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  • John Krueger "Just another geek." - This time, they got the Kindle version (almost) right!

    First things first: The World Almanac and Book of Facts is probably one of the most useful general purpose reference books you can hold in one hand, at least if you're looking for current events, vital statistics, recent history, or anything else that changes on an annual basis. If you've ever owned a previous version, you know what I'm talking about; if you haven't, the best way to get a good idea of what's in here is to go to the top of the product page, click on the cover picture where it says "Look Inside," and read through the table of contents. I don't buy a copy every year, but I have for at least ten of the last fifteen years, and I have never regretted it.

    Now for the real reason I'm writing this review: the Kindle version. In previous years I haven't bought the Kindle version, because other reviewers said the tables were implemented as nearly illegible images, which broke about 75% of the usefulness of the Almanac. This year, another reviewer (Sci Fi Fan) noted that tables were done better this year, so I took a chance and bought it... and once again, I don't regret it.

    The tables are implemented as tables, rather than images, so you can see them in a larger size by changing your font size - or by selecting the table and zooming by up to 300% (though this means you must scroll around to see the whole table). I checked the table "U.S. Population by Official Census, 1790-2010" to see how large tables are handled (52 rows + header, 23 columns + header), and it's broken up into chunks of four years for 1790-1860 (where data is given in thousands of people) and chunks of three years for 1870-2010 (where data is given to the nearest person). This makes it possible to see which state corresponds to which row of data without scrolling. If there's a better way to handle this on a Kindle, I certainly can't think of it.

    The links in the table of contents take you to exactly where you think they should - Good.

    The links in the indices take you to (presumably) the start of the page that contains the information they link to - Acceptable.

    Internal references aren't implemented as links, but as ordinary text - e.g. "Only 14.0 million smartphones were sold in the U.S in 2006; an estimated 108.4 million were sold in 2012. (p. 390)". Given the sheer amount of work involved in finding and converting all of the internal references, I would consider this acceptable - except that there are no Real Page Numbers, which makes it impossible to find the reference. This really needs to be fixed in their next edition.

    Also, the full index really needs some way for readers to jump to a particular letter. There are almost 11 screens-full in the W section alone, with fonts at the smallest possible setting (on a Kindle Keyboard) and publisher font (which is smaller than any of the default fonts) set to on. Getting to entries near the middle of the index requires either a minute or so of paging (just a guess, I didn't try it) or some inspired use of the "Go To Location" function.

    If I were specifically reviewing the Kindle edition, I'd mark it down to 4 stars, but since this also covers the paperback edition, I think 5 stars is overall more accurate.

  • K. kelly - Love My Kindle HD

    For the money the best tablet around! I found for half price refurbished here on amazon and its like brand new!

  • W. Brown "Dr Bill, Xiamen University" - Better each year

    I've tried every anti-virus program over the past 20 years-- Bitdefender, McAfee, etc. Each has pros and cons, and Norton, though good, used to hog the system, slowing it to a crawl. But the past two years it has been extremely effective, and has placed only a very light load on my system. The Firewall, anti-SPAM, anti-phishing--all work well. I especially appreciate the way Norton holds all my passwords for me, but allows me to go in and view them if, for some reason, I need to know the password (such as if I need to input the password on another computer, and can't remember it, and don't have easy access to my encrypted list of passwords file).

    Downloading from Amazon is definitely the cheapest way to go. I purchased Norton Internet Security 2012 3 users for only 22$; compare that with Norton attempting to persuade us to renew for $50 or $60 for one computer. Definitely download, and definitely do not allow them to set up automatic renewal; just search Amazon each year for the latest price on downloads (it seems to vary weekly).

  • CarmenK - Pet Hair, Dirt, Dust - ELIMINATED!

    I just picked this sucker up at Costco 2 hours ago and am already fascinated. I am not the type to get excited about cleaning up - I vacuum with a stick vacuum (also Shark) and I thought it did the job but I was ready to get heavy duty with my cleaning.

    I have two cats and I thought I did a pretty good job maintaining a hairless environment. Well, I was really wrong. I tested the vacuum on a 5 ft x 5 ft patch of carpet and was horrified/delighted by the dirt and dust that filled the cup. I had to empty it after less than 30 seconds of use - not because the bagless piece was small (it's actually pretty big) but because apparently my stick vacuum had not been doing ANYTHING.

    Overall here are my pros and cons:

    PROS:
    - Really easy to assemble
    - Came with attachments in a bag that can be used for ceilings, pet hair, etc
    - Can be used on two different settings - one for carpet, one for hardwood
    - SUCKS UP EVERYTHING - and I mean everything. My carpets looked cleaner than the day I moved in
    - Small (compared to other vacuums with the same capabilities)
    - Bagless and really easy to empty
    - Pretty quiet

    CONS:
    - Not particularly light but not really heavy either
    - Doesn't have retractable cord - bummer but not a total deal breaker

    They had this for 119 bucks at Costco so I think it was a pretty good bargain especially with a good warranty. Definitely a must for anyone with pets!