Bulk delete for your Kindle 3’s “Archived Items” folder

If, like me, you have a trillion Instapaper editions lingering as useless ghost files in your Kindle 3’s “Archived Items” folder, it’s annoying that you can only delete them one by one. You need a Bulk Delete option, which Amazon doesn’t provide. Pepa’s Check and Delete to the rescue! It works perfectly, as a simple browser bookmarklet.

How to reboot your frozen Kindle 3

Today I had a frozen Kindle, for the first time since it arrived. The device’s charge was half full, but nothing would wake it from sleep mode. One of the screensavers was frozen on the e-ink screen. Anyway, here’s the secret sauce for restarting it:

1. Find a good watch or clock, that has a seconds hand.

2. Take your Kindle to the clock or watch. At the exact point when the seconds hand clicks to “noon” on the dial, press the power switch on the Kindle.

3. Hold the power switch to the right for exactly 15 seconds, then release it at the exact moment that the seconds hand ticks to 15 seconds past the noon position.

4. The Kindle will remain dead for a few seconds more. Then it will come to life and start rebooting.

5. You will see a “progress bar” on the screen, as the device reboots. When this finishes you can then use the Kindle normally. You may want to then apply a firmware upgrade, since the Kindle is presumably rebooting using a stored on-device operating system — one that’s older than the OS currently available from Amazon.

Readability vs. Instapaper

I nearly swopped from Instapaper to Readability today, for reading newspaper and magazine articles on the Kindle. Readability added Kindle support in late summer 2011. But after a whole load of rigmarole, the Readability service just wouldn’t work for me.

I love the Instapaper format, but it’s getting too flaky about what it will and won’t send. Half the time, four or five articles are missing from my weekly bundle. Other times, article headers come through, but the body of the article is missing. And yes, I did make sure to keep the number of articles under the threshold number for the free version of the service.

So I tried setting up Readability for use with the Kindle. It’s a bit of a hassle. You need to do it all in this order…

1. Sign up for a Readability account at their website.

2. Go to your email in-box, find the new Readability email, click on the link it contains, to activate the account.

3. Install the browser addon.

4. Add the email address kindle@readability.com to your Account | Manage Your Kindle | Personal Document Settings | “Approved Personal Document E-mail List”.

5. Log in at the http://www.readability.com website, with your new sign-up details.

6. Use this page to tell Readability what your Kindle’s delivery email address is.

7. Go to Account settings and make sure “Privacy” | “Hide reading list” is ticked.

8. Set your keyboard shortcut in the options settings of the Readability browser add-on. You can also use the browser toolbar “armchair” graphic, which drops a menu that includes “Send to Kindle”.

But after doing all of this, I just could not get my Kindle to receive any Readability articles. Something obviously went wrong, but I’ve no idea what. Articles sent via Amazon’s own “Send to Kindle” print driver came through fine. Sorry, Readability. I really wanted to swop. I correctly and carefully jumped through all the hoops to set up the service. I triple-checked all my setup settings and email spellings. But you let me down at the most vital point — delivery of the actual article.

/Sigh/ Oh well, uninstalled. I guess it’s back to wrestling with Instapaper.

PC Pro’s ‘make a Kindle ebook’ article.

The latest issue of the leading UK PC magazine, PC Pro tells you how to “Publish your own Kindle eBook”. Their rather roundabout route is to make an ePub from Word with Sigil 0.3 and then convert the ePub to .mobi with Calibre. Hmmm. Well, it’ll do the job if you just want to read. But it’s not ideal — and especially if you’re selling the results. For a commercial Kindle Store book you still need hand-coding of simple HTML plus the couple of Kindle-specific tags, and a chunk of basic CSS embedded in the head of the page. And then at least ten passes of proof-reading.

Toward a Kindle zine aesthetic

Here’s my concept page for a Kindle ‘zine page, made directly in Photoshop, and trying to blend the best pixel art fonts with an echo of the old-school Xerox look…

For those who absolutely need searchability in their fanzine for some reason, this could be easily catered for by embedding a half-dozen keyword tags in small-sized type at the foot of each HTML page that holds the images, and then greying out the font colour.

Tutorial: PDF to Kindle for academic journal articles

This tutorial shows you how to convert PDF ejournal articles and book chapters to read on your Amazon Kindle. I’m assuming that you are converting relatively simple arts and humanities articles of the sort found via JURN, and not fiendishly formatted articles from maths, medicine or science. There is no reliable way of converting PDFs for the Kindle, and your results will only be “good enough”, not perfect. Do not use this method for converting PDF content you wish to sell commercially.

The software: The freeware conversion software Mobipocket Creator 4.2 Publisher Edition works quickly and speedily, and produces a “good enough” .prc ebook file, of a type supported by the Kindle. The MobiPocket Creator Software is wholly free software and is not timebombed, crippled, ad-supported, or subject to a “trial period”. MobiPocket is the company that Amazon purchased in 2005 to use for the Kindle, but MobiPocket’s excellent software is still freely available. In my experience, Mobipocket Creator appears to convert a simple academic PDF article in a more acceptable manner that the freeware Calibre software does.

1. Download and install Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition. Load a PDF file…

2. Select and highlight the loaded PDF file.

3. Click to have Mobipocket Creator convert the PDF…

4. Open the Windows folder where the resulting files have been deposited…

5. The folder will contain the files used during the conversion process, and the final .prc conversion. The Kindle can load/view the .prc format without any problem. If you have installed Amazon’s Kindle for PC software on your desktop PC or laptop, then Windows will already have identified .prc files as “belonging” to the Kindle. Just double-click the file to open it. If you’re satisfied, then drag it over to your Kindle via the USB connection, for reading.

Note that there is also the HTML file used during the conversion, which can be edited for errors with a good HTML editor such as HomeSite. You can then email the corrected HTML page to your Kindle.

6. If the starting PDF file is made up of “hard” page scans (i.e.: has no text to copy and paste), then it will need to be opened in the powerful Adobe Acrobat Pro suite (not the Acrobat Reader) and be subject to an OCR scan, during which Acrobat Pro will inspect each letter and attempt to convert it to editable text. Acrobat Pro will then overlay this editable and copyable text over the page image. When this process is complete, save the file…


Book cover: sequel to The Time Machine
  The new sequel to H.G. Wells’s famous novella! 
Available now in paperback and on the Amazon Kindle!