Archive for the ‘Bufo’s Life’ Category

A personal look back at 2017

December 28, 2017

A personal look back at 2017

I will be doing my usual look back at the The Year in E-Books (this will be the ninth) and The Year Ahead for 2018, but I wanted to do something different here.

While I do certainly share my opinions and some of my interests here, and from time to time, talk about my life (Bufo’s Life ), I don’t feel like I say all that much about myself.

That’s on purpose.

I always want this blog to be able to help as many people as it can. I don’t want it to be that people of one particular opinion or another or driven away from it because of disagreements with something that doesn’t have to do with the topic at hand.

I also want it to be a safe place, a place where people are judged not by their inherent characteristics or broadly by their lifestyle choices, but by their thoughts and feelings on a topic. It may be silly, but I feel like if I talk about things like my age or gender, it makes other people feel like they should do the same…which may intimidate some from sharing on topic thoughts.

I should be clear: I don’t do it that way in life, or even in my other most active blog, The Measured Circle. Oh, I still don’t say much personal in TMC, but I do use gender-specific pronouns. 😉

Why am I doing it in this post?

I’m not sure. 🙂

One of my concerns for my “performance” in 2017 is that I haven’t been writing enough narrative in this blog. I’ve been doing the daily “Bookish Birthdays“. That means I am publishing a post a day, which I hadn’t been doing, and I’ve gotten some good feedback on them…but it doesn’t say much outside of the facts.

ILMK had its lowest ranking since I’ve been recording those this year, and I suspect that may be part of it.

I get why it’s attractive to me. It’s similar to the “collector’s instinct”. I like a challenging routine, it feels good to me. Producing a daily post which takes work and judgment gives those “micro-rewards” that make me want to keep doing it. It’s like the joy of alphabetizing; I think I’ve told this story before, but I had a videostore employee approach me after I’d been in the store for maybe 45 minutes moving movies around (slightly). The employee trepidatiously asked me what I was doing, and I explained that I was alphabetizing the movies. “But they’re already alphabetized…” Me: “Oh, the ‘As’ are in the ‘A’ section, but they aren’t alphabetical within the section…I’m fixing that.” (That’s approximate from memory).

I’m currently writing three daily posts…one for work, and they take more than an hour. I sleep a relatively small amount (I’ve checked that with my doctor…seems to be okay), so I do have more time than most people. However, I like to say that “Work expands to fill the available time.”

I do know how to manage time: in fact, I teach others to do it, and I know I’m effective. I train medical people, and I had one case with a doctor who was regularly leaving the clinic a few hours after it closed. Charting (writing down what happened) is essential, and takes time to do properly. Doctors also get a lot of communications about things, both from inside the organization and from the people they see.

I spent about an hour with that doctor talking about time management techniques (there is some overlap with technology, but that’s not all it is).

About three weeks later, that doctor was leaving about an hour after the clinic closed, which is about right. It took three weeks to clean up and to ingrain habits.

However, just because you understand how to do something doesn’t mean that you consistently do it. 🙂 Do you think Steph Curry’s shooting coach is a better shooter than Steph? It’s not necessary to be the best at something, or even particularly good at it, to help others get better.

That’s not to say that I’m bad at it, either. 🙂 I haven’t written a narrative post on this blog in several days, but our adult kid was visiting, and we had a lot of family things to do. I love writing this blog and interacting with you, but family does come first (and my Significant Other and adult child support that).

Speaking of which, let’s do the first revelation…

I’ve mentioned that we have a big lifestyle change coming. My Significant Other is going to retire, starting January 12th. There are certain implications around retirement, so I didn’t want to say that was the change. In this post, though, I will.

We can do it, but it will be very different…and it is purposefully uncertain right now as to details. My SO has been in the same industry for decades, and has worked many twelve hour days. The time had just come.

It will cut our income roughly in half (we make about the same salary, despite doing very different things).

As you can imagine, that’s a challenge.

We did some things to save some money: one was closing out a storage space for which we’d been paying. Those boxes went in the garage for now (which we don’t use as a garage anyway).

I sort of tried to do this earlier this year, and it didn’t happen…but I’m going to use our neighborhood website to organize a “Giveaway Day”. For it to work, it will have to be promoted, in a way similar to our neighborhood garage sale (which is sponsored by a realtor, since it brings people into the neighborhood.

My idea is to have lots of things out on the street where people can just pick them up. Why not sell them? Some items just don’t fit that profile. I don’t know that we’ll get any tax deductions, since organizations probably won’t leave receipts. Also, I’m well aware that professional resellers (garage sales pros, eBay experts) will come by and get the high value items.

We’ll set it up so we have one of our twice a year extra garbage pick ups the next day. I think that will work well.

We also need to cut back on spending: fewer trips, for example. We may not buy as many gadgets, although hypothetically, when I buy a new Amazon gadget and write about it, that can be an investment. When people buy gift cards from the link at the end of this post and then use them at Amazon, that really helps.

We are looking forward to this. I don’t have plans to retire for at least five years: I’ll be the income and the benefits. I also really like what I do. My SO asked me years ago what my retirement plan was, and I said, “I plan to die at work.” That didn’t go over well. 😉 I am now convinced that I will retire at some point…which will mean writing more.

Regardless, that’s a change.

Revelation #2: I’ve mentioned having a chronic condition and walking with a cane, but I haven’t said what it is. I have an arthritic hip, and it’s a deteriorating condition. It simply won’t get better, and function will continue to get worse. When I first got the cane, I had someone ask me if it was for show. It’s obvious now that it isn’t. I have quite the “rolling walk”…my left leg is effectively now quite a bit longer than my right one, and that also continues to increase. When I stand (which I can’t do for very long), I have my left leg bent and my right leg straight.

The obvious question I get is, “Aren’t you going to do a hip replacement?” I have no fear of an operation, and I did meet with an ortho surgeon this year for an evaluation. The interesting thing is that I have no chronic pain with it. It just doesn’t work very well, and I will get acute pain…changing direction suddenly, getting bumped, putting on my sock or getting into the car: those can all cause pain, but I don’t have it just in normal routine. It also doesn’t last long.

I was told that the purpose of the hip replacement is really to relieve pain. It doesn’t fully restore function. When people get a lot of function back, it’s because pain was stopping them from doing things.

It’s also better to wait if you can, apparently, since the hips wear out. Waiting longer might mean fewer surgeries.

When I get my annual check-up in February, I am going to ask about getting a disabled sticker for the car. I haven’t done that before, but my ability to step up on a curb and that sort of thing has gone down. It’s not so much distances; it’s stairs, curbs…places where I need to raise my leg and therefore engage my hip. The special parking places are sometimes the only ones which don’t require a staircase, and they have ramps for wheelchairs.

There have been times I’ve thought that having a wheelchair would be easier…even cool. 🙂 As you can tell, I don’t have a lot of ego about my appearance. A wheelchair would now make me significantly faster when I go those distances. I’m not there yet, but that might be in my future.

My condition has also reduced the amount of aerobic exercise I’m doing (my physical therapist basically banned quite a bit of my daily routine). I had a pretty good weight intake/outgo balance (I had lost about forty pounds ((18kg)) at one point). I’m refinding that, but I’m confident in it. I may have put on ten pounds or so again, but I’ll get that back off, and I’m not gaining out of control.

This coming year, then, I’m likely to see deteriorating health…and more time with my happier SO. Pluses and minuses. 🙂

Okay, have to head to work. I have a lot of writing to do in the next couple of weeks, plus I’m still working on the book, Because of the Kindle. Things will get easier when I’ve “lapped the year” in Bookish Birthdays (I think that’s in September), and when I’ve done “On This Date in Geeky History” for the whole year. Some things I want to get written soon:

  • Popular pre-orders for January
  • The Year in E-Books
  • The Year Ahead
  • My monthly Snapshot on January 1st
  • My annual Snapshot
  • I want to do a summary of “Geeky Good-byes” (and catch up the listings) on the The Measured Circle blog
  • I have maybe another three posts to write for TMC

Oh, wanted to mention: we got two new SmartPhones! We got Galaxy S8s, when they were buy 1 get 1 free. My SO needed a new one (the current phone goes back to work, and we don’t have a landline), and my screen had developed a flaw…and for the first time ever, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen.

Two surprises came with that: I hadn’t realized it had a new power cord connector (meaning I needed adapters for places I have cords), and my Samsung Gear doesn’t work with it. I’m replacing the Gear (I do a lot in VR and some in AR) with the new one…that’s really a holiday gift.

Hope your year was a good one, and next one is better! 🙂


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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The book(store) thief: when people stole from my bookstore

December 17, 2017

The book(store) thief: when people stole from my bookstore

During my morning Flipboard read, in part looking for articles to flip into the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard, I was intrigued by this

ELECTRIC LIT post by Jo Lou

The premise is that the author interviewed indie bookstores (well, presumably, people in them) 😉 about which books were most stolen. The author then says, “…with authority that there are three types of book burglars”.

I’m a former bookstore manager, and for me, the basic premise of the article doesn’t match my experience.

They start out by saying that it wasn’t like stealing gummy bears, and that which books people stole would tell you something about the “literary tastes” of the thief.

This makes a very big presumption that the person stealing is doing it for personal consumption.

While I’ll write about some instances which do suggest that was the case, I’m confident that the vast majority of the book theft in my store (I actually had more than one store…I didn’t own them, I managed them) was for simple resale for cash.

One disclosure first: my managing days were a long time ago. It’s possible that human nature and American economics have completely changed in the intervening years. 😉

So, how can I deduce that people were stealing for resale rather than to read them themselves?

Let me give you two examples of why I think so…you can draw your own conclusions.

Poacher Piles

We would find stacks of expensive (photo books, art books) laying on a shelf…maybe ten of them. I referred to those as “poacher piles” to my team. What would happen is that someone would surreptitiously pile the books up like that…then they would wait until the coast was clear between that shelf and the front door, and then take them and leave.

The books were not really thematically grouped…it was more about being expensive hardbacks.

What could they do with them?

Back then, you could get maybe 25% of the list price for a new, likely to sell hardback, from an unscrupulous used bookstore (which could sell them for 50%). For a $50 book, you could get $12.50. For ten of them, you could get $125…not a bad sort of theft.

We know that some used bookstores bought without checking that the sale had a proper provenance. While I was managing, we were having a major book convention coming to San Francisco (I was just south of there). The local police ran a sting on a used bookstore ahead of time, partially, I would say, to show they were making an effort.

They would sell the bookstore boxes of books…with the shipping labels on them for a different bookstore. Clearly stolen (although this was a sting, again).

As I recall, the owner actually just yelled out in the store: “I need ten copies of the new Stephen King book…somebody want to steal them for me?” Something like that.

Used bookstores were supposed to ID sellers…that one didn’t. Let me be clear, many used bookstores were undoubtedly ethical, but the ones which would buy stolen books weren’t hard to find.

One interesting stratagem which resulted in poacher piles. A person would come in, looking destitute. They would ask something like, “Where are your expensive books?” If a clerk went to help them and show them where they were (we wanted to help everybody), there would be another person in the store…in a three-piece suit. The second person was the actual thief.

The Purloining Professor

We had a regular customer, who we would see every few weeks. This customer was a professor at a local university. It would always be a sale of a variety of books…something which would make sense for a professor to buy (at least, in the popular imagination).

The professor would pay for them: no problem there.

We then saw a news story. The police had caught this same professor at the San Jose Flea Market (a big venue…lots of sellers) selling multiple copies of the same books. Again,  clearly stolen…and clearly being stolen to sell for cash.

How did the professor do it?

We had several stores in the area (I worked for a chain…note that the article interviewed indies, which can be chains, but I again disclose that my store may have been seen as different from a “mom and pop” or fan-owned store). The professor would visit one of them in the morning and buy books. The professor would take the books out of the bag. Then the professor would visit another one of our stores, with the empty bag and the receipt (probably hidden on entry).

The professor would then steal the same books from each of the other stores in the area. If stopped or questioned, the professor had a receipt for those books…hard to argue with that.

Also, it’s important to note: this professor was also a con artist. The “con” in “con artist” is short for “confidence”. We were confident that this was a “good person”…chatted with us, reliably paid us for books. We didn’t have a particular reason to suspect them of crime.

I think it’s hard to argue that those cases tell us very much about the literary tastes of the person stealing. It’s also sort of a business, meaning that they were a disproportionate percentage of the books stolen from us (our goal was 8% “shrinkage”…shoplifting, employee theft, and damage combined…I had heard that at the time, bookstores were the most shoplifted type of store, because of the easy sale).

One case of an attempted theft of something which appeared to me to be for personal use may be instructive here.

I noticed a young person with a magazine under their shirt.

I stopped them, and had them produce it.

It was a magazine with gay sexually explicit images. Very unlikely that was for resale: magazines weren’t worth much in a used bookstore, especially not current issues. The person stealing was terrified, my inference was that if people found out, it could be dangerous. I just had them give it back…I didn’t call the police.

Calling the police, by the way, would have been futile in that case anyway.

A shoplifter had not committed a crime until they left the store with their (actually our) items. That made it quite difficult. We could catch somebody with books under their clothes like this, and all we could do was ask them to put it back. We could tell them they were never welcome in the store again (if they came back, it was trespassing, and we could call the police), but it would have been a real logistical challenge to keep a list like that.

Now, it is different if they brought in tools…that makes it burglary. When the author of the ELECTRIC LIT piece used the term “burglar”, I think that was a loose use of the term. In the case of the Purloining Professor, that was burglary, because the bag is a tool.

Another one that made me think it was probably for personal use?

Someone would come up to the counter to return a book. The new bestseller they bought was actually a different book inside the dust cover. Perhaps it was a $2.99 “remainder” inside a $25 top selling novel dust cover.

What would have likely happened there is that someone swapped the dust covers to buy the bestseller…they perhaps couldn’t afford the new book. We would unknowingly ring up the book as the remainder.

It was also likely that some people stole books for the game of it, not because they couldn’t afford it. My speculation is that they assumed we had insurance that would replace it, so being “clever” wasn’t “hurting anyone”.

All of this is about p-books (paperbooks). In the early days of popular e-books (after the release of the Kindle ten years ago), there was a lot of pirating going on. There still is some, of course, but I don’t think it’s as big as it was (just my intuition). Generally, when those books were made available on the internet, the releaser didn’t charge for them. That might tell us more about what they think is important to make freely available. In some cases, those free books were to entice people to a site where they either saw advertising or paid for other things, but they were often just out there.

In summation, I don’t think which books are being stolen tell us which books the person stealing is reading or likes to read.

One more note: I didn’t use the term “thief” throughout this piece, except in the title (where it is a play on The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak | at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*. I try to be careful not to define people as “things”. A person isn’t a thief…a person is a person who steals. We have that policy at work: we don’t refer to people as “the disabled”, we refer to them as “people with disabilities” (and there may be other terms as well, but they aren’t nouns). Referring to someone as a noun suggests that they just are that thing, and can’t be changed. That’s going to seem ridiculous to some people, but when you define something, you imbue it with a lot of power. It not only has its own characteristics, it gains the characteristics of an entire class.

Bonus deal: what a great Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)! If you are a piece buyer (buying books one at a time, as opposed to having a subscription service, basically), there are really good prices, and great for gifts today. They are “Top fiction reads for $3.99 or less”.  I’ll particularly point out that you can get each of the three books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy for $2.99…under $10 for all three. Yes, you could pay that for a month Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and read them and lots and lots of other books…but we all know people who wouldn’t complete the trilogy in a month.


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.

Rats! Literally…

November 13, 2017

Rats! Literally…

I don’t usually want to do two posts on the same topic in a row, but the other one was really half a post…and I couldn’t resist the headline. 😉

Our internet is now back up at home, after having been down for at least 37 hours (I don’t know exactly when it went out, but it was before 5:00 AM Pacific time on Saturday (and after 3:30, because I was using it then).

It took the tech something like four hours to fix it.

I’m pretty techie myself, so I had done the basic things…and I’m glad that it did turn out to be something I couldn’t have fixed myself. 🙂

It was a combination of things, but the main thing was rat-chewed wires.

Let me be clear: I like rats. 🙂 You know that Michael Jackson,

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

?

You know it’s originally a love song to a rat, right? From the sequel to the horror movie Willard?

I’ve also known pet rats who were intelligent and interested in people.

You also know that the rat is the first year in traditional Chinese astrology because the rat cleverly won the race? Okay, some people would say the rat cheated, but it was still smart and within the stated rules. 😉

However…

That doesn’t mean that rats never cause me problems.

In this case, they had chewed our internet cables.

That created a big signal loss…which apparently set off a red flag for our carrier, which meant (and they were apparently supposed to tell us this first), they put on an “ingress filter”…stopping us from getting internet.

That was apparently necessary to prevent us from “infecting” the neighborhood in some way…we were essentially quarantined.

The tech ended up having to re-wire the whole house, and in a different way than it had been…long story, probably not worth going into here.

It is probably worth giving you some sense as to how much we were impacted by being web blind!

  • Obviously, I couldn’t get on wi-fi. That really impacted my book, on which I had planned to do a lot of work the last two days. That doesn’t mean I won’t make it…but it’s going to be a lot more intense week than it might have been. I’m putting out Because of the Kindle in honor of the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the Kindle on November 19th, 2007
  • We couldn’t make phone calls. We are in a cell dead zone, so our carrier gave us a mini-cell tower for our house, which works great…but runs off our internet router. That was one thing the service representative wasn’t getting very well. I explained that, but more than once, the rep asked me to call when I got home (I went somewhere else to get some work done), which I couldn’t do
  • Alexa didn’t work! That’s just creepy. One nice thing with the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is that it shows an orange (?) band of light at the bottom of the screen when it’s not on the Internet. That was an easy status indicator when I was trying things. Alexa not working also meant that we couldn’t turn lights on and off the way we normally do
  • Our 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*) and Fire TV Stick didn’t work. We do have cable…but we had to change channels one at a time by continually pushing the button the cable box. That’s because we usually use a Harmony remote…I don’t even know where the remote for the cable box is, offhand…actually, that’s not true. I see it now 😉

I could read on my devices, fortunately. Reading a book which already downloaded doesn’t require internet, although some things don’t work (including Wikipedia look up).

So, I definitely have some catching up to do! I quickly did a few things when we were at the dog park on cellular today, and, as I mentioned, I went somewhere else for a couple of hours each day.

Better check my family e-mail first (after this), then I’ve got some writing to do!

Thanks for your patience!


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.

Recently added to my Wish List…but please don’t buy them for me (#1)

October 11, 2017

Recently added to my Wish List…but please don’t buy them for me (#1)

Amazon’s

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

are great ways to let people know what you might want…and to keep track of books (and other things) for other reasons.

Ever since Amazon enabled gifting of e-books back on November 19, 2010 (about three years after announcing the Kindle…and after Barnes & Noble had done it), I’ve put e-books on my “Bufo for the Holidays” list for my family.

Prior to that, my Significant Other always considered it a great victory when they could buy me a book I would like which I didn’t already have. 😉 I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and suffice it to say, I have a lot of books. I also bought books pretty often.

Now, I rarely buy books for myself.

I don’t read less…it’s just that there are so many free books, and we are happy members of

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

Amazon’s subser (subscription service), an “all you can read” service for typically about $10 a month (although I usually am able to buy it on sale on “Prime Day”), that I don’t “piece buy” as many for myself.

For example, I recently finished

The Naturalist (Theo Cray #1) by Andrew Mayne (at AmazonSmile*)

which we got for free as part of

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

and I quite enjoyed. 4.6 out of 5 stars with 2,342 customer reviews at time of writing, I wasn’t the only one. I would say this is the book I’ve most enjoyed so far traditionally published by Amazon…I said to someone it was a bit like The Rosie Project meets Stephanie Plum, although not as cartoony as the latter (not that there is anything wrong with cartoons…or Stephanie Plum). It’s somewhat violent, but not grotesquely so…if you can handle Criminal Minds, you can handle this. I’m looking forward to the second book when it is published next year.

It is currently available through KU, and I would expect that to continue to be the case.

However, even though I don’t buy them for myself, I love hearing and reading about new books! That may happen when I flip articles into the free

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

or on the radio, TV, or in a magazine…or just talking to someone.

I’m excited to have them on my list…and my family is excited to be able to get me something I really want!

They also know that, at least when I put the books on the list, the publishers haven’t blocked text-to-speech access**. My family understands my position on that, but it isn’t always obvious to spot, and this way, they can shop without thinking about it.

They sort of feel like looking at my Wish List is like shopping in the exclusive “Bufo Store”. 😉

So, that’s one reason why I really don’t want you to buy the books for me (even though I know many of you are generous)…I want a nice full “store” for my relatives. 🙂

Recently, I’ve been hearing about some books which I thought would interest my readers (both for themselves and as gifts), and realized an easy way to share that would be to tell you about books I’ve added to my Wish List.

Oh, one thing to note: some of these are more than $10, and some of my readers may draw the line there. Just check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…in addition, these books may not be available in your country (I have readers around the world, which I always think is cool!).

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer (at AmazonSmile*)

As regular readers know, I’m a technoptimist (just compressing the term “techno-optimist”…you know how I like coining neologisms). 😉 I generally think tech is making things better in the world, especially for people of lesser means and those with various challenges. E-books have meant that people in remote areas where delivering p-books is hard have been able to get them (Worldreader.org is a non-profit which does that). People with print challenges have been able to read more easily again.

This book takes the opposite position, from what I can tell…and I love to read opinions which are different from mine, when they are done respectfully (that may not be the case here, based on the product page, but I don’t know). 3.9 stars with 14 customer reviews.

The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human by John Bradshaw (at AmazonSmile*)

I do love non-human animals, pretty much all kinds. Our dogs will soon have an Instagram account (Butterscotch Chaos [and friends]), and I take an inordinate number of pictures of lizards. I’m also very interested in how people and other species interact. This one sounds interesting…

It’s a pre-order for October 31, 2017, and already has 4.4 stars with 11 customer reviews.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence (at AmazonSmile*)

A librarian writing letters to books as though they were people? Yes, please! 4.2 stars, 18 reviews

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton (at AmazonSmile*)

I like “weird stuff”, and have for a very long time. Altas Obscura is a great website which shows you places which are…beyond the norm. That doesn’t mean just paranormal locations, it can be things which are just entertainingly odd. I was hoping to be in VR (Virtual Reality) on my last plane flight with Altas Obscura’s experience (that’s what apps are called in VAM [Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality space]), but I couldn’t get it to run on my Samsung Gear 1st gen. The book won’t have that problem… 4.7 stars, 671 reviews

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin (at AmazonSmile*)

The author of the hit book, The Happiness Project, continues looking at how humans think (and feel). That’s another focus of mine…my “day job” is as a trainer (I do more than that…workflow analysis, too), and it’s really necessary there to understand people. People, even business leadership, often confuse training and education. Education can be part of training, but education is teaching somebody something…training is changing their behavior. I’ve explained it this way: “You haven’t trained a dog to sit if it just knows what the word means”. 😉 Obviously, training people is different from training dogs…being of the same species, even though both are social species, we perceive each other in a very complex way. Anything that can help us understand each other can help us interact with each other. I don’t think any one system will be the answer to that, so reading more systems gives me a broader range of tools and perspectives. 4.7 stars, 86 reviews

Well, those are the five most recently added books to my Wish List! That was fun for me to do, and it’s the first time I’ve done it like this. Let me know if this is something you’d like to see it again (I wouldn’t do it for a while)…I do think one of the things I can do on this blog is to help you with discovery, which is one of the big challenges for readers now, when there are so many options.

What do you think? Were you considering any of these books? Were they new to you? Have you added anything interesting to your Wish List lately? How do you use Amazon Wish Lists? 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!


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! :) 

** 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.

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2017

August 11, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2017

This is one in a series of posts which I write about once a year. I do this primarily to give my readers some ideas they might use to get more out of their devices. I also think it’s interesting to go back and look at the previous ones, to see how much things have changed…last year was more revolutionary, I’d say, because it was the first year with an Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). This year, though, the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) has made a difference. Okay, let’s start a typical weekday in the Life of a Kindleer.

I wake up between about 2:00 and 3:00 AM…sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later (but I haven’t slept past 4:00 AM in years). As I explained last year, it’s not from an alarm or anything, it’s just my habit. I’ve had it checked out medically, and it seems to be fine. Asleep at about 9:00 PM, up at about 2:00 AM…that’s between five and six hours usually. When I wake up, I pick up my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″, which is back to serving as my nightstand clock. I really don’t like how they changed the nightstand clock a while back…the minutes are very small, and the time moves around on the screen. I see really well in the dark (connected, I think, to my color vision deficiency), but I have always awakened a bit slowly…it takes me a while to get processing information. So, making it hard for me to read the clock doesn’t help. 🙂

I also pick up my Galaxy S7, which is also next to the bed…face down. It’s there as a back up. There is an alarm set on it for 5:00 AM, but I never use it…I let it go off, because that’s about when my Significant Other leaves, and on vibrate, it serves as a gentle reminder.

I go in the bathroom and do some wake-up things. On my Fire, I start my morning

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

read. That’s a big part of my morning, not just for myself, but for flipping articles into my free Flipboard magazines, including the  ILMK magazine at Flipboard.

I also use my Galaxy S7 before I come out: I check Twitter (just for notifications, really…I read tweets in Flipboard), I use the amazing Dark Sky weather app (not available through the Amazon Appstore)…remarkably precise and accurate, and worth $2.99 a year, and start checking my local news on the

ABC 7 News San Francisco (at AmazonSmile*)

app. I can also flip from there…many places I go allow me to flip. The ILMK Flipboard magazine has tens of thousands of viewers and is closing in on 50,000 stories. The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard magazine is closing in on 150,000 stories…it has a broader scope.

Before I come out, I turn on the light in the family room with the Wink app. I do often control it with an Echo device, but I don’t want to talk at that point…my Significant Other is still asleep, for one thing. Also, I talk a lot as a trainer during the day, and I know how to take care of my voice. I hum and do vocal warm-ups before I do much talking.

Next, I head out to the family room…and one of the dogs gets off the bed to come with me (I love hearing the dog do the shimmy, then land on the floor). The other dog is already in the family room, and the light coming on helps that one start getting up.

Our

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

is also in a sort of sleep mode, but still displays the time. I think it senses I’m moving around out there and wakes up. 🙂 When I’m not reading during the first part of my exercise routine (I exercise for about 45 minutes before I go to work), I glance at it. I really like what shows up on the display: the first event on my calendar, the weather, but also headlines.

After I’ve fed the dogs, I’m doing that exercise and reading Flipboard on my Kindle Fire.

I get to a point in the exercise where I can’t read (I can’t stand that close to the entertainment unit, where I stand up the Fire in its Amazon Origami cover). That’s when the

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

first comes into play. I watch live CNN on the CNN Go app with Bluetooth headphones.

I will usually finish my exercise and at least start eating breakfast before my SO is due to get up. I have the headset on, and I’m back to the Kindle Fire. If I finish Flipboard, it’s WordPress, Maxthon browser for the

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

and the IMDb app (IMDb is owned by Amazon).

At some point here, it’s gotten to 3:45 AM, when my SO gets up. It is really cute, though. The more intellectual of the two dogs has a “trick” here. When we hear the alarm go off (and this is my SO’s favorite thing), I say, “Wake up call!” I open the door, and the dog (all 14 pounds) leaps on the bed and vigorously licks my SO in the face!

This dog also learned another cool thing recently. We walk our dogs at a giant leash-free dog park in Richmond on the weekends (Point Isabel)…we’ve seen it ranked as one of the top ten dog parks in the world. The other dog, who is more impulsive, may see a favorite treat giver (you get to know the regulars) and take off running…and it could be 50 yards away (by the way, I’m converting to English measurements…I usually use metric). My SO has to chase…I walk with a cane. It’s hard to catch up: so the more intellectual dog learned a trick. We can way, “Cut her off!” (Yes, I am revealing the gender of the dog here, but that’s the command…we also prefer the term “communication” to command, because they are often more of requests). The more intellectual, faster dog runs full tilt, gets in front of the other dog, and turns sideways and stops! It’s like a highway patrol officer cutting off a speeder on the freeway. That sort of “breaks the spell” so my SO can catch up…and maybe carry the other dog back.

I may be still reading, but I may also have some questions for the Echo Show.

Eventually, I go back to the bedroom (I tell the Echo Show to “Trigger turn off the TV”…that uses our Harmony remote with IFTTT to do it)…I do some exercise there, too, and that’s where I get dressed and such. In that room, we have a

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

and our

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

I usually put CNN on in there (using the Fire TV…we don’t even have a cable for that TV). I may ask the Echo Dot for my schedule for the day.

Oh, and at this point, I’m using an Echo device to turn on lights, including in the bedroom, by voice.

I do some more reading while I brush my teeth (which I for about twenty minutes…I’m pretty obsessive on that), but that’s likely to be on a

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

I recently finished We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (at AmazonSmile*)

and am now reading Red Mars by Kim Harrison.

When I’m ready to go out front…and I say, “Alexa, trigger watch regular TV,” and then “Alexa, turn off everything” (which gets the lights and such).

By the time I get out front, the TV is on…the intellectual recognizes those things I say to Alexa (and others as well).

I may get some writing done before I have to leave. When it’s time for me to go, I say again, “Alexa, trigger turn off the TV”, and both dogs know that I’m about to leave.

In the car, I’m listening to books on my Kindle Fire, using text-to-speech through the car’s sound system. I just started a book I got as a Kindle First book…not liking it too much so far.

At work, I use our

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

to listen to music, and sometimes to set alarms.

I could just listen to Prime Music on my computer, but it’s great to be able to tell Alexa to pause…especially because at lunch, I’m exercising while watching video in Virtual Reality. 🙂 I do floor work…about a half an hour. Yes, I exercise quite a bit…it helps with my chronic condition, and keeping the weight off (I lost forty pounds a couple of years ago) is also important for the same reason.

Sometimes at work I use the “drop in” feature in the Alexa app on my Galaxy to look at the dogs. 🙂 They are typically asleep in the same places on the couch.

I may also set timers/alarms there.

Update: I forgot to mention two magazines I read on my Kindle Fire, and that could be on a break at work or at home. One is ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Magazine (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), which I’ve read for many years. The only time I don’t read every word is when it may spoil a movie I intend to see and haven’t yet. I rarely go back to the back issue to read those articles after I’ve seen it, but I have done that. The other one is the marvelous Fortean Times, which I read on the Zinio app, which is available for some SmartPhones through the Amazon Appstore, but not for the Fire tablets. I get the app directly from Zinio. I recently gave a subscription to FT to a sibling: it is probably the most information dense magazine I’ve ever read of any kind. There are some ads (or adverts, as they would say), but not like most magazines, and the writing and research are often superb. You don’t have to be a “believer” in Fortean phenomena to enjoy it. My one quibble: sometimes they are directly quoting Americans, and it gets presented in “British English”. I find it unlikely that an American in Arkansas actually said, “I got off the lift and looked into the car park to see a grey-coloured Bigfoot by my caravan.” 😉 That’s not an actual quotation from the magazine, to be clear, and it is hyperbole to illustrate the point. That is just a tiny issue…FT is a great value, with historical and current events perspective in addition to the “weird world” topics.

On the way home, I listen to the book more.

When I get home, I ask Alexa to “Trigger watch Fire TV”, and “Turn on the family room”.

We typically watch Hulu at night.

I also sight read more before heading to bed…but that’s also usually when I do a lot of writing.

I normally start to bed at 8:00: I’m up a bit later tonight finishing this, since it’s a long post. 🙂

Once I’m actually going to sleep, I read on our

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

I’m still re-reading the original fourteen Oz books.

That’s basically the weekday routine.

At some point on the weekend, I may listen to the excellent

The Kindle Chronicles

Next year, I’m guessing one difference might be me doing stuff in Amazon’s Virtual Reality (I’ve predicted that they do something significant with that this year). 😉

Hope that helps! If you have questions or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

What I’ve been reading lately

February 19, 2017

What I’ve been reading lately

Every once in a while, I like to share with you what I’ve been reading.

I guess the main reason for that is that I hope it’s a form of discovery for you…that you might find something to read based on what I’ve mentioned.

It’s also, though, in a way, deeply personal. You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to read, of course…and while there are elements of my life I don’t share with you, I don’t mind sharing what I think. 😉

I’m only going to count books and magazines…not websites and news apps (although I read a lot there, too).

There are two real ways I read: one is sight-reading, which I’ll do at home (for example, in bed before I go to sleep, but other times too) and at work on breaks, and in transit (when other people are driving/piloting). Oh, and I read when I’m waiting for something…in my job, that does happen from time to time. 🙂

The other one is listening to text-to-speech, software which reads a book out loud to me (unless the publisher has blocked text-to-speech access). I end up driving quite a bit, and I listen to my books as I drive: a real luxury and pleasure!

Let’s get the magazines out of the way first.

There are three magazines I read regularly: one of them is a subscription through the Kindle store, one is from Zinio (a third-party magazine subscription service), and one is (gasp!) in paper.

The Kindle store subscription is

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

I’ve been reading and subscribing to that for a very long time. I used to read it in paper, but switched to digital only back in 2011. I read every word…but if I think something is a spoiler, I’ll wait to read the article until I’ve seen/heard/read the work in question. This didn’t used to be true, but I can go back and read back issues if I want. I usually only keep one issue at a time on my device (I read it on a now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″), since they do take a lot of memory.

Fortean Times is another magazine I’ve been reading for many, many years. I’m always impressed with it: there is a lot of writing, and it’s generally very good! When I read EW, there are a lot of ads…it doesn’t take me that long to read an issue. I’ll have several sessions with one issue of Fortean Times (it covers what I refer to as the “weird world”, although there is often crossover with more mainstream analysis). I also read that on my KFHDX, using the Zinio app which I got from the Zinio website. While there are some Fortean Times books in the Kindle store, they don’t carry the magazine or the Zinio app (in the Amazon Appstore). Again, I read every word.

I do like the experience of reading magazines on a tablet: I tend to make the text easier, but that’s simple to do.

You can read some magazines as part of either

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

or

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

although (this month, at least) not Entertainment Weekly.

The third one is People Magazine, which my SO buys at the grocery store and I get afterwards. 🙂

As to books…

At home, I’ve been reading

Freakonomics (at AmazonSmile*)

for the first time. I love that kind of data analysis, and I’ll admit that I had pretty high expectations. Their math certainly seems solid, but weirdly to me, they make these dogmatic statements about people’s motivations…and provide no data to prove the assertions. Their default position seems to be that people are immoral, or at least will behave in immoral ways (cheating, for example). That’s not my intuition or my experience, so I’d like to see the data that proves it. They can prove what appears to be cheating (such as in sumo wrestling), but I can come up with alternative explanations in terms of motivation.

I’m also re-reading the

The Wonderful Stories of Oz (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

although my version is different from that one (it’s “out of print”). I read part of a chapter before I go to sleep…it’s been handy as I’ve been watching Emerald City (which is running on NBC, but I see it on my Fire TV on Hulu). I’ve started comparing (in depth) the original “famous fourteen” Oz books, Emerald City, and the MGM movie with Judy Garland:

I’ve never really been much of a re-reader, but I am enjoying doing this.

I generally read books I already own (but haven’t read yet), books I borrow from KU, or gifts. Well, it was my birthday about a week ago, and I got three books I really wanted to read. 🙂 One was from my Significant Other, and two were from my now adult kid.

They bought them for me from my Amazon Wish List…which is perfect! I have so many books on there, it’s like shopping in a Bufo Bookstore. 🙂 They are all books I’d like to read, so I was excited to get them.

I’ve already finished

LIZARD MAN: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster by Lyle Blackburn (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s a contemporary investigation of a case from the late 1980s which made national headlines at the time…I remember it. I found it to be reasonably well-written, and it did uncover some interesting information. There were a couple of flaws. I’m going to try to let the author know one of them: twice, a movie is referred to as “The Horror of Beach Party” when the actual title is actually “The Horror of Party Beach”. 🙂 That’s obviously a little thing, but if you are presenting contextual information, I do think it should be fact checked.

I did find it worth reading, and may read others by the author.

I’ve started both of the others. I’m usually reading several books at the same time. One of these has a lot of pictures, so it’s not as suitable for text-to-speech in the car. That one is

Bob Burns’ Monster Kid Memories (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s fun, and has wonderful pictures! Burns is a super fan, like Forry Ackerman, who has quite a memorabilia collection.

The other one, which has been my main in-car text-to-speech book recently, is

The Fourth Transformation by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (at AmazonSmile*)

So far, it’s excellent. I had previously read

Age of Context (at AmazonSmile*)

by those authors, and they have a good track record of predicting where tech and industries are going. This one is about the move to Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality, how businesses can anticipate and utilize the tech, and how long it will take. 🙂 I’ve started writing about that topic myself, and I think business people would find it insightful.

I have also recently spent a trip or two listening to one of my “emergency books”,

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Holzer is amusing and urbane…I listened to that between books, and because I was in the mood. 🙂 I’ll be sad when I finish that book.

Well, there you go! If you have questions about those, or want to share something you are reading with me and my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

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

All aboard our new 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.

Happy my birthday, 2017!

February 12, 2017

Happy my birthday, 2017!

February 12th is my birthday, and continuing a tradition, I’m giving you presents!

This is to thank you for making another year of my life richer. I have a lot of fun writing this blog, and I sometimes get to help people…and what could be better than that?

Part of KDP Select (the program through which users of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing make books available for eligible Prime members to borrow through the KOLL…Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) is the ability to make books free for five days (they need not be consecutive) in a ninety-day period.

Please check that a title is free for you before buying it.

I have asked Amazon to make them free on February 12, but I can’t say exactly when it will happen. I think they may also only be free to customers in the USA.

Some might be fun to give as a little Valentine’s Day present…for somebody on your account. I am updating this post because I suggested you could buy them for other people, but that appears to not be the case when the books are on this 1-day free promotion.

So, you can click on the titles before, but please make sure it is free when you click the 1-click buy button.

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

When this one was first published in December of 2012, it was the number one bestselling book of quotations at Amazon…including paper! That didn’t last long, but it was fun while it did. :)

Love Your First Generation Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet (at AmazonSmile*)

This one has been a bestseller. It was written before the Kindle Fire HDs and HDXs, so it doesn’t match up exactly with those. If you do have the first generation Fire, though, I think you’ll find it useful.

The Kindle Kollection: Three Early Books about the Kindle (at AmazonSmile*)

This one combines the three below into one volume:

* ILMK! (I Love My Kindle): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor
* Free Books for Your Kindle
* Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

ILMK! (I Love My Kindle!): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor (Revised Edition)(at AmazonSmile*)

This has some fun stuff…and other things that are out of date. If you want The Happy Little Bookworm, this one has it. :)

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile*)

This is the first 101 posts in this blog. :) I did 101 posts so I wouldn’t cut off Doctor Watson’s Blog: A Kindle Abandoned (which is a four-part story). I’m still working, off and on, on a “best of” book. I’ll include posts that are less time-dependent…if you have any opinions on ones that you remember, feel free to let me know. I don’t know when that book will happen…as I mentioned last year on

My February 5th interview on The Kindle Chronicles

I’m guessing it might happen before it grows into the best of the first ten years, but we’ll see. 😉 I’m not really actively working on a book right now, although I always have ideas on that. 🙂 This blog is my main focus on writing currently, although I’m also doing quite a bit of writing in The Measured Circle blog, including coverage of Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality. I’m also working on  The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip : there have been some real improvements at The History Project since I started it almost a year ago, and I’m pleased with what’s there (although it is certainly still growing). It hasn’t taken off yet, but I still think it might…maybe this year. Oh, and I do think I have a good idea for an app…I could write the content, but I’d rather sell it to some studio than program and market it myself. If you know someone who does that, they can certainly contact me by commenting (I can keep it private) on this post.

One other thing: if you, or someone you know, would like to make predictions about next week’s Oscar winners, or just see what my group of players is saying, I’ve done BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness…more than two decades old, and last year, we were 90% accurate) a Google form this year to make it simpler:

https://goo.gl/forms/NqSNqNS6Y3ZS4Q232

That’s where I’ve been creatively recently (outside of my “day job”…I do get to do some writing there as well, although that’s not my main job description).

Remember, double-check that the books are free to make sure before buying.

Happy birthday! ;)

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.

 

Some random thoughts on Harry Potter

November 11, 2016

Some random thoughts on Harry Potter

With

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

opening in the USA in a week, I thought I’d just put down some thoughts about the Harry Potter book series:

Harry Potter: The Complete Collection (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (doesn’t include Cursed Child, or the other ancillary titles…this is the first seven books)

  • For a long time, a big thing for Kindleers was that J.K. Rowling wasn’t allowing e-book editions. I wrote about it myself more than once, encouraging Rowling to make them available. I understood the author’s feelings about wanting children to have a similar experience to what Rowling had as a child, but not having e-books disadvantaged those with print challenges.ll and the author had a laudable record of support for those with special challenges. I checked my own posts on Harry Potter, and the e-books were announced in June of 2011 (the Kindle was November 2007…around the same time as the release of the last of the original novels). They finally came out in March of 2012
  • When they came out through Pottermore, that was innovative…and strange. However, over time, that seems to have worked out well for e-book readers
  • Rowling has always been supportive of the fan community, which is great! The author has explicitly allowed fanfic (fan fiction) with certain reasonable restrictions. Rowling has interacted with fans through social media…I admire that
  • One of my relatives had someone tear one of the hardbacks into pieces…because it was too big for that person to physically handle. Not easy…we all love books, and doing that to a book was a difficult choice. That’s another reason why the e-books were important
  • The HP books have now been very available as e-books…they can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), and the first one is part of Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) this month (and I think it will generally be part of that)
  • I loved that they decided to stick with British slang for the American editions after the first book or so!
  • I didn’t have any problem with the appearance of any of the characters or things in the movie versions…probably largely because I generally don’t visualize when I read
  • I liked the movies 🙂
  • The books were, as I understand it, meant to mature along with the characters…and the readers. They become very dark, scary, and depressing…amongst the most disturbing images in books. Not Snape or the unnamed one for me…Dolores Umbridge was absolutely terrifying
  • I’ve been happy to see Rowling continuing the series, keeping it alive. One of my favorite book series is the original Oz series (fourteen books), and Baum actively tried to kill off the Oz series. Rowling did end it…but embraced the ongoing fan love
  • Speaking of Oz, the fandom reminded me of the Oz contemporary fandom. People lined up outside stores for the next Oz book. There were Oz clubs. Children wrote suggestions to Baum (almost like fanfic). There were movies, and Baum was involved in them. There was a stage show and merchandising and ancillary titles
  • The Potter books were ostensibly for children…and not only did they encourage children to read, they got adults to admit and accept that they read books intended for children
  • I think that, like the Oz books, they will still be a vibrant part of our popular culture 100 years from now and more

What do you think about the Harry Potter books? What are your memories of reading them? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

 

 

I had my first experience with an Amazon locker and it was…

September 16, 2016

I had my first experience with an Amazon locker and it was…

…super frustrating! 🙂

The smiley face is there because it ended up okay and I got my packages, and I usually can’t stay frustrated for more than a few minutes.

So, here’s what happened…oh, and I’d better explain what an Amazon Locker is. I wrote about it in more detail here:

Amazon Lockers come to a Safeway near us

You order something from Amazon, and have it sent to an Amazon Locker. Our closest one is in a 24 hour Safeway. Then, you pick it up there.

Why do that?

There are several reasons, but a big one for us is that we’ve actually had Amazon packages stolen that were mailed to our house. We solved that by having packages delivered to my Significant Other’s office…but that’s not a perfect solution. It has to go through central receiving, so we often get it until the day after it was actually delivered. Obviously, if I get home first, I don’t have it. Also, my SO always knows when I’ve ordered something, which isn’t as much fun for gifts.

Setting up the locker thing was easy.

Ordering it was easy (you basically add your locker to your address book).

Finding out that the package was delivered was easy…I got an e-mail and a notification from the Amazon shopping app. The e-mail even has a barcode I’ll be able to scan, in addition to a code I could enter manually.

I’m in a hurry to get home, and the Safeway is pretty much on the way home. I walk with a cane, and I have a nice big bag that slings over my shoulder, so I brought that into the store. Interestingly to me, Safeway doesn’t mind if I put things into the bag while I shop…Whole Foods doesn’t allow it.

I get to the locker and as goofy as it is, I’m really happy to use it. I mean, I seriously was showing people at work a picture I took of the lockers as I tell them about my exciting adventure ahead.

What could go wrong, right?

The touchscreen doesn’t work.

Well, that’s not entirely true. It recognizes my touch to start the process, but after that, it’s hopeless. If I try really hard it may enter one character out of the multi-character code. Sometimes it puts up the wrong code. I can’t even cancel the process.

I figure I might be able to use the scan code instead, so I go to my Amazon shopping app..it’s not in there, as far as I can tell.

I’ve been there for at least a few minutes, and people are staring and smiling. 🙂

I call the number on the machine for help (since the help on the touchscreen won’t respond).

The rep agrees pretty quickly it doesn’t work. I ask where the scan code is…it’s in the e-mail, and nowhere else, apparently.

Fortunately, I have that on my phone…a lot of people would probably have deleted that.

It takes a little maneuvering, but I get the scanner to read.

So, I’m good. It was nice to only have to scan one code to get my two different items from two individual orders. The door popped open automatically on the proper locker…that was also cool. 🙂

The rep wanted me to stay on the line to help the tech fix it, but it was going to be a couple of minutes…and my chronic condition means that standing for a long time is hard. I’d already been standing there long enough that it was difficult.

I explained that to the rep.

Would I use the locker again?

Absolutely!

There are tons of these lockers across the country…the touchscreen thing had to be a fluke. I noticed that the panel that hold the touchscreen seemed like it was ajar…might have been an issue there. Now that I know how to use the scanner, it would be fine without that anyway (as long as it recognizes the touch enough to start and finish the process).

I’ll let you know how it goes next time…

Bonus news: I just wrote about the

All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the two versions (black and white) are the number 1 and 2 bestselling electronics at Amazon.com! Looks like a hit…I use the 1st generation every day, and I’m quite satisfied with it.

Bonus book item: I like to try to give you a book/book reader story every time, although I don’t always manage it. The Echo Dot can read you books, so that could certainly count, and you could have an EBR (E-Book Reader) or tablet delivered to a locker, but I still wanted to do a little more. 🙂

search for “omnibus” in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

An “omnibus” should be several books which were published separately, and are related in some way, in a single volume. It’s sort of like a short story anthology…except with whole books instead of short stories. 😉 Some of these are highly rated with thousands of customer reviews…and 872 of them (at the time of writing) are available in

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

at no additional cost.

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

Power out

August 7, 2016

Power out

Someone apparently stole a car and crashed into a power pole near our house last night. So we have been without power for about 10 hours. That obviously means that I won’t be doing as much online I normally do. Hopefully I will be back up soon and have normal operations.

Update: it wasn’t a car, it was a truck:

IMG_0240

Here’s the story, and it will relate to this blog in some ways. 🙂

I was in the garage, taking clothes out of the dryer and folding them when I heard a bang and the electricity went out. My Significant Other in the other room heard it, too.

We both thought it was a transformer blowing at first.

This was around 7:00 last night.

My SO does insurance claims for a living (working for a broker…my SO often helps claimants get the money by finding coverage. It’s a “hero” job), and asked me to go outside to see if it was on fire. It was still light at this point.

When I stepped out there, I could see other neighbors coming out on the street…for blocks around.

A neighbor had some sort of police scanner, and said two people had stolen a truck and crashed it into a power pole (and knew the street).

My SO went up there to see if they could help the homeowners with any claim which might happen.

I heard later that there were police, fire, and PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) up there already…in fewer than ten minutes, I’d say. The people in the truck had run away, reportedly.

Okay, here’s how this story might help you: what were we going to do without electricity?

It means for us:

  • no lights, power to the refrigerator/freezer, stove, air conditioning (fortunately, it was a relatively cool night…it’s been quite hot lately)
  • no internet
  • no phones. We don’t have a landline, and we only get phone reception through a mini-cell tower AT&T gave us because the service is bad. We can go outside a half block or so and get reception

The bad thing is that a relative got me a back-up power supply (a UPS…uninterruptible power supply) so we wouldn’t lose phones…and I just had never set it up.

The good things…

I have a small Doc Savage worthy tiny hand-crank flashlight next to the bed. You would need Doc Savage’s muscles to use it for much, since you have to crank it a lot to get bright light for long. 😉 I was a conga drummer, though, so I can crank it for a while.

Using that, I retrieved a booklight from the library (we have it there for guests)…and got a charged power bank and cord from my laptop case. I keep it charged enough for emergencies: that means we could have used it for our phones the next day and then some. I strongly recommend having one in what we Californians call a “go bag” (for earthquakes and such).

I normally would have been using my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX, but I switched to reading my

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

only had about two-thirds of a charge, it could last weeks. My Fire would last a lot less.

It was interesting: we did get decent illumination from our Kindles for other uses. 🙂

So, the Paperwhite (or Voyage or Oasis) is great in a power outage. 🙂 If you don’t have a power bank, I’d recommend one.

By the way, we could also have charged things in the car,  if necessary. We could also have gone to our offices to charge things.

One other unrelated thing: I’m finally giving up on our Tivo. I think we’ve had it for ten years, and it’s been great. It’s been acting up for some time, not always switching to the right channel in an unpredictable manner.

For the past week, it hasn’t been recognizing that it has a network connector, although it does. That means it was running out of the ability to get program information.

Today, it basically said, “I was about to blow up, so I shut down instead.” 😉 Not exactly…but it did say it was overheating.

I’m going to give up on it altogether.

I recabled things a bit, but I’ve got more to go to restore control to everything. The TV ran through the Tivo first, so our

Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*))

isn’t set up properly to control our TV…until I fix that, we’ll use the Harmony for controlling our

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

and the cable box TV for non-Fire TV content.

I was surprised that my SO thought just having the Fire TV would be fine. My SO isn’t super techie, so I thought “regular TV” would be more appealing.

We could cut the cable altogether…but it’s pretty much included with our internet, so  we’ll keep it.

The power came back on after at least ten hours (we were at the dog park when it happened).

One other nice thing: our Ikea refrigerator/freezer apparently has a good seal…we had just shopped for groceries that day, so it was great that everything appears to have stayed frozen for that whole period! We don’t have meat (we are vegetarians) and very little dairy, so we didn’t have to throw much out. We were careful not to open the freezer: keeping the refrigerator/freezer closed during a power outage is important!

An interesting adventure…

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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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