
  2. Fill a couple of 15-pages documents, describing in details what we need to do, why and how.
  3. Obtain approvals from our and their management.
  4. Obtain sign-offs from the downstream systems, even the ones that would not be affected.
  5. Attach all the approvals to the change docket.
  6. Create a task to issue a temporary root password to us.
  7. Send a request to the service delivery manager, asking to approve the task and assign in to a responsible person.
  8. Attend the Change Review Board and get the change approved.
  9. Find out that the task assigned to a wrong group. Reassign.
  10. Find out that in order to get a root password you need to fill a form.
  11. Obtain the form from a Security group.
  12. Fill the form.
  13. Get the form signed by 3 different people in 3 different buildings.
  14. Submit the form.
  15. In a few days get a reply from the Security group, telling that the form was filled incorrectly - a tick was put into a different box.
  16. Fill the form again.
  17. Get the form signed by 3 different people in 3 different buildings.
  18. Submit the form.
  19. After a few day’s silence, start nagging the Service Delivery Manager.
  20. Find out that another Security group is responsible for granting root passwords.
  21. Reassign the task to the new group and forward the form to them.
  22. After a few day’s silence, start nagging the Service Delivery Manager.
  23. Find out that yet another User Admin Security Group is responsible for granting the root passwords.
  24. Reassign the task to the new group and forward the form to them.
  25. Find out that the submitted form is outdated. The User Admin Security Group no longer accepts outdated forms. (The form that those guys themselves sent 3 weeks ago was outdated).
  26. Download the new form. The difference with the old one is just that the checkboxes are positioned differently.
  27. Fill the form again.
  28. Get the form signed.
  29. Submit the form.
  30. Find out that the form hasn’t changed for the last 4 years.

Now I think that those guys are actually Vogons.

They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams