Friday, December 30th is Amazon Digital Day

digital_day_2016Over the last few years, Amazon has certainly proved to be the online retailer to beat. They have totally slayed Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They launched their own online shopping day, Prime Day and it has also proved to be a winner. There’s no doubt, Amazon has redefined online shopping holidays.

Now, Amazon is starting a new deal event called Digital Day. It premieres on December 30, 2016 at midnight PST and last for 24 hours. Deals include up to 80% off hundreds of video game titles, 50% off on top movies and TV shows, and 75% off on hundreds of digital comics. You can see pictures on the Digital Day page which hint at possible deals on Amazon Music Unlimited, software, digital magazines and perhaps some deals on video channel subscriptions. I would also not be surprised to see great bargains on ebook titles on Friday along with the other digital deals.

From the Amazon page:

Amazon Digital Day is the deal event for your devices. On Friday, December 30, enjoy up to 80% off hundreds of video game titles, 50% off on top movies and TV shows, 75% off on hundreds of digital comics, and other great deals on popular content for your devices. Whether you’re gifting or receiving gadgets this year, this 24-hour sale is one of the best times of the year to shop for must-have digital content.

You can sign up here to get notified about Digital Day and to get monthly updates on digital deals.

This one looks like fun! 🙂

B and N says they already fixed the NOOK malware issue, but….

nook_boxYesterday I posted a story about the new NOOK branded tablet coming with malware pre-installed. Barnes and Noble says that the device had already been update prior to its initial sale and that an new update to remove it completely is forthcoming. Here’s their response to 9 to 5 Google’s request for comment:

“NOOK Tablet 7” went on sale on November 26. By that time, the device automatically updated to a newer version of ADUPS (5.5), which has been certified as complying with Google’s security requirements, when first connected to Wi-Fi. ADUPS has confirmed to Barnes & Noble that it never collected any personally identifiable information or location data from NOOK Tablet 7” devices, nor will it do so in the future.

Finally, we are working on a software update to remove ADUPS completely from the NOOK Tablet 7”. That update will be made available to download within the next few weeks, but in the meantime customers can rest assured that the device is safe to use.” – Fred Argir, Chief Digital Officer

The problem with this is that Charles Fisher, the engineer who broke the story on Linux Journal, says that ADUPS 5.5 is not version that was on the NOOK BNTV450.

A new Android Central article notes that the shipping version for the tablet was 5.2.0.2.002. Evidently, there was some sort of an update, as their post goes on to note that “the version in the update file we received last night is 6.0.” While they state that the update should solve the ADUPS problem, they are still saying avoid this one:

But there are plenty of reasons to still not buy this tablet. Beginning with the fact that it’s still 100% vulnerable to CVE-2015-6616. In human language, that means the Stagefright exploit. The Android version (6.0 in this case) should be at least partially patched, but there are security updates for the processor which have not been applied.

The bottom line is that there is just too much uncertain about this tablet. I am sending mine back.From comparing them side by side, the $50 Fire 7″  was faster anyway….

Photo © The Ebook Evangelist

Prime Reading: The good, the bad and the confusing

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Recently, Amazon expanded its Prime benefits by adding a new feature called Prime Reading.It allows Prime Members in the US to read for free from a selection of over a thousand books, magazines, comics and more.  I have been using it over the last week and wanted to share some observations.

The available material is only a small subset of the content in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program (which has over a million titles). Also, like some of the content on Scribd, the content in Prime Reading will rotate a variety of content monthly, whereas the Kindle Unlimited content is available as long as the content is in the program.

Like Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow up to 10 books at one time. You seem to be able to borrow an unlimited amount of books in total. If you already have 10 books on your device, you will be prompted to return one before you can borrow another.

The Good

For a long time, Prime membership included the benefit of reading free books with the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL).  Because this was set up for owners of an actual Kindle device, the KOLL monthly borrow couldn’t be initiated on the Kindle apps or the Kindle for PC and cloud reader. Prime Reading will allow borrowing from the apps as longs as the book is compatible.(See below**)

Surprisingly, Amazon has made the Prime Reading section really easy to find. (For a long time, customers have been frustrated that there is no section for KOLL books per se.) For Prime Reading, there are headings in the Kindle Books section on the website and it is even easy to find in the bookstore menu on the Fire tablets:

 

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Like Kindle Unlimited books, books borrowed through Prime Reading show up on your Manage Your Content and Devices (MYCD) page. You can also sort them by date and returned book status.

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The Bad:

One of the new feature of Prime Reading is the addition of magazines to the program. The selection is limited and is in a fixed view format (Amazon’s version of PDF).  That means the text is does not reflow and you have to pinch and zoom to read. Personally, I find this totally useless and way too hard to read. However, if you want to look at the original magazine ads, this has you covered.

Amazon has also added these magazines to the Kindle Unlimited subscription as well,so if you already have Kindle Unlimited, Prime Reading is unlikely to offer any additional value.

Every time Amazon shows you the Prime Reading section, it uses the opportunity to pitch you Kindle Unlimited. Since Prime Reading books are a small subset of the KU books, if you are already a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, there probably isn’t any added value for you from just Prime Reading feature .

Prime Reading content cannot be shared and content cannot be loaned to other Household members on your Prime account. Only the primary user can access any of the content, although it can be delivered to other devices on the same account.

The Confusing:

The content you see available on your screen may vary from one account to the next on both the web and device screens. Prime members who are not Kindle Unlimited members will see something different that those who do not have Prime or who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

Here’s the one of my favorite recent reads, Anne Frazier’s The Body Reader, as seen on two different Kindle Paperwhites. The one on the left is my husband’s; he is the Prime account holder and does not subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. The one on the right is from my Paperwhite; I do not have a Prime account of my own but do subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Note the difference in the text on the button on the left.

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As with borrowing through the KOLL library, you will be charged the purchase price of the book if you click on the buy button instead of the one that says read for free.

If you are neither a Prime or KU subscriber, you should see a Kindle Unlimited prompt next to the buy button as a default.

On the Fire Tablet, Prime Reading displays pretty much the same way. Note the pitch to join Kindle Unlimited at the bottom:

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**Also  somewhat confusing is the fact that, due to formatting issues, all material from Prime Reading may not be available on all devices. Some people have reported that they cannot read some titles on various apps or devices. I myself have had problems certain graphic-heavy books not downloading, although they still show as borrowed on the MYCD page. On the first day, there were some reports of some comics and graphic novels coming up sideways. 😦

Books that can’t be delivered to a particular device do not seem to be indicated on the borrow page itself. Ineligible devices for delivery of a particular book are grayed out on the MYCD page.

It is still not clear exactly how the rotation in the Prime Reading program works. Will the titles change monthly? What happens if a title is removed from the selection before you are finished reading? It will be interesting to see how the program develops.

Have you tried Prime Reading? What do you think?

Amazon announces all-new Fire HD 8 tablet

new_fire_8For the last few weeks,the Fire 8 HD tablet has been sold out on Amazon. Today, Amazon announced an all-new version of the Fire 8 HD tablet. The new version is cheaper, too: $89.99 compared to $149.99 (with special offers). The new Fire promises to incorporate Alexa digital voice assistant from the Echo line of products into the Fire 8. According to Amazon’s website, other products in the fire line will be also receiving the Alexa update in the future .

The new device has a faster processing speed, more storage, an SD slot increased battery life and features a 1200 by 800 189 PPI resolution screen. You can find more specs listed here.

I ordered one of these for myself to give it a try. I have an aging Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet which I have been thinking of replacing. Like the Fire 8 HD, the Note 8 also has a 189 ppi resolution screen and I frequently use it for reading Scribd and Pocket articles. I bought one of the $50 fire 7 tablets last year and found the 171 ppi resolution bad enough that, with my vision problems, I won’t use it for reading. The 189 ppi screen is the minimum I find acceptable for reading.

Personally, my ideal would be an Alexa update for my favorite Fire tablet, the Fire HD 6. The HD 6 has a 252 ppi screen resolution that makes for really enjoyable reading experience on a tablet. There’s no word yet on whether that model will receive the update that incorporates the Alexa features. Amazon has had an ongoing price reduction on the HD 6, so they could be clearing stock for a new version. You can pick up an HD 6 for $69.99.

The new devices will be released on September 21, 2016. Like the other Fire tablets, it comes in four color options: Black, blue, magenta and tangerine.  Amazon is offering a payment plan for the new device where you can pay in 5 monthly payments of $18. 🙂

And, for you fellow case fashionistas, I am already checking into the case/cover situation and will have an update soon.

What about you? Is a new Fire tablet on your radar?

Deadline looms for free Windows 10 upgrade

windows-upgradeIf you have been holding off on upgrading to Windows 10, you are almost out of time to get the free upgrade. The deadline for reserving your copy is July 29, 2016. You are supposed to be able to reserve a copy, even if you don’t install it.(Here’s how to do it.) After the 29th, the upgrade will set you back $120.

A lot of people have been put off by Microsoft’s aggressive (and sneaky) push to get users to install the new version. Some computer experts likened Microsoft’s deceptive actions to malware. I know it took over and installed itself on my husband’s laptop, without permission. We had to roll back immediately because much of his specialized music software would not work on Windows 10.

When my computer hard drive died on me last month, I bought a new Windows 10 machine as replacement. Much of the software I’d been running on the old machine would not work on Windows 10. I am still scrounging for replacements for voice recognition, photo and video editing software. I am still trying to get one of my scanners to work properly. So your choice to upgrade may be strongly influenced by the software and peripherals you use.

Be aware that the new OS is also a privacy nightmare. Thanks to Microsoft’s new freemium model, I found out that you can’t even play a game of solitaire on the new system without being logged in and tracked. 😦

If you do upgrade, or if you already have, you should also note that Microsoft is making some changes to Windows 10 with its upcoming Anniversary update. One of the most disturbing changes is that you lose the ability to turn Cortana off. Since I prefer Google to Bing as a search default, this is probably going to be a big deal for me.

If you have decided not to upgrade your present computer, the good news is that after July 29th, Microsoft has promised that it will turn off the update nag screens (and presumably the sneaky installs). Microsoft has promised that this is the last version of Windows, making it a sure thing that if you buy another Windows machine, sooner or later, you’ll be running Windows 10.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is almost here

hP_cursedThe wait is almost over for the latest Harry Potter book. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One & Two (Special Rehearsal Edition Script) will be released at midnight on July 31, 2016.

The book has caused quite a stir and excited fans even formed a “Muggle Mob”. Previous books in the series has special midnight releases at bookstores and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is no exception. You can look on publisher Scholastic Book’s website for locations of midnight parties. There is even a Harry Potter activity kit and party planner on the site.

Barnes and Noble has been heavily promoting the new book for months. There is a special event page on the website and select stores are hosting Harry Potter Countdown to Midnight parties. Prizes include a chance to win a set of Harry Potter Limited Edition Cover Prints.

The still time to order Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One & Two online. You can pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes. Amazon is also featuring a special 8 book e-bundle that includes the first seven books plus Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The first seven Harry Potter books are also available to read for free as part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription.