Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…Kindle

May 19, 2015

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…Kindle

I find it’s valuable for my readers for me to return to the basic  hierarchy of devices and the account from time to time.

That’s partially because I have new readers, but it’s also just worth a reminder. :)

I recently answered a question like this in the Kindle forums: essentially, what had happened was that the person posting had lost a Kindle at the airport. They wanted to deregister that one (which is the right thing to do), but was worried that doing that would have a negative impact on a Kindle Fire on the account.

It won’t.

What you do on one Kindle really has no impact on other devices registered to the account.

I’ll need to clarify that, of course, because I’m sure some of you are going right to Whispersync…I’ll get there. ;)

Let’s stay with the idea of a single account with a…I’ll go with a

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

and a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

which are two of the devices we have on our account, and the two Kindle/Fires I use the most.

There is a very important third entity in this equation: “the account”.

Our Paperwhite does not communicate directly to our Kindle Fire HDX…and vice versa.

However, they both communicate with the account.

Let’s say I remove a book from the Paperwhite…does that affect the book if it is on the Fire?

Nope.

However, it does affect the account…which can affect the Fire.

Most books from the Kindle store have six SDLs (Simultaneous Device Licenses). That means that you can generally have Kindle store books on six devices at the same time on your account for one purchase price. If it’s a different number (a small minority of books have fewer licenses…some are unlimited), it will say so on the book’s Amazon product pages.

Let’s just pretend that this book has one SDL: I’ve seen that be the case for some textbooks.

That means I’m only allowed to have it on one device registered to the account at a time.

If it’s on the Paperwhite, I can’t download it to the Fire.

If I remove it from the Paperwhite, that “returns the license” to the account. The Fire, then, can download it from the account.

That wasn’t the Paperwhite giving it to the Fire. It was the Paperwhite giving it to the account, and the account giving it to the  Fire.

That may seem like an overly technical way to explain it, but it’s important.

Losing one of your devices has no impact on the other devices registered to your account.

It’s a similar idea with Whispersync, which enables you to pick up where you were when you go from device to device. I could read three chapters of a book on the Paperwhite, and then pick up right on Chapter Four on the Fire.

Again, that’s a case of the Paperwhite telling the account what my “furthest page read” is, and the account then telling the Fire.

We didn’t used to be able to do this, but you can now reset that reading point by going to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

That will reset it for all devices on the account.

You also have the option to keep Whispersync turned off…that’s what we do. You do that on the Settings tab at that MYK page linked above.

It’s a pretty simple equation:

One person reading the same book on multiple devices = Whispersync on.

Two people reading the same book on different devices = Whispersync off.

My Significant Other and I sometimes read the same book at the same time (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, for example), but not at the same speed.

With Whispersync on, it would keep skipping my SO ahead to where I am in the book. I’m usually ahead, since I use text-to-speech in the car and I drive a lot (I worked in three different cities…today alone).

Don’t worry…I never spoil the books. :) I’m quite careful about that.

Do we get competitive about who is ahead? Not really…but I remember jokingly saying to my SO once, “I can be less competitive than you can!” ;)

We have a healthy competitive feel. I do that with everything. Yes, I want to win, but I want you to have the best game you possibly can…otherwise, it doesn’t mean as much to me.

I will train you for our match. I’ll recommend books to you. I’ll do what I can to make you better…and then I want to beat you. ;)

So, to restate this: books belong to the account, not to the device.

I think for a lot of people, they still think of it as if they bought a physical copy of the book.

They think there is just one copy for them. They downloaded it, so if they accidentally delete it, they’d have to buy it again. That did used to be true with some digital files, but not from the Kindle store.

You buy a license to read the book: you don’t buy the file itself.

It’s Amazon’s responsibility to keep that book available to you.

For more information on that, you may find this earlier post of mine interesting:

How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

You can read the book on the device…you can’t manage the book on the device.

That’s an important distinction.

You could have a hundred people on your account…that’s fine: Amazon doesn’t put a limit on the number of devices registered to one account.

Very few of them, though, should have the password and username for the account.

Those credentials should only be known to the “account managers”, as I like to call them.

Lots of users: very few managers.

The managers have the authority to delete the book from the account…which does affect everybody.

The account (reached at that Manage Your Kindle page above) is central…all devices on the account touch it.

Each device connects to the account…but not directly to another device on the account.

There you go! Hope that helps…

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me by commenting on this post.

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.

KDEASY: free, sophisticated management for your Kindle

May 8, 2015

KDEASY: free, sophisticated management for your Kindle

Update: I can not recommend the use of this software at this time. I asked an apparent representative about the purported ability to copy a book from one Kindle to another and read it. If the book is protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management), as most books in the Kindle store are, that should not work. Stripping the DRM would generally be illegal under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 in the USA, as I understand it. The response I got was,

“As per your question, “If KDEasy is used to transfer a book from one Kindle to another, how is it able to be read on the other Kindle?”

I don’t think it’s a good idea to discuss a lot about this, however, you can have a try. :)

We create this program to make Kindle easier to use, that’s our goal.”

Not wanting to talk about something which is possibly a crime makes me too uneasy about the product to suggest you use it.

One of the issues people have had with Kindles since the beginning is managing the content.

Some people keep thousands of books on one device. That’s not my style: I tend to keep about ten (maybe twenty) Kindle store books on a device…I keep the rest in the Cloud. That’s not going to work for everybody. Part of it depends on how accessible wi-fi is to you. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and even when I’m away from home, wi-fi is often there for me.

Even in my case, though, the interface provided by Amazon for a Kindle is nothing to Periscope home about. ;)

A lot of people use

Calibre

a free program to manage e-books. I’ve tried it, and it works, but it still isn’t really Kindle focused.

I had recently flipped an article mentioning

KDEASY

into the

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

and I was approached by the company (I wasn’t given any compensation or anything from them, just a suggestion I look at it and an offer to answer questions).

They call KDEASY a “toolkit”, and that’s a good description.

It’s a free program you download to your computer (PC or Mac). Then, you connect your Kindle to your computer and you can use the software. Oh, they list the supported models this way:

“Kindle 3(Keyboard), Kindle 4(5-way controller), Kindle Touch, Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite (2). With firmware version under and not include 5.4.5”

I haven’t used it as much as I’d like yet, but I wanted to go ahead and give you information about it now. I may write about it again in the future.

The download was easy. I did need to make sure I had a device with a USB port and a compatible operating system. :) That shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

It did want to update the operating system on my

Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That went quite smoothly, but honestly, it made me a bit uncomfortable. Will what it did interfere with updates from Amazon in the future? I honestly don’t know that yet. If it did, I’d reset the Paperwhite to factory defaults…it doesn’t take me long to restore it. I don’t believe I have violated the Terms of Service at this point…my guess is that it didn’t modify Amazon’s software, but added new things.

Note that you have to have the Kindle plugged into the computer when you launch KDEASY for it to work.

