Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book and Gadget Review.

I AM THE MESSENGER” by Markus Zusak and the Ipad by Apple.

I read the above book on Anna’s Ipad. I’ll get to it in a minute, but first let me tell you about the book.

The book is about a 19 year old young man who has a job as a taxi driver but apparently has no ambition at all. He just enjoys getting together with his three close friends after work, playing cards, drinking a few beers and then going home.

At first I realized it did not take place in the old U.S. of A. They had different names for things like what we call a den, they call a lounge room. I noticed that calling strangers and friends “mates” was very common. By then I was pretty sure what country it was, but when someone said to kiss their “arse”, I knew it was “down-under”. An “arsehole” was common throughout too. Got it? Down Under? Now do you have it?

One day he receives an ace of diamonds card in the mail with three addresses on it. He goes to each address and sees that help is needed in one form or another at each. His task was to find out what he could do to help. He feels much better about himself for changing lives.

Then he receives another ace card with more names, each getting more challenging to figure out whom and where and what was needed. A couple of times his helping resulted in his getting beat up. As he continued with more cards and challenges, he realized somebody was watching him and knew every move he made. Now, it gets mystic. Why would anybody even care? And if they did, how could they observe his most private moments? Near the end I was reminded of Walt Disney, the creator, talking to one of his creations, like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck; or maybe Al Capp and Li’l Abner having a disagreement or discussion.

I thought it was a good read. The author Markus Zusak is mostly known for writing children’s books. In fact, he has won awards for the some of the children books he has written. I AM THE MESSENGER is not what I would classify a children’s book – it contains sex, violence and plenty of “bad words”. Like how would "GREEN EGGS AND ARSEHOLES" look?

Now, about the Ipad: At first it was very confusing to me. You can turn it horizontally and on the bottom right it will tell you what page you are on and how many more to go. You can turn it vertically and the words on the screen readjusts, again at the bottom right hand corner it will tell you what page you are on and how many to go, however, this got me confused. The numbers turned one way are not the same as when you turn it the other way since the pages are a different length. When you read all you feel like, you can touch a little symbol at the top right and a bookmark will appear. You can close it, come back later, open it up, and see an apps screen, much like on Windows, touch the icon for the books and open to the page you marked. Accidentally I put my hand on the edge of the screen and found myself in a completely different part of the book. I had no idea what I got myself into or how to get back.

It also has other bells and whistles that I have no idea about. You can access email and the internet, which is really handy when you want to look something up at a moment’s notice without going to another room to a computer. We use it frequently when watching TV and want to know something about where a place is or a definition. You can tell we don’t have Smart Phones.

Also, it seems the user can wave a hand over the screen, with no more effort than brushing a strand of hair away, and something magical would occur on the screen.

Another interesting thing about the pad is checking books out of the local library. You can download electronic books from the library for a certain length of time and when your time is up, if I understand correctly, the electronic book is zapped. There is no need to actually return the book to the library since it just recalls itself. The library is limited by the number of copies they have for each electronic book. The library feature is a little more cumbersome than actually buying EBooks from Amazon or iBook’s (Apple), but the library is certainly cheaper! It’s just a little more difficult to find something you want to read.

What a wonderful electronic world we live in today…albeit, more complicated.

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