An Open Letter to Amazon re: My Kindle

Dear Amazon,

As my Kindle continually asks, I have decided to write to you to pass on my thoughts of my e-book reader. I would like to firstly convey my overall feelings regarding the device, that is to say that I am extremely happy with it. It is extremely well designed and excellently manufactured, it’s size is perfect, though the keyboard may use a little work (I will come on to this later in this letter). The screen for me is a perfect size and the font adjustment works well on the device, the material that the screen is constructed from is perfect for reading from any angle and any light.
However I shall stop going on about the good things as commenting on things that do not need changing is not particularly constructive. So, onto the elements that I feel need working on. As I have already mentioned the keyboard I shall start with that; when typing on the device I sometimes find that I miss hit some of the keys, particularly the M key, I feel this could be rectified by increasing the size of keys slightly and a personal preference would make the buttons square as opposed to round. Next I will move onto the software for I have no further comments regarding the hardware.
Categories, for me are an important part of the Kindle, I like to have all my books/texts organised into categories, such as reference, crime, biographies etc etc however what I would like to see in a future revision of the OS is to allow categories within categories, to further allow organisation of texts. Also currently the Kindle places the most recently opened category at the top of the list, however this can increase the time it takes to locate a specific category, I would like to be able to have this statically organised, alphabetically for example, as well as it’s current organisational option, it would offer greater flexibility for the users of the Kindle.
Next I would like to comment on the web browser, this has been an incredibly useful feature of the device for me, covering many uses, including keeping an eye on sporting fixtures whilst on a train and using the Transport of London site to check train times and routes. I appreciate with the nature of an e-ink screen making a browser effective is slightly more challenging especially with today’s websites. However making the browser more prominent within the menu system and adding a few more traditional features to the browser such as being able to download files (of course ones that can be opened via a Kindle (such as PDF’s and docs.) I appreciate that this will increase the amount of data that you have to undoubtedly pay for on the 3G models but as per the document delivery process you could charge for the documents over the mobile network whilst over WiFi offer free downloading of said documents.
I’ll move on now to another experimental option on the Kindle, the music player, this for me has not been used, that is not to say however that I would not use it. The fact the player will only play the files in order that they are uploaded to the device makes the application pointless. There is little else that needs to be done to the player barring giving a random track option and maybe playing a specific Artist or Album and of course making it more easily accessible in the menu options.
The last element of the Kindle experience I want to comment on is the actual Amazon website. There is little I can say to improve the site, it works very well and is easy to use however there are a couple of things specifically with the Kindle section that could use a bit of work. I appreciate you say you are working on this but being able to purchase books on others wish list and scheduled a delivery date is an important element that needs to be corrected. Lastly from me is the subject of Newspapers. I would like primarily to comment on the number of newspapers that are available, I would like to see more papers available, certainly national ones such as the Guardian and maybe even local ones.

Secondly this comment comes by proxy from a family member who also has a Kindle, The quality of some papers (most specifically the Daily Mail) has been very very poor. I am not sure how the articles are converted to Kindle format but many times the Mail has been on the verge of unreadable, garbled unintelligible words, repeated sentences and articles that relate to pictures that are totally pointless without the picture. This has marred what has been an exceptional experience for this family member who, loves her Kindle as much as I and she has returned to the printed version of the paper. I personally have not experienced such issues in reading the Times or the Telegraph so assuming the paper does the conversion of the articles as opposed to Amazon, maybe you could feedback to them about the severe lack of quality.
With that comment, I have come to the end of my feedback on the Kindle and the Kindle experience. I am going to leave this as an open letter on my website so that people who see it can comment and possibly add their feelings in the comment section. That way if there is enough new material I can send an updated letter to you with other peoples views.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and thank you for developing such an incredible device.

Kindest Regards

Andrew Wardlaw

Password stupidity

Shane Richmond wrote in the Telegraph yesterday about some information gained from the recent Gawker Media security breach.

Gawker Media, the publisher of LifeHacker, Gizmodo and a couple of other popular blogs, is the latest major victim of a hackers’ attack. The CMS was compromised and 1.5 million usernames and passwords have been stolen.

Source  CMS Wire

Analysts have taken this data and done, well, some analysis on it.. it appears that from this analysis the most common password was 123456!!! I had heard this fact banded about a few times before but never really took it seriously. I subconsciously refused to believe people could be this stupid. However two other very common passwords in the collection were “password” and “qwerty” which is as equally as stupid as 123456.

What strikes me even more is the fact that many many people use the same password for multiple sites. After the Gawker hacking many people had their twitter and other online services accounts hacked because of this simple lack of security.

There are some basic rules when it comes to passwords and password security and if these are followed:

Keys to password strength: length and complexity

An ideal password is long and has letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers.

  • Whenever possible, use at least 14 characters or more.
  • The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better.
  • Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often.

Create a strong password you can remember

There are many ways to create a long, complex password. Here is one way that may make remembering it easier:

What to do Suggestion Example
Start with a sentence or two (about 10 words total). Think of something meaningful to you. Long and complex passwords are safest. I keep mine secret. (10 words)
Turn your sentences into a row of letters. Use the first letter of each word. lacpasikms (10 characters)
Add complexity. Make only the letters in the first half of the alphabet uppercase. lACpAsIKMs (10 characters)
Add length with numbers. Put two numbers that are meaningful to you between the two sentences. lACpAs56IKMs (12 characters)
Add length with punctuation. Put a punctuation mark at the beginning. ?lACpAs56IKMs (13 characters)
Add length with symbols. Put a symbol at the end. ?lACpAs56IKMs” (14 characters)

Source Microsoft Online Safety

Also something that is not mentioned in Microsoft’s article is that you should use different passwords for different sites. I appreciate that can mean having many many passwords but even if you group them together in some way, all your social media sites and all your email sites for example, that can a) cut down the number of passwords and b) should one become compromised there are less sites that require new passwords.


