Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snowbound but no nookie

Seattle is currently in the grip of a winter storm that would make a midwesterner snicker (2"-5" of snow, wind gusts of 20-40 mph, dry, clear). But with our watery surroundings and hilly topography, the packed snow quickly turned to ice, making bridges and many streets impassable ice rinks of abandoned cars and gingerly manuvering buses.

The last time we dealt with a similar storm, I made it to work but spent hours trying to get home, only to abandon my car and hike uphill in the snow in the darkness. Thanks to the magic of telecommuting then and now, I only made that mistake once after realizing that with VPN and a laptop, I'm at my desk no matter where I'm sitting. So I worked from home the last couple days, slogging through long-overdue email tasks and working on 2011 goals for my team and myself.

My husband was able to get out and about before the storm hit on Monday to take Ava to school and pick up a birthday present that I'd finally settled on: a Barnes and Noble Nook e-book reader. Yes, it's as cool as the reviews say and as an early-ish adopter, I felt confident that this second generation Nook (the first was e-ink/black and white) would be sufficiently bug-free and worth the price. Also, I told my husband it would finally allow me to eliminate some of the hardcopy magazine subscriptions that he feels clutter up the joint. Personally, I see reading material as another type of art, not just something functional.

Having mentioned before my wish for a particular e-book, I was excited to get my mitts on this new reader. My husband handed me the package with a perplexed look. "It's just another device to bury your face in. I don't get it, but if you like it, great."

"You'll see," I explained, reverently snapping the device into the leather cover. "It's the future of content access: newspapers, magazines, kids books, the web, and more!"

I excitedly booted up the machine, watched the introductory video, and tried to set it up by accessing the web. Over and over and over again. Seems the machine could see the wireless in our house (and about 10 others: that's so Seattle), but couldn't lock on.

Tech support was closed, so I turned to the internet. Nothing but glowing reviews and hands on demos. I spent a couple hours after putting the kids to bed tinkering with our routers, my cell and laptops (which could all get online through the wireless fine).

I tried again over lunch, finally reaching tech support who showed me how to hard reset the Nook. Still no dice.

One of the things I've missed tremendously since having kids is time to sit and read. I remember those weekends as DINKS (dual income, no kids) when we'd hole up watching TV while surfing the web or reading magazines. Or sitting in coffee shops for hours doing the same, minus TV. Man, that was 3.5 years, two kids and seemingly a lifetime ago.

Unless I stay up way too late, my reading for pleasure consists of e-mail, texts, blogs, and newspaper
 sites I skim in my phone's  RSS feed. I was looking forward to the Nook Color changing all that, plus giving me another way to spend time with reading material with the kids (there's a NookKids component for downloading kids e-books read aloud by real people rather than an automated voice).

Of course, I can do that without an e-reader. Thanks to our nightly reading sessions before bed, Ava has memorized multiple books that she "reads" to us some nights. Ezra Jack Keats' stories are on heavy rotation, as is the Paperback Princess and Franklin is Lost.

But I was really looking forward to this next generation of reading with my next generation. I will be taking it in to exchange it for a new unit as soon as the icy roads clear.

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