Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

March 22, 2016

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

Q. Amazon really wants me to update my Kindle! I’ve gotten e-mails, a postcard through the mail, even a phone call. I’ve had my Kindle for more than five years, and there have been a bunch of updates, but they’ve never done this before. What’s up?

A. This is a different kind of an update. Updates in the past have generally either been “bug fixes”, where you don’t really see a change but things work better, or they bring new features, like Cloud Collections or the Family Library. In some cases, features have gone away on the Kindle with an update, but what’s happening here is that something external is changing and your Kindle needs to be up to date to work with it. If your Kindle isn’t up to date, it’s not going to be able to connect wirelessly with Amazon. That means you won’t be able to shop from your Kindle itself, or download books from it that you’ve already bought on your account. Amazon doesn’t want to deal with upset customers who wake up in the morning, try to get something perhaps for a morning commute or worse, for a vacation, and not be able to connect without knowing why. That’s bad for the relationship between Amazon and the customer, and it’s expensive to have them call Customer Service to get it fixed.

Q. Why is Amazon changing that connection thing? Is it just to make me buy a new Kindle? I’ve heard it’s so that I have to see ads and recommendations on my homescreen…I like things the way they are.

A. Amazon isn’t the one changing it. They just need to make sure their devices can use an internet protocol which is changing. While they would probably be happy if you bought a new Kindle and if you saw their recommendations, this change doesn’t mean you have to do it either. The vast majority of devices are probably already updated. When your device connects to Amazon’s servers, it generally automatically updates. Even if you have an older device, it’s likely to have updated to a compatible version some time ago. If it hasn’t, turn on the wireless and it should update, although that doesn’t necessarily happen right away (it can sometimes be days, but that’s usually when they are rolling out a new release, not the case this time). You can also download the update to your computer and transfer it to your device using a USB cable. You can see all the information about it here: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) including a link to get the software to update it. In terms of the ads and recommendations, it’s important to note that there isn’t simply an update that makes your Kindle compatible: you are updating the newest version of the operating system, and on some devices, that does come with a new homescreen view. The view has covers and “reading lists”. However, although it’s a bit buried, you can go back to the style that just has the book listings without the covers: Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists.

Q. So, does the new update give me those Special Offers I hear about?

A. No, there’s no connection with that. If you aren’t subscribed to Special Offers, you still won’t be. If you are subscribed you still will be.

Q. What happens if I don’t update? Is my Kindle a brick?

A. No. You can still use it. You just won’t be able to connect to Amazon wirelessly with it. It’s possible to download books, either new purchases or from your Archive/Cloud, to your computer and transfer via USB cable. However, your Kindle will presumably not be able to get future updates.

Q. Does the update cost anything?

A. No. Like all Kindle updates so far, it’s free.

Q. I bought the Kindle and I bought the books. How can Amazon take them away from me? Don’t I own them?

A. Yes, you own the device and you bought licenses for the books. This doesn’t impact the books: you could read them on other devices on your account which have been updated, or in free Kindle reading apps. Your device will continue to do what it has done before…it’s just that a step between that device and Amazon servers will no longer work.

Q. You are saying this isn’t Amazon doing this: does that mean I’ll have to update non-Amazon devices I own?

A. If they aren’t compatible with the new protocol (which I believe goes into effect January 1st, 2017…Amazon is just getting a bit ahead on this to give people a chance to update before it’s suddenly necessary), then either you’ll have to update them or they won’t connect. Hopefully, other companies will have updates available, but it’s possible you have devices where that won’t be the case (some companies have gotten out of the EBR…E-Book Reader business). Early Kindles have lasted an unusually long time for some people, compared to some types of devices. There have been Kindles in use for more than eight years. That probably means that more people may be using, soon to be unable to connect Kindles, than, say, tablets.

Q. I guess this might be a good time to update to a new model of Kindle. Can I get a trade-in?

A. There is a trade-in program at (but it’s not exactly by) Amazon. Amazon Trade-In Program (at AmazonSmile*).

Q. Okay, I’ll guess I’ll do the update. How do I know if my device needs it?

A. Go to this page: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lists models, and what the necessary version of the software is so you can see if you already have it. If you don’t, you can go from that page to where to get it. You could also just turn your wireless on and leave your device on for a day or so to see if it updates. You can plug it in when you aren’t reading it so it has enough power.

Q. What if I need more help?

A. Feel free to ask me (and my readers) by commenting on this post. You can also contact Amazon through http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*). I usually have them call me (that normally happens in seconds, and I’m speaking to someone with in a minute, and I have generally found them friendly and helpful.

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.

