Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

New: set your default delivery device for Kindle books

October 18, 2014

New: set your default delivery device for Kindle books

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Well, this should reduce the questions which get asked in the Amazon Kindle forums!

For years, people have been confused by where a book goes when they order one from the USA Kindle store.

In the past, there were two answers to that:

If you ordered from your device (from a non-Fire Kindle, a Fire, or a Kindle reader app), it would first go to that device. That’s if you are ordering from within the Kindle store…not using your browser to go to Amazon.com.

If you were at Amazon.com (on your desktop or laptop, for example, or in your browser), you could choose which device got it first…but it would default to your first Kindle (including Fires) alphabetically.

That led to people naming their Kindles in special ways, to drive one up to the top of the list. Instead of “Bufo’s Kindle”, for example, it might be “AAA Bufo’s Kindle”.

Today, for the first time, I was asked to set a default delivery device.

Before I tell you how, it’s important that I point out that you might not have it yet.

Amazon is big on A/B testing: in other words, some people get something and some people don’t while they experiment with it.

A new feature might work for me, and not for you…or vice versa.

It might work in one browser and not another.

It might work in one way for one person (a button might be on the left side of the screen or the choice might be in a menu) and a different way for another person (button on the right, for example).

That said, here is what I am seeing.

When I go to

http://www.amazon.com/myk…formerly called “Manage Your Kindle” and now called “Manage Your Content and Devices

and click or tap on

Your Devices

I see a

Set as default device

link under a selected non-Fire Kindle or Kindle reader app.

For Fires tablets, it’s in the Device Actions menu.

It isn’t available for my Fire Phone or my Fire TV, although they both show on this page (my Fire TV doesn’t have a Kindle app, but my Fire Phone does).

When you set that,

Default Device

appears under the device’s name.

That’s it. :)

As far as I can tell, you can change it whenever you want.

Once I’d done that, the “deliver to” dropdown on a book’s Amazon product page changed to showing the default device first.

Opening the dropdown, the choices looked like they did before…same order, with hardware Kindles and Fires alphabetically first, followed by apps alphabetically.

It did not change the behavior when ordering from a device…when I ordered from my

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

(through the Kindle store, not the browser), it went automatically to that device, not the default device I had designated.

Even those this is a little thing, it’s a big improvement!

A device we don’t use much happens to come alphabetically first…I had sometimes been forgetting to change that, and the book would just sit as a pending delivery forever.

Oh, I could still get it on another device by downloading it from the Cloud/archives, or sending it from that MYK page above, but I really don’t like having those pending deliveries out there (maybe they’ll let us cancel them at some point).

One other tip.

I often get books, and would prefer that they not be on any of my devices right away. I’d rather read them some time in the future, and don’t need them taking up local memory (I usually only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices at a time).

While we can get apps and have them go only to the Cloud, that’s not currently an option for Kindle books.

However, you can get the free Kindle Cloud Reader

http://read.amazon.com

and set that as your default device (I checked…yes, you can do that).

That way, by default, it will go to that Cloud reader, which means the book won’t take up memory on your Kindles and Fires…until you download it.

Remember, that’s only if you order in a browser…if you order it in the store on one of your devices, it will go to that device first.

I’m very happy to see Amazon still making these kinds of asked-for improvements!

If you get a chance, take a look and see if you have the option. If you don’t, I’d be interested to hear that. If your interface is significantly different from what I described above, I’d be interested to hear that as well.

What else would be on your list of tweaks (minor changes) you’d like to see? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Kindle and Fire Generations

October 12, 2014

Kindle and Fire Generations

Many people have complained about how Amazon names their devices…it’s been confusing.

The least expensive Kindle has generally just been officially called a “Kindle”, for example.

That might be okay, but the problem really happens when you are trying to buy

Kindle Accessories (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

A cover for one model won’t necessarily fit another model.

It also gets very confusing when we try to help people on the Amazon Kindle forums. You might think a question like, “Can I stream my Kindle Fire to my TV?” would be easy to answer, but it’s different for different years. We frequently have to ask people to identify their devices before we can help them, or give them multiple answers (which can be confusing).

Well, recently, Amazon has started identifying Kindles and Fires (which used to be called “Kindle Fires”…another confusing factor) by generations.

The upcoming

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and

the new

7th generation entry level Kindle: “Mindle Touch” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

are both being identified now as “7th Generation”.

Let’s work our way back through the non-Fire generations first:

  • 7th generation (announced September 2014): Kindle Voyage, “Mindle Touch” (the $79 least expensive Kindle)
  • 6th generation (September 2013): Kindle Paperwhite 2 (now just called the Kindle Paperwhite)
  • 5th generation (September 2012): Kindle Paperwhite 1
  • 4th generation (September 2011): Kindle Touch, Mindle (my name for the entry level Kindle…”Minimum Kindle”)
  • 3rd generation (August 2010): Kindle Keyboard
  • 2nd generation (February 2009; May 2009): Kindle 2 and Kindle DX
  • 1st generation (November 2007): Kindle 1

The recently announced Fires (formerly Kindle Fires) are the 4th generation of those:

  • 4th generation (September 2014): versions of the Fire HD, Fire HDX, and a kids’ version
  • 3rd generation (September 2013): introduces HDX, new HDs
  • 2nd generation (September 2012): Kindle Fire 2nd gen, Kindle Fire HDs introduced
  • 1st generation (September 2011): Kindle Fire

How can you tell which one you have?

Here are the Amazon help pages:

It would be nice if they’d start actually putting the numbers on the devices, but I don’t think that will happen (they want the brand identification to be “Kindle” or “Amazon”, not “Kindle 7″…at least, that’s my guess).

Hopefully, this will help you buying those accessories…and those can make good gifts for the holidays for people you know who already have a device.

Bonus deal: some of the Kindle e-mail subscriptions have a deal going where you can get a free book (from a very limited set) if you are a new subscriber.

You can see the list of these free e-mails from Amazon here:

E-mail Subscriptions (at AmazonSmile*)

The free book deal is through October 18th…I know the Business & Money newsletter has one, Teen & Young Adult has one, Mystery & Thriller has one…I’d just sign up for the ones you want and see what happens. :) These are all free, by the way.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

September 28, 2014

New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

I think a lot of times, people go into the Kindle store looking for a “mainstream” book. They want a “People Magazine book”, as I call them: one that would have been reviewed in that publication. They want what they consider a “real book”, a popular book.

You can’t sort in the Kindle store by Avg. Customer Review and find that…you’ll find many faith-based titles at the top of the lists (I think people tend to give those higher reviews), but not necessarily well-known ones.

Sorting by publication date doesn’t work, either. Not only are obscure indies added every day, but publication date is what the publisher puts on it…not when the book was originally published. A bestseller from 1942 may have a 2014 publication date: that’s just up to the publisher to choose. I see people asking sometimes why Amazon doesn’t put the date on there. Well, that’s a surprising amount of work. You’d have to verify that the book was the book you thought it was…that it wasn’t a new translation, or a book with the same name, or that a new introduction hadn’t been added to it. Then, you’d have to search publication records.

It might sound easy, but all of that would add to the cost of selling it, and would introduce another area for error on Amazon’s part…better to let the publisher choose, I think.

Interestingly, a strong indicator is the number of reviews.

I don’t think I’ve seen a book in the Kindle store with, oh, over 5,000 reviews where I hadn’t heard of it.

Up until recently, that hasn’t been a sort option.

I was surprised to see it today…at least for the Kindle Matchbook program books:

Kindle Matchbook sorted by most reviews (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That program lets you buy an e-book if you buy (or have bought from Amazon in the past) a p-book (paperbook). That’s only true for a certain set of books…45,297 at time of writing.

Here are the top books that appear:

I’m guessing you’ve heard of all three of those…and I might have had the three of them in the window when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Unfortunately, as I was looking around the Kindle store, I wasn’t seeing that as a sort option. It could be that they are just rolling it out, or testing  (Amazon does that a lot) to see how it impacts sales and how often it is used.

However…

I did notice something when I did the search!

At the end of the URL (uniform or universal resource locator)…the web address, there was this phrase:

&sort=review-count-rank

I went to the main Kindle store listing, swapped out the sort at the end with that phrase…and it seems to have worked!

USA Kindle store books sorted by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Here are the most reviewed books in the USA Kindle store, based on that:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins…32,047
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins…32,047
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green…31,372
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James…26,937
  • Good Girl by Gillian Flynn…23,221

Certainly, those are bestsellers which have been part of the cultural discussion.

There are multiple things which drive the number of reviews. Here are a few…I don’t have statistics on this, this is just my guess:

  • I think more recent books tend to be reviewed more (people don’t usually go back and review a book they read a decade ago)
  • I suspect that young people tend to write more reviews than older people
  • Degree of emotional reaction to a book (pro or con)

Now, I know some people tend to reject things that are popular, but I think this may be one of the best ways to identify an…impactful book (on society).

I’m certainly going to try this again in other places!

Try it out in areas of your expertise, and imagine if someone had come up to you and asked to read some books so they could be part of the conversation…not necessarily the best books (those might be obscure), but just to understand what the “buzz” is.

I think this tends to work in part because the number of reviews will include other formats…so p-books affect this. That may also mean that indies (independently published books) are at a disadvantage on this, but they generally aren’t going to be those People Magazine books anyway (not yet, anyway).

I just tried it on some other searches, and it does seem to have worked.

Always love to find something sort of hidden like this and share it with you! :) I’m hoping they add it to the dropdowns generally so everybody can use it, but until then, enjoy!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Using the Kindle store’s Advanced Search

September 17, 2014

Using the Kindle store’s Advanced Search

Like a lot of people, I’m surprised sometimes at how unsophisticated the search in the Kindle store is.

You can put an author’s name into the searchbox at the top of a page and count on finding just books by that author.

You can’t search for books that came out this week easily, or the ones that have the most customer reviews, or ones published in a particular country, or that were originally published in a certain century, and so on.

If you get beyond the page top searchbox (say that three times quickly), it’s a bit better, but still not great.

The place to go is to

Kindle eBooks: Advanced Search (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You have some parameters you can enter there:

Keywords: this is the broadest category. Try anything here…authors, “Swahili edition”, Legos…whatever. If you put a minus sign in front of a term, that should keep that word from being used. If you want to see books about the Kindle, but not about the Kindle Fire, you could do Kindle -Fire. Of course, that’s an example of where it won’t work all that well…a book might be called, “Chess sets of the 19th Century, optimized for the Kindle” and it would appear.

Author

Title

Publisher: the tricky thing here is that the tradpubs  (traditional publishers) have many imprints. Grand Central is an imprint of Hachette…if you search for Hachette, you won’t find those Grand Central titles.

Subject: there are a lot of choices here. These are picked by the publisher, and you may not agree with them…I’ve seen the same book classified as fiction and non-fiction, for example.

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Kindle Singles
  • Advice & How-to
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Business & investing
  • Children and Teens
  • Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Computers & Internet
  • Cooking, Food & Wine
  • Fantasy
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • History
  • Humor
  • Literary Fiction
  • Mystery & Thrillers
  • Parenting & Families
  • Politics & Current Events
  • Reference
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Romance
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Travel

Reader Age:

  • All Ages
  • Baby – 3 Years
  • 4 – 8 Years
  • 9 – 12 Years
  • Teen

Languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish

Publication Date (this is the date the publisher tells Amazon…not necessarily the date of first publication). First, you choose: All Dates; Before; During; After. Then you pick a month, then you enter a year

Sort Results by:

  • Relevance
  • Bestselling
  • Price: Low to High
  • Price: High to Low
  • Avg. Customer Review
  • Publication Date

There you go! If you enter into more than one field, your conditions will combine. In other words, you could search for Stephen King and Spanish.

That’s better than the general searchbox, although I hope Amazon is still working on search.

One other thing: in your search results, look to your left to see more filtering you can do. You may be able to pick a particular author or series, and you typically can further filter for Prime eligible, Whispersync for Voice, and I’ve seen Kindle Unlimited as a choice. Sometimes I even see tags put on by customers, but it appears to be inconsistent.

Hope that helps…

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Amazon Hot New Releases top 100

September 12, 2014

Amazon Hot New Releases top 100

Hey, here’s something you haven’t read before!

Well, 100 somethings…and okay, you might have read them in the last month, but you’ll remember if you did, right? ;)

Amazon has all kinds of interesting bestseller lists (updated hourly), and here is the one for “Hot New Releases” (which appears to mean within the last month…although the Kindle First titles can get on this list before they are released):

Amazon Hot New Releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Let’s take a look at some of the books on the list:

#1 is Personal: A Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child
4.0 stars out of 5, 634 customer reviews
$11.84

No big surprise there…

#2, though, is The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg. Yep, a traditionally published book from Amazon beats everything except the Jack Reacher novel.
4.2 stars, 81 customer reviews
$4.99
It should be in Kindle Unlimited once it is officially released on October 1st.

#3 and #4? Also Kindle First picks…will it get to the point where Amazon doesn’t need the tradpubs?

The highest rated KU (Kindle Unlimited) book is really up there…it is #7, Twice the Growl by Milly Taiden.
4.6 stars, 169 reviews. High-rated and a recent release…did you expect to be able to find those in KU?

Speaking of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon has now made it easier to find books. When you do a search, you’ll often get a checkmark filter that allows you to limit it to KU. I used the Advanced Search in the Kindle store, but didn’t put in any parameters (which results in all the books).

Checking the KU box, I get 706,786 at time of writing…it’s really growing!

Here is that search:

Kindle Unlimited eligible books (at AmazonSmile*)

Want to narrow it down…maybe find books about cats that are KU eligible, or a particular author?

You can start at

Kindle eBooks: Advanced Search (at AmazonSmile*)

enter combinations of these parameters:

  • Keywords
  • Author
  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Subject
  • Reader Age
  • Language
  • Pub. Date
    Month
    Year

and choose how you would like it sorted. Once you get your results, you can check the box to filter for KU eligible.

Enjoy!

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

July 29, 2014

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

I’ve had my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

since Thursday, which has given me an opportunity to use it over the weekend and at work.

I can say that the best is yet to come. ;)

This is a new and radically different device. Think of the people who bought the first automobiles, before there were purpose built roads. They had to bounce and rattle along over streets intended for entirely different vehicles. It wasn’t until people responded to the invention that it became completely indispensable.

At this point, the Fire Phone’s two breakthrough features (Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, which I call “dyper”) are like that.

I’m coming to the Fire Phone from a Galaxy S4…and I have an iPhone 5S that I use for work. The iPhone is new for me (the way Apple handled e-books left a bad taste in my mouth for their products), but I do have some experience with it.

