Kindle platform now includes Android and adds audio, video

Competition is good, I guess. The success of Apple iPad makes Amazon works harder and harder to roll out new and exciting stuff. One of the key advantages of Kindle “platform” is you can access your Kindle library anywhere and have your reading synchronized across Kindle devices and multiple smartphones. And this platform compose of Kindle 2, Kindle 3Kindle DX, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, PC, and now Android-powered phones.

As far as I can tell, the features in this Kindle for Andriod is more or less the same as other devices’ applications. However, the screen that shows your book library looks a little bit different.

Android kindle 1Android kindle 2

Another exciting news is the embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Not as crazy as the Alice for the iPad I bet, but still it is the right direction to introduce multimedia to ebooks. Since it is the new new stuff, I just checked and there are only 13 ebooks with audio / video in US store and only 7 available in Asia store.

Kindle audio-video

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User experience of purchasing a subway ticket

No, I am not talking about purchasing a ticket of the subway in Hong Kong, as you know the system and the vending machines here are really among the best in the world. Instead, I would like to share with you from the experience I had in the Washington DC trip last month.

In fact, I am not the only one get frustrated by the subway ticketing system (they call it “Metro”), there is even a presentation prepared on why there is a need to redesign the Metro ticket vending machine. Following is a picture of the vending machine and according to the official site of Metro, you need to follow these steps to purchase a ticket (they call it farecard):

To buy farecard, you need to:

  1. Select B (single farecard) or C (multiple farecards). If buying more than one, select the quantity you want.
  2. Use the (+) or (-) button to choose the value.
  3. Press C to view your selection.
  4. Press C again to confirm your selection.
  5. Insert money and/or farecard.

Please note that the buttons “A”, “B”, “C” are the tiny buttons next to the big orange color circle labeled “1”. In fact before step 1, you need to search around the ticketing lobby to find the up-to-date map / poster for the correct fare, also check the time as the fare is based on the time of day (!!) and destination.

And for step 2, instead of key in the fare amount (the vending machine is not that smart …), you have to use the (+) and (-) buttons to choose the dollars AND the cents – yes there are two (+) buttons and two (-) buttons underneath the tiny screen in the middle, one for the dollar amount and one for cent amount.

And can you see how confusing of step 5 ? In summary, very very poor user interface and therefore user experience of just buying a cheap subway ticket !!

And talking about User Experience, how can you miss the UX Conference in Hong Kong (UXHK) early next year ? Check out the office site – www.uxhongkong.com for details and register now. Great stuff !!

[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/szuc/4726544193/[/flickrvideo]

Gmail is getting full, what to do next ?

Six years after using Gmail, my Gmail is getting full … according to the line in the footer of Gmail, I have only 400 MB of free space.

You are currently using 7003 MB (93%) of your 7467 MB.

So, how can I delete the large emails from Gmail ? In other words, how can I delete the large attachments ? Unfortunately, you cannot sort your emails in Gmail by mail size, and you cannot filter the large emails from your inbox as well (so much for a software from the search giant …). I searched the net and the Gmail help center for a few days, and concluded that there are many people have the same problem, but there is no solution from Gmail.

I guess some solutions are on the way from Google but not much time I can wait. I have tried the IMAPsize but it is just too unstable. So I finally settled with the only possible way – use an email client to download the mails from Gmail via IMAP, and manage the large mails from there.

I decided to use Thunderbird and here are the steps …

  1. Download and install Thurderbird – it is straightforward;
  2. First-time start up will ask for your email login information – enter your Gmail email address and the password, Thunderbird will then smart enough to detect the correct IMAP and SMTP server names and ports.
  3. Thunderbird will next start downloading the message headers to your PC. In my case it took a few minutes for over 40,000 emails.
  4. The default view of Thunderbird will not show the email size, add the email size column by clicking the “column” icon in the upper right corner (see the picture below).
  5. Now you can sort the emails by size and determine which emails you want to delete.
  6. Since the Thunderbird only download the message header but not the content, if you want to check the content before you delete the mail then you can click the connection icon in the lower right corner such that it can download the emails (see the picture below). But of course, it will take some time and use up your computer disk space if you have many emails like me.
  7. Now your selected mails are deleted, but those are actually moved to Gmail Trash folder only.
  8. So, logon to your Gmail again, go to the Trash folder and empty it to reclaim the space.

About an hour later, I reclaimed some 600 MB of space already. Not bad !!

Update 1: After some of these exercises, I decided to give myself a break / treat – just purchased 20 GB additional storage for US$ 5 a year. No more worry …

From Kindle to C25K

I am not an athletic person, especially after the heart surgery 3 years ago. So the most I can do are some casual weight lifting, power walks or slow jogging. I go to gym once a week (I know, it’s not enough), and now I can jog nonstop for about 2K and I always wanted to improve this. I thought, maybe one day I could join the yearly 10K run in town, with many of my friends.

So, I started to look for some good training plans, even not in a very active mode, to see how I can achieve this. And finally I found one very good training plan last weekend, all because of the Kindle and the social network … so, here is the story … Couple of days ago I blogged about the way to upgrade the Kindle 2 International to firmware version 2.5.2.:

  • I first upgraded my Kindle (get your Kindle 3 here), and then I blogged about it;
  • A tweet about this story was then sent thru Tweetdeck, with a shortened URL via bit.ly;
  • I monitored the tweet thru the search function in Tweetdeck and also the information provided by bit.ly, and found some retweets;
  • I then surfed the re-tweeters’ profile, found their blogs and tried to see anything I could learn from these new friends;
  • One of the tweeters from Hangzhou, China posted in his blog on how he enjoyed the training programme of C25K.com;
  • My next stop of course was the site C25K.com, studied the training programme in detail. And in the next hour, I found the podcasts of the programme from one of the fans, and downloaded to my iPhone.
  • Yesterday morning, I completed the first lesson of the week 1 C25K training program and really really enjoyed it !!

Can you see how the two unrelated things linked together by the social network ?! Amazing … and you know what, don’t stop by just posting things in your blog, Twitter or Facebook. But try to follow the “life” of your blog post, your tweets or your status updates to see where it will lead to, many times it will surprise you !!

c25k

Manually upgrade Kindle 2 International to 2.5 (2.5.2)

Anticipated the firmware 2.5 upgrade for weeks but still it’s not available thru the Whispernet, so I told myself it’s time to find another way … by browsing the sites like mobileread.com and kindleboards.com, I found there is a way to do it manually – even though the firmware 2.5 (or 2.5.2) is not available from Amazon website.

In previous firmware upgrades, Amazon placed a link in the help page such that you could download the binary file and upgrade your Kindle manually if you didn’t want to wait for or could not access to the Whispernet. However, somehow Amazon does not do that for firmware 2.5. On the other hand, they placed the firwware binary file in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) and some smart people found it  (and it’s now named 2.5.2) … So, here are the steps and some screen shots of the version 2.5 new features.

(Note: these binary files work for Kindle 2 International version only and the files are available from the download links as of 2010-June-12)

  • First of all check your firmware version in your Kindle 2. In my case, it’s version 2.3.2.
  • So I downloaded the firmware 2.3.3 and upgraded my Kindle 2 International;

http://rapidshare.com/files/382788816/Update_kindle2_gw_2.3.3.bin

  • Then I downloaded the firmware 2.3.4 and upgraded again;

http://rapidshare.com/files/382794043/Update_kindle2_gw_2.3.4.bin

  • Lastly, downloaded the firmware 2.5.2 file and upgraded … simple and it worked !!

http://www.mediafire.com/?nqy2qmnmyjm

(To upgrade, transfer the binary file to the root directory of your Kindle, then go to Home / Setting / Update Your Kindle, then click yes)

Update 1 : (2010-06-16) The download is now available from Amazon website for your Kindle US and International version !!

Manage social network in Kindle

6 signs that you are addicted to Foursquare

Joined the Foursquare network for 7 months now but I have to admit I did not quite get it before. However, same as in any other social network, you really need to engage into it to see whether you can fit in. So this week I decided to use the Foursquare service as much as possible. Turned out I am addicted to it as you can see from the following six signs:

  1. You visit new places for lunch every day. Not for variety, but to earn more points (you get 5 points for every new place you check in).
  2. You revisit all the shops around your place to see any shops you can add to Foursquare database and of course, to get more check-ins (you get another 5 points for adding new place to Foursquare database).
  3. You will get mad by the inaccurate addresses and rush home / office early to login to Foursquare website to fix it (once you get enough points or add enough new places, you will become a “superuser” and empowered to edit places).
  4. On the way to office or back home, you alight the bus or subway one stop after or before – such that you can find some new places around your place, then walk back to your destination.
  5. While checking-in, you will look around when you find someone just checked-in the same place … even though he/she is not your friend.
  6. You left your smartphone at home and feel sorry about that. Not because you cannot make phone calls but cannot check-in easily.

Other tips:

  • If you want to become a place’s mayor, you need to upload your profile photo.
  • “To-Dos” are more like “notes to yourself” (e.g. “Remember to ask for free dessert.”)

So, after a week’s heavy use, I am now the top 5 users in town (I think that’s the best I can do). Feel good !! And I guess it’s one of reasons that keep me going – “Life as a game”.