Archive for January, 2015

Round up #283: discount on covers, Echo plays Simon Says

January 31, 2015

Round up #283: discount on covers, Echo plays Simon Says

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

New features for Echo, Fire Phone

I’m one of the few people who bought an

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

when it first came out for $199.

People treat it like it is Amazon’s Edsel (a famous flop from Ford), and yes, Amazon blamed it for a big loss in the financial report before yesterday’s.

However…

It’s still being updated, and Amazon said they are “working through” the inventory.

I don’t think they are done with the Fire Phone.

Sure, they’ve given us new lockscreens…and those are cool things that use their “dynamic perspective” (which I like to call “dy-per”) 😉 to look 3D. As you move your head, you can see different things. I have to say, it’s quite hard to get people to hold the phone still and move their heads to experience it…that’s not natural for people. Some of those are even little movies…as short as Vines, perhaps, but cool. That’s not really a new feature, though.

The voice assistant giving you directions?

Yes, that’s new. We didn’t have it when the phone came out, but it was recently added.

I tested it today, and said, “Directions home”…worked just fine.

That’s something else I want to mention: dictation on the phone, and, I think, on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

has gotten a lot better lately. It’s always been pretty good, but the voice recognition has improved, I believe. I’ve even noticed it capitalizing things.

I suspect that may be a benefit from the

Amazon Echo

Part of the big feature of the Amazon Echo (Amazon’s yet-t0-be-generally-released ambient computing device) is it’s ability to carry on a conversation with you.

The voice recognition utilizes a hive mind (individuals contributing to and  benefiting  from a central source)…and so does voice recognition on the Fire Phone.

If you aren’t connected to wireless, voice recognition isn’t the same…I’m not even sure it works.

Now, it’s possible the voice recognition on the Fire Phone is actually powered by Google (the Fire Operating System is a “forked” version of Android), but I suspect it may not be. After all, Amazon bought Ivona (a text-to-speech and voice recognition company) about two years ago.

Nice to see my Fire Phone getting updates…and I think there is more to come.

The Echo has not even been released generally yet, so updates and new features make perfect sense. You can only buy one at this point if you ask for an invitation and get one…and my delivery date is estimated between May 27th and July 2nd!

One of my readers was nice enough to share an Amazon e-mail with me in a private e-mail (if you’d to be credited by name, just let me know).

Amazon announced to new features for this reader’s Echo. You can now control iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify by voice. You start it playing on a paired phone or tablet, then you can say, “Alexa, play” or pause, stop, next, or previous.

While that may not seem at first like that big of an addition, it’s important to note that this is more functionality with non-Amazon apps…showing that they aren’t trying to make this a “walled garden” as people like to say.

Second, and more interesting to me, is a “Simon Says” feature. You can say, “Alexa, Simon it’s time to go to bed,” and Alexa says, “It’s time to go to bed.”

Maybe that just sounds like a novelty, but I can see how it could be really useful.

You can use the remote to do it from another room…and I’m guessing you might be able to use the companion app (available for iOS and Android) to do it from elsewhere.

Of course, you could use it for playing tricks on your family members (Amazon even hints at that).

When I taught Advanced Excel class many years ago, I would set up a prank for the instructors to use on April Fool’s Day.

When you clicked in a particular spot, a message box would appear that would say,

“System crash imminent”

Click on that OK button, and it would say

“Radiation hazard”

Click again and get

“Your car has been towed”

One last click and get, “April Fools!”

People are going to tend to believe Alexa, so if she said it was time to go to bed, I think young kids would be more likely to do it than if a legal guardian said it.

At this point, it’s a one way communication…you talk through Alexa, but you can’t hear back anything that is being said.

You can see how it could have a practical application. You use the app (again, I’m not sure if that’s possible…I’d appreciate it if someone with an Echo could check) to say, “Honey, it’s me…I’m running late.” That’s easier for the person to get in a text…depending on how you have things set up and how often they check texts. 😉

They are making more improvements. I suspect eventually you’ll be able to have it remember a phrase you say to use for an alarm, and there is a lot more coming from the Echo, I believe.

Oh, and in another improvement from Amazon, reader Tania Marshall pointed out to me that the Washington Post app now does text-to-speech! That had been one of my comments about it when it was first released…but I’m glad it’s there now.

10% discount for ILMK readers at Queen Of Cases

https://queenofcases.com/

which makes really interesting hard cases for tablets and other devices is offering a discount code for readers of this blog.

Use the promo code

ilmk10

to get 10% of your order. They make cases for the Kindle Fire tablets, the Kindle Keyboard (AKA Kindle 3), the Kindle Touch, and the Kindle 4th generation.

Please be prepared to be specific as to which Kindle you have…if you need help figuring that out, let me know. 🙂

You may find this page of mine helpful:

Which Kindle do you have?

Enjoy the discount! I think these could make really nice gifts. They can do a custom case from any picture. They also have a sixty day return policy!

Let me clear, I haven’t tried one of these myself, but I appreciate them reaching out to me for your benefit…and they did it very nicely, I might add. 🙂 Nothing pushy…

“When Authors Reboot a Series”

Jessica Pryde has an interesting

BOOKRIOT article

talking about authors “rebooting” a series…returning it to after a gap.

We’re not just talking a year…it can be a decade or even more.

Certainly, there are series where I wanted more…but thinking about being able to get back into the same “head space” after all that time…

Most likely, the author changed in a decade…won’t that affect the book?

Sure…and why not?

Characters in series do tend to evolve over time…and not just when they are aging like the Harry Potter protagonists. 😉

I actually think it can be more likely that another author picking up on a series can more closely replicate the feel of the original than the original author!

What do you think? Have you ever picked up a reboot and thought it was a considerable improvement over the previous books? Have you ever kinda sorta wished they had left it alone? Which series continued by other authors have been just as good or better (I might go with Ruth Plumly Thompson following on L. Frank Baum with the Oz series for one)? 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!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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

 

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Amazon’s sales growth slows, stock up

January 30, 2015

Amazon’s sales growth slows, stock up

Well, this latest financial report wasn’t “Amazon’s unusual business as usual”. 🙂

Amazon is famous for making lots of sales and little profit (or even taking a loss).

It’s been a model they’ve largely had from the beginning…grow the business over time, and don’t worry about short term returns.

As CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos said years ago, “Market share will never be cheaper than it is now.” That’s from memory, but it should be close.

However…

That was then, this is now…and how much more market share does Amazon need, since marketshare is presumably now much more expensive than it was?

Amazon’s sales growth slowed…but profit increased.

That’s what investors have been waiting to hear.

The stock went up about 2.5% yesterday, which is a considerable reversal of direction (it’s down over 1% for the year so far):

Money.CNN.com graph

Media sales slowed, but it’s important to note that this relative increase in profit doesn’t necessarily mean that Amazon is raising prices on e-books and other consumer goods.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to grow as part of the business…that’s bolstering the bottom line and doesn’t impact what we readers pay.

The slowing in media growth appears to have more to do with video game consoles being released in the previous, comparative period.

