Sony PRS-505 set to increase my paperless arsenal

Sony_prs505_2 Well I’ve spoken about it often enough lately and I’ve decided that I can’t wait any longer. The pros outweigh the cons, the price is absolutely right, and most importantly, I’ve convinced my wife that I need one :o). So it’s with great pleasure, and no little excitement, that I announce the latest addition coming to my paperless arsenal - the soon to be UK launched Sony PRS-505 Reader.

Since beginning my quest to operate as paperless as I can, I’ve yearned for a dedicated ereader. As many of you know, my Tablet PC has filled my ebook reading needs admirably, but the advantages of a dedicated reader, especially with regards to battery life and weight, can’t be ignored. I’ve lamented the lack of ereaders in the UK and now that Sony are stepping up and doing something about it, which probably has more to do with Sony pre-empting Amazon’s UK introduction of the Kindle than anything else, I should be putting my money where my mouth is, and I am!

Coincidentally I’m also embroiled in the midst of a novel-reading challenge right now (I’m on my thirteenth in 8 weeks), and so I feel it’s also the perfect time to add a dedicated ereader to the mix, while I have plentiful ‘fuel’ available to really put the reader through it paces, and perhaps redeem some of my paperless principles.

I talk of redeeming some of my ‘paperless principles’ because my novel-reading challenge so far has been anything but paperless. That said, I’ve never really considered books that I really want to own to be sacrificial lambs in my quest for a paperless lifestyle. Sure I went through my degree using ‘physical’ books as little as possible, and I benefited massively from doing so (as I’ve discussed here many times before), but often I like to own a book in its physical form, and attempt to re-balance my paperless principles by only buying (or ‘mooching’) 2nd-hand books.

Most of the books in my novel-reading challenge have been physical, but most have been 2nd-hand. However it would be nice to appease the paperless deities that little more though and begin collecting some of these titles in electronic format, not only because I’m no stranger whatsoever to using ebooks, but also because it adds an additional quirk to my novel reading challenge :o)

So, as I’ve written before, launch day for the Sony PRS-505 here in the UK is on  September the 4th (a little over three weeks away at the time of writing), and my pre-order is in. I’ve ordered through Waterstones, with the only other option being to order directly from Sony UK themselves. However I’m putting my faith, and my money in Waterstones. I’m not sure why, as they never made me one of the winners in their recent competition to win one of 5 of the ereaders :o), but I’m hoping they’ll at least ship the units to arrive at the customer on launch day. That however is something that is in the hands of the gods (or rather Waterstone’s warehouse staff), so only time will tell if the readers ship out ‘early’. Whatever the outcome I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out.

I can’t believe it. A dedicated ereader finally landing in my paperless mitts, after all of this time? Anything can still go wrong, so everything that can be crossed is crossed.

Introducing the latest addition to my paperless arsenal


Well I certainly showed plenty of excitement last week at discovering the AlphaSmart Neo and I closed that post, noting the difficult task I would have convincing my wife that I needed one. Well thankfully she wasn't such a tough nut to crack this time, mainly because she knew she was on to a losing battle when she saw the burning passion in my eyes  :o). Now, thanks to her kindness and understanding, I am pleased to announce that an AlphaSmart Neo has been added to my paperless arsenal (and I'm hugely excited).

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Busing with Wi-Fi on Stagecoach

Buswifi_2 I'm not one who usually gets overly excited by bus livery, but here's something that had me jumping for joy a couple of days ago (and any other paperless operative who's seen it). Yes at long last Wi-Fi appears to be rolling out to the buses in my dark 'corner of the woods'. I spend close to three hours commuting back and forth to university and while I fill the time nicely with reading assignments, its nice to have this extra Internet time available if I need it.

So far I've not had the pleasure of being on a bus that has Wi-Fi installed so I can't tell you how well it performs but as soon as I do I'll let you know. Meantime I'd love to hear from anyone who has had the pleasure of using the Wi-Fi on these buses in and around Fife. I'd love to know how well it works out.

NYT Follow-Up: My paperless routine

Following my recent mention in the New York Times, I've been inundated with emails asking for more details on my paperless operation at university and I'm hugely flattered. While most of this information can be gleaned through skimming this blog, I thought I'd do everyone a big favour by publishing a rework of the original info I was asked to send to the NYT. However If anyone still requires further info then please don't stop sending me emails. I love getting them.

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Famous for 15 thanks to the New York Times!

When your blog hits suddenly jump, you know there must be a good reason for it and there can't surely be a better reason than being quoted in one of the world's biggest newspapers - the New York Times. In an article from the weekend entitled Pushing Paper Out the Door, yours truly is mentioned in relation to his paperless actions at university. Here's what they said about me:

Robert Burdock, a student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, carries a digital camera to class so he can take a picture of any handout and immediately turn it into a text-searchable document on his laptop.

“Say I’m writing an essay on Edward III. A quick input of the term in Google Desktop and I’m presented with everything I have on the subject,” Mr. Burdock wrote in an e-mail message, which had a note at the bottom asking the recipient to consider the environment before printing. “This is a massive time saver when compared to manual searching and sifting.”

Pretty cool eh? Well kind of. The article seems to indicate that the sum total of my efforts at paperless operation only involves the use of a digital camera, which as anyone who reads my blog knows is way off the mark. More importantly the article fails to identify that the primary computer in my paperless operation is a Tablet PC and not a laptop. This may not seem a big deal to most people but the Tablet PC is the primary tool in my paperless arsenal and I could not fully engage with digital handouts and book scans without it.

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Back to uni with a 'spring clean'

Loveessays Next week I begin the daily commute back to university to begin the final year of my  degree so I thought before I did, that I'd do a bit of spring autumn cleaning around here to get the place spruced up and ready for post 'bombing' again. Most of the changes are aesthetic i.e. tidying up the header banner, re-arranging the order of 'stuff' in the sidebars etc., but I've also done a few other things such things as whittling down of the categories in order to simplify things a little. I hope the changes are to your liking. Drop me a line or two in the comments if there's anything else you'd like to see or if anything, other than me, :o) truly annoys you.

Of course the blog isn't the only thing that's had a 'tidy up'. Following a re-format I've also made a few major differences to the study-centric, paperless applications on my Tablet PC. I'm finally moving over to Vista. After summer testing I feel the time is right for me to migrate, even though a major anti-Vista debate looks set to rage among mobile computer users (nothing new there then :o)). Additionally, and rather sadly, GoBinder is dropped in favour of OneNote as my primary note-taker. I speak about all of these  changes in  a 'going back to uni' post over at so I invite you to go there if you want to read more.

Studying in the Humanities Series

Medtablet_2 Over at StudentTabletPC I've gotten underway with scribing a series on how I operate at university using a Tablet PC and my other e-gadgets. Together with a rundown of my study work-flow I'm also aiming to provide a few pointers for  those who may also be following a humanities degree (although the information is usually applicable to most Tablet PC using students)

Rather than directly replicate the series here I thought it better to just link to the posts as I submit them. I'll just continue to update this post as and when I've submitted something new to the series (it should re-appear in your RSS feeds when it's updated)

I hope you enjoy the series and find something of use. As ever all feedback is warmly welcomed (either here or at

Part 1 - My electronic filing system

Part 2a - Note-taking for lectures - The 'before'

The not so prodigal wanderer returns

Amid rumours that perhaps I'd hung up my stylus and sold myself back to the paper devil, I've returned to the fold once more to continue sharing the trials and tribulations associated with me studying and living in a paperless environment and all of the usual 'fluff' that goes with it.

I know I should be dragged out into the street to ironically have paper cuts administered to all of the areas between my fingers and toes ( sore would that be?) but I'm down here on bended knees begging for your mercy and understanding.

So where have I been? Well following a really, really hectic end to the semester, I just got swept up by the wave of Real World [tm] commitments - work, reconnecting with family and friends, keeping the kids amused during the school holidays and bashing through a huge list of DIY chores that I had been cunningly able to postpone during term-time (I didn't feel quite so cunning when the wife posted that list on the fridge door :o)). Although I did manage to post a few articles in my other blogging position at I've also got to eat a truckload of humble pie there too to make up for my lacklustre performance.

Ok so my initial goals here though are simple - to work on 'tying up' everything I left outstanding before my leave of absence together with a drive to re-kindle the love and warmth that I'd managed to nurture before...aaawwwww!!! In between the 'tying up' I'll of course be getting the blog back up to speed on all of the activity that's going on around the paperless world.

Now where did I put that big humble pie eating spoon?       

Huge and humble apologies!!

Hi Everyone. Well I'm sheepishly tapping away on the keyboard here full of shame and remorse for having not kept up with my post quota on this blog. More importantly I'm failing miserably in my duty to keep you all updated on the progress of my mindmapping application roadtest. It wasn't meant to be this way it really wasn't but my university studies (as I'm sure is the case with a lot of students) have completely taken over my life. To give you some idea these are the things I am/have had to work on concurrently along with preparing for two weekly seminars:

* 3000 word essay exploring changing war aims of the Byzantines and Persians between 502 and 632
* Presentation on urban fortification in the Crusader states
* Presentation on the early development of the Mosque
* Castle Study essay focusing on Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, England
* 3000 word essay on the role of Crusader castles
* 3000 word essay on the the reliability of early Islamic tradition
* Formulating my final year dissertation

It's no problem. I can handle all of this work (I'm used to it :o)) but as I'm sure you can imagine it doesn't leave a whole lot of time for keeping the blog updated. The good news is I have managed to keep up with the practical side of the mindmapping roadtest, i.e. working with each scheduled package, because I peform mindmapping tasks daily anyway and the only difference has been forcing myself to stick with a specific application for a set period (and working out a few idiosyncracies). The problem just lies with finding the time needed to fully explore every feature and to complete the review write-up's.

I think the best thing to suggest at the moment is to completely ignore the dates I've previously set for posting reviews of each mindmapping software package and to play it by ear. You have my word that I will be following this project through to the end and with only 6 weeks until the end of term (inclusive of exams) it won't be long until I can dedicate infinitely more time to the blogosphere and each and every review will appear.

I also have a huge backlog of daily news/articles to post and will endevour to continue filtering these through as and when I can. Meanwhile thanks for your patience and (hopefully) understanding and please don't lose faith :o)

Freeloader – A few ‘unboxed’ pics

As it’s going to take me a while to 'field test' the Freeloader solar charger before I can post a full review I thought I’d upload a few initial pics of the unit to my Flickr account so that you can get a better idea of its construction. Aren’t I nice? :o)

Expect to see my full review of the Freeloader soon.

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