Snowy Sheffield!!!

It snowed a little bit here… Watch the Vid –

Wagamama – Sheffield

Yesterday was pay-day and that meant it was time to spend the money before it all disappears. So I paid some bills and booked a few train tickets. Then I went out to lunch with my house mate Steve. We went to Wagamama’s in Leopold Square, Sheffield as neither myself or Steve had been there (or any of the Wagamama restaurants for that matter). I am glad we did however as the food was excellent.

It wasn’t overly busy when we went (we had been told to go after 2 as lunch times got very busy) and we were seated straight away. I had a coke and Steve had some weird elderflower drink (he’s a funny chap ;-P ) and then we ordered. The staff were very attentive but not overly so and very pleasant as well, when it came to ordering Steve, typically, picked something that turned out to be the hottest dish they do which the waitress advised us of and he promptly changed is order to something else. I ordered the “Ebi Raisukaree” which is “prawns stir-fried in a coconut and lime curry sauce with mangetout, peppers, red and spring onions. served on sticky white rice and garnished with red chillies, coriander and lime”. We also ordered a dish of “Tori Kara Age” which is “deep-fried chicken pieces. served with a chilli, garlic, sesame and soy sauce” as a side dish.

The food arrived very promptly, mine first (we were advised that the dishes would come separately as everything is cooked fresh so things may take longer to prepare than others) and Steve’s only a few minutes later. It was exceptional food to say the least, it had a decent kick to it but was not so overpowering that the subtle flavours of the prawns or the vegetables were lost. Presentation wise it could not be much better, I have attached a photo below of my meal so you can see for yourself, the portion size as well was just right, not so huge you felt stuffed at the end, but not so small it left you wanting more.

We didn’t have any deserts as we were full up so we just paid up, the whole lot came to ~£30 including tip (£3.50) which I felt was very good value for money for what we got! I wholly recommend anyone in Sheffield that likes oriental food to take the time to go to Wagamama’s, it’s well worth it.


iPad Launched

So tonight the iPad was launched and for me it is a compelling product but not an amazing one. It is on a basic level an enlarged iPhone without the phone bit. It is based on the iPhone OS and has all the same features. Safari, mail, calendar, contacts etc etc. It also has an iBook application and an iBook store which will allow you to download and read books on the device.

In terms of hardware it has the following specs

It is 0.5-inches thick, weighs 1.5 pounds, and features a 9.7-inch IPS capacitive multitouch display. It is powered by a proprietary 1GHz processor, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and is available in 16, 32, or 64GB flash storage capacities. Additional specs include an accelerometer, compass, speaker, mic, 30-pin Apple dock connector, and 10-hour built-in battery.

The device is beautiful I cannot dispute that and the iPhone OS is a proven winner, however Steve Jobs put this as the thing to fill the gap in the market between a netbook he said

“So all of us use laptops and smartphones… the question has arisen; is there room for something in the middle. We’ve wondered for years as well — in order to create that category, they have to be far better at doing some key tasks… better than the laptop, better than the smartphone.”

“What kind of tasks? Browsing the web. Doing email. Enjoying and sharing pics. Watching videos. Enjoying music. Playing games. Reading ebooks. If there’s gonna be a third category, it has to be better at these tasks — otherwise it has no reason for being. Now some people thought that was a netbook — the problem is that netbooks aren’t better than anything!”

I beg to differ on that point, they fill a gap of portability and flexibility, they can do the majority of things a full laptop can do (barring some high powered things and gaming). Now the iPad can do gaming yes but your not going to see COD on there or if you do it will be a mobile port of the game. As it is based on the iPhone OS it is limited to things that are also going to work in the iPhone (at least initially until developers make specific apps for it). Having iWork on it is a good selling point, it opens it up to people who want to work on the move. However for me it seems that this device is designed to be used primarily in the home or office where there is a WiFi connection (though there is a 3G enabled option who in their right mind would pay an extra $160 for that and then a monthly fee for the data). The item that is a killer for me is the Newspaper and magazine subscriptions and possibly the book reader. Imagine subscribing to the New York Times or the Daily Telegraph and it just appearing on the device each morning and being able to read it like a normal paper right there and then. That certainly has it’s appeal, but for me a $499 price tag to do that and everything an iPhone does is not particularly appealing. It really needs something else, something more, something totally killer to make it a “must have” device.

That’s my initial thoughts, I am going to sleep on this now and it revisit this in the morning.


My Photo 365

Today I started a photo 365 project. I was trying to sum up what this is easily and found an excellent description here on Greg McMullins site (

“What the fudge is a 365? I hear you scream! Well a 365 project is when you take a photo a day for a whole year and post them on-line. There are a number of different types of 365 project, some are concerned with taking a self portrait every day, others demand you must take a picture of the same object every day but in a different setting. Both of these have their merits but I don’t think I am vein enough to want to post pictures of myself! Instead I’ll be posting photographs of whatever catches my eye on that particular day.”

So that is what it is. You can find it at