Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

Big Kindle Fire update is here!

November 18, 2013

Big Kindle Fire update is here!

IMPORTANT NOTE: FIX FOR UPDATE PROBLEM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST.

Note: this post has been considerably updated as I have been working with the new version.

This is the big one!

Amazon announced a “mid-November” update to the new Kindle Fire operating system when it released the new generation of devices.

This one brings a lot of significant new features, which I will list for you shortly.

First, I know some of you are super anxious to get it, so here is the

Kindle Software Updates page

If you are willing to wait until it shows up on its own (which might take weeks), you can certainly do that.

Otherwise, you go to that page and select your model. The ones affected by this update (in all their memory storage/special offer/4G or not configurations) are the:

This update is just for the models with the new operating system. Some of it might possibly get to older models, and the Cloud Collections part will affect other devices.

Here is the

press release

Update: here are the features mentioned at the update page:

  • Find and share books with Goodreads: Goodreads on Kindle lets you connect with the Goodreads community to follow friends and see what they are reading, and share and rate books on your Kindle Fire. Bufo’s comment: this is an app, located on your Apps tab. It has the letter “g” on it. You’ll need to be connected to wi-fi to use it. You can create a new account, or connect to an existing account. I entered my Goodreads e-mail address and password, and then I was given a screen to enter books from Amazon (both physical and e-books). You have to indicate whether you “Want to Read”, are “Currently Reading”, or have “Read” the book. You can also rate it. I could also choose “Readers to Follow”. You are given a choice to “Add Freinds from Facebook”. Tap the menu (three horizontal lines in your top left corner) to see more. You can also get to your Kindle library from the menu.
  • Organize your content with Cloud CollectionsOrganize your content library into collections like “Favorite Books” and “Sports Apps” that are synchronized with compatible Kindle devices and reading apps. Bufo’s comment: “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) a book on your Books tab (either in the Cloud or On Device), and you’ll get a chance to “Add to Collection”. Collections showed up from other devices here, and I could create a New Collection. I could also add to a Collection from the Carousel. It worked with e-books and apps (haven’t tested other content).
  • Watch movies and TV shows on another device with Second ScreenFling movies and TV shows from your Kindle Fire to your 2013 Samsung Smart TV or PlayStation 3 using Second Screen. Bufo’s comment: not tested yet. Here is the Second Screen help page
  • Learn more about books with Smart LookupWith the Smart Lookup feature, you can quickly look up words in the dictionary or Wikipedia or translate text in a book. Bufo’s comment:  highlight  text in a book. I did that with “The Breakfast Club”. It brought up “cards”, sort of like you see with Google Now. The first one was Wikipedia information and a link to go to Wikipedia. Swiping to my left, I got the Bing translator (in Spanish: “El Club del desayuno”). I tried a single word, and the first card was a dictionary. Swiping got me to Wikipedia, and then to the translator. The translator even has the option to speak it out loud for you (at least it did in Spanish). There was a toolbar that allowed highlighting in different colors, adding a note, sharing, starting text-to-speech (it’s a play button), and searching
  • Print from Your Kindle FirePrint Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, photos, e-mails, calendar events, and contact information from your Kindle Fire to a printer that supports mobile printing. Bufo’s comment: not testted yet
  • Free up storage space with 1-Tap ArchiveWith 1-Tap Archive, your Kindle Fire groups all content that has not been used recently so you can move it to the Cloud with just one tap. Bufo’s comment: Home – Swipe Down – Settings – Device – Storage.  Note: check te results carefully: it may want to archive a lot of things you don’t want archived.
  • Enhanced enterprise featuresManage security certificates and connect to your company’s Wi-Fi network—whether you’re at home or at work—with remote VPN capabilities. Bufo’s comment: not tested yet.
  • Set alarms and view additional time zones with the Clock appUse the all-new Clock app to check the date and time, set an alarm clock, and more. Bufo’s comment: another app, with a lot of options! If you tap the menu, you can set it to Alarms, Nightstand, Stopwatch, or Timer. Update: love this app! There are many choices for sounds for the alarm (including a rooster!). Some of the sounds create a doppler sort of effect, like the sound is moving from one side to the other. The nightstand mode has a cool, futuristic clock (no hands, just arcs). I tested it: you would need to have it plugged in to go overnight. Even with the brightness all the way down (which would be fine in a dark room), twenty minutes of running took about 3% of the battery charge. I could set up multiple timezones (although the choices of specific cities were limited) and see more than one at once, if I wanted. That will be nice when our adult kid is in Europe.

Update: the press release talks about a lot more than the update page does. I’m excited to try the dictation! That’s speech-to-text (the opposite of text-to-speech): it converts what you say into text. English will be available offline, and more languages available when online. This may also open the door to voice commands for the Fire, which is one area where I really wanted to see improvement.

Here are the additional features mentioned in the press release:

  • Cloud Collections helps you organize your books, newspapers, magazines, and apps in customized collections for easy reference, and Amazon’s Whispersync technology synchronizes the collections across your Kindle devices and reading apps so they’re available on all of your devices. Bufo’s comment: see above
  • Voice dictation converts your speech to text—available in all languages when online; offline support available in US English. Bufo’s comment: you’ll new see a microphone button to your left of the comma (at least that’s where I’m seeing it) on your keyboard. Tap that, pause a second, and then say something. It seems to work quite well. You can say some punctuation, like “exclamation point” and “smiley face”. I’ve done a bit of testing: I’m impressed!
  • 1-Tap archive which frees up space on your Kindle Fire by identifying items that have not been recently used and provides a 1-tap option to store them in the Cloud for later retrieval. Bufo’s comment: see above
  • Wireless printing of photos, PDF, e-mails, contacts, calendar and docs. Bufo’s comment: see above
  • New accessibility enhancements that enable blind and visually impaired customers to save a separate accessibility profile for children in Kindle FreeTime, scroll lists automatically when swipe navigating, hear enhanced sound feedback and screen orientation changes announced, and have more control when editing text and navigating web content. Bufo’s comment: not tested yet
  • Dozens more new features, performance and battery life improvements, and bug fixes. Bufo’s comment: as I find things, I’ll add some of them below

Update: I’m working with Kindle Support right now, because you can’t install the update following the directions on the webpage.

Important update: we got it to work! Please feel free to spread this solution around, because it’s a bit weird.

My Windows Explorer would not let me drag and drop on to the Internal Storage drive. After the person helping me, John, got a management team involved, they suggested copying and pasting the file, instead of drag and drop…and that worked!

It’s installing now.

I’ll update this post shortly, but wanted to get this out right away.

Update: lock screen improvements: my lockscreen now shows me the day, date, and time, the battery level…and if I have any new e-mail (in the e-mail app).

Update: battery charge life seems much more robust! I’ve done things which I would think would have run it down significantly without much impact.

Update: very pleased to say that I went to go update my Significant Other’s Kindle Fire HDX manually…and it was all done! It had been plugged in, with wi-fi on. There was a notification explaining that the update had taken place…another nice touch.

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.

Collections come to a Kindle reader app

September 18, 2013

Collections come to a Kindle reader app

Well, well, well!

One of the main concerns people express when they go from an RSK (a Reflective Screen Kindle…not a Fire) to a Fire is that they don’t have a way to organize their books on the device. There have been some third-party (not Amazon) apps to try to address it, but they’ve had real limitations.

In this Amazon Kindle Forum thread

What’s New in Kindle for iOS Version 4.0?

they announce changes to the iOS (mobile Apple devices) app.

Most of it is appearance and interface (how it looks and menu changes), but the Collections addition is new functionality.

We have it on current RSKs: it lets you create “Collections” (sort of like folders in Windows, although they work differently) such as “To Be Read”, “Romance”, or whatever you want.

Does this mean it will come to other apps…Blackberry, Windows for PC, Windows for Mac, Android…and the Kindle Fire?

Well, it shows that they are working on Collections, but you can’t easily take something you built for iOS and presto changeo make it work for another platform. It would be like…designing a play in American football, and trying to use it in rugby. ;) The basic goal might be kind of the same, but how you get there is very different.

My guess is that the next generation of Kindle Fire (which I think may be announced soon maybe might have Collections, and this again shows that there is an effort to get Collections into apps…but we’ll see.

They haven’t updated the page on Amazon yet, but the iTunes listing does show the information on 4.0:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id302584613

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

Round up #202: Amazon’s new social marketing, Paperwhite update

September 6, 2013

Round up #202: Amazon’s new social marketing, Paperwhite update

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

1st generation Kindle Paperwhite updated…but not with gen 2 features (yet?)

I recently wrote about Amazon’s announcement of a second generation Kindle Paperwhite. It appears to be kind of what I was expecting this year: incremental increases in hardware, and significant updates to the software and services.

I did order one: I think it will be different enough from my current Paperwhite to want to have one to write about for you.

However, there is an obvious question: if the changes are mostly software, will those be given to the 1st gen Paperwhites through an update?

That can’t always happen…there were things that the first generation Kindle (from 2007) just couldn’t do, due to hardware limitations, that later gens got. I don’t think that’s the case here, though…the new Paperwhite has a better light and a better screen and a faster processor, but that shouldn’t be enough to prevent many of the features being made available to the KP1 (Kindle Paperwhite 1).

So, I’ll admit that my hopes were raised when I saw that a new update had been released for the Kindle Paperwhite yesterday:

Kindle Paperwhite Software Updates

This is release 5.3.8…and it does add some features, but none of the new ones announced for the KP2, from what I can see.

I went ahead and updated it manually (instructions are at the above link), although it would hypothetically have done it itself eventually.

It adds three things, according to the announcement:

  • When you search in a book, the search word is highlighted in the results
  • If you have more than one dictionary on your Kindle, you can choose the dictionary to use when you look up a word
  • Homonyms are displayed in lookup results

For me, these are somewhat minor changes, and they do work as advertised. Having the word highlighted is fine, although I didn’t have any problems finding them before (I think I scan text quickly).

The dictionary option thing? Might be useful if you have dictionaries for different languages, I suppose. On my test, I had the Oxford Dictionary of English or The New Oxford American Dictionary as choices. I suppose being able to see what a “jumper” was in England might have helped with Harry Potter, and understanding that a “trolley” might be a public conveyance in American or a “shopping cart” in England might clear up what might otherwise be a confusing mental image. ;)

While I know the difference, I mistakenly thought at first that it was going to show me homophones, not homonyms, which I think would have been more useful. I’m a bit surprised, and I may need to test it on another device, that the look-up didn’t always show homonyms (which are words which are spelled the same way, but mean different things…I think, technically, they also have to be pronounced the same way ((one which are just spelled the same way, but pronounced differently, like “a bow on a package” and the “bow of a boat” are homographs))). I think homophones (which sound the same, but are spell different…”they’re going to where their there is”) would have been useful, but harder to do.

I do think the KP1 is likely to get some of the same software features as the KP2 in an update…but it wouldn’t surprise me if they waited until after the KP2′s release at the end of the month.

My intuition, based in part on the amount of discussion I’m seeing, is that the KP2 is going to do very well.

By the way, I’m always interested to see the number of people who think that hardware features (a GPS chip, wi-fi versus 3G capability, audio) can be added with a software update. I’m guessing they think that any piece of technology can do pretty much anything, and you just choose what you want.

That just shows how much Arthur C. Clarke was right, about smoothly functioning technology appearing to be magic.

New features on Amazon’s book product pages

There have been some interesting things added to at least some Amazon book product pages recently.

One weird thing I was seeing yesterday, which I’m not seeing today, is that the book would appear to rotate…it would flip around so you would see the back of the book, then the front cover, then the back. However, it apparently wasn’t working correctly…because the text on the back of the book looked like you were seeing it in a mirror! That was a bit disconcerting: it was like you had \S/uperman’s x-ray vision and were looking through the book. I think that will come back in a corrected version.

More valuable right now is a “Listen” button below the book cover. These are on the p-book (paperbook) pages, by the way, not on the Kindle pages, from what I’ve seen. That lets you hear an excerpt from the audiobook (I presume it only appears if there is an audiobook): sort of like “Look Inside”, but for audio. Amazon now seems to be really linking audiobooks and p-books. “Shop by Department” (your top left corner of the page when shopping at Amazon.com) now lists “Books & Audible” as one category. They have also broken out “Kindle E-readers” and “Kindle Fire Tablets” into two categories.

This next feature may be a biggie…Collections.

Of course, naming it “Collections” makes me roll my eyes. When I taught people database design, one of the things I would tell them is to never name two objects that do different things with the same name. For example, I didn’t want them to have two “Accept” buttons on the same screen that had different consequences (that’s very confusing).

Amazon is terrible at that concept. One could example is “Cloud”. “Cloud” could refer to your “Cloud Player”, the “Cloud Drive”, your e-book archives…all at Amazon, all different.

In this case, calling it “Collections” when that is in use for an organizational tool (sort of the loose equivalent of folders) on your Kindles, which are only visible to your account, when this is a public grouping of things visible to everybody…sigh. I wonder how much that sort of confusion costs Amazon in Customer Service costs? “I put a book in a Collection on my Kindle, but it doesn’t appear to other people on Amazon. How do I fix that?” “If I put laundry detergent into a Collection on the Amazon website, will it appear on my Kindle and hurt my device?”

</rant> ;) Oh, sorry…that’s an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) joke. See, you use that sort of structure to tell a webpage to stop doing something…like </b> would mark the end of a bold section and…never mind. ;) I was just saying I was done with that rant about naming things.

Anywho…

You can now add Amazon items to Collections that other people can see.  The Collections will appear on the page…which sounds similar to the lists that they have at the Amazon owned site IMDb.com. That’s something which I recently suggested Amazon should add. :)

I’d tell you more about it…but now, that feature isn’t working for me! The button is on the page in Maxthon (my preferred browser), but won’t launch…which it did ten minutes ago. It doesn’t appear for me in Internet Explorer.

I would say, expect a press release about this in the next few days. This is an important social marketing development, depending on the implementation of it.

I like these features better than the ads we are now seeing on Amazon product pages, although I am tolerant of those.

Update: I think it might not have been displaying because I already had a display page open. Here’s a place to get more information:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/ssx/learn_more_popup?selected_tab=learn-more-1&window=true&navigated_from=Collect+Dialog

Oh, and here’s the page where you can see other people’s Collections:

Welcome to Amazon Collections

They appear to have started to be posted there about four hours ago…

I’m going to explore this more..stay tuned.

Oyster, a “Netflix for e-books”, launches

People have asked about this sort of thing from the beginning of the Kindle: $9.95 a month for unlimited access to e-books…and ones that are well-known.

It’s launched:

Oyster Books

You won’t own the books, and it sounds like a good idea…but it is only for iPhone at this point. They say they’ll do an iPad version later this year, but have no plans for Android. If they did one for the Kindle Fire, I do think Amazon would approve it for the Amazon Appstore (they include a lot of competitors to Amazon content, like Netflix).

Here is a Google search with stories about it:

https://www.google.com/search?client=aff-maxthon-maxthon4&channel=t2&q=stories…#channel=t2&q=oyster+e-books

I expect to write more on this later.

Update: I should mention right now that HarperCollins is participating in this…I mentioned recently that I think they tend to be front runners in consumer-friendly e-book features.

Dualume is here

Gosh, I don’t know how long ago I was writing about the possibilities of devices that do both backlighting and non-backlighting. I called that “Dualume”, for “two types of illumination”. A non-Fire Kindle is “illuminated” by the light in the room, or by a frontlight in the case of the Paperwhites.

Now, PocketBook has made a cover that goes on a Galaxy S4…and gives it a non-backlit screen.

Google search

It’s a prototype, being introduced at IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin…a big consumer trade show in Germany)…here is the company’s product page on it:

http://www.pocketbook-int.com/us/news/ifa-2013-pocketbook-cover-reader

Honestly, it seems a bit clunky, but wow, would I love a non-backlit screen for my SmartPhone! Imagine being able to see everything clearly in sunlight…even looking up numbers can be a challenge. I think that a SmartPhone with an E Ink screen is something Amazon might do…but reflective screens just haven’t been fast enough and haven’t been able to do color effectively in the market…and many people want to play Angry Birds. ;)

They’ll get there, though…I think full animation, full color, non-backlit screens are inevitable in the next few years.

What do you think? Would you want a non-backlit screen for your phone? How about for your tablet? Will you share Collections on Amazon’s website? Will you be interested in other people’s Collections? Do you want to own your e-books, or would the ability to read them be enough? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #196: Kindle newsletters, big new update to Silk

August 15, 2013

Round up #196: Kindle newsletters, big new update to Silk

Big new update to Silk

When I went to open Silk today (which I don’t usually do…thanks to regular reader Tuxgirl for a heads-up on this), I saw this:

Screenshot_2013-08-14-17-58-29

Amazon calls that a “Just in Time Tutorial”, although I don’t know if I’d quite call it a tutorial. I went to

The Official Silk page

and, yes, they had much more of an explanation.

I’ve been using it for a few minutes to test it out for you, and I will say it is smoother…and performance overall seems to be improved.

For one thing, I went to a few sites with online video (Nickelodeon, for one…ABC for another), and the video ran with no problem.

I like the little quick access “Left Panel” menu. It gives you:

Web Content

  • Most Visited
  • Bookmarks
  • Downloads
  • History
  • Trending Now

About

  • Settings
  • Help

Reading View (which existed before, but is in an easier to spot place) worked nicely, where available.

You can now “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) the URL (Uniform or Universal Resource Locator…the web address), and you get a choice to copy the URL…or “Share page”.  Choosing the latter lets you do a lot of things, including e-mail and Twitter.  Juice for Roku did come up as an option (I use that to show pictures I get in e-mails to my Significant Other on our TV), but I couldn’t find something that would work that way.

When you long press a link on a page, you also get some choices:

  • Open
  • Open in new tab
  • Open in background tab
  • Bookmark link
  • Share link
  • Copy link URL

The menu button at the bottom has

  • Share page
  • Add bookmark
  • Find in page
  • Request another view (to switch from Mobile to Desktop and vice versa)

The Settings don’t seem all that different, unfortunately. They haven’t given us a privacy mode, which is one reason I prefer Maxthon for casual browsing…it’s not so much that I want to hide things, but I’d rather not have to clean up a cache and that sort of thing. Privacy tends to mean that less gets stored on your Kindle.

Also, there is not desktop or phone version of Silk yet: another plus for Maxthon.

Still, this version (1.0.58.293-Gen5… on my Kindle) does seem to be a considerable improvement.

If you have been a regular Silk user, experiment a bit…if you notice any big improvements or regressions, you can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Kindle Fire sale ends tomorrow

Just a reminder: the $40 off on the Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi deal ends tomorrow, Thursday, August 15…that brings it down to $159. Might mean an announcement of new hardware isn’t too far off in the future…maybe, maybe. ;)

Kindle Delivers

I know, I know…it’s not like the biggest problem in your life is that you don’t get enough e-mail. ;)

However, you might not be getting enough good e-mail, and Amazon can help you with that.

They have a bunch of free newsletters to which you can subscribe at

Amazon Delivers

There are a lot of categories…here are the ones in the Kindle category:

Amazon Kindle Delivers
Sign up to be in the know on editors’ picks, new releases, Kindle book deals, and more. (Please note: US customers only.) Monthly

Comics
Our editors love discussing comic books and graphic novels with fellow comics fans. This email features incredible comics and graphic novels each week with exclusive content from the most-talked-about authors and illustrators, book lists, and more. (U.S. customers only) Weekly

Grand Harbor
Grand Harbor Publishing offers an optimistic outlook, practical solutions, and a safe haven to help readers reclaim their lives and discover a bright future. Offering hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook originals in the inspirational and self-help categories, Grand Harbor Publishing presents uplifting and thought-provoking works embracing a range of philosophies and spiritual thought. Occasionally

Kids Ages 3-5
Stay up to date on the latest in children’s books while discovering ways to advance kids’ reading skills. These monthly newsletters highlight new releases, learning resources, exclusive author content, deals, and more. Please note: US customers only. Monthly

Kids Ages 6-8
Stay up to date on the latest in children’s books while discovering ways to advance kids’ reading skills. These monthly newsletters highlight new releases, learning resources, exclusive author content, deals, and more. Please note: US customers only. Monthly

Kids Ages 9-12
Stay up to the date on the latest for readers ages 9-12. These monthly mails highlight new releases, curated booklists, exclusive author content, deals, and more. Please note: U.S. customers only. Monthly

Kindle Books: Editors’ Picks
There’s nothing the Kindle editors enjoy more than recommending new books to readers. From our weekly Kindle Select 25 to our Best Books of the Month to our year-end round-up of favorites in fiction, nonfiction, and more, these are the titles we truly love. (Please note: U.S. customers only) Monthly

Kindle Daily Deals
Each day we unveil new Kindle book deals for adults and young readers, including daily romance and science-fiction/fantasy deals. Subscribe now to find out about each day’s deals. You’ll receive your first email within 48 hours. (Please note: US customers only.) Daily

Kindle eBooks: Mystery & Thrillers
From comfortable cozies to the harrowingly hardboiled, get up-to-date info on the most highly anticipated mystery ebooks. Monthly

Kindle Newsstand Delivers
Coming Soon: Monthly e-mail focusing on Kindle newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Monthly

Kindle Oferta Fin de Semana
Coming Soon: Cada fin de semana, ofrecemos un eBook a un precio increíble en categorías como romance, ficción, no ficción, fantasía y misterio. ¡Subscríbete para no perder estas ofertas! Weekly

Kindle Select 25
Each week we’ll send an email featuring our list of 25 exciting books we think you should know about. (Please note: US customers only.) Weekly

Romance
There’s nothing our editors swoon over more than talking books with fellow romance fans. From our weekly booklists to exclusive content from the most talked-about authors, this email features the best of romance each week. Please note: US customers only. Weekly

Science Fiction & Fantasy
There’s nothing our Klingon and Conan-savvy editors enjoy more than talking books with fellow science fiction and fantasy fans. From our weekly booklists to exclusive content from the most-talked-about authors, this email features the best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy each week. (U.S. customers only) Weekly

Singled Out: The Best of Kindle Singles
Each month we’ll send you an email featuring a themed selection of Kindle Singles. (Please note: US customers only.) Monthly

Teen & Young Adult
Our editors love sharing what’s new and trending in Teen and Young Adult literature. From curated booklists to exclusive content from the most-talked-about authors, this email features the best of Teen and Young Adult every other week. (U.S. customers only) Bi-Monthly

Here’s the whole list of categories, but interestingly, it appearsyou can only display the contents of one category at a time:

  • Amazon Appstore for Android
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program
  • Automotive
  • Beauty
  • Blogs
  • Books
  • Clothing & Accessories
  • Deals
  • Health & Personal Care
  • Kindle
  • Music
  • Outlet
  • Shoes & Handbags
  • Sports & Outdoors
  • Video Games
  • Watches
  • Wine
  • Your Shopping List

Hmm…the shopping list says it will send you reminders about items you use frequently…that does sound intriguing. We use Subscribe & Save for a lot of things already, though, and then we don’t have to think about it at all. :) It’s also nice to save that 15%…

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

Round up #194: Detroit libraries, Kindle Fire updates now available from Amazon

August 9, 2013

Round up #194: Detroit libraries, Kindle Fire updates now available from Amazon

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

Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels) has died

The mystery novels under the name Elizabeth Peters (including the Amelia Peabody books) have been very popular…as have been the books of Barbara Michaels, including the Georgetown series.  Those were both pennames for Barbara Mertz, who also wrote non-fiction about Egypt under her real name,

Barbara Mertz has reportedly died at the age of 85.

CBS News article

Update for Kindle Fires now available at Amazon

I wrote recently about being worried about my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB updating to the 8.4.5 version, which was breaking Flash video in non-Amazon browsers.

I updated that post when I had heard that 8.4.6 was out there, and that it didn’t have the same problem.

Well, my Kindle Fire did update last night…and I’m happy to report that Flash video is working fine in Maxthon (my preferred browser). In fact, it seems like it is working better, but it’s too soon to really tell that.

If your Kindle Fire hasn’t updated, it likely will soon now. You can also get the update from

Kindle Software Updates

and install it manually (they have instructions there on it).

Since it’s on that page, we also know what they tell us it does. :)

  • You can now choose Brazilian Portuguese for your device language (Home – swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Language…that brings us to eleven languages and variants)
  • You can download new keyboard languages (Home – swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Keyboard – Download Keyboard Languages). That’s a fascinating change! There are thirty-seven languages there, and even with a linguist in the family, I can’t tell you what they all are (since they are listed in their languages. They do include Russian and Tagalog, Hinglish and Magyar…quite a few choices. While this will greatly expand the usability of the Kindle Fire, this ability to download the languages is what’s intriguing me. That suggest to me that we could possibly get the same thing with accents and languages for text-to-speech…not that we don’t likeSeptember Day‘s Salli, of course, but more choices there could again expand the language accessibility. Could this also suggest a launch of a Fire in even more countries? Well, last I heard, it was already available for 170 countries, so maybe not
  • Multicolor highlights (highlight something in a book with your finger or stylus, and you’ll now be given four different highlighting colors from which to choose)
  • Share notes & highlights from a Print Replica textbook. The particularly interesting piece here is that you’ll be able to share them via e-mail…that could be the start of something big for Amazon. Not just e-mailing, of course, but texting (in the future). I frequently e-mail stories to family members from my morning Flipboard read. I know e-mail isn’t the choice method of communication for many New Millenials (which is why I’m also thinking texting, in the future), but tweeting and Facebook updates don’t work for everybody either

All in all, I’m happy Amazon fixed the problem with Flash before posting the updates.

Update: here are screenshots of the keyboard languages available for download, and some best guesses (not all mine…my adult kid who is a linguist helped, as did someone else) as to what they are. If you can correct any of them, I’d appreciate it:

Screenshot_2013-08-09-17-13-42

 

Screenshot_2013-08-09-17-13-54

Screenshot_2013-08-09-17-14-06

 

Bahasa Indonesia
Bahasa Malaysia
Catala – Catalan
Cestina – Czech
Dansk – Danish
Eesti – Estonian
Euskara – Basque
Galego – Galician (spoken in Spain and some other countries)
Hinglish – Hindi/English hybrid (although I believe some other languages are involved)
Islanski – Icelandic
Latviesu – Latvian
Lietuviskai – Lithuanian
Magyar – Hungarian
Nederlands – Dutch
Norsk – Norwegian
Polski = Polish
Portugues europeu – European Portuguese
Pу́сски;й – Russian
Romana – Romanian
Shqipe – Albanian
Slovencina – Slovak
Slovenscina – Slovak
Suomi – Finnish
Svenska – Swedish
Tagalog – Phillipino
Tiếng Việt – Vietnamese
Türkçe – Turkish
ελληνικ;ά – Greek
Казаk – Kazak
Україн;ська – Ukranian
Белару;скі – Belorussina or White Russian

Georgian
Armenian
Thai
Korean
Two varieties of Chinese (I’m assuming Cantonese and Mandarin)
I know there can be cultural sensitivities in some of these identifications…if there is something you think should be corrected there, please let me know. No offense is intended, and I freely admit I might be ignorant of some of the issues.

Summer Reading Snapshot: libraries and kids across the nation

This is a great

Publishers Weekly article by Karen Springen

which talks with children’s librarians in

  • Cleveland
  • Orlando
  • Cincinnati
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • New York
  • Boston
  • St. Louis
  • Kansas City, Mo
  • Detroit

about their planned Summer events, and what the “Big Reads” are for the kids this Summer.

As we all know, Detroit has had a lot of issues lately. I liked this quotation from Lurine Carter, coordinator of children’s and teen service at the Detroit Public Library:

“Life is very serious, not only in Detroit but all over. We try to relieve their minds. We want the library and the reading to be a pleasant getaway.”

I recommend the article, particularly if you are looking for books for your own kids to read.

Google play making a big…er, play for textbooks

There are so many clear advantages to e-textbooks that it seems inevitable to be that they become the standard format.

  • The weight of paper textbooks, especially when students can’t get to a locker between classes, is genuinely a health issue
  • The increased ability to be accessible (text-to-speech, increasable text size) is important
  • The ability of them to be updated easily over the years
  • The fact that they don’t wear out…which makes renting a really viable option
  • The relatively lower cost
  • Annotation without degradation
  • Search
  • Sharing supplemental material
  • X-ray

That doesn’t mean that getting them to be adopted is easy, but Google is likely to make it a bit more attractive:

Google Play Textbooks

I don’t see that they are bringing any stand-out features that aren’t available in

Kindle eTextbooks

but just the fact that it is Google may influence some schools.

Hearing in the Apple “penalty phase” today

Judge Cote has been ruling incredibly quickly in the Apple e-book price fixing case. That doesn’t mean we will hear something today…but Judge Cote will.

There is a hearing today for the DoJ’s (Department of Justice’s) proposed penalties for Apple, according to this

The Verge article by Greg Sandoval

and other sources. I’ve written before about how far-reaching the DoJ proposal seems to be. The five Agency Model publishers think it’s too much…but they aren’t exactly uninvolved parties (they settled with the DoJ in the same case). Others think it’s appropriate.

It will be very interesting to see what Judge Cote does. I think it’s possible that part of it is approved and part of it isn’t, but we’ll see. I’m not sure if Judge Cote would then send them back to rethink it or what can happen.

Librarians in the Movies

This site was right up my alley!

Librarians in the Movies: an Annotated Filmography by Martin Raish, Brigham YOung University

It’s a pretty extensive list…given my love of books and movies, I did find it fascinating (and I had seen a number of them). It’s not being maintained anymore, but is still interesting. Let’s see…any movies this Summer with librarians in them? Hm…

Have any thoughts about these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

Why I don’t use Amazon’s Silk browser

July 27, 2013

Why I don’t use Amazon’s Silk browser

I’m afraid of my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB right now.

As a consumer, that’s not a good place to be. :) As the title of the blog says, “I love my Kindle,” and I do.

Still, I keep checking and checking, dreading something.

You see, I know there is an update coming. I’ve been reading about it in the Kindle forums, but it hasn”t been announced yet and isn’t available at

Kindle Software Updates

When it happens, it happens. There’s really nothing you can do about stopping an update, if you connect with Amazon’s servers (which I do regularly).

I normally welcome the updates, but this one, which will change my system from 8.4.3 to 8.4.5, is reported to break something I use every day.

First, let me tell you how to check your own version:

Swipe down from the top, More, Device, About…you’ll see the system version listed there.

If you have 8.4.5, you’ve already gotten the update.

The numbers are similar for the 7″: if you have 7.4.5 (rather than 7.4.3), you are updated.

I’ve heard that it brings the ability to highlight in different colors.

However, and this is what concerns me, I’ve also heard that it breaks the use of the Flash player in non-Amazon browsers.

You see, back in November of 2011, Adobe abandoned Flash for mobile browsers. That meant that the most current mobile browsers were unable to play Flash videos. It wasn’t Amazon’s fault, and it wasn’t limited to the Fire.

What you could do, though, is install the Flash player on your Fire, and use another browser that would support it.

That’s what I’ve been doing.

Amazon allows us to install apps from outside sources…despite what you might hear, it’s not a closed ecosystem, and never has been.

I think Amazon wants to compete. Oh, they want to win, and they’ll spend more money than you’ll ever see to do it, but I think they like the head-to-head.

Here’s how you allow it:

Swipe down, More, Device, Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources

Naturally, if you do that, Amazon can’t be sure that what you install will work and that it won’t hurt your Kindle, so you take the responsibility for that app. That makes sense to me, and I’m fine with it.

I have the Maxthon Browser (version 4.0.4 1000) installed, and Adobe Flash Player (version 11.1).

You can get the Flash Player directly from Adobe here:

http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/archived-flash-player-versions.html

I’d gotten the Maxthon browser originally directly in the Amazon Appstore, when it was compatible with my first generation Kindle Fire.

I think I got Maxthon for my Fire 8.9 from 1Mobile. Note: I am not recommending that you do the same…while I took that responsibility with my own Fire, I don’t want to take it with yours. :)

Having the combination of the two has meant that I can watch Flash videos on my Kindle Fire.

According to what I’m hearing, though, once my Fire updates, I won’t be able to do that any more, using Maxthon (or Dolphin).

I know some people will immediately assume that Amazon did this on purpose, to force people to use Silk.

Personally, I doubt that’s the case. Yes, if you use Silk, they can probably collect more data on you, and that’s valuable.  Yes, if Maxthon (or Dolphin, another reportedly affected browser) breaks your Kindle Fire, you are going to ask Amazon for help…even saying “no” costs them something, because Customer Service is expensive.

Generally, though, Amazon hasn’t done that kind of thing. For example, they approved the Netflix app for the Kindle Fire…even though it is a direct competitor to their own Amazon Instant Video (and in some ways, to Prime  Streaming Video).

While I do believe Amazon will do what it can to encourage you to use their apps, devices, and services, I don’t think they do it by trying to prevent you from using the competition (any more than what is the business norm).

In fact, I’m hoping that the reason I don’t have this update yet, and that it isn’t on the Kindle Software Updates page, is that they are trying to fix the problem (and possibly others). Amazon doesn’t want unhappy customers. I’m guessing that they were trying to do something to make the Silk browser work better with online videos, and that is just conflicting with Flash. That’s just my guess, though.

So, here’s the obvious question:

I’m a big Amazon fan. I use Kindles, Kindle Fires, Subscribe & Save, and am a Prime member.

Why don’t I use Amazon’s browser?

After all, I thought it sounded like one of the coolest Kindle Fire features. I liked the idea of “predictive loading”. It was going to learn my habits (and those of others), and pre-load webpages to make it faster. For example, when I go to

IMDb.com

a movie & TV reference site on the web (which is now owned by Amazon), I almost always go to the Top News section after I peruse the front page.

Silk was supposed to learn that, and so pre-load Top News whenever I went to IMDb.

It was supposed to do a lot of the processing in Amazon’s Cloud, where it would be much faster than on the device itself.

Well, I never really saw that…Silk has never been that fast for me, but that’s not the big issue.

The big thing is that it doesn’t have a couple of important features that I rely on in my browser.

The first one would be hard for them to fix. There is no desktop version of Silk, and no SmartPhone version.

One reason that I like Maxthon is (like Google Chrome), you can easily sync your bookmarks. Inevitably, I’m going to find websites on my Fire which I would rather see on my desktop, and I’m going to want mobile access to sites I’ve bookmarked on my desktop. Silk can’t do any of that.

The other big thing is that there is no privacy or “stealth” mode. I use that much of the time. It just means that the browser doesn’t store information about you the same way. When I visit a site, it doesn’t cache that site for me later, or store my passwords, or put it into my history, that kind of thing. Sure, that means that I have to enter that stuff every time, but for a lot of sites, I’m okay with that.  If I have a site I’m going to use a lot, I browse not in private mode. If it’s somewhere I’m just going to maybe see a funny video, I’m stealth.

There are other reasons to use a privacy mode…you may not want other users of the device to know which sites you visit…I won’t speculate on why. ;)

That’s one they could fix. I think it would especially appeal to people now, after all the talk there has been in the press about surveillance of internet use. Stealth mode wouldn’t prevent spying on you, of course, but it would make people feel like something has been done.

In fact, I think it would be cool if Amazon licensed

MaskMe

for Silk, so we could have better control over our information on line while still using services.

Now, it’s possible Amazon doesn’t want a privacy mode because it wants to collect data on your use, and it might interfere with that. I do think those two don’t have to be the same thing…you could erase my tracks while still knowing what my itinerary was. :) Amazon could know in the moment, and then not have my Kindle Fire know it afterwards.

Now, I should be clear: from what I’m hearing, the update won’t break Maxthon…just break the use of Flash in Maxthon. If I want to go to a site privately and use Flash, though, I’ll reportedly be out of luck.

Here’s hoping that isn’t what happens. :)

I’m curious if other people use the Silk browser (that’s what you use when you tap Web on your Fire)…so I’m going to ask you:

These questions only apply if you use a Kindle Fire (of any generation):

Okay…I’m going back to having the update of Damocles hanging over my head.  ;) Hopefully, it won’t mess me up…virtual fingers crossed.

What do you think? Does privacy mode matter to you? Do you sync your internet bookmarks/favorites between devices? Have you had experience with the latest updates? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: I’m hearing from reliable sources that 8.4.6 is out there, and does not cause the Flash problems in non-Amazon browsers. Hopefully, if that one is good, they will post it at the software update site. My Fire hasn’t updated yet…

===

Bonus: Amazon recently updated the discontinued Kindle Touch. Yes, that’s right…contrary to what I see people say, Amazon does sometimes update discontinued devices…and in this case, it added some significant functionality (improving search, buying from a sample, and viewing the full dictionary definition).

You can get it from Amazon here:

Kindle Touch Software update 5.3.7

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

Why doesn’t Amazon tell us everything in the updates?

June 23, 2013

Why doesn’t Amazon tell us everything in the updates?

As I recently reported, Amazon released an update to version 5.3.6 for the Kindle Paperwhite. They announced the availability of it here: Kindle Paperwhite Update Version 5.3.6. You can also always find Kindle update information at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates

One of my readers, poisonalice, asked in a comment what had been changed (besides the big feature that they announced about making it easier to buy books from a sample). On the Amazon Kindle Forum, the same question was asked.

poisonalice also wondered generally: why doesn’t Amazon list the details of each update publicly?

I thought that good question deserved a fuller (and more widely-seen treatment) than what would happen if I only responded to the comment, and I think it’s something I haven’t addressed in depth here before.

First, let’s talk about what we do know about updates, and then consider the pros and cons of Amazon telling us more.

When Amazon releases an update for a hardware Kindle, you can typically either go get it yourself and transfer and install it manually, or it will do it on its own (eventually) “over the air”.

The first information we have about it is the number. The updates have three number components (5.3.6, for example).

The initial number tells you for which model it is intended, although it’s really more about the “operating system” version. I say that because the Kindle DX and the Kindle 2 got the same updates, even though the hardware was obviously different (the Kindle DX being much larger, and having different button configurations). You can also think of that first number as “generations”. The 2007 Kindle started with 1. The Kindle DX and the Kindle 2 started with 2. The Kindle 3 (later called a Kindle Keyboard) started with 3.

They change the second number when there are significant modifications…I think only when there are new features. You could tell the difference between, say, 5.1.x and 5.2.x just by using the device (eventually).

The third number has to do with “behind the scenes” changes, although you might see them if they changed the order of a menu, for example. Those may be largely “bug fixes” and performance improvements. Something that simply redrew the screens (“turned the pages”) more quickly would be indicated by a change in that third number, not the second…at least, that’s how I understand how it works.

So, if the change is to the middle number, there’s something different you can do with your device. If it’s to the third number, there may not be.

Even if the change is only to the third number, Amazon makes a statement about the update at the Kindle Software Updates page linked above. In this case, it says:

“We have a new, free software update available for Kindle Paperwhite. The software update will be delivered wirelessly and includes a feature enhancement and general improvements for your Kindle Paperwhite. This update automatically downloads and installs on your Kindle Paperwhite; however, you can also manually download the software and update your device via USB cable.

The software update includes the following enhancement:

  • Improvements when buying from a book sample While reading a sample of a book, you can view the price of the full book and purchase from the reading toolbar with one tap.”

They don’t tell us what those “general improvements” are…and that’s the question people ask in the forums.

Obviously, Amazon knows exactly what was changed: why don’t they tell us?

I think there are a couple of main reasons for that.

Everything that a company does costs something. I’ve taught Project Management, and it’s something people often don’t take into account in their own lives. I may have told this story here, but I had an employee who was walking a mile (each way) to save a dime on a candy bar. I explained to that person that they should calculate the time spent doing that based on what the employee’s salary was to see if that made sense. Not that the person was doing it during working time, but just to understand the value of the time. I always think that’s important. For example, do you need more printers in your office? One way to figure that is to find out how long it is taking people to work with fewer printers…they have to get to them, perhaps wait in line for them, wait for them to finish, or come back later and get the print out. You calculate that against their salaries, and that can give you a good idea about whether the additional printers are cost effective for your company.

In this case, there would be a couple of costs. One would be to put it into customer-friendly language. It wouldn’t work very well to just post the change log the programmers use…some people would understand it, but many wouldn’t. The people who craft customer-friendly text are very busy (and it would be fine with me if they were busier…I think the Kindles could use a lot more help information, both on the device and online). You’d have to assign them to that task…and that could certainly include them consulting with the programmers, which takes the programmers away from the never-ending task of updating everything. ;)

The second big cost would be Customer Service…which is quite expensive. If you put in that you changed something, people would contact Customer Service to ask why, or to ask why you didn’t do it a different way, or why  you didn’t do something else. You can’t underestimate the expense (and value) of having someone who can take a phone call like that (that would be one of the communication channels) and make the customer happy at the end. Do we want Amazon to be spending their time and expertise on changes with which the customer doesn’t typically interact anyway?

Yes, there would be costs.

What would be the benefits?

You would satisfy some people’s curiosity. Certainly, there is a plus there…but I really don’t think you are going to lose sales and/or customers because someone didn’t get to find out what changes you made.

I don’t think it has to do with a fear of what competitors will do with the knowledge. I doubt there is anything groundbreaking going on in those bug fixes or performance enhancements.

Undoubtedly, Amazon may be concerned about the backlash they’d get…no matter how good the changes are, every data point can create criticism online. :)

The other thing, and I think this is essential, is that poisonalice (and the people on the forum) was thinking like a geek. Believe me, I appreciate that. :) I’m a geek myself, and I want to know about everything.

With our tech gadgets, we have typically been told about the changes that have been made to them. That’s partially because they were originally sold to people who created their own software to run on them, and had to know about operating system changes to interact in that deep way with them.

The Kindle revolutionized the e-book industry in the USA. There were, as I recall, more than ten EBRs (E-Book Readers) already in the market in 2007 when the first Kindle was released…and e-books were less than one percent of the US publishing market.

Why did the Kindle absolutely invigorate that market, to the point of explosive growth?

There is more than one reason, but I’ve always said that one of the main ones is that it appeals to readers…not just to techies. Freeing people from having to “cable up” to get books was huge.  To appeal to readers, you want the way it works to be as invisible as possible.

I recently wrote a piece called

Why do we read?

I explained there that anything that gets between us and the words is bad.

Knowing about the changes in the software makes you think about the device differently.

You pick it up. You read it. That should be about it. :)

Techies want to know about changes, even if they don’t interact with those changes, just because it is interesting.

Readers (and I’m both) just want it to work.

You don’t want to skew people’s perception of the Kindle towards it being like their desktop computers are (or were, in many cases).

I run into this issue at work. People want to use “human performance improvement” techniques. They want to observe the most efficient users (I work with medical people), and then export how they are interacting with the system to people who aren’t as efficient.

I’ve explained to them that it doesn’t really work very well.

Why?

If you come back to those “most efficient users” three months later, they are doing it differently.

One reason they are efficient is because they like change. They want to experiment, and push buttons, and are constantly looking for new aspects of the software.

Your typical doctor, nurse, medical assistant and so on? They don’t want anything to change in the software…ever. They don’t want to think about the software: they want to think about the patients.

That doesn’t mean that those innovators don’t also think about the patients…they do. It’s just that they also think about the software, and have fun with that. Not everybody does.

I honestly think that’s part of why Amazon doesn’t treat the Kindle like a tech device and post change logs. If there’s a new feature, they do tell us about it. If it is just a case of enhancements and bug fixes, I think the number of people that would…put off would be more than the number of people it would please.

What do you think? Does it bother you that Amazon doesn’t give us change logs? If so, why? Just on general principle, or would you do something with the information? Do you feel like you deserve to know because it is your device? Well, they aren’t changing the device…just the software that runs it. ;) You don’t have to take the software update…if you don’t care about using your device with Amazon (you could just deregister it). Do you think there are great undocumented features for your Kindle? I’ll tell you, there have been some in the past (Minesweeper on the first Kindle), but I think that’s become less likely with newer models, although not absent. I don’t think they publicize how to take screenshots, although I have written about how to do it. Please feel free to tell me and my readers what you think about these questions by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: one of the Kindle Daily Deals today is actually twenty-seven deals: a bunch of thrillers (including the Ian Fleming James Bond books, published by Amazon in e-book form) for $1.99 each. When the Bond books are on sale, I always like to point out how they could be a great gift. You could buy fourteen of them for somebody for under $30…and you can delay the delivery. Think about gift giving occasions you may have throughout the year…this is how you can save money and get them a great gift. :)  There are others in this deal, too, including J.A. Konrath and Dan Mayland. I think these may all be published by Thomas & Mercer, which is part of Amazon’s traditional publishing activities.

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

Round up #179: updates, DRM that changes the words

June 18, 2013

Round up #179: updates, DRM that changes the words

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

Playing “Hangman”…

Amazon claims in this

press release

that its publishing division has had a million seller. It’s significant that Amazon could, with its traditional publishing business, sell enough of a work to challenge the Big Six publishers. As I wrote about a couple of years ago in A Tale of Two Middles, that’s one way that Amazon can potentially work around the publishers. The e-tailer has tended to lose when going up against them (text-to-speech, and the Agency Model, for two examples), but as indicated in the current Apple trial, the publishers are worried about Amazon gaining more power and luring away their authors.

Congratulations are definitely due to Oliver Pötzsch, who is the author featured in the press release.

However, this isn’t exactly Stephen King territory yet.

Here’s the telling part of the press release:

“… the first Amazon Publishing author to sell 1 million copies in combined print, audio, and Kindle English language editions worldwide.”

That’s right…this is not the same thing as selling a million copies of a hardback book: it combines hardbacks, paperbacks, audiobooks, and e-books. This is also the combined figure for three different titles (the fourth, The Poisoned Pilgrim: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale, can be pre-ordered for July 16th, 2013).

Still, this is no small accomplishment, and can’t make those other tradpubs any happier.

Steve Jobs in the Apple trial

We are winding down in the Apple Agency Model trial, and today, Eddy Cue talked about Steve Jobs role, as reported in this

AllThingsD article by Peter Kafka

Honestly, I looked at another article first to bring you, but it was too tacky. Steve Jobs didn’t always do things with which I agreed, certainly, but I do think that respect is reasonable here.

Cue talked about how Jobs got into the iBooks project, once it was decided it was a go…including picking Winnie-the-Pooh as part of the launch.

It looks like we’ll have closing arguments on Thursday, and I would expect there to be a decision fairly quickly…I like Judge Cote, and I don’t think this will get stretched out for months.

As this point, I do think it’s possible Apple will prevail…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of years…”

Just doesn’t have the same ring as the original, right?

Well, according to this

PaidContent.org article by Janko Roettgers

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is working on an anti-piracy DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme that would change words in books so that you could identify which copy belong to whom, as a way to combat piracy.

Wait, what? ;)

I mean, I’m sorry, but authors sweat blood sometimes picking just the right combinations of vowels and consonants to tell their tales. I can’t imagine that this kind of “finger-printing” is going to be embraced. I hope-I hope-I hope… :)

Netflix to introduce user profiles

The video giant has figured out that not everybody on the same account has the same tastes. ;)

Huffington Post article by Alexis Kleinman

My adult kid and I share an account (my Significant Other just doesn’t use it), and that does make for some odd recommendations. For one thing, my kid is a linguist…we aren’t even always watching things in the same language! We don’t know quite how it will work yet, but it is supposed to be here by the end of the summer.

Why report on that?

We’re still waiting for Amazon to get something like that going for Kindle accounts. Yes, we have FreeTime for the Kindle Fire, and parental controls on the RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Fire at this point), but we could certainly use something simpler. My SO is not going to read the Doctor Who book I borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library this month, so it just sort of clutters things up.

I mentioned that we might see more software/service changes from Amazon this year than radical hardware changes (although I would figure that we’ll get new hardware), and this “profiles within accounts” kind of thing could certainly attract a lot of people.

Kindle for Windows 8 update

In this Amazon Kindle forum thread

Kindle for Windows 8 update 2.0

Amazon announced a new version of Kindles for Window 8. It’s bringing quite a few new features:

* Ability to search from inside a book
* Redesigned home screen and in-book navigation
* Easier bookmarking
* Filtering of Notes and Bookmarks
* Option to sample recommended books
* Live Tile displays of the book you’re reading
* Updated view options menu, library and search views

I’ve seen quite a few threads where people complain about the limited functionality of this version, so this should help. I’m intrigued by “filtering of Notes and Bookmarks”…I’ll look for more info on that.

Kindle Paperwhite update 5.3.6

They also announced the

Kindle Paperwhite Update Version 5.3.6

While it appears to have brought some other minor changes, this is the big new feature:

* Improvements when buying from a book sample – While reading a sample of a book, you can view the price of the full book and purchase from the reading toolbar with one tap

That seems nice…we all want things that make it easier for us to spend money with Amazon, right? ;) Well, if it’s money you were going to spend anyway, making it easier is a plus for the consumer.

How to support a blog

I do get asked about this, and I’m reluctant to bring it up. I don’t accept payment for ads (any ads you ever see here are added by WordPress, and they get the money. You don’t see that in the regular blog feed, I think, but I have seen it on individual articles on the website.

You can certainly subscribe (thanks, subscribers!) if the blog is in the Kindle store…but that doesn’t work for a lot of people (if you are outside the USA, I think, or if you are using a reading app).

I’ve had people ask me if I accept donations, or if they can just send me money. I’m not a non-profit, and reporting money given to me for the blog on my taxes would really befuddle me.

One thing you can do: if the blog has a link for Amazon Gift Cards, that can be a good way to do it. You can buy gift cards for other people, or you could just buy them and apply them to your account. That’s a pretty painless way to help out. :) It doesn’t change what you pay for anything at all.

As long as I’m writing about this (and so I can get back to something where I feel more comfortable), let me talk about Amazon Gift Cards a bit…I often see questions from people who are confused about how they work with Kindle books.

There are no Kindle gift cards…there are Amazon gift cards with pictures of Kindles on them, but when you buy a gift card with a picture of a birthday cake, that doesn’t mean you can only buy cake. ;)

You apply the gift card to your account.

The way that we buy books in the Kindle store is with “1-click”. 1-click will draw from any available gift card balance on your account until it is exhausted, then go back to whatever 1-click payment method you’ve designated (if any).

Let’s say somebody gives you a $25 gift card, and you want to spend it on books. You apply it to your account, and someone else on your account buys, oh, mouthwash (I’m not suggesting anything about their personal hygiene here, by the way). ;) If they use 1-click, it will take away from that gift card balance.

You aren’t asked if you want your gift card balance applied to your current Kindle store purchase, because you would have to click on something to do that…and it’s called 1-click. :)

That’s why some people have an account just for Kindle purchases, so they can keep them separate.

Infographic of mysteries in different US states

This

Ebook Friendly article

has a nice infographic from Open Road with e-book mysteries in different states in the USA.

I have to say, I’ve never gone to this site before, and I’m impressed! I don’t follow a lot of sites on Twitter, but I’m going to start following this one, which will put it in my Flipboard read in the morning.

I’m going to explore

http://ebookfriendly.com/

more, and then report back to you on it. I always figure there is room for a lot of good writing on the web about e-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and publishing. You’ve probably noticed that I tend to link and credit…I like being a place you can find the good work that others do. :)

What do you think? Is changing words in a book an acceptable way to combat piracy? Will you just be happy when the Apple Agency Model trial is over, however it goes? ;) Am I making a mistake when I promote other sites, or do you like it? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #174: BAM vs. Kobo, Kindle accessories discount, Fire update

May 30, 2013

Round up #174: BAM vs. Kobo, Kindle accessories discount, Fire update

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

Kindle Fire 8.9″ update 8.4.1

It’s been some time since one of my Kindle’s just updated itself over wireless…I usually go to

Kindle Software Updates

and do it manually. You can do that, if you want, or you can just wait. :)

This one brings two main features:

  • The ability to switch to Canadian English and Canadian French (Swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Language)
  • The option to display the amount of battery charge life remaining (as a percentage) in the status bar, up next to the battery icon (Swipe down – More – Device – Show Battery Percentage in Status Bar)

At least the second one will let you know when it’s a 100% charged…when you have it turned on, anyway. A lot of people would still like a light or a sound to let them know when it is fully charged even while it is in a case, but this is a nice plus. Be aware, though, that (somewhat ironically) displaying that battery status is likely to drain the battery more quickly.

The Kindle Fire HDs and the 2nd Generation Kindle Fire got updates with these features…the first generation Kindle Fire did not.

AmazonLocal deal for 40% off select Kindle accessories

You can go to

http://local.amazon.com/national/B00CYNNJY0

in the next six days or so (there is a countdown clock on the site) and get a free 40% off voucher for select Kindle accessories. If you aren’t a member of AmazonLocal, you would need to join, I believe…that’s free, too.

They are promoting this as a Fathers’ Day deal, but you can take advantage of this regardless. Don’t wait too long: they’ve indicated this is a limited quantity thing, meaning they’ll only give out so many.

Pew Research: “In a digital age, parents value printed books for their kids”

In this well-illustrated

Pew Research article by Kathryn Zickuhr

they’ve done some polling about how people feel about e-books versus p-books (paperbooks).

Yes, parents are more likely to read e-books than non-parents, but Zickuhr correctly points out that that isn’t necessarily cause and effect. It may be that parents also have other things in common (besides kids) that may make that behavior more likely…age, income, and so on.

They also point out that 81% of parents think it is very important that their children read print books. I’m going to guess here that the question was asked in a way that it made it clear that these were print books versus books period.

I do think that’s interesting. My Significant Other and I had a couple of…I’ll say discussions when our child was quite young. I didn’t see any point in a very young child learning to tell time with an analog clock…you know, with the hands on it. I think kids had to do that when there weren’t digital clocks, but it was often a daunting task at the age at which it was taught. I think our kid was likely to see only one analog clock…in a room with several digital clocks visible.

The other one was learning to tie shoes: again, our kid had shoes with velcro. I didn’t think tying shoes was a big thing on which to focus when a kid is relatively uncoordinated…it’s quite frustrating. :)

I suppose what’s contradictory about that is that my SO has always credited me with helping our kid be particularly academic (never having gotten anything but an A in school, I believe…and that does include Physical Education). ;)

One reason is that I would expose our kid to concepts quite early…if it’s understood, great, if not, it makes it easier later.

I think concepts and physical skills are different. I’ve seen some young kids with amazing physical skills…dancing, playing an instrument, but generally, I think kids have an easier time tying their shoes at, say, seven than at five.

My point, I guess, is that I’m not sure I see the value in reading paperbooks over reading e-books for a child. Certainly, it can be more appealing to the parent/legal guardian. You can see when the child is reading. It looks like what you did as a kid, and that’s probably rewarding (and for some, stokes the ego).

I’m willing to listen to arguments in favor of the need for a, say, eight-year old to read p-books…I can think of a few, but I’ll leave that up to you. ;)

The article has some other points (like for which activities people prefer e-books or p-books)…I recommend it.

Publishers Weekly: “Slow Start for Books-A-Million”

This

Publishers Weekly article

says that Books-A-Million’s sales were down 7.4% for the first quarter year over year.

That’s a huge drop for the second largest USA book chain!

Sure, Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy was a phenomenal seller last year, and that skews the numbers a bit…but news flash, brick-and-mortar bookstore managers (from somebody who used to be one)…it’s going to be a whole lot harder for books to dominate the print market like that in the future. Just as it is tough for a network TV show to have the kind of ratings they used to have with a gazillion cable and online options, the same thing is true of books from tradpubs (traditional publishers).

Actually, that’s not a bad analogy. You can think of the Big Six tradpubs as being like the old three TV networks. They controlled distribution (if you weren’t on one of those channels, very few people would see your show). Then, we got cable (and some other things, but cable is one of the big ones), and people had many more (and edgier) choices. The same thing is true with e-books and independent publishing…

Meanwhile, Kobo grown 98% in revenue

As a contrast to a brick-and-mortar, take a look at this

press release from Kobo

They rightfully trumpet their successes in hardware, content, and services.

Interestingly, the $169 Kobo Aura HD is now “up to” 27% of the Kobo devices sold at retail…and it’s what half of the new to Kobo people are buying. This goes against the idea that some people have that cheaper is always more attractive. You can get EBRs (E-Book Readers) for a lot less than that…but people are making the choice to pay more for it. Kudos to Kobo :) for a good year!

What do you think? Do the last two stories suggest that the end of chain bookstores is nigh? Why should kids read p-books over e-books (if you think they should)? Or is it really that kids should read both? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Kindle for iPad app update glitch

February 28, 2013

Kindle for iPad app update glitch

One of Amazon’s core Kindle strategies has been the ability to read Kindle store books on devices other than Amazon’s.

Jeff Bezos has said that the hardware and software businesses are separate  (although I recall that from years ago)…you could hypothetically buy a Kindle and use it with e-books from other sources, and you could buy Kindle store books and use them on things other than the Kindle.

I suspect the markets are considered to have merged much  more over time. How many people who use Kindles don’t buy any Kindle store books for them? A tiny percentage, I’m guessing.

However, the Kindle app for the iPad is undoubtedly one reason why iBooks never really dominated the market. You could read your Kindle store books on the iPad, so why split your library compatibility (you couldn’t read iBooks on your Kindle) by investing in two lines?

That’s why it is just flabbergasting that Amazon could release an update for their Kindle for iPad app with as big a flaw as the one they released (and then re-released with a fix) yesterday.

What was the flaw?

For some people, updating the app (which might have happened without their surface awareness…just tapping an “updates available” type link), it removed all of their Kindle store books from their devices.

Ouch.

It’s important to note that it didn’t remove them from their accounts. They (in the vast majority* of cases) didn’t lose things they bought and had to rebuy them…they could redownload them again from the archives/Cloud at no additional cost.

That’s always key, and not always understood…it’s easiest to think of it as the books belonging to the account, not a device. If one of your devices is lost/stolen/fails…or has a “glitchup” like this, your books are still yours.

That doesn’t mean this wouldn’t be highly irritating and inconvenient for certain users.

One of my readers, Pam, let me know about this (I have read about it other places), and mentioned having many cookbooks on the device, which would now need to be redownloaded one by one.

I’ve seen other people comment that they weren’t sure which books they’ve read and which they haven’t, and the Cloud doesn’t really have organization at this point, so you can’t just find them in a TBR (To Be Read) folder there.

Even Amazon warned people not to do the update yesterday (although they have since uploaded a new version (3.6.2) that has a “…Fix for Registration Issue”. If you download it today, you should be okay.

The question for me, though, is how does this happen?

It apparently got fixed in hours…that suggests that once the problem was identified, it wasn’t that complicated.

So why didn’t Amazon know about it before they released it?

This doesn’t sound like some sort of odd behavior on the part of customers (I can understand how that happens). They appear to have just done what they were supposed to do.

Can’t Amazon test that effectively? I know they want to keep updates secret, but does nobody at Amazon own an iPad? ;)

I’m exaggerating that, of course, but seriously…I’m having a hard time understanding how such a catastrophic (but recoverable) failure could be undiscovered until after release.

I mean, I don’t think there was any urgency in releasing this update. It could have waited a day while Amazon employees/friends/betatesters tried the process.

This seems different to me from the way I’ve heard that we got screensavers.

That goes back to Pong.

When we played the Ping Pong simulation at home originally, we did it by hooking a device to the TV…which is not that different from what you do now with a gaming console.

There were bright white paddles and a bright white ball.

As I’ve heard it (and I have not checked to see if this is true, but it’s a good story) ;) kids would just leave the TV and the game on, and go outside and play.

The paddles and the ball would “burn” into the TVs of the day. When an adult later turned off the TV, those images would still be there…forever. Even during Donny & Marie, you’d see those paddles.

So, later on, screensavers were invented. The defining characteristic of a screensaver? The images move, preventing burn-in. You won’t get burn-in like that on modern screens, from what I know.

The point of that story is that the engineers who made Pong never imagined somebody leaving the game on the TV for hours with no one watching.

Engineers tend to turn off unattended, unneeded devices.

That made it clear that you need to test things in real situations with real people to see how they work.

In this situation, Amazon has apologized to people, but it’s not clear to me that it couldn’t have been efficiently avoided.

This has impact beyond just the people who updated yesterday (and may be spending some time downloading again).

It points out two long-standing issues:

1. Why can’t we download more than one book at once?

2. Why isn’t there organization in the Cloud?

I understand that there are significant technical issues involved in both, and I’m not saying these are things that Amazon should have already resolved…but this other glitch does bring them to the fore in people’s minds again.

I’m actually a bit more confused about why the first issue, multiple download, is still around…for tablets. My understanding was that you couldn’t really do it with RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles), because sending a thousand books at once (or even in very rapid succession) to a device like that would overwhelm it.

With a tablet, though, which can download an HD (High Definition) movie with a single command (although it takes a while), it’s hard to see how that situation is comparable.

Anyway, I feel for people who had this happen. Amazon has told people they can keep their libraries on their devices. I don’t do it that way myself…I usually only have about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices at a given time. Amazon says you can do it, though, so releasing an update that causes a big problem for people who do seems a bit…careless, I suppose.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on Amazon…is just a case of “these things happen”? Shouldn’t I just give Amazon props for fixing it so quickly? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

* My understanding is that if a book has been removed from the Kindle store for legal reasons (such as it was infringing), Amazon can’t allow you to download it again from your archives. In those very rare cases, losing a local copy could mean losing access to the book. I’ve had people tell me that isn’t true any more, but my guess is that it is…haven’t tested it, so I can’t say for sure

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


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