Monday, August 31, 2009

Other free Kindle books with good buyer feedback

A supplement to the Weekend books reminder

Options Trading Body of Knowledge (Introduction & Chapter 1), The Market Overview, by Michael C. Thornsett, author of Getting Started in Options

  "Thomsett is also author of The Investment and Securities Dictionary (McFarland), named by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book for 1988."

  Publisher: FT Press August 19, 2009
  Intro and first chapter only - $ 0.00

I liked it better when they offered an entire book for free for one week, but anyone interested in the options market might be interested in a look.


Other free books of possible interest:
The Biography of a Grizzly, by Ernest Thompson
  Some customers loved it as youngsters and even now that they're older

Cleopatra, by H. (Henry) Rider

Poems of Passion, by Ella Wheeler.   Six 5-star reviews.

Sidelights on Relativity, by Albert Einstein
  This 56-page book is from 2 lectures by Einstein, "Ether and the Theory of Relativity" and "Geometry and Experience."  They've been described as "devoid of complicated equations and abstruse terminology."  [Don't believe it. :-) ]

Twilight in Italy, by D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence

Quo Vadis: a narrative of the time of Nero, by Henryk Sienkiewicz Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Kindle DX adapted for air approach plates - Update

UPDATE - 8/31/09 - Original posting 7/28/09 - 7:00 am
There is now a set of FREE approach plates offered by NACOSync.
See the UPDATE added to the end of this article.



First, this story has a video with it that shows, better than most videos have, what a Kindle DX looks like, close up, in action.  Note the much smaller Kindle 2 that is also there.


Click for larger Video

than on AVWeb site.

Gold Seal Ventures has adapted the Kindle DX for the display of air approach plates and are formally launching it at AirVenture this week, reports AVWeb's Paul Bertorelli.  Readability and storage capability were two factors.  So was, apparently, cost.

AVweb prepared the detailed video above and says "The plates are readable and relatively easy to find on the device, and although the DX itself is a little pricey at $480, AirBrief's data service promises to me [sic] more affordable than other electronic chart sources."

UPDATE 8/31/09
NACO Sync offers their set of Kindle DX approach plates.  Unlike, apparently, the ones by AVWeb, these have hyperlinks so that navigation is point and click instead of having to enter a page number.  These are in the Kindle-readable MOBI format and are free.  Information courtesy of Jason Stone.

Features:
. Approach plates have full menus
. The entire US will fit on a Kindle DX
. These are bundled by Volume. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Read foreign-language Google-books in English online

This article started as a forum-post in reply to the question:
  "Can you guys post any good books you're finding through Google? Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I can't find anything decent."
  Several other forum members had the same experience when trying to find books that interested them.

  I think it's that Kindle users have already found so many good public domain books or "classics" (for free or under $1) just on Amazon alone (7,000+) and then at Project Gutenberg (30,000), MobileReference, feedbooks, manybooks.net (mnybks.net direct-to-Kindle), fictionwise, etc., that most we'll find now are duplicates.

  I hadn't looked, beyond doing the blog-entry the other day about converting Google ePub public-domain books to Kindle-readable ones.

WHAT SEEMS AVAILABLE
  I just now went to Google Books and, from the categories shown at the left column there, I chose "Literature."

  This brought up the first-30 of 1,805 results under that 'literature' category.

  Seeing all the attractive, colorful pictures of covers that resulted, I realized these probably include a lot of books that are being SOLD rather than just free public domain ones.
  Looking up at the pull-down menu, I saw that it said:
      "Showing: Limited preview and fullview"
  which means this search result includes books you have to buy.

  So, I changed the pull-down menu to the choice:
      "Showing: Full view only"
  (which is available only for free, public domain books and magazines).
  And then, most of the covers seen now were the plain, generic types, for the most part, and included books in other languages.
  They should have searches limitable to a certain language!

  Even then, this resulted in only 42 books, with maybe half or more of them in other languages.  I realize Google said they included libraries from all over the world, but ...

  THEN I changed the pull-down menu to show the option:
      "Showing: All books"
  This got me some rather esoteric selections. Since I love the singing of a baritone named William Sharp, I whimsically clicked on a book on the front page (that claimed 4,424 books listed) titled:
      "The sexual tensions of William Sharp"   :-)
  and saw the following description of that book (excerpted below)
=======
Title   The sexual tensions of William Sharp: a study of the birth of Fiona Macleod, incorporating two lost works, Ariadne in Naxos and "Beatrice"
Volume 2 of Studies in nineteenth-century British literature
Volume 2 of Studies in Modern Poetry
Author Terry L. Meyers
Publisher P. Lang, 1996
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Mar 13, 2008"
...
=======

So, I guess these million books include esoteric academic treatments of various topics, not a bad feature! and generally not available in the usual public domain offerings elsewhere.  They also include old magazines.

Note that there are a lot of categories on the front page's left column.  Also, the front page displays an assortment of the type of books or magazines available and are grouped in the following way:

Interesting
Classics
Magazines
Highly cited
Random Subject - (This changes each time -- was "Alcoholics Fiction")


TRANSLATING books written in another language:
SO, I decided to go back to 'Literature" and see if I could produce a Google translation of one of these books written in another language, and sure enough Google has made it possible, although there is currently no option saying "translate" on the page.

I chose one of the Italian books on the front page of the public-domain books search-results:
  "Scritti letterari di un Italiano vivente (1847) by Giuseppe Mazzini "

  I browsed through it until I came to a page that began with a new paragraph which I thought would be a good example for a translation.  I chose page 24.

  In our case, knowing which page we want, we don't have to tediously arrow through each page.  You can just enter '24' in the input box there, press your Enter key, and it'll take you to page 24.

 What you'll see there is the scanned image that Google made from that page.

  But they also give us the option to see this in "Plain text" -- so I clicked on that option above the text.

 This took me to the version showing the plain text from pages 20-24 (see top left there).

  In the web browser's URL/or Location Field, the long URL for the plain-text Italian version was:
    http://books.google.com/books?ei=zbqYSqGUOp7CzQSwh-XbDg&rview=1&output=text&as_brr=1&id=w4hptHSmqvMC&dq=subject%3A%22+Literature+%22&jtp=24.

  SO, I did a Ctrl-N for a new Window (or Ctrl-Tab in Firefox for a new TAB) and that brought up a window in which I could put in the URL (below) to be taken to Google's Translation page, which is at
    http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en.

    At Google's translation page, I put the full, long URL for the Italian book's "plain text" version of the page -- which gives us text from pages 20-24 -- into the "Translate a web page" feature at the bottom left of the Google translation page.
  Then I chose Italian to English below that input box and clicked on "Translate"...

  That brought me to Google's book again, this time displaying pages 20-24 in English.

    Here's an image of what I saw.

  Remember that this is an automated and usually somewhat-primitive web-translation, but it definitely gives you the gist of what is being said.

  When your mouse hovers for a bit over the translated text, Google shows you the original-language's text for that small area and asks if you'd like to contribute a better translation for it.  If you do, you click on that to put your suggestion into the pop-up input box.

  I then scrolled to the bottom of the page and clicked on "Continue" at the bottom right.

  This brought up pages 25-29 translated into English also, and it goes on like that throughout the rest of the book if you like.

  Really nice ! Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Google describes the book conversion process

This is an Addendum to yesterday's article on how Kindle owners can read any of Google's million-plus public domain books now offered in ePub format -- thanks to a simple 3-minute conversion process, which also allows control over the layout if wanted (such as adding a hyperlinked Table of Contents if the book doesn't already have one).

Here is some info from Google's statement on August 26, explaining what they've managed to do here.

" Try doing a search for [Hamlet] on Google Books.  The first few results you'll get are "Full View" books — which means you can read the full text.  And, because the book is in the public domain, you can also download a copy of Hamlet in PDF form.

  Starting today, you'll be able to download these and over one million public domain books from Google Books in an additional format.  We're excited to now offer downloads in EPUB format, a free and open industry standard for electronic books.

Following that, they explain further why they're offering ePub versions of the books in addition to the PDF versions released earlier.
" By adding support for EPUB downloads, we're hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places.  More people are turning to new reading devices to access digital books, and many such phones, netbooks, and e-ink readers have smaller screens that don't readily render image-based PDF versions of the books we've scanned.

  EPUB is a lightweight text-based digital book format that allows the text to automatically conform (or "reflow") to these smaller screens.  And because EPUB is a free, open standard supported by a growing ecosystem of digital reading devices, works you download from Google Books as EPUBs won't be tied to or locked into a particular device.  We'll also continue to make available these books in the popular PDF format so you can see images of the pages just as they appear in the printed book. "

 That is followed by more detail on how this was accomplished and just what was involved.  They caution us that the books go through automated scanning that is sophisticated but nevertheless sometimes can't interpret words that aren't clear on the original page.
" The process begins with a book that has been preserved by one of our library partners from around the world.  Google borrows the book ... Before returning the book in undamaged form, we take photographs of the pages.  Those images are then stitched together and processed in order to create a digital version of the classic book.

  This includes the difficult task of performing Optical Character Recognition on the page image in order to extract a text layer we can transform into HTML, or other text-based file formats like EPUB (if you're interested, you can read more about this process here). "

I'll add a bit from that linked page here about readying text for the smaller screens of mobile phones and e-readers.
" [We] extract the text from the page images so it can flow on your mobile browser just like any other web page.  This extraction process is known as Optical Character Recognition (or OCR for short).  The following example demonstrates the difference between page images and the extracted text:

=> "Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson— which is, I am afraid, a more common occurrence than anyone would think who only knew me through your memoirs...


The extraction of text from page images is a difficult engineering task. Smudges on the physical books' pages, fancy fonts, old fonts, torn pages, etc. can all lead to errors in the extracted text.  The example below shows the page image from the original manuscript for Alice's Adventures Under Ground.  In this extreme case, the extracted text is riddled with errors:
=> "lV~e.il!" .ÍAoHyU- AUte. U brstty/affc. su.it a. f o.tl as ~tk¿* , I s&O.IL .éfiiíjz tiotkun-) of-ttmlr1¿*y ¿i^n. sta¿rs ! Jfo» ura.ve ...


They close with this:
" Imperfect OCR is only the first challenge in the ultimate goal of moving from collections of page images to extracted-text based books.  Our computer algorithms also have to automatically determine the structure of the book (what are the headers and footers, where images are placed, whether text is verse or prose, and so forth).  Getting this right allows us to render the book in a way that follows the format of the original book.

The technical challenges are daunting, but we'll continue to make enhancements to our OCR and book structure extraction technologies.  With this launch, we believe that we've taken an important step toward more universal access to books.

...If you do bump into some rough patches where the text seems, well, weird, you can just tap on the text to see the original page image for that section of text. "

That ability, when reading on a computer monitor, or a smartphone (the Kindle doesn't do this), to click your mouse on the text or tap the text on a touch screen, and then see the original text in the alternate image-scan format, is amazing.



Also see:
  A Million Free Google Books in ePub - for the Kindle
  Read foreign-language Google-books in English online Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some points from reports on the new Sony readers



This is an update to the blog entry made last night.  Here are some points made by some of the other online reports on the new Sony models.

Businessweek offers three videos:
  1. a peek (literally) at the 7" Daily Edition in a PR interview
  2. A look at the $200 Pocket Edition
  3. A look at the $300 Touch Edition (stylus response on highlighting is slow)

USA Today's reporter, David Lieberman, actually does note the difference in wireless:
" Users can't directly access websites, the way they can on the Kindle. Another difference: The Sony Reader won't translate text into speech. '
AP notes, at NPR, that re the ePub rights-protection [via Adobe Digital Edition, readable by e-reader with that rights-license]:
The only copy-protected books the Kindle can display are from Amazon's store, and the only devices the store supports are the Kindle, the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

  Sony, on the other hand, has committed to an open e-book standard, meaning its Readers can show copy-protected books from a variety of stores, and the books can be moved to and read on a variety of devices, including cell phones [that have a license for the Adobe Digital Edition rights-protection on those books].
...
  The bookseller will likely have to pay AT&T for the wireless access, out of money it charges for the books, similar to the way Amazon pays Sprint.  Sony's multi-store strategy makes that challenging.  The Daily Edition will initially have wireless access only to Sony's e-book store, [president of Sony's Digital Reading Business Division] Haber said.
Media Memo's Peter Kafka reports:
" Sony wouldn’t let reporters handle the Daily, and didn’t put it through its paces, either.  So hard to get a sense of much here... "
ITProPortal's Desire Athow reports:
' A spokesperson for Sony told Stuff.tv that a UK launch of the device [Daily Edition] is at least one year away. The company would need to sort out distribution rights and a revenue share scheme with one network and the various other partners. '
Wired's Priya Ganapati reports:
" Sony Reader customers can use the company’s Library Finder software and check out e-books with a valid library card. Users will have to download the books to a PC first and then transfer them to the Reader. The e-books will expire at the end of the 21-day lending period. "
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sony's Upcoming Models vs Amazon Kindle

I didn't get to my computer until almost late tonight so have skimmed the news after getting word of Sony's announcements today, and this is my first take on the announcements today for Sony's new models including the model with the 7" screen not due until the Winter or just before Chirstmas.  They will likely have a larger model available too but there's no real info on that yet.

SONY PRS-300 - "The Pocket Edition - $200
Images of this $200 model can be seen in some of the pages pointed to in this quick report (and in the lead-image here of all three models), but it is not described particularly in many articles because there is actually little to describe, as it does not have study tools (searching, highlighting, note-taking, inline dictionary) and does not have wireless as the Kindle 2 at $300) does.  It also has only about 512M of storage space with no SD card slot.

 Furthermore its screen size is only 5" instead of the 6" that the popular but now discontinued (in the U.S.) Sony PRS-505 has.


SONY PRS-600 - "The Touch Edition" - $300 (similar to Kindle 2 but with no wireless -- it does have a touch screen - more on that further down).  Fast Company has a story that includes information about short videoclips of this model, done two days ago.

The Sony PRS-600 Touch Edition replaces the PRS-700 (discontinued in the U.S -- the 700 had a touchscreen and side-lighting, a combo which led to reviews lamenting poorer readability as a result).
  The new Sony PRS-600 one is $300 and closer to the Kindle 2's $300 but with a touch screen and more file-formats directly readable, with the downside that it has no wireless access at all.  It does have a memory card slot to supplement a storage capacity of about 1,000 text-based books.

What it clearly has is faster page-turning with less interim-black-screen noticeable.


THE SONY DAILY EDITION with a 7" touch screen and wireless-for-Sony-store use.
  Due at the end of 2009, the limited wireless access it'll have does make the 7" model closer to the Kindles at any rate for the important feature of instant book download.

  Few newspaper reviewers will know that while the Sony Daily Edition will be able to access its own store directly, it will not be able to download from several other online stores (besides Amazon's store) that the Kindle currently can access for files that are downloadable directly onto the Kindle device.

  PC World says this actually shows that the Kindle pricing with 24/7 wireless has been quite reasonable at $100 less, even though PC World doesn't point out that the Sony wireless limits one to its own store while the Kindle wireless lets you go anywhere on the Net through its built-in basic web browser (which includes javascript and SSL capabilities as well as cookies though it does not support plugins such as flash or shockwave).

  Basically, unlike Amazon's Kindle, the Sony 7" Daily Edition will not allow you to browse the web, which is how Amazon users are able to download non-rights-protected books from other sites direct to their Kindles from places like Feedbooks.com, ManyBks.Net, and Fictionwise.com (the latter now owned by Barnes & Noble).

  Add that the entire Project Gutenberg set of excellently formatted books, generally, is directly downloadable to the Kindle as well.

  Also, most newspaper reviews have not mentioned that there are over 7,000 free Kindle-readable books (public domain) downloadable from Amazon itself, and 7,000 is quite a lot from which to choose, though a million of these public domain books available from the Sony store (via Google's amazing digital stash of these) certainly offers a wider choice :-)


ALL SONYS
  What the Sonys will do is be compatible with the open-source ePub format, reading any non-rights-protected book in that much more common format - which are usually books that are written before 1923 and which are considered Public Domain" (or 'classics').

  Re that open-source ePub format for non-rights-protected books, few know that non-rights-protected ePub books are easily converted with free utilities to be read on the Kindle as well but it is an extra step rather than direct as with the Sony.

  The upside with the Sonys is that they will (and older models already CAN) read borrowed library books (which use the special time-limited ePub format, as mentioned and further described below).

  That is its biggest appeal to me, at least. The older PRS-505, its most-praised model for good readability, is being discontinued in the U.S. in favor of the smaller PRS-300 ($200 but still with no study tools like search, highlighting, notes, and no wireless).

  The $300 Sony Touch Edition (PRS-600) which replaces the older Sony PRS-700 does have good study tools although it has no wireless capability as the $300 Kindle does.

  This 6" screen "Touch Edition," has similar lowered-screen contrast and glare problems of the discontinued (U.S.) PRS-700 which is due to the touch screen's extra layer. (See further down.)

  Additional confusion comes from the Sony PRS-700 being discontinued in the U.S. but available in Canada still.  The difference here is that the PRS-700 has or had side-lighting over the screen so that it could be read at night without a clip-on light.  Sony decided not to have side-lighting in the PRS-600 that replaces the PRS-700 here (U.S.).

  What any Sony will not do is allow its own copy-protected books (those that are sold in the Sony store and are not part of the 1 million public domain books written before 1923) to be read by other e-readers unless those readers have the Adobe Digital Edition as part of its firmware and you have purchased the book.


BACK TO SONY PRS-600 Touch Edition
  Here is a video uploaded two days ago, and it's of the Sony PRS-600 announced a month ago which is close in capability to the coming 7" "Daily Edition" now announced for the Winter, both having the touch screen wanted by many.
  Dvice.com introduces us to this video and the next clip.  A real plus is that one can annotate on it directly with a stylus (not shown).

  The videoclip maker mentions disappointment with the screen contrast, the glare, and with the somewhat 'spongy' feel of the new soft plastic touch screen (though in the video he inadvertently says that the new model has glass, which he confirms the older PRS-505 has while the PRS-600 has the softer and more flexible but 'spongy' screen).
  I'd personally prefer spongy to somewhat breakable though.  It's a clear video of the PRS-600 - which gives an impression of grayness, with the bezel of that particular model also in gray.  There's no physical keyboard, which many prefer not to have as omitting it saves room.  It has a virtual keyboard, which would take somewhat more energy to press and less tactile feedback but allows for a more space-saving and some feel more-elegant e-reader form factor.

  Here is a comparison by the same videoclip maker, of the recently discontinued but popular Sony PRS-505 alongside the new Sony PRS-600 ($300) with the touch screen.  There is a clear difference in screen contrast visible in the video, with the new PRS-600 suffering from the same readability problems as the now-discontinued PRS-700 reviewed by David Pogue last year.
 Note the comments made by the video maker and others.

  It's surprising that they'd release the PRS-600 with the readabitility disadvantage, but it is probably targeted at users for whom a touch screen is much more important than easy readability.
 The difference is really startling. There's no wireless on this model, of course.

  Given that, I have photo comparisons (press "Next" there for more) of the much-admired Sony PRS-505 at Target placed next to my Kindle 2 which is often said to have less screen contrast than the Kindle 1 but with much better navigational and study tools than the Kindle 1 (the PRS-505 has no study tools).
  Note that the Kindle 2 readability and the Sony PRS-505 (its best-readability model) are quite similar.  (Press "next" at upper right of each photo to see the next photo or "previous" to see the previous one.)


BACK TO THE DUE-IN-WINTER SONY 7" Daily Edition model
How will Sony solve the screen contrast problem in the coming $400 7" Daily Edition?

  The dvice.com site next introduces us to the to-be-released 7" "Daily Edition" Reader with a picture of its screen (one inch larger than the Kindle 2's 6" one) rotated to landscape mode to show us two pages at a time as we're used to seeing with a paper-bound book.
  Note that this is a nice feature but it would be somewhat hard to read from.  So we have the option of using one-page at a time, which I expect will be the preferred option.

One thing that interests me with the planned Sony wireless to its Sony book store:
  Amazon which IS, entirely, a store rather than a primarily electronics maker, nevertheless allows Kindle users access to the global net -- a fact realized by few newspaper reviewers -- with its slow but quite increasingly capable web browser.


WEB BROWSING IMAGES
  You can see my images of
1. the oldest Kindle, the Kindle 1 doing Google and the 6" Kindle 2 posting to the Amazon forums and posting to facebook, not with speed, but doable.

2. the  $490 9.7"  Kindle DX getting this blog vertically and in landscape mode and also browsing Engadget website with images vertically and in landscape mode.
 When reading newspaper columns that say the Sony will also have the same wireless now as the Amazon Kindle's, note that the Sony's will be only to the Sony store and will not be to the entire Net.

If you already do have Kindle, here's a reminder that I made a bookmarks-type file for easy access to much-faster mobile-optimized website versions, which is described and downloadable on this blog (click on the link to the left).

At this time, after almost two years, there is no charge for the Kindle's web access, which is 24/7, and Jeff Bezos said in mid June 2009 at Wired Magzine's conference that he could have charged only $99 for the Kindle had he decided to have the web access paid for by a 2-year $60/month fee.

  Also, an Amazon representative says the following about the Kindle's experimental web browser in a videoclip of a talk at Case Western about the upcoming Fall Kindle DX studies at various universities:
"...we're constantly working on it ... "it's an important thing to remember that it's free... no wireless charges...we cover all ...that..."
  He also points out that Kindle users can use online resources without having to get up and go to a computer.

Since Amazon has promised free google and Wikipedia access to participating universities this year AND Jeff Bezos recently explained that he could have made the Kindles less expensive by not including wireless access with bookmarks to mostly faster text sites on the Net, I expect the 24/7 cellular access to remain free for the coming school year at least.

