Archive for October, 2012

It’s the Great Pumpkin…for free

October 31, 2012

It’s the Great Pumpkin…for free

Amazon is running some interesting Halloween specials.

First, the Free App of the Day is

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

This will run on both the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire 1st Generation.

It’s from Loud Crow, and I liked their A Charlie Brown Christmas app.

This is similar (I’ve tested it this morning). It’s not video: you basically have an interactive picture book of the TV special. It has original dialogue, and narration. You can interact with the pictures. This is a fun one…and it’s free. :)

If you want something for your RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle), Amazon has a special of ninety-nine cents each on some Halloween-related active content:

Halloween E Ink Games

On these, I recommend that you always click the

Available on these devices

link before buying. A touchscreen device may not run the same version of a game intended for a keyboard device, and it can get more specific than that. If it says it works for the “Kindle”, that means the $69 in the USA “Mindle”, not the first generation Kindle from 2007.

Enjoy your treats!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2012

A Halloween classic to read aloud

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–”Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–”It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection, which has an interactive table of contents.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

You can manage Kindle FreeTime centrally at MYK

October 30, 2012

You can manage Kindle FreeTime centrally at MYK

This is interesting!

In a recent update to the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire 7″ SD (2nd generation Kindle Fire), we got an app called FreeTime.

It allows you to set up profiles for your children (or anybody, really), and control which specific books, apps, and videos are available to that profile.

Well, at the

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

page, I noticed there is a new category for

Kindle FreeTime Settings

From there, you can create profiles, give them names, enter genders, pick their avatars, and change the birthdates. You can also delete them.

More interestingly, though, is what happens when you go to a book, or video, or app.

You can add it right from there to one of the profiles!

This suggests that, if the profile holder moved from device to device, you wouldn’t have to recreate the “whitelists”.

It also means you can manage the content without having to hold on to the device for a while (which might be annoying, if your child was anxious to use it).

It is, however, perhaps easier to add content from the Kindle Fire, since you can just check boxes. Here, you have the advantage of search, but it takes a few steps to add each individual item. On the plus side, though, you don’t have to keep entering your password as much.

It would take just a little bit of tweaking to have this mean online management of our libraries.

First, we’d have to be able to create profiles without passwords required on the devices to make this more convenient.

Second, they have to drop that demographic information in the profile! I don’t like putting in a gender and birthdate now.

Third, they could give us a “select and act” option in MYK (Manage Your Kindle). We could have that now, for some things. For example, for people who delete things from their archives (I don’t), I think that could be handled in that fashion. It would be trickier to mass send books, because it would tend to overwhelm a Kindle (in part, because of the indexing it has to do).

You could create different profiles for different devices, if you wanted. You could log into a profile on a given device…although that might cause it to download a lot of things if they aren’t on the Kindle. They could do it so that the items are just available for download if they aren’t already on the device.

This might not work as well with apps, though, which are device type specific.

I think this suggests some really powerful tools coming our way! I wouldn’t be surprised if this was connected (at least in terms of development) with Whispercast.

If you have two Kindle Fires with FreeTime on them and can test out whether or not it asks you which Kindle should have a given book, I’d really appreciate it. I’m thinking it doesn’t, but it would be nice to test. :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

It’s official: Penguin/Random House merger announced

October 29, 2012

It’s official: Penguin/Random House merger announced

recently wrote about the possibility of Random House and Penguin, two of the world’s largest trade publishers, merging

Pearson (parent of Penguin) announced it today:

announcement

Unfortunately, they didn’t go with “Random Penguin” as a name, but with “Penguin Random House”. ;)

This is truly significant news, and probably a relief to some Penguin authors. Another suitor for the “bird” was Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. In this

Guardian article

authors expressed their concerns, including the possible editorial policy at Penguin if News Corp’s offer was accepted.

One of my readers and regular commenters, Lady Galaxy, had a great line:

“I’’d much rather have a Random Penguin than a Fox in the Penguin House.” :)

Well, it appears that Penguin went with the smaller merge, but one that might be more aligned with their current vision.

I do think of the two publishers as being distinct “personalities”. My first association with Penguin is with well-produced versions of classic works. When I managed a brick and mortar bookstore, Penguin classics were often the assigned version of, say, Shakespeare.

They were also truly significant in launching paperbacks, which were, in a sense, the e-books of their day. They were cheaper, easier to carry, and so on.

For me, Random House is associated partially with quality science fiction. Their imprints include Bantam (publisher of the Doc Savage reprints), Del Rey, Spectra, and Lucas Books. Of course, they are much more than that.

Random House is solid, and not afraid to stand alone. When the five other largest US trade publishers adopted the Agency Model in 2010, Random House chose not to do that (although they eventually joined a year later).

My biggest negative with Random House was when they adopted a policy of blocking text-to-speech access in all of their e-books; they were the first big publisher to do that, and led the way for some others. They have since changed  that policy.

If this deal is approved (and not in the least because of the size of the resulting company, that could be a bit of a challenge…I think it will be approved, though), the Big Six will become the Big Five.

For consumers, I don’t see an immediate negative impact. Book pricing, even without the Agency Model, doesn’t have a great deal of variation from one major publisher to another, I think. Penguin does have somewhat of a reputation for (ironically, in light of their origins) charging more, but I don’t think it’s massively and consistently true.

I would say this is more of a negative for authors, just because it reduces the number of competitors for their work. One could argue, though, that it also increases the ability of a tradpub to promote that same work. It might be that fewer authors are traditionally published…but that they get more services when they are.

Even without this merger, that would likely have been the trend, in my opinion.

Interesting times…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #124: iPad Mini helps Fire’s sales, no NOOK on Surface

October 29, 2012

Round up #124: iPad Mini helps Fire’s sales, no NOOK on Surface

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

iPad Mini like spinach to Kindle Fire’ s Popeye ;)

“Kindle Killer” fans, lose one turn. ;)

Amazon told

All Things D

that Wednesday, October 24th, was the biggest sales day to date for the  Kindle Fire HD.

The day before, Apple had announced their long-awaited iPad Mini.

Is it reasonable to conclude that the announcement of the Mini helped Kindle Fire sales?

I think so. I suppose its possible that every day for the Fire has been the best sales day to date, and that it would have been even higher if the Mini had not been announced, but I doubt that’s the case.

Why would the biggest brand in the world announcing a potentially competing product help your product?

My guess is that a lot of people were holding off on buying a smaller tablet until they saw what Apple was going to do.

They saw it; they didn’t like it.

The clearest negative is price, as I addressed in this earlier post. At $329, it’s just too much compared to the $199 Kindle Fire HD or $159 Kindle Fire SD. Comparing it to the former, which is the more comparable model, it’s like Amazon has a $20,000 car…and Apple is selling a $33,000 car. You can certainly sell cars at $33,000, but they better have a whole more going for them…and I don’t think, in a fair comparison, that the iPad Mini does.

While Apple is certainly likely to pile up the cash in the near future, this move has people wondering about the longer term:

Forbes: “Tim Cook Dumps Steve Jobs’ Product Strategies With iPad Mini”

No NOOK app on the Microsoft Surface

I don’t know…don’t you think that after Microsoft gave Barnes & Noble $300 million, Barnes & Noble could have spared less than one percent of that to make a NOOK app for the Surface? ;)

This has people scratching their heads:

Wall Street Journal article

I have no doubt that B&N will have a lovely app and bookstore for Windows 8 and the Surface tablet soon…but meanwhile, all those people who decided to go with a Surface will get hooked on Kindle. It’s like showing up to the World Series three innings late; it doesn’t mean you can’t win, but…

Supreme Court to hear First Sale Doctrine case on Monday

Back in 1908 (which is a long time ago, but more than a century after the founding of the USA), the US Supreme Court heard a case. A publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, had put a notice on one of their books that it could not be sold for under $1.

The R.H. Macy department store sold it for eighty-nine cents.

The publisher asserted that violated its copyright.

The case got all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the retailer.

FindLaw text of the decision

Copyright did not extend to control of a copy after it was initially sold. The rightsholder still holds rights to the book itself (what the author wrote); just because you bought a copy of a paperbook doesn’t give you the right to turn it into a movie or make more copies and sell them. However, that copy you buy is yours to control; sell it; give it away; burn it.

This was made part of US copyright law in 1976:

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.pdf

Section 109 reads in part:

“§109 · Limitations on exclusive rights:
Effect of transfer of particular copy or phonorecord
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3), the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court may take up a case about the First Sale Doctrine, and in a lower court, the publisher has been upheld.

Here’s the basic thing:

Publishers may sell books for different prices in different markets around the world. That makes sense: the economies are different, distribution costs are different, and so on.

In the case at hand, a student bought textbooks overseas (or had people buy them) cheaply, then imported them to the USA and sold them here for a profit.

Washington Post article

There is a lot of speculation out there that, depending on the ruling, this could mean the end of used bookstores, the end of Netflix renting DVDs…heck, practically the end of garage sales.

I don’t think the Supreme Court is going to rule that broadly.

The argument by John Wiley & Sons, the publish is, I believe, that the First Sale  Doctrine does not apply to those books that they manufactured overseas.

That’s a narrow argument. The Supreme Court doesn’t have to say whether it should apply or not, just whether it does.

Go back to the part I quoted. Here’s the key phrase to me:

“…copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title” (emphasis added)

Those books abroad are not made under Title 17 of US law…so Section 109 doesn’t apply.

Essentially, the Court could do a few things, as I understand it:

  • Let the lower court decision stand: the student who imported the books would owe the publisher money, and people would not be able to import copyrighted materials from overseas and sell them here if the copyright owner was here and did not give permission
  • Overturn the lower court, meaning the student didn’t owe anything
  • Say that the First Sale Doctrine does not apply any more…to anything

I think the bottom one is unlikely, but you never know.

If the first choice was made, you could see publishers move a lot more manufacturing overseas. Cutting out the used book market might certainly sound attractive to them, although no doubt some people have significant “discovery” through used books. For example, a person might get a book by a particular author for fifty cents at a garage sale, then go on to buy the author’s newest book for $20 from a bookstore.

If the First Sale Doctrine went away in the USA, hypothetically, the price of textbooks could come down. Supposedly, part of the reason they cost so much is that they are commonly resold several times.

I wouldn’t count on that, though. :)

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Trying to go netbook-less

I’m trying to make the transition to using my Kindle Fire HD and a Bluetooth keyboard to replace a netbook we own, so my Significant Other can get the “small laptop” back. :) I’ve monopolized it for a long time.

So far, the results are uneven. I can type on it just fine; better, in fact, than on our desktop, since the keyboard sits more comfortably.

The problem has been in copying and pasting, and launching things effectively.

I seem to have no problem copying anything, but getting it to paste into some boxes on the internet is hard. The biggest problem is that I can’t seem to paste where I want to paste effectively when writing a blogpost in WordPress.

I am, though, able to respond on the Kindle forums just fine…even pasting a URL, for example.

One negative is that I know I haven’t been quite as responsive to comments on this blog (although I think I’m still pretty fast when doing it).

I also have to take my hands off the keyboard to use the Fire to tap, say, a “post” button. I think I’ll be able to work out that part of the juggling; I’m hoping to find an effective keyboard way to do it.

I think when I have my larger screen Kindle Fire HD that will also be easier…it’s a tad small to see the 7″ when I’m typing away. I’m a touch typist, so I don’t have to look at it all the time, but I do need to see it sometimes. :)

What do you think? Will the Supremes overturn the First Sale Doctrine? If so, how does that affect the migration from paper (where people resell extensively) to e-books (where they don’t resale, generally). How big a misstep is the iPad Mini price (if you think it is one at all)? Was Barnes & Noble just behind a deadline, or is there something more fundamental happening? Does it mean anything that Microsoft didn’t hold the launch for them? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Review: Words from the Wise

October 28, 2012

Review: Words from the Wise

Words From The Wise
by Rosemarie Jarski
published by Skyhorse Publishing
original publication: 2007
size: 899KB (592 pages)
categories: reference; quotations
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: six
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes
real page numbers: no
x-ray: no
Whispersync for Voice: no

“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”
–Tom Robbins, quoted by Rosemarie Jarski
in Words from the Wise

Rosemarie Jarski has done a good job of organizing the 6,000 quotations in Words from the Wise into categories. The editor also makes interesting choices in people, quoting comedians far more often than is common, for example. The author Stanislaw Lec is quoted more than thirty times.

In general, I liked the quotations themselves.

I will say that this is a lengthy book, which I should have realized. I borrowed it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library*, and didn’t think about how long it was going to take me to go through 6,000 quotations. :)

The main frustrations I had with the book are the ones I usually have with a book of quotations. The quotes are sourced to the author…and in this case, the title of the book/movie and so on aren’t even given. There isn’t a way to tell if a quotation attributed to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was said by the author, Sherlock Holmes, or Professor Moriarty. Actually, that is one inconsistency: a quotation in this book is attributed to Holmes, when characters generally aren’t given as the source.

Since there is no indication of the work from whence the quotation comes, you would have a tough time reading more of it if you wanted to do that (which is sometimes the case).

There is an index in the back…but it’s unlinked and oddly, doesn’t even contain page numbers. I’m not sure what happened there: if there were page numbers in a paper edition and removed for the e-book, or if there was supposed to be linking that didn’t work for some reason.

I tried to make my own book of quotations, The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations, a way for you to find the original works and read them if you want. I am working on updating it a bit. I got some helpful proofreading observations from readers, and one of my regulars, Roger Knights said something that made me add a feature. I source a character if the character is speaking, but that can make it harder to find all of the quotations from one author. I’m adding listings for many of the authors, with cross-referencing to the characters.

