Archive for October, 2017

The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring

October 29, 2017

The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring

I’m glad I hadn’t written about this yet!

I got the new version of the Fire TV:

Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote (New Pendant Form Factor) | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There were a couple of things I liked about it right away. It’s my favorite packaging probably since the first Kindle. 🙂 I know that’s a little thing, but the package was cool:

I like the way the actual device hangs behind the TV. Our TV isn’t mounted on the wall, but it is an inexpensive flat screen style, and the device is not deeper than the electronics on the back. It does need to be plugged into power, but so does the TV…if you can mask the TV power cord (you might have an outlet directly behind the TV, you should be able to hide the Fire TV power cord.

One reason I was excited to get it is that, since Hulu recently updated their app, it’s been crashing…a lot. We’ll be watching a show, and it just goes back to home…probably at least once an hour. The FTV3 does seem to have fixed that issue: it is more powerful.

This may be subjective, but the image does look sharper to me.

Set up was okay. It did still ask me for my wi-fi password (although that’s supposedly stored at Amazon for me now), and I did need to sign into apps (even though they said they were working on “single sign-on” for a number of apps).

It suggested some popular streaming apps, which included Hulu…but not Netflix. No problem, I installed that, too.

It still had one issue for me: if I voice search for a TV show and it finds it, say, in Hulu, it will start watching it at season 1 episode 1…even if I’ve already seen a bunch of episodes. That’s a wash with how it was before, so that’s fine.

It also, amusingly, still tells me that Hulu has live programming…but it rhymes “live” with “give”, not “five”. In also pronounced CNNGO as “See-Enn-Enn-Gee-Oh” instead of “See-Enn-Enn-Go”…and CNNGO was its name, oh! 😉

The first day, it seemed like it had fixed a major problem, and other things were pretty much status quo, until…

Our now adult kid took pictures at a Halloween event yesterday, and posted them to Facebook. My Significant Other isn’t on Facebook (I’m only on it for this sort of thing), so we got all set to do what I usually do: open Facebook on my Galaxy S7 and mirror it to the Fire TV.

“Mirroring” means that whatever is on my phone’s screen appears (wirelessly) on the Fire TV’s screen.

I use that quite often…not just for pictures, but for websites and apps on my phone which don’t have Fire TV apps.

Amazon really promoted it with the first gen Fire TV, and it’s been present on subsequent gens/devices (the FTV2, the Fire TV Stick)…until now.

I went to where it normally was in Settings, and it wasn’t there.

I looked around for it (with my SO waiting to see the pictures), and couldn’t find it…so I want to Amazon Help:

Use Display Mirroring on Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

It was explicit:

“Fire TV (3rd Generation) does not support display mirroring.”

That was a disappointment! Maybe they had to take some necessary component out to make the device smaller, but that seems unlikely to me.

I went to the device’s Amazon product page…and I couldn’t help but notice right away the low ratings average: 2.6 stars out of 5 with 282 customer reviews at time of writing, and the plurality (38%) were one-star. I think that’s the lowest I’ve seen for an Amazon device, at least with that many reviews.

One of the reviews mentioning having mirrored on it…it seemed like that might have been with an app, so I checked the apps.

Nothing had good reviews, and most casting apps seemed to be for iOS (I have an Android). Most also weren’t free, and at least one was pretty expensive. I’ll look into it more…

If it can be done through a third-party app, it probably wasn’t a hardware reason. I noticed that the Alexa-enabled TV also doesn’t mirror. Why would Amazon make that change? On the TV, that would actually disqualify us from using them at work, since we mirror to TVs for presentations some times.

  • Do they think people don’t want to mirror? Seems unlikely
  • Do they not want people to mirror, in order to channel (so to speak) what they watch? Maybe, but that feels conspiratorial to me, especially since they allow direct competitors like Netflix and Hulu
  • Do they think there’s some other way to do it, like when Apple eliminated the headphone jack? If so, I don’t know what it is…at least, something that isn’t a direct competitor
  • Could it be that they don’t want you to mirror because they want to track what you are watching? That one seems possible. If you watch something on Hulu or Netflix on a Fire TV, the device presumably knows what you watched (it fetched it, after all), although I suppose the app itself could wall off that information. When you mirror, it seems unlikely to me that the receiver knows what you sent.

If I had realized ahead of time it wouldn’t have mirroring, I would have been more reluctant to get it. I’m not going to return it: having Hulu not crash is worth quite a bit. I may actually run them both: we’d watch the the FTV3 most of the time, and have the FTV2 for mirroring.

What do you think? Do you ever mirror to a screen? Do you mirror for pleasure, for work, or for both? Do you know of a free FTV3 compatible casting app you’d recommend? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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.

 

 

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Groups, Scenes, and Routines now available in Alexa

October 29, 2017

Groups, Scenes, and Routines now available in Alexa

I love that Amazon keeps giving us new features for free…but I still think they could explain them better. It may be that they are going to do a video for this one (they’ve been doing videos a lot lately), and that I’m just ahead of the curve on exploring it (a reader sent me a private e-mail alerting me to their arrival).

When I typed “Routines” into Amazon Help, it took me to the right place, the Alexa page…but then there was nothing there about it. 🙂

I’ve been playing with it for an hour or so, and I do really like what I’ve gotten it to do…I can turn on lights in a given room just by saying, “Alexa, lights on”, and it only affects that room. I don’t have to remember the names of the lights.

Let’s take a look at it:

First, I was doing this in the Alexa app on my phone (a Galaxy S7 Edge, but that shouldn’t really matter with the Alexa app).

There are two places in the menu (accessible from the Home screen, probably in your top left…three horizontal lines, what some people call a “hamburger”) involved with this. One says “Routines” and the other one says “Smart Home”. Even though Routines comes first in the menu, I’m going to Smart Home first, which I think makes the most sense. That might be different if you already have things set up in another Smart Hub.

There are three sections in Smart Home: Devices, Groups, and Scenes.

Devices

I should mention first that we currently control lights in our home with a Wink hub and we have a Harmony hub and remote (but that’s for the TV and those devices). One of the main reasons I use Alexa devices is to control those Smart Devices. I also have a Samsung Smart Hub, but I’ve never configured it.

My Smart Lights did show up on the Devices tab, and there was an option to add a device. There is a Help button (a question mark in a circle) in my top right corner, which is contextual. It gives me help for the tab I’m on now.

Tapping that, it let me connect Smart Home device via skills (I’m already using the Wink skill). You could also connect those devices (at least, Zigbee compatible ones) directly to an

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

I have one on pre-order…estimated to arrive November 3rd to November 7th. Interestingly, sending it to an Amazon Locker seemed to mean it might be later than if I had sent it to our home (which isn’t safe to do). On the other hand, I just needed to order a cable, and it will arrive at the locker faster since it will be delivered on a Sunday.

I’m looking forward to testing out the Echo Plus in the next week or ten days.

Since Alexa already knows all of our Smart Devices, let’s look at

Groups

Here’s the idea of a group: you take one or more devices (usually more than one) and create one name which refers to all of them…sort of like a distribution list for e-mail. If you have five lights in the Family Room, you can create a Family Room group, and then assign those five lights to it.

You then associate one of your Alexa devices with that group. For example, our

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

is in the family room, so I associated the Family Room group with that it.

Note: you can’t have a single device and a Group with the exact same name…I had a light named Family Room, so I couldn’t use the same name for both.

I should also mention that I had previously created groups in the older version of the Alexa app, and those appeared here.

If you tap “Add Group”, you’ll get a choice between “Smart Home Group” and “Amazon Multi-Room Music Group”. The latter is so that you could have the same music (or podcast, or…) playing on several Alexa devices at the same time.

When you tap the “Smart Home Group”, you are given the choice of creating a custom name, or picking some “Common Names” (Backyard, Basement, Bathroom, Den, Dining Room, Downstairs, Hallway, Kitchen, Lounge, Office, or Upstairs). I wonder if the Common Names are actually common, being drawn (perhaps dynamically) from choices Amazon users are entering in Custom Name.

Once you do that, you are then asked to select an Alexa device to associate with that group. Note that you can only associate an Alexa device with a single Group.

