Category Archives: technology

NOOKfriends: A NOOKtouch tutorial

This tutorial was written for the NOOKfriends Facebook group [here]. These instructions won’t make much sense for any use beyond this tutorial’s sole purpose.

I’m going to start this tutorial with recommendations. These are just recommendations but I think you’ll find they make sense in the long run. Requirements will differ but I’m not going to go too deep into them because I think it would be a mistake to do so.

Recommendations:

  • Get your NOOK a Gmail account – I’d recommend you make one just for your NOOK. You’re going to be giving your email out to (currently) 781 people. You’re going to want to be able to dispose of this email address when its usefulness has passed. [gmail.com]
  • Link your B&N account to your NOOK’s new Gmail address – You do this at [B&N.com] / My Account / Personal Information / Click the link that says “Change your Name, Email or Password” / Then type in your New Email Address / Click “Save Changes”

Let’s get started.

On your computer:

Download the group email contact list. Details for that are in the “Step-by-Step Instructions” document in the NOOKfriends FB group [here]. This will give you a file called Nookfriends.csv.

Login to your NOOK’s Gmail account.

Click Contacts
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Click Import
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Click Choose File
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Choose the Nookfriends.csv from wherever you saved it and click Open
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Nookfriends.csv should now be listed next to the Choose File button. Click Import.
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Hopefully you’ll get a message like this
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Success.

Time to break out your NOOKtouch

Press the NOOK button ( n ) to bring up your menu. Press settings.
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Press Social
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Press Link to Facebook, Twitter, and Google
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The area circled in red below is the area you want to make sure indicates your NOOK’s Gmail address. This is where it’s going to pull your address book from. If you have an account here already that is different than the NOOK Gmail address created above, then you’ll want to click Unlink Your Account and link the new account.
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Once you have your NOOK’s Gmail account linked in the Social settings you can start adding your MANY new NOOKfriends. You’ll hit the back arrow to get back to this Social screen. You’ll want to press Manage my NOOK Friends.
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Now you’ll want to press the [+] button to add some friends
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If you’ve never done this before, and if Google has already synced your address book you should see something like the following image. A name and an invite button. There is currently no easier way to do it than this. Press the Invite button next to every name until there are no more buttons to press. This could take a very long while. But it’s worth it.
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As it stands today I have about 549 NOOK friends. And about 246 people who have been sent a request but haven’t responded. Searching for books to borrow from the NOOKfriends app is almost impossible so your best bet for requesting a book is simply asking for a book on the NOOK Friends facebook page. Barnes & Noble is working on a web based solution but there is no ETA on that product. Hopefully it’ll fix a lot of issues we have with NOOK friends both on the NOOKcolor and the NOOKtouch.

If this helped you, or if I’ve helped you in the past, I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation. If you’re not interested, no biggie. Forget I mentioned it. =)

How to Root your NOOKcolor

Two things first…

1) I can’t be held responsible if this process fails. I’ve never heard of a single instance of someone bricking their NOOKcolor with this process. It’s just almost impossible to do that. If things do go wrong, I’ll be happy to point you in the direction of places to find help.
2) I wrote this tutorial myself. Please don’t copy the words or images. If you like the tutorial, please just forward folks to this page. Thank you.

Now on to the fun.

The things you’ll need to start:

MicroSD card (1gb or larger)
A (Micro)SD Card Reader

Instructions:

Let’s start at the easiest part. You need to get your MicroSD card showing up on your computer. My MicroSD card has an adapter that makes it fit in a SD card reader. I have a card reader in my laptop, so when I pop the MicroSD card into the adapter and then put the SD card into the reader, I get a drive E on my computer. Your drive letter may vary. I’d probably remove any other removable media before continuing. You wouldn’t want to overwrite any family memories on your camera’s SD card.

Now you need to identify what kind of NOOKcolor you have. You kept the retail packaging didn’t you? Look for a blue or green dot on the packaging. This indicates that B&N partitioned your internal storage in a different way.

If you can’t find a blue or green dot on your packaging then you’ll want Clockwork Recovery v. 3.0.2.8.

If you do find a blue or green dot on your packaging then you’ll want Clockwork Recovery v. 3.2.0.1.

