Archive for October, 2015

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2015

A Halloween classic to read aloud

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection (at AmazonSmile*), which has an interactive table of contents.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  😉

Join thousands 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.

Amazon’s Scary Good Deals on Apps & Games

October 30, 2015

Amazon’s Scary Good Deals on Apps & Games

Through Halloween night (Saturday, October 31st, 11:59 PM Pacific), Amazon has $70 in Apps & Games for free:

Scary Good Deals on Apps & Games (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Now, let me say first. Amazon has “cured” me of going to their Appstore every day. 😉

That was, I’m sure, an unintended consequence of their excellent Amazon Underground program, which lets us get many apps & games “actually free”, without cost for some apps, levels, and upgrades.

When they did that, they did away with the Free App of the Day.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great swap! The AU apps are often much better than the ones we got for the FAotD.

Still, after weeks, I’ve finally stopped going to the Appstore every day…the draw was the FAotD, which I almost always got.

Anyway, here are some of the apps in this new promotion (again, only good through Saturday night):

  • Gamebooks: Read and Learn English Premium
  • Splashtop Remote Desktop
  • Runtastic Pro
  • Cubistry
  • Halloweenistry
  • LEGO Star Wars TM Minifighters
  • Scribblenauts Remix
  • Bloons TD 5
  • Photolab Pro

and many more!

Enjoy!

Join thousands 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.

Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road

October 29, 2015

Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road

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

Getting comfortable with the 7″ Fire tablet

I’ve had the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

for about a week now, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of it.

I would describe the device itself as serviceable, and the Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models) as superior.

I certainly miss having dictation for the keyboard, and trace typing (like Swype…you drag your finger around to make words). I use both of those a lot on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7 (which is still what I’ve been using most of the time.

The biggest problem I’ve had with it, and I called Kindle Support to check it with them (no almost instant onscreen Mayday help), is that I can’t use it as a nightstand clock.

My Kindle Fire HDX is my nightstand clock. I have it (unplugged, just running on battery) next to the bed. The native clock app has a nightstand mode. The numbers are red, it’s dim, and it stays on all night. It takes about half the battery charge, which is fine…it charges up quickly enough in the morning.

With the new Fire, the clock app has a Night Mode…but it doesn’t override the autosleep timing! In other words, when I’m sleeping, it’s sleeping, too: no display. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able wake up groggily in the middle of the night, glance over, see what time it is….and decide if it’s appropriate to wake up the rest of the way and get out of bed. I don’t want to have to wake up the tablet to decide that.

One issue is that you can’t set the autosleep on the device to “Never”, which is my preferred setting. I’ll put my devices to sleep when I choose. 🙂

It’s a minor irritation, and I’m still using my KFHDX7 next to the bed.

Outside of that, it’s pretty good. I’d feel fine with having it for a guest or in  doctor’s waiting room. We don’t call them that any more, by the way…it’s a negative connotation.. They probably say you are “in the lobby”, in the “reception area”, or just “out front”. I loved a cartoon that I saw years ago which has a patient saying to the doctor, “If you want me to be more active, why have I been sitting in your waiting room for forty-five minutes?” 😉

Jane Friedman sounds like someone I would like to know

Jane Friedman is the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Open Road Media.

That’s been one of the best publishers for e-books. They typically publish backlist titles (older titles…the books that aren’t in the front of the catalog), and they secured the e-book rights for those when the bigger tradpubs (traditional publishers) were still hadn’t really awakened to the need.

In this

The Bookseller post by Porter Anderson

Friedman talks about the philosophy of the company.

I agree with a lot of it!

It’s definitely worth a read: this is a company that is still “…chasing profitability”. It has a clear-eyed view of the glory of resurrecting p-books (paperbooks) for the digital era. Plus, the good-humored CEO has close to 10,000 p-books at home…I can empathize. 😉

Orwell again

One of the most infamous incidents for Amazon and the Kindle was when they removed copies of a certain edition of George Orwell from customers’ Kindles.

No doubt, the irony of it being George Orwell added to the coverage of it.

Amazon apologized, compensated customers, and even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called it “stupid”. They said they wouldn’t do the same thing in the same circumstances again, and to my knowledge, they haven’t.

Now, my understanding is that what happened was that a publisher had this book in the Kindle store, but specifically for the Australian market where the books are in the public domain (no longer under copyright protection, so no permission is needed). Amazon apparently accidentally made them available in the USA, where they were (again as I understand it, unintentionally on the publisher’s part) infringing on the rights of the estate.

In trying to rectify that, Amazon reached into customer’s devices, and deleted the unauthorized file.

Possessing that file on your Kindle, by the way, was not illegal. In

Dowling v United States

the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. found that possession of infringing copies of a copyrighted work was not the same as possession of stolen goods (despite people commonly conflating the terms “theft” and “infringement”, they are different…that’s not to say that one is less “bad” than the other, but they aren’t the same).

One of my first posts, more than six years ago, was a parody about this situation:

All’s Well That Orwells

Well, recently, there’s been another story involving Orwell’s works and alleged infringement.

In this

TorrentFreak post by Ernesto

it’s reported that “internet radio host Josh Hadley” had some designed removed from an online retailer (one I’ve used) because of a complaint supposedly from the Orwell estate.

The design had the number 1984 prominently, and I think most people would see it as a clear allusion to the Orwell book.

However, allusions are not illegal…and you can’t copyright a title.

You can trademark it, but that doesn’t seem to me to be what’s being suggested here.

On the basis of the limited information in this article, it does appear to have been an overreach…the kind for which Disney has been famous.

The retailer is within their rights (and may be wise) to remove an item when they receive a legitimate looking claim of infringement.

