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    Kobo Sage: A review of a bad eReader

    I’m a big fan of eInk readers. I’ve been a happy Kindle user for 14 years, which blows my mind! Heck, I wrote a book about the Kindle that was only available on the Kindle (that wasn’t a great decision, turns out, as almost no one bought it).

    Over the course of those 14 years I’ve used pretty much every major variation of Kindle plus some Nooks thrown in here and there. I was pretty happy in Kindle-land, and I didn’t feel the need to see if the grass was greener with other eReaders. But then my pal Jason Snell started to sing the praises of his Kobo. Since I respect Jason’s opinion I thought maybe I should consider a non-Kindle for my eReading needs.

    Now, I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the Kobo, but the only Kobo I ever used could almost be considered a novelty device: the Kobo mini. I fished it out of my “Tech Drawer of Fun” since I figured I could just check out the Kobo OS on a device I already had. That’s when I found out the 10 year old device was no longer supported by Kobo and couldn’t even connect to the Kobo service.

    I did what any normal person would do, bought an expensive modern Kobo: the Kobo Sage.

    Why the Sage? Because, dear reader, I’m a fancy ereader user. I love my Kindle Oasis, which is the top of the line Kindle, and it only seemed fair to compare top of the line to top of the line.

    The Quick Review

    If you’re looking for a premium ereader get a Kindle Oasis. The Kobo Sage feels cheap (things that cost $300 should never produce that “creaky plastic” sound under normal use) and worst of all: the page turn buttons sometimes just don’t work. Given the whole point of the device is to turn pages, that’s a dealbreaker. Don’t get this thing.

    Furthermore, the official case, which can be used as a stand whilst reading, is an abomination that Kobo should just stop selling.

    I will say, however, that it charges via USB-C which is nice and I look forward to getting a Kindle that does the same (I’m not getting another Kobo, you see).

    Slightly Longer Review

    The best thing about the Sage is also one of its biggest drawbacks: the screen size. Reading on the larger screen is great (when the frickin’ page turn buttons actually turn the page). Sadly, even without the cover the Sage feels a little too heavy in the hand for extended use and the weight isn’t balanced well. Adding the case makes it heavier, though the case does fold into a stand which is nice. Unfortunately, the cover in stand mode feels pretty flimsy and from time to time the Kobo slowly slides down as I read.

    Speaking of that damn cover, here’s my biggest issue with it. It, like the Oasis cover, has magnets in it. When you open it, the Kobo unlocks. When you close it, the Kobo locks. That’s nice, no complaints there.

    Now, I’m going to give you a glimpse into my personal life. Sometimes, when I’m reading, I have to pause for several minutes and do something else. Maybe run after a toddler, or take out the trash. Normal human stuff, mostly. Then, when I return to my Sage it is displaying the cover of the book I’m currently reading with my progress and the Kobo’s battery level. That, I like very much (especially the battery level indicator).

    And how do I unlock the Sage to jump back into reading? Simple, just press the power button and it unlocks like magic. However, if you’re using the dumb Sage cover you can’t press the power button because the cover, well, covers it so it can’t be pressed.

    You have to close the cover and open it again to unlock the Sage (or you can take it out of the cover and press the power button then put it back in the cover I suppose, but that’s more effort).

    I find this design baffling.

    Don’t buy this cover (and since you shouldn’t buy the Sage there’s no reason to buy the cover anyway!).

    Were the seats comfortable, Mrs. Lincoln?

    Clearly, I can’t recommend the Sage as a device, but what about the software? The Kobo UI is very nice, and I would have said it is way ahead of the Kindle’s UI before the latest major Kindle OS update.

    Now, I’d say they are about even with a few, notable, exceptions:

    Both will use the cover of whatever you’re reading as a Lock Screen – but you have to pay a little more to get this feature on the Kindle (most Kindles are sold with “special offers” enabled which display ads on the Lock Screen and in the homepage). Plus, on the Kobo in addition to displaying the cover of the book you’re currently reading it shows your progress (and the progress of charging if the Kobo is plugged in). That’s a very nice touch.

    The Kobo is very well integrated with OverDrive, the system of ebook lending that lots and lots of public libraries use.

    Adding your library card to the Kobo is simple, and it is a breeze to check out books. Even better, the Kobo treats books you have out, and those you have on hold, as basically part of your on device library.

    Plus, while you’re looking at books on the Kobo store it’ll note when a book is available from the library (though I will say I think it is easier to browse books on my computer… which means Amazon beats the Kobo in the book buying/browsing experience for my money) It isn’t hard to get ebooks from OverDrive onto your Kindle, but it is even easier on the Kobo.

    Bottom Line

    If you’re in the market for an eReader and you hate Amazon… you should probably check out a Kobo. Just don’t get the Sage because it is way too expensive for how crappy it is.

    And I should say that my sense of sticking it to corporate America by using a Kobo was totally undermined when the first login option I had as I set up my Sage was “continuing with Walmart.”

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  • My father, the train

    Marisa’s mom sent the boys a box of treats today. It included a number of wooden Thomas the tank engine trains, which are favorites in this household.

    One of the trains is “Neil,” who the boys were unfamiliar with which resulted in this dinner conversation:

    Sammy – “What’s this train’s name?”

    Me – “Neil.”

    Sammy – “Mike!”

    Me – “No, Neil. That was my father’s name!”

    Sammy – “Was he a train?”

    Me – “No, he was a person.”

    Sammy cries.

    Marisa – “What’s wrong, Sammy?”

    Sammy – “I wanted him to be a train.”

    Me – “Well, it probably would have been better for a lot of people if my father was a train.”

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  • Mickey 7 by Edward Ashton


    I haven’t been reading much science fiction as of late. I don’t know why, but I’ve been on a serious mystery kick for the last several months. However, I was having a hankering for some light science fiction and Mickey 7 showed up in my library holds.

    This is a breezy book about an interstellar colony that isn’t having the best time of it. And having one of the worst times of it of all is our main character, Mickey. He’s the colony’s expendable… i.e. the person they make do the dangerous stuff and if he dies… we crack out another Mickey clone and have him try it again.

    This book isn’t going to blow your mind, but it is very amusing, highly engaging, and attempts to do some new stuff with some old concepts. Totally worth a read (and I’ll be reading the sequel!).

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  • Do I need a Playmobil Bird of Prey?

    With PLAYMOBIL’s new Star Trek ship – Commander Kruge’s Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Star Trek fans can travel to different worlds in the Federation, the Klingon Empire, or even the Genesis planet. PLAYMOBIL`s Bird-of-Prey with Lights and Original Sounds is based on the movie from the 80s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and expands the PLAYMOBIL Star Trek universe.
    Explore the legendary starship with many mechanical and electronic functions and meet one of the most notorious Klingons, Commander Kruge.
    Kruge’s crew, Admiral Kirk and Mr. Spock as well as the planet Genesis are also included in this playset.

    Need? No. Enjoy? Yes! Star Trek III merchandise? Sign me up.

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  • AI is coming for the DM

    A group of five men, each wearing robes and carrying staffs, are walking across the desert. They are looking for something or someone. If the players approach, they will ask them if they have seen anything strange or out of place. They will then ask for directions to a city. They are actually cultists looking for a lost temple to their god.

    Random Encounter Generator for D&D 5e+ (AI RPG)

    This is actually a pretty cool tool. And everyone knows cultists are just strewn across the desert.

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    iOS 16 first thoughts

    I updated my iPhone to iOS 16 in the car as we were driving to the little place we rented at the beach. I like to live on the edge.

    The experience reminded me a bit of how Sammy and Declan react to ANY package that shows up at our house.

    They see it. They start to hop around and yell, “Package!”

    I warn them that they shouldn’t get too excited because it is probably something boring.

    They reply, “WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!!”

    The package ends up being a box of beans or something. The boys excitement was a bit misplaced.

    iOS updates are, generally speaking, my box of beans.

    Once I installed iOS 16 I noticed… nothing much had changed. But I was excited about the idea of widgets on the lockscreen, so I checked that out.

    It is both a very good idea and a very limited (and disappointing for the moment) implementation.

    Also, am I the only one who thinks the font choices for the time are not great? At least we have some choices now, I suppose.

    It also too much WAY too long to figure out how to have different lockscreen images and home screen images (though I am an old, old man… so some of that confusion could be my fault).

    Anyway, even without any additional features iOS is the operating system I use the most every single day by far. And generally, I very much like it! And perhaps as I fiddle with iOS 16 I’ll uncover some great new features.

    But for the moment, I’m just going to pop these beans into the Instapot and feast on them in a few hours.

    Update: I just remembered a feature of iOS 16 that I like, a lot! Displaying the battery percentage in the battery icon:

    The one thing I don’t like about it is that the icon remains solid no matter the percentage. I’m very used to the battery icon “draining,” but that’s a quibble!

    You do have to enable this: Settings > Battery > Battery Pecentage.

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    The Free Library of Philadelphia is great

    Even under ordinary circumstances, Philadelphia’s library system is fragile.Recession-era budget cuts and ping-ponging funding levels mean the number of workers getting books to Philadelphians has steadily declined from about 1,100 people a decade ago.ADVERTISEMENTAnd then came 2020. With the city staring down a massive budget hole, it slashed the library’s funding and laid off more than 200 people. The director resigned amid a staff revolt and complaints of racial discrimination. People quit in droves and hiring was frozen. Skeleton crews reopened branches without enough help.It has resulted in a staffing shortage that means the Free Library of Philadelphia, more than two years after the pandemic cuts, has about 600 employees and needs to hire about 350 more.

    Free Library of Philadelphia hours still lacking amid staff shortage

    I knew it was struggling, but I had no idea how bad it was. I use the Library all the time, and I love it.

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