February 15, 2012

Kindle Fire

I just bought one. I don't have my library any more, and I find there are some of them I want to reread. A while back I looked, and the ones I remember fondly are available for download for the Kindle.

So just now I went to the store and bought one.

It connected to my LAN very easily, and with it I can connect to my web page hosted on the Qube. But I can't get outside of there, and I'm not just sure why. If it can use the LAN then it means the Wifi connection is good, and it means it got assigned an IP via DHCP. If it can't get beyond that, then it means it doesn't know what to use as a gateway. I thought I had Railgun (the Wifi hub) set up to announce that properly, but maybe not.

Unfortunately, I can't find any frame in the Kindle where I can look to see what TCP/IP setup it's using. The Kindle is supposed to be for non-technical users, and likely they don't want to confuse them. But I need to see what Railgun told it.

It's charging now, and later I'll dig into the usermanual (which is on the Kindle itself) and see what it says about connection problems.

UPDATE: I'm sure that's the problem. I can't find any place in Railgun's setup frame where I specify the gateway. And I remember that when I set up Saten (the Slate) I had to manually set up the gateway rather than rely on what Railgun said.

I guess I need to hit the Railgun manual.

UPDATE: All fixed and working. I found a place in the Fire itself where I could manually enter all the TCP/IP information. I just bought a book and downloaded it.

Which is a bit confusing. I think Amazon has my old, now defunct, credit card number. I don't think they have the new one. But the purchase went through fine. Who did they charge? I think maybe I should look at my BankOfAmerica account and see if there is a charge from Amazon.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:43 PM | Comments (39) | Add Comment
Post contains 355 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Among other things, I've started using mine to watch Crunchyroll. I have to admit, it is pretty nice to not need either PC or discs for anime. I find the app a hell of a lot more pleasant to use than their website.

Posted by: gaiaswill at February 15, 2012 01:24 PM (ar9uP)

2 I mostly use mine to listen to Japan-a-radio.com, because Fire has built-in speakers. I used to use PSP for that purpose, but the software on it was rather inadequate.

Crunchyroll works ok on Fire, but I need to take screencaps for blogging, and I'm too lazy to investigate a good capper (e.g. shake-triggered).

Another thing is, Crunchy does not keep streams forever. I still need to download what I stream or buy on medai.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 01:45 PM (G2mwb)

3 How do you download from Crunchyroll? I didn't think they supported that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 01:54 PM (+rSRq)

4 I don't download from Crunchyroll. But this comes to what some commenters mentioned a few posts down the line. As long as I have the media, I feel entitled. Streaming... maybe not so much.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 02:07 PM (G2mwb)

5 Crunchyroll's Android app is pretty primitive at the moment.  It can remember where I left off watching a specific episode, but not simple things like "which series I was watching". I have to navigate from the top-level menu each time and wait for the full list of series to load.

I'm only using it for MouPai right now (an abbreviation that doesn't exactly flow off the tongue...), but I've thought about finding out just how horrible Steel Angel Kurumi Zero was.

-j

Posted by: J Greely at February 15, 2012 02:16 PM (fpXGN)

6 This is a freebie from Amazon. If the credit card info is invalid, they will "cancel" the order later. I don't know if they go into your Kindle and delete the book though. Technically they have the capability, possibly even on a rooted Kindle if it kept their services. In case of MP3s it's just free MP3s. I "defrauded" Amazon this way by accident before, then made up by buying some Miku Hatsune tracks or whatver.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 02:31 PM (G2mwb)

7 I just entered my new credit card number at Amazon, so I hope they haven't done their billing cycle yet. We'll see how it goes.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 03:08 PM (+rSRq)

8

It really is pretty astounding that this thing can be sold for only $200.

This is a bit like a game console, I suspect. The real money for those is in the games. Or like a cell phone, where the real money is in usage fees. Game consoles and cell phones are routinely sold at a loss.

Since the Kindle is pretty much a slave to Amazon's electronic store, the real money is in selling books and music and games for it. So I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon is breaking even on these, or maybe even losing a bit on each one they sell.