They are under no obligation to carry anything. If they did continue to distribute something after having been told it was infringing, and that did turn out to be the case, they could be liable.

So, irritating as it might be, someone can make a claim of infringement, and most retailers would, I think, remove the item.

I’ve made a claim like that myself to Amazon, and a work (which was infringing) was removed.

I did have to attest that I was the copyright holder, and I had to send them evidence. Amazon could have hypothetically gone after me if I had lied to them (and I didn’t and I don’t). 🙂

Just based on what I’ve seen, Hadley was probably within rights to make the design.

The retailer was within rights not to carry it.

If the estate did not file the complaint in good faith…I’m not sure what the legal ramifications could possibly be. Restraint of trade?

I’ve had the same sort of thing happen to me a couple of times when I was reasonably sure I wasn’t infringing.

One was a t-shirt design where I used a public domain illustration. Somebody complained, I guess, and it doesn’t even have to have been the rightsholder.

I basically shrugged about it.

The other one was more amusing.

We did a t-shirt that said, “Frickin’ panda heads”. Yes, that was a reference to playing on the Wii Fit. I don’t think that’s an infringement…but, oh well.

It might be different if I was designing t-shirts for a living…if my family depended on it. Then, it might be worth fighting for it.

For me, it wasn’t.

Supergirl and Pat Savage

I know some of my readers are fans of Doc Savage, who is one of my fictional heroes. If you are, you might be interested in a piece I recently wrote in The Measured Circle:

Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage

What do you think? Should I have fought the takedown notices, in order to defend people who do rely on it? What should retailers do with infringement claims? Do you use a tablet a nightstand clock? Do you have an app you like that overrides the global sleep setting? 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!

* 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.

Lightning deal on Fire tablets: kitchen utensils & e-book

October 27, 2015

Lightning deal on Fire tablets: kitchen utensils & e-book

Sorry this will be super brief: I am just on my phone. I will update this later but part of this is a special early deal for Prime members, so I can’t wait. 🙂

Check on your Fire tablets for an offer. You will probably need to be connected to wireless to see it. Depending on your model, you may have a tab that says offers or something like an app.

This is five kitchen utensils plus an e-book.

More later.

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

Words of a feather: Kindle book categories

October 27, 2015

Words of a feather: Kindle book categories

I’ve written before about how I’ve seen the same book in the Kindle store categorized as both fiction and non-fiction.

That’s the publisher’s doing.

The publisher (certainly in the case of independently published books) picks the categories…and they do it largely for marketing reasons.

Now, I have to say…as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I think the publishers are sometimes making…non-optimal choices.

For example, they take a look at the categories they think sell the most, and put their books in there.

If your book doesn’t belong there, that’s not going to work.

Let’s say that it was a grocery store, and the candy aisle sells the most. Just because you take your broccoli and stick it in the candy aisle doesn’t mean it’s going to sell like Snickers bars. 😉

Similarly, if you put your candy bar in with the produce, it’s not going to sell as well as if it was with the other candy (or in an impulse area, like the checkout line).

Shoppers get into a “head space” about what they want to buy…it’s not that easy a process. I’ve read several things lately about the energy cost of decision making. It’s hard to make decisions. They’ve pointed out how some creative types (Steve Jobs, for example) tended to wear the same things most of the time…eliminating one taxing decision to make each day. 🙂

You may actually irritate someone by shocking them with the “right thing” in the “wrong place”.

Some people think the publishers are trying to trick the audience. For example, they think that faith-based publishers will hide that the book is faith-based…putting it just in the mystery category, without revealing that is faith-based.

Well, I suppose that particular one would work…if they didn’t bring religion into the book until the end of it. 🙂

You see, you get seven days from purchase to return a Kindle store book for a refund. You can even do it yourself by going to

http://www.amazon.com/myk

That’s why it doesn’t make much sense to think that the publisher is trying to trick you into buying a book you won’t want. Well, people do foolish things, so they might be trying to do that…but it won’t work very well. 😉

I’ve also seen people say that Amazon is trying to “bait and switch” people with books.

That’s actually even less likely.

I keep saying in this blog that Amazon’s most important product is happy customers.

It makes no sense for them to rip you off of $10 and lose you as a customer.

Imagine somebody on their trial month of

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

and feeling that Amazon tried to trick you so you quit?

That’s a big loss for Amazon!

That doesn’t mean that no one ever feels that way, I will guarantee you it is not a corporate strategy. 😉

That’s why I was intrigued to see this page on the publicly visible part of Kindle Direct Publishing:
>
Selecting Browse Categories

They have some great advice there, including things that use the technical parameters of the search properly.

Their (literal) number one rule?

Pick the most accurate categories. Make sure the categories you pick correctly describe the subject matter of your book.”

Yup.

They also give information about what makes a book show up in the children’s sections…and the rules are different for the USA and the UK, for example.

Interestingly, and I didn’t know this, the categories actually come from  third party, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG):

https://www.bisg.org/bisac-subject-codes

I suppose I should have known that…I’m familiar with BISG, but just didn’t know that was the source of the categories at Amazon.

Outside of recommending, there isn’t a whole lot that Amazon can practically do.

Some people on the forum will suggest that Amazon just use the Dewey Decimal system, or the Library of Congress classification, but that misses a big point.

Many of the books are being published directly to Amazon…they haven’t been published anywhere else, and the copyright hasn’t been registered (which isn’t necessary in the USA: copyright is automatic, although registering does make going after somebody legally for infringing on your rights easier).

No one has evaluated these books to determine their categories.

Amazon could do it: but do we want Amazon to being that sort of curating? It certainly might discourage independent publishers…even thought it might be better for the customers.

It’s a bit of a tough call. Right now, Amazon enjoys a reputation, at least with customers, of broadly carrying many titles. If they ever do stop carrying a title, it can become a news story. There are sometimes movements to get them to stop carrying something people deem offensive. It takes a lot of convincing before that happens, assuming the book is legal to sell.

I like that. I like Amazon selling as much of everything (as far as books go) as is legal and is practical.

That means they sell things I don’t like, and it means it sells things advocating actions of which I disapprove.

That’s fine with me. 🙂

However, I would prefer that the categories were accurate…I’m just not sure what I’m willing to pay for that, in terms of both costs to Amazon (and subsequently me) and diversity of inventory.

Bonus story: I thought some of the readers of this blog would find my recent post

“Alexa, what did all those Back to the Future stories miss?” (and fact future v fict future)

It’s not just that some of my readers are interested in the

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

It’s also because I speculate a bit there about the future of technology…which does apply to EBRs (E-Book Readers),  of course.

What do you think? Should Amazon do more to make the categories accurate? Does it bother you when they aren’t? Have you ever bought a book on Amazon and felt like the publisher tried to fool you? 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!

* 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.

Halloween reading: non-fiction from Kindle Unlimited

October 25, 2015

Halloween reading: non-fiction Kindle Unlimitd

Let’s talk about something first.

There are people who strongly oppose anyone reading about the “supernatural”.

This opposition could come from religious beliefs, or, contrastingly, from people who think that it encourages “unscientific” thinking.

Both start with the proposition that you can be uncontrollably affected by what you read. Good people can become evil, impressionable people can then be “molded” into people who are no longer open to being convinced by science.

This has always been a bit of a tricky (or trick-or-treaty, given the time of year? 😉 ) area for me.

I’m a strong believer in the strength of reading everything.

I especially think it’s valuable to read advocatory works by authors who have ideas which are different from yours.

Intellectually, I’m inclined towards tolerance of disparate beliefs. My Significant Other has commented that “tolerance” is the hallmark of my family…even when, perhaps, we shouldn’t be. If we see a family member getting ready to participate in something we think is…ill-advised, we don’t try to prevent it. We may present other ideas, but not as better than the original plan. If you announce you are about to go cliff diving in Mexico, and you can’t swim, we don’t lock you in the house or say, “That’s too dangerous!” We tend to ask about how you have thought about the risks and benefits. 🙂

If a group advocating intolerance wants to publish a book, have a TV show, or a march down our town’s main street, I’m fine with that.

I want people exposed to the ideas, so they can decide on their own what they think. I don’t want those ideas to stay hidden, unavailable for review and consideration.

If you don’t think people should read about, say, ghosts, or witchcraft, you probably aren’t going to read these books. 🙂

If you want to (respectfully) explain that position in comments to this post, feel free.

I also want to be clear: I don’t think you need to be a “believer” to enjoy these books. I’m specifically picking book where I have read the author (I may actually own the title listed in p-book ((paperbook)) form). I like the reading…not just the subject matter.

There are a few other criteria for a book making this post.

The book needs to be available in the American

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

That’s Amazon’s subser (subscription service): people pay $9.99 a month (although there have been longer term discounts) for an “all you can read” program with more than a million books in it. These books are also available outside of that program, but if you are a member (I’ve been a happy member since it started), you can borrow these at no additional cost.

Second, I’ve gone with authors who have a history, and/or have impacted the field. That’s pretty subjective, of course…my call. 😉

Third, I chose to do books which are basically a series of essays: you can read just a chapter or story or two. That way, you aren’t committing to reading a 200 page book in the next week. 🙂 These are going to be short pieces: read a piece or more at lunch, or if you like me, listen to one or more on text-to-speech (TTS) in the car while running an errand.

Fourth, these books are presented as non-fiction…some of you will believe that the author doesn’t think these events actually happened. That’s fine, but it’s not the way the book is positioned.

One other thing: I did do a similar post last year, and there will be some overlap. This year, the big tweak is focusing on KU and on short pieces.

“You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to…The Outer Limits.”

😉

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping* by Hans Holzer | 4.1 stars out of 5 | 66 customer reviews | $1.99 to purchase

Holzer is a charming writer: the books are European and urbane, but still experiential. Without Holzer’s 1963 Ghost Hunter book, we wouldn’t have a lot of our current conception of “Ghostbusters”. This is a good collection of short pieces of Holzer’s investigations. Typically, someone will contact Hans Holzer (who is a popular culture figure by the time of the events in this book) to investigate something happening at their property. Holzer gathers information about the case, and then brings in a “sensitive” who hasn’t been told any of the details. The sensitive gives more information. There may be interactions with the “ghosts” through the “medium”. Holzer, who had studied history, will research (pre-internet, of course), the information received through local records…and may find confirmatory facts. You can dismiss the whole thing as Holzer being a fraud, if you want, but the stories are entertaining. 🙂 It’s like good travel writing…with ghosts.

Strange Creatures From Time and Space (at AmazonSmile*) by John A. Keel | 4.4 stars | 10 reviews | $9.99 to buy | Audible narration available

There’s a lot of this practical Fortean’s (someone influenced by Charles Fort) writing available through KU…not the most famous book, The Mothman Prophecies, but a lot of other ones. I have this one as a 1970 paperback edition. It’s a great collection with a number of different topics. Reading Keel is like reading urban fantasy, in the sense that it seems very immediate…like it could happen to you.

Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (at AmazonSmile*) by Sir Walter Scott (yes, that Walter Scott) | 4.0 stars | 34 reviews | Also free to own, whether a KU member or not

Originally published in 1830, and written in an epistolary style (it’s a series of letters), Scott is a skeptic…but there are some creepy stories here.

