Friday, January 22, 2016

Jeff Bezos brings Jason Rezaian back to the U.S.

Where ISN'T Jeff Bezos these days and what isn't he doing?

Michael Calderone tweeted this photo (credit: @jehld) of Jeff Bezos and Jason Rezaian before JB brought them home to the U.S. on a private plane -- story at CNN.

Headline: "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, quietly traveled to Germany this week to personally escort Post reporter Jason Rezaian home to the United States" on a private plane from Germany after Rezaian's release from an Iranian prison where he was held for a year and a half, very shortly after being interviewed in Iran by Anthony Bourdain for his CNN travel foodamentary for the3 "Parts Unknown" series.

It was disconcerting to see Rezaian extolling the beauty of Iran over dinner, with his wife beside him and realizing it was probably dangerous and then find out he was arrested not long after that.  He has dual citizenship, and he was fairly quickly thrown into jail for 'spying' activities which is almost surely bunk.  His release was as as part of the recent prisoner swap.  Rezaian's wife, released months earlier from jail, was scheduled to have her own trial there in a few months, but she (no surprise!) came back to the U.S. with him, though some monitors tried to stop her from joining him.

I think he was mainly the Iranian government's ace in the hole - a big bargaining chip for them.

Glad he got back, and I hope he doesn't go back soon. What a nightmare.
So, we've seen JB go from the guy who sells books in his garage to the guy who now owns The Washington Post and gets involved in international politics when not involved with rockets or drones.

(Additional info for blog entry: Jason Rezian's statement Jan 20 after he arrived in Germany, freed finally from the unexpected ordeal in Iran.)

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  1. This isn't Iran-related, but it is about Kindles and might make a good Kindle World story. My only Kindle hardware is an aging Kindle 3 (like the Kindle Keyboard). I'd thought Amazon was long past offering updates, but this morning (2/5/16), I got an email that reads:


    Your Kindle e-reader requires an important software update to continue downloading books and using Kindle services.
    - Plug your Kindle in to charge during the update.
    - Connect to Wi-Fi.
    - From the Home screen of your Kindle, select Menu or tap the Menu icon. Then choose Sync and Check for Items.
    - Leave your Kindle connected to both power and Wi-Fi overnight, or until the update is complete.

    The software update will download and install automatically, even if your device is asleep. Your device may restart multiple times during the update process. You will get a final confirmation letter on your device when the update is complete.

    If you do not update the device software by March 22, 2016, you will no longer be able to access Kindle services or get the update via Wi-Fi. To resume access, you will need to manually update the software on your Kindle.

    I tried those steps but nothing happened. Maybe it takes time. At any rate, Amazon has a posting about this "Critical Software Update" here:

    Reading the list I come across mention of the first and second generation as well as the DX, as needing that update to be done manually. The others, including my Kindle 3, will apparently update automatically. It seems I'm running version 3.3 when it should be 3.4.2. I am way behind the curve.

    Other Kindle owners might want to check and see if they need to update before that dreaded March 22 cutoff date. Amazon isn't saying what the update does other that it is required to: "to continue to download Kindle books from the Cloud, access the Kindle Store, and use other Kindle services on their device."

    Will I get wonderful new features? Probably not.

    --Mike Perry

    1. Mike, thanks so much for this important update. My K3 and K2's are out of commission. But my DX was working well last time I tried it (quite some time ago) and now I need to find it :-)

      The over-the-air WiFi updates rarely come right away -- they do some kind of distributed fly-by and you could be anywhere within a 4-week (or so) period.

      Thanks much for the link. Will get on this. I am way overdue on the blog as I am on too many projects lately.

      They tend to surprise us with updates on old models but this is apparently not for new features but for being able to use whatever new processes they put into place.

      Thanks much!

  2. Hi Andrys, I have the latest Kindle Fire tablet, the $50 one (now only $39.95!) and was wondering how to get voice recognition on it. Specifically, my grandkids are too young to know how to type, so I'd like for them to be able to search for YouTube videos by voice. Any idea how to do this? I'm not seeing a microphone icon on the keyboard alas...

    1. TS, sorry to see this note so late. In my article on the Voice Recognition capabilities, at, I mentioned that "This capability is available, per Amazon's Language and Keyboard Display help page on the following Amazon tablets:
      "For Kindle Fire HDX (3rd Generation), Fire HD (4th Generation), or Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation) devices, tap the microphone icon on your keyboard to use your voice to dictate text instead of typing."

      The Fire HD 4th generation would be the ones released in Year 2014 (HD 6" and HD 7" that year, still current in Year 2015)."

      Unfortunately, the $50 economy model, made for basic tablet needs only, is not an HD or high-definition tablet. That would explain why you don't see the microphone on the built-in keyboard for voice dictation, which would include converting voice/speech to text. a

      It does have a microphone and mono speaker. I wonder if there might be a third-party voice-dictation APP that would help. Haven't looked at this. I do remember the ones that existed earlier were not easy to use. I'll put this down to look into. Let me know if, in the meantime, you run across an app that can do it on your basic model. Good luck !

    2. Thanks Andrys, I figured it might be related to it being a bare-bones model. Not a really big deal, but just wanted to make sure I wasn't overlooking something obvious. Thanks again for your reply!

    3. TS, if I run across something in a 3rd party app, I'll mention it here or catch you at your google area. Hope your grandkids enjoy it nevertheless :-)


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