Kindle Button Failure, Replacement

March 4, 2010

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a screen failure on my first generation Kindle, and how good my Amazon customer service experience was. Comments were mixed, with some other folks having similar experiences, and others having nightmares getting their Kindle replaced.

The other day, just shy of two years later, my second generation Kindle failed. This one was rather goofy. When I first received my 2G Kindle, I noticed a little diagonal “scratch” on the 5-way button. Apparently, this was actually a hairline crack. After having the unit for just over a year, last week I pressed the button, and it fell apart into two pieces, making it very difficult to use, particularly when picking a book from the menu.

I called Amazon, and once again, they were quite helpful. Even though I was slightly out of warranty, they overnighted me a new 2G Kindle, and sent me a link for a pre-paid UPS label to send my broken one back.

Obviously, I’m still very happy with my Amazon customer service experiences, particularly as regarding the Kindle. As always, though, your mileage may vary.

Amazon Kindle E-Book Reader

Kindle Screen Failure, Replacement

April 23, 2008

Gadgets fail. Some more than others, but that’s what they do. Assuming that the failure rate isn’t completely excessive, what separates one gadget (and vendor) from another is often just how well they support their product.

My Kindle has been slowly failing for the past couple of weeks.

I first noticed that the book I was reading didn’t have a title. I figured it was just a glitch in the book file, but it became clear that what happened was that the top quarter-inch or so of the display was just not displaying (or displaying so faintly it couldn’t be read).

Not too much later, I also had a “white line” down the left edge of the page, which was causing the leftmost pixels of the first letter of each sentence to disappear.
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Kindle First Impressions

February 1, 2008

My Kindle arrived last night, and I’ve had just enough time with it to form some early impressions.


Yes, the thing is butt ugly. It badly needs a pass through Apple’s industrial design group. Or even Dell’s. But that’s okay, it’s early days, and you buy it to read ebooks, not look cool. That’s why you have the iPhone.

I’m a little more concerned about the build quality — the buttons, particularly the Previous/Next/Back paddle buttons, feel a little fragile. I’m not sure if they are, but I’m a little nervous about how many times I’m going to click them before they stop responding.

Worse, you can’t avoid the things. Between the big navigation buttons, and the keyboard, there is very little room to grab or hold the unit without hitting a button.

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Customize Mac OS X Themes, Icons & More

April 5, 2005

Tired of the same ol’ Panther?  Then Pierre Chatel has the book for you.

Cunningly disguised as one of the “For Dummies” series (which it has no ties with), Mac OS X Gui Customization for Dummies is actually a FREE e-book chock-full of stuff you can do to customize your system’s appearance.

The book starts with the easy “built-in” customization features (some of which I’d never found), and then goes all the way to the exotic, showing you how to edit system files, download shareware theming and skinning applications and more.

A handy little book, with something for everyone.

Check it out. 

Serious Money from Google AdSense

March 22, 2005

If you’re a regular reader of this site, or even take a quick look around, you’ll know that I don’t make a habit of pitching products here (other than my own teleclasses occasionally), so you can bet that I’m pretty serious about it when I do it.

I’ve got a fair-sized handful of sites (other than this one) that I’ve put up over the years. About a year ago, I started putting up Google AdSense banners on some of them, hoping to make a buck or two.
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Sprint Treo 650

March 7, 2005

It’s time to break out the insulated underwear; hell has frozen over and I’m once again a Sprint customer… Whodathunkit?

I’ve been jonesing for the Treo 650 for awhile now; pretty much ever since it became clear that it would eventually get wi-fi capability—with or without PalmOne’s help.

My attraction to the device is pretty simple—if I can get one single device to carry around in my pocket that is a decent phone, plus has a screen big enough to read e-books, plus has decent e-mail options, then I’m miles ahead.

The Treo 650 looks like just the ticket.

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The Case for Quality

January 9, 2005

In “Blog design in the age of RSS”, “The Long Tail” author Chris Anderson suggests that the new shift towards RSS as a substantial traffic source means that the quality of articles posted to your site is beginning to be more important than regularity in posting in keeping people subscribed to your syndication feed (and thus returning to your site.)
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Ditching Smartphones?

December 17, 2004

The Bluetooth Weblog is wondering how many of us agree that overly smart phones have negligable value.

Slate’s Paul Boutin says that instead of shelling out over $600 for a Treo smartphone, why not just get a cheap cellphone like the Nokia 6600? His reasoning is that how many of the Treo’s “wonders” will you really use, such as the QWERTY keyboard and fast wireless connection? Plus, Boutin says you can add a number of features to the Nokia without having to spend a bundle of money to do it.

What I want (at the moment) in a phone is pretty simple: let me get rid of carrying both a phone and a PDA, and use it in a pinch for wireless connectivity from my notebook.

From a functional standpoint, this means I want:

  • GPRS and something faster (EDGE, whatever), available both on the device and from my notebook via Bluetooth.
  • Functional mail reader, with at least a prayer of being able to reply (even if it’s hunting and pecking an on-screen keyboard with a stylus.)
  • A web browser that’s at least marginally usable in a pinch.
  • 802.11 (g, preferably, so I don’t slow everything else down) support for the above two items, that can be used to speed things up if it’s available.
  • A screen big enough (in both width and resolution) to make reading e-books comfortable.
  • A version of Mobipocket Reader.
  • Wireless iSync to my address book and calendar (bluetooth or wi-fi).

Beyond that, I could care less whether it’s Palm, Windows Mobile/Phone, Series 60, or something else entirely.

I want one device that provides me with phone service, mail service, and a good e-book reader (the latter two being 99% of what I do with a PDA, and I use both a lot) for when it’s the only device I’m carrying, and I want it to be able to get at least usable connectivity for my notebook I’m carrying that.

My old 3650 isn’t -that- far off.  Add Edge/EvDO/3G whatever support and a bigger screen, and I could get by with it for a good long while.  It has scads of battery life, gets good reception where most other people’s phones crap out, and syncs via iSync.  Unfortunately, reading mail or e-books on it is a line-at-a-time affair, and sound quality is mediocre.

Ultimately, a phone could replace my iPod too, and I’d be happy.  Perhaps the new Apple / Motorola deal may eventually do that, but it’ll be awhile before we know.

The Underground History of American Education

July 29, 2004

On Waking Up

If you’ve ever been to see a stage hypnotist, you’ve seen the drill—a volunteer up on the stage is told to return to their seat, and that upon hearing a certain phrase, they will begin clucking like a chicken, or preforming some similarly outrageous behavior.  Sure enough, most of the time, that’s exactly what will happen.  On the other hand, if when they arrive at their seat, the person next to them tells them that “when he says ‘egg’, you’re going to cluck like a chicken”, odds are good that when the time comes, they’ll fail to cluck.  They woke up.

Much of what most of us call our everyday lives is more-or-less sleepwalking.  Going through routines and rituals on autopilot.  The more we can manage to wake up, the more we get to direct our own destiny—regardless of what we’ve been hypnotized to do.

K5 has an interesting review of John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education.

Gatto, an award-winning teacher who was both NYC and NY State Teacher of The Year, decided to leave at the height of his career, after writing a relatively scathing essay on the educational system for the Wall St. Journal.

Nine years later, he published this massively-researched tome that discusses the real state of American education, and how it got to this point, historically. 

Some of this has been a personal hot-button for me for several years, and I knew a bit of the historical context, but reading the first few chapters, I found I knew a lot less than I thought I did (not a new experience for me, of course.. lol).

Based on what I’ve read so far, it’s my personal opinion that anyone in the US who has, has had, or is planning to have kids, or who has ever been a kid (or is planning to be), probably ought to read it.  An online version is available here.  Unfortunately, if you’d rather read an e-book, you’ll have to roll your own.

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Dirt Cheap VGA PDA

July 8, 2004

Harry (who probably ought to have a blog, but doesn’t my mistake—looks like he’s working on it) informs me that CompUSA is selling out their Toshiba e800s (e800 and e805 are the same model, just with a bit different bundled software) for under $400.  I’ve also heard that Best Buy is selling theirs in the $350 – $400 range.

This is a great price for a spectacular device, particularly with the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition upgrade available for download. 

We’re talking a Pocket PC with a 4” screen, that runs 640 x 480, portrait or landscape, for those programs that you want it to (e-book readers, web browsers, remote desktop), and standard 320 x 240 for everything you’d rather NOT see that small.  It has built-in wi-fi (with a killer zero-configuration ability), an SD slot and a CF slot. 

It was the most awesome Pocket PC going back in December, and frankly, IMHO, it still is today.  At less than $400, it’s a steal, too.  I don’t know why they’re busting these out—probably either an updated version is coming, or Toshiba’s on-again, off-again plans to leave the PDA market are on again.  It doesn’t matter, it still has warranty coverage, and there are plenty of accessories available for it, even outside of Toshiba.

If you have any need for a PocketPC, you should give this one serious consideration.

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