Kindle - A great device for storing documentation?
By KLaker on Jun 30, 2009
Is it "Great minds think alike" or "simple ones seldom differ"? Let's be charitable and go with the first. As JP has started talking about the Kindle I thought I might throw my thoughts out into the blogosphere.
Having worked in most parts of Oracle there is one recurring and frustrating part to walking on to a customer site. At some point you can guarantee you will need to get access to Oracle documentation. Now I am old enough to remember the huge bookshelves of Oracle books that used to line most IT departments and DBA's desks. But all that went out the window when our documentation went 'online'. I miss all those wonderful post-it notes sticking out of pages and scribbled annotations in the margin.
Now, I know you can log onto the web or download the HTML/PDFs to your laptop and/or ZIP drive but this is still not an easy solution for getting access to documentation. It lacks also lacks the tactile feeling of holding a book and being able to quickly skim through pages. And then along comes the Kindle....
According to some of Kindle blogs the latest version now supports PDF documents. You can upload your own PDF files onto the Kindle where they appear in the ‘Personal Documents’ section. This separates them from all the books you have bought on Amazon but as the Kindle does not have a 'Folders" feature there is no way to have just your PDF files show up, and no way to categorize them which is a real shame.
But even with these limitations, you could have an "Oracle Documentation Kindle". This would allow you to annotate and bookmark pages just like the good old days. May be the Kindle is the way forward for technical manuals. If the annotations appear as yellow squares on the screen it would be the perfect solution.
In fact why stop at technical manuals. Why not have an Oracle OpenWorld Kindle with all the presentations and associated whitepapers already loaded. This would be much more useful than the current DVD package (IMHO). As we already charge for the DVD and as Amazon is one of Oracle's best customers I am sure we could come up with an attractively priced package for OpenWorld (if the OpenWorld team is reading this, the idea is mine and I want royalties, you can make the cheque payable to Keith Laker). Alternatively, why download everything from the OpenWorld site directly to your own Kindle?
As with all new technology, the limit is really only inside peoples heads. Once you embrace the concept the ideas and applications just flow. To follow on from JP's analogy, the same is happening with Exadata. Customers are finding lots of great ways to use the performance, they are asking questions they did not even think were possible. I am sure there will be more information at OpenWorld, just look out for the presentations that focus on DB Machine and Exadata!
Going back to the Kindle: Are there any downsides? There is a big downside, which also relates back to JP's comments about DW Appliances, The Kindle only holds 200 titles - in other words: the appliance does not scale. Does this sound familiar? An appliance that does not scale? Now obviously the main Kindle library lives on your PC and you add and remove documents to/from your Kindle appliance as required. Which sounds very similar to a DW appliance. You build a large central server (i.e. the Kindle software library on your laptop) but to actually analyze data you need to offload the data to another appliance to make it more useful (i.e. move your files to the Kindle)! I can't think which appliance vendor this reminds me of!
I am surprised there is no expansion slot on the Kindle to allow users to add more storage. It seems that once you reach 200 titles that's it, no more! In theory this would limit you to two sets of Oracle documentation (Current 11gR1 doc set contains 100 books). With Oracle documentation this might or might not be an issue. But why limit the amount of storage in Kindle in the first place? Even my little Sony/Ericsson phone has a plug-in memory card to expand the storage space for pictures, videos, music files etc. Has Amazon missed a trick? Why not follow the same approach we used to build the Oracle Database Machine: use off-the-shelf commodity components. This would allow users to simply plug-in larger disks as required?
Now if only I could buy a Kindle in the UK I could try loading all my 11g documentation on to it to test out the annotation and bookmark features. Then I could see if I could relive the good-old days when manuals were paper based. But at the moment it appears that Amazon is keeping the Kindle as a US only product so I will have to wait for UK supplies to start. Or may be JP could send me one?