I’m going to direct you to another website in just a moment. But just for a download. Come on back and I’ll help you further.

Go to Maurice Mongeon’s website and download the proper version of Clockwork Recovery. You just figured out what version you need above.

One thing you’ll notice at Maurice’s site is Clockwork Recovery 3.0.2.8 has several different size options. Which size you choose is up to you as long as you choose a size that is the same size or smaller than your SD card. I just chose one that was the same size.

Here is the link to Maurice Mongeon’s website. He gives credit to cmstlist @ XDA Developers. [mrm3.net]

Download the file to your desktop.

You’ll need to extract this RAR file. If you don’t have a utility to do this, I’d recommend the free 7-zip from [ here ].

You should now have a file with a name similar to this 8gb_clockwork-3.0.2.8.img

Now, download win32diskimager from [ here ]

This doesn’t technically require an install; you can simply extract the ZIP file and launch the win32diskimager.exe.

Within the Win32 Disk Imager you’ll want to select your image file by clicking the blue folder.

Now make sure that the Device box states the proper drive letter.

Click Write

You may get the following message

Choose Yes to proceed.

You’ll see something similar to this. Depending on the size of your SD card and which image you chose to format with this may take some time. Go have a cup of coffee, some lunch, or maybe even break out your NOOK. =)

When this is complete you should be able to go to your SD card and see 4 files.

Now we need to copy the latest ManualNooter ZIP file over. As of the writing of this it was version 4.6.16. You can find the latest at this thread at XDA [ here ].

As of the writing, it’s in the Let’s get started: area…

Move the ManualNooter-4-6.16.zip to the root of your newly created SDcard. Your card should now look like this.

And that’s all there is to it. Your SD card is now complete. You can follow the rest of the directions at the XDA forums [ here ]. You’ll start at Let’s get started: step 3. Currently this step reads “Unplug your NOOKcolor from computer. (If Plugged in.)”

After you’ve successfully rooted your NOOKcolor

If you downloaded a Clockwork Recovery image file that was smaller than your SD card you’ll need to use a tool to restore it to its original size. The HP Format Tool is available [ here ].

If this helped you, or if I’ve helped you in the past, I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation. If you’re not interested, no biggie. Forget I mentioned it. =)

My Take: NOOK or NOOK Simple Touch or eh, whatever…

Alright, I’m a bit behind with the whole gadget review. Every tech website and their sister sites have their Nook Simple Touch review up but I’m not a tech site. I’m just a guy with family, school and work responsibilities. With that reminder out of the way let’s press forward.

What’s in a name? Well, some confusion to be honest. The new NOOK is simply called NOOK. It seems the rest of the tech world has settled on Nook Touch or Nook Simple Touch or even N2E, but B&N has decided the old NOOK is now called NOOK 1st Edition or N1E. For the sake of brevity, something I’ve never been very good with, I’ll just call it the NOOK.

What’s new? The first thing that you will notice is the LCD touch strip along the bottom of the NOOK is gone. Navigation is handled by two buttons on either side of the screen and a single N button in the bottom middle. Then there is the fact that the entire reading surface is a touch screen. Some reviews have mentioned that the two buttons on either side of the screen are programmable but that’s a bit of an exaggeration in my opinion. Your options are limited to choosing which set of buttons advance the page forward, the top or the bottom set but that’s it.

The NOOK uses the same Pearl E Ink display that the Kindle uses and boasts 50% more contrast than the first NOOK. The NOOK is lighter than a paperback at 7.48 ounces and is almost the same size as one too. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that you’re losing something in reading area because you’re not. The screen size of the NOOK 1st edition and this latest NOOK are exactly the same. The size difference is only because of the lost touch panel along the bottom of the 1st generation device. Sans a battery-chewing LCD display, Barnes & Noble is also able to brag about its battery life. If you read 30 minutes a day with the Wi-Fi turned off you are reportedly able to get 2 months of reading out of a single charge.

Also added are new social features. If you are into social media like me and have a facebook and twitter account you can share with your family and friends quotes from your books and you can let them know that you’re 20% done with The Hunger Games or Moby Dick. I’m sure they’ll be as fascinated as my family and friends are, as in probably not at all. The NOOK also gets NOOK Friends, an offering that was introduced with the NOOK Color. It is basically another social networking platform that currently only works on your NOOK or NOOK Color. It allows you to share reviews, recommendations with your other NOOK Friends and it also lets you share books that the publisher has allowed to be lendable.

