Ah, yet another Christmas in the can for the year. It was, once again, a retail orgy opening presents on Christmas morning, but the gift-giving was definitely more reseved this year. Some of it was due to financial circumstances (I haven't worked very many extra shifts this year) but there are so many reasons to be thankful and grateful this year. The hospital where I work was doing well enough financially that they offered a last-minute Christmas bonus. We haven't had one in about 3-4 years, and the surprise was even more so because I personally thought the hospital system (two hospitals) was going under or would be bought out. So pleasant surprises all around.
I worked Christmas Eve as usual. It's one of the main drags of being a nurse in a hospital -- we never close, and someone has to be there. Thankfully, the night was a relatively quiet one, with fewer admissions than usual. We'll pay for that over the next few days. It just seems many folks are "just barely hanging on," trying to "make it through the holidays" putting off visits to their physicians. All of the food and drink won't help much. This week, we'll be seeing a lot of peripheral edema, blood pressure problems, aches and pains put off too long, and other sorts of human deferred maintenance come in through the ER. If I'm talkin' to you, consider lightening up on all the salt, drink, spicy food and oxycontin for the holidays :-)
My big gift this year was the Kindle Fire:
I have the Kindle Keyboard (previously known as the Kindle3) and I'm very happy with it, but wanted something to more fully web surf with without having to crank up my netbook. My thoughts about the Kindle Fire:
- I personally like the form factor. I can hold it easily with one hand. I like the smaller 7" screen (as much as others apparently hate the smaller screen).
- I also have no problems having the power button on the bottom of the unit. I don't even know why this is an issue because, if it were a problem, one could just turn the screen upside down and everything would work fine.
- I don't mind not having external volume buttons. To change the volume, I just hit the Settings button. But some are saying it can be a problem if a program/app "takes over" the screen and doesn't give you access to the settings without exiting the program/app. I have not yet run into this situation.
- I don't mind the Carousel function. I had heard there were problems with "fat finger syndrome" having problems, but I guess I have greater than average manual dexterity.
- So far, browsing has been a good experience. I personally can't distinguish any advantage or disadvantage to the Silk browswer, it seems to work fine either way. I personally have set the Fire to "Optimize each web site" for readibility. I like using the pinch-to-zoom and the smaller print, when viewing a full page on Desktop view, doesn't bother me.
- My Netflix experience isn't as good as I want it to be. There is a noticeable lag (maybe 1/2 - 1 second) in the audio of my Netflix shows/movies. I have read this is a widespread problem with Netflix, and everyone is waiting for an updated app. Watching video's on YouTube is very clear and sync'd, so I don't think it is a probem inherent in the Fire. I plan to try watching videos purchased from Amazon but, man, I really want the Netflix thing to get worked out.
- Listening to podcasts is, for the most part, a smooth experience. When on my computer, I listen to podcasts using Google Reader, but the Google Reader app for Kindle doesn't play any podcasts. So I am using Stitcher for most of my podcasts, and the few that aren't included in Stitcher's wide selection I use MyPod to download podcasts via their direct feed. MyPod isn't very user friendly and seemless as Stitcher, but between the two, I can listen to pretty much to anything I want.
- The Kindle Fire speakers have been a hit and miss sort of thing. When playing Netflix shows, the sound is too faint without the use of earbuds, unless you hold the unit in your hands and thus the speakers are close to your head. Setting the Fire on the coffee table and having 2 or more people watch wouldn't be possible. However, my podcasts are very loud. When listening to my Magnatune podcasts, I can easily walk around the room and do other things without having to wear earbuds. I also notice YouTube video's are loud, so it might just be a Netflix thing.
- Reading books has been a good experience, which is good considering it is, in fact, a Kindle. I have been reading several books and find the Fire to be easy to navigate. However, after lengthy periods of time, my eyes do get fatigued looking into a back lit device. For hard core (multi-hour) reading sessions, I'd still use my Kindle Keyboard. I haven't had any probems with the brightness being too low. For indoor use with the usual levels of light through the window, I have to turn the brightness to the lowest level or eye strain is a definite problem. Books sync perfectly between all of my devices (the Kindle fire, Kindle Keyboard, iPhone 4S, netbook and laptop) which is nice.
- I've been able to do all of the activities I wanted to do on the Kindle Fire: read/write gmail, work outlook mail, Evernote, Facebook, podcasts, Twitter, etc. The only activity that my Kindle can't do is communicating, since it has neither camera nor microphone, but I have lots of other options for communicating.
So, overall, after 24-hours of working with the Kindle Fire, I have been very pleased with it.