Archive for October, 2011

Freebie flash! Unwanted, Mirror, Body, and more

October 25, 2011

Freebie flash! Unwanted, Mirror, Body, and more

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and none of them block text-to-speech access. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

The Case of the Unwanted Pounds: A Weight-Loss & Fitness Mystery
by Fred Stutman
published by Medical Manor (independent?)
size: 4224 KB
categories: nonfiction; diets; weight loss

From Lemons to Lemonade: Squeeze Every Last Drop of Success Out of Your Mistakes
by Dean A. Shepherd
published by Pearson Prentice Hall
size: 772KB
categories: nonfiction; business & investing; business life

Kidz Bop: Be a Pop Star!
by Kimberly Potts
published by Adams Media
size: 568KB
categories: nonfiction; children’s; arts & music

Nonfiction on how to be a rock star…for kids.

101 Ways to Find a Ghost
by Melissa Martin Ellis
published by Adams Media
size: 308KB
categories: nonfiction; health, mind & body

Nonfiction about “ghost-hunting”…good for the season

Harsh Pink with Bonus Content
by Melody Carlson
published by Navpress
size: 471KB
categories: children’s; religion; social situations

Another book for your freebie Melody Carlson collection

Cookie Swap Cookbook
by Gooseberry Patch
size: 612KB
categories: cooking, food, & wine; cookies

Autism’s Hidden Blessings
by Kelly Langston
published by Kregel (independent?)
size: 341KB
categories: nonfiction; psychology and counseling

Presentations in Action: 80 Memorable Presentation Lessons from the Masters
by Jerry Weisssman
published by FT Press
size: 476KB
categories: nonfiction; reference; office skills; contemporary fiction (!)

So, this is one of those weird classifications…it’s to teach you how to make presentations…but it’s also, according to the categories, contemporary fiction.

PCAT Prep for the New CBT
by Kaplan
size: 445KB
categories: nonfiction; science; medicine

Test prep

A Beach Body in Six Weeks: The Video Guide
by Tony Donato
published by Vook
size: 76220KB
categories: advice & how-to; health, mind & body

This is one of those titles with audio/video (check out the file size). Currently, those a/v portions only work on iDevices (iPads, iPhones, iPod touches)…I’m still hoping they figure out a way to get them to work on the Android-based Kindle Fire

Angry Birds: Video Game Guide
by Vook
size: 96KB
categories: nonfiction; games & puzzles

HTML5 for Publishers
by Sanders Kleinfeld
published by O’Reilly Media
size: 457KB
categories: nonfiction; computers & internet

The new Kindle book format is going to use (at least parts of) HTML 5…

Powerful Legs in Six Weeks: The Video Guide
by Tony Donato
published by Vook
size: 82807KB
categories: nonfiction; mind, health & body

Ghost in the Mirror: Real Cases of Spirit Encounters
by Leslie Rule
published by Andrews McMeel
size: 2176KB
categories: nonfiction; supernatural; unexplained mysteries

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


Fast Company: “The Great Tech War of 2012”

October 25, 2011

Fast Company: “The Great Tech War of 2012”

The Great Tech War of 2012

by Farhad Manjoo
October 19, 2011 (the November issue)
Fast Company

Thanks to regular commenter for the heads-up on this article!

It’s a good lengthy piece (I’d say the equivalent of 25 pages or so), talking about four innovative, growing American tech giants…and where they may go from here.

Go ahead, you’re already thinking about it…what are the four?

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google

Seriously, if you were putting together your fantasy Fortune 500, wouldn’t you want these on your team?

It talks about how they are similar, and how they are different.

Generally, I think the article is good…but I have to guess that the author doesn’t have a Kindle and/or doesn’t know much about how people use it.

Manjoo says:

“Think of this: You have a family desktop computer, but you probably don’t have a family Kindle. E-books are tied to a single Amazon account and can be read by one person at a time. The same for phones and apps. For the Fab Four, this is a beautiful thing because it means that everything done on your phone, tablet, or e-reader can be associated with you. Your likes, dislikes, and preferences feed new products and creative ways to market them to you.”

I’m going to presume Manjoo means “only one person at a time”, which of course, is generally incorrect.  Unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, you get six simultaneous device licenses (SDLs) when you buy a book in the Kindle store. That means that six people could be reading the same book at the same time on the same account (for one purchase price). That’s a huge deal, and one of the game changers in e-books.

I have to overcome thinking that one major deficit in understanding like that devalues the rest of the article. I’ve been wrong before…that doesn’t mean I’m never right (thankfully). 😉

Take a look at it and let me know where you agree and disagree with its ideas.

Now, I do want to give you a little insight into using the Kindle with this.

Roger linked the story for me, so I went looked. I saw it was longer than I was going to get through before I went to work.

So, I used


That sent it right to my Kindle, wirelessly, for free, via wi-fi, in under a minute. In included the picture at the start of the article, but otherwise, was nicely cleaned up.

I got in the car, and plugged my Kindle into my sound system with my trusty Coby CA-745 Wireless FM Car Transmitter with Digital Display, which I’ve been using for quite some time for text-to-speech in the car.

I started up the TTS (I use Shift+Sym), and listened to about half of it before I got to work.

I got to work and sight-read a smidge more while my laptop booted up. 😉

I finished up the article eating lunch at Whole Foods (where my Kindle will connect to their free wi-fi, although that wasn’t necessary today…may come in handy with my Kindle Fire, though, which I expect will connect there).

Was it very different than it would have been if it was only available on paper?

First, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I wouldn’t have subscribed to Fast Company, although I might have read the article if the magazine was in my dentist’s office or something.

Second, let’s say I did have a twenty-five pages of a book to read (the twenty-five pages are based on the traditional 250 words in a book page…and article in a magazine gets more words on the page). I tend to bounce around and read a lot of things on the same day. I won’t promise I would have finished it in five days, even. In the car, with text-to-speech? I only read one thing (I’m not going to switch to another book in the middle while I am driving). I always hope the publishers take note of that…I consume books much more quickly using a combination of text-to-speech and sight-reading, than I did with sight-reading alone.

Anyway, Id suggest you read the article…and feel free to let me know what you think.

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

Reuters: “Amazon’s tablet may be hottest holiday gadget”

October 24, 2011

Reuters: “Amazon’s tablet may be hottest holiday gadget”

Amazon’s tablet may be hottest holiday gadget

This one has some very interesting figures and ideas.

The key is that an estimate of five million Kindle Fires sold this year may be low.

They also speculate that people may buy the Kindle Fire who already have an iPad. That’s a factor that many people miss…Mom, Dad, or college age may have an iPad, and the family wants to get one for a younger kid.

It’s not the equivalent of an iPad…I was bemused when somebody recently said on the forum something like, “If you don’t think the Fire is Amazon’s version of the iPad, we’re not on the same planet.”

While it was nice to meet an alien, 😉 I don’t think that, and neither did many of the posters in the thread.*

I think Amazon is establishing a new class of device…not unlike what Apple did with the iPod about ten years ago today. This is the “entertablet”…a tablet designed for entertainment. It doesn’t do everything an iPad does…and it’s not supposed to do that.

I’d also guess that more than half of the Fire owners will have already been Kindle owners…and that this won’t replace their reflective-screen Kindles for them. I also don’t think that owning a Fire will prevent them from buying a reflective-screen Kindle in the future.

Now, if someone has never experienced a reflective screen device before, this might mean they don’t try one later.

As usual, I recommend that you read the original article..particularly so, in this case.

* A “poster” in this case, is someone who posts (leaves a message). A “thread” is a series of posts and replies, like a conversation.

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

Review: Bootscootin’ Blahniks

October 24, 2011

Review: Bootscootin’ Blahniks

Bootscootin’ Blahniks (The Bootscootin’ Books)
by D.D. Scott*
published by Belfrey Media (independent?)
size: 744kB
lending: enabled
text-to-speech: not blocked
categories: humor; contemporary romance
Free at time of writing

Bootscootin’ Blahniks is a well-written book. The characters are lively, the plotting is solid, the writing is funny.

It’s also a romance.

For some of you, that’s going to stop you right there…but it shouldn’t. I enjoyed this book, and I don’t usually read romances.

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I made it a point to read at least one book in every section, and I encouraged my employees to do the same. I had my regular customers recommend them to me. That meant I read a series romance and a stand-alone romance…and what was labeled as “Men’s Adventure”.

I consider myself a pretty eclectic reader, although I do have my preferences. It galls me when people reject science fiction/fantasy out of hand. It’s like somebody saying, “I, Robot would have been great…if it wasn’t for all those robots.” 😉

I was really enjoying Bootscootin’ Blahniks…I could empathize with somebody with two dogs with goofy names in the car, and the troubles they might have..even though you love those dogs. It was all fine…until the guy showed up.

He was a cowboy. Quick, how many syllables in his first name?

Yep, one.


Now, Zayne has some shadings, but clearly, the writing has to be done in line with the conventions of the genre. I’m not saying that’s bad, but honestly, I was a little taken aback to actually read the phrase, “smoldering gaze”. 😉

So, let’s accept that this is a romance, and that the fact that it is means certain things.

It’s a good book.

Without giving too much away, it’s a bit of a fish out of water tale, with a big city designer moving to the country to try and start a new life as a designer. There are complications and supporting characters, but I appreciated the idea of somebody trying to establish an identity…trying to change who they were into who they always thought they should be.

I also appreciated that there were two moms…and they weren’t just stereotypical. There is a strength portrayed here, but weaknesses, too. That can give you a bit of fantasy, but keep it grounded enough for you to care.

I was especially impressed with how people in this small town atmosphere approached the idea of a couple of gay characters. It seemed not unreasonable…some thought it just wasn’t possible, some clearly accepted it…there wasn’t a raging homophobic response, but there was the sort of difficulty with the concept that can come with unfamiliarity.

The plot made sense and wove things together nicely. There were a few dramatic events, but not as far-fetched as Janet Evanovich. In fact, the writing reminded me of Evanovich a bit, in the way the characters were fun, but there was more heart for me here.

I will warn you that it’s NSFW (Not Safe for Work). There is language, and a couple of sex scenes (I won’t say who is involved). It was interesting to see the approach to the latter: not graphic, but not innocent.

There was one plot point it seemed like everybody should have gotten quickly, but didn’t. Jessica Fletcher would have figured it out before her first cup of coffee. 🙂 That was a bit silly, but not entirely implausible…not everybody even thinks about what other people might do.

Overall, it was like a good solid episode of a TV show. There were interesting characters, friendships, set pieces in fun locales, and a lot of flavor.

If you are a regular romance reader, I’d be interested in your take on it. If you aren’t, this might be a good one to try. It’s free right now, by the way. That’s presumably because it’s part of a series, followed by:

Stompin’ on Stetsons (The Bootscootin’ Books)
Buckles Me Baby (The Bootscootin’ Books)

Yep, it’s a great romance…you know, except for all that romance stuff. 😉

*D.D. Scott and I have commented on each other’s blogs a bit, but I’m not connected to the book and was not given it by D.D.  I recommend Scott’s blog about e-publishing, The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

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

Ninety-nine cent Kindle Halloween games…and the Kindle Fire appstore

October 22, 2011

Ninety-nine cent Kindle Halloween games…and the Kindle Fire appstore

Amazon appears to be having a special right now on Halloween-themed Kindle games (the kind you play on the Kindle Keyboard, formerly the Kindle 3).

Before I list those, though, I do want to link you to the new Kindle Fire appstore on Amazon. I swear, I was planning to do a “Fire free” post today, 😉 but I think you’ll be interested. If you not, I’ll hit you with the ninety-nine cent Kindle Halloween games. If you aren’t interested in either…hang in there for the next  post. 🙂

Kindle Fire Apps

Similar to the

Kindle Fire Newsstand

it’s a new storefront just for the Kindle Fire.

There are some interesting choices in the 47 games and apps Amazon has chosen to feature. I do want to note that these are apps in the Amazon appstore…they’d work on other devices as well. I have my Smartphone registered…if I didn’t, I don’t think I could actually get these apps at this point (if I was just waiting on a Fire).

One that caught my eye was

I use

quite often…but why choose this free to feature on the Fire page? Perhaps that suggests strongly that the Fire will not have a built-in dictionary? That seems a bit odd, since my Kindle for Android has it on my phone.

Here’s a drawing app…I’ve seen questions about that:

SketchBook Mobile

Here’s an interactive kids’ book…including “read aloud”:

Green Eggs and Ham – Dr. Seuss

I’m sure many more will be added. Take a look at them and let me know what stands out to you.

Now, on to those cheap Halloween games for current Kindles…they are all ninety-nine cents (for some of them that’s a sale, and for some of them that appears to be normal):

Mahjong Solitaire Halloween Edition

Futoshiki Halloween Edition

Ultimate Halloween Quiz

Blossom Halloween Edition

Mystery Castle: Dawn of Illusion

Choice of the Vampire

Poker of the Dead

Ghostboy and the Nameless Grave

As with other Active Content titles, they don’t work on the K1, but do work on K2s, K3s (now called a Kindle Keyboard), and the KDX. We don’t know about the Fire yet. They don’t work in reader apps, and I assume they can’t be purchased outside the US.

You can buy them once and share them with all compatible devices on the account.

If you try any of these, feel free to let me know what you think.

For information on more games, see this category.

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


KF8: New Kindle book format with HTML5 & CSS3

October 21, 2011

KF8: New Kindle book format with HTML5 & CSS3

Thanks to Richard G in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads up on this one!

Amazon has announced a new format for Kindle books. They are calling it KF8, for

Kindle Format 8

This is a huge change, bringing lots more capabilities.

When I talk to people about change management, though, I always tell them to start out with what isn’t going to change. People hate takeaways, and the first thing many people fear is losing something…even if what they are getting is better. For example, when there is a change in the executive level of an organization, I suggest that very early on in the announcement you say something like, “We value all of you, and none of you will see a change in your employment status.” I know, that wording is hokey…just let them know they aren’t losing their jobs, even if you can’t imagine why they would think that. Heck, in today’s economy, I’d probably tell them that even if you are just changing the brand of toilet paper in the bathrooms…

So, some things that won’t change:

  • All the Kindle books you currently own will continue to work on all the Kindle devices
  • If you are a Kindle publisher, you don’t need to do anything…your books will continue to be in the Kindle store, and will be available to the Kindle Fire. You will not need to submit two versions of your titles

Next, a little bad news.

These books will first be available to the Kindle Fire. Then, they’ll roll out to “…latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps”

My guess is that the cut-off will be at the Kindle 3 (now called a Kindle Keyboard).

They said this format will replace their current one…so I’m thinking that there will be large numbers of books unavailable to K2 and K1 users. I’m speculating on that, but my sense of this is that publishers won’t be able to choose a backwards compatible file format through the Kindle store. I don’t know that…again, I’m interpreting what it says.

It may be a very good thing that Amazon just extended their trade-in program to Kindles.

What’s it going to do for you as a reader?

It’s going to bring you rich, full-featured books. Most of it is things you can do in print: sidebars, drop caps (where one large capital letter is as tall as several lines…you’d recognize it, it looks old-fashioned)…things you would do in lay-out. It also allows for “Kindle Text Pop Up”.  They mention that for children’s books, but it would be a great help in some technical texts and with maps. Instead of the very crowded labeling we sometimes get now, you’d only see the label when you ask for it. I’m assuming it could be on specific points in the image.

This may become the standard of what we expect from our books…tough luck, EPUB. 😉

One thing I hope is that it means the end of “the dreaded Topaz format”. I’ve had people report so many problems with that one (the main attraction was embeddable fonts, and KF8 does that).

As a Kindle Direct Publishing user, I’m excited by there being a new Kindle Previewer. I’ve never felt like I could tell what my titles were going to look like on a Kindle before they were published…this sounds like that capability might be greatly enhanced.

Even though I’m not a visually oriented person, I see this as a good thing (except the eddying of the older Kindles in the Amazon literary river). It will be fascinating to see how it evolves. I’m also a bit concerned that people will need more technical ability to publish…although some of you might see a higher barrier to publication as a good thing….

If you are highly skilled in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), what do you think are the big improvements? If you are a K2 user, will this make you upgrade? Does it feel like this is moving towards or away from traditional paperbooks? Have you been saying you won’t switch to e-books for cookbooks or textbooks because e-books weren’t comparable…but now you think they may be? Feel free to let me know.

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

Flash! Now you can trade-in your Kindle!

October 21, 2011

Flash! Now you can trade-in your Kindle!

Well, now a lot of answers in Amazon Kindle community are outdated. 🙂

One of the frequent questions I see is if you can trade-in your Kindle on a newer model.

People say, “No, why would they do that? You can sell it yourself.”

Well, as of today, Amazon does have a trade-in program for Kindles:

Amazon Kindle Trade-In Program

How much can you get?

As with most trade-in programs, it depends on the model and the condition. However, you could trade-in your Kindle DX and get up to $135.

How easy is it?

Pretty darn easy. 🙂 You pick your product, select the quality of it (and they say they’ll pay you more if you underselected), print a free shipping label, send it back…and they deposit a gift card into your account.

For more information, you can see this

Amazon Trade-In Help Page

I’m curious…let me know if you are going to trade-in a Kindle…

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

Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire

October 20, 2011

Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire

Kobo undoubtedly suffered a blow when Borders went under (they were content partners), but they were around before them and they shook up the market today.

They introduced the

Kobo Vox

It’s a color, backlit, 8GB, wi-fi only, 7″ Android tablet…for $199.99.

Sound familiar? 😉

First, let’s get a couple of gut reactions out of the way.

Why would you name a mobile device the Vox (Latin for “voice”) when it isn’t a phone? I know, it’s because it is from Vox Populi, or the voice of the people. That’s what they are promoting…the social aspects.

The other thing is…making it ninety-nine cents more than the Kindle Fire?

The tablet market is so splintered, it’s hard to do direct comparisons…but when people ask which is cheaper, the Fire or the Vox, the answer is the Fire. Why not just price it the same?

Okay, let’s get to the bigger things.

Yes, it will cut into the Fire’s market a bit, in my opinion. Unlike the reflective screen EBR (E-Book Reader) market, I don’t think the tablet market is quite bringing so many more people into it in the same way. That’s not that I don’t think the tablet market is expanding, I do. However, I think EBRs were new purchases in a category…there are still many people buying them who don’t think of them as the same sort of device they’ve had before. I’m not sure that people think of a tablet as a new breed in the same way…I’m not sure they don’t equate it to a little laptop at this point.

However, I do think the Fire will hugely outsell the Vox…and be a better buy.


Let’s start with the Fire’s Silk browser. This is really innovative in the mainstream. Quick! Why do you want a tablet? I’m guessing that it’s for web on the go on a bigger screen than your SmartPhone.

I do think the Silk browser is going to give us something that makes other people jealous.

Next, there’s the question of cloud storage…they both store your books for you for free…but Amazon also stores your music, movies…even personal documents (up to 5GB) for free, as long as you got them from Amazon.

One of the biggest things: Kobo is a content seller of e-books. Amazon is a content seller of video, music, apps, and more. That’s going to be a huge strength, both in perception and in seamless operation.

Now, some other comparisons:

The Fire is a tad smaller.

The Fire’s battery life seems to me to be a bit better, but it’s hard to tell. Kobo says 7 hours, Fire says 8…but it’s pretty clear, with web browsing, all bets are off.

The Vox will win for some people on the operating system, because it is a more standard Android version, increasing compatibility.

The Kobo does EPUB…I think that’s less of an issue for people now that libraries do Kindle books.

The Kobo has a memory slot for up to 32GB…that’s going to matter for some folks.

My sense of it? Content is king. The Fire will sell more. However, for people who don’t want Amazon (and they must be out there), and for Canadians (Kobo is a Canadian company with connections to Indigo…and in Canada, it appears some e-books have been pulled from Amazon and are available at Indigo), there’s a solid slice of the market for it. It also ships a couple of weeks earlier…October 28. Some people aren’t very patient, I’ve noticed. 😉

You may not have to choose, though…they are giving away ten of them through Halloween:

No purchase necessary…of course, you are entered every time a book from them during the contest period. If you don’t want to purchase anything, you can send them a postcard…because nothing says cutting edge technology more than a 4″ by 6″ piece of cardstock. 😉

For more information, see this

Kobo Press Release introducing the Vox

What do you think? Is this competition for the Fire? Does Amazon need to step up the social aspects of Kindle life…maybe leveraging Shelfari…to compete more effectively? Is this another industry footnote, or a real player? Does content matter? Does EPUB matter?

Feel free to let me know.

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

Prepare for Fire! Getting ready for Amazon’s tablet

October 19, 2011

Prepare for Fire! Getting ready for Amazon’s tablet

The official release date is November 15.

It was announced on September 28.

That’s forty-eight days of torment. 😉

I always feel better if I’m able to do something.

In the case of the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s entertablet (entertainment tablet…I made that up recently), there are some practical things you can do that can actually enhance your experience.

Find your ‘Fi

The Kindle Fire uses wi-fi to connect to the internet. Once you download something like a book or movie on to the Fire, you don’t need to be connected to use it. However, I think you are going to want to connect pretty often. You’ll have that free month of Amazon Prime, for one thing, which means streaming movies and TV. You need to be connected for that. The Fire comes with an innovative web-browser…but you aren’t browsing the web without a connection.

Wi-fi is a short range broadcast of internet connectivity. It’s typically one building or so, or at least that’s the intent.

So, the first big thing I’d say is you should figure out your possible wi-fi connections now.

If you have a wi-fi router in your house, you probably need to know the password. I have mine handy…when guests come over for a while, I’ll let them sign on. When I get new devices, I need to know it.

I recommend you store all of your passwords somewhere secure…with a family member, in a safe deposit box, something.

If you don’t know your password, it may be printed on the bottom of your router somewhere. Generally, most people are that worried that someone is going to have broken into their house…and then log on to their internet network*. 🙂  The odds are that there are other more important concerns. Using a password is mostly to protect your network from people outside your house.

There are some other ways to try to find your password, and in the worst case scenario, you can reset it (which would mean nothing in your house which is connecting it wirelessly will know the right password any more).

I’d see if you can find that password before your Fire arrives.

If you don’t have a router, you might want to consider getting one. I’m not a wi-fi expert, so I’m going to leave it to you readers to suggest ones in comments. You can get them from Amazon, and they go from about thirty dollars and up.

Amazon’s wi-fi routers search

So, that’s at home.

What do you do when you are out and about?

I mentioned that wi-fi is usually only one building. Some businesses offer you free wi-fi to get you to go there. Makes sense…if you go into a Starbucks or a McDonalds because they have wi-fi, you will probably buy something. I feel guilty if I don’t, in a situation like that. Heck, if I’ve had to go in somewhere to use the bathroom, I’ve been known to give a place a dollar if I don’t buy anything.

I’ve used and recommended this website:

I’m not connected to it except as a user. That one lets you put in an address, a zipcode, that sort of thing, and it will list free wi-fi spots in that area.

On the other hand, if you have a SmartPhone, you can download this free app from Amazon:

Wi-Fi Finder

I downloaded that one for this post, and it works fine.

In fact, I like it very much.

It lets me scan for wi-fi (which is likely to show me my neighbors’ networks, if they are powerful enough…I’m seeing one besides mine right now, which has a password). On public wi-fi spots, it is showing me some about which I didn’t know…and it lets me choose to see free ones, ones for which I would pay, or both. I can look on a map, or a list. I can also put in an address and it will tell me what is nearby, so I can plan ahead.

Oh, and you can download the database for offline use! I’ll probably do that for my Fire, which can easily handle the 55MB. That way, it can tell me about wi-fi locations even when I’m not connected via wi-fi…directly from the Fire.

Did I mention it was free? 😉

You can also get it for iPhones here:

You can also carry wi-fi around with you. Your phone may be able to provide a wi-fi hotspot for your Fire…check with your provider for your phone (AT&T, Sprint). There may be a monthly charge for it…but it might be worth it to you.

There are also things like the

Novatel Wireless MiFi 2372 Unlocked 3G Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot GSM

You plug it into a network cable, it is a portable wi-fi spot. Note: I haven’t used one of these, just mentioning it as an alternative. I do not know if it will work with the Fire. You hardware/networking folks out there, please let us know if you think it will.

See, I’m more of a software person than a hardware person. How many software people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, we don’t do that, it’s a hardware problem. 😉 Actually, I used to add “How many object-oriented programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, a well-designed lightbulb would recognize the “burn out” event and fire the change method.” If you are laughing at that, I’m with you…but I wouldn’t tell it at your next party. 🙂

One other fun thing: you can also get clothing that detects wi-fi hot spots.

Wi-Fi Detector Shirt by ThinkGeek

Get Something to Amazon Video on Your TV

This is different from wi-fi, and I took something the Huffington Post said as true…so I want to clear this up. The HuffPo said that the Fire was going to have “mirroring”, which would let you “throw” a video from your Fire to your internet-connected TV. I even told people that…I think I had conflated the press conference with what the HuffPo said on the same day.

My understanding now (thanks to R. Clark in the Amazon Kindle community) is that it won’t do that. It will, though, sync your video on your Fire to your Amazon viewer on your TV.

It’s just like Whispersync for your Kindle…you can’t throw an e-book from one Kindle to another, but you can pick up where you left off on one device on another.

We use a Roku, although ours is older than the one to which I am linking.

It’s a great little device…elegant, simple to use, powerful enough. It has its own wi-fi connect…you connect it to your TV, give your wi-fi network password, and that’s about it…ready to go. I watch Netflix on my TV a lot, through my Roku. I can watch Amazon video through my Roku (yes, even those free Prime streaming videos…if I have Prime).  I use Pandora on it…if you don’t know that, it’s free internet radio, and a fascinating concept with the way it works. You can get more free channels, and pay channels like Hulu+ or Major League Baseball.

By the way, if you already have one, I also use this app on my SmartPhone:

Roku Remote for Android

It’s $1.49 right now, but it was well worth it. I like it better than the remote that came with my Roku…and this way, my Significant Other and I both have one. I think it’s fun to talk to my phone to have it find a show for me. 🙂 I’d say it is also as quick as the original remote.

There are a lot of other devices you can get to put Amazon on your TV…and if your TV is internet-connected, you may not need another device.

Buy Stuff Now

Many of you already have Amazon accounts, and have Kindles or Kindle apps registered to them. If you don’t, you can get a

Free Kindle Reading Apps

Why start getting stuff now?

There are three Amazon strategies that combine to make this more than worthwhile:

  • Give things away and at special prices for a limited time
  • Allow multiple device licenses (so the book/movie/game/app can be used on more than one device)
  • Let people store things for free

Let’s take MP3s as an example.

Special MP3 Deals

There are 100 MP3 albums that are $5 and below for October. Right now, there are 3,134 free songs.

Amazon will store all of those for you free in the cloud. That’s right…MP3s you get from Amazon do not count against your cloud storage.

Why not get all the freebies? Okay, I know it would take effort to get them, and it might be confusing to see all those song to which you’ll never listen. However, you might as well get all the freebies you think you want.

You can download them to your Fire, or play them on the Fire through the Cloud Player (I presume).

Same thing goes for e-books…Amazon stores all of the ones you get from the Kindle store with no limit and no charge.

Definitely, check the

Kindle Daily Deal

I tell you about many, many free books in this blog…you can also look at the free books yourself using

You can even sign up there to get a free e-mail with the new free books. By the way, I could have linked to the search myself, but I want to support eReaderIQ, which I think is a great resource.

You can get a free Android app/game (one for which you would normally pay) each day at

Amazon Appstore

I believe you do need to have the Amazon Appstore installed on an Android device to be able to get them there (I do…my SmartPhone).

Amazon says:

“Android users who already have the Amazon Appstore for Android installed on an Android device can get these apps now to see them on their Kindle Fire after connecting to Wi-Fi.

I think I could get those free apps now, and they would show up on my Android SmartPhone…but I don’t need to download them. I think I can wait until I get my Fire, and then download them to there. Not 100% sure, but I think that’s the way it works.

While were at it, here is the

Video Deal Shop

They don’t do a lot of free things…you’ll get that with the streaming with Prime. However, there are deals on purchases. Be careful to separate purchasing from renting. Purchasing is yours and will work on your Fire…it won’t matter when you want to watch. Renting is for a limited time. You typically have to start watching it within in 30 days, and then have a day or two (it will tell you) to watch it. While the video store says you can’t rent on mobile devices, the Fire specifically says you can rent. I might hold off on renting until we get closer.

Put Things on Your Wish List

Okay, admit it…you probably bought the Fire for yourself. 😉 Maybe, on the other hand, you are lucky enough to have had someone else pre-order it for you.

Your family and friends are probably going to want to be part of that fun.

Start putting things on your Wish List now. You can put e-books, Android apps, movies, music, and many other things. I know not everybody likes doing Wish Lists, so that’s up to you, of course. If your family or social circle does them, though, it’s easier to do this as you go along. I have to say, a lot of the video is more to purchase than I want to do…but my family would love to get them for me. I’ll love watching them on my Fire. 🙂

So, there are a few things you can do while you are waiting for that smiley box to show up. 😉

Please feel free to comment on anything here, and to make your own suggestions, recommendations…or to ask questions.

* I use to work in telemarketing…I wasn’t a salesperson, I was a “verifier”…I called back the next day to make sure somebody actually wanted the product and understood the conditions. That made me the good guy. One time, I called the house, and the person who answered the phone was the the sheriff. They asked me what time the order was placed, and had me put the salesperson on the phone. It happened to be one of our very reliable salespeople, so I knew that person had spoken with someone. It turned out that the homeowner was out of of the country…and the house was burglarized. While the burglar was robbing the house, they answered the phone, spoke to our salesperson…and placed an order! The salesperson had to describe the voice. I don’t know, if I was ever robbing a house (and I wouldn’t be), I don’t think I’d answer the phone…let alone stay on it for a few minutes chatting.

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

Barnes & Noble bought Borders customer lists: chance to opt-out

October 17, 2011

Barnes & Noble bought Borders customer lists: chance to opt-out

Thanks to Lady Galaxy, one of my regular readers and commenters, for the heads-up on this story!

I’ve written before about the Borders bankruptcy…even documented it with a few pictures.

My local Borders? It’s currently a Spirit Halloween store.


Remember Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space*? These aliens decide to take over Earth by reanimating innocent (albeit creepy looking) people into the undead? You know Tor Johnson would never have done anything bad, except for that whole “turned into a zombie thing”…you could tell just by looking at that sweet face. 🙂

Gee, if only there’s been an opt-out program for zombification…

Well, for all of you Borders Rewards members whose accounts were “killed” by the bankruptcy, Barnes & Noble also wants to take over the world…er, increase their marketshare, by reanimating you!

In this letter from Barnes & Noble:

Important Information Regarding Your Borders Account

CEO William Lynch lets you know how sorry he is that your Borders closed…and that they’ve bought your account.

It’s a nicely written letter…a far cry from some of their other communications, and I honestly applaud them for that change.

You can opt out of having your account transferred…you have to do it by November 2, 2011, and you do that here:

If you don’t opt out, you have a free B&N account…until January 31, 2012 (about three months).  After that, presumably, it’s $25 a year (which is the normal amount for B&N’s members.

It’s interesting to me that I haven’t gotten this e-mail yet. I’m a Borders member…I’m assuming it just isn’t here yet. Lady Galaxy commented that it came on Friday, October 14.

I wanted to alert you with this post, though…I figured you might miss an e-mail (and I suppose it could go to your spam folder or some such).

Will I opt out?

No, probably not. I don’t dislike Barnes & Noble…I have had good experiences in their stores, although my experience online hasn’t been as satisfying..

We’re already Barnes & Noble members…my kid is in college, and the B&N campus store is really the only game around. The discount there helps.

One other thing: I did check the story. I found it in a number of news sources, but I wanted to make sure the URL (Uniform Resource Locator…web address) I had wasn’t spoofed (a fake of a website, often to gather people’s personal data). I used Google to search the B&N site, and it found the letter, which convinces me.

* If you are familiar with Plan Nine, you may find my Kindle-related parody interesting:

Plan $9.99 from Amazon


Update: it occurred to me later that I probably one get an e-mail…since we are already Barnes & Noble members. No reason to appeal to me to join. 🙂

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

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