Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category

Evi: free voice-input assistant for the Kindle Fire

April 15, 2014

Evi: free voice-input assistant for the Kindle Fire

Note: if you are not an app user, I have something else for you at the end of this post

I’m more of a keyboard person than a mouse person.

When I first learned to use computers, we didn’t have mice. In fact, we didn’t even use a keyboard. Do you know what we used to talk to the computer?

A punchcard machine.

Quickly, though, we got keyboards…and I took a typing class in high school.

Eventually, I got to be pretty quick: I was measured typing in the 90s (words per minute), which is fast, but not world class.

Then along came SmartPhones, and people were texting.

I’ve never really gotten the hang of texting quickly. The keyboard is too small to qwerty on it (at least for me), and the thumb thing…I’d say I’m adequate.

It’s a little easier to type on a tablet (the screen is bigger), and I have happily used a Bluetooth keyboard with my Kindle Fires.

However, typing is still much more of an effort on those little mobile devices than it is on a laptop or a desktop.

My preferred input method now?


Sure, you run into places where you can’t do it (without disrupting people around you), but if I can talk, I prefer it.

One of the things which had been missing on the Kindle Fire, including my  latest generation

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

was voice input.

They fixed that when they gave us Dictate in an update.

Now, most places I would use the keyboard, I can tap a microphone icon instead, and speak it.

I can do that for e-mails: I’ve even done it for posts for this blog.

I now no longer carry a Bluetooth keyboard, for that reason.

That takes care of some of what I need.

I can go to a browser (I prefer Maxthon, but I tested it in Silk for this post) and ask a question, and then search for an answer.

That’s okay…but it’s not like Siri or Google Now, where you can ask a question, and your “assistant” speaks the answer back to you.

Well, the free app

Evi (at AmazonSmile)

gives us that on the Kindle Fire…and it works pretty well.

The app is “speech powered” by Nuance, the same company that make Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

You open the app, tap a big microphone icon (you can type your question, if you prefer), and it gives you the answer…out loud.

For example, I tried this:

“How tall was Mickey Rooney?””

The voice read out, “Mickey Rooney’s heights are 5 feet 2 inches and 1.57 metres.”

Yes, “heights” plural, because it is giving me the height in two different systems.

That answer was also displayed on the screen.

I tried asking it, “Where is the nearest bookstore?”

The results were pretty good!

Obviously, I have LBS (Location Based Services) turned on on my KFHDX.

I thought I’d try something a little trickier:

“What is the tallest building in Boston?”

Hm…that one didn’t work…it suggested I try Yelp. :)

I should mention that when it is getting me these answers, it is often giving me links to results on the web.

It also lets me vote: Good answer, or Bad answer.

For this one:

“How old is Jeff Bezos?”

it was quite complete: “Jeff Bezos was born on the 12th of January 1964. That makes his current age 50 years, 3 months and 3 days old.”

It gives quite a few examples when you tap the tutorial. For example, I could ask, “How hot will it be tomorrow?” and it gave me the temperature for an acceptably near by town…in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. I usually use the latter, so I was happy to hear it. :)

It doesn’t always get things right, of course. When I asked what movies are opening this weekend, it gave me movies…for September 10, 2010. :)

Overall, though, this is a fun way to get answers without typing…and it is free.

Bonus item: I don’t like to do things which are just for the Fire (although I do sometimes), so I thought I’d mention that

Joyland (at AmazonSmile)

just became available for the Kindle.

This is a hit book from Stephen King. 4.4 out of 5 stars, 1,434 customer reviews.

I wasn’t happy when I wrote about it last year…because Stephen King chose to “window” it, and not release it in e-book form initially.

I’m still not happy with that choice: e-books are so much easier for many people with disabilities and challenges which do not rise to the legal level of a disability. However, King did make clear that it would come out in e-book eventually…and I understand the motivation to help brick-and-mortar stores. In other words, I don’t agree with the decision, but I don’t think it should prevent you from getting the book now that it is out in e-book form.

The price?

$6.59 at time of writing…not bad. The book is only ranked #88 paid in the Kindle store right now. It surprised me a bit that it is that low…

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Free App of the Day: OfficeSuite Professional 7

March 25, 2014

Free App of the Day: OfficeSuite Professional 7

I’m hoping some of you still see this…this is the Free App of the Day for today, March 24th. I believe it will still be available until midnight Pacific time.

This is one that I use myself, quite often:

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s normally $14.99, and today’s it’s free…quite a savings!

What is it?

It’s what I use on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

to read (and make small changes to) Microsoft Office files.

It’s compatible with at least some other models of the Fire as well.

My biggest uses?

One is to show people PowerPoints. I’m often doing “over the shoulder” help, and this is the simplest way to show them.

I’ve also edited Excel files on it…just filling in cells. It can do a fair amount of things, but it’s not the full Excel.

The specs include:

“The program supports Microsoft Office 97 to 2010 text documents – DOC and DOCX (open , edit, and save), Microsoft Office 97 to 2010 spreadsheets – XLS and XLSX (open , edit, and save), opening PPT, PPTX, PPS, and PPSX presentations, PDF files viewing, and integration with Google Docs.”

I’ve tried some other Office programs, but this is the one I like the best.

Do check that it is free for you before you click that Buy button…it might not be free in your country, and you may (unfortunately) get to this after it is available for free.


Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.


* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

March 9, 2014

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

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

KDD: “Books That Inspired Our Passion for Reading, $2.99 or Less [each]“

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deal‘s (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of twenty specific books for $2.99 or less each.

This is National Reading Month (um, gee, isn’t that every month? No? Okay, then.). ;) In honor of that, Amazon has discounted these books (for today)…and there are definitely some good ones on the list!

  • The Alchemist
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • American Gods
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Tales of the City
  • The Natural
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • The Complete Stories (Flannery O’Connor)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Kane and Abel
  • The Good Earth
  • Old Yeller
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Miss Marple, the Complete Short Stories
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast
  • [Ray] Bradbury Stories
  • Native Son
  • Sophie’s World
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall

You know how you say you are going to wait until those really great, well-known books go on sale? That’s now. ;)

As a reminder, you can buy these as a gift and delay the delivery until the appropriate  occasion. For example, do you know a kid who would enjoy Sarah, Plain and Tall? You can order it now and pick a delivery date in December…

One of my regular readers, Lady Galaxy, suggested I might buy a couple to add to our Guest Bookshelf (see On our guest Kindle for a listing of the books we have on our Guest Kindle). A few people, I think wisely, suggested the list could use some more short story anthologies or collections.

Understanding the new Cloud Collections

Overwhelmingly, I’m seeing a positive reaction to the recent update to the Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation.

However, I’m still seeing a lot of confusion, even among very sophisticated users, about how Cloud Collections work now.

I have to say, this does show that Amazon could explain these things better. I like that they have the Kindle Forum Pros (I’m one of those…we volunteer our time to help people), but their Help Pages could be more scenario based, in my opinion. They don’t tend to say, “You want to do this…here’s how”). They will tell you steps to do, but not tell you why you would do them.

I’m going to share something I posted elsewhere…this is based on our KPW1 (Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation): I think it’s the same on the KPW2.

There are really three key things:

1. You can set a Collection so that it either appears in Collections view only, or in all views [note: you do this by selecting "Collections" in the menu to your right of where it says, ,"On Device"]

2. There is a menu for the filter (what will be displayed on your home screen). You can choose: All Items; Books; Periodicals; Docs; Collections; or Active Content [note: that's the same menu as above]

3. There is another menu, similar to what we had before for sorting (the order in which the items you have chosen to display in the second step will show). You can use: Recent; Title; Author; or Collection [that's the last menu on that row, to your right from the menu above]

Here’s my own example:

I created a Collection called “Guest Bookshelf” (this Kindle is one we use for guests). I can add books to it from the Paperwhite or from my Kindle Fire HDX (I find the latter easier).

That is the only Collection which is starred (“Show in All Views”) on this device.

I have it set to show “All Items” in the filter. It shows that Collection, plus active content, the Vocabulary Builder, a blog…just a few things that I have on it.

I have it sorted by “Collection”, meaning that the books in the Guest Bookshelf show inside that Collection (which appears at the top of the homepage) and not outside it.

That’s exactly what I want. :)

I think for most people, the set up is:

Switch the filter to Collections, and star the Collections you would like to show.

Switch the filter to All Items.

Switch the sort to Collection.

Now, I do understand that some people want more functionality. Right now, the count of items in a Collection doesn’t change if you are on the Cloud tab or the Device tab. In other words, if you have a Romance Cloud Collection, you can’t tell how many of those books are actually on this device without opening the Collection. Even then, it doesn’t show a count…they just look different (books not on the device are faded).

Let me know if you have more questions…

A tip on connecting with the Push2TV

I’ve written before about using my Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile) with the NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile) to “mirror” everything on my tablet’s screen to my TV.

That works very well! I use it quite a bit.

I started running into an issue where it wasn’t always finding the Push2TV…in other words, it wouldn’t make the connection so that I could watch.

I figured out a minor thing, but it seems to make a big difference (that’s the way it often works, right? Big problems solved with a small change).

The trick seems to be to start the Fire looking first:

Swipe down from the top – Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

then activate your Push2TV, rather than the other way around.

Sequencing is often the key with technology.

I assume what happens is that the Push2TV sends it’s “here I am” signal right away: if the Fire isn’t looking for it when it is broadcast, it misses it.

Comixology Submit started bundle: 100 books for $10!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this!

Celebrating SXSW (South by Southwest),

Comics (at AmazonSmile)

is offering a bundle of 100 of their Comixology Submit titles…for $10!

That offer is only good through Sunday (March 10). This is a savings of 97%, and will give you some good indie (independently published) comics. Think of it like Kindle Direct Publishing for comic books.

You can read this through the free app you can get for your Kindle Fire (see above), and read it other places (including Android devices, iPads and iPhones, and Windows 8).

Update: Orphan Black on Prime

I meant to mention this one (and gee, this has become a really multimedia post! I started with books, I’ve done comics, and now video). Amazon Prime has recently added

Orphan Black (at AmazonSmile)

It’s a science fiction series from last year where there was a lot of mainstream push that the lead actor should have been nominated for an Emmy…you don’t usually see that.

The performance by Tatiana Maslany is extraordinary. I want to leave you the discovery of what is happening, but I would guess you’ll be impressed. There are other good things to the series as well…might make a good binge watch (ten episodes). With Prime, you can watch them at no additional cost.

A content advisory: this ran on BBC America (and Space in Canada), and they don’t have the same restrictions that you might expect from a USA network show. There are sexual situations and nudity.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #223: Deliver to Cloud, Kindle giveaways

November 25, 2013

Round up #223: Deliver to Cloud, Kindle giveaways

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

Win a Kindle (not from me)

Sure, there are going to be some great Kindle deals in the next ten days or so (what with Black Friday and Cyber Monday). I’ll inform you about some of those, I’m sure (and we have some sense of what some of them might be).

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to win a Kindle?

I figured there might be many people giving away Kindles right now…and a quick Google search reveals that to be the case.

I want to stress , here, that I do not know if these are legitimate, and I am not associated with them. However, my intuition is that most of them are (my advice to you is that if you don’t feel something is safe, skip it). After all, a Kindle is not that expensive to give away, and it can be life-changing. Kindles give you access to books…many world classics for free, for one thing.

They are also seen as a cool gadget…how often is it that “intellectual” and “cool” go together? ;) Well, maybe more now than it was a few decades ago, but still…

Note that some of these may end soon! Many of the ones I found through Google had already ended.

Hm…I wonder if the first one and the last one are the same?

It’s interesting to me: it appears that Rafflecopter and ContestBurner are sites which help people do giveaways…and there seem to be many authors/publishers involved.

AmazonLocal: Select Kindle books for $0.99 each

Here’s an AmazonLocal deal:

Select Kindle books for $0.99 each

This is the typical AmazonLocal thing: you go there, and get a free voucher. If you don’t have an AmazonLocal account, you’ll need to establish one…but that’s free, too. :)

Then, you apply it…and you can get up to twenty out of a select group of Kindle books for ninety-nine cents each.

There is a Zane Gray, a Max Allan Collins, and Settlers of Catan available. The last one was a popular boardgame, and this is a well-reviewed novel based on it.

Earn Amazon Coins

A reader pointed out a promotion to me in a private comment.

I had noticed it, but as my reader pointed out, it isn’t very obvious how it works.

Part of it seems to just be a Special Offer (it’s accessible through the Offers tab on my Kindle Fire HDX). That’s 250 Amazon Coins when you buy certain apps.

What are Amazon Coins?

It’s Amazon’s own currency, used for apps and in-app purchases.

I have to say, though, that it won’t surprise me if Amazon expands this to other items in the next year or so. Why not? I’m sure Amazon would love to become currency, in addition to everything else it does. ;)

Right now, a coin is equal to a penny: you can spend 499 Amazon Coins to get a $4.99 game, for example.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

That’s 250 Amazon Coins on top of other coins…which you also earn when you buy one of these apps.

Even if you don’t have Special Offers, you can get to 2,214 apps (at time of writing) where you earn coins by purchasing them:

Earn Amazon Coins

Note: it will tell you at the top of the page how many Amazon coins you will earn. When I sorted by price low to high, I found some free games, but they did not say that you would earn any coins (despite being in this category). My guess is that whether you can earn coins or not comes and goes, and they just don’t get out of the category as soon as you stop being able to earn them.

Here’s an example:

Real Steel (based on the Hugh Jackman movie)

You pay $0.99 for it, and you get 30 Amazon coins. You can think of that as spending a net $0.69 for it, if you want.

The best reviewed app in this group?

Relax Melodies Premium: A White Noise Ambience For Sleep, Meditation & Yoga
4.7 stars out of five; 1,255 reviews at time of writing

It’s $2.99, and you earn ninety Amazon Coins.

Deliver to Cloud Only app option

One of the things people have wanted for years for Kindle e-books was to be able to “buy” them without having them delivered to a specific device. They’d like them to go just to the “Cloud”, their online storage at Amazon, so they can download them when they want them.

Well, Amazon recently added a “Cloud only” option when purchasing…but it is for apps.

That actually may seem like a step backwards to some people, although some will appreciate it.

By default, now, the app will deliver to a device…if you don’t want it to do that, you have to switch it in the dropdown to go to “Cloud Only” (this is when shopping on your computer).

I do that constantly.

Apps take up a lot of memory, and I’m very often getting the Free App of the Day (FAotD), and don’t want it on any of the devices at that point. I typically have e-books delivered to our Cloud Reader if I don’t want to use them right away…but delivering them to “Cloud Only” would probably be clearer.

Two glitches?

I’ve been having trouble using the Goodreads on Kindle that came as part of the most recent updates to both the Kindle Fire HDX and the Kindle Paperwhite 2 (I have both).

On the KFHDX, it won’t load my Amazon books (so I can add them to Goodreads) at all, most of the time. I’ve checked with Amazon (starting with Mayday, then getting transferred) and with Goodreads.

Goodreads eventually said that it was a bug, although there was also heavy server traffic due to all the new people getting into Goodreads through Goodreads on Kindle.

On the Paperwhite, it sometimes lets me add a few, and then stops.

I do have a lot of books (thousands), and I suppose that might lower my success rate. If it is working fine for you, or if you’ve experienced this, I’d be interested to hear it. My guess is that, if they added the functionality to the Goodreads website, I could do it there.

The other thing, and I think this is unrelated, is that I find I need to restart a lot (more than once a day) to connect to wireless. Well, not actually to connect: it continues to show I am connected. Just to be able to anything on it.

I have recently changed my router, but that doesn’t appear to be it, because the same thing happens on other networks.

The mid-November update did add a lot of connection capability, and I’m wondering if there might have been some security added which is kicking me out…like port security at some businesses.

It’s difficult, and I’m hoping it gets fixed.

Again, I’m curious as to whether you have noticed this as well.

If you do have thoughts on any of these stories for me and/or my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #214: Amazon will pay you to get these apps, Gaiman gets it

October 26, 2013

Round up #214: Amazon will pay you to get these apps, Gaiman gets it

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

AmazonLocal deals: e-books, tablets, and Audible subscriptions

AmazonLocal is Amazon’s deal service. You create an account for free, and then they offer limited-time deals. You typically say you want the deal, and then are given a certain amount of time to use it.

Some of the deals are a case of buying something for a discount: pay $15, get $30 worth, that kind of thing.

Others are free vouchers that allow you to buy something at a special price.

There are  three  of the latter right now that might be particularly interesting to readers of this blog.

Free Voucher for Select Kindle Books for $0.99 Each

You can see the books on the

Offer Page (must receive code before using)

This is an impressive set! The thing that ties together is almost all of them have at least 50 ratings, and a 4+ (out of 5 star) average: that’s good. Authors include Louis L’Amour and Ed McBain.

Another deal is

Get 30% Off a 12-Month Subscription to Audible

Not every Kindle can do audiobooks, because not every Kindle has sound (the Paperwhite and the “Mindle”, the lowest priced Kindle, don’t). You also don’t need to have a membership to buy books from Audible: that’s a common misconception. However, as they say, membership has its privileges, and there are many happy Audible (owned by Amazon) members.

The third one I’ve written about previously, and it looks like some of my readers have taken advantage of it, based on comments. There are fewer than three days left to get a 20% off voucher for refurbished Kindle Fires.

My readers have said (and I agree), that refurbs are a great way to go. You get the same warranty you would on a new one, and honestly, I think the quality control is probably better because they’ve been inspected carefully and individually. If you buy a new one, I think you have a better chance of getting a “lemon”. However, I recognize that a lot of people want new ones (that’s what I buy), but there’s nothing wrong with saving some money (even more with the coupons) if you are comfortable with an equal or better quality refurb.

Amazon will pay you to get these apps

Not only does Amazon give away a lot of things, they sometimes give you a benefit when you buy something.

A common thing used to be that you might get an MP3 credit when you bought certain apps.

Well, today only, from your Fire (go to Apps, then Store, and watch the banner change for the ad), you can six popular apps for free…and with each one, you get 20 Amazon coins.

The Amazon Coins can be used to buy more apps or some in-app purchases.

A coin is worth a penny, basically, but still…that’s up to $1.20 for free, plus the apps.

The apps are:

  • The Room: 4.8 stars out of 5, with 2,567 (!)  customer ratings…I wonder if people are more likely to rate apps, and why? Age appeal, perhaps?
  • Angry Bird Star Wars Premium: 4.2 stars, 1,851
  • Diner Dash Deluxe: 4.0 stars, 210 reviews (the non-deluxe version has thousands of reviews)
  • Toca Builders: 4.4 stars, 31 reviews
  • Fishdom Premium: 4.6 stars, 189 reviews
  • Splashtop Whiteboard: 3.8 stars, 4 reviews (normally $9.99)

I’ve used  a Splashtop app before, and I’ll try this one out (I went ahead and got all of the apps which we didn’t already have. We only had Angry Birds Star Wars…which interestingly meant we couldn’t get the coins for that one). This will give you a whiteboard to use with a computer. You’ll use your Kindle Fire as the interface, and what you do that will appear on the computer over wi-fi.

Speaking of apps, I haven’t mentioned this.

Candy Crush Saga

which is a popular enough app to get in the zeitgeist and become the topic of jokes, has come to the Kindle Fire.

It’s free, and rated 4.7 stars with 3,130 reviews.

My Significant Other has tried it. The weird thing is that you’ll get to the point where you want to play another game, and your choice is either to pay with real money, or wait fifteen minutes…something like that. I think that’s pretty clever!

Gaiman gets it

I thought this was a great

essay by Neil Gaiman in the Guardian

It explains the value of fiction in a way that is both relatable and reliable.

It also makes the excellent point that one of the most important things is that children enjoy reading, so trying to control what they read may be counterproductive. If you read a “good” book, but hate reading it, that doesn’t really help encourage you to read other things.

I’m going to highly recommend the article, and I do want to mention one thing I learned from it:

“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. SF had been disapproved of for a long time. At one point I took a top official aside and asked him what had changed? “It’s simple,” he told me. “The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.”

So, pragmatically, the Chinese may have decided that their population should read science fiction. :)

Here’s a question, though, since I always like to look at both sides: science fiction readers may certainly be more imaginative, but are they more productive? Something to consider…some certainly are, but that’s an argument you would get from people who are anti-imagination. “Sure, they may be brilliant, but they don’t put their brilliance to work to help society.”

Amazon did not raise the price for Super Saving Shipping

I reported recently on Amazon raising the minimum for Super Saving Shipping from $25 to $35…but I am seeing a lot of people reacting to that as though the price has been raised.

Free is free…you are paying the same amount for Super Saving Shipping, which is nothing. ;)

The difference is that you have to have an order with a higher minimum value before you get that free shipping.

Hypothetically, that could just mean waiting longer in-between.

There is a sense, here, that we spend money and don’t get something for it if we add things to the purchase. I would hope that isn’t so: that you don’t just add something to the cart and then toss it in the garbage when you gets to your house. ;)

I’ve also seen some hostility expressed about the Amazon Add-on program, where you can buy some items only as part of a minimum $25 order (or maybe, only at what many people see as a reasonable price after you reach that level).

I wanted to poll you about some special programs of Amazon’s:

What do you think? Are science fiction readers “good members of society”, or does society just benefit from their creativeness sometimes? Should adults guide children to “good books”, or let them read what they want? Are you addicted to Candy Crush? If you are an Audible subscriber, what benefits do you think make it worth it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

Round up #211: Live Media Player, slow reading

October 17, 2013

Round up #211: Live Media Player, slow reading

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

The origami’s in the mail

Well, not exactly, but my Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Standing Polyurethane Origami Case (will only fit Kindle Fire HDX 7″), Purple and my Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers have changed status to “Shipping Now”! I’m supposed to have them by 8:00 PM (Pacific time) tomorrow (Friday) night. I’m looking forward to experimenting with them and reporting back to you. Update (before posting): they’ve left Indianapolis on the way to California.

For your Halloween homework

Turns of the Screw: The Ultimate Collection of Classic Horror Including Dracula, Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, Robert … Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Ann Radcliffe & More $2.99

There are a lot of horror collections available through the Kindle store, but they aren’t all the same.

Even when you are just looking for public domain material, they vary in what they include and the quality of the production (for example, whether or not they have an Active Table of Contents (ATOC), so you can click on a link to jump to a book).

The one I’ve linked above, for $2.99, seems like a good one to me. Yes, you could probably get them all for free one at a time (I haven’t checked all of them), but this is simpler. :) You can also sample and gift books which aren’t free…sampling this one gets you most (but not all) of Dracula.

I checked it out some: the proofreading seemed pretty good, and it did have an ATOC.


  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar All Poe
  • The Abbot’s Ghost by that famous horror writer, Louisa May Alcott ;)
  • In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Vathek by William Beckford
  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
  • The  Mysteries  of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • The Vampyre by John William Polidori
  • Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Might be a good gift for a mature enough teen who has read contemporary vampire stories, or watches those shows/movies.

My new way to watch live TV on my Kindle Fire

I did a whole post on watching live TV on your Kindle Fire, and of course, these things get outdated quickly.

I’m now using a new app

Live Media Player

Let’s get the caveats out of the way first.

The app is not intuitive…took me a bit of experimenting to figure it out.

It also has required starting it twice a couple of times, and has crashed once or twice (I haven’t been using it very long).

However, it generally works…and it lets you stream lots of TV channels through your Kindle Fire. I assume this is legal, because this company has been around for a while (I had another app from them), and I figure they would be shut down if it wasn’t.

You can create an account, and there is a pro version, but let’s start out without those two things.

You start up the app…do it in portrait mode (with the Fire taller than it is wide).

In your top right corner, there is a menu (three horizontal lines), with a magnifying glass: tap that.

Switch to “Live” (away from “Local”, which will show you what is on your device).

Tap into the “Search stream” box, and enter the channel you want to watch (I’ve tested the three major US 24 hour news networks, and several others).

When it finds a stream (it will likely find several), tap the name of the stream (not the play button).

That should start it playing.

At that point, you may want to flip it to landscape, so it is full screen.

The appearance of the stream is pretty good, and since I’m using the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (which is still available, but was released last year), I have the HDMI out…and can watch it on my TV with a cable.

Different streams seem to have different quality. I’ve watched one in particular (repeatedly) and my experience is pretty much what it was with Comcast (at no cost).

Another one was buffering so much, I wouldn’t keep watching it…but I didn’t try different sources.

I found a list of the ten most popular cable channels from February of this year, so I checked those:

  • USA: yes
  • History Channel: I found it available in Spanish, others were “offline”…those sometimes are available later
  • TNT: offline
  • TBS: got a channel in Japanese
  • Fox News: yes
  • ESPN: yes
  • AMC: yes
  • A&E: yes (actually, not positive)
  • Discovery: yes
  • FX: yes (at least FXHD)

Is it as easy as using your cable company? Nope, especially with no channel listings. Is it better than paying $100 a month? It will be for me. ;)

With the Pro version, you can record the shows. By registering (which I believe is free), you can have Favorite channels.

