What are people asking about in the Amazon Kindle forum?

August 19, 2015

What are people asking about in the Amazon Kindle forum?

Amazon has free customer forums for a lot of things, including the Kindle.

I check that a lot, and often comment there, usually trying to help people.

I’m officially a “Kindle Forum Pro”. I’ve never liked the “Pro” label, since it suggests we get paid for it. We  don’t. We are all just people who volunteer our time to help others. Amazon picks you, based on your forum contributions, and offers it to you.

There are some negatives associated with it…people sometimes accuse you of being in Amazon’s pocket, for  example.

Generally, though, I love it!

I do think that being a Forum Pro does give me more…attention from Amazon when I ask them questions. I don’t particularly get that from being a blogger, from what I can tell, but they like us to have good information when we help forum members.

Amazon, while having guidelines, is quite open about what people post. Certainly, people can (and do) criticize Amazon…they don’t block that.

First, here’s a link to the forum:

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

Second, here are the most recent threads at time of writing, along with the number of posts and the last post in the thread was posted:

Discussion Replies Latest Post

Announcement
News: Software Update for Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle 0
0 new
5 days ago

Announcement
Amazon Introduces New Kindle Paperwhite: The Most Popular Kindle, Now Even Better 0 Jun 18, 2015

Announcement
Welcome to the Kindle Discussion Forum – A Congregation of Kindle Enthusiasts 0
0 new
Mar 20, 2015

book disappeared 6 4 minutes ago

New HDX 7 for 2015? 12 6 minutes ago

Low internal storage space on Kindle Fire 442 9 minutes ago

how do I return an ebook? 3 22 minutes ago

Kindle Paperwhite 3G issue [Amazon apparently knows of this issue] 11 23 minutes ago

Kindle Fire HDX Dropping WiFi 1774 35 minutes ago

KINDLE KITCHEN #5: Home of Family, Friends and Good Food 2162 44 minutes ago

Contacting Amazon for recent letter excluding my TV from Prime 5 52 minutes ago

Kindle Fire can’t access or open apps or the App Store! What’s wrong with it? I’ve turned it off and on numerous times. No help. It’s accessing Facebook ok but security warnings are popping up like crazy. HELP!! 262 53 minutes ago

My kindle won’t turn on 2490 1 hour ago

Australian/Kiwi kindle users thread #4 – “the BBQ” 5295 1 hour ago

If I Deregister my Kindle Fire? 89 1 hour ago

Kindle – Prevent my Kid from Downloading my Cloud Books 2 1 hour ago

Books that you get to keep forever 20 1 hour ago

Kindle Fire Tips: Getting Started 2 5778 1 hour ago

August 2015–Informal Poll–What are you reading? 279 1 hour ago

Al’s Place 35mm 9360 1 hour ago

How to cancel a rented textbook on Kindle? 4 1 hour ago

wont wifi 1 1 hour ago

Freebie Books – Links Only – No Self Promotion IV 3441 1 hour ago

Discounted / Price Dropped Kindle eBooks III 6847 1 hour ago

what do i do if i lose my Fire HD 7 1 1 hour ago

The “Announcements” at the beginning are posted by Amazon, and are generally sometimes “locked”, meaning general forum members can’t post to them. They are “sticky”…they’ll stay at the top.

As you can see, a lot of the threads are questions…which they could sometimes get easily by contacting Kindle Support at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

However, I think some people are apprehensive about using a company’s Customer Service…they may not trust it or have had a bad experience with other company’s CS in the past.

That’s unfortunate: Amazon has consistently high-rated Customer Service, and that has generally been my personal experience as well.

I do find the forum a lot of fun!  It’s also often informative.

Feel free to ask me questions on this blog (commenting on a post like this works), but the forum can be a great place to have a discussion.

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.

 

 

 

New York Times describes Amazon as a “Bruising Workplace”; Bezos responds

August 18, 2015

New York Times describes Amazon as a “Bruising Workplace”; Bezos responds

A couple of my readers called my attention to this

New York Times article by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld

I had seen that it existed but it’s quite lengthy, and it took me until today to read it all.

In the meantime, I had even seen it referenced in the “news crawl” on a 24 hour news channel.

The article is entitled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace”.

Amazon has faced accusations of being an unsafe workplace (in particular, heat issues in warehouses), but this doesn’t claim that Amazon is doing anything illegal (at least not directly: they reference the heat issue, but didn’t investigate it).

It does claim that the company is…unempathetic. It says, essentially, that coworkers can criticize their teammates…without being identified to the accused.

It describes what could be interpreted as a harmfully competitive environment.

Jeff Bezos has responded, as referenced in this

CNN Money article by David Goldman

and other places, including this

GeekWire article by John Cook

which reproduces Bezos’ memo.

