Kindle Review

As many people know if you watch the smmas podcast, I recently got a Kindle 3. I haven’t been a huge reader. There have been a few books in the past year or so that I’ve taken time to read, but most of the reading that I do is on the web. Now, if I knew that wasn’t going to change, I probably wouldn’t have bought a Kindle, but there has been a small list of books growing over the past 6 months or so that I want to read, with more coming in the next 6 months. I also want to read more books in general and figured this would be a pretty good way to do it.


The first thing that I notice when I hand someone the device, even before commenting on how small it is, they ask if the words are real or if there’s something taped to the screen. I know exactly what they mean because I wondered the same thing when I first opened the Kindle and saw the Amazon Kindle screen. At first I thought there was a protector taped to the screen like you get with other types of devices. People are usually amazing when I then take the Kindle out of sleep mode and show them them that it is actually just what the screen looks like.

The letters are so smooth on the screen they almost look fake. It’s hard to believe any hand-held device could be so easy to read.


There are several ways to get content on the device. The first, and most obvious way, is the Kindle Store. I believe Kindle books are in a proprietary Amazon format, but that doesn’t really matter because I don’t know of any way to get the books out of the Kindle. You can, however, install the Kindle application on any iOS, Android, Mac, or PC, as well as being able to sync with any other Kindle that you might own, so it’s not as though any books you purchase are stuck on this Kindle. They are tied to your Amazon account and are available in any Kindle or Kindle app. One of the really nice things about the Kindle store is that you can try any of the content before you actually purchase it. For books, you can send a sample to your Kindle and for Newspapers and Magazines you get to try the first 14 days for free.

Along with the Kindle store, you can also put any .mobi books on the Kindle. This includes all of Project Gutenberg and other sources like A Book Apart. I did notice that there’s a large collection of public domain books available from the Kindle store, so I haven’t had a chance to actually grab anything from Project Gutenberg yet. I did buy a couple of books from A Book Apart though, and was able to email the books to my Kindle, which worked great.

Before now, I haven’t been a user of Instapaper, but it works great with the Kindle and will automatically send unread Instapaper items weekly or daily just as a newspaper. It has been a great way to read some of the news that I’m not willing to read on my LCD monitor, or a good way to read when I’m out away from my computer or on the road.

Overall, it’s nice to be able to carry around this super thin, super light device with a full library of books, newspapers, magazines, and web articles, and be able to read all of that anywhere in book-like quality and readability.

Textual Review

Textual is an IRC client for the Mac that I recently started using in favor of xChat. Right off the top I’m going to say that it’s super customizable. I’d say that’s the number one feature — especially if you do the whole CSS thing. I’m surprised there aren’t more themes available, but I guess it’s probably pretty new.

It’s also a very functional application, but doesn’t get in your way. I’d also note that the development team was quick on the twitter response to a feature request, but we’ll have to see if those requests actually ever make it into the app.

It can’t hurt to checkout this lightweight app if you’re ever in IRC — #smmas every Thursday night for the smmas live chat, or for more info. I’ll also include a link to the css for my custom version of the Dark theme.

[Download] [JB Simplified Dark]

Update: Now with inline Nick highlighting supported: Download v1.1

Boxee Box Review

I’m sure by now many people know that I was one of the ones who pre-ordered the Boxee Box. I had been waiting for this box to be released since I saw the reviews from CES. I’ve been using the Boxee software intermittently since the alpha days. To me, this box was the best you could get for the price. Short of building a custom HTPC, I still don’t think you could do much better.


Something that surprised me when I first started using the box was something that I’m calling stumblability — the ability to sumble upon new content that you haven’t experienced before (ie channel surfing on broadcast cable). There are quite a few videos and shows ready for you when you first turn it on being pulled from online sources. I think aggregators like this and services like Hulu or Netflix allow for just as much sumblability as we currently have with broadcast media. Maybe even more. Right now there is a large selection of shows and movies to pick from without loading any of your own content on it, but at some point in the future you will literally be able to start any show or movie at any time. I think your chances of starting a show you might not have watched otherwise are just as high on a device like this. The only thing that might change is that there’s a chance you won’t start watching something that you have absolutely no interest in watching. I don’t think I’d ever watch a show like that for any period of time anyway, so I think this is a benefit of this new direction that I think media consumption is taking.
Continue reading Boxee Box Review


So it’s been a while since I’ve written here and let’s just say that I’ve been busy. We started a show, Sudo Make Me A Sandwich, a couple months back and I’ve been trying to figure a way to get the quality up without breaking the bank. There are some small things you can do, like invest in a quality microphone or headset. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, I just bought a decent looking Logitech headset from BestBuy and it already sounds much better.

We were also having the problem of incorporating guests into the show. I bring my cohost in via Skype and we wanted a way to  be able to also bring in a couple more panelists if needed. Right away I thought of Leo Laporte’s Skypesaurus — maybe I even got the idea to do the show this way from him. He’s got a quite expensive setup though. Not only did he build four custom machines that are dedicated to Skype, but he’s also got the TriCaster, the IP audio mixer, and lots of bandwidth.

Continue reading Skype-o-Something…

Dell Mini 10v unboxing

So the Dell Mini 10v that I’ve been waiting for since Christmas came in yesterday. What a great little machine. Right now I’m calling it the Macbook Mini since I installed OSX shortly after taking it out of the box.

Unfortunately the first thing I had to do was downgrade the BIOS, which was a little stressful, but after that it was smooth sailing. Here are some photos of the unboxing: Continue reading Dell Mini 10v unboxing

Getting two domains on one IP

I recently had a request from someone on how to setup multiple domains on a single IP address. This is something that I’ve thought about doing before, but haven’t taken the time to stop and set it up. After getting sub-domains working, this was a breeze, as it’s the same process. I’m working on an Ubuntu server, so this may be a little different for you.


First setup the DNS, since it will probably take about an hour for that to update anyway, depending on the TTY that you use. If you’re setting this up and you want to make sure it works, you can edit your /etc/hosts file on a mac or linux machine. I think there’s a way to do this in windows as well, but I’m not sure of what file you’d be looking for. Just remember to delete that entry after you know it works.

To setup the DNS you first need to find the DNS control for the domain registrar that you use. In GoDaddy the option would be called Total DNS. Change the A record to the IP address you want to use as a server and you’re done.


Now you need to create a new file in /etc/apache2/sites-available/. Call it whatever you want. I will call it NEWSITE.TLD. In this file you will create a new file that looks similar to this, only substituting information specific to your server:

NameVirtualHost *:80

	ServerAdmin you@your-domain.tld
	ServerName your-domain.tld

	DocumentRoot /var/www/your-root/
		Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
		AllowOverride None
		Order allow,deny
		allow from all

	ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log
	LogLevel warn
	CustomLog /var/log/apache/access.log combined
	ServerSignature On

Now we enable the site with:

sudo a2ensite /etc/apache2/sites-available/NEWSITE.TLD

Reload the apache configuration and you should be good to go.