Archive for the 'amazon' Category

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Kindle for Mac scores low on usability

Here’s my first experience with Amazon’s new Kindle client for Mac: After digging up my password and logging in, I was presented with a bunch of books. I picked the last one I’d been reading. It downloaded slowly, without a progress bar, then dumped me on some page in the middle. Apparently my farthest-read location, but I honestly don’t remember.

A cute little graphic on the screen said I could use my scroll wheel. I’m on a laptop, so I tried the two-finger drag–the equivalent gesture sans mouse… and flipped some dozens of pages in half a second. Now, hopelessly lost I searched for a ‘back’ button to no avail.  Perversely, there is a prominent ‘back’ button, but disabled. Mocking me.

This feels rushed. I wonder what could be pushing Amazon to release something so unfinished? -m

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Kindle Flaw

Here’s the scenario:

The night before a long flight, I upload my personal files into a freshly charged Kindle 2. To preserve the battery, I switch off wireless and in the bag it goes. The next day, on the plane, I open the Kindle…and it’s showing an entirely depleted battery, exclamation point and all. Can you spot the design flaw?

-m

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Kindle software update 2.0.4

According to this page, it’s here. At least the source code is. You heard it here first. -m

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Geek Thoughts: Amazon backtracks on text to speech

With apologies to a real news site. (02-27) 16:14 PST SEATTLE, (AP)

Amazon.com Inc. changed course Friday and said it would allow copyright holders to decide whether they will permit their works to be read aloud by the latest laryngeal apparatus, a feature that has been under development for several thousand years.

The move comes nearly two weeks after a group representing authors expressed concern that the feature, which was intended to be able to read every book, blog, magazine and newspaper out loud, would undercut separate audiobook sales. The average American can use their larynx to read text in a somewhat stilted voice.

Amazon said in a statement that it, too, has a stake in the success of the audiobook market, and pointed to its Brilliance Audio and Audible subsidiaries, which publish and sell professionally recorded readings.

“Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat,” the company said.

Amazon is working on the technical changes needed for authors and publishers to turn text-to-speech off for individual titles.

The Web retailer also said the text-to-speech feature is legal — and wouldn’t require Amazon to pay out additional royalties — because a book read aloud doesn’t constitute a copy, a derivative work or a performance.

More collected Geek Thoughts at http://geekthoughts.info.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Boo to Amazon

Dear Amazon, Speaking as an author myself, you not only made a bad choice, you set a precedent in the wrong direction. The Author’s Guild doesn’t speak for me, nor do I want them to. TTS is only going to get better. The last thing we need is another backward industry fighting progress. -m

Monday, October 20th, 2008

New MacBook Pro

I tend to be pretty conservative about new hardware. The day-to-day G4 processor machine I’m writing this on was purchased back in 2004. But with all these new models coming out, I couldn’t resist…buying an older one. After all, we are in a downturn.

On Amazon, previous-generation MacBook Pros are pretty cheap, and have a $150 rebate on top of that. Like this one for $1444 after rebate. Perhaps with a memory upgrade, this should keep me set for another 4 years.

How long has it been since you upgraded? -m

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Trying to read _Playing for Keeps_ on an iPhone

Mur Lafferty’s new superhero novel is making the rounds. She’s encouraging everyone to buy a printed copy on August 25 (buy it here) to make a nice impression in the bestseller lists. I’m a sucker for these kinds of promotions. The full text also recently appeared on the Escape Pod feed, under a Creative Commons license. It’s a whopping 35 megabytes, including illustrated comic book covers…a nice touch.

It would be really nice to have this with me to read during spare moments without the bulk of the printed book. Hmm.

My question is: how I can read it on an iPhone? Ebook support isn’t that great so far, especially for the PDF format. I know about the data:url trick, but it doesn’t work with 35 megs. Has anyone successfully set up an iPhone to read this book? What software and/or conversions did you use? Comment below. -m

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Save up to 65% on Capacitors and Resistors

Nope, not spam. You can now order electronic components from Amazon, advertised right on the front page for me. What can’t you get on Amazon? -m

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Hands-on Kindle

Amazon hosted a networking event tonight. They had me at free beer and a chance to look at a Kindle. Now that I’ve actually played with one, I can comment on some of its features for better or worse.

It’s heavier and more solid than it looks. With the little padded cover, it could pass for a physical book in most situations, and it would probably survive a drop to the floor just fine.

The screen does look great, even in the sub-optimal lighting conditions of a bar. I had to compare with the XO when I got home, and with the backlight off, I think the resoloutions are very nearly similar. However, the XO (without backlight) is fairly hard to read at indoor lighting levels, though in full sunshine it’s great. I don’t know how easy it would be to read the Kindle in full sunlight…

Page turning is annoyingly slow, and annoyingly easy to do by accident. The annoying part is that after pressing the button, nothing seems to happen for a second, then the page blacks out, waits another second, then displays the new content. I understand the technical limitations of the black flash (and the corresponding benefits–essentially zero power consumption to hold an image). But it feels like if it started working as soon as the button was pressed, it could cut the overall page change time in half. Keyboard entry felt slow and lagged as well.

Overall, the device didn’t feel usable to me. I somehow stumbled my way into Wikipedia and got to see the browser in action. I would love to see a touch-screen version.

Did seeing one change my mind about buying one? Nope. Still waiting. I’d buy this one at half it’s current price, an updated model for maybe more. -m

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Yahoo! introduces mobile XForms

Admittedly, their marketing folks wouldn’t describe it that way, but essentially that’s what was announced today. (documentation in PDF format, closely related to what-used-to-be Konfabulator tech; here’s the interesting part in HTML) The press release talks about reaching “billions” of mobile consumers; even if you don’t put too much emphasis on press releases (you shouldn’t) it’s still talking about serious use of and commitment to XForms technology.

Shameless plug: Isn’t it time to refresh your memory, or even find out for the first time about XForms? There is this excellent book available in printed format from Amazon, as well as online for free under an open content license. If you guys express enough interest, good things might even happen, like a refresh to the content. Let’s make it happen.

From a consumer standpoint, this feels like a welcome play against Android, too. Yahoo! looks like it’s placing a bet on working with more devices while making development easier at the same time. I’ll bet an Android port will be available, at least in beta, before the end of the year.

Disclaimer: I have been out of Yahoo! mobile for several months now, and can’t claim any credit for or inside knowledge of these developments. -m

P. S. Don’t forget the book.

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Thanks, Amazon!

I visited the Amazon home page today to find this:

Amazon suggested purchase: Uranium!

Thanks, Amazon! Now sit back down, you’re scaring me. -m