Monday, November 30, 2009

Firmware update 2.3 - Undocumented improvements

From the Amazon Kindle forums, an interesting thread on undocumented or unofficial improvements noticed by Kindle owners.

  Here are some of them, with the writer's name in italics after each:
1. The Notes and Bookmarks pages now have 6 entries per page rather than 5, saving some time paging through -- Twenty Haglund
  Reachable via the Menu button.

2. Navigation is faster, with the 5-way button's speed-up of cursor movement -- Betty J. Reed.

  I've seen this one mentioned in other threads, most often noted when moving the cursor to a word for an inline-dictionary lookup.

  I've also received email saying that web-browsing seems sped up, but there was nowhere to go but up, with that :-)

3. Kindle placed in Landscape mode is more stable for one writer's treadmill -- S. Dunham.

4. New column width options similar to those for the DX were added without comment by Amazon -- Twenty Hagland
  Changeable using the "Aa" font-key.

  There are normal edge to edge lines with almost no margins, as before, but now people can choose to make the column narrower, similar to the width of a newspaper column and easier for some people's eyes to scan quickly.  This is more important for the very wide DX but nice to have for the Kindle US and Kindle Int'l.
There are a couple of remarks on this thread re battery life but they're either not identified by U.S. or International models and the session life described is less than advertised for the older Kindle U.S., or a Wireless:Off situation is described when savings for Kindle 2 In'tl is a Wireless:On feature.

The Gomoku game has been a hidden feature for some time, which I've seen Bufo Calvin and other authors mention in their books.

If you've noticed any others and want others to know about them, please add them to the Comments area or to the Amazon forum thread that is linked above.  Thanks. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. The text justification option has been removed, however there is a hack-in-progress (for the DX) to restore it.

  2. Elmo,

    They removed right-text justification with the first Kindle 2. From my own experience only Kindle 1 had the 'J' option.

    I might use the screensaver 'hack' but not sure I'd do it for justification :-) Thanks for this information, as there are many who hate the right-justification even more than I do. When you know it's ready, let us know the link. Thanks.

    - Andrys

  3. I don't understand the comment "There are normal edge-to-edge lines with almost no margins, AS BEFORE". What "before". I've had a Kindle2 for a year and I have HATED the "jagged right edge" from day one (my Sony 505 HAD edge-to-edge).

    So I was OVERJOYED when I installed 2.3 and say that they had added full text justification (and no way to turn it off) as an undocumented feature.

    Did some Kindle2 people ALREADY have this feature? I had the latest 2.0.3 update prior to installing 2.3, and I sure didn't!

  4. John,
    The first thing is that when I said "edge-to-edge" I was talking about the new Kindle2 firmware 2.3 feature of being able to control the extent of margins on both sides -- the relative narrowness of the body of text.

    With the new column width control (via relative amount of words on a line), we can now read what looks like a narrow newspaper-like column, or instead choose the normal edge-to-edge text (as opposed to having margins on each side).

    As a Kindle-2 person from the February '09, I can say that I was never able to UNjustify the right margin. It was always flush with the right edge, and if there were only a few words on a line, they'd be spaced with the missing-teeth look.

    From all I've read on forums since Feb '09, no one else was able to UNjustify text with their Kindle 2's either and it was a much wanted feature we didn't get with this update.

    With the Kindle 1's we -were- given a way to choose Justification or none. Most people writing have wanted that capability back.

    So, somehow you wound up with a Kindle 2 that did what so many of us wanted (the ragged edge but no-gap lines). That's bizarre!

    I wonder if you pushed a secret combo of letters w/o knowing that put yours into ragged right-edge mode. Many of us would love to have that.

    Outside of this, how have you liked the Kindle after having a Sony PRS 505 ?

    Thanks for the info you gave re your unusual no-justification Kindle 2 ! :-)

    - Andrys

  5. Andrys,

    That is truly bizarre. I have reset my Kindle2 to factory settings several times over the last year, and I always have had the jagged edge (I don't think it was a secret set of keystrokes that did it). Also, I initially had a different Kindle2 for about 3 weeks (screen too dark) that I exchanged out. I'm pretty sure it was jagged right too, it was one of the first things I noticed that I thought was inferior to the 505 (and I was already used to the missing teeth look I suppose).

    The 2nd thing I noticed was the Font. I still HATE the default Kindle2 font, compared to the Sony. I also got spoiled by using Book Designer 4.0 for a year with the Sony to create LRF's with custom embedded fonts and custom margins. I was overjoyed when the Georgia2 font hack for Kindle2 came looks a lot like the Sony and of course it's much darker than the default Kindle2 font.

    Also miss "folders" (well, actually "tags") from the 505, but it looks like we'll be getting that soon too!


  6. John,
    'Bizarre' is the word! If, on the Amazon forums, you put in "justification" as a search word for forum threads you'll see tons of people asking for a way to turn it off so we can have ragged edges and the no-missing-teeth look :-).

    Amazing. It means it can be done and there must be some combo of characters that can make it be.

    The font IS thinner than the Kindle 1 font and therefore will be seen as lighter, but there were also batches of Kindle 2s that had lighter text due to a defect and Customer Service replaced those upon request, sometimes one after another for the same person, until they were happy. The alternate font sets provided by users (not Amazon) are much praised and that includes the Georgia 2 font you like as well as the Helvetica and, for some, one version of Droid.

    Ah, the Sony has tags! Didn't know that -- thought they had Sony-designated folders. Knew they didn't have user customizable ones. Have you tried the Tag Workaround for the Kindle, at ?

    Let me know if there were any pluses for you of the Kindle 2 over your Sony 505.

    Congrats on the right-justification :-)


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