Amazon NowNow Gave Me This Answer on Where To Learn Spanish

The Amazon Kindle mobile reading device comes with their NowNow service included, where you can ask any question you like and you get a response from a paid human researcher. I asked a question and got the unexpected answer below.

I do believe this was an honest mistake by a researcher trying to be helpful. For other things, I have found NowNow to be a useful and good service.

Update: Amazon resolved the issue. See their follow up responses that I’ve posted in the comments section below.

—–Original Message—–

From: NowNow [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tue 1/22/2008 10:48 PM
To: Rajiv Pant
Subject: RE: What are some good places to learn Spanish in evenings and/or weekends in Manhattan New York City?

Your Question:
What are some good places to learn Spanish in evenings and/or weekends in Manhattan New York City?

Answer from NowNow:
Get a job at any restaurant and work in the back.

Get a job in the back of a restaurant and you will make money and learn spanish from your co-workers.


If they had said instead a Spanish or Mexican restaurant, that would have been acceptable, but in the back of any restaurant? That’s presumptuous.

If you’d like to suggest a better answer to my question about learning Spanish, please feel welcome to leave a comment here.

The Amazon Kindle is a Practical & Excellent Reading Device (Product Review)

The Amazon Kindle is an excellent reading device. It is a good example of a product that serves its purpose well. Like a paper book, it you can use it in bed, bathroom, bus and boondocks.

The E Ink display presents an experience quite close to that of reading a book on paper: It is easy on the eyes and can be read indoors or outdoors in sunlight. It is lightweight, about the size of a paperback book and simple to use. It has excellent battery-life so you can enjoying read without worrying about recharging it often.

In some reviews people have criticized the Kindle as a Web browser and email client. As a satisfied user of the Kindle, I respectfully disagree with those criticisms: It is not meant to be a general purpose notebook computer or tablet PC nor a web browsing or email client. It is for reading books and documents, allowing you to focus on the content while providing you an experience equal to or better than reading on printed paper.

In fact, if Amazon had made web browsing too easy with it, it might end up being counter to the purpose of the Kindle, which is to read books: to learn or for the enjoyment of being engrossed in reading. Many of us prefer our book readers to not offer distractions like web browsing or email while reading. While I love the Web and its hypertext links, there are times I just want to focus and read a book or a document.

[amazon-product]B0015T963C[/amazon-product]The Kindle enables you to be more environment-friendly by saving trees. Many books, newspapers, magazines and blogs are already available on it. You can also transfer your own documents to it for convenient reading without printouts. (You email your document to a special automated email address for conversion. Amazon gives you two options to have it on your Kindle: One for a small fee where your document is wirelessly sent back to your Kindle, the other for free where they email it back to you and you need to copy it over from a computer to your Kindle using USB. You can also download free software to convert documents on your own computer.)

You save paper, yet still can carry your document to read in a convenient, lightweight, portable and easy to read medium. As a bonus, your document is searchable and your bookmarks, clippings, highlighting and notes can be transferred to your computer.

You don’t need a computer at all to take advantage of all the main features of a Kindle, but a computer does allow you to get even more value from your Kindle: You can use it instead of printouts and you can copy audio books and music to your Kindle for listening via its speakers or a headset.

As an educational tool, the Kindle comes with another useful and time-saving feature. You can ask a question using the Kindle which is answered by an Amazon-affiliated human researcher at no additional charge. The Kindle not distract your reading with Web browsing or email and it gives you a way to save some time which you would have spent researching yourself via Web searches — and we know how that can be: Sometimes you go the Web to look up something and end up wasting time on other things. With this Amazon Kindle’s research service called NowNow, you send your question via the Kindle and a human expert does the research for you and sends you the answers they find.

The Kindle can be charged using the A00 Tip with an iGo Adapter, which is great because you can carry it on hiking trips and to places where an electrical outlet is not conveniently available and charge it using two double-A batteries using the iGo powerXtender.

Want to take a break from Web surfing that encourages the attention span of a goldfish? Try the Kindle and enjoy being focussed and engrossed in a book. You can learn about all its features and benefits, watch videos and read its reviews at the Kindle page on


  1. Note & Disclosure: the links to the Kindle pages in this article tell Amazon that I referred them. If you happen to buy it in that session, I will get a commission but they will not charge you any extra. I like the Kindle and thus wrote this favorable, and in my opinion, fair review. It expresses my opinions and shares my experience with the Kindle. The purpose of this review is not at all to profit from selling Kindles. []

iGo Universal Charging Adapters for Multiple Devices (Product Review)

iGo everywhere85 Notebook Power AdapterI use an iGo adapter to power and charge my electronic devices when I’m traveling. The concept behind these is that you can use one adapter/charger for multiple devices like notebook computers, mobile phones, bluetooth headsets, music players, cameras and hand-held video game players. Having one charger for multiple devices cuts down on the clutter and makes it convenient to carry. iGo has been has been selling these for many years. Kensington and Targus also make similar universal adapters. Also, in the last couple of years, many phones and small devices have begun to support USB based charging.