Lending? Lending is a cool feature but since it only allows you to borrow the book for 14 days, it means you really need to commit to getting it done in those 2 weeks because it’s a onetime deal. If you didn’t finish the book you either need to purchase the book yourself, find another friend with that same title to lend you or cut your losses.

If you want a little bit more flexibility than just a two week loan you can also get books from the library on your NOOK. Many libraries offer a service called Overdrive. In conjunction with free software called Adobe Digital Editions, you can borrow eBooks from your library for 7, 14 or 21 days. The selection varies per branch but our local Genesee District Library has a pretty decent selection of eBooks.

So how’s it working out for you? I’m happy with the purchase. The touch screen is responsive. I like the social features. I found a facebook group that allowed me to add something like 200 friends to my NOOK and now I have a ton of people to lend from. I’ve taken it outside and it’s just like reading a printed page. It’s light weight. It has a great almost rubbery texture that never makes you worry it’s going to slip from your hand. I’ve even been able to put it in the pocket of a pair of my cargo shorts. I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s so much more portable than the NOOK 1st Edition was.

C’mon, there has to be SOMETHING wrong. Well, no new product seems to release without some little quirk and this is especially true of devices that can be upgraded after they have left the factory. It seems almost every company with upgradable devices adheres to the belief that “we can fix it in the field”. It would appear to be the case with the NOOK too because the issue I’m speaking of presents itself often enough that it would have been impossible to miss in quality assurance testing. That problem is ghosting. When the screen refreshes it leaves a portion of the last text that was there behind. Here is an example.

Ghosting on the Nook Simple Touch

Now thankfully it can be remedied by turning the device off (a full shutdown, not a simple sleep) and turning it back on again, and thankfully it boots fairly quickly, but it is annoying. It doesn’t happen a lot but it happens far too frequently for my liking. Ironically it seems to happen most when I’m showing the device to people. That’s probably not the word of mouth experience Barnes & Noble was hoping for when they dreamed of new owners showing it off.

Should I buy one/upgrade? If you enjoy reading and you don’t have an eReader already then yes you should buy one. But before you run out of your house on my recommendation there are a couple of things to consider; connectivity and supported formats.

You need to decide if you need 3G connectivity or not. If you are going to be away from Wi-Fi connectivity when you want to buy books, 3G is kind of a necessary thing for you. In that case, you’ll probably want a Kindle (or a nifty 3G NOOK 1st Generation!).

But if you are going to be near Wi-Fi when you want to purchase books and you want the most flexibility in terms of where you can buy your books and what format your eReader will read than I believe NOOK is the best choice. Kindle is a great device, don’t get me wrong but Amazon has made it a closed device so that you can only purchase books from them in their proprietary format. NOOK though supports EPUB which is an open eBook standard. That means you can buy books from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and other EPUB eBook sellers.

If you already have a NOOK and are wondering if you should upgrade the answer is a matter of preference. I really liked the social features found in the NOOK Color, but I didn’t care for reading on it. I loved my NOOK 1st Edition and the new NOOK married two of my favorite things about those devices, E Ink display and the social media options (posting to twitter, facebook and NOOK Friends). I was able to find a buyer for my NOOK 1st Edition, so I upgraded without hesitation. If the social features don’t do it for you or the smaller form factor isn’t a selling point then your existing eReader should continue to serve you well into the future. For me, this device is probably as close to ideal as it gets.

Well, at least until color E Ink comes along.

I bought a card from you. Now what?

First, let me thank you again for purchasing a NOOKcolor or NOOK Tablet Dual Boot microSD card from me. And thank you to those of you who tossed a little something extra in. I appreciate it.

So what now? If you are familiar with the Android operating system you’ve probably already raced ahead and done all this. Well done. Gold sticker! For those of us who like to read the directions, I’ll walk through the process of what’s next.