Obviously that kind of 24/7 access is important to me, as it is to increasing numbers of Kindle owners who have become aware of this feature.  Here is a forum discussion about the many creative uses of the Kindle by Kindle users.

 Other e-reader makers will find much of this difficult to provide to its own target audience and will have to make some very readable touch screens then, but they have a leg up in one important area with more file formats directly accessible with their e-readers.  It seems to me that the Sonys would be a natural for the European and Asian markets especially while the Amazon still has no Kindles for sale to those areas.  It puzzles me that they don't offer non-wireless-capable Kindles, at a lower price, in those areas, as many people want the Kindle even without wireless.

Even then, the Kindle is so popular overseas that there have been many workarounds discussed or explained on the Amazon customer discussion forums as well as some outside-USA Kindle-user tips sent to TheKindleChronicles podcast with links to instructions at the page for the podcast.

Until the Kindle web browser becomes much faster, it would not be worth any monthly charge, not even to me, and I prefer free slow access to any paid access for quick look-ups when away from home and office computers.


IN THE MEANTIME a Wall Street Journal report which came in tonight includes the following:
Sony disclosed Tuesday a marketing partnership with Cleveland-based OverDrive Inc. that will let users of Sony's wireless device enter their Zip Codes and library card number to see what e-books are available from their local library; they can then download e-books remotely to the device until the loans expire.

Sony's Daily Edition can be held vertically to display one page of a book or turned horizontally so that it shows two pages, which Mr. Haber said makes it feel "more like a real book." The sample Daily Edition that Sony showed at a press event Tuesday had a blank screen.
. . .
Sony didn't disclose any newspaper or magazine publishers that would support the Daily Edition. "We are working with a number of newspaper and magazine publishers and will reveal more information about this closer to the time the product is available," a spokesman said.
...
Newspaper and magazine executives have said Sony is amenable to striking more favorable partnership terms, though several publishers also said Sony has been slow to reach agreements, such as whether their relationships with Sony would be exclusive.
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Books, blogs, auto charger, iRex and Barnes & Noble - Update2

UPDATED 8/25/09 to correct the recommendation for the Ambrose Pierce Devil's Dictionary, as that edition has problems with the Table of Contents.
  Original posting was 8/24/09 at 10:12 am

1. Kindle Blogs & News Feeds
Many will have received in email a notice that the Kindle Daily Post is now available for the Kindle.  This Amazon Kindle-dedicated blog contains the daily Kindle news we've been able to read on the Kindle device only when we were at the 'store' while Kindling with wireless turned 'On.'  I suppose that was because we'd also be more likely to buy something while there.  In the meantime, people like me then seldom saw this otherwise interesting daily.
  Now you can get that daily blog for your Kindle at no cost.

  Another blog available along with 7,000+ other ones Amazon offers for the Kindle device is this one, Kindleworld.  Delivery includes the full text of Kindleworld's latest 25 articles (with images), delivered whenever there's a new entry or updated information (usually daily).  Each Kindle delivery replaces the previous one, so there's no clutter.

 Selecting this blog, if you haven't subscribed earlier, starts a 14-day free trial.  The Kindle version is easier to navigate than the usual RSS feeds are on a Kindle and you can search the blog for info in the latest 25 articles, which might be worth 99c/mo. for some.

2. It's time for the irregularly repeated low-cost books reminder.
  Be sure to check out the most recent Free and under $1 books in the blog entry listing links for those.
  I've added a listing sorted by NEWEST first, for free non-classics there.

3. UPDATED 8/25/09. The photo of Bierce below links you to the best under-$1 edition of Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, republished by Xinware Corporation in Canada, Jan. 2008, and with a working Table of Contents and very good formatting.
 The cover for that one is seen on the right.
  The book highlighted yesterday had problems with the table of content links, and some of the quotations did not wrap well.  Amazon will give a refund for a book that is giving you problems if reported within 7 days.  Call 866-321-8851 to request the refund.

  While there are several editions offered on the Amazon page - most do not have working table of contents and have very rudimentary formatting.  I sampled each one under $1, and one sample even froze my Kindle causing me to need to reboot or reset it twice.  The 80c version I link to here was the best of those under $1 and I didn't try any above that dollar amount, as I'm very happy with this one.  The free one from Project Gutenberg froze my DX each of 3 times I tried it, so I can't recommend the one there right now.

UPDATED 8/25/09 - LATER.  Elmo let me know tonight of a free Devil's Dictionary file made available by "vivaldirules" at MobileRead Forums.  This is extremely well formatted with quotations in italics.  You can get it from their site.  Thanks, Elmo!

Typical of the definitions in this often hilarious and always cynical classic is:
" Gold n. A yellow metal greatly prized for its convenience in the various kinds of robbery known as trade..."
  Caution: the book, 90 yrs old, is wholly impolitic.

4. Auto Charger for the Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.

5. iRex signs up with Barnes and Noble.  This doesn't appear to be an exclusive arrangement, unlike the one with Plastic Logic where B&N will be PL's sole book store.  Current large-screen iRex models average $850 and that's before any monthly cellular wireless access charges.  Not likely to be (successfully) after the Amazon audience at that price. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Kindle DX and music

The Kindle DX and music - Here's a more recent article, by Gadgetell, on sheet music on the Kindle.

  I had looked at the new Kindle sheet-music feature when it was first announced.  While the emphasis by Freehand System's "Kindle the Muse" selection of 20,000 pieces of sheet music for the Kindle seemed to be on classical sheet music, the composer names were not on corresponding book images at first and the titles gave names of movements only, so there was no clue as to who the composer was.

Today, they have generic covers with the composer names on them.  However, a problem I wrote Freehand Systems about, via their feedback form, still exists.  On the first page, the catalog offers a Bach Sonata for gamba/cello in G but it's for Movement 1 only, out of 4 movements for the piece, and is priced at $1.56.  If the other movements are $1.56, the total cost for one sonata would be $6.24.

 The real problem is there is NO LINK to find/buy the other 3 movements.  I know no one who buys only one movement of a work that requires high-intermediate to advanced piano skils.  The company never responded to my question about this.

There ARE shorter pieces, of course.  And some popular music offerings should be fun to have in a Kindle edition.  Also, this is ideal for groups that follow lead sheets, as no page turns are involved.
  I've a few files of sheet music on my Kindle DX in PDF format and they look really nice.  At the bottom, I've placed a link to a couple of examples.

You can scan sheet music, that you already have, to images at about 150 dpi (dots per inch), as 300 dpi is not needed for this, and they'll load or give you faster page turns).  You can't take notes on the sheet music, on the Kindle, but you could learn pieces, write notes on them and then scan them for carrying around or always having with you.
  (I preface the sheet music filenames with 'sm-' for sheet music so that I can find them easily.)

Google "sheet music pdf" and you'll find many places that offer music in PDF format.  For classical, there is the IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library - "The free public domain sheet music library" with downloadable PDFs, and you can search by composer name, time period, genre, or instrumentation.  The full name of this amazing website is International Music Score Library Project, and the files are legal.  Here is their FAQ explaining the organization.

I would imagine Amazon's Kindle the Muse optimizes the sheet music files for the Kindle DX, and short pieces are affordable, but until they find a way of making all the movements of a basic sonata findable, I don't understand how they expect to sell sonatas.
  Freehand Systems also sells a larger, very expensive unit (not a Kindle) dedicated to displaying sheet music and which can be marked up and has various pedals for turning pages (one of them pages forward only -- not optimal for repeats).  They also have a number of music education tools and games.