Especially when they're sold through retail outlets, like the one I just bought from Fred Meyer. Maybe the ones Amazon sells directly from their web site are slightly profitable, but I bet they lost a lot on the one I just bought.

Because this is really well made. It's quite impressive.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 03:14 PM (+rSRq)

9 I bought a Motorola XOOM when they were brand new, and have loved it.  For a while I was using my PC to convert fansubs into something it could play, but that got tedious enough that I stopped using it for that.  I had not considered that I could stream anime onto it from crunchyroll.  How well does that work?

Posted by: David at February 15, 2012 03:24 PM (+yn5x)

10 I got a Kindle Touch (with ads) with my Christmas money; I like it a lot.

Though I don't have the complex home network setup you do, I had zero trouble getting it on-line.

It's a good solid product.  And yeah, it's an amazing bit of technology, esp. for the sticker price of $99.  Not quite "indistinguishable from magic", but only because I was born in the latter third of the 20th century and took a degree in electronics....

Posted by: atomic_fungus at February 15, 2012 03:31 PM (eZ7bU)

11 I am not sure how much Fire costs for Amazon. However, I know that OLPC came very, very close to the $100 point for a system which was far more potent (for its time), which ran x86 code, and had a very large array of peripherals. They claimed that the retail distribution would add 50..70% to their cost point. Their issue was to get a committment to large enough run, so that the truly efficient manufacturing can be amortised. Based on that knowledge, I would say that an ARM tablet with minimum of peripherals and connectors, relying on Amazon's efficient distribution, and backed by Jeff Bezos' guarantee of minimum purchase of a few million units may quite possibly break even at $200 point these days, even retail. Even if it does not, the loss is not great. Note that Amazon is a public company, and we're going to learn a lot about it once Q-10 comes about.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 04:04 PM (G2mwb)

12 By the way, I principally bought Kindle Fire to run Naviator. That idea was an abject failure, because Naviator turned out useless without a GPS receiver. I know how to work around it using WiFi, but having two devices around, both of which have to be backed up, sort of put an end to this. Also, the Arrow that I fly the most received a beautiful glass panel upgrade in the late 2011, and that took a lot of wind of Naviator-on-Kindle sails.

Basically Fire is no iPad. But I only understood it now.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 04:09 PM (G2mwb)

13 The only thing I want the Fire for is to allow me to read certain books. The first one is "The Golden Spiders", by Rex Stout.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 04:26 PM (+rSRq)

14 There is something to it, in my case, too. I bought The Soul of The New Machine for Kindle, which I would never get otherwise. I prefer not to expand my paper library, if I can.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 05:05 PM (G2mwb)

15 The project management classic Peopleware was out of print for years, and at one point used copies were selling for more than the cost of the Kindle edition and a Kindle to read it on.
I'm still waiting for screen improvements, but the Kindles are cheap enough now that I'm likely to buy one while I'm waiting.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 15, 2012 08:16 PM (PiXy!)

16

It actually looks quite nice, and the characters are large and well formed, at least on the book I just got. It was originally a paperback, but the Kindle's screen is larger yet, so it's easy to read for and old guy like me whose eyes are not as good as they used to be.

On the other hand, when I loaded Chizumatic it was almost impossible to read. They resized it to fit the screen, which in portrait mode is only 600 pixels wide. (You can click on it to blow it up, and you can scroll it back and forth, but even then it was a bit tough.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 09:17 PM (+rSRq)

17

I got a Kindle Touch early this year and have enjoyed reading a few books on it. The whole e-ink thing is a dream to read. I think it's great that books like Peopleware are now available in an electronic format, though it seems like roughly half the books I want to read aren't available. Strange. Or perhaps I have obscure taste.

How is the color screen for reading? It seems like it would wear on my eyes... but I have some sensitivity in that area that other folks don't seem to have.

Posted by: Mark at February 15, 2012 09:20 PM (i24Ag)

18 Just now I found a new item on the bookshelf that said, "There was a problem with your purchase." Using the web browser I was able to tell it to use my new credit card instead, I think. The "problem with your purchase" thing is still there, however. So I think I'm going in with the browser on my computer and see if I got it fixed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 09:21 PM (+rSRq)

19 The bookshelf is pretty cool looking, but right now I only have 6 items on it. I wonder how it looks when there's something like 50?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 09:24 PM (+rSRq)

20 Oh, I see. The bookshelf scrolls up and down!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 09:25 PM (+rSRq)

21 My wife has the launch hardware, square whie Kindle with e-link. I played with it and I also think that it's very impressive as a book replacement. Like I said I wanted to tinker with my Fire as an application platform. If I wanted a book reader, I would've gotten an ad-free e-link Kindle. But I am not going to presume that Steven would be better served by an e-link Kindle. It is very personal.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 09:28 PM (G2mwb)

22 I hate the bookshelf launcher. I tap on top, "Books", and select from there.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 15, 2012 09:28 PM (G2mwb)

23  They had those at Fred Meyer too, and Iooked at one, and decided I wanted the Fire. The main reason is that the Fire has more memory.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 15, 2012 10:30 PM (+rSRq)

24 Somebody did an OEM price breakdown of the components around Christmas, and based on the information they could find, the Fire looked like it cost ~$205 or somesuch, not counting final assembly, shipping, marketing, etc.

That said, yeah, it's exactly like the console business model, on overdrive.

I'd like one... but, I can't really justify it right now.  To be honest, I've really got my eyes on the bow wave of Win8 devices I keep hearing about.  If I can get a small-but-full-powered laptop that can serve as my primary machine, but has a form factor and low-power mode that allows it to serve as a decent tablet, then I don't need to keep up with and replace two devices.  I don't mind a tablet-sized screen and keyboard so much, because it ideally would have several ports that I could use to hang "real" ones off of while at a desk.

Posted by: BigD at February 16, 2012 08:36 AM (qLkdZ)

25

Of course, it's part of their business plan to make it as easy and convenient as they can to buy stuff, and it's working on me. I just bought my second book.

I'm going to have to be careful about this. I remember how I used to be in book stores.

The billing is all straightened out, and I've gotten payment acknowledgements for both books.

I'm a bit surprised at the pricing, however. The first book was $5. The second one was $6. It only would have cost about $2 more for each to get paper copies. (Which I don't want, because I have no room for them. But anyway...)

There's very little overhead cost for electronic distribution. No warehousing, no printing cost, no money gambled on buying units which don't sell. An electronic copy of a book  gets created microseconds after it's ordered, and it's made of electrons.

There's nontrivial infrastructure for Amazon itself, in creating all the computer systems which do this, not to mention selling the Kindle at a loss, and that's all got to be paid for. But when I bought these, I got told that the price was set by the publisher, and it looks like they're trying to set the price high enough so that it doesn't threaten their dead-tree book business.

They're just like the other old-wave information distribution companies (e.g. RIAA, MPAA) who don't understand that their old business is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 16, 2012 12:22 PM (+rSRq)

26 Yup, after all those years of explaining how increases in printing costs were driving up the cost of books, publishers finally reveal that the printing and distribution is no more than 10% of their cost, and insist that ebooks should cost the same as dead trees, if not more. 

Someone needs to teach them the difference between "cost" and "value", and Amazon seems to be taking the lead. Baen seems to be the only publisher with a firm grasp of the concept, and as a result I often buy their printed books from Amazon and DRM-free ebooks directly from their site. (not to mention the Baen Free Library, which padded out my Kindle and Sony Reader nicely...)


-j

Posted by: J Greely at February 16, 2012 01:32 PM (2XtN5)

27 Amazon seems to be doing the same thing to the publishers that Apple has been doing to the record companies, dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 16, 2012 05:01 PM (+rSRq)

28 Now if we could just get the anime companies there... Of course, they have to deal with translation if they're going to sell it outside of R2.

Posted by: ubu at February 16, 2012 05:22 PM (GfCSm)

29 The anime companies are coming around. In that case, it's Crunchyroll that's doing the leading.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 16, 2012 05:25 PM (+rSRq)

30 Oh, I didn't say that they weren't coming.  It's just that, oddly enough, I find myself having the problem of trying to remember if I was watching a given series on CR, or torrenting it. 

Terrible issue to have, isn't it? 

As for Kindles, I recently gained access to one; my cousin loaned nii-san one and he had me do the setup and figure it out so I could explain it to him.  I was interested to see that when I re-registered it under my name/credit card, all the books she had bought stayed with it instead of being dumped.  I was not able to get a Baen ebook to load properly from Lyar though, even though it was the Kindle version.  Not sure what I did wrong.

Posted by: ubu at February 16, 2012 05:44 PM (GfCSm)

31 I've been following e-books and how the publishing industry is dealing with them for interest for some time.  And yes, it is funny how the industry claimed for a long time that printing, storage, and distribution were the cost drivers, and now they claim that it's all in editing, marketing, typesetting, etc.  I've read many articles and reports from the author's perspective saying that it's very rapidly getting to the point where the value-add of a large publishing house simply isn't there, and they can accept the lesser sales of indie publishing, but sell at a much lower price and still make more money in their own personal wallets.
As with J. Greely, I'm a huge fan of Baen and their approach to drm-free books widely and cheaply distributed.

Posted by: David at February 16, 2012 07:00 PM (Kn54v)

32 Oh, and on the anime side, Funimation does NOT get it.  Commercials, pitiful resolution, and a front-end server that is sheer torture to deal with, it's so slow.  Upstart CR looks like the pro here, not Funi.

Posted by: ubu at February 16, 2012 08:19 PM (GfCSm)

33 David, there isn't any credible explanation for the prices I just paid except "what the market will bear". Both books were originally published in the 1930's and have been available for sale off and on ever since. Any cost of editing and suchlike has long since been paid for.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 16, 2012 08:30 PM (+rSRq)

34

I must say, the battery life is impressive. On a single charge I read the entire first book, and I'm probably a third  of the way through the second one, and I also have been doing other kinds of messing around, including some web browsing, and the battery still shows 26%.

I'm planning to keep using it until it complains, because it's good for lithium batteries to run through a full charge and discharge cycle once when new.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 16, 2012 08:33 PM (+rSRq)

35 For pre-digital-era books, there's a one-time cost to scan, OCR, and proofread the text to turn it into an ebook, but unfortunately for the publishers, they can't convince us that it's a huge expensive effort, because we've seen Project Gutenberg, Aozora Bunko, diybookscanner.org, etc. I forget which SF author it was who decided the simplest way to prepare his backlist for ebook release was to download illicit copies and clean them up.

It is expensive to convert books with complex formatting requirements and interior art, but those are easily justifiable to potential customers. Charging the same price for an SF novel from 1972 as one from 2012 is just "we have expensive offices in Manhattan". And Amazon is delighted to point out that it's Random House, et al, who insist on those prices.

-j

Posted by: J Greely at February 16, 2012 10:05 PM (2XtN5)

36 One type of book I've seen cause trouble is coffee table books.  The large page size means you have a tradeoff between seeing the whole page versus being able to read it. . . and if you zoom in to high resolution text, you end up loading high resolution *art* which brings things down to a crawl.

Posted by: metaphysician at February 17, 2012 07:31 AM (3GCAl)

37

I'm a big e-book fan, but art and other "coffee table" books are the one category I still buy in paper.  Trying to view those on any reasonable portable device seems to kind of defeat the whole purpose of the book:  viewing large, colorful grpahics.  Until the coffee-table itself can display color images of any desired size, I'll stick with paper for my nudie-books...errr, I mean my flower-garden books.  Yeah, that's the story.

Off topic:  FYI, I did see that Asobi ni Iku Yo is getting a domestic DVD/BD release in May, and it includes an OVA (which I've never seen).

Posted by: Dave Young at February 17, 2012 09:16 AM (DYR2Q)

38 And nobody mentioned the manga yet?

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 17, 2012 11:06 AM (G2mwb)

39 Please try to avoid topic drift.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 17, 2012 11:24 AM (+rSRq)

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