Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to use an air conditioner and not destroy your steel casement windows

We have a slight challenge in our apartment because we have great looking steel casement windows that don't play nicely with air conditioners. Sure you can mount one in the window, but that's permanent and it requires you to cut out part of the steel window frame. As you can see below it's unsightly and you're stuck with that air conditioner. It's on our list to get this removed and the window repaired.
air conditioner window unit in steel casement window

A few people I know have opted for portable air conditioners aka the rolling units with the clothes dryer-looking hose coming out of them. Those seem to work well except for the fact that you still need to vent them. The kit provided is designed for other types of windows. Some people have solved for it by taking a pane of glass out for the vent, another destructive solution.

What I opted for was to fabricate a Plexiglas insert that would seal the room, provide light and not destroy anything. The Plexiglas fit's snugly and the window which is held close with the eyelet actually presses against the Plexiglas holding it tightly in place. The only additional hardware I needed to add is a few latches to further secure the Plexiglas. Clearly this isn't a secure solution for a ground floor window or a window accessible from a fire escape or ladder.
steel casement window insert for portable air conditioner
We're running a Sharp CV-P10MX and so far it's doing a great job of cooling the room. We'll have to see how well it does in the 90+ days. There is also the question of whether we'll need to drain the condensate tub or is it truly drain-less. The other interesting fact is that there are no Energy Star ratings for portable units.

UPDATE: For more detailed pictures on how the casement window insert works visit my other blog post by clicking here.

Search Amazon.com for portable air conditioners

If you own mutual funds you need to watch this video

Jason Zweig of the WSJ wrote a column on May 30th titled, "Is Your Fund Pawning Shares Off You?" Jason looked into securities lending by mutual funds and how this affects those funds investors.

Why should you care?

The fund managers can keep as much of the profit from lending YOUR shares as they want. There is NO LEGAL LIMIT.

This represents another drag on your potential investment returns if your fund managers are keeping more than their fair share. There are fund companies mentioned that do not partake in the egregious skimming, the usual suspects.

Read the article or watch the video below and check where you're keeping your money.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Feature wish list for my Kindle 2

I've been using my Kindle 2 for three weeks and it's GREAT. My impetus for purchasing it was after I read In Defense of Food on my iPhone Kindle app on a cross country flight. Many asked was the screen too small? Nope, held it right near my face and quickly digested the book. Not having another thing to carry around was great, one downside was my iPhone battery was drained. The iPhone Kindle book was a test and it passed.

What's great about the Kindle 2?

  1. Nice size, fits easily in your hand, not too heavy. You can use it with one hand.
  2. Battery life is long, I charge mine once a week.
  3. Adjustable font size - my father-in-law wants one now. Loves the fact that he can make the text bigger. People with vision challenges is a definite untapped market opportunity for the Kindle 2.
  4. The e-ink screen is easy on the eyes, my eyes bother me if I read too much on my WSJ Blackberry app.
What's not so great about the Kindle 2?
  1. Keyboard - It's hard to type fast and accurate. I guess it's not a key feature, but I thought it could be implemented in a better fashion. Maybe license the Blackberry keyboard design.
  2. WSJ Subscription Interface - It's only one paper, but I found the navigation to be clunky. It slowed me down. Maybe Amazon needs to set some guidelines on usability.
  3. Dictionary - you can move your cursor next to any word and find out the definition, but what happens when it's two words? Feature is great, but would be better if you could highlight a couple words and search for a definition.
What features would I like to see on the Kindle 2?
  1. Email to a friend - This would be great for newspapers, blogs, and magazines. Email to a friend is a feature I use often on my Blackberry WSJ application.
  2. Social Sharing - I'd like to be able to post to my Facebook account or Twitter. Make it easy to do this.
  3. Social "Kliff notes" - You can bookmark and write notes on sections of text in a Kindle book. It would be great if people could share these notes. For example, it would be interesting to get an author's commentary throughout the book. Similar to the director's comments on a DVD movie. Imagine the same with college textbooks, you could buy your text and then get the "Kliff" notes from someone who took the class earlier.
  4. Title Proximity Promotion - Recent articles have mentioned how line of sight PR of books will be impacted by the Kindle 2. You're on the subway and you see someone reading a book, you usually can figure out what they're reading. With a Kindle you can't. Would it be possible to have a regional most popular list based on where you use your Kindle?
  5. Kindle Only Book Features - Some paper based books have summaries at the end of a chapter (leadership, nutrition, etc), if you want you can easily flip through all of them. I just finished reading Evolution Rx and at the end of every chapter there is a short summary of the chapter. The author or the Kindle needs to figure out a better way to access critical features of the book. Just moving the book onto the Kindle might affect the reader's utility without making critical adjustments to the table of contents, appendices, and/or content.

Thinking out into the future as more Kindles are sold, could potential new books be seeded into the Kindle population? Free books if you read them and rate them?

A test market with some statistical analysis lead to book companies knowing how many paper copies to print?

Could Kindle copies be the first release, followed by hardcover, then paperback?