Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aquarius!

I'm a little late with my birthday wishes this month, since the sun entered Aquarius on January 20. Let blame Mars being in retrograde, at least for a few more days. The good news is it goes direct on Jan. 30, so if you've felt like you're being held back by some unseen force, you can expect that to ease in the next week or so.

Speaking of retrogrades, the bad news is that Mercury goes retrograde on the 28th, so don't be surprised if communications and travel go awry for a few weeks. It goes direct on Feb. 19.

Getting back to our main topic, Aquarius, the Water Bearer, is one of my favorite signs. Maybe that's because I'm married to one, but it's also because Aquarius is compatible with my own sign of Aries.

Aquarius is an air sign and people born under this sign are thinkers. The sign is ruled by Uranus, however, so don't expect conventional wisdom from an Aquarian. They tend to be free thinkers, but since it's also a fixed sign, Aquarians are caught between innovation and practicality. How this works out in the individual is represented by other aspects in the chart. For instance, Mercury in Capricorn or strong aspects from Saturn can keep the Aquarian down to earth while Mercury in Pisces or strong aspects from Neptune can send him soaring to the stars. Linda Goodman describes the typical Aquarian as "half Albert Schweitzer, half Mickey Mouse".

In any case, being a fixed air sign means Aquarians can be quite fixed in their ideas and impatient with others who disagree or fail to follow their rapid thought processes. They can also be quite outspoken. My husband's favorite mantra is "I never apologize for speaking the truth". Of course, that's the truth as he sees it. :)

In the natal chart, the eleventh house represents friends and Aquarius is the eleventh sign, so many of them have an active social conscience. They know it's really about us, not just me. That's why the Age of Aquarius is supposed to usher in an era of peace. We've been waiting a long time for that, and I hope it actually happens one of these days.

Famous Aquarians include: Francis Bacon, Helen Gurley Brown, Lord Byron, Lewis Carroll, Colette, Charles Darwin, Angela Davis, Thomas Edison, Betty Friedan, Galileo, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Lindbergh, Somerset Maughm, Mozart, Paul Newman, Yoko Ono, Leontyne Price, Ronald Reagan, Vanessa Redgrave, Norman Rockwell, Franklin Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Oprah Winfrey and Virginia Woolf

For more on Aquarius, go to


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Me and My Kindle

My primary Christmas present is an Amazon Kindle, and I love it. In fact, my Kindle and I are pretty much inseparable these days.

I've been an avid e-book reader for some years now. I've read e-books on my laptop, my RCA Germstar 1100, a PDA and a Pocket PC. I've enjoyed most of my readers (with the notable exception of the now-defunct Franklin eBookman), but the Kindle is rapidly becoming my favorite.

I'm amazed at how lightweight it is, much less than the comparably-sized RCA Gemstar 1100. The wireless is fast, unbelievably fast, so it's really easy to buy from the Kindle store or download updates to magazine or blog subscription. I like being able to download a sample to read before deciding to buy a book, too. That's a very nice feature. If you leave the wireless off most of the time, the battery life is excellent, and the device charges back up very quickly.

I thought I might miss the backlighting, and at times I do, but it's also nice to be able to read in sunlight, particularly when traveling in the car. (Not when I'm driving, of course!)

I'm glad I waited for the Kindle instead of buying the Sony Reader because, for me, the Kindle is more useful and versatile. I already had a lot of books in unprotected Mobipocket format which can be read on the Kindle without any conversion. It's easy to transfer files from your computer to the device using the USB cable. I had a little more confusion getting files onto the SC card, though. I thought I could pre-load the card, but the Kindle didn't recognize any of the files. I wiped them off the card then transferred them to the Kindle directly. After that I transferred most of the files to the SD card using the Kindle. So apparently anything on the card has to go through the Kindle first in order to write a directory file. Makes sense when you think of it.

Furthermore, if you download the Mobipocket Reader Desktop 6.1, you can use this desktop software to convert PDF, HTML, DOC and plain text files which can then be read on the Kindle. I've found this process to be about 95% effective. The only problems I've notice so far, with a couple of old HTML files, is that the title wasn't recognized by my Kindle.

The only real frustration I've had with it so far is that, while it will play MP3 music, it won't play my MP3 podcasts. I can't understand what the difference is beyond the fact that the podcasts in question are so much longer, about 45 minutes. They're all MP3 files, so what the hey? Oh, well.

Also, it's easy to hit the next page or previous page buttons by accident, but I figure once I get used to the device, that won't happen so much any more.

Is this the "killer device" the e-book community has been waiting for?

Probably not, but the wireless connectivity alone makes it a huge step forward. The real problem remains the lack plethora of formats, so that's a software problem that can't be solved by new hardware. Chances for real standardization range from a best case scenario of years to a worst case scenario of never. For now, it doesn't hurt to have more than one reader that will handle different formats.

The only other downside is the $399.00 list price and the fact that the device is only available in the US. The price may eventually come down, but probably not anytime soon, since the Kindle has been "temporarily out of stock" almost since it was released. I ordered mine at the end of November and had to wait about two weeks to get. It may take even longer now. The fact that demand appears to be steady is a good sign for the future of the Kindle. :D

If anyone has any questions about the Kindle, I'll try to answer them.

Lyndi / Linda