Monday, April 20, 2015

LATE notice for Pacific Coast mostly, on the large sale on the Kindle family HD 7" Fire Tablet today (Monday), $79 rather than $139

LATE notice on a fairly large sale today-only that Amazon is running on the HD 7" tablet, normally $139 to start but $79 to start, the balance of Monday, April 20.

This will leave less than 1 hour for east coast readers, most of whom will be asleep.  But I'll post it anyway for Pacific Coast readers who might be interested in the heavy discount.

  One recommendation:
The $79 price is for the 8 GB model, and it's $99 for the 16 GB model.

To be perfectly frank, Jeff Bezos himself argued against this amount of storage space in Yr 2012 when he launched the HD 7, and HD 8.9" tablets.  This was a year before they released the HDX tablets.  Click the photo to see that.

I guess the reason they've offered an 8 GB model SINCE then is the heavy emphasis on being able to store apps on the Cloud in the last 2 years and easily get them onto or off of the tablets as needed, but I really don't recommend an 8 GB tablet at all these days - and the 16 GB version is $20 more or actually $99. 8 GB is just too small.

  That 8 GB has to hold system files too and should be considered by those not planning to use many games and graphic apps and interested mostly in reading.
  I suppose it might be worth it for $79 for a youngster not into a lot of games, since the non-breakable version is $149 for only the 6" HD to start.

I've long recommended at least 16 GB even if it's somewhat more costly at $20 more, because (repeat) the more attractive or fun apps are heavily graphics-oriented or complex and take up a large amount of storage space and even will need temporary file space during the running of them.  

I'll repeat something I wrote a few months ago, for those interested in this sale but who don't know whether they'd want a Kindle tablet vs other types of tablets available these days.

Amazon tops Apple in Tablet satisfaction survey for first time

JD Power's Yr 2014 Vol 2 Study of U.S. Tablet Satisfaction had Amazon coming from way behind (in past years) to beat Apple out for the first time in the now popular tablet market.

The simple headline in their press release was "Amazon Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Tablet Devices"

  "The study, now in its third year, measures customer satisfaction with tablets across five factors (in order of importance): performance (28%); ease of operation (22%); features (22%); styling and design (17%); and cost (11%). Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale."

  From what I remember, Amazon, newer to the game, placed 5th or so in the past.  Apple led the field the first two years of this ongoing study.  The study may be of interest to some who are wondering whether or not to jump on the Holiday pricing Amazon has had in varying degrees the last couple of weeks.

  The mantra has always been "Isn't Apple the best?" As ever, if you have an Apple iPhone and love your iOS apps, it makes more sense to stick with Apple.

  Otherwise, you may want to try Amazon's now famous 30-day Full Refund "No Risk" policy on Kindles.  The return policy:
' You can return any Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet or Amazon Fire TV devices or accessories you purchased directly from for a full refund within 30 days of the day you received it as long as it's in new condition and the return is in accordance with our return policy. '
  (Within 60 days, it's an 80% refund, which I didn't know.)

Will get this off now,  Was not here earlier to note this sale, which is quite a bit more of a discount than usual.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Amazon and HarperCollins reached an agreement already ... Season 1 of OrphanBlack free for NON-Prime members - on Friday Only (April 18) ... Amazon Echo's new controls for the home ... TurboTax software credits/refunds for some ... New IRS free filing feature (useful for those using extensions).

Amazon's own productions, one of which won two Golden Globes for best series in its category and for best actor, has another popular series getting good reviews (with an average 4.7 stars out of 5 so far).
  It normally costs $15 to watch an entire season (though these are free for Prime shipping members).

  They're making all of Season 1 of Orphan Black available for free binge-watching today by NON-Prime members too, but this is for this one day only.  So if interested, give it a look today.

Here's Amazon's trailer (video) for the series. (This video link doesn't work on e-Ink eReaders, since those don't have video capabilities.)

Amazon and HarperCollins reached an agreement, already, on a multi-year contract
for both print and eBook editions.
Venturebeat reports:
' The particulars of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the arrangement echoes a deal Amazon struck with Simon & Schuster in October, with Hachette in November, and with Macmillan in December. These companies represent four of “The Big Five” English-language publishing companies — Penguin Random House being the fifth.

...publishers have struggled with the retail giant’s steep discount pricing and ever-expanding market share. '

They cite a Wall Street Journal report that this is similar to the new contracts for three of the other Big5 publishers.  "the deal calls for HarperCollins to decide the retail prices of its digital books, with incentives to provide lower prices to consumers."

I imagine Amazon will find incentives that work for them (and therefore for us).

Kindle Tip: A common question asked is "How do I print a recipe from a Kindle book for use in the kitchen?"
  Many don't know that all Kindle book customers have a personal, password-protected website that holds all their annotations (highlights and notes) if you allow Amazon to back those up along with the book.  That's a default setting, but you can turn it off in settings if you prefer they not be on your server area in "the Amazon cloud" that holds your books.

  To see the annotations on your website area (you can view them by book, and they show up on a scrolling page and are easy to copy and paste to your personal editor if wanted), you go to or you can click on this link to get to yours (click "Highlights" at the top there).
  See the original blog article on this really useful feature for an explanation of how it works.

  These are easy to browse.  On your computer or laptop, you can highlight text and then print it.
  There are other ways to do this, but I wanted to make sure newcomers knew about their personal annotations web page at Amazon.

Amazon updated the Echo device to allow control of lights and appliances with this personal assistant/speaker
Business Insider, in an early report on the Echo, opined that its greatest potential would be as a centralized personal assistant for controlling smart lights, televisions, and appliances.   Techsmash reported on the new capabilities:
' Echo is now compatible with the following WeMo and Phillips Hue devices:

  . WeMo: Switch, Insight Switch, and Light Switch
  . Hue: A19, Lux, BR30, Bloom, and LightStrip lights

If you have any of those products, you can simply say “Discover my appliances” and any within range will show up in the Amazon Echo app. You can then assign your connected switches or bulbs to different groups which you ask Echo to interact with individually.
...   The following list details voice commands you can use to light your way or interact with your newly-connected devices:

  • “Alexa, turn on the hallway light”
  • “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker”
  • “Alexa, dim the living room lights to 20%”
  • “Alexa, turn on the electric blanket”
  • “Alexa, turn on the outdoor decorations”
Read more at Techsmash.
  And to see what else the Echo device can do, see this very thorough video demo.

Turbo Tax 20214 TAX Filing - software credits and refunds
I went to the tax product page for what I've been using and saw, in response to consumer unhappiness over its feature changes in the last year:
' Information on TurboTax 2014
Intuit made changes to the TurboTax 2014 product line which may have affected you. '

    [And when clicking on "Learn More" saw the following offer]
' Returning TurboTax Deluxe Desktop customers who need to file Schedule C, D, E or F and purchase Deluxe 2014 will be upgraded to Premier or Home & Business for free. This upgrade will happen automatically in your TurboTax Deluxe 2014 product (starting Feb 7th).

  For returning Deluxe 2013 Desktop customers who already purchased TurboTax Premier or Home & Business 2014, Intuit is offering $25 cash back after you’ve filed through April 20th. Learn more here. '
The apology by Intuit's Turbo Tax General Manager gives more detail on how those who needed to buy the more expensive package to get a feature previously part of a less expensive package can get a refund or credit.

Those filing extensions to allow filing of taxes by October 15 instead
Just wanted to point out a Consumer Reports' web article on E-filing your taxes for free.

"Some options let you file both federal and state forms at no cost" is the subheading, and they highlight the new IRS Free File feature.
' If you want guidance when preparing your federal tax form and your household’s 2014 adjusted gross income was $60,000 or less, you can prepare and file your federal return for free on your computer through IRS Free File.  To participate, you must file through a company listed as an "e-file partner" in the Free File section of the IRS website. '

See the rest of this at Consumer Reports page for full instructions.

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Quick Kindle book tip for history fiends: Free Kindle downloads of all 8 volumes of the official biography of Winston Churchill, $80 value -- through Sunday, April 12, 11:59pm PDT now. Update5

Free 8 volume set of Winston Churchill biography

While the offer was ended prematurely Saturday despite the date range of April 9-11, I've received a response from Soren at The Churchill Project at Hillsdale College that this was an error at either Amazon or at RosettaBooks, and they've made the 8-volume set free again through tonight, Sunday April 12.

So, those disappointed yesterday can take advantage of it today.

  Update5: (April 12) - Soren has confirmed that this will be good until 11:59pm tonight PDT.

  To be doubly sure, get the books earlier.  No Kindle device is needed to read these.  There are free reading apps for PC, Mac, and most mobile devices (including Blackberry phones).

Reader Randall Leverette sent the alert Saturday and this blog article was originally posted early Saturday night (PDT).

  This offer, by Hillsdale College, publisher of the set, was originally set to be good for April 9-11 and (repeating), has now been extended through Sunday, April 12, ending just before midnight, PDT.
' .. the Official Biography of Winston Churchill ...

To mark the anniversary of Churchill's honorary US citizenship, Hillsdale College and RosettaBooks are offering free Kindle downloads of all 8 volumes of the official biography on April 9-11 – An $80 value, absolutely free! '

You can download your free copies at these Amazon links: 
  1. Youth, 1874–1900 (Volume I)
  2. Young Statesman, 1901–1914 (Volume II)
  3. The Challenge of War, 1914–1916 (Volume III)
  4. World in Torment, 1916–1922 (Volume IV)
  5. The Prophet of Truth, 1922–1939 (Volume V)
  6. Finest Hour, 1939–1941 (Volume VI)
  7. Road to Victory, 1941–1945 (Volume VII)
  8. Never Despair, 1945–1965 (Volume VIII)

Tip: - These will be downloaded to your chosen device (even if a PC or Mac when not a mobile device).
  To save device space, though -- keeping these on the Cloud only (your books area at Amazon):
  -- When 'buying' these for $0, choose either your "Kindle for Cloud" (server)
      or choose to "Transfer by computer" later so it doesn't deliver it to any physical device.

More details of the background and celebration here.

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
   Publication Date  
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
The Kindle Daily Deal
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle Keyboard(U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

  *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.
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Monday, April 6, 2015

Amazon Echo price-discount ending April 7 ... Echo updates ... iOS updates ... HarperCollins negotiations begin ... Amazon Dash Button ... Amazon Home Services ... White Kindle eReader to Asia ... Amazon paid-apps for a flat fee? ... Drone approval was useless


Per a Geekwire report, "Amazon quietly announces last call for Amazon Prime users’ Echo discounts."

Geekwire reports that the Echo product page (the version that displays for those who've not requested an invitation to buy the early version of its Echo personal voice assistant and speaker) now includes a deadline of April 7, 2015 for the Prime member discount of $100 (available during checkout).  I don't see this information because I did order one, although it's supposed to arrive by April 8 but still hasn't been shipped.

For those who don't know what the Amazon Echo does, a very good video demo is available on Youtube.  The feedback on the Kindle Forum is overwhelmingly positive about the units already received and being used the last few months, with regular updates that add features or fixes recommended by the early buyers.

  Geekwire's wording:
' Until April 7, Prime customers who sign up for an Echo invite can lock in a $99 price when the device becomes available to them.  After that, they’re stuck paying $199 with the plebeians. '

  About the update Echo owners received the other day: reports that the Echo adds Pandora and MLB/MLS game scores.
' The update gives Alexa ... [the name of Echo's voice] the ability to play your Pandora radio stations and give you scores from MLB and MLS games.
  To use these new commands simply say “Alexa, play a classic rock station,” or “Alexa, what’s the score of the Detroit Tigers game?” '

  GeekWire points out that "Amazon’s support for Pandora is interesting, since the company already has its own music store and streaming service, which was recently updated on iOS to provide users with ad-free radio stations centered around artists and genres."

April's free Kindle books (contemporary or non-classics)
    March 2015  April 2015.
    Also, all currently free non-classics sorted by:
    Publication Date   Bestselling    High ratings

To see the MONTHLY Kindle book discount deals available for April, go to the special monthly book deals page now showing Kindle books for April 2015 for $3.99 or less, US.
  (See UK listing here.)

For those who want to quickly look first at only the ones that are star-rated at 4 or above, here is Amazon US's page for that.  The UK has a similar listing.  These details are for people new to the monthly feature or to this blog.

I won't be going into detail on these -- just giving links to more information, for the most part, unless someone does want more information.

That FAA's drone-experiments approval
Remember that news in mid-March that the FAA had given approval to Amazon's experiments with drones (for faster delivery in some areas)?  Apparently, the FAA's approval was for an older model that Amazon is no longer testing.  Now Amazon has decided to move its drone testing to Canada, near the border, as the delays for approval in the U.S. make it too difficult for the development of this product.

