Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?

October 4, 2014

Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?

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

I have a Mindle Touch

I plan to write a review by Monday, but I wanted to let you know that Amazon has loaned me a

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

for review.

That’s the new $79 model. I called the old “entry level” model a “Mindle” (for minimum Kindle), and this one has a touchscreen, so…Mindle Touch.

Interestingly, Amazon refers to it in a few places as a 7th generation Kindle.

I’m guessing they are counting it this way:

  1. Kindle 1
  2. Kindle 2
  3. Kindle 3 (AKA Kindle Keyboard)
  4. Mindle
  5. Kindle Touch
  6. Kindle Paperwhite
  7. Mindle Touch

That would make sense to me: the Kindle DX was basically the same software as the Kindle 2…same generation, even though it was a different size.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention it in case you have any questions before I send it back. I’ve never asked them for review copies before, but really, I’m quite satisfied with our Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*) and our Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) at this point…just didn’t want to buy new ones. After all, I’m apparently one of the very few people to pay close to $200 for the Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) recently…that’s a chunk of budget. :)

I’ve also asked for a Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for review…if I get one, I’ll let you know.

Amazon announces Fire OS 4…on my device

I got a letter from Jeff Bezos on my KFHDX7 this morning…I’m assuming many other people did, too. :)

It’s alerting me that the devices will be updated (for free) to Fire OS (Operating System) 4 in “the coming weeks”. That will be on the new generation of Fires, but I’m sure won’t be on the first generation.

What is it bringing?

  • Profiles (to the USA, UK, and Germany): every “family member” (Amazon usually doesn’t require proof…you know, like DNA sequencing) ;) can have a profile, including “individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, page in the book, spot in a movie, and game levels”. This ties in, in a way, with the Family Library which is coming, which will let us share books with people not on our accounts (we don’t know exactly what limitations that will have yet)
  • Office Documents: we’ll get WPS Office, so we can edit Microsoft Office documents (including creating new ones). It’s going to integrate with the Cloud Drive
  • Longer Battery Life: better battery management when sleeping
  • New Weather and Calculator Apps
  • Full-Screen Immersive Mode: apps and games will full the full screen in “immersive mode”
  • Backup & Restore: it will be interesting to see exactly what this done. It doesn’t look to me like it will mirror your entire device (your personal documents, which books you’ve already downloaded from your Amazon account), but can do “device settings, email and wireless configuration, notes, bookmarks, and more…” I never find the transition to a new device very difficult (I don’t keep a lot of content actually on my devices), but this may make it easier. It would be nice to get a new device and already have it on my network without having to enter a password, for example

Did you notice that Family Library wasn’t on the list? I assume that’s because that isn’t part of Fire OS 4, and that it will work with a much wider range of devices. This update could also affect the Fire Phone…and possibly, in some way, Fire TV.

Why send this announcement now, ahead of time? I think, in part, Amazon’s trying to patch its reputation going into the holiday season…and caring for customers with devices already helps them decide to buy newer devices.

Amazon sends more info on their crowd-sourced publishing program

I also got an e-mail from Amazon this week about their upcoming program. It explains it pretty well (and I’ve mentioned it previously). The basic idea is that authors can put up a sample of a complete but unpublished novel, readers “vote” on them, and Amazon will select some for publishing…paying at least a $1,500 advance. We could use a few more details, but I think this may work very well for Amazon…although it isn’t without risk (the main one being that it is seen as being fair). Here’s that e-mail:

Dear Author,

Thanks for subscribing to receive updates on Amazon’s new publishing program! We’re excited to announce that we’ll be opening for submissions in a couple weeks.

We’ll be welcoming submissions for English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller, and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

It only takes 15 minutes to complete a submission. Here are the things that you should prepare to successfully submit your book:

  • Complete, never-before-published manuscript & book cover image - We’re looking for 50,000 words or more in Word format and a book cover image that reflects the essence and uniqueness of your book. Make sure your work is ready for others to read. Only the first pages will be posted to the website (approx. 3,000 words).
  • Book one-liner - A very short pitch (no longer than 45 characters) for your book that will be used on the homepage and throughout the website. Think of examples like “Space opera meets the Middle Ages” or “How far will one woman go to save her family?”
  • Book description- Help readers understand the content and quality of your book. Keep the description to 500 characters or less.
  • Your bio & picture - Give readers a chance to learn more about you. You will also have a chance to answer relevant questions regarding your book and personal story in a short Q&A section.