Upcoming deadlines

March 15, 2016

Upcoming  deadlines

“Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…”
–Changes by David Bowie

There are a few dates happening soon that mark changes around Kindles and e-books, so I thought I would round them up here and what (if anything) you need to do about it.

Tuesday, March 15th: B&N shuts down the NOOK bookstore

Barnes & Noble is shutting down the UK (I have readers around the world) NOOK bookstore.

After that, you won’t be able to buy NOOK books in the UK through their store, or through the Android app, or through your devices.

You’ll have until the end of May 2016  to migrate the books you’ve already bought.

For more information:

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

Wednesday, March 16th: Shelfari transitions to Goodreads

If you’ve been a Shelfari user, Amazon has decided to merge it with Goodreads (Amazon owns both).

If you do have a Shelfari account, and you want to keep the data, you need to sign in and then chose to transition to Goodreads and/or download your information in a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, which can be imported into Excel and other spreadsheets.

For more information, see

Amazon shutters Shelfari

Tuesday, March 22nd: update needed to older Kindles to access Amazon wirelessly

Amazon has announced a

Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This only affects some older Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…not the Fire tablets) which have not been updated.

If you don’t update your device, you won’t be able to get to Amazon wirelessly on that Kindle: no shopping in the store; no downloading from your Cloud/archives; I assume no blog/magazine/newspaper delivery.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Edward Boyhan, suggested that this is in preparation for the obsoleting of the SHA1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) algorithm in 2017…that’s the techie stuff, but that makes sense to me, also based on what Amazon has said.

An important note: when you do the update which my best guess is technically necessary, you’ll get all the rest of the update, too.:) That includes a new homescreen, which has a lot of recommendations on it…not everybody likes that.

Fortunately, although it’s pretty buried, you can go back to the old look:

Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists

I’m waiting for confirmation from Amazon, but I would expect that you could still buy books for the device or download from the Cloud/archives…by downloading to your computer, and then transferring using a USB cable.

For more information, including a link to which devices are affected, see

Update your Kindle or lose access on it to your Cloud, the store, and other Kindle services

Have any questions? Any other deadlines (Kindle/e-book/Amazon related…I know there are others)😉 for my readers and me? Feel free to let us know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

5 useful Amazon Kindle Help Pages

March 8, 2016

5 useful Amazon Kindle Help Pages

Amazon has been working on their Help Pages, and I do think they’ve made some improvements. The pages now tend to have clearer step by steps, videos, and the rules which might impact what you are trying to do. If you don’t find the answer you need, feel free to ask or you can go to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

There are several ways to contact them, but I usually have them call me. My phone will ring in seconds and I’m typically speaking to someone in under a minute.

Okay, here are some useful pages:

Borrow Books from a Public Library (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Manage Newsstand Subscription Settings (at AmazonSmile*)

Quick Fix: Slow or Frozen Screen (at AmazonSmile*)

Return Kindle E-books (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon FreeTime Web Browser FAQs (at AmazonSmile*)

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.

Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map

February 14, 2016

Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map

Despite a near disastrous update to our sixth generation Kindle Paperwhite, I was able to get the new software version working. This is a significant update, affecting the current EBRs (E-Book Readers):

While there are different versions of the update (for example, different ones for the eligible versions of the Paperwhite), I think the end result is essentially the same. It makes sense to me that, where possible, Amazon gets that standardized. It can’t be exactly the same…the Paperwhites and Voyage need a screen light adjustment, the unlit “Kindle” least expensive model doesn’t. My guess is that this menu map will be helpful for anybody who can get the update.

In my Menu Maps, I go through the interface to find out where things are (there are sometimes new things, and sometimes things move), and give you some context. I’ve found some very interesting things in the past, and I’m curious as to what I’ll see here…so let’s get started!

Oh, one more thing: I did do a factory reset as part of my update, so my previous choices are likely not affecting this much.

Getting through the “sleep screen” seemed the same to me. I saw a Special Offer, I could have tapped on it, I swiped to unlock, and I could have a passcode required.

Once inside, that’s where the changes are first quite visually apparent.

There are “tiles” or sections of information.

At the top, there is

  • The device’s name
  • The wireless strength indicator
  • The battery level indicator
  • A clock

Below that is a toolbar:

  • Home
  • Back
  • Brightness
  • Goodreads
  • Store
  • Search (a magnifying glass)
  • Three dots, which are a menu indicator. Within that menu…

Menu

  • My Library
  • My Reading Lists
  • Kindle Store
  • Goodreads
  • Kindle FreeTime
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Experimental Browser
  • Setting
  • View Special Offers
  • Create New Collection

There was also a tile with “MY LIBRARY>”, and it showed me three recent titles.

There was a tile for “MY READING LISTS>”. That showed me three titles from a Wish List, and noted that there were 99+ more.

A third title showed me  “BOOKS FROM GOODREADS FRIENDS>”, but I know that rotates.

Believe that was an ad (I have one of the more popular ad-supported versions).

Now, working through, starting with the toolbar:

  • The Home button just takes me home…it doesn’t, but the way, rotate the one which was currently “YOUR GOOD READS FRIENDS”
  • The left-facing back arrow doesn’t do anything until you’ve gone somewhere
  • The brightness setting (it looks like a sun…or, unfortunately, a bit like the settings gear we see in many programs) let me choose up to 24 levels of brightness. Basic rule of thumb: the brighter it is where you are reading, the brighter you want your Kindle. Your Kindle is fighting with the sun…in bright light, having your Kindle brighter will make it easier to read. In a dark room, you need less light on your Kindle to read. Tapping that also opened a choice to turn on or off Airplane Mode, to “Sync My Kindle”, and “All Settings”…which unfortunately, did use a very similar, if not identical, “sun” or “gear” symbol. I’ll come back to All Settings later when I cover Settings
  • Goodreads brought up the Goodreads app…which started with showing my personal recommendations. Tapping “Next” let me connect Goodreads to Facebook…I skipped that. Next, I was shown Readers to Follow. Next, I finally got to my information: Updates | Shelves | Recommendations | Friends
  • Store started out by updating my Kindle store experience. I then saw “Recommended for You”, and had a choice of Books | Kindle Select 25 | Today’s Deals | Kindle Unlimited | Editors’ Picks | Best of the Months. Scrolling down, I saw Best Sellers | Recommended For You in Kindle Unlimited  | For You in Science Fiction & Fantasy | For You in (a few genres probably based on my reading habits) | New for You. Scrolling further, I had More to Explore: Recommendations | Monthly Deals | Kindle First | New & Noteworthy | We Suggest | Kindle Singles | Magazines | Newspapers. Hitting the menu while in the store gave me an interesting different set of choices (the menu is “context sensitive”…it changes based  on where you are). They were: Storefront; Books; Kindle Unlimited; Newspapers; Kindle Singles; Magazines; Kindle Owners’ Lending Library; View Wish List; Store Settings; Gift Card Balance. Under Store Settings, I could change my 1-Click Payment Method and Country Settings
  • When I went to Search, I put in “Alice”, and it defaulted to “Search Everywhere”. That found me books in my Cloud (and it would have been on the device) with Alice in the title or in the author’s name, and suggested that it could search for “alice in wonderland” in the store. When I tapped the “Search Everywhere” at the bottom, I got much more nicely arranged search results. It broke it out into My Items (6), Kindle Store (9,221), Goodreads (22,878), Text in Books (0) (there may be a setting to change for that), and Dictionary and Wikipedia

Tapping the menu from the homescreen…

My Library

This one showed me ALL | DOWNLOADED (so I could choose), ALL ITEMS (3,229) with a dropdown (I’ll cover that display option shortly), and a sort choice which defaulted to RECENT.

Below that, by default, I saw the covers of recent books….and I was on page 1 of 539.

Tapping where it says ALL ITEMS, I get  the choices of

  • Grid View or List View | All Items, Books, Periodicals, Docs, Active Content, Collections. Huh…tapping on Active Content actually did show me choices. The Paperwhites haven’t worked with the Active Content. However, tapping on one just gave me an error message showing me that “This item is not compatible with this device”. In the past, I think incompatible items haven’t shown on the device. Does this suggest greater control of Cloud content from the devices?
  • Tapping on Collections (my normal view) showed me my Cloud collections when I was on ALL, and correctly told me I didn’t have any Collections on this device when tapped on DOWNLOADED. Tapping a Cloud Collection’s menu symbol, I as able to Add/Remove Items, Rename, and Delete…without having to download the Collection to this device. That actually concerns me…I’d rather that be only done by people who get to the account settings (they need the username/e-mail and password). Tapping one of the Collections, I could toggle between what was in the Cloud and what was downloaded…that’s something people wanted to be clear, and is quite helpful. As I would anticipate, if I download the Collection, that does not download the books in the Collection

My Reading Lists

Tapping the “>” for My Reading Lists showed me

  • SAMPLES (not just on this device)
  • GOODREADS WANT TO READ
  • AMAZON WISH LIST

and “Find books you want to read with Goodreads”

