Amazon’s 7-inch Tablet Wonder


All the tablet pundits predict that tomorrow Amazon will formally announce their 7-inch Android tablet which is rumored to be called the Kindle Fire. The predicted price is $250.00 and the machine will be geared towards surfing the net but mostly for buying more stuff from Amazon and streaming Amazon’s movie content but only in the US as Amazon is not permitted to stream to folks in this part of the world. Amazon Prime members in the US are currently able to stream many movies at no extra cost but Prime member outside the US will just have to suffer without any extra benefit for the same price. The Amazon device most likely will not have the E ink screen, but a color touch screen like any other tablet. The 7-inch tablet is supposedly designed to be addictive and cause people to be more tied to Amazon than they already are.  It is expected there will be a huge rush to buy this tablet as the mindless gift-buying for those special someones season approaches. On a related issue, Netflix is now allowed to stream to the Caribbean and Latin America but if you are a typical movie and TV series viewer from Trinidad and Tobago, you will find half of Netflix’s content is in Spanish with no English option. The other half is mostly garbage. However you can sign up to Netflix for the first month free and see if you have to stamina to weed through the garbage to find the odd gem.

I noticed only today there was a sudden price drop at Amazon of the Samsung Galaxy 7-inch, 16 GB, Wi-Fi tablet  from $350 to $300, indicating a tablet price war may be looming as tablet makers come to terms with another potential Amazon bulldozer. Hooray for the strong-minded consumer who is strong enough to survive outside the Amazon box.  I am not very sure how useful a 7-inch tablet will be in becoming a person’s soul mate but I think a 10-inch device will perform much better than a 7-inch one despite  being more expensive and  a shorter battery life. Good things will come to those who wait for the early-adopters bugs to be ironed out.

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The Kindle Wi-Fi – Unboxed and Useful


The Kindle is packed in Frustration-free packaging and like the rest of the world, assembled in China

The Kindle 6″ Wi-Fi is shipped in an unattractive box and but as the old saying goes, never judge by box alone. The package is certified (by Amazon, I assume) to be frustration-free which is something that should be extended to people as well.  On seeing the box, there is the usual excitement due to anticipation of the thought of a new box and what it will bring.

The Kindle is ready to use, straight out the box

I can also certify the box is frustration-free and once it’s opened, the Kindle is on and ready to use. The battery life for the Kindle is amazing and the folks at Amazon, including Jeff Bezos, made sure the battery technology in the Kindle could live up to reader’s expectations. When last did a paper book need to be recharged using a USB port?

The next item in the Kindle box is the tiny users' manual

The paper manual included with the Kindle is a quick-start guide. For more details on how to do fancy stuff like uploading PDFs, making the Kindle talk, searching, play MP3s etc, the user would have to either download (in Kindle format) the real manual or simply visit the Kindle page at Amazon.

The only two items included with the kindle is the USB cable and an AC adapter

Simplicity is the motto in designing the Kindle so using the Kindle, including charging should be intuitive. If you get one cable and one AC adapter you will not have to think too much, just like using paper books.

Like a supermodel, the Kindle is thin

The Kindle is easy to hold though thinner than most good books. It leaves the reader feeling confident that he or she holding on to something that is of high quality and being assembled in China is irrelevant. Everything good now comes from China  like the iPhone, the Kindle, the corruption-free construction industry.

The quality of the screen - E Ink Pearl - is unbelieveably clear and crisp

I showed the Kindle to several people – skeptics and believers – and everybody agreed that reading anything on the Kindle was effortless and just like reading on paper. The Kindle is a black and white only device which for most readers, is not an issue. So far, I think the Kindle is amazing and useful, but in the short- term, it will not replace paper as many books are not available in Kindle format for complicated reasons that might sound either stupid or greedy to most.

Photos look good on the Kindle

Setting up the Wi-Fi is easy and buying books is a little too easy. One-Click-Ordering was designed to make buying effortless, but in the hands of the weak and impulsive, it is good for the American economy.

Maybe the Government should give students Kindles instead of paper text books as it would help save trees and protect the backs of students from muscle strain and also reduce incidents of slip disk. This e-text book idea is already being explored in Africa.

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Krishna Bhatt – The Underclass Lover


Krishna Bhatt's The Underclass Lover

Krishna Bhatt, who I only know briefly through email – I assume it is Krishna Bhatt the author who emailed – asked me to say a few words about his book, The Underclass Lover, and I am happy to do so.

The Underclass Lover is a collection of short stories and I started the first story, The Underclass Lover, late last night. I have to admit it is a very well written story and an interesting one. All the stories are based on the complex social and political developments taking place in the contemporary Nepal. I had to check the meaning of the word underclass since I wasn’t sure my  intuitive understanding was the correct one.  It seems I was mainly correct and if you are in doubt Wikipedia has a good definition here.

The Underclass Lover is 180 pages long and published or self-published by WingSpan Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is available in both paperback and Kindle from Amazon but it is strangely not available for Barnes and Noble’s eBook reader, Nook.

Synopsis:

These stories unravel the complex social and political developments taking place in the contemporary Nepal, which is trying to come to terms with the violent Maoist war that continued for more than a decade, which a tenuous ceasefire arrangement has put on hold presently; and the carnage that eliminated the whole family of a ruling King. The characters often struggle to live with the dual psychology of the people and their own ambiguity – rendering most of the situations and contents of their life farcical. This book complements the previous successful debut book of Krishna Bhatt: City women and the Ghost Writer.

Here is a brief excerpt from The Under Class Lover:

Pasang also knew that one of his customers was actually
a mistress and not a tenant of the landlord of the house she
was living in, who also was an actress and acted in television
dramas, in very small roles. Since the landlord’s wife had
caught a very debilitating disease, she was not able to fulfill
the demands of her well-built husband, who exercised
everyday and looked half her age. So there was the young
actress in their lives, living in the ground floor of the house
without paying any rent. The actress did not become a wife of
the landlord, though she was living in that house for almost a
decade now. In fact, his wife has cleverly warned the landlord
not to marry the actress as it will invite a property dispute
among them and he too may end up losing some of it.
The actress, being a migrant into the city, at least had…

Hindu temples in Patan, capital of one of the three medieval Newar kingdoms - Wikipedia

Map of Nepal - Wikipedia

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Stephen King’s Fans Revolt


Full Dark, No Stars has some fans outraged

Stephen King‘s new book, Full Dark, No Stars is generating a major controversy and it has nothing to do with the author but with the publisher’s attitude to book buyers. The publisher, it seems, has decided to price the Kindle version of the book higher than the hardcover version. This pricing strategy is unbelievable as it defies logic unless the logic is to force people to help deforest the planet at a faster rate. I think Amazon reluctantly went with the stupid pricing policy for King’s latest book as it will no doubt tarnish Amazon’s reputation as the king of the best price.

Kindle Price is higher than the hardcover price - why?

I bought the hardcover version of Full Dark, No Stars at $14.90 which is a very reasonable price for a newly released Stephen King hardcover. Some are saying that price is too heavily discounted for a hardcover and the Kindle price is more like what the price of the hardcover should be. What ever the truth is, a Kindle price should always be lower than the hardcover price because that is what Kindle buyers have come to expect and enjoy

one-star reviews as a form of protest

Fans are protesting bitterly and nearly half of the reviewers of Full Dark, No Stars on Amazon have given the book a one-star review in protest of the price since there is no way to give a no-star review. It is unfortunate that fans had little choice in the matter though the book is easily one of King’s best in years. I hope Stephen King will use his enormous influence and banish the pricing culprits responsible for this fiasco  to eternal hell.

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The Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago – The Nook, The Bad and The Ugly


I held and cuddled a Kindle in the palms of my hands on more than a few occasions and it made no emotional connection like the paper book it was designed to replace. The Kindle is supposed to be an alternative and an improvement to the paper book but I am not sure if people who are addicted to the mysteries and smells of books and bookshelves will appreciate Amazon’s creation.  I think one of the problems Amazon is trying to solve with the Kindle is not only how to make books more accessible but how to make more money by turning a want into a need. What you can’t do as easily with a Kindle compared to a real book is sniff the paper, ruffle the pages, put dog-ears on them or enjoy the thrill of breaking down a friend’s door to retrieve your long overdue book. I am not sure how resilient a Kindle is to the spilling of rum and Coke or withstanding a leaking chicken roti but most real books survive these everyday occurrences if acted on promptly. If these spills happen to a Kindle it might have to be returned to its makers for evaluation, deodorizing and a hefty repair bill. I would hate to think I can’t read any of my favorite books because the curry went out of control.

The Kindle is affordable to those who can easily afford to blow TT$320 at Movietowne twice a month. For those who can’t see or read too well, the Kindle can read to you in a voice reserved for curing bouts of insomnia. It is easy to read a book on a Kindle and the adults of tomorrow will wonder how people ever read a paper book without audio.  The Kindle is now US$189 down from US$259. Only yesterday on Amazon’s recently acquired popular online store, Woot, the Kindle was being sold for US$149 but those sold out in record time.

A common message in Trinidad and Tobago

The Kindle will work in Trinidad and Tobago as Amazon has negotiated worldwide roaming data charges with cell providers.  In Trinidad and Tobago we do not have the fast 3G networks like some parts of the US and Colombia which means we will have to settle for our books being delivered at not significantly slower times using GPRS/EDGE. What customers and potential Kindle customers in Trinidad and Tobago must also note is that not every Kindle book that is available to US customers will be available to us. Many new bestsellers will not be available and we in the backward Third World may have to wait months or forever to have these books on Kindle. Of the top ten bestselling Kindle titles today, only one is available in our region. Don’t blame Amazon for this but blame the wicked and greedy book publishing and distribution mafia. Also blame yourself for being a Third World citizen. Don’t panic too much as Amazon has made 417,446 Kindle books available to the Caribbean and Latin America. But when you consider US customers can buy around 620,000 books,  you feel you are being discriminated against.  A few newspapers are also available for subscription via kindle like the Shanghai Daily in English at US$9.99 a month and Brazil’s Jornal de Santa Catarina in Portuguese at US$11.99 a month.

There is one very serious issue which makes the Kindle unattractive to US residents and ugly to people not living in the US – the new Kindle has to be shipped back to Amazon to have the battery replaced.  The battery may last years but that is a hope and a guess. I can’t recall ever having to return a real book to Amazon or even RIK to so that I can read it. One other issue with the Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago and most countries outside of the US is that web browsing is blocked probably because of the high roaming data charges, so blogs are obviously not supported via the Kindle in our region. If the Kindle had Wi-Fi, web browsing may have been possible outside the US.

As far as the international market is concerned, Amazon has nearly all of the portable ebook market. Their major competitors in the US is the Nook from Barnes and Noble which is still a US-only device.  The Nook has nice features that are not present in the Kindle such as a colour LCD touch-screen, SD memory expansion, and Wi-Fi. Despite the Nook having Wi-Fi for downloads of books, any attempt to buy books using a foreign IP address or non-US issued credit card will be blocked. We are not a global society as some like to boast and people in the Third World should always know their lesser place. You can also get Kindle books on your iPad, iPhone, PC or laptop but the Kindle is pencil thin and easier and cheaper than an iPad to fall asleep with. Kindle for Google Android phones are supported in many countries but not as yet in Trinidad and Tobago. Kindle for Blackberry is not supported for customers outside the US, including illegal US immigrants who don’t have a US credit card account.

30 million dollar bikini

I doubt I will be getting a Kindle soon since the Kindle doesn’t solve any problems I have or satisfy any cravings except the need to show off. The Kindle is however a good device to travel with since airlines are now charging extra for every ounce of overweight luggage and bookshelves.

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Amazon, Where is my Shopping Basket and RBTT, You Suck!


There was an outage last night at Amazon which lasted hours and which is rare. There is still no word if the failure was caused by hackers, the Russians, the Chinese or a truck pulling down some T&TEC lines but when the dust settled my shopping basket was empty – over thirty items gone. To many this is no big thing but I use Amazon’s shopping basket to track prices of mainly photography equipment and some hi-fi stuff so when my shopping basket was somehow emptied in cyberspace, I nearly threw a fit. Maybe later today the basket will be restored but I doubt it. I am not sure if any other customers had their baskets emptied by the Amazon IT people but many who track prices will be annoyed. I am sure some would say I should be using Tracktor.com to track Amazon prices but that can be cumbersome if one is tracking the prices of many things.

Strangely, the Amazon outage coincided with the sloppy IT service RBTT has been providing customers in Trinidad and Tobago with recently as the bank ignore customer service just to provide the new Canadian massas with the control they paid for and now demand. Despite the hollow claims by the bank’s PR people, customers will not benefit from this computer upgrade – none. I doubt there are any customers in Trinidad and Tobago who can say the service at RBTT is better since the acquisition by RBC and in fact most can testify that the service at RBTT is now the sloppiest banking service in the country by far.  Their incompetence is now legendary and their staff’s response to customer queries is hopeless and usually idiotic.

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