We’ll also ask you to review and accept our submission and publishing agreement that grants us a 45-day exclusivity period to post your excerpt and tally nominations. If chosen for publication, you will receive a $1,500 advance, 5-year renewable term, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and Amazon-featured marketing. If not, you automatically get all your rights back at the end of the 45-day exclusivity period.
We’ll send you an email as soon as we’re open for submissions. Looking forward to hearing from you!

I don’t have a book written already that will fit this. I suspect it will have somewhat of a soft start: my guess is that people will write books specifically to try them for this program. Some folks have books sitting around…but how many of them won’t have independently published them already before they heard about this program?

You can contact Amazon about it here:

newpublishingprogram@amazon.com

Put in the subject “Question about Amazon’s new publishing program”.

Amazon still working on the KOLL/KU problem

Amazon’s been getting more information from me about the issue with being both a

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

member and a Prime member eligible to use the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

If you are both (which I am), at least some people (including me) are finding it very difficult to impossible to borrow a KOLL book. All of the books which are in both the KOLL and KU only seem to want me to borrow them through KU. If a book is in the KOLL and not in KU (a quite small number, from what I can tell), then I could do it…but that’s not much of a benefit. It doesn’t bother me that much…I’m not a Prime member because of the KOLL, it’s just a nice perk. Still, it doesn’t seem to be working the way Amazon wants it to work…and it does feel like a bit of a takeaway.

I’ve given them information about my experiences with it…I’ll let you know if they let me know that they’ve figured anything out.

Seeking Alpha round-up

I continue to be impressed with the quality of stories about Amazon at Seeking Alpha. Here are some recent ones:

Update: Fire Phone And Kindle Voyage Developments by Paulo Santos

Santos sees both the Fire Phone and the Kindle Voyage as underperforming, and indicative of Amazon’s customers not being able to be brought to profitable price points.

2 Reasons Why Amazon Will Never Make Money by Shock Exchange

The two reasons? They don’t know how, and they don’t wanna. ;) They recommend selling the stock.

How Amazon.com Got Into Yet Another Fight, This Time With Greenpeace by Paulo Santos

Santos starts out by apologizing for writing about Amazon so much. :) This one did interest me, though: Amazon has had a rep as being an environmentally conscious company…not someone you would expect Greenpeace to actively target.

However, Santos noticed a massive drop in ratings for the Fire Phone…and thinks it is due to an active 1-star campaign by the non-profit.

I generally like Greenpeace, but this raises an interesting question for me: should you go after a company by rating one of their products at 1-star? What does their policy (with which you disagree…details on that in the article) have to do with the quality of the device? I don’t rate books as 1-star because the publisher chooses to block text-to-speech access…I don’t buy the book, but it doesn’t feel…honest to rate the book 1-star on that basis.

What do you think? What do you want me to check on the Mindle Touch? Is rating a product 1-star because of a policy something with which agree? Does it make a difference that this is an Amazon product, rather rating, say, an e-book not from Amazon 1-star because the price it too high or it isn’t available in your country? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

Round up #270: “Amazon Idol”, Unlimited Finds #1

September 25, 2014

Round up #270: “Amazon Idol”, Unlimited Finds #1

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

Unlimited Finds #1

I do think that

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

has the potential to reshape the bestseller lists (at the Kindle store) by next year, and, along with other subsers (subscription services), really change people’s reading habits.

I’ve seen people make what I think is a mistake, and dismiss it as being “just independently published titles” (not that there would be anything wrong with that, in my opinion).

It’s much more than that.

I recently ran across a book in KU

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (at AmazonSmile*)

of which I had sold many copies when I managed a brick and mortar bookstore.  I wasn’t the only one: it was a New York Times bestseller.

If you are a KU member, I’d certainly consider this one…it’s non-fiction, and I knew people who loved it. I add KU books to a wish list I have for that purpose…I’ll probably borrow this one at some point.

If you aren’t a KU member? $8.63 at time of writing.

I’ve seen somebody recently say that you would “never” see New York Times bestsellers in KU. Well, okay, that might have been ones on the current list.

That doesn’t really work either. The #1 NYT bestselling non-fiction hardback is in KU right now:

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (at AmazonSmile*)

It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s that high in part because it is in KU. That gets it more exposure at Amazon, and more reviews…this one had a lot of other coverage, but I would guess it contributed.

I took a quick look, and it might be true that there aren’t any current NYT adult fiction bestsellers in KU…but I do think that will change by holiday season of 2015. Partially that’s because I expect KU to start driving those lists…

Wish with Tweets

Amazon’s Wish List feature is becoming more and more robust.

In this

press release

today, they announced “Wish with Tweets”.

