I’m loosing count of the number of times I’ve abandoned an Amazon shopping cart for a used paper book, because the Amazon Checkout is trying to trick me into a “we’ve added a 30-day trial of Prime” that I don’t want. I’ve fallen for it once, and don’t want find Amazon attached limpet-like to my credit card again. I’d rather abandon the purchase that risk that happening again, and go to eBay or elsewhere. Amazon, please add a tick-box to the user Preferences labelled: “I have no interested whatsoever in Prime — never tell me about it, anywhere”.
British Comics blog today distils part of the D.C. Thomson formula at Mandy, once an enormously popular pre-80s weekly comic, read by nearly all British girls in middle-childhood and produced by a firm that knew exactly what their audiences wanted (rather than what it was politically correct to give them). This seems rather useful market knowledge for writers of books and comics, as such basic psychology don’t change much at its core and this audience is today a prime demographic. Especially so as in the UK we have the ‘new baby boom’ moving into this demographic. I’ve taken the liberty of pasting the list at British Comics (consider it a quote) and then further grouped these into over-arching categories.
* Trapped by cruel or unheeding authority:
– cruel factories, shops, boarding schools or workhouses;
– girls slaving for cruel employers or criminals;
– orphans forced to live with cruel or uncaring relatives;
* Trapped by intentional spite (with a sub-text of ‘secrets’):
– girls enduring blackmail, hardship, or unpopularity to protect a secret (often on behalf of their family);
– spiteful girls [manipulating the rules to] cause trouble for an unsuspecting cousin, foster-sister or classmate;
* Mild superstition:
– girls becoming unpopular because events keep conspiring to make them appear jealous or selfish;
– girls who were put under a curse or came into possession of apparently supernatural objects [or pets, such as a black cat] which adversely affected their lives, but of which they were unable to rid themselves until they worked out how;
– heroines adopting masked identities to secretly help people;
– saving animals from cruelty;
– girls pretending to be disabled in order to take advantage of people [and the unmasking of their fraud];
* A Billy Bunter-ish comedy of errors:
– blundering girls getting into one scrape after another. [Often short-sighted or just naturally clumsy].
Android Kindle Fire tablets need the following hypthothetical app:
1. Use the app’s file manager to select a folder of video files.
2. Automatically make a new playlist of all files in that folder.
3. Then apply a best-guess intelligent re-sorting of the playlist order, if file naming is not strictly 001-100.
4. Allow the user to make final adjustments in the playing order, by manual selection of files and moving them via hold-drag.
5. Save the resulting playlist in the folder, in the playlist format for any chosen video player.
Why is this needed? Because no video player I can find has this relatively simple and useful feature. Not even VLC. At present, when faced with a folder of 100 files where the first ten don’t sort correctly on ‘sort by name’ (i.e.: named “8, 9, 10” instead of “008, 009, 010”), one has to first fiddle on the Windows desktop with something like Winsome File Renamer, to get everything re-named in the correct 001-100 order. This is so that ‘sort by name’ will then give you the correct playing order in an app like VLC 3.x. Then you copy the files over to the Kindle Fire.
Here’s a simple demonstration of the file-name sorting problem that happens with ‘sort by name’, and that needs to be solved:
This mini-tutorial shows the simplest possible way to quickly set up ES File Explorer 4 and WS_FTP Pro.
The aim here is to transfer large amounts of files from your PC to the Kindle Fire HD. The paid version of ES is being used, and an old paid version of the venerable WS_FTP.
1. Install the latest ES File Explorer 4.x on your Kindle, then click its prominent “View on PC” button. Then press the “Turn on” button-bar at the bottom of the screen. ES will then present you with an ftp address in the following format:
2. On your PC, your trusty old WS_FTP software now requires this address entered and saved in its Site Manager. But it must be in the following format:
Host name: 123.456.7.8 NOT!! the ftp:// bit, and NOT!! the :1234 bit.
Password: [leave this blank]
Advanced tab | Remote Port: 1234
This last item is found in the ftp:// address given you by ES File Manager 4, and is located at the end of the address after the “:”.
Entering the site this way will give you a Site Manager entry that will always allow swift access to your Kindle, provided you first turned on “View on PC” in ES File Manager 4.x. You will no longer have to manually type out the ftp address each time.
(For added security, you may want to use in combination with the simple wi-fi toggle app Wifi Turn On, Wifi Turn Off).
Story-world chronology reading-order, for the original Adventures of Blake & Mortimer.
The English translation titles listed below are the Edgar P. Jacobs original volumes, or ‘albums’ as the French and Belgians term them. Edgar Pierre Jacobs’s Blake & Mortimer appeared in 1946 and had the ‘clear-line’ art style of Tintin and similar lettering. They told of Professor Philip Mortimer, nuclear physicist, and Captain Francis Blake, the dashing head of British spy service MI5. In a slightly ‘alternative history’ world, the pair encounter adventures in the realms of extraordinary science, mysterious archaeology, and sinister plots. Imagine the 64-page Commando format crossed with Tintin and James Bond.
All these are available for the Kindle Fire 10″. Dates are for the ‘in-story world’, not the date of publication.
The Time Trap. (Le Piege diabolique)
There are other volumes created later, by others, that ably ‘fill in’ around the timeline. Of these, you may want to start with “Plutarch’s Staff“, which provides an ‘origin story’ for Blake & Mortimer set in 1944.
Microsoft… “challenges you to build an AI agent that can win simplified text-based games. Enter your submission for a chance to win $2,000 USD and more in prizes”.
One for the writers out there. Small Wars Journal‘s Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest 2019. What will a boots-on-the-ground European battle between ‘Donovia’ (standing in for Russia) and the USA look like in 2030? Deadline: 1st April 2019.
There’s a simple way to share ‘live links’ to Web pages, sending them from your desktop PC over to your Kindle Fire tablet. You use Trello. Say goodbye to QR codes, email, privacy-invading ‘social bookmarking’ cloud services, dodgy browser addons or apps, or tedious USB transfers.
1. Make a new private Trello board. Make at least one List on it, ready to accept new cards.
2. Open a new tab and find a YouTube video (or other media you want to send yourself a link for). Click and drag your desired URL’s ‘page information’ icon, just as if you were making a shortcut to the Web page on your Windows desktop.
But instead, you drag this link onto the Trello board over in the next tab, where you drop the link onto Trello’s “Add another card” area…
3. A new card will be auto-created for the video, with all the details filled in, a thumbnail and ‘live’ URL Web links. Whoopee! So much better than a plain bookmark and an icon.
4. Ok, now switch over to your tablet, such as the Kindle Fire HD. Launch your tablet’s Web browser, such as the Kindle’s Silk, and go to Trello.com. Log in as usual, go to your new board for your saved videos, and bookmark it.
5. In your new board, click on the newly saved Trello card to open it, and you’ll see that the ‘Description’ of the card will have one or more live clickable URL links in it. However, these main ‘Description’ link(s) WILL NOT be the link to the video you want, but to blah stuff that YouTube’s bots have likely added. Perhaps link to a “Related video” (often totally unrelated and unwanted!). Or more occasionally the poster will have added a link to a Fan page, or a Subscribe page (which are a bit more relevant). But either way, these links are unwanted. Just ignore the ‘Description’ area entirely.
The link to the video we actually saved is in the ‘Attachments’ of the card, together with the preview thumbnail. This area of the card is open by default, not hidden behind ‘click for more’ tedium. Click on this real Web link to launch and play the video on your tablet.
You’re done. You now have a near-instant and private way of quickly saving a video found while desktop browsing, sending it over to your Kindle Fire for later watching. No dodgy addons or flaky bookmarklets were required. This method may be especially useful for users of the Opera browser, as I could find no addon or bookmarklet that worked with Opera.
As it’s the elegant and easy-to-use Trello, you can also now easily create themed lists and more.
How much will it cost to keep your Kindle Fire 10″ HD (2017 model) on all the time, to use it as a Bluetooth base station for music and wireless Bluetooth headphones? Headphones which don’t come with such a base station, as they assume you’ll be using them with a phone or tablet rather than a PC.
I found some interesting in-depth calculations on 7″ Kindle energy use in 2012. It concluded…
“16.28 Wh … 41.85 hours of video playback on a Fire for 1 penny worth of electricity.”
OK, well… that’s the USA in 2012 and the old first generation Kindle 7″ from 2012.
Some additional factors for 2019…
i) Let’s assume that, due to green energy taxes and huge price hikes, our UK electricity costs twice as much compared to the USA in 2012. Let’s put it at 1 British penny for every 2012 US cent.
ii) Let’s assume that audio places a little less drain than video on the tablet’s energy use, but not much.
iii) We know that the Kindle Fire 10″ HD (2017) has a 14.171 Wh rating — so the powerful 10″ tablet actually draws less than the old 7″ did in 2012!
Let’s assume these factors combine and balance out to give us perhaps 0.8 pence per 48 hours of media playing on a Kindle Fire 10″. That looks like a fair guess, and errs on the high side.
Now let’s assume that the tablet is only turned off for eight hours of every 24 hour day, and is constantly playing music or video for 16 hours a day. It’s not on a battery charge cycle, as it’s permanently wired to the power socket by USB. The screen is not allowed to slip into low power mode, so that the excellent and strong Bluetooth keeps working and the audio keeps playing. Even then, at 0.4 pence per day I put the total power consumption at about £1.50 of power per year.
However the huge drawback of using the Kindle as a player / base-station is the frequent automatic reboots you often get. The tablet often decides to reboot itself, sometimes several times with a 30 minute space. This problem seems to make it infeasible for use as a base-station, despite the very low power draw.
The cure for this is the free Screen On app. Manually start this each time the Kindle starts up for the day, and the tablet will not (in my experience) allow the seemingly random reboots.
The only problem on the PC is that your headphones are connected to the tablet and not the PC. However…
i) Windows audio system alerts can also be done visually on Windows (see Accessibility settings),
ii) YouTube can be required to always show subtitles,
iii) YouTube with subtitles enables you to judge well-enough if a video is worth saving over to your Kindle via a Trello board.
When I first began reading science-fiction, a novel was perhaps 60,000 words and an anthology might run to ten stories. No more, and bloat-ification rules the shelves. Macleans magazine has a new blurticle on the topic today, musing on why “Books just keep getting longer”…
“the ever-expanding girth of Stephen King’s recent oeuvre has earned him the derisive title of ‘King Bloat’ within the publishing industry.”
It makes one wonder how much of a market there may be for heavily abridged versions, if authors will stand for that. Of course, some audiobooks do offer abridged versions, with the author’s permission. And much non-fiction of the ‘pop best-seller’ variety (Malcolm Gladwell et al) can be heavily abridged with little loss, and services such as Blinkist and others already offer impartial short summaries (impartial compared to the summary on Wikipedia, which has to be assumed to be slanted and spun and snipped for any even a slightly politically-relevant book). So far as I know, the Blink summaries are written by humans and they can be read in 15 or 20 minutes. Marry that with three long reviews found online, and you’ll have a fairly good grasp of the book without having to spend a day reading it.
The risk will come in A.I. powered auto-abridgement, perhaps in tandem with ‘reader attention data’ from devices (which indicate the parts that ‘most people’ skip). We already have news-article summation tools, though I find they’re rarely better than a trained eye skimming down an article.
Already annoyingly automatic is the ‘book shortening’ found on the Kindle, in which Amazon will assume you don’t want to savour the art and typography of the front-cover, the introductory matter and Contents page, before starting a downloaded ebook. Amazon assumes you must immediately leap to the first word of the main body and start reading. This ‘leap’ is often very annoying, and I can’t see any setting in the Kindle dashboard which states: “Always start my ebook at the front cover”.
Of course, that assumes the front cover is worth seeing. In 95% of self-published ebooks, it’s ugly as hell. Apparently most ebook authors don’t want to spend $30 at Fiverr on buying services from a cover designer who knows about typography and who can source good free public-domain artwork. Too many book covers from establishment publishers are also mediocre.
Then, at the end of the book, I find that the Kindle ereader will again try to truncate the book. Too often it will want to whisk the reader away to engage with social media (Amazon Reviews, GoodReads etc), once the last word of the main body text is reached. Whereas there may well be endnotes of other matter in the book that are skipped by leaving at that point. For instance, that happened recently with an Arthur C. Clarke non-fiction book I’d purchased from the Kindle Store. If I hadn’t continued paging on, regardless, then I would thus have missed about 12 pages of endotes to the book. Some of them quite long. The same is true of the Kindle wanting to skip an index or bibliography. If I purchased a book, then I want to at least know about everything that’s potentially available to me in the book.
Amazon: please give readers a global “do not truncate or shorten my books” setting.