Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Can you replace a desktop with a Kindle Fire?

January 10, 2013

Can you replace a desktop with a Kindle Fire?

I recently wrote about my desktop failing (probably due to a transformer exploding near my house). It seems to be toast…it has tried to repair itself, and can’t. I’ll try some more things over the weekend, but then we’ll have to decide if we are going to buy…something else.

We have a Toshiba netbook, and it does work okay (I’m writing on it right now), but it doesn’t replace the desktop. For one thing, the screen is simply too small: I have to scroll a lot to see what I would see easily on the desktop.

I had fantasized about replacing the netbook my Kindle Fire 8.9″ even before I got the latter.

Well, in the last couple of days, I’ve seen the real difficulties with that.

The first thing is the lack of multitasking on the Fire. When I’m writing, I’m often going between composing the post and checking source material. That’s just impractical on the Fire. If I’m working in the free WordPress app, I can’t have a second “window” open with an article on the web. I could go to WordPress directly through one of the web browsers I have on the Fire (Silk, Maxthon, Dolphin), but it’s much easier on Windows to switch between two open programs (Alt+Tab) than it is to switch between two tabs in a browser.

I would sometimes also on the desktop have two windows on the screen at the same time (rather than switching back and forth). Not an option on the Fire.

Another issue is the difficulty in copying and pasting. Oh, it can be done, but it’s often a bit of hit and miss. On a webpage, I long press (hold my finger on the text for about a second), and I’ll get a choice to select text. Then, I have to move around two little “goalposts” (one at a time) to select what I want to copy. I’m reasonably deft, but it’s still hard. They tend to jump up and down lines, go over to a sidebar, and so on.

Next, I have to convince it I want to copy. That’s a long press, but it sometimes deselects before I get the option to copy.

After I’ve copied, I then have to get it to past somewhere…that shouldn’t be hard, but getting the focus where I want it to be can be a challenge.

It’s doable, but it’s much simpler to click and drag with a mouse.

Another issue is finding text on a page. On a Windows based computer with a physical keyboard, it’s simpler: CTRL+F. On the Fire, I can’t even find it as an option all the time.

Typing on the Fire is fine, because I use a Bluetooth keyboard. That one will eventually need to have batteries replaced, which I don’t like, but it does work fine.

Not having a full version of Microsoft Office is also an impediment, although not a huge one. I’ve done some pretty sophisticated things in Excel (years ago, I was a certified expert), but I can probably do what I have to now with other options (including Google, which I access through Maxthon, usually).

My Significant Other and I will probably discuss options this weekend (after I’ve tried, and most likely failed, to “reanimate” the current desktop). I think we would consider a desktop again. They are relatively inexpensive, and interestingly, I don’t feel like we would benefit as much from a laptop as we used to do, since we use the Fires for mobile computing. I want a writing computer, and it’s just going to sit in the den…so I don’t really need mobile.

I’d be interested to hear what you have to say, though. Convince me I can do it with a tablet. Argue for a laptop or netbook over a desktop. Cost is a factor for us, because we don’t feel like this is a real need at this point. I’ve never owned an Apple computer (I’ve used them), and the Agency Model issue makes me disinclined to do so, but I’d listen to advocacy for them. :)

Give me any advice you like about replacing the desktop by commenting on this post. You do have a stake in this, since we probably wouldn’t be considering it if it wasn’t writing for you. ;)

Update: thanks to everybody (and there were a lot of you) who have commented! To respond to one thing, I did have the computer plugged into a surge protector (but not the brand one commenter named), but not an Uninterrupted Power Supply. The other devices plugged into that surge protector appear to have been okay, so it might have been a coincidence.

It looks like I’ve been able to restore the computer! I was a bit surprised to find that I had recovery discs, and I used another device to check how to get them started. That worked, although it was a restore to factory defaults. I am currently running the restore from Carbonite (we pay an annual fee to have that service back up our files).

That could take days to run, although I don’t think it will. I can let it run over night and see where it is and what it actually succeeded in restoring.

Again, thanks for all the advice!

Update: the computer is up and running, and Carbonite did restore my files…whew! It took it…oh, on the order of 16 hours to restore 20,000 files.

I may have to reinstall some programs, but there may have been some advantage in wiping out programs I don’t usually use.

Maxthon was a huge advantage…it restored my favorite internet sites in a way that seemed easier and smoother than Google Chrome (although that did work as well).

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

Books, my Significant Other, and me

January 2, 2013

Books, my Significant Other, and me

Today is a monumental milestone in my relationship with my Significant Other. Suffice it to say that we’ve been together longer than some of my coworkers have been alive. :)

As regular readers know, I like to keep the universality of the internet intact. Not everyone has the same sort of relationship, and I think that by not defining what ours is here, I allow other people more freedom to not be defined by theirs.

I do, though, share important things with you that are outside of the details, if I think it will relate to your own life in some way.

What I wanted to do here was look at how books have been part of our lives together. You may see parallels with your own relationships; you may not. I hope, though, that you’ll find it interesting.

  • We actually first met when I was managing a brick and mortar bookstore. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I’m sure that was a recommendation. My SO is a reader, and certainly, I’d feel more confident in meeting somebody if I knew they were connected to books, and especially if I saw how. I have to say, though, that I’m not sure my SO understood the long hours and time commitment that being a retail manager meant…
  • When my SO first saw my bedroom, I’m sure it was a shock. There were literally books stacked on the floor, two or three feet (up to about a meter) high. I was in the habit of jumping to the bed from a path that ended a couple of stacks away. This isn’t exactly book related, but I’ve mentioned before that I have some color vision deficiency, and, I think as a result, superior night vision. I used to just have a red 25-watt lightbulb next to the bed, which was bright enough for me
  • Back at the bookstore, I always remember one unfortunate adventure we had. One of my regular customers told me that one of my employees (an assistant manager) was stealing books. The customer said that the manager would leave at night with stacks of books. That’s something that’s clearly different with brick and mortars: we used to have a goal that “shrinkage” (shoplifting, damage, and employee theft) wouldn’t exceed eight percent. Well, there was very little damage (there was that one time that somebody sprayed a ketchup packet from a fast food place over a few shelves), and we did have shoplifting…but employee theft was a real problem. I liked this employee a lot personally, and we wanted to verify the report. So, my SO and I parked in the parking lot several rows away from the store, and slunk down in the seats at closing time. Yep…we saw the employee leaving with big bags full of books. This was a young person, about to move on to a new stage in life and not likely (I thought) to be a big threat to a future store. I chose not to turn the person into the police, but this employee and I had a somewhat oblique talk about what might happen to someone who was caught committing employee theft in that circumstance. Our inventory seemed to be “mysteriously” bolstered by the possible return of books, and I think the point was made
  • When my SO and I moved in together, I was asked what I was bringing, and I’ve been told I said, “Just a few books.” It turned out to be bookshelves worth…
  • Later, when we eventually bought a house, we bought one with an “extra” bedroom, just to become a floor to ceiling library. I remember the day our kid realized that the books always got a bigger room than the kid. ;) I also remember our kid saying that an ambition as an adult was to have more books than me (that hasn’t happened yet…)
  • I’ve seen the joy many times when I received the gift of a book on a topic I particularly liked that I didn’t have yet…my SO has commented in the past how difficult that was to do (although Amazon wish lists can make that easier, it’s even more fun if I haven’t even heard of it)
  • One time, we were moving from one house to another, with our best friends’ help. I was told that they would never help us move again if I still had all those books :)
  • Having Kindles has meant that we can share books in a different and better way. I’d never read the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. My SO liked them, but always passed them on to a sibling. With our Kindles, I ‘ve been able to read them…even at the same time as my SO (in fact, I get kidded about “competitive reading”…that I was trying to read them faster). That means we’ve been able to discuss them and share that experience. I think I’ve had the advantage with my geeky low threshold of amusement, though. :) My SO has not liked the most recent ones as much, but I still enjoy them. Even more impressive to me is that my SO just read The Midwich Cuckoos. That’s science fiction (the basis for Village Of The Damned (1960), among other things). I’d mentioned I thought it was just “good writing”, regardless of genre. Even though it did get very talky and philosophical later on, my SO soldiered through…that’s love for you ;) By the way, I can certainly see parallels between myself and Zellaby, although there are differences as well
  • When it came to me writing books (and this blog), my SO has been incredibly supportive. I only rarely get good-naturedly ribbed about only being seen behind a computer, but always followed by a statement of strong approval for what I do. That’s not because of the income it generates (a small fraction of what we earn), but because of an understanding of what it means to me. I could not possibly write this without my SO: I’m a different person now, better in so many ways, than I was before we met. I can not thank my SO enough for how we have grown together

