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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