Overall, I’d say Words from the Wise has some good quotations in it, and if you only care about what was said (rather than by whom and where), you’ll enjoy it.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Some must confirm their Kindle Fire 4G orders or they will be canceled

October 27, 2012

Some must confirm their Kindle Fire 4G orders or they will be canceled

You may receive an e-mail which appears to be from Amazon telling you that you have to confirm your order for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB or your order will be canceled.

I say it appears to be from Amazon…and it is.

This was confirmed recently by Amazon:

“Customers who placed a pre-order for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE on or before October 4 should receive this email. When they placed their pre-order we reserved their place in line. Now that the device has been approved by the FCC, we are sending emails to those customers requesting that they approve their pre-order.

We’ll send up to three email reminders asking to confirm their orders. If the customer doesn’t approve it by November 15, their pre-order will be canceled.”

I’m was a bit concerned that I haven’t gotten one yet, and then double-checked: I did not place my 4G order until October 6th, so I’m not in this group.

It appears that the FCC process was somehow involved in this. The Federal Communications Commission has to approve devices which “broadcast”, as I understand it.

This only impacts 4G Fires…not the ones without 4G. The 4G is a different way to communicate with the internet, and that’s why the FCC treats it differently.

I’m also concerned that scammers who know about this e-mail are going to start faking it to gather information. I was even a little reluctant to write this post for that reason, but I think it’s important that you know about this…there could be some very disappointed people who ordered a 4G and then have the order canceled because they ignore the e-mails thinking they are fake.

I asked Amazon how people could verify that they had gotten a real e-mail. Their answer was to check with Kindle Support, which you can do at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

I’m not aware of a way for you to proactively confirm your order, but if you did order your Kindle Fire 4G before October 5th and contact Kindle Support and they say they can confirm it without an e-mail, let me know.

As always, check your spam folder if you don’t see the e-mail…you never know.

I’m just hoping not to hear about a bunch of people in November who don’t get a device…and then find they have to get on a possibly lengthy waiting list.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #123: AZ 3Q earnings, Random Penguin

October 26, 2012

Round up #123: AZ 3Q earnings, Random Penguin

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Random Penguin?

Just in terms of marketing, I love the idea of a merger between Random House and Penguin. I can only imagine them calling it “Random Penguin”. Here’s the advertising campaign: you have a very serious event going on, maybe a well-known one of historical significance. Then, out of nowhere, a penguin drops from the sky into the scene. Voiceover: “Random Penguin”. Okay, maybe that’s just me. :) Oh, and they could sponsor every showing ever of The Terror of Tiny Town (available through Prime Instant Streaming), an all little people singing Western that, for no explicable reason, has a live penguin in a scene in a barber shop.

But I digress. ;)

There appear to be serious discussions going on that could result in a merger of Random House and Penguin:

Bloomberg

While at first glance, that may seem like an American publishing giant joining forces with a UK publishing house, it’s not that simple. Random House (which started in the USA in 1925) has been owned by a German company for more than a decade.  I don’t think this would be so much about geographical territory expansion, but just flat out size.

I don’t think of them as philosophically identical by any means, and the merger would not be easy in the boardroom, in my opinion.

Still, I could see this happening.

Amazon’s third quarter report…still selling more, making less

It always makes me smile when someone on an online forum says Amazon is just out to make a profit.

Obviously, that person hasn’t invested in Amazon. ;)

The company has never been about making a profit…sales, yes, but Amazon seems to always be investing in a future (which traditional investors might argue never actually arrives).

In this

press release

Amazon reports its third quarter 2012 financials.

Net sales were up 27% over the same time last year…and there was a net loss of $274 million dollars (compared to a net gain of $63 million in last year’s 3rd quarter).

Amazon missed expectations…and the stock immediately dropped. However, it is already back up:

http://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=AMZN

There’s a simple solution to Amazon missing expectations…don’t expect so much. ;)

New York Times article

This paragraph from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was interesting:

“Our approach is to work hard to charge less. Sell devices near break even and you can pack a lot of sophisticated hardware into a very low price point,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “And our approach is working – the $199 Kindle Fire HD is the #1 bestselling product across Amazon worldwide. Incredibly, this is true even as measured by unit sales. The next two bestselling products worldwide are our Kindle Paperwhite and our $69 Kindle. We’re selling more of each of these devices than the #4 bestselling product, book three of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. And we haven’t even started shipping our best tablet – the $299 Kindle Fire HD 8.9” ships November 20.”