I also wonder how

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

figures into media sales. Do the subscription fees count as media, or are they in some other category? My sense is that individual book sales are to some extent being cannibalized by borrows through KU…and it may take a bit to sort out which numbers mean what. It could be that a book is more likely to be read than it was before, but it might not show up in the accounting.

Another important (and interesting) statistic on

the call…you can replay yesterday’s webcast here

transcript from Seeking Alpha…free account required

was that paid Prime memberships increased 53% worldwide last year.

53%!

So, if there had been (and I’m just making this up) 100 million Prime members in 2013, there were 153 million at the end of 2014.

I keep emphasizing that a lot of things Amazon does are designed to get people to become and to stay Prime members, because Prime members not only buy more items (they do), they also buy higher margin physical items (“diapers and windshield wipers”, as I like to say).

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you…consumers focus on the individual transaction, businesses focus on the population of transactions.

In other words, you might wonder how you got such a good deal on something from Amazon…how could they do that without losing money? The answer is, they can lose money on one sale, if it inspires other profit-making sales.

The one thing to which Amazon has to pay super close attention, the one thing they can’t let slip, is their relationship with their customers.

I think in the future, increasingly, we’ll see Amazon sell customers to business.

No, not directly…but Amazon can make its money in the retail sector by getting businesses to pay them for access to their customers.

Not your private information, nothing nefarious like that.

I mean that third party sellers, for example, give Amazon a part of each sale so they can appear on appear on the Amazon website.

As Amazon can increasingly provide happy, trusting (again, not misplaced trust…this isn’t about tricking customers or treating them as a commodity) customers to other businesses, Amazon can turn a profit by charging those businesses, not the customers.

How does Amazon do that?

By following their three tenets: Service, Selection, and Price.

That’s why their public fight with the publisher Hachette was a mistake.

Customers saw it as Amazon preventing them from buying something, or at least, making it difficult to buy something.

Amazon can’t have that. They should drop a product before they are seen as blocking people.

At this point, no big business that needs customers to buy through the internet is going to skip Amazon.

Amazon can make that even more true in the future.

That’s why products like the Amazon Echo are key.

Amazon is becoming the retail infrastructure…I’ve called that their “golden path”.

If Amazon is the way people shop, everything goes through them…and they make money by charging the businesses for access to their customers, not by charging customers more.

Let me explain this a bit more.

One of the things I train at work is time management, and in particular, how it relates to your use of technology.

I tell people that I often hear people talk about the number of “clicks” when discussing how efficient a workflow is.

Clicks don’t matter.

I can come to someone who is using ten clicks to accomplish a task, and show them how to do it in three.

If I go back a month later, the odds are good that they are using ten clicks again.

What do they say if you ask them why?

“It’s how I know how to do it.”

It’s not clicks that matter…it’s decision points.

That’s what takes a long time when you are using a computer…the human being deciding something, choosing which action to take.

Suppose you have a sale you make which sometimes requires printing a receipt and sometimes doesn’t. We’ll say…oh, if the transaction is over $10,000 a receipt has to be printed.

You could have two buttons: one with printing the form, one without.

Alternatively, you could have a single button for that sale, and then choose to print within the next window.

Which is more efficient?

The single button.

Why? When you do have to print, it’s an extra click, right?

It’s because that button is never wrong. You can click (or tap) it when you need a receipt, and when you don’t.

You don’t have to take time deciding which kind of sale it is.

Within the workflow, you will have been exposed to the amount of the sale enough that when you come to that “extra” print click, you won’t really need to think about it.

When you watch the Superbowl this Sunday, think about this: how much of the game is actually playing time, from snap to down?

If it’s typical, it will be something like eleven minutes.

That’s right…eleven minutes for the entire game.

The rest of the time is commercials, play review, Katy Perry…but a  big chunk of the field time is spent in making decisions.

I’ve said to my geeky friends (and I’m a proud geek) that football is the most intellectual of the big sports.

Name another sport where they pause every few seconds to decide what they are going to do. 😉

When people are Monday morning quarterbacking, they never say, “We should have been bigger than them.” It’s always about, “They shouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down,” that sort of thing.

I’ll entertain arguments for baseball, since there are a lot of decisions made there as well (lineups, who is pitching, should they have thrown to second), but I think football is  defensible as the most “thinking” big sport.

What Amazon wants to do is eliminate decision making when you go to purchase something…it shouldn’t be, “Should I shop for this at Amazon?” That should be a given.

Customers will appreciate that efficiency…provided that they trust Amazon and like them.

The Echo, Amazon’s yet-to-be-generally-released “ambient computing” product may become people’s main way to interact with the internet at home. It’s not going to be that right away, but it will take part of that traffic.

Part of it is enough for Amazon to profit, if they can monetize it with the businesses.

Here’s a use case: movie ticket sales.

You could get your phone, open up the phone (hopefully, you have it password protected, or in some other way, identity specific), get to Fandango, look up the movie times, choose to buy it, complete the transaction, and so on.

In the future, with the Echo, it could go like this:

Customer: “Alexa, get me two tickets for the new Avengers movie for this morning.”

Echo: “Done. Just show your phone when you get to the theatre for the 10:30 show.”

Behind the scenes, the Echo would:

  • Know where you are and where you live
  • Know which theatre you like to visit
  • Look up the movie times
  • Know if you qualify for any discounts, and if you prefer to pay more for 3D or digital, or if you need accessibility  accommodations
  • Purchase the tickets for you using your designated payment method (Amazon, of course)
  • Send the “tickets” to your phone
  • Remind you when it was time to leave (based on current traffic, and with a knowledge of how early you like to get there), and provide directions for you if needed

Even if that went through Fandango, Amazon could charge Fandango for that having happened.

Alternatively, Amazon could hypothetically set up a deal with theatres directly, getting a cut for having sold the tickets for them…cutting Fandango out of the picture.

Amazon has the computing power to do that sort of thing…other companies buy computing power from Amazon (that’s the AWS thing), not the other way around.

Oh, and I also figure in the future, you wouldn’t even need to show your phone to anybody. You get there, your phone realizes you are at the theatre, communicates to the theatre itself, which lets you into the building seamlessly. You need your phone (or a wearable…or maybe it can be done through facial recognition or other biometric) to get into the specific theatre showing your movie at your time. The theatre would happily pay for that, too, since it would be cheaper than having a ticket taker (as long as people liked the system well enough that it didn’t impact sales).

That’s being the retail infrastructure.

As the Echo learns you, it would also be able to volunteer things later.

“There’s a new Avengers movie coming out…would you like me to get you tickets?”

Naturally, you could turn off those sorts of notifications…maybe even have to opt in to get them.

But would you?

The Echo is also a “hive mind”…it connects everybody through the web.

It might notify you (maybe only if you ask it for “What’s happening?” or say, “Alexa, I’m bored.”) that a movie was playing which people who went to The Avengers’ last movie had ranked with a very positive RottenTomatoes score (and RottenTomatoes would pay for that…or again, Amazon could eventually buy RottenTomatoes or cut them out of the process by fulfilling that role).