What about you? How have books affected your relationships? Have they been a bond? A barrier? Did you start a long-term relationship because of a book…or end a short-term one? 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.

Still need a gift?

December 21, 2012

Still need a gift? 

It’s still possible to get gifts by Tuesday if you use two-day delivery, but you are running out of time. Of course, if you have Prime, you can get that two-day at no additional cost.

My guess is that a lot of people have been waiting, and that retailers will figure that out next year. I think a number of online retailers are overly concerned about under performance year over year, because shoppers are waiting longer to purchase.

When we get down to same day delivery (which appears to be coming), it will be much harder for retailers to gauge when to discount and how much to do.

I thought I’d throw a few things in here that I’ve noticed, and that are eligible for Prime. Don’t forget to check the estimated delivery date, because it can easily change (especially if they go out of stock). Also please check the price, since that can change at any time. I would also guess you’d only be able to get these within the USA.

One other thing: I’m not endorsing all of these. In some cases, I’ve never used it, but it just looked cool. :)

Kindle Fire HD 7″

BookArmor Shield Case Custom Fit for the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″
$32 at time of writing

This was in a hard, heavy duty case with a washable cover. I think this might be a good bet for a kid, or for someone who does rugged traveling. Note that it weighs more than a pound…

Kindle Fire 1st Gen

BUILT Kindle FIRE (first generation) Neoprene Twist Sleeve, Robot Uprising, Gray

This actually comes in several bold, funky designs.

Grace Digital MatchStick (GDI-GFD7200) Charging Speaker Dock for Kindle Fire – Portrait and Landscape Modes
$99 at time of writing

Charge your Kindle Fire, and have speakers. The speakers can also run for up to six hours (party in the park!) on battery power, with the battery sold separately.

Any Kindle with audio

Marware UpSurge Rechargable Mini Speaker for Kindle Fire
$24.99 at time of writing

Up to five hours on a charge (not a Bluetooth speaker), this one has great reviews.

Audio-Technica ATHM50S Professional Monitor Headphones
$129.99 at time of writing

High quality, luxury Bluetooth headphones. Very well reviewed.

All Kindle Fires…with kids

GreatShield Chalkee Kids Stylus for Kindle Fire (all models), Blue
$24.99 at time of writing

This is a big, sort of crayon styled stylus, extra sturdy, designed for kids (but kidlike adults might like it)

Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Touch

TrendyDigital WaterGuard Plus Waterproof Case with Padding for Kindle Touch , Kindle Paperwhite (Blue)
$19.99 at time of writing

Read at the beach, read in the bathtub, or at the swim meet? This is a waterproof case (also good if you get caught in the rain).

Nonlit Kindles

Kandle by Ozeri LED Book Light in White — Designed for the Amazon Kindle (1st and latest generation), Sony Reader and other eBook readers.
$14.95 at time of writing

I used this one with my older Kindles. It’s a decent booklight, which will give you pretty even lighting Without a long-neck profile.

There are a few ideas…don’t worry, you have plenty of time. ;) Again, check the delivery, but I think you’ll get it by late on Monday if you order these by noon on Friday. Double-check, though…

If you have any other ideas, or have used any of these and have a comment, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: here are two I forgot to mention…and one has free 1-day shipping right now!

Roku HD Streaming Player
$49.99 at time of writing, with $5 Amazon Instant Video credit

Is this box, which puts internet content on your TV, really for Kindle owners? Yes, absolutely! Well, certainly for those who own Kindle Fire. It will show your Amazon Instant Videos on your TV…and it matches your place on your Fire. That means you can watch part of a movie in the car (with someone else driving, of course), and then continue watching it on your bigger screen. Also, with Juice for Roku, you can “throw” pictures and video from your Kindle Fire to your TV! I use that to show my Significant Other pictures we get in e-mail, for example. There are several varieties of Roku, and you can see the comparison on the page for this one. A Roku has a lot of value outside of its use with your Kindle. One of the biggest values, though, is that it is very simple to set up and use (if you have a wi-fi network in your home in particular).

I hadn’t listed something specifically for the 8.9″ Kindle Fire, and I really like my Bluetooth keyboard (not the below brand), so

Poetic KeyBook Bluetooth Keyboard Case for Kindle Fire HD 8.9 Black (Support Auto Sleep/Wake Function)(3 Year Manufacturer Warranty From Poetic)
$29.95 at time of writing

This is a detachable, Bluetooth keyboard…and a cover. I’m not crazy about the cover I have now, and I would consider this if I didn’t already have a keyboard. This is a physical keyboard, which I still find necessary for composing something somewhat lengthy (although I do really like the Swype keyboard, which is now on some Kindle Fires).

One other thing: a regular reader and commenter, Zebras, mentioned gifting a Kindle book. I’ll write about those options in a separate post (you’ve got days before you have to act on that). ;)

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

How the Kindle changed my world: the first five years

November 20, 2012

How the Kindle changed my world: the first five years

“SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nov. 19, 2007–Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today introduced Amazon Kindle, a revolutionary portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight. More than 90,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store, including 101 of 112 current New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases, which are $9.99, unless marked otherwise. Kindle is available starting today for $399…”
Amazon press release

It seems like books have always been a big part of my life.

I remember being read out of a book at bedtime. I remember the wonder of the school library, and the public library.

As I became an adult, books continued to matter. There were times when I didn’t have much money to spend. I know I spent more of it on books than on food. I’d see a book in a used bookstore, even for fifty cents. I’d make myself leave and come back an hour later. I figured if I didn’t still want it an hour later, it could wait. That didn’t happen very often; I usually ended up buying it, even if that meant I ate so many carrots (which were very cheap) that I literally turned orange.

I would even dream about bookstores. I’m a lucid dreamer: I can be aware during a dream that I am dreaming, and still keep going. One clue that I was dreaming? There was a used bookstore I would go to in my dreams…it wasn’t a real one, but there wasn’t anything really special about it. If I realized I was in that store, I knew it was a dream.

Later, I would go on to manage a bookstore. Even though I didn’t make much money at it, I loved that! I loved connecting readers with books, and I just loved being surrounded by them. Yes, it was hard work and long hours. That’s why I eventually stopped: I got into a relationship, and it didn’t really seem fair to work three evenings and both weekend days.

Eventually, I had about ten thousand paperbooks on shelves in my home. When we bought a house, we would buy an extra bedroom, just to have a floor to ceiling library. I always remember the moment when my kid realized the books always got the bigger bedroom. ;) What was my kid’s stated life ambition? To have more books than me…

When the Kindle was introduced on November 19, 2007, I wasn’t really interested. I thought, as so many other people did, that I liked the feel of a “real book”. I loved books as artifacts of history; I had ones that were over 100 years old by that point.

I wasn’t going to spend $399 on a device to read electronic books! Oh, I think I’d looked at e-books a bit on my computer…that didn’t thrill me.

A relative, though, got me a Kindle for a holiday gift.

I was happy about it, but just figured it was a gadget…like those vacuum cleaners that spiffed up your LPs, or the little calculator-like device I’d had that you could type on and it would print out an adding machine tape with the words on it.

I started reading on it. It was okay, a little hard to get used to holding. I bought my first Kindle book on January 29, 2008. It was a book I already owned…I had several different editions of it. I liked the ability to search, but I wasn’t hooked.

It’s amazing to me when I look at it now, but over the next couple of months, I only bought a few e-books. I was reading a lot of paperbooks, and still trying to find the value in that butcher block of a device.

Then, author Michael Hicks helped me out by answering a question on line.

I bought In Her Name (no longer available in the edition I got…I’ve linked to the current version which contains what I read and more) on March 12, 2008.

It was a big sweeping epic science fiction novel, and one of the best things I had read.

It was that experience, of being able to read a book which would have been the size of a small airport ;) easily which really got me into reading on the Kindle.

It wasn’t a diminution of my experience of reading paperbooks…it was an expansion of it.

I couldn’t have easily carried that book with me everywhere, although I don’t always do things the easy way. :) I was in the habit of packing an extra suitcase just for books when I traveled, and I kept an “emergency book” in the car in case I was out and finished what I had.

Shortly after that, I published my first book on the Kindle.

That was a huge change! I’d had a column in a national newsstand magazine, and had some other articles published. I’d had a couple of plays done, and had been  publishing what was then called an “e-zine” online.

This was different, though. I had a book at Amazon.

As a former bookstore manager, I knew how hard it was to crack that distribution near monopoly of the major publishers. I would have people walk into my store with a self-published book and ask if I would sell it on consignment (if it sold, they got paid. If it didn’t, they got nothing).

They figured that was a no risk proposition for me.

They didn’t realize that we were always fighting rent and salaries. A book sitting on a bookstore’s shelf costs that store money, because they have to pay the rent for that space.

I would ask the indie: “If I call you and tell you I need 100 of these in three days, can you do it?” The answer was always no. The tradpubs (traditional publishers) can do that.

Here I was, though, with a book in what was perhaps the largest bookstore in the world.

I started buying more e-books. I also scanned a public domain book for a non-profit where I was on the board, and we made that available to the public. What a wonderful feeling that was!

Gradually, I started buying fewer and fewer p-books (paperbooks).

As the Kindle technology improved (the devices got lighter, easier to use, cheaper, and with more capacity), I was making the full switch.

I stopped even buying p-books. Me…not buying paperbooks. Our best friends had said they would never help us move again because of the number of boxes of books. :) That wasn’t going to be an increasing issue in the future.

By February 15th of 2009, I had found the Amazon Kindle forum. This is the first thread I remember starting, although I think I’d done a few before that:

Is there a way to get a list of the discussions you’ve started?

While I got one snarky response right away, people were generally nice and helpful…I had a clever response to the snark (one which might have pleased Sigmund Freud), so I felt good about that.

That relationship to the forum would definitely become a major part of my life over time.

On August 28, 2009, I started this blog.

It was an amazing creative outlet, and a great way to help people.

Eventually, it would become (but not stay) the number one paid blog at Amazon. I always like to tell people about the day I passed both The Huffington Post and The Onion.

I continued to publish to the Kindle store, and to write the blog. For the first time in my life, I was making real money as an author. Oh, I still had (and still have) a (more than) full-time job.  I remember the first time, though, that income from my writing alone would have kept me above the poverty level…that was a shock (and in some ways, still is).

Eventually, it got to the point where my writing was making enough to pay my kid’s rent in college. That’s not bad, and has certainly helped make our lives easier.

On September 7, 2010, I described A Day in the Life of a Kindleer. You can see how integrated the Kindle had become.

Since then, it’s been non-stop. I’ve had Kindles fail, and I’ve had Kindles stolen (one theft was actually caught on a security camera). I’ve moved on to using a Kindle Fire tablet, and am anxiously awaiting my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB.

I haven’t been in a bookstore in a long time, and I haven’t dreamed about one, either.

I do know one thing, though: I love books now more than ever.

How about you? How has the Kindle changed your world? Feel free to share your experience by commenting on this post.

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

It’s ILMK’s third birthday!

August 28, 2012

It’s ILMK’s third birthday!

The first post in this blog was published on August 28th, 2009.

It’s been a wonderful journey so far, and I’ve really enjoyed writing for you and all the great exchanges I’ve had with the commenters!

I thought you might be interested in some statistics, but before I do, I want to especially thank those of you who subscribe through the Kindle store. Even though it’s only ninety-nine cents a month, it’s the combined royalties from those subscriptions that really make it possible for me to devote the time and energy to writing ILMK. Certainly, it’s a lot of fun and rewarding in other ways, but it would be harder to justify devoting this big a chunk of my life to it if it wasn’t providing for my family (which comes first for me) in some way.

For those of you who don’t subscribe, you’re still absolutely welcome! I don’t expect everybody to subscribe through the Kindle store…certainly, some of you can’t for various reasons (like being outside the USA and the UK, or having an app, rather than a hardware Kindle, that doesn’t support Kindle store blog subscriptions). I feel especially gratified when someone takes the time to comment and tell me that something I wrote helped them, or amused them, or that they respectfully disagreed with it. :)

If you click on a link here, or retweet, or mention the blog, thank you.

If you just read the blog and it makes your world brighter in some way, you don’t need to tell me or anybody else about it…just the sense that it happens makes me a happier person.

To thank you all, I’m giving away

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1

today only, August 28th, 2012.

Note: check that the price is free before buying the book. There may be a mismatch between when you read this post and when Amazon makes it free based on my request.

Now for some statistics:

  • All time views per WordPress: 818,482
  • Number of posts: 1,710
  • Number of comments: 8,763
  • Busiest day: December 27, 2010
  • Highest rank in Kindle store blogs & newsfeeds: #1*
  • Days in the top 100: 1,085
  • This morning’s rank: #8

Ten most popular posts/pages:

  • Home page / Archives
  • What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen
  • Word up! Using the Kindle’s dictionary
  • Which Kindle 3 should you get?
  • Flash! My Kindle 3′s screen fails
  • Flash! Some Kindle owners report freezing/rebooting problems with K3s
  • Kindle trouble-shooting #1
  • Flash! Sleep mode pictures (screensavers) on the K3
  • Which Kindle do you have?
  • Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Collections edition

Top recent commenters (based on the past 1,000 comments):

  • Bufo Calvin
  • Edward Boyhan
  • Lady Galaxy
  • Zebras
  • rogerknights
  • Pam

Top views by country since February 25, 2012:

  • United States 102,662
  • United Kingdom 6,784
  • Canada 2,444
  • Australia 2,056
  • Germany 791
  • India 712
  • Saudi Arabia 652
  • Brazil 585
  • Spain 519
  • Russian Federation 426
  • Ireland 422
  • France 378
  • Philippines 370
  • Italy 359
  • Slovakia 351
  • Japan 324
  • New Zealand 323
  • Czech Republic 309
  • Poland 295
  • Singapore 285
  • Taiwan 278
  • South Africa 276
  • Switzerland 259
  • Hong Kong 233
  • Mexico 213
  • Romania 211
  • Netherlands 196
  • Ukraine 179
  • Colombia 175
  • Hungary 171
  • Republic of Korea 166
  • Turkey 164
  • Israel 155
  • Thailand 153
  • Malaysia 152
  • Viet Nam 150
  • Belgium 140
  • Argentina 129
  • Portugal 125
  • Austria 116
  • Sweden 115
  • Indonesia 112
  • Bulgaria 103
  • Pakistan 95
  • Bahrain 94
  • Denmark 92
  • Norway 89
  • Iceland 85
  • Dominican Republic 76
  • Greece 75
  • Egypt 75
  • United Arab Emirates 68
  • Croatia 64
  • Finland 64
  • Chile 58
  • Trinidad and Tobago 58
  • Peru 56
  • Serbia 53
  • Venezuela 49
  • Slovenia 47
  • Costa Rica 45
  • British Virgin Islands 43
  • Puerto Rico 40
  • Georgia 33
  • Lithuania 32
  • Ecuador 31
  • Malta 29
  • Belarus 29
  • Kenya 29
  • Barbados 27
  • Nigeria 25
  • Estonia 25
  • Bahamas 24
  • Latvia 24
  • Jamaica 23
  • Guatemala 21
  • Bangladesh 19
  • Qatar 19
  • Cyprus 17
  • Sri Lanka 15
  • Netherlands Antilles 15
  • Ghana 14
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 14
  • Paraguay 13
  • Kuwait 13
  • Nepal 12
  • Lebanon 11
  • Panama 10
  • Cayman Islands 9
  • Cambodia 9
  • Guam 9
  • Macao 8
  • Honduras 8
  • Luxembourg 8
  • Bolivia 8
  • Cuba 8
  • Angola 8
  • Jordan 8
  • Mauritius 8
  • Macedonia 8
  • Morocco 8
  • Nicaragua 8
  • Isle of Man 7
  • Moldova 7
  • Uruguay 7
  • Albania 7
  • Saint Lucia 7
  • Virgin Islands 7
  • Anguilla 7
  • Mongolia 6
  • Oman 6
  • Belize 6
  • Azerbaijan 6
  • Algeria 6
  • United Republic of Tanzania 6
  • Iraq 6
  • Guyana 6
  • Benin 6
  • Tunisia 5
  • Dominica 5
  • Rwanda 5
  • American Samoa 5
  • Jersey 5
  • Bermuda 5
  • Sudan 4
  • El Salvador 4
  • Andorra 4
  • Namibia 4
  • Afghanistan 4
  • China 4
  • Zimbabwe 4
  • Gibraltar 4
  • Armenia 4
  • Syrian Arab Republic 4
  • Myanmar 3
  • Fiji 3
  • Kyrgyzstan 3
  • Northern Mariana Islands 3
  • Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 3
  • Brunei Darussalam 3
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic 3
  • Cape Verde 3
  • Vatican City 3
  • Uganda 3
  • Kazakhstan 2
  • Djibouti 2
  • Senegal 2
  • Turks and Caicos Islands 2
  • Mozambique 2
  • Montenegro 2
  • Antigua and Barbuda 2
  • Gambia 2
  • Vanuatu 2
  • Papua New Guinea 2
  • Palestinian Territory, Occupied 2
  • Ethiopia 2
  • Suriname 2
  • Grenada 2
  • Palau 2
  • Aruba 2
  • Maldives 1
  • Swaziland 1
  • Malawi 1
  • Liechtenstein 1
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1
  • Zambia 1
  • French Polynesia 1
  • Guernsey 1
  • Côte d’Ivoire 1
  • Haiti 1
  • Botswana 1
  • Cameroon 1
  • Yemen 1
  • Sierra Leone 1
  • Eritrea 1

*I always like to tell people about when I passed both the Huffington Post and The Onion Blog on the same day. :)

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

My kid is graduating

May 16, 2012

My kid is graduating

I’ve always said that my Significant Other and I have done our part for the species, because our (now adult) kid is a much better person than either one of us. ;)

We’re heading off to New Orleans for my kid’s college graduation. We’re going to be there for about a week…in addition to the graduation, there are other events. One of them (proud parent puffs on fingernails, shines them on shirt) is the Phi Beta Kappa ceremony.

Graduating from Tulane (which some people call the Harvard of the South…although other colleges claim that too) with a 3.97 is a great achievement. Some of you may know that this is despite having had to take a medical leave at one point. Oh, in case you are wondering? Linguistics…and French. It was amusing for me when my kid was home on a break and we watched telenovelas in Spanish, I was hearing German YouTube from my kid’s laptop, and we saw movies in Turkish. :)

Okay, I don’t usually tell you this much about my family, but I’m just bursting with pride right now. :)

Why does this matter to you?

Being on the road for a week creates a different dynamic for me with this blog. We don’t take a laptop any more. I can write short things on my Fire, but I don’t really feel comfortable writing a thousand word piece that way.

That means I’ve been writing ahead (I’m actually writing this on Monday). That’s hard. I tend to fill up the unscheduled times in my life, so that I end up working near capacity. I think that’s true for a lot of people. To double the amount of time I spend on the blog (so I can write ahead) requires cutting back on other things some.

I suppose it might be healthier to allow some “empty” time ordinarily, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way. I recently said to somebody that I should make a t-shirt that says, “Stop…and don’t smell anything.” :) That’s the real mindfulness challenge, I think. Needless to say, I’d find that difficult. I did do the shirt, though:

Stop and don’t smell anything shirt

and a mug

Stop and don’t smell anything mug

Writing ahead may be an advantage for you as a reader..I may have time to do a lengthier or more thoughtful piece, for example, by writing it catch as catch can over a few weeks, rather than all at once on one day.

There are three minor negatives that I can see for you:

1. I may not be able to cover a major story as quickly and completely as usual. Let’s say that Amazon releases a few new tablets while I’m at the graduation ceremony…that might be tough to research properly in the first hour. :) On the other hand, I do work full time as it is, and still manage to get to things in a timely fashion

2. I may not be as responsive to comments, although I’ll get to them eventually

3. I won’t have my older Kindles with me to do research…I’m only bringing my Kindle Fire

By the way, my Significant Other laughs at the idea that I won’t be spending just as much time. :) I do expect I’ll jump into the Business Center from time to time, and properly, our kid will probably spend more time with friends than with us. This isn’t a family vacation, like when we went to Boston in March. That means we may have more down time in the hotel. Our kid’s coming back with us  for a month or so before moving to Boston, so we will help with packing and such, but still…

By the way, potential burglars…this doesn’t mean our house is empty when we are gone. :)

In case you don’t feel like you are getting enough ILMK, I have scheduled

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1

to be free today. :)

What am I taking on my Kindle?

Newsstand:

Okay, I admit it: I am taking two paper magazines with me for takeoff and landing. The FAA is looking at that rule, but for now, I don’t want to take the chance. I have recently, though, switched one subscription to digital, so I’m making progress. :) I have some magazines downloaded, including National Geographic and the Smithsonian. It’s worth noting that I also have a subscription from Zinio I expect to read.

Books:

I have more books on my Kindle right now than I usually do. I’ll probably have about twenty, rather than ten or so. That’s just back-up…I shouldn’t need that many (my record is only three and a half novels in a day), but I do like to bounce around.

Music:

I’m not adding any music to my Fire, but I do have some on there. That’s not a big deal to me. Old Time Radio? Yes, I’ll bring some of those.

Video:

Partially to test it for you readers, I have rented a movie…

Battle Royale

It’s a 2000 Japanese movie (based on a 1999) novel about a group of teenagers forced to fight each other to the death on TV. I do want to see how much it is like The Hunger Games, or perhaps I should say, how much The Hunger Games is like it. I’ve blithely said that you could watch a downloaded, rented movie on your Kindle Fire on an airplane without the internet, but I haven’t actually tested it. For one thing, I think $3.99 to rent a movie seems like a lot…there are so many free movies, and buying them doesn’t seem that much more expensive. I do go back and rewatch movies, and $3.99 to rent for 48 hours versus $14.99 to own it (so others on my account in the future can watch it as well) doesn’t seem like a huge bargain.

When I rented it, I got this:

“Reminder

This movie is not included with your Amazon Prime membership. You will be charged for this transaction if you continue.”

A banner appeared: “Your 48 hour rental is available until June 11 @ 5:52 AM”.

Those were both nice reminders. I’ll need to download the movie before we head to the airport, and then I’ll have 48 hours to watch it.

Docs:

I do have my travel information on there, but thanks to the latest update, i password protect it. That makes me more comfortable if my Kindle Fire is lost or stolen (knock virtual wood), and I have had that happen once already. There are some pictures and such on there.

Apps:

I’m likely to play Dabble. :)

Web:

If the flight has GoGo in-flight internet, I plan to try it out…maybe on the way back, since I want to try watching Battle Royale without it on the way out.

Well, enjoy the week! You’ll get at least a post from me every day, and I’m likely to sneak in a few others. ;)

Signed — a Proud Parent

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

What I did on Spring Break

March 17, 2012

What I did on Spring Break

Gee, with that title, I feel like I should put my Homeroom number in the top right corner. ;)

As regular readers know, I went on vacation this week with my family (my Significant Other and my adult kid).

We flew across the country (as one humorous in-flight announcement had it, our flight back was “5 hours and 65 minutes”) to meet our kid, who has been going to college in New Orleans (we live in the San Francisco Bay area).

Some of you may recognize where Coventry (my Kindle Fire) is. I’ll give you a few seconds to guess. Done? Good.

We were in Boston. :)

I made the decision not to take a laptop…just my Samsung Captivate, my Blackberry, and my Fire. ;)

I wanted to share with you my experiences in traveling with my Fire (and without an RSK…Reflective Screen Kindle).

First, I made sure my Kindle Fire was completely charged before we left. I carried the charger in a pocket in a journalist’s vest that I wear when I’m not on work…it’s my “utility vest”, if you like. :) I was carrying three chargers (Blackberry, SmartPhone, Kindle Fire): I was a bit curious about what that would be like through Security. I carried them instead of putting them in the checked bag (we were leaving Saturday morning, coming back Thursday morning, so we each checked one…we packed for the cold in Boston), because I didn’t want them to get lost. That would have been a crisis! Of course, if my Significant Other’s Fire charger made it, we’d could take turns. I figured, though, we’ d probably have to charge them both every day to have a full charge. I did, though, actually pack a power strip in the checked case…

As usual, we got to SFO quite early. For one thing, that gives us a better chance to find a seat at the gate next to a power outlet. ;)  Getting through Security was fine…you just never know. I don’t worry about my electronics going through the x-ray, by the way. I also didn’t have to pull the Fire out of my vest. The TSA doesn’t require that for tablet-sized devices, although of course, they can ask for that if they want.

While we were waiting, I read some of Cats’ Most Wanted by  Alexandre Powe Allred. I’ll write a review on it a bit later, but it was a book my (adult) kid had gotten me for my birthday. My kid is actually the one of us who is least comfortable with people having electronics out during “family time”…but I figured reading a gift would be okay. :) We weren’t together at that point, but it’s the principle of the thing. ;)

I also played some Dabble HD – The Fast Thinking Word Game, Tablet Edition, which is a fun word game. It takes about five minutes to play a game, so it’s a good diversion. I’m not as good as my Significant Other, who is really good at word games. I’m not bad, though.

The other game I played only briefly was LineRunner. It’s a freebie, and strictly a twitch game…in other words it’s all based on reflexes. You are a little line figure, and are sort of on an assembly line. Boxes fly towards you low and high, and you can jump or roll to avoid them. That’s about it. Think Lucy & Ethel in the chocolate factory, mixed with parkour. ;) I don’t even last five seconds…

On the plane, I did read that book and play some more Dabble.

I was disappointed by one thing. I’d borrowed a book from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Library)…and it failed to open, saying it had only been a partial download. I’ve had that happen once before. If you want to see what it looks like, see this

earlier post

If that had been the only book I’d brought, it would have been a real problem. I wouldn’t have only brought one book, though…even in the paper days.

I have no idea what specifically might have caused it. Since I’d had the earlier problem, I think I’ve been careful to only open a book the first time from the Device tab, not the Cloud tab. I’d read part of the book with no problem.

Oh, I should also mention, I did bring a paper magazine to read during takeoff and landing…people ask about that. We were asked to turn our electronic devices all the way off…not just to airplane mode during takeoff.

During the flight, I watched a public domain movie I’d downloaded from Archive.org. It was The Ghoul, a 1933 Boris Karloff movie that had been lost for decades, then later found. Karloff, I have to say, was brilliant…although the movie wasn’t overall.

As I mentioned, I had downloaded it. I would have liked to have tried GoGo inflight internet, but it wasn’t offered on this Jet Blue flight.

Fortean Times, using the Zinio app, also got a bit of my reading attention.

The other thing I did with my Fire, which I’ve always enjoyed on flights since I’ve had a Kindle, was listening to an Old Time Radio show (which I downloaded from RadioLovers.com). In this case, I listened to The Robot Killer, an episode of 2000 Plus. That show was wild science fiction, that took off in the unimaginably distant time…after the year 2000. ;)

I had brought my own headphones…if I hadn’t, I could have bought a pair. Oh, I did find The Ghoul was a bit quiet, but I could hear it. The radio show was fine.  I also realized that I had brought my Kindle Kandle, a booklight I’ve used with my RSKs. I’d just forgotten to take it out of my pocket. I also brought a Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth…unfortunately, I don’t travel without one with my Fire. I do have a stylus which I like very much, and that helps, but I find I sometimes still need to use my fingers. That’s particularly true when scrolling on something which is zoomed. When I try to scroll with the stylus, I may change the size of the image instead. I suspect that may get better with practice.

It appeared to me that watching the movie ran down about a third of my battery charge. That was worth noting, to me. People have commented about the size of the onboard memory…but I think you could probably only watch a couple of movies without having to charge again anyway. You could watch while you were plugged in, which would eliminate that issue…but how often do you have an electrical outlet and no wi-fi nowadays? At least where I am, they often go together. So, even if I’d had some kind of external drive available, I would also have had to have auxiliary power to take advantage of it effectively.

One last use on the plane: I always open my e-mail app and Pulse (blog feeds) when I’m in wi-fi), so I can read them offline. I did manage to clean up a few e-mails, even though I couldn’t respond to them.

Once we got to Boston, I pretty much just used it for reading. While a plane lends itself to headphone-enabled activities, that’s not as true when the three of  us together.

We had great family time, though! One of the main reasons we were there was to find an apartment for our kid…and we accomplished that the first day of trying! That all worked out very well…the timing of the move-in is good, the price range is fine, and it’s in the Fenway, which was the desired neighborhood.

We also walked all over Boston: miles every day. I do okay with that, although I’m the worst walker of the three of us. :) We used my phone for navigation…without a GPS and Google maps, I don’t think the Fire would work very well for that.

We did the Freedom Trail, and we went to the top of the Bunker Hill monument. Let me warn you if you go to do that…it’s a hike! Close to 300 non-ergonomic steps. When you get to the top, there are some good views…but there is only room for about ten people, and a steady of stream of people were coming up. We didn’t stay long up there.

We went to the Aquarium, the Faneuil Hall marketplace, saw the outside of Fenway, and so on. We walked up and down streets, through parks, and rode the T (the local subway). Hmm…we call our subway BART (not “the BART”) in the San Francisco area. We also don’t put the article “the” in front of our freeway numbers when you say them. That’s a dead giveaway that a TV show supposedly set in San Francisco was filmed in Los Angeles…if they refer to taking “the 280″ or “the 4″. We would just say that “…you take 280″. It just occurred to me…maybe that’s an influence of the number of Russian speakers in San Francisco (we have a lot). Russians famously don’t use the articles (“the”, “a”, “an”) in English. Just speculation on my part…

At the recommendation of a friend of my kid’s, we went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. That was astonishingly good! I could have spent a whole week there, and hours just staring at a tapestry. I’m not a big museum person, actually, but this was really like being in somebody’s house. Oh, a super expensive house, certainly, but not stuffy like a museum. Stuffed, though…artworks, sculptures…and ephemera. While Garnder may have collected some truly elegant fine art, there was a sense of a geek’s collectibles to me. I had heard of John Singer Sargent, but there were some paintings of Sargent’s here that left me dumbstruck. Well, not literally…I don’t stay silent for long. ;) There was one portrait of Garnder in particular…fabulous! Really evocative, and almost three-dimensional.

I have to say, we went to another place where we saw art of a different kind…the South Street Diner. I loved what they had done with a piece of obsolete technology, and I thought you might enjoy it as well:

Overall, we liked Boston, but were surprised at how small it was…and how hot! We’d packed warm clothes, and it turned out to be up to into the 70s Fahrenheit (about the low 20s Celsius). We were overdressed some days. No snow, either…we’d expected that there might have been.

In the hotel room, my Fire connected to the hotel’s wi-fi with no problem.  Interestingly, I was able to open and read that KOLL book, although I concentrated on the cat book until I finished it and then on Better Living Through Bad Movies by Scott Clevenger and Sheri Zollinger, another gift from my kid.

I set the Alarm Clock app I have from 7 Dragons, and tested that it would work with the Kindle Fire asleep (and not turned off)…I could leave it plugged in overnight. I ended up waking up before it went off, though.

Going back, I noted one important thing. I had the Fire plugged in while at the Boston airport. My Fire was acting strangely…not appropriately recognizing my touches…even tapping to turn a page was behaving oddly. Unplugged, it was fine. I was getting the sort of strange behavior I’ve seen others describe (but that I’d never experienced before), so I’m curious now if they had it plugged in at the time.

I watched another movie, listened to another episode of 2000 Plus, finished the Bad Movies book (again, I’ll do a review at some point), and read a bit more of FT.

How was the Fire for traveling?

It was great as an entertainer. I did do some very light posting, but really couldn’t blog with it. I was in the Business Center in the hotel probably twice a day. I’m hoping that some Amazon device in the future is easier to use for blogging. That could mean an external keyboard (Bluetooth or not), or maybe effective spoken input. I”m always careful to realize that what people (including me) want is functionality, not technique. When people say they miss, say, page numbers, it isn’t the page numbers necessarily…it’s what the pages do for them. Do they want to be able to sync up with other readers, with where they saw something in a book? If there was another way besides page numbers to accomplish that with equal effectiveness, I think people would be happy…even if it wasn’t actually specifically page numbers.

Well, there you go! I hope you find this helpful…if you have more questions, as always, feel free to ask.

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

I’m going on vacation…and my Kindle is staying home

March 10, 2012

I’m going on vacation…and my Kindle is staying home

Yes, I’m going to be gone part of this week. I am trying to write ahead some, and I won’t have zero access…but I may not respond to your comments as quickly as usual.

Oh, and burglars, my house won’t be empty while I’m not there. :)

The interesting thing here is that I’m not bringing my Kindle.

Well, I’m not bringing one of my Kindles…um, make that two…actually, it’s more like four…sigh. ;)

I’m going to bring my Kindle Fire, but none of my RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles).

My RSKs were such a transformation for travelling! In the old days, I would literally pack an extra suitcase just for paperbooks…and I think I’ve always bought books on vacation. I’d come back with more than I had when I left.

The RSK was certainly nice on a plane!

This time, though, I don’t want to bring both. I want my Fire more, and it’s (hopefully) not a ten-hour travel situation.

I’m also finding that I can read for fairly extended periods on my Fire.

In a weird way, that makes me feel like a traitor.

Why?

It shouldn’t…while I have defended and celebrated the use of reflective screen technology for long form reading, there really isn’t anything…evil about reading on a backlit screen.

Certainly, there are some disadvantages to it…shorter battery charge life, hard to read in bright light (not a problem on an airplane or in a hotel room…and I’m going to Boston, where I doubt sunshine will be my biggest weather worry in March). For me, though, I’m not finding eye strain or difficulty sleeping after reading in bed. I happen to have just had my eyes tested…they are healthy. :)

I’ll have a better idea of whether or not I’ll miss the RSKs on the trip, well, after it is over.

I did want to give you the heads-up. If you want to stay on top of breaking Kindle news (no, no…not news about broken Kindles…I hope), there are several options.

You can keep your eye on the

Amazon Kindle forum

You can check other Kindle blogs.

However, I probably will be posting to this one…I’ll work out some way. I don’t feel like I can type well enough on my Kindle Fire, and we aren’t bringing a laptop, but I may get into the business center once or twice a day. I don’t want it to take away from the family time, though…that comes first. :)

Update:

I thought you might be interested in some of the things I’ve put on my Fire for the trip. It’s hard to predict how much time I’ll have…although I do have two cross country plane trips. I may be downloading more while I’m there, or I may have leftovers…we’ll see:

Newsstand

  • I have three issues of National Geographic I’ve downloaded from my subscription (not all are completely unread, though)
  • I’ll download an issue of Analog and one of Fantasy & Science Fiction from subscriptions

Other magazines

From my Zinio subscription to Fortean Times, I’ll have two issues. From my Entertainment Weekly, I’ll probably just have one (I keep up with that). I’ll also have a PDF of a recent Fate from my subscription.

Books

I have one I’ve borrowed from the KOLL (Kindle Owners Lending Library): Aliens in America by William J. Birnes (I know Bill slightly from some work we’ve done together with a non-profit).

  • Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon by Jules Verne
  • Intentions by Oscar Wilde
  • How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  • We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee
  • My Gun Has Bullets by Lee Goldberg
  • Cats Most Wanted by Alexandre Powe Allred
  • Better Living Through Bad Movies by Scott Clevenger & Sherri Zollinger

Music and other audio

  • I have a playlist of “upbeat music” I use in classes…it’s 68 songs.
  • I downloaded two podcasts of Len Edgerly’s excellent The Kindle Chronicles
  • I downloaded several Old Time Radio shows from RadioLovers.com. I really like those on the plane…that included The Avenger

Video

Just out of curiousity, I may try connecting to GoGo internet on the plane, which would give me a lot of streaming options. I also downloaded some public domain stuff from Archive.org:

  • The Ghoul (the original “lost” Karloff movie)
  • The Disappearance of Flight 4127
  • A Tales of Tomorrow TV episode

Docs

We hve our travel information (flight and hotel).

Apps

I wouldn’t say I’ve downloaded anything especially for the trip. I’ll probably play

  • Dabble
  • Angry Birds
  • LineRunner

and I may use some other apps, like Tonido.

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

 

 

WG2E and me

December 4, 2011

WG2E and me

Well, I have something exciting to tell you…although, I’m a bit trepidatious about it. I think that’s a good thing, though.

I’ve written before about The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing.

That’s a blog by writer D.D. Scott…I reviewed D.D.’s book, Bootscootin’ Blahniks (The Bootscootin’ Books) here not too long ago.

Somebody in my inner circle approached me about writing and promoting a book, and I recommended WG2E as a resource.

Well, I was flattered and intrigued when D.D. recently wrote me, inviting me to be a regular contributor to WG2E.

I’m very careful about committing to anything…my word if my bond. My family kids me about that…I won’t commit to picking up apples on the way home, verbally, unless I would sacrifice a great deal to accomplish it. I tend to say things like, “Sure, I’ll try to do that.” :)

I don’t think this will overly burden me, though. We’ve agreed that what I give D.D. for WG2E will be a non-exclusive license…that means I could use it here, if I find it would otherwise interfere with what I do here.

I’m going to be writing those pieces for writers, and while I do address writers here from time to time, that is a different market. My guess is, though, that you wouldn’t mind that. :) Feel free to let me know if you think you would.

D.D. made the announcement today:

Who and What Is Coming To The WG2E in 2012!!!

As regular readers know, that article title shows that D.D. and I don’t agree on everything stylistically. :) Yes, apparently D.D. is what I call a “serial punc”…someone who uses multiple punctuation marks at the end of a sentence, like !!! or ??? However, I’m smart enough to know that’s just a pet peeve of mine…even though it makes me tweak, I can get myself not to judge people based on that.

My pieces will appear on the second Saturday of the month (starting this month, so December 10) and I’ll be able to submit them ahead of time.  We’re looking at 500 to 1,000 words, typically. I made myself a commitment to average 1,000 words a day in this post, and I do that easily. I kidded with my Significant Other on that…I jokingly said that I can yawn 500 words. ;)

D.D. wanted a picture, and as you know, I don’t usually do that. I did create an image, though…

It’s a picture I took with my Samsung Captivate in my library, and then I ran it through an app called Paper Camera to give it a cooler effect.

I was going to post the image here, and then it hit me that the cover I’m using on the Fire is probably under copyright protection, so I need to ask for permission first. If I get it, I’ll add the image here.

The one on your left is a hardback copy of The Wizard of Oz I have…it’s over one hundred years old. On your right is my Kindle Fire, Schwinn, showing the cover for The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection from MobiReference.

I actually don’t recommend that collection for people who just want to read the Oz books, because it contains an Oz rarity that has a lot of ethnic humor, including the use of the “n word”. I understand wanting to include it for completeness, but for kids reading through the series, I think it’s jarringly out of place compared to the so-called “Famous Fourteen” original Oz books.

Just thought you’d want to know…

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

Look both ways: forward and back

November 12, 2011

Look both ways: forward and back

Q. The Kindle Fire is going to be released in a few days…are you excited?

A. I am! Mine is supposed to arrive on November 16, although I’m hoping it gets here a day earlier, on the official release date.

Q. Has your Amazon tracking told you that it’s been shipped yet?

A. Not yet, although I’m seeing that from other people in the Amazon Kindle community.

Q. Does that worry you?

A. No…I paid extra for one day shipping…so it doesn’t have to leave a distribution center until Monday for me to get it. I keep checking for a change in status, though.

Q. How much did you pay?

A. The shipping was about twenty dollars…kind of makes me wish I’d already had Prime.

Q. Prime?

A. That’s a program from Amazon…you pay $79 a year, and then you get free two day shipping on a lot of the items, and one day shipping for $3.99. I could have saved about $15.

Q. Why didn’t you join Prime to save on the shipping?

A. Well, I get a free month of Prime with the Fire…but not if I already have it. I’ve been holding out until then.

Q. Is Prime new?

A. Not really…it’s been around since 2005.

Q. Why didn’t you already belong, then? Don’t you get a lot of things from Amazon?

A. We do, but I’d done the analysis…it wouldn’t have saved us money on shipping. It would have saved us time, though. We usually get things with free Super Saver Shipping…you have to have $25 worth of stuff, and it take several days for us to get it, sometimes longer. We also subscribe  to some household items…that’s also free shipping, and you get a discount.

Q. So, you didn’t pay $79 a year in shipping and handling to Amazon in a year?

A. That’s right.

Q. Will you renew Prime after the fee month you’ll get?

A. Yes, I think we’ve decided to do that. The idea of Prime always sounded like….I like the idea of ordering with no minimum and having things in a couple of days. Also, they’ve added the benefits of free streaming video and free book borrowing…that reaches the tipping point. At least, we’ll try it out during the free month and seriously consider it.

Q. You mentioned the free video. Is that going to be one of your main uses of the Kindle Fire?

A. Well, that’s an interesting question. I don’t really watch movies and TV online much now…0r at least, not on a computer. I watch streaming video from Netflix, but I use a Roku box to watch that on my TV.

Q. What is a Roku box?

A. It’s a little gadget that goes on top of your TV. It connects to your wi-fi network, and streams video through the TV. I wasn’t convinced about it, but we had friends who loved theirs. We tried it, and it’s been great…we cancelled our premium cable channels because of it.

Q. Okay. So you don’t think you’ll watch video on your Fire?

A. I’ll try it out, and I might watch short things, like YouTube, but I don’t picture using it as my main viewing platform.

Q. How do you picture using your Kindle Fire?

A. Really, one of the main reasons is for blogging. I’m really hoping I’ll be comfortable typing on it. I’m a touch typist, and typing on a SmartPhone is just not a skill I’ve mastered. My kid is much faster than me when we text. I cheat, though…I use the speech-to-text on my Android phone.

Q. That’s where you talk to it and it types for you?

A. Yes. It’s sort of the opposite of the Kindle’s text-to-speech. That one takes the written word and reads it out loud to you. Speech-to-text takes the spoken word, and turns it into writing.

Q. Like Dragon?

A. Yes, but this is built into Android devices.

Q. Does that mean it will be on the Kindle Fire?

A. I would expect that, yes. [Editor's note: the Kindle Fire does not have a microphone as far as we know, so this is not an option. Thanks to our reader Lexi for pointing this out. We blame the heat of a live splinterview.] ;)

Q. Oh, will the Kindle Fire have the other one…text-to-speech?

A. Unfortunately, we don’t know that yet. I was told definitively by Amazon that it would, but I’ve heard that other people have been told that it wouldn’t. That’s one of the things I’ll be checking when I get it…or hopefully, in the User’s Guide before that.

Q. You think Amazon will make the User’s Guide available before people get the Fire?

A. I hope so…I think it’s likely.

Q. So, why wouldn’t you use the speech-to-text on the Fire instead of typing?

A. It’s actually pretty slow. When I use it on my SmartPhone, it can take ten seconds to figure out a sentence. I type pretty quickly…the last time I was tested, I was in the 90s. That’s fast, but it’s not super-fast. Still, I type faster than the speech-to-text on my phone. I’d prefer to type, anyway. I don’t want to be in a restaurant talking to my Kindle Fire.

Q. Won’t you need to be connected to the internet to use your Kindle Fire? How will you do that in a restaurant?

A. First, I’m hoping I can compose offline. Second, many of the places I eat have free wi-fi…Fresh Choice, Whole Foods.

Q. You eat out at Whole Foods?

A. I get lunch there sometimes, yes.

Q. Okay. So you’ll most use the Kindle Fire to write? Is it designed for that?

A. I think it’s mostly designed for entertainment…I call it an “entertablet”, for entertainment tablet. However, I do think it’s going to handle simple typing well enough.

Q. That makes it a $200 typewriter for you?

A. No, it’s more than that. I also want to check websites…if I can log into my work e-mail while I’m out, that would be a big help.