So, the Kindle Fire without 4G is better than the one with it? Hmm…

It’s worth noting that Apple also disappointed some folks.

What do you think? Would a Random House/Penguin merger be a good or bad thing? Will Amazon ever reach a more stable point where they can reap the benefits of their investments, or will they always have to spend so much on research & development and infrastructure that they never catch up? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

October 26, 2012

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
published by HarperCollins
original publication: 2008
size: 219KB (338 pages)
categories: literary fiction
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: six
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: no
text-to-speech: yes
real page numbers: yes
x-ray: yes
Whispersync for Voice: yes ($3.95 at time of writing, audiobook read by Christopher Evan Welch)

“People are always worried about what’s happening next. They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future. People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have.”
–Enzo

The world is a terrible place, people are horribly cruel, and even being born a dog is a soul-crushing tragedy.

That was largely the message I got from The Art of Racing in the Rain. I knew before I finished the first chapter that my Significant Other shouldn’t read it…it would simply be too sad.

I know that some of you probably like that kind of book, and if so, this not poorly written (although I found it heavy-handed in places). In fact, with over 2,100 reviews at Amazon, it averages 4.6 stars out of 5.

The primary conceit here is that the story is told by a dog. I love animals, and have owned many dogs, and yes, we sometimes speak for them in the family (“Klein thinks that’s ridiculous”).

However, the realism of the book being in a dog’s voice is really undercut by the dog, Enzo, having basically human intelligence. Enzo watches a lot of television, and understands complex metaphysical concepts…and has a string of favorite actors.

In fact, Enzo basically is a human in a dog’s body…and knows it. This dog isn’t just lacking thumbs and the capability of speech: they are losses, as though they had been taken away, and we are reminded of that often.

The other narrative device is making everything an analogy to car racing. Enzo knows all the great racers, and Denny, who Enzo calls his “master”, is a racer. Don’t worry, though: you don’t have to be a racing fan to understand it, in a way similar to you not having to be a dog person to understand Enzo. The author is careful to explain everything to you.

Mainly, though, the book is tragedy after tragedy…to the point where both Sophocles and Ingmar Bergman might have told the author to lighten up a little. ;)

That said, I can see how people would consider this one of their favorite books. If you like the idea of persevering against unfair odds, this one could appeal to you.

I was interested in the book, and I looked forward to getting to the next part…although I was also happy when it was over.

Overall, I’d say I just wasn’t a good fit for this book. If you are, you probably would be more willing to allow for the stretches in story-telling that are used to support the feel of the book, maybe in the way that I have a “willing suspension of disbelief” when reading a fantasy.

I always try to give you both an idea of how I felt about the book, and, more importantly, an idea of whether or not you’d like it. I hope I’ve done that here.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #122: Android update, 歓迎 Kindle

October 25, 2012

Round up #122: Android update, 歓迎 Kindle

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

歓迎 Kindle

In this

press release

Amazon announces that the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle e-books are coming to the e-tailer’s Japanese site:

http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B007OZO03M

The Paperwhite will be available November 19th (both the wi-fi only and wi-fi and 3G versions). Interestingly, they will also get the Kindle Fire 7″ SD and
Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB, shipping December 19th:

press release

This seems like a pretty good offering: manga (Japanese graphic novels/comics); 50,000 Japanese books, including 10,000 free (no, those don’t approach the USA at this point, but the American store started with around 80,000 titles, as I recall); popular Japanese apps; and “the largest number of Oricon best sellers”.

If you live in Japan, I’d be interested in your perception of the prices and selection.

Kindle for Android update 3.7

In addition to updating the new generations of Kindle Fire today, Amazon has updated their Android app.

Amazon Kindle forum thread

It should just update automatically…I can tell you that my phone is hanging on it right now (for a couple of minutes).

The update brings:

  • Support for Japanese
  • Improved support for Android 4.1 (Jellybean) and for the Nexus 7
  • “Send PDF, DOC, DOCX, and image files to your Kindle using the share buttons in popular Android apps like Adobe Reader, Documents to Go, ES File Explorer, and many other”

Bond, e-Bond

Amazon has set up a

James Bond page

They have the exclusive rights to the Ian Fleming Bond books in e-book form, but this page shows the power of Amazon. You can get James Bond movies, music, clothing, videogames…Q would be pleased. ;)

They even have an exclusive Ian Fleming crossword (originally in the New York Times) that you can play.

“Do you expect me to talk?”

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to buy!” ;)

You can select no ads when you order a Fire

You can now choose to get a Kindle Fire HD without ads for $214, rather than getting one with ads for $199 and then buying out for $15. That’s good for presents for the holidays…

Have any comments on these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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