Having read both, I have a few takeaways:

  • Based on the articles, Amazon isn’t doing things that are illegal
  • It’s hard to work at Amazon…definitely challenging
  • It’s possible that some managers at Amazon have treated some  employees without compassion
  • If that is the case, it troubles me that Jeff Bezos says that isn’t the Amazon that Bezos know. If it as indicated (the NYT claims to have spoken with 100 employees and ex-employees), it would trouble me that Bezos woudn’t  know
  • Some of the good things which have come out of Amazon have happened because of their unconventional policies
  • Update: looking at more responses, I also want to say that part of the reaction to this might be people assuming that what is reported is specific to Amazon, when it might be much wider spread. It may be seen as unique to Amazon, when it could actually be a broad indictment of not uncommon corporate behavior. That’s not to say that Amazon doesn’t do some things differently…it does. However, it may be that it just does some things more effectively than some others. Many companies would like to cull their lowest performers every year…Amazon might just be better at it
  • Update: the biggest concern for many people here will be the stories of unempathetic treatment…that after someone has had a family tragedy, they are punished for lowered performance during that period. I can tell you that that is not the case where I work: I’ve coworkers out for long periods due to personal challenges, and be supported and welcomed back by management. Again, though, it’s not illegal (and it may not be  unusual) to judge someone’s performance regardless of extenuating circumstances, as long as the law if followed in terms of family leave and such. In my opinion, not illegal…but not necessarily wise, either

I’ve been a successful manager, and I would not lead my team using the techniques alleged. It was always a big thing to me (and still is) that the team works together.

I don’t like competition within the team…I think it is counter productive.

Let me give you an example.

I was managing trainers, who are naturally inclined to want to help other people (it’s what we do for a living).

We had evaluations from students.

When I became manager, there had been a bonus for the person with the highest evaluation average.

That seemed like a bad thing to me.

To have the highest average doesn’t mean that you have to improve what you are doing. If you could make everyone else do worse, that would be enough.

Again, trainers wouldn’t do that consciously: but would they work after hours to help someone else improve their scores? It would be hard to justify taking the time away from their families, if it could also cost those families money.

I proposed a change, which was accepted…and seemed to really help.

We changed it to say that if the team reached an overall average goal, we randomly selected someone who had made a minimum score to receive the bonus.

You couldn’t get the bonus twice, until everybody on the team had won it once.

In other words, you needed to  make sure everybody on the team did well to have a chance at a bonus. If they did, you would eventually get a bonus…even if your score wasn’t the highest that week.

Every Microsoft certified training center in the USA (might have been North America) had to use the same evaluation system with Microsoft…I think it was thousands of teams.

We were sometimes #1, usually top ten.

That thinking was alien to the sales manager…sales teams usually rely on competition. I greatly credit that sales manager for recognizing the value of my suggestion for my team.

What is alleged (not proven…but my guess is that the article’s authors are reporting accurately what they had heard) isn’t what I would want in my company, and isn’t what has worked for me. My guess is that it would produce some  good results…and suppress others.  I don’t think it would be illegal…just, for me, ill advised.

My intuition is that Jeff Bezos wouldn’t have known about it…that it would have been something that developed in a loosely supervised, decentralized company, where the people in Seattle might not have a firm hand on the corporate culture in New York, for example.

If that’s the case, and this is all speculation, I think it could be fixed.

None of this makes me any less likely to shop at Amazon. It would be different if what was alleged was illegal.

The presentation in the article is more of people being jerks than being crooks.

I think the article is significant enough  to have an impact…and that’s a good thing.

What do you think?  Do you believe the article? If so, does it change how you feel about being an Amazon customer? Is competition necessary within a team? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: this may be too late for some of you, but two of Amazon’s Fire tablets are $30 off today only:

Update: thanks to two of my regular readers (Harold Delk and Edward Boyhan) and commenters for catching me on a substitution error. I have corrected that error (I had attributed something the NYT did do another (main)streamer…and the two are quite different), which has improved 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.

Writing children

August 17, 2015

Writing children

Writing children isn’t easy.

Not writing for children, although that isn’t as easy as many people seem to think. ;)

Adults writing child characters often make the same mistakes.

Sometimes, the kids come across as cartoons, in the sense that they are sort of symbolic of a child, rather than trying to accurately display the way children think.

As I’ve said before, I love the Oz books…but Dorothy Gale doesn’t really read to me like an actual child.

There may be some cultural differences there: given when the book was written, and Dorothy’s agrarian enculturation (as you can tell, I might have more in common with the Woggle-Bug), it’s arguable that it would be harder for me to relate directly to Dorothy…but the same goes for all of the children in Oz books for me, from Trot to Button Bright.

Mark Twain is another favorite of mine…but I also don’t find Becky, Tom, and Huck, to be particularly realistic.

Maybe I tend to like books that aren’t exact replicas of my reality. :)

There are also times when people write kids just like they are adults. They aren’t…even though they are diverse, just like adults, they still have a different perspective…and not because they tend to be so much shorter than adults. ;) I’ve always said that there are times when a pre-conversational child is standing there crying just from the realization that, “I’m only two feet tall!” ;)

Still, there are some people I think write children really well…and I still think they write great books.

I’ve just re-read

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile*: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and then read

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(you can read my review and analysis ((so SPOILER ALERT)) here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1362361030)

and Harper Lee is definitely one of those people who write children well…and I consider TKaM to be one of the truly great novels.

Stephen King is another one…I’d say particularly in

It (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s not to say that I consider It in to be in the same stratum as TKaM…I don’t (although I think The Stand is way up there). It’s that I think the writing of the children feels realistic to me.

One more, and one who is certainly not as well known as the other two: Derek Swannson, particularly with the first book in the Crash Gordon series.  You can read my

review of Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg

and I would suggest you take a look at that before you read the book…it’s not for everybody.

However, I think the writing of the children is as good as any I’ve read. Full disclosure: I did read the draft of the second book and made some suggestions (and was acknowledged in the book), but I don’t have any financial connection to the book and haven’t met Derek Swannson in real life. I was asked for input because of my review of the first book. I’ve given feedback to a few people on their manuscripts, but not as a paid editor. It’s fun for me to do, and I think I’m a reasonably good amateur at it, primarily as a reader, but also as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and a follower of publishing.

What do you think? Are there books you read where you think the author got the child characters right? Was  that in book written to be read by or two children, or to be read by adults? What was it about the writing that worked for you? Do you want your books to seem like real life, or do you prefer them to be a different reality (or perhaps, you like both at different times)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think 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.

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: more than 10,000 ILMK viewers

August 16, 2015

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: more than 10,000 ILMK viewers

It’s rare that I think of something as really a new type of content.

Twitter was that, certainly. Those 140 (or fewer) character tweets created a different medium, and that shapes what’s in it.

I also feel like Flipboard magazines are a new way to express yourself…and I’m surprised at the success mine are having!

The main idea is that you can use the

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

app, which I read every morning anyway on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

to “flip” articles into a magazine of yours, which you make available to other people for free.

They’ve recently really improved the experience of reading it in a web browser:

https://flipboard.com/

You can also get an extension for Chrome which allows you to flip article with websites (most of my flips come from things I read in the Flipboard app…except in the case of one my magazines, which I’ll explain below).

It’s really about your curation…your taste and editing skills.

You put in what you think is interesting, or what you think other people will think is interesting.

You generally don’t write anything additional about it, unless you are using the browser extension. In that case, you can add a short caption about it (which you can not edit later, by the way).

I thought I’d give you a rundown on my magazines and how they are doing (at time of writing…it changes rapidly).

First, though, let me cite a couple of overall statistics for my four magazines…

I’ve flipped 60,806 articles!

I have 929 followers…closing on on 1,000.

Okay, on to each of the magazines:

I’m going to do this in order from the biggest number of readers to the smallest number.

ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

“The long-running blog about the world of e-books and publishing, which is one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store, brings you related news stories”

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

  • 12,088 viewers (this has close to tripled since the last time I did an update on these…which was just in April!)
  • 185,200 page flips (that’s approximate: they say 182.5k)
  • 16,299  articles (I’d have so say my curation is better here, or at least, more focused)
  • 645 followers (since this was a new measurement recently, I looked up what it meant at Flipboard: they explain the new stats here. I had misunderstood page flips before…I thought it was when people flipped an article I picked into their own magazine, but it turns out it is “the number of items viewed in the magazine. Readers visit the mag: page flips are the number of items viewed…I think that means they click on it in the magazine to go to the original article. The number of articles are the ones I put into it, and followers are the actual subscribers. This number has tripled since the last time)
  • Engagement: 1,136% (flips/articles: this has gone up since last time)

This one is based on my blog, ILMK (I Love My Kindle). They aren’t the same, though. I write original material in the blog itself. I told myself that I’d average 1,000 words a day, and I do. I write a lot of different things, often providing analysis and opinion.

For the Flipboard magazine, none of that happens…you just get articles from other people (except when I flip one of my own in there).

It does allow me to do some different things.

For example, I can more easily flip ten different articles on a new piece of Amazon hardware into the magazine than I can link to them in the blog. Linking in the blog takes some work: it’s simple to flip (just a couple of clicks or taps).

There are also times when something is too short to warrant a full post in the blog. Those types of things go into my Round-ups, but I don’t do those every day.

Another thing? I do a lot more images in the magazine: it’s just more compatible with it. My blog is read on non-Fire Kindles, and images are tougher there.

Here are some recent articles as examples:

  1. Ten Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books/Series to Feed Your Love of Reading – Or: Some girl in library school tries to tell you what to read (The Mary Sue)
  2. A New Approach to Jonathan Franzen (Book Riot)
  3. Macmillan’s Novel Approach to Combating Childhood Hunger (Publishers Weekly)
  4. The Rise of Phone Reading (The Wall Street Journal)
  5. Anne Rice, Christian Publisher Defend Nazi Romance as Outcry Intensifies (Flavorwire)
  6. Hummingbird Offering E-Book Retailing Option (Publishers Weekly)
  7. Barber Offers Free Haircuts to Kids Who Read to Him (Neatorama)
  8. 15 Diagrams that Show How a Book Is Made (EBOOK FRIENDLY)
  9. Publishing Industry’s ‘Super Thursday’ to See More than 500 Books Friendly (The Guardian)
  10. Why Do We Always Proclaim That the Novel Is Dead? (New York Times)

The Measured Circle

“A geeky mix of pop culture, tech, and the weird world”

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,973 readers (which they now call “viewers”…that actually makes more sense, since you can put links to videos in these)
  • 17,318 page flips
  • 43,926 articles
  • 51 followers
  • Engagement (flips/articles): 39.4% (Hm…this has gone down 5% since last time ((again))…have to think about what that means for which articles I flip)

This one is inspired by my blog, The Measured Circle. The blog has never been very popular, and unlike this one, I don’t write in it (on average) every day (I sometimes go a week).

It is eclectic, but you’ll see a lot of things on geek topics, tech, and “weird world” (“Bufo’s Weird World” was my first e-zine, back before we called them blogs).

I’d say its primary purpose is…fun!

Recently, I’ve mostly moved coverage of the

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

to The Measured Circle…it’s a better fit there, I think, than in ILMK (although I still link to the articles in ILMK. It’s too soon for that to have impacted the actual blog or the Flipboard magazine much…but I think it will.

To give you a sense of it, here are ten recent articles and their sources. Earlier, I did the most recent ten in order, but that’s not really representative, since I may read a number from the same source at the same time

  1. Elementary John Noble debuts as  Sherlock’s father – Exclusive First Look (John Noble)
  2. Catching up with Robert Vaughn, the original man from Uncle (Entertainment Weekly)
  3. The Ravenna, The Manticora, and 11 Somewhat Lesser-Known Monsters (Fate)
  4. I Spoke To The Woman Who Filmed A Haunted Puppet Moving In Her Basement (The Anomalist)
  5. NBC Greenlights Pilot for a Sitcom Set in the DC Universe (Topless Robot)
  6. Alexa Skills come to the Echo, plus more home automation (me) ;)
  7. Fear the Walking Dead: Alycia Denham-Carey hopes people will be ‘confronted’ by the new take (FearTWD)
  8. Another Skunk Ape Spotted in Florida (Mysterious Universe)
  9. Apple car clues emerge from letter to test facility
  10. Astronomers discover the smallest known supermassive black hole

Doc Savage Fanflip

“Doc Savage, the forerunner of Superman and Batman, has been one of my fictional heroes for a very long time. Thanks in part to Doc, I try to better myself to help others, and to do so with “…no regard for anything but justice.” A “fanflip” is my new term for a Flipboard magazine by a fan, dedicated to one topic. I will bring you not only Doc Savage news, but Doc stories and resources from around the web. Think of it as a scrapbook with news.”

http://flip.it/HJShc

  • 451 viewers
  • 4,724 page flips
  • 101 articles
  • 195 followers
  • Engagement: 4677%

I look for interesting things on the web about Doc. If Shane Black ever gets out the Doc Savage movie, this may get more popular, but I’m happy to ferret out the oddball bits and pieces. This is the hardest one to which to add things…content jc Sust doesn’t change as often on the web.

  1. Who is Doc Savage (A Doc Savage Primer) (sfsignal)
  2. Writer’s Commentary – David Avallone On Altered States Doc Savage Part 1 (Dan Wickline)
  3. Doc Savage’s oft-misunderstood “Crime College”
  4. A Book Review by Mark Squired: Doc Savage: Death’s Dark Domain
  5. Characters You Won’t See in the Doc Savage Movie

The Weird Old Days

“Has the world always been weird? These news stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries bring you tales of lake monsters, the Hollow Earth, ghosts, and more! Edited by Bufo Calvin, of The Measured Circle blog. Note: these articles reflect the culture of their times. As such, they may use terms and concepts which some modern readers will find offensive”

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

  • 223 viewers
  • 1,214 page flips
  • 310 articles
  • 66 followers
  • Engagement: 391%

My original idea on this was that I was writing a book made up in large part of public domain newspaper articles. I was writing pieces to provide context, both because I wanted to do that, and because it would enable me to sell it in the Kindle store (they require original material…nothing purely public domain…that was a policy which evolved over time).

It’s a labor of love, for sure!

I find it fascinating. I’m very interested in how people think about things, and how that has changed over time.

At this point, I’ve been using the Library of Congress’ fabulous “Chronicling America” resource. The negative to that one is that the pages don’t display very well on smaller screens. However, you can click to display the page as a PDF, and that can work quite well.

You also do have to read through the newspaper page to find the article…I also think that’s fun. ;)

I do feel like I’ve made some real discoveries: I posted one that is about an apparently hoaxed photograph of a UFO (airship)…in 1897! I’ve found that my pace has slowed considerably, though…it’s tougher to find ones than it was, since I’ve already looked at some of the more obvious search terms.

  1. A STRANGE MONSTER: Mountain People Alarmed and Fortifying (Knoxville Weekly Chronicle, February 19 1873) [This one was interesting…”a huge black bear with mane and head like a lion, but had horns like an elk upon it…”]
  2. THE WEREWOLF: A Human Monster In Which the Ancients Firmly Believed (Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia, October 7 1905)
  3. A PESSIMISTIC PHILOSOPHER: Interesting Talks on the Stories of the Werewolf (Evening Star, Washington D.C., December 27 1893)
  4. Skeleton of Indian Giant (The Broad Ax, Salt Lake City Utah, December 23 1916
  5. OUIJA BOARD AGAIN BRINGS MARVELOUS MYSTERIOUS MESSAGES (The Ogden Standard, December 11 1915)

Again, this one can go in “flaps” of one topic, because my search sometimes leads me to related articles. I think this gives you some idea, though.

These are not hard to do, and they aren’t taking significant time or creative energy away from my other creative work. I don’t get any money directly from them, although they might lead to more discovery of other things where I do.

I do want to say that ILMK has made a big move in catching up to and then surpassing The Measured Circle in readers. I’m still impressed with just how quickly these are growing.

Enjoy!

Do you have a Flipboard magazine about which you want to tell me and my readers? Feel free to comment 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.

Over $90 in paid apps & games free (limited time)

August 15, 2015

Over $90 in paid apps & games free (limited time)

This offer ends at 11:59 PM on Saturday (August 14th…either tomorrow or today, most likely, when you see this).

It’s any of 40 apps and games, which normally cost you something (values up to $9.99, although many are $0.99) for free.

Over $90 in Paid Apps & Games Free (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I would say the standout for me is

Goat Simulator (at AmazonSmile*)

Yes, that’s right…you are a goat!

I first encountered this app in YouTube videos…and it’s definitely goofy to watch.

That’s one reason why I’m happy this is available for our

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

I think it’s going to be a great thing in groups…maybe especially with kids, although I haven’t seen enough of it to be sure about the appropriateness. It is rated for “all ages”  though, so it’s probably okay.

Cubistry is also part of this group: 4.4 stars (out of 5) with 1,674 customer reviews!

Another very popular game in this batch: Bloons TD 5, with 2,075 reviews and 4.4 stars.

Other titles include:

  • Docs to Go Premium Key
  • Toca Kitchen 2
  • Distant Suns
  • Songsterr Guitar Tabs & Keys
  • Sleepy Time
  • Bridge Constructor Playground
  • C25K Pro (this is a good wellness program: I know of several people who have used it. It stands for “Couch to 5K”…at least, I think this is the one they’ve used)
  • King of Math
  • Handy Photo
  • AVG AntiVirus PRO Android Security
  • 150 Flavorful Cupcake Recipes
  • Toca Nature
  • Fruit Ninja (5th anniversary)
  • XnRetro Pro
  • PrintHand Mobile Print Premium
  • Daily Ab Workout
  • Tiny Scan Pro: PDF Document Scanner
  • Bridge Constructor Medieval
  • Elements of Photography Pro
  • Photo Lab 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Doodle Creatures
  • Synchronize Ultimate Pro
  • Call of Atlantis (Premium)
  • Atomus HD
  • Trainyard
  • Ice Rage: Hockey
  • Nyan Cat: Lost in Space
  • Bunker Constructor
  • Montezuma Puzzle 3
  • Slydris
  • Scribblenauts Remix
  • Ultimate Hangman HD
  • Lyne
  • Blox
  • Mind Games Pro
  • Sudoku 4ever Plus

Enjoy!

Also,  two new articles on the Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) in my The Measured Circle blog:

Alexa Skills come to the Echo, plus more home automation

Can the Amazon Echo’s Alexa avoid controversy?

Finally, as you know, I like to give you a book piece when I do an apps story…I’ll highlight some recent price drops from

eReaderIQ

Note: the prices can go back up at any time, and they may not apply in your country (I have readers around the world). Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume | 4.6 stars | 851 reviews | $3.43
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan | 4.6 stars | 163 reviews | $4.90
  • Giotto and His Publics by Julian Gardner | $21.49
  • Science and Football IV by Aron Murphy | 5.0 stars  | 1 reviews | $52.20
  • Cat Body, Cat Mind by Dr. Michael W. Fox | 3.7 stars | 10 reviews | $11.99
  • Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke | 4.3 stars | 855 reviews | $4.93

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.

Software update for Voyage, Paperwhites, and Mindle Touch brings new features

August 14, 2015

Software update for Voyage, Paperwhites, and Mindle Touch brings new features

All of the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) are getting an update!

You can update your device manually from

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

or you can wait and it should happen automatically eventually.

This update (for all of these models) brings them to 5.6.5.

The new features include:

  • Enhanced “SmartCards” when you do look-ups (by “long pressing”)
  • The Bookerly font
  • Better lay-out (including improvements to “…hyphenation, justification, ligatures, and kerning, as well as pop-up footnotes, endnotes and chapter notes.”). These aren’t available for every book yet, but for many of them, including in multiple languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch
  • You’ll now be able to get to author pages and personal recommendations from Goodreads

This is yet another example of Amazon giving us something more after we’ve already spent the money.

The affected models include:

  • Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite 3, and Mindle Touch (all 7th generation models)
  • Kindle Paperwhite 2 (6th generation)

The Kindle Paperwhite 1 and early generations of other models don’t get this one…at least at this point.

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

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

August 13, 2015

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

Regular readers know that I don’t identify gender on this blog, generally.

I try to write in a way that doesn’t use gender-specific pronouns. I don’t identify my gender, or the genders of my friends and family (I use “Significant Other”, “sibling”, “now adult kid”, that sort of thing…I also often use somewhat more awkward writing, by using proper nouns rather than pronouns. That means I may use someone’s first or last name several times in a paragraph).

I’ve explained this before, and I know not everybody endorses the idea of it, but I think my readers generally accept it…in some cases, maybe, just as an eccentricity of mine. :)

I do it so that people can feel free to comment on this blog without revealing intrinsic characteristics (I also don’t make explicit other things, like race). If I don’t do it, it’s arguably more convention for other people not to do it.

I would say that’s my favorite thing about the internet: the ability to be judged by what we say, not by who we are.

I also believe (a lot of sentences starting with “I” this time! That’s because I am, so far, talking about me…that will become somewhat different as I continue) that some of my readers think it is important to promote contributions by people who might face a lack of recognition because of who they are.

For example, I’m sure there are people who by default assume authors are male. It used to be much more true, I believe, that women authors would have a tougher time in the mainstream marketplace. Female authors sometimes had pen names designed to disguise their gender…either by using, say, initials instead of a first name, or by choosing a deliberately male name.

In English, many speakers assume the default is male.

We no longer tend to use the term “authoress” and people don’t say “lady doctor” much any more. I don’t use the term “actress”, unless I have to quote something, like the categories in the Oscars. To me, it singles out female actors as different from “regular actors”. There isn’t a term for male actors like there is for female actors. If you say that the play calls for ten “actors”, that means both the female and male roles. If you say it calls for “six actors and four actresses”, the generic term refers to the males, meaning that “male” is seen as “normal”.

I’ve had readers assume that my now adult kid is male…since that’s the default, I think. I haven’t said either way. :)

So, I found this

TNW (The Next Web) post by MIC WRIGHT

interesting.

It’s about Tegan (AKA BellJarred) who asks men (the article specifically says men) who want to connect to name five female authors they’ve read first.

Actually, the article is a bit confusing. The article says “five books written by female authors”, but part of what they show seems to suggest it is “five female authors”.  That makes a big difference. Anybody who has read the Harry Potter series has read five books written by a female author (Jo Rowling…although the books were published with the gender neutral J.K. Rowling, and I understand that was because of a concern that boys would be less likely to want to read books written by a female author. I find that an odd argument: it’s likely to be the parents/legal guardians of a young child who would make the book buying purchase decisions, especially for something that was relatively expensive like the Harry Potter books. They may have been right about the marketing…but certainly, most book buyers knew that Rowling was female after the first book or so, and the sales did not go down).

The only challenge for me on this would be remembering which authors are female.

I don’t make a book buying decision based on that. I don’t make a book reading choice based on that.

I’m generally not big about an author’s biography…except, perhaps, when it informs nonfiction. If your autobiography is about having been a child soldier, than having been a child soldier is important. :) If it’s a novel, well, for me, it just doesn’t matter.

I experiment with my own mind. :) Years ago, I made an effort not to identify people I met in person by gender. I succeeded. I met someone, and later could not identify their gender to someone else. I know, though, that’s unnatural. It took a form of…self-hypnosis, I suppose, to achieve. I didn’t maintain it, though.

That ability has certainly been useful at times. I don’t like being annoyed (apparently unlike some people on the internet) ;) and I don’t like conflict. If I find something that irritates me, what I usually do is change that irritation into amusement by reframing it. Then, I’ll smile when I encounter what was a former irritant.

I’ll give you an example.

My Significant Other, who I love very much, tends to put things into places I use as workspaces. We are having our kitchen redone right now…we hadn’t had a working stove for many years, and there were a lot of other issues. We refinanced, and we’re having the kitchen done by Ikea (the look of it and the price of the cabinets are both good…the experience with the contractors, to whom we were connected by Ikea, has not been). That means we have no cabinets, no counter space.

I keep a few spaces clear for food prep. For example, a little corner of a table where we have the microwave and a “third burner”, not even a square foot, is where I prep my oatmeal. :) I put a plastic bag on the lid of the garbage can, so I can put some things there. We have a half wall where I set the dog dishes (small dogs, small dishes), as I get the canned dog food out of the refrigerator (which is in our living room). Next to the sink in the bathroom, I have an area where I clean dishes.

My SO has left things in all of these spaces, I think. :)

That’s not done on purpose, consciously, to mess me up. We both need empty spaces…I think these are just convenient.

I used to be irritated to find something in a “clear space” like that.

I reframed it for myself as being like a cat getting in your “warm spot” on a chair when you get up to get something. :)

That charms me…and now, I smile when it happens.

My point on all this is that identifying people by gender is natural…arguably, even a species survival requirement (although perhaps, not in all circumstances).

Making the effort to identify female authors I’ve read, I then found it not difficult at all to come up with five. I would guess I could come up with fifty without much effort. Coming up with more than fifty of anything can be difficult. ;)

That goes back to when I was a child, and straight on to the present.

I’ll just throw a few out here, making the point again that I didn’t read them because they were female.

I’m currently reading

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

having just re-read

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

Hm…the name “Harper” isn’t particularly female to me…I wonder if most people who read the first book when it first came out were even aware  of the author’s gender. Sure, TKaM had a female protagonist…but Harry Potter has a male one. Arguably, it’s much more common to find women writing male protagonists than vice versa, though.

I’ve read tons of Agatha Christie. :)

I read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

I think I’d better just start listing some:

  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Constance Whyte (nonfiction)
  • Olivia Butler
  • Elaine Morgan (nonfiction)
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson (the second Oz author)
  • Jane Austen
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Mary Wollstonecraft (and not just Frankenstein)
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Kim Harrison

I could keep going on and on.

On all of these, I’m pretty sure they are female. :)

Looking at what came to mind, there is some diversity of topic/genre there, although clearly, fantasy/science fiction is up there, and there isn’t as much nonfiction. That may be more a reflection of what I’ve read for fiction (rather than what’s written/published), but I read a lot of nonfiction. I suspect that might actually reflect a publishing…tendency, although I haven’t looked for an analysis.

What do you think? Is requiring that people have read a certain type of author before messaging you a reasonable thing to do? Do you think if someone can name five female authors they have read, it’s predictive of how well you will get along with them? Could you quickly name five female authors you’ve read? How about five authors of a given race? National origin? Is it different to ask the latter two questions than the first one? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think 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.

Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen

August 12, 2015

Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen

Okay, I’m not prone to use words like “ridiculous” in describing other people’s opinions…and I don’t really think I’m doing that here.

The chart (really more of a table) presented in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

hypothetically doesn’t offer an opinion, although it does have some evaluative comments (“incredibly hard”).

What it does is compare a paperbook (p-book) to a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and to an iPad.

It compares price, weight, battery life, pros, and cons.

However…

Notice that I said it compares “a paperbook”.

That’s like comparing an apple to a bushel of oranges. ;)

They list the cost of a p-book at $15.52…and the cost of a Paperwhite at $120.

It would make more sense to compare a bookcase to a Paperwhite.

If we start out saying that a bookcase costs, oh, $100, that’s still not the way to do it.

Even if we discount the free cloud storage (which would be a big mistake), a Paperwhite can hold what would be many bookcases worth of books.

We’ll go with…you want the complete works of Shakespeare, the Harry Potter series, and the top five New York Times hardback fiction equivalent bestsellers…plus a single bookcase or a Paperwhite. We’ll use $100 for the bookcase, $120 for the Paperwhite.

Shakespeare in hardback (that seems to be their comparison): I’m finding new ones for as low as about $25.

Shakespeare in e-book: free

At this point, we are close enough to even. :)

Harry Potter hardback boxed set of the 7: $116.55 (that’s a considerable discount, by the way)

Harry Potter in e-book: $57.54…oh, and you could read them all in a month for $9.99 with

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

but you don’t own them then, so that’s not really a fair comparison.

The e-book choice is about $40 cheaper at this point.

Now, let’s add in the bestsellers:

P-book E-book
$16.07 $13.99
$13.47 $6.99
$15.29 $13.99
$16.70 $11.43
$15.14 $12.99
$76.67 $59.39
 Difference $17.28

I simply don’t think you can reasonably suggest that it is less expensive to have a library of p-books than a library of e-books.

Yes, you can re-sell p-books…but if you don’t, you pay to store them. It’s rent/property taxes/mortgage for the floor under the bookcase. As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I had to always make that calculation…it’s why a slow-selling book couldn’t profitably be kept sitting around in the store…you would eventually have lost money keeping it there.

The pros and cons listed also seem…odd, to me.

I don’t want to take too much away from the chart, so I’ll just mention one.

One of two cons listed under the Papewhite is “…Still not water-proof”.

You know, because p-books do just fine when you drop in the bathtub. ;)

Let me be very clear that the excellent EBOOK FRIENDLY did not create this chart. It appears in an interesting Wall Street Journal article (to which they link), and is reportedly based on the School Library Journal’s 2015 Book Pricing Report.

There are pros and cons to p-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and tablets…I just don’t think this chart presents them in a particularly useful way.

Oh, I am going to mention one more thing from the chart.

The iPad is described as “…hard to read on in the sun”.

The use of two prepositions in a row like that can be jarring (what was wrong with, “…hard to read in the sun”?). It reminds me of this old “joke” (it’s not exactly a joke) designed to make grammar purists react the way most people do to fingernails on a blackboard (which, I’ve heard, is so irritating because it is a similar frequency to a monkey’s panic vocalization…you don’t like the sound, because you think a leopard is about to leap into your troop).

A young child is sick upstairs.

A parent, wanting to console the child, brings in a book the child had loved a few years ago…but which the child now thinks they have outgrown.

The child says, “What did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up here for?”

;)

I’ve probably told this one before on this blog, but legendarily, Winston Churchill was upbraided for ending a sentence with a preposition. Churchill knew how to speak to the common people, and made the choice to use accessible language. Churchill’s reported response was, “…that is the sort of grammatical pedantry up with which I will not put.” :)

I would guess all of my readers could come with reasons why e-books can be better than p-books, so let me flip that: give me some arguments why having a library of p-books is better than a library of e-books. You can do that (and share other thoughts) for 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! :) 

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.

$20 off Mindle Touch and Kindle for Kids bundle: back to school deals

August 11, 2015

$20 off Mindle Touch and Kindle for Kids bundle: back to school deals

There are public schools in the USA that start in August (many Utah schools, for example), so this actually seems like appropriate timing. :)

As the former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I understand these “time themed” sales…and they are often very effective.

For many people, it feels like buying a book is not the default, as it is with some “serious readers”. ;) For some of us, we look for a reason not to buy a book. For most people, they need a motivation to move to that “buy” position: time themes are a good reason for those folks.

Back to school is one: clearly, you are going to spend money when the kids start back to school, and that feels justified. In some ways, it’s an investment. We’ve seen the evidence that reading is actually associated with positive brain changes in children. Giving your child a better life clearly motivates many guardians…and then, of course, there are those who want their kids to take care of them in their dotage. ;)

Amazon has two deals right now on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers)…and they are both $20 off:

This is definitely, as I described it when it was on sale for this price in March, a serviceable device. It’s lit the same way as a p-book (paperbook): that is, it has no built-in light, and you would use a lamp to read it in an otherwise dark room.

What would you be “missing out on” if you bought this one rather than the next one up?

Well, the most obvious difference with the

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is that it has a built-in “frontlight”, which makes it the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had…including paper.

It has the same basic screen technology as the “Mindle Touch”, but includes a light pointed at the screen (not at your eyes, like a backlit tablet/laptop/SmartPhone).

However, right now, you’d pay $60 more to have that frontlight…$119.

That might not be what you want to do all the time…you may just want something on which to read at the best price.

If you don’t do this one, when might we see a discount again?

Here are some possibilities:

  • When new models are announced (probably September)
  • Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and other holiday sales)
  • Returns/gift card week (December 26th through January 2nd)
  • Valentine’s Day (February 14th)
  • Mothers’ Day (May)
  • Grads and Dads (June)
  • Prime Day (July 15th…I’m assuming that will become an annual thing)

I think they’ll keep this sale going at least through today, and perhaps for a few days…

Enjoy!

 

 

Most popular Goodreads reviewers in the USA

August 11, 2015

Most popular Goodreads reviewers in the USA

I’m always looking for new paths to discovery of books to read.

After all, the challenge nowadays isn’t just finding books…it’s choosing them.

It used to be entirely possible that I would have read every book in, say, the science fiction section of my local bookstore…and I’d have to wait for them to get more.

The way it is today, the USA Kindle store averages more than 1,000 books added a day. My record is reading 3 1/2 novels in a day…I clearly can’t keep up. :)

The future is about curation: about finding someone (or conceivably, some other mechanism, like software or an aggregator of the opinions of a bunch of readers/reviewers) with whom you tend to agree.

Oh, or finding people with whom you consistently disagree. :) That’s often been how I work with movie reviewers…I know some whose tastes are different from mine…if they don’t like something, I probably will.

One source for reviews is Goodreads, the social reading site (owned by Amazon).

You can “follow” someone’s reviews, so you find out when they post new ones.

Here’s the Goodreads page for the most popular reviewers in the USA:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/best_reviewers

You can, by the way, choose other countries (I have readers around the world).

The most popular reviewer this week (you can also pick other timeframes, including all time) is karen from Woodside, NY.

karen (sic) has 1,102 votes  this week…which doesn’t  seem like that many to me, given the number of users Goodreads has.

Looking at recent activity, karen is reading some books which might interest me.

For example, the first book I see is

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attackat Amazonsmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping* by Andrew Shaffer

Even though it’s from Random House, I hadn’t heard of it…that’s the discovery part.

I wouldn’t pay $9.99 for it…but, after I check it out a bit more, I might add it to my wish list. It has a 4.8 stars rating (out of 5) with 85 customer reviews, which is quite good.

I do like that sort of movie (although I tend to prefer movies which sincerely tried to be good, and weren’t), and I’ve liked books like The Worst Case Scenario survival series.

I have to admit, I would have to overcome my unreasonable reaction to karen’s use of all small case all the time (even the word “i”). However, I know that’s an emotional reaction, and shouldn’t affect my assessment of the content. For some people with certain disabilities, using the shift key is a challenge, and it could be that…although that isn’t my intuition.

Interestingly, Felicia Day, an actor and writer I enjoy (if you haven’t seen The Guild series, I recommend it…you’ll know quickly whether or  not it  is your cup of geekery), is #4 on the list.

I would have guessed that the list might be dominated by celebrities, but on reflection, I can see a strong reason why it might not be.

The most followed list is, but this one is based on the number of votes someone’s reviews get.

Celebrities, I assume, are probably not the ones who write the most reviews…and I think that’s probably a big factor.

karen has 2,022 reviews on Goodreads, and joined in April of 2007. Well, if we just call that 100 months, that’s an average of about 20 reviews a month…maybe one every one and a half days.

Felicia Day has written 560 reviews since December of 2007…a bit more than a quarter of the reviews.

Celebrities may simply be too busy, or may need to focus their creative output in potentially more revenue-generating places than Goodreads.

I understand that.

I’d love to write a review at Goodreads for every book I read, but I just don’t have the time and creative energy to do that.

I do some reviews there…you can follow me, if you like:

I have eight followers right now. :)

Totally understandable…I wouldn’t say I’m a great “citizen” of the Goodreads community. I only have so much time and energy, and I don’t prioritize it very highly. It’s a bit like Facebook: I know it would take a lot out of me if I started being active there, so I haven’t. I have a page, but it’s as stealth as I can possibly make it. I just have it so I can see pictures my adult kid posts. :)

I think it may be worth you taking a look at the top reviewers to see if there is one whose tastes align with yours.

I also do see quite a few books in my “friends” feed on Goodreads…I have a lot more friends than followers, although not so many of those, either.

How about you? Do you find things to read on Goodreads? If so, what mechanism there for you works the best? If not, how do you do book discovery? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think 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.


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