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Old 05-10-2009, 04:58 AM   #1
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Princeton Kindle DX Pilot Program

http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2009/05/08/23660/

Some interesting excerpts:
Quote:
While other universities also announced similar programs, Princeton’s project is unique in that it will focus on sustainability by reducing the amount of electronic-reserve course materials that students print.

“Over 10 million pages were printed out in cluster printers [last year],” OIT director of academic services Serge Goldstein said, adding that “a lot of that is students printing e-reserves.” He emphasized that the other schools partnering with Amazon were more focused on providing students with textbooks on the e-readers rather than reducing paper use on campus.

“These devices have a screen technology that is really designed to optimize the reading experience,” Goldstein said, adding that students print e-reserves rather than read them on their computers because “laptop screens are not designed for supporting lots of reading.
I believe I've made that point before. Still, I'm not entirely convinced that students aren't printing it out because it's easier to annotate and highlight, too.

Quote:
“We are going to be working with the library to scan material in Optical Character Recognition form,” he explained. Because the documents will be in this form, students will be able to annotate them using the Kindle’s keyboard and five-way controller, which acts like a joystick.

“Most of the material will be flowable text,” Goldstein added. “It’s actual electronic text. You can actually search it.”
Of course, I hope they know they have to be MOBI files to do this, not PDF.

Quote:
Still, the e-reader’s annotation capabilities may pose a challenge to students, Goldstein said, explaining, “We think that annotating on paper is easier.” He also noted that paging through paper documents is much quicker than perusing those texts on the Kindle because there is a short delay before the next page can be displayed on the device.

“A whole bunch of things we’ll find to be problematic,” Goldstein said of possible disadvantages of the console. “There are no perfect devices out there yet.”
Very true.

Quote:
While talks of a pilot program began two years ago, when Amazon first approached the University, the current project didn’t fully materialize until six months ago, when Amazon decided to proceed with the program, Goldstein said, adding that $30,000 of funding for the project will come from the High Meadows Sustainability Fund, which was founded by Carl Ferenbach ’64. Amazon will match the amount donated by the fund.

“We believe we can support about 50 or so students plus the faculty and a few staff who also need the device … about 60 devices in all,” Goldstein said.
I'm surprised the program is actually so small. It makes the announcement much less impressive.

Quote:
Janet Temos, the director of the Educational Technologies Center at OIT, said she expected Amazon would expand its online coursebook offerings.

“I know they’re working on that,” she said. “It’s an unspoken part of the agreement.”

Once the book lists for the three selected courses are finalized, the University will also send a list of texts to Amazon so the company can make the textbooks available for download through the Kindle Store, Goldstein said.
The unspoken part of the agreement? Sounds like the sort of thing you'd want in writing!

Quote:
Students who find the Kindle a poor substitute for their course materials will still be permitted to print e-reserve documents.

“We don’t force technology on people because we think it’s cool or bleeding edge,” Temos said. “If it turns out that it’s not working, we’ll abandon it.”
Very pragmatic.

Quote:
The three courses that will use Kindles next fall will be announced by the end of the month, Goldstein said, adding that the University chose to wait until after course registration closed to make the announcement.

“We didn’t want students signing up for classes just to get a Kindle,” he explained.
Do they plan on letting the students keep the Kindles?!?
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:42 AM   #2
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they will just add another $2,000 on to the fees
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Old 05-10-2009, 07:36 AM   #3
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More details on the program:
http://www.princeton.edu/ereaderpilot

Quote:
Q: Will students and faculty participating in the pilot get a free reader?

A: Yes. All participating students and faculty will get a device that they may keep.

[...]

Q: In this time of severe economic constraints, why is Princeton spending money on this pilot?

A: The money to support this project ($30K) is coming from the High Meadows sustainability fund, a fund specifically endowed to support sustainability projects. None of the money is coming from Princeton’s operating budget, nor is any money being taken away from other projects or efforts to fund this pilot.

Last year, Princeton printed 50 million sheets of paper at the cost of $5 million. Over 10 million sheets were printed in student computing clusters, much of that generated by printing digitzed text. If, through the use of e-readers, we can cut down that printing by even 1%, we will have more than made up for what was spent on this pilot.
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Old 05-10-2009, 01:55 PM   #4
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I remember Sony had the similar project and donated several ereader to school libraries
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Old 05-10-2009, 02:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirbruce View Post
Of course, I hope they know they have to be MOBI files to do this, not PDF.
To search? If PDF is not made as a collection of scanned images (and these PDF's obviously won't be) search function works just fine on Adobe Acrobat Reader for Windows. I use it constantly at work, even when I have a printed version of the document.
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Old 05-10-2009, 04:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ankh View Post
To search? If PDF is not made as a collection of scanned images (and these PDF's obviously won't be) search function works just fine on Adobe Acrobat Reader for Windows.
Search within the PDF you are currently reading will work on the Kindle DX, but one of the big selling points of the Kindle is "all content" search and this won't include PDFs (except its metadata, e.g. the author and title).
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Search within the PDF you are currently reading will work on the Kindle DX, but one of the big selling points of the Kindle is "all content" search and this won't include PDFs (except its metadata, e.g. the author and title).
Oh, the device-wide search is going to be tough.

The PDF search function is not a speed demon on a relatively decent desktop machine. On mobile hardware, even if it was possible to interface with Adobe software to handle PDF's, it is questionable how practical such an implementation would be.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ankh View Post
To search? If PDF is not made as a collection of scanned images (and these PDF's obviously won't be) search function works just fine on Adobe Acrobat Reader for Windows. I use it constantly at work, even when I have a printed version of the document.
I wasn't talking about the search actually; rather that you can't annotate inside PDFs (even real text ones) on the Kindle DX.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ankh View Post
Oh, the device-wide search is going to be tough.
The way this works for MOBI and TXT is that the ebook is indexed as soon as it is copied to the device, and the "all content" search is based on this index. The hard part for PDFs may be displaying snippets of context and a reliable location within the document.
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Old 05-10-2009, 07:00 PM   #10
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The problem is the DX isn't indexing the PDFs, nor allowing notetaking, highlight, etc. in the associated metadata file. Basically they haven't integrated PDFs into the Kindle software at all; they just slapped third-party PDF display ability onto it.
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:12 PM   #11
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I find it dissapointing that the Kindle DX doesn't have:

- Wacom touchscreen stylus input
- WiFi
- Unlocked 3G modem (for any worldwide carrier)
- Bluetooth (for foldable full sized keyboard text input)
- A kickstand on the back (to position it on the table while you type in text)

If they had those features, this device would become absolutely priceless for education, work and anyone who is an enthusiast about commenting any text in real-time. Chatting, debating about all texts be there from books, textbooks, blogs, newspapers, anything. With those better input mechanisms you could really collaborate on the devices.

I guess we'll have to look forward to the Pixel Qi 3Qi screen to be tablet mode compliant and come on much cheaper, full LCD color compatible tablet devices which will really come with all these features.
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirbruce View Post
I wasn't talking about the search actually; rather that you can't annotate inside PDFs (even real text ones) on the Kindle DX.
My apology, I obviously misunderstood. As for annotations... the handwriting capability would be a "killer" feature for this market segment, as Charbax already pointed out.

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Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
The way this works for MOBI and TXT is that the ebook is indexed as soon as it is copied to the device, and the "all content" search is based on this index.
That's nicely designed, especially if the indexing is done in the background (is it?). I wonder what is the size of "index file".

Off topic, considering that ebook reading devices do little between page turns, it baffles me why software on my Sony Reader is not taking the advantage of these "quiet" periods (re-pagination of the ebook to use exact page numbers, not approximation, for example).
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:13 PM   #13
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That's nicely designed, especially if the indexing is done in the background (is it?). I wonder what is the size of "index file".
Yes, it is run in the background. It can cause minor issues when it is running, but overall it works well. The index can get large, I seem to remember about 30% of the total but I can't find the reference.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:47 PM   #14
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Yes, it is run in the background. It can cause minor issues when it is running, but overall it works well. The index can get large, I seem to remember about 30% of the total but I can't find the reference.
There is a method to Amazon's "madness" when it comes to suspicious absence of the SD slot on Kindles, I guess.
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Old 05-11-2009, 05:22 AM   #15
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My 928MB of books (about 1200) created 545MB of indexes. I suspect some of those may be indexes for books I've deleted but generally each book takes up half as much space again for its index, so yeah about 1/3 of the availble 1.4GB of memory will be used for indexes and 2/3 for books.
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