Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quick update on Personal Documents

When I was talking to Kindle customer service this afternoon about another matter, I asked about why the Personal Documents don't separate out the way they should (see earlier post today). The tech rep said that they are aware of the problem and are "working on it." Since I generally show all of my items sorting by most recent first, it is not a personal issue for me, but it is for many, so perhaps there is hope.

Personal documents on the K2

On the K2 if you go up to the top line of the Home screen. and push the 5-way to the left, it gives the choice of Personal Docs, Subscriptions, Books, All my Items.

So far, the only personal items I had put on the K2 were a couple of text files which I had dragged over from my Mac. These were appearing in with the books. However, I then plugged in my K1 to the USB port and dragged into a folder on my computer some files which had previously been sent to Amazon and returned to my K1 via whispernet. Then I ejected the K1, plugged in the K2 and dragged these files into its document folder. After I ejected it, these files all appear in my Personal Docs if I choose to have the K2 sort that way. These are all files which show the "author" as my e-mail address. I thought that was the clue, only recognizing personal documents which are tagged with your e-mail address.

However, it turns out that documents e-mailed to Amazon for conversion to be sent back to the K2 just land in your Books, not in Personal Docs. Thus there is a flaw somewhere. Does anyone have a solution? Please comment if you do.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The difficulties in making your own Kindle cover

Ever since the Kindle 1, I have been obsessed with the idea of making my own cover for it from scratch. But my K1 already had two covers, the one it came with and a lovely red leather M-Edge. So I drifted along. But here came K2 naked as a jaybird and the M-Edge cover I wanted not yet available. I ordered a purple M-Edge, the platform type, so that it will turn into its own reading stand. Also, I did make it a quilted slipcase which is a no-brainer for a quilter who has made all sorts of bags and purses. (See photo in my first February post.) But an actual cover that secures the Kindle is a totally different challenge and I was finally ready to take it on.

Not having a bookmaking supply store close by, I went to Michaels and bought a type of illustration board which seems sturdy enough, and I already had an exacto knife. Being a quilter means that I have lots of cutting mats, batting and fabric. The hardest physical challenge was cutting the illustration board, identical front and back pieces. You need to score it over and over and over till it finally breaks free.

I laid down the fabric for the outside, covering it with thin batting, then placed the front and back pieces appropriately with room for the spine between, and laid another piece of batting on it. Then I pulled the free edges of the outside around to the inside and glued them. My plan had been when the glue was dry to baste and then hand sew fabric to the inside.

I can figure out the book part of it just fine. Where I fall down—splat!—is in a method of securing the Kindle to the cover. We are not talking about a lightweight thing here; it is very thin but sturdy, weighs 10.2 ounces and needs to be firmly secured. Really, you are better off having it naked than to put it in something you are relying on to hold it and then having it escape. The little corner things which are on M-Edge covers would not be that difficult to do, but how secure would they be attached just to fabric? M-Edge is attaching leather to leather. It is not possible to sew to the book boards themselves. I don't think there is a solution involving fabric. There are all kinds of cases I could make for it, and did make the slipcase. But a cover which holds it? I give up.

While waiting for the M-Edge, K2 has been developing cabin fever so it was obvious I needed an interim cover and the fastest way to get one of those was to order Amazon's which is now on its way. At least it will be secure, and I can always sell it later if I wish.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are you missing the Articles List?

If you subscribe to newspapers or magazines, you know what the Articles List is. For two days after getting the K2, I thought, wrongly, that now there was only a sections list and aside from that, you had to flip through each article in the periodical. No, the Articles List is there but hiding. Go to the Sections List and note that there are numbers next to each one of the sections. Click on the number, and voila, the Articles List for that section. A big sigh of relief.

Random information regarding the K2

At the top of the screen when you press Menu, the amount of free space and the time are displayed. Obviously it knows where I live.

Synchronization between Kindles will only work with content purchased from Amazon, not public domain books you have put on your Kindle.

The text-to-speech feature is not at all bad for occasional listening. You can read along with it and the page turns automatically along with the voice. What I have learned from reading along with its text-to-speech feature, is that the reading is at its most understandable if punctuated properly. When it is reading headings with no punctuation, it just races right into the next line of text. However, it would still be great for continuing to listen to something for a brief while when you needed your eyes to be elsewhere. Not a substitute for a regular audio book, though, I assure you. It defaults to the male voice, but since I am currently reading Silent in the Grave (Deanna Raybourn) written as if a woman were telling the story, I switched to the female voice. This seemed only logical.

Most of the button pushes are toggles. In other words, if you press Menu and want to get out of it, press Menu again.

People complained that the K1 buttons were too easy to press. Of course, this was because they ran along both sides, leaving little space where you could handle it safely without inadvertent page turns. Now some are saying that the new, smaller page turn buttons are hard to press. Not really. They need to be pressed on the side closest to the screen rather than the outside edge. Apparently this is a further attempt to prevent doing it accidentally. But trust me; the buttons work easily. With my hand problems, I would feel right away if something were more difficult.

If you want to read a description of one of your purchased books, when its title is underlined, move the 5-way to the right and it brings up a menu which includes Book Description. Selecting that will bring to you to the Kindle store and the description. Don't press that Buy button again!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Charging your Kindle

The K2 plug on the top and the K1 on the bottom. An amazing difference in size/weight. Note the usb connector going into the K2 plug. You can also charge the K2 via usb plugged into your computer. However, it will be a slower charge and hog one of your ports. I see no need unless you are desperate for wall plugs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comparison of Kindle 1 and Kindle 2

Today the Kindle 2 arrived a day earlier than Amazon had promised. Congratulations, Amazon—what an Apple-like thing to do! Also Apple-like is the sleek, thin body of the K2. The design difference between it and the K1 is amazing considering they are only a little more than a year apart. Gone is the bizarre scroll wheel, replaced by what Amazon calls a 5-way, really a tiny joystick. In the picture below, the K2 is on the left and the K1 on the right. It is hard to photograph them so that the difference in thickness comes through clearly and this and the next picture were the best I could do. The K2 is named Earl after a dear friend of mine who passed away a few years ago. He loved to read and would have wanted a Kindle had they existed at the time. He was kind of technophobic but this would have been a winner for him.

In the picture below, the K2 appears to be shorter than the K1 whereas the opposite is true. The K2 is a half inch longer than the K1 but the same width. However, this is a better picture for showing the thickness difference.

For a long time, I have wanted to try my hand at making a Kindle cover, but didn't want to tackle one for the K2 until I had it in my hand. I have a red M-edge cover for the K1 and like it very much so if I'm not happy with what I make, that's where I will go. Am thinking of the one that stands up and forms its own stand for reading at the table which is something I do all the time. M-edge has a purple leather version. Yummy! However, I wanted protection for it until I either made a cover or bought one so using the measurements which are in the specs at the end of the K2 manual (downloaded and read ahead of time), I made a slipcase to protect it. See below.