It asked to back up my books, which I allowed it to do (to my computer). Even if you have thousands of books, that’s not going to be a ton of memory on most computers…unless you have a lot of graphically intense items (picture books, graphic novels, magazines).

The program looks nice…the graphics are good, it’s easy to read.

There are five main functions:

  • Library
  • Collections
  • Cleaner
  • Transfer
  • Free Books

In this first post, I’ll just look at the library function. What do the others do (which I plan to cover in later posts)?

  • Collections lets you create Collections (essentially, book organizations tools, like folders) on the computer rather than on your Kindle…and then they will appear on the Kindle
  • Cleaner not only “cleans up your device”, but downloads metadata (author, title) from major sources on the web
  • Transfer is to transfer books between the Kindle and a computer, and from there to another Kindle. I haven’t yet tested their claim that “The transferred Kindle books can be read on any Kindle perfectly.” I’m also a bit concerned about the legality of that, at least in the USA. I’m not going to try that part of it until I do some more research
  • Free Books: that’s a source for you to download free books from them to your device

Information on the library screen

  • Model
  • Available storage
  • Books in kindle
  • Serial Number
  • Kindle Email Address
  • “Jailbreaked” (yes or no)
  • Wifi Address
  • MAC Address
  • Firmware Version

It’s quite nice to easily have that information available. It includes a picture of the device model.

On the library page it shows me the books, with covers.

If you double-click on a book, you can edit the metadata.

That’s something people really want to do!

It lets you change the way the author is listed, for example. Some publishers (who may be just authors) accidentally listed the name of the author backwards, so the Kindle then displays it in an alphabetical sort by first name instead of by last name…even though most books get it right.

A common thing for titles is that the publishers enter it in a way that a title sorts by the word “The” or “A” at the beginning of the title…you can fix that in the metadata.

You could also change the title of the book…hm, I suppose that might be a way to help “hide” certain titles when someone is glancing at your device.

You can additionally edit the publisher, the ISBN, the language, and the “Publish Date”. The last one might be useful, since the publication date is often when it appeared in the Kindle store, not when it was first published. So, a 19th Century title may look like it came out in the 21st Century.

I made a point of it saying “Publish Date” above, because I think it’s worth noting that the language is sometimes a bit off…perhaps written by someone for whom English was not the first language, or perhaps its just a non-American usage I don’t know.

You can also add a description.

I haven’t found the book description on the Kindle itself. My metadata changes were visible.

Here is what I would say at this point:

The concept is very good, and may make many of you love your Kindle more.

I’ve had some problems with the execution. I created a Collection on the computer. It appeared on my Kindle properly (showing the three books which I had added to it), but the Collection within KDEASY showed there were three books in it.

I’ve had trouble scrolling in the program on the computer…seeing my Collections in the sidebar navigation is difficult. I move the scrollbar, tried arrow up and down, page up and page down, and couldn’t get the one I wanted to display (typically, the Collections don’t move at all…sometimes it jumps to the bottom). In fact, looking at it now through Display Preferences, I’m not seeing that KDEASY Collection within KDEASY at all…and interestingly, while I was writing this article, it also disappeared from my Kindle.

My Kindle also appears to be running more slowly, and it froze at one point to where I had to restart it. Let me emphasize that I do not know if that’s because of this software: it could be a coincidence. It has only been happening since I started to use KDEASY, though.

Let me bottom line this for you for now. It’s not for the average user, who isn’t an early adopter willing to deal with technical imperfections.

If you are the adventurous sort, you may find this really interesting.

My guess at this point is that they’ll get things smoothed out, and that people will find it an attractive management option.

What do you think? If you do play around with it, please feel free to share your impressions with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Checking in on Manage Your Kindle

February 23, 2015

Checking in on Manage Your Kindle

One of the most important resources an Kindle owner has is the Manage Your Kindle page.

Well, that used to be true…now it’s called the “Manage Your Content and Devices.” :)

I assume that’s because the new tablets aren’t called “Kindle Fires” any more, but simply “Fires”.

Not only that, other devices appear as well…my Fire Phone, our Fire TV, our Fire TV stick. I’m guessing our Amazon Echo will appear there as well, although it hasn’t yet (our delivery date still has, as the early end, the end of May).

Whatever you call it, I like to check in on this page from time to time, to see if anything has changed…and it often has.

One thing to note before I get into it: what you see and what I see may not be quite the same.

Amazon is big on “A/B testing”: you give different people different interfaces (and sometimes, different features), to see how well they work and how much people like them.

It’s usually not huge: it could be that a button appears on the top for me, and on the side for you.

Also, which browser you use may matter. I’m using Maxthon, my browser of preference, although I also use Chrome, Internet Explorer, Silk, and SeaMonkey.

We all get to the page the same way, though. I’ll give you the shortest URL (Uniform or Universal Resource Locator…web address), although there are others:

http://www.amazon.com/myk

For me, I see three tabs, and a link to Help. I’ll take them in the order they appear for me:

Your Content

This is where I see things I’ve purchased (including for free) from Amazon on this account, personal documents I’ve uploaded, and resources they give me (like dictionaries for the Kindle).

The first thing I see are two dropdown menus for “Show”.

The first one of those defaults to “Books”, and then gives me these other choices:

  • Books (purchased from the Kindle store)
  • Kindle Unlimited (you may not have that if you aren’t a member…it shows me which books I’ve borrowed under that plan)
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Audiobooks
  • Music
  • Apps
  • Instant Video
  • Docs (personal documents I’ve uploaded)
  • Active Content (games and apps for non-Fire Kindles)
  • Dictionaries & User Guides (provided by Amazon)
  • Pending Deliveries

Next to that is a dropdown menu which says “All”. That presumably modifies the choices you make in the first dropdown, and not all choices will apply to all content categories. For Books, I see:

  • All
  • Purchases (including free)
  • Samples (this is relatively new, that samples are stored in the Cloud)
  • Rentals (yes, you can rent books…textbooks)
  • Loans
  • Borrows (this is showing me Kindle Unlimited…and ones I got from public libraries)

The next thing I get is a way to sort what shows:

  • Purchase Date: Newest-Oldest (default)
  • Title: A-Z
  • Title: Z-A
  • Author: A-Z
  • Author: Z-A
  • Purchase Date: Oldest-Newest

New here is a toggle to “Show Family Library” or “Hide Family Library”. When it is toggled to “Show”, you can Add to Library and Remove from Library.

There is also a search box you can use to search items

For individual books (or other content), there is a checkbox. When I check a book, I can then Deliver it somewhere or Delete it. I can check more than one book, and take the same action on multiple books (although I’ve heard from people that it can get overwhelmed…I’ve heard of a limit of ten at a time, but I have not tested that recently).

NOTE: if you delete a book from your Cloud, you are surrendering the licence for which you paid (or which you got free). If you do that, and anyone who is on your account now or may be on your account in the future wants to read that book, they’ll have to purchase it again…if it is still available.

I don’t delete books from the Cloud…it would be like throwing out a paperbook.

I know some people do,  though.

