Improving My (lost) Concentration with a Kobo Glo HD

Kobo Glo HD

In my retirement I do a lot of reading: books, magazines, news articles, essays, just about anything I can view on my iPad Mini. Unlike most of my friends, I actually prefer digital to hard copy. I can control the brightness, font size, and line spacing so that my eyes don’t have to strain while reading. The iPad screen is crisp and bright and the size of the Mini is nearly perfect for hand holding. I can also carry around 200 or more books with me.

So, if the iPad is so great, why then did I just purchase an e-ink ereader: a Kobo Glo HD? Because there’s a serpent in the garden. While reading on the iPad I developed a nervous habit of interrupting my reading frequently to check email, Facebook, and Flipboard for new email, postings by friends, and postings I might want to relay into Facebook. Compared to pre-Internet days, my concentration had gone to hell.

The Internet appears to be taking a toll on many of us. Our attention spans have shortened, our concentration has become relaxed, and perhaps we’ve even lost the thread of our own narrative. Well, not quite that drastic, surely, but a rereading of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows on the subject is sobering.

I knew from previous experience with a Kindle ereader that when I read on a dedicated reader, it strips away the ease of popping over to do something else. It’s just a reader, the way a book is just a book. I’d been thinking about the Kobo Glo HD for awhile, but when my friend Jarrett Hather showed me the one he’d bought, I was immediately taken with the hi-res screen, the good contrast with or without lighting, with  the light, easy-to-hold casing, and with the quasi bonus that Kobo is/was a kind of/sort of Canadian product. At least it began life here before being bought out by the Japanese company Rakuten.

I bought a Kobo, charged it up, cabled its USB port to my Macbook Air, and transferred over my library of over 200 ePub-format ebooks from the Mac to the Kobo. I was ready to begin. My first test: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. There’s nothing like a fine 19th-Century novel to test your concentration.

It worked. Although I was twitchy at times, I calmed down about checking email and social media, and just read. In three days of intermittent reading I’d finished the novel which I’d been reading at a leisurely pace simply to enjoy the rich period language.

Now I’m finishing Sophie’s World, a delightful novelized Philosophy 101 course. Spinning off from Sophie’s World, last night I downloaded Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and started reading. Elevated intellectual writing with no training wheels. But, I’m keeping my concentration, even though I don’t expect to read the entire work.

Kobo Glo HD, I’m hooked.



Linux on a Mac (I’m Back)

Ubuntu Linux on a Mac//

Here it is, almost fall, and I find myself missing the chance to jot some notes and observances into Silver Bullets. So, I’m back, and to start off with I’ll tell you what I did this summer.

My main tech project was to set up a new Linux server for testing some web pages Marion and I have been working on. We wanted to test out various options of setting up a WordPress site, including experimenting with different WordPress themes, without doing so in a live environment.

My friend, Mark Dornfeld, mentioned that he’d had good luck with Oracle’s VirtualBox on his Mac in terms of hosting Windows, so I thought I’d look into VB as a Linux host on my Mac Mini, primarily because the Mac Mini has 16GB of RAM and plenty of disk space.

So, installing VirtualBox was easy. I planned to install the desktop version of Ubuntu Linux and work up the server elements: Apache, MySQL, PHP, and WordPress. Unfortunately I hit a glitch with screen resolution. The instance of Linux sensed a 1024 screen but only gave me a 640×480 window to view it in. I couldn’t even scroll to the buttons of the graphical interface.

So, I came in the back door. I blew away the desktop installation and installed Ubuntu Linux Server in its place, turning into a LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) server with only a character console. I then added back the graphical interface with

$ sudo apt-get ubuntu-desktop

Voila! A nice 1024 screen with everything working. It fits nicely on the Mac Mini’s new 27″ Dell monitor.

Next, getting WordPress installed and tested. That proved straightforward. We’re now testing out a new website for Marion’s art and genealogy.

Other than that, it’s been a quiet summer packed with a lot of reading and a touch of writing, but very little photography. Oh, and I turned 70. That was a bit sobering.