Friday, October 1, 2010

Kindle 3 web browser idiosyncracies and workarounds

The recent blog entry on the free, downloadable web-bookmarks file explained the updates needed due to different links recommended for the Kindle 3  (UK: K3) models, as accessing of some websites that had been doable with all the earlier Kindles was sometimes problematical for the otherwise surprisingly-capable Kindle-3 WebKit-based browser.

  Be sure to read first the earlier blog entry if you haven't already, as it has some important details, about the Bookmarks file, that I'm not including in this blog entry.

Oddities we saw
Attempts to download the file I wrote about brought out some additional quirks in that the Kindle 3 opened the Amazon-formatted file instead of downloading it to the Kindle as a book-file, and as a result Kindle 3 users saw gibberish appearing on the screen, which was harmless but a bit alarming.  For me, this happened only with the Kindle 3.  (I had emailed, to my Kindle-3 address, the original Word doc file for conversion to an Amazon file.)

Comments from blog readers
  After comments here from Jeff, Tom Semple and Dawdling Tourist that Amazon azw-format files were downloadable by the Kindle 3 from some other sites, I realized that the latest web browser needed to be told what kind of (mime) format the Amazon Kindle's was and that some other websites predefined this for web browsers which might not be aware of the Amazon book format.

  (Also, Mac Safari users were unable to download the Amazon file but could get it via Internet Explorer or Firefox.)

  The Kindles 1, 2, and DX's were able to recognize the .azw format as a file that should be downloaded and asked us if we wanted the file for the Kindle.  The Kindle 3 just opened it, and it is not a regular text file (none of the Amazon books are)

A solution
So, I made an adjustment last night, at my area of the servers in Pennsylvania that host my site, to pre-define the type of file an Amazon book file (.azw) is, as the Kindle-3 browser currently doesn't seem to know how to handle it for the Kindle, visibly streaming the file instead of offering to download it, and so those trying to receive the file saw only a display of what some called screen-gibberish, odd characters which can be "freaky" to see, as one commenter put it.

Now the Kindle 3 offers to download the file and does it quickly.  That's a relief.  There has been a lot of activity on that file, so I hope this explains what happened with Kindle-3 attempts, and I also hope that the programmers read this and can include the mime-definitions in the next Kindle-3 update.  I did write last night to to give feedback on the current software update (v3.0.2).

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. 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.

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  1. Thanks, again Andrys.

    What a lot of effort you -- and some of your other readers too! -- have made on this ... what a shame that Kindle's CS doesn't know you from Eve!!! They need remedial education(s)! heeheee

    From what I can gather (despite my thick ignorance on these matters!) in your discussions here: K3's software really needs tweaking!!! What a 'catch-22' -- that Amazon seems to encourage or even solicit feedback from us dedicated users, but then fails to actually appreciate enough to evaluate it properly and/or learn wisely from our excellent input which might otherwise serve to improve their imperfect product ... how lame is that? tsktsk

    But, thanks again for your ongoing dedication and truly helpful contributions*^! You should be on Amazon's payroll at a really juicy rate ... *^!

    Dawdling Tourist

  2. As always, thanks! BTW, In your "Late-Listed Non-Classics" free Kindle book link, I suggest adding one more word to your -excerpt, -domain, etc. and that is -preview. I am seeing more and more one-chapter previews and Amazon is making them list it as a 'Preview.'" Just an idea.

  3. Mike,
    Thanks for the heads-up. I'll need to do that eventually then, which involves changing the short-cuts (which help me track how much interest there is in a link, through counting how much the link is being used).

    In the meantime, I guess you are taking the resulting URL at the top and adding '-preview' manually. I'll put this addition on the list of ToDo items. Thanks again.

  4. On my K3, I can download, but only if I enter the URL directly (because the links are set to 'open in new window/tab', which K3 does not support). I'm pretty sure this direct entry didn't work previously, so you have fixed something.

    However, I still cannot download with Safari/Mac, so that seems to be a different, though possibly related, issue.

  5. Tom, the download link for that file shouldn't be opening in a new window at this point. New windows were not supported by past Kindles either -- they just did not give an error message. We saw this at when people offer links and clicking on any Kindle didn't take you anywhere via the Kindles though we can read the twitter entries, which for pure messaging purposes was good enough for some.

    For this reason, in the updated bookmarks file, while I list Amazon's I also give the alternative link because that does not use a new window.

    So far, though, it seems not to go to older messages beyond one 'page' but I didn't explore long. At least it follows links for the new tweets.

    Interesting that Safari/Mac is so resistant to downloading AZW files. It could be that it is so stringent that it requires additional info from descriptive fields, which the servers don't give since the mime type for a file is usually all that's needed.

    But the newer Safari browsers should themselves define the Amazon mime type somewhere as the older Kindles seem to and other computer web browsers do, as you pointed out. IE and Firefox in my case don't have problems with downloading AZWs.

  6. Ok, just tried again, Safari/Mac is downloading okay now from here. Don't know why it didn't work yesterday. And for the record, I have never encountered a problem with it downloading AZW from other web sites.

  7. To enable download of a book from website instead of opening it as a text, particular website shoutd implement correct mime mapping for Kindle. Here is a example for Apache web server:
    AddType application/x-mobipocket-ebook .mobi
    So, for web administrator it shouldn't be a problem adding this into website configuration.

  8. Libor,
    Did you start writing this before reading the entire blog entry, especially Solution?

    Did you see that the Kindle 1, Kindle 2, Kindle Dx's all recognize the mime type for the file and duly download them to the Kindles?

    But since the Kindle 3 didn't, I wrote that I went into the server area (they host thousands of sites globally) and added a mime type so the Kindle 3 web browser would see that the .azw file was an "Amazon Kindle eBook" and I gave the mime type: "application/octet-stream" and then the Kindle 3 browser was able to know what to do.

    Again, the Kindle 1, 2, and DX's knew what to do with the file (which shouldn't be a surprise).


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