I’m going to jump down in the Menu to

Settings

  • Airplane Mode on or off (that will disable or enable wireless connectivity…having it off saves you battery charge)
  • Wi-Fi Networks: tapping it will give you choices of available networks. Tapping Other will let you get to Advanced, where you can manually enter parameters
  • Registration and Household: adjust Household and Family Library, or Deregister Device (this would be a register choice if the device wasn’t already registered)
  • Device Options: Device Passcode; Parental Controls (Kindle FreeTime | Restrictions to the Experimental Web Browser, Kindle Store, Cloud, and Goodreads)
  • Personalize Your Kindle: Device Name and Personal Info (I put my e-mail address there, in case the device is lost); Device Time; Advanced Options (Home Screen View…this is where you can turn off recommendations; Next in Series; Whispersync for Books; Special Offers…two choices here. One is o turn on or off Special Offer Filtering, which will allow you to hide offers which “may not be suitable for all audiences”, and the other one is to choose whether or not Special Offer Recommendations include personalized offers based on items browsed or purchased); Send-to-Kindle Email)
  • Language and Dictionaries (Language; Keyboard; Dictionaries

When I’m in Settings, and tap the menu, I get

  • Kindle Store
  • Update Your Kindle
  • Restart (you can do this any time)
  • Reset Device (this wipes your device, except for system updates…use with caution)
  • Device Info
  • Legal

Let’s take a look inside a book…

Tapping towards the top center of the book brings up a special toolbar. That includes

  • GO TO (Beginning; Page or Location; Cover; and the Table of Contents. There was a separate tab for Notes…that defaulted to Popular, but I could choose “Yours” or “Public” as well)
  • X-RAY (NOTABLE CLIPS, PEOPLE, TERMS, IMAGES)
  • Aa (Display Settings…FONT, PAGE, READING PROGRESS. There are nine fonts, which defaulted to Bookerly. An Open Dyslexic was also available. There were eight font sizes. Three page option sections had o do with SPACING, MARGINS, and ORIENTATION (no justification choice). READING PROGRESS gave a choice of Location in book, Page in book (if available), Time left in chapter, Time left in book, and None…you can also change that tapping on the display at the bottom of the screen
  • Share (Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter)
  • Notes and bookmarks

The menu in the book gave me

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Settings
  • Notes
  • About This Book
  • About the Authors
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read
  • Word Wises

At the bottom of the screen had the page flip feature, which lets you flip ahead or back without losing your place. I also liked that it showed me the title of the story in this case (chapter title, I would guess), author, location, time left in chapter, and percentage).

Long-pressing a word in the book (holding my finger on it for about a second) brought up

  • Wikipedia (I was wirelessly connected) on a card, which I could swipe to move o
  • Translation
  • Dictionary
  • I also had choices for Highlight | Note | Share | Search | Open Dictionary | and Report Content Error

Let’s go back to the recommendation strip at the bottom of the homescreen. I toggled the device on and off, and saw:

  • More by Isaac Asimov (one of the authors on the book showing as the last book read)
  • BOOKS FROM YOUR GOODREADS FRIENDS
  • RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

My overall impression?

It looks nicer. Access to some choices is easier. There is a lot of emphasis on discovery of books to read…people may see that as ads for things for you to buy, and much of it is…but I appreciate having Kindle Unlimited recommendations, which cost me nothing more.

What do you think? Do you have other questions? Have you found other things? Feel free to share with me and my readers 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! :) 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.

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

February 12, 2016

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

Well.

I recently wrote about a

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

The Kindle Paperwhite I use is an older generation, and wasn’t eligible for this update.

My Significant Other had a 6th generation Kindle Paperwhite which was eligible.

My SO hadn’t used it in some time. I think unexpectedly, my SO now reads on a now discontinue Kindle Fire HDX…which is also a daily device of mine (and one I like very much).

So, I found it, charged it up, went to

February 2016 EBR Update Amazon page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

double-checked that I was getting the right download version for the device, and manually updadoted it (following Amazon’s directions precisely…I generally do that, in part to test how clear their directions are for other people).

It went through the update process, but then…

Just as it would be going to the homescreen (that’s one of the big changes), I got an “Application Error” message box, that told me

“The selected application could not be started. Please try again.”

All I had was a blank screen…still illuminated, but blank.

I restarted  it.

Same thing.

I downloaded the file again from Amazon, went back through the install process.

Same thing.

I couldn’t do anything with it except use the power button to restart it, or put it into USB mode by plugging it into my computer.

Now, I often say how I generally find Amazon’s Kindle Support to be friendly and helpful, and that has been the case.

I went to

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

That worked in its normal satisfying fashion: my phone rang in seconds, and I was speaking to a person within a minute.

Well, I was with that person on the phone for close to an hour.

While it isn’t my primary job responsibility, I do phone tech support at work. I do think I know something about it, both as a user of phone tech support and to a small extent, as a provider of it.

Generally, Amazon is very, very good on this.

In this case, it could have been improved. They tell us that these calls could be recorded for training purposes. I honestly hope this is one of them.

It’s not just that the problem couldn’t get fixed…hey, sometimes, things are really broken.

It’s that the representative kept forgetting what my actual situation was.

More than once, the rep asked me to go to the settings menu…when I repeatedly responded that I couldn’t get to the menus at all, since all I had was a blank screen (no amount of swiping or restarting would change that).

I was asked if my wi-fi was on: I said I assumed it was. I was asked to verify it: I had to say (again) that I couldn’t get into anything that would enable me to check it.

The person with whom I was speaking was in what was probably a group chat, asking other Amazon employees questions. I have no problem with that: I do that myself. We can’t all know it all, and it’s great sometimes to have shared wisdom on a perhaps unusual circumstance (I’m sure many people have update sixth generation Paperwhites with no problem.

One creative solution was to rename the downloaded “bin” file, which is the update.

Unfortunately, that didn’t fix it, but it was a nice try.

I was asked if I had modified this Paperwhite: nope, this one is for my Significant Other, and I really, really don’t mess with those. I want unmodified ones precisely so I can have the typical user experience in situations like this.

Finally, after more than 45 minutes, I was transferred to someone who was actually an expert in this.

Within ten minutes, the verdict was, yes, it was broken.:)

I was out of warranty…so they offered me a discount on the purchase of a future device.

How much of a discount?

It seemed like $10 or $15, depending on the price of the device…and that they would send me an e-mail with the information.

I haven’t gotten an e-mail, as far as I can tell (I checked my spam folder, besides my inbox).

I’ve never had that happen from Amazon before, either…where they said I would get an e-mail, and I didn’t.

My Significant Other came home while I was on the second call, and could tell I was frustrated.

I almost never get frustrated, so that was a bit shocking.:)

I think I was still civil, although I was probably shorter with the second person than I should have been.

Bottom line: I do think I probably did as instructed by Amazon, and I do think it made the device unable to perform. Amazon could have, I think, handled my Customer Service experience better…and that is very atypical of my experiences with them in the past. I’m guessing (hoping?) it was just a fluke.

I’m letting you know, in part to say that perhaps manually updating your sixth generation Paperwhite may not be advised.

One additional point, and this is interesting.

I was getting the Special Offers “screensaver” before it would go to a blank screen when I swipe. Yes, I know, I know…the only thing working on the Paperwhite was the ad.😉

However, it occurred to me that maybe I would bypass the broken application if I had it go to the offer instead.

I tried that this morning…and it worked!

From there, I could try getting to settings (not that I can do much there now), but that is only the store settings.

There was a “Home” button I could reach though…and I tapped it.

It took me to a “slideshow” about my update!

Hey, I just got through the slideshow…and I’m on the new homescreen!

I tested to see if that would persist by restarting it…and it failed with the same white screen and error message.

When I toggled the device on and off (using the power button), I got the Special Offers screen again…and by going through that special deal, I once again was able to get to the Homescreen!

I’ll let Amazon know about this “back door” method. That doesn’t fix the Paperwhite, but at least it is usable again.

I also want to mention that I did try downloading the other generation Paperwhite updates…and in each case, it correctly identified them with messages that they were the incorrect versions, so I know I had the right one initially…I was confident in that, but I wanted to test.

Hm…it is quite slow, so since I now have access to the menus, I’m trying to reset it to factory defaults to see what happens.

Okay, having gone through the reset, it does seem to work, and it tells me it is at the current version (5.7.2). I do have the new homescreen experience. One more test: I’ll restart it and see if it gives me that blank screen…

Well! So far, it all seems to work! I need to test it more, but virtual fingers crossed. Oh, and I did just put a passcode on it to test to see if that feature might have been what was broken, but that also worked.

I’ll contact Amazon directly and know about this…I will also offer them their discount back…presuming I actually get it.😉 I now feel great that I solved the problem! Not great about the Customer Service call, but it’s hard to keep an optimist down for long.😉

Bonus deals:

Today’s

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

includes ten books in the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters by $1.99 each. A number of these are also available through

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

Another deal, no doubt related to St. Valentine’s Day (although it goes through March 3rd) is

99 Romances for $0.99 each (at AmazonSmile*)

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.

 

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.


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