If you reply to a tweet (on Twitter) that has an Amazon product link in it, and you include the hashtag

#AmazonWishList

it will automatically add it to your wish list (presumably, the default one).

You do have to do a little set up, but it isn’t hard…and you might have already done it to take advantage of

#AmazonCart

so you can add something to your cart to buy it yourself.

Here are some other features of Amazon Wish Lists that they, well, listed in the press release:

  • NEW Save-A-Photo: With the new Save-A-Photo feature, customers can snap a picture of anything from anywhere and save it to their Amazon Wish List.
  • Universal Wish List Add-on: The Amazon Wish List is truly universal. Customers can add anything from any online site to their Amazon Wish List with a simple add-on available for any browser.
  • Don’t Spoil My Surprises: This feature does not reveal to the Wish List creator which items have been purchased, so every gift is truly a surprise. However, once an item is purchased from an Amazon Wish List, other shoppers will see only what remains on the Wish List – avoiding duplicate gifts.
  • Virtual Notes: Customers can save an idea and search for it later by adding a virtual note to an Amazon Wish List. Jot down anything and give friends and family a little gifting inspiration.

Here’s some more information:

www.amazon.com/AmazonWishList (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing…with guaranteed advance

This is fascinating!

According to this

The Digital Reader post by Nate Hoffelder

Amazon is launching a new publishing program for indies (independent authors)…and they’ve already been approaching Kindle Direct Publishing authors about it.

The basic idea is that authors submit never-before-published books (including covers).

Amazon posts a few pages of it.

People “vote” on them, and the winners are reviewed by Amazon and may be chosen to be traditionally published by Amazon…with a minimum advance of $1,500.

I would guess North of 90% of indies publishing through KDP never see $1,500.

The terms actually seem pretty good to me, with decent reversion provisions:

“Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.”

Essentially, if Amazon can’t promote it to the point you make $500 in the prior two years (after the first year), you can take the book back and do whatever you want with it. Indie publish it, sell it to somebody else…up to you.

Oh, and people who nominate a book that gets published? They get a free e-book copy.

You can sign up for the mailing list here for more info:

Updates on Amazon’s New Publishing Program mailing list (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s important to note that this is not crowd-funding…the readers don’t have to pay to get it published (like would happen on Kickstarter, for example). Amazon takes on the costs.

It’s more like a competition reality TV show.

My guess?

This will work.

They’ll get higher quality books, choose them, polish them, promote them…authors will see it as lower risk, with middle and up rewards…which is worth it.

Why would it not work?

If Amazon doesn’t choose enough for publication. If people invest in writing a review of a book, and it doesn’t get chosen, they might think it is some sort of trick.

Speaking of tricks, it’s going to be pretty hard to game the system, since it isn’t just the “voting”that counts…it’s still up to the judges.

Kindle Fire HDX update

My

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

updated yesterday to version 13.3.2.6.

This appears to be an incremental update…no big new features, just bug fixes and performance enhancements.

I haven’t noticed anything yet…if you have, let me know.

This could also have included foundations for changes which will come, including the Family Library.

I asked Amazon about FL…their upcoming feature that will allow sharing books with other people not on your account. At this point, they aren’t revealing which content will be involved (my guess is that it will be similar to Kindle Unlimited) or who will be eligible for sharing (I’m thinking it might be the “in the same household” rule they use for some other things, but not sure).

What do you think? Will “Amazon Idol” be successful? Would you participate, if you are an author? Am I overestimating the impact of KU on the market? Do you think it will change what you read…will you read more backlist books and indies, for example? Have you used #AmazonCart…and do you think you’ll use #AmazonWishList? 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.

It’s official! New Kindle hardware…and software

September 18, 2014

It’s official! New Kindle hardware…and software

I think that’s a record! Five press releases from Amazon in the same day…announcing two new non-Fire Kindles, three new Fires, and a new version of the Fire operating system!

Let’s break this down:

We’ll start with the non-Fire Kindles (all information is for the USA, although I believe all these models may be available elsewhere):

Kindle Voyage, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) Also available with 3G+Wi-Fi, for $269 with Special Offers, $289 without them

This is the new top of the line, flagship model.

It’s $199 with Special Offers, $219 without them.

It will be competing with the Kobo Aura HD, which lists for $169.99 (about $30 cheaper).

Releasing on October 21st (pre-order now).

What’s new?

  • It’s thinner: .30 inches (7.6mm) versus .36 (9.1mm) on the Paperwhite
  • It has twice the pixels per inch (300) as the Paperwhite: that will make it much, much crisper. The more dots you fit in the same place, the more detail
  • Turn pages by applying pressure to the edge (the bezel), not the screen. You’ll still be able to swipe or tap, but this should keep the screen a lot cleaner (not that that has been much of an issue for me…they created a screen that doesn’t show the fingerprints much).  It should be smart enough not to accidentally turn the page for a typical user
  • The frontlight (like the Paperwhite…the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had, including paper) will adjust either automatically or manually)
  • The screen is supposed to feel like paper…um, okay

I’ll deal more with the software later in this post, because that will affect more than this one device.

Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

This is the new entry level model (which they once again insist on just calling a “Kindle”).

$79 with Special Offers, $99 without them.

Releasing October 2nd (pre-order available now).

What’s new?

  • Touchscreen…good-bye, five way controllers
  • Faster processor
  • We’re back to 4GB of storage

The Paperwhite will continue to be offered as the mid-range device: $119 with Special Offers, $139 without them.

Okay, let’s talk about new software features/services for the non-Fire devices (these do not show for the Paperwhite, but some may show up there eventually):

  • You’ll be able to link Amazon accounts! This is a huge difference. They are calling it “Family Library”, and specifically mention a “spouse or partner”…I wonder if you’ll have to provide proof of relationship?
  • Word Wise: this one automatically (you can adjust it) defines “difficult” words for you. It reminds me of a comedian who talked about how the movie makers new 1950s science fiction were going to be watched by kids. So, two of the greatest scientists in the world would be speaking to each other, and they’d define the words for the kiddos: “He’s growing in an accelerated…speeded up…fashion” ;) I suppose this may be useful for some people
  • About the Book: finally! The book will tell you where it is in a series, tell you about the author, and let you mark your Goodreads progress from your Kindle
  • Enhanced search: more search results in one place
  • More Goodreads integration

press release for the non-Fire Kindles

Now, on to the new Fires:

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*)

$99 for 8GB with Special Offers
$114 for 8GB without Special Offers
$119 for 16GB with Special Offers
$134 for 16GB without Special Offers

Releasing October 2, pre-order now

This is a competitive tablet for under $100!

What’s new?

  • It comes in five colors! Black, Magenta, White, Citron, and Cobalt
  • 1280×800 HD screen, 252 pixels per inch: brighter, whiter
  • 1.5 ghz quadcore processor…much faster
  • Front and rear-facing camera (2MP for the rear-facing)
  • WPS Office integration: edit Excel and Word without a separate app
  • Family profiles
  • Family Library (see above: link accounts)
  • Advanced Streaming and Prediction (ASAP)…it guesses what you will want to watch and pre-loads it. I really like this on my Fire TV, although you might think it’s a small thing. It’s nice not to wait for things to load when you want to watch them (that’s often the case). The Fire TV is so much faster than my Roku! I really notice that with YouTube (which is presumably not due to ASAP)…it takes many times longer on the Roku for the app to load
  • Firefly real object and media recognition, like my Fire Phone
  • Fire OS 4, which I’ll cover separately

Fire HD 7, 7″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*)

Basically the same as above, except an inch bigger screen and stereo instead of mono speakers.

$139 8GB with Special Offers
$154 8GB without Special Offers
$159 16GB with Special Offers
$174 16 GB without Special Offers

Releasing October 2

Fire HD 6 Kids Edition, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case (at AmazonSmile*)

$149 for six inches
$189 for seven inches

Releases October 21st (look for this one in particular to sell out…I’m guessing manufacturing those kid-proof cases slows the supply chain).

People have wanted something like this for a long time…a purpose-built kids’ device. If the kids break it in the first two years, Amazon will replace it…for free.

  • Comes with a free year of Kindle Unlimited
  • Amazon Freetime camera and photo…kids can take pictures, but can’t share them on social media

Looks like a powerful (it has the quad-core processor) tablet, and probably a good choice for kids.

Fire HDX 8.9, 8.9″ HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

$379 16GB with Special Offers
$394 16GB without Special Offers
$429 32GB with Special Offers
$444 32GB without Special Offers
$479 64GB with Special Offers
$494 64GB without Special Offers

Releasing October 21st, pre-order now

  • A massive 2560 x 1600 display, 339 ppi (4 million pixels), 30% more pixels than the iPad Retina display
  • 20% lighter than iPad Air
  • 2.5 GHz quad-core processor
  • Twice as loud as iPad air, with Dolby Atmos for headphones (says it is the first tablet with that)
  • Mayday and Firefly
  • 8MP rear-facing camera (compare to the 2MP above), front-facing camera

Fire HDX 8.9, 8.9″ HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

Like the above, but with unlocked GSM (including AT&T)…this has the cellular connection.

$529 32GB with Special Offers
$544 32GB without Special Offers
$579 64GB with Special Offers
$594 64GB without Special Offers

Releasing October 21st.

Fire HDX 8.9, 8.9″ HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

Verizon version, otherwise same as immediately above, including pricing and release date.

Kindle Fire press releases:

09/17/14 Introducing the All-New Fire HDX—Higher Performance, Exclusive New Audio, the Fastest Wi-Fi, and Still Startlingly Light with a Stunning HDX Display Printer Friendly Version
09/17/14 Introducing the All-New Fire HD—The Most Powerful Tablet Under $100 Printer Friendly Version
09/17/14 Introducing Fire HD Kids Edition—The Kids Tablet That Has it All, Including the First-Ever 2-Year Worry-Free Guarantee

Now, on to the new Fire OS (Operating System):

  • This will be on the new Kindle Fires, and will come to the 3rd Generation (most recent) Kindle Fires through an over-the-air update
  • They again named it after an alcoholic drink…I’d prefer that they don’t do that, but it looks like that’s the pattern right now
  • “… adds Profiles so each family member can have their own individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, settings such as display brightness, bookmarks, spot in a movie, and game levels.”
  • Based on KitKat
  • Up to 25% more battery life with a “smart suspend” feature…proactively turns wireless access on and off
  • Family Library (see above…shared accounts)
  • Also coming to Fire Phone
  • Private Mode and print support coming to the Silk Browser
  • Free unlimited Cloud storage of photos taken on Fire devices

Whew!

Some of these features won’t be there at launch, and will be “coming soon”.  The Fire Phone won’t get Fire OS 4 until “early next year”.

press release on Fire OS 4

I would say that this is not a conservative product cycle. It will be interesting to see how these shake out in terms of popularity. I’m interested in what you think (and what questions you might have). Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

July 22, 2014

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update 5.4.5

Amazon has released a new update for the KPW2:

Update 5.4.5 for Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile* Benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can wait and it will eventually happen on its own (that can be weeks), or you can go to the above link and update manually

It brings three main changes:

  • Sync on Your Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile): honestly, I’m not quite clear what the difference is here. I usually don’t bounce between devices when reading, and since my Significant Other and I may be reading the same book at the same time (so we can talk about it afterwards), we have Whispersync turned off. I’m not clear on what this is doing now that it didn’t do before. One interesting thing, though. I’ve always recommended that people return to Home after a reading session if they may need to sync, and the video on this page recommends the same thing
  • “When viewing a PDF in pan-and-zoom mode, you will now see a small preview window in the margin of the screen”: this one sounds helpful!
  • Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile): for those of us who answer questions on the official Amazon forums, there is a tendency (which can be avoided, with effort) to develop canned responses. One thing has always been about where you find sample in the Cloud. We would say they weren’t stored in the Cloud: I’ve likened it to getting a free sample at Costco…there’s no record of that in your account, either. ;) One reason is that it lessens costs to not do the processing of the transaction and the storage of the sample. Well, now, when you buy a p-book (paperbook), you can often choose to “Start Reading Now”, and you get the sample of the e-book on your Kindle (so you can read while the p-book is on the way). Those samples (and only those samples), are going to be available in the Cloud: Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile)

Video: “When the Words Stop”

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this great video!

When the Words Stop by Epic Reads

I think a lot of you will appreciate it…it’s a humor piece about that deflated feeling you have when you finish a book…when the words stop. Back in the paper days, I remember feeling a great anxiety sometimes when I realized there was only maybe ten percent of the book left to go. With an e-book, I have to say, I find so often that it ends much before the percentage would indicate (because of back matter, or a preview, or something like that), that I can’t really judge it. I’ve had books finish at maybe 66%! This is funny and worth watching, in my opinion.

Gold Box Deal: $100 off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ 4G LTE

This is a today only deal (that’s how GBDs work):

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

It’s $100 of the models with 4G (like a cellphone connection to wireless, instead of just wi-fi…this has both). I tried having 4G on one of my Fire models, and didn’t find it was worth the monthly service plan cost to me. However, I’m in a pretty techie area, and there is a lot of wi-fi around here. For some people, having 4G makes a big difference in convenience, and they are willing to pay for it. It’s also nice for people who aren’t as techie, but want to be connected…no wi-fi required to use it (if you have a signal for 4G at home, you don’t have to enter passwords or anything to connect).

The least expensive configuration of this deal is $229…which makes it the same initial cost as having a wi-fi only version.

Kindle Unlimited mini-roundup

I’m still going to write another big post on Kindle Unlimited soon (following this one)

It’s official! Kindle Unlimited is here with 639,621 titles

including what I think the impact will be on authors (some will benefit…a lot), but I did want to hit a few high points:

  • Audiobooks: I’ve seen interest in the comments on the blog in the audiobook part, and that is something that makes KU stand apart from other subsers (that’s what I call subscription services) .ike Oyster and Scribd). As is, unfortunately, not uncommonly the case with Amazon, people want to do it…but have trouble finding instructions on how to do it. I’ve done it successfully, but it wasn’t as easy as going to “audiobooks” in KU and picking one. What I did was first find an e-book in KU that was set up for “Whispersync for Voice”. You can do that with this link: Kindle Unlimited Whispersync for Voice titles (at AmazonSmile). The e-book has to say that it is “with narration”, otherwise you might pay extra for it. I downloaded the e-book (one that I’ve read before, by the way…I don’t like listening to audiobooks if I haven’t already sightread the book). Once I’d done that, the audiobook was available to my Audible app…including on my Galaxy S4 (which should be, sadly, replaced later this week by my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile). I’m not sad to be getting the phone: I’m excited for that! I’ve just really liked the S4). So, the counterintuitive part was getting an e-book I wasn’t going to read so I could get the audiobook. After that, it worked fine. One of my readers commented that they couldn’t get the audiobook part to work, even with help from both Kindle and Audible reps…but I still don’t quite know why. Might have been a different phone, or they weren’t following the above sequence
  • How authors get compensated: I will do a big post on authors and KU generally, as I’ve mentioned, but for indie (independent authors) using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they split part of a pool fund (the same way they get compensated for borrows from Amazon Kindle Owners” Lending Library)…but they don’t get the cut until the borrower has read ten percent of the book. Tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors will have a different deal, and we won’t know the details…the publishers don’t usually release royalty contract terms. I did check, by the way: if someone borrows your book, reads ten percent of it (triggering the royalty), return it, borrows it again, and ten percent of it again, you don’t get a second royalty…in case you were planning to game the system ;)
  • Confusion for people who are both KU members and KOLL eligible: this has been very confusing, engendering many threads on the forums! I’m hoping they make this clearer…and soon. The KOLL has not gone away, and there hasn’t been an indication that it will. The BUTTON to borrow for free, however, has gone away in many cases. What I understand at this point is that, if you’ve already borrowed your KOLL book for the month, the button will convert to a “Read for Free” button, and it will be one of your KU borrows instead (assuming the book is in both programs). If you don’t have KU, clicking the button will take you to some place to sign up. If it actually works that way, that’s not too bad. However, I did see “The Artist” on the forum say that they had not yet borrowed a KOLL book in the month…and clicking “Read for Free” made it the KOLL borrow. That would be bad: what you want to borrow from the KOLL and what you want to read from KU may not be the same. You can have up to ten books out from KU at a time, and when you return one you can get another one. That seems to me like a generous amount for one person (unless, perhaps, you are going on a trip where you won’t have wireless access), but if you have five people on the account (and there is no limit), you may often bump up against that simultaneous ten limit

Wow! There is a lot happening (Fire Phone for hardware, KU for services), but what do you think? Have you ever feared reaching the end of a book? I know people who don’t want to buy a book unless there are more books in a series, just to try and stave off the eventual “separation”.  Do you find 4G worth it for a Fire? Are you weighing keeping Audible versus going with KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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! :) 

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 “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

May 11, 2014

New “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

Thanks to *~*Pineapple*~* for the heads up on this!

There is a new setting on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

If you swipe down from the top, tap settings, then tap Device, you’ll probably see it.

It says

Find My Kindle

Remotely Locate Your Kindle at Amazon.com

and then you can turn it on or off.

Presumably, this would be a way to physically locate your Kindle. I have a free app that does that for me

Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile

although it is imperfect.

I’m not finding anything about it yet. I’ve searched Help, and checked

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

My guess is that something will happen with it soon.

Oddly, while my Fire had restarted itself yesterday, when I checked it for system updates, it said it had last been updated April 1st.

If this is a locator, it would likely work both with and without 4G…just better with the latter.

I’ll let you know if I hear more.

Update: I see a “Device Actions” dropdown in MYK in Google Chrome, but not in Maxthon. There is no related action there, though.

Update: I’ve been given permission to share this from Amazon:

Hey everyone, as you know, from time to time Amazon tests new features on the website, and that during these test periods certain aspects of the site will function or appear differently to randomly selected customers.

What you’re seeing is a new feature available for certain Kindle Fire HDX devices. You’ll be able to remotely locate, deregister, or factory reset your device. 

Some of the things you can do from the Manage Your Devices page are:

* Find a misplaced Kindle by selecting the Remote Alarm feature. Your device will play a sound to help you locate it (device obviously needs to be turned on and connected to Wi-Fi/Wireless)

* You can find an approximate location of your device on a map if you’ve enabled “Find My Kindle” on the device itself and then using “Find Your Device.” Note, the location displayed is dependent on a number of factors and shouldn’t be relied upon for precise location information

* Deregister or Factory reset your device remotely

All of these options are found under the “Device Actions” dropdown on the Manage Your Device page.

There was also this additional information:

* Manage Your Device features will only work if the device is on, connected to Wi-Fi/mobile, and if Kindle FreeTime is turned off

* Location-based services and Find My Kindle must be turned on in the device settings for the Find my Kindle feature to work

* The factory reset feature will only work if the battery is over 30%. If the device is not connected to a network or is turned off, Amazon will keep trying to reach it for three days and will send an e-mail indicating success or failure

So, it is rolling out (you may not have it yet)…and I haven’t actually seen it work yet. It is only going to be available, from what I can tell, on the Kindle Fire HDX.

Update: it worked this morning! At least, part of it did…the Remote Alarm option appeared in Chrome (but not Maxthon) this morning, and it worked just fine. I tried it when my Kindle HDX 7″ was asleep (not turned all the way off), and with the volume on and all of the connection options on (wi-fi, Location Based Services). It made a loud enough, but not too annoying ;) sound. When I opened the cover (which wakes it), there was a simple thing to tap to turn off the alert.

I haven’t seen the Find My Kindle or Deregister or Factory Reset options yet.

New! 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 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.

Kindle Fire HDX update this morning

April 1, 2014

Kindle Fire HDX update this morning

Just a note that my

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

updated to version 13.3.2.2 this morning, at 4:29 AM PDT.

This is from 13.3.1.1…I’m not seeing anything talking about new features yet.

At the update page:

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates(http://smile.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile)

it just says

“The software update includes general improvements and performance enhancements.”

which typically means bug fixes, rather than feature adds.

I was alerted to the update on my Kindle: it happened automatically.

If you notice any changes, or that it has happened to other models of Kindles, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

I’ll also let you know if I find out anything more. :)

* 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.

Massive new update for 1st generation Paperwhite

March 6, 2014

Massive new update for 1st generation Paperwhite

Join the party, KPW1ers! ;)

Amazon has just added a new update for the first generation Kindle Paperwhite. That’s in addition to the update for the second generation…and I’ve added some of my testing on that to this post:

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update available

This brings the 1st gen inline with the second on many features. You can just wait and your KPW1 should update automatically (eventually), or you can do it yourself from:

Kindle Paperwhite 1st Generation Software Updates (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What do you get?

  • Kindle FreeTime (separate profiles and tracking)
  • Goodreads on Kindle
  • Cloud Collections
  • Page Flip
  • Enhanced Bookmarks, Highlights, and Notes
  • Smart Lookup
  • Vocabulary Builder

That’s a lot!

Update: while it wasn’t listed, you apparently also get “inline footnotes”. Thanks to Phink, one of my regular readers and commenters for mentioning that. I’d seen that it was included in an update document which appeared on my KPW1 with the update (which is greatly appreciated, Amazon!). I’m not sure what book I’d use to test it, but you can see a screenshot here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-imageproduct25

What it means is that (if the book if formatted for it), you can read footnotes without going to the back of the book and then having to return. That caused a lot of people problems in the old days…they’d jump to the end to read the footnote, and then let the Kindle sleep without returning to home first. I believe that would reset their “furthest page read” to the end of the book.

This is version 5.4.4.

Our “Guest Kindle” is a KPW1, so I’ll be testing it out soon…still working on testing the update to my Significant Other’s KPW2. :)

I do want to thank Amazon and point out that updates do come out for earlier models…you sometimes see that criticism. That doesn’t mean that your 2007 Kindle will get these updates…it couldn’t handle it technically. Amazon has in the past, though, updated discontinued models, and continues to do so, at least for a while.

Let me know if you have questions or observations…

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

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

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update available

March 5, 2014

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update available

I haven’t had time to download, install, and test it yet, but there is a new update available for the Kindle Paperwhite 2…and it looks promising!

Download KPW2 Software Update 5.4.3 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

As usual, you should be able to just wait for the update, if you want, or you can get it and install it manually at the above link.

Amazon says it has:

  • The ability to manage your Cloud Collections. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen the term “disaster” applied to the way Cloud Collections first worked on the KPW2. I’ve found them very useful on our Kindle Fire HDXs. This says that you’ll be able to “star” Collections to make them favorites…uniquely on that device. I’ll have to test this out to see if it resolves people’s concerns…let me know what you think!
  • You’ll be able to see your Notes in a book from “the Reading Menu”. Does this mean you’ll be able to see them along with the text? My guess is no, that it is just an easier way to access them (rather than using “Go To”). Update: I can confirm: it’s just another way to get to the Notes. I don’t remember being able to select between Your Notes, Popular Notes, and Public Notes, but that’s now a choice. You could also use this technique to get to the Table of Contents
  • PDF improvements
  • You’ll be able to cancel the purchase of a book you do from a sample, as long as you do it before it finishes downloading

More information later, but I know people like to get these right away. :) If you have feedback, feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Update: I have now downloaded and installed the new update.

It went as expected, using the link above: the whole process was under five minutes, I’d say.

The first obvious difference was a series of dark stars appearing on the homescreen, next to each of the Collections (I have the Kindle sorted by Collections).

Unfortunately, the directions at Amazon only apply to when you are seeing covers on your device, which is not my choice. It talks about the star being in the “…bottom-right corner of the collection cover”. However, it’s obvious in either view.

I long pressed (holding a finger in my case, or you could use your stylus, on a Collection for about a second).

One of the choices is to “Show Only in Collections View”.

I did that with my TBR Collection, since this is my Significant Other’s Kindle Paperwhite 2. I was looking to make it not visible on this device (to simply things for my SO).

I got a message:

“This collection will only be shown in the Collections View. Select Collections under My Items to see it. You can press and hold on a Collection to change its view options.”

I tapped “OK”.

At that point, the Collection disappeared from the  homescreen…the result I wanted. :)

To see it again on this device, you go to where it says “My Items” at the top of the homescreen…not where it says “Collection” on my currently (the sort order).

If I go to All Items under My Items, it shows up again.

That seems reasonable to me. You could switch to Collections to download things from a Collection which you don’t normally want to see. For example, you could have a “Read” Collection, and only invoke it when you want to re-read it.

So far, I like it. It’s not intuitive, but I think it works.

When you are sorted by Collections and filtered by My Items, you now see both Collections and items not in Collections…that’s going to confuse some people.

I think this may require a bit more explanation…unleash the tabular format! ;)

Filter Sort Count Comment
My Items Recent 24 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items show both inside and outside Collections, sorted by downloaded or accessed dates
My Items Title 24 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items show both inside and outside Collections, sorted by title (no separation for Collections and individual items
My Items Author 24 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items show inside and outside Collections, sorted by author (with Collections appearing after the individual items and the Collections also sorted alphabetically)
My Items Collection 14 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items in Collections do not show outside them, sorted by Collections first, then individual items (looks like by Recent)
Books Recent 12 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items appear and outside of Collections
Books Collection 5 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items in Collections do not show outside them, sorted by Collections first, then individual items (looks like by Recent)
Collections Recent 9 Unstarred Collections show, no individual items show

I didn’t do all of the options there (yet), but here’s the bottom line: for most people, you wanted the filter to be by Books and the sort to be by Collections.

More later…

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

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

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

Kindle Fire update now available!

February 25, 2014

Kindle Fire update now available!

It’s he-ere! ;)

You can now do the manual update for the Kindle Fire HDX from

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (http://smile.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m most interested in it because it is supposed to address wireless connection instability, from what I’ve heard.

Amazon says:

“The software update includes general improvements and the following feature enhancements:

Protect your device with encryption
You can now encrypt your accounts, settings, and downloaded apps and their data, media, and other files on your Kindle Fire. To learn more, go to Protect Your Data with Security Settings.

Test your knowledge with Flashcards for Kindle Print Replica textbooks
Create flashcards to help you learn more about key terms and concepts in a textbook. To learn more, go to Reading Enhancements.”

I’ll get it updated and then update this post with my experience with it, but I figured you’d want to know right away.

There should also be other updates available for other Fire models…you can get to it from the page I linked above.

Update: I was also able to download it the easy way…by doing

Home – Swipe down from the top – Settings – Device

and then having it check for System Updates.

It found it, and then started downloading it.

Before the update, I was at 13.3.1.0. I believe this will be 13.3.1.1 (on my Kindle Fire HDX 7″).

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

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

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


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