At this point, I would guess that nothing makes you default to Amazon more than being a Prime member. Your shipping is commonly free and fast for physical items, and you have music and video with a good selection. They could still get something better going for e-books…the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) doesn’t really cut it as a reason to have Prime. I think we could see some deal with Kindle Unlimited and Prime this year…

So, bottom line: Amazon’s bottom line was better. 🙂 Prime is the key for the retail part, and AWS (Amazon Web Services) is an important part of the infrastructure part (as may be Kiva robots for fulfillment).

Amazon just needs to keep their eye on one thing.

Happy, trusting customers are their number one product.

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

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: 1000s of ILMK readers!

January 29, 2015

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: 1000s of ILMK readers!

It’s rare that I think of something as really a new type of content.

Twitter was that, certainly. Those 140 (or fewer) character tweets created a different medium, and that shapes what’s in it.

I also feel like Flipboard magazines are a new way to express yourself…and I’m surprised at the success mine are having!

The main idea is that you can use the

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

app, which I read every morning anyway on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

to “flip” articles into a magazine of yours, which you make available to other people for free.

You can also get an extension for Chrome which allows you to do it with websites (most of my flips come from things I read in the Flipboard app…except in the case of one my magazines, which I’ll explain below).

It’s really about your curation…your taste and editing skills.

You put in what you think is interesting, or what you think other people will think is interesting.

You generally don’t write anything additional about it, unless you are using the browser extension. In that case, you can add a short caption about it (which you can not edit later, by the way).

I thought I’d give you a rundown on my magazines and how they are doing (at time of writing…it changes rapidly).

I’m going to do this in order from the biggest number of readers to the smallest number.

The Measured Circle

“A geeky mix of pop culture, tech, and the weird world”

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,606 readers (which they now call “viewers”…that actually makes more sense, since you can put links to videos in these)
  • 9,512 page flips
  • 18,863 articles
  • 33 followers (since this is a new measurement, I looked up what it meant at Flipboard: they explain the new stats here. I had misunderstood page flips before…I thought it was when people flipped an article I picked into their own magazine, but it turns out it is “the number of items viewed in the magazine. Readers visit the mag: page flips are the number of items viewed…I think that means they click on it in the magazine to go to the original article). The number of articles are the ones I put into it…hm…that seems to suggest that they click on somewhat more than half of the ones I put in…that’s fine, since some can be pretty well understood by what you can see without clicking on them for more info), and followers are the actual subscribers)
  • Engagement (flips/articles): 50.4% (I’ve added that this time)

This one is inspired by my blog, The Measured Circle. The blog has never been very popular, and unlike this one, I don’t write in it (on average) every day (I sometimes go a week).

It is eclectic, but you’ll see a lot of things on geek topics, tech, and “weird world” (“Bufo’s Weird World” was my first e-zine, back before we called them blogs).

I’d say its primary purpose is…fun!

To give you a sense of it, here are ten recent articles and their sources. Earlier, I did the most recent ten in order, but that’s not really representative, since I may read a number from the same source at the same time

  1. Catcalling Men Caught Harassing Their Own Moms in Disguise (Video) (People)
  2. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon reportedly set for new ‘Ghostbusters’ (tablet.washingtonpost.com)
  3. The Cowboy Bebop Theme Played On Floppy Drives Proves Robots May Let Jazz Musicians Live (The Mary Sue)
  4. Analyzing 87 years of Oscar, by the numbers (popwatch.ew.com)
  5. Space Trivia (Playbuzz)
  6. Doctor Who Merchandise – Technically K9 Print (hello I’m Nik)
  7. 10 Baffling World War I Mysteries We May Never Solve (Listverse)
  8. Get your first look at ‘Superman: Earth One’ Volume 3 — exclusive (Shelf-Life.ew.com)
  9. Friday Harbor man reports UFO sighting (San Juan Journal via The Anomalist)
  10. Wild dolphins exchange names when they meet at sea (Discover)

ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

“The long-running blog about the world of e-books and publishing, which is one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store, brings you related news stories”

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,059 readers (for the first time, I can say “thousands”) 😉
  • 73,248 page flips
  • 8,553  articles (I’d have so say my curation is better here, or at least, more focused)
  • 188 followers
  • Engagement: 846%

This one is based on my blog, ILMK (I Love My Kindle). They aren’t the same, though. I write original material in the blog itself. I told myself that I’d average 1,000 words a day, and I do. I write a lot of different things, often providing analysis and opinion.

For the Flipboard magazine, none of that happens…you just get articles from other people (unless I flip one of my own in there).

It does allow me to do some different things.

For example, I can more easily flip ten different articles on a new piece of Amazon hardware into the magazine than I can link to them in the blog. Linking in the blog takes some work: it’s simple to flip (just a couple of clicks or taps).

There are also times when something is too short to warrant a full post in the blog. Those types of things go into my Round-ups, but I don’t do those every day.

Another thing? I do a lot more images in the magazine: it’s just more compatible with it. My blog is read on non-Fire Kindles, and images are tougher there.

  1. IMLS 2012 Public Libraries Survey Report Issued (IMLS.gov)
  2. 5 Mystery Books about Book about Books (and that’s not a typo) (The Lineup)
  3. How I Landed My First Book Deal (Entrepeneur)
  4. Author Spotlight: Sean T. Smith (Steven Konkoly)
  5. The Book Hunter (Book Geek Heaven)
  6. A Quick Guide to Beta Reader Etiquette (Helping Writers Become Authors)
  7. Is Being a Writer a Job or a Calling? (New York Times)
  8. Discover Your Destiny (Open Road Media)
  9. Chasing Rainbows (Amazon)
  10. Free Book: The Man in the High Castle (Book on the Knob)

The Weird Old Days

“Has the world always been weird? These news stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries bring you tales of lake monsters, the Hollow Earth, ghosts, and more! Edited by Bufo Calvin, of The Measured Circle blog. Note: these articles reflect the culture of their times. As such, they may use terms and concepts which some modern readers will find offensive”

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

  • 165 viewers
  • 679 page flips
  • 292 articles
  • 16 followers
  • Engagement: 232%

My original idea on this was that I was writing a book made up in large part of public domain newspaper articles. I was writing pieces to provide context, both because I wanted to do that, and because it would enable me to sell it in the Kindle store (they require original material…nothing purely public domain…that was a policy which evolved over time).

It’s a labor of love, for sure!

I find it fascinating. I’m very interested in how people think about things, and how that has changed over time.

At this point, I’ve been using the Library of Congress’ fabulous “Chronicling America” resource. The negative to that one is that the pages don’t display very well on smaller screens. However, you can click to display the page as a PDF, and that can work quite well.

You also do have to read through the newspaper page to find the article…I also think that’s fun. 😉

I do feel like I’ve made some real discoveries: I posted one that is about an apparently hoaxed photograph of a UFO (airship)…in 1897!