I have a couple of photos of some sheet music (PDFs) on my DX, in vertical mode and rotated to landscape mode.  It's very clear, but the display is still somewhat smaller than an 8.5 x 11" piece of paper.  Best used when you've become acquainted with the notes.  And if the images are very high resolution it may take a few seconds for a page turn.  On the whole, the ones I have take about 2 seconds to turn.  For me, pressing the button (on the inside) is much easier than trying to do a page turn with paper.

  As for music in general on the Kindle, all the Kindles play mp3's.  
On the Kindle 2 and the DX, they play in the order in which they were placed in the "music" folder. (On the original Kindle, they play in random order.)  The features are minimal in that the music can play in the background while you're reading and you can rewind 30 seconds back or fast forward by the same, but you don't get information on what's playing.  If you want a specific mp3 to play you can put it in the "audible" folder and select it from the Home page, as it will look like a book title, but in that case you wouldn't be able to read a book at the same time.

  I should add that the 6" Kindle is too small for sheet music.  Also, with either Kindle you don't want to turn pages in a panic and knock the Kindle off the stand :-)



Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Library resources online - and a Twitter book - Update2

UPDATE 8/22/09 1:33 PM - Original posting 8/20/09 - 6:37 PM - Fixed links and added Safari Online info.

I had wondered for some time why people enjoy Twitter.  Looking at it, with my new personal account, I was perplexed.   It just looked like a wasteland to me, and it was slow too.   In December I typed to the void that maybe I should be doing something with it.  And then forgot about it until late March when I wrote an apology to the few there for not being active and then decided to start a Kindleworld Twitter acct.

  Even then, it wasn't until late June that I decided to produce one mild 'tweet' from Kindleworld and discovered at the same time that there were some news people, on Twitter, whom I'd always liked reading or hearing.  Now I was able to get their updates from whatever assignment they're on.
  WeFollow is a directory of interesting people active on Twitter and you can search by category or name.

  My Twitter Home page became a mild stream of really interesting short thoughts (sometimes alerts) that come in more spontaneous, informal style, before they hit the broadcast news, dressed up and more cautiously phrased.  I appreciate the more human sounds of these newsprint and tv news beings when they're sleepy or less guarded without scripts or bosses approving every word.
  I also like getting their immediate reactions to reports by other news organizations too.  So I decided to keep the Kindleworld account for digital and int'l news and use my personal account for local friends (though most of them don't use Twitter yet) and online ones.

  In other words, I came to like using Twitter, probably too much.  Still, I do want to know more about it -- the social rules (not that much maybe, except to credit others for info we're passing on and not to deluge others with every passing thought), what certain symbols and abbreviations mean, what level of activity is considered okay, or annoying.

  I decided to get a book about the culture,  so I went through about 15 product pages of books on Twitter and the associated customer reviews.

LIBRARY RESOURCES ONLINE
  Then I remembered the treasure that many of us have at our fingertips without realizing it -- none of my friends knew we had the access I'm about to describe though we are all somewhat heavy readers.

One day, while looking for information on something, I wanted to access Infotrac which has articles going back to 1970s or so, in full text, for participant institutions like my city library.  I live in California, and the requirement for accessing my library's special online resources is California residence. The Berkeley and San Francisco libraries both give its members access to databases that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for most of us.  And as a California resident, I am able to access both.  (I didn't bother to look for others.)

 Infotrac is one of the offerings and a more common one.
  http://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/services_and_resources/online_resources.php.  I saw, on a web search, that many remote county libraries have the same access, so it's not just where a university might be.

  Besides Infotrac, I clicked on one of the zillion links that came up on my screen, this time:
  http://0-proquest.safaribooksonline.com.www.berkeley-public.org/home
  This link will work only for people with a Berkeley Public Library card, even if California residence is all that's needed.  A similar link should work with your own public library's link, which you can google.  That'll depend on the state you're in.

UPDATE 8/22/09: To see, otherwise, what Safari Books Online is like, here's their own site.  They have a 10-day free trial, but one can take a month at a time, at $23/mo. for access to 10 books per month (the Safari "Bookshelf" option rather than "Library" option.  I have no affiliation with Safari Books Online.  But at $23 for one month, access to 10 books (no limit on time spent online) is worth a look.

  The (free) library access, if your library has it, is to almost all the current major computer/technical books that I've browsed at Barnes & Noble while lamenting I couldn't justify spending that much money, since I wanted to read so many of them.

 Included in Safari Books Online are O'Reilly Media, Prentice Hall, Addison-Wesley, PeachPit Press, New Riders, Sams, que, Adobe Press, and many others.

 It's all current -- books on items like Photoshop CS4, some on using Facebook :-) --  and so, today I tried it to see what the various Twitter books are like.

 These offerings are FULL TEXT and in speedy online reading if you have fast Internet access.  Every now and then a graphic image doesn't show up where it should but all the text is there.

 I was able to go through The Twitter Book at length.  The Amazon customer feedback reviews are positive and well-written.  I wound up buying this one because although I can get read it free online, I like having it as a reference on my Kindle, which I can read anywhere without looking at the LCD screen.  I use the online resource for learning (Photoshop) a chapter at a time.

I hope that most reading this will be able to find similar resources at their regional or state libraries.


ADDED ITEM 8/20/09, 11:25 pm - Original posting at 6:37 pm same day
  Twitter rage affects airlines, with complaints tweeted from airplane seats.
' ...airlines are discovering that fuming passengers who have been stranded, delayed or just plain piqued are increasingly letting their undiluted rage fly around the Internet, often from the confines of their cramped airplane seat...

 Billy Sanez, who manages social media for AMR (American), said social media enable better dialogue with customers... '
Don't miss the youtube video & song "United Breaks Guitars" which was a big Internet hit and brought an apology and contribution from United.



I use Twitter to keep up with unusual items in the news, mostly for this site,
most of the alerts not posted on this blog.
  -   If interested in the added news items, visit the site page at http://twitter.com/kindleworld.   Thanks! Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Apple Tablet Challenge to Kindle Delayed, It's Said

This is an UPDATE to the long story a couple of days ago about AllthingsD's earlier report that the Apple tablet might be announced the week of Sept. 7 at one of their keynote events.

Today AllthingsD is reporting (John Paczkowski) that the keynote event will be Sept. 9 in San Francisco but that
"...our sources insist it will not involve any discussion whatsoever of the tablet Apple is reportedly developing.   Too bad. It’s looking more and more like we’ll have to wait until 2010 for that."
  Instead, the event "is expected to showcase upgrades to the iPod line and an update to iTunes that may involve some sort of social element."

  Interestingly, the over-rumored Apple Tablet or iPad has been described AS an "upgrade to the iPod line" -- larger ones.  I imagine getting all the contract negotiations with publishers and cellular phone companies would have presented a problem for early delivery even if the rumored unit was almost ready.  Or maybe Apple is playing it coy, as it has before.

  Remaining excitement could be an appearance by Steve Jobs.  Here's a fascinating article on Jobs and on Apple itself by The Sunday Times, August 16, 2009.

  Additional reading for the interested:
  Two Apple tablets - Slashgear Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kindle in the news - an upbeat week



This week saw an upswing in positive feedback on
the Kindle in the news.

  And it brought up some thoughts of my own
that I'd posted earlier to another forum.

1. Wendy Lawton, a literary agent in Santa Rosa, California, writes:
"I was at a gathering at author Lauraine Snelling’s house. Several of us had Kindles.  As soon as someone would recommend a book, we’d all go online and buy it right then and there.  Other e-readers require a computer and an internet connection to load books.  But when you’re sitting in an airport finishing a book, those things are just not available to you."
She doesn't like non-fiction on it (I do because I use the notes and search tools) -- and because you can't share the e-books unless you share an account with someone, she finds herself buying another version of the book for someone and even an audio version.  Still, she ends:
"I’ve heard so many readers say, “I could never use an e-reader.  I love the smell of a book. . .the feel of it in my hand.”  I used to say the same thing but with each novel I read on my Kindle, I’m more connected to the look, the feel the smell of it.

  Whether it’s a book or an e-reader, it’s not the device, it’s the magic of story.  The device becomes infused with the stories, settings and characters and we fall in love"
  The 'magic of story' - I really liked that.  While she is mindful of layout and presentation (just look at how well-organized and relaxing the feel of her page is), she doesn't seem to overly miss the book cover, the paper, the layout, leafing through the book.

2. For me, who had not read much for years when not on the computer where I did 95% of my reading (but for hours), it's been interesting to see how pulled I am to read on the Kindle.  In trying to explain it to the members of a writer's blog area (Catching Days, by Cynthia Newberry Martin) who had been lamenting the popularity of the Kindle because they love the look, smell and feel of books (do visit them, very good conversations there), I wrote on June 28:
" I finally realized that the rectangle acts as a sort of magic window for me (as a paper book does for others) into other worlds, so much of it available to me at any given time, depending on my mood, my need to learn something I ordinarily wouldn’t but have downloaded a book for, and I never wonder 'where did I put that book' or regret leaving it at home when out and about.  Every book I’m currently interested in is with me whenever I leave the house.  And then there are the newspapers and magazines.  I am, most of all, info-drawn.

  We who Kindle quite a bit sometimes joke that we are book readers, not book sniffers :-)  But more seriously, what is a book ?

  A collection and special distribution of words written by someone who wants to tell me something, who wants me to get lost in the world created by that person.  When an author sits down to write, I don’t think that s/he is thinking about what the cover will look like (though that always comes later) or what the layout of the externals will be.

  What I experience when reading on my Kindle is — without attention to those eye-catching externals — something that feels like direct contact with the author’s mind..."
I got carried away and wrote a lot more, but that's essentially how I personally am affected by reading on an almost weightless 10 oz. plastic tablet with a truly strange keyboard which nevertheless works well for searches and short notes.  And now I find myself reading most of the time on the heavier but even clearer larger-screen'd Kindle DX.

3. Dolph Tillotson, president and publisher of Galveston County's The Daily News writes about the many reasons he likes, though doesn't love, his Kindle, as he feels he will miss the memories a physical book can bring when encountered years later.

4. Suranand Vejjajiva, a book lover writing for The Bangkok Post describes his reaction:
" As I got hold of the electronic reading device, I felt like the first time I held an iPod and looked back to my college days when vinyl records on turntables were the norm.  Every song could now be downloaded, and soon every book would be.  Or would it not?

... Luckily I got the new version, 1/3 of an inch thick, weighs 10.2 ounces, clear text and sharp letters and, most amazingly, it is supposed to hold more than 1,500 books in this single tablet.
  The device also has other features, such as one can highlight words or sentences, take notes along the way, remember where you left off without needing a bookmark, and at a click, a dictionary appears to automatically look up words that baffled you in the past. "
But because there is no Whispernet or cellular wireless operational there, he feels the 'cracks in the digital divide'
... all of which remind me that:

5.   This Friday's weekly The Kindle Chronicles podcast by Len Edgerly included a 'Tech Tip' on "How to buy and feed a Kindle if you don’t live in the U.S." (a hot topic on the Amazon forums).  The tip was sent to Len by Charles Tay of Singapore, and he links to online tutorials by users outside the U.S.

  The weekly interview is with Steve Shank, who was the founding president of Apple Japan and Apple Australia and has decades of experience as an industry watcher and mover, so he had some interesting views of where Amazon is, with the Kindle.  He also is a Kindle enthusiast, as is his wife.

  That brought up the now common struggle with a "family Kindle" in a home with two avid readers.   Another Kindle owner (Len Charnoff?) emailed:
' The other day I knew it was time to purchase a second Kindle.  I work part time as a Manufacturer's Rep.  When I go on long trips my wife always says " Drive carefully and give me a call when you get to the Motel".  This time all she said, " Tell me you're not taking the Kindle". '
6. By the way, as mentioned on the podcast, Stephen Windwalker has just released a book with lots of good tips on how to do things not described in the User's Guide.  Give it a look.

7. And, finally, here's an article that is so positive that I disagree with its final prediction about printed books -- The Dallas Morning News's Scott Burns feels so convinced by the Kindle and other e-readers, that he suggests that the Kindle will replace physical books in the way that digital cameras have replaced film cameras.

  But books are the end result, in any text format, while photos are the end result with both types of cameras.  A fine distinction, but in no way do I think e-readers will ever totally replace books.  That would be sad, even for someone who loves doing most of my reading on the Kindle.  I still love printed books for content for which they're vastly superior vehicles, and I still will want a printed book in addition to an e-book I really loved reading and want to enjoy in a format that stands alone. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Apple Tablet announced early Sept? Yr-end release?

Mashable's Adam Ostrow14 reports that the Apple Tablet may be announced, according to AllThingsD the week of September 7th during one of its "keynote events" traditionally used for unveiling new products.  The rumors are unending, but this one has an added wrinkle - a release in two versions.  No one has actually said the event will include an Apple Tablet or Apple iPad announcement though.

Gizmodo's Brian Lam says he was told by someone more or less verified that "it will come in two editions, one featuring a webcam and one focused on the education market and that it would cost between $700 to $900.  Also, it might be made to act as a secondary screen/touchpad for iMacs and iBooks.

In the Comments section, a NuncioCurry quotes a web-machine-translation of an Engadget Germany website post, which in turn quotes Le Journal du Geek which lists (see link for full details):
"
# It will be equipped with an iPhone emulator, shown as a widget on the desktop, which will use AppStore applications on the touchscreen with the resolution of the iPod Touch / iPhone. However, this widget will not call, send SMS / MMS, or to take pictures / videos because there is no webcam on the MacBook...

# It will be equipped with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, with an overlay to do everything through the touch screen (eg display a keyboard)...

# This product [has] no optical drive but the MacBook Air SuperDrive is compatible.

# There are also 2 USB ports, an SD card reader, an input and an audio line-out, a MagSafe power port and a Kensington lock port.

# The product will be available in 2 versions: one version with a 80GB hard drive offered for € 849 and a version with a 120GB hard drive offered for 999 €.

[ NOTE that the prices quoted are now in EUROS so that they'd be the amounts seen x 1.5 - that has to be a mistake. ]

# The battery should be up to four hours persevere.
[ I took the better translation of two offered there. ]

# A dock for use as a screen classic will also be offered at a price of 79 €. This dock will also include an iPod / iPhone. "
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Random House Releases Kindle & Hardcover "Lost Symbol" Together

Speakeasy's Jeffrey Trachtenberg (WSJ) writes " Kindle Averts Battle Over Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol.’
  ' Many publishers were eager to see if Random House would challenge Amazon’s strategy of pricing the book industry’s most successful titles at $9.99 for the Kindle e-reader by withholding the e-book edition of Dan Brown’s upcoming novel, “The Lost Symbol.” '
Random House is releasing the Kindle and hardcover versions simultaneously (coincidentally after much ado from customers about ignoring the hardcover edition if so, in which case there'd be less income from and less than excellent publicity for the book).  Random House claims that "security and logistical issues were resolved.
' Some in publishing suggested that Amazon might have responded by disengaging the “buy” button for the physical edition of Mr. Brown’s book. (An Amazon spokesman noted via email that the company has a “longstanding policy of not commenting on our interactions with publishers.”) '
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Adobe's proprietary DRM-protected ePub / Sony

NY Times's Brad Stone writes about Sony's announcement that "...by the end of the year it will sell digital books only in the ePub format, an open standard created by a group including publishers like Random House and HarperCollins. and that Sony "will scrap its proprietary anticopying software in favor of technology from the software maker Adobe that restricts how often e-books can be shared or copied."

Note that Adobe's DRM-protected ePub format (in effect, a proprietary format when DRM is added to a standard container format with no native DRM) can be read by e-readers that incorporate Adobe's Digital Editions firmware (Astak's 5" Pocket Pro Reader for one).  Most e-readers will not read the DRM-protected books and PDFs.  Publishers do tend to insist on some kind of protection.

  As Teleread points out, Sony is not going to a really 'open' format (which would be non-DRM'd ePub) -- and Adobe will call the shots as more e-readers sign up for their proprietary protected format.  However, Stone's NY Times piece did point out (see above) that Sony was opting, with respect to its own anti-copying software, " in favor of technology from the software maker Adobe that restricts how often e-books can be shared or copied."

GigaOM explains the implications of Sony and Adobe's latest moves. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Textbooks, the iPhone, and the Kindle - Update2

This is an UPDATE to yesterday's entry on the 7,000 CourseSmart e-textbooks now made available for the iPhone and iPod.

 Currently, a search at Amazon for textbooks not in the public domain results in about 4,400 titles, although a good number of them are not what you'd expect to see categorized as textbooks.
UPDATE 8/14/09 - Original Update was 8/13/09, 8:19 AM.
  The above "textbook" results (official textbook store not in place yet) were sorted by "relevance" -- here's a listing sorted by "bestselling" titles.

Some more detail is available about the app's functioning and the type of access available, and there are 2nd day assessments by some of the review sites.

1. SmartCourse e-textbooks can be purchased for download to your computer/laptop but are allowed to be used on only one device at a time.  If you buy one for your laptop, it doesn't seem to come with a subscription to access it online at their site.  There is no return on these, no refund.

2. Their e-textbooks can also be purchased for ONLINE access only, and with this subscription type, you can use any computer/laptop or iPod/iPhone to access the e-textbook.  In this mode, you cannot read the book unless you have a connection and are online at their site.  The subscription allows you to copy or print 10 pages at a time.  You can return the book within 14 days if you haven't printed or read more than 20% of the e-book, online.

3. In this first edition of the iPhone app, you can't add or edit notes with the iPhone/iPod, but you can view any notes you've made when using your computer/laptop to access the e-book online.

4. The "half-price" "purchase" is really a subscription rental, in that you must return the book at the end of 180 days (or 360 days if you buy a year's subscription) and then you can't reference the book if needed for your next, more advanced class on the subject.

5. CNet's Rick Broida writes:
' Long bouts of reading might prove cumbersome, as the app doesn't reflow text to fit the screen the way, say, the Kindle app does.  Each page is more or less a static image, much like a PDF. You can zoom in, scroll around, rotate into landscape mode, and so on. '
6. Your 3G cellular reception in class will have to be good.

7. The screen, especially noticed when used for a textbook, is very small.  The image above is from their website's demo and I couldn't find an image with fewer and larger characters on it.  If I were a student using the iPhone with a CourseSmart e-textbook, I'd likely always be in zoom mode.

8. PC World's Todd R. Weiss, with some whimsy, wonders:
' Then there's the potential for cheating at exam time when students can stealthily view their iPod to get information from an e-textbook to answer a tough exam question.  Hey, it could happen.  Maybe you'll have to leave your iPhones and iPod Touches at the door as you enter the exam room to prevent cheating.  Could we eventually see students being patted down by hand for their iPhones or iPod Touches at exam time as they enter the room? '



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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CourseSmart offers 7,000 textbooks on iPhone/iPod

CourseSmart launches iPhone app that allows access to 7,000 electronic textbooks.

  See earlier article on CourseSmart digital textbook lease terms at "How to save on college textbooks."

  Students will be able to read digital notes and search for specific words and phrases from their iPhone or iPod Touch units.
' Frank Lyman, CourseSmart's executive VP, does not expect students to use their iPhones to do their homework, but explains that "if you're in a study group and you have a question, you can immediately access your text." '
Does this mean that the students will also need to buy a hard copy text book for the "homework" portion as well as pay half the cost of another textbook in electronic format which they'd need to return to CourseSmart at the end of 180 days?
' CourseSmart will offer digital textbooks for around half the physical textbook's retail price.  However, the service operates on a subscription basis which expires after 180 days.  After that point students lose access to the title. '

  Obviously, with battery concerns and a small screen with light going at one's eyes, the e-textbook on an iPhone would not be expected to be used for reading the textbook but, as said, for searches and reading of notes.  The article continues:
' CourseSmart's titles are not yet available on the Kindle, but Lyman hopes to see his books available wherever college students want them... '
  I read elsewhere that there've been no talks with Amazon as of this week. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle


(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Public Library with a gift of 10 Kindles

The Belmont Public Library in Massachussetts was recently gifted with 10 Kindles - ' “We put them on the shelves and in a half hour, they were all gone,” said Maureen Conners, the library’s director. '

With a $6,000 donation from Liz and Graham Allison who prize their own Kindles, it's an experiment in that the Library would not have a budget for this and Liz Allison thinks it'll be interesting to see if interest holds up after 3 months.

  In the meantime all were checked out the other day, with 42 patrons on a waiting list for them.  The remaining $3,000 is for "downloading 50 books and purchasing leather covers with some money left over to buy more books in the future and cover unanticipated costs or repairs."
  I did wonder what happens if a loaner is sat on or dropped and damaged, or even lost.

  The library director, Maureen Conners, said, "Part of the reason public libraries exist is to do what we’re doing. This is new technology that a lot of people can’t afford and they want to be able to touch it and feel it."

  Clicking the image at top left takes you to a video of staff training patrons checking out the Kindle, with a few words by Conners explaining the program.
  Just a soft real-world story I enjoyed.  More details at the web page of course. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle


(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Books - free and otherwise - Aug 10


Perfunctory free offering in the news
NEW YORK (AP) " James Patterson's latest best seller, The Angel Experiment, is a little different from his usual hits. The novel isn't new; it came out four years ago. Readers aren't picking it up at bookstores, but mostly on the Kindle site at Amazon.com. And the price is low even for an old release: $0.00."

See the most recent Free and under $1 article for reminders and links to more of same.