First things first, we may need to discuss navigation

Oh, guess I should point out how you navigate around CM7.

navigation

1. This button brings up the App Drawer. This shows all the applications that are installed on your NOOK.
2. This is the menu button. It’ll bring up different settings in different applications. It’s like right-clicking your mouse on your Windows PC.
3. This is the back button. It goes back to the last screen or page you were on.
4. This is the search button. If you’re like me, you’ll probably never use it. It searches. Imagine that. =)
5. This is the quick notification bar button. If you press it, it will pop up the notification bar. You’ll find out what that does as you use your tablet.
6. These are just indicators to show you which screen you’re on. By default your NOOK has 5 desktops. You can use those screens to organize your apps, etc. Press this to go to the next screen, or press the icon on the same icon on the other side to go back to a previous screen. Alternatively you can just flick the screen left or right with your finger to scroll through the different screens.

Moving on to configuring your wireless

Push the button to bring up your App Drawer.image

Press Settings
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Press Wireless & networks
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Press Wi-Fi settings
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Choose your Wi-Fi network from the list or press Add Wi-Fi network from the list. If your Wi-Fi network is secured (and it is, right?) then you’ll need to provide the credentials to connect.
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After you connect you’ll see Connected to (your AP name) under Wi-Fi settings and Connected under your AP’s name in the Wi-Fi networks list.
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Now to add your account and setup Google Market.

Press the Nook’s physical Home button (the stylized N).
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Push the button to button to bring up your App Drawer.image

Press Settings
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Press Accounts & sync
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Press Add account
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Choose Google
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If you already have an Android phone or if you already have a Gmail account I’d recommend you Sign in. If you already have an Android phone this allows you to share your phone purchases with your new Android tablet. If you don’t have an Android phone or a Gmail account, you’ll have to create one.
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I’ll let you take it from there. If you’re signing in, you’ll need to provide credentials. If you’re creating an account you’ll have to create credentials, create a challenge question, basically answer a whole lot of questions.

In any event, once you sign in or create an account you’ll be prompted to make some decisions about the Android market. You must accept their Terms of Service.

Eventually you’ll get dumped back to your Account & sync setting screen and you should see your account listed now.

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And that’s it. You’re setup. You can now start searching through the Market for apps to your hearts content. Here are a few of the more popular ones. I’d recommend running over to Amazon and signing up to get their Amazon Appstore link mailed to you. Then you can get their free app of the day. Details [here].

Reading Related
Amazon Kindle
Kobo Books
Aldiko – This is a great all around eReader app.

Games
Angry Birds (or Season, Rio, Space -whew-)
Cut The Rope
7 Little Words
Words With Friends

Music
Pandora
Slacker
Tune-In Radio

Apps
SwiftKey X

If this helped you, or if I’ve helped you in the past, I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation. If you’ve donated, thank you. If you’re not interested, no biggie. Forget I mentioned it. =)

My take-2: Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor

So this one is just going to be all over the place, and I apologize but that’s how it has to be if you want an update from me. And if you don’t, that’s fine too. Just don’t read this.

But do, alright? I don’t want to develop some kind of crippling complex.

Yesterday, I got some closure from Barnes & Noble regarding the trouble I had with my first 3(!!!) NOOKcolors. I asked for an Anti-glare Screen Film kit for my NOOKcolor. Its $17 online and I didn’t figure I should hold my breath but I also didn’t figure it was a ridiculous request either. It probably cost them $5 or less to produce, package and ship in the bulk they purchase them in; so I figured what’s the worst that could happen, they could say no? It turns out they said yes. I got a call from the B&N customer service representative community manager, Michael-V, and he told me he’d have it right out into the mail for me. THAT’S customer service. The phone call was a nice touch. I legitimately felt that B&N cared about my satisfaction and that’s a powerful motivator in my recommending their product and staying loyal to their eBookstore.

Amendment to that bit: He sent it overnight priority with his business card attached. I applied it today. It looks fantastic! Thank you B&N. And especially thank you Michael-V for advocating on my behalf.

In addition to that, I am really glad I found a NOOKcolor that works. It is a great eReader but an even better Android Tablet. For those with the desire to do so, the NOOKcolor is a cake walk to root. A cake walk to root if you have even slight technical proficiency that is. Rooting is basically the act of taking administrative control over the device, allowing you to load applications and launchers. Adding applications and launchers is the type of thing that Barnes & Noble doesn’t want to allow you to do despite the NOOKcolor executing them spectacularly. And it makes sense. Its one thing to support and manage a device that is wholly your own, it’s another when you also have to guess your way around a system that may no longer look or act in the standard manner in which it was designed. I get it. I do.

