Kindle Versions

On Groundhog Day, I’ll have had my Kindle for a year. I’ve been working on an anniversary review of the device, which will get posted either to the Frugal Algorithm or Secret of Signals. Or perhaps a bit in both, not sure.

The buzz about the Kindle now is that a 2.0 version is coming out, February 9th. I imagine a new version is likely, but contrary to what people have been saying, there has been more than one Kindle variation released in the last year.

Currently, there are Kindles running the following operating system versions: 1.04, 1.08, 1.1, and 1.1.1. Amazon has stressed that all provide the same functionality. The only thing to account for the difference, then, is variations in the device. Not a simple swapping of parts, either, because one doesn’t need to update an operating system when one swaps identical parts.

I have a 1.04 version of a Kindle, and must admit to some curiosity about what improvements went into the 1.08 and 1.1 models. I know that one always takes risks buying version 1 of anything, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case where an item’s internal architecture has changed three times within one year. Changed enough to force a new version of the operating system. At a minimum, I have to wonder what will happen when new software functionality is rolled out. Do we 1.04 owners get the same goodies as, say, 1.1 owners?

To add further to the confusion, some people have reported in the owner forums seeing an OS version of 1.2 in their devices, and there are differences with this OS, but Amazon has stated this operating system has not been released. So rumor runs rampant in the forums, because we have no other source of communication about what’s happening with the devices. To be blunt, Amazon does not communicate with Kindle owners.

Regardless of lack of communication, and despite being an “old” Kindle owner, I do still like my device, though I really wish we had folder capability. However, I’d really rather that Amazon support ePub, and release its AZW format to other ebook readers. And I’ll have more to say on this later, too.

Another PowerPC Nail, Another smug Tech Writer

The good news is, Netflix WatchNow will now work on the Mac. The bad news? It only works with Silverlight 2, which only works within the Intel architecture.

Should be no problem, to Engadget:

Unfortunately for super-duper late adopters, the software will only work with Intel-based Macs, so if you’ve been holding onto a G3 for dear life, here’s one more reason to finally can it, along with your Xbox 360 HD DVD player, Von Dutch trucker cap, and gas-guzzling Escalade.

I believe that the last version of Mac machines with the PowerPC architecture is G5, not G3. As for being antiquated, I have the last of the Powerbook G4 laptops, bought less than three years ago and still covered under Apple warranty. I guess that puts me in the Engadget “super-duper late adopter” category.

This is another nail in the coffin for machines that really aren’t that old, primarily brought about by Apple’s indifference to the fact that it switched architectures and then has done little to ensure that older architectures get full support. Though I appreciate the Universal platform Apple provided, which means applications work on both PowerPC and Intel machines, too many applications such as the recent Photoshop CS4, and now Silverlight 2, forming the background for services such as Netflix Watch Now, are being released only for Intel machines.

However, there’s not much we can do about companies like Netflix, Microsoft, and Adobe, and their lack of support for machines that really aren’t that old. Well, other than look for other sources of software. What bothers me more about this story, though, is the disdain demonstrated by the Engadget author, especially in light of today’s economic environment.

Too many of the writers for sites like Engadget assume this is 1999 all over again, and money flows, and everyone can afford a new machine every year. On the contrary, we’re heading into a recession, if not in one already. The estimates are that the unemployment rate in this country will hit 8%, or more, before we’re done; the impact on the job market could be worse in other countries. Yet here we have Engadget, sneeringly poking fun at those who are staying pat with their existing machines, not because the people who haven’t upgraded are cheap, but because they have no other option.

Personally, if there’s one thing I hope does occur from the current economic crises, it’s that sites like Engadget either fail, or starting looking more closely at today’s reality and begin to adapt their stories accordingly. Being frugal and making do can be just as challenging, interesting, and yes, even sexy, as buying every new generation of iPhone, iPod, or whatever that comes along.