Archive for the ‘New Features’ Category

Groups, Scenes, and Routines now available in Alexa

October 29, 2017

Groups, Scenes, and Routines now available in Alexa

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

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

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

Let’s take a look at it:

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

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

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

Devices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once you’ve done that, you save.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other is that it can do some Alexa actions.

The first option shown is

“When this happens”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more thoughts:

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

 

 

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Amazon updates quotesharing…and it’s nice!

October 26, 2017

Amazon updates quotesharing…and it’s nice!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tapping Share, I had all these options:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

members, or Amazon shoppers, or the USA.

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

 

 

Hello, future! So many Amazon announcements!

October 25, 2017

Hello, future! So many Amazon announcements!

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

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

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

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

I also looked at

Kindle press releases “through the ages”

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

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

Monday, 10/23/2017

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10/24/2017

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

The

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

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

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

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

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

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile*)

for example.

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

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

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

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

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

Qualifying businesses can get a thirty-day free trial at

Business Prime Shipping (at AmazonSmile*)

AWS Announces General Availability for Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL

Wednesday, 10/25/2017

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

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

Regular Delivery

The actual implementation is quite fascinating!

Amazon Key (at AmazonSmile*)

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

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

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

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

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

Eligible for in-home delivery*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


My current Amazon giveaway:

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

Giveaway:

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

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

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


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

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

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

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

New! Pair your Echo device with your Fire TV…and get voice control

August 2, 2017

New! Pair your Echo device with your Fire TV…and get voice control

I was very excited to see this! People have wanted it since the

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

was first released.

You can now control a Fire TV device (Stick or not) just by talking to your

Echo family (at AmazonSmile*)

(I’ll give you more of an idea of what works a bit later).

You can’t do everything, but you can do quite a bit.

I first found out about it when I asked our

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

something this morning, and it said I wasn’t connected to a video source.

Then, I got an e-mail from Amazon, which was basically this

press release

In your Alexa app, go to the menu, and then Music, Video, & Books.

You’ll see a choice for FireTV and one for Dish (if you get Dish right now, there’s a deal where they will give you an Echo Dot).

If you have more than one FireTV, you can choose which one to do first. An Alexa device can only be paired to one Fire TV at a time (just like a Fire TV remote). If you want to change it later, you’ll have to first unlink it, then link it again (one which is already linked doesn’t show up as an option).

I was given a choice of all of these types:

  • Original Echo (“The Tower)
  • Tap
  • Dot
  • Echo Show
  • Lexi (that’s an app)
  • Dash Wand
  • Amazon App (on iOS)

You can, by the way, have more than one Alexa device linked to the same Fire TV. So, you can have both your Echo Show and your Amazon App controlling the family room Fire. I can also see where two people with iPhones and no Echo device would want to have them both linked to the same Fire TV.

The linking was easy and ready to go right away.

Now, in terms of what it can do…

If you are talking about Amazon (not just Prime) Video, it’s good. I said, “Alexa, watch The Wizard of Oz”, and it started right away (that was a Prime video right now, so it didn’t have to stop to ask me if I wanted to buy it or rent it). Same thing with Orphan Black.

It did pause when I asked it to do that, and did fast forward. Amusingly, when I asked it to show me X-Ray (I meant the X-Ray feature of Amazon Video), it brought up a movie named “X-Ray” instead.

It also did understand categories: I asked for “science fiction movies”, and that worked. However, again, it didn’t limit it to Prime video…I’d prefer that, and maybe it’s an option, but I haven’t tested that yet.

Oh, another interesting thing: it did not show me my commands in the Alexa app home, which it normally does for conversations.

Another misfire: I asked it to “play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, since the movie was in the top banner on the screen, and it thought I wanted the music so offered to play me a sample. I think “watch” is going to work better than “play”.

It will also open an app (I tested Hulu and YouTube), but it couldn’t find a show in Hulu.

Bottom line: it works better with Prime Video.

If you do have a

All-New Element 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV – Fire TV Edition (at AmazonSmile*)

you can ask it to “Tune to NBC”, for example. You can also turn it on and change the volume.

Does all this mean you don’t need a remote?

Nope.

Once I open Hulu, for example, I’ll need my remote to pick something. If you don’t have the actual TV, you won’t be able to control the volume. Still, this is cool. 🙂

As you play around with it, let me know if you have discoveries and/or questions.

One last thing…

I don’t have one, but I’ve been hearing about the

The Spot Outlet Wall Mount (at AmazonSmile*)

Seems like it would work well for this, although it would also work in the kitchen and other places. It mounts your Dot right on an outlet…you don’t have to screw it into the wall or anything. It has a 4.5 average out of 5 stars, with 135 customer reviews at the time of writing; that’s quite good. It’s $13.99 at time of writing.

This is once again Amazon giving us something more at no additional cost…its one of the reasons I caution people about judging an Amazon device when it is first released based on its capabilities and content at that time.

Thanks, Amazon!

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

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

* 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! 🙂 

New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

October 13, 2016

New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

Thanks to a reader who let me know in a private e-mail (if you want credit in the blog, just let me know) about a new development!

It’s something people have wanted for years…or at least, it’s a step in that direction.

There was a banner at

MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices), formerly MYK (Manage Your Kindle)> (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

saying,

“Cloud Collection Management is launched. Cloud Collections can be created, edited, and shared from the Manage Your Content and Devices page.”

I’ve had a chance to check it out, and it’s going to be useful, but it may not be everything people expect (but what is?). 😉

A little overview on Collections first…

“Collections” are sort of like folders on a computer or a phone. They are organizational tools. You can “put” books (and some other items) “into” these Collections.

The Collection is not the books, though. You can delete the Collection without losing the books.

Originally (once we eventually got them), the Collection just lived on one device. You created it on your Kindle (nowadays, that might also be a Fire device), and it was just there…it didn’t exist on another device on your account. You could import them, but that was a bit tricky.

Then, Amazon introduced “Cloud Collections” in 2013…I wrote about them in some depth here:

Understanding Cloud Collections

Those were visible from any compatible devices on your account…and I use them a lot. I have a Collection which is the “Guest Bookshelf”, and I’ve used that on multiple devices. I have one for apps which is “Bufo Morning”…that goes from one Fire to another.

What we haven’t been able to do, though, is actually create, rename, or delete Collections from the cloud (Amazon’s central account management system).

Well, you can now!

When you are on MYCD, you can switch where it says “Show” in your top left corner to be Collections.

From there, you’ll see your Collections, including how many items (it says “Books”, but some of mine don’t contain books) are in them. Depending on how they are sorted, you’ll get a modified date or created date. You can sort by those (either newest to oldest or oldest to newest) or alphabetical (A-Z or Z-A).

In an Actions column, you can delete or rename the Collection.

You can also use checkboxes to select Collections, and then bulk delete (you’ll see the button after you select at least one).

Those are nice…it will allow us to easily delete unused Collections. Many people experimented quite a bit at the beginning, so this is a good opportunity to clean up.

There are two big things it can not do that people want.

It won’t tell you which books (and other items) are downloaded to which devices.

You can’t move books into and out of Collections.

So, you can’t work on the items in the Collections here, but you can work on the Collections themselves.

Update: thanks to regular readers and commenters Edward Boyhan and Ann Von Hagel for pointing out that you can, in fact, move books in and out of Collections at MYCD now!

I was looking at the Collections selection, thinking that I would be able to choose a Collection and move things in and out of it. That’s an option on your device. It works, though, the other way.

You set the “View” selection to Books. Then, if a given book in at least one Collection, you’ll see that indicated with the number of Collections of which it is a part. There is a dropdown, and you can select a Collection. If you select the Collection in that dropdown, you then get to see all of the books in the Collection. That’s great! I hadn’t realized you’d be able to see them there. From there, just as you can in the Books view, you can click the Actions ellipsis (…) and choose to add or remove from Collections.

One interesting thing there: when I added one to a Collection on MYCD, I could then remove it from there. When I got to the Collection with the method I described in the previous paragraph, where I selected the Collection from the dropdown in the Books view, it was showing me it was in a Collection…but didn’t give me the option to remove the book from a Collection. I may have to experiment with that more…it might be that MYCD doesn’t give you the remove option unless it was added there.

When you choose to add a book to a Collection at MYCD, you get the option to create a new Collection in situ…that’s also a nice feature!

I just did that…very simple, pretty much just typing in a new name. It was smart enough to add the book to the new Collection, without having to take an extra step. I added a few books to that Collection, then checked on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX…and the Collection was immediately there (I was connected to Wi-Fi, but did not have to tell it to sync).

That means that (unless I’m missing it), the only big thing I’m not seeing is on which devices the books/Collections reside currently.

Thanks, Ann and Edward!

This is a beginning…I’m sure there will be more coming in the future. They do have a content management system for enterprises (companies and schools and such) called Whispercast, but this is unrelated to that.

The other thing they’ve added to MYCD that I noted was that they’ve added Prime Reading

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

to the choice of items to review.

As long as we have Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), I don’t think we’ll ever see anything in that section in my family…just in KU. People who don’t have KU will see their Prime Reading borrows there.

What do you think? If you have any questions or th0ughts, 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 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.

New Kindle Unlimited benefit (available to others to purchase): Singles Classics

July 19, 2016

New Kindle Unlimited benefit (available to others to purchase): Singles Classics

One of my favorite things I own is a rustic “magazinecase”. It holds a lot of my old issues of magazines. As I recall, I bought it for $5 from some place going out of business decades ago.

20160719_063332

As you can see, it isn’t fancy…but it’s a place for me to organize my magazines.

That’s a problem with magazines: organization.

Some times, I just want to find one particular story I remember reading a long time ago. There was a great interview with David Bowie that I recall. I don’t even remember which magazine it was in for sure.

It’s even a thing in the cryptozoology world. Many of us who are interested in that subject, including me, remember seeing a 19th Century (?) photo of a dead thunderbird (basically, a giant raptor)…but no one can find it. It’s possible it didn’t exist and we are remembering something else. I thought I was going to solve that mystery by going through my old Argosy magazines…literally flipping through them page by page.  I didn’t find it. 🙂

There are books that collect old magazine stories and articles…and it’s like archaeologists uncovering a lost tomb.

I include links (so you can read them) to some public domain magazines in

 The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project

and I’m trying to tag them in such a way that people can find stories…but that’s going to be imperfect.

That’s why I’m really excited about a new Amazon feature announced in this

press release

about

www.amazon.com/singlesclassics (Single Classics) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I never much got into Kindle Singles, which were sort  of meant to parallel music 45s from the old days…shorter, self-contained content. I just couldn’t see paying ninety-nine cents for one, most of the time, when that

can get you a full-sized book so easily.

Well, with this new Single Classics, it brings us two things.

One is that it is resurrecting older articles…and making them easy to find. Some categories include:

  • TIME Magazine Classic Coverage
  • The Playboy Interviews
  • Classics by Popular and Best-Selling Authors

I recognize some of the articles.

These are going to be great when you are waiting for something, or at lunch, or with text-to-speech in the car (I checked, and what I checked was not blocked…of course, you might miss some pictures that way).

The other thing is that although these are generally ninety-nine cents to purchase, they are included in

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

at no additional cost.

Yay!

That’s  yet another reason to consider KU, Amazon’s subser (subscription service). You can read books (including well-known ones), listen to audiobooks, and now read these articles and stories.

I don’t know what Amazon is paying for this, but it’s also going to help them by providing that enticement for KU (which I think will make people more loyal Amazon customers…if that’s possible) 😉 and will count as the ten you can have out at a time. It may mean that Amazon pays less in royalties, while customers still feel they are getting a benefit.

I’m also not surprised that rightsholders got on board! It’s a new revenue stream for something which I’m sure is hard to monetize.

What do you think? Does this interest you at all? Will you pay ninety-nine cents for one of these? Would you use it to write school papers? Is it going to get you to try the free trial of KU? How much of your reading is short form which didn’t originate on the internet? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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.

Page Flip redesigned, improved and coming to EBRs, Fire tablets, and reader apps

June 28, 2016

Page Flip redesigned, improved and coming to EBRs, Fire tablets, and reader apps

Amazon is not showing any indications of a wavering commitment to EBRs (E-Book Readers) and e-books!

You may see stories about e-book sales declining, but I think those may be based on a too small dataset (getting reports from the big traditional publishers, and missing not only indies ((independent publishers)) but Amazon’s own publishing).

They’ve recently announced a new EBR

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I wrote about here:

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

This has a giant innovation, which may come to other models: it will connect via Bluetooth to play audio. It can’t play audio on the device itself, but Bluetooth speakers/headsets can be pretty inexpensive. I use a pair of Arctic brand headphones, no longer available, with our Fire TV.  However, I also have Bluetooth speakers, the Amazon Echo, Dot, and Tap, and those should all work with it.

That new Kindle will also export your notes in a new way…another big improvement, nearly nine years in the making. 😉

Their latest innovation, announced today in this

press release

is a great improvement on the Page Flip we’ve had on newer EBRs (E-Book Readers). It is coming as a wireless update to EBRs (I would be sure about all of the current generation…don’t know how far back it will go), Fire tablets, and the free Kindle reader apps for iOS and Android.

They wrote me personally and were nice enough to share links to some animations that show how it works on a

tablet
iPhone
EBR

Not surprisingly, not exactly the same on the three type of devices, but I think it is good on all of them!

With the current Page Flip (on, for example, the current Paperwhite), you can flip back and forth in the book while maintaining your current spot in the book.

The new version shows you several pages at once in “thumbnails” (small representations):

Page Flip on a Kindle

Page Flip on a Kindle

This will make it much easier to navigate to graphs and other images. It’s possible this will turn the tide on the reluctance some students have had in using e-textbooks. It will also work well in things like cookbooks and encyclopedias…you could flip ahead to find a picture of a red panda, for example…maybe not as quickly, but more easily than you could with a p-book (paperbook).

They’ve done a help page, which also embeds a cute ad for it, with a sort of duel between a kid with a p-book and an adult with an e-book:

Page Flip feature page (at AmazonSmile*)

Throughout the short history of the Kindle (not even a decade yet), Amazon has continued to make our devices better after we’ve bought them, at no additional cost to us. Certainly, not every feature comes to every model ever made (in some cases, that wouldn’t be feasible technically) and there have been a few reversals (not to the device you already own, generally, but Bluetooth restores TTS…text-to-speech…access to books which has been absent from EBRs for soe time), but overall, onwards and upwards. 🙂

You should just receive the update “over-the-air” if you leave your device connected to wireless…it won’t necessarily happen in the next day, of course. When connected to wireless, be aware that you are using more battery charge…I sometimes leave by EBRs plugged in overnight.

I’m not seeing it for manual download yet at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile*)

but I would guess it will show up there eventually.

I’m looking forward to getting it…thanks, Amazon!

Bonus deal:

Today’s

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

includes The Color Purple (at AmazonSmile*) by Alice Walker for $2.99. The Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award winner is perhaps even more popular right now, with a successful Broadway musical. This is also a good opportunity to buy it as a gift, since you can get it at this price and delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion. Remember to check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…the sale may not apply in your country, for one thing.

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.

 


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