The NOOKcolor development community is very active. They achieved root. They made it connect to the Android Marketplace (under the guise of a Droid Eris, I believe). I had heard Droid initially but it doesn’t list the same apps my Droid does, so I’m guessing not. The developers have made progress activating the Bluetooth chip onboard that was inactive. Additionally, they made it able to connect to an Ad-hoc network which means you can get 3G from your rooted Android phone that provides wireless tethering. The things Android does continue to impress me in whatever form it takes (phone, eReader, and tablet).

I guess that’s it. Android has impressed me again and Barnes & Noble have redeemed themselves in my eyes. I think they still have a lot of work to do to insure that quality assurance is improved upon, but mine is working (albeit with a slight flicker that can be improved with software) and my time has been compensated for. B&N is back on my Christmas card list. If I made a habit of sending them to huge faceless organizations that is.

My take: Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor

There is an old saying that it takes a long time to build a reputation and only moments to destroy it. Today Barnes & Noble undid a lot of good will I had toward them. Let me preface this rant by saying that I have a 3G Barnes & Noble Nook. I love it. It has been one of my favorite purchases ever. Ever! And when the NOOKcolor came out I passed my goodwill onto that device too. I’m learning that it may have been an unfortunate lapse of judgment.

I purchased a NOOKcolor for myself yesterday after a little nudge from my wife. It really wasn’t much of a nudge. It didn’t need to be. I love my B&N NOOK. I love the Android platform in general. I was sold. Our nearest Barnes & Noble is about 30 minutes away. We packed up the kids and headed out. I walked through a set of large double doors and directly in front of me was a counter displaying the NOOK, NOOKcolor and their various accessories. I asked for the NOOKcolor. It was taken to a register. I checked out and I headed home full of enthusiasm for my new device. I’m a gadget guy! This felt more like Christmas than Christmas.

I had a favor to do for my Mom so the NOOKcolor lay on my bookshelf charging until later that night. I walked into the bedroom, the power indicator on the NOOKcolor shone green and I hurriedly unhooked it and powered it on. There were two small marks on the screen so I grabbed my glass cloth and tried wiping them off to no avail. Upon closer review I noticed these two small marks looked like air bubbles or water bubbles. And they were under the glass. There was nothing I could do but return it.

I did what any techy nerd would do it my circumstance. I tweeted out of frustration to any and all who would find my #hashtag.

Come on @BNBuzz!! I got my #nookcolor home and there are two spots under the screen at dead center. It looks like water drops. Or glue. =/

A very short while later I received a response from @eBooksBN. It was a B&N administrator named Michael-V. He wanted me to setup a B&N account (which I’ve already had) and asked me to send him the pertinent information. I told him what I just told you all here. And today his response came:

I am so sorry to hear of your experience.  I would advise you contact our Customer Service team and report it. Please contact our Customer Service Team at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665) and choose option 2 for Digital Support.  Please let us know if your issue was resolved.

While it’s nice to be acknowledged at all, this kind of reeks of “Bummer, dude”.

I was going to be running the roads this morning anyway. I took Josh to see Tron 3D, which is another story all together but we decided to run out to the mall to do this return on our way home. The parking lot for B&N is shared with the mall and it’s a madhouse. We finally found a parking spot and walked in. Customer service directed us to the NOOK desk who then directed us to the cash registers where the return would be processed. It was inconvenient but these things happen. I did my exchange and we headed back out into the craziness that is Genesee Valley Mall’s parking lot.

Like wolves on prey, people stalked us with their eyes as we made our way to the car. The moment we identified our vehicle the flow of traffic stopped so the wolf lucky enough to be closest could have my spot. We started to make our way out of the parking lot when I thought that maybe I should check the NOOKcolor out, just in case. I don’t want to make another 1 hour drive. Gas is, after all, $3.09 a gallon right now. I pulled off to the abandoned parking lots that only fill during the Christmas crush and proceeded to unbox my NOOKcolor. I powered it on. And there it was. A dead pixel.