  1. “Nikola Tesla Promises Communication with Mars” (Richmond Virginia Times, January 13, 1901)
  2. “Tesla Wireless Plan Would Race Machines Even Without Pilots” (New York Evening World, May 13, 1922)
  3. “Scientist invents ‘Television’ which sends photo by wire” (Spokane Press, January 16, 1910)
  4. “VICTOR FLAMBEAU MAKES A MODERN VISIT TO ATLANTIS THE FABLED ISLAND CONTINENT SUNK BENEATH THE OCEAN” (Washington Times, March 12, 1922)
  5. “Assorted Spirits (Dry) on Tap Here” (The Evening Missourian, March 30, 1920: spiritualism…it’s a joke headline)
  6. “Ouija Now Bosses Motion Picture Studios” (Great Falls Montana Daily Tribune, May 30, 1920)
  7. “Ouija Border Gives a Demonstration” (The New York Sun, November 23, 1912: I was trying to do some Ouija stories because of the recent movie)
  8. “OUIJA BOARD AGAIN BRINGS MARVELOUS MYSTERIOUS MESSAGES” (Ogden Utah Standard,December 11, 1915)
  9. “Psychic Stuff” (Washington D.C. Evening Star, November 5, 1922)
  10. “Bibles Disappear in Michigan University as Fair Co-Eds Answer Lure of Ouija Board”  (The Washington Times, January 19, 1920)

Again, this one can go in “flaps” of one topic, because my search sometimes leads me to related articles. I think this gives you some idea, though.

Doc Savage Fanflip

“Doc Savage, the forerunner of Superman and Batman, has been one of my fictional heroes for a very long time. Thanks in part to Doc, I try to better myself to help others, and to do so with “…no regard for anything but justice.” A “fanflip” is my new term for a Flipboard magazine by a fan, dedicated to one topic. I will bring you not only Doc Savage news, but Doc stories and resources from around the web. Think of it as a scrapbook with news.”

http://flip.it/HJShc

  • 193 viewers
  • 1,124 page flips
  • 94 articles
  • 28 followers
  • Engagement: 1194%

I look for interesting things on the web about Doc. If Shane Black ever gets out the Doc Savage movie, this may get more popular, but I’m happy to ferret out the oddball bits and pieces. This is the hardest one to which to add things…content just doesn’t change as often on the web.

  1. Dynamite Takes Red Sonja, Vampirella, The Shadow And Doc Savage To Altered States (Bleeding Cool)
  2. From ‘Doc Savage’ to Mack Bolan, Hollywood seems poised for pulp to replace superheroes (Hitfix)
  3. What Doc Savage can teach us about World War I (Spectator)
  4. Doc Savage (Wikia)
  5. I Fell in Love with Pat Savage When I was About 10 Yes Old” – David Walker Talks Doc (Bleeding Cool) (Pat is yet another element where Superman followed Doc Savage…a blond female cousin)
  6. Why You Should Care: Doc Savage Edition (Crave Online)
  7. Doc Savage Casting Call (IGN)
  8. Doc Savage’s oft-misunderstood ‘Crime College’ (Julian Perez Conquers the Universe)
  9. Arizona Doc Con (Facebook)
  10. Michael Uslan Talks The Avenger, The Shadow And Doc Savage – Justice, Inc. (Bleeding Cool)

I’m also working on another Flipboard magazine, but I’m not ready to release it yet…it needs more content first.

These are not hard to do, and they aren’t taking significant time or creative energy away from my other creative work. I don’t get any money directly from them, although they might lead to more discovery of other things where I do.

I do want to say that ILMK has made a big move in catching up to The Measured Circle in readers. I’m still impressed with just how quickly these are growing.

Enjoy!

Do you have a Flipboard magazine about which you want to tell me and my readers? Feel free to comment on this post.

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

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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

Do you have a reading plan?

January 27, 2015

Do you have a reading plan?

I will die without having read all the books I want to read, or even all the books I should have read.

That’s simply the probability.

It’s possible they’ll extend life significantly…perhaps if what makes me me can be digitized and still be self aware, I might have a very much longer time than would now appear reasonable.

That seems unlikely.

Even more unlikely is that I stop wanting to read books. 😉

Given that, I now shy away from having a “reading plan”.

What’s a reading plan?

It’s when you have a set goal:

  • “I will read every Hugo best novel”
  • “I will read every book in the Great Books of the Western World series”
  • “I will read a book written by an author from each country in the United Nations”

I used to do that sort of thing, and I think that may be more common when you have a longer life expectancy in front of you.

Certainly, I completed some things like that.

I read all 181 of the original Doc Savage adventures.

I read an unabridged dictionary cover to cover…not quite the same thing, but that was a plan.

Now, I’m more aware that my time is limited…no reason to think that’s a near future thing, in case you are concerned (and thank you if you are), but it can happen at any time.

If I was following a plan like that, and there were twenty books in that group and I died having read nineteen…well, I can’t face that idea. 😉

So, I tend to bounce around.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gotten value out of every book I’ve read. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted reading a book.

I think it’s good for me to shake up my thinking…to try things I might not otherwise have tried.

That may be one of the best things books can do for you.

That means I’ll read books where I really don’t know how good they’ll be ahead of time, perhaps because I have no relevant experience with which to judge them.

That might be as simple as reading an author of which I’ve never heard.

It could be an entire genre I’ve never explored…although that’s not super likely. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I suggested to my employees that they read a book from each section in the store, to be able to better help customers. I suggested they ask a regular for a suggestion.

I did that myself, and discovered some interesting things that way!

That’s when I first read

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

and

Jerry Ahern (at AmazonSmile*)

two authors I enjoyed.

On reflection, I did read them because of a plan…to read a book from each section in the store. That was a plan that promoted eclecticism, but it was a definite plan. I would have been disappointed if I had almost completed that task, and then became incapacitated. I wouldn’t want to be aware of the goal, and know I wasn’t going to reach it.

I’m sure for a lot of you that’s silly. Not embarking on a quest because you might fail may seem…I’ll go with timorous, although some might use a stronger word like cowardly.

I think one of the differences for me is that I don’t need a linear goal to stay focused. I’m not a linear thinker, really…I love chaos.

I also love organization (like alphabetizing shelves), but I think that may be because it isn’t natural for me. I’m fascinated by timelines, although I don’t have a good sequentially chronological memory.

I’ve lost about forty pounds (over the course of maybe a couple of years…it’s been a good, safe pace) using the MyFitnessPal app (which I reviewed in this blog).

For me, though, it’s important not to have a “goal weight”. I just want to do it because it is good for me (and by extension, for others…my family, my co-workers, my readers, who benefit in some way from me being here and well functioning).

If I set a goal, I’d get more frustrated with my progress…and what would happen when I reached it? What if I’d underestimated the weight loss which would be healthy? What if I got in great shape, but I actually started gaining weight at some point because of muscle mass increase?

No, I don’t think that’s the best approach for most people, but for me, not having a goal makes me more likely to stick to something.

What about you? Do you have a reading plan? Do you mind sharing it? I’m sure some of my other readers might appreciate it…even be inspired by it. What reading plans have you accomplished in the past? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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

February 2015 Kindle book releases

January 26, 2015

February 2015 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it.

For the most part, we are back to Amazon selling the books…which means they can guarantee the price.

If we see a return of the Agency Model (the rumor is that’s happening with Simon & Schuster), we’ll be back to that non-guarantee situation.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 4,946 (at time of writing) February releases in the USA Kindle store:

February 2015 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

One interesting thing before I get into some individual titles: the first four (sorted by new and popular) are the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month!

Since Prime members can already be reading one of these (even though they aren’t officially released until October) at no additional cost, you can see how that would drive up their popularity as compared to actual pre-orders. The top four being Kindle First was also true the last time I did one of these.

The other thing is that there are some Kindle Unlimited titles way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay…books!

  • Deadly in High Heels: High Heels Mysteries #9 Feb 3, 2015 by Gemma Halliday
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Feb 3, 2015 by Neil Gaiman
  • Waking the Dead (Cafferty & Quinn Novels Book 2) by Heather Graham
  • Desperate Measures Feb 17, 2015 by Fern Michaels
  • Wrongful Death (A Detective Jackson Mystery) Feb 24, 2015 by L.J. Sellers
  • The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul Feb 24, 2015 by Rankin, M.D., Lissa
  • Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales Feb 3, 2015 by Terry Pratchett and Mark Beech
  • I am Haunted: Living Life Through the Dead Feb 10, 2015 by Zak Bagans and Kelly Crigger
  • The Fall Line: How American Ski Racers Conquered a Sport on the Edge Jan 15, 2015 by Nathaniel Vinton
  • Superman: Earth One Vol. 3 Feb 10, 2015 by J. Michael Straczynski and Ardian Sya
  • Time Patrol (Area 51: The Nightstalkers Book 4) Feb 24, 2015 by Bob Mayer
  • DC: The New Frontier Deluxe Edition Feb 17, 2015 by Darwyn Cooke
  • Harry Potter: The Creature Vault: The Creatures and Plants of the Harry Potter Films Feb 24, 2015 by Jody Revenson
  • Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined World sFeb 12, 2015 by Joseph P. Laycock
  • 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music Feb 3, 2015 by Andrew Grant Jackson
  • Two Strangers Feb 1, 2015 by Beryl Matthews
  • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl Feb 10, 2015 by Issa Rae
  • Princess Treasury Feb 10, 2015 by Disney
  • DISNEY’s Darkwing Duck: The Definitively Dangerous Edition Feb 10, 2015 by Aaron Sparrow and James Silvani
  • The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution Feb 3, 2015 by Patrick Cockburn
  • The Mind of the Maker Feb 10, 2015 by Dorothy L. Sayers and Madeleine L’Engle
  • Doctor Who: Human Nature: The History Collection Feb 12, 2015 by Paul Cornell

One more interesting thing: we can filter for books which will be in Kindle Unlimited! I may do a separate listing for those at some point, but here is the link for the 805 titles at time of writing:

Kindle Unlimited books for the USA Kindle Store February 2015 (at AmazonSmile*)

What I do is keep an Amazon wish list for Kindle Unlimited books I may want to read. That makes it easy for me to pick a new one when I want. 🙂 If you do that, you will just need to check to make sure it is still in KU when you go to borrow it…some books will go in and out of that list. Indie publishers, for one thing, can change that.

Enjoy!

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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

Dr. Seuss apps half off…plus Amazon Coins

January 25, 2015

Dr. Seuss apps half off…plus Amazon Coins

Dr. Seuss is arguably one of the greatest authors of all time.

I mean that sincerely.

When we look at how long the books have lasted, and how much they have affected people, well…what more do you want from a book? 🙂

I love the  playfulness, and the skill. Some of them truly feel like magic, the kind of enchantment you hope strikes you as a writer…and then, you hope you have the fortitude, commitment, and talent to utilize that gift.

It’s no surprise that there are apps of many Dr. Seuss books. They’ve gone into many different media, and successfully.

It may be a surprise that some of them are half off right now. 😉

The classic

Green Eggs and Ham (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is $1.99 instead of $3.99.

Not only that, you get an additional sixty Amazon Coins. That’s a special Amazon “currency” which you can use to buy apps and some in-app purchases.

So, it’s sort of like paying $1.39 for an interactive version of the book (it can read aloud to you, read along with you, and more) with a 4.6 star rating (out of five) and 137 customer reviews at the time of writing.

It will work on the Fire tablets and the Fire Phone, and I presume other devices as well.

I’m not seeing an easy landing page for this half off deal, except through my device.

These are some titles I’m noticing:

  • The Sneetches
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC
  • Gertrude McFuzz
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
  • Fox in Socks
  • Yertle the Turtle
  • The Lorax
  • Hop on Pop

This link will find apps which are not part of the deal, but everything I’ve listed above appeared for me:

Dr. Seuss Apps (at AmazonSmile*)

Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

I don’t know how long this will last.

Enjoy!

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Round up #282: KDP EDU, sale on Prime

January 24, 2015

Round up #282: KDP EDU, sale on Prime

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

Amazon Prime on sale for $72 on Saturday January 24th only

It’s a big deal that one of Amazon’s original TV series, Transparent, won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical series.

Big enough that Amazon is celebrating…in two ways.

On Saturday (January 24th), non-Prime members can watch all ten episodes for free…binge watch!

If they decide to become Prime members (or if anybody wants to become a new Prime member), they can do so for $72 for the first year, instead of $99.

Why $72?

It was the 72nd Golden Globes. Gee, too bad it didn’t win the first year…it would have only cost a dollar! 😉 Oh, wait, in 1943, they didn’t have an award for TV series…or, pretty much, TVs. The first year for TV comedy was 1969, and The Governor and J.J. beat The Carol Burnett Show, Love American Style, Laugh In, and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour…the Globes: always picking the shows with lasting value. 😉

If you want to take advantage of either or both of these deals, you can go here:

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

Getting people to sign up for Prime is exactly why Amazon is spending money making these sorts of TV series…and this year, they’ll also be making theatrical movies.

Renewal will be at the usual rate. I don’t see any plus here for current members, but we already get rewards enough. 🙂

If you’ve been on the fence about Prime, now’s the time…

Speaking of a 24 hour deal…James Patterson’s exploding book

I totally misunderstood this story until I really read it.

I’d heard that James Patterson was making a book which would “explode” after 24 hours.

I thought that was a clever gimmick. I figured it was an e-book that would corrupt the file, so it couldn’t be read. That way, you’d have to binge read it, and then you couldn’t share it with anybody (even by sharing your device).

No, this is something different.

According to this

The Independent article by Adam Sherwin

the book will actually literally explode…apparently, with a bomb squad in attendance.

What’s that going to cost you?

About $300,000.

Okay, probably not you. 😉

You also get a stay in a hotel, an expensive dinner, and solid gold binoculars.

Does this author know how to market or what?

This story is getting tons of publicity for

Private Vegas (at AmazonSmile*)

which you can pre-order right now for delivery on January 26th.

What a clever marketing scheme! If nobody pays $300,000 for it, Patterson will still have gotten a lot of benefit (in terms of publicity) from the coverage.

Two big tech stories which might affect us readers

While Google has been readying the virtual reality device Oculus Rift, Microsoft just opened a huge new door with its announcement of an augmented reality device (coming soon), the Hololens.

It’s kinda sorta related to Windows 10, which is going to be massively different from Windows 8.x (they are skipping the number nine…that’s how different it is!). For one thing, W10 will have Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant.

I think I may need to explain the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality before I tell you how this could be used for readers.

In virtual reality, you are submerged in a simulated world. In the case of the Oculus Rift, you wear a helmet like device. Everywhere you look, you see the simulation…and nothing else. You don’t see the real world.

I don’t think that has much application for readers, although I suppose it might. You could project the words in front of you, or read an intangible book, but I think that would be a lot of work to go through just to read something.

With augmented reality, you see both the illusion and the real world…simulated items appear in place with what is really around you.

The Hololens, which will be more like goggles, are like sunglasses…you can see through them.

I’ve used AR (Augmented Reality) apps on my phones…they are processed through the phone’s camera.

I’ve tagged little flying robots when I was walking on the Golden Gate bridge, and I can read signs that are automatically translated for me.

That second one is Word Lens, and Google is just integrating it into their translation services. You look through your camera at a sign in, say, Spanish, and you can read it in English.

It’s not hard to do, but I find you do have to hold it pretty steady.

That would be one possible use for the Hololens and books. You could pick up a book in one language, and instead, you would see the words in a language of your choosing. As you turned the page, it would be aware of it and translate the next page.

Another possibility, as I mentioned to regular reader and commenter Edward Boyhan, is that they could satisfy both people who “like the feel of a book in their hands” and people who want the convenience of e-books.

You could have a blank p-book (paperbook). The Hololens could make it appear that there were words on the pages…and it could be different books at different times.

Another thing it could do: give you dictionary look-up in a p-book. Hold your finger on a word in that fifty-year old paperback you have, and it detects the gesture and displays a definition. Yes, the Hololens will detect gestures…giving you Minority Report-like powers.

I think this is a year we may be looking at life-changing technologies being introduced…much more than last year. The Hololens, the Amazon Echo, and the Oculus Rift…things won’t be the same.

The other big technology for us is wireless transmission  of power.

I’m not talking about setting your Kindle/Fire down on a pad…that’s not a practical way to use it.

I’m talking about sitting on the couch for a marathon reading session…and having your device charge at the same time. Carry your Kindle with you while you go to the kitchen and cook (you do that now, right?) and it will still be charging while it in range.

No consciously charging your tablet every night!

This is something that I said was

Tech we still need

back in 2010.

The other two things I mentioned?

Self-driving cars (which are here, but not marketized yet), and mass knock out (no closer, as far as I know).

Wireless transmission of power does look like it is finally really going to be here!

In this

The Seattle Times article by Jeff Gelles (which may have been in The Philadelphia Enquirer first)

they talk about three different companies which are close to having this in our homes.

I think it will happen within the next couple of years, although you are likely to need some sort of receiver on your gadget, so it wont just work with everything.

It may also not work with something that requires a lot of power, like a washing machine…but you don’t tend to move those around very much so it’s not such a big deal.

Much more important for our mobile gadgets.

The future is almost here…but by definition, that’s always true. 😉

Kindle Textbook Creator

Amazon is expanding its independent publishing platform in what might turn out to be a really significant way, as noted in this press release:

Amazon Launches Kindle Textbook Creator

You upload a PDF, and you can have these features:

  • Multi-Color Highlighting—Highlight and categorize key concepts for easy reference.
  • Notebook—Capture key passages, images and bookmarks and automatically add them to the notebook. Students can add their own notes and easily access them from one location.
  • Flashcards—Create flashcards and study important terms, concepts, and definitions in each chapter with a simple, easy-to-use interface.
  • Dictionary—Find definitions and Wikipedia information for difficult terms to improve retention.
  • Buy Once, Read Everywhere—Read eTextbooks on the most popular devices students use, including Fire tablets, iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and smartphones, Mac, and PC.

Note that non-Fires aren’t included on this list, since they can’t do everything on that list…but this could be big!

You can get up to a 70% royalty, like other KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) books. This is called KDP EDU:

https://kdp.amazon.com/edu

I have relatives who have written textbooks. I don’t know that I immediately see this for something like a high school class, but I can see it for people who want to market textbooks to the broader market…or, perhaps more significantly, professors who want to make books for their students (who may or may not be physically present in their classes).

What do you think? Does James Patterson being such a marketer affect the way you assess the quality of the books? Would you worry about power going wirelessly through you (my Significant Other has mentioned that)? Is there a market for independently published e-textbooks? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Trouble at school

January 22, 2015

Trouble at school

Teacher: “Thank you for joining me today. I know our students’ guardians lead very busy lives.”

Guardian: “Certainly. I apologize that I only have twenty minutes before I have to be somewhere else…I have a meeting with a client in Lunarville.”

Teacher: “Something exciting?”

Guardian: “Not really…routine atmosphere sweetening contract. Appearing on the moon always sounds glamorous, but for me, it’s just business.”

Teacher: “Well, this shouldn’t take too long. I wanted to talk to you about your child, Beck.”

Guardian: “Well, yes. Not to be obvious, but we wouldn’t have that much else to talk about.”

Teacher: “Ha, ha, right you are. I guess I’m just a little uncomfortable broaching the subject. It’s something I don’t see very much.”

Guardian: “What is it? Grades are good, and I can assure you there has been no cheating. Something behavioral? I haven’t seen anything from guardians of other students in Beck’s grade at your school…at least, not about Beck.”

Teacher: “It’s not something like that, fighting or sexing or something. It’s more…personal. I think I caught Beck…reading.”

Guardian: “I see. Um…what made you think that?”

Teacher: “We were watching a required video. All of the other students were reacting as expected. As you know, our school test scores on communal laughing and sadness are in the top ten percent in the country. The only student who wasn’t responding like everyone else was Beck.”

Guardian: “Well. Perhaps…perhaps there was some technical problem? Couldn’t see or hear the projection?”

Teacher: “No, I checked that seat myself…everything was good. I thought perhaps it was something more benign, like a seizure or something. I had a student once with untreated epilepsy. Can you believe that? What’s next, the Black Plague or polio? Anyway, I checked the medscan data, though…nothing like that, but there was a braingraphic I didn’t recognize. I asked the room system to identify it, and it said that it was indicative of someone reading.”

Guardian: “Did the other students hear that?”

Teacher: “Oh, no, I was very discreet. I waited until everybody else’s consciousness was somewhere else.”

Guardian: “Thank you. I wouldn’t want other students to get the wrong impression and then communicate it to their guardians.”

Teacher: “No, you definitely wouldn’t. This city doesn’t take kindly to cerebral isolationists.”

Guardian: “I’m well aware of that. We were warned about that thoroughly when we first moved here.”

Teacher: “Oh, that’s right. You are immies from one of the colonies…did you know that some of them still allow reading?”

Guardian: “I’ve heard about that, yes. I suppose…I suppose that’s just a matter of culture.”

Teacher: “Hardly. Culture by definition is a shared experience. One of the greatest discoveries of the modern era was when scientists proved that reading, by nature of it being an individual experience, is inherently anti-cultural. If you don’t share your experiences with others, you can’t really be part of a society. People in the old days suspected that…they called cerebral isolationists ‘bookworms’, like tapeworms or roundworms. People who read, and you’ll pardon my use of the word, but I feel it’s necessary in this context, ‘books’, are parasites. They feed off of the experiences of a society, but they don’t participate in building new experiences.”

Guardian: “People who read didn’t read all the time…they did other things, too.”

Teacher: “Only because they were forced to do that. Have you been to the city museum yet? They have a room dedicated to artifacts where ‘bookworms’ would say how they would rather be reading than doing anything else, and ‘too many books, too little time’, claptrap like that. It’s absolutely chilling, and proof of how they were selfishly wrapped up in their own worlds…not in ours.”

Guardian: “We’ll plan a trip. Listen, I’m going to have to run. Is it possible the sensors were in error?”

Teacher: “Not likely.”

Guardian: “Hacked? Another student playing a joke?”

Teacher: “It would not be a very funny joke, but I’ll have IT run a forensic diagno if you like. However, remember that I first noticed the behavior physically. Have you spoken with Beck about reading before?”

Guardian: “Yes, that’s been a topic of conversation in our house…even before we moved here.”

Teacher: “I think it would be worth another discussion. If I see the behavior again, I may have to turn Beck over for counseling.”

Guardian: “Naturally.”

Teacher: “One last question, then I’ll let you go.”

Guardian: “What is it?”

Teacher: “I looked up the name ‘Beck’ on a Birthsite, and it suggested that it came from a classical musician named Beck Hansen.”

Guardian: “That’s right…very popular in the colony where we met.”

Teacher: “But when I asked our students to come up with an old-fashioned password using their first names and three numbers, your child wanted space for twelve letters, not seven. I thought that was odd.”

Guardian: “Beck probably misunderstood the exercise. From everything you are telling me, perhaps we will do some home cognition testing.”

Teacher: “That’s probably a good idea. I wouldn’t worry too much, though. We had just watched a movie the day before, and part of the name of the movie was in the password.”

Guardian: “What did you see?”

Teacher: “Frankenstein, Independent. It’s a fabulous story about how this ancient doctor ignores conformity and thinks differently from everybody else, and then gets justice. It’s quite inspirational and can really have an impact on students. That’s probably where Beck got that nonsense word for the password…Steinbeck123. I mean, ‘Steinbeck’ couldn’t be somebody’s name, right?”

Guardian: “Sounds unlikely.”

Teacher: “A child is going to know their own name…as you say, probably misunderstood what we were all doing. Well, thank you again for your time. I’ll keep an eye on things for you.”

Guardian: “You may not have to do that. We are considering moving.”

Teacher: “Really? Beck hasn’t said anything about it. Somewhere else in the city?”

Guardian: “My job may take us back to the colonies. It’s all come up rather suddenly.”

Teacher: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that! It would certainly be a step backwards.”

Guardian: “Yes…a step backwards. Sometimes, that’s the only possible solution…”

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Re-boot camp: the all purpose fix for Amazon gadgets

January 21, 2015

Re-boot camp: the all purpose fix for Amazon gadgets

No gadget functions perfectly all the time.

Even p-books (paperbooks), which were undeniably a technological gadget was first introduced (with “expensive” difficult to use versions going to elite early adopters, and then eventually, cheap mass-produced ones which benefited from early users’ experiences), fail in a variety of ways…pages tear or get folded, spines separate, and so on.

With electronic gadgets, one of the big differences is that they actively do things…they participate in your interaction with them.

That ability to participate has its limits…it can become overwhelmed, just like an adult trying to deal with several children. 😉

Most devices have two sorts of memory, somewhat similar to humans.

They have a short term memory (“What am I doing now?”) and a long term memory (“Who am I?”).

Unless something is catastrophically wrong, a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) basically knows it is a device to display books. It knows when you tap a title on the homescreen (I say “tapping” because all of the current generation have touchscreens) it should display that book.

That functionality is in its long term memory.

The words it is currently displaying to you? That’s short term…it can store the spot where you were and return you to that, but it isn’t constantly “thinking” about where you are in all of the books you’ve been reading on the device.

The same sort of thing goes for a Fire tablet, a Fire phone, a Fire TV (or Fire TV stick) and the Amazon Echo.

When its active, short term memory gets filled up, it can’t deal with requests very well…just like that adult with several kids all asking questions at once.

In fact, they can get so overwhelmed that requests can’t reach the long term memory part, or they reach it imperfectly, and it freezes up or makes mistakes.

With electronics, we can usually tell them to clear that short term memory so they can work again.

With humans, we typically do that by sleeping and dreaming…at least, that’s my best hypothesis on dreaming, and it seems to work quite well.

When we dream, we can “run programs” we don’t usually use, to make sure they are working properly, then file them away again. You don’t often have to run through the woods, but you can practice while your physical movements are constrained so you aren’t at risk. Experiments have been done with animals where they can remove the constraint, and yes, the animal will physically act out the dreams (that’s how I recall the studies).

You can “defrag the disk”: run things that happened during the day, deleting fragments, storing some others.

That’s why “sleeping on it” works, and why if scientists keep you from dreaming (but let you sleep), you’ll start to hallucinate within a few days (usually).

We rarely let our devices “dream”, so they can also start to “hallucinate” pretty quickly.

How do you let them dream?

You can reboot them…turn them off and turn them back on it. In the turning off process, they’ll clear all of that temporary memory (but not the long term memory) and “wake up” refreshed.

Oh, that’s important: sleep mode won’t do it here…it’s actually turning off the device.

I have a relative who is a psychologist, and we’ve talked about this. You know when you have a birthday party for a five-year old, and there is a clown and a magician and the presents and the birthday kid falls asleep in the middle?

People tend to say it is “too much cake”, but all the kids had cake. Only the birthday kid falls asleep.

What I think happens is that the brain says, “Too much input!” It shuts down the input systems (by sleeping) to give it time to process what has already been happening. Once things have been cleared up and  reorganized  a bit, it can wake up again.

With a Kindle or a Fire, you usually do this by holding in the power button.

On non-Fires, if you keep holding it in (for about thirty seconds), it will typically restart on its own.

With a Fire tablet, like my

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

and the current generation, you may need to release the power button, then press it again to reawaken it.

If you do need to do that, it’s best to leave it off for a bit (a minute should be fine) just to make sure it gets a chance to clear everything.

From time to time, I have to unplug my

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

and

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

to get them to clear up. If you have a way to restart using software, by the way, that’s better. The Kindle EBRs like my

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

do. Using the software is a “soft restart”. Using the hardware is a “hard restart” (logically enough). The soft restart is simply more elegant and gives the device more control of the process. If it’s too full to control anything, though, then the hard restart is fine.

On my Paperwhite, you use the menu at the top of the screen (tap towards the top of the “page” when you are in a book to see it), then do Settings, then tap the menu again, and you’ll see the choice.

The Amazon Echo reportedly has a reset button on the bottom…mine is on order, but I won’t have it for a while yet.

Restarting should not affect any of the long term memory stuff, like being registered to your account and knowing your wi-fi network password.

In addition to the devices needing this “clearing” process, so can apps on your Fire tablet.

Their active memory is called a “cache”, and you can also “force stop” them to make them shut down and clear everything out.

I find I have to do this pretty often with some apps. For example, the

CNN App (at AmazonSmile*)

seems to fill up its cache every few days…and then it won’t scroll through the stories. I clear the cache (and force stop it), and everything is fine again.

How do you clear the cache?

It’s pretty much the same on all the Fire devices…TV, stick, phone, tablets.

You get to the Settings, and then you Manage All Applications (you probably need to select “Applications” first).

Then, you find the app that is “misbehaving”.

You’ll see a choice to clear the “cache”. Clearing it may mean that it takes more time to open the first time, or that it may not know where you were in something (like where you were in a story).

The cache is where it puts the things it doesn’t have to remember forever, just for now. I have described it this way: imagine you are on a shopping trip. As you buy things, you are carrying them in your arms. Eventually, you’ll be carrying so many things, you’ll start to “malfunction”, and may even drop items.

Clearing the cache is like getting those packages out of your arms.

When you go home, you might put them away on shelves in cupboards (depending on what they are).

You can no longer get to them as easily, but your arms are free to do more things and carry more items.

This is not the same as clearing the data, which you generally don’t want to do.

The data choice represents things you want it to remember, in most cases.

I have to validate who I am to the CNN app…I’m allowed to watch it for free because I pay for CNN elsewhere (through my cable company, in my case). I can read the stories without that, but I can’t watch live TV.

That validation is stored in the data, not the cache. I can clear the cache without having to revalidate. If I cleared the data, I’d have to validate again.

“Force stopping” it is like turning it off. That can stop processes that have gone wonky.

Let’s say it is trying to launch a video, but there is something wrong…it can’t do the whole launch. It keeps trying and trying, and can’t think about anything else very well.

The force stop will make it stop trying to load that video…just like shutting down a non-Fire Kindle can make it stop trying to index a corrupt e-book file (such as one that only got downloaded partway for some reason).

I know we shouldn’t ever have to do something like going into Settings-Applications to use our devices, but when I do, I don’t find it onerous…it’s pretty simple and will often take care of whatever the issue is.

There you go! Feel free to let me (and my readers) know if you have more questions about “first aid” for your device by commenting on this post.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

10 random books

January 20, 2015

10 random books

I like to be surprised.

That especially goes for my entertainment.

I look for different ways to surprise myself, even in methods to discover new books.

Tonight, I used

http://www.random.org

to generate ten random numbers between 1 and 6400.

Why 6400?

The most results you can get in a Kindle store search is 400 pages. There are sixteen results per page (usually…the last page might have fewer). 400 * 1600 = 6400.

So, here are my results in the

USA Kindle store by New and Popular (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m very excited to see what shows up! I’ll be curious as to how many I’ve read, how many are in Kindle Unlimited…and how many I put on my wish lists. 😉

# 165: Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School
by John Medina
4.4 stars out of 5, 87 customer reviews

I’ve not only read this one, I wrote

Review: Brain Rules
coming up on two years ago. 🙂

#262 Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon Book 4)
by Dan Brown
3.9 stars, 17558 reviews
I read the Da Vinci code…haven’t read this one.

#796 The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, Book 2)
by Tana French
4.0 stars, 635 reviews

848 Wickedly Dangerous (Baba Yaga Book 1)
by Deborah Blake
4.4 stars, 107 reviews

1643 The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride (The Dalton Brides, Book 3)
by Kit Morgan and Kirsten Osbourne
4.3 stars, 42 reviews
Available in Kindle Unlimited

2058 Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations
by Dave McKinsey
4.2 stars, 5 reviews
Available in Kindle Unlimited

2231 She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
by Ian Kerner
4.4 stars, 490 reviews

4017 Friction
by LD Davis
4.6 stars, 40 reviews

5346
Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Sigma Force Novels Book 8)
by James Rollins
4.5 stars, 666 reviews

5510 Have Me: A Stark Ever After Novella (Stark Trilogy)
by J. Kenner
4.1 stars, 139 reviews

Well, a couple of them are on Kindle Unlimited, but nothing stood out here as something I’d want to move to the top of my TBR (To Be Read) list.

Some relatives did get me books from my wish list at the holidays…looking forward to those! 🙂

Bonus story: in this

press release

Amazon announced that it is moving into producing movies to be shown in movie theatres…about twelve a year!

They have recently built a strong reputation (in part based on Transparent). We watched The Man in the High Castle, based on a Philip K. Dick book (which I had read recently…borrowed through Kindle Unlimited), and would be interested in seeing more of it, even thought my Significant Other (SO) didn’t find it that interesting.

It matters what we think, too, since High Castle is part of Amazon’s “pilot season”. These TV series which are not yet committed to becoming a series…customer feedback help determine which shows get made.

Theatrical movies, though?

Those are quite expensive! Even focusing on just smaller “art house” movies, you can’t realistically figure on an average production budget of under $10 million…and that is a low budget.

Still, I think people might see these. Amazon has hired Ted Hope, as the new Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies. Hope’s filmography as a producer is quite impressive. It includes:

  • Eat Drink Man Woman
  • The Brothers McMullen
  • The Ice Storm
  • The Tao of Steve
  • 21 Grams
  • Adventureland
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene

While none of these has gotten Hope an Oscar nomination yet (when a movie is nominated for Best Picture, the producers are the names listed), and Hope has been strong in TV, I think that’s the (unstated) goal.

I think Amazon would love to get an Oscar nomination in the next couple of years.

Here’s what makes it interesting for Amazon Prime members (in the USA, at any rate).

The movies will be exclusively available to Prime subscribers (at least initially) four to six weeks after their theatrical runs.

That’s quite short a period, and that could get Amazon some new Prime members.

That would be especially true if they timed a release around Oscar time, and it was getting a lot of buzz.

So far, the

Amazon Studios page at IMDb Pro (also owned by Amazon)

indicates one movie actually in production:

Tiger, Tiger

Co-written and directed by Mark Stouffer, who has worked with John Denver, done nature-connected works, and made a couple of movies.

This one is budgeted at about $19 million…not high by major studio standards, but still a significant risk for Amazon.

This Amazon effort is going to be fascinating to watch: they’ve announced a Woody Allen TV series, IMDb Pro shows a Barbarella TV movie in development, and they’ve optioned ZvG: Zombies Vs Gladiators from Clive Barker.

My guess is that this is going to scare investors…they may like it when Amazon tries to build new markets (like with the Kindle and the Echo), but I’m not sure they like them trying to break into mature markets.

What do you think? How many of the random books have you read? Do you think Amazon should be getting into theatrical releases? As an Amazon customer, does that scare you at all? Would you become a Prime member on the strength of wanting to see a particular movie earlier than other people? What if it meant you saw it before the Oscars were announced, rather than afterwards? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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


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