About

On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

Recent Comments

March 2009
M T W T F S S
« Feb   Apr »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Kindle 2 Contest winning date is set

I just performed my everyday 0:01am check and I see 256,806 books available in the Amazon Kindle store.

finalbookcounts

It means that the winning date is March 31st, 2009 (03/31/2009)!

Now I’ll go and scan all e-mails I received for the competition to find a winner. It may take me some time but I expect to notify Kindle 2 winner within next 2-3 days.

Thanks everyone for participation and I’ll keep you posted!

Kindle 2 Recovery Mode

There is this undocumented feature of recover mode in Kindle 2. I’m posting about it but please don’t mess with it unless you know what are you doing because it can potentially brick your Kindle. K1 had an option of 100% wiping and reflashing the device to the origianl state. This option doesn’t seem to be present in K2 tough.

To enter Recovery Mode you need to hold the “Home” key while the device is rebooting when the screen flashes from black to white for a couple of seconds. If you see “Amazon Kindle” and boot progress bar – it’s too late and you need to reboot again.

When in recovery mode, you can hook up your Kindle to computer via USB and mess with the files just like in the normal mode. You can also press “1″ and this will initiate installation of update from the root directory of Kindle drive. However normal updates (2.0.1 and 2.0.2 as well as screensaver hack) don’t install this way – Kindle just ignores them. With a little tweaking I was able to get Kindle to see the update but it would still fail to install.

Pressing “R” key will reboot your Kindle 2 back into normal mode.

What is interesting is that when I called the number on the screen the tech didn’t know what “Recovery Mode” I was talking about.

This is not a whole lot of useful information yet even that I had to piece together from different places on the Internet when trying to repair my Kindle 2 myself. I eventually gave up and called the warranty.

If I figure out the “recovery mode update” trick I’ll surely post about it.

kindle 2 recovery mode

Ernest Hemingway, Good Kindle Books at a Glance #3

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about American classical literature, commenting on Mark Twain’s books and works about him available in Kindle edition.  Today I’ll continue with the classics, namely, Ernest Hemingway, popular not only in the USA, but also through out the world.

The Old Man and the Sea written in Cuba in 1951 brought the Pulitzer Prize to the writer in 1953. The novella recounts a battle between an aging fisherman Santiago and a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. The story is told in a simple manner, which is quite typical of Hemingway. Still, the seeming simplicity only emphasizes the complexity of ideas the story brings to the surface – about a strong spirit and courage of a man, who fights the fish with the limits of his body and mind. “Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.”

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition is a treasure for Hemingway’s admirers. “The Finca Vigia” refers to the home owned by the writer in Cuba from 1939 to 1959. The book is unique in the way that it contains not only The First Forty Nine Stories, but also additional 14 not included in the previous edition, as well as 7 others unpublished before.

Ernest Hemingway on Writing is a collection of the writer’s thoughts on the subject, compiled from his letters, interviews and an unpublished manuscript by Larry W. Phillips. “Sometimes ponderous, other times offhand, these thoughts form a portrait of a man driven to create not solely the best writing he could, but the best writing, period.” A nice book for Hemingway’s fans and writers.

A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.

-Ernest Hemingway

kindle-ernest-hemingway


Kindle Warranty

I just had to exercise warranty on my Kindle 2. Hence the reduction of the number of posts on this blog…

The quality of the warranty service was a very pleasant surprise to me indeed. It goes way above and beyond of what I’ve experienced with other companies:

  • Phone wait was less than 3 minutes
  • The only thing I was asked to verify was that my Kindle 2 was fully charged and rather than telling me to do it anyway and call back in 3 hours like some other companies did. They took my word for it and emailed me the RMA shipping label. Easy and simple.
  • Now for the best part – Kindle warranty replacement uses one-day shipping and cross-shipment. This means that if your Kindle needs to be replaced – you’ll most likely get it within 24 hours and before you actually send the damaged unit back to them.
  • Since I wasn’t expecting such fast turnaround (in the past I had to wait for weeks for my electronics to come back from warranty repair) and I had several long trips planned for the next week I actually ordered another Kindle 2 with one-day shipping so that I’ll not have to spend days in planes, trains and automobiles without my books. When I called the warranty I was told “no problem”. They refunded me the shipping charge and set up RMA as return for refund.

kindle 2 year warrantyNow does this rock or what? Hopefully other companies will use Amazon as example.

While I’m on the topic – there are some 3rd parties providing extended warranty for the Kindle:

1) 2-Year Extended Warranty for Kindle 2 by ServiceNet. They extend the basic warranty to 2 years and cover 1 incident of drop related damage.

2) http://www.squaretrade.com/ offers 2 and 3 year extended warranty options for almost all electronics, including Kindle 2. For K2 I was quoted $49 for 3-year extended warranty.

Both warranties need to be purchased within 30 days of Kindle purchase. Since my current warranty replacement is officially a return for refund and new purchase I’ll heavily consider using one of these options. I doubt that any of them would offer 1-day cross-shipping though…

Please let me know if had any experience with either of these warranties.

Mark Twain, Good Kindle Books at a Glance #2

And now, more good books that are available on Amazon Kindle

When I’m thinking about American classical literature, the name of Mark Twain instantly comes to my mind (actually, it’s his pen name, his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens). A wonderful combination of a writing talent, rich humor, keen wit and knowledge of colloquial language well served him in creating the array of works, which were popular during his lifetime and are no less enjoyed a century later.

One of my favorite books of his is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I read it in childhood, reread it in youth, and I’m going to reread it again, many years later. “A seminal work of American Literature that still commands deep praise and still elicits controversy, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is essential to the understanding of the American soul.” Now the book is available in “full” edition, with omitted episodes, which help understand the novel better.

If you want to laugh your head off, give a try to Mark Twain’s short stories -  funny, smart and thought-provoking.  “For deft plotting, riotous inventiveness, unforgettable characters, and language that brilliantly captures the lively rhythms of American speech, no American writer comes close to Mark Twain.

Those who are looking for “a different Mark Twain” may be interested in Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World. It’s a chronicle narration of a steamboat trip, which creates a very vivid picture of people Twain met and places he visited. A very enjoyable and educational book to read.

You may learn more about the author from Chapters From My Autobiography. As Mark Twain states in the introduction, “…this autobiography of mine does not select from my life its showy episodes, but deals mainly in the common experiences which go to make up the life of the average human being, because these episodes are of a sort which he is familiar with in his own life, and in which he sees his own life reflected and set down in print.” You may also like My Mark Twain written by William Dean Howells, who was Mark Twain’s friend for over 40 years. “Warm, compassionate, beautifully written work offers unparalleled perceptions of celebrated humorist’s faults, foibles, and personality, as well as insights into the spirit and style of his writing.”

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

-Mark Twain

Mark Twain



Free Kindle 2 Contest Update #3

As of 00:01 PST 3/20/2009 the book count was 252,289 so starting from that time no more entries are accepted.

At the time of this posting the count is 252,758. This means that pretty soon we’ll have a winner who will receive a brand new Kindle 2.

Kindle 2 Software Update 2.0.2 (309510017)

My Amazon Kindle 2 just updated itself to new firmware version 2.0.2 (309510017).

kindle software 2.0.2 (309510017)

At the moment there are no official release notes from Amazon.com, however by looking at the source code I could speculate that there are some changes related to sound system (most likely bugfix). There seem to be changes related to watchdog timer. In plain English it’s a software and hardware system that will reboot your Kindle automatically in case it freezes and stops responding to user input.

Some people have reported that screen seems to refresh a tad faster now. Now that I’ve read it I seem to notice it too but it could be the placebo effect. Please leave a comment if you noticed any changes in your Kindle 2 after the update was applied.

If you have Kindle 2 Screensaver Hack installed you’ll need to uninstall it first and then apply the update manually. After update is installed you can re-install the hack.

Amazon Kindle Store Breaks 250,000 Book Count

As I look at it right now, there are 251,651 books availabale for purchase. Way to go Amazon!

This also means that unless some books are pulled back (which did happen several times before), today would be your last day for submitting entries to win a free Kindle 2 contest. So hurry up. You have until 11:59PM PST 3/19/2009 to submit your entries. 235 entries has been submitted so far. Good luck!

Fujistu FLEPia features color eInk

Fujitsu has launched FLEPia – “color e-paper mobile terminal”. It features:

fujitsu-flepia

  • 8″ 1024×768 e-Ink resistive touchscreen that can display either 260,000, 4,096 or 64 colors. Depending on the number of colors page update time ranges from 1.8 to 8 seconds.
  • 158 x 240 x 12 mm size and 350g weight. This makes it larger and heavier compared to Amazon Kindle 2 (135 x 203 x 9 mm and 289g). I would imagine that version with 12″ screen would be even heavier.
  • SD slot that can accommodate up to 4GB of flash memory
  • Connectivity is represented by 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB
  • It runs Microsoft Windows CE5.0 on XScale RISC CPU
  • Battery life is 40 hours or 2,400 page turns which is impressive for a device with these capabilities.
  • eBook formats supported are: BunkoViewer XMDF and T-Time .book. Both are eBook formats widely used on mobile phones in Japan. Since device runs a generic Windows CE5.0 OS I can speculate that it would be possible to broaden format selection by installing additional applications
  • Price tag is ¥100,000 ($940)

While I didn’t have the opportunity to play around with this device I’ll speculate a little bit…

Although some news sites might call this device a “Kindle Killer”, it’s obviously not that. First of all it’s geared heavily towards Japanese market and Japanese users. Secondly, it is not hooked to Kindle Book Store which is crucial to Kindle‘s success. My personal belief is that Kindle would have been successful even without eInk technology though maybe slightly less. And thirdly even 8″ version costs around $1,000 which is to high for “eBook reader for the masses”

It is good to see this device comercially released though because it would allow for further development of color eInk technology and eventually prices will come down and we’ll see more devices featuring it…

Discovery Communications Sues Amazon For Patent Infringement In Kindle

According to www.broadcastingcable.com Discovery Comminications is filing a law suit against Amazon for patent infringement related to “secure, encrypted system for the selection, transmission, and sale of electronic books” (used in Amazon Kindle and Kindle 2). The patent in question was issued on November, 20 2007 – one day after Kindle US launch. Currently Amazon declined any comments.

Looks like more and more people realize that there is money in eBooks and market is growing day-by-day. Now suddenly everyone wants a piece of this pie. Just recently Authors Guild threatened to sue Amazon over text-to-speech feature in Kindle 2. Then it was Amazon sending “cease and desist” letters to MobileRead.com and possibly other websites about script that allowed books purchased from eBooks vendors other than Amazon to be read on Kindle.

As the market will grow more I’m sure we’ll see more turf wars like this one. As for patents… nowadays for any given thing you can find someone who holds a patent and “believes that he/she is entitled for compensation“…

Free Kindle Books From Amazon

If you are already a fan of urban fantasy or would like to get to know this genre, you may well start with The Wild’s Call, which is offered for free on Amazon, compliments of Luna. “It is seven years after the collapse of modern civilization, and the world is entering a new Dark Age. Can best friends Elysia and Darien trust the animal spirits that are beckoning them to escape into the wilderness and create a new way of life?” The book is a prequel to Jeri Smith-Ready’s Aspect of Crow trilogy, including Eyes of Crow, Voice of Crow and The Reawakened,  the first two available in kindle edition.

Until the end of March you may also get a free download of Laura Lippman’s short mystery story The Babysitter’s Code. A babysitter finds a gun in the house where she is working, and that makes it difficult for her to stay within the babysitter’s code. If you like it, take a look at Lippman’s short story collection, Hardly Knew Her, “…filled with delightfully unanticipated twists and reversals…”

William Shakespeare, Good Kindle Books at a Glance #1

Good Kindle Books at a Glance is a series of posts I’m going to publish on this blog about books that have caught my attention and that are now available in Kindle edition. You are welcome to join in with discussions and comments.

I had a hard time choosing a book to start with and finally relied on the classics, Mr. William Shakespeare. Yet the books to be mentioned have not been written by him, but about him.

While I prefer to ‘watch’ Shakespeare in theater, not to read Shakespeare in a book, I’ve still admired a work by Marjorie Garber, “Shakespeare After All“.  A professor at Harvard, she gives a critical analysis of each play in a way which is readable and enjoyable, no matter if you have a degree in English Literature or don’t.  The author also pays attention to historical background of Shakespeare’s works; she draws a picture of a 17th-century England and a theater life of that time. “Supremely readable and engaging, and complete with a comprehensive introduction to Shakespeare’s life and times and an extensive bibliography…

Another book on William Shakespeare has captured my attention. “Shakespeare” by Bill Bryson focuses on the Bard’s biography; though few facts are known about Shakespeare’s life, Bryson reconstructs the society of his contemporaries, with people’s mores and emotions, so that we could imagine what kind of person Shakespeare might be like. “William Shakespeare … left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself…

If you are looking for a work on historical background behind the Bard’s plays, you may like Shakespeare’s English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama by Peter Saccio. The author covers events and royal relationships during the reign of 9 kings referred to by Shakespeare in his works.The book is not a comprehensive academic research on medieval history, it is more of a guide that helps understand the correlation between true historical events and Shakespeare’s imagination and dramatization of reality. ”Including a new preface, a revised further reading list, genealogical charts, an appendix of names and titles, and an index, the second edition of Shakespeare’s English Kings offers excellent background reading for all of the ten history plays…”

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.

- William Shakespeare

shakespeare-kindle

Free Kindle 2 Contest Update #2

There are 131 entries now and 249,365 books in the Kindle Store . It’s getting quite close to the cut off number so if you didn’t submit an entry for your chance to win Amazon Kindle 2 you should probably do it within couple of days.

Kindle 3 to have 9.7″ eInk display?

Jesse Vincent who spends a lot of his time hacking Kindle 2 and digging around it’s source code has discovered something potentially interesting:

from rcS.d/S05video_primary_init:

_PANEL_SIZE_6_0_INCH=6
_PANEL_SIZE_9_7_INCH=9

Does this mean that folks in lab126 are playing around with larger screens for next generation Kindle 3? Could be… There are some rumours circulating the web about next generation Amazon Kindle possibly being available this fall (holiday season 2009).

I promise to collect more rumors about Kindle 3, verify them, crosscheck and post a summary here soon enough.

Free Kindle 2 Contest Update

A quick update on contest, being held here on www.blogkinde.com, where you can win a free brand new Kindle 2:

As of 00:01 PST 03/14/2009 there were 248,081 books in Amazon Kindle Store, so it’s almost 3K books before I’ll stop accepting entries. There were 43 entries submitted so far so chances of winning are still pretty high given you’ll guess close enough to the correct date.

Before emailing your entry please make sure that I’t correctly formatted as per contest rules. The answer should be in the subject line (not in the body) and be exactly 10 characters long (no more no less): MM/DD/YYYY, month and day number should have a leading zero if they are less then 10, year should be 4 digit – 2009, not 09 or 9.

I’m writing this beacuse around 10% of the entries fail to follow this format and stince I’ll use semi-automated means for choosing the winner – invalid entries will not win. Please review your entry and if it’s wrong – please resend it, I will not count it as double entry or cheating as long as the date is the same.

Amazon uses DMCA against MobileRead.com for hosting DRM Python Script Instructions

Engadget reports that undisclosed law firm on behalf of Amazon.com sent cease and desist letter to MobileRead.com admins demanding pages that host instructions on how to use Python script that allows you to read legally purchased DRM protected eBooks in MobiPocket format on Kindle and Kindle 2.

My personal opinion is that it’s not as simple as Engadget and TechDirt would like to portray it. For one, Engadget’s statement that the script “script, which can’t actually be used to break Kindle DRM” is misleading. I will not elaborate why. If you research the matter yourself, you may find out what I mean. I don’t want to take sides on this particular issue, I just want to point out that there’s more to it than meets the eye or what’s written in mainstream news.

While I am personally a big supporter of open information market where content creators and distributors are fairly compensated for their work and law-abiding users are not limited by crippling DRM systems that bind them to specific hardware. But before this can happen market should get big enough. Otherwise it may collapse because of extreme competition. Amazon is currently the biggest driver or eBook market growth. Cut their profits, their eBook business may collapse and there will be no market at all. Recent release of Kindle application for iPhone and iPodTouch is a step in the right direction towards more open information market. Because it allows usage of purchased digital content to be freely used across two different software and hardware platforms. Hopefully soon more steps like this will follow.

Free Kindle 2 Giveaway Contest Rules

Here are the rules of the contest, please read them carefully:

When Amazon Kindle 2 was released Kindle Store had 240,000+ books for sale. This number is growing daily and it’s about to hit 250,000 which is pretty impressive. In order to win brand new Amazon Kindle 2 Wireless eInk reading device all you need to do is email me your best guess about when number of books in Amazon Kindle Store is going to top 256,000 (one thousand books for each megabyte of flash memory in Kindle 1 :) )

You can visit Amazon Kindle Store daily to get a feel for how fast eBooks are piling up. Count as of 03/13/2009 was 248,429 when I checked. I will accept entries until the day number of books will be more than 250,999. I check book counts every 00:01 PST and that would be the cutting line. Once I see 251,000 books or more – no more entries are going to be accepted. I will announce the cut-off date once it happens. After that it’s waiting time: once I see 256,000 books or more at 00:01 that would be the winning date. I’ll announce it in the morning. Of all persons who submitted entries with this date I’ll randomly pick 1 winner.

To submit your entry just send an e-mail to contest@blogkindle.com with your chosen date in the subject in the following form: MM/DD/YYYY, where MM is two digit zero-padded month number, DD is two digit zero-padded day number and YYYY is 4 digit year. So 03/21/2009 would be 21st of March 2009, 04/03/2009 would be 3rd of April, 2009. Please don’t put anything else in the subject line. Any content in the message body is going to be ignored. I will use email address the letter was sent from to contact the winner and arrange for shipping the prize. Any entries that don’t follow the format described above will be discarded. If I don’t receive a response from the winner within 72 hours from sending the letter a new winner will be chosen.

One entry per person for the entire duration of the contest. Cheaters WILL BE disqualified! Amazon employees are on their honor not to participate :)

I will not use your email address for any other reason then to contact your if you are a winner. I’ll not give them to spammers, spam them myself or randomly send out my rants when I feel lonely and sad. In fact once this contest is settled I’m going to delete all of them.

I will not disclose winners identity even partially without winners consent. Though it would be nice to receive this consent for posting at least winner’s city. If you provide a photograph of the Kindle 2 once you receive it (with you if you would like to) I promise to post it here.

OK. Once again the rules in a nutshell:

  1. Figure out a date on which at 01:00 PST Amazon Kindle Store would have 256,000 books or more
  2. Send email to contest@blogkindle.com with this date date in the subject line in the following format: MM/DD/YYYY (see details and examples above)
  3. Email should be sent on a day on which at 01:00 PST book count in Amazon Kindle Store was 250,999 or lower. I’ll post when it happens (though not immediately)
  4. There is a limit of one entry per person for the entire duration of the contest.
  5. Out of the  people who submitted correct date properly 1 winner will be chosen randomly.
  6. Winner will be contacted on the winning day described in (1) using email that entry was submitted from.
  7. If I don’t receive any response from the winner within 72 hours of sending the email a new winner would be chosen randomly.
  8. In the unlikely case that (6) would be repeated enough times that no winner could be chosen, I’ll randomly choose a winner from people who were off by 1 day either way. I’ll keep expanding the date range and repeating (6) until winner can be found.

That means that as long as there are valid entries somebody is pretty much guaranteed to win.

Why am I doing this? Honestly I would like to see more comments to my posts, I would like readers to get more involved with the blog. I believe that an easy way of achieving that would be to attract more subscribers by holding this contest. So if you like this blog and what I write here please spread the word on other blogs and forums. The more people I would see enjoying the content that I provide here the more time I’ll spend creating more better content.

If you have any questions – please leave a comment. I’ll try to respond as fast as possible.

Kindle 2 Features I would love to see

Although I’m extremely happy with my Kindle 2 there are several features I would really like to have (even if only in Kindle 3) ordered by descending importance:

  • Full Unicode character support (Cyrillic, Asian, etc). Currently all you see instead of these characters are plain boxes. I realize that this is not high on Amazon’s priority list because there few if any books in the Kindle Store that use these… Still there are books downloadable from the Internet, personal converted documents, web-pages etc. It would be nice not to be limited to English here.
  • Ability to email clippings and highlights (even if only to myself)…. What makes Kindle great is that it’s not tethered to your computer and the only cord you need to plug in once in a while is the power cord. Yet this is not the case with clippings. Imagine, you are reading an article or a book and see a passage that would be very interesting to a friend of yours. Why not add a menu item that would allow you to email it right away using the WhisperNet connection?
  • Ability to cut and paste…. Real-life story: I’m in my car listening to “Book Notes” on NPR. They are running a piece about book by Daniyal Mueenuddin that really interests me so I try to look it up in Kindle Store – no matches… OK, I google for it using basic web and find the article on NPR website. I actually had to find a piece of paper and scribble the name on it so I could then type it in Kindle Store search-box because of my extremely poor memory for names and average spelling skills :) Wouldn’t it be nice I were able to just select the text on the web-page and then copy-paste it into search box. Same would go for book browsing – you can select a single word and it’s automatically put in the search-box but not entire phrase.
  • Better power management. There is no reason why my Kindle 2 should sustain more than 2 weeks of intensive reading on a single charge with wireless turned off and fully drain it in 4 days of hardly any reading at all with wireless turned on given that I only bought 2 or 3 books during this days and have one magazine subscription. I realize that it’s impossible for the device to know if it has something to download (book, magazine or update) without connecting to Amazon servers once in a while but right now it’s doing it way too often. It would be nice to have single menu item that would connect to WhisperNet, check for updates and download them and then turn off wireless automatically. As for magazine subscriptions, they come out on a regular schedule to it should be easy to turn the radio on just once a day and turn it off afterwards.
  • Password protection. It may be a minor thing but still… Kindle can be used to read personal documents that may be sensitive and browse the web (possibly storing authentication cookies). And of course there is a possibility that your 3-year-old would start pressing buttons and order one the $6,000+ books. Or someone may do it as an evil prank…
  • Hack-free custom screen-saver. I can imagine that I’m not the only one who would like to customize my Kindle 2 not only by the means of skins.

What I’m going to do now is email this list to [email protected]. If you feel that these or other features are important to you, you can do the same. From my past experience of working in large corporations I know that massive customer feedback does work sometimes.

What about you? What features would you like to see in your eBook readers?

Free Kindle 2 Contest Coming Up!

I’m going to hold a free Kindle 2 giveaway contest here on www.blogkindle.com. Rules are going to be very simple. The winner will receive one brand new Amazon Kindle 2 eBook reader device that I’ll order from Amazon.com specifically for this purpose.

I’m going to announce the rules this Friday (March 13th, 2009) so if you are not subscribed to this blog, you’ll have a better chance of not missing out on your chance to win if you do subscribe :) Also please take a minute to spread the word about this contest on other Kindle related blogs and forums. The more people will participate, the more fun it’s going to be!

Stay tuned!

free-kindle-contest

Kindle 1 Screensaver Hack

There is a way to get custom images to display in Kindle 1 screensaver instead of standard ones that are supplied by Amazon. I found these instructions on MobileRead Wiki page:

To add your custom screen savers:

  1. Attach the Kindle to a computer using the USB cord.
  2. Using Windows Explorer (or whatever you use to see individual files/folders) , you should see a new drive called Kindle under My Computer. Go to that drive. (Or if you have an SD card in your Kindle, you can go to the SD drive.)
  3. Create a new folder called “pictures” and a subfolder called “screensavers” under it. Make sure both folder names are all lowercase.
  4. Copy your image files into the screensavers folder. Your pictures should be 600×800 pixels and black & white. I’ve only used .jpg files. Note: I’ve used .png files as well
  5. After copying is complete & it is safe, remove the Kindle from the USB connection.
  6. Go to your Home menu and press alt-z. This will create a new book called “screensavers” . Open it. You’ll see each of your pictures. You can advance through them with the prev. page and next page buttons. Note: The new book will appear at the END of your book list
  7. While viewing your pictures, look at the bottom of the Kindle screen. If you see your battery indicator & Menu prompt, press alt-F to go into Full Screen mode.
  8. On each photo, press alt-shift-0 (i.e., alt-shift-zero) . After a brief delay, you’ll get a message that your picture has been exported as screensaver. Click Close on the message.
  9. Navigate to each of the pictures you want to use and repeat the above step.
  10. When you’ve got all your pictures loaded, test them by going into & out of sleep mode. Alt-aA (i.e., alt-font size button) puts it to sleep & wakes it up again. Each time it sleeps, it should use a different image. If you see the same image all the time, relook at Step 3.

To remove your custom screen savers and restore the originals

  1. Attach the Kindle to a computer using the USB cord.
  2. Using Windows Explorer (or whatever you use to see individual files/folders) , go to your Kindle drive under My Computer.
  3. If you see a folder called system, skip this step. If you don’t see the system folder, click on the Tools menu & then Folder Options. Go to the View tab, and look at the Advanced Settings. Under Hidden Files and Folders, select Show Hidden Files and Folders. Click Apply, then OK. You should now see a system folder.
  4. Under the system folder, you’ll see a screen_saver folder. Delete all the files that are in that folder.
  5. After you disconnect from the USB, you may see your last custom screensaver one more time, but after that it will revert back to the pre-loaded Kindle screensaver images

I’ve tried these instructions on Kindle 2 with no effect other than freezing the picture viewer and having to soft reboot the device. Please read my other post on how to hack screensaver in Kindle 2.

Please realize that these hacks can potentially void your warranty.

Free Books by Harlequin

As part of celebration its 60th anniversary, several Harlequin are available for free on Amazon.com according to official Amazon Kindle Blog:

  • The Bride’s Baby by Liz Fielding. “Events manager Sylvie Smith is organizing a glittering fund-raising event: a wedding show in a stately home. She has even been roped into pretending to be a bride…a bride who’s five months pregnant…”
  • Dancing in the Moonlight by RaeAnne Thayne. “Lieutenant Magdalena Cruz had come home-And all she wanted was to be alone…”
  • A Very Special Delivery by Linda Goodnight. “It was the surprise of a lifetime for recluse Molly McCreight when single dad Ethan Hunter entrusted her with his infant daughter while he delivered medicine to an elderly man during an ice storm…”
  • Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson. “When a blizzard strands Fiona MacPherson and her students in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, their only hope of survival is to seek shelter at Thunder Mountain Lodge…
  • Stranded with a Spy by Merline Lovelace. “When Mallory Dawes, suddenly infamous in the States, decided to take that vacation to France, her problems were just beginning: a lost passport. A car swept out to sea…”
  • His Lady Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls. “When Max, Earl Blakehurst, meets Verity he sees a downtrodden servant. He doesn’t recognize her as the daughter of a colonel under whom he used to serve, the girl he’d once helped years before…”
  • Speed Dating by Nancy Warren. “Dylan Hargreave thinks I’m an actress paid to pose as his girlfriend at a North Carolina society wedding. How did this happen to me, of all people…”

The Most Expensive Amazon Kindle eBook

most-expensive-amazon-kindle-bookAnd the winner is… Selected Nuclear Materials and Engineering Systems (Part 4)… Selling… Selling… Sold to the gentelman in the green coat for $6,431.20 at 20% discount from it’s print price of $8,039.00. I may have G-men knocking on my door tomorrow, asking why would I be interested in reading free sample of this book that Amazon kindly provides. And I’ll honestly answer that I couldn’t resist peeking in a book that costs more than my car.

If you are interested in the rest of the expensive books for Amazon Kindle – click here for a sorted list.

You may want to be extra careful with your mouse when you navigate these pages or you’ll end up charging 6K+ to your credit card with Amazon’s convenient “Buy now with 1-Click” feature… As well as when reading samples of these books on your Amazon Kindle as you can also order stuff there with a flick of a finger…

Previously Amazon had a bug that caused one of the books to display $41,916 as sale price for one of the eBooks but that was quickly fixed.

most-expensive-kindle-book

Kindle 2 Screensaver Hack

For people who wanted to replace author pictures in Kindle 2 Screensaver with any pictures of their own there is now a solution. clarknova from MobileRead Forums created a custom update that allows you to replace Amazon-supplied pictures that are shown when Kindle 2 goes to sleep with any pictures of your own.

Before you continue with instructions below, please understand that you are doing it at your own risk and this can potentially void your warranty. On the bright side, the update seems small, straightforward and reversable and several people (myself included – see pictures below) have successfully applied it to their devices.

Important thing to remember is that this update changes some configuration files. Official Amazon updates verify file checksums before installing. So while you have this hack installed updates that would try to change the same file will fail. Solution is to reverse this hack (instructions below), apply Amazon update and then reapply the hack.

Before proceeding you may want to take a look at “Updating Kindle Software Post” and make sure that you have the most recent software on your Kindle.

To enable custom screensavers:

  1. Download kindle_screensaver_hack-0.3.zip. This seems to the latest version now and I’ll try to keep this post updated with more versions as they become available.
  2. Unpack it.
  3. Connect your Kindle to your PC via USB. Go to the Kindle drive (usually K:\)
  4. If you don’t see system folder, you need to configure Windows to show hidden files and folders. Otherwise go the next step.
  5. Go to the \system folder and create screen_saver subfolder in it.
  6. Copy all of the images you want your screensaver to randomly cycle tough. Both PNG and JPEG formats are OK. While Kindle will resize images it’s best to resize them to 600×800 beforehand. Definitely don’t try putting 10 megapixel photos from your camera there as screensaver would then take long time to load and image will not display right. Good freeware tool to edit images is Paint.NET
  7. Copy Update_kindle2_user_screen_savers.bin that you’ve unpacked in step 2 to the root directory of your Kindle 2.
  8. Unplug the USB cable.
  9. Press “Menu”, select “Settings”, press “Menu”, select “Update Your Kindle”.
  10. It normally should take under a minute to update and reboot your Kindle. And you’re done!

If you did everything right you should see the following in at the bottom of your settings screen.

kindle-screensaver-hack-version

kindle-screensaver-hack

To revert to standard screensavers:

  1. Connect your Kindle to your PC via USB. Go to the Kindle drive (usually K:\)
  2. Copy Update_kindle2_restore_default_screen_savers.bin to the root directory of your Kindle 2.
  3. Unplug the USB cable.
  4. Press “Menu”, select “Settings”, press “Menu”, select “Update Your Kindle”.
  5. It normally should take under a minute to update and reboot your Kindle. And you’re done!
  6. If you want to disable custom screensavers for good rather than temporarily disable the hack to install Amazon Update, you may want to delete the \system\screen_saver directory you’ve created before. Be extra careful not to delete anything else in the \system directory!

Wikimedia.org may be a good place to stock up on nice copyright-free images.

If you try this hack, please take a minute to post your experience in the comments as I”m sure most people who read this post will be interested in them.

DIY Kindle 1 USB Charger

While researching Kindle USB chargers I found these instructions by Alan from SnarkyBytes.com on building your own USB charger cable for Kindle 1. To make one yourself you’ll need:

  • Some basic tools and skills to use them (don’t try this if you don’t know what are you doing;
  • “A” tip and pigtail for it (available from RadioShack)
  • USB cable that will be converted into charger (any USB cable that you can spare will do)
  • Optionally, a shrink-tube if you want it to look neat.

In the end you’ll have a cable that can be used to charge your Kindle1 from any PC or Mac with USB port or any other universal USB power adapters available on the market. Please use these instructions at your own risk.

Onyx Boox revealed at CeBIT 2009

Onyx International presented Onyx Boox e-reader at CeBIT 2009. Endgadget has video and some photos of the device. Current plans are for it to start shipping to US customers around June 2009 with a price tag lower than Sony PRS-700 which is $400. Here are some features I was able to deduce from the video and other sources:

  • Stylus sensitive 6″, 8″ or 9.7″ 16 shades of gray touchscreen so you can scribble your notes right on top of the text.
  • Native support for many data formats including PDF, HTML, TXT, CHM, ePub, PDB, MOBI, PRC, JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF, MP3, WAV.
  • 512MB internal storage. Additional storage can be added in a form of either Memory stick or USB drives. 128MB RAM. 400Mhz processor or above
  • Integrated WiFi. Optional EVDO or 3G wireless module.
  • 1600mAh integrated Li-Ion battery.
  • Either by accelerometer similar to the one in iPhone or by explicit user input it’s possible to use it both landscape and portrait modes. Cool feature but in my opinion it’s not too relevant to book reading.
  • It is claimed that it has handwriting recognition. This makes me assume that touchscreen wouldn’t respond to fingers because that requires magnetic sensors similar to ones found in Tablet PCs that capture stylus movements precisely including tilt angle. This allows recognition to be much more accurate at the cost of these sensors ignoring anything but the stylus.
  • Web Browser that is based on WebKit (same library that powers Apple Safari and Google Chrome). This would probably yield browsing experience that is superior to Kindle.
  • There is on-screen keyboard available. I wouldn’t mind having something like that on Kindle with extra space allocated for bigger screen that can be used for reading when keyboard isn’t required.
  • It will be possible to install additional applications but it’s unclear whether SDK will be released.
  • Text-to-speech capability. Though because of the noise in the video it was impossible to tell how good is it.

Below is the official promotional video.

My personal opintion is that it will not be very successful if successful at all and here’s why:

While it has many cool features like larger screen, touchscreen, large selection of formats that it supports, few of these features are actually useful in day-to-day operations. Overall it looks more like e-Ink PDA rather than eBook reader. WebKit based browser is nice but slow e-Ink screen will negate most of the benefits. iPhone with 3.5″ display would provide much better overall web-browsing experience. Running additional application can’t be good for battery life. And while touch screen is cool, how often would you really need to scribble and use handwriting recognition? Most of these tasks can be much better performed by other devices like PDAs, iPhone, etc.

But most importantly, what about books? Without having access to Amazon’s Kindle Store with 240,000+ titles it would be limited to much smaller selections of the stores that would decide to partner with Onyx and free books. Which is not a whole lot compared to what Amazon has to offer. Most likely book buying experience will not be as easy and streamlined as one with Kindle.

There’s one great feature that really made Onyx Boox stand out – larger screens. Although I’m pretty sure that “cheaper than $400″ price tag that was announced on CeBIT applies to 6″ model and ones with larger screens will cost more. Nonetheless there would be people for whom larger screen would outweigh all cons and they would buy Onyx Boox rather than Amazon Kindle should it have access to the same selection of books. And this is why I believe Amazon would not partner with Onyx to protect it’s Kindle sales.

Poor state of US and worldwide economy wouldn’t  help sales either.

So although this post is under “Kindle Killer” category, really it’s Kindle Killer… Not.

onyx-boox

I know that this post may sound too Kindle biased, but that’s my opinion. Anyway, we’ll be able to find out if I was right soon enough. I’ll keep you posted.