Next, you can choose devices to put into that Group and Scenes…I think my Scenes came from my Harmony, but there were some that definitely didn’t (like “IAmBack”).

Once you’ve done that, you save.

Now you can just say, “Alexa, lights on”, and that device will only turn the lights on in its group.

Note that you don’t need to set up an Alexa Device to control the lights (or other devices) physically closest to it.

I do see this as a big improvement. While I like remembering lots of names, my Significant Other doesn’t. It’s easier to just be able to say, “Alexa, lights off”, than “Alexa, turn off the Family Room”.

The Scenes are less clear to me, but in speaking with a relative who uses them in other contexts, the key difference seems to be that a scene can have diverse states: with a Group, you can only turn all of the lights on or off. With a Scene, you could have it turn two lights on and two lights off. I can see the value of that. I haven’t tested it yet, though.

What about Routines (remember, that’s a separate Menu entry)?

This adds a couple of dimensions. One is that you can have it happen either on command or at a certain time.

The other is that it can do some Alexa actions.

The first option shown is

“When this happens”

That is commonly called a “trigger”…it’s what makes an action happen. You can either give it a custom statement you say verbally, or you can pick a time and a recurrence pattern (when it repeats). Your recurrence pattern defaults to Every Day, but you can change it to “Weekdays”, “Weekends”, or select a single specific day.

You could use this for an alarm for work. “At 6:00 AM, turn on my bedroom and family room lights, start the coffee, and give me my Flash Briefing”. You would set that as happening on weekdays (if you work Monday-Friday).

When you choose “Add Action”, your choices are:

  • News (your Flash Briefing)
  • Smart Home (either “Control device or “Turn on scene”)
  • Traffic (Alexa will give you the traffic report)
  • Weather (Alexa will report the weather)

Once you’ve added one, you can tap “Add Action” again to add another.

I can really see the value to this one, too…as one example, we could set the lights and such to come on at a certain time every day when we were on vacation…and set another Routine to turn them off. That would make it seem like we were home.

I will say, I think this is a lot of work for the average person. A hobbyist would do it, but it seems like a lot of steps.

Here are my suggestions for two other ways they could do this which would be easier:

“Match Now”: you would set up your devices the way you want (lights on or off, etc.) then tell Alexa to remember that as a scene.

“Copy Me”: Alexa starts a recorder, then you do actions which it subsequently remembers…like a macro recorder.

All in all, this is a great improvement…but I think most people won’t use it because it will be too hard without them seeing the potential advantages. Amazon should set up some more scenarios, maybe through video.

A few more thoughts:

  • having durations would be a nice improvement for the future…not just turning a light on at 6:00 AM, but turning it on at 6:00 AM for one hour
  • Alexa could suggest saving patterns it detects. If you normally turn on the bedroom light at 6:00 AM, and then turn on the Family Room TV and the Family Room Light twenty minutes later for an hour, and then turn everything off and lock the door, Alexa could suggest saving that as a Routine after you’ve done it a few times in a row
  • The Echo Show (and Echo Spot) could do this gesturally…you flip your index finger up and it turns the light on in that room. That could be great fun, especially if you could use custom gestures! Yeah, yeah, I know…not that finger. 😉 I’m thinking more like “magic hand waves” to do things in your house

Hope that helps! I’ll be interested in hearing what you think! Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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.

 

 

Amazon Q3: they mention e-books, and the stock goes up ;)

October 27, 2017

Amazon Q3: they mention e-books, and the stock goes up 😉

Regular readers know, I don’t claim to have any special expertise in predicting the stock market, and especially in how investors will react to an Amazon financial call. The stock often goes down when Amazon produces results which are very much what I would expect them to do.

Yesterday, Amazon did one of their financial results call (this one for Q3 2017). Sales were up 34%.

They mentioned the growth of subsers (subscription services), specifically mentioning e-books. That means

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

They also mentioned how big

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

was, and how sales were apparently affected by it throughout the month.

However, I went back to my thoughts on the last report:

Amazon’s Q2 2017 Financials: Okay, investors, I get it this time

and they mentioned both of those last time, too!

AWS (Amazon Web Services) was way up, but that’s not anomalous either.

It’s probably because they did better than expected, but it’s always a bit odd to me that investors reward a company because the investors guessed wrong. 😉

The Q&A (Question and Answer) is always the most interesting part to me, and that was true this time, too. I will say that it felt quite relaxed, and the focus was where I, as a customer, would like it to be. It was about subsers, and Whole Foods, and Alexa, and investing in Prime Video (without an intent to add ads to it).

Investors liked it. According to this

CNN Money graph

the stock price went up 8.76% on Thursday. It’s up over 40%(!) overall this year.

I’ll be interested in hear what some of my more stock savvy readers have to say (which they can do by commenting on this post…I welcome comments), but I will say something.

Remember when Amazon was a bookstore that sold individual books to people?

What people see as Amazon’s strengths now really don’t have to do with that…and they are innovations, risks, and expensive investments. Web service, subsers, Whole Foods, and talktech…none of that connects to the kind of bookselling I did when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Amazon brick-and-mortar bookstores, while probably performing largely performing as expected, are not positioned as a profit engine.

That’s one of the thing that gives me confidence in Amazon (knock virtual wood). At least under Jeff Bezos, its success is not dependent on a single product or even a single market. It’s the philosophy of the company that makes it work, and that’s always been true.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


 

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.

Amazon updates quotesharing…and it’s nice!

October 26, 2017

Amazon updates quotesharing…and it’s nice!

I’m a big fan of quotations. For a very short period of time, my book of quotations,

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

was the number one book of quotations in any format at Amazon.

Sharing from Kindle e-books, though, has been…limited. It’s been possible, but you had to connect to your social networks, and you only had a couple of choices.

With the recent updates to the Kindle reading apps, it’s greatly improved!

I want to point out that I tested this on an Android device (a Galaxy s7)…so we don’t have all the fancy sharing which the update to Apple devices has (although those are coming to Android later).

I highlighted a quotation in The Mind Boggles, and I had four color highlight choices, Note, Share, Copy, Search, and Translate as options (for me, the last three were reached by tapping a chevron >).

Tapping Share, I had all these options:

  • Message
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Messenger
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Hangouts
  • Skype

and then by tapping “More”, all the sharing options I normally have on my device. For me, for example, that included Flipboard, Samsung Connect, and many more.

For the second day in a row (I’m not saying I’ll do this every day), I’m tweeting a quotation from The Mind Boggles.

The quotations are more than Twitter’s 140 character limit, but that’s fine. You see the beginning of the quotation, and a link…and it includes the cover of The Mind Boggles. When you tap the link, you see the full quotation, and the beginning of the book. You can “Start Reading” the book…even with no Kindle app installed, people can read a sample of the book! There is also an option to buy the book. Additionally, people can share the book (the information about the book, not the whole contents) with others.

When I tweet, I have the choice of a Direct Message (essentially, a private one-on-one communication) or a public tweet.

When you tweet, you can add more text, a GIF, a picture, and so on. I had 26 characters left.

Oh, and I can dynamically switch accounts! I have two Twitter feeds: one for me, which is where I do most things (@bufocalvin) and one specifically for The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip (@TMCGTT). I’ve been tweeting “On This Date in Geeky History” every day on that one. 🙂

Authors and publishers, I think this is potentially a great way to promote your books! I don’t know what the conversion rate is going to be, but I think it’s an easy way to show the value of your book.

It can also be used for simple social sharing, or to communicate something to a public figure.

It’s worth noting that this is as open as the internet: it’s not limited to

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

members, or Amazon shoppers, or the USA.

For my readers who are Amazon Associates, there wasn’t a way using this tool to include a referrer link, and I don’t think that works from Twitter anyway.

It’s simple, it’s social, it’s low friction…overall, I’m impressed! Well done, Amazon!

Oh, I also just checked it on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX: it’s similar, but without as many options (but I don’t have as many apps). I tried it on my work iPhone 5s (they let us use things like the Kindle app on our work phones)…there were some sharing options, but I suspect it would be smoother on a more recent generation.

What do you think? Have you tried it? Is sharing quotations something you do? Do you ever send a quotation to a public figure? What other apps would you use for sharing…would you e-mail a quotation? Text one? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


* 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.

 

 

Hello, future! So many Amazon announcements!

October 25, 2017

Hello, future! So many Amazon announcements!

Every once in a while, Amazon just has a flurry of press releases, a proliferation of innovation, a multiplication of celebration and exuberation! 😉

Just this week, Amazon has announced a number of updates and new directions.

I’m going to include links to older press releases in my next book, Because of the Kindle. I’m really hoping to get your opinions on that for inclusion:

You can be part of my new book, “Because of the Kindle”

I also looked at

Kindle press releases “through the ages”

back in 2011…but rarely have we seen so many initiatives touted in so short a period of time.

Let’s take a look (I’ll comment on the ones most relevant to this blog):

Monday, 10/23/2017

Your One-Stop Shop for Handcrafted Gifts: Amazon Handmade Launches the Handmade Gift Shop

Amazon’s Fall 2017 Half-Hour Pilot Season Premieres on November 10 on Amazon Prime Video

This certainly has some direct impact on Fire tablet users, among others. Unfortunately, the biggest news around Amazon Video lately has been the number of executives leaving. That, in itself, can be seen as a sign of innovation, or at least, reinvention. We don’t know yet what it will mean in the long run, but Amazon is certainly always willing to make changes.

Tuesday, 10/24/2017

Amazon Announces All-New Kindle App—Easier Than Ever to Read and Connect with Friends

The

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

have been a big part of the Kindleer community for a long time now (the Kindle apps for the iPhone and iPod touch were announced on March 4, 2009). It wouldn’t surprise me if more e-books are read in the apps (if we include tablets, certainly) than on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers).

This update is largely focused on social elements…but only if you have an Apple device (for now). Those features are coming to Android as well.

Amazon is really, really trying to socialize their business…they do quite well with business to business, and with consumers. Nowadays, though, you also need to be part of your customers’ lives even when they aren’t shopping or consuming content. Alexa has done a lot of that: I interact with Amazon devices throughout the day, when I’m not shopping.

I haven’t had time to explore it much yet, but I will say, the recommendations seem much better. they listed Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, and John Brunner books I didn’t know were in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile*)

for example.

This is far from Amazon’s first attempt at socialization; will this be the one that really catches on? We’ll see, but it is always good to see Amazon making an effort.

Amazon Celebrates 10 Years in Arizona; Employs 6,000 People in the Copper State

Amazon Business Launches Business Prime Shipping in the United States and Germany

Basically, this is Amazon Prime in bulk for businesses. It can be a huge savings: Up to 100 users are $1,299 dollars a year…that’s only $12.99 per person, potentially. There is a $499 level for up to 10 people, and $10,099 for more than 100.

I think this is a very smart move, and will really make Amazon an indispensable part of the infrastructure for many mid to large size businesses.

Qualifying businesses can get a thirty-day free trial at

Business Prime Shipping (at AmazonSmile*)

AWS Announces General Availability for Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL

Wednesday, 10/25/2017

Introducing Amazon Key, a New Level of Delivery Convenience for Prime Members

We had buzzing about this…I wrote a short fiction incorporating the idea ten days ago in this post:

Regular Delivery

The actual implementation is quite fascinating!

Amazon Key (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s only available to Amazon Prime members, first off.

You buy a kit which has a SmartLock and a camera. If you are handy (we aren’t) you can install it yourself, or you can schedule free installation.

It’s a lot more robust than just a simple lockbox and key. You can watch deliveries (live or recorded). You can unlock it remotely to let guests enter. “Happiness” is guaranteed.

There are some limitations as to what can be delivered (fifty pound limit, for one).

It’s initially available in these areas (although you can check your zip code on the page:

Eligible for in-home delivery*

Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Houston, TX
Indianapolis, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City, KS
Los Angeles and Orange County, CA
Louisville, KY
Miami, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN
Nashville, TN
Newark, NJ
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, OR
Richmond, VA
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Francisco Bay area, CA
Sarasota, FL
Seattle and Eastside, WA
St. Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
Washington, DC metro area
*In-home delivery is currently only available in select areas, requires an Amazon Key In-Home Kit, and is exclusive to Prime members.

We definitely want this (we’ve had Amazon items stolen), but it is a lot of money in our current circumstances. We’ll think about it. The Amazon Locker isn’t far away from where we work or live…although this is more convenient, and has those other advantages.

There will be a lot of questions…our now adult kid brought up hackability…but I can’t imagine it’s easier to hack this than to kick in a door (which we’ve had happen…well, we don’t know if it was a kick, but a door on the side of the house was broken to gain entry). Still, this is a big deal! I also wonder if law enforcement and first responders will have access…that could be literally lifesaving, but many might object depending on the parameters.

Introducing Amazon Cloud Cam—An Intelligent Security Camera that Works with Alexa for Only $119.99

This is about buying the Amazon Cloud Cam separately from Amazon Key (it’s included, otherwise).

Well, that’s a lot of future in one week! 🙂 Worth mentioning that it isn’t even 8:00 in the morning yet in Seattle…maybe more to come! I also expect more from Amazon this year…

What do you think? I’m sure I’ll write more about these topics going forward, but feel free to ask/tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.



You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


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.

Last day to enter for a chance to win Beyond Curie: Four Women in Physics and Their Remarkable Discoveries, 1903 to 1963 by Scott Calvin

October 25, 2017

Last day to enter for a chance to win Beyond Curie: Four Women in Physics and Their Remarkable Discoveries, 1903 to 1963 by Scott Calvin

Today (October 25th) is the last day to enter 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

Start: Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT
End: Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

This has been a very popular giveaway for me, with 259 entrants at time of writing!

Your chance will be just as good as anybody else’s…don’t be discouraged by the hundreds of other entrants. 🙂

Full disclosure: Scott is my sibling. However, I had nothing to do with the production of the book and do not directly financially benefit from it.

For more information on the book, see this interview:

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

Good luck!


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.

Kindle 10th Anniversary sale!

October 24, 2017

Kindle 10th Anniversary sale!

We’re getting close to the 10th anniversary of the Kindle on November 19th! Amazon is celebrating with

Kindle 10th Anniversary Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Since we have close to a month to go, my guess is that the deals are going to rotate. One of the best ones there today may not last…it might be to get people hyped for the sale, but I’m just speculating.

That deal is

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile*)

for up to 40% off.

That’s Amazon’s subser (subscription service), where you normally pay $9.99 a month to be able to borrow up to ten books a time. I’ve been a happy member since it started.

  • 12 months for $80.32 (33% off)
  • 24 months for $143.86 (40% off)

It does look to me like it’s the same as we’ve getting on Prime Day…that means that existing subscribers can get the discount, but I’ll confirm that.

That, however, is just the beginning. 🙂

There are two other promotions, both interesting!

Let’s talk about the up to 85% off

top-selling Kindle books (at AmazonSmile*)

There are 100 titles at time of writing…and some great deals!

Titles include

  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt $4.99
  • The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord $1.99
  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles $2.99
  • The Shack by William P. Young $3.99
  • The Radium Girls by Kate Moore $2.99
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch $3.99
  • The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R. Covey $2.99
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling) $3.99
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer $2.99
  • The Martian by Andy Weir $2.99
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley $1.99
  • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy $1.99
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker $1.99
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler $1.99
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck $1.99
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown $1.99
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham $1.99
  • Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnson $1.99
  • I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb $1.99
  • Room by Emma Donoghue $3.99
  • The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm $1.99

Those are just some of them, but I sold several of these titles when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

The last thing is three items that are Kindle travel items…these are fun, branded items: an umbrella; a tote bag; and/or luggage tags, with the “kid under the Kindle tree”.

 

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.

You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!

Kindle Travel Accessories (at AmazonSmile*)

Not too early to be buying gifts!

Enjoy!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


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.

November 2017 Kindle book releases

October 22, 2017

November 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 7,199 titles listed as being released in the USA Kindle Store in November 2017 (that’s 2,075 fewer than last month):

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

Of those, by the way, 1,132 (142 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 as last three 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.

November is also a big month for “brand name authors”. People buy books as gifts, even people who don’t read much themselves. If someone is not very familiar with books, they often want something they can recognize. Some of the very bestsellers of the year will be released in November.

Okay, books!

  • Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian (Fifty Shades of Grey Series) by E L James
  • Lilac Lane (A Chesapeake Shores Novel) by Sherryl Woods
  • The Getaway (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 12) by Jeff Kinney
  • Birds Fly, Why Can’t He?: Rusty Tales Collection by Victoria H Loren (KU)
  • Complicated by Kristen Ashley
  • Unconventional Medicine: Join the Revolution to Reinvent Healthcare, Reverse Chronic Disease, and Create a Practice You Love by Chris Kresser
  • Mastering Stand-Up: The Complete Guide to Becoming a Successful Comedian by Stephen Rosenfield
  • Murder at the Pumpkin Patch Inn by Dick Nithercott
  • Medical Medium Thyroid Healing: The Truth behind Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Insomnia, Hypothyroidism, Thyroid Nodules & Epstein-Barr by Anthony William
  • As Red as Any Blood (Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries Book 6) by Patrice Greenwood
  • Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
  • Every Breath You Take (An Under Suspicion Novel) by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
  • The Midnight Line: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
  • It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A. J. Jacobs
  • The Girl Who Dared to Think 3: The Girl Who Dared to Descend by Bella Forrest (KU)
  • Saving Parker (A Forever Home Novel Book 3) by Dan Walsh (KU)
  • In This Moment: A Novel (The Baxter Family Book 2) by Karen Kingsbury
  • Artemis by Andy Weir
  • A World Without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age by Emmy J. Favilla
  • End Game (Will Robie Series) by David Baldacci
  • Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most by Dr. Daniel G. Amen
  • Television Series of the 1980s: Essential Facts and Quirky Details by Vincent Terrace
  • Answers to Questions You’ve Never Asked: Explaining the What If in Science, Geography and the Absurd by Joseph Pisenti
  • Make Amazon Your Personal Sales Force: How To Pick Categories That Will Sell Your Books Faster (Killing It On Kindle Book 4) by Michael Alvear

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 November 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!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

One week left…and hundreds of people have entered!


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! :) 

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books.

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.

Check your e-mail: you may have an Amazon credit

October 19, 2017

Check your e-mail: you may have an Amazon credit

I got an e-mail today telling me about an Amazon credit…and I was also informed by the Kindle app on my phone.

It’s real (at least there is a real one going out…someone could fake one as well).

This is part of the settlement against Apple…the money is actually coming from Apple, indirectly.

Here’s how you can check:

Amazon’s Apple eBooks Antitrust Settlement page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

So, I guess you don’t really need to check your e-mail. 😉

I’m getting $9.92. How much you get will depend on how much you spent on qualifying books during the right timeframe.

All you have to do is buy qualifying books…the money is automatically applied. The credit expires April 20, 2018.

Might be a good time to get things from your Amazon Wish List…or to start buying gifts for the holidays (which you can delay for the appropriate gift giving occasion, or send to yourself to print out for whenever you want.

Enjoy!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

One week left…and hundreds of people have entered!


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.

Google’s new move: good for readers, bad for Amazon?

October 18, 2017

Google’s new move: good for readers, bad for Amazon?

Amazon and Google don’t exactly walk through the consumer wonderland hand-in-hand. 😉

While Amazon has never been the walled garden some suggest (for example, the e-tailer had the Netflix app in the Appstore and available on their tablets from the beginning, when it directly competes with Prime Video), there’s been a clear division for people who use both companies (as I do).

Amazon tablets can’t use Google Play directly. That’s a real limitation, and my sense is that it is Google’s decision, not Amazon’s.

They compete in music, appstores…and books.

On the latter, I don’t think Google has hurt Amazon much…the percentage of e-books that people own which they purchased from Google (not just found free public domain books) has to be tiny compared with Amazon.

However…

Google has a new search result tool which could make some difference.

I (and apparently others) had missed, or missed the significance of, an announcement from Google about a month ago. I’m grateful to this

Lifehacker article by Nick Douglas

for the heads up.

When you search for a book title on Google, it now tells you which public libraries have the book available near you…and you can borrow it right there (if you have a “library card”). On a mobile device, you tap, “Get book” (then “Borrow ebook”, but you might be able to see the latter without tapping), on a laptop/desktop, you should see the options, probably on your right.

I’ve been testing it out, and it’s clearly inconsistent at this point. It doesn’t happen for lots of books, but that may just be because they’d rather not show negative findings. Still, it apparently only searches Overdrive, which is the predominant e-book server for individuals using public libraries for e-books, but it isn’t the only one.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say postulate that when people search for a book title with Google, they’ll be able to borrow the book from the public library if it’s available.

What would that mean?

Before I speculate, here’s a link you can try:

search for “It Stephen King”

 

First, this does have the potential to hurt sales at Amazon…but only for a particular segment of customers/readers. Traditional publishers (at least some of them) were pretty reluctant to have e-books in public libraries, initially…part of the argument was that the e-books didn’t wear out like p-books (paperbooks) do, so libraries wouldn’t have to replace them as often. There were some strong restrictions, if the books were available at all. This would seem to play into those fears.

That said, my guess would be that most people who are using Google to search for a book are looking for a free one. Not all of them are particular about the books being legal, either. It’s not difficult to scan a p-book and make a PDF out of it, then put it up online. There are a lot of reasons people do that…they aren’t all trying to make money, although some do by having advertising on the site hosting the downloads.

If someone wants to buy an e-book, my bet would be that the vast majority of them go to Amazon (or Barnes & Noble, if they have a Nook), or perhaps iTunes.

It is possible that people search for an e-book and don’t find a free copy, then they push further.

I would think this would affect bestsellers, more than smaller market or older titles. Google searching for a book feels to me (and I freely admit, much of this post is speculation) like it is more likely to be used by a “casual reader” than by a “serious reader” (I define the latter as reading fifty books or more a year).

I think the impact will be small.

Second, Amazon could lose all income from selling e-books…and it wouldn’t make much difference to their bottom line. It’s no longer a big part of t

Right now, the Google search includes buying the book…but not at Amazon. 🙂 Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Kobo all showed for me on the search for “It”. I doubt that pulls that much from Amazon’s sales.

I think it hurts Amazon a small amount, and considerably helps some readers. I usually don’t borrow e-books from the public library. I can afford books to read, including being a happy member of

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

and there is “scarcity” for public library e-books, although a lot of people find that counter-intuitive. A library can’t just copy the file for everybody who wants it; there are legal licensing issues.

That may change for me: I’ve mentioned that we have a life change coming up, and now we have more of a timeline for it. My Significant Other is voluntarily leaving a job, and we aren’t quite sure what will happen after that (we’ve done the math…we’ll be okay). If money got a lot tighter, and there was a book I really wanted to read and the public library was the only way to get it, I don’t have any hesitation or see a negative to it. It’s just not my habit now.

Now, some of you may wonder about how this is different from this

Chrome extension tells you if that Kindle book is in your public library

that I wrote about previously.

When I go to a book’s Amazon product page in Chrome, I automatically see if it’s available at the public library…and yes, that’s similar.

It’s also different, though, because people who are at Amazon are already likely to get books from Amazon. It’s convenient to keep it altogether: if I could have every single payment I ever make for anything go through Amazon, I would. To use the extension, people have to also first install the extension…a much smaller slice than the people who just search with Google.

One more group I want to mention: does this help or hurt authors? Many of my readers are authors, so that’s obviously a concern.

Authors may not get as much for each library borrow as they get for a book sold, but that’s going to depend on contract.

The reason why this helps is that it may replace, to some extent, people getting pirated copies (for which authors get nothing).

I believe that the vast majority of people would rather do something that is legal, and something that would benefit the author, than something that wouldn’t.

If somebody searched for It, and could borrow it easily from the public library or get a PDF from an iffy source, I think they’d go with the library…even though they don’t end up owning the book. Ownership is arguably less important to people than it used to be.

Well, those are my thoughts on this, and there is a lot of speculation and presumption in this piece. What do you think? When would you search for a book with Google as opposed to just going to Amazon? Would you rather own a PDF of uncertain provenance, or borrow an e-book from a library for a couple of weeks? Will this make any real difference to Amazon? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


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.


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