Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Kindle and Audible Editions of Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book.   The flowery language takes some getting used to for the modern ear but the book was excellent.  I thoroughly enjoyed her feminism, her class commentary, her religious sensibilities, and her practical views on marriage (adjusted for the times).  With the huge numbers of reviews done by those with far more literary finesse than I possess, swine should not attempt to cast pearls.  Five stars for Miss Bronte.

My purposes here are to comment on the following editions of this book:

the Kindle Penguin Classics edition:   Jane Eyre (ASIN*: B002RI9XEC) and

the Audible Brilliance edition:   Jane Eyre (ASIN*: B001I7RRUK).

I feel that both of these editions were very helpful to my understanding and enjoyment of this work.  Due to the fact that these are the only editions of the book that I have read / listened, the following should not be regarded as a critical comparison to other editions but rather simply a favorable mention of the strengths of these particular editions.  For me the Penguin Classics edition is very helpful because of two features.  1) The volume is extensively footnoted.  These footnotes are useful to the literary inept (such as myself) to explain the various literary, classical, and Biblical references and common terms of the time and setting (mid 19the century Northern England) that have since become anachronisms. These can be as simple as describing an Amazon hat to extensive passages out of the Bible.  Also included are references to Bronte’s other works giving the reader a better grasp of Bronte’s thinking.  For example:

“All John Reed’s violent tyrannies, all his sisters’ proud indifference, all his mother’s aversion, all the servants’ partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well. Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, for ever condemned? Why could I never please? 7  Why was it useless to try to win anyone’s favour? Eliza, who was headstrong and selfish, was respected.”

Brontë, Charlotte (2006-06-29). Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) (pp. 6-7). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

And the corresponding footnote:

“7 . Why could I never please: This theme is presaged by Charlotte Brontë’s thinly veiled confessional account in a Brussels essay of 17 October 1843, entitled ‘Letter From a Poor Painter to a Great Lord’: ‘Throughout my early youth the difference that existed between myself and most of the people around me was, for me, an embarrassing enigma … I believed myself inferior to everyone, and it grieved me’ (Belgian Essays, p. 362).”

Brontë, Charlotte (2006-06-29). Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) . Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

A Kindle (or other electronic reader) has a decided advantage for such extensive footnoting in that it only requires a click (or screen tap) to go back and forth between text and footnotes.  Such footnoting would be extremely laborious in a printed version.

The second feature is a very good Introduction which explains the novel in context to the time and why it was important.  Alas this Introduction has spoilers for the book.  As such a first time reader should leave the Introduction for the end of the book.  If one has read it before and remembers the story, the Introduction may very well be helpful to read in advance of the book.

My only complaint with this edition is minor.  For the second generation Kindle and Kindle for Mac, there are no chapter listings in the table of contents.  The entire novel appears under one line.  This is not true on the second generation PaperWhite or Kindle-Fire HDX,  all of the chapters are listed even though the same Kindle file was used on all of the devices.   On those devices that do not support the chapter listings, the problem can easily be solved by searching "chapter."

In conjunction to reading the Penguin Classic Kindle edition of this novel, I also listened to the Audible edition Jane Eyre [Brilliance Edition] narrated by Susan Ericksen (ASIN*: B001I7RRUK).  I am a neophyte to Audible so take my comments with a grain of salt.  This edition uses Amazon’s Whispersync (as do some of the other Audible versions) to allow synching your progress with other Kindle devices to the Kindle edition discussed above. It also allows “immersion reading”  on devices that support it.  Ms. Ericksen does an excellent job of narrating this book.  She uses different voices for the various characters which delineates each character in the narration very well.  She also employs what I considered to be a proper amount of theatrical embellishment where required.  I did not find myself gritting my teeth due to an overly theatrical production, but rather a very enjoyable use of her excellent voice to establish the proper emotions being conveyed.  One gets the feeling that it is indeed Jane Eyre, not reading a book, but telling you a story.

I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the process of “immersion reading.”  After downloading both files into my Kindle-Fire HDX, I was able to open the Kindle version of the book and play the Audible version simultaneously.  The line being spoken is highlighted on the Kindle screen.  Pages turns occur automatically.  With the extensive footnoting, if a footnote was tapped, the narration automatically stopped.  It had to be manually restarted (requiring two screen taps) upon returning back to the text.  The only complaints I have with the immersion style reading is that it runs just a bit too fast for me at the normal speed, and for some reason a page change often butchers the first syllable of the first word spoken on the following page.  It appears that the page flip interferes with the narration.  The narration speed can be slowed down, but with the 25% steps that the Kindle-Fire offers, at 75%, it is painfully slow and the narrator begins to sound a bit drunk.  I would like a user inputted variable setting or at least more steps.  I think 90 to 95% would work well for me.  

Audible Version Narrated by Susan Ericksen
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There were some minor differences between the narrated text and the Kindle text, but these were infrequent (bearing in mind that I did not employ immersion reading for the entire book which is the only time that one would notice these differences).  Usually these were single words or short phrases that appeared in the text but not in the narration.  They caused no synching difficulties.  

All in all, I believe that the Audible version was critical in helping me get through the unfamiliar literary language of the book.  Five stars to both of these versions of this great book.  When you consider that I spent 99 cents for each version (you have to buy the Kindle version first to get the Audible version for 99 cents), I believe I got one hell of a book reading bargain.

View all my reviews

*Note!  ASIN is Amazon Standard Identification Number, by searching the ASIN at Amazon instead of the book title, the correct edition should be assured.  ASINs that appear here are only guaranteed at Amazon US.  Other Amazon markets may use different ASINs.


Amazon, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, Penguin Classics, Kindle Edition

Amazon, Jane Eyre [Brilliance Edition] [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition] Charlotte Bronte, Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nifty Cool Tool? Perhaps.

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So what happens when you mate a yankee drill with a ratchet wrench?  You get yatchet wrench.  Obviously I had better remain retired and not seek employment as the creative genius in a tool advertisement agency.  So what happens when you hand a yatchet to such a creative genius?

You get the:

3/8-IN Drive Ratchet

Registered Trademark: Sears Brands LLC.

Oooooohhhh, the Sears Craftsman MACH Series 3/8-IN Drive Ratchet! I feel a tingling in my nether regions.  It sounds so much more MACHo than a yatchet.  Poor Ernst Mach, once again his name is misused on a product that he has absolutely nothing to do with--he died 98 years ago.   Other examples of this misuse are the Mustang Mach 1, an arguably fast car, and the Gillette MACH3 razor, a device for shaving that apparently can reach velocities of 3 times the speed of sound.  

Ernst Mach 1838-1916
Obviously had little use for the
Gillette Mach3.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Ernst Mach was an Austrian physicist that studied the properties of sound in regards to projectile physics.  He discovered the shock wave (sonic boom) produced when a projectile exceeds the speed of sound.  Mach number is a ratio of an object's speed to the speed of sound.  As such, the Mustang Mach 1 is patently false advertising.  Let's give the Mach 1 the benefit of the doubt and say that it can go 200 mph.  The speed of sound in dry air at 68 degrees F at sea level is 767 mph.  So our 200 mph hour Mustang is actually a Mach 0.261 (200 / 767).  Our Gillette Mach3 has to be traveling at 2301 mph (3 X 767).  How this relates to shaving, I have no idea.  But I think in both cases that they just forgot to add the o turning mach into macho.  BTW (according to the Wikipedia article) take the same razor, change the color of the plastic and packaging and call it Venus, and you can sell it to women. 

So getting back to our yatchet, errrr MACH Series 3/8-IN Drive Ratchet, it is so named because it is fast, 16 times as efficient as their traditional ratchet.  This seems to be based on the 72 teeth resulting in a 5 degree "arch" (I think they meant arc).  So I looked at their run of the mill 3/8 ratchet that is priced at 1/3 the cost and it had 36 teeth resulting in a 10 degree arc.  Smaller arcs allow wrenches of the same length to ratchet in tighter quarters.  So how do we get a 16 X (a whopping 1600%) improvement in efficiency when the handle is actually longer than a standard ratchet, and only has twice the number of teeth?  Well it is efficiency and they haven't really defined what they mean by efficiency.  In one place they say "compared to our traditional ratchet, measuring the distance the handle travels to rotate the socket."  In the sales web page they state:

 "The 72-tooth Mach Series 3/8-Inch Drive Ratchet is built for SPEED turning sockets 16X's Times more efficient than a regular ratchet with a swing arch of 60-degrees."   

I am still mystified by the 16,  60 / 5 is 12.   To get a 60 degree arc you would need a 6 tooth ratchet.  The oldest Craftsman ratchet I have is dated to 1967, it is a 1/4 drive and does not have a release button.  It has 24 teeth (15 degree arc).  By my calculations to get a 16 X improvement in efficiency only looking at teeth, the traditional ratchet would have to be a 4.5 tooth ratchet resulting in an 80 degree swing.  Perhaps the traditional ratchet is the one that Sears sold during the Spanish American War?  But I quibble, it is faster.  The question is in my mind, is it at three times the cost and much lower torque more efficient?  

Gimbal mounted head.
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So here is what this thing does. The head is a standard ratchet mechanism although fine toothed, but it is gimbal mounted.  This allows the head to swivel 270 degrees in relation to the axial center line of the handle.  So you get a high degree of flexibility of the handle position relative to the head.  Where it shines is that you can position the handle directly over the head so that the centerline of the handle matches the center line of the fastener rotation.   This allows you to turn the handle like a standard screwdriver. If the torque goes up, you can swing the handle down ward to pick up some mechanical advantage through the handle behaving like a lever arm.  The second nifty feature is that the handle itself can ratchet in either direction or lock (white icons on the black collar in the image to the left).    And the third cool idea is that shaft and handle is a "yankee drive."  By pushing the handle down and holding the red collar near the head, you get a fast rotation action, one and a half turns of socket rotation per stroke.  The ratchet mechanism in the handle allows the handle to remain fixed in your hand on the return stroke.  They claim the shaft is "expandable."  I am not sure what they mean by that but it appears that you can use the ratchet in a short handled or a long handled configuration.  

Short Handle
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Long Handle
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Due to the complexity of the helix and ball mechanism in the yankee drive, I would be loath to use this ratchet for anything other than very low torques with the shaft fully retracted into the handle.  I fear that applying torques that would be well within a normal range for a standard ratchet would significantly shorten the life of the yankee drive in this ratchet if not result in outright breakage.    So what! It is guaranteed forever!  Perhaps, but forever is a long time and my prediction is that this wrench is going to have a short life and Sears will  discontinue it.  So if you like the yankee drive action, take care of your wrench, do not use it for anything other than very modest torques.

So yes the wrench is kind of cool and nifty.  But one man's nifty is another man's gimmicky.  Yep it is that too.  It kind of strikes me as cool solution looking for a problem.  Its fast, but not as fast as a drill with a bit driver or an impact gun.  It will deliver torque but not too much torque.  So it is kind of limited to those in-between jobs where you have a need for a lot of rotation but not much torque.    At 50 bucks it is priced a way too high for my budget. But I did get one.  It is on sale for $25 for Labor Day.  That is the price for the ratchet alone, the full mechanics set which includes 20 sockets, and 30 bits and a case is $99.99 on sale for $49.99.   For the most part this thing is a little too gimmicky for my tastes but it just so happens that I have a problem that I think it will work great for.  Rotating my tires.  I have fancy lug nuts that I am loathe to use an impact wrench.  I think this thing will be great for removing and installing those lug nuts.  I will use my 1/2 inch drive breaker bar as usual to un-torque the nuts and this ratchet's yankee drive action to remove them.  Likewise I can install the nuts again with the yankee drive action with this ratchet and slightly torque them using it as a ratchet wrench.  Then I can apply the full torque value with my torque wrench.   OK, I'll admit, I wanted the is kind of cool, but if it were not for my lugs nuts, even at 25 bucks, I think this is a pricey gimmick looking for an application.  I hope to be proved wrong.

The wrench is available at Sears and K-Mart retail stores and on line at:  


Introducing Craftsman MACH SERIES

Craftsman 3/8-Inch Drive Mach Series Ratchet