Archive for the ‘Kindle 3’ Category

Amazon updates the Kindle Keyboard, adding parental controls

September 11, 2012

Amazon updates the Kindle Keyboard, adding parental controls

Amazon has just updated the Kindle Keyboard, formerly informally known as the Kindle 3.

That may help alleviate some concerns people have about Amazon abandoning speakers (necessary for audiobooks, music, and text-to-speech) in its RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles).

You can just wait for them to send it to you wirelessly in the next few weeks, or you can do the update manually here:

Kindle Keyboard software update 3.4

They’ve improved the instructions there, by the way. If you have questions about updating it manually, feel free to ask.

Do be careful to pick the right update…it’s different for European customers, and different for wi-fi only Kindle Keyboards, versus wi-fi and 3G Kindle Keyboards.

What does this one add?

  • Parental controls, like those on the “Mindle“…you can lock down a device to prevent it from going on the internet or downloading books from the archives, but you can still send books to it by buying them on a computer. This is a good implementation of “parental controls”, although FreeTime on the new Kindle Fire line will be more sophisticated
  • New crisper font
  • KF8 (Kindle Format 8), panel view for comics, children’s books with “Kindle Text Popup”
  • Whispersync for Voice: this is the new feature that lets your sight-read an e-book, switch to the audiobook and it picks up in the right place, then switch back again (picking up sight-reading where you finished listening). For more information on that, see http://www.amazon.com/wsv

Let me know if you notice anything else with this one…that sometimes happens. :)

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

Flash! I’ve tried the 3.03 update for the K3

October 20, 2010

Flash! I’ve tried the 3.03 update for the K3

As I expected, I haven’t (so far) seen any menu or interface changes with the new early release software update for the Kindle 3.

I was hoping it would give us a “persistent zoom” on the browser (so  I could tell it to always make the webpage image at, say, 150%), but no such luck.

Are the page turns faster?  Maybe…hard to tell, because they weren’t slow before.  The text doesn’t look any different to me, at least.  The web browser does seem a bit faster, but that’s subjective as well.  When I’ve zoomed a page and then go to a different section of that page, that seems to happen more quickly.

I wouldn’t say there were any significant problems to fix for me with Drake (knock virtual wood), so there aren’t any standouts for me to notice.

The update process took about six to seven minutes, and went smoothly.

I don’t have any “hacks” on my Kindle, so I’m not seeing anything there. 

My guess is that it mostly fixes problems and might plug a hole or two. 

If you aren’t having problems, my feeling is you can wait until this is official.  If you are having problems, it might be worth a try.  If you have “hacks” or otherwise work significantly outside the system, this might cause a problem for you.  I’ve heard rumored that blocks the new installation of at least one hack…without affecting a hack you have already installed.  I do not recommend doing hacks, because they violate your Terms of Service with Amazon.

Have you updated and noticed anything?  Feel free to let me know.

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

Flash! Kindle 3 3.03 early preview available

October 19, 2010

Flash! Kindle 3 3.03 early preview available

Amazon has released an early preview of a new software update for the Kindle 3

Kindle Software Update

Rumor has it that it blocks some security holes (which some people won’t like, since they are using those holes). 

It’s also supposed to provide some “general performance improvements”.  What that typically suggests is that you do the same things you did before, but they work better.  It might mean improved web browsing, faster “page turns”, that kind of thing.  If there were signficant changes, I would guess they would be showing them.

I’m not going to update this morning (too busy if something goes wrong), but I may do it in the next day or two. 

If you get it and notice a change, please let me know.

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

Flash! My third Kindle 3 is here

September 29, 2010

Flash! My third Kindle 3 is here

So, my latest item from the Kindle of the week club has arrived.  ;)

I haven’t set it up yet (long day…but a good one), but I wanted to let you know Drake was here.

I guess 50 trivia points was too low, since nobody answered (here or elsewhere) why it’s named Drake.  Yes, it’s more obscure than I thought.

My Kindles so far:

  • Kindle 1: K-1 (still going strong)
  • Kindle 2: Tom (lost or stolen)
  • Kindle 2 international: Durgo (named after Triplicate Girl, later known as Duo Damsel…because my Kindles would have been three and became two through an unfortunate incident) (still going strong, now used by my Significant Other)
  • Kindle 3 #1 (D’Artagnan…the new, young, fourth…like the character in the Three Musketeers) (screen failed)
  • Kindle 3 #2 (Pete…named after Pete Best, who some consider the 5th Beatle…screen failed within a week)

The new one  is Kindle 3 #3 (Drake…this is Kindle #6 for me, and Number 6 on The Prisoner is widely believed, with some evidence to support it, to be John Drake, Patrick McGoohan’s spy character in a previous series).

Okay, I’ll let the forum know, then eat dinner, then set up Drake.  It won’t take too long…I have the routine down, now.  :)

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

Flash! My Kindle 3′s screen fails…again

September 27, 2010

Flash! My Kindle 3′s screen fails…again

Well, I’m glad this wasn’t my first experience with the Kindle…or this blog might not exist.  ;)

Tuesday of this week, I got a replacement for my Kindle 3, on which the  screen had failed.

Guess what?

The screen on my new Kindle just failed. 

It’s a different type of failure, so at least that’s interesting.

On the last one, part of one of the sleep mode pictures just stayed on there.

With this one, it was stuck on a page of text.  Then, the entire screen turned about the same color as the graphite case.  I can still see those words of text, but only because they are a bit blacker.

I went through all the trouble-shooting…nothing.

Since I couldn’t apparently change the screen at all, I couldn’t restart, except a hard restart, which didn’t work.  Fortunately, it was still recognized by my laptop, so I could do one more backup.  I’d synced earlier today, so I think I’ll be okay on that…might not have the “last page read” information is all.

I should have my third K3 on Tuesday.

I know the drill…and I still have the box.

The one irritating thing is that I’d already put the TrackItBack* sticker on this one…the one I’d ordered for the first Kindle 3, of course.  That means I’m out twenty dollars for that.  :(

I was also planning to use it in a meeting tomorrow (I keep notes on it), but maybe I can borrow back my Significant Other’s K2 again.

I’ll have to figure out what good I am going to get out of this experience…don’t think I really learned a whole lot new.  :)  Oh, and now I’ll have to think of another name to go with six…I feel like Janet Evanovich.  ;)  Oh, I’ve got it!  Drake!  Um…fifty trivia points if you know why (without looking it up).

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

Flash! New message for personal documents sent via wi-fi

September 23, 2010

Flash! New message for personal documents sent via wi-fi  

This was an interesting one, and I did end up calling Kindle Customer Service to try to get more information.  

I pretty frequently send personal documents for free conversion to Amazon.  It’s commonly work things, and often ones that I want to review in the car using text-to-speech.  

I have a Kindle 3, now, and I knew it could be delivered for free to my Kindle via wi-fi.  Via-3G, it’s fifteen cents a megabyte rounded up (for US Kindleers in the US).   

I wasn’t quite sure how that would work.  How would it choose whether to download it via wi-fi (for free) or via 3G (and charge me)?  

Well, that part of the question is easy…to send it to your Kindle via wi-fi, you just send it to your free address (see this earlier post).  Now, not only do you get a link sent back to your personal e-mail address, it also will send them to your Kindle when you are connected to wi-fi.  

Yes, it does it both ways.  That’s going to be a bit of a bother, because you don’t really need the e-mail if it was already sent via wi-fi…although it’s nice to have the link handy.  I’ve gone back to those before…converted files do not have the DRM (Digital Rights Management) that restricts them to a single device, so it’s a way to download a copy to your computer you can send to other people.  

Here was the strange thing, though.   

When I did the conversion initially, I wasn’t connected via wi-fi, and I did what I had always done…transferred the document to my Kindle’s Documents folder using my USB.  

A message showed up later on my homescreen for each of the documents I sent.  This is it:  

Awaiting Wi-Fi Message

 

Here was the problem.  

I did connect to wi-fi…and those messages wouldn’t go away.  

I tried Menu-Sync & Check…nope.  

I tried a Menu-Settings-Menu-Restart…nope.  

I checked clicking left…yes, I got the choice to delete.  

My guess was that the message was only there because I had already transferred the documents via USB when I wasn’t connected to wi-fi.  It’s logical that it doesn’t want to redeliver the documents via wi-fi in that situation…you don’t want to overwrite the user’s “associated information” file.  That would be the mbp in this case, and you would wipe out any notes they had made.  

I called Kindle Customer Service (well, I had them call me through http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle ).  They confirmed that it was fine to delete the messages.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to be able to get personal documents for free on my Kindle via wi-fi.  That’s a nice change.  It would be nice if the system was a bit smarter, though, and didn’t leave those messages if the file was already on the device.   

In the future, I’ll try to do the conversions when I’m connected to wi-fi…or wait to pick them up until I am, rather than using the USB.  That wouldn’t have worked well in this case, though…I wanted them for my trip for text-to-speech.  I figure I’ll be deleting a few of those messages in the future.  

Bottom line: if you already have the file, you can delete that message.  I suspect that, if you deleted it and you didn’t have the file yet, it wouldn’t make any difference…you’d still get it when you connected to wi-fi.  

Just thought you might want to know.  :)  

UPDATE: I needed to put some information about where I was going today on my Kindle.  I normally would have put it in a text file, connected the Kindle to my computer, and saved the file to the Kindle’s Documents folder (Kindle can read text files with no conversion). 

Instead, since I was connected to wi-fi, I just sent it to my free.kindle.com address.  It took about thirty seconds, and it showed up without me doing a Sync & Check.  That’s actually nice functionality.  It meant I didn’t need to use my cable.  Disadvantage?  It means I’ll have to think about recharging my Kindle more than I think about it now.  I have been connecting my Kindle to my computer fairly often to transfer personal files…and that’s when it gets charged.  I’ll still connect it to back up my files, but I don’t do that as often. 

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

Flash! My replacement K3 is here

September 21, 2010

Flash! My replacement K3 is here

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my K3‘s screen failed Saturday night. 

I called them that night: my replacement is here today.

I try not to make this stuff just personal, and hope that it helps people, so I want to give you some of my experience with setting up the replacement.

Oh, personal thing first: this new one’s name is Pete, after Pete Best.  I consider Pete Best the fifth Beatle, although I know there are other candidates for that title (Stu Sutcliffe, Brian Epstein, George Martin).  I’ve just always like the story (true or not) that Pete was replaced because they wanted Paul to be the “cute one”, and “chicks dug” Pete.  Yes, I know he may have refused to wear the suit or do the hair thing or may not have been musically flexible enough…but I kind of like “cute” being a negative.  Oh, and I’m not going to say what that might say about Ringo.  ;)

Here was the most interesting thing: this Kindle came deregistered (not sure why, but probably because it was “ordered” by Kindle Customer Service).  While it was deregistered, I could still use my wi-fi (after I set it up).  With a strictly 3G Kindle, I believe you can’t use the Whispernet without registering it.  Thanks to one of my regular readers (and a Bezos Street Irregular…BSI), tuxgirl, for the heads up to this possibility.

This also changes a recommendation I used to make, that deregistering a Kindle you give to a child would make it so it couldn’t connect to the Whispernet.  Some parents worry about that, because they don’t want their minor children going to inappropriate sites.  That can be controlled to a large extent on a computer with so-called “nanny” software.   This becomes more of an issue with the K3, since the browser is so much better.  You still don’t see color or video, but you could see some very adult pictures.  Now, even if the Kindle is deregistered, it can still surf the web through wi-fi.  Worth noting, for those of you who want parental controls. 

How did I know it wasn’t registered?  I couldn’t do a sync & Check for New Items.  I needed to do that to connect to my Archives.

I registered the Kindle at

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

Interestingly, I used to be able to get my serial number off the back of the device.  It may be there in teeny tiny print, but I didn’t see it.  Instead, you get it from

Home-Menu-Settings-Device Info

I store that serial number off the device, by the way.

If a Kindle wasn’t charged, though, does that mean you couldn’t register it since you couldn’t get the serial number?  Intriguing.

I suppose that doesn’t make much difference, actually.  If you can’t power it up, why do you need to register it?  On the other hand, what happens when somebody finds a Kindle and the power has discharged?  How would you identify it to Amazon? 

That’s another reason for using a label from TrackItBack*. 

I was glad my label hadn’t arrived quickly enough for me to put it on D’Artagnan, the little Kindle that failed.  ;)  That would have been about twenty dollars out the door.  :)

I had backed up my personal files and such, and synced the old Kindle (see that other post for details).  That made it easy to put all of that on the new one.

Oh, a  key point: don’t deregister the old Kindle until you get the Collections off it, if you want to import them.  I believe they won’t be available after you deregister.

Otherwise, just download the titles you want from the archives, import the old device collection from the archives, and you are good.

The one big thing I’ll have to do is recreate my internet bookmarks, but I hadn’t had time to do too many of those. 

The new Kindle was a bit more communicative.  When it was installing the updates, it would tell me what stage it was on…1 of 4, 2 of 4, that kind of thing.

I reset my text size, and my text-to-speech options (I like the fastest setting).

When I went to charge it, it went into USB mode…but then showed me a symbol and told me that the Kindle wasn’t currently charging.  I accidentally plugged it into an improperly powered USB port for charging.  That’s nice!  Both of those things certainly might have been there before…I think the “stage information” came in with the 3.0.1 update.

So, nothing much to say on this one…which is pretty impressive.  :)  My notes were there, even my position in an “audiobook” (an MP3 of an Old Time Radio show in my Audible folder) was there.  I’ll go visit my internet sites and bookmark them again, and then it will all be set.

Welcome, Pete!  ;)

* Full disclosure: TrackItBack sent me some free stickers after I wrote about them the first time.  I didn’t ask them to do that, and didn’t know they were going to do it went I wrote the article.  It hasn’t affected how I feel about them…I still would have bought the last few I bought.

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

Flash! Kindle 3 is literally pocket-sized

September 16, 2010

Flash! Kindle 3 is literally pocket-sized

I’ve always been able to carry my Kindles in a pocket, but I have unusually large pockets.  On the weekends, I wear a photojournalist vest and those have some big pockets.

However, I did try slipping my K3 into a slacks pocket today…no problem at all.

Just remember, your Kindle doesn’t do well when twisted or if pressure is put on the screen…I’d take it out before you sit down.  :)  Still, I’d guess it fit better than a typical mass market paperback.

As Ma e-West might have said, “Is that a Kindle in your pocket, or…”  ;)

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

Text options in the K3

September 13, 2010

Text options in the K3 

This was something I wanted to see, and I thought you might be wondering as well. 

Ever since the Kindle 1, the ability to change how the text is displayed has been important…and a bit controversial.  We can’t (officially) install our own fonts, and I don’t recommend using the “font hack” that is out there, because it voids your Terms of Service with Amazon (which could be a very bad thing…although I don’t think they normally do anything about it for the hack). 

We have, though, been able to change some things.  Originally, we had six text sizes we could use…we’re up to eight, now. 

I’m not going  to show you the text sizes, because, quite simply, my screengrabs (accomplished with Alt+Shift+G) won’t show true for you. 

I can, though, show you some of the other options. 

This is the basic default for me: 

Standard

The “typeface” is set on “regular”.  Let’s talk about that first.  You can think of “typeface” as font, although it isn’t, really.  It’s different versions of the same font.  A font is basically the shape of the letters, and the shape doesn’t really change here.  You can think of it like making your document bold or italic…it’s the same font, but it’s been…warped a bit. 

Here’s the same passage (it’s from Alice in Wonderland…a part where she is changing, by the way) with the typeface set on “condensed”: 

Condensed typeface

That one’s subtle, but notice how the third line ends on a different word?  More words fit on a single line…without changing the margin.  That might be worse for people with a lower visual acuity, but it may make them appear darker…that’s not clear in my screenshots.
This next one is more obvious, though…it’s “sans serif”:

Sans Serif

I think you can tell why some people have been asking for that since the beginning.  A “serif” is a little extra line at the extremities of a letter.  It makes the writing look fancier and old-fashioned…I’ve always figured that was from pens that would streak the paper as you lifted them off after you finished a letter.  “Sans” means without.  Look at the “m” in the third word.  In the regular font, it looks like the bottom of the m is wearing little shoes.  ;)  In the “sans serif” they just look like posts.  If you have trouble separating one character from another due to visual issues, sans serif is easier…things don’t tend to blend together as much. 

Now, let’s take a look at line spacing.  That’s how vertical space is between two lines of text…how much room there is from the bottom of one line to the top of the next one.  The pictures above have a large amount of space.  Again, that will tend to make it easier to read.  Let’s take a look at the medium amount:

Medium Line Spacing

and with small line spacing: 

Small Line Spacing

Look at how close the bottom of the “y” is on the first line with the dot of the “i”.  In the “small” setting, it’s quite close…which would make it harder to read, again. 

However, if you can read with things close together, you’ll get more words/lines on a “page”.  More things on the page, fewer “page turns”, better battery life. 

One more option…words per line.  What this does is increase the margin, the background spaces to the left and the right of the words.  Here’s one with fewer: 

Fewer Words Per Line

and here it is with the “fewest” setting: 

Fewest Words Per Line

I really don’t know why someone would choose to have fewer words per line…the only thing I can think of is if they have really big hands or some sort of gripping device (some people with debilitating conditions, like muscular sclerosis, use those) that obscure the edges of the screen. 

A few other notes: 

There isn’t a setting here for “justification”.  When you set justification in a Word document (for example), you can have the sentences line up with the left side of the screen, the right side of the screen, or both (the last one is just called “justified”, the others are typically called “alignments”.  You see legal documents justified some times). 

You can also rotate the display to do landscape…but I didn’t think that would show well in these screengrabs. 

Finally, there are two formats in which Kindle store books come.  The most common one is .azw.  These controls should work with those.  The other one is the “dreaded Topaz” format…it will have an extension of .tpz (if transferred to your computer and then to your Kindle) or .azw1 (note the one on the end…that’s if you put it on your Kindle wirelessly).  It’s called a “dreaded” format because it messes up a lot of things. 

Topaz enables the publisher to embed fonts…and you may not be able to work with those like you can with the Kindle’s native font.  

I tried it with a Topaz book I had…and did not get the typeface or line spacing options.  It’s irritating, but I can understand that…the embedded font (and it does look different) may not have a sans serif option. 

More concerning is a report I read on the forum that someone couldn’t change the text size on a Topaz book.  That could be a real problem for those with print disabilities. 

I do think Amazon could disclose more things on the e-books’ product pages, including: 

1. Clipping limit 

2. Topaz or not 

3. Sample percentage (how much of the book is the sample) 

Honestly, I’d be less likely to buy a Topaz book.  I had this one because I got it for free.  :)  I think it is a consumer information issue…and some people certainly might prefer Topaz editions. 

Well, I hope that helps.  If you have any other K3 questions, feel free to ask.  I’m liking mine…I still find the size too small, but I think I’ll adjust.  The weird part was not being sure whether it was in my pocket or not (I have big pockets).  I didn’t have that problem with my K1 or K2!  I’m getting used to holding it in a way so part of my thumb doesn’t hang off the edge…that’s just scary, somehow.  My SO (Significant Other) calls it “muffin thumb”.  :)   

For more information on doing “screengrabs”, see this previous post.

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


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