I wouldn’t say I’m a power user of SmartPhones: not like I am with Kindles. However, I do know what I’m doing and I use them quite a bit.

At first, I found the Fire Phone’s interface less easy to use than my S4. After doing more research, playing around with it, and making a couple of calls to Mayday (the almost instant live online screen tech help…which is a huge plus for the FP over anything else), it’s growing on me.

It does all of the basics fine: e-mail, calendar, text.

The navigation is new. Without learning that, the phone can seem frustrating, like it takes a lot of steps to get anywhere.

Let’s talk this through.

The way I have the phone set, I turn it on by pushing a power button once…reasonable.

The lock screens look amazing! They have dyper…just by moving my head, I can see more of the image. For example, I have a neon sign up right now, like a tourist trap in the desert (it includes the date and time). By moving my head (even from probably half a meter away from the phone), I can see the streetlamps which are otherwise off the screen. I can see how many new e-mails I have, the signal strength and battery level.

To unlock it, I swipe up from the bottom…that’s an adjustment for me, I’m used to going side to side. However, as an ambidexter, I appreciate that it isn’t better for right or left handers. :)

I’ve put a password on mine.

Once it opens up, there is a Carousel, like there is an a Kindle Fire. It’s going to be easier for Kindle Fire users to adapt to this phone than other people.

At the bottom of the screen are four icons:

  • Phone
  • Messaging
  • Email
  • Silk Browser

Here’s the first thing you might not realize.

Swipe those four icons up, and you’ll be on the apps screen.

It will default to being the apps on your device, but you can switch it to the Cloud easily enough (it’s an obvious choice in your top left corner).

Okay, here’s are a few gestural things on this homescreen which aren’t intuitive.

In addition to swiping from the left or right side, you can just “flick” the phone.

Flick it where you are turning the phone with a rapid motion with the left side getting closer to you, and you reveal the main navigation. That has

  • APPS
  • GAMES
  • WEB
  • MUSIC
  • VIDEOS
  • PHOTOS
  • BOOKS
  • NEWSSTAND
  • AUDIOBOOKS
  • DOCS
  • SHOP
  • PRIME

Flick it back to remove that menu.

Generally, that left menu will be available in most places you are working, and will be the same.

Flick it the other way, with the right side getting closer to you, and you’ll reveal a context sensitive menu…one that varies depending on what you are doing.

ON the home screen, I get a weather report (which I could set to be in Celsius, my favorite…and which autodetected my location), and Google Now type cards. Right now, I’m seeing calendar events, but I may see an e-mail from people I designate, or texts. There is an ellipsis (“…”) at the bottom to go to the full calendar.

Flick left, flick right: two of the main gestures.

Three other big gestures:

Tip the phone to one side (either direction), and you’ll see a ribbon at the top with quick access to functions:

  • Airplane mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Flashlight
  • Sync
  • Settings
  • Mayday
  • Search
  • Brightness

How would you know what they were?

You peek.

Really, that’s what they call it.

Move your head to the side and look back at the phone, like you are trying to look behind the icons.

The captions magically appear.

You’ll use that a lot.

The last gesture I’ll mention is how to get back to what you were doing last.

The first couple of days, I really missed the Back button on my S4. Then, one of the Mayday reps told me that you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen. They didn’t describe it quite right: the thing is that you start off the edge of the screen at the bottom, at about the same level as the home button. Then swipe up on to the screen: that will take you back to the last function.

Before I go on, let me say that is seems to drink battery charge like a Chevrolet Suburban drinks gasoline! ;) Just while I’ve been writing this post, it went down four percent. I expect that will get better after I play with some settings.

In terms of the pre–installed apps, I recommend that you play with Clay Doodle and Monkey Buddy (although the latter might drive you crazy, if you are an adult). The first one is like Play-Doh, and takes advantage of the dyper. The second one is a virtual pet, like a Tamagotchi in concept. Since it can see where you head is, it responds to you nodding your head yes in approval, for example.

Believe it or not, the integration with Amazon could be better. My Prime music wasn’t available until I downloaded an app…that was weird. My biggest disappointment so far has been that gestural scrolling doesn’t work in the Kindle app! It only works in Silk on websites.

I was really looking forward to having an endless scroll in my Kindle books, where I could get to the next text by just moving my head or tilting the phone.

A Mayday rep told me that an update is coming soon which will include more functionality…and better interface with the Kindle app is one of the things we may see. Right now, you can get the X-Ray background data by flicking from the right…good to know, right? :)

I may do a full menu map at some point (that kind of thing might make a good short “book” for people to borrow through Kindle Unlimited), but let’s go through the settings at a high level:

Wi-Fi & Networks

  • Connect to Wi-Fi
  • Enable Airplane Mode
  • Pair Bluetooth Devices
  • Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot (only if that’s part of your data plan, I think)
  • Enable NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Turn off cellular dta usage
  • See your cellular data usage
  • Change your mobile network operator

Display

  • Adjust screen brightness
  • Turn off automatic screen rotation
  • Hide (or show…the commands change based on current state) status bar
  • Change time to sleep
  • Share your screen via Miracast
  • Configure low motion settings (this will turn off some of the gestural stuff, which would be useful for those with unsteady hands or heads)

Sounds & Notifications

  • Change your ringtone
  • Manage notifications
  • Select ringtones for specific people
  • Select text message tones for specific people
  • Change volume levels (there  are also physical volume buttons)
  • Change touch feedback settings (my first call to Mayday: how to turn off hepatic feedback, the vibrating you get when you touch a key…I just don’t like it, and it uses battery charge)

Applications & Parental Controls

  • Configure Amazon application settings
  • Manage applications
  • Prevent (or enable) non-Amazon app installation
  • Turn off product recommendations
  • Enable Parental Controls

Battery & Storage

  • View battery usage (the system is taking 50% of my usage right now)
  • View available storage
  • Free space on your phone (not how much you have…this one is designed to free up space)
  • Change USB connection type

Location Services

  • Configure Location Based Services for your applications
  • Enable Enhanced Location Services
  • Disable Find My Device (enabled by default)

Lock Screen

  • Select a lock screen scene (the default is that it changes every day)
  • Set a password or PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • Change the automatic lock time
  • Turn off (or on) notifications on the lock screen

Keyboard

  • Change the keyboard language
  • Configure auto-correct and spell-checking
  • Manage advanced keyboard features
  • Edit your personal dictionary

Phone

  • Configure call waiting
  • Configure caller ID
  • Forward incoming calls
  • Edit Reply-with-Text messages
  • View your phone number
  • Set up voicemail
  • Contact your carrier

My Accounts

  • Deregister your phone
  • Manage e-mail accounts
  • Connect your social networks
  • Manage your Amazon account
  • Manage your Amazon payment method
  • Manage your Amazon Newsstand subscriptions
  • Manage your Send-to-Device email address

Device

  • Change the date and time
  • Disable auto backups
  • Change your language
  • Install system updates
  • Factory reset your phone
  • Get info about your Fire
  • Configure your emergency alerts
  • View your emergency alerts
  • Manage your SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card PIN
  • Manage enterprise security features
  • Manage accessibility (it has nice magnifier features…I turned  those  on)
  • View Legal and Compliance Info

Voice

  • Configure voice settings (oh, it does take voice commands…hold down the home button, like accessing Siri. I have found that I have to say “Search the Web” to get it to do that…it doesn’t just guess that’s what you want if you say something for which it doesn’t have a command)
  • Change Text to Speech (TTS) language (it does have TTS for Kindle books…it comes with English and Spanish, but you can download quite a few others for no additional cost)

Help & Feedback

  • Get help from Mayday (there is a lifesaver for that on the quick access ribbon…remember, you can tip your phone quickly for that, or swipe down from the top. Use it to get the most out of your phone)
  • Browse online help
  • Contact Amazon technical support
  • Provide feedback

There, that gives you a pretty good idea of its capabilities.

Overall, I’m starting to like it. If you want everything to be easy, if you want it to be as good as the most popular other phones, you may not want to be an early adopter. You can download apps to do things it doesn’t do right now (in many cases), but a year from now, it will be much more capable…I suspect it will be a lot more capable before the holidays.

It’s certainly satisfactory…and the hardware (the four cameras that enable dyper) and Firefly (the real world recognition system) promise much greater things in the future, once people start designing for it. The killer apps are yet to come.

I think it’s a great first SmartPhone (which is where I think the market is), and an adequate transition phone (with amazing potential).

Hey, my Kindle app has an update available! That sort of thing is going to happen a lot…I won’t focus on the Fire Phone a lot in this blog (just as I haven’t done that with the Fire Phone), but it is a Kindle reading device, and  I think it deserves some coverage here.

If you have any specific questions about it, or things to say, feel free to comment on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Seeing the (back)light

June 8, 2014

Seeing the (back)light

I still see a lot of confusion in the Kindle forums about the different screen technologies.

It’s not just inexperienced users. Here is an example of a product made specifically for the Kindle Paperwhite, so you would think they would be familiar with the basics of how the Kindle Paperwhite works:

MoKo Vertical Flip Cover Case for Amazon New Kindle Paperwhite with Backlight, BLACK (with Auto Sleep/Wake Function) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Did you notice that? It says the cover is for the New Kindle Paperwhite “with Backlight”. Presumably, that’s for nothing, since there isn’t a Paperwhite which is backlit. ;)

Oh, and the new and old Paperwhites are the same size, so they didn’t have to specify that either.

The product has 4.5 stars with 3,610 customer reviews, so I assume it’s quite good…but honestly, I’d have to push myself past their description of it before I would consider it. That’s just silliness on my part, I know: it’s like judging the quality of the story in a book by the number of typos. It’s natural to do, but those are really different measures.

So, I thought I’d take a post and quickly explain the different technologies.

No lighting (reflective screens)

When the first Kindle was released in 2007, it didn’t have any built-in lighting. You read it by light bouncing off it…just like you read a paperbook. That screen (and most unlit E-Book Reader screens) used a brand name screen called “E Ink”. I often see that referred to as though it was a generic term, but it really isn’t.

I tend to use the term “reflective screens” for this, and that’s correct, but people get confused by it sometimes. They think of it having a glare…which they also confuse with what happens when you try to read an iPad in the sun. It’s called a “reflective screen” because, as I mentioned earlier, it reflects the light (like a rock or a tree or a wombat or…).

These screens require no energy to maintain an image, which gives them great battery charge life. The technology to “redraw” the screen (when you more from one “page” to another, for example) isn’t that fast…it prevents them from doing animation (for videos or apps), at least at a commercial level at this point.

You need some sort of external light to read these: a booklight, a lamp, or the sun, something like that.

Backlit screens

With a backlit screen, you read what is on it by a light coming from behind the screen. The screen is between you and the light source, and the light is basically shining into your eyes. Those were around before the reflective screens mentioned above. You have them in your computer and your SmartPhone, most likely.

It’s a mature technology: it can do lots of colors, super sharp images, and can redraw quickly enough for HD movies.

They have a built-in light source, which can be nice, but it does take a lot of power. For Kindles, this is what the Fire uses. The battery charge life is much shorter, but one big tip: turn the brightness down. That is the number one thing I find that makes my battery last longer…even more important than turning off the wireless. I have excellent night vision (connected, I think, to my color vision deficiency), so I often have the brightness turned down all the way when I’m inside. I think I can read for an hour and not lose a single percentage point of battery charge.

Another problem with this technology is that the light coming from behind the screen competes with lighting hitting the front of the screen. If the sun is hitting your screen, it’s likely to make it nearly impossible to see the image…the internal backlight just can’t beat the sun.

That’s not glare, as I mentioned above…no “anti-glare” screen will help. Glare has to do with light being brightly reflected from a surface: think of a signal mirror. An anti-glare screen can make something less reflective, but that’s not the issue here.

Turning up the brightness as far as it will go will help when you are in sunlight (although you will burn your battery charge more quickly). I find that I can always read outside, as long as I turn the Kindle Fire so the sun isn’t hitting it as directly. If you are  looking for a place to sit in the park and read, try to have the sun in front of you or to your side, not directly behind you…assuming you are sitting up holding the Kindle in front of you. If you lie on your back and have the back of your Kindle to the sky, you’ll probably be fine. :)

Frontlit

A frontlit device (like the Kindle Paperwhite ((at AmazonSmile))) is actually a reflective screen with a built-in light that shines at the screen from the front of it (not from behind it). The light is still bouncing off it as with the “no lighting” screen, so your screen isn’t competing with the sun. This is the best of both worlds. Like a backlit device, you can read it in a dark room (it’s so nice to not have to turn off a lamp after reading in bed). Like a reflective device, you can read it in bright light.

The Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had, including paper.

The light isn’t bright enough to be bothersome, and it isn’t creating the image…the battery charge life is still quite good, comparable even to an unlit Kindle.

Well, those are the three possibilities.

In the future, we may have devices which can switch between backlit and front or non-lit. There have been some dual-screen devices, but they’ve been expensive and haven’t done well so far. Reflective screens will also likely speed up and get color…my guess is that’s where we will largely go, but we’ll see.

Hope that helps…

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

Added today: my new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days (vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more) http://flip.it/ZtmYw

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

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

New Manage Your Kindle page

May 25, 2014

New Manage Your Kindle page

Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page has some wonderful features to it.

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

It has been one of the features that shows what Amazon does best when it connects with its customers…although it has certainly had challenges and people have wanted it to do more.

Some of the great things we could do there:

  • “Return” a Kindle book for a refund within seven days of purchase
  • Reset the last page read
  • Send items to different devices on the account
  • Manage whether a device was subscribed to Special Offers
  • Change the display name of a device

I’ve written about changes to it several times…they rolled out a change that allowed mass actions not too long ago, then rolled it back in again. ;)

Right now, I have a new version available to me…in Silk on my  Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

It’s not available to me in Maxthon on my desktop or Google Chrome on my desktop.

My guess is that they are testing it out (again). You might have it, you might not. It’s possible that clearing cookies and/or signing in and out of your account might help. If you want to see it, I’d try different browsers and devices if you have them.

What’s different?

I’d say one big stand out is that there appears to be a single scrolling page, rather than fifteen items at a time. Many people complain when they take an action on an item, and then it takes them back to the beginning of the list. That won’t happen here, since you can do mass actions.

By mass actions, I mean that you tap or click a checkbox next to each item, and then you can choose to deliver or delete all of those at once.

That “deliver” option is something that people really want. When they get a new device (app or hardware Kindle), they could send a bunch of the books on the account to it at the same time.

I’d be a bit careful, though, particularly with a non-Fire Kindle. If you send 500 books at once, you could “overwhelm” the device…unless they’ve figured out how to deliver it in “buckets” rather than as a firehose.

With whatever device you put it on, there will be indexing** which has to take place. If you put, oh, 100 books on your device, I’d leave it plugged and not turned off (asleep is fine) so the device can finish all that up.

It now has three tabs: Your Content, Your Devices, Settings

I like that better than the old side navigation: it seems clearer.

“Your Content” defaulted to Books, and then I could choose

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Audiobooks
  • Music
  • Apps
  • Instant Video
  • Docs
  • Active Content
  • Dictionaries & User Guides
  • Pending Deliveries

Hm…I see that “Loans” is gone. Oh, I see! There is a dropdown next to the one that I listed above. In that one, you can choose

  • All
  • Purchases
  • Rentals
  • Loans
  • Borrows

Selecting “Borrows” did not show my any of my Kindle Owners’ Lending Library borrows, except for the current one. It did show me public library borrows.

This does mean that people won’t see the foreign language dictionaries Amazon provides so that the Kindle can do look-up in different languages, unless they switch something: we get questions about those pretty much every day in the Kindle forums.

I checked “Pending Deliveries”. It appears to me that I should be able to cancel the pending delivery, although it isn’t actually letting me select the checkbox.

If we can do that, it would be great! I have accidentally ordered a book to be sent to a device we no longer have, for example…in the past, that has just kept sitting there under Pending Deliveries…forever, as far as I can tell.

It also tells me for which device it is pending, and when it was ordered.

If the checkbox worked, this would be a feature I would definitely use.

Choosing “Music”, by the way, takes you somewhere else…haven’t checked that yet.

I went back to displaying books, and checked the actions. That one was:

  • Deliver
  • Delete
  • Download & transfer via USB
  • Clear furthest page read…
  • Loan this title

There were also links for the Order Details and Manage Kindle FreeTime Content.

The sort options for the items were

  • Title: A-Z
  • Titles: Z-A
  • Author: A-Z
  • Author: Z-A
  • Purchase Date: Oldest-Newest
  • Purchase Date: Newest-Oldest (default)

Going to “Your Devices”, it looks pretty much like it does now (a ribbon across the top), but we do have more actions!

On my Kindle Fire HDX, I now do have:

  • Deregister
  • Remote Alarm
  • Find My Device
  • Remote Factory Reset

In the old version on Maxthon, I don’t have any of the last three.

In the old version on Chrome, I only Deregister and Remote Alarm.

I just tested the “Find My Device”: it did show within a couple of blocks were it is. I could tell, for example, if it was at home or at work.

It didn’t find my exact address…but neither does my SmartPhone.

The fact that we can remote a factory reset will mean that more companies will allow the use of Kindle Fires, since it helps protect company data.

Obviously, I had to have my Fire connected to the wireless (this is not a 4G model), and you have to have allowed this. For more on this, see my post

New “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

from a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, this could mean that one family member could “spy” on another family member (by locating them, not listening to them or seeing them), if things were set up that way. It doesn’t have to be family members, of course: it could be bosses checking up on employees.

Under Settings, we have…whoops, it failed to load! I got a message suggesting I refresh the page, and if that doesn’t work to call customer service (they actually gave a phone number for that). I don’t recommend calling “cold”…start at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile)

and what devices you have.

Refreshing the page did it. Then I had:

  • Kindle Payment Settings
  • Country Settings
  • Subscription Settings
  • Kindle FreeTime Settings
  • Device Synchronization
  • Automatic Book Update
  • Language Optimized Storefront
  • Personal Document Settings
  • Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings
  • Personal Document Archiving
  • Whispernet Delivery Options
  • Approved Personal Document E-Mail List
  • Personal Document Service Charges
  • Manage Whispercast Membership
  • Your AmazonLocal Vouchers

Overall, I think this version is a massive improvement! Assuming it works reasonably well, this is the kind of thing I like Amazon to do. :)

It would be nice, as a future improvement, if we could manage Cloud Collections here, but that doesn’t dim the brightness of this one for me.

Thanks, Amazon!

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

** I recently answered a question for somebody in an Amazon Kindle forum who wanted to know (in a non-technical manner) what indexing and syncing were. I thought it would be useful to post it here as well:

…indexing is somewhat similar to what is done when an index is created for a paperbook.

The Kindle “reads” the book, noting the location of specific words. For example, it might create a file like this:

cat: location 5, location 17, location 35
dog: location 5, location 40, location 93

I’m using that format as an illustrator: it wouldn’t really look like that.

Then, when you look up a word, it can find it very quickly.

The initial indexing, as you can imagine, takes the device some work to do and takes some energy…again, just as it would with a paperbook.

Note: I’m not suggesting that the Kindle indexes as well as a human would…humans can create indices based on concepts, and the Kindle just does it based on words (although it does skip some words, like “the” and “and”).

“Sync” is short for “synchronize”, which basically means “to make the same”.

