Year: 2012

Things I’ve noticed about the Kindle Paperwhite

First of all, it’s terrific.

I was surprised to find that the frontlight can never be turned completely off while the Kindle is awake.

Also regarding the frontlight, I’m pleasantly surprised that, when it’s set at a modest level in a dimly-lit room, it has the appearance of not being lit at all, but merely of being more “white” than it is and as a result reflecting more ambient light, almost magically so. I didn’t expect to want to leave the light on all the time, but for this reason, I do.

When set too high, or when in a too-dark room, there is an appearance of unevenness with the lighting, but it’s not terribly distracting.

What is a bit distracting is how surreal it can look when something (like your thumb or head) is casting a shadow on the surface in certain lighting; the area around the shadow looks mostly illuminated by the ambient light, and the area under the shadow has an odd blue glow to it, since the frontlight’s effect is more apparent there.

Having fonts other than Caecilia is nice, although I can’t imagine anybody wanting to read for any length of time in Futura or Helvetica. Baskerville is of course classic for typesetting books, but because of its delicate letterforms and small x-height doesn’t really suit the (relatively) low-contrast and (relatively) low-resolution Kindle. There doesn’t seem to be an ideal “small” font size for Baskerville, at least not for my eyes. For these reasons I’ve so far stuck with Palatino, a font that I don’t really like very much, but which is less “artificial”-feeling than Caecilia, anyway.

The new UI elements (and the font in which they’re set, some Futura-like geometric I can’t identify) are really attractive. You can tell a lot of time was spent here and it gives the device a lot more personality and finish.

As expected, I’m frustrated by the lack of a hardware page-turn button, particularly while reading in bed, where (with the face of the Kindle pointed slightly downward) my thumb becomes a crucial support point, and is therefore not free to tap the screen to turn pages. In other interactions I’m also forced to use two hands quite a bit.

It was worth the upgrade even if only for the frontlight, and despite its small and few drawbacks, the overall improvement (over the Kindle 3, I should mention) make it a no-brainer.

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Trash Trouble with Symbolic Links from /home to Separate Disk

I began noticing recently that sometimes when trying to send a file to the trash, I was told that it couldn’t be moved there and that I’d have to delete it entirely to get rid of it. I didn’t really think anything of this at first, until I began to suspect that it was only happening with files in my /home directory.

My /home directory is on its own partition on a standard hard disk. The rest of the file system is on another partition on an SSD. In order to fully reap the speed benefits of an SSD, I symbolically linked as many non-personal directories as I could from /home to /var/jay on the SSD. These included ~/.local, ~/.cache, ~/.gconf, ~/.mozilla, etc.

I didn’t really know much about the way Linux/GNOME handles Trash. Files deleted from a third internal hard disk or from USB sticks would be moved to /.Trash-1000 on that device, while appearing in “Trash” in Nautilus. Files from a user’s home directory, however, don’t go to /home/.Trash-1000, or even /.Trash-1000 — instead, they go to ~/.local/share/Trash. Because in my setup this directory was on the SSD rather than the hard disk with the /home partition, GNOME refused to move it there, since that would require copying from one disk to another, which GNOME’s developers (smartly, I think) believe would be alarmingly time-consuming for someone who’s just trying to delete some files — they shouldn’t expect to see a copy dialog grinding away.

In order to try to fix this, I made ~/.local/share/Trash into a symbolic link itself, back to the /home partition at ~/Trash. After this change, things were getting trashed properly — at least, I wasn’t asked to delete them entirely — but they weren’t showing up in Nautilus’s Trash view. I don’t know how Nautilus makes itself aware of all the trash folders spread across different devices, but for whatever reason it wasn’t picking up on this one, even after several reboot cycles.

Finally I gave up and moved ~/.local back onto the same partition as /home, and now everything’s back to normal. But I’d still like to know if it’s possible to keep ~/.local on a separate disk while retaining GNOME’s and Nautilus’s ordinary trash behavior.

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