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Nook Simple Touch Review

Although I never often get the chance to sit down and read, I'd always been intrigued in an eReader, with the idea that it might get me to read more, especially due to portability and the fact I could take it to University and read on the Metro (I've been reading A Game of Thrones - not the smallest book to carry around). It wasn't something high on my priorities however, until I was told about an offer on the Nook Simple Touch, a reduction from £79 to £29 in a campaign to increase reading. How could anyone resist?

I wasn't expecting much considering the price, but I was pleasantly surprised. The device is well built, and it was simple to set up, and transfer books to, with the Barnes and Noble store providing more books still. The touch screen is responsive, the user interface simple and fast enough to navigate, and I am particularly fond of the dictionary definition feature, where I can look up a word in a book when my knowledge of the English language fails me. Pages can be turned by touching the screen, however there are soft touch buttons on each side which can also be used to turn pages, which can be quite useful. Oddities include the power button being placed in the back, and a recessed section in the back to help with gripping the device.

The screen clarity is not exceptional; the resolution is 800x600 which is not particularly sharp for a 6-inch screen, however it is not noticeably blurry unless you're almost pressing your nose to the screen. Newer eReaders have much higher resolution screens, however newer eReaders don't cost £29. The contrast of the screen is adequate, I bought this eReader almost on a whim so I didn't buy the higher end GlowLight version, which includes a back light. While this isn't something I particularly find missing, if you often read in low light it might be worth considering.

I am quite particular when it comes to fonts, and text appearance, and I am glad the Nook Simple Touch provides a few different options. There are seven sizes of text, six different fonts (Caecilia, Malabar, Amasis, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue, Trebuchet), and three variants of line spacing and margins. Although these options are fixed (rather than being able to fine tune sizes and widths with a slider for example), they are more than adequate (and if I'm not mistaken, more than the Kindle provides). I personally choose generally medium sizes, and the Amasis font.

Battery life has been excellent, while I do not read particularly often, this eReader has been only charged twice since I bought it weeks ago, and it was never turned off (if that is even possible). There is an SD Card slot for increased storage in case you own a lot of books, and finally one can connect the device to Facebook, Twitter and Google (although I haven't yet), and apparently lend books to each other among other things, which seems like a nice feature.

All in all, I'm happy with my purchase, for £29 you get an excellent eReader. While not having a particular outstanding screen, it is more than adequate, and for the price, there is simply nothing to fault. If you're considering an eReader and put off by the price of some of the higher models, I'd seriously recommend purchasing this (or the GlowLight) while the price reduction is still available.

Data loss with Windows 8 and Linux dual-boot

The other day I booted up Linux and copied some files onto my hard drive so I could work on my project at University. As it turned out the following day, I needed to install some software on Linux before I could start working on my project, which was going to take an hour to download. Not wanting to waste that much time, I simply rebooted into Windows where I already had said software, expecting to just work there although I prefer Linux.

Except my files were gone.

Windows had somehow managed to delete, or not acknowledge the fact I had copied some files onto the shared NTFS partition the previous day. I had never had a problem for years with NTFS partitions under Linux, and I knew it couldn't have been a problem with writing them in the first place, as the files existed when I booted Linux up after a shutdown. I wasn't sure if it was a hard drive problem, major problem in the NTFS-3G driver, or Windows.

After Googling the situation for a while, I realised that the problem lies within Windows 8 (of course it does...). When shutting down Windows 8, it actually partially hibernates as part of its new 'Fast Startup' feature. When I had copied files to Linux all was fine, the files did exist on the hard drive, and Linux had no problem reading them the next day. But when Windows started up again, it actually partly resumed, including the state it knew the hard drive to be in previously. Since it never knew about the writes to the hard drive I had done in Linux, all of those files were lost.

This technology, while speeding up boot times considerably, is actually quite damaging to those dual booting. The lack of documentation or information about the impact of this on dual-boot systems is worrying. I had plenty of backups of my files, but if I had not or if I had created files from scratch in Linux, they would all be lost. I can't be the only one that expects a shutdown to actually shutdown, not partially hibernate, even if the new method is faster.

Fortunately, there is a way to disable this behaviour. In 'Power Options' in Control Panel, you can click 'Choose what the power buttons do', and under 'Shutdown settings' untick 'Turn on fast start-up'.

I'm still not sure why I 'upgraded' to Windows 8.