Some highly-rated $9.99 Amazon books that might interest some:

Am I The Only Sane One Working Here
? : 101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity - "A guide to dealing with "Gossipy coworkers, unmanageable manager, and cranky clients"

By Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and conflict-resolution specialist

Water Cooler Diaries: Women across America Share Their Day at Work
Publishers Weekly: "On March 27, 2007, hundreds of women across the country created an on-the-job day diary... for this entertaining collection that shows women in every career under the sun. The 35 full-length stories, and many more highlights and excerpts, afford readers a glimpse into worlds as diverse as the women who work in them"


The Fixer Upper
"...one woman's quest to redo an old house . . . and her life..."
Publishers Weekly: "This authentic tale of cleaning up life's messes and self-discovery is bright, engaging and thoughtful, enlivened by Andrews's quirky characters and lovely backwoods setting. (July)"


Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers
"Dr. Lois Frankel reveals why some women roar ahead in their careers while others stagnate." Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle


(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mobile versions of webpages for Kindle web browser - Update2

UPDATED FILE 9/28/10 - Kindle 3 users should see the later article instead.

UPDATED 8/10/09
1:30 AM - Original posting was 4/20/09, 9:55 AM

I've made a separate Kindle file for the bookmarks below, which you can use as a Kindle file made up OF the bookmarks listed -- the websites are linked already in that file so that you can use them for the Web when your Wireless is On.

(Uploaded corrected file replacing wrong file, 8/10/09 at 11:05 AM PDT.
  Update info at bottom of file should say 8/10/09 at 12:33 AM.)

If you're not in email while Kindle-browsing, and the words are too small because the Kindle is showing the full screen, try going to Manu/Settings and changing to "Basic Mode" instead of Advanced or Desktop modes.  That'll make the fonts normal sized and it'll all be more black & white with higher contrast.  See How to use the Kindle web browser tips.

  The exception to Basic Mode mentioned above involves sites needing your Log-in which usually requires "Advanced" or "Desktop" (DX) modes.  For that, go to Menu/Settings/Advanced and make sure that 'javascript' is 'enabled.'   Email-sites require Advanced mode w/Javascript on.
  Otherwise, Basic Mode is faster and in better contrast (more b&w) but you may have to "NextPage" through the website's left-column of links first, if they have one. The text being larger is worth it usually.

FILE for download:
 You can click or right-click here to download mobiweb.azw which you can then transfer to the 'documents' folder of your Kindle, via your USB cable -- or you can email the downloaded file to [you]@kindle.com to have it sent to your Kindle.  Let me know if there are any problems.
  Update:  If you're on this blog page using Amazon's Kindle-subscription edition of this blog, you can download the file direct to the Kindle.  (The live web-browsing version on the Kindle, with rectangle cursor, doesn't allow it for some reason.)

After downloading something to the Kindle, you may have a blank screen.  Just press the "Back" button to get back to where you were earlier.


Original Posting of 4/20/09 The Kindle comes with webpage bookmarks put in place for us by Amazon as part of its "experimental" web browser feature, the use of which is at no cost to us currently (partly because web-browsing on a small vertical screen is less than optimal for the eyes and it's difficult to fit a wide page of several columns in a tiny vertical screen.  However, with the Amazon's ultra-sharp fonts, it's doable and, best, we're able to use this anywhere cell phones can access Sprint, which provides the wireless ("Whispernet") access prepaid by Amazon -- the estimated average Sprint EV-DO wireless costs are factored into the price of the Kindle unit.
  There are no hourly or monthly charges for the user at this point (though Amazon reserves that right), even though cellphone web-data packages are normally a minimum $30/mo. for unlimited access.  So, unlimited cellular data access like this normally costs, at the least, $360 a year.  For now, we do have tjat unlimited use, though most Kindle users would want to use it only for emergencies when outside the home.  It's not speedy.

So, I've used it at restaurants, stores, concert intermissions, whenever I want to look up something.  I used it the other day while waiting for diem sum, to read and post to one of the Amazon forums, and will eventually did put up a couple of photos from that to show what it looked like while posting to the forum via the Kindle.   The keyboard lettering is very pale and you need to do a full key-dip, which means it is slow-going, but it does the job and I'm getting used to the little keyboard.

A friend wrote that she lost most of her Amazon-placed website bookmarks while experimenting the other day, and asked me to give her the Amazon-made bookmarks.  Since she has a Kindle 1 while I have both Kindles, I gave her a list of what was pre-placed by Amazon on both Kindles.  The Kindle 2 handles the web far better than the K1 does, though.  By default it tends to present the full width of a regular Internet page, with words very small but also very sharply presented.  To get the data in normal larger text instead, we can switch from the automated "Advanced" mode to "Basic" mode (via settings-menu while web-browsing), which means, then, paging through left column data first and then arriving at the middle data columns readable in normal-sized fonts. We can also 'disable images' to just get the text much faster if in a hurry for basic info and not images.

Mobile versions of webpages, however, are programmed to fit on mobile phones with their small screens and so they're very good for the Kindle.

Here are the basic bookmarks put on by Amazon, followed by links to excellent and fairly extensive lists of mobile-versions of popular sites.  You won't need to type any of this list if you downloaded mobiweb.azw.

* You NEVER need to type in the "http://" portion for Kindle bookmarks. The Kindle will add that. *

LIST (This is in the file you can download for your Kindle.)
First, AMAZON-placed bookmarks (mostly) from Kindle 1 and 2:
Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com
Wikipedia - http://wikipedia.org
GMail Mobile – INBOX ONLY, text focus
http://m.gmail.com
Gmail Mobile – FOLDERS ALSO, Slower, many boxes
http://gmail.com
Google - http://www.google.com/pda
Google Mobile products – http://m.google.com/?hl-en
- (Don’t use Mobile Products ‘gmail’ option. See above instead.)
BBC News - http://news.bbc.co.uk/text-only.htm
CNET - http://m.news.com
CNN - http://m.cnn.com
ESPN - http://mobileapp.espn.go.com
MSN MOney - http://mny.mobile.msn.com/en-us
MSNBC - http://www.msnbc.msn.com
AllRecipes - http://mobile.allrecipes.com
E! Online - http://eonline.mobi/topstory.ftl
Fandango - http://mobile.fandango.com
National Weather Service - http://mobile.srh.weather.gov
    The following were possibly put there by me:
Lonely Planet - http://m.lonelyplanet.com
Yahoo! - http://us.m.yahoo.com
Yelp - http://mobile.yelp.com

WEB ON YOUR CELL (I use this a lot.)
http://webonyourcell.com
  (WebOnYourCell is excellent - added 8/8/09, 11:58 PM)

SKWEEZER.COM (Terrific)
http://www.skweezer.com
  This *squeezes* your chosen sites for mobile/Kindle use.

NOTE: If you have the file listing that shows "www.squeezer.com"
  please re-download the file, as it should be "www.skweezer.com"
  and the file has been corrected.  Apologies.

CANTONI MOBILE BOOKMARKS:
http://cantoni.mobi/

TOP MOBILE WEBSITES - Excellent recommendations here
  Press Menu/ *Click on “Use Basic Mode” for this.*
http://tinyurl.com/topmobilesites
( Easier to type than http://webtrends.about.com/od/mobileweb20/tp/Top-Mobile-Websites-.htm )

Amazon asks for feedback on how the experimental basic-web feature works for us.   Send them feedback at kindle-feedback@amazon.com or to
kindledx-feedback@amazon.com

Please feel free to add to the Comments area any useful mobile-formatted pages you like that are not on Amazon's, Cantoni's, or Webtrends' lists.  There's a delay in posting comments, and I'll try out any recommended links first.  Thanks!

Last update for List - 8/10/08 - 12:33 AM
Last update for blog entry - 8/10/08 - 1:30 AM




Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle


(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

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