Jan 08

Kindle 101: Introduction to Buying Kindle BooksSo, now that you have a Kindle of your very own, the next step is filling it with things to read.  There are several types of content you can read on a Kindle – including newspapers, magazines and blogs – but the device is as its best as a book reader.

In this Kindle 101 post, I’ll cover the basics of Kindle books, including finding, buying and downloading books for your reader.

One Source Wonder

When it comes to eBooks, paid content on the Kindle will come from Amazon.  There are several reasons for this, the primary being DRM. 

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a copy-protection technology built into every Kindle book you get from Amazon.com.  Most book publishers insist on having DRM built into their digital books to prevent users from sharing them with friends (the horror!) or, even worse for publishers, the world.  The DRM schemes built into eBooks from non-Amazon sources aren’t compatible with the Kindle, so you’ll be buying from Amazon (at least for now).

But that’s not a horrible thing – although it would be better if we had a standardized system (or even better no DRM at all – à la iTunes music) – Amazon currently offers the best selection of eBooks by far.

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Jan 03

Kindle 101: To 3G or Not to 3G

You’ve decided to get a Kindle.  Great!  Now comes the first question any Kindle owner in waiting must answer: do I spend $139 on a Wi-Fi Kindle, or $189 for the 3G + Wi-Fi model?

Not having to shell out an extra $50 sounds great, but will Wi-Fi be enough?  Are you missing anything important by leaving off 3G?  And what the heck is 3G anyway?

In this Kindle 101 post, let’s answer the first Kindle question: to 3G, or not to 3G?

What’s the Difference Between 3G and Wi-Fi?

3G is shorthand for high speed, wide area wireless data networks from carriers like Verizon or AT&T. If you have a smartphone, you’re very likely already using it.  Late generation Kindles are available with AT&T 3G wireless as an option, allowing a user to receive new books, newspapers and blogs, browse the Kindle bookstore, and post to Facebook and Twitter anywhere the 3G network is available.

Wi-Fi networks are short-range, private wireless networks usually found in homes or businesses.  There are also hundreds of thousands of public Wi-Fi hotspots in restaurants, coffee shops, airports, libraries, etc., all across the United States and around the world.  If you have cable or DSL (broadband) internet at home and use it with multiple computers, you probably have Wi-Fi already.  If not, it’s easy to add; you just need a great wireless router.

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Jan 01

Kindle 101

It’s a question I’m asked fairly often: what exactly is a Kindle?  Since the Kindle is such a part of my daily life, the question always takes me a bit by surprise – for me, it’s a little like someone asking what is a microwave oven? 

But it’s an important question, and one I’m very happy people are asking.   So, in a series of posts called Kindle 101, I’ll attempt to introduce you to the Kindle, show you how it works, what problems its solves, and how to get the most out of it. 

What is a Kindle?

In short, the Amazon Kindle is a portable reader (eReader) based on electronic paper technology. The purpose of the Kindle is to provide a solution for getting and keeping a large number of books on one small device, and for reading them in a more natural and enjoyable way than is possible with other electronic devices based on traditional display technologies (LCD, etc.).

Books exist for the Kindle as files (like Word documents) rather than bound paper. Because Kindle books are digital files, you can easily look up words with the built-in dictionary or search a book’s text with the hardware keyboard.  You can also can create notes, highlights and bookmarks.  Page “turns” are made by pressing forward and back buttons located on the Kindle’s sides.

Beyond books, the Kindle is also capable of displaying newspapers, blogs, documents, PDF files, and even basic games.

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Nov 14

DRM v. The ConsumerDRM has failed repeatedly, cannot succeed, and yet continues to haunt us.

Just last week, Netflix announced that its delay in streaming video to Android-powered smartphones is due to the operating system’s lack of acceptable system-wide DRM; the movie studios and TV networks aren’t satisfied.

I suppose their fear – the studios, not Netflix – is that owners of Android phones might use them to get at copyrighted movies and TV shows for illegal distribution. At last!  A way to access and share unprotected video: Android. Google-powered smartphones would become the first platform capable of producing unprotected video content for the purposes of illegal sharing if suitable DRM is not in place…

Except – wait a tick – there’s no Netflix on Android today, so how have movies and TV shows already shown up on torrent sites and other P2P networks? Has someone secretly ported Netflix to Android in its current, non-locked-down state? Who could this evil genius be?

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