What will we lose when nothing is lost?

June 23, 2017

What will we lose when nothing is lost?

I guess you could call it “lostalgia”.

No, not missing the Lost TV show (although that use of the term does exist).

I mean a recollection of something you can’t get any more…sometimes something that you may have trouble proving ever existed.

I had that for years for a particular TV show, Norman Corwin Presents, which aired once in the USA back in the early 1970s.

That was a show I enjoyed! It was an anthology series with a sardonic sense of humor, starring what are now Baby Boomer TV icons: Fred “Herman Munster” Gwynne; William “Captain Kirk” Shatner; Michael “Miguelito Loveless” Dunn; David “Ilya Kuryakin” McCallum; and more. They were well written, fantasy/science fiction oriented comments on society.

It didn’t help that I remembered it as “Roger Corman Presents”. 😉 I even wrote to Roger Corman at one point asking about it. Norman Corwin was a well-known radio writer, and I’m sure I didn’t think it was by Roger Corman at the time I watched it.

I would ask people about it, and no one else remembered it (and this was just prior to home video recording).

Eventually, I did find the proof…and there are audio recordings of some of the episodes online.

This concept of lost popular culture applies even more strongly to books.

There were many, many threads in the

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

where people would describe a book they had read and couldn’t remember the title or the author, and they were hoping someone could help them identify it.

Oh, I have a short story like that!

It was a science fiction story, set in the future. SPOILER ALERT: it was still more efficient for humans to do some tasks than robots, like cleaning subway stations (they could better determine what might be valuable and what might be garbage). However, they found the work boring, and would be unhappy. The government offered people an operation which would reduce their IQs, but they could guarantee the person would be happy. Decades later, they realize that society has stagnated, that nothing much new is being invented. What they hadn’t realized is that the people who think their IQ is making them unhappy are the smartest people…so they were the ones opting for the operation. END SPOILER ALERT

I can get some sense of how resonant an article is that I flip into the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard by how many people flip it into their magazines from mine, and how many people like it. A recent

Atlas Obscura post by Sommer Mathis

got a lot of activity!

This wonderful site (full of real world wonder, so it’s a very apt word) asked their readers to tell them about “…the obscure books you read as a kid that have stuck with you, but that hardly anyone else seems to remember“.

The post that had the responses was fascinating! I really recommend it. Would these books be so interesting, though, if everybody remembered them?

I run into this phenomenon with what was once a prominent part of pop culture: Captain Kangaroo. On this TV show, the Captain would actually read “us” real books. Nothing fancy…just seeing the pages and hearing it read. This was a shared experience, and while this was only one feature of the show, it meant that kids across the country knew Ping and Mike Mulligan and the cap seller (and the monkeys).

books read aloud on Captain Kangaroo at Goodreads

It wouldn’t surprise me if not 1% of people under 25 recognize the name of Captain Kangaroo…the shows aren’t easily streamable.

There is an article by Bob Fischer in the current

Fortean Times

which I read in the Zinio app on my now discontinued Kindle Fire 3rd generation about an art movement called “hauntology” (they’ve adopted the term from another use), which has nostalgia for British 1970s (or so) kids’ TV, which could be quite creepy and…well, unnerving could be a good word. Fischer reasonably speculates that something like that feeling is less likely with today’s generation…because they will be able to continuously see and read and hear the pop culture of their childhood as they grow up.

It’s hard to imagine the Harry Potter books going out of print and disappearing from the public consciousness the way many popular children’s books of, say, the 1920s or 1950s have done.

Will we lose anything when everybody knows everything?

There is something special about connecting with somebody over something that most people don’t know. Many years ago, I remember someone bringing a friend up to me to sing the theme song from The Patty Duke Show (this was pre-YouTube). I remember somebody happily proclaiming that a sibling could recite the opening from Mr. Terrific. Now, anybody can simply Google those.

That said, much of my interest has been directed to items that are considered to be ephemera (even if their status may have changed over the years). I’ve always wanted everything preserved and made available (legally). I’ve digitized a couple of public domain books as part of my past work with a non-profit, and we put them online.

I think the preservation is more important than the community we get from being out of the mainstream.

I’m interested, though, in what you think. 🙂 Do you have books which you remember, but almost no one else does (for an interesting take on this, see the Dimension 404 episode Chronos)? Should everyone know the same pop culture? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

Buy a Paperwhite, get six months of Kindle Unlimited free!

June 20, 2017

Buy a Paperwhite, get six months of Kindle Unlimited free!

Thanks to reader and commenter Jay Howard for the heads up on this!

Right now (through this Friday, June 23 at 11:00 PM Pacific), when you buy a

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

(which is the model I generally recommend…I like having the lighted screen and that’s unlike the least expensive model, and while I think the Voyage is incrementally better, it doesn’t seem worth the cost difference for most people. The Oasis can’t be purchased without an animal leather cover, so I haven’t tried it. Amazon also describes the Paperwhite as “Our best-selling Kindle”), you also get six months of

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

for no additional cost. KU is Amazon’s subser (subscription service), where you can borrow up to ten books at a time from a selection of over a million and a half (1,602,203 at time of writing) titles! Six months of KU is normally $59.64 (I’m looking at the USA, which is where this offer applies), so this is a great deal!

Note also that KU will be available to everybody at the account, and typically, a book can be read on six devices at a time at no additional cost (if it is different from that, it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page).

So, if you buy a gift of the PW for someone else on your account, you’ll all get the benefit for six months (benefits include select magazines, by the way)…and then, it’s up to you as to whether you continue or not.

We’ve been happy KU members since it started, although it’s not for everybody. Here are some titles currently available through KU (title availabilities change), in case you haven’t looked:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Orphans of Katrina: Inside the World’s Biggest Animal Rescue. What Really Happened on the Gulf and How You Can Help Save America’s Pets Today by Karen O’Toole
  • Signature Wounds by Kirk Russell
  • The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams
  • The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten (translated by Christiane Galvani)
  • The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Those are just a few of the many choices.

Thanks, Jay!

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

Goodreads Giveaways

June 20, 2017

Goodreads Giveaways

How would you like a $14.99 Scott Turow novel for free?

Well, you can enter for a chance to win one at the Goodreads Giveaways:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway?filter=kindle&page=1&sort=ending_soon&utf8=%E2%9C%93

They’ve made entering these giveaways very easy, similar to entering

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

Once you are logged into Goodreads (Amazon’s social reading site…they bought into it a while back), you just click a button to enter into the giveaway, and then acknowledge the terms.

There are thirty-five titles available right now.

I like that they tell you how many people have entered so far. There are 100 “copies” available of each title being given away, and the number of entrants at time of writing ranged from under 200 to at least 1,500.

If you already have an account, I’m not seeing a lot of reasons not to enter. 🙂

Good luck!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

The largelthiest storket in the world! Why does Amazon want to buy Whole Foods?

June 18, 2017

The largelthiest storket in the world**! Why does Amazon want to buy Whole Foods?

There has been a ton of buzz about the announcement that Amazon wants to buy Whole Food Market…I’ve flipped several stories into the free

 ILMK magazine at Flipboard

and here is a

Google news search

for even more.

Most stories seem to want to present this as Amazon disrupting the grocery business…as they think it did for bookstores and then pretty much for shopping malls after that. I don’t really think that’s it…or at least, not all of it.

First, Amazon is already in the grocery business, especially with

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

Second, Whole Foods Market (WFM) is not really a typical grocery store.

If WFM had disappeared, that wouldn’t have significantly changed the grocery store business, at least as most people imagine it. WFM only has about 500 stores: Albertson’s has close to 2,500.

Now, WFM is not super strong. Back in September, analysts were lowering their estimates, according to this

CNBC article by Sarah Whitten

Whole Foods has just started to experiment with lower price stores…after all, many people jokingly refer to it as “Whole Paycheck”.

So, if the thought is that you wanted to disrupt groceries, you’d buy Albertson’s, right?

This is about other things.

Let’s look at some general reasons why one business buys another business, and how those might apply.

It’s a Profit Center

WFM has been making a profit, but based on my quick research, it’s been much lower than Amazon’s lately…and has been stagnant recently:

Line graph showing increasing gross profit growth for Amazon, flat for WFM

A profit is still a profit (and $5 billion a year isn’t bad), but it doesn’t seem like that would be worth the risk.

They Have Assets You Want

I think this is the primary thing for Amazon…and it’s not about butternut squash. 😉 I think they want the physical buildings. Amazon could rework the back areas to make them much more efficient, which might include the use of their Kiva robots. That would then give them area they could use to facilitate the delivery of other, non-grocery items. There may be some limitations to what you can store near food, but WFM already sells lots of non-food items (including toys at the holidays). It’s tough to buy and establish retail spaces, even if there are a lot of vacancies now. Amazon can suddenly have over 400 mini-fulfillment centers…and ones that are already set up for delivery reception.

I don’t think they’ll change WFM that much initially, as far as customers see. When Amazon takes over a business, they don’t seem to make a lot of visible changes. WFM needs some help, but the basic idea of it is likely to stay the same.

Might they add in things, like the new Amazon Dash Wand? Sure. I think it’s the backrooms and locations they want more, though. That may be informed in part by my experience as a brick-and-mortar retail manager, even though it was now quite some time ago.

You Want Their Reputation/Brand

Yep, that’s probably part of it. Whole Foods was #44 in 2016’s Harris poll of companies’ Reputation Quotient® (RQ®) Summary Report. Amazon was #1, but that wasn’t for groceries specifically. Something that I think is a misconception is that people see Amazon as a budget seller and WFM as a luxury one. However, when you look at AmazonFresh, that’s not competing with Walmart…the prices aren’t particularly low, and the products include fresh produce and brand names. People also pay just to be part of the service.

People who use AmazonFresh probably are more likely to shop at WFM, but I’m just guessing on that.

You Want to Put Them Out of Business

That’s not something that officially happens, I believe, but it sure has happened where a company has bought a competitor and then shuts the competitor down a year or two later. WFM isn’t really a competitor for AmazonFresh, even with my presumed overlap…they are just two very different things. I doubt this is a factor.

You Don’t Want Someone Else to Get Them

It would have been hard for most competitors of Amazon to buy WFM…I don’t think this was it.

It Looks Like Fun

I think people underestimate this. In some cases, it might be a childhood dream (not in this case), but it could just be the novelty or the challenge. While I don’t think it’s done foolishly, I do think fun motivates Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin (Bezos’ space company) and Washington Post were partly done for fun, I believe.

What does all this mean we’ll see?

Let me say, I do expect the sale to happen. 🙂 One of my regular readers reasonably challenged me saying that Amazon “may” buy WFM…I just don’t like to say something is inevitable, but I think it’s a very high probability.

I don’t think WFM shoppers will see much of a difference right away. I even think their current deal with Instacart won’t end immediately.

It’s entirely possible that some WFM products will show up quickly after the sale is final in AmazonFresh.

Unless they choose to quit, my guess is that you’ll continue to see the same checkers, baggers, and managers.

Much will be happening in the back, though.

Slowly, changes will come to WFM. Could we see the “checkoutless” store that Amazon has been piloting? Yes, in some places within a few years. By this holiday season, you may start seeing some Amazon hardware in WFMs.

Oh, and you might have drone delivery if it gets approved. 🙂 You could certainly have the Prime Now one hour delivery.

Overall, I think this is a good thing for consumers. I think the sale will happen. I think some grocery startups will get crushed, but that it won’t mean the end of big grocery store chains like Albertson’s.

That’s just what I think…what do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 
** A reader suggested in a direct message that I might want to correct my headline. 🙂 I was going for a joke, combining the slogans of the two stores to show that it was a bit ridiculous. While they both use other things, Whole Foods has called itself, “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” (and got rebuffed when they wanted to change that to “World’s Healthiest”, basically as being unprovable). Amazon was “The World’s Largest Bookstore”. I was combining “Healthiest” and “Largest” to make “Largelthiest” (which I thought might seem paradoxical to some people) and mashing “Store” and “Market”, although therein might have been part of what made it more obscure, because WFM is called a “market” but they used “Grocery Store”. I wanted to combine Amazon’s “Store” and “Supermarket”. My Significant Other would say that’s a classic geek joke (which I make and my SO doesn’t)…it takes you five minutes to explain it. 😉
To illustrate my geek jokes…we have two dogs: the first one we got is named “Elf”. We were in line at the adoption agency (ARF, the baseball player Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation , and someone called out, “Elf!” Turned out we were number 11, and the person explained they were learning German, and “elf” is “eleven” in German. Our now adult kid is fluent in German, and I thought that would be a great dog name if we found a dog who fit it (we did).
When we went back a few months later to get a second dog (we always think having two dogs is easier…sometimes they want to do doggy things you just don’t want to do, like roll in the mud), a person their knew the story of how we named the first dog (you bring the first one to meet the second) was worried and said, “You can’t do that this time.” You see, we were number 6, which is “sechs”  (pronounced “sex”) in German. Yes, it would be a bit odd yelling that in the backyard to call your dog! So, I suggested we name that dog “Patty”.
You see, there was a TV show in the late 1960s called “The Prisoner”, which was a touchstone for geeks like me (I own the DVD set). It was about a spy who quits and ends up on this island which seems like a perfect little resort town…but isn’t. People were intrigued by it like they would be with Lost decades later…and the ending is, shall we say, unique. The main character was called “Number 6”, and was played by…Patrick McGoohan. So our second dog is named “Patty” after Patrick McGoohan.
When we explain that in the dog park, most people are bemused…but there is that rare individual who truly loves it! In fact, one person who knew the show said, “You could have gone the easy way and named the dog ‘Rover'”.
I’d explain that, but it would be another rambling geek joke… 😉
Thanks to my reader for the concern! I always appreciate proofreading feedback!

 

Amazon Dash Wand: first impressions

June 17, 2017

Amazon Dash Wand: first impressions

Well, that got here quickly!

I just wrote yesterday about the

Least expensive Alexa hardware so far: Amazon Dash Wand…free (sort of) for Prime members

and it arrived today!

It feels fully baked…I was impressed with the execution! Some Amazon hardware has seemed like it was rushed to market, but not the ADW.

The packaging was great: elegant, and clear. They don’t tell you this on the product page (that could have used work), but it comes with the batteries you need.

Putting the batteries in was simple. Setting it up was really simple! I didn’t need to download an app, just go to a website on my phone. I didn’t even have to enter a wi-fi password, since Amazon is storing those for me. I also didn’t have to put in a username and password (my phone already knows that…maybe this works because I have the Amazon shopping app on my phone).

I checked: it wouldn’t read me a Kindle book. It did answer weather questions and the time…and it does sound much better than our

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

You hold down a button to talk to it, or to scan.

Interestingly, it didn’t find something when we asked for it…it even told us that Amazon didn’t have the one we had ordered before (which impressed me…that it said we had ordered it before).

However, when I scanned it, it did show up in our cart!

At this point, there is a tweak I would make. It didn’t tell me that something had been successfully scanned…it wouldn’t have to do that with words, just a reassuring tone would work.

The magnet to put it on the fridge seemed to have the right amount of strength. It also comes with a hook, so you could hang it.

This would work well as a guest device…our Tap could work for that, too, but this is quite elegant. They could pick up the wand and ask Alexa to turn on the light. 🙂 That did work, by the way. I should say that it seemed to take longer to think than our Echo devices, but it wasn’t bad.

My verdict at this point: I think it’s a winner! 😉

One other quick note: Amazon may be buying Whole Foods…

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

 

Least expensive Alexa hardware so far: Amazon Dash Wand…free (sort of) for Prime members

June 15, 2017

Least expensive Alexa hardware so far: Amazon Dash Wand…free (sort of) for Prime members

I want Alexa everywhere!

Amazon’s digital assistant is like Iron Man’s Jarvis…and it does more and better than the original Star Trek’s computer on the Enterprise.

Well, on the latter, the computer’s abilities weren’t always the same…but it took quite a while to look up something (and we could hear relays closing), and it couldn’t interact with the ship much. If it could, Kirk would be saying, “Computer, fire photon torpedoes”…or perhaps, “Computer, open ‘Battle Time’ skill!” and letting it manage everything. Oh, wait, they tried that…right, Dr. Daystrom? 😉

I have it on our Echoes (Dot and original). I have it on my Tap I take to work. I have it on our Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. I have it on my Galaxy S7 (as part of the Amazon shopping app) and my work iPhone (again, through the app).

When I don’t have Alexa available, I know it…sometimes, I really want to ask Alexa something, even when that’s not an option.

You can get Alexa for free (if you own a compatible SmartPhone with that shopping app), but the least expensive hardware option from Amazon to date has been the

Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for $39.99, although the

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

currently matches that price, because of a

Big sale on some Kindles and Echoes

Amazon just introducde a $20 option…and

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

members get a limited $20 credit when they purchase some things, so it’s cost neutral. Details on that here:

For a limited time, receive a $20 promotional credit when you register your Amazon Dash Wand with your Amazon Prime account (at AmazonSmile*)

Now, this isn’t part of the Echo family: it explicitly says it won’t play music.

I’m checking to see if it will read text-to-speech enabled Kindle books: I can see it as a handy bedside item.

That’s not what it’s designed to do, though: it’s designed for shopping. You can magnetically stick it to your refrigerator (the Echo voice remote used to (and may still…I’ll have to check) come with a magnetic cradle, but this is magnetic itself).

You can ask it to order things for you…and it can also scan barcodes to order things. That’s one of the big things for Artificial Intelligence in the future: how can it sense the world? For years, we’ve been the sensory apparatus for our computers…we would have to tell them what was going on in the real world, from punch cards to keyboards to mice to touch. That’s sort of like our relationship to dogs. 😉 Dogs have better sensory apparatus, and we do more of the cognitive work. AI/computers can do some specific types of “mental activity” better than we can (recall of specific data, but increasingly, predictive tasks and other things…an AI just got a perfect score on Ms. Pac-Man, something no human had done before), but most are pretty limited on the kinds of generalized perception humans can do. While we can’t smell things like a dog or use echolocation like a dolphin (although some humans have shown they can use it to some extent), we actually see and hear pretty well…and process the data very efficiently (if imperfectly).

The ADW (Amazon Dash Wand) has an “eye” for scanning.

It will do some Alexa tasks: it will answer questions and control your smart home. By the way, if it really sounds like it does in the video on the product page, it’s much better than the Dot.

Now, I do have to say: the product page is sorely lacking. I’m asking questions, but for example, it doesn’t list what powers it. Is it a replaceable battery? Do you charge it? On another topic, can it Bluetooth (I don’t think so)?

You also get 3 months of a normally $14.99 a month Amazon Fresh membership…I’ll have to see if that is automatic renewal or not.

Overall, it’s a very intriguing item, and I am ordering one.

Update: here is the direct link Amazon Dash Wand (a href=”https://smile.amazon.com/Amazon-Dash-Wand-With-Alexa/dp/B01MQMJFDK/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1497534770&sr=8-3&keywords=amazon+dash+wand”>at AmazonSmile*)

What do you think? Are you going to get one? If you are not a Prime member, would you pay for it? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

Big sale on some Kindles and Echoes

June 13, 2017

Big sale on some Kindles and Echoes

Whether this is for Fathers’ Day or not, there are some nice sales on Amazon devices right now!

Let’s start out with Kindle EBRs (E-Bok Readers), where all of the current models except the most expensive one are on sale:

Next, let’s look at the sale on Echo family devices:

I use all three of these, and they all have their good points. The Tap now does hands-free, which really ups its value…but you can’t use it for Alexa Calling, so that’s a negative. For decent sound music, the Dot needs an external speaker.

Not on sale?

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $229.99…but they still have the two for $100 offer (use the code SHOW2PACK…read the terms and conditions)

Echo Look (at AmazonSmile*) $199.99

Nice sale! Probably won’t last too long…

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

 

 

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

June 12, 2017

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

“I’ll make a note of it.”
–Jerome “Curly Howard” Horwitz

We are coming up on the ten year anniversary of the release of the Kindle.

You might think they had it all figured out by now…nope. 🙂

One of the areas that has seemed clunky has been dealing with the notes and highlights you can make in Kindle books.

Now, I need to say first that I love data (both entry and retrieval). 🙂 I go back to Personal Pearl, Foxpro, and beyond. I always remember teaching a database class to a group, and I was explaining how fields and records work, and I said something like, “Remember when you used to play with those little plastic boxes that you put 3 x 5 cards into when you were a kid? You know, with the alphabet cards that stuck up…and no?” That was true, though…I really did play with those. I think they were supposed to be for recipes and such, but I would write down animal species and sort them, that sort of thing.

I still do quite a bit with data…for example, my timelines at the History Project are really about data entry and retrieval.

So, would I care about good data retrieval with quotes from books? Absolutely! After all, I actually wrote a book of quotations:

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which, when it was released was (very briefly) the #1 book of quotations in any format at Amazon.

I also know most people haven’t loved it, but I loved doing it. It actually primarily came out of one of those plastic boxes with 3×5 cards…typed mostly on a typewriter.

You can imagine that I was excited that I could just highlight a quotation in a book and have it easily retrievable!

Well, that didn’t really turn out to be the case.

For years, we’ve been going to

https://kindle.amazon.com/

I wrote about some changes they made back in 2010:

Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com

Still, I haven’t been able to just go in and pull out a bunch of quotations and have them sourced with the book, the author, preferably the character…and do it with a simple export.

It’s always been copy and paste, one quotation at a time (to have any chance to use them).

They are making a change.

Supposedly, customers got e-mails about this…but I don’t seem to have one. 🙂

This is the new site:

https://read.amazon.com/kp/notebook

The old site is accessible until July 3rd.

I do think the new one looks better, and it supposedly looks a lot better on mobile.

However, it seems like a lot of features may be disappearing. Maybe they are going somewhere else, but all I am seeing on the new one is the notes, with no improved way to export them.

That would mean that following people (and being followed) was going away.

My best guess? They think all those features are served by Goodreads, which Amazon owns.

I suppose that’s not too bad. They probably should just integrate your notes into Goodreads, too. 🙂

I do want to say that it’s nice to see Amazon still paying attention to the Kindle experience, and working to improve it.

What do you think? When was the last time you went to that kindle.amazon.com site…if ever? Did you get an e-mail about the change? Do you have a system you like to use for book quotations? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

LAST HOURS TO ENTER! 339 people have entered at time of writing.

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

Today’s KDD: select bestsellers (The Good Earth and A Night to Remember are under $1.50 each…)

June 10, 2017

Today’s KDD: select bestsellers (The Good Earth and A Night to Remember are under $1.50 each…)

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is right up there with some of the best they’ve done lately!

There are well-known, well-reviewed, bestselling books in here for less than I would expect to pay for a used paperback in a store.

As usual, some of these would make great small gifts (and you can buy them at the discounted price and delay delivery for the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or print them out to give whenever you want). There also is some good summer reading (although you might not want to read A Night to Remember on your cruise…at least, other people won’t be able to tell you are reading it, which may make your ship crew happy) 😉 and some to have for your guest library, if you do that. We keep a guest Kindle for visitors, and A Good Earth could be a good choice for that.

As a reminder, check the price before you click, tap, or eye gaze that Buy button (the last in Virtual/Augmented Reality)…the prices may not apply in your country, and books may have left the sale before you see this.

Books include (there are 45 in the sale):

  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck $1.13 (4.6 stars out of 5 | 1,199 customer reviews…Pulitzer Prize winner)
  • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy $1.13
  • The Fifties by David Halberstram (a popular work of non-fiction) $1.99
  • Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
  • The Last Kingdom (Saxon Tales #1) by Bernard Cornwell
  • The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry
  • Swan Song by Robert H. McCammon $1.99 (1727 customer reviews | 4.6 out of 5 stars…popular horror)
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • Lillith’s Brood: Dawn/Adulthood Rites/Imago by Octavia E. Butler (this is a great deal at $1.99 for this omnibus of three titles!)
  • I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong (4.7 stars | 205 reviews)
  • The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau (Pulitzer Prize winner) $1.99
  • The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand
  • The Imam’s Daughter by Hannah Shah
  • Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • A Night to Remember by Walter Lord (about the Titanic) $1.13
  • Trap Line by Carl Hiaasen and Bill Montalbano
  • World’s End by Upton Sinclair
  • Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick
  • Noah Gordon: The Dr. Robert Cole Trilogy (three books for $1.99)
  • The Red Horseman by Stephen Coontz
  • Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman
  • The Rich Are Different by Susan Howatch

Enjoy!

My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

Round up #158: bye-bye unlimited storage plan, brick-and-mortar Amazon

June 9, 2017

Round up #158: bye-bye unlimited storage plan, brick-and-mortar Amazon

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

Brick-and-mortar Amazon stores

A reader sent me a link to this

The Shatzkin Files: First impressions of an Amazon bookstore

article by Mike Shatzkin.

It’s a knowledgeable piece about one of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores. This one is in New York: I’m anxiously awaiting the opening of one very near me…and I’ve been hoping to get to talk to the manager before the official opening (I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself).

I thought this was a really interesting observation in the article:

““Page Turners” is a section of “books Kindle readers finish in 3 days or less”. The only other brick-and-mortar retailer that could even entertain presenting something like this is Barnes & Noble.”

Amazon has the data to do that…although they do it with books without actual pages (Kindle books). With a paperbook, they can’ tell how quickly you read it, of course. For awhile, people called the equivalent of “page turners” “button mashers”, but now, your device may not even have a visible button. 🙂

Clearly, people are intrigued with Amazon opening physical stores. Here is another article, this one from

The Motley Fool

which has not been particularly high on Amazon.

They are giving you three reasons why Amazon might open a physical bookstore like this…this was my thought on that getting close to two years ago:

Who would be foolish enough to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Age of Amazon? How about…

These are not normal bookstores…they don’t have to survive by selling the books in the store. They can use the store to get you to buy the books online, and that works.

Here’s the

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

My sibling’s first murder mystery was featured in the Seattle store:

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I wonder if it is in all of them?

Writers answer…

I thought this

Salon article by Teddy Wayne

was a lot of fun! These were creative questions asked of several authors (more than one answers the same question). I particularly like this one: “Without summarizing it in any way, what would you say your book is about?”

At some point, at least a decade ago, movie and book reviews often became summaries, rather than what I consider to be reviews. I’ve gotten to be pretty good at skimming over the summary parts…it doesn’t mean you can’t say anything about the plot or the characters or the situation, but please don’t take away the joy of discovery for me. 🙂 I know not everyone agrees with that, but I like that Wayne made that restriction.

“Yesterdata…all my files were at Amazon…now it looks like that my plan is gone…oh, I believe, in yesterdata”

According to this

TechCrunch article by Natasha Lomas

Amazon is sunsetting its unlimited Amazon Cloud Drive plan. You should read it, because there is a lot to it…but here’s one key short excerpt:

“Current Amazon Drive customers who have the old unlimited storage plan will keep it through its expiration date. After which, those with auto-renew turned on — and less than 1TB of data stored — will be automatically renewed into the 1TB plan/$60pa.

While those with auto-renew turned off, or who have more than 1TB stored, will have to visit the Manage Storage page to opt in to one of the new limited storage plans.”
Now, I don’t think that many people have more than a terabyte of data, but some of my readers may. The unlimited plan has only been around for a couple of years, and they didn’t say you’d have it forever, but some people will be disappointed.
Prime members will continue to have unlimited photo storage.
SOCIAL ACTIVISM THROUGH BOOKS

I liked the concept of this

BOOKRIOT article by Cecelia Lyra

The author sets it up as a game:

“…it’s time to play Match Three Modern-day Issues with a Favorite Work of Fiction.”

I wouldn’t have picked the same books, but that’s how these things go. 🙂

For example, one problem listed is human over-population. First, I question whether this is really particularly a current issue. Birthrates are way down in some countries…Japan is one which has been concerned that their Millenials aren’t having children at the same rate as their parents. You end up with an upside down economic pyramid. Who supports seniors when there aren’t young working people?

Second, how could you not name

Make Room! Make Room! (RosettaBooks into Film) (at AmazonSmile*) by Harry Harrison

in this category? It’s the basis for Soylent Green, and it’s all about human overpopulation.

As I said, I like the idea of matching up current issues with classic books…it can show a continuity of concern which can be reassuring . Mine just would have been different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

What do you think? What older book would you recommend people read to relate it to a modern issue? Have you been to an Amazon bookstore…and if not, would you want to go? What question would you ask authors? Do you have a terabyte of data at Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

%d bloggers like this: