Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

eReaderIQ: the best resource for Kindleers on the web

February 1, 2016

eReaderIQ: the best resource for Kindleers on the web

Remember when Johnny 5, the artificially intelligent robot in

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

wanted “more input”?

Well, nobody would ask for that now!

We all have almost endless amounts of data available to us.

What we want is to make sense of it.

For example, there are over four million titles in the USA Kindle store.

Every one of those titles has several pieces of data on its Amazon product page…just a few of those include: price; publisher; whether the text-to-speech access is available; and is it a book you can get as part of Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)?

Let’s say you wanted to know when a particular book became half off.

You’d have to check the website every day to see when the price went down.

What if you were trying to track one hundred books?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pay somebody to track all of them for you, and let you know when it got to where you wanted?

What if it was free?

Well, it is at

eReaderIQ.com

You can give them a list of books…even import an Amazon Wish List. You then set your alert point, and they’ll send you an e-mail when it is reached.

What’s the catch?

There really isn’t one.

Ideally, you buy the book from the link they send you….I assume they get a percentage as Amazon Associates.

They are additionally supported through advertising (on the website) and donations.

I also use their Price Drops page to see what has dropped which I’m not tracking…and what the most clicked offers are. I particularly like that you can choose to see ones which are also in paper, and set a price boundary…letting me find traditionally published books for people who aren’t as comfortable with indies (independently published book).

The Price Drop feature is just one of the services at eRI.

You can also see current freebies, and books under $1.

Another good one is to see which books have been recently Kindleized. Even with four million titles, there are many more published titles which are not yet available through the USA Kindle store.

If you want, you can even be notified when a book’s price drops for an author you choose.

The most tracked authors include:

  • James Patterson
  • Jim Butcher
  • Jeaniene Frost
  • George R.R. Martin
  • Stephen King

I think you’ll find the site easy to use and intuitive.

Oh, and you can choose between three different Amazon sites: .com, the UK one, and the Canadian one.

Before I mention the feature I use the most, I should mention that I have some correspondence with them, but am otherwise not associated with that site except as a user.

Okay, the one I use the most is the

Advanced Search

Sure, you search by title, author, and genre, but there is a whole more to it than that.

You can set a price range…including zero to zero for free.

You can use Amazon’s categories to search by age group or language.

You can choose to include or exclude public domain (not under copyright protection titles).

You can set a date range for release…during, before, or after a month and year.

You can choose if the books are in Kindle Unlimited, have Whispersync for Voice, and/or if they are Word Wise enabled.

I use quite a few of those options.

One more thing I really like: you can look at the history of prices for a title. On many pages, you’ll see a small price graph: click on that to get a larger version.

Over time, they have continued to improve the site, adding more features and a smoother interface.

Quite simply, you can get a lot more out of your Kindle experience by using eReaderIQ.

Do you have any comments? Questions? How do you use eReaderIQ? What’s the best thing you’ve gotten out of using the site? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for suggesting this post!

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

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

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

“Could you recommend a book? No, not that one!”

January 25, 2016

“Could you recommend a book? No, not that one!”

You shopped at your local bookstore because, well, it was local. ;)

However, that wasn’t the only reason.

I’m a former manager of a brick and mortar bookstore, and there was a lot more to it than the traditional “location, location, location”.

We didn’t really have the competition of the internet…but there were quite a few bookstores in the area. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, and driving twenty minutes is like walking down the hall to most people. ;) Within twenty minutes, there were probably ten bookstores (counting chains and independents).

What could we do to get people to shop with us?

Well, Amazon sums it up nicely:

  • Selection
  • Service
  • Price

It’s not that easy to increase the selection. The store is only so big, and piling more books into the store doesn’t work very well. For one thing, they won’t be displayed as well. More importantly, some books are going to sit in the store longer..and you are paying for rent every day they are there. The longer a book is in your store, the less profit you make.

Price may also be hard to affect very strongly. Lowering your price is going to lower your profit. Yes, we would compete on prices on bestsellers (for example), but that’s a segment where people actually would compare prices. Most people weren’t comparing prices on the vast majority of books. That’s one reason stores really don’t like “showrooming”, which is relatively new. “Customers” use their SmartPhones or tablets to compare prices, and may buy the book somewhere else (even ordering it online).

The place it was easiest for us to compete was on service.

Certainly, that included product knowledge.

I recommended (not required) that my employees read a book from every section in the store, and I did actually do that myself.

That helps…and one thing with which it helps is recommending a book.

I think that, traditionally, that’s something people associate with bookstores…being able  to ask for a recommendation.

It’s pretty tricky, as you can imagine. I was always amused when somebody would ask for a recommendation just based on age an gender…as though all people of the same age and gender liked the same books. :)

Being able to recommend books (and other items) which you would like is one of the most sought after and researched tools for internet e-tailers.

There are different approaches to that.

I heard somebody from Pandora and somebody from Netflix discussing this on the radio years ago.

At Netflix, they looked at your viewing habits versus other people’s. If what you rated highly matched what ten other people rated highly, and those ten people all rated a movie which you hadn’t indicated you had seen highly, it would make sense to recommend it to you.

Amazon does that with “people who bought this also bought…”

In that situation, you don’t care why people like it…there isn’t any analysis of that.

The Pandora approach was quite different.

Music experts would determine the “musical DNA” of a song. That might range from factors like “sad” and “happy” but also thing like “jangly guitars”.

I suspect Amazon uses a combination of these two.

Recently, I’ve noticed that Amazon’s recommendations for me appear to be getting better…that might be illusion (I’m a very small sample of one), and it’s pretty subjective…but it wouldn’t surprise me if they have made progress.

A great recommendation engine would really tend to make you stay with a company…I think most people would realize that if they went to a new company, it wouldn’t know them as well.

With e-books from the Kindle store which you read on your device, they can get can get quite a bit of information…they can tell if you finish a book, for example. Definitely, rating books is taken into account.

I think the improvement in recommendations (if it actually exists) might come from my being a happy

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

member. I think they can probably tell quite a bit from what I browse, and how far I read into a book (and how quickly).

However, they still sometimes get it quite wrong…it might even be amusingly so.

They can recommend items to me which would upset me…as a simple example, I’m a vegetarian and I don’t smoke…I don’t want them to recommend cigars or steak to me. :)

You can actually help them make better recommendations for you.

On any Amazon page, you will usually see at the top a link for Your Account, and within that for Your Recommendations.

At the top of that screen, you’ll see a choice for

Improve Your Recommendations

Note: Amazon always careful to say that not everything is in the same place for everybody, but this should be on this page.

On that page, you can “Edit Your Collections”

  • Items you’ve purchased
  • Videos you’ve watched
  • Items you’ve marked “I own it”
  • Items you’ve rated
  • Items you’ve marked “Not interested”
  • Items you’ve marked as gifts

Within this, you can rate the products, say it was a gift, or most importantly, “remove from recommendations”.

Not every one of those categories has the same choices…you can go to “Videos you’ve watched” and “remove this from watched videos”.

So, if you were just curious and clicked on a title that, um, might be embarrassing if someone else in the house knew about it, you could remove it from your watched videos.

I’ve had people say that they haven’t seen that big of an impact from editing their recommendations, but I think it’s worth a try.

Hope that helps!

If you have any comments  on recommendations, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. What was the best recommendation you got from Amazon? What was the funniest? I’m curious…

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

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

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

(free) Trials of the Century

December 21, 2015

(free) Trials of the Century

How do you know something is going to be worth your money?

Well, at Amazon, the answer often is…try it!

For example, most Amazon devices have a thirty-day trial period. You can get a

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

test it out, and see if it was worth the difference between that and the Paperwhite.

Generally, if the device is performing as advertised, you would be expected to pay the return postage…but that seems reasonable to me.

You can see the details here:

Kindle E-Reader, Fire Tablet and Amazon Fire TV Return Policies (Kindle E-Reader, Fire Tablet and Amazon Fire TV Return Policies (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s the hardware…what about other things?

Note that on some of these you may need to be new to it…you can’t just keep doing a free trial after you’ve ha it once. :)

  • Amazon Prime: 30 days
  • Kindle Unlimited: 30 days
  • Kindle e-books: within 7 days of purchase (this is a return policy, not really a trial period)
  • Kindle magazines: often 30 days, sometimes 14
  • Kindle blogs: generally 14 days
  • Add-on video subscriptions: 7 days

What happens if you get past that period? With an EBR (E-Book Reader), Fire tablet, or Fire TV, you can still get 80% of the price, if you are within 60 days. See below:

Partial refunds / restocking fees

If You Return You’ll Receive
Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet or Amazon Fire TV devices and accessories within 30 days from receipt of shipment 100% of the item’s price
Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet or Amazon Fire TV devices and accessories past the return window, but within 60 days from receipt of shipment 80% of the item’s price
Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet or Amazon Fire TV devices and accessories over 60 days from receipt of shipment 0% of the item’s price

Note that special terms apply right now:

“Holiday Return Policy
Items shipped by Amazon.com between November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015, may be returned until January 31, 2016, for a full refund, subject to our other return guidelines listed below. Items shipped from sellers other than Amazon.com are subject to this same holiday return policy unless otherwise stated in the seller’s individual Return Policy”

Can you just do this as much as you want?

Well, Amazon can hypothetically drop you as a customer if you abuse the return privileges, although they really, really, don’t want to drop people. They’ll probably warn you multiple times first, depending on how severe it is.

For the Kindle books, I’ve heard more than once that somebody who had a lot of returns had the easy, self-service method taken away. That’s by going to

http://www.amazon.com/myk

In those cases, you’d have to contact Kindle Support…and I expect that’s a place you might get a warning.

I don’t think almost anybody who gets that warning won’t have understood the issue. My guess is that we’d be looking at something like returning 100% of purchased Kindle books for a month, with at least several bought.

There you go!

If you have some time off at the holidays (not taken up with other commitments), you can really enjoy some content for free…and maybe decide it’s worth paying the money to keep enjoying it. :)

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

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

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

Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map (part 1)

October 24, 2015

Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map

I have recently received and have been exploring my

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way.

Is this, by far the least expensive backlit table Amazon has done, worth the $50?

Yes.

Can you tell they’ve cut a few corners?

Yes.

Let’s start out with something which won’t affect your use of it, but was…different.

You aren’t going to see an unboxing video of the Fire 7…because it didn’t come in a box. ;)

It was more like…a semi-rigid lunch bag.

IMG_20151022_1626596_rewind

Yep, and that came in a padded envelope: I assume that saved them some money.

Second, the charger did look…cheap (and had a short cable, which does save money):

IMG_20151022_1628560_rewind

With that out of the way…

It does just about everything…apps, games, videos, e-books, Prime Music, audiobooks, web surfing.

The screen is a bit less clear than my other Fires, but acceptable for me.

The sounds isn’t as good…but again, acceptable.

I’d say it’s reasonably comfortable to hold. I do have a cover coming…I’ll like it better with that.

This might be a matter of slight individual variation, but the screen isn’t quite flush with the case…the case is a little taller. That’s not the case with my (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX.

The thing that makes it look the cheapest, I’d say, is that the power button and the volume rocker are both silver colored…like they haven’t been “painted”, unlike my other Fires. Outside of that, it’s pretty sleek looking.

Here is a picture comparing the size of it with the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

which is the smaller one on top in this picture:

IMG_20151022_1634091_rewind

As to the interface…I like it!

This is the new Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models…my guess is Fire tablets at OS 4, which goes back to the 3rd generation).

It feels a lot more like an Android phone. You swipe up to unlock it. You “long press” an icon to put it on top of another icon to start a folder. You have a back button.

I think people used to using any SmartPhone will be able to pick it up and start using it pretty easily.

Okay, let’s start working through this. In this post, I’ll do menus outside of specific content (I won’t go into the menus or interface inside a book in this post, for example…this one will be long enough without that). ;) I’ll follow up with a part 2 before too long.

On the lockscreen, which is somewhat configurable, I see

  • The name of the device: this one is “Dupres” for me…this is a 5th generation Fire, and “V” is the Roman numeral for 5…and Dupres was the last name of a couple of characters in the original V TV show
  • If there are any notifications, I see the number next to the name…and I can swipe left to right over that to read them…and to pull in a bunch of controls including Airplane Mode. In the pop-up from the swipe, I see: the time; the day and date; the battery level; a profile icon; brightness control; wi-fi info; airplane mode; Bluetooth; do not disturb; camera; help; autorotation lock; settings; those notifications (and I can tap to go to any of these things); and a Clear All. I’ll call this the “Quick Access panel”…it will show up again
  • Wi-fi signal  strength
  • Battery charge level
  • Profile icon
  • Time, day, and date
  • An ad (which is the wallpaper)
  • A swipable little icon (not quite sure what it is supposed to be) which brings up thae offers
  • A padlock: if you tap it, it tells you to swipe up to unlock
  • The camera (swipe left to access…like a lot of phones, you can take a picture without unlocking the tablet)

On the top edge of the device, there are those physical buttons: the power button and the volume rocker. For some reason, I keep hitting the volume when I want to hit the power…it’s not because it’s like my other models, because they don’t have the volume and the power on the same edge. That won’t matter once my “autosleep” cover is here. I’ll tell you which one I got after I try it out. :) Also on the top edge: the headphone jack and the power/micro-USB.

On one edge is the micro-SD card slot: wow, the cover seems like it would be easy to break off. We’ll see…it swings out, by the way.

Once I unlock the device, I’m at the homescreen.

The top has:

  • The device’s name
  • The notifications
  • Wi-fi strength
  • Battery charge level
  • Time

Below that is a searchbox. Tap it to bring up the keyboard.

Note that this (I think only this model) does not have dictation…there is no microphone icon to enable you to speak your request. It also doesn’t allow “trace typing”, like the Swype keyboard. I’d miss both of those, for sure, if this was my only tablet. I use the Swype style a lot on my Kindle Fire HDX…and the dictation.

Once you’ve typed it in, you can hit a yellowish magnifying glass button to search.

You get Web results, Amazon, and “My Stuff”. I like the look of this! Seems like good functionality, although I would prefer it to default to My Stuff. There might be an economic reason for that…Amazon might be getting something from Microsoft (Bing was my default browser, but I think I can change that) for its results displaying first.

On the My Stuff tab, there is an additional link at the bottom to “Search emails, calendar, contacts and more”.

It’s worth noting now something that might throw someone used to earlier Amazon devices: at the bottom of the screen, we have three icons. One is a left pointing pyramid, which means back…that’s deducible. The middle icon is a circle: that’s  the new icon for Home (it used to look like a stylized house). Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s reminiscent of the Home physical button on an iPhone. There is also a square…that’s for recent items, the equivalent of the Carousel.

Going back…

At  the bottom of he tab, there are icons. Below the searchbox, HOME is a highlighted link in a selection ribbon (the equivalent of the tabs on earlier Amazon tablets), and LIBRARY (with a 3 by 3 grid). Ghosted between those are the content tabs…BOOKS, VIDEO…

Tapping the Library brings up an apps library. That has

  • APPS (ALL, DOWNLOADED)
  • APP UPDATES
  • SUBSCRIPTIONS

On the apps tab, I’m only seeing The Washington Post…not the Fire apps that came on it. I can open that app, or use the menu (three dots), which lets me delete it from the device, delete it from the Cloud (I wouldn’t recommend that…you surrender your license, meaning that anyone who is now or may be on your account in the future who wants to use it in the future will have to pay for it again…if it’s even available), and Share.

Share is new…tapping it, I get

  • Bluetooth
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Note that this is not sharing the functionality of the app…just a link to it.

On the APPS tab, I also have a link to the Appstore (it looks like a shopping cart), a menu (three horizontal lines) which lets me sort by Title or “Recency) and Filter Apps (this has an option to “Show Apps on External Storage”), and a search.

Going back to the homescreen…

Swiping down from the top, I get that Quick Access panel.

Swiping left to right, I see my Recent.

Swiping right to left, I move to the next item on the content ribbon, which is BOOKS.

Going back to  the homescreen…

Let’s talk about that Quick Access panel.

Tapping brightness seems obvious…I don’t see an option for autobrightness here, which I think is not available on this model. Remember that how bright your screen is really affects how quickly your battery drains.

Wi-fi icon (with the name of the network): tapping that takes me to wi-fi settings).

Airplane Mode: tapping that puts your Fire into “island mode”…nothing that connects to anything else, including wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Bluetooth: turns this short range wireless connection on and off. Bluetooth will also run down your battery charge, although I think having your Fire set on the brightest possibility may be worse.

Do Not Disturb cuts off notifications.

Camera opens the camera…natch. ;)

Help…this has been redesigned, and deserves a mention.

  • There are tips at the top, and you can swipe through them. Right now, I’m seeing “Having trouble wit the Silk Web Browser”; “Want to Deregister Your Fire?”; “Need Help with Parental Controls?”; “Having Trouble with Screen Rotation?”; and “Incorrect Time Displaying?”
  • User Guide (this might be just online)
  • Help Videos
  • Tutorial
  • Contact Us: Phone & Email; Feedback
  • Auto-Rotate (on or off)
  • Settings

Let’s do Settings:

Device

  • Wireless: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Location-Based Services; Airplane Mode
  • Storage: 1-Tap Archive; Internal Storage (tap this for detail…which seemed to refresh much more quickly than on Kindle Fire HDX, but I don’t have that much on it yet); and “Expand Your Device Storage”, which was a link to “recommended SD Cards on Amazon”
  • Power: Smart Suspend (this cuts off wireless when the device is idle to save power)…it defaults to Automatic Smart Suspend on, and also lets you schedule Smart Suspend; Advanced: Display Settings (Wallpaper…yes, you can select any picture from your personal Amazon photos. This is new on a Fire tablet, and is something people have wanted), Display Sleep (it didn’t give me a choice for anything longer than 30 minutes…I want “none”, so I choose when it sleeps. It goes as short as 15 seconds), Font Size (for the menus…Normal, Large, or Huge ((like lattes at Starbucks, they don’t want  any to mean “small”)). I’m using Huge), When Device is Rotated (Autorotation); Wireless Settings
  • Apps & Games: Manage All  Applications (this is like we had before, where you can clear the data, clear the cache ((some apps may need this regularly…I find that’s the case with CNN)), Force Stop, Uninstall)…that’s on Downloaded. Tap on RUNNING, and you’ll see all the memory usage, including of your RAM. From RUNNING, you can get to ALL; Amazon Application Settings. There are so any Settings here! I’m doing it’s on list, then I’ll get back to Device

Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings

  • Amazon GameCircle: Show GameCircle in Library (defaulted on); Share Your GameCircle Nickname (defaulted off); Whyspersync for Games (defaulted on)
  • Appstore: In-App Purchasing (defaulted Enabled); Automatic Updates (defaulted Enabled); Notifications for Appstore (defaulted Enabled); External Market Links (defaulted to “Ask Before Opening”); Version (I’m on 9.10.10)
  • Audiobooks: High Quality Format (defaulted off); Jump Back (defaulted to 30 seconds…you can go as short as ten seconds, as long as 90 seconds); Legal Notices
  • Camera: Keep original image (defaulted off…if enabled, it will “Save only the post-processed HDR image”)
  • Email, Contacts, Calendar: each of those have their own sub-menus. Hm…worth another sublist

Apps  Games, Amazon Application Settings, Email, Contacts, Calendar

Email Settings

  • Default Message Text Size (defaulted to Small…can go as large as Extra Large)
  • Show Embedded Images (defaulted on)
  • Attachment (automatically downloads attachments on Wi-Fi…defaulted off, I turned it on)
  • Reply: Include Original Message in Replies (defaulted on)
  • Compose: Text Formatting Controls in Compose (defaulted off)
  • After delete, go to (defaults to Message list…can also choose Newer message or Older message)
  • Conversation Settings: Group Messages into Conversations (defaulted on); Conversations Include Sent and Drafts Folder (defaulted off)

Contacts Settings

  • Create New Contacts in (you can choose an account…Amazon is a choice, as is the e-mail I set up. I want to know more about creating contacts at Amazon. That sounds good to me, but what can they do with it?)
  • Sort by (defaults to First Name)
  • Name Format (defaults to First name first)
  • Synchronize contacts across Amazon device (defaulted on)
  • Delete Amazon Contacts from Cloud (not enabled and can’t be turned on…I must not have any Amazon contacts yet)

Calendar Settings

  • Set Reminder Time (defaulted to 15 mins before…can go as high as 1 week before)
  • Week Starts On (defaulted to Locale default)
  • Time Zone defaults to Default….you can choose from world timezones)
  • Sync Amazon Calendar (defaulted on…”Amazon Cloud Events are synchronized across Amazon devices and services”…I wouldn’t want these to appear in my public Amazon profile or on the
  • Delete Calendar Events from Cloud (again, not available to me)

ACCOUNTS

  • A listing of them
  • Set Account Color
  • Add Account (this worked easily for a couple that I’ve tried…just my e-mail address ((which also added calendars for Google)) and password. It seemed to know all the tricky stuff)

Back to Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings

  • Home Screen Settings: Home Recommendations (defaulted on); Show New Items on the Home Page (defaulted on); Show Apps on the Recent Page (defaulted on)
  • Music…this one has several sections, so another mini-list:

  • Music: Downloading: Automatically download new Amazon digital music purchases (defaulted off); Clear Cache (this is how you clear Now Playing, among other things)
  • Music: Playback: Streaming bitrate (defaulted to Auto); Streaming Chache Size (defaulted to 100 MB)
  • Music: Your Account: Gift Cards & Promotions; Add Music to Library
  • Music: Other: Legal; Version (mine is at 10.0.44)

Back to Amazon Application Settings…

  • Photos: Auto-Save (both Photos and Videos…both set to save by default); Only when charging (defaulted off); Manage Folders (upload folders to your Amazon Cloud Drive); Hidden (Show Hidden defaulted off, Review Hidden Photos & Videos): Cloud Drive (Manage Cloud Drive Storage, Send Feedback)
  • Reader Settings: Books: Popular Highlights (defaulted on…I turned mine off), About This Book (defaulted on), Whispersync  for Books (defaulted on); Language Learning: Word Wise (defaulted off); Newsstand: Magazine Page Curl (defaulted on
  • Settings: Local Weather (defaulted on); Temperature (defaulted on); Wind  Speed: defaulted off; Synchronize Locations (defaulted off…this will sync your locations across your Amazon devices)
  • Silk Browser: Search Engine (defaulted to Bing ((Google and Yahoo are also available))); Autofill forms (defaulted on); Save passwords (defaulted on); Advanced Settings: Accessibility (text scaling, Force enable zoom…stops a website from stopping you from zooming); Privacy (do not track ((defaulted off)), clear browsing data); Cloud Features (defaulted to on); Site Settings: All Sites; Cookies (defaulted to Allowed); Location (defaulted to Ask first); Camera (defaulted to ask first); Microphone (defaulted to Ask first); Notifications (defaulted to ask first); JavaScript (defaulted to Allowed); Pop-ups (defaulted to Blocked); Fullscreen (defaulted to Ask first); Protected Content (defaulted to Ask first)
  • About Silk (I’m at version 45.1.99)
  • Special Offers: link to the Offers library; Personalized Recommendations (defaulted to on); Content filtering (hides offers “…containing images or situations that may not be suitable for all audiences”)…defaulted to off
  • Video: SD Download Quality (defaulted to Good); Download Videos to SD Card (defaulted on, but mine notes that a card is not present; Disable HD purchase warning (defaulted off…by default it will warn you about the larger size of HD videos); Clear Video Search History; Version (mine is 1.0.365.1)

Collect App Usage Data (defaulted to on…”Allows Appstore to collect information on the frequency and duration of use of downloaded apps”)

Back to Device…

  • Display: Wallpaper (pick your image here); Display Brightness; Display Sleep (how long); Font Size; When Device is Rotated
  • Device Options: Change Your Device Name; Battery (x%); Date & Time; Find Your Tablet; Backup & Restore (this has both the option to Backup & Restore your device which is defaulted on, and Save Wi-Fi Passwords to Amazon ((defaulted on))…there was a learn more link: interestingly, I can read it on my Fire, but I can’t find it by searching Help. Bottom line: this does just what you would want it to do! It backs up your wi-fi passwords to Amazon, if you want, allowing them to automatically set up new devices on your account. You can delete them from Amazon if you want, and if you change it on one device, it will change for the others. This is a terrific innovation! This should be coming to the older devices that get OS 5…it even affects Dash buttons :)
  • System Updates: (I’m on 5.0.1)
  • Reset to Factory Defaults (this is a “nuclear option”…only to be used in the event of a really serious situation)
  • Device Model (mine just says “Fire (5th Generation)”)
  • Serial Number

Personal

  • My Account: Deregister; Amazon Account Settings (including payment options…I’m sure you’ll have to be on wi-fi to do this); Prime Settings; Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
  • Profiles & Family Library
  • Parental Controls: you can manage profiles; you need  to enter a password to do Parental Controls…once you’ve done that,, you can block or unblock: Web Browser; Email, Contacts, Calendars; Social Sharing; Camera (all blocked by default); Amazon Stores (no blocked default); Password Protect Purchases (on by default, once you’ve turned on Parental Controls); Password Protect Video Playback (on my default); Block and Unblock specific content types (Newsstand, Books, Audiobooks, Music, Videos, Docs, Apps, Games, and Photos); Change Password; Password Protect Wi-Fi (on by default); Password Protect Location Services (on by default)
  • Security: Lock Screen Passcode (off by default…I turned mine on); Change Passcode; Automatically Lock; Apps from Unknown Sources (I have mine on…I think I might have switched it); Credential Storage; Device Administrators
  • Sound & Notification; Media Volume; System & Notification Volume; Default Notification Sound (many choices here); Do Not Disturb (you can create a schedule here);Notifications: When Device Is Locked; App Notifications (pick which ones)
  • Keyboard & Language: Language (defaulted to English United States…many choices. If I switch to English United Kingdom, I can select my regional forma, affecting the display of, for instance, dates); Text-to-Speech (set the voice); Current Keyboard…this includes Keyboard Settings…time for a mini-list

Fire Basic Keyboard Settings

  • Languages
  • Preferences: Auto-Capitalization (on by default); Double-space Period (on by default); Sound on Keypress (off by default)
  • Appearance & Layout: Theme (defaulted to Dark, Light is also available); Custom Input Style (German QWERTY or French QWERTZ)
  • Text Correction:  Personal Dictionary; Add-On Dictionaries; Block Offensive Words (on by default); Auto-Correction (spacebar and punctuation automatically correct mistyped words; Show Correction Suggestions; Personalized Suggestions; Suggest Contact Names; Next-word Suggestions (all of these are on by default)
  • Advanced: (nothing was available to me there…I suspect it is on other models)

System

  • Sync Device
  • Help
  • Accessibility: VoiceView (lots of settings for this); Screen Magnifier (this was off by default…I turned it on right away! I use this a lot: triple tap to magnify); Font Size (for the interface…there will be more choices inside books); Closed Captioning (off by default0; Closed Captioning Preferences; Convert Stereo to Mono (off by default); Accessibility User’s Guide; Services (mine says No Services Installed)
  • Legal & Compliance

Holy moley, that was a lot of choices!

There are some really significant improvements. I stopped what I was doing to explain the wi-fi password storage to my Significant Other: that doesn’t happen often!

I said Amazon would have a hit with this device…they have already commented on how successful it has been so far!

I’ll do another post (probably not next) on controls within content.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: two of my readers had excellent points!

BG pointed out that the warranty is only three months on this model…not a year as it is generally on Kindle/Fires. You can buy a 1-year warranty for $11.99:

1-Year Protection Plan plus Accident Protection for Fire (at AmazonSmile*)

You can also buy longer terms for more money.

Elaine Jordan asked a terrific question, and the answer does…disappoint me a bit.

I should have noticed when I was listing the Display menu settings but this model, and only this model in the current generation, does not mirror to a capable TV or other device. Certainly, that saved some money.

I probably mirror to my TV a couple of times a week on average. It’s not a lot, but when I do use it, it’s a important.

Mirroring means that whatever is on my device shows on the TV live. For example, I might be streaming video from another site, like http://www.archive.org. Alternatively, I might be on a website and want to share it with my Significant Other (this is just an example…I don’t do that a lot).

Is that worth $50 more to move to the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*)

I would guess not, for most people. That one is also a smaller screen, and many people (including me) could mirror from a SmartPhone instead.

Thanks to Elaine and BG for pointing out these weaknesses! I still think the Fire 7 is a good buy…just perhaps not as good as I thought. ;)

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

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

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

You can read offline with the Kindle Cloud Reader

September 28, 2015

You can read offline with the Kindle Cloud Reader

Not too long ago, I did a post on the

Amazon’s Cloud Reader

That’s Amazon’s free way to read your Kindle books in many browsers…no software to install, no cost.

Sure, it’s generally better to read a book on an EBR (E-Book Reader) like the Kindle Paperwhite or a tablet, like Amazon’s Fire line.

However, you may want to read something on a laptop or desktop.

It could be that it has detailed images…charts, maps, anatomical illustrations, and it will just look better on your larger screen.

It could be that you are at work, and not allowed to install one of Amazon’s free reader apps.

It works pretty well.

What you may not realize is that you can download the books…you could read your Kindle book while commuting on a train without connecting to wi-fi.

How you do it varies by browser. Chrome and Safari have easy ways to do it, with clearly labeled functionality.

This Amazon Help page

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

also has instructions for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

The Cloud Reader is becoming increasingly important. Amazon has “sunsetted” (retired) an older Kindle for Mac version, for example. One of my regular readers and commenters,, Lady Galaxy, asked me about that, and I checked with Amazon.

Their response was essentially that people with…older, non-supported devices/software could still use the Cloud Reader in their browsers to read the books they’d bought.

There are people who read e-books on laptops, so being able to download can have a real benefit.

Hope this helps…

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

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

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

Amazon’s Cloud Reader

August 5, 2015

Amazon’s Cloud Reader

You don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books.

There are actually a lot of options available, but in this post,  I want to focus on one in particular: Amazon’s “Cloud Reader”.

You do need an Amazon account, but then you go to:

https://read.amazon.com/

and sign in.

At that point, the books you’ve purchased on your account are available to you.

Yep, just in a browser…you don’t need to install software or download an app.

I’m looking at mine right now in Maxthon (my browser of choice) on a computer running Windows 10.

I’ve never been impressed with the speed of performance, but it’s certainly serviceable once it syncs.

It will start out on “Cloud”, showing you the books in that account.

You can sort three ways: by Recent (the default), Author, or Title.

Click or tap the book you want to read, and it will download (you can start reading it before it’s complete).

My position was appropriately synced. I just tested it (to see what changes might have happened since the last time I used the app) with

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

which I had finished…it opened at the end of the book, as it should.

There chevrons (arrows without the stick: <>) to go forwards or backwards in the book.

Move your mouse to the top of the “page”, and you should see a set of additional icons.

  • Library (this takes you back to the home page)
  • Go to Menu (looks like a book): you can go to the Cover, the Table of Contents, Beginning, Page…, or Location…
  • Aa gives you “display options”: you can choose between five font sizes (not as many as a Kindle, bu quite a few); five margin settings; three color modes (including white text on a black background…that can be easier for people with certain vision issues, and can be easier to read in a darkened setting); one column only (the default is to show you two “pages”, like a book); Show Reading Location (that defaults to on)
  • Toggle bookmark (to add or remove a bookmark to this location)
  • Show Notes and Marks
  • Synchronize
  • A searchbox

At the bottom of the page you’ll see a location slider.

Double click a word, and you’ll get the definition (and you can choose between dictionaries), the ability to add a note, and the ability to highlight.

Going back to the library, there is a setting gear,  but not a lot of choices:

  • Help
  • Terms of Use
  • Legal Notices
  • Privacy
  • Contact Us
  • Sign Out

There is a searchbox here…that’s  for finding items in the library, the other one is for within the book.

You can also choose between cover view and list view (although the list also shows covers), and change the size of the covers.

Finally, there is a link to the Kindle store.

I often send books I buy first to the Cloud Reader, if I don’t want it on any of our devices at that point.

So, simply, this is a good way to read when you want to do that on a computer. It’s not super sophisticated. It’s not the pleasant or convenient reading experience of a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) or even a Fire tablet.

Not bad for free, though. :)

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

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

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

Forgot your Kindle Passcode? Here’s what you can do

August 1, 2015

Forgot your Kindle Passcode? Here’s what you can do

Eventually, we won’t have to use passwords/passcodes/passphrases.

Microsoft is promising that now with Windows 10 (I’m still waiting for my computer to update to it, but it should happen soon).

My Lenovo decided (on its own) to start using facial recognition to log me into the laptop. I’m not creeped out by facial recognition generally, but it should have asked me first, I think. :)

It’s certainly imperfect. Very often, it’s too dark for it to recognize me. I’ve mentioned before that I have superior night vision (I think that may be connected to my color vision deficiency). It may be that I just tend to keep the room unusually dark, but it’s still inconvenient. I can go back to entering a passcode, but I have to cancel the FR first.

That said, though, existing Kindle EBRs  (E-Book Readers) don’t have the capability for that. They also can’t hear you, so recognition by voice isn’t going to happen either. I doubt they have sophisticated enough position recognition to let you wave them around in a pattern to log in (which is another option).

So, the option at this point is to enter a passcode.

I should explain one thing: a password consists of just letters. A passcode can have letters and numbers. Most people just use “password” generically, but you know, I’m a geek. :) I like to mention these things.

The passcode is there to protect your content and access to your account. You should not be able to just bypass it…so if you forget your passcode, the option Amazon gives you will wipe your content off your device, and make you prove again that you should have access to the account.

That makes for a simple bottom line: don’t forget your passcode. :) Some people write them down or print them out and store them at a bank in a safe deposit box (really). One nice thing is that they can then leave access to the safe deposit box in the event of their deaths (or, conceivably, incapacitation). Whether that’s okay with your account or not (sharing your passcode), well, that can vary. It’s okay with Amazon that more than one person on your account has your passcode.

What does happen if you forget?

Oh, one thing: Amazon does not have your passcode and can’t give it to you. That’s my understanding: the device passcode is only stored locally (in other words, it isn’t on Amazon’s servers…just on your device). I don’t know for sure that’s true…but I do know Amazon can’t/won’t give it to you.

For all of the current Kindle EBRs (Voyage, Paperwhite 3, ((and the Paperwhite 2)), and the 7th Generation entry level (the “Mindle Touch”), the process is the same:

Where you would put in your passcode, you enter

111222777

and then tap OK.

You’ll have to redownload your Kindle store content…after you re-register your device (and you’ll need wi-fi for that).

Interestingly, with the current Fire Tablets, you can reset your password without losing your content!

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

Here’s Amazon’s instructions on it:

  1. On your computer or mobile device, go to Manage Your Content and Devices, and then select Your Devices.
  2. From the list of devices registered to your Amazon account, select your Fire Tablet.
  3. Select the Device Actions drop-down menu, and then select Remote Lock.
  4. Enter and then confirm a new password or PIN, and then select Lock Device.
  5. From your Fire Tablet, tap Unlock Device.
  6. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to unlock your device. Enter your lock screen password or PIN, and then tap OK.

Why is that safe?

You need to be able to log into the account to access that page…so you still need a passcode.

That is such an improvement that I can only hope that they can do something similar with the EBRs in the future!

Going back to earlier models, the technique changes. For example, on the Kindle Keyboard (AKA Kindle 3), you enter “resetmykindle” rather than the number sequence above.

If you have questions about a specific model, feel free to ask. :)

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

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

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

Amazon’s “Quick Fixes” for Kindle

July 21, 2015

Amazon’s “Quick Fixes” for Kindle

While  I think Amazon’s Kindle Support is marvelous, and that the on-screen help on some Fire models (including the Fire phone) called Mayday is one of the great advancements in Customer Service in my lifetime, I don’t think the Amazon Help pages are that impressive.

I always find it a bit hard to get to what I want…and when I get there, the information can be…skimpy.

I find it much more effective to actually speak with someone at Amazon, by going to

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

and using the

Contact Us

button to have them call me.

You do have the advantage of asking me ;) but sometimes, I even do “ask myself”. I’ve been writing this blog for close to six years, and I can’t always remember what I’ve said, especially in regards to older Kindle models  I don’t use any more. So, on occasion, I do go the blog and search for things…things which I wrote.

However, I do want to mention this Kindle Help page to you:

Quick Fixes for Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile*)

It applies to the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation, Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation), and Kindle (7th Generation).

The help topics are:

Restart Your Kindle
Battery Won’t Stay Charged
Can’t Connect to Wi-Fi
Forgot Kindle Passcode
Content Won’t Download
Content Won’t Sync
Book Won’t Open
Reset Your Kindle

Let’s just take the “Forgot Kindle Password” topic. Amazon says

  1. Tap the passcode field to bring up the onscreen keyboard.
  2. Type 111222777, and then tap OK. Your Kindle will restart.

This will wipe everything off the Kindle…but if you can’ remember your passcode you’ll have do something.

I’ll admit: I don’t always remember that  number offhand, and restarting hasn’t been the same on every model (we had to use a paperclip to push a button, after sliding the back cover off a Kindle 1).

Amazon has very highly rated Customer Service…and they certainly have enough options that you should be able to get help when you need it.

You know, if you don’t want to wait for my answer. ;)

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

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

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

 

Settings in Manage Your Content and Devices (AKA Manage Your Kindle)

July 9, 2015

Settings in Manage Your Content and Devices (AKA Manage Your Kindle)

One of the most powerful things we have as Kindleers (although it could certainly be a lot more powerful) is the

Manage Your Content and Devices page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

formerly known as Manage Your Kindle (and the old links still work).

This is where people who know the credentials (username and password) for an account can change “global” settings, things which affect everybody on the account. I refer to those people as “managers” of the account. Users of the account may just be able to use a device (a Kindle/Fire/app) to buy books, but can’t, for example, delete a book from the account (since that would affect all of the users). Users who are not managers don’t have the password.

If you do go to that MYCaD page, you have three tabs:

  • Your Content
  • Your Devices
  • Settings

Let’s take a look at what Settings options currently exist:

  • Digital Payment Settings: this is where you manage the payment method for 1-click purchases (which is how you buy things in the Kindle store). You actually don’t need to have a payment method…some people do that, and just apply Amazon gift cards to the account to pay for things. There some types of items you can’t do that way (like magazine subscriptions), but otherwise, that can work
  • Country Settings: you tell Amazon where you live here. Some people suggest changing this to fraudulently obtain books not published to their country. I don’t recommend that…
  • Households and Family Library: you can set up cross-account sharing of some items for two adults and up to four children
  • Newsstand Subscription Settings: manage your subscriptions
  • Kindle Unlimited Settings: you could cancel your membership here, and it will tell you when the next payment  is
  • Device Synchronization: you can choose if a book will open on a second device at the same point you finished it on a first device. If you are one person reading on two devices (a Kindle and a phone, for example), that make sense. If you are two people reading the same book at the same time on different devices (as is sometimes the case in my family), it doesn’t
  • Automatic Book Update: if a book is substantially updated in the Kindle store which you have purchased previously, this means your version will update automatically. I keep this turned off: there are times I want to keep the original version, the one for which I paid.You can still update one if you choose
  • Language Optimized Storefront: choose the language for the Kindle store…well, at least you can choose Spanish or English, from what I can see
  • Personal Document Settings: there are several sub-settings here:
  • * Send to Kindle E-mail Settings (choose e-mail addresses for your Kindles)
  • * Personal Document Archiving:if you send a document you’ve created to a Kindle through Amazon’s system, you can select here if you want it stored centrally or not
  • * Whispernet Delivery Options: this affects you if you are getting documents via 3G/4G…it doesn’t affect wi-fi downloads at all. You can choose a maximum charge
  • * Approved Personal Document E-mail List: so you don’t get spammed, you have to authorize specific e-mail addresses to be able to send your Kindle documents
  • Manage Whispercast Membership
  • Your AmazonLocal Voucers

If you have questions about any of these, let me know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #297: Bookcon, Alexa plays a game

May 24, 2015

Round up #297: Bookcon, Alexa plays a game

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

Copy text on the Kindle Fire HDX

When did this happen?

People have often asked about copying text from a Kindle book. They want to paste it somewhere else…an e-mail, a Word document, that kind of thing.

The answer in the past has usually been to highlight it in the book, then go to

https://kindle.amazon.com

From there, you could copy and paste.

Not very convenient.

I was just highlighting something in a book I was reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

by “long pressing” (hold your finger or stylus on something on the screen for about a second) and dragging ove what I wanted, when I was that one of the choices was to “copy”.

When I tapped the copy button, it told me it was copied to the clipboard.

The “clipboard” is what Microsoft calls the place where something is temporarily stored when you copy something and then paste it somewhere else.

Back before we had Windows, I created something similar for myself…I called it the “bucket”, but the idea was the same. :)

I could then go to the native e-mail program, start a new message, and long press again to paste.

I was also able to paste it into a new document in

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Well, this will make things a lot more convenient! It also makes the Fire tablet a much more capable device for work and school.

I am on version 9.8_1– of the Amazon Kindle app.

When I copied on Kindle for PC, it would give me a citation (identify the source of the book), but I’m actually glad this one doesn’t do that. :) I wouldn’t mind having the option of the either one of the two…

A game you can play with your Amazon Echo

Back when the Amazon Kindle was first introduced in 2007, one question we would get was whether or not it played games.

It did, actually…I wrote about that back in 2010:

It’s the games Kindles play

There was a hidden version of “Minesweeper”.

Certainly, you may want to use your EBR (E-Book Reader) only for, you know, reading, but I think it’s nice to have the option. ;)

I’m guessing that the

Amazon Echo

Amazon’s “ambient computing” device (you talk to it…it does stuff) is going to have a general release in early July. That’s based on them not taking invitations any more, on it saying it is in stock on July 8th, and on them asking for video testimonials for it.

I’m sure people will ask if you can play games with it.

I asked mine it if played games, and it didn’t have an answer.

However, I tried:

“Alexa, scissors, paper, rock.”

Alexa responded with: “OK, let’s play. 3… 2… 1… scissors!”

Each time I ask, it responds with one of the three play options…and I don’t know which one it will choose.

In case you don’t know:

  • scissors cuts (wins over) paper
  • paper covers (wins over) rock
  • rock smashes (wins over) scissors

If you both “throw” the same choice, no one wins.

Have fun!

Oh, and for those of you who were curious…Alexa did not respond to the Big Bang Theory variant, “scissors, paper, rock, lizard, Spock”. ;)

Update: thanks to regular reader and commenter Phink for giving me the proper order to say the sequence…it should be “rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock”.  Then the Echo played the game! I’d never played it that way before, and interestingly, we both threw Spock. :) I also didn’t know that it had originated before the Big Bang Theory, with Sam Kass and Karen Bryla. Thanks, Phink!

For more conversations I have had with the Echo, see

Alexa says

Yes, I did reference WarGames, and say, “Alexa, shall we play a game?” ;) That didn’t get me much, but when I said, “Alexa, play global thermonuclear war,” the Echo responded, “I’d rather play chess.”

We bought a new computer…

…and we didn’t buy it from Amazon.

Honestly, I really wanted it to buy it from Amazon…not least because I could buy it at

http://smile.amazon.com

and get Amazon to donate some money to my designated non-profit (fifty cents per $100 I spend).

I also have credit at Amazon from doing our taxes through Turbotax (you can get a bonus on your refund if you take part of it as an Amazon gift card), and we have Prime, for free shipping.

Add it that I just like Amazon :) and there’s usually no good reason to buy something big anywhere else.

In this case, though, I get e-mails from TigerDirect (I’ve used them in the past).

We’d already pretty much decided on a Lenova laptop.

Some of you may remember that we bought an Asus two-in-one not too long ago (it converts from a tablet to a laptop by means of a detachable keyboard).

The problem with that one?

The keyboard is really too small.

I type pretty well, and typing is what often moves me from using my Fire to something else.

I just can’t do it comfortably enough on that Asus.

It’s still a valuable device for us, and I use it in addition to a desktop we’ve had for many years…and that is, well, let’s call it geriatric. ;)

This laptop (I’m using it now) is more of a replacement for the desktop, eventually.

TigerDirect had Lenovo G50s for about $100 less than Amazon…and more memory.

I tried to get one once, and it sold out to quickly.

So, when one came up again, I went for it.

Earlier, I had pointed out to my Significant Other that getting one from Amazon would be free shipping…and my SO asked, perfectly reasonably, “Will the shipping be $100?” ;)

Nope…the shipping was about $9.

Just made sense to go with TigerDirect in this case.

I did install the Kindle app on it…you knew I was going to get back to the Kindle eventually, right? ;)

The Kindle app for Windows 8.1 does look beautiful! I’m not often impressed with the graphic design of an app, but I was with this one.

The one negative right offhand was that

Creepy Archives Volume 1 (Creepy Archives Box Set) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

wouldn’t open, and told me it wasn’t compatible with this version of the Kindle app.

I’d already read it, but I just thought it would look good on this big screen. :)

“A Podcaster’s Passion for Ebooks”

This is a great

article by Len Edgerly

who does The Kindle Chronicles podcast (I’ve appeared on it, but not for years).

Len has been reporting on Kindles and e-books longer than I have, and brings an informed and compassionate viewpoint (a rare combination).

I enjoyed this piece, and I think you will, too.

HuffPost: “8 Books to Read Over A Long Holiday Weekend”

I know the weekend’s more than half over, but you weren’t going to read just one book, right? ;)

Huffington Post Oprah Winfrey Network article

I think it’s an interesting set of choices…always a tough thing to do.

Bookcon is next week

I’ve mentioned before (although I’m not sure that I’ve done it in the blog) that I find it interesting that we have great celebrations for movies and TV, and not much for books.

I do understand that: reading is a very intimate activity, and so is writing.

However…

Authors seem to me to have become more pop culture friendly in the past decade or so.

Also, I think that authors have become more of a brand name…more associate with the movies based on their books.

I would guess that most even casual moviegoers know John Green and Nicholas Sparks, in addition to knowing Stephen King.

This is the second year of

Bookcon

which is done by the same people who do New York Comic Con, among other things.

I think they are doing a good job!

It looks exciting, it looks fun…it looks “now”!

Sure, the literati might not approve of it. Mindy Kaling and Nick Offerman might not be put at a literary tea with Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse…but why not? It would make for one interesting conversation. ;)

Check out their site…gee, I wonder if there will be cosplay as literary characters?

What do you think? Did you plan out a book (or more) to read this weekend? Are you going to Bookcon? Is it okay to make books pop culture, or should they be “elevated”? Do you ever copy text from a Kindle book to something else? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

I Love My Kindle | Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books

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

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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