A few years ago, while I was still in college, I bought a Sony eReader with e-ink technology, which I was planning to use in stead of all the big and bulky books I had for school. The problem, back then, was that the PDF format wasn’t well supported, the screen took 4-5 seconds to refresh, battery didn’t last too long and in general it wasn’t polished. Few months later I sold it on ebay and was left waiting for that technology to evolve a bit.

When I saw the first Kindle I was quite disappointed how ugly it was, not to mention the price. On the other hand I was happy that a company like Amazon has decided to invest in that kind of technology. So three versions later, about a month ago, they now have their latest Kindle. A few of the key features are: 1 month battery life (e-ink screens use battery only to print the screen once). The screen is reflective (as with all e-ink screens), which makes it perfect for reading in bright lights (the proper way of reading), although you can’t read in the dark. The refresh of the screen is about a second, which is a whole different story from what it was few years ago. PDF support is also quite good and fast. The price is less of that on an iPod nano, and it finally looks nice.

So, I decided to spring for one of ’em Kindles. Currently they sell two versions. One with WiFi and one with WiFi + 3G, which means it has internet everywhere you have GSM signal with AT&T. Why internet on a Kindle? Well the reason is that there is a webkit based browser on it, which can be used to read articles and check email. Of course the e-ink technology at the moment is black and white and can’t be compared with a nice color screen, but the point is you have wikipedia in your pocked everywhere you go FOR FREE! Yes, Internet on the 3G Kindle is free (at least for now). Also the browser has a so called Article Mode, in which it strips all crap from the web page and converts the main article to a book, so that you can read it like a book on your kindle.

I’ve been using the deice for about two weeks now and I’m pretty happy with it, keeping in mind what it is meant to be. Reading is like reading from a book. There is no straining of the eyes, that you get when you read from a monitor (although I stare at a monitor almost 18 hours a day so my eyes are trained by now 🙂 ). I’m finishing now Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. The book is pretty good, but more about that when I finish it.

In addition to reading books, I use my Kindle for reading news. With a little help from Calibre, every morning I download the news from a few websites and I put them on the Kindle. After I’ve set up the news sourced, all I have to do is … nothing. As long as Calibre is running, and the kindle’s wifi is on, my news arrive wirelessto my Kindle every morning via Amazon’s Whispernet. I have to say that I’m very pleased with how well all this works. I think Amazon has really put some effort in it.

Another thing I really enjoy is that while I read, if I move the cursor net to a word, I get a short excerpt from the built-in dictionary. Very useful for people like me, who sometimes see a word that can’t exactly translate on its now.

Of course, chitanka.info is a huge library of Bulgarian and translated in Bulgarian books. The latest Kindle has no trouble rendering Cyrillic (unlike its predecessors). I have to say, that living outside Bulgaria (even with plenty of Bulgarians around) is having impact on my native vocabulary and reading a few books in my mother language will do me well.


Well, Starter is on BG Radio, which means it is time for me to go to bed…

Every time a box from Malincho arrives, I feel for a moment as though I’m in Bulgariа, in a small store at the entrance of some building…

Our typical order looks like this:

  • Plain cookies/crackers – There are plenty of cookies and crackers in the stores here, but they are all thin and sweet. And everyone knows that the best cracker cake is made with plain thick crackers that can soak the tasty cream. Yummm
  • Cookie with honey and chocolate – This doesn’t exist in the US
  • Cookies Mirage (blueberry) – I’ll remember these crackers with them always being in our office at the little main street in Plovdiv and were very popular there 🙂
  • Chocolate Wafer Borovez – Classic
  • Croissant 7 Days – You can get these from Stop and Shop now, but I’d rather have them made in Europe because here they are sweetened with all kinds of crap.
  • Saltsticks with Spices – No popcorn nor chips. When I sit down with a pack of these saltsticks and mmm…
  • Hot Pipperitsa (pepper relish spread) Deroni – Even since I was in Bulgaria I know that the best liutenica after the one my grandma makes, is made by Deroni. The Hot pipperitsa is coarse and a little spice. Super!
  • Lukanka – Because there is no such thing here in the US, we order the one made at Malincho. According to them it is made by the Bulgarian National Standard and I have to admit it is pretty good
  • Sheeps Bulgarian Sirene – This is the biggest reason why we order from Malincho. Few years ago the packaging used to say Diado Liben (famous bulgarian sirene producer). Now the packaging comes with US barcode and I’m not sure where it is produced. At Diado LIben’s website it still points to Malincho as their exporter in the US so it is probably just repackaged in the US. It’s a fact, however, that it still tastes great. 🙂

When they have any, we also order some mineral water Devin, but I haven’t seen it recently. Also, with the last order, we got some temenujki (drops), bake rolls and some lukcheta

I got myself PAR sensor to measure how good my lights are for photosynthesis and here is how things look:

I’m fairly happy with the numbers. That should be enough to keep SPS and most LPS coral.

I also measured how much electricity the various components of my tank use:
White LEDs: 74W/h
Blue LEDs: 63W/h
Eheim 1260+MJ900: 56W/h (Return + carbon reactor)
Arduino: 3W/h
MP40wES: 10W/h

Всичко: 203W/h

That’s pretty good, if you ask me. With the lights on for about 8 hrs and the rest for 24, the monthly sum comes to about 82kW, which is about $17 bucks. That will probably go up a bit in the winter, but I doubt it will be by much.

The LEDs heat up to about 120F without active cooling with room temperature at about 78F, which is acceptable. I’m guessing that will go down about 15F in the winter, which can only be good 🙂

I also found out that our AC is rotating only the air in the apartment. In the summer months, when it was pretty hot outside, we didn’t open the windows for days which caused the oxygen in the apartment to drop so much that the PH of the tank water went down to 7.3. Since then I always crack the windows open for a few hours, at least, and the PH is now above 8.

Meanwhile, I got 2 pompom crabs, 3 bluegreen chromis, 1 cardinal, a hole bunch of snails and another skunk shrimp. I also got a few new coral frags, because the tank was looking too empty 🙂

(more photos in the gallery)

I still have to setup the dosers and to work on the controller. We finally found out the problem with the ethernet port and new boards are on their way. A big chunk of the firmware is written (here), but there is still more to be done. I hope to have a fully working controller within a month.

As I promised, I’ve added all this info to the permanent page of the tank.

Three weeks ago we went to Florida on vacation for 6 days. We figured that the weather is going to be nice for diving so that’s what we did. The water temperature was in the high 80s and we were lucky enough to be missed by the hurricanes. We dove 3 days which translated into 7 dives. Five of them were towards the PADI AOW certificate which allows us to dive to 100ft/30m.

Not counting the fact that I got sea sick on the first day on the boat, the entire experience was pretty good. We did 3 deep dives at the T-Bolt which is around 115ft deep. There we saw a shark, few barracudas and a few Goliath gropers which was really cool.