Such universal charging systems have many benefits. For example:

  • I have different makes and models of notebook computers at work and home. Sometimes I need to bring my work laptop home or take my home laptop to the office. With a universal charging adapter that can be used with either of my notebooks, I don’t have to carry a charger between home and the office.
  • When I travel, I sometimes carry my work laptop. On other trips I carry my personal notebook computer. I can just keep the one (same) charger in my travel kit regardless of which laptop I’m traveling with.
  • When I change my mobile phone handset, I only need to buy one tip (~ $10) for my new phone. I don’t need to buy a new set of chargers for my home, office, car and travel. The same applies to a new laptop computer.
  • iGo powerXtender battery operated chargerI love the iGo powerXtender battery operated charger which allows me to charge my mobile phone or iPod Nano using two standard AA batteries when doing outdoor activities like hiking or exploring a city walking.
  • At places like Airports where there are not enough power outlets for everyone who needs to use one, I can charge up to three devices — my laptop, my mobile phone and another small mobile device (e.g. iPod, Amazon Kindle) while taking up only one power outlet on the wall. That’s a nice, friendly thing for my fellow passengers.
  • If I happen to be carrying a compatible tip and a colleague/friend/relative of mine needs to charge their computer or phone, but doesn’t have their charger handy, I am able to help out.

iGo manufactures a number of different chargers. While they are great, they have one shortcoming: At present, notebook tips between different iGo chargers are not interchangeable. (Their sales agent informed me of this in our pre-sales conversations.) For people who only need to have one iGo charger (e.g. for travel only), this is not a problem unless they change their adapter. For e.g., to upgrade from the iGo everywhere85 charger to the higher wattage iGo everywhere130 charger to support their new Macbook Pro (which needs more power than most notebooks). In fact, the iGo Frequently Asked Questions page explicitly states:

No, parts including notebook tips and adapter specific cables can’t be interchanged between adapters. Each adapter falls within a certain electrical range. The parts are designed to regulate the amount of volts and amps that flow in and out of the product. Altering or switching parts can cause serious damage to your equipment.

It would benefit the consumers even more if the notebook tips (and cables) were interchangeable between different iGo adapters. For example, I’d buy 3 or 4 or more iGo adapters:

  • One for travel that I’d take with me on trips and always keep in my travel bag. This would be a wall+car+airplane unit.
  • One for home. This would be a wall-only adapter.
  • One for the office. This would be a wall-only adapter
  • I’d keep a car/auto-only adapter in my car all the time.

This way, when I am at home or in my office, I don’t need to carry or take out my travel adapter. I would only keep & carry the tip with each device (which is much lighter and easier than always carrying the device + tip + adapter).

Also, in the future, I may need to buy new adapters. Say, for example, if iGo came up with a very lightweight one for travel.

Given this situation, which I think is hardly unique to me, it would be useful if iGo notebook tips were interchangeable among different iGo adapters, present and future. It wouldn’t make sense if I had to buy new tips for each device when I get a new adapter.

Having said that, iGo adapters are still excellent.


Donate to a good cause and get a useful laptop computer

One Laptop Per Child LogoThe mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. You can help accomplish the goal and help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. OLPC is offering1 a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for a child in your life (or for yourself ;-) in recognition of your contribution.

When you make this donation, you also get one year of complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot access. This complimentary service from T-mobile for one year, valued at more than $350 is a sweet bonus you get for your for your good deed.

I just ordered one. This is an excellent, practical and useful laptop computer for kids or even for adults for basic computer needs. Check out the specs. It is a very rugged, portable, practical and cool computer to carry around at the fraction of the cost of rugged laptops like the Panasonic Toughbooks for business, which are also excellent, but meant to serve business users’ needs.

The XO can be used for basic Web use, writing documents and communications. The XO can even be recharged by human power. That makes it a great system to carry on personal travel, adventure trips and camping because of its rugged design, low cost and that it can provide basic computer needs during personal travel (writing, communicating, and accessing the Web).


  1. 2007-12-09 update: now extended through December 31 2007. Earlier was only between November 12 and November 26 []

Suggestions to Nikon for future DSLR cameras

[amazon-product align=”right”]B001ENOZY4[/amazon-product]At present, Canon is dominating the digital SLR-type (DSLR) camera market. We need strong competitors to keep innovation high and prices economical. Since I use a Nikon D70 DSLR , I suggest a few features Nikon should consider in their upcoming DSLR cameras:

  • Enable the photographer to compose the image using a flip out LCD monitor in addition to the SLR-type view finder similar to most non SLR-type electronic viewfinder (EVF) digital cameras.
    • This feature would be useful to photo journalists and pro-photographers in certain situations where such photos using an SLR view finder would be impossible. For e.g.:
    • When raising the camera high above a crowd to get an important photo. In such a situation, using the LCD is the only way to compose the photo.
    • When it is physically impractical for the photographer to lean and put his/her eye behind the view finder. For example, when the camera is extended over a water body or over the edge of a cliff or building.
  • [amazon-product align=”right”]B001G5ZTLS[/amazon-product]

  • Vibration reduction image sensor — where the sensor moves to cancel out camera shake, similar to the one in the Konika Minolta Maxxum 7D camera. Benefits:
    • This will increase the value of all past, present and future Nikon Nikkor F-mount (and compatible) lenses since on the VR image sensor Nikon, using them the result will be VR-enabled.
    • Since VR should be a feature common to almost all lenses, it makes sense for it to be in the camera and not in each lens.
    • This will result in improved image quality since the additional optical element required in current VR/IS lenses won’t be required anymore.
    • This won’t hurt Nikon by decreasing demand for Nikon VR lenses since current Nikon film and DSLR bodies that don’t have this feature will still need those VR lenses. On the long run, it will help Nikon.
    • Nikon can either invent a technology that achieves the same outcome the Konika-Minolta one does, or they can license Konika-Minolta’s technology.
  • Tilt-shift mechanism built into the image-sensor system. This would allow high-quality architectural and other photography without requiring special tilt-shift lenses. This would be good for Nikon’s business for reasons similar to those mentioned above for the VR image sensor.
  • Have one or more high-end DSLRs with a 35mm full frame size sensor. As a lens-compatibility improvement over Canon, this camera should even work with Nikon DX format lenses meant for the 1.5x crop APS-C size Nikon image sensors. When used with such a lens, this camera would provide a lower resolution crop (but higher frames/sec rate like the Nikon D2X), and the lens would still be usable like it is on other Nikon 1.5x crop DSLRs.
    • A 35mm sensor is necessary to compete with Canon’s 35mm full frame digital cameras. A bigger frame will always be able to have more pixels and provide better image quality. Canon is competing with medium-format film cameras with their 35mm DSLRs. Nikon must keep up.
    • Having a high-end 16-plus megapixel DSLR will increase Nikon customer confidence that Nikon is a competitor in the top end, resulting in improved Nikon brand loyalty and better sales of other Nikon equipment.
    • The compatibility with even Nikkor DX lenses (even in a cropped lower resolution mode) will strengthen the statement that Nikon cares greatly about lens compatibility, resulting in greater brand loyalty.
    • To my knowledge, Nikon mainly makes 35mm and some large-format lenses. Having a Nikon DSLR that produces medium-format film quality images (like the Canon EOS 1ds Mark II does), may make the medium format go away, establishing Nikon as one of the leaders in 35mm as well as large-format.
  • Build in a horizontal level feature that helps align the camera properly while viewing through the optical view finder as well as composing via the LCD.
    • This will allow horizontally correctly-aligned photographs when shooting landscapes without a tripod.
    • Having an alignment view within the optical view finder would be more convenient and faster than using a bubble-level or similar attached to the camera and the camera being on a tripod.
    • Once the shutter is pressed half way, the alignment should lock and work with the anti-shake CCD to compensate for camera shake tilt as well.
    • This feature should work when the camera is held in landscape as well as portrait mode.
  • Include a movie-mode like in EVF digital cameras. Just because these cameras are for pro-photographers doesn’t mean having such a mode would not be a benefit.
  • Nikon as a company should encourage third-party components and compatibility for the Nikon system, e.g. third-party lenses and accessories for Nikon cameras and third-party cameras for the Nikkor F-mount lenses and Nikon accessories. This will help Nikon as photographers will be able to collect Nikon-compatible components as their budgets permit. Ultimately, they will get the Nikon lenses and other Nikon-made components since Nikon’s quality is among, if not the very best.
    • This will create innovation, features and accessories for the Nikon system from companies partnering with Nikon.
    • It will increase industry support for the Nikon system.

I like Canon digital cameras — they are often market leaders using innovation for useful, practical features. Nikon makes good DSLRs too, but they need to do better to compete with Canon.

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