Your device (Kindle or app) displays some items which you have downloaded from a central storage area. The latter is called the “Cloud” or your “Archive”.

Let’s suppose you have a Kindle on the account, and your Significant Other has a SmartPhone on the same account.

Your Significant Other buys a book using the SmartPhone.

The SmartPhone knows about it, and so does the Cloud…but your Kindle doesn’t know about it until it “syncs” with the Cloud. That doesn’t mean it will automatically download the book, just that it will have knowledge of it being available on the account.

Another example of syncing is for reading progress. Let’s say you are reading a book both on your Kindle and on a SmartPhone.

You read to “page” 100 on your Kindle.

When you sync with Amazon, you tell the Cloud that you are on page 100.

When you open the book on your SmartPhone, it can sync with Amazon and open the book right to where you left off.

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

Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website

April 17, 2014

Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website

When Amazon bought Goodreads (a bit over a year ago), one of the advantages people  envisaged  (and certainly, some people thought there might be disadvantages as well) was the ability to easily import your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads shelves.

We did get the ability to do that from some Kindle devices. For example, you have that functionality on the Kindle Paperwhite.

That was fine for people with those devices, but there are lots of Goodreads users who have bought books from Amazon and don’t have Kindles (or at least, those specific devices). The import isn’t just for Kindle editions…it’s for p-books (paperbooks) also.

In this

Goodreads blog post

they announce that Add Your Amazon Books”…will be available in the next few weeks to members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. ”

Other countries are expected to follow.

After giving you an explanation of what it will be like (it will be on My Books under Tools), they give you a link to where you can go ahead and do it now:

Early Access

They have a Question and Answer section there. I’ve asked this, but don’t have an answer yet:

“This seems to be similar to the functionality on the Kindle devices (for the ones which have it). It is only showing me recently purchased books, and I have something like a thousand which haven’t been imported. My guess is that there might have been a size limit the first time it did the sync, and now it doesn’t go back and re-query, just starts with books after the last sync (yes, I’m a geek). :) Any troubleshooting for it not importing all of the books? Are there books which wouldn’t be imported (ones without ISBNs, perhaps)? Thanks! “

Why do this?

Mainly to “feed” Goodreads. It lets other people see what you are reading (if you choose that), helps you keep track for yourself…and strengthens the algorithms used by the system to make recommendations to you.

For those of you who are already Goodreads users, this simplifies things. If you don’t use Goodreads now (I do…you can follow me. I write a little review there on most books I finish), maybe this will get you to start. ;)

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

Amazon updates Kindle Personal Documents

April 17, 2014

Amazon updates Kindle Personal Documents

In this

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon announced some significant changes to their Personal Documents service.

Previously, you had the ability to send documents to your Kindle. You could e-mail them to a special e-mail address your Kindle has, or use the “Send to Kindle” feature:

send to kindle (at AmazonSmile)

and they would be stored in your Cloud/archives. One place they were available was at

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle (at AmazonSmile)

You could also download them from your device.

For example, I keep the configuration information for my routers there. That way, I can access it from any of my devices. That means I have the information on my phone or tablet when I set up a new device.

As of today, though, they are also stored in your Amazon Cloud Drive, in a folder called “My Send-to-Kindle Docs”.

That does give you the advantage of the additional organizational capabilities of the Cloud drive (you can add folders, mass delete, move and copy, and so on).

Nice enough, I suppose, to have it in the same site as personal photos and documents you’ve uploaded directly to the Cloud drive.

By the way, I’ve seen a lot of complaints today. That seems to be the normal thing with any update…”Though Kindle updates, may bring the pain…” ;)

Some people appear to have gotten tons of documents this way, and a few people mentioned .png files. Those are “Portable Network Graphics” files, and I’m guessing what happened there is they uploaded a file with pictures in it, and the Cloud drive broke each picture out into its own file. That didn’t happen with me, by the way: my new drive looks very much like what I would want it to do in this case, with the appropriate number of files.

The other big part of this announcement, though, is that files will stay in their native formats.

What that means is that, if you e-mail a Word document to your Kindle, it will be converted to a Kindle friendly document…and it will be available as a Word document in your Cloud Drive. I tested it, and that is what happened. That is an easy way to use your Cloud Drive somewhat like Dropbox (without some of the features of the latter).

If they were to incorporate this into the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I would actually find that quite useful.

I do presentations. I could e-mail a presentation to my Kindle Fire, and on a Fire TV at work, I could display it on an HDTV. Of course, I could mirror from my

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

to the Fire TV, but that would commit the resources of my Kindle Fire to that task…and I might want to use it for something else. I wouldn’t even have to be where the Fire TV was, if someone else was using it.

It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s in the offing.

I also like the idea that I could carry a document on my Kindle (Fire or not), and easily access the same document in full-featured Office on my desktop/laptop/two-in-1.

I think this is one of those that may take a while before people really realize the benefits.

Feel free to let me and my readers know what your experience is with it!

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

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


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