Archive for September, 2017

Get an Echo Dot for $10, an HD antenna for $5: bundle bargains!

September 29, 2017

Get an Echo Dot for $10, an HD antenna for $5: bundle bargains!

We put a lot of thought into holiday gifts…we love to give! In addition to the regular gifts, we also do small gifts (although the traditions vary amongst our larger family).

Beyond that, we have a gift exchange at work (which has a price limit), and we donate gifts to charity.

As I wrote about yesterday:

Wowsers! Amazon just blew the doors off with new devices and features!

Amazon just introduced a lot of new things.

I’m debating which ones I might buy, and I know my situation is different from some people’s. I buy some things mainly to write about them, so that changes the math. I did buy the new gen 4K

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

because I’ve been waiting for a new one to be released…that’s how we watch TV almost all the time, and our current one may be underpowered.

When I bought it, though, I bought a bundle…I paid $5 more for the AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna – 35 Mile Range, which otherwise costs $17.99 right now.

I may end up using it in one of our rooms, but it could otherwise make a great gift.

Amazon has a number of interesting bundles right now (one price for two or more things), and they might not last. Check the prices before you click/tap/eye gaze the Buy button…the bundle might be over before you see this.

One for you, one for them? A lot of possibilities…


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

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

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

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

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.

 

Advertisements

Wowsers! Amazon just blew the doors off with new devices and features!

September 28, 2017

Wowsers! Amazon just blew the doors off with new devices and features!

“Wowsers”, of course, was an expression used by Inspector Gadget…which may be singularly appropriate here. 🙂 Amazon doesn’t like to call them gadgets any more, they are “devices”.

That makes sense, since some of these are actually practical, or at least can be.

With what was announced today in a surprise hardware announcement (which also had an important feature improvement), had one of the biggest line-up changes I’ve seen. It required Amazon sending out three press releases today. Oh, and they had a fourth one, that BMW and MINI will have Alexa in the car starting in mid-2018 in the USA, UK, and Germany.

I think there will actually be a lot more later this year…it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they tie something big into the 10th anniversary of the release of the Kindle November 20th (I’m working on something as well)…that may be why there wasn’t an update to the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) today, but it may also be why we didn’t get Amazon auggies (Augmented/Virtual Reality hardware)…they may think of that as another revolutionary item, like the Kindle.

They announced new (and very different) Echo items, and a new Fire TV (as I’ve been saying they would, based on rumors). However, there were new features, too.

There is a lot to digest, and there may end up being more than one post…but let’s dive in!

Let’s start with what I think is the biggest life changer for people:

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

What is it? A smaller, less expensive version of the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

That means it is an Alexa-enabled speaker with a screen.

Voice-enabled, and you can make videocalls to people with Echo Spot, Echo Show…or the free Alexa App on a SmartPhone.

Having a small, always available screen is going to make it a big part of people’s lives…not just as a baby monitor or to watch the dogs (it does do the “drop in” feature).

However, and this is new, you can now voice call anyone (they do need a phone, but not an Echo) hands free.

You can speak their phone numbers if they aren’t in your contacts.

This will work with most North American phone numbers (although not 911).

What does it cost to call?

It’s free!

Yes, this means free phone calling to just about any phone number.

More details here:

Alexa Calling & Messaging (at AmazonSmile*)

Oh, and you have the choice to anonymize the call…not show your number, but that’s up to you. To be clear, you are not using your phone to make the call.

Obviously, it would be good to be able to call 911 hands-free, especially for people with some challenges.

You can, with an additional device:

Echo Connect (at AmazonSmile*)

That one is $34.99, due to be released December 13th (the Echo Spot is scheduled for release December 19th).

What does it do?

It connects to your phone number, so you can call any number you can call with your phone…911, international numbers, and so on.

There are two more big Echo devices…and then a raft of features I still need to discuss!

The Echo Tower has been redesigned, and the price has been reduced to $99.99!

Echo (2nd gen) (at AmazonSmile*)

There are new colors and new finishes, including an Oak Finish. New speaker tech, new microphone tech, beamforming technology, it’s only about six inches tall, and controls hundreds of devices.

You can save $50 on three of them by using the code ECHO3PACK…details here: Amazon help page (at AmazonSmile*)

However, in the past, controlling SmartHome devices also meant you had a separate hub.

Now, for the last big Echo device, you can get an Echo…with a built-in hub!

Echo Plus (at AmazonSmile*)

For $149.99, you’ll be able to control your SmartHome devices easily…oh, and they throw in (gently, I’m sure) Silver+Philips Hue Bulb (which is only available for a limited time…$14.99 value).

I think this may make some people into SmartHome people who have been afraid to try it.

Speaking of controlling your SmartHome…

There are two new features which will also work with the earlier generation (although they don’t mention the Tap) and the Dot, Show, and Plus. Not right away, though…they say next month.

Alexa Routines

This lets you group activities into one name…and you can invoke it by voice or by time of day and dat of the week.

So, when you usually get up, Alexa can already have the coffeemaker going, start your music, turn on the lights in the bathroom and kitchen, and so on.

That’s a big one!

Hmm…they don’t mention it playing a particular song, but you can see how that could be great…you could say, “That’s what I’m talking about!” and have a triumphant, stadium ready anthem play, lights flash on and off. There are a lot of possibilities.

Improved SmartHome Groups

This is another giant improvement!

You can now assign lights (for example) to a given Echo device. That means that you walk into the kitchen (where you have an Echo), say, “Alexa, turn on the lights,” and just the lights in the kitchen come on.

Innovation!

One more Alexa thing, and this really may add a new dimension.

Alexa Gadgets (at AmazonSmile*)

At this point, you are just signing up to be in the loop.

What they show us as representative is basically a set of trivia game buzzers.

You’ll be able to get two of those for $19.99.

My guess is, though, that we’ll start seeing things like wands you can wave to “cast spells”.

I’m signing up, and I’ll keep you informed.

Echo gen 2 and Echo Plus press release

Echo Spot press release

Whew! That’s enough Echo for this post!

The

Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

is better, faster, stronger than it used to be. 😉

Now it has 4K Ultra HD video (and it’s a bargain for that, at $69.99). It’s got more memory, HDR (High Dynamic Range, better voice control, a slim design (which can hang and hide between the TV)…it goes on.

One I’ll really like: single sign on for a number of services, including CNNGO. What that means is that it won’t keep asking you to verify who you are. I’ve been meaning to write to CNN about that: it’s really disruptive to step out of the shower, soaking wet, trying to get ready to go to work…and have to go down to another room where I have a laptop with the page saved to enter a code. I was going to suggest that they ask for the validation code at the end of a session, rather than the beginning, so I could enter the code when it was convenient for me. Now, though, that might not matter. 🙂

I think the Echo Spot will be perhaps the most popular item out of this list, but the Echo TV will continue to be popular.

I’m going to wrap up here, but it looks to me like they might have also refreshed more of the

Fire tablet family (at AmazonSmile*)

but I’ll have to double-check.

Later this year, I think we could see EBR announcements (again, perhaps tied into November 20th for the ten-year Kindle anniversary), and those Amazon auggies…

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


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

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

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

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

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.

Heads up! Amazon hardware announcement at 1030 Pacific today

September 27, 2017

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/27/16373888/amazon-hardware-event-echo-rumors

More to follow. 

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

Round up #163: books on Fire TV (but no YouTube on Echo Show), Fall’s biggest books

September 27, 2017

Round up #163: books on Fire TV (but no YouTube on Echo Show), Fall’s biggest books

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

“Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show”

This is a big deal, and is hopefully temporary!

Thanks to Richard Lawler and Engadget for

this story

which I then confirmed myself.

The headline on this one is a quotation from our

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

I had said, “Alexa, play a YouTube video”.

The Show usually includes YouTube videos in its “display roulette” (the statements which appear every few seconds on the screen when you have asked it to do something). Do I watch those? Sure, I have: a dog with a fidget spinner on its nose? Yes, please. 😉

However, a bigger deal is probably recipes. I’ve read that one of the main places that people use Echo Shows is in the kitchen, and I assume that’s for something like, “Alexa, show me a how to souffle video”.

Google and Amazon do get along sometimes. 😉 The thing that’s a bit scary in this case is that the issue may be over ads. Google’s business is largely based on advertising, and we aren’t seeing those sorts of ads on the Echo Show. If it’s a choice of ads versus no YouTube videos, I’ll go with no YouTube videos on the Show. Not that I generally object to ads (I have them on all my Amazon devices when available…I’m willing to have advertisers subsidize my purchase price, and I sometimes like the ads)…but on the Show in particular, time matters to me. Every video I’ve watched on there has been short…probably shorter than most YouTube ads.

Could Amazon ever replace YouTube with their own source? It would be hard, because so many people are invested in YouTube as creators. They might have to build a tool which imports the videos, then set up a structure which pays them more money…and convince them that Amazon was going to invest in market share building. Possible, but I think unlikely…even though Amazon does some things with video now.

Stephen “King Midas”

This year, it’s good to be the King…Stephen King (at AmazonSmile*), that is, and that’s likely to continue for the next couple of years at a minimum. 😉

With movies, TV shows, and books, it can be amazing to think back to the beginning, when it was all happening in one person’s mind, with no guarantee that it would be commercially successful (just like most authors).

Here are some of the 2017 and beyond Stephen King happenings (there are a bunch of shorts listed at IMDb for 2017, but I’m not sure what the distribution is on this):

  • The Dark Tower movie (while the budget was a relatively modest $60m, it has only had a domestic gross of about $50m which is about half of the total…it can be considered to have underperformed expectations)
  • The Mist (TV series)
  • It movie (blowing away expectations…with a low budget of $35m, it has a domestic gross of about $268m at time of writing…and is close to half a billion worldwide. Halloween box office should be great for it, with a possible wider re-release at that time)
  • Netflix has an adaptation of 1922 which is getting good buzz
  • Netflix also has Gerald’s Game
  • Audience has a Mr. Mercedes TV series
  • Book: The Eyes of the Dragon (December 19, 2017)
  • Book: Revival (November 28, 2017)
  • Book (with Richard Chizmar): Gwendy’s Button Box (May 16, 2017)
  • Book (with Owen King): Sleeping Beauties (September 26, 2017)

Beyond 2017:

  • Castle Rock TV series (2018)
  • It: Chapter 2 (2019)
  • CUJO (Canine Unit Joint Operations)
  • The Gingerbread Girl
  • The Talisman
  • Another version of The Stand
  • Apt Pupil
  • The Man Who Loved Flowers

Again, that’s just part of what Stephen King has happening.

It all began with words.

Audible books on Fire TV

Alexa on the

Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation (at AmazonSmile*)

(a device which is likely to get a major refresh soon) can both read your Audible audiobooks and do text-to-speech on your Kindle books.

For audiobooks, try

  • Read [title]
  • Play the book [title]
  • Play the audiobook [title]
  • Resume my book
  • Go forward/back
  • Pause

For Kindle books (where the publisher has not chosen to block text-to-speech access), try

  • Read [title]
  • Read my Kindle book
  • Pause
  • Resume my book
  • Go forward/back

I’m not sure what happens if a book has both an audiobook you own and TTS…I assume it will ask you which you want.

I think some people might have wondered why the recent update I covered in

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

included a screen reader function: this is part of why.

If you don’t have a speech-enabled remote, you can use the free Fire TV app on your phone to talk to Alexa.

Oh, you can also now use Alexa while streaming Amazon Music. Once they get us those rumored Amazon auggies (augmented/virtual reality hardware…that’s my term for them, but I’m hoping it catches on), we will have Alexa everywhere. 🙂

Barnes & Noble lists “This Fall’s Biggest Books”

This Fall’s Biggest Books

from Barnes & Noble is likely to be pretty close to the bestsellers. As a former retail manager (bookstore, gamestore), I can tell you that a large part of your survival depends on your ability to predict what will sell well. You aren’t always right (I overbought a Suzanne Somers book, because the actor was local)…but you’d better be right most of the time.

For the most part, these will be the mainstream, “People Magazine books”…

Have any thoughts on these stories you’d care to share with me and my readers? You can do so by commenting on this post.

My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

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

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

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

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.

Interview with Scott Calvin, author of Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963

September 25, 2017

Interview with Scott Calvin, author of Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963

Q. Thank you for agreeing to this interview! My readers always appreciate it when an author takes the time to share with them their insights and experience.

A. I’m happy to do it!

Q. In your case, I think your background is significant. We’ll get one thing out of the way first: we are siblings. However, I was not involved in the publication of the book and I do not benefit directly financially from the book. You are, by education, an astronomer, a physicist, and a classicist. This book, Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), seems like a significant departure from your previous books (at AmazonSmile*). While it seems to be positioned for use in academia, I believe it could have a much broader appeal. It amounts to placing four short biographies into context, and as such, goes far beyond the focus on science facts and theory. As you note in your introduction, “…writing about history is hard.” Why do this book now?

A. To tell the truth, it wasn’t on my docket of “books I’ll write someday.” At the start of 2016, I had recently announced I was resigning from my position as a professor of physics at Sarah Lawrence College, but I didn’t know what my next position would be. Jeanine Burke of the IOP Concise Physics line of books approached me about writing on a topic of my choice. I discussed it with my fiancée (now wife!) Erin Eisenbarth, who knew of my interest in these physicists and suggested the topic. So it just kind of happened.

Q. One of the things I found particularly interesting was your willingness to challenge a narrative. It would be easy to say that men were prejudiced against women, and felt that they weren’t as capable as a man in their fields. Reading the book, that didn’t seem to be the case to me. Generally, other scientists recognized their abilities and value. In some cases, they clearly thought the women should have more recognition and status. Explicitly stated or not, it was more that the organizations involved had policies that prevented women getting equal treatment and pay. In other words, institutions were bigger impediments than individuals. I would think that institutions would tend to insulate people from the effects of personalities, but they were perhaps more interested in conserving the power they have. How do you see that dynamic of individual relationships versus institutional inertia, in terms of how stereotyping hinders people?

A. And now I’m going to challenge your narrative about my narrative! (grin) I don’t think it’s actually institution versus individual; it’s more science versus career. While there were occasional institutional barriers, those could generally be circumvented with some cleverness and effort on the part of the men in question. Instead, it was common for the men to value the women as scientists, and to promote them vigorously in that role. But those same men would think it was OK to pay the women less than comparable men, or to deny them titles and administrative power. You can see the same sort of thing operating today with movie stars. Men will praise the acting talent and star power of prominent actresses, but still tend to pay them less, and women are still greatly underrepresented in positions of authority such as directors and producers. That’s not so much an institutional problem, in the sense of there being rules or inertia to overcome, as it is a split between how the talents of women are praised and how they are rewarded for it.

Q. Another narrative would be that things have gotten easier for women in science over time, so during the sixty years you cover, it might be expected that we would see your subjects finding fewer barriers: was that the case?

A. That’s a key question! There’s no question that the institutional barriers you asked about in the previous question decreased during this period. For example, in the early 20th century, women were not allowed to be professors in many universities in the US; that had changed by the 60s. But in other ways, things did not get better. The fraction of professional astronomers who were women went down during this period, not up. In 1959, the University of California still thought it was OK to pay Maria Mayer half the salary of her husband, even though they were both full professors.

Q. Something that I found particularly insightful and educational to me had nothing to do with physics. It had to do with how Lise Meitner would have felt herself “safe” in Nazi Germany, despite having a Jewish background. You explained the factors that should have made her secure, and how each of those were removed over time. I really enjoyed the scholarship involved. How does having that background in the book benefit students of physics and/or more general readers, and how did researching that part differ from the types of things you’ve written in the past?

A. I think it’s hard for many of us today to understand how people could go on trying to live normal lives under the Nazis. When we read the famous poem “First They Came” [by Martin Niemöller] in which the author recounts staying silent as the Nazis come after one group after another, we might wonder why it wasn’t obvious at the time that standing by when one group gets persecuted opens you up to the same. But targeting groups was only half of the equation. An individual might think he was safe, not just because he wasn’t part of a group being targeted, but because of groups that were favored: he was a veteran, or a Christian, or famous, or well-connected. That kind of safety is illusory. If you condone, either explicitly or implicitly, exploitation and murder, then you should recognize that you are opening yourself up to exploitation and murder down the line. After the war, Meitner realized that, writing about it repeatedly.

Q. You also spend quite a bit of time considering the motivations of people, sometimes doing an almost “differential diagnosis” by presenting a number of hypotheses and then examining each one. “Did so-and-so do this out of spite, fear, prejudice, strategic calculation…?”, that sort of thing. What was your goal in including that sort of analysis in the book?

A. There are two examples in the book that have outcomes that are broadly similar but in which the motivations of the men are very different. Henry Norris Russell argues Cecilia Payne in to doubting her own conclusion in her dissertation, and years later is widely given credit for her discovery. This is very unfair to Payne, but an examination of the context makes it clear that Russell didn’t set out to steal Payne’s work; instead, he was treating her as a fellow scientist and arguing the scientific case. Even though he turned out to be wrong, I think this was the ethical thing for him to do at the time—it’s only later, when Payne’s contributions were being downplayed by others, that Russell becomes complicit.

Valentine Telegdi, on the other hand, clearly disliked Chien-Shiung Wu, and wanted to prevent her from getting full recognition for her ground-breaking experiment. I’m not sure exactly what mix of motivations were at play there, but Telegdi continually misrepresented Wu’s contributions, and his own, in an effort to muddy the waters.

The result in each case was the same—the women did not end up with all of the credit they deserved for remarkable discoveries. But I do think the motivations and processes matter. Blaming Russell for sabotaging Payne’s work would let off the hook the scientists and historians in later decades who assumed that the discovery was due to Russell because he was the more famous, a mistake we must continually guard against. But not blaming Telegdi for his outsized role in fighting against a Nobel Prize for Wu would let Telegdi off the hook.

So yes, I think trying to understand the motivations, and that they can be different in different cases, is important.

Q. One more thing: my readers are interested in the process of putting a book together. There were great pictures in the book! They ranged from gates honoring a suffragist damaged by male students celebrating a ruling against women having parity with men, to an amateur musical parodying Gilbert and Sullivan that was full of “in jokes” about the Harvard College Observatory. You address both stories in the text. Did finding the pictures lead you to write about the incidents, or did you know about the incidents and then have someone find the pictures? Some pictures are reproduced “with permission”. How was the permission obtained…did your publisher do that?

A. Thanks! I found all of the pictures myself, but for those under copyright permissions were sought by my publisher. There was one case where permission was not granted, and I had to find a substitute.

In most cases, I learned about the incident first, and then I sought out relevant photos. The biggest exception was the Gilbert and Sullivan parody, where I stumbled across the photos early in the process. The modern discussions of Payne and the Harvard Computers rarely mention that remarkable moment, but always mention that the women who comprised the Harvard Computers were sarcastically referred to as “Pickering’s Harem” at the time. In fact, I can find no contemporary evidence for the latter claim; it’s modern writers trying to create a narrative emphasizing the misogyny of the time, either because they want to imply that things have gotten better since then, or because they want to stress misogyny in science in general. But the idea that the men and women of the Harvard College Observatory put on a play which featured a striking inversion of traditional gender roles in science, and performed it in the community—that doesn’t fit well in to those narratives. The misogyny was, and is, real. But the people of the time weren’t blind to it, and did at times push back, and push forward. And so, despite the striking photographs, the play has largely vanished from modern accounts of those scientists.

Q. Finally, is there anything else you’d like to tell people about the book, or your future plans as an author?

A. I do feel conflicted about one aspect of the book, which is worth mentioning here.

The four physicists featured in the book were all remarkable scientists. Lise Meitner, in particular, has long been a scientific hero of mine—in fact, I first learned of her from a biography you gave to me years ago! Maria Mayer became a hero to me when I learned of her work at Sarah Lawrence College, my former institution. And Cecilia Payne and the Harvard Computers have long fascinated me; the episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Cosmos, while it contains many errors, nevertheless brought tears to my eyes. The four are also very different from each other, in personality, in the kinds of science they did, in the kinds of lives they led.

I don’t think of the four as “female physicists,” any more than I think of Einstein as a “Jewish physicist.” I don’t think Meitner or Mayer, at least, would have liked that label much.

And yet I grouped them together in this book because they’re all women, and they’re all prevalent physicists. It allowed me to examine some of the challenges they faced because of their gender, and I’m glad I did, particularly because women in science today still face many of those same challenges. But I hope that by doing so, I haven’t somehow obscured that they were great scientists—I consider Meitner, in particular, to be one of the top physicists of the twentieth century.

For that reason, I’m glad I featured four physicists who were women, and discussed many others along the way. By doing that, I avoid the idea that any one of them stands in for her whole gender; I let them each be individual people, for whom gender is one part of a complex identity.

That’s my hope anyway. I look forward to hearing what readers think!

Q. Thanks again!

A. And thank you—those were thought-provoking questions!


I am doing an Amazon Giveaway for

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Some of my readers, who are also authors and publishers, are interested in what affects the sales of a Kindle store book. That includes interviews in blogs such as this one, and Amazon Giveaways. For that reason, I’m listing the book’s rank just after the giveaway went live and prior to the publication of this interview:

  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,113,972 Paid in Kindle Store
  • #1919 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Science > History & Philosophy
  • #3154 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Science > Physics
  • #6785 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History > Science & Medicine

* 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.

Today’s KDD: “Up to 80% off select Best-of-the-Month Kindle reads”

September 24, 2017

Today’s KDD: “Up to 80% off select Best-of-the-Month Kindle reads”

Today’s

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

has some top-flight authors and interesting titles!

I noticed that I was also really impressed with last Sunday’s KDD. I wonder if that’s not a coincidence: I could see Sunday not being as strong a sales day for the KDD…people may be out of the house more, and perhaps thinking of other things than buying new books.

If they don’t think much about buying books ever, though, there are some “People Magazine titles” here…ones that even a casual reader might know (the Gabourey Sidibe book got a lot of coverage, for example).

As always, you can buy the titles at this discounted price and delay the delivery for the appropriate gift-giving occasion (we’ve already started to buy for the holidays), or print something out so you can give them whenever you want. Also, check the price before you click/tap/eye gaze that Buy button; prices may not apply in your country, or it’s possible it will have moved out of this sale before you see this.

Title include:

  • The Late Show by Michael Connelly | 4.4 out of 5 stars | 2,631 customer reviews | $4.99
  • This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
  • Magpie Murder by Anthony Horowitz
  • Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
  • Theft by Finding by David Sedaris
  • Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
  • Sting-Ray Afternoon by Steve Rushin
  • Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne
  • The Leavers by Lisa Ko
  • Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
  • Love, Africa by Jeffrey Gettleman
  • The Reminders by Val Emmich
  • The Upstarts by Brad Stone (author of The Everything Store, which is about Amazon)
  • All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
  • Nevertheless by Alec Baldwin
  • Caesar’s Last Breath by Sam Kean
  • The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince by Mayte Garcia
  • On the Plus Side by Alison Bliss
  • Down Home Cowboy by Maisey Yates
  • The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell
  • Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
  • The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan
  • Lethal Lies (Blood Brothers #2) by Rebecca Zanetti
  • The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
  • Spoils by Brian Van Reet
  • Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
  • Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s by Jason Turbow

Enjoy!

* 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.

October 2017 Kindle book releases

September 23, 2017

October 2017 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. We have largely returned to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances

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 9,274 titles listed as being released in the USA Kindle Store in October 2017 (that’s 173 fewer than last month, but last month had a jump up of thousands of titles):

October 2017 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 1,274 (190 fewer than last time) are in

Kindle Unlimited (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**.

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month. Amazon doesn’t do these by popularity any more, they do them by featured…and this month, they are back on top, the same the last two months.

Some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are 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!

  • Origin by Dan Brown
  • Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions by Mark Godsey
  • Protect My Heart by Judy Corry (KU)
  • Untangling the Black Web by T.F. Jacobs (KU)
  • The Plumley Inheritance: A Ludovic Travers Mystery (#1 of 5) by Christopher Bush
  • In This Corner of the World Vol. 1 by Fumiyo Kouno
  • Human by Design: From Evolution by Chance to Transformation by Choice by Gregg Braden
  • Wicked Deeds (Krewe of Hunters) by Heather Graham
  • Undead Worlds: A Reanimated Writers Anthology by R. L. Blalock and David A. Simpson (zombie fiction) (KU)
  • The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
  • Dirty Little Promise (Forbidden Desires Book 2) by Kendall Ryan
  • The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Safe House by Traci Hunter Abramson
  • Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life by Lee Martin
  • Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning by Julija Sukys
  • Ruthless King (The Anti-Heroes Collection Book 1) by Meghan March
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul: Humane Heroes, Vol. I (this one is currently priced as free, as was at least one other volume)
  • Valerie’s Home Cooking : More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family by Valerie Bertinelli
  • For Love or Honor by Sarah M. Eden
  • Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter by Scott Adams (author of Dilbert)
  • From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
  • Instrument of the Devil (Tawny Lindholm Thrillers Book 1) by Debbie Burke (KU)
  • Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline by Annalisa C Parent
  • It Just So Happened: A Synchronistic Journey by Nancy Anderson and Kevin Kremer
  • Bloodiest Year: British Soldiers in Northern Ireland, in their Own Words by Ken Wharton
  • Dead Man Talking: A Cozy Paranormal Mystery (The Happily Everlasting Series Book 1) by Jana DeLeon
  • The Monster Hunter Files (Monster Hunters International Book 7) by Larry Correia and Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  • Inside Studio 54 by Mark Fleischman
  • Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future by Edward Struzik

That’s only a small fraction, and just ones that caught my eye. If you have other books being released to the USA Kindle store in October 2017 to suggest for me and my readers, you can do so by commenting on this post. If you are directly connected to the book (the author, the publisher) that’s okay…just identify yourself as such and make your comment in your own words (not as an ad).

Enjoy!

Bonus: want to see one of our dogs do something cute and smart? “Treadmill, Elf!” at YouTube

 

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

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

*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 you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

ogs/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.

 

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

September 21, 2017

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

Our

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

but not our regular

Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation (at AmazonSmile*),

was updated with some great new features this morning!

Update: I forced the system update on our Fire TV tonight, by going to Settings -Device-About-Check for System Update (or Install System Update). It took perhaps ten minutes. This version of the software is 5.2.6.0.

My favorite thing was being able to go into Settings and Accessibility and enabling a screen magnifier. While the controls have a noticeable learning curve, it is wonderful to be able to zoom in on images on the screen.

Here’s what it said was new:

  • Prime Members can watch Thursday Night Football live
  • Enter words and phrases into the system keyboard by speaking them…may make passwords a lot easier, for one thing. I haven’t tried that at time of writing
  • During set-up, it’s possible to “bulk select” from a set of 24 apps
  • Screen magnifier is what I mentioned above…I also think the screen reader capability was new. Why would you use a screen reader on a TV? You can do a lot of things with a Fire TV which are designed to be heard, including music, podcasts, and reading Kindle books. Navigating to those would be hard for someone with a visual challenge

I may add to this post later…I think it’s very interesting that this update, when a new model is almost certainly in the wings…and on the Fire TV comparison chart, it lists being able to do 4K, which I think is a leak for that next model. 🙂 We’ll see soon, I’m sure…

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

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on 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 #162: Amazon’s auggies, should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us?

September 21, 2017

Round up #162: Amazon’s auggies, should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us?

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

Should Amazon buy Toys R Us?

This is just speculation on my part, just kicking around an idea and I’m interested in your thoughts on it.

Toys R Us recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They expect to keep their approximately 1,600 stores open through the holidays (that includes their Babies “R” Us stores).

Bankruptcy certainly doesn’t mean you are going out of business…necessarily. It appears they are massively in debt (I’m seeing five billion dollar figures).

Many articles cite Amazon as a major reason for their troubles…that got me thinking. Should Amazon just buy Toys “R” Us?

They recently bought Whole Foods, and that was expensive, of course. I’ve been saying that I think one of the reasons is for the physical locations…that they may start using them as staging areas for non-Whole Foods sorts of items (like expensive gadgets at the holidays) so they can deliver them more quickly.

Toys “R” Us would give them something like four times the number of locations as Whole Foods did…and in different sorts of neighborhoods. As a former brick-and-mortar retail manager (bookstore, gamestore…), I’ve felt like, certainly in the past decade (TRU is something like seventy years old), the big toy chain has managed their stock pretty well. They move a lot of things on and off the shelves, and even on Black Friday, you don’t tend to see empty shelves or boxes on the floor. My guess is that it would be a good base for an “express fulfillment center”.

Amazon already does a lot with toys (putting out a high-profile list each holiday season, for example), and TRU is a nostalgia brand which did adapt as times changed. It’s famous for easy returns (that was part of their success), and even carries books. 🙂

Amazon could make the Toys “R” Us stores function somewhat like their Amazon Books stores: intentionally set up to be “showrooms”. Customers could interact with toys and electronics, and then (most of the time) order them online from Amazon for quick delivery. There would be some stock on hand for “store to trunk” purchasing, but that wouldn’t be the focus.

It feels to me like a good match, but I don’t know the economics of the possible deal…

News on Amazon auggies supposedly leaks

I’ve been waiting for this!

Regular readers have probably been a bit bored 😉 by my speculating that Amazon was going to get into VAM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality) in a significant way this year. I’ve been careful not to limit that to any sort of idea of Amazon creating VAM hardware. I would count it as a “hit” if they just added a Prime Video app to the Samsung Gear/Oculus store. (I’m in VAM pretty often, and the main thing I do there is watch Hulu or Netflix…that’s where I think the real disruption is right away, with expensive big screen TVs).

However, Augmented Reality (much more than Virtual Reality…with AR, you still see the world around you with overlays…with VR, your reality is “replaced”) is, I believe, about to become a common part of many people’s lives. “Ambient computing” is another revolution people cite, but the two can merge. “Ambient computing” means computing which is always available…you don’t say, “Now I will turn on or log on to a computer”, you just ask a question or interact in some other way.

That’s how the

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

works, for the most part.

You just ask a question to “the air”, and get an answer.

The just announced

Fire HD 10″ with hands-free Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will be a tablet with hands-free Alexa as an option.

Augmented Reality Ambient Computing (ARAC…I just made that up) would be a game changer.

There needs to be a breakthrough in wearability, but basically, it would be able to put images into what you see, and you would be able to interact with it easily.

An initial level would be it overlaying items of your choice, things which wouldn’t interact with the environment, but I think we are past that.

When I use my auggies (that’s my term for VAM enabling hardware) now, it already interacts with the environment. Using an AR app called

StickAR

I can virtually put mustaches, glasses, or full faces on actual people in real time, that will move with their heads.

ACAR would mean that I could ask for something whenever I wanted. For example, as a vegetarian, I could be in a grocery store (maybe an Amazon-owned Whole Foods) and ask it to show me which products on the shelf are vegetarian. Green lines might “appear” around the foods that fit my request.

The next level would be for the artificial intelligence to come more into play, so that it already knew I was a vegetarian and put those green lines on for me (even if I hadn’t thought to ask for them)…but that’s getting ahead of the game.

This widely-cited

Financial Times article by Tim Bradshaw and Leslie Hook

says that Amazon is working on “smart glasses” that would be Alexa-enabled.

The idea, at least, would be to be able to interact with Alexa any time, anywhere.

The article suggests Amazon might have something innovative: bone conduction audio.

What’s that?

Rather than sticking headphones into or over your ears, you “hear” the audio through soundwaves traveling through your bones. Personally, I have a “thing” about having my ears touched…it really creeps me out! I do use earbuds, but I’m always aware of them.

Having a bone conduction device would mean that you could hear what was going on around you easily when you weren’t invoking Alexa…and still hear when you were.

You could do the conduction with a glasses type device…the stems of the glasses would do the conduction.

However, this could be a lot more than that…the lenses (if there are any) could be used to display information to you, as I suggested with the green lines.

There are a lot of interesting rumors out there: a Google Home Echo Dot type device, an Amazon homecam, and we know that there will be standalone auggies (no phone, no computer tether) this year (at least, they are scheduled to be released).

It’s going to be an interesting holiday season! I would bet on more Amazon hardware announcements soon (Fire TV, maybe Kindle EBRs) and service announcemnts…I’m thinking with the next week. However, November 20th is the 10th anniversary of the Kindle…I’m going to put together something for that (and invite you to contribute), so they might tie something really innovative into that anniversary (like the auggies).

Happy birthday…

I’ve been tweeting out “On this date in geeky history” on  my @TMCGTT account, and today (September 20) is George R.R. Martin’s birthday! George R.R. Martin born at TMCGTT.

It’s also the birthday of

Upton Sinclair (at AmazonSmile*)

who I will eventually get into TMCGTT…like many authors who are best known for works which might be assigned in school, Sinclair also write geeky works (including the Gnomobile).

What do you think? Should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us? Would you be interested in Amazon’s auggies…or anybody’s? What would they have to do before you would be willing to try them? Is it your birthday? 🙂 Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on 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.

 

New Amazon device announcements!

September 19, 2017

New Amazon device announcements!

Well, it’s always nice to get one right! 🙂

I said last week:

“We’ve had strong rumors about new Fire TV devices: my guess is we will have the announcement by Tuesday (which is a traditional book announcement day)…”

Here is that Tuesday, and there are announcements!

Okay, okay…they haven’t announced the new Fire TVs at the time I write this, but they did announce in this

press release

they did announce a new

Fire HD 10″ with hands-free Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the day’s not through yet. 😉

I haven’t had time to look at this much yet, but I will later (it’s available for pre-order, releasing October 11). The hands-free Alexa part is new: you can turn on a mode when it is on wi-fi that will let you address it like an Echo (but presumably, it won’t hear you as well, since it won’t have those far-field microphones).

One thing I checked right away was to see if it will have Alexa calling and the drop-in feature like the

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

which would have solved an issue for me when that device wonderfully enabled a sibling to “attend” another sibling’s wedding.

How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding

Interestingly, they talk about how it is great for Skype calls! My guess is that they will enable Alexa calling on it (it’s wi-fi isn’t different from the Echo being able to do calls) before the end of the year.

I have to run, but I can’t go without mentioning the price, which is only $149.99!

Also, there is this:

“Fire HD 10 also includes For You, a new personalized page on the tablet home screen that makes it easy for customers to quickly get back to reading, watching, playing or listening—and to quickly find what’s next. For You learns what a customer loves to do on the tablet, and then presents personalized recommendations across a variety of entertainment categories like books, videos, songs, and apps to help customers get the most out of their tablet. Customers can also quickly access family photos from Prime Photos and see their local weather right from the For You home screen. The new For You page is also now available for customers on previous generation Fire tablets.”

I think we could still get those Fire TV announcements today…or there may be announcements over the next few days, we’ll see.

If you have comments (some of my readers have really insightful comments when new models are released), feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on 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.

%d bloggers like this: