2021 Week 50 – Kindle Upgrade
I’ve been an Amazon Kindle user ever since V2 was released in 2009. That version had a keyboard and built-in cellular modem that allowed you to transfer data and download books anywhere, anytime.
The Kindle e-reader does one thing and, in my opinion, does it very well. It provides a distraction-free reading experience. OK, two things, you can carry a huge number of books with you at any time. This is handy when you want to read a couple of books at the same time, depending on mood and energy. It makes no noise, it has no pop-up messages, and it’s already ready to pick up where you left off in your last reading session.
I eventually upgraded to a newer version and then another. The low $100-125 price and ever-increasing screen resolutions and lighting options made the upgrades worth it. We lost the cellular modem years ago, but with WiFi being so accessible, it’s something you really don’t miss. I typically like to read in the evenings where it helps me unwind. On occasion, I can use my phone to finish a chapter or launch the Audible version of a book where it syncs with the text copy for easy switching between the two.
My last Paperwhite was starting to get a little sluggish, and I realized after 5-years of ownership I was no longer getting updates with some of the newer software features. After doing a little research, I found that I could trade my old unit in for a new one and get a 20% discount as well as a few dollars for the unit I was turning in.
The 2021 Kindle Paperwhite (as reviewed by Wired) is the best Kindle e-reader to date. The screen is larger, and the screen resolution looks like you’re reading a paper book. Backlight options include a warmth mode that tints the screen to ease eye fatigue at night. It’s all automatic based on the sunrise/sunset in your area. You don’t really notice the screen color until you turn it off.
Now that it’s getting cold out, and dark early, I’m spending a lot more time reading in the evening, and I’m really enjoying this upgrade.
I wrote about the Grammarly app in Week 42, and I’m happy to say after the 90-day initial trial, I renewed for another year. It’s been beneficial in my personal and professional life. You might have noticed some improvements in the blog posts too. I was missing some necessary punctuation in my writing. Some obvious (bad editing) and some not so obvious. They just released a new Desktop app for the Mac that allows it to work in ANY application. It was previously limited to its own app outside MS Office apps. Now it works right inside my email program and makes editing on the fly much smoother. At $150 a year, it’s not cheap but, if written communication is an important part of your life, it’s worth checking out to see if it can be helpful to you.
And finally… The limited series show “True Story” on Netflix was a surprise hit. Kevin Hart was excellent in his role, and the story moved very quickly through the seven episodes. Each episode is only 30-minutes, so it’s a pretty quick watch & easy to binge on a rainy day.
That’s it for thie week. Christmas is less than 2-weeks away! I should probably start shopping or something…
Triple Click iPhone Home Button Trick
Trying to get back into the blogging habit after a long hiatus. Too many distractions with the amazing summer weather we’ve been having this year! I’m working on a recap of what we’ve been up to & should have it up here in a week or so.
BUT, for now I’ll publish a draft I had sitting in the queue and hopefully it’ll come in handy for some of you.
I don’t know about you but in my world manufacturers and restaurants have this silly habit of using smaller and smaller fonts everywhere. Case in point, try looking at the IMEI number on the back of your iPhone. It’s TINY!
BUT, I have a solution to share with you that I’ve used for a while now. It’s call the Triple-Click-Magnifyer and it’s amazing!
1. Touch the “Settings” icon on your iPhone’s home screen.
2. Touch the “General” button followed by the “Accessibility” button.
3. Touch “Triple-click Home” (or “Accessibility Shortcut”) located at the very bottom of the Accessibility screen.
4. Tap any of the accessibility options to assign that option to the Triple-click Home function. A check appears next to the option to indicate you selected it. If you select more than one option, the iPhone will ask you which one you want to activate when you use the Triple-click Home feature.
I only use the Magnifier option at this time and it works amazingly well. It’s not the same as firing up the camera and zooming in. It allows for much closer focus and an almost unbelievable amount of zoom.
Now all you need to do is unlock your phone and quickly press the home button 3-times. That’s it!
If you found this tip helpful let me know in the comments section.
Goodbye Pocket, Hello Instapaper!
Always looking for interesting online content (and a place to capture it) I’ve been using the Pocket application since 2012. I even upgraded to the Premium version for around $5 a month which gives you some nice auto-tagging, searching, and archive functions.
I was actually preparing to return to the free version of Pocket because I wasn’t using the advanced features as much as I thought I would. I save the articles I want to keep long-term in Evernote so the archiving features were not a benefit. I’m still trying to adopt the whole tagging concept too so that was another feature that was wasted on me (I’m a Folder organizer, always have been)…
Then Instapaper decided to eliminate the cost of their Premium services… (Whoah, game changer right?)…
Well I had to at least try it out. I’ve seen the Instapaper icon as a “save for later” option all over the Internet for a while now.
I’ll have to admit I’m pretty impressed with how Instapaper works. It does a MUCH better job saving articles in their original format than Pocket did and it beats Evernote hands down with inline videos and graphics.
Other features include “Speed Reading” where each word flashes on the screen at a speed you select. It’s a little awkward at first and causes me to read out loud, for some reason, but it does what it’s supposed to.
Another option I just discovered allows you to tilt your phone to auto-scroll the article you’re reading. The more you tilt the faster the scrolling rate. It takes a little bit to get used to but works great when you’re sitting in your favorite chair relaxing.
If you’re a fan of offline archiving/reading of online content you should really check out Instapaper. You can even import your Pocket library into Instapaper and not miss a beat. It’s a really solid product and you can’t beat the price!
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below…
What We’re Reading/Watching/Buying in December
It’s been a busy month and Christmas is less than a week away (so is a much-needed week off work for yours truly). As I get older the years just keep speeding up & I don’t know of any way to slow them down! It’s just the opposite feeling from when I was a kid where the years dripped slower than that bear bottle full of honey.
The Great Cord Cutting Project of 2015 is going better than I could have ever expected & there’s no going back. I’m spending some of that old evening TV time trying to keep up on the articles I’m always collecting via Pocket. Some items recently clipped include:
- Liz Biro: My top 10 dishes of 2015
- The secret life of baggage: Where does your luggage go at the airport?
- How the Universal Symbols for Escalators, Restrooms, and Transport Were Designed
- The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead
- TV stations could make millions by pulling the plug
The Kindle is getting a workout too with several books being read in parallel. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Andy Weir’s The Martian are both fighting for my attention.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to really dig into what’s available on the streaming services I subscribe to, particularly Netflix and Amazon:
- The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) is an alternate history story that has the Germans and Japanese wining WWII and taking control of the USA. It’s a pretty dramatic series that’s full of twists and turns.
- Narcos (Netflix) depicts the story of Pablo Escobar and the DEA agents assigned with bringing him to justice. I’m not going to lie, you have to pay attention to this show. Mainly because it’s 90% Spanish with subtitles. And a Gringo like me needs them. No Sprecken la Espanola
I’ve been helping keep USPS, FedEx and UPS in business with lots of holiday purchases for friends and family. Along with those items I picked up a new Keyboard/Case for myself and my iPad Air 2. The Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro is a great replacement to the Logitech keyboard cover I was using with the last iPad. It’s a little pricy $150 but It’s currently on sale now for $130. I’m working on a review but let’s just say that after a few days using it I’m a fan.
After a glowing review from a co-worker I also ordered the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Electric Sandwich Maker. Seriously, I did! I’ve see this gadget before but didn’t think it would be any good, especially costing under $30. Well I’m told this thing really works so I had to see for myself. When I happen to eat breakfast the egg and cheese (with various meats) is my regular go to. Delivery is scheduled for Monday so we’ll see how it goes Tuesday morning when I fire that baby up and make my first sausage, egg and cheese muffin.
No matter your religious preference (or not) I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun holiday season with friends and family. If you get any good tech gadgets or kitchen toys let me know! I’m always looking for ways to give Amazon more money.
What We’re Reading This Week (Nov. 22, 2015)
It’s about an hour before kickoff of the Colts vs. Atlanta game and time for another installment of what we’re reading this week.
- Yesterday TV Chef Mario Batali came to town for a book signing at the recently opened Market District in Carmel. Liz Biro at the Indy Star had the chance to speak with him and ask a series of great questions from her readers.
- A NY Times journalist made the trip to Cuba to try and snag a box of hand-rolled smokes from the source and wrote an interesting piece on what it’s like to visit. Cuba is on my bucket list & I want to make it there before it gets commercialized.
- The anti-encryption debate heats up in the days after the Paris attacks. It doesn’t help that ISIS claims to be using Apple’s iMessage for communication. Wired has a piece on the state of Operational Security (OPSEC) and what the recently released guide being used by ISIS could mean for all of our privacy going forward.
- And finally this week Medium has a Long Form article about a depressed photographer and his 40,000km trip around the world that took an amazing 4 years to complete… On a bicycle! Great images in this one.
That’s it for now. Fingers crossed that Matt Hasselbeck can pull off a win this week!
What We’re Reading This Week (Oct. 31, 2015)
I love to read and I find myself tagging a lot of online articles to read later. My first method (a long time ago) involved copying links and creating bookmarks. After that I progressed to using the Reading List option in Safari. After that I tried sending everything to Evernote. That worked for a while but I found it created too many issues when I was searching for other reference items.
Enter the App called “Pocket” (which I blogged about back in 2012). It still does one thing and it does it very well. It allows you to aggregate online content, tag it for the corresponding categories, and save it for later.
If you sign up for Pocket Premium ($4.99 a month) it keeps articles forever in a digital archive even if the originating page gets removed. You also get access to some nice search and indexing features. I’ve found this useful as many of my old saved articles are no longer available online.
Here are some of my favorite articles from the past week:
- 10 Facts About the Internet’s Undersea Cables
- Millennials Cut the Cord on ESPN
- Why It Was Faster To Build Subways in 1900
- Financial Fridays: It’s Financial Suicide To Own A House
- Stop Being a Freak and Just Look at Your Phone
- 6 Inventors Killed by Their Own Inventions
- How to Fart in Public and Get Away with It
I’ll try to post some of my favorites on an ongoing basis. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Keeping the Web in Your Pocket
As much as I read online you would think I’d already be using an online clipboard but the usefulness was lost on me until about three weeks ago. Pocket (formerly Read-it-Later) is changing the way I collect and process online content.
Adding a simple bookmark to your browser allows you to take the article you’re reading on the screen and transform it into a very readable (i.e. NO ADS!) format you can take with you anywhere. Just launch the app on your phone and once downloaded you can get access to the information without any kind of network connection.
Tired of reading on the small screen? Visit the Pocket website and read on your computer. Pocket is cross-platform and integrated into a lot of applications (like Twitter for iPhone) where it will grab a link and process it for later reading. Finally you can email any link to [email protected] and have it processed that way.
Definitely a great way to grab content for later consumption. The only drawback I’ve found so far is I have a LOT more to read and it’s getting hard to keep caught up!
The Amazon Kindle
I’ll be the first one to admit it… I don’t read for fun nearly as much as I should (or want to).
When Amazon launched the first Kindle in late 2007, I really didn’t take notice. By the time Generation 2 came out in early 2009 I knew I had to have one. I was traveling weekly for work and found myself with more downtime in the evening than I normally had when I was at home. Being limited to a book or magazine in my suitcase was not the preferred option as my preference for subject material changes quite frequently. It’s not unusual for me to have several books/magazines going at one time.
The clincher for me was the “Whispersync” technology that keeps all of your various reading material synchronized between devices. By devices I mean not only the Kindle but your PC, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Android and iPod Touch. This feature allows you to purchase and share kindle content among the various electronic devices you use every day. A prefect example of this in use was when my wife wanted to read a book on the Kindle. I was able to grab the laptop and continue reading my own book that I had been working on previously.
Whispersync is the feature that pushed me over the edge from “want to need” and convinced me to purchase a Kindle sight unseen. They were not available in the traditional brick and mortar stores until recently so I read enough positive reviews that I took the plunge.
The Kindle display uses Electronic Ink which is amazing. After spending all day working on a computer it’s actually refreshing to stare at the Kindle screen. It looks like ink on paper and works perfectly inside and out. There is a slight “flash” as the page refreshes as you turn the digital page. It’s noticeable at first but you end up not even noticing it after a while. The Kindle only uses power when it’s refreshing the screen or communicating wirelessly. When it’s “off” there’s actually pictures (screen savers) on the screen.
Speaking of communicating wirelessly, the Gen 2 version I own has a built in AT&T 3G data card in it. It’s free to use for the life of the device and allows for the wireless sync as well as some basic web browsing via the built in browser.
Battery life with the 3G radio disabled is measured in weeks (2-3), even with daily reading sessions of an hour or more. With the 3G turned on your battery life drops to 4-5 days.
The new Generation 3 devices have an even better display and a lower cost from the previous generations. I could go on and on about what a great device the Kindle is. It only does one thing but it does it very well.
My Kindle – Finale
Back in December I started writing about the new amazon Kindle eBook reader I purchased. It’s been about 6 weeks and I thought I would do a follow-up post.
Although I have not had as much time to read as I would have liked, I’ve spent considerable time with the Kindle in a lot of different environments. My favorite place to read is the comfy leather chair in my living room illuminated by a 40w bulb in the Pharmacy Floor Lamp.
When not curling up with the Kindle at home I’ve done some reading while riding in a car, enjoying a quiet lunch at the cafe near the office and in my second home, the hotel. The Kindle performed well everywhere and the wireless connectivity never missed a beat.
By making use of the ample storage in the Kindle I always have something available to read. Fiction, history, newspapers and technical manuals have all found their place on the device. I currently have around 200 titles loaded and I’m not even close to making a dent in the memory.
If you are looking for some classic reading you can’t go wrong with Project Gutenberg. All of the titles here are public domain (free). You get what you pay for though as several titles I have obtained from here had some typo & formatting issues. Overall it’s a great place to pickup some good reading materials.
Another tool I have found for the Kindle (and just about every other eReader out there) is a software application called Calibre. Calibre is an eBook Management tool that allows you to catalog, edit and convert electronic documentation into the format needed for your particular eBook reader. You can use Calibre to upload and download books to/from your devcice as well. it’s an OUTSTANDING piece of software that the developer, Kovid Goyal, offers for FREE! If you like the software you are encouraged to make a donation to help with future development.
I hope this brief 3-part review of the Kindle gives you additional information on this amazing piece of technology. If you love to read you’ll love the Kindle!
My Kindle – Part 2
Ended up going out of town the day the Kindle was delivered. Did not get to check it out until last night. I hate it when UPS doesn’t match their delivery to my schedule (ha)!
This thing is a LOT smaller than I expected. The screen size is about the same as a small paperback book. Once you start using it you forget about the screen size. The display is truly amazing! Packaging was very minimal (green). and the unit was already hooked to by Amazon account when I powered it on!
I had my doubts about how much better the eInk technology would be when compared to any other computer screen. The best way i can describe it is like this; Analog TV vs. HDTV. There’s a huge difference between what you are reading on the screen right now and the quality of the text on the Kindle.
One of the great features of this device is the ability to download samples of books before you buy them. You get a chapter or two delivered instantly to the device and you have the option of purchasing the book to continue reading.
There can be conversion issues with documents. I purchased the 9/11 Commission Report for $0.99 and after a couple of hours reading the formatting errors are driving me nuts. Mainly the lack of space between sentences and missing hyphens. This is a by-product of PDF conversion to Kindle format. I’ve seen this with other forms of electronic books.
The seamless integration to your Amazon account makes purchasing content on-the-fly as simple (or dangerous) as pushing a button. I have quite a backlog of books I want to read so the get-it-now feature is going to be hard to resist!
I’m going to log some time using the Kindle and publish a third and final post/review in a few weeks.