Monsters Among Us (at AmazonSmile*) by Brad Steiger | 4.0 stars | 3 reviews | $9.99

This is one of close to 200 (!) books by Steiger, and is from 1982. It covers vampires, werewolves, ghouls…even creatures from inside the hollow Earth.

here are a lot of choices…here’s one of the main categories:

Kindle eBooks : Religion & Spirituality : Occult (at AmazonSmle*)

Be aware that some of the books in there may be fiction…publishers get to choose their categories, and they don’t always make the categorizations that you or I might make. In some cases, it’s for marketing purposes, in others, it’s just not knowing which one to pick.

If you have questions about any specific titles, feel free to ask me. If you have any other comments for me or my readers, I look forward to those. Perhaps you think children should be protected from occult books, or you don’t want them to be led astray. Maybe you have other books you’d like to recommend (advocatory for the paranormal, or skeptical)…either way, happy Halloween! 🙂

Join thousands 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.

Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map (part 1)

October 24, 2015

Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map

I have recently received and have been exploring my

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way.

Is this, by far the least expensive backlit table Amazon has done, worth the $50?

Yes.

Can you tell they’ve cut a few corners?

Yes.

Let’s start out with something which won’t affect your use of it, but was…different.

You aren’t going to see an unboxing video of the Fire 7…because it didn’t come in a box. 😉

It was more like…a semi-rigid lunch bag.

IMG_20151022_1626596_rewind

Yep, and that came in a padded envelope: I assume that saved them some money.

Second, the charger did look…cheap (and had a short cable, which does save money):

IMG_20151022_1628560_rewind

With that out of the way…

It does just about everything…apps, games, videos, e-books, Prime Music, audiobooks, web surfing.

The screen is a bit less clear than my other Fires, but acceptable for me.

The sounds isn’t as good…but again, acceptable.

I’d say it’s reasonably comfortable to hold. I do have a cover coming…I’ll like it better with that.

This might be a matter of slight individual variation, but the screen isn’t quite flush with the case…the case is a little taller. That’s not the case with my (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX.

The thing that makes it look the cheapest, I’d say, is that the power button and the volume rocker are both silver colored…like they haven’t been “painted”, unlike my other Fires. Outside of that, it’s pretty sleek looking.

Here is a picture comparing the size of it with the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

which is the smaller one on top in this picture:

IMG_20151022_1634091_rewind

As to the interface…I like it!

This is the new Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models…my guess is Fire tablets at OS 4, which goes back to the 3rd generation).

It feels a lot more like an Android phone. You swipe up to unlock it. You “long press” an icon to put it on top of another icon to start a folder. You have a back button.

I think people used to using any SmartPhone will be able to pick it up and start using it pretty easily.

Okay, let’s start working through this. In this post, I’ll do menus outside of specific content (I won’t go into the menus or interface inside a book in this post, for example…this one will be long enough without that). 😉 I’ll follow up with a part 2 before too long.

On the lockscreen, which is somewhat configurable, I see

  • The name of the device: this one is “Dupres” for me…this is a 5th generation Fire, and “V” is the Roman numeral for 5…and Dupres was the last name of a couple of characters in the original V TV show
  • If there are any notifications, I see the number next to the name…and I can swipe left to right over that to read them…and to pull in a bunch of controls including Airplane Mode. In the pop-up from the swipe, I see: the time; the day and date; the battery level; a profile icon; brightness control; wi-fi info; airplane mode; Bluetooth; do not disturb; camera; help; autorotation lock; settings; those notifications (and I can tap to go to any of these things); and a Clear All. I’ll call this the “Quick Access panel”…it will show up again
  • Wi-fi signal  strength
  • Battery charge level
  • Profile icon
  • Time, day, and date
  • An ad (which is the wallpaper)
  • A swipable little icon (not quite sure what it is supposed to be) which brings up thae offers
  • A padlock: if you tap it, it tells you to swipe up to unlock
  • The camera (swipe left to access…like a lot of phones, you can take a picture without unlocking the tablet)

On the top edge of the device, there are those physical buttons: the power button and the volume rocker. For some reason, I keep hitting the volume when I want to hit the power…it’s not because it’s like my other models, because they don’t have the volume and the power on the same edge. That won’t matter once my “autosleep” cover is here. I’ll tell you which one I got after I try it out. 🙂 Also on the top edge: the headphone jack and the power/micro-USB.

On one edge is the micro-SD card slot: wow, the cover seems like it would be easy to break off. We’ll see…it swings out, by the way.

Once I unlock the device, I’m at the homescreen.

The top has:

  • The device’s name
  • The notifications
  • Wi-fi strength
  • Battery charge level
  • Time

Below that is a searchbox. Tap it to bring up the keyboard.

Note that this (I think only this model) does not have dictation…there is no microphone icon to enable you to speak your request. It also doesn’t allow “trace typing”, like the Swype keyboard. I’d miss both of those, for sure, if this was my only tablet. I use the Swype style a lot on my Kindle Fire HDX…and the dictation.

Once you’ve typed it in, you can hit a yellowish magnifying glass button to search.

You get Web results, Amazon, and “My Stuff”. I like the look of this! Seems like good functionality, although I would prefer it to default to My Stuff. There might be an economic reason for that…Amazon might be getting something from Microsoft (Bing was my default browser, but I think I can change that) for its results displaying first.

On the My Stuff tab, there is an additional link at the bottom to “Search emails, calendar, contacts and more”.

It’s worth noting now something that might throw someone used to earlier Amazon devices: at the bottom of the screen, we have three icons. One is a left pointing pyramid, which means back…that’s deducible. The middle icon is a circle: that’s  the new icon for Home (it used to look like a stylized house). Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s reminiscent of the Home physical button on an iPhone. There is also a square…that’s for recent items, the equivalent of the Carousel.

