Sunday, 18 December 2016

Kindle quirks continued

I previously posted about the strange software quirk that extends reading settings from one document to another. For example, reading a PDF in landscape means the next e-book you open will be rendered in landscape mode too.

In this post I wish to note the strange decision to prevent users from deleting their personal documents from the cloud via a Kindle or Fire tablets running Fire OS 5 (I managed to delete from the cloud with a Fire HDX (late 2013 release)). However, it is possible to remove Amazon content from the cloud on Amazon devices. To manage your cloud documents you need to login to your Amazon account via ‘Manage Your Content and Devices’.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Open access resources (1) - Adapting fonts for E-Ink

This is the first post in a series of posts on open-access resources to meet different e-reading needs. I wish to dedicate the first post to fonts. Previously I posted about problems in rendering fonts for E-Ink. The biggest problem, in my opinion, is the weighting of the font for better legibility. Thus even if a font is readily available, it might need some adaptation to work with an E-Ink display. A good option is to first adapt your selected font for E-Ink through 'FontForge' (an open source font editor). I found increasing a font's weight by an increment of ten works best.

If you are looking for a repository of open access fonts then Google Fonts is the best option. The Font Library, The League of Movable Type and Font Squirrel are other useful repositories. Below is a selection of fonts that I prefer:
  1. Linux Libertine
  2. Libre Baskerville
  3. Vollkorn 
  4. Volkhov
  5. Literata
  6. Merriweather 
  7. League Spartan
  8. Droid Serif
Side-loading fonts is supported with Kobo and Android e-readers. With the Kindle, however, it is more difficult and requires the use of Calibre (an e-book management software). 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Kobo Aura One's software

I will be reviewing the Kobo Aura One soon. However, I will be using this post to note one point regarding the device - the software does let-down the overall experience. My experience with the Aura One cements just how superior Amazon's software is compared to Nickel (Nickel is the operating system Kobo built for their e-readers). In the upcoming review I will provide some examples. Despite the software let-down, I like the Kobo Aura One and would easily recommend it over any other eight inch e-reader out there. Of course, in recommending the Aura One, it should be noted that the pool of larger e-readers is small.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Alexa support for Fire tablets outside the US

Visiting the Fire tablet section on shows the Alexa support to be 'coming soon'. Recently Amazon announced a software update in the US that adds Alexa support to its current batch of Fire tablets (2015 and 2016 releases). Unfortunately, so far, there is no 'coming soon' notice or immediate software update for Fire tablets outside the US.  Eventually the feature might be released outside US but I don't think we will see it anytime soon.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Does Amazon confuse customers and retailers with their devices?

I visited a PC World/Currys branch (the UK’s largest electronics retailer) and noted something off with displayed Fire HD 8 tablet. The information provided stated the tablet as the latest release that comes with an improved 12 hours battery life. However, the tablet displayed was the late 2015 edition with a glossy back and both a laminated and superior display. It is a possibility that a customer purchasing the device will be surprised to find the tablet’s screen somewhat dull compared to the displayed demo unit. I believe part of the problem is with Amazon confusing both customers and retailers with the labelling of their devices. For example, the 2016 refresh of the Fire HD 8 remains a 5th generation device, similar to the late 2015 release. 

As I posted before, Amazon likely acknowledged a mistake in releasing the 2015 Fire HD 8 with a mix of entry level and mid-range specifications. With this mix, the device was sold closer to a mid-range price, with better value options available from other manufacturers. The refresh is much better value and the inferior display is still acceptable for the price, considering the overall improvements that come with the 2016 Fire HD 8 - longer battery life and extra RAM that significantly boosts performance.