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September 2009
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November 2009

Kindle on the road, a lesson learned

A couple of weeks ago I was on a long road trip, and although it was by car, I still didn't want to be weighed down by having too many books along. So I was really happy to have my Kindle DX to bring along. I thought I'd use it for leisure reading, but it turned out that I mostly used it to read the Kindle edition of my hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune. It was a nice way to stay in touch with what was going on back home.

When you subscribe to a newspaper on the Kindle, it arrives wirelessly every morning. It's just there whenever you turn on the device; quite nice. (The issue from the previous day is available in the archive folder, if you need it.)

The only unpleasant surprise was that the Kindle's wireless network, WhisperNet as they call it, only works in the United States. Once I crossed the border into Canada, I no longer got the paper, nor could I buy any books from the Kindle Store. When I re-entered the United States, it automatically gave me the current day's issue. (The issues I missed while I was gone? Well, I never did figure out how to retrieve those, but I didn't try too hard. Yesterday's news, as they say.) The error message I got while out of the country could have been more helpful, it was a rather generic networking error, but I eventually figured out that the cell carrier was rejecting my device.

Shortly after I returned home, Amazon released a Kindle that works internationally. But it's only the Kindle 2, not the Kindle DX that I use. But, if you're thinking about buying a Kindle and know you'll be traveling outside the U.S. at some point, it might be worth considering.



Envi envy, a new convection wall heater

I'm a happy user of the Econo-heat, a wall-mounted convection heater that silently keeps the chill of a cold room. New for this winter is the Envi heater, which appears to be based on the old Econo-heat model, which is still available, but addresses several concerns.

As you can read in Convection Wall Heater, the Econo-heat seems to eventually, inevitably, crack. This doesn't seem to impact the way it works--one of mine is cracked with no ill-effect--but it is an aesthetic problem and causes anxiety for some customers. The new Envi seems to address this by using a new mounting system, which is thought to be the cause of the previous cracking. But it also encases the heating panel so that if cracks develop, you'll be none the wiser. Clever. The new case is also more stylish and adds status lights and other nice touches. Learn more at the Envi website.