Going back…

At  the bottom of he tab, there are icons. Below the searchbox, HOME is a highlighted link in a selection ribbon (the equivalent of the tabs on earlier Amazon tablets), and LIBRARY (with a 3 by 3 grid). Ghosted between those are the content tabs…BOOKS, VIDEO…

Tapping the Library brings up an apps library. That has

  • APPS (ALL, DOWNLOADED)
  • APP UPDATES
  • SUBSCRIPTIONS

On the apps tab, I’m only seeing The Washington Post…not the Fire apps that came on it. I can open that app, or use the menu (three dots), which lets me delete it from the device, delete it from the Cloud (I wouldn’t recommend that…you surrender your license, meaning that anyone who is now or may be on your account in the future who wants to use it in the future will have to pay for it again…if it’s even available), and Share.

Share is new…tapping it, I get

  • Bluetooth
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Note that this is not sharing the functionality of the app…just a link to it.

On the APPS tab, I also have a link to the Appstore (it looks like a shopping cart), a menu (three horizontal lines) which lets me sort by Title or “Recency) and Filter Apps (this has an option to “Show Apps on External Storage”), and a search.

Going back to the homescreen…

Swiping down from the top, I get that Quick Access panel.

Swiping left to right, I see my Recent.

Swiping right to left, I move to the next item on the content ribbon, which is BOOKS.

Going back to  the homescreen…

Let’s talk about that Quick Access panel.

Tapping brightness seems obvious…I don’t see an option for autobrightness here, which I think is not available on this model. Remember that how bright your screen is really affects how quickly your battery drains.

Wi-fi icon (with the name of the network): tapping that takes me to wi-fi settings).

Airplane Mode: tapping that puts your Fire into “island mode”…nothing that connects to anything else, including wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Bluetooth: turns this short range wireless connection on and off. Bluetooth will also run down your battery charge, although I think having your Fire set on the brightest possibility may be worse.

Do Not Disturb cuts off notifications.

Camera opens the camera…natch. 😉

Help…this has been redesigned, and deserves a mention.

  • There are tips at the top, and you can swipe through them. Right now, I’m seeing “Having trouble wit the Silk Web Browser”; “Want to Deregister Your Fire?”; “Need Help with Parental Controls?”; “Having Trouble with Screen Rotation?”; and “Incorrect Time Displaying?”
  • User Guide (this might be just online)
  • Help Videos
  • Tutorial
  • Contact Us: Phone & Email; Feedback
  • Auto-Rotate (on or off)
  • Settings

Let’s do Settings:

Device

  • Wireless: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Location-Based Services; Airplane Mode
  • Storage: 1-Tap Archive; Internal Storage (tap this for detail…which seemed to refresh much more quickly than on Kindle Fire HDX, but I don’t have that much on it yet); and “Expand Your Device Storage”, which was a link to “recommended SD Cards on Amazon”
  • Power: Smart Suspend (this cuts off wireless when the device is idle to save power)…it defaults to Automatic Smart Suspend on, and also lets you schedule Smart Suspend; Advanced: Display Settings (Wallpaper…yes, you can select any picture from your personal Amazon photos. This is new on a Fire tablet, and is something people have wanted), Display Sleep (it didn’t give me a choice for anything longer than 30 minutes…I want “none”, so I choose when it sleeps. It goes as short as 15 seconds), Font Size (for the menus…Normal, Large, or Huge ((like lattes at Starbucks, they don’t want  any to mean “small”)). I’m using Huge), When Device is Rotated (Autorotation); Wireless Settings
  • Apps & Games: Manage All  Applications (this is like we had before, where you can clear the data, clear the cache ((some apps may need this regularly…I find that’s the case with CNN)), Force Stop, Uninstall)…that’s on Downloaded. Tap on RUNNING, and you’ll see all the memory usage, including of your RAM. From RUNNING, you can get to ALL; Amazon Application Settings. There are so any Settings here! I’m doing it’s on list, then I’ll get back to Device

Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings

  • Amazon GameCircle: Show GameCircle in Library (defaulted on); Share Your GameCircle Nickname (defaulted off); Whyspersync for Games (defaulted on)
  • Appstore: In-App Purchasing (defaulted Enabled); Automatic Updates (defaulted Enabled); Notifications for Appstore (defaulted Enabled); External Market Links (defaulted to “Ask Before Opening”); Version (I’m on 9.10.10)
  • Audiobooks: High Quality Format (defaulted off); Jump Back (defaulted to 30 seconds…you can go as short as ten seconds, as long as 90 seconds); Legal Notices
  • Camera: Keep original image (defaulted off…if enabled, it will “Save only the post-processed HDR image”)
  • Email, Contacts, Calendar: each of those have their own sub-menus. Hm…worth another sublist

Apps  Games, Amazon Application Settings, Email, Contacts, Calendar

Email Settings

  • Default Message Text Size (defaulted to Small…can go as large as Extra Large)
  • Show Embedded Images (defaulted on)
  • Attachment (automatically downloads attachments on Wi-Fi…defaulted off, I turned it on)
  • Reply: Include Original Message in Replies (defaulted on)
  • Compose: Text Formatting Controls in Compose (defaulted off)
  • After delete, go to (defaults to Message list…can also choose Newer message or Older message)
  • Conversation Settings: Group Messages into Conversations (defaulted on); Conversations Include Sent and Drafts Folder (defaulted off)

Contacts Settings

  • Create New Contacts in (you can choose an account…Amazon is a choice, as is the e-mail I set up. I want to know more about creating contacts at Amazon. That sounds good to me, but what can they do with it?)
  • Sort by (defaults to First Name)
  • Name Format (defaults to First name first)
  • Synchronize contacts across Amazon device (defaulted on)
  • Delete Amazon Contacts from Cloud (not enabled and can’t be turned on…I must not have any Amazon contacts yet)

Calendar Settings

  • Set Reminder Time (defaulted to 15 mins before…can go as high as 1 week before)
  • Week Starts On (defaulted to Locale default)
  • Time Zone defaults to Default….you can choose from world timezones)
  • Sync Amazon Calendar (defaulted on…”Amazon Cloud Events are synchronized across Amazon devices and services”…I wouldn’t want these to appear in my public Amazon profile or on the
  • Delete Calendar Events from Cloud (again, not available to me)

ACCOUNTS

  • A listing of them
  • Set Account Color
  • Add Account (this worked easily for a couple that I’ve tried…just my e-mail address ((which also added calendars for Google)) and password. It seemed to know all the tricky stuff)

Back to Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings

  • Home Screen Settings: Home Recommendations (defaulted on); Show New Items on the Home Page (defaulted on); Show Apps on the Recent Page (defaulted on)
  • Music…this one has several sections, so another mini-list:

  • Music: Downloading: Automatically download new Amazon digital music purchases (defaulted off); Clear Cache (this is how you clear Now Playing, among other things)
  • Music: Playback: Streaming bitrate (defaulted to Auto); Streaming Chache Size (defaulted to 100 MB)
  • Music: Your Account: Gift Cards & Promotions; Add Music to Library
  • Music: Other: Legal; Version (mine is at 10.0.44)

Back to Amazon Application Settings…

  • Photos: Auto-Save (both Photos and Videos…both set to save by default); Only when charging (defaulted off); Manage Folders (upload folders to your Amazon Cloud Drive); Hidden (Show Hidden defaulted off, Review Hidden Photos & Videos): Cloud Drive (Manage Cloud Drive Storage, Send Feedback)
  • Reader Settings: Books: Popular Highlights (defaulted on…I turned mine off), About This Book (defaulted on), Whispersync  for Books (defaulted on); Language Learning: Word Wise (defaulted off); Newsstand: Magazine Page Curl (defaulted on
  • Settings: Local Weather (defaulted on); Temperature (defaulted on); Wind  Speed: defaulted off; Synchronize Locations (defaulted off…this will sync your locations across your Amazon devices)
  • Silk Browser: Search Engine (defaulted to Bing ((Google and Yahoo are also available))); Autofill forms (defaulted on); Save passwords (defaulted on); Advanced Settings: Accessibility (text scaling, Force enable zoom…stops a website from stopping you from zooming); Privacy (do not track ((defaulted off)), clear browsing data); Cloud Features (defaulted to on); Site Settings: All Sites; Cookies (defaulted to Allowed); Location (defaulted to Ask first); Camera (defaulted to ask first); Microphone (defaulted to Ask first); Notifications (defaulted to ask first); JavaScript (defaulted to Allowed); Pop-ups (defaulted to Blocked); Fullscreen (defaulted to Ask first); Protected Content (defaulted to Ask first)
  • About Silk (I’m at version 45.1.99)
  • Special Offers: link to the Offers library; Personalized Recommendations (defaulted to on); Content filtering (hides offers “…containing images or situations that may not be suitable for all audiences”)…defaulted to off
  • Video: SD Download Quality (defaulted to Good); Download Videos to SD Card (defaulted on, but mine notes that a card is not present; Disable HD purchase warning (defaulted off…by default it will warn you about the larger size of HD videos); Clear Video Search History; Version (mine is 1.0.365.1)

Collect App Usage Data (defaulted to on…”Allows Appstore to collect information on the frequency and duration of use of downloaded apps”)

Back to Device…

  • Display: Wallpaper (pick your image here); Display Brightness; Display Sleep (how long); Font Size; When Device is Rotated
  • Device Options: Change Your Device Name; Battery (x%); Date & Time; Find Your Tablet; Backup & Restore (this has both the option to Backup & Restore your device which is defaulted on, and Save Wi-Fi Passwords to Amazon ((defaulted on))…there was a learn more link: interestingly, I can read it on my Fire, but I can’t find it by searching Help. Bottom line: this does just what you would want it to do! It backs up your wi-fi passwords to Amazon, if you want, allowing them to automatically set up new devices on your account. You can delete them from Amazon if you want, and if you change it on one device, it will change for the others. This is a terrific innovation! This should be coming to the older devices that get OS 5…it even affects Dash buttons 🙂
  • System Updates: (I’m on 5.0.1)
  • Reset to Factory Defaults (this is a “nuclear option”…only to be used in the event of a really serious situation)
  • Device Model (mine just says “Fire (5th Generation)”)
  • Serial Number

Personal

  • My Account: Deregister; Amazon Account Settings (including payment options…I’m sure you’ll have to be on wi-fi to do this); Prime Settings; Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
  • Profiles & Family Library
  • Parental Controls: you can manage profiles; you need  to enter a password to do Parental Controls…once you’ve done that,, you can block or unblock: Web Browser; Email, Contacts, Calendars; Social Sharing; Camera (all blocked by default); Amazon Stores (no blocked default); Password Protect Purchases (on by default, once you’ve turned on Parental Controls); Password Protect Video Playback (on my default); Block and Unblock specific content types (Newsstand, Books, Audiobooks, Music, Videos, Docs, Apps, Games, and Photos); Change Password; Password Protect Wi-Fi (on by default); Password Protect Location Services (on by default)
  • Security: Lock Screen Passcode (off by default…I turned mine on); Change Passcode; Automatically Lock; Apps from Unknown Sources (I have mine on…I think I might have switched it); Credential Storage; Device Administrators
  • Sound & Notification; Media Volume; System & Notification Volume; Default Notification Sound (many choices here); Do Not Disturb (you can create a schedule here);Notifications: When Device Is Locked; App Notifications (pick which ones)
  • Keyboard & Language: Language (defaulted to English United States…many choices. If I switch to English United Kingdom, I can select my regional forma, affecting the display of, for instance, dates); Text-to-Speech (set the voice); Current Keyboard…this includes Keyboard Settings…time for a mini-list

Fire Basic Keyboard Settings

  • Languages
  • Preferences: Auto-Capitalization (on by default); Double-space Period (on by default); Sound on Keypress (off by default)
  • Appearance & Layout: Theme (defaulted to Dark, Light is also available); Custom Input Style (German QWERTY or French QWERTZ)
  • Text Correction:  Personal Dictionary; Add-On Dictionaries; Block Offensive Words (on by default); Auto-Correction (spacebar and punctuation automatically correct mistyped words; Show Correction Suggestions; Personalized Suggestions; Suggest Contact Names; Next-word Suggestions (all of these are on by default)
  • Advanced: (nothing was available to me there…I suspect it is on other models)

System

  • Sync Device
  • Help
  • Accessibility: VoiceView (lots of settings for this); Screen Magnifier (this was off by default…I turned it on right away! I use this a lot: triple tap to magnify); Font Size (for the interface…there will be more choices inside books); Closed Captioning (off by default0; Closed Captioning Preferences; Convert Stereo to Mono (off by default); Accessibility User’s Guide; Services (mine says No Services Installed)
  • Legal & Compliance

Holy moley, that was a lot of choices!

There are some really significant improvements. I stopped what I was doing to explain the wi-fi password storage to my Significant Other: that doesn’t happen often!

I said Amazon would have a hit with this device…they have already commented on how successful it has been so far!

I’ll do another post (probably not next) on controls within content.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: two of my readers had excellent points!

BG pointed out that the warranty is only three months on this model…not a year as it is generally on Kindle/Fires. You can buy a 1-year warranty for $11.99:

1-Year Protection Plan plus Accident Protection for Fire (at AmazonSmile*)

You can also buy longer terms for more money.

Elaine Jordan asked a terrific question, and the answer does…disappoint me a bit.

I should have noticed when I was listing the Display menu settings but this model, and only this model in the current generation, does not mirror to a capable TV or other device. Certainly, that saved some money.

I probably mirror to my TV a couple of times a week on average. It’s not a lot, but when I do use it, it’s a important.

Mirroring means that whatever is on my device shows on the TV live. For example, I might be streaming video from another site, like http://www.archive.org. Alternatively, I might be on a website and want to share it with my Significant Other (this is just an example…I don’t do that a lot).

Is that worth $50 more to move to the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*)

I would guess not, for most people. That one is also a smaller screen, and many people (including me) could mirror from a SmartPhone instead.

Thanks to Elaine and BG for pointing out these weaknesses! I still think the Fire 7 is a good buy…just perhaps not as good as I thought. 😉

Join thousands 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.

Amazon’s Q3 financials: sales up 23%, net income up more than half a billion dollars

October 22, 2015

Amazon’s Q3 financials: sales up 23%, net income up more than half a billion dollars

I’m getting ready to listen to Amazon’s 3rd quarter Webcast, but the

press release

is out.

Let me quote one line from the press release, then I’ll link you to the Webcast, and I’ll add to this post after the cast (the Q&A is often the best part).

“Net income was $79 million in the third quarter, or $0.17 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $437 million, or $0.95 per diluted share, in third quarter 2014.”

Here’s the link if you want to listen to the webcast live at 2:00 PM Pacific:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5206611

More to come…

Update: okay, I’ve heard the webcast (including the Question and Answer period).

I’m not an investor, but to me, it felt like, “What’s not to like?” 😉

We’ll see how the stock reacts, and I wouldn’t say I’m great at predicting that, but I would guess we’ll have a positive (or at least, not negative) reaction.

The Q&A was tellingly very little about consumer products. That’s been a change over time: the focus was on AWS (Amazon Web Services), Prime, and globalization (especially India).

New product launches were mentioned, including the new tablets, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and the Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by the Amazon folks, but callers didn’t ask about them.

I felt like they had good and encouraging things to say for me as a consumer. They mentioned that they will continue to invest and innovate. They sounded excited about The Man in High Castle original Amazon programming, available to Prime members (and based on a book by Philip K. Dick). That’s what I want them to do: see making customers happy as key to making the whole rest of the company work.

As someone quite interested in how robots are beginning to share the planet (and beyond) with us, I was excited to hear that they had doubled the number of Kiva robots (they own the company) in their fulfillment centers…up to 30,000! That’s about the population of Juneau, Alaska, I think. 😉 They indicated that was going to expand, which I think is a good thing.

I’ll be interested in my readers analysis of this…they are often insightful, and that benefits me and my readers. If you have something to say about this, feel free to do so by commenting on this post.

Oh, pre-update update: the stock is soaring, hitting new highs and up 10% on this news! See

CNN Money post by David Goldman

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.

Remarkable change in Fire OS 5

October 21, 2015

Remarkable change in Fire OS 5

I’m currently exploring my new

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*) $49.99

I plan to write about my first impressions and do a menu map before Monday.

There are a few things I wanted to mention right now, though, about the new Operating System, which will, I think, come to some older Fire tablets before the end of the year. My guess would be devices running OS 4x…which goes back to the third generation.

The Carousel is gone

Generally, people have not liked the Carousel, based on comments  on the forums…a presentation line of 30 (it used to be possibly hundreds) of recently used (or downloaded or updated) items.

Now, and this is much easier, there is a square at the bottom of the screen that bring them up as cards: sort of similar to double-tapping the home button on an iPhone. You can easily switch to items there, and remove them from the list with an x. You can also just swipe to your right from the homescreen to see them: nice!

Customizable wallpaper…even your own pictures!

People have wanted this one since the very first Kindle in 2007! You can easily change the wallpaper to a picture in your camera roll. I have one of our dogs as our wallpaper. 🙂 Now, I do have an ad-supported device (which lowers the purchase price in exchange for seeing ads), so that’s what I see on the lockscreen. I assume, though, that the wallpaper doesn’t appear on the lockscreen.

Amazon can remember your wi-fi passwords

This sounds to me like it’s an option that means I won’t have to enter the wi-fi password when I get a new Amazon device registered to my account! If this is really the case, it’s a remarkable improvement. That’s been a big barrier in setting up a new gadget. I can remember my (complex) wi-fi password, but generally, it’s been the biggest thing that has kept setting up new things from simply being turning them on and using them. No, I’m not worried about Amazon having my wi-fi password…I don’t think Jeff Bezos gets into my neighborhood much. 😉

That’s just three…I’m sure I’ll find more intriguing things when I do the menu map.

Join thousands 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.

Barnes & Noble introduces a new NOOK EBR

October 21, 2015

Barnes & Noble introduces a new NOOK EBR

Today is

Back to the Future Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but I feel like I’m going back in time writing about a significant new NOOK model of EBR (E-Book Reader…not a backlit tablet). 😉

I think the last one was just about two years ago.

This one, the NOOK Glowlight Plus, is really an improvement.

It’s now “waterproof and dust proof”.

Kobo has a waterproof model…and Amazon doesn’t.

Now, I don’t think that’s enough to get anybody to switch from Amazon to B&N, and I’d be surprised if there is a huge market for first time EBR buyers at this point.

This one is $129.99…remember that it is competing for first time e-book customers with tablets, like the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is only $49.99…38% the price of the NOOK Glowlight Plus. Buy a six-pack of Fire 7s, and get them for less than a third the cost of the NOOK Glowlight Plus.

If you weren’t sure if you’d like e-books, my guess is that you would start with a multi-function device at a third of the cost. It wouldn’t actually be a great comparison to an EBR, but how would you know?

How does this compare to the

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

?

Well, the PW3 is on a special sale for $99.99…but it’s normally $119.99 for an ad-supported model, $139.99 without the discount for seeing ads on the lockscreen. It makes the price comparable…$10 cheaper with ad-support, $10 more without them.

Let me link to information on the NOOK before I go ahead:

press release

Official Site

User Guide

Tech Specs

  • The dots per inch (you can think of that as a good measure of image quality) is the same: 300 dpi.
  • The NGL+ has 2.5 GB of memory available for “NOOK Store content and side-loaded content (out of a total 4GB). The Paperwhite 3 has 4GB…but it doesn’t say how much is required for the system
  • The NGL+ is 6.4″ by 4.7″ by .34″ (thickness) and weighs 6.9 ounces. The PW3 is 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm) (so, a bit longer and thicker, and a tad narrower) and 7.2 ounces for wi-fi only (7.6 for wi-fi and 3G…you need more hardware): this goes to the NGP+
  • Both use a micro-USB connector for charging and connecting to a computer
  • Both have wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n. The NOOK says it has “a” as well. The Paperwhite also says it has “…support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)”
  • The NGL+ says it can read ePub and PDF, and show the following graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. The PW3 says “Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion”
  • The NOOK claims to have a built-in anti-glare screen protector

Overall, I’d say they are comparable technically. People will be attracted by the waterproof claims…no more Ziploc bag at the beach or in the bathtub!

Barnes & Noble also gives you some free content (in addition to a $5 credit): “Content bundle includes three (3) free NOOK Books from a choice of 25 and three (3) free NOOK Magazine or NOOK Newspaper single issues from a choice of 25.”

To be very clear, I’m not suggesting it makes more sense to get this than the Kindle. Amazon has a lot of things going on for it on the software and features side, that B&N just doesn’t have. Customer Service in B&N physical stores was generally good for me, but I’ve had…less than optimal service from the online parts of it.

If you are already committed to the NOOK, though, and are looking for an upgrade or to add another device to your collection, this is a good bet.

Does this mean that Amazon will develop a waterproof Kindle EBR?

I honestly don’t think Amazon is feeling much pressure from other EBR manufacturers at this point.

After all, the Kobo Aura H20, a waterproof model was introduced last year.

That’s not to say that competition doesn’t matter at all…I’m just guessing that as far as the state of the EBR market, there isn’t a lot of direct comparison of different brands going on with consumers any more. The “stickiness” of SmartPhone brands is, no doubt, quite large. Not many iPhone users would cavalierly switch to an Android phone…or vice versa.

I think that’s even stronger with EBR users.

You can’t use an app designed for an iPhone on an Android device, and that affects your library. However, it’s generally far easier to migrate to the other version of app than it is with e-books. An app might cost ninety-nine cents where an e-book might cost $9.99. It just makes it harder to switch over.

Sure, you could read your Kindle books in a free Kindle reading app…but you don’t install apps like that on an EBR. A tablet is a different story, and I do think people are more flexible on brands there.

Amazon may even have a waterproof Kindle in the works…maybe even for introduction for this holiday season. I just don’t think they are going to see the press release about the NOOK GlowLight Plus and suddenly say, “Gee, folks, we’d better get cracking on something similar.” 😉

What do you think? Were you surprised that Barnes & Noble introduced a new EBR? Do you think that three years from now, Barnes & Noble will be a viable competitor in the e-book world? Would waterproof be an important quality for you in an EBR? Are you now or have you been in the past a NOOK user? 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!

* 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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