HarperCollins is the next Kindle book publisher to negotiate a new eBooks agreement with Amazon.
Harper Collins has been offered an arrangement similar to that negotiated with Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan recently.  While Amazon always wants to sell eBooks at lower prices, the publishing houses prefer to keep the price up to avoid "devaluing" their print books (as they've said).

  The site adds that "...HarperCollins has its own online sales operations, after a move last summer to sell most of its inventory on its site, as well as deals with Amazon e-publishing competitors."

Amazon introduces the Amazon Dash button
This is a somewhat curious limited-time offer that is:
  . limited to only Amazon Prime members in the U.S. who "receive an email from Amazon
    with an invitation to receive a free Dash Button"
  . the invitation expires seven days after receipt of the email
  . limited to three Dash Buttons per customer and account while supplies last.

Several mainstream tech sites wrote that at first they thought that the announcement of the new Amazon Dash button on March 31 might be an April Fools Day item.  These will be standalone buttons placed in the home (and using WiFi) for certain products or brands (like Tide, Huggies) that, once you press them, will initiate an order to restock a product when you find supplies are low.  To prevent accidental orders, you'd use the associated app to confirm that you want that order.  This would prevent your having to look up what it was that you ordered before.  It's for convenience and of course Amazon's revenue flow.  Here are pages for Terms and Conditions and a complete list of Dash Button Products.

 There's also a video with more information on this at the product invitation page.

Amazon Home Services
A couple of weeks ago, I was buying an item at Amazon when I was suddenly offered help, at my home, with installation of the product or, for a smaller fee, help at a store.   I didn't click on the offer as I didn't need the help, but I thought that was certainly a surprise! What isn't Amazon up to these days?

    They've since announced the new feature - Amazon Home Services - and are offering for a limited time a $20 Amazon Gift Card if you spend $99 or more on one of these services before April 13, 2015.

  A video on the product page explains it well.
  The three points on that page are:
  . Handpicked Pros
  . Upfront Prices
  . Happiness Guarantee

  I wonder if Amazon will start a review and rating system for these too -- it would be additional info vs some current reliance on Yelp!, which has had some marketing and policy problems reported in the news recently.  While I also use Angie's List, I far prefer what I can find about the service companies when using Yelp.

  Okay, I just explored a bit more and if you choose a type of service, and input your zip code, you'll see a recommended service and an estimated price.  Included is a calling card for the service and a RATING from "TaskRabbit."

  They say that the services approved are required to be
1. Background-checked, 2. Licensed (if applicable), and 3. Top-rated performers.

  Also, on the "Learn More" page they add:
  We only invite pros who have a strong track record of service quality.  We screen through a combination of media searches, online interviews, and reference checks.
  We conduct comprehensive business background checks and require each pro traveling to your home to pass a 6-point criminal background check.
Licensed and insured
  We require pros to maintain any required trade licenses and insurance information on file with us.
Top-rated performers
  Pros must meet ongoing performance targets including responsiveness, quality, and ratings.

Amazon Prime Music adds "Prime Stations" to its iOS app
Techcrunch explains that these are "ad-free streaming music stations that offer unlimited song skips." There are additional personalized recommendations based on your prior playing history, and Prime Stations will be able to use the thumbs-up/down feature to learn to make playlists that reflect your interests.

While PC's, the Macs, and Kindle Fire tablets already have the Prime Stations feature, it's not been made available for Android yet.  And now iOS users are getting it in their app.

  ALSO, there was an update to the iOS Kindle app (for accessing Kindle books via iOS devices) today, allowing users of the iPhone or iPhone Touch to access Amazon's "Flashcards for Print Replica Textbooks" when running the Kindle app.  These were available to only the iPad version of the Kindle app.  There's more info on this update at site.

Amazon adds white version to the basic Kindle eReader device (black in the US and other countries) for China (April 8) and Japan (April 20)
Engadget reports the new white Kindle model to be made available to China and Japan.  They've asked Amazon when this might "reach other parts of the world."

Amazon's plans to offer paid apps at no additional cost each download for a flat fee ("Unlocked")
According to Techcrunch, Amazon it "wants to launch" a new feature, an app store section called "Unlocked."  This would be something like the "Prime program for apps," per Techcrunch, who writes that they 'learned of the new feature by way of an internal presentation, leaked to us, explaining how the new feature will look."  They add that "the basics are outlined simply enough in the presentation, which uses the code names “Gretzky” and “Snuffy” to respectively describe the new feature and user flow around it.'

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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