Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Gear: Wherein Technology is Defeated

I've mentioned several times that the biggest drawback of my Kindle Fire is that it can't connect to the University's network. As I mentioned a few days ago, my solution to this is to adapt and overcome. My Kindle has turned out to be a great piece of kit, and I figured it was worth some effort to get more use out of it.

Last week, I mentioned downloading some more apps. I decided that I wanted to try to get some more data on there as well, in addition to a couple of new books. I spent about a day and a half preparing. I made a list of categories, then listed specific resources in each category that I wanted on my Kindle, and then consolidated them. Some of them required downloading, and some of them required conversion from plaintext to PDF. My final categories were Strategy, Counterinsurgency, History, Books, and Security.

In Strategy, I assembled some classics (Clausewitz, Machiavelli, Thucydides), some contemporary stuff (Colin S. Gray), and some nuclear strategists (Albert Wohlstetter, Bernard Brodie). This covers strategy in general, as well as one of my current courses that I'll discuss in more detail soon. Wohlstetter's The Delicate Balance of Terror was required reading for the second week of said course, so I'm glad that I got it onto my Kindle with a few days to spare so that I can finish reading it.

For Counterinsurgency, which has become a core component of my studies here in Aberdeen, I elected to include a number of military field manuals, as well as some of the classics: C.E. Callwell, T.E. Lawrence, and David Galula. The PDF files for Callwell and the Marine Corps' Small Wars Manual ended up being too big to send via E-mail, so I'm going to have to download those directly to my Kindle at some point.

History was easy: the Orkneyinga Saga, and Caesar's The Gallic Wars. Every now and again, there's such a thing as reading for fun.

I'd been wanting to get a couple of books for a while. I've been meaning to read The Devil's Sandbox since 2006, which is right around the time when it came out. I read Imperial Grunts in 2007, enjoyed it, and think I may be able to make use of it at some point, so I got a digital copy of it since my hard copy is back in the States. One of the great things about a digital copy is that it's its own index: you can do word searches and find particular sections or topics.

Finally, I wanted to put some of the open source military policy documents for a variety of risk management topics on my Kindle as well. Topics range from physical security, to industrial security, to information security, to foreign disclosure, to export control. In theory, these are all meant to be reference documents; in reality, I've read through a couple of them, and want to read several of them in detail, particularly the stuff on physical security for my eventual exam to get my PSP certification.

My original plan was to E-mail all of the files to myself, and then download them through the web from Starbucks. It wasn't the best solution, but I figured it would work out alright. As it turns out, Amazon actually assigns an E-mail address to each of your Kindle devices for the specific purpose of sending documents to yourself. I had to go in and jockey with the settings on Amazon's website (you have to add the address you'll be sending it from so that it's an "approved" address - a spam prevention feature?), but once that was sorted out it ended up being pretty easy. With this successful test under my belt, I'll probably add a few more categories - for example, a number of items about Oman for my potential dissertation, and a few Arabic language resources. I like to think of it as working smart, not hard.

Oh, yeah, and I got Deer Hunter Reloaded, too. It's pretty good.

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