Irritated, I swung the car back around and rejoined the wolf pack looking for parking spots. We found one, headed in to find the crowd of people in the store had multiplied exponentially while we were out. There was now a line at the NOOK desk but we waited. The customer service representative, who I will not name out of consideration to him, was discussing his great displeasure with their local B&N management who short staffed the store and then refused to call anyone in despite the fact that they were two people short on a very busy Friday afternoon. The customer sympathetically offered that it still seemed like a good place to work. The representative countered, “Don’t fool yourself. It’s still retail.”

When that customer was dealt with, and the customer who followed, the representative looked to me curiously and asked if I had been helped yet. I told him the issue with this NOOKcolor. He looked at the dead pixel and shook his head. He grabbed another device from the lockup and told me it was the same process. I asked him if we could open it before doing the exchange. He told me that we couldn’t. He told me that the exchange had to be done before they opened the box.

I went through the register line again. I did another exchange. And when it was complete I stepped off to the side and opened this latest NOOKcolor. I booted it up, watched the splash screen hopeful that I had a good unit. I couldn’t find a flaw with the screen during the black splash screen animation but as soon as the white introduction screen popped up I saw it. Another one of those air bubbles or moisture bubbles or whatever.

Un-wait for it–believable.

I walk over to the same NOOK counter. The customer service rep is helping someone else at this point. When he finishes helping that customer apply a screen protector to their new NOOKcolor he locks eyes with me. His shoulders droop. And he asks: Again? Yep. He shakes his head and says: This is just another one of my issues with Barnes & Noble. They KNEW there was going to be a demand so they just pump these things out as fast and as cheap as they can and this happened. He wasn’t impressed and neither was I.

Then he drops the bombshell that I am not going to be able to do another exchange without talking to a manager first. He says that exchanges this frequent for devices this expensive require a manager’s approval. I don’t know if they thought I had a plastic wrap fetish or if they thought I was one of those people who enjoy wasting a day away by unwrapping retailer’s goods. He steps away to talk to the manager, who is working the registers due to being short staffed. This manager hears my tale, rolls her eyes and tells him to go ahead and do the exchange.

I proceed through the line for a fourth time since yesterday. I find myself thinking that if this unit has a defect that it’s obviously a sign that I’m not meant to have a NOOKcolor. My NOOK has been fantastic to me and I don’t need the extras that the NOOKcolor provides. But I proceed through the line. Trouble the gracious checkout clerks yet again. They frown apologetically as they process my return. I step to the side and I open my fourth NOOKcolor in 24-hours. I need only look at the screen to know that this unit has been previously used. Perhaps it was previously owned. In any case, I ignore the smudges and fingerprints and watch as the unit boots. It finally boots and I find myself looking at a dirty but otherwise pristine screen.

I shut it down. I put it back within its protective jacket and slide it back into the box. I step from the register where the representative at the NOOK counter looks to me questioningly. I give him the thumbs up and he exhales the breath he was obviously holding during my examination of the latest device put in my hands. I walk out into the parking lot, face the parking lot wolves once more and head home.

I feel like I’ve been through the wringer. Three returns in 24-hours to get a device that I had such previous high hopes for. Now I have it home and wonder how many days it’s going to take for it to develop a dead pixel. I wonder if I was just extraordinarily unlucky or if I paid $250 for a device that isn’t going to even approach the value I placed in its predecessor.

And it’s funny how truly quick the landscape changes. 24-hours ago, I was full of enthusiasm for Barnes & Noble. I loved their eReader. I recommended the NOOK to all of my friends and family who were interested in eReaders. We purchased my Mother-In-Law a NOOK for Christmas. I have talked co-workers into the NOOK. I am single-handedly responsible for several NOOK sales. But now I find myself posting words of caution to any who would consider the NOOKcolor. “If you buy one, open it before you leave the store.”

Barnes & Noble: It takes years to build your reputation and only moments to destroy it. My faith in you is shaken. I’ve requested a screen protection kit for my troubles. I guess we’ll see if my opinion is worth much to you at all.

To my readers: I’ll keep you posted. My hopes for the NOOKcolor have fallen from super enthusiastic to cautiously optimist.