It’s also worth noting that this is a media player: it played the videos on my device without a problem. It says it plays these (and the listings are incomplete):

Supported streaming protocols: HTTP Progressive Streaming, Apple HTTP Live Streaming, RTMP – RTMPS – RTMPE with connection parameters, Real RTSP, Windows Media RTSP, MMS, MMSH, RTP…
- Supported media codecs: H264, MP3, AAC, WMV, WMA, FLV, VP6, MP4…..
- Supported media containers: MKV, AVI, MOV, MP4, MP3, AAC,….

Oh, and the app is free…

I should tell you that the reviews were scary, but it looked to me like they might have fixed some problems after the initial reviews.

“There is a quiet movement afoot on behalf of slowness…”

I’ve just started the sample of

Slow Reading in a Hurried Age
by David Mikics

but it sounds like an interesting premise…and one that ties in a bit to what I wrote yesterday, I suspect.

If any of you have read it, I’m curious about your opinion.

We very often think that reading more books is better…and yes, that seems logical to me. We’ve all seen shirts and such that say, “So many books, so little time.” Does that mean, though, that we should finish a book quickly to get on to the next one?

Do we need to spend “quality time” with our books, to get the most out of them?

Not sure…but I’d be willing to listen to arguments.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite Halloween-related book? Will you pay for a bundle of books that you can get separately for free? Do you ever deliberately read more slowly, to savor what you are reading? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #195: The Howler,

August 11, 2013

Round up #195: The Howler,

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

Problems at Amazon today

There are two big problems being reported at Amazon today.

One is with the

Manage Your Kindle


It’s not loading all of people’s items. I tested it, in addition to seeing the comments in the Amazon Kindle forum, and yes, that’s the result I get as well. One thing that isn’t showing is my recent purchases…even searching for them doesn’t find them.

This could be a problem, if you are looking to return a Kindle store book within seven days of purchase (which is an option with Amazon…last I checked, you can not return e-books at any time for any reason to Barnes & Noble, Sony, or Kobo).

If you need to return one, contact Kindle Support at

Go ahead and call them, or have them call you (my favorite option).

Another problem was happening with the Amazon Appstore for me. It wasn’t letting me buy anything…instead, it was giving me this message:

“We’re sorry

We’ve run into a technical error. Please try again later.”

That was shopping from my computer. That seems to have resolved…it’s working again. Whoops! Now it’s not…it seems to be intermittent.

Regular readers know I tend to be optimistic, and my thought here is that these problems might have happened because they are making improvements to the functionality.

I keep hoping for an ability to separate user profiles at Manage Your Kindle…maybe that’s coming.

On the other hand, maybe somebody spilled coffee on a server. ;) Information and Guides for International Kindle Users

I just ran across this site:

Assuming the information is accurate (and so far, it seems to be), I really like this.

I have readers from around the world (according to my WordPress 2012 annual report, I had readers from 189 countries last year).

Not everybody is served equally with Kindles and Kindle content. That may be due to local laws, necessary infrastructure, making the deals, and so on.

Well, with, you can put in your country, and it will show you one of four levels of service, from No Support to Full Support.

I went there specifically to check Albania (I was checking something to do with the new keyboard language support we can download). It is listed as “Medium Support:”

“Amazon currently ships the Kindle to your country, and you can use the free 3G Whispernet service on the device.

There is a $2 fee on most books over the original cost of the title.”

The site looks pretty good, and the interface works well so far. We might disagree on grammar a bit (“Amazon do not currently” versus “Amazon does not currently”), but outside of that, I found it quite valuable.

Something different for the FAOTD (Free App of the Day)

This is the free app of the day, and it seems truly innovative, while the graphic design is also good.

The Howler

It’s a sort of steampunk puzzle game, where you manipulate a hot air balloon to pass over obstacles, deliver devices, and so on.

Here’s the really cool thing, though: you can control it with your voice!

Not by giving voice commands, like “go up”. You do it with volume…as you get louder, the balloon goes higher.

I’ve been playing today (I waited until my Significant Other left the house) ;), and I find myself doing long sustained notes…sort of like Gregorian chants. :) I haven’t gotten the hang of dropping a package yet, but I can fly the balloon (it gets into wind currents) and land it on something.

The drawing style is also cool. It was all literally drawn on hand, on paper. They say it took a year to create.

Also unusual: the setting is Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

While I do expect some people will find the voice control too difficult (I have pretty good control), you can use touches as well.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t miss this one!  Even at the normal $1.99, I’d say it is worth it, but if you can get it for free (check before you click that Buy button…if it’s there for you today), even better.

1st English language bookstore in Cuba since the revolution

I thought this was a fascinating

AP story by Peter Orsi

The first paragraph really sets it up:

“Cuba’s first English-language bookstore offers a selection that would just about stock the lobby of an average Vermont bed and breakfast. Next to what’s available in English elsewhere in Havana, it might as well be the Library of Congress.”

This is going to be a very tricky enterprise. There are a lot of things you just can’t openly say or sell in Cuba, and I’m sure it will be watched carefully.

It’s kind of hard for many of us to imagine in the USA that your reading options can be that limited by your government, so I’m sure it will be a welcome store…if people aren’t afraid to shop there.

In case you’re wondering, Cuba is currently “No Support” at (see above).

An illegal option (and for that reason, I’m not linking to it) might be the new Pirate Bay browser, which is specifically designed to get around government blocking of the site (which I would describe as unashamedly streaming infringing materials). They don’t agree with current copyright laws. The reason I’m mentioning it is to show that individuals could get around government “blockades” of e-books. This comes up from time to time, when people are worried about having books only as digital files…that they would be easier to control than paper copies. I’m just not convinced that is the case. If you had to secretly print and distribute one hundred paper copies of The Art of War, or you had to secretly copy and distribute one hundred digital copies, which would be harder to detect? They both have their advantages, but I can certainly see law enforcement finding a house with a copier churning out that many copies (if that was illegal).


I’ve mentioned before that I like the blog, EBOOK FRIENDLY, and they have collected some nice cartoons in this post:

I think some of you will appreciate the one on public transit…

What do you think? Having any trouble with Amazon today? Have you tried The Howler? Do you think I shouldn’t even mention Pirate Bay…or that I should have provided a link? Have questions about international availability of Kindles and/or content? 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.

Round up #190: sci-fi classics, the smell that sells books

July 23, 2013

Round up #190: sci-fi classics, the smell that sells books

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

Amazon would have a tough time doing this

Well, you know how I keep saying that brick-and-mortar bookstore (I’m a former manager of one) need to make it so that people want to shop in their stores? Get people to be consciously willing to spend more money there to support you?

How do you do that?

In my store, we did it through product knowledge, for one thing. I read a book in every section of the store, and encouraged my employees to do the same. I asked (and suggested that they ask) a regular customer in that area for a recommendation.

That meant I read a Jude Deveraux and a Jerry Ahern, for example.

That was an eye-opener and fun for me, and I think it did help my customers feel valued.

I didn’t require my employees to do it, though…just recommended it. After all, I couldn”t have them take the time to do it when we were open, and I didn’t want to control what they did at home.

So, there’s got to be an easier way to make shopping a bookstore a rewarding experience, right?

How about pumping the smell of chocolate into the store?

According to this

Pacific Standard article by Tom Jacobs

there was a scientific study (albeit a fairly small one) that tested just that idea.

They pumped a subtle smell of chocolate into a bookstore. They did it at different times of the day (to create controls).

When the chocolate was going, people stayed in sections longer…and bought more (a lot more…any store would be happy with the amount of growth that is reported).

I haven’t read the original paper, but I recommend the article. I thought it was particularly interesting that they had people predict first which genres were associated with chocolate, and which weren’t…and while genres in the former group sold better, so did ones in the latter…just not as much.

I think it would tend to drive me out of the store…but I’ve smelled worse in a bookstore and stayed there. ;)

Buy a NOOK Simple Touch, get a $20 B&N gift card

This one surprises me a bit. Barnes & Noble did discount the NOOK tablets, and then say they were going to stop making them on their own. However, at the same time, they committed to continue making NOOK non-tablets.

Right now, you can get a $20 gift card when you buy a NOOK Simple Touch. Here are the details:

You have to act soon if you want to do this…basically, in the next week.

The question is…do you want to do this? ;)

My Significant Other was in a Barnes & Noble not too long ago, and said that the clerk was really pushy. That was particularly true about re-upping with their membership program, which costs $25 a year.

My SO (nicely at first, I’m sure) explained that it made sense for us to have the card when our adult kid was in college (the only real place to shop on campus was a Barnes & Noble college bookstore), but since that wasn’t the case any more, we weren’t going to renew.

The clerk pushed it, and my SO finally said something like, “Look, I don’t know if you are going to be here in a year…I”m not sure it’s a good investment.”

If I had to bet right now, I think I would bet that the B&N card would still be  usable  a year from now…but I can see the concern. ;) We also buy so much from Amazon that we wouldn’t likely to buy enough at B&N to make it worth our while.

Still, it effectively brings the price of a touchscreen non-backlit EBR (E-Book Reader) down to $59 (without a power supply…that’s about $10 more). That compares to the Kindle Paperwhite, at $119 (ad-supported).

This might indicate that new B&N hardware was coming out before too long…we should get some interesting announcements from major players before the end of September.

While I think B&N has made good hardware, I would think one, twice, and three times before I did this…

New NYT app for the Kindle Fire…use free through the end of the month

I’ll admit it: one of my first mental associations with the New York Times now is “paywall”.

I’m not one of those people who think that everything should be free on the web. You’ve got to find some way to run a business, although I’m not convinced paywalls are the model of the future.

On heavy advertising rotation is the

NYTimes for Kindle Fire

You can get the app for free, and use it to read unlimited articles through July 31st.

After that?

The least expensive option I saw was $14.99 a month.

It’s possible you’ll be able to use it after July 31st to read ten free articles a month, but I’m not sure.

I tried the app…as my adult kid would say, “meh”. :)

They made an app for a multimedia tablet…but it’s very heavily text-based (plain black text on a white background, for the most part).

In the “Books” section, I’d say that about one article in every five or so had a picture. I didn’t see any videos.

The navigation seemed a bit clunky. I couldn’t double tap or pinch and spread to increase font size, although that was an option in the menu.

I’d say the biggest plus was being able to use text-to-speech with it…although it took me a few guesses to find the pause button (and I’m a pretty good guesser on these things). It was in my bottom right, horizontal lines.

It was nice that when I went to home it kept playing, though. I also have to say that did remember where I was (both in the audio, and visually) when I went to home and then came back.

I might look at it again while it’s free, and if I get ten free articles after that, maybe use it.

Thought you might be interested…

The New Yorker says Barnes & Noble can make it as a bookstore

I found this

The New Yorker article by James Surowiecki

(and to which I was directed by Publishers Weekly) on the future of Barnes & Noble worth a read.

It’s not just talking about B&N, but about e-books versus p-books (it was nice to see them used my preferred abbreviation there) and the future of the business.

It points out research that says that the vast majority of people prefer reading p-books…and that e-book growth has slowed.

I’ve said for years, though, that I think that the more you love books, the more you love e-books. My guess is that the “serious readers”, the ones who spend much more than the average person on books, are the ones most quickly converting to e-books. If you read every day, voraciously, the advantages of being able to carry one hundred books with you are more important.

If you read a book a couple of times a year, it’s not as big a deal.

People who read casually probably focus more on the experience of reading a book (which may be in some ways symbolic for them) as opposed to the content of the book itself.

That doesn’t mean that I think bookstores (even Barnes & Noble) can’t make it. I’ve written a piece for the end of next month (I’m going to be in a situation of reduced writing opportunities) on how to save the big bookstores. Of course, I might have to write something else if there aren’t any left by then. ;)

Find a sci-fi classic

Every once in a while, I just stumble into some feature in the Kindle store. Today, it was

Kindle Bestsellers in Sci-Fi Classics

That’s one way to find some that are on sale, since that tends to push them on to the list (although they may remain there after the price rises again…the list is only calculated once an hour).

I’d say this isn’t a bad bit of curating. I would disagree with some of them being science fiction (Animal Farm, for one), and some of them are public domain, but generally, I think these are noteworthy. The one drawback is that quite a few of them were currently unavailable, and there were duplicate titles (but different editions).

Worth taking a look, though…if you want my assessment of any of the books, let me know (I’ve read many of them).

What do you think? Would chocolate put you in the mood…to buy a book? If you had to recommend one science fiction book for a non-geek to read…is it on that bestseller list? Would you pay $15 a month (about) for the New York Times access? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

July 9, 2013

Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

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

Barnes & Noble CEO steps down

According to this

Press Release from Barnes & Noble

William Lynch, CEO for three years, and architect of the NOOK strategy, has resigned.

This may be seen by stockholders as a positive. The NOOK has been seen as an underperformer, recently, and as I wrote about recently, B&N decided to stop making their tablets on their own.

However, while it might be good for the company overall, it isn’t particularly good for the world of e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers). Competition is good for us: it drives innovation and creates downward price pressure.

If other companies look at this and say, “See? Lynch had to resign because of e-books,” which wouldn’t be a good assessment of the situation, it could still make them more reluctant to commit future resources.

Mini-review: Apocalypse Z

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End
by Manel Loureiro, translated by Pamela Carmell
text-to-speech, lending, and X-ray are all available

I decided to break down and borrow a book from the KOLL (Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) that was under $6.58. ;) Why $6.58? If you take the $79 you pay a year for Prime, then divide it by twelve to get a monthly amount, that’s what you get. We get a lot more value out of Prime than the KOLL, but I was enjoying having it be that what I borrowed from the KOLL over the course of a year was worth more than $79.

I’m glad that I did. :)

Apocalypse Z is a zombie novel, but novel isn’t exactly accurate. It started out as an epistolary blog…we are reading blog entries from a lawyer, as a situation gradually emerges. I’m careful about spoilers, so I don’t want to say too much about the plot.

I will say that, when I read the first entry, I was discouraged. It mixed tenses in a way that wasn’t professional…but I thought that might be the voice of the character, not of the author. As it progressed, the writing became much stronger. Again, I’m not sure if that’s because the character or the author (or the translator)  improved, but either way, I’ll take it. :)

The book is like a whole season of The Walking Dead. I found the feel pretty similar…while some things were perhaps too convenient, it’s generally not unrealistic. I particularly empathized with the main character’s relationship with a pet cat.

I did find the translation to be a bit awkward…sometimes English idiom would be used correctly, sometimes it didn’t seem natural. That said, getting a European perspective on the situation was really nice, and quite different from many American takes. For example, there was this:

“The United States has called up the National Guard. What you see on the satellite channel is amazing — armed troops patrolling New York, Chicago, Boston, and so on. Those Americans are crazy. What’ll that accomplish? Scare the viruses? Are they going to shoot someone? They’re overreacting, as usual.”

Overall, I found it an engaging, fast read. It will be too violent for some, but it isn’t just gore for gore’s sake. It’s much more about how the character reacts than it is about that. I always like to let people know about the use of the “F word”, and that’s here, but not really out of place. I have a lot more trouble with books that just indicate everybody is horrible, and that isn’t the case here. I like that. :)

Job opportunity: Royal Librarian

I have readers all over the world, and it would be so cool if one of them became the Royal Librarian in England!

Telegraph article by Tim Walker

The job doesn’t pay that much (£53,000 a year), but come on! 125,000 titles…at Windsor Castle? I’m not qualified, and I like what I’m doing now, but that’s a dream job for somebody…

Two more fun things to do with your Kindle Fire

I really try to keep a mix of topics in this blog, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to exclude the Fire. Interestingly to me, one of my most popular posts is Fun things to do with your new Kindle Fire HD. I’m going to add a couple of apps to it, and I thought I’d mention them here as well.


Vine (free)

has come to the Amazon Appstore. That’s the app for making and watching six-second videos. Can you actually make a Vine video on a Fire? Yes, but remember that the camera is really designed for Skype and videochatting. The quality of the video isn’t that high…and when you are looking at the screen, the camera is looking at you. That can make it a bit awkward.

I haven’t played with it much. I can tell you that I prefer just watching the random videos on to the way that the app lays them out initially (where you have to scroll to see the next one)…but Vpeeker is, um…unfiltered. ;)

Second, there is

Abalone $1.99

When I managed a brick-and-mortar gamestore, we sold a lot of this…and I’ve had the physical edition of it for years. It is a two-person strategy game, but in this case, you can play against the computer.

One weird thing is that part of the real attraction of the game is the tactile feel of it. You are pushing these big, elegant marbles…and they push other marbles with a satisfying feel and sound. Of course, you don’t get the feel with the app.

However, I did like the levels of opponent skill you can choose. The beginning level will challenge you as you learn (it doesn’t take long at all to understand the rules…and there are helpful arrows on the screen), but the highest level isn’t a pushover for me (and I’d say I”m a good player). I do usually win on the highest, but it isn’t easy for me to score a shutout.

I’d say a typical child of eight could play it, and on up to adults. You can change difficulties…not just by level, as I mentioned above, but my setting a time limit and changing the number of scores it takes to win.

You can leave a game and come back to it, and that’s nice.

As far as I can tell, though, it doesn’t give you an aggregate score over time (you can’t tell what your win percentage is, or even what your current streak is, unless I’ve just missed it). It doesn’t always properly recognize the move I am doing, although that’s easy enough to fix.

I’d recommend this if you like something that just relies on thinking, not on how quick you can twitch. ;)

7-11 will pay you to watch an ad

Okay, yes, this is another Kindle Fire thing, but I did find it interesting. If you go your Offers on your Fire, you can see it. What happens is that you watch an ad from 7-11…and they give you a $3 credit to buy MP3s from Amazon. It’s tied into their “Slurpee Dance” promotion for July 11th…you know, 7-11 (um, at least in the USA…in most of the world, that would be November 7th). ;)

What age group reads the most p-books?

Which group would you think reads more p-books (paperbooks): those over or under 30 years old?

It may surprise you, but according to this

Pew research report by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell

it’s the younger people.

75% of those surveyed who were between the ages of 16 and 29 (inclusive) had read a p-book in the last year…it was only 64% of those 30 and older.

The article (which I highly recommend) also shows how younger people embrace public libraries. I don’t want to take too much away from it, but I will mention one more. While 75% of the younger group had read a p-book in the past year, only 25% had read an e-book. There was likely a lot of overlap there…the same people might read p-books and e-books, of course. Still, a three to one comparison might seem odd. I do think it’s possible that e-books appeal more to older people than to younger people at this point…some of the key advantages (lighter to hold, increasable font size) aren’t as significant for your typical 25 year old as they are for your typical 75 year old. Not enough data to draw that conclusion, though…that’s just my guess. :)

Still, this information may make a lot of people more hopeful about the future…

What do you think? Is this the beginning (or maybe the middle) of the end for B&N (or at least the NOOK)? Does it surprise you that younger people might read more p-books than those thirty and over? Have you ever played Abalone? Does how much a book costs affect whether or not you borrow it from the KOLL? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting non this post.

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

Round up #184: Amazon patent, DecalGirl discount

July 5, 2013

Round up #184: Amazon patent, DecalGirl discount

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

Magazine text mode introduces errors

I was reading TV Guide on my Kindle Fire with my Significant Other at Starbucks.

I commented that it suddenly seemed to have worse proofreading. For example, the word “I” wasn’t being capitalized consistently, and I noted that the word “differently” had been spelled incorrectly.

That seemed odd to me: why would that change? TV Guide is a lot of things, but it is usually very well proofread.

Then something occurred to me.

I was reading it in text mode. You can double-tap TV Guide (some of my other subscriptions have done  this, but not all) and it changes from what is basically a print replica (what Joe Wikert calls “print under glass”) to a text-type document. I like the latter better: you can enlarge it more easily, for one thing, and it is just more “eye-friendly” for me.

I thought, “Maybe it’s an error of the conversion process somehow.” I double-tapped to go back to print replica…and the spelling error wasn’t there! The capitalization was right.

That suggests to me not that software is failing when it is trying to convert from one format to another. That wouldn’t introduce a spelling error, or turn a big “R” into a small “r”, since they don’t look very much alike.

No, my guess here is that a person actually retypes it…somewhat like the closed captioning you can get with video.

That’s fascinating!

At least, I thought it was…my SO was less intrigued. ;) I said, “My readers will be interested.” My SO replied, “I’m glad you have your readers.” ;) I’m glad I have you, too. :)

That might explain why it wouldn’t get proofread, by the way. Remember that TV Guide is a weekly, already under a tremendous deadline (especially with how quickly things change in that business). The text-typing probably happens right towards the very end, because the articles have to have been written and approved first. There might not be much if any time for a proofreader to review that version (and there could even be labor issues with adding an additional task like that).

Decalgirl 25% through July 9th (with code at their website)

Some people really like dressing up their Kindles by adding skins, or even customized cases.

You can do that at


and through July 9th, take an extra 25% off by using the code


at checkout.

I’m always thinking about gifts for people. I like to spread the buying out over the year. I think that might be in part because, when I was a retailer (I managed a bookstore and a game store), the time when I had the least free time was when everybody else was shopping. :) At one point, I figured out I was spending something like 140 hours a week in the store in the last couple of weeks. That might sound impossible, but it’s not if you leave at 1:00 in the morning and you are back at 7:00 AM or so…and you work seven days a week. :)

Amazon’s Cloud Drive Photos app

I don’t often use the Photos tab on my Kindle Fire. I do have some photos that I show people, but I have them under Documents (so I can make them into Favorites, for one…you’d be surprised how often I want to show people the picture of one of our dogs with a mohawk hairdo).

When I went there recently, though, I saw this:


When I “got started”, I had it e-mail me a link to use on my Windows PC, and send a text message to my phone…interestingly, it knew both of those (my cellphone number and my e-mail address).

The PC worked fine, and did something much nicer than I expected.

The e-mail took me here:

PC Cloud Photo app

After I installed it, I had a folder on my computer. When I put photos in there, I could easily view them on my Kindle Fire, while connected to the internet…without downloading them.


I don’t think it’s new, but they are promoting it…it works so much better than just putting thing in your Amazon Cloud used to work.

I looked to me like I could also do videos and documents, so I tested that.

On my Docs tab on my Fire, I now have two folders, both of which are on my Cloud Drive. When I put an Excel spreadsheet into the Documents folder on my computer, it was available to me on my Fire. I tried editing it, but didn’t see the update…but I’ll admit, I did that quickly, and might not have saved the changes properly.

You can also do this with video, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Is this Amazon doing Dropbox?  Sort of…and if this is working smoothly and they start promoting it, it could be a big deal.

I have to say, though, there had been a bunch of complaints recently in the Kindle forums about people not being able to open photos and videos on their Fires. A wise person speculated that a change in the Cloud app (and there had to have been something, since we saw the promotion under Photos) might have had an impact on some people. I hadn’t had a problem, though.

Oh, one other thing…when I tried to install the mobile version of the app, it didn’t work. My phone went to Google Play…which then said it wouldn’t work with my phone (although I have gotten things there before). My phone is a bit older now (a Samsung Captivate) and maybe that’s why. I’ll play around with that a bit more.

Amazon gets a patent for customized supplemental content for e-books

I say at the start of these Round-ups that some of these stories may be expanded later…and this is one of them.

I wanted to share the basics with you in this Round-up, though.

Amazon has patented a way to put supplemental content into e-books, based on a number of factors.


That doesn’t mean advertising (there are already patents for that). It might mean, for example, a map or commentary.

You would see the content based perhaps on somebody you have established as a person you want to see…it could be your Facebook friends, perhaps, or someone you follow.

I think this could be a big hit! You might follow a company that does maps for fiction stories…if you do, you get their maps in the book (as a supplement). The supplements could be video or audio. I could certainly see people following a sibling I have who is a professor, and really good at explaining things. They could be reading a non-fiction book (maybe even a textbook) and have the ability to have my sibling explain a section.

I believe that this would all be managed through Amazon…which could make people really, really loyal to Amazon. Then, they become Prime members…and buy those “diapers and windshield wipers”, where I think the profit is.

Whoops! This went on longer than I thought…but I might still expand on it. :)

What do you think? Were you aware of Amazon’s Cloud Drive app for your computer? Are you using the app on a SmartPhone? Would you want supplemental (optional) content for books? If so, would it be fiction, non-fiction, or both? Do you find that there are things you can talk about with other people online that just don’t interest the people you know IRL (In Real Life…although is the flesh and blood really more real than neurons and pixels?). ;) Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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


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