Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category

Ends Saturday: up to $105 in paid apps for free

April 18, 2015

Ends Saturday: up to $105 in paid apps for free

In celebration of spring, Amazon is giving away apps for which you  would normally pay:

Up to $105 in Apps and Games Free (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM (Pacific) on Saturday, April 18th.

There are some with thousands of reviews here…one of the highest rated is

Plants vs. Zombies

with a 4.4 rating out of 5 stars, and 4,188 customer reviews.

Another stand-out is the Oxford Spanish Dictionary, which normally costs $19.99. 4.5 stars, although only six reviews. It looks like it is a pretty sophisticated app. I don’t believe it can be used as the look-up dictionary, but it does let you favorite word, and has a “fuzzy filter”, so you don’t need to spell things correctly. This is a bilingual dictionary, by the way, designed in part for learning.

Other titles:

  • Virtua Tennis Challenge
  • Unmechanical
  • RRDP Pro Client
  • Amazing Alex Premium
  • Osmos HD
  • Pudding Monsters HD
  • Table Top Racing
  • LectureNotes
  • Fun English Course
  • Wolfram Alpha
  • Chess and Mate
  • Adventure Time Game Wizard
  • Songster Guitar Tabs & Chords
  • F18 Carrier Landing II Pro
  • Flightradar 24 Pro
  • MeteoEarth
  • Splashtop Whiteboard
  • Prince of Persia Classic
  • Mobile Doc Scanner
  • TouchDraw

As always, check the price before you hit that Buy button…this may not apply in your country.

Enjoy!

Bonus deal: you know I always like to do something with books, right? :)

Goodreads (owned by Amazon) has a group where publishers/authors can post that they are giving away books:

Free Book Giveaway Goodreads group

Not every book being given away is in the Kindle store, and some of them are a chance to “win” one…there may be only one or two copies available.

However, you are also likely to find ones that are available free for a limited time through the Kindle store.

It’s worth checking, and I may let you know about some of them as well, from time to time.

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

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

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

Amazon’s 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime

February 18, 2015

Amazon’s 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime

Lists of books are popular features.

It’s interesting to me that that is the case.

After all, I doubt I’ve ever seen a list where I didn’t think there were omissions and questionable inclusions.

Perhaps that’s the point.

They spark a reaction, and reactions can mean engagement…and engagement can mean purchasing.

Not all lists are about purchasing, of course, and even an Amazon list of books like the brand new

100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

isn’t about immediate conversion of sales.

In some ways, it’s about Amazon’s positioning as knowledgeable about books…knowledgeable and credible, which are not synonyms. You can be knowledgeable and have no one believe you (ask Cassandra), and you can be credible without having a lot of knowledge on a topic.

When I’ve trained trainers, I’ve even taught the latter…how to be credible.

A few quick notes on that:

  • Use numbers…that always impresses people. For example, if I was teaching an Excel class many years ago, I could be in front of people who thought they knew Excel quite well. I could say (back then), “There are 256 columns in Excel…does anyone know how many rows? 65,536.” That gave me instant credibility…even if it was just a memorized fact. It doesn’t have to be a complicated number: “There were seven castaways on Gilligan’s Island.” That may get people counting to confirm…and when they do, they are impressed with you
  • When in doubt, use big words. That also makes you sound credible…not approachable or relatable, necessarily, but it does help with credibility. :) That’s only true if you use them correctly…well, if somebody knows what the word actually means, that is. I have to reset my reaction when someone uses the word “decimated” (often “absolutely decimated” or “completely decimated”) to indicate a nearly complete reduction. “Decimated” technically means “reduced by one tenth”. If there were 100 soldiers, and you reduced it to ninety, you decimated that group. At least, that’s what it used to mean…my now adult kid who is a linguist has convinced me that it is usage that matters. I still have the emotional reaction, but I can reset it :)
  • Use the jargon. I work with medical folks, and when I can use a word that they use appropriately, it really ups my credibility
  • Speak quickly. Again, this is just when you are establishing credibility, not when you are training a concept. Most people don’t think you can lie at high speeds…that you have to think about what you are saying too much. If you excitedly say something, smashingallthewordstogether, people will think you are being honest. Don’t believe me? Try saying something really slowly and deliberately out loud…it will likely sound even to you like you are lying
  • Be imperfect. Pause, use an “um”, look to the ceiling (up to the left, typically), laugh at yourself for what you just said…those can all make you seem genuine, and not rehearsed

Now, clearly, you can’t just follow techniques to gain credibility…you need to be reacting in the moment and have empathy for what your audience is feeling.

That said, I come across as credible in person…and it can be a problem for me.

I’ve been a boss.

I’ve said to people something like, “Now, I don’t know yet if this is going to happen, so don’t hold me to it, but it’s possible that we are going to xyz.” I’ve then had people telling others we were going to xyz, and saying, “Bufo said so.”

That means I have to be careful about what I say. :)

I was being observed by one of my favorite managers, and in debriefing a class, the manager said at one point, “Then you did that hypnosis thing you do,” and just went on to another point.

I said something like, “Wait, what? What hypnosis thing?”

I realized later that I do use something like “guided imagery”.

Never, by the way, for nefarious reasons!

It’s just as important and difficult (sometimes) to make people believe in something which is true and good for them as it is to make them believe in something which is false and bad for them.

That said, let’s talk about this list. :)

I do like biographies and memoirs, but I like a lot of things. ;)

Here’s the list from Amazon, and whether or not I’ve read them:

  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: no
  • A Long Way Home by Ishmael Beah: yes
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: no
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: no
  • American Caesar by William Manchester: no
  • American Lion by Jon Meacham: no
  • American Prometheus by Kai Bird: no
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle: no
  • American Sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis: no
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt: no
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: yes
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy: no
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain: yes
  • Ball Four by Jim Bouton: no
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright: no
  • Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin: yes
  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: no
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: no
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey: no
  • Cash by Johnny Cash: no
  • Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie: no
  • Chronicles by Bob Dylan: no
  • Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert: no
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose: no
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron: no
  • De Profundis and Other Personal Writings by Oscar Wilde: no
  • Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: no
  • Dorothy Parker by Marion Meade: no
  • Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: no
  • Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp: no
  • Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston: no
  • E-Mc~2 by David Bodanis: no
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: no
  • Endurance by Alfred Lansing: no
  • Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill: no
  • Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller: yes
  • I Am Malala by mlala Yousafzai: no
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: no
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: no
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith: no
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: no
  • Knock Wood by Candice Bergen: no
  • Life by Keith Richards: no
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: no
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: no
  • Mortality by Christopher Hitchens: no
  • My Life in France by Julia Child: no
  • Naked by David Sedaris: no
  • Napoleon by Andrew Roberts: no
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass: no
  • Night by Elie Wiesel: no
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin: no
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac: no
  • Open by Andre Agassi: no
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen: no
  • Personal History by Katharine Graham: no
  • Robert A. Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro: no
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: no
  • Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford: no
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand: no
  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan: no
  • Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov: no
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: no
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman: no
  • Tennessee Williams by John Lahr: no
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone: no
  • The Andy Warhol Diaries by Andy Warhol: no
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein: no
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X: no
  • The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll: no
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: no
  • The Color of Water by James McBride: no
  • The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: no
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: no
  • The Diary of Anais Nin by Anais Nin: no
  • The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Carlos Fuentes: no
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: no
  • The Gulag Archipeligo by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: no
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: no
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans: no
  • The Last Lone Inventor by Evan I. Schwartz: no
  • The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr: no
  • The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara: no
  • The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester: no
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris: no
  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder: no
  • The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer: no
  • The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston: no
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion: no
  • This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff: no
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow: no
  • Touching the Void by Joe Simpson: no
  • Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck: no
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: no
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes: no
  • Updike by Adam Begley: no
  • Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff: no
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham: no
  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang: no
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed: no

Well, I’ve only read five of these, but I have to say, I was very impressed with some of them. The Helen Keller book is amazing. A Long Way Home was devastating, but great. The Mark Twain book was so modern and so clever.

Certainly, though, there are many others I might list which I have read and which in some small way, let me live someone else’s life for a while.

Amazon knows that, and one of the synergies of their having purchased the social reading website Goodreads, is that they can do a curated list like the above and let people contribute to a crowd sourced one…which they have done:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/85102.100_Biographies_Memoirs_to_Read_in_a_Lifetime_Readers_Picks

You can vote on and add titles to that one.

Without at all claiming that they are the best, here are some other biographies/memoirs which come to mind for me:

  • A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell…and indeed, several of the Durrell books (not available for the Kindle)
  • A Job for Superman by Kirk Alyn…Alyn was Superman in the serials, and this book has some great stories! I bought it from Alyn at a science fiction convention, and that may have colored my perception of it. :) Still, I remember some of the stories easily. There was one where Alyn is talking about a scene carrying, I think, Lois Lane out of a burning building down steps. “Action!” Runs down the steps, but they have to reshoot the scene (smoke or something). Another take. Another problem. Another take. Another take. Another take. Eventually, the director says, “Superman, you’re slowing down.” Alyn explains that the actor is heavy, and the director says something like, “Actor? You’re supposed to be carrying a dummy!” That was part of the perception of Alyn on set as being Superman. Two more. :) Superman is animated flying, but they are standing around (very common on a set). Alyn asks what is happening, and they say they are trying to figure out how Superman is going to take off. Alyn, who was a ballet dancer, says, “I can jump over the camera.” Well, this is a tall camera! They don’t believe their star, but Alyn does it. Alyn points out, amused, that Superman takes off from a ballet position. ;) The last one was when They did have to do a close up of Superman flying. What they did was build a chest plate with wires, and Alyn would lay in it with legs (and hips) held straight out. That’s right…the plate didn’t get to Alyn’s hips! Picture doing that for a minute or more while they did the shot. Better, lie down on a table with your hips off the edge and try it…
  • Books by John A. Keel and Hans Holzer…very different people, very different writing style, sort of connected both writing about “paranormal” things. They are both field investigators and both bring you a feel for what it is like being there
  • Philip Jose Farmer’s “mythographies” of Doc Savage (Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (at AmazonSmile*)) and Tarzan

I could keep going. :)

One last thing, so those of you with Kindle Unlimited can read biographies and memoirs at no additional cost as part of your membership:

Kindle Unlimited Biographies & Memoirs sorted by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Don’t have Kindle Unlimited yet? It’s worthy of consideration, in my opinion:

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

What do you think? What are your favorite biographies and memoirs? I know people who say they don’t like to read non-fiction…what books do you think would convince them? These sorts of books also fit into Common Core…does this show the value of that program? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: pre-pay for three months of Sling TV ($20 a month) and get a Fire TV Stick for free, or $50 off a Fire TV!

Sling TV and Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s the “cable cutting” way to get some TV networks at a cheaper price than paying for a full cable package.

Don’t want Sling TV? The Fire TV is also $15 off at time of writing, making it $84 instead of $99.

I use a Fire TV every day, and a Fire TV Stick some days.

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

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

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

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

Limited time: Free App of the Day “Bundle”

February 14, 2015

Limited time: Free App of the Day “Bundle”

Amazon’s doing another one of their Free App of the Day “bundles”. I put the “bundle” in quotation marks because it isn’t really a bundle…that would mean you could get all of them with one click or tap, and you have to click or tap each one you want.

As usual, there are some good ones here!

Free App of the Day bundle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This is likely to around only a day or two, so if you want any of them, don’t hesitate too long. Remember that with apps, you can also buy them and have them go straight to your Cloud…you don’t need to put them on a device until (and if) you want to use them. I’m going to list the list prices, just so you know how much you are saving, but these are all free (at time of writing in the USA):

  • OfficeSuite Professional 8 (this has been my Office app of choice…I can use it to read and do light editing of Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. I use this for work in addition to home) | 4.0 stars out of 5 | 2,622 customer reviews | list price: $19.99
  • Battery HD Pro 4.8 stars | 1,008 reviews | $3.91
  • Relax Melodies Premium 4.7 stars | 2,454 reviews | $2.99
  • Trivia Crack (Ad Free) | 4.4 stars | 893 reviews | $2.99
  • Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | 4.5 stars | 75 reviews | $29.99
  • Cut the Rope: Experiments | 4.3 stars | 601 reviews | $-.99
  • 80 Days | 3.7 stars | 61 reviews | $5
  • Sleep as Android Unlock | 4.3 stars | 26 reviews | $4.45
  • Sorcery 2 | 4.6 stars | 30 reviews | $5
  • Doodle Jump | 4.4 stars | 226 reviews | $0.99
  • Shazam Encore | 3.4 stars | 451 reviews | $4.99
  • Runtastic PRO GPS | 3.2 stars | 158 reviews | $4.99
  • Guitar PRO | 3.2 stars | 21 reviews | $6.59
  • DoggCatcher Podcast Player | 3.9 stars | 54 reviews | $2.99
  • Listure | 3.5 stars | 11 reviews | $1.99
  • MeteoEarth | 2.9 stars | 17 reviews | $4.99
  • Pocket Yoga | 4.1 stars | 158 reviews | $2.99
  • Food Substitutes | 4.2 stars | 32 reviews | $0.99
  • Caveman Feast | 4.5 stars | 20 reviews | $2.99
  • Buy Me a Pie Grocery List Pro| 4.2 stars | 8 reviews | $2.99
  • A Scientific and Financial RPN Calculator | 3.9 stars | 113 reviews | $2.30
  • Back to Bed (I’ve played this one on our Fire TV) | 3.0 stars | 198 reviews | $4.00
  • Stellarium Mobile Sky Map | 4.1 stars | 364 reviews | $2.58
  • Glow Hockey 2 Pro | 4.1 stars | 364 reviews | $0.99
  • Ski Safari: Adventure Time | 3.5 stars | 166 reviews | $0.99
  • Sworkit Pro – Personal Trainer | 4.4 stars | 282 reviews | $0.99
  • Tunable | 3.8 stars | 86 reviews | $1.95
  • Hidden Object: Be My Valentine | 3.9 stars | 16 reviews | $1.99
  • Speed Reading Trainer | 4.1 stars | 96 reviews | $1.99
  • Travel Interpreter | 3.7 stars | 122 reviews | $9.99
  • Smooth Sync for Cloud Calendar | 4.6 stars | 31 reviews | $2.65
  • Monsters Ate My Condo | 3.9 stars | 91 reviews | $0.99 (from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim)
  • Simple Camera | 3.8 stars | 32 reviews | $0.99
  • Delicious: Emily’s True Love | 4.0 stars | 4 reviews | $4.99
  • Smart RAM Booster | 3.5 stars | 169 reviews | $2.58
  • mSecure Password Manager and Secure Digital Wallet | 3.7 stars | 307 reviews | $9.99
  • Bag It! | 4.5 stars | 1,375 reviews | $1.99

Remember, I’ve only listed the prices for comparison’s sake…these are all free while the sale is on. Note: check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…the price may not apply in your country, or the sale might have ended.

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

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

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

Dr. Seuss apps half off…plus Amazon Coins

January 25, 2015

Dr. Seuss apps half off…plus Amazon Coins

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

I mean that sincerely.

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

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

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

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

The classic

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

is $1.99 instead of $3.99.

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

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

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

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

These are some titles I’m noticing:

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

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

Dr. Seuss Apps (at AmazonSmile*)

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

I don’t know how long this will last.

Enjoy!

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

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

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

40 free apps through Friday

December 24, 2014

40 free apps through Friday

They’re here!

As I mentioned recently in this post:

Big Kindle book sale coming December 25th

Amazon is doing a lot of digital content deals in the next few days.

That will include a big Kindle book sale starting tomorrow, but their free app deal starts today:

Free App of the Day Bundle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Now, I’ve tried to learn from our (now adult) kid, who is a linguist, that as long as people are getting the message across, language isn’t “wrong”. It’s made me more tolerant of misplaced apostrophes and such.

In this case, though, I do think it’s confusing to call this a “bundle”.

It seems to me that by definition, a bundle is a group of objects joined together into a single object, while still maintaining their individual existences.

Take a bunch of sticks and tie them together with string. You can pick that up as if it is one thing: it’s a bundle of sticks. If you still have to pick up each stick one at a time, it isn’t a bundle…it’s still a bunch of sticks. :)

You can’t “pick up” these games and apps with one click or tap: you have to order each one separately.

Of course, that might be a good thing. You don’t necessarily want all forty of them, and you might want some of them on one device and some of them on another.

Also, in my case, we already have several…so that might be confusing if it was truly a bundle.

Regardless, there are some interesting titles here. If somebody in your family is getting a Fire tablet or a Fire phone as a gift, these could certainly enhance its value. Update: some of these, like the very popular Terraria (4.4 stars | 2,239 reviews at time of writing) also work on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

They are ones for which you would normally pay, by the way…Amazon also does an FAOTD (Free App of the Day) every day (which would also be one that would normally cost you something**), and there are thousands of free apps beyond that.

In the case of regularly free apps, though, they are often ad-supported…whereas paid apps (even when gotten free like this) generally aren’t.

One disadvantage of ad-supported apps is that many of them need to connect to the internet from time to time to download new ads. That can be a problem if you are somewhere without a wireless connection, you want to play the game or use the app, and it won’t launch.

That shouldn’t be the case with the apps in this collection.

Here’s a list:

  • Five Nights at Freddys
  • Plex
  • Terrarria
  • Sonc the Hedgehog 2
  • Farming Simulator 4
  • My Alarm Clock
  • Angry Birds Space (they have it twice…I think one is HD, one isn’t, as far as their designators go)
  • Construction Simulator
  • Fleksy Keyboard
  • Wolfram/Alpha
  • Worms 3
  • Tetris
  • Age of Zombies: Season 2
  • Photo Transfer App
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro
  • Root Explorer
  • To-Fu Fury
  • Ultimate Guitar Tabs
  • iReal Pro- Music Book & Play Along
  • Tunein Radio Pro
  • PicShop – Photo Editor
  • Mirroring 360
  • djay 2
  • Just 6 Weeks
  • Quell Reflect
  • Splashtop Remote Desktop
  • Calculator Pro
  • Jump Desktop
  • InstaWeather Pro
  • Color Splash FX
  • Cogs
  • ElectroDroid Pro
  • Insta Place
  • Anomaly Warzone
  • Paper Train Reloaded
  • The Muscular System Manual

I tend to get all the free apps, and just store them in the Cloud (that’s an option). That way, if a guest ever wants to use one, they can. :)

Enjoy!

Bonus deal: I don’t like to do something which is just apps…this blog is more book focused, especially for a lot of our readers. I did do an app only yesterday, but that was a quickie so people could get a freebie before it disappeared. I’m also reposting A Kindle Carol today (and yesterday and tomorrow), so that’s something bookish. ;) Since we’re talking about free apps, I’ll go with free e-books. This list is updated hourly:

Top 100 Free Kindle eBooks in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

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

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

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 free app is

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – Dr. Seuss (at AmazonSmile*)

That one is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars with 38 reviews, and has several reading modes, including reading it yourself or having it read to you…might be especially nice for a developing reader.

 

Free App of the Day today (Tuesday 12/23): A Charlie Brown Christmas

December 24, 2014

Free App of the Day today (Tuesday 12/23): A Charlie Brown Christmas

Normally $4.99, today’s FAOTD (Free App of the Day) is

A Charlie Brown Christmas (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It has the original voices from the TV special, you can read it, and it has interactive elements…definitely something fun on a new Fire tablet (it works on the Fire Phone, too).

Enjoy!

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

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

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 #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

November 30, 2014

Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

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

Digital Book World: 45 Percent of All Parents Plan to Purchase a New Device for Their Child to Read Ebooks [this holiday season]

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this!

Digital Book World has released their latest survey, and purchasing both of devices on to which to read e-books and e-books themselves appears to be up this year, based on their survey.

DBW Survey Highlights

It’s not unreasonable to question how objective a site called “Digital Book World” would be on this, but it’s worth noting that they partnered with PlayCollective.

According to the summary, 45% of parents (not legal guardians?) of children aged 2 to 13 plan to buy an e-book reading device (an EBR…E-Book Reader or a tablet, but the latter with the intent of reading books) this holiday season.

That’s up from last year by 4%.

I’ll note two other things, and then encourage you to read that summary…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

First, the most popular device for this is a Kindle (they didn’t break down which kind) at 26%.

Second, a full 75% plan to buy e-books for their kids this year, up 2% from last year.

As they say, “our children are the future”. If kids grow up reading e-books, they’ll very likely want to read them as adults.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that p-books (paperbooks) simply disappear…I expect them to stay around, as vinyl records have.

40 free apps of the day today

Finishing up today is a special Black Friday promotion with 40 apps which normally cost something being available for free today:

40 Free Apps of the Day today (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

There are some good choices here, and as usual, I’ve gotten them all. :) I have them delivered only to the Cloud, unless it’s something I want to start using soon. I figure, why not? Our guest who is here, currently using our

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*) (on sale right now for $79, normally $99)

has a lot of choices!

I figure, why not get them? If they are stored in the Cloud, they aren’t taking up any room on our devices unless we choose to use one.

A few highlights of the offerings:

  • Bike Race Pro (normally $0.99): 4.6 out of 5 stars, 2761 customer reviews
  • Mind Games Pro ($4.99): 4.4 stars, 1011 reviews
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD ($2.99): 4.3 stars, 304 reviews
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition for Android ($24.00!) 4.4 stars, 29 reviews
  • Shredder Chess ($7.99): 4.7 stars, 14 reviews…supposedly, it plays chess somewhat like a human, making mistakes appropriate to the level you choose for it
  • Perfectly Clear ($2.99): 3.9 stars, 455 reivews…I’ve used this one to improve pictures I’ve previously taken. I find it works quite well

Price drops from price matching

This weekend (certainly through Cyber Monday), look for big price drops on some popular books…which won’t last.

I recommend (at any time, not this time of year) listing books at

eReaderIQ.com

They will give you a free e-mail notification when a book you specify drops an amount you specify.

I often tell people eReaderIQ is the most valuable resource for Kindleers on the web…this is just one of their free services.

Some drops I’ve noticed this weekend…note that they could change any time. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

  • Field of Prey by John Sanford: dropped to $3.75 from $8.99
  • The Collector by Nora Roberts: dropped to $3.75 from $10.49
  • Skin Game: a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: $3.75 from $11.99

I could keep going!

Hmm…clearly, $3.75 is a price point right now! Here’s a search for books that cost $3.75 in the USA Kindle store right now, sorted by most reviewed:

$3.75 books in the USA Kindle store by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Yep, that did it!

Wow!

Don’t wait on these, and don’t forget that they can make great gifts! You can delay a gift book to be delivered at the date of your choosing, and the recipient does not need a Kindle to read them (there are a lot of free Kindle reading apps). If they already have the book, they can get a gift card for the value instead, so there is really no risk.

Some of the ones I see: The Invention of Wings; Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander); Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King; The Silk Worm (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith…this is the new one)…you want new popular books on sale, time’s a’wastin’! ;)

The Echo is learning

Some people who have gotten the Amazon Echo (no invitation for me yet) seem to be judging it as though it was as good as it was ever going to get. I even saw somebody say that “like most technology”, it was going to be obsolete as soon as you got it.

The Echo (ILMK Echo posts category) is not a self-enclosed device. When you bought a videogame console years ago, and you bought games for it, well, that was about it…no updates, it was what it was. To get a better experience, you would eventually have to buy another machine.

Kindles, on the other hand, are update pretty often (until they are out of the “front list” of current ones being sold, at least). Those are operating system upgrades, and they may bring us new features and better performance.

The Echo, though, can grow in a way different from either of those.

Most of what happens on the Echo happens in the Cloud…not in your house.

Right now, the Echo “hive mind” is learning from what someone is doing with the device.

I’ve seen anecdotal reports already of something not working at first, then reporting it, and then having it work. One example was a band with a quirky spelling to the name (two words smashed together…and I think there was a number in there, too). Two people reported Echo not understanding it…then, it did!

Another example is that, according to the help pages, you ask it for a “Flash Briefing” to get the local weather and the news. Now, apparently, you can get the same thing just by saying, “Alexa, news”.

Oh, “Alexa”, by the way, is the name of a company Amazon bought about 15 years ago. You can currently change the “listening prompt” to “Amazon”, and they are working are more prompts. Eventually, you may be able to choose your own.

My point about this updating that’s happening is that it happens in the Cloud…not on your device.

If you have an Echo, please keep reporting how it works. I’ve been told you can say, “Alexa, that was wrong” to flag the question and response for review.

It also appears to be getting a lot of joke responses as people say things like, “Alexa, beam me up” or “Open the pod bay doors”. My intuition here is those are also being improved regularly.

Essentially, Alexa is what used to be called a “dumb terminal” for the most part. Its music playing hardware  is one thing, but the conversational skills are handled at Amazon…so those can be updated on the hardware you have.

Eventually, there will be newer models with more capabilities, including perhaps faster response times (although it seems pretty fast now), but I wouldn’t worry about yours becoming quickly out of date.

Both my Significant Other and my now adult kid are creeped about by the idea of the Echo, and my kid doesn’t even want to be in the same house as one. :) I said that was going to be inevitable, but hopefully, I get an invitation and get one after this visit is over, so we don’t have that issue. Otherwise, I suppose I can unplug it while my kid is in the house.

My Fire TV Stick is here!

While I was writing this, my

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

arrived! I took a quick break to set it up…that was basically plugging it into the power and the HDMI outlet on our TV (we just bought a new TV today…we had one that was at least ten years old as our main TV. I would have waited until the holidays, but we saw an Element ((that’s a brand I like)) at a great price at Target: under $150 for 32″).

I just had to give it our network password, and it’s downloading the latest updates now!

I’ll write a review of it soon. With our kid here, my writing time has been a bit curtailed (family first), but hopefully, in the next few days.

I want to get this out now, so people don’t miss the $3.75 price on the books and the free apps!

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

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

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

Washington Post free on Kindle Fire

November 21, 2014

Washington Post free on Kindle Fire

When Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) bought the Washington Post, most of the talk was about how that might (presumably negatively) impact the venerable newspaper.

Less discussed (but not entirely absent) was how it might benefit it, and consumers.

Well, Kindle Fire owners can now get the Washington Post on their tablets for free for six months.

You just need to download this app:

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

I’ve been exploring it this morning on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and it seems like an easy yes.

There is no obligation to continue with the subscription.

You don’t need to have any other relationship with the WaPo.

Even if you do decide to continue (and you’ll be asked…it’s not an automatic opt-in), the next six months are $1 (I think for the full six months, not $1 per month). Following that, it would be an opt out to avoid continuing at $3.99 per month.

It’s a carefully thought out app, with easy navigation.

There is a lot of content. This morning, for example, there are

  • Top Stories: 12 stories
  • Around the World: 9 stories
  • Politics & Power: 12 stories
  • Business & Tech: 8 stories
  • Ideas & Controversy: 9 stories
  •  Sports: 15 stories
  • Life & Entertainment: 11 stories

They have a “Most Read & Don’t Miss” category as well, and a section called “Backstory”.

You can also save stories.

I was pleased to see that they had easy sharing options, including (since I have it installed), Flipboard. For example, I flipped a story called “How Disney Turned ‘Frozen’ into a $1B Hit” into my

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

this morning.

If you missed reading a newspaper, or, as may be pretty likely for some people, are curious about what it was like ;) , this is a great opportunity.

However, it’s worth noting that you don’t have the resources you do when reading a Kindle book. You can’t pull up a definition of a word or go to Wikipedia for more detail on it.

I’ve written to them about this next one. No text-to-speech access.

It’s possible in these sorts of apps: I have it in my National Geographic app, for example.

While I don’t want to take away from the time I spend with books, this would be a wonderful option in the car with TTS. I could jump into a particular article with a deeper background than I got from a 24 hour news channel (or the Watchup (at AmazonSmile*) app) and get the benefit of in-depth journalism while driving.

This is currently a Fire tablet exclusive.

However, it’s worth noting that a twenty-week subscription to seven day home delivery of the WaPo is $39.80…so, for about the cost of a year’s worth of it (which would come out to around $100), you could get one of the current generation of (low end) Fire tablets.

I will say, this won’t replace

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

for me as a news source. I like seeing many, many stories with snippet previews, as I do in Flipboard. What I want to know (and I don’t always know I want to know before I see it) is never going to be a solid match for the WaPo…even though I do want to know about most Washington Post covered topics, too.

What do you think? If you’ve tried the app, do you have an opinion? Do you agree with the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon? What would still make the physical experience better for you, if that’s the case? Would this get you to buy a Fire, if you haven’t? If you don’t have a Fire, are you disappointed you can’t get this deal? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks

November 15, 2014

Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks

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

No Active Content for the Voyage?

This question had come up before, but according to this

post in The Digital Reader by Nate Hoffelder

Amazon is not planning to add Active Content for the

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

their flagship model.

Hoffelder reports having been told by Amazon that their “…focus is on building the best purpose-built reading devices.”

I suppose I can understand as a goal, but Active Content is one of those really non-intrusive things. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t. Games have been on the Kindles since the very first one in 2007 (although the games on that one were hidden…I played Minesweeper on mine, though). It’s an interesting decision.

There are over 1,500 customer reviews for

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

in the USA Kindle store, with an average rating of 4.3 stars (out of 5). There have been ten reviews at time of writing in November 2014…and almost all of them were five stars.

It’s currently ranked #2,397 free in the Kindle store…out of 64,497, making it in the top 4% of sellers.

My guess is that this really has more to do with associated expenses (adapting the Amazon published ones for new models, customer service) than it really has to do with what customers say. However, I have had e-mail exchanges with the person listed by Hoffelder, and that person has always seemed nice and knowledgeable to me…so I’m sure there is some evidence for what the rep says.

$80 worth of apps free through Saturday 11/15

While I probably do more reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

than I do anything else (counting text-to-speech as reading…which I do), it certainly isn’t a “purpose-built reading device”.

I’m sure some people would argue that Amazon is turning away from Active Content to encourage people to buy Fires…but I think they’d be happiest if people had both. ;)

For those of you who do use a Fire and want apps, Amazon has a promotion going on through today (Saturday) with $80 worth of apps being given away. They are calling it an

App Toolbox (at AmazonSmile*)

Note that not all of these will work on a Fire tablet (the ones that don’t may work on the Fire Phone, if you are one of the rarities like me who owns one). ;)

Titles include:

  • Office Calculator Pro: 4.4 stars, 172 reviews
  • MathsApp Graphing Calculator: 4.4 stars, 63 reviews
  • EasyTether: 4.3 stars, 861 reviews
  • Open Document Reader: 5.0 stars, 3 reviews
  • Oxford Dictionary of English: 3.5 stars, 8 reviews…normally $24.99

and twelve more.

Amazon and others advocate for Equal Collection Legislation

It’s been a while since I’ve written about this issue, but it’s back in the news.

Congress is considering a bill which would mean that sales tax would be collected on online purchases in a way similar to how it is collected now in brick and mortar stores.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both support the current legislation, along with many other entities.

The

National Retail Federation

has sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, urging passage. Unfortunately, every link on their website to that letter is failing for me…they may be overwhelmed because of the coverage.

Why does this matter now?

If the current bill isn’t passed before the new Congress takes over in January of 2015, it’s dead…and they have to start all over (again).

It might surprise you that Amazon and B&N are on the same side on this.

Amazon has argued for it before. They don’t want there to be lots of different rules about how this happens all over the country: they want one clear sales tax collection policy (not rate, policy) at the national level.

This (and previous bills) bill is not about people owing more taxes, but it would certainly mean that many people pay more.

Check the sales tax category (linked at the end of this post) for more information, but essentially, what happens now is that many people are supposed to pay tax on things they buy on the internet…and they don’t. Every year, my family adds more when we pay our State taxes for those uncollected taxes…it would be far easier if they just collected them at the time of purchase.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to track your in-store purchases yourself to figure out what sales tax you owed?

Amazon has repeatedly said that when they are in situations where sales tax is collected on their purchases, it doesn’t hurt their market share.

I believe that. Oh, that’s not to say that some people might buy very expensive items from Amazon to avoid having sales tax collected. Of course, they might be quite surprised if they ever get audited…not having paid that will not get you invited to the IRS offices for tea. ;) It might get you invited somewhere else less pleasant, though…

According to this

The Hill article by Bernie Becker

Speaker Boehner is blocking the bill, despite some significant bipartisan support.

It’s worth noting that not every state would collect sales tax on e-books anyway (California doesn’t, when they are delivered electronically…at least, that’s how it was last time I looked), but this still could affect Kindleers.

PRH C.E.O. doesn’t like subsers

Generally, I’ve found Random House to be pretty forward thinking…but this

The Bookseller article by Benedicte Page

makes me question that.

C.E.O. (Chief Executive Officer) Tom Weldon of Penguin Random House makes several statements.

One of them has to do with keeping e-book royalty rates the same, but the headline item is really about not believing in subsers (subscription services), like Amazon’s

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

In this short excerpt, Weldon is quoted as saying:

“We are not convinced it is what readers want. ‘Eat everything you can’ isn’t a reader’s mindset. In music or film you might want 10,000 songs or films, but I don’t think you want 10,000 books.”

Well, as someone with something like 10,000 paperbooks on my shelves, I beg to differ. ;)

Certainly, it usually takes longer to read a book than it does to listen to a song or watch a movie, so you might think you need access to fewer…but you still need to make the choices as to which ones to consume.

While I think there is a lot future in curation (people, and perhaps software, picking books that you are likely to like), having a variety is important now.

Let’s say you like 1% of the books that are published each year. 10,000 gives you one to enjoy every three days. That’s a pretty good pace.

I think subsers are a big part (but not the only part) of the book market in the next few years, and I suspect Random House may come on board with it. Weldon didn’t rule it out, although the CEO thought they were more likely to succeed in emerging markets. If they did there, that might encourage them to join in more developed markets.

I recommend the article: see what Weldon has to say about PRH selling directly to consumers…I think what’s said there is wise.

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

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

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

 

Round up #275: why the Echo will succeed…and why it won’t, Amazon’s Best Books of 2014

November 8, 2014

Round up #275: why the Echo will succeed…and why it won’t, Amazon’s Best Books of 2014

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

Amazon’s 2014 Best Books of the Year

Amazon has announced their

2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Kindle Format (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I went right away to look at something that I think most people might not consider: who the publishers were.

I was curious as to whether Amazon was going to stick mostly with traditionally published books (which might give their list more legitimacy in the eyes of the literati), whether they would include books traditionally published by Amazon, and whether Hachette might be downplayed (because of the ongoing contract dispute I refer to as the Hachazon War) and perhaps Simon & Schuster upplayed (since they reached a contract with them).

I wasn’t expecting the Hachette/Simon & Schuster thing, really…presumably these lists take months to compile, and although the Hachazon War has gone on long enough, the S&S agreement is new.

Here is how it breaks down for the top 10:

  1. Penguin Press (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  2. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  3. Doubleday (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  4. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  5. Penguin Press (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  6. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  7. William Morrow (HarperCollins)
  8. Knopf  (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  9. Putnam  (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  10. Knopf  (PRH…Penguin Random House)

No Hachette or indie (independently published) or Amazon tradpubbed book in the top ten…interesting. Certainly PRH publishes a lot more books (I believe I’ve seen that that one publisher is as big as the other four in the Big Five combined), but still, it suggests there is a difference.

Continuing down the list, I noticed two from Amazon’s “Little A” tradpub imprint (#75 and #78), and finally, down at #97, one from Hachette’s Grand Central. I checked: the Grand Central one doesn’t appear to be delayed for delivery right now, and I didn’t see a banner directing me to buy something else. It was $12.99.

The lack of Hachetter representation could be coincidence, of course…and there was one, so it wasn’t a disqualification…

I’m a bit disappointed that we don’t see real indies on here, from what I can tell…although what may happen is the indies get bought up by a tradpub. That’s what happened with

The Martian (at AmazonSmile*)

by Andy Weir, which is also soon to be a major motion picture.

Lists: as always, intriguing and challenge-provoking. ;)

My new favorite video news app

Our

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

hasn’t quite allowed us to totally “cut the cord” yet and give up cable. One of the barriers to that for me has been the 24 hour news channels. I like watching those, and while you can watch CNN on the CNN app, you can only do that if you verify for them that you are paying for CNN with a cable/dish company…at least, that’s how it was last time I looked.

Now, though, I am liking

Watchup (at AmazonSmile*)

which gives me current CNN stories…among other things.

I’ve only started using it, and it will “learn” me over time and as I give it more input.

Right away, though, it does have major news channel coverage (including CNN) of major events…same day, I think. It also has specialized news.

This is something different from others I’ve tried, where you don’t see the mainstream stuff.

The interface is okay…and it will just go from story to story without your intervention, so you can have it on while you are brushing your teeth or working out (or, you know, sometimes I do both at the same time). ;)

You don’t have to set up anything for it to work, but for it to work best, you do a free account…and you vote stories up or down.

I don’t find I have time to vote when I’m watching it on my Fire TV while I’m doing something else…there is only a three second window.

You can, though, pause playback, and get to where you can vote stories up and down.

Overall, this does move us closer to cutting the cord: Sky News, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Univision, euronews, c|net…quite a few.

It’s free, so worth trying on your Fire TV or on your phone. I haven’t been a news watcher on my SmartPhone, but I have found myself having it on in the background at work (with earphones)…you do need to be connected to a network, though, so if you aren’t on wi-fi, be aware of the possible data costs.

Why the Amazon Echo will succeed…and why it won’t

I recently wrote about Amazon’s market-defining new device:

Amazon reinvents…life? Amazon Echo

It’s been really interesting to read intelligent people commenting on it.

Many tech folks (and others) are down on it. They don’t understand why people would pay that amount of money for something they can do on their phones, and they also refer to it as just a sales channel for Amazon. Of course, they are also comparing it to the

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

which clearly didn’t meet Amazon’s expectations…I think I might have bought the only one in North America. ;) Just kidding…but they mention it as a drag on the bottom line during their recent financial call.

I think there is a pretty good chance it defines a new market, and is a success.

They are being much smarter about how they are introducing it than they were with the Fire Phone…really building up demand. Amazon was very clever to introduce it at apparently two prices: $199 for most people, $99 for (invited) Prime members. I’ve seen people say, “I wouldn’t pay $200 for it, but $99 seems like a bargain.” I suspect many of the same people would have said, “I wouldn’t pay $100 for it, but $50 seems like a bargain” if Amazon had set the prices that way. ;)

Prime members are seeing it as saving $100, and feeling pretty special about it…both of those are good things. After all, if you buy it, you’ve saved the cost of your Prime membership for that year, right? ;)

Techies think nothing of whipping out their phones at home to ask a question. For a lot of people, there is a considerable amount of friction in doing that. Some folks actually have their phones turned off at home, charging. Some people are intimidated by their phones, not enamored of them. Having this “always on” device in your house will feel very different to them.

For it to be a success, it needs to do two things:

  • It has to be the simplest interface to the internet and shopping ever. It has to be much simpler than that phone. It has to understand us, and give us the answers we want
  • It has to integrate with things, so it doesn’t become just an isolated disembodied voice. It will work with music, but it needs to quickly work with TV (through the Fire TV and Fire TV stick, I would guess), and other items…maybe your car. “Alexa, ,turn on the car and warm it up…baby, it’s cold outside!” “Alexa, make me some coffee.” All of that is entirely possible

I think those sorts of things will happen, although there does have to be a virtuous circle of market penetration and attractive features…the more people who use it, the more will be made available for it to do…the more it is able to do, the more people will use it.

Why might it fail?

  • It doesn’t understand us well enough and doesn’t do enough…those are both “ifs”
  • People are concerned about the privacy…I doubt that will be the case. I don’t think most people worry about that that much. Sure, hypothetically, the NSA could hack into it and listen to all your conversations, but this isn’t the only or most likely channel for that
  • Somebody else introduces something cheaper and better…again, I don’t think that will happen quickly. I think it will define a market and there will be competitors, but I think the Echo will dominate
  • It’s just too expensive…it wouldn’t surprise me if it costs $50 three years from now. Producers paying Amazon for referrals through Echo will subsidize the price, driving it down. Amazon doesn’t need to make money from consumers if it can make money from producers by becoming the new infrastructure…I think that’s their real golden path

That new KFHDX update

I manually updated my Kindle Fire HDX to the update which I told you about yesterday:

Profiles are here for the KFHDX

The look of everything is much better. They’ve done something which has really enhanced the crispness, and they’ve made the visual interface items cleaner.

I realized today that I can set up another Amazon account with another e-mail address of my own, so I’ll test that out for you.

They took away the “modern art” clock they had, which I did enjoy. I literally use my KFHDX as my nightstand clock, and I miss having those two growing circles (one for hours, one for minutes). Also, the time moves around the screen, which is weird.

The Carousel now has a lot fewer items on it…it does seem to be growing as I use it, and I know a lot of people complained about having hundreds of items on it.

I now have text-to-speech for National Geographic! That might have been there before, but I’m not positive.

Overall, I’m liking the update…have to play around with the profiles.

What do you think? What do you think were the best books of 2014? Were there indies that stood out to you? If you are using Goodreads (now owned by Amazon), I think you can go back and check which ones you read this year. Will the Echo succeed or fail…or be somewhere in-between? Will, perhaps, the Echo rescue the Fire Phone, if it gets a great interface with it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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


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