Archive for the ‘Splinterviews’ Category

My new book…Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet

November 22, 2011

My new book…Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet

My new book

Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet

is now available for purchase in the Kindle store for $2.99. In keeping with the style of the book, here’s a splinterview (where I interview myself) about it.

Q. Your new book just went live in the Kindle store…how do you feel about that?

A. Actually, surprisingly happy. Not that I shouldn’t be, but I feel good about it…I think it came out pretty well.

Q. Were you worried it wouldn’t?

A. I was really trying to get this one out quickly…I wanted to get it out before Black Friday, for people who were getting Kindle Fires then. There’s always that pressure when you give yourself a deadline…I prefer to just keep tweaking things over time. When I used to do databases, I remember someone coming to me and asking me if the database was done. I said, “It’s like Disneyland…as long as there’s a dream, it will never be finished.” The person looked at me quizzically and said, “But can I use it?” I said, “Sure.”

Q. Does rushing compromise the quality?

A. It maybe compromises the length. The way I wrote this one, I’m pretty happy with it. It’s meant to be the breaking information…it’s not like a research work I crafted over years.

Q. Have you ever done that?

A. Honestly, no. I’ve always loved walking into a chaotic situation and improvising. I once prepped a two day class on a BART ride.

Q. BART?

A. That’s the subway system in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was managing other trainers, and somebody reported in sick…so I headed over to do the class. It was also software I’d never seen…Pagemaker, I think. Anybody who looks at my works knows that graphic design is not my long suit.

Q. And how did the class go?

A. It went fine…I think I got perfect satisfaction scores from my students. Of course, I didn’t have to know the whole class when I started. I remember another time I had to step in with some software I didn’t know. I was joking later saying that I wanted to say at 10:00, “Well, that’s all I know. Let’s take a twenty minute break, I’ll learn enough to get us to lunch, and then we’ll come back.”

Q. How can you possibly teach something you don’t know?

A. It helps to know something, but that’s a common misconception…people who are really good at something are often really bad at teaching it. Teaching is a skill unto itself…it largely has to do with figuring out what is important in a subject and getting other people to understand it.

Q. Okay…let’s get back to the book.  It’s about the Kindle Fire, right? How much do you know about that?

A. Oh, writing about something and standing up in front of a class are two very different things. I got my Kindle Fire on the first possible day, November 15th…I preordered the day it was released, and paid extra for one day shipping. I started writing the book ahead of that. I published it on November 20th…five days later, The book is more than 20,000 words. It’s the traditional equivalent of about an 80 page book.

Q. Hadn’t you said you wanted to more than that?

A. I did…I sort of foolishly started out wanting to write 100,000 and then 75,000 words. However, this ended up being a good length. I think people will get their $2.99 worth’s out of it.

Q. What did you leave out?

A. Well, I’d like to do more resources and recommendations…more of the appendix stuff. I didn’t get into reaction to the Kindle Fire by other people. I did, though, go through every menu option, and give people some good tips as well as the big concepts. I found out some interesting things along the way.

Q. Like what?

A. I didn’t know you could put a password on the Kindle Fire. Some people have been worried about other people seeing the webpages they visit. You can clean them up, but this is easier. I also suspect people are going to keep confidential information on there, like financial records. This will protect that, to some extent.

Q. Anything else that stands out?

A. I now love the Pulse app! I hadn’t used it before, but it’s a great way to read blogs. I also found out how to remove webpages from the Carousel, and a lot of little setting things. One odd thing, which I don’t know enough about yet, is why there are international settings for the wi-fi. Is wi-fi different in Japan than it is in the USA? I don’t know.

Q. What don’t you like about the book?

A. The cover! I don’t have one right now. That’s always been a problem for me. I’m willing to pay somebody to do one…I just haven’t gotten that all worked out yet. That’s going to hurt the sales, for sure. I’m going to try again to get that going, and once I get something, it may take a couple of days before it shows up in the Kindle store.

Q. Nothing about the content?

A. I could probably have proof-read it more carefully. I suspect it’s in pretty good shape…I did run a spell-check and skim over it. And as I mentioned, I’ll probably add some material to it…nothing substantial, though.

Q. Should people wait to buy it until it’s done?

A. It will never be done. (smiles) I think it’s worth the money as is, myself.

Q. Do you think other people will think that?

A. My guess is that it will do pretty well. I told my family I’m guessing I might sell two thousand copies or so by the end of the year. We’re not supposed to reveal our sales figures, and I’m not…I’m just speculating ahead of time. Oh, and I guess I should say “licenses” instead of “copies”…that’s how it works for e-books.

A. What happens next? Do you go on a publicity tour?

Q. (laughs) No, nothing like that. I’ve gifted a few copies to people…other Kindle bloggers, mostly. I may do some more of that, but I do pay for each one.

A. You can’t send them free copies?

Q. I could, but it’s more complicated for them. I like them to be able to have the Kindle services with the book…back up of notes, Whispersync. It’s also not that expensive. I pay the $2.99 up front, but if they do get the book, I get a lot of it back in royalties. If they don’t…well, I’ve sent it to people I like. If they get something else, that’s okay. By the way, I noticed that you can now choose a delivery date for Kindle store books. That’s a wonderful improvement…you don’t have to buy a book the same day you are giving it.

A. Are you going to send it to people you don’t know?

Q. Maybe…it’s hard for me to push myself out there too much.

A. Why? You don’t seem shy.

Q. Oh, I’m not. I just…want to keep my writing in perspective in my life. I went the whole “I’m going to be famous” route with something else, and it was just too much time away from the family. I like the level I’m at now…the writing is justified in the time I spend on it, but it doesn’t consume my relationships. Having the blog is great! I feel like I have more people I know socially that way, especially the commenters. I honestly really rely on that. I hope people review the book, and people stumble across the reviews. It changes the dynamic for me if I’m hawking it.

Q. Why did you want to do this interview, then? Isn’t that hawking it?

A. Not really…this feels like my circle of friends. It’s people that I think may want to know about the book, and they may want to ask me questions about it. I won’t keep bringing it up. The Fire will be part of the mix here, but I have some other Kindle things I”m already thinking about covering. For example, I want to know more about this thing with Penguin and the public library e-book lending. I’ve written to the publisher…we’ll see if they get back to me. I’ll list the book in the appropriate places, and I won’t ignore it…but I’m not going to write the title on my forehead, either. (smiles)

Update: I have now uploaded a cover, and I took some of my readers’ suggestions and made it a flame. You can see it on the book’s Amazon product page, and it will probably take a day or so before you may be able to see it on your Fire. I’ve also gone through and did some proof-reading. I can’t upload that for another day or so, and then it will be a couple of days before people who already bought it can get it (as I understand the way Amazon does it now). I’ll be testing that on my Kindle Fire, and I”ll let you know. I think I”ll have to remove the book from my Fire and download it again from the archives to see the changes. You may have gotten notifications about a new edition of a book you bought before…I don’t think this will be like that, I think you’ll just get the new version when you redownload it from the archives (which is free to do), but I’ll double-check.

I’m also very pleased with the response! It’s already #1 in a couple of categories, and as I write this #812 in paid books in the Kindle store! Given that  there are over a million books there, that’s pretty good. :) I’m starting to get reviews on the page. One four-star review did mention a couple of typos. I think that’s reasonable to say. When I get the corrected version uploaded, that should help with that. I was actually pleased at how few errors there were, given the accelerated timetable to get it out.

Thanks to everybody who has bought one already! It makes me feel good to know that people are making that choice.

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.


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