Archive for the ‘Recommendations’ Category

Amazon Prime members can now watch the ultimate cautionary tale against smart homes…like Amazon’s Alexa

November 18, 2018

Amazon Prime members can now watch the ultimate cautionary tale against smart homes…like Amazon’s Alexa

Many people are afraid of Amazon’s Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and other smart home devices.

In some cases, they fear what human beings can do with the information (which might be obtained through intentional interaction, or observation, visual or audible). They may not be comfortable with Amazon knowing so much about them.

In others, it is concern about the technology itself. It might fail to function, malfunction…or perhaps, in some future, develop its own agenda.

The last one may seem ridiculous, but it’s been part of our pop culture consciousness for a very long time…going back at least as far as Karel Čapek’s 1924

play R.U.R. (at AmazonSmile*)

Whether they call it the “robot rebellion” or “the singularity”, the concept of human-created intelligence developing independence and using it to dominate its creators is firmly established.

This was especially true in 1970s science fiction cinema. Colossus: the Forbin Project (at AmazonSmile*) is one example (and a personal favorite). That one is available for streaming through the Hoopla public library service, as indicated by JustWatch.

Another one, which I had not seen for years, is

Demon Seed (at AmazonSmile*)

I remembered it.

Based on the

Dean Koontz novel (at AmazonSmile*)

it is about a scientist (Fritz Weaver) who creates an artificial intelligence system which takes over the smart home the scientist created…and, well, I don’t want to spoil what happens.

Julie Christie stars (arguably a more important role than Weaver’s), and Gerrit Graham has a nice small role as a computer tech (so different from the rocker Beef that Graham played in Phantom of the Paradise a few years earlier).

The smart home is very much like what we have with Alexa: a voice-interface turning the lights on and off, controlling the thermostat…oh, it’s probably a bit beyond what most of us have, but not ridiculously so. It’s called “Alfred”, presumably after Batman’s butler, but interesting that “Alexa” and “Alfred” are so similar…coincidentally, I’m sure. 😉

Robert (Napoleon Solo on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) is great as the voice of “Proteus”! Interestingly, the actor is uncredited, presumably to make Proteus seem more real.

A few content warnings: there is some minor female nudity in the movie (another common thing in what I call Seventies Social Sci-Fi), violence, and sexual violence themes.

With that caution, I think you’d find it an interesting watch! It does intrigue me that Amazon chose to “go there”…I wonder how many people will watch this by asking Alexa to show it to them! You could do that with the

Fire TV Cube (at AmazonSmile*)

which is on a Black Friday sale starting today for half off ($59.99)…I listed it as one of

My favorite Amazon Black Friday sales this year

Gee, I wonder if someday Amazon will let us choose “Alfred” as the Alexa wake word…of if Proteus will allow it. 😉

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.

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Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

August 6, 2018

Prime Geek (Books): August 5 2018

You already have

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

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who reads books, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are over 100 geek-friendly books included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, I hope to help you out with some recommendations.

I should mention…you don’t need to consider yourself a geek to enjoy these books. 😉

Prime Geek

started off in another blog of mine, The Measured Circle. Over there, I’ve done posts for TV and movies which are part of Prime Video and are geek-friendly.

Books are more appropriately done here, and I’ll link from there to here.

My guess is, though, that the percentage of self-identifying geeks at The Measured Circle is a lot higher than it is in ILMK.

Things are also a bit different with e-books, because so many of them are available legally for free…and because there is another “premium” subser (subscription service) called

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

What I’m doing is looking at

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

There are over 1,000 titles there (Amazon doesn’t give you an exact number any more), and then I’m limiting it to the Science Fiction & Fantasy category, which brings it down to 106 at time of writing:

Prime Reading Science Fiction & Fantasy category (at AmazonSmile*)

Okay…books!

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling | 4.3 stars out of 5 | 33,914 customer reviews | This is one which everyone should probably read at some point…and many will re-read at several points. I think that 100 years from now, the Harry Potter series will be considered to be as much a classic as the Wizard of Oz series is now
  • I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison | 4.1 stars | 157 reviews | short stories
  • Quantum Space by Douglas Phillips | 4.7 stars | 776 reviews
  • Dune (Spanish edition) by Frank Herbert, translated by Domingo Santos | 4.6 stars | 2,948 reviews | yes, that’s right…Dune in Spanish! (Asimov’s Foundation is also available in Prime Reading in Spanish)
  • Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard | 4.6 stars | 2,423 reviews | While you may not first think of Hubbard as a science fiction writer, and your first association with “Battlefield Earth” may be the John Travolta adaptation (a notorious box office underperformer, grossing worldwide about $30 million on  a budget of about $73 million, according to Box Office Mojo), the book was a New York Times bestseller, and Hubbard was a famous fiction writer well before the other activities
  • Vampire Girl by Karpov Kinrade | 4.6 stars | 1,098 reviews | You might not have heard of this, but it’s been a USA Today bestseller and is the first in a (so far) six book series
  • The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (AmazonClassics Edition) | weirdly, many of the reviews appear to refer to the second book in the Jurassic Park series by Michael Crichton, not this classic. Professor Challenger is a great character, and also appeared in other stories by Doyle
  • The Wretched of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #1) by Jeff Wheeler | 4.4 stars | 2,391 reviews
  • Mind’s Eye by Douglas E. Richards | 4.3 stars | 3,356 reviews
  • Dragon Trials (Return of the Darkening #1) by Ava Richardson | 4.3 stars | 351 reviews
  • Area 51 by Bob Mayer | 4.2 stars | 562 reviews | This has been a long-running successful series
  • A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick (Eye in the Sky, Counter-Clock World ((very PKD)), Valis, and Ubik are also available in PR)
  • Machine Learning by Hugh Howey | 4.1 stars | 66 reviews | short stories | I’ve read Silo (a big success by Howey) and enjoyed that
  • King of Swords (Starfolk #1) by Dave Duncan | 3.5 stars | 117 reviews

That’s just a selection of them…if you have other recommendations to make to me and my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

Enjoy!


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.

 

Round up #176: buy a delivery business from Amazon, Prime Day 2018

July 4, 2018

Round up #176: buy a delivery business from Amazon, Prime Day 2018

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

Hold on to your money: Prime Day starts July 16

Amazon has made the official announcement that this year’s
Prime Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will start at noon Pacific Time (3:00 PM Eastern) on July 16th and run through midnight Pacific July 17th…36 hours. That’s why they keep saying it is “Prime Day (and a half)”. 36 hours is 1.5 days.

However, as pointed out in this

press release

sales have actually started today!

For example, the

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

is $100 off (making it $129.99 instead of $229.99) through Prime Day…with an important caveat.

You need to be an

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

member (but you can get a free trial membership).

We’ve gotten great deals in the past (especially on Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)), but this year does really look it will be significantly bigger and better. A few highlights:

  • This year’s sweepstakes (at AmazonSmile*) (which started July 3rd) is amazing, with prizes including $50,000, an Alexa-equipped Lexus, and a SmartHome makeover. There are lots of ways to enter, detailed here (at AmazonSmile*). One way is to visit the Prime Day page when logged into your account and stay there for a minute…I’m not sure how many people realize that they are timing you like that…
  • Giant (really giant) Smile boxes are visiting a few cities, and you can watch online (at AmazonSmile*). My guess? At least one of these will open up to reveal a concert by a top music act which is featured on Prime Music.
  • Free PC games from Twitch…every day through Prime Day
  • Try Kindle Unlimited for three months for $0.99
  • Buy your first Kindle book (there are people who haven’t bought Kindle books? 😉 ) and get a $10 credit for e-books, p-books (paperbooks) and Audible audiobooks on Prime Day

I have an Amazon gift card to spend…but I’m going to wait until Prime Day. 🙂

Did a judge just really expand Fair Use?

I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but I do follow copyright pretty closely. My natural tendency is to reserve rights for the creator, rather than giving the work to society.

About eight years ago, I explored the idea of making copyright permanent in exchange for much broader Fair Use rights:

Should copyright be permanent?

However, I’m cautious about expanding Fair Use without something in exchange.

Judge Claude Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia in a recent

ruling

decided that a site which used part of a photograph that it had found on the internet did not infringe upon the photographer’s rights.

Fair Use has a number of factors which makes a ruling a bit complicated in terms of setting precedent, but this one does concern me. I need to look at it more closely…

Wanna buy a business?

There are a lot of ways to make money with Amazon…you can get royalties as an author, you can be a third party seller, you do tasks through Amazon Mechanical Turk, you can be an Amazon Flex driver…and now, if you invest $10,000, Amazon will help set you up with a delivery business!

Amazon says you could make up to $300,000…but of course, you could also lose money.

Even with help, running a business isn’t easy. The old saying goes that when you own a business, the business owns you. Even just as a manager (not owner) of a bookstore, I worked…a lot.

I absolutely think this is a good opportunity for the right people! However, unless Amazon does screen very carefully (and they certainly might), a much bigger number of people will fail than succeed…just like in most businesses.

Little House in the Phantom Zone

There have been a lot of stories and opinions published

news search

about the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), which is part of the American Library Association, renaming the Laura Ingall Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

They explain the decision in this

statement

For me, the key statement is this:


“Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities.”


This ties directly into an issue I examined in another article from 2010:

The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum

I think they probably are doing a safe thing, renaming the award so that it doesn’t tie into a specific person. I would challenge you to name any fiction author who was widely popular at least fifty years ago who didn’t write anything that could be seen as offensive today…

Some Fire Tablets can work like Echo Show devices

The

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

is one of my favorite non-reading Amazon devices…it’s an Echo, but with a screen. Yes, it can show me some commercial videos (movie trailers and such), but I really like how it shows information…and how I can make “videocalls”.

I also like the Echo Spot: I keep one at work.

My Echo Spot is here: it’s cute!

Now, some of the newer Fire Tablets are going to have “Show Mode”, which lets them work like an Echo Show. That includes the videocalls.

Those functions certainly would drain the battery, so Amazon has also introduced the

Show Mode Charging Dock (at AmazonSmile*)

You don’t need that, but it’s going to make things better.

A few really short notes:

I’ve had the Fire TV Cube for about a week:

Fire TV Cube: 1st impressions and menu map

I really like it! It’s not perfect, but it is a whole new class of device. You might think you have enough Echo/Alexa devices, but you might consider swapping out one of your old devices for this one. Look for a bargain (although it may be a bundle) on Prime Day.

My Significant Other and I have both really liked

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s not common that we both like the same book this much.

I’d say the last time that happened was with

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim (at AmazonSmile*)

Both books are available through Kindle Unlimited…

Not lost in translation…

I haven’t always been pleased with the translations from Amazon’s AmazonCrossing imprint. They’ve often seemed…stilted.

That’s not the case with

A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa, translated by Risa Koboyashi and Martin Brown (at AmazonSmile*)

I have read many translated books in my time, and assuming that this accurately reflects what the author intended (and my intuition is that it does), it reads as very natural English. Not just in the words, but in the use of idiom…”as the crow flies”, for example. I doubt that the Japanese equivalent term has anything to do with crows. 😉

That one is also available through Kindle Unlimited at time of writing.

Have an opinion on any of these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. My “day job” activities have started to slow down a bit after being super busy…that will help my responsiveness. Oh, and some of you know about our dogs: Elf got bitten by another dog at the dog park recently. Elf will be okay, but it may be a couple of weeks of recovery (and it’s a difficult time for us…by the way, Elf was literally just sitting there and it was unprovoked). That means no trips to the dog park…which gives me back literally a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Definitely not worth it, but it is a reality…


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.

Read the Oscar Nominees 2018

January 23, 2018

Read the Oscar Nominees 2018

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning!

I pay close attention to those, and have done an Oscar Prediction thing for decades. I’ll give you more information about that when we get closer.

It really felt like a tonal shift this year, with more recognition of “younger”, more popular, more genre titles. The Shape of Water and Get Out both got major nominations (for more information on that, see 2017 Oscar Noms in my The Measured Circle blog).

Both of those were original screenplays (by their directors…The Shape of Water was co-written), but there were still a lot of nominees based on books.

In this post, I’m going to tell you about those books…in case you want to read the book before (or even after) seeing the movie. 🙂

Call Me By Your Name (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
novel by André Aciman
Oscar nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet); Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory); Original Song: The Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens
4.6 stars out of 5, 768 customer reviews, #356 paid in USA Kindle store
(USA Kindle store) publication date: January 22, 2008

All the Money in the World (AKA Painfully Rich) (at AmazonSmile*)
biography by John Pearson
Oscar nominations: Supporting Actor (Christopher Plummer)
4.1 stars, 74 reviews, #587 paid
publication date: December 1, 2011
Note: on sale at time of writing for $1.99

Mudbound (at AmazonSmile*)
by Hillary Jordan
Oscar nominations: Supporting Actress (Mary J. Blige); Adapted Screenplay (Dee Rees, Virgil Williams); Cinematography (Rachel Morrison); Original Song: Mighty River (Raphael Saadiq, Mary J. Blige, Taura Stinson)
4.5 stars, 851 reviews, #5,131 paid
publication date: March 4, 2008

Molly’s Game (at AmazonSmile*)
memoir by Molly Bloom
Oscar nominations: Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin)
4.4 stars, 231 reviews, #231 paid
publication date: June 24, 2014

The Disaster Artist (at AmazonSmile*)
Humor and entertainment by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
Oscar nominations: Adapted Screenplay (Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber)
4.8 stars, 725 reviews, #8,189
publication date: October 1, 2013

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Blade Runner 2049 “based on characters” (at AmazonSmile*)
novel by Philip K. Dick
Oscar nominations: Cinematography (Roger Deakins); Sound Mixing (Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth); Sound Editing (Mark A. Mangini, Theo Green); Visual Effects (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover); Production Design (Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola)
4.3 stars, 1385 review, #7261
publication date: February 26, 2008

Beauty and the Beast (at AmazonSmile*)
fiction by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (note: stats will relate to this edition…this is the credited book, but it won’t have been this edition originally)
Oscar nominations: Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran); Production Design (Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer)
4.4 stars, 45 reviews, #155893
publication date (of this edition): February 4, 2014

Victoria & Abdul
history by Shrabani Basu
Oscar nominations: Costume Design (Consolata Boyle); Makeup and Hairstyling (Daniel Phillips, Loulia Sheppard)
4.0 stars, 55 reviews, #25305
publication date: August 29, 2017

(War for the) Planet of the Apes (at AmazonSmile*)
fiction by Pierre Boulle (don’t expect this to be much like the current set of movies…or the 1960s/1970s one. I always felt he 1968 screenplay by Rod Serling was a considerable improvement over the novel)
Oscar nominations: Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joel Whist)
4.5 stars, 248 reviews, #163748
publication date: April 13, 2011 (the original book was published in France in 1963)

Wonder (at AmazonSmile*)
fiction by R.J. Palacio
Oscar nominations: Makeup and Hairstyling (Arjen Tuiten)
4.9 stars, 12034 reviews, #472
publication date: February 14, 2012

Revolting Rhymes (at AmazonSmile*)
poetry by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Oscar nominations: Animated Short (Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer)
4.4 stars, 109 reviews, #405,210
publication date: September 13, 2016

(The Story of) Ferdinand (at AmazonSmile*)
children’s book by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
Oscar nominations: Animated Feature (Carlos Saldanha)
4.7 stars, 1,416 reviews, #19450
publication date: June 30 1977 (original publication 1936)

The Boss Baby (at AmazonSmile*)
children’s book by Marla Frazee
Oscar nominations: Animated Feature (Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito)
4.7 stars, 187 reviews, #273739
publication date: November 14, 2011


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.

Read the book first: 2018

December 19, 2017

Read the book first: 2018

Every year, I like to give you a heads up on movies coming out the following year which are based on books.

Why?

A lot of people like to read the book before they see the movie…I’m one of those.

A book doesn’t spoil a movie for me, but the reverse can be true. Generally, a book is more complex: deeper and more characters, more plot points, more complexity. That doesn’t mean that a movie is never better than the book…I can think of a few examples (I would argue Soylent Green over Make Room! Make Room! and Rollerball over the original short story…although, perhaps those haven’t aged well. How about the original Planet of the Apes?).

If you prefer to see the movie first, that’s fine: I’m not judging. 😉

It’s also worth noting that, if we exclude comic books, the biggest box office movies aren’t typically based on books. Award-winning movies certainly may be, and some book-based books are also blockbusters (The Hunger Games, Harry Potter).

Here are some of the movies scheduled to be released in 2018 which are based on books (if I link to something, and I won’t have time to link to most of them this morning, it will be the book in the USA Kindle store):

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

A beloved book, director, and stars…virtual fingers crossed!

Ready Player One (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Ernest Cline

This is likely to be one of the biggest movies. It’s directed by Steven Spielberg, after all. However, Spielberg directed movies haven’t always been giant hits…just mostly. 😉

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Natalie Portman stars, and the trailer has been getting buzz.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (original book by Michael Crichton)

Is this based on a movie, or based on a movie based on a movie based on a book? 😉

Maze Runner: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Third in the series based on the young adult dystopian source

The Irishman (based on  I Heard You Paint Houses) by Charles Brandt

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro star in this movie based on a non-fiction book about what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Mary Poppins Returns (based on books by) P.L. Travers

People are going to expect it to really be based on the Disney musical, but I’m hearing some things which suggest there might be a bit less “sugar” in it…

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

Continuing the adaptations…

12 Strong by Doug Stanton

War non-fiction, starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, William Fichtner…

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Jennifer Lawrence in action mode, directed by Francis Lawrence (no relation), who directed The Hunger Games. Some people are referring to it as the Black Widow (Marvel) movie we haven’t gotten yet…

And a quick listing…

  • The Meg
  • Mortal Engines
  • Good Omens
  • Zeroville
  • Ophelia (based on Hamlet)
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  • The Bell Jar (weirdly listed as a “Comedy, Drama”)
  • Vanity Fair
  • Storm Boy
  • Break My Heart 1000 Times
  • Yardie

Are you happily (or nervously) anticipating others? 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.

 

After Game of Thrones, I would suggest they adapt…

August 8, 2017

After Game of Thrones, I would suggest they adapt…

I have just barely started watching Game of Thrones on HBO. In fact, I’m not even done with the first episode yet.

I actually started watching the first episode a long time ago when HBO was free for some reason for a weekend…it might have been a preview weekend on Comcast.

I didn’t like it that much back then, but I knew I hadn’t given it a real chance.

Well, we recently got HBO for free as part of DirecTV when they upgraded our phone/internet. We don’t subscribe to DirecTV otherwise.

I’m watching it on our Fire TV and Fire TV Stick (two different rooms):

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

First, I have to say…either I haven’t figured it out yet, or the DirecTV app is…um…difficult. I’m not seeing where it will tell me which episodes I have already watched, or what I’ve been watching recently. Every time I go to GoT on it, it starts on the current season. Then I have to switch to the first season…and it always offers me the most recent one first. Oh, and when the app first opens, it shows me something live called “Audience”…which could give me spoilers, one of my least favorite things.

Speaking of spoilers, I haven’t been able to totally avoid them on Game of Thrones (who could?), but I don’t know most of it.

I also started reading

the original books (at AmazonSmile*)

and I’ve gotten farther than I have in the TV series, but still not very far.

The eighth season of GoT will be the final season (although there may be spinoffs), so I was thinking about what other fantasy book series might be good to adapt for an HBO type television series…and the first one that came to mind does seem good to me, even on deeper reflection.

Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock

Unfortunately, that book is not available in the USA Kindle store…but I’m still going to write about it. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Elric is a tragic but lethal figure. I’ll put up a SPOILER ALERT, although I suspect most people approaching the series will know this much.

Elric has a sword…or perhaps, the sword has Elric. It’s an immensely powerful sword named Stormbringer, but it must kill to feed itself…and the wielder can not prevent it from killing friends to satisfy its hunger.

That’s a very simplified version, but gives you the sense of it.

I think people would very much relate to Elric: he’s really emo. 😉

It’s also a complex series, with a diverse set of characters. There are different races and exotic lands. There is blood and gore drama and political intrigue. There is a broad mythology and yes, there are dragons.

That’s what I’d recommend.

END SPOILER

I’ll make one more suggestion: the New World series by James Kahn, which starts with World Enough, and Time (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) This is only a trilogy, which is a limitation, but it is a dystopia, and hey, those are still in, right? 😉 It’s set in the future, and classic creatures of mythology have been genetically engineered. There aren’t a whole lot of humans left, and that’s a lot of conflict between different types of sentient beings. Honestly, though, it’s not as edgy as Elric could be done (and still be true enough to the books).

I could make a lot of other suggestions for things I think could be adapted well (when Amazon had a public lists feature, which they no longer do, I had one just for that), but I think Elric is the best of the ones similar to GoT (in scope, in tone, in characters…and it is known and beloved for geeks, but probably not that well-known to the mainstreamers).

I’d be interested to hear your suggestions. If HBO was looking for a series to fill the hole which will be left behind when GoT ends (and not counting possible spinoffs), what would you recommend? I would suggest a series with complexity (it probably needs to be able to run for fifty episodes), and being HBO, with the potential for violence and nudity/sex.

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! 🙂 

Some highlights: no additional cost to borrow, free to own

March 10, 2017

Some highlights: no additional cost to borrow, free to own

Some people are what I call “piece buyers”: they see a book that they want, and they pay for that book on an individual basis. Amazon has lots and lots of sales for them.

That’s certainly the traditional way to go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I still do some piece buying, although I would guess it is all for gifts for people not on my account.

Another way to go is to use a subscription service, what I call a “subser”. With a subser, you don’t pay for each book, and you don’t own the book (technically, when you buy a Kindle book, you are buying a license to read it). You pay a set amount, and then can borrow books to read as part of that.

Amazon’s subser is

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

You can get a thirty day free trial, or you typically pay $9.99 a month (it’s sometimes on sale for more time for less per month.

There are currently more than one and a half million titles (!) in KU for the USA…many times the total number of titles which were available when the Kindle store launched getting on towards ten years ago.

You can borrow up to ten at a time (and each one can be usually be read on multiple devices registered on the same account at the same time…typically up to six).

It seems to me like Amazon has recently probably upped their spending on titles for KU…I would say the selection is getting better. That’s actually what prompted this post.

Another thing which could be used as a subser, but for most people, the free to borrow books are an ancillary benefit, is Amazon Prime and its

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

There are 1,086 titles there at time of writing…much less than one percent of the KU titles, but there are still some good choices.

Both KU and PR are books to borrow. There are also tens of thousands of free to own books from the Kindle store at Amazon.com. Many of them are in the public domain (not under copyright protection), and some of those are some of my favorite books.

Here is a search for the 89,886 at time of writing:

free Amazon.com Kindle books (at AmazonSmile*)

Okay, let me point out some highlights. I’ll start with ones which are exclusively Kindle Unlimited, then do Prime Reading, then do free to own (anybody in the USA with an Amazon.com account can get those). I think I’ll do three of each, and I won’t repeat the same book (even though the ones I mention for PR will be in KU). Note: books can go in and out of these categories, so as always, check the price before you click, tap, or eye gaze (the last one is in virtual reality) that title).

Kindle Unlimited

Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert [Kindle in Motion] by Patricia Cornwell

Amazon even sent me an e-mail on this one, which was released February 28, 2017. Cornwell, of course, is a bestselling author…this one is non-fiction about Jack the Ripper (we are in a bit of a “Ripperssance” right, now with a new Time after Time TV series based on the Nicholas Meyer movie). It’s also a “Kindle in Motion” book, which includes animation…that’s viewable on a tablet or phone, but the book can be read (without the animations) on an EBR (E-Book Reader). I will borrow this for my Kindle Fire, because I’m curious about the animation elements. The hardcover is #1,098 in Kindle books right now, which is quite high (and that’s without the animations, of course).

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Soon to be a Hulu original series (I may watch in Virtual Reality…Hulu has done some really interesting things with their VR app), it’s rated 4.1 out of 5 stars with 3,202 customer reviews at time of writing. It’s #39 in the Kindle store right now (paid e-books), and would cost $9.99 to buy. It’s a dark dystopian novel, but critically acclaimed.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

3.8 stars, 523 reviews, it’s a young adult book which inspired a Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning movie.

There’s three for KU…on to Prime Reading. Again, if you are a USA Amazon Prime member, you can borrow these at no additional cost.

Prime Reading

The One That Got Away by Simon Wood

4.2 stars, 5150 reviews…Simon Wood has sold over a million copies of books. This one is a crime thriller.

Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire Book 1) by J.R. Rain

This is a series starter that’s gone on to thirteen books…884 customer reviews with an average of 4.3 stars. In this urban fantasy, Samantha Moon is a private investigator…and a vampire.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A Man Booker Prize winner and massive bestseller, it’s rated 4.4 stars with 6,718 customer reviews…that’s remarkably good! It also was the basis for a 2012 multiple-Oscar winning movie. It would be hard to describe a book that would be considered to be a better value for a no-added cost offer, unless it was brand new and topping the bestseller lists.

Three and three…now for free! 😉 Free to own, that is…again, on the above, you are borrowing them as part of a membership. These next ones are yours to own, free and clear. You don’t even need a Kindle to read them (you can use free Kindle reading apps on other types of devices), although there is a $20 off sale right now for National Reading Month (gee, isn’t that every month?) 😉 on everything except the top of the line Oasis:

Well, I thought I’d check the most reviewed books first, and the number one was this

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References) by Crossway Bibles

It has 8,826 reviews with 4.5 stars.

Next, I’m going to recommend the original fourteen (Wizard of) Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Regular readers know I’m a big Oz fan, but it’s particularly relevant to read them now with the bleak adaptation Emerald City running on NBC. The famous fourteen (in order) are

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz
  • Ozma of Oz
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
  • The Road to Oz
  • The Emerald City of Oz
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz
  • The Scarecrow of Oz
  • Rinkitink in Oz
  • The Lost Princess of Oz
  • The Tin Woodman of Oz
  • The Magic of Oz
  • Glinda of Oz

I’d read them from the beginning straight through…hang on through the first book, they really change after that (for a good reason).

Note that there are other Oz books…I’d take considerable care with reading The Woggle-Bug Book, which is written by Baum but doesn’t fit the rest of the series well at all. It’s an adaptation of a stage play and has a lot of ethnic humor, including the use of the “n word”. The first book by the successor author Ruth Plumly Thompson (who is quite good, although not as deep), The Royal Book of Oz, is also commonly available (being old enough to be in the public domain).

If you are reading the books because of the TV series…there are elements in the series from quite a few of them, and it’s not particularly tied to The Emerald City of Oz. If you only want to read one, I’d go with the second book, The Marvelous Land.

Finally, I think I’ll go with

The Country of the Blind, and Other Stories by H.G. Wells

This is a collection of short stories, and The Country of the Blind is one of my favorite short stories by anyone.

There you go! Three free for anyone, three for Prime members, and three for KU members. I would consider all of these books worth piece buying (although I haven’t looked at the Cornwell book yet, it’s a pioneer, at least).

Do you have other recommendations for free/no cost added books for me and my readers? Would you caution people against one of the books I’ve suggested? Feel free to let us 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!

* 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.

 

Read the Oscar nominees 2017

February 26, 2017

Read the Oscar nominees 2017

The Oscars are Sunday night. I follow those quite closely…I’ve been doing an Oscar prediction contest for decades. Last year, we were 90% right, which wasn’t atypical. The deadline for entries is noon Pacific time on Sunday: if you want to play, you still can at

https://goo.gl/forms/NqSNqNS6Y3ZS4Q232

However, not everybody follows the Oscars…or watches the movies, for that matter. 🙂

Great movies are often based on books (or short stories or plays…) and a number of this year’s Oscar nominees have that origin.

In case you want to read any of them:

Arrival (Best Picture, Directing, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Production Design)

based on

“The Story of Your Life” short story collected in Stories of Your Life and Others (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Ted Chiang
4.3 out of 5 stars | 577 customer reviews

Elle (Lead Actress)

based on

Oh…by Philippe Djian

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (Costumes, Production Design)

based on

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (at AmazonSmile*)

by J.K. Rowling (writing as Newt Scamander)

4.4 stars | 628 customer reviews

Fences (Best Picture, Lead Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay)

based on

the play Fences by August Wilson

Hidden Figures (Best Picture, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay)

based on

Hidden Figures (at AmazonSmile*)
by Margot Lee Shetterly
4.5 stars | 662 reviews

I Am Not Your Negro (Documentary Feature)

not based on a specific book by author James Baldwin

The Jungle Book (Visual Effects)

based on

The Jungle Book (at AmazonSmile*)

by Rudyard Kipling
4.4 stars | 847 reviews

Life, Animated (Documentary Feature)

based on

Life, Animated (at AmazonSmile*)

by Ron Suskind
4.8 stars | 277 reviews

Lion (Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original score)

based on

A Long Way Home (at AmazonSmile*)
by Saroo Brierley
4.6 stars | 538 reviews

A Man Called Ove (Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hairstyling)

based on

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman (available in Kindle format, but with text-to-speech access blocked, so I’m not linking)

My Life as a Zucchini (Animated Feature)

based on

Autobiographie D’une Courgette
by Gilles Paris

Nocturnal Animals (Supporting Actor)

based on

Tony & Susan (at AmazonSmile*)
by Austin Wright
3.2 stars | 117 reviews

Silence (Cinematography)

based on

Silence by Shusaku Endo

Sully (Sound Editing)

based on

Sully: My Search for What Really Matters (at AmazonSmile*)

by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III
4.6 stars | 271 customer reviews

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.

 

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.

On sale for $3.99 today: Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy

February 15, 2017

On sale for $3.99 today: Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy

 

I did just write about the

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

yesterday, but today’s has one of my favorite authors. 🙂 I knew Gerald Durrell more from books about collecting (live) exotic animals (I used to travel a lot and I read A Zoo in My Luggage and more at that time), and this one is a bit different…but still involves animals and Durrell’s amusing writing (4.6 stars out of 5 with 134 customer reviews at time of writing).

It’s an omnibus of three titles:

  • My Family and Other Animals
  • Birds, Beasts and Relatives
  • The Garden of the Gods

which also form the inspiration for The Durrells in Corfu on Masterpiece Theatre. I don’t usually buy books for myself now…I read books which are gifts, which I already own, or are through

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

If you have Prime, you have

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

which I have as well, but I think those are all part of KU, so that’s still how I think of them (and there are many more in KU than in PR).

However, I justify this one because I got an Amazon gift card for my recent birthday…so it’s still a gift. 😉

This one is also a good one for our “guest bookshelf” on our guest Kindle (for when we have people staying with us).

Remember that you can buy it at the discount and either delay it for delivery for an appropriate gift giving occasion, or print it out to give whenever you want.

Do check the price (it’s $3.99 in the USA Kindle store at time of writing for all three books in one edition…a big savings) before clicking, tapping, or eye-gazing (the last one is in Virtual Reality) that Buy button…this price may not apply in your country, for one thing.

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!

* 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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