This ability is one of the reasons why you have to know the account username and password to get into MYK. Many people have accounts set up where some people are “users” and other people are “managers” (that’s just my name for it). The managers have access to MYK; the users don’t.

In addition to “Deliver” and “Delete”, there  are buttons for actions on individual books.

Tapping one (I’m using a touchscreen device…you might be clicking it), I can see

  • The title (which I can tap to go to the book’s Amazon product page)
  • The author
  • My purchase date
  • The price
  • A link for Order Details
  • Deliver
  • Delete
  • Download & Transfer via USB (you can put books on your device this way, if the device can’t connect to wireless)
  • Clear furthest page read
  • Read Now
  • Manage Family Library

Other choices may appear: for example, if you are within seven days of purchase, you’ll typically get a choice here to return your Kindle book for a refund.

The book line item will also list the Title | Author | Date of purchase…and if an update is available, it will indicate it to the left of the date.

It appears to me that this is an “infinite page”…as I scroll down, more titles appear. That’s also new.

The action buttons continue to appear that the top as I scroll down…that’s a good thing, even though it likely slows down the scrolling.

Moving on to

Your Devices

I see all the devices (hardware and apps) registered to the account.

They appear to be Fire tablets and non-Fire Kindles first in alphabetical order by name, then other hardware (Fire TVs and sticks first for me, then the Fire Phone), then apps.

As you select each device, you’ll see options below it…and those will depend on what the device is capable of doing.

For example, we have a 2007 original Kindle registered (more than one, actually). The options for that are:

  • Edit the name
  • Deregister
  • Set as default device (this is somewhat new)
  • Edit the e-mail address (this address is used to send items to this device, not to send regular e-mail to it)
  • The type
  • The Serial Number

Looking at the

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

I use every day (mine is named “HDXter”, which I pronounce like “H-Dexter”), I see first a dropdown for Device Actions:

  • Deregister
  • Set as default device
  • Remote Alarm (this is nice…even if the volume is turned off, you can make your HDX make a not entirely unpleasant beeping noise…so you can find it if it is lost around the house. If you do find it, you can stop the beeping…otherwise, it goes for two minutes. You will, I assume, need to have wireless on for that to work)
  • Find Your Tablet (this will actually locate it physically…I just  tried it, and it was quite close…certainly close enough so I would know it was at home)
  • Remote Lock (could be useful if someone steals your device…but they may not connect it to wireless)
  • Remote Factory Reset (this would wipe everything off your device, including personal files you put on it…system software updates you had done would not be affected)

Those last three or four might also be used by account managers to…work with account users. For example, a legal guardian could hypothetically lock a child’s device…or see if the device is at home where it was “supposed to be”, rather than, say, at the park…

Then I see

  • Email address (editable)
  • Special Offers status (editable…that wasn’t on the K1 above, because it didn’t do Special Offers)
  • Type
  • Serial Number

Last tab…

Settings

  • Digital Payment Settings (you can edit your 1-click Payment Method through a link here…again, this is fairly new)
  • Country Settings (you can see where they think you live, and you could change it…but you still need to have something that evidenced where you live, such as the country location of your bank. This has to do with copyright and licensing)
  • Households and Family Library: you can add 1 adult here who is not on your account to share books, apps, games, and audiobooks…both of you have to be present when you are doing that. You can also add up to four children
  • Newsstand Subscription Settings (there is a link here to Manage Your Subscriptions, such as unsubscribing or changing a payment method…changing your 1-click above does not change the payment method for a subscription)
  • Kindle Unlimited Settings (you can unsubscribe here, and it tells you when you next payment will be)
  • Device Synchronization (it’s good to have this on if you read the same book on different devices, like a tablet and a phone. If two people on the same account read the same book at the same time on different devices ((which we do sometimes)) it’s good to keep this off)
  • Automatic Book Update (you can turn this off…if it’s on, and an update comes out for a book, it will just happen without asking you…I keep this off)
  • Language Optimized Storefront (you can currently choose English or Spanish)
  • Personal Document Settings (you can edit the e-mail addresses for your devices here), turn on or off Personal Document Archiving (I keep this on….it means that if I use “Send-to-Kindle”, the document will be added to the Cloud so it is available to other devices on the account), Whispernet Delivery Options (you can choose whether or not your personal documents will deliver over 3G/4G if you have it, or just on wi-fi…you could be charged for a 3G/4G delivery), and the Approved Personal Document E-mail List (you choose here what e-mail addresses are allowed to send documents to your devices…prevents “spam”). There is also a list of your previous charges here
  • A link to Manage Whispercast Settings (Whispercast is a special service designed for businesses and organizations)
  • A link to Your AmazonLocal Vouchers
  • The last thing on this page is Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations…the key thing here is that you can view or edit your browsing history at the botttom

Whew!

As you can tell, there is a lot of “self service” provided by Amazon! Good self service can be part of excellent customer service.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

* 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.

Re-boot camp: the all purpose fix for Amazon gadgets

January 21, 2015

Re-boot camp: the all purpose fix for Amazon gadgets

No gadget functions perfectly all the time.

Even p-books (paperbooks), which were undeniably a technological gadget was first introduced (with “expensive” difficult to use versions going to elite early adopters, and then eventually, cheap mass-produced ones which benefited from early users’ experiences), fail in a variety of ways…pages tear or get folded, spines separate, and so on.

With electronic gadgets, one of the big differences is that they actively do things…they participate in your interaction with them.

That ability to participate has its limits…it can become overwhelmed, just like an adult trying to deal with several children. ;)

Most devices have two sorts of memory, somewhat similar to humans.

They have a short term memory (“What am I doing now?”) and a long term memory (“Who am I?”).

Unless something is catastrophically wrong, a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) basically knows it is a device to display books. It knows when you tap a title on the homescreen (I say “tapping” because all of the current generation have touchscreens) it should display that book.

That functionality is in its long term memory.

The words it is currently displaying to you? That’s short term…it can store the spot where you were and return you to that, but it isn’t constantly “thinking” about where you are in all of the books you’ve been reading on the device.

The same sort of thing goes for a Fire tablet, a Fire phone, a Fire TV (or Fire TV stick) and the Amazon Echo.

When its active, short term memory gets filled up, it can’t deal with requests very well…just like that adult with several kids all asking questions at once.

In fact, they can get so overwhelmed that requests can’t reach the long term memory part, or they reach it imperfectly, and it freezes up or makes mistakes.

With electronics, we can usually tell them to clear that short term memory so they can work again.

With humans, we typically do that by sleeping and dreaming…at least, that’s my best hypothesis on dreaming, and it seems to work quite well.

When we dream, we can “run programs” we don’t usually use, to make sure they are working properly, then file them away again. You don’t often have to run through the woods, but you can practice while your physical movements are constrained so you aren’t at risk. Experiments have been done with animals where they can remove the constraint, and yes, the animal will physically act out the dreams (that’s how I recall the studies).

You can “defrag the disk”: run things that happened during the day, deleting fragments, storing some others.

That’s why “sleeping on it” works, and why if scientists keep you from dreaming (but let you sleep), you’ll start to hallucinate within a few days (usually).

We rarely let our devices “dream”, so they can also start to “hallucinate” pretty quickly.

How do you let them dream?

You can reboot them…turn them off and turn them back on it. In the turning off process, they’ll clear all of that temporary memory (but not the long term memory) and “wake up” refreshed.

Oh, that’s important: sleep mode won’t do it here…it’s actually turning off the device.

I have a relative who is a psychologist, and we’ve talked about this. You know when you have a birthday party for a five-year old, and there is a clown and a magician and the presents and the birthday kid falls asleep in the middle?

People tend to say it is “too much cake”, but all the kids had cake. Only the birthday kid falls asleep.

What I think happens is that the brain says, “Too much input!” It shuts down the input systems (by sleeping) to give it time to process what has already been happening. Once things have been cleared up and  reorganized  a bit, it can wake up again.

With a Kindle or a Fire, you usually do this by holding in the power button.

On non-Fires, if you keep holding it in (for about thirty seconds), it will typically restart on its own.

With a Fire tablet, like my

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

and the current generation, you may need to release the power button, then press it again to reawaken it.

If you do need to do that, it’s best to leave it off for a bit (a minute should be fine) just to make sure it gets a chance to clear everything.

From time to time, I have to unplug my

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

and

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

to get them to clear up. If you have a way to restart using software, by the way, that’s better. The Kindle EBRs like my

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

do. Using the software is a “soft restart”. Using the hardware is a “hard restart” (logically enough). The soft restart is simply more elegant and gives the device more control of the process. If it’s too full to control anything, though, then the hard restart is fine.

On my Paperwhite, you use the menu at the top of the screen (tap towards the top of the “page” when you are in a book to see it), then do Settings, then tap the menu again, and you’ll see the choice.

The Amazon Echo reportedly has a reset button on the bottom…mine is on order, but I won’t have it for a while yet.

Restarting should not affect any of the long term memory stuff, like being registered to your account and knowing your wi-fi network password.

In addition to the devices needing this “clearing” process, so can apps on your Fire tablet.

Their active memory is called a “cache”, and you can also “force stop” them to make them shut down and clear everything out.

I find I have to do this pretty often with some apps. For example, the

CNN App (at AmazonSmile*)

seems to fill up its cache every few days…and then it won’t scroll through the stories. I clear the cache (and force stop it), and everything is fine again.

How do you clear the cache?

It’s pretty much the same on all the Fire devices…TV, stick, phone, tablets.

You get to the Settings, and then you Manage All Applications (you probably need to select “Applications” first).

Then, you find the app that is “misbehaving”.

You’ll see a choice to clear the “cache”. Clearing it may mean that it takes more time to open the first time, or that it may not know where you were in something (like where you were in a story).

The cache is where it puts the things it doesn’t have to remember forever, just for now. I have described it this way: imagine you are on a shopping trip. As you buy things, you are carrying them in your arms. Eventually, you’ll be carrying so many things, you’ll start to “malfunction”, and may even drop items.

Clearing the cache is like getting those packages out of your arms.

When you go home, you might put them away on shelves in cupboards (depending on what they are).

You can no longer get to them as easily, but your arms are free to do more things and carry more items.

This is not the same as clearing the data, which you generally don’t want to do.

The data choice represents things you want it to remember, in most cases.

I have to validate who I am to the CNN app…I’m allowed to watch it for free because I pay for CNN elsewhere (through my cable company, in my case). I can read the stories without that, but I can’t watch live TV.

That validation is stored in the data, not the cache. I can clear the cache without having to revalidate. If I cleared the data, I’d have to validate again.

“Force stopping” it is like turning it off. That can stop processes that have gone wonky.

Let’s say it is trying to launch a video, but there is something wrong…it can’t do the whole launch. It keeps trying and trying, and can’t think about anything else very well.

The force stop will make it stop trying to load that video…just like shutting down a non-Fire Kindle can make it stop trying to index a corrupt e-book file (such as one that only got downloaded partway for some reason).

I know we shouldn’t ever have to do something like going into Settings-Applications to use our devices, but when I do, I don’t find it onerous…it’s pretty simple and will often take care of whatever the issue is.

There you go! Feel free to let me (and my readers) know if you have more questions about “first aid” for your device by commenting on this post.

Join more than a thousand 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.

Amazon experimenting with “co-pilot” help function

January 17, 2015

Amazon experimenting with “co-pilot” help function

Amazon has highly-rated Customer Service.

It has typically lead the annual Foresee survey, although intriguingly, and perhaps significantly, it dropped quite a bit for 2014 according to this

Foresee press release

In this brief excerpt, they say:

“The 2014 AXI reveals that Amazon, the undisputed king of online customer satisfaction since the first report in 2005, slipped to a score of 83, tying with QVC for the highest score among the top 100 e-commerce sites measured.”

While they suggest it had to do in part with a perception of Amazon’s price competitiveness (and that’s certainly possible), I suspect that the Hachazon War (their dispute with publisher Hachette) had something to do with it. I genuinely think that hurt customer perception, and there may not have been a good place to mark that on the survey. The rise in the annual Prime subscription price from $79 to $99 may also have affected that this year.

Still, Mayday (available on some Fire tablets) and the Fire Phone is (in my opinion) one of the greatest Customer Service innovations in the past ten years. It’s almost instant onscreen technical help. They can tell you what to do, or takeover your device (with your permission) and do it for you.

Now, it appears that Amazon is experimenting with a similar “remote support” option on the website.

I first became aware of it with a comment from one of the other Kindle Forum Pros.

Unlike some things Amazon “A/B tests” (different people see different things, so you can figure out what works best), I can see this one, and I’m guessing you can, too.

Called “Co-Pilot” (or “Copilot”…they are inconsistent), it seems to me that it is intended to be used in a manner similar to the way I can use PC Anywhere at work to help people.

It would be used when you were on the phone with Customer Service.

The Customer Service rep would give you a code, which you enter into a box in your browser.

You can see the co-pilot option by going to Help on an Amazon website when viewing Amazon.com and then going to “Need More Help?” You can then see it (I would guess…probably only compatible with some browsers at this point) in the options (in the screenshot below, it’s the bottom right choice):

Copilot Menu

Once you click or tap that, you then get a place you can enter a code, which would be given to you by the representative.

They say the code is only good for five minutes, and that the rep can only see “…active Amazon.com web pages and cannot see other web pages or information on your computer.”

The way I would picture this working is that you contact Amazon Customer Service. You are having trouble getting something to work on the site…perhaps something at

Manage Your Kindle

site.

The rep would ask you if you would like them to “co-pilot” it with you…see what is happening on your computer.

When I am at work, I can actually take over somebody’s computer (with their permission…they have to acknowledge a pop-up), but my guess here is that they’ll only see it, not actually control it.

If you say yes, they give you a code, which you enter. At that point, something would happen, and the rep could see what is happening on your screen, so they can help you. “See the third choice from the top that says, ‘Manage Your Devices’?” It would be something like that.

I haven’t had a need to use it yet, and I don’t want to use their resources unnecessarily.

Have any of you used Amazon Co-pilot yet? If so, what was your experience?

This is another way, I think, that Amazon is trying to become the “Internet Interface”.

I see that as an essential part of their retail strategy (which is not their only strategy).

Amazon could (and I’m not saying they would) raises prices if people still preferred to shop through them.

One way to do that is through Customer Service. If they have this co-pilot thing, and others don’t, that’s going to have a big appeal for the less techie.

That’s where Amazon has really made market inroads.

That was the success of the Kindle in 2007: other EBRs (E-Book Readers) existed in the US market…more than ten of them. However, they were comparatively hard to use, not downloading the books wirelessly. Amazon essentially created the USA e-book mass market by making it appealing to non-techies.

It’s also important to note that it wasn’t cheap in the beginning…the first Kindle was almost $400. Some people get this mistaken idea that Amazon is all about discounting, and being the online Wal-Mart. That’s not the case, or at least, that’s only part of it. Amazon stresses Service, Selection, and Price.

The Amazon Echo (mine is supposed to arrive in May…or June…or July) ;) is another big part of this strategy.

It’s an “always listening” example of ambient computing, and may become some people’s go to way to get to the internet when they are at home.

Even if they use it to access competitors’ sites, eventually, Amazon can monetize it by charging those other companies.

I’ve said it before, but I also think that’s part of the plan. Sell things to customers inexpensively (or mostly inexpensively), and make money on the actual process of it being sold. That doesn’t mean that Amazon has to do the selling…it could just do the interface, as it does now with third-party sellers.

Amazon Co-pilot is a fascinating unannounced move from Amazon, and I think it is part of their future…and our future relationship with them.

Update: I was given permission to post this from Amazon:

“Amazon Co-Pilot is in beta testing at the moment. It works when viewing Amazon.com from a PC or laptop browser, and works best with IE 8 (and higher), Firefox 14 (and higher), and Safari 6 (and higher).”

Join more than a thousand 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.

Update on Goodreads integration

January 10, 2015

Update on Goodreads integration

When Amazon bought Goodreads (the social reading site) in 2013, there was quite a bit of gnashing of teeth…but also some excitement about how that might make things more convenient.

Slowly, they’ve been bringing Goodreads functionality into the Fires/Kindles, and in a lesser way, making the Goodreads site work with your Kindle books in more ways.

I’ve noticed some big improvements recently, so I thought I’d update you. When an existing feature is improved, not everybody is always aware of it. Even if it pops up to tell you, you might blow past it because you are anxious to get to that next chapter. ;)

Let me talk about it first on my

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

because that’s where I first noticed the improvements. ;) There’s actually a good reason for that. I usually read with the wireless connected on my Fire, and with it off on my Paperwhite.

When I opened a book for the first time, it offered to add it to my “Now Reading”. That was a nice touch: with one tap, it showed up on Goodreads.

When I tap towards the top middle of the screen in a book, to bring up the toolbar, I get a Goodreads choice. Tapping that lets me update my reading progress (automatically…it knows where I am in the book), and I could add a comment on that if I want. It also shows me a progress bar for where I am in the book…again, that’s nice.

Do note that it will automatically update Facebook and/or Twitter, if you have connected those on your device. I would prefer it not do that, so I uncheck Twitter before updating.

There is also a link so I can View reviews of the book on Goodreads…worked smoothly, with being able to see them in about a second. Since I’m there, I could also rate the book, ask a question about it…and open a Goodreads menu (horizontal lines in your top left corner). That gave me these choices:

  • Updates
  • My Profile
  • Recommendations
  • All Shelved Books
  • Read
  • Want To Read
  • Add Your Amazon Books
  • Friends
  • Following
  • Followers
  • Edit Profile
  • Go to Fire Library

That last one means that, although I can’t download directly from the Goodreads listing, I can simply go to my library and download a book.

One flaw: I added a shelf on Goodreads, but it didn’t seem to show as a shelf when I got to it this way.

When I finish a book, it lets me rate it and review it (both on Amazon and on Goodreads), and write a review. There is an option which lets me choose to update it just on Amazon or just on Goodreads or on both…up to me.

I would say the integration within a book is now good.

There is also the Goodreads app on my Fire. That has all the same menu choices I had from within the book…in fact, it’s pretty clear the book path just took me to the app.

Next, let’s look at it on the

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

The look there is quite different.

When I tap the “g” from within a book, it shows me the book and reviews, but doesn’t give me the choice to update my reading progress.

I can check my Updates, My Shelves, and Friends.

Honestly, the Fire has a better interface on this, in my opinion.

The “app” on the Paperwhite is, again, very similar to what you see from within the book, except that it doesn’t feature that specific book.

Finally, what about from

http://www.goodreads.com

?

Well, you can add books from Amazon to Goodreads, although it didn’t appear to me that it could find all of my Kindle store books.

I don’t see much other functionality relative to Amazon: you can buy a copy, but there isn’t a link that says you can have it delivered to a device if you already have it. However, if you click or tap the “Get a copy: Amazon” button, it takes you to the book’s Amazon product page. From there, you can deliver it to one of your devices if you already own the e-book…or, of course, buy it.

Overall, I’d say they’ve made great progress on the Fire, some progress on the Paperwhite, and a bit on the Goodreads website. :)

What do you think? Do you use the Goodreads functionality on your Fire and/or on your tablet? What’s your experience with it? Is there functionality you would like to see added? If so, what is it? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds 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.

31 “read-sons” to love Kindle Unlimited

December 26, 2014

31 “read-sons” to love Kindle Unlimited

Like a lot of people, you may be brand new to

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

You may have gotten a free month when you bought (or were given) an Amazon reader or tablet, or maybe you were given a gift of KU:

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

If you are a reader, this is a wonderful thing!

Of course, you’ll run into naysayers who want to dismiss it…they may tell you how the biggest publishers aren’t participating, and how you won’t see the bestsellers in there.

Well, the part about the publishers is true (at least at the time of writing), but there are some recent bestsellers and a lot of great books that may not be topping the charts this week!

I decided to list 31 “read-sons” (reasons, but specifically things to read) to love having KU, but before I do, let me explain how it works.

For $9.99 a month, you can read certain Kindle books. The amount you can read in a month of those books is unlimited, although you can only have up to ten at a time. If you go to borrow an eleventh book, it will suggest you return the one you’ve had the longest, but it’s up to you.

You don’t own the books, but you can keep them as long as you are a KU member. It is possible for books to go in and out of KU, though.

More than one person can read the same book on your account at the same time…that still counts as only having borrowed one book. For example, if you borrow Water for Elephants, two people can both read it on your account.

For more information (both on how to use it and book recommendations, see the

Kindle Unlimited category of posts on this blog

Okay, here are 31 read-sons! I picked thirty-one so there would be one reason for each day in the longest month, since so many people are getting one month free. You don’t have to borrow only one book a day, though: again, you can have up to ten out at a time.

  1. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins! Yes, you can read (or re-read) all three of the Hunger Games books at no additional cost!
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling! All seven of the books at your convenience…vide libri! Another cool feature: they have these books in different languages. If you’ve read them in English and are learning Japanese, it might really help you to read a book with which you are familiar in that language
  3. Bond…James Bond by Ian Fleming!
  4. More than 300 million copies of books by romance writer Janet Dailey have reportedly been sold…there are over fifty titles by hers in KU!
  5. Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and more by science fiction master Arthur C. Clarke!
  6. 27 (at time of writing) of the Perry Mason books by Erle Stanley Gardner
  7. Good grief! You’re on Kindle Unlimited, Charlie Brown! The Complete Peanuts Collections (the comic strips) are available in KU…and they are $14.99 each at time of writing
  8. Cookbooks! Ever bought a cookbook, or browsed through a bunch in a store, just looking for a recipe to cook one dish? With KU, you don’t need to buy them…just borrow them! Have a vegetarian coming over for the holidays? You can borrow Holiday Vegan Entrees
  9. Travel books! That’s another example of something you might want to use, but don’t want to keep. Going to Australia for the holidays, so you can enjoy them on the beach? There are close to 200 Australia travel books in KU, including the Lonely Planet series
  10. Read the movie! Life of Pi, 12 Years a Slave, From Here to Eternity…
  11. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson: this 1962 book really launched the environmental movement in the USA
  12. Have a laugh with Erma Bombeck! One of the most popular American humorists and newspaper columnists, you can read If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, Motherhood, and The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and more!
  13. Lord of the Rings…and the Hobbit!
  14. All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot!
  15. KU AudioBooks (at AmazonSmile*) There are close to 10,000 audiobooks at time of writing available through Kindle Unlimited
  16. The Wayward Pines books…recent books soon to be a TV series on Fox!
  17. George Orwell books, including 1984 and Animal Farm: not in the public domain in the USA, but available to read at no additional cost on KU!
  18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks: super popular non-fiction book from 1985!
  19. The Heirloom Collection series, illustrated by Jaqui Oakley: Complete Sherlock Holmes (the original Arthur Conan Doyle Works) or the complete novels of Jane Austen, published at $99.99 in hardback, highly rated, new four color illustrations…sure, you could find Homes and Austen for free outside of KU, but these are relatively high quality editions!
  20. Capital in the 21st Century…a number one New York Times bestseller in 2014!
  21. Hundreds of books on Minecraft! Would you really pay for them? Maybe…but you are probably a lot more likely to read them
  22. The Princess Bride by William Goldman!
  23. Pat Conroy! The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini…
  24. John Jakes! North and South, The Kent Family Chronicles…
  25. The 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain
  26. The Wool series (popular recent science fiction) by Hugh Howey!
  27. Umberto Eco! The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum…
  28. Thousands of joke books! Honestly, who reads a joke book twice?
  29. David Halberstam’s The Fifties!
  30. The “For Dummies” series! That’s another example of one where, once you’ve read it and learned it, you probably don’t want to own it
  31. The Best American Short Stories series (not 2014 at the time of writing, but early volumes)

There! If that “naysayer” still says there isn’t anything good to read in Kindle Unlimited…well, you’ll know better. ;)

Enjoy!

Update: thanks to reader Allie D. for a comment which helped improve this post!

Join over a thousand 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 #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

December 6, 2014

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

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

Amazon improves author tracking

It’s nice to me to see that Amazon is working on improving the customer experience.

The ability to be notified when a new book is published to the Kindle store from an author you like seems like it would be a no brainer.

The customer is happy, Amazon gets a sale, the publisher is happy, the author is happy…it’s just a question of getting the infrastructure and user experience to be simple and robust enough.

In the past, we’ve had a kind of clunky way of doing it…and I would hear from people that it didn’t really work (they didn’t get notifications).

I don’t know if they’ve fixed the latter part yet, but they now have a much more elegant and sophisticated way to request updates:

Amazon’s Favorite Authors page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

From there, you can just tap an Add Favorite button.

Not only that, but it recommends authors for you, both ones that are similar to what you’ve favorited, and ones that you’ve reviewed positively.

I found that its linkages were very good: when I favorited an author, it made suggestions that made sense. Even in the case of authors I didn’t know, there were book cover thumbnails which made it clear that the connection was logical.

You can search for an author, or choose from popular ones.

You can decide whether or not you want your favorites displayed on your profile.

You can also edit your favorites here: and interestingly, those include books, movies, music, and others.

They also suggest more features are coming to this in the future.

The one suggestion I’m going to make to them first is that they add a place for us to comment on our favorites, which displays on the profile. That would make it much more social.

Ideally, they would make it that if someone went from your favorite on your page and purchased the book, you’d get an advertising fee or other credit of some kind, but I don’t expect that right away.

Almost whole-heartedly recommended a Kindle First book

This is what I recently wrote about this month’s Kindle First books:

Prime members, don’t forget to pick up your

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

You can get one of the four books to own (not borrow) for free…these are books which will be actually released next month. The choices this month are:

  • Marked (Servants of Fate Book 1) by Sarah Fine (romantic fantasy)
  • The Last Passenger
    by Manel Loureiro, Andrés Alfaro (suspense)
  • Fatal Puzzle (Zons Crime Book 1) by Catherine Shepherd, Julia Knobloch (thriller)
  • Guardians of the Night (A Gideon and Sirius Novel) by Alan Russell (mystery)

I’m going with The Last Passenger, and it was an easy choice. Loureiro is the author of the Apocalypse Z books, the first of which is the most reviewed book I listed above. They classify it as a suspense novel, but it involves time travel…one of my favorite subjects.

When I started reading

The Last Passenger (at AmazonSmile*)

I was quite pleased with it. It reminded me of the pulp hero Doc Savage (without a hero like that), and from me, that’s a compliment. ;) I was already seeing how it would be a good movie.

It was a great high camp set up, had interesting characters including the lead…and it was an excellent translation from the Spanish.

Unfortunately, a character was introduced who is so thunderingly stereotypical in a negative way that now I don’t know if I can even recommend it.

This book was published by AmazonCrossing, which gets books from other countries…so we may not be able to blame the Amazon editor for not saying, “Um, don’t you think you want to tone that down or give that character more depth and complexity?”

I (eventually) finish every book I read, and I’m liking the book except for this one element.

It’s unfortunate, and I do think it’s something an editor could have affected.

Fire TV Stick means cutting the cord

I will write a review comparing the

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

and the

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

(I have and use both), but I thought I’d mention that the Stick may mean that we finally “cut the cord” and eliminate TV services from our cable company (we’ll keep their internet…we have Comcast, and it works well for us).

Interestingly, part of what happened was that we bought a new TV:

32″ TV HDTV LED 720p Element Electronics (at AmazonSmile*)

The Fire TV Stick was coming, and we had a paleolithic Sony TV without an HDMI input. ;) I mean, seriously, Fred Flintstone would have felt at home with the old one. Both of us were grunting and groaning when we had to move it…and we are reasonably strong.

So, when we saw the Element on sale for under $150 on Black Friday weekend at Target, we got one. We have an Element TV already, and I like it. One thing I like is they are super light…I have taken our old one to work easily for a game night there.

However, our recorded Tivo programs looked quite muddy on it (while the Fire TV Stick looked fine). That might be a matter of recabling the Tivo (we also are using an old one of those).

So the question became: could we do without Tivo and the programs it records?

One element of that: Hulu Plus.

We haven’t had it. My Significant Other doesn’t want to watch TV on a mobile device, so Hulu couldn’t be a replacement for us easily until we had a TV that could show it…simply.

The Fire TV Stick and the new TV makes that combination work.

I still have to go through and compare our season passes and see what we can’t do (although mirroring my Kindle Fire HDX or my Fire Phone to the Fire TV Stick might solve some problems, if new episodes are available on network/studio websites…for free, of course) through Hulu to decide.

We aren’t heavy duty TV watchers, I’d say, although I have the CBS app running in the other room and I’m listening to it as I write right now.

Let me revise that: we don’t follow a lot of current TV shows. I watch Survivor live, usually, to avoid spoilers in the apps I use in the morning (Flipboard, CNN, Washington Post). Otherwise, seeing things as they happen is not that important to us…I’d say we could generally wait until the next season.

The exception would be that I have CNN on…a lot. However, I now have some other news apps that could take that place. Watchup, CBS, BBC…oh, I should mention: my BBC news app works on our Fire TV at this point but not on the Fire TV Stick. I assume they’ll work that out.

We’ll probably make the decision this weekend…well, before the next time we pay a cable bill, at any rate (rate…so to speak). ;)

goodreads CHOICE AWARDS 2014

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 (I went with their capitalization above) have been announced:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

First, I have to say: why isn’t there an easy page for this at Amazon in the Kindle store?

There is a page

Goodreads Choice Award Winners (at AmazonSmile*)

but the 2014 ones aren’t there yet as a sub-page…and I didn’t see any link from the main Kindle store.

This is where I’d like a bit more synergy, Amazon. :) As I’ve said before, SMMSA (Sell Me More Stuff, Amazon). ;)

Here are the winners:

Enjoy! These might be safe gifts, as well…there are a lot of Goodreads users, so if you were looking for the mainstream choice, this might be a good way to go. You recipient (and you can delay the delivery until the appropriate date) will have the option to exchange it for a gift card.

What do you think? Have you ever had a situation where you found one element of a book offensive, but liked the rest? What did you do…did you read it? Do you have alternatives to suggest to the Goodreads winners? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join hundreds 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.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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 samples are now stored in the Cloud

November 18, 2014

Kindle samples are now stored in the Cloud

This is something people have wanted for a long time!

You can generally get a free “sample” of a Kindle store book to read before you buy it.

That can be very valuable: it’s especially helpful in cases where you aren’t sure about the formatting of the book.

The only broad case where you can’t get a sample is when the book is regularly free. If it’s free, Amazon figures you can just get the whole book if you want.

People, though, use the samples for more than just checking out the book.

A lot of people use them as organizational tools. They’ll get a sample of something which they might buy, and that lets them remember it (similar to the Wish Lists).

It used to be that we didn’t have a record of which samples we’d gotten.

I would tell people that it was like getting a free sample at Costco. One reason why Costco and Amazon could do it for free is there is a reduced cost of sale. There’s no financial processing, and I would guess very little Customer Service costs.

Well, I guess Amazon decided it was worth the expense to make them centrally available!

According to this

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

You can manage the samples directly from these devices:

  • Fire HDX
  • Fire HD
  • Kindle Fire HDX
  • Kindle Fire HD (2nd Generation)
  • Kindle Voyage
  • Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation)
  • Kindle (7th Generation)
  • Fire phone
  • Kindle for iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPod touch (version 4.5 or greater)
  • Kindle for Android (version 4.7 or greater)

or at the

Manage Your Content and Devices (formerly Manage Your Kindle) page

On the MYK page, you change the dropdown in “Show” from “All” to “Samples”.

I tried testing it this morning. I sent a sample, but it hasn’t shown up yet (maybe ten minutes later), even refreshing the page.

It’s clear from what the page says that you can delete the sample from all devices on your account when you are on one of your devices:

“You can also choose to delete the sample from the cloud and all devices and reading apps registered to your account.”

That’s unusual. Typically, central management is reserved for people who have the password for the account and can do it at MYK. Many people have situations where there are what I call “managers” and “users” of the account. For example, children, or a friend or more distant relative, might not access to the financials of the account, but would be able to use the books on it.

I suppose the thought is that if someone deletes a sample, no real harm done…but that won’t be the case if people are using it organizationally.

What isn’t clear to me is whether I can order a sample from, say, my computer and have it sent to Device A on the account, and then be on Device B and download that sample.

I wanted to let you know about this exciting ability…and hopefully, I’ll get to explore a bit more about how it works soon (after, I presume, the MYK page updates).

Update: that never did show up, but I found out why. I have to request that the sample go to one of the qualified types of devices. When I did that, it showed up both on the device and at MYK. From MYK, I could send it to any of the EBRs (E-Book Readers) on the account, and to my Fire Phone, but not my Fire TV or my (yet to be delivered) Fire TV sticks.

It shows up on the KFHDX like a book.

The sample was also available to download on our Kindle Paperwhite 2…again, similar to an e-book. That’s what I wanted! :)

Join hundreds 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.

Hands on with the new EBR features

November 16, 2014

Hands on with the new EBR features

I recently wrote about the 5.61 update for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires). It brings some significant new features to the

I’ve now manually updated our PW2 (it had not yet updated), and can give you some more information about these features.

First, after doing the manual update by getting the file from

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

the first thing I noticed was a message box on the home page pointing to the filter choice

“We’ve added new ways to see and use collections on your Kindle and in the Cloud. Tap on the filter above and choose Collections to see them.”

Before I did that, another box appeared:

“Restart Required: An update if available for the following fonts: (Chinese). Do you want to restart now to complete the update?”

I had a choice of “Later” or “Now” and went with “Later”, so I could explore a bit more.

Changing the filter to Collections, I got another message box. I must say, kudos to Amazon for providing information to the user about changes! They haven’t always done that effectively in the past. I’m glad I’m doing this before my Significant Other is awake, though. This is the device my SO uses, and all of these message boxes, which I really like, would be seen as intrusions.

The new box said:

“All your collections are synced to the Cloud.

Tap Cloud in the upper left to see all collections, including those created on other Kindle devices and apps.

Tap On Device to see collections that are on this Kindle.

Tap and hold a collection to add or remove it from this Kindle.

When in Cloud view, collections on this Kindle are marked with a star.”

Here’s a nice switch, which people have wanted! When I’m on “On Device”, the count is the number of items from the Collection on this device (actually on this Kindle). When I’m on Cloud, the count is all of the items in that Collection, whether or not they are on this device.

Also, when I’m on On Device, it mentions that there are 5 more (in my case) Collections in the Cloud.

When I open a Collection on the On Device, it only displays the items which are on the device, and then tells me how many more are in the Cloud. Future improvement: I’d like to be able to tap that count and be taken to the Collection in the Cloud. As it is now, I tap on Cloud and that shows me that Collection in the Cloud. Definitely not a biggie…what I call a “tweekquest”.

I consider this a considerable improvement.

Also on the home page was a document telling me that “Your Kindle is updated!”

This mentions the features I mentioned in that previous post (I’ll go through them in this one), plus a couple of other things.

  • Get Next in Series: again, something people have wanted. When you are done reading a book in a series, you can easily get the next book in that series
  • They also mention the Collections view change, and that “Newspapers and magazines are now automatically organized by name to make it easier to find and access back issues in your Collections”
  • Russian and Dutch are now supported as interface languages. Amazon just opened a Dutch Kindle store, so that makes sense
  • Kindle Unlimited is mentioned, including the free 30 day trial
  • You can also download the “Kindle Paperwhite User’s Guide 3rd Edition” from the Cloud

Okay, the next thing is for me to check the Settings menu.

There is now a Registration and Household section, to  accommodate  Family Library.

Reading Options lets you set “Language Learning” options. Word Wise, which will display definitions of “unfamiliar words” is off by default. I’m going to turn that on and test it, although my SO will want it off…so don’t let me forget to reset it. ;) You also have an option there to turn off the crowdsourcing part of “Show Multiple-Choice Hints”. When that’s on, you can contribute to the helping Amazon get the most useful definitions for Word Wise. Yes, it is now a learning system…

My SO was reading

Top Secret Twenty-One: A Stephanie Plum Novel (at AmazonSmile*)

which I’ve already finished. I checked the Amazon product page: yes, Word Wise is enabled.

It took a few seconds for it to appear, but there they were: definitions of words in superscript.

There was also a box saying “Tap on Word Wise and use the slider to adjust how many hints you see.”

With the default, it defined the following:

  • neatly: not dirty
  • laundry: clothes that have to be washed
  • hanger: curved object to hang clothes
  • cleaners: one who tends to a mess
  • queens: a woman who rules a country

Yes, my SO would want to throw the Kindle across the room at this point. ;)

Tapping “cleaners” (I wouldn’t really define it this way”, I got a definition (including the part of speech), a way to mark if that was useful or not, and “Other Meanings”. Other meanings included:

  • substance used for washing
  • a device used for washing
  • shop to remove dirt from clothes

Each choice had an arrow, and I tapped the third one (that matches the context). I could then recommend that they “Use This Meaning”, which I did.

The new choice of definition now appeared in the book…and I assume, that will be part of an aggregating algorithm  for other readers of this same book. That doesn’t mean that just because I changed it changes for everybody, but I would assume if a certain percentage or number of people pick a choice, it becomes the default.

Clicking on Word Wise in my bottom right to get to the slider, it had defaulted to the highest possibility of “More Hints”. Sliding it down to the bottom out of five, they all disappeared. On the second level, only the definition for hanger remained. On the middle level, it was the definitions for neatly, laundry, hanger, and cleaners. The fourth level (in this case) didn’t make any difference.

I don’t see a way at

Manage Your Kindle (now called Manage Your Content and Devices)

to tell which ones were enabled.

Okay, turning it off…thanks for the reminder. ;)

I’m going to hold off on writing about the Family Library in this post…I still need to explore that more. That’s the one that lets you share books across accounts…certain books, with restrictions about set up.

Expanded X-Ray

This is nicely improved!

X-Ray is a feature (not available on all books) which shows you information about what is in the book…characters, terms, and so on.

They now have a “timeline” feature. That gives you a much better sense of where you are in the book than page numbers ever did.

There are “clips” throughout the timeline (short snippets), and it’s much easier to get to information about people. For example, when I tapped Joe Morelli in the X-Ray, I could see where Morelli appeared in the book (up to the point to which my SO had read), and tap the dots to see a clip of that spot. It was smart enough to recognize that “Joe” mean “Joe Morelli”, which impressed me. Serious homework helper! I cold toggle between “Notable Clips” and “All Mentions”…the latter went past what had been indicated as having been read so far.

There was a settings gear which also let me toggle between showing unread clips and not…great for the spoiler averse, like me.

Yes, I would also consider this to be a big improvement! The image browser wasn’t useful in this book, but would be in others. I could particularly see it where I’ve listened to parts of the book with text-to-speech (which is common for me), but I might want to look at the images later.

Deeper Goodreads Integration

From within the book, I could tap the “g” for Goodreads (by first tapping towards the top middle of the book to display the toolbar).

From here, I could update my status, see ratings from my Goodreads friends (I liked it the least out of the people I saw…I like the series, but wasn’t crazy about this one).

I could also go right from there to read my general Goodreads Updates (not limited to this book).

They have now made this really valuable, for Goodreads users.

From the homescreen, when I tap the g, I can see the updates…and conveniently, tap something that I see a friend has done something with, and bounce from there to the store. That would then let me purchase books, or add them to a wish list or try a sample. Again, nice!

When I “long-pressed” Top Secret Twenty-One on the homescreen, I got a choice to View on Goodreads and Add to Goodreads Shelf.

Amazon has finally figured out how to effectively leverage their purchase of Goodreads.

Enhanced Search

I searched for Doc Savage from the homescreen, first letting it search everywhere. By default, it showed me books I owned at the top, then offered to search the store. Actually, it offered to search either for e-books or, I think, any books (I don’t think it was searching non-book items). Bam! It lets me refine by Kindle Unlimited! That’s a very nice touch.

About This Book

I didn’t see something right away about “About This Book” from the homescreen, where I thought it might be particularly useful (before I opened it). After I opened it, it was in the menu for the book. Oh, it also says that it “…shows you additional information about the book the first time you open it”, so I assume it pops up. You can, however, turn that off in the Settings (which are in the About This Book menu choice from within the book, and in general Settings menu under Reading Options – Notes & About This Book. That’s on by default: I’ve turned it off for my SO (again, my SO will want pure reading, no friction).

I think many people will like it, though: it shows you where the book is in the series, has a link to the previous book, gives you a bit about the author and lets you sign up for e-mails for new releases, and gives you links to more books by the author.

My feelings about this update overall? It’s one of the best ones we’ve had. Amazon is now making things works which people have wanted, which is a sign both of their inventiveness and their customer focus. I haven’t checked out the Family Library yet, but ignoring means it hasn’t changed anything in the reading experience…so it doesn’t hurt. I like that they are putting settings right within activities, and letting you turn off features.

Unless the update comes to the PW1, which is possible, I would say there is now a good reason to upgrade.

What do you think? Do you have questions? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds 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.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,397 other followers

%d bloggers like this: