Why Overdrive/Amazon infuriate me sometimes (ok, most of the time)

So I watched Blade Runner again the other week and thought I’d like to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? again. I got the crazy notion to check Overdrive to see if it was available. Amazingly, they actually had something I wanted and there was only one other hold. It just became available and I’ve already probably gotten more than 3 different messages (email, Amazon notice, suggestion) that I buy the book. I got it from the library for one reason and one reason only: I didn’t want to buy the book. If I wanted to buy the book, I’d have gone to Amazon and bought it.

I know the whole library eBook situation is a total nightmare. All of the problems there are the big reason I don’t usually bother even looking at Overdrive. But this really makes no sense to me. I went out of my, jumping through all the hoops you have to go get the book in the first place, to get it from the library and not buy it. Why inundate me with messages to do so. To put this in perspective, here are the choices I had at the time:

1. Buy the ebook from Amazon. You have to type ‘do an’ and Amazon suggests the rest. 1-Click means two mouse clicks (odd but whatever) and it’s getting sent to my Kindle. Alternately , I could also order a copy of the book from the same screen and have it in 2 days via Prime.

2. Search my library catalog, my library doesn’t have it so I submit an ILL request. I’m already at way more typing/clicking than Amazon. Now I wait for the book to be delivered and walk the block and a half to the library. I have my book.

3. Travel to a bookstore to buy the book. Nearest bookstore from my house is nearly 1/2 an hour away. I’m also hoping they have a copy in stock (more than once I’ve called in advance and was misinformed).

4. Try to check out the eBook from the library. This means logging into Overdrive and typing my entire card number. Searching they system (not the best UX by any stretch of the imagination) to find my book and putting a hold on it. Now I have to wait until a copy is available and log back into Overdrive to claim my book. Log into Amazon to deliver my book (an be reminded all over again that if I just bought the damn thing I’d probably already be done reading it).

So using Overdrive to get a book from the library is clearly the most involved and cumbersome way to get a book. Amazon constantly reminding me that I could have just bought it from them is akin to housebreaking a dog by rubbing their noses in it. Amazon, I’m not a dog so please don’t treat me like one.

Favorite web comics

Since we talked so much about the web comics I read on the latest episode of Nerdy Librarians (available here or on iTunes) I wanted to link to them all and talk a bit about why I like them and mention a few that didn’t make it into the episode:

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

A very nerdy and fun daily web comic with a focus on science humor. It takes a sarcastic look at most everything so not for the feint of heart.

xkcd

Very cleave comics delivered in a minimalist stick figure style. This is a consistent gem that is covers a range of topics. A personal favorite.

Dinosaur Comics

Unique in that it uses the same panel images for each comic. The cleaver writing makes this a very popular comic.

Unshelved

The web comic about librarianship, should be in the feed of every librarian for it’s insider humor.

Sin Titulo

Cameron Stewart’s on ongoing story is very interesting contemporary noir story with a enough in common with Lost to hook me.

Our Valued Customers

A sometimes shocking inside look at working in a comic shop, the artist shares things he hears while at work each day.

The Oatmeal

Certainly NSFW but possibly the best web comic there is. I really don’t know how I failed to mention it. You may have read about the recent legal nonsense going on (if not check out Ars Technica’s coverage, it’s really good) its a great example of why IP law in this country (and other parts of the legal system) may need an overhaul. But the moral of the story is over $220,000 was raised for charity. I’m happy to say I helped contribute. Because of all this, comic updates aren’t as frequent, but dig though the archives. There are some amazing comics.

Memphis, Music, and Soul

We got back a few days ago from a much needed vacation. While our original destination was meant to be New Orleans, changes in plans coupled with a desire to avoid an airplane turned it into a road trip to Memphis. Being an insanely massive Johnny Cash fan, I’ve always wanted to see Sun Studios, Memphis, and where it all started. The drive down from Chicago was nice but so very flat. After about 8 hours we made it to our spectacular hotel, the River Inn. We had a few drinks at the hotel bar and actually met the owner. I love hotel bars because they often aren’t crowded and you can get some great local tips. The next day we did some site seeing and we ate a ton of great food. Some of the incredible places we visited:

Sun Studios

The highlight for me of the vacation, this was some place I’d always wanted to see. The main entrance was really small (much like the entire building) but had a pretty awesome old time soda / ice cream bar. It also serves as the gift shop so you can pick up all your souvenirs (pint glass). They also had quite a collection of original records but they were a tad pricey and I didn’t find any Johnny Cash. The tour started upstairs in a museum type room that had a collection of memorabilia. They had quite a few neat Elvis pieces. The tour guide was really knowledgeable and very funny. After running through the studio history, we went down stairs to the actual recording room. It was so incredible because as she confirmed the room was almost identical from the 50s. The same floor that Dylan kissed because Elvis and Cash recorded there. The same acoustic tiles that have heard all those songs. I’m not one for the idea of magic places, but that was about a close as I think I’ll probably ever come to experiencing one. We got to listen to a few rad recordings, I bought the Million Dollar Quartet cd probably the first cd I’ve bought in ages.

The Gibson Guitar Factory

Anyone who says America doesn’t make anything these days should visit this place. Incredible detail goes into the making of each guitar. The amount of work is pretty breathtaking. There was one ‘machine’ and that was operated by someone with an engineering degree. To see each guitar in the various stages of production just reinforced how truly cool and unique every guitar they produce actually is.

Museum of Rock & Soul

I’m really glad we visited we decided to visit here. I did want to visit the Stax Museum but this ended up being much easier for us. It’s a pretty new museum and an affiliate of the Smithsonian. They had a nice opening movie and gave you an audio tour guide. It was a great way to set up the exhibits as you had interesting stories and then jukebox type options for listening to music. The exhibits were well put together and extremely informative. Hearing the stories behind an item can be very powerful and the exhibits about MLK and the struggle for civil rights along side the progression of the music demonstrated one thing to me. While the world existed in an entirely unbalanced, terrible manner there were these groups of musicians that never saw race as issue. They were only interested in making music, that’s just how powerful music can be. A force or driver for social change.

Beale Street

I love the history of this place, but it’s much more now about having a super awesome party. If you want you can certainly find it here. We went to BB Kings and it was really cool. They had a very good blues rock band playing and drinks were reasonably priced. There are countless other bars fitting probably any theme you could think of, we even went to an absinthe bar. You can find a collection of shops selling memorabilia and other things. Overall, it’s a really fun place.

If you love music (really of any kind) Memphis is a really awesome place to visit. The biggest surprise for me though was how much of a foodie town it has become. I think most people think barbecue but there is so much more than that to experience. I was originally going to cover some of the places we went to here, but I think it actually warrants a separate post.

Piracy and bans

So the UK banned Pirate Bay, which netted an increase in users for the site of 12.8 MILLION PEOPLE. And the first thing these people were taught is how to bypass this (and similar) bans. This approach is basically like trying to fight a fire in your house with a flame thrower. You will not succeed and in fact will only make things worse. IP/Copyright law needs to be changed and efforts do need to be put in place to curb piracy, but in a sensible way. It has been shown time and time again that if content is easily accessed and reasonably priced people will buy it before they pirate it.

App of the Week – Dolphin Browser HD

I was late with last weeks pick, but here you go. I found the stock Android browser had all of the functionality I needed and never really had a problem with it until recently. There seemed to develop some issue where it wasn’t pushing through Google search requests. For obvious reasons this became very frustrating and I went out in search of an alternative. I happened to be trying out LastPass (more to come on that later) and noticed that they had a plug in for the Dolphin browser. I had read a bit about this before and know many consider it to be one of the best Android browsers available. I decided to give it a try and and am now sad that I dealt with the stock browser for as long as I did. It is snappy with a well thought out UI and has all of the features you could possibly want from a web browser. There is a rich selection of plug-ins available and some theme options as well. The newer webzine feature is really nice for available selections, I enjoyed reading Lifehacker in this format, and the customizable speed dial homepage makes for easy launching of your favorite websites. I strongly suggest you give it a try if you aren’t already using it. I’m certain you won’t ever look back at the stock browser again.

Dolphin Browser HD – Android Market

http://www.dolphin-browser.com/

 

New Look, New Start

I finally settled on a new look for my blog. I’ve been kicking around a couple different themes and really like this one when I found it. As part of the new look, I also wanted to start a new blog series. Over the next couple weeks, I will be doing a series of pieces on the current music technology landscape. As technology changes, so to does music and our relationship with it. The first piece will start with the new kid on the block, Spotify. I recently completed a trial of their premium service and I can see why this is quickly becoming the go to source for music.

Android App of the Week

This week brought the official Android app to Android. It provides a nice, clear interface for looking up and reading articles and the ability to easily save pages. An interesting feature was the location search which allows you to look up articles based on your current location. The app was released on the 18th and also provided an easy way around the SOPA blackout. Speaking of blackouts, the one feature I would like to like see is the option for a white text black background text, similar to what Wapedia will let you do. I know that one is a personal preference of mine that not everyone will share.

Wikipedia for Android – Android Market

My First Home Brew

In keeping with the theme of it being a new year and looking to improve things, I decided to launch myself into a brand new hobby…home brewing. It’s something I’ve been kicking around for quite some time. My current hobby of consuming craft beer really isn’t that much of a hobby at all (and it’s really pricey), so this seemed like a great idea. And like so many other things, I talked a lot about doing it but never actually made it happen. Then my amazing wife bought me a starter brew kit as a gift and I no longer had any excuses, it was time to make some beer.  The kit in question came from Midwest Supplies and came with an Autumn Amber Ale ingredient kit. Everything you needed to get started was included and last weekend we set about to make some beer.

The most shocking thing for me was how simple the entire process was. We were able to make it through without any problems at all (mainly due to the great assistance of my wife who is a natural in the kitchen). The best way I can describe the whole process was that you ended up making a 5 gallon bucket of tea. It really is not much more complicated than that. Now comes the most difficult part, waiting. Since starting the fermentation process, last night was the first time I checked on it. Evey thing seems to be going well and I’m set to start bottling in about a week and a half. I’m sure there will be future posts about the progress of my first batch which is slated to be done around the end of February. I’m already getting ideas for the next round and we found that we can easily make our own sake as well (another favorite). I can already tell this will be the start of a new and great hobby.

Have you stated any new hobbies this year? I’d love to hear details.

Reflections on resoultions and the year past

I’ve never really been the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always found that trying to make big changes, especially near the holidays, to be even more difficult when it’s done in a cold-turkey type way. I like instead to come up with a plan and set some benchmarks to work toward the intended change. That said, looking back on the past year I realize this didn’t really work out well for me.

In fact, as I sit here reflecting, I realize I ended 2011 in quite the rut. I had a whole host of fitness/wellness things I wanted to get done, none of which happened. 2010 was quite the good fitness year for me. I lost quite a bit of weight and really was feeling pretty good about myself overall. That seems like a distant memory now and while I haven’t lost all of my gains, it is pretty close. I thought about setting up some lofty goals for the new year, but I was almost certain that would end up changing little to nothing and it would just be another resolution that falls to the wayside come February. Instead, I decided to break things down and come up with some goals for myself. Overall, my eating is not too bad but the beverages is what ends up killing me. My love of craft beer coupled with the free fountain soda machine I walk by at work nets me a lot of empty beverage related calories. I’m not going to make a silly promise like “I’m going to stop drinking either beer or pop” because I know that’s not going to happen. So the goal I set for myself: Only diet pop (max 2 per day) though January, with the promise of being pop free come February. This has worked out well for me so far and given how much I dislike diet pop I really think my goal of being pop free by next month will come true. Instead, I’m drinking more water (always a good thing) and tea.  The beer issue was a bit harder to tackle and I realized I needed to give myself a bit more freedom in this regard. My goal with this was just to make sure I’m a bit more cognizant of what and how much I’m drinking. Simply doing this has brought about a slight decline.

The other issue I wanted to tackle was my reading habits. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but I found that my post-grad school self was having a hard time getting back into reading things I want to rather than that I have to. I found myself starting and not finishing books but worst of all buying books that I never ended up reading. I decided that this would be a two part issue. First, utilize my public library much more. Our library isn’t that great and I really don’t find much that I like but that doesn’t mean that I can’t ILL items. This way, if I don’t end up reading or finishing something, it goes back and I don’t feel so bad about the wasted money. The second part would be to set some reading goals for myself. Since I read a lot of graphic novels as well as traditional books coming up with a number was a bit harder. I decided that a minimum of one of any type would be a good place to start. It’s really helped me keep focused and on track.

The final goal I set for myself was to blog. I set up my blog in August of last year and succeed in doing nothing with it. I have several drafts in various states of completion but I never actually posted anything. This post itself I wanted to get out last week, but I figure I did so well with the others it was alright that this one was a bit late. My goal as of right now is to have at least one post a week, hopefully moving that up to two as I get in the swing of it.

So those are my resolutions for the new year. How about yourself, what you are you resolutions and how do you go about making them a reality?