Q. That doesn’t sound very exciting.

A. You’re right. It’s a pretty flashy device for those purposes. I’ll use it for fun too, though.

Q. Like reading? You’ve written a lot about being a big reader.

A. Um…I’m not quite sure. I really like the reading experience on a Kindle. I might use it for short things…might be okay for a short story or an article at lunch, for example. I expect to carry both, though.

Q. Your Kindle and your Fire?

A. Yes, that’s what I’m figuring.

Q. Isn’t that a lot to carry…oh, and you’ll carry your SmartPhone, too?

A. That’s the plan. I just got a Blackberry from work, too.

Q. Does it seem excessive carrying all those gadgets?

A. (laughs) Yes, kind of, but they serve different purposes.

Q. If you aren’t going to read on it or watch video on it much, how are you going to use it for fun?

A. Well, I’m quite the data consumer…going to news sites is fun for me. Oh, and I really hope to be able to use it for the Amazon forums! That’s very high on the list. I can read them now on my SmartPhone, but composing there is a challenge. I’ll also use apps and games.

Q. Do you do that now?

A. I use a few things on my SmartPhone now. Just goofy stuff.

Q. Angry Birds?

A. My Significant Other played that a lot…I’ve played it some. I play games more often on my Kindle.

Q. You play games on your Kindle?

A. Yes…if I’m only in line for a few minutes, I’d rather interrupt Jigsaw Words than Mark Twain.

Q. That’s not a very sophisticated game, at least in terms of software. You’re not an online gamer?

A. No, not really. I’m not against it, I just don’t have the time. I wouldn’t be considered a gamer…although I used to be able to beat Golden Axe in the arcade on one quarter.

Q. So you’re paying $200 so you can write a blog and play word games? Sounds like the Kindle would be better for that.

A. It might be. The Kindle doesn’t work well enough for those websites, and doesn’t have a good typing experience for me…those are the main reasons for the Kindle Fire for me.

Q. Does it feel funny going from the E Ink screen of your other Kindle to the backlit screen of the Kindle Fire?

A. Well, I’m not really going from one to the other…I plan to use them both. Yes, though, it does seem odd. I never got into e-books before the Kindle, and the E Ink screen was a big part of that. That’s why I don’t expect to read much on the Kindle Fire.

Q. Talk about the reading experience on the E Ink Kindles.

A. I love it! I’m an inveterate booklover…I’ve been reading books forever, it seems like. I’ve got a floor-to-ceiling library in my house…and we planned on that when we bought the house. We had it in our last house, too. I have books that are over one hundred years old, and about ten thousand books on shelves in my house. However, I like reading on my Kindle better than reading a paperbook.

Q. Better than? Not just as good as?

A. Better than. Part of that is the increasing text size…that makes things much easier. If I pull an old paperback off the shelf, it can be a struggle. It’s also less complicated to read on a Kindle.

Q. Why is that?

A. When I want to turn the page, I just slightly flex my thumb…I don’t even think about it, really. Turning a paper page is actually a very complicated operation, when you think about it. Robots can’t do it much at all, yet. I also don’t need a bookmark…that’s a little thing, but it counts.

Q. That’s why you’ll carry a Kindle in addition to the Fire?

A. The Fire technically is a Kindle, but yes. I wish Amazon hadn’t named the Fire a Kindle.

Q. Why?

A. I liked the Kindle indicating an E Ink, or at least reflective, screen. Amazon’s already got a brand name…Amazon. I want them to be able to expand into things like phones and…refrigerators. I don’t want them to confuse the Kindle brand, and possibly limit themselves.

A. Okay. You’ve mentioned that you are working on a book about the Kindle Fire…

Q. Yes. I hope to get it out within a few days of getting the device.

A. How are you going to do that? Doesn’t it take you more than a few days to write a book?

A. Sure, but I can pre-write a lot of it.

Q. How can you do that without having a Fire to look at?

A. I always think the big picture is the important thing. I don’t think people can remember the how if they don’t understand the why. I can write about those big ideas before I have it, and then do step-by-steps and link to more information after I have it.

Q. What’s the format of the book?

A. Much of it will be like this…interviews on the main topics about the Kindle Fire. Actually, what I call “splinterviews”.

Q. Splinterviews?

A. Yes. I call them that because it’s really me doing both parts. I’m interviewing myself, so it’s like I’m “splintered”, so to speak.

Q. You mean I”m not real?

A. Well, you aren’t or I’m not…hard to say. Somebody looking at this being written would only see one person, though.

Q. Do you figure out the questions and answers before you write them?

A. No, it’s like when I write a story. I don’t know what the characters are going to say ahead of time. The way I like to write, I don’t even know the end of the story, usually. People find that hard to believe, but I think it might be my improv background.

Q. You did improvisation?

A. Yes, I used to do that.

Q. Wait, so when you write a story, you don’t know the end?

A. Not usually. The one that surprises people the most on that is Doctor Watson’s Blog. I didn’t know what the answer to the mystery was going to be when I was writing the first chapter…I didn’t even know what the mystery was.

Q. How can you put in clues, then?

A. It’s just the way my mind works. I put in things I think will matter later.

Q. Do you rewrite?

A. Not much…I do some polishing, sometimes.

Q. Let’s get back to the Kindle Fire book. You plan to have it available shortly after the release?

A. Yes. I want to test some specific things, and maybe take some pictures to include. I’d like to show how it looks in bright light, for example, in comparison to a Kindle. I don’t want to wait too long, though…people will want to know about the Fire right away.

Q. Why don’t you just talk about it in the blog?

A. I could, but I don’t want to overwhelm the blog with in depth Fire stuff. I will cover it there, but I’m hoping to write something like 75,000 words for the book…that’s a lot more than I would do in the blog.

Q. 75,000? Why not 100,000?

A. That was my first thought, but I’m planning to sell the book for $2.99. I figure 75,000 words is about the equivalent of three hundred pages…the traditional number is 250 words per page. I figure that works out to about a penny a page…that’s a nice figure. (smiles) I may write more than that, but I want to make something realistic so I can get it out before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Q. Why does that matter?

A. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year…well, certainly, of the holiday season. The Fire is going to be in the stores…people will want it then.

Q. That makes sense…do you think there will be a big market for it?

A. I don’t really know. It’s kind of an offbeat approach. I think people will find it very useful, but I’m sure there will be ninety-nine cent titles, and more expensive ones, too. I don’t know how many people will get it.

Q. Your blog is popular, though.

A. It’s a top ten blog in the Kindle store, but if this was a paperbook, the sales wouldn’t be considered especially good. Digital sales still aren’t like paper sales.

Q. Is that disappointing?

A. Not at all! If I had to do these things in paper, I’d never sell any of them, most likely. I’m happy with digital only sales. I also plan to link to resources on Amazon and other websites…that wouldn’t work very well in paper.

Q. Right. Well, we’d better let you get to that writing.

A. Thanks! My Significant Other and kid are out today to give me time to get a big chunk of it done.

Q. I hope we didn’t take too much time on this.

A. The blog comes first for my writing. I love having my regular readers, and from a monetary standpoint, it’s the big income generator for my creative work right now. That’s not the main reason I do it, but it’s nice to be rewarded for the time and effort I put into this. Seriously,what I like best is the give and take with readers…even if they don’t comment, I know I’ve helped people. If I didn’t have the subscribers, though, it would be hard to justify.

Q. Well, good luck in your writing today.

A. Thanks! I’m counting the days until the Fire gets here…it’s supposed to be four days, but I suppose I might have it Tuesday. It won’t make me forget my Kindle, but I’m looking forward to this new world!

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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,309 other followers

%d bloggers like this: