Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

June 12, 2017

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

“I’ll make a note of it.”
–Jerome “Curly Howard” Horwitz

We are coming up on the ten year anniversary of the release of the Kindle.

You might think they had it all figured out by now…nope. 🙂

One of the areas that has seemed clunky has been dealing with the notes and highlights you can make in Kindle books.

Now, I need to say first that I love data (both entry and retrieval). 🙂 I go back to Personal Pearl, Foxpro, and beyond. I always remember teaching a database class to a group, and I was explaining how fields and records work, and I said something like, “Remember when you used to play with those little plastic boxes that you put 3 x 5 cards into when you were a kid? You know, with the alphabet cards that stuck up…and no?” That was true, though…I really did play with those. I think they were supposed to be for recipes and such, but I would write down animal species and sort them, that sort of thing.

I still do quite a bit with data…for example, my timelines at the History Project are really about data entry and retrieval.

So, would I care about good data retrieval with quotes from books? Absolutely! After all, I actually wrote a book of quotations:

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

which, when it was released was (very briefly) the #1 book of quotations in any format at Amazon.

I also know most people haven’t loved it, but I loved doing it. It actually primarily came out of one of those plastic boxes with 3×5 cards…typed mostly on a typewriter.

You can imagine that I was excited that I could just highlight a quotation in a book and have it easily retrievable!

Well, that didn’t really turn out to be the case.

For years, we’ve been going to

https://kindle.amazon.com/

I wrote about some changes they made back in 2010:

Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com

Still, I haven’t been able to just go in and pull out a bunch of quotations and have them sourced with the book, the author, preferably the character…and do it with a simple export.

It’s always been copy and paste, one quotation at a time (to have any chance to use them).

They are making a change.

Supposedly, customers got e-mails about this…but I don’t seem to have one. 🙂

This is the new site:

https://read.amazon.com/kp/notebook

The old site is accessible until July 3rd.

I do think the new one looks better, and it supposedly looks a lot better on mobile.

However, it seems like a lot of features may be disappearing. Maybe they are going somewhere else, but all I am seeing on the new one is the notes, with no improved way to export them.

That would mean that following people (and being followed) was going away.

My best guess? They think all those features are served by Goodreads, which Amazon owns.

I suppose that’s not too bad. They probably should just integrate your notes into Goodreads, too. 🙂

I do want to say that it’s nice to see Amazon still paying attention to the Kindle experience, and working to improve it.

What do you think? When was the last time you went to that kindle.amazon.com site…if ever? Did you get an e-mail about the change? Do you have a system you like to use for book quotations? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

LAST HOURS TO ENTER! 339 people have entered at time of writing.

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 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! :) 

Amazon Shopping comes to Fire TV…but you can’t buy Kindle books

June 7, 2017

Amazon Shopping comes to Fire TV…but you can’t buy Kindle books

This was both a very big positive and a disappointment…although that disappointment does bring up what has seemed to me for years to be a simple change Amazon could make.

While they (somewhat surprisingly) didn’t make a big deal about it, the product page for

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

says it was released May 24th. I find that a bit unlikely, since there are only 27 customer reviews at the time of writing (with a 4.3 out of 5 stars average).

This is an app tailored for the Fire TV family:

So, what happens is that you can shop at Amazon…on your TV.

To me, this is actually a big deal.

There are times when my Significant Other and I are sitting on the couch, both looking for basically the same thing at Amazon (we recently had to buy a new vacuum cleaner, for example…the old one broke). I might be on my laptop with it on the arm of the couch, and my SO is on a Kindle Fire.

When one of us finds something, we show our device to the other person…that can be awkward.

If we had the Amazon shopping app up on the Fire, we could easily both look.

It also happens that I see something on a TV show, maybe on the news, but maybe in a documentary or a fiction program, and want to buy it. I might hear about a book, or see some cool toy being demonstrated. 🙂

The book thing brings up my disappointment: I checked several Kindle editions, and it would say, “This item is not available on Fire TV.” I get that you can’t read the book on Fire TV (although that might be nice with a coffee table type book or a kids’ book), but I should be able to buy it that way. I can buy the physical book, just not the e-book.

After all, we can specify a default download device by going to

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

going to Your Devices, finding the device we want, clicking or tapping the Actions ellipsis (…) and setting it as the default.

A book I bought on Fire TV could simply be delivered there.

However, I have always wanted to option to just books I buy put initially into the Amazon Cloud, without specifying a device.

One argument against that might be that they don’t know if you have a compatible device then (although they do know…they would have to look differently)…but why can’t I buy something for which I don’t have a device now, but might have one later?

It might have something to do with the licensing with the publishers, I suppose.

Outside of the Kindle book thing, I think they’ve done a nice job with the implementation.

The first thing you see (the first time you go in, at any rate…it seems to remember where you were) is a number of panels for special features. I saw (in this order…but you might not):

  • Our Guide to Spring Dresses
  • echo dot (capitalized that way)
  • Outdoor Living (looked like it would include what we call “garden dwellers”…and we do buy those)
  • top 100 TOYS
  • It’s Play Time (dog toys…another thing we buy)
  • New Ideas for the Style Star
  • See life from a new perspective (photography drones)
  • Go Explore (gear up)
  • Smart and Secure (Smart Home Devices)
  • Outdoor Entertaining
  • Discover Peg and Awl
  • Treat your pet
  • TECH toys
  • Yard Prep & Gardening (we recently bought a pole saw)
  • 10 Key Men’s Pieces for Spring (Amazon Fashion)
  • Star Wars Vehicles
  • The Everyday Men’s Suit
  • Snap, Print, Share
  • Capture different (GoPros)
  • PAMPER YOUR SKIN
  • Fill your home with music (wireless and Bluetooth speakers)
  • Music the way it was meant to sound (Bluetooth headphones…I’ve bought a couple of cheap pairs)
  • Pools & Leisure
  • Amazon’s Choice (musical instruments)
  • 1970’s INSPIRED BEAUTY
  • Desktops for all your needs
  • Laptops for all your needs
  • LIQUID EYELINER
  • LUXURY MEN’S GROOMING

This certainly seems to me like it is based on our previous purchases (and browsing), but it might be a massive coincidence…if somebody gets a chance to check to see if they see the same panels, I’d appreciate you letting me know.

Beyond those featured sales, there are two more discovery options.

One is Search. It’s a “click a letter”style, oddly: this seems like a great place for speech recognition. However, if they do port this over to Virtual Reality, it would work well for that (clicking by “eye gazing”, perhaps).

The other one, and this very useful and the work around for the Kindle books, is our Amazon “wish lists”…although, only the ones we’ve made public (but public by invitation). I also get that…they say it is for privacy, and that makes sense, since otherwise, anybody with access to the TV could see it. You might have a wish list for the gifts you’ve already bought for the season, for one thing.

There was also a Settings choice in the top navigation…you couldn’t really set anything there, but it did have the legal terms. The version number of the app is 1.0.0.0, and they gave a feedback e-mail address: feedback-tv@amazon.com. That’s an interesting choice…not “Fire TV”, but just “tv”.

It said, “Hello, Bufo” in my top right corner, and I thought I could perhaps select that to sign in as someone else, but that didn’t appear to be the case. The Fire TV is already signed into an account, and I assume it uses that.

I’m pretty impressed with this, outside of the Kindle book purchase limitation!

Bonus story:

I started writing this one this morning, and then I saw this news. I flipped it into the I Love My Kindle Flipboard magazine, and then not too long afterwards, a reader alerted me via private e-mail (thanks, reader!).

CNN Money story by Julia Horowitz: “Amazon Prime debuts discount for people on government benefits”

Here’s the key point:

“To receive the discounted Amazon Prime membership [$5.99 a month instead of $10.99], buyers will need to have an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. They’ll have to re-register every 12 months, and can do so a total of four times.”

Now, $5.99 still seems like it might be a challenge, but for people at a certain disposable income level, this could be really significant. I didn’t see that you could gift it at that discount, but you could, I suppose, give someone who qualified the money separately.

This is one of those things that Amazon doesn’t have to do. They do get Public Relations benefits out of it, and perhaps, someone who used while receiving benefits might eventually become a full price Prime member (and regardless, might buy things they need at Amazon instead of a brick-and-mortar), but I do think it is nice.

This blog isn’t just about what I think, though. 🙂 I’m curious about what you think: will you shop on your TV? Why does Amazon want us to only buy Kindle books from a device which can read them? What do you think of the discounted Prime for people on benefits? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 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! :) 

Now you can read your Kindle books in Virtual Reality

May 24, 2017

Now you can read your Kindle books in Virtual Reality

Woo hoo!

Although, I’m sure some of you are saying, “Hoo boy…who cares?” 😉

Absolutely, the number of people who want to read books in virtual reality at this point is probably vanishingly small…even smaller than the e-book market was before the Kindle was released in 2007.

There still aren’t that many people in what I call VAM space (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed&Merged Reality). There will be a lot more before the end of the year (Google’s just announced a very interesting, stand-alone device…no phone, no computer required, but we don’t know the price yet), and within about three years, some people will be in VAM space quite often, I think. In five years, many people will be in it for special uses…I want to credit Robert Scoble and Seth Israel’s book

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

for suggesting this timeline (and they’ve been quite accurate in the past).

Next, they need to also want to read e-books. The number of people who read books at all regularly is quite a minority in itself, so we definitely are talking about an unusual population.

I’ve been wanting to read my Kindle books in VAM space, and I hadn’t found a way. I did find a way to read some other books, but not my purchases from the Kindle store.

Why do I want to do that?

When I’m wearing my

Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

at work (at lunch, or on a break), it is uniquely isolating. It gives me a real sense of being somewhere else, which, while I love my job, can be a good mental reset.

Right now, I may watch Netflix or Hulu, and I do play some games (but gaming is not the majority of my time in VAM space, contrary to what I commonly hear people assume). However, I want to read. 🙂 If I play a game for a bit of a reset, then I may want to spend some time exercising and reading.

I do want to be clear: we aren’t where I want to be yet. I need some way to hands-free change “pages”, so I can read while doing floor work, like crunches. I can watch video that way, but with the current implementation, I tap the side of my head (really my headset) to change a page. That’s not convenient…I still expect Amazon to make a big move into VAM space before the end of the year, and while that’s most likely to be Prime Video at a minimum, a book reading “experience” is also a possibility. Audiobooks/text-to-speech would be another way to go, but in this post, I’m talking about sight reading.

Here’s how it works:

I’m using Samsung Internet on my Gear (my phone, which powers it, is a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge…one generation back, now).

I go to the Kindle Cloud Reader:

https://read.amazon.com/

This next step is what I believe is new, and is what made it work.

I select the menu in my top right corner of the main screen, then select, “Request Computer Version” (you can see the little selector circle…in this app, I tap the side of the headset to choose it…in some apps, I “eye gaze”).

Then, I was able to log into the site…and I could use it like I could on my laptop!

Well, it’s a little clunkier…I can’t go back as easily, but I can still read.

Here’s a shot of my library…I don’t usually show you the book covers, but I feel like these are small enough and the purpose is right for it to fall under Fair Use.

This is a shot of what it looks like reading a book (the public domain title The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs…I watched the Doug McClure movie recently as part of the revived Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d already seen the movie, which I want so MST3K doesn’t spoil it for me…but I must say, I really like the revival! They are doing a lot more, I think, with the production numbers, which I enjoy):

Now, this is a 360 degree environment…I can look around, even look behind me, but the book is in front of me…like it was on a movie screen, but I find it a comfortable size to read. In fact, I’d love to get more words on the page, so I didn’t have to tap so much. 🙂 Hmm…I may be able to change that, I’ll look. I’m sure Amazon could do something that would advance through the book on its own.

I can change the size of the image…that’s part of Samsung Internet, although it doesn’t change dramatically.

One nice thing is that I can change the “background” (but is it really a background when it surround me?). That could even be a 360 degree picture of my own…maybe Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

will do that. 🙂 We did an interview about VAM space, with an emphasis on Amazon and books…and I know Len makes 360 videos, so probably has images to use.

Again, this is in no way everything I want. When I’m on a plane later this year, I’m assuming I’ll be able to use my headset (I’m traveling domestically…and the headset isn’t powered, but who knows?). I’d plan on reading on my Kindle Fire, too, but I can see switching between games, videos, and books without taking off the headset (I would need to download some books before I go, unless I can connect to wi-fi…that’s what I’ve been doing so far to read, streaming it).

We are on the bottom rungs of the ladder which is the future!

Bonus deal:

I know this is likely to be too late for some of you, but I couldn’t get to this until tonight. Today’s

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

is “Up to 80% off top book club picks by Goodreads on Kindle”. Check them out…there are some good deals!


My current Amazon Giveaways

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

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • 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 Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.
Start:May 20, 2017 5:20 AM PDT
End:May 27, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • 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
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

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.

 

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Alexa Calling edition

May 11, 2017

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Alexa Calling edition

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. In these posts, I address a topic in question and answer form. I write both the answers and the questions, but I try to address things I have actually seen/heard asked, or anticipate people asking. I am not an Amazon employee, and I will link to official information when possible. While this series refers to “Kindle Questions”, the blog has, since its regular publication starting in August 2009, expanded to cover e-publishing and Amazon generally.

Q. I heard Amazon introduced some new gadget yesterday, and that it has something to do with calling…maybe video calling. What’s up?

A. Amazon introduced the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the fourth type of device in the Echo family. It follows the original Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), and the Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*). The new device does have a screen, a 7″ screen similar to some tablets.

Q. And one of the things that’s new is that this Echo Show can make phone calls?

A. That is new, but all of the Echo devices (with the exception of the Tap) will soon be able to make phone calls. People will even be able to make phone calls with the Alexa app, which is available for both iPhones and Android phones. That’s all part of a new service called Alexa Calling and Messaging (at AmazonSmile*).

Q. It’s a phone calling service? What does that cost?

A. It’s a free service.

Q. You mean I can dump my phone bill and just use this and save all that money?

A. Not exactly. The phone calls require wi-fi, and while some cities have it free in public places, and some businesses, like hotels and Starbucks may offer it, you generally are paying for it somewhere. 

Q. I pay for my internet service, is that what you mean?

A. Yes. You might be paying a cable company, for example, for your internet, and then you have a wi-fi modem hooked into that, which broadcasts the signal. 

Q. But I wouldn’t have to pay the phone part of my bill? I could just pay for internet and maybe TV?

A. That could work in your home. However, it only works with people with a compatible Echo device or the Alexa app. The Alexa app is free, but not everybody has it.

Q. I can’t just call any old phone number?

A. No. The person you are calling has to have the Alexa app, and they have to be in your contacts on your phone.

Q. Wait, I still need a phone?

A. The app is going to be on your phone. Also, it needs a phone number when you set it up, although it doesn’t use the phone when you make the call…you can do calls with your phone turned off.

Q. Why does it need my phone number, then?

A. It’s part of the set up. Amazon says, “…this feature can use phone data but doesn’t use text messages and minutes from your cell phone plan.”

Q. So it uses my data plan?

A. Apparently, yes.

Q. It sounds a little more limited than I might have thought.

A. Its capabilities may expand, but right now, it is limited to people who have an Amazon account, the Alexa app, and a cell phone number. It is also currently limited to customers in the USA. 

Q. And they need to be in my phone’s contacts?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay…how do I make a call?

A. With an Echo device, you just say, “Alexa, call [contact name].” With the Alexa app, you tap the Conversation icon (which looks like a word balloon in a comic book), then tap Contacts, then tap the Call icon (which looks like a phone handset).

Q. Can the other person answer by voice?

A. Yes. Instead of the blue or red/orange rings we see, the light will be green. Alexa will announce who is calling, and the person you are calling can either say, “Answer”, or “Ignore”.

Q. What if I don’t want to get calls at all for a while?

A. There is a “Do Not Disturb” option. You can turn it on by voice by saying, “Alexa, don’t disturb me.” To get messages and phone call again, you can say, “Alexa, turn off Do Not Disturb”. To turn it on or off using the app, go to Menu-Settings- select your device-Do Not Disturb. You can turn it on and off, and you can schedule a daily “quiet time”. It can be on for one device at the same time it is off for other devices.

Q. I use my Echo for alarms and we use a Dot to set timers in the kitchen: will Do Not Disturb make those not work?

A. No, it only affects calls and messages through Alexa.

Q. You’ve mentioned messages a couple of times: are those text messages?

A. You can speak them, and your recipient will hear them…like a voicemail.

Q. Oh, I meant to ask: do they hear my phone call, and, I guess the messages, in my voice or in Alexa’s?

A. It’s your voice. In the Alexa app, there is a “play” button for them to hear your message. It also transcribes your message, but just like a cell phone, that can make mistakes. You can edit it before you send it.

Q. We could communicate silently, then, like if one of us is at work?

A. Yes.

Q. The written messages are in the app?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I delete them?

A. You can swipe them away on an iPhone. On an Android device, tap and hold the Conversation (not an individual message) and you’ll get a trash can icon at the top of the screen. By the way, if you tap and hold an individual message, the phone icon at the top will change to a two page symbol. Tap that, and you will copy the message. You can  then paste it into another app, like a text message.

Q. Do I say the punctuation, like I would on my phone?

A. Remember that if you are sending a voice message, the person would hear you say, “Period. New paragraph”. You can use the dictation feature on your phone’s keyboard, but be careful about which is which.

Q. And I can also use this with the screen on the…Echo Show to do videocalls, like Facetime?

A. Yes. 

Q. Can I do videocalls on my Fire tablet or my Fire TV? They have Alexa.

A. Not at this time. They are not supported for Alexa Calling.

Q. How about through the Alexa app…phone to phone?

A. Reportedly, yes, but ILMK has not tested that yet. I will test it and update this post.

Q. Speaking of testing, can I test out the system to see how it works?

A. Yes. You should have a conversation from yourself (the message will have Amazon’s text). You can tap the phone icon there to call your Echo. Your Alexa app has to first update to the new version (2.0.1050.1 on my Galaxy S7 Edge), and you have to have signed up for it.

Q. Anything else?

A. There is also a “drop-in” feature on the Echo Show (but not, apparently, on the Alexa app). You name specific people who can use it, and they can videocall you. You have ten seconds to reject the call, or to request audio only. Otherwise, the caller can see you, or at least the room where your Echo Show is. Do Not Disturb would presumably stop that, but this feature is on the Echo Show which has not yet been released (it is suppose to be released on June 28th of this year), and we don’t have full documentation. The testing that we’ve done so far has been with the app.

Q. That kind of sounds creepy.

A. It’s not going to be for everyone, even though you have control over it. It could be a great monitor for seniors or those with mobility challenges…or to check on your pets during the day. Amazon also says, “Amazon Customer Service is not able to see or review your messages, voice messages, calls, or contacts.” 

Q. Speaking of privacy, can I control who uses the feature on my devices?

A. No. Amazon specifically says there is no password protection for it, and points out that anyone can hear the calls in your home.

Q. You know, that quote you had about not being able to see it says, “Amazon Customer Service”: can anybody else at Amazon see it? Could law enforcement get information or videos from Amazon with a warrant?

A. I don’t know that, but it seems possible. There has been a court case involving information from an Echo already. I didn’t see anything that specifically said information would not be stored. 

Q. I guess that’s not that different from my other devices. Any other speculation?

A. Alexa is open to third-party “skill” writers, and the capabilities are constantly expanding. This post is about the calling/messaging service, and one thing it doesn’t do right now is call 911. It wouldn’t be hard for law enforcement to set that up (by having a compatible device, as some of them do with texting now), but that capability may come through an app. Similarly, someone may set up a way to call other people who don’t have the Alexa app or an Echo, perhaps through some forwarding mechanism. One big speculation about Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): Amazon recently introduced the Echo Look. It’s probably not a coincidence that one is the “Look” and the other one is the “Show”. The Look has great cameras, and that could network with the Show to provide augmented reality. The Look would see you, and the Show would show you on the screen in another reality, or a movie, or just an outfit you are considering buying. That’s just speculation, though.


Do you have additional questions or have you found out other cool features or limitations? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaways

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • 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
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

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

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • 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 Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.

Start:May 10, 2017 7:44 AM PDT
End:May 17, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

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.

Amazon Giveaways: so fun I’m running four (update: 5!) right now :)

April 12, 2017

Amazon Giveaways: so fun I’m running four (update: 5!) right now 🙂

It’s been a bit over two years since Amazon introduced

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

The idea is simple. You can give something away through Amazon. Amazon handles everything…determining the winner (according to your choice of method), taking the payment, and delivering the prize(s). If you already buy things from Amazon, it’s pretty painless…in fact, I’ve just done my first real ones and I’m finding it really fun!

Why would you give something away to a stranger?

Mostly, it’s going to be for marketing purposes. However, think of marketing very loosely…you could just be supporting a cause, or even celebrating a birthday (it’s up to you whether or not Amazon lists the giveaway publicly…you could have it be just for people to whom you give a link).

My guess is that quite a few of you would also enjoy doing this…especially authors who might be marketing their own books, but it could be anything. I’m going to give you some information on it first, then I’ll list the four I’m running now.

Amazon “how it works” page for Giveaways (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon Giveaways FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) (at AmazonSmile*)

So, breaking this down…

You go to the Amazon product page of something you want to giveaway. It seems like most things are eligible: I’m doing e-books, but I’m also doing an electronics item. I think it probably parallels what you can give as gifts for specific people: that would mean no apps or subscription items, which is what I find when I check.

There will be a link at the bottom of the page to set up a giveaway…you can search on the page for “giveaway”. 😉

Then, there will be some decisions to make:

How many of the item do you want to giveaway? You can do from one up to fifty (although that may be affected by the type of item). Remember that you’ll be charged for each one. With e-books, you won’t get a refund if they aren’t all claimed. You can either continue the sweepstakes (if that’s what you choose), or gift certificate you can giveaway.

Then you choose a giveaway type:

  • Sweepstakes (at the end of the sweepstakes)
  • Random Instant Win (3 in 9, for example)
  • Lucky Number Instant Win (every third, for example)
  • First-come, First-served

You don’t have to make a requirement for people to enter, but if you do…

  • Follow author on Amazon
  • Follow you (or someone) on Twitter
  • Tweet a message you specify
  • Watch a Video Short (hosted at Amazon)
  • Watch a YouTube Video (can enter after watching for two minutes)
  • Answer a poll

You can see the possibilities here.

I’ve done two follow the authors, one watch a YouTube video, and one follow me on Twitter. 🙂

Then you’ll pick a duration…that is clearly impacted by the item. I’ve seen different durations, I think from up to fifteen days to up to thirty.

The last big choice is whether you want it to be public or not…whether you want Amazon to list it for anybody.

Why wouldn’t you do that?

You could do the giveaway for a party, or for an incentive for people at your work. In that case, you don’t want somebody not involved to get it.

After that, you need to write an intro message, a “thanks for entering” message, and a winner’s message…I think you are required to do all three, although I’m not sure. You also name the giveaway, but in your name (I’ve seen organizational names there), and you can put up an image.

Those parts are creative, so they can be some work.

Once you are finished, it takes a little while for it to go live (oh, and you need to pay for it, of course). The e-books happened quite quickly, the electronics item took a bit longer.

Amazon sends you a link you can share, and it will appear on the

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

page if you said it could be public. Amazon may also alert people through an e-mail to which people can subscribe.

I’ve been astonished at how well it has worked! One of them has been averaging about 500 entries a day!

Here are the ones I’m running right now. I think I’m going to start listing them at the end of all my posts I’m not sure yet if I’m going to do giveaways all the time…they do cost money. I’ll have a better sense if they are justified or not after these first few finish.

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

by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Two winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b079fbab9711319a

Start: Apr 8, 2017 11:39 AM PDT
End: Apr 16, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Follow Robert Scoble on Amazon

Entrants at time of writing: 163


Blitzwolf VR Headset (at AmazonSmile*)

in honor of “Virtually Mike & Nora”

One winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ab8bc9943c50e4f

Start:Apr 8, 2017 1:25 PM PDT
End:Apr 15, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • Watch a YouTube video (on the giveaway page)
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Entrants at time of writing: 163


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

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

Ten winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Start:Apr 8, 2017 12:05 PM PDT
End:Apr 23, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (I like that it is Amazon and not Twitter…probably less intrusive for most people)

Entrants at time of writing: 1


Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)

by George Takei (in honor of the actor’s 80th birthday on April 20, 2017)

1 winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0a55a7230ccfd4aa

Start:Apr 11, 2017 3:56 PM PDT
End:Apr 21, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter (that’s the Twitter account for my  The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Entrants at time of writing: 64

===

Update: I’m also giving away Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle in honor of the beloved children’s author’s 101st birthday 4/12/2017!

Happy 101st birthday, Beverly Cleary! (and a giveaway)


If you enter, good luck! I figure I won’t be told who wins, but if you do, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to promote them…and if you are doing a giveaway that relates to the topics of this blog (e-books, Amazon media devices…I’ll make the call), you can mention it in a comment on this post. If you have other thoughts or questions, you can also do that with a comment. 🙂

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.

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

March 15, 2017

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

Content is king.

People like to say that, and the point of it is, that it doesn’t matter so much what a delivery system is, if you don’t want what it delivers.

You could have the most magnificent home library in the world, with a spiral staircase and sliding ladders, but if the books you have it in are boring to you, you won’t be happy. The floor to ceiling library in our home literally has bookcases in it we bought from Ikea for $5 apiece. They have a section where you can buy beat up, scratched, pre-assembled pieces…and I figured there would be so many books on them (we have something like 10,000 paperbooks in our home) you’d never see the scratches. 🙂

When the

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

was first released, there weren’t a lot of “skills” (the Alexa equivalent of “apps” for a SmartPhone). Now, the

Alexa Skills store on Amazon.com (at AmazonSmile*)

has over 10,000, including some really useful and fun things (banking, trivia, entertainment, big brand names, and cool independents).

I’ve predicted that Amazon will get big into Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality this year. I’ve been using the

Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for just a few months. I’m now convinced that VAMM is ready for PrimeTime. Augmented Reality has had a “killer app” with Pokemon Go, but that was phone-based. Some would argue that we don’t have a killer app to get people to wear head-mounted VAMM yet…but I find watching commercial video to be a big attraction. Both Hulu and Netflix have apps, and they’ve both improved a lot. That’s the killer app for me…much better than watching on my TV at home. Now, Amazon, about Prime Video… 🙂

In terms of internet browsers, my preferred browser is Maxthon…but I am in Google Chrome right now. Why? Extensions. Chrome has some great extensions, which again are like Alexa skills or iPhone apps: little programs which often serve a single purpose. OneTab and Merge All Windows have made Chrome much more attractive for me, but there are some book ones as well.

I told you in January about

A great Google Chrome extension for eReaderIQ

but I want to thank

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for a heads up on a brilliant one called, simply, Library Extension.

I installed it this morning and it works beautifully!

You tell it what your public library is (you can have more than one), and the interface to do that was very simple. It already has the USA selected for me (that might just be the default, or it may have taken something from my browser for location). Then, I just had to tell it my state and county, and it was ready to go!

Then, when I went to a book at Amazon…I tested it with

The Hunger Games (at AmazonSmile)

first.

It took a couple of seconds to tell me that 35 of 56 “copies” were available at my library (those look like p-books), 5 of 8 audiobooks were available, and 0 of 2 e-books. I could then click, tap (or, I presume, eye gaze in virtual reality but I didn’t try that) a borrow button, and I was taken to Overdrive.

There’s no charge for any of this, and this is likely to save some of you a lot of money! I don’t tend to borrow books from our public library, in part because, well, we can afford books, and I don’t want to keep someone of limited means from being able to borrow one because I borrowed it. I love public libraries, and am absolutely fine with anybody borrowing from them…it’s just not something I do much.

Obviously, you won’t have Chrome on your EBR (E-Book Reader), and you might have it on your Fire…but you can borrow the book on your computer and then have it delivered to your EBR.

EBOOK FRIENDLY is really international, and they say, “Currently, the extension supports over 3,200 libraries in seven countries: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the Cayman Islands.”

It’s also worth noting that it works at a number of sites, not just Amazon (including the Amazon-owned Goodreads, but also Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and others).

I’ll be curious about your experiences with it…you can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. Hopefully, it opens up a lot more possibilities for you!

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.

A great Google Chrome extension for eReaderIQ

January 16, 2017

A great Google Chrome extension for eReaderIQ

I have often referred to

eReaderIQ

as the best resource for Kindleers on the web.

I’m not associated with the site, although we have had e-mail correspondence (just as a user making suggestions).

They have a number of free services:

  • You can track a Kindle store book to see when it drops in price an amount you specify
  • You can track an author
  • You can be notified when a book first becomes available for the Kindle
  • You can search the Kindle store in a much more sophisticated way that Amazon gives you

Well, I was excited to see that there is a new “extension” for the Google Chrome web browser!

This is a free little program that you add to Chrome, and when you are on a Kindle store book page, it brings some of the functionality of eReaderIQ into your Kindle store experience.

My favorite thing is that I can see the price tracking.

It’s possible they’ll give me permission to post a screenshot here (or send me one…I haven’t contacted them yet), but I’d suggest you try it yourself (it’s free).

What this means is that I can see if a book has ever been on sale before, and when. That can help you guess if it might go on sale again…no guarantee, but if it goes on sale periodically, that can be an indicator (as can be if it never goes on sale).

You can also choose to track it right there…very convenient. 🙂

The easiest way to get it is to be in Chrome, and go to

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ereaderiq-integrator/epjfabiijflnfmjjhanhddglfhokheae

Alternatively, go to the Chrome Web Store and search for eReaderIQ (it’s called eReaderIQ Integrator).

Enjoy!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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 The Measured Circle 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 do I do with this thing?” Learning to love a new tech

December 28, 2016

“What do I do with this thing?” Learning to love a new tech

I grew up loving a really old school technology…paper books. 😉

It’s not easy to switch to a new tech. It would be if they just, you know, worked, but that’s never been the case.

Even when I got the first generation of the Kindle, it took me a whole book before I got used to it and fell in love. 🙂

I was skeptical about the concept of e-books…like many people at the time, I confused the container (the p-book) with the book itself (the words, and how they are presented). That doesn’t mean that p-books don’t have intrinsic value, but that is separate from the book.

Recently, you may have gotten a new technology. The big one for this year for many people will be Alexa devices, especially the Echo family:

This is really a new class of tech, and it’s just beginning, so it’s unclear to people. That was very clear to me when I was with family, and a quite technically literate relative who had been living with Alexa for some time was excited about Google Home because you could just ask it questions, “…like a Google search”. I explained that you could do the same sort of thing (it’s not really a web search, but it function in the way that was being postulated) with Alexa. This relative had had no idea.

Alexa in that house is mostly for home automation…turning lights on and off and such, and I’m guessing for music.

That tends to be true for most people with technology: you find out what something does in a satisfactory way for you, and then you just have it do that…you don’t explore other options if it’s a practical use device.

I think of myself primarily as a trainer at work, but I also do “performance improvement”.

I’m amused by some of the approaches in that field.

One is to find the peak performers, and then propagate to other people the peak performer’s techniques…as if there was one best answer, and that person had discovered it.

When it comes to practical use technology (not being employed in a technology-focused field), that’s not how it works at all. I try to explain to them that if you come back to those peak performers in three months, they’ll be doing it differently. They like novelty: they are always looking for new ways to do things, even when what they already know is satisfactory.

I work in the medical field. Most clinicians don’t want to think about the technology they use…they want it to be like the soundtrack in a movie. Most of the time, you don’t even realize it’s there…although you might have some moments when it seems great!

Those folks? They don’t want novelty in their tech…but once they get used to a new technology, they love it.

Part of using a new technology, then, is keeping your expectations low…let it succeed in increments. I also work on “wellness” at work, and I often tell people: “Keep you goals small and your dreams big.” 🙂 Don’t expect to master everything about a technology at once. With an e-book reader, I had to just read a book…not expect to do everything with it at once.

Also, don’t expect a new tech to completely replicate an old tech. There will be things it can’t do. After all, if it replicated it exactly, it would be the same…and you wouldn’t need it. 😉 There are advantages and disadvantages to pretty much everything

An EBR (E-Book Reader) doesn’t do everything a p-book does…and vice versa.

However, you do need to be able to get it to the point where you are interacting with it…and that’s where some tips can help. I’m going to link to some posts about that for Alexa and for EBRs, but I want to give you another case in point.

I just got my first Virtual Reality (VR) headset for the holidays, the

Samsung Gear VR (at AmazonSmile*)

Now, I’m quite techie…I explain technology for a living. Still, it took me more than a day to really get it to where I was amazed by it. Oh, I had other people trying it, from about age 13 to 90, and they all enjoyed it.

I needed, once I got a chance, to download some games and apps, and to get the hang of using it. I’ll probably write a “first impressions” post this week (in my The Measured Circle blog).

I would definitely have read some “Gear VR 101” materials before I even put it on my head (I did read warnings), but I was just too (wonderfully) busy with family. I checked

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

for a book, but nothing caught my right away.

So, I’m going to link you to a few posts which may be helpful for you.

Here’s something I wrote about Alexa:

“Hello, Echo!” Getting to know Amazon’s Alexa

This is the most popular blog on ILMK (this blog) right now…and it does tend to stay pretty popular:

Got a new Kindle? Here’s the most important thing to know

Here’s a link to the whole “New Owners” category:

New Owners

I’ve also had a couple of readers point me to this

The Washington Post article by Hayley Tsukuyama

It’s called “Did you just open a brand new home hub? Read this first.”

This will all get easier in the future. Amazon is already making part of set-up easier…it can store Wi-Fi passwords for you, so you won’t have to put those in for some new devices.

My phone uses stored information to help me join new websites…filling in my address for me, for example.

Undoubtedly, your phone will begin doing your set-up for you…perhaps with the help with of your Alexa-type device.

Do you have any great stories about getting used to tech? Do you have any tips for people who have gotten their first Kindles, or other tech? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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 The Measured Circle 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.

Reading in the car

December 24, 2016

Reading in the car

This is a day when a lot of us readers may be traveling by car…and perhaps taking longer trips than we usually do. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I can have some pretty long drives during my normal work activities (certainly, an hour isn’t unusual). However, today and tomorrow we are getting together with friends and family and will be driving to atypical destinations.

It may also be that you aren’t the one actually driving when you usually are, and instead you are a passenger (or vice versa).

While, naturally, you may have conversations and sing songs (in our case, we’ve done “West on the freeway, and over the bridge, to Grandmother’s house we go!”), you certainly may be reading, too.

There are two real ways you could be doing that. One is sight-reading, which is what most people think of as reading. The other one would be listening, either to audiobooks (pre-recorded by the author or an actor reading the book) or text-to-speech (software which reads the book in a streaming manner…not pre-recorded). Most people prefer audiobooks, which are true performances, like seeing a movie. I’ve certainly enjoyed some, but my preference is text-to-speech…unless I’ve already read the book. I don’t like the narrator interpreting the characters for me, so TTS feels more to me like sight-reading.

Let’s talk about sight-reading first.

Some people do have trouble reading in a moving car, and there was a time when people thought that was particularly an issue with some Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) models. There was a thought that it had to with the area around the screen…it can be harder to read when you are aware of the world outside the words passing by.

I’ve heard less about that in recent years, and the appearance of the devices has changed, so perhaps that is less of a thing. I’d be interested to hear if you used to have that problem with EBRs and no longer do.

A sight-reading thing where an EBR can be much less disruptive than a p-book (paperbook) is with the lighting. My most comfortable reading experience has been with the

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*) (currently on sale for $99.99)

and

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

I assume the experience is similar on the Oasis, although I haven’t bought one because it hasn’t been available without getting an animal-leather cover.

Why does it matter?

The technology that these three use shines the light at the screen, not at your eyes from behind the words (which is what a tablet or phone does…that’s why those are called “backlit”). You are reading it by the light reflecting off the screen…the same way you read a p-book.

That tends to create less ambient light in the car…which is better for the driver (I assume you aren’t sight-reading when you are the driver…although I have seen people doing that on the freeway). More light in the car makes it harder to see outside of the car when it is dark. That’s both from light “glaring” on the window, and because your eyes will adjust to the brighter light by letting in less light, which makes it harder for you to see in the dark outside the car.

So, an EBR is probably safer in the car than a p-book and having the dome light on. 🙂

Now, in terms of listening (audiobooks and TTS are effectively the same in terms of technique)…you need a device which can do it, a book where the publisher hasn’t blocked the access (in the case of TTS), and you’ll probably want to tie it into the car’s audio system.

I usually listen on a now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX, but any of the Fire tablet models do TTS and audiobooks, including the least expensive one

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (currently on sale for $39.99)

While none of the current Kindle EBRs have speakers or a headphone jack (which is how you use the Aux cable), the newest ones have Bluetooth (a short range wireless connection), so that’s an option with current cars.

You can tell if a book has TTS available to you are not on the book’s Amazon product page…it will tell you whether or not the TTS is “enabled”, which is misleading. Publishers don’t need to do anything to make TTS work…it just works, unless they do something to make it not work. That means I can (and do) listen to work documents and personal documents sometimes. There are also technologies which are designed for people with print challenges where the blocking doesn’t matter, but that’s not the majority of the population at this point.

How you connect it will depend on your car. Generally, modern cars will have Bluetooth which is fine.

You might also be using a cable to an AUX jack, and with some older cars…it gets more complicated. 😉

Obviously, multiple people listening to different books out loud in the same car could be confusing, so headphones may also be an option.

You might also be reading magazines on tablets…and you might borrow those just for that reason from

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

or

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

Regardless, have fun at your destination…and with reading, getting there can be half the fun (as an old ad for the Cunard cruise lines used to say)!

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.

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.


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