Round up #94: free comics, GameCircle

Round up #94: free comics, GameCircle

Ring around the game app

There is a big announcement in this new

Amazon press release

Amazon is introducing

It allows app creators to add a number of new social features. I think Kindle social features may be a big part of the future. It’s a place where Barnes & Noble is in the lead, with their “NOOK Friends”. NOOK Friends is a service where you invite people to join you. When they do, you can see what books they have to lend, for one thing…I’ve seen people ask about that in the Kindle forums.

After looking a bit more at GameCircle, it isn’t clear to me that the user specifies who is in their circle.

That’s what Amazon needs to do, in my opinion. You need to be able to set up groups of friends, for reading, game playing, video, and so on. I love what I call the “bookstream” on the Kindle Fire, which creates a live chat in every book.

The problem is that you see just anybody’s comments…and they may not have the same sensibilities or priorities as your friends.

To really embed people in Amazon’s ecosystem, Amazon could make it so that you hear from your friends first on your Kindle…not necessarily on Facebook or by tweet and so on.

Of course, people who just read might not want alerts when they are reading…what if it only showed up on your RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) on your homescreen? That might work, especially if it could be opt in.

On your Kindle Fire, you could have chat about games, and compete in the games. You could join fans of a TV series or a type of movie, and chat after watching a Prime video…or during it, I suppose (although viewing is asynchronous, so that wouldn’t work very well…unless Amazon starts doing live TV).

GameCircle doesn’t get us there, I guess, if you don’t pick whose best scores you see.

What it does do that is very significant, though, is back up your game progress and high scores to Amazon’s servers, so you can access them on a different device.

For those of you who aren’t gamers (and I know that this is going to be mostly a Kindle Fire post…but I’ll include something else, and I’ll try to do something different in the next post), you might not realize how important that can be to people. It might have taken you days of “labor” to get to a certain point in a game.

When there was the problem with the update to the Kindle Fire where one of the big answers was to reset it to factory defaults, there were people who absolutely did not want to do that, because they didn’t want to lose their game progress. It was possible to back that up, but not as a standard part of the Kindle Fire software.

Now, if a game developer has made their game part of GameCircle, it will have been backed up to Amazon’s servers, similar to your last past read page for books. If your Kindle Fire is lost/stolen/fails or has to be reset, you can pick up right where you were on a different device.

People are going to like that. 🙂

Public domain comics

I read comic books a lot as a kid, and I don’t really read the current ones. However, I really love forgotten popular culture. Whether that’s 19th Century literature or 1940s comic books, it intrigues me.

You can get free public domain comics from

When something is in the “public domain”, it is not under copyright protection. That may be because the term of copyright has expired, something wasn’t done properly on the filing or display of the copyright notice (those rules have changed, but that used to be a big thing), or nobody renewed the copyright when they had the chance.

Prior to the nostalgia craze which really came into being in the 1960s (thanks in large part to old movies being shown on TV), people figured that a lot of pop culture was truly ephemeral…it didn’t have lasting value. Who would want to read a comic book that was ten years old? 🙂

The Digital Comic Museum members scan and post public domain comics. The site says it tries to be very careful that the comics are actually in the public domain, and that looks likely from what I’ve seen. You do need to create a free account.

The comics are in CBR (Comic Book Reader) format, and you do need a way to read it. Calibre can convert CBR titles to Kindle-friendly MOBI format, but I haven’t tried that…not sure how well that will work.

I bought a comic book reader app for $2.99:


I’ve tested it out, and do like it. It makes reading the comic book on a Kindle Fire quite acceptable. Somebody with slightly better vision would like it even better, but it definitely works.

That’s not going to get you the contemporary comics, but this is a nice option.

Yes, I’m partially mentioning this because of

Comic-Con 2012

which officially starts tomorrow.

I just want to take a moment to say I was sorry to hear about the fan who was struck by a car and killed outside the con yesterday. My sympathies go out to the fan’s family and friends.

Honestly honest

I had somebody recently say that a post of mine in the Kindle community was “disingenuous”, and I felt really bad about that.

I thought I’d state my feelings about honesty, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt for you to know my position on that. 🙂

I’m not going to lie to you.

Now, I know, that’s what somebody usually says just before they lie to you, but it’s the truth. 🙂

Wait, now that sounds like the famous paradox, “Everything I say is a lie” (which was used in a Star Trek episode).

There is also this famous mind puzzle.

You have two beings: one of them always tells the truth and one of them always lies. You don’t know which one is the liar and which one is the truthteller. You can ask one of them a single question…how can you determine which one of them is which?

I’ll answer that after I tell you a bit more about how I feel.

Lying is wrong.

However, we do need to define lying. For me, you lie when you deliberately tell somebody something that you know isn’t true…usually for your personal gain and their loss.

An unspoken truth, for me, is not a lie.

A carefully worded statement that leads people to think a particular thing isn’t a lie.

A joke or acting is not a lie: the person knows you aren’t actually telling the truth.

I’m a trainer. My job is to change people’s behavior. I know, that’s not how a lot of trainers think about it. For me, there is a very big difference between educating (which I also do) and training.

Educating is just giving people information…they then decide what to do with it.

Training people is getting them to do something specific. That very often involves educating people, but that isn’t all of it. I always say, “You haven’t trained a dog to sit if it just knows what the word means.” 🙂 In other words, you may be able to say, “Sit” and the dog knows what you want, but the dog may not do it. That dog hasn’t been trained to sit.

That, by the way, is not to denigrate students. I don’t consider comparing a human to another species to be by definition an insult. I have considerable admiration for a lot of species.

When you train people, you need to convince them of the value of doing something a particular way. I don’t lie to my students…period. I do say things in a way that may make a particular choice feel positive to them…and I do feel it is positive.

Let me give you an example I’ve used when training trainers.

Let’s say you just learned something yesterday that you are presenting to somebody today. It’s completely possible for somebody to be able to train that well, depending on the complexity, of course.

If the trainer says, “When I was first learning this, I figured out that it was easier to do X,” that’s not a lie.  The wording tends to suggest to the students that it was some time ago. If the same trainer were to say, “When I was first learning this yesterday,” it would make the students insecure. They wouldn’t trust the trainer as much to know the material, and therefore wouldn’t learn it as well.

“When I was first learning this” isn’t a lie. It is stated in a way that gives a certain impression.

Disingenuous to me suggested that I was deliberately lying, and I had a possibly undeserved emotional reaction to that.

So, I’m not going to lie to you. 🙂 I may state things in a way to get you to think and feel the way I’d prefer, though.

Okay, back to that question with the truthteller and the liar.

The question is “If I were to ask the other being if you were the liar, what would they say?”

The liar knows the truthteller would give the true answer and say yes…but is going to lie about it and say “No”.

The truthteller knows that the liar is going to lie…and will say “Yes”.

There’s a good one to try on your friends. 🙂

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


4 Responses to “Round up #94: free comics, GameCircle”

  1. Zebras Says:

    Would love to hear more about “training” people. My dilemma is that I work with two people who are at a much higher level in the company, but they are here less than a year and I have been here 11. I seem to be explaining the same processes over and over again, and end up correcting the same mistakes over and over again. It was easy back in the days when I was a boss, I could train people in my methods, and they really couldn’t fight the boss on it. I usually find with intelligent people, once they are trained in your methods and understand the process, then they can build upon it, and come up with improvements to the method.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      That’s a big topic, as you can imagine. 🙂 I find that sometimes people think training isn’t a separate skill…that someone who is good at something is going to be good at making other people better by explaining it, and it simply doesn’t work that way. Does Michael Phelps’ swim coach swim better than Michael Phelps? NOt a chance. Can the coach make Phelps a better swimmer? Absolutely. Could Michael Phelps make you a better swimmer? I don’t know, but the fact that he swims as well as he does doesn’t suggest it one way or the other. I think it’s rare that someone who is really good at something is also really good at training other people to do it.

      That said, there is a core principle in your case.

      The most important word is “why”. You have to tell the other people why it is to their advantage to do it the way that you want them to do it. “I’m clicking on the font menu, so I can change the way the letters look.” If you just say, “Now click on the font menu,” they won’t remember it. Adults need to understand the motivation behind something.

      Up until kids are about ten years old, they can learn things without context, by rote memorization. If you tried to teach the alphabet to adults, someone would say, “Why does B come after A?” If you couldn’t answer that, most adults can’t learn it.

      Is it hard to know the “why”s? Absolutely! It’s okay to make something up, by the way…to give them your idea about why something is true, even if you don’t know it. Again, I don’t lie and say, “That’s because…” I will, though, say, “I think that’s because…”

      I could write a lot more. 🙂 Hm…let me give you another one. It’s what we call the “Three Ts”: “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them”. Set up what you are going to explain, then explain it, then review it.

      Check in with them for understanding. Have them explain it back to you. “Okay, you show me where we would go to do that.” If they don’t know, that’s fine…help them out. If they can do it in front of you without you guiding them, though, they can do it when you aren’t there, usually.

      The other thing you have to consider is whether what they are doing are “mistakes” or simply viable alternatives…

      • Zebras Says:

        I’m proof that people who can do stuff well are not necessarily good trainers. Most of the time, you can show me something on the computer once and I’m good. So I sort of expect people, especially those ones who’ve achieved a much higher pay grade to be the same way. I’m much more patient with subordinates.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Zebra!

        One really key element to good trainers is that they know that people learn differently, they can tell if someone is doing well (or not), and they adjust the presentation.

        I cringe a bit when a training organization wants to make sure that everybody gets the training the exact same way…that simply won’t produce universally good results.

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