It's Another Rambling Blog Post

It’s that time again, time for another “rambling” blog post where I have no set agenda before I start banging away on the keyboard….if you would like to write to me, my email address is Michael at fkbooksandtips dot com (I type it out that way in a small effort to thwart the spam community).

 

Mother’s Day

Don’t forget Mother’s Day is this Sunday!  If you haven’t purchased a gift for your Mom, wife, grandmother, etc. yet, don’t despair!  You can always give her an Amazon gift card that can be used for anything in the Amazon store.  To get one today (they will email, priority delivery for Saturday, you name it for free), you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/giftcard into your web browser.

 

Kindle Daily Deal & Free App of the Day

I don’t post about the Kindle Daily Deal or the Free App of the Day each and every day.  Why?  That’s mainly because I’ve been traveling with my “day” job and can’t get the post out that day (I try to setup as many posts as I can in advance because of my schedule).  In the interim, you can check the offerings out each day yourself – just bookmark the links below.

Kindle Daily Deal: click here or type in http://smarturl.it/dailydeal into your web browser.

Free App of the Day: click here or type in http://smarturl.it/appdeal into your web browser.

 

Guest Posts from Independent Authors

The guest blog posts featuring independent authors have been fairly popular with the blog’s readers, and I will be continuing that in the weeks to come as I enjoy reading about the authors who create the material I’ve been enjoying as much as you.  Look for more of these to come in the next few weeks (there will be another one this weekend), and if you’d like to read some of the past guest blog posts you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/interviews into your web browser – to provide a little incentive, there are a few free Kindle book offers contained in the posts.

If you hit this page on the blog’s website, you will see five blog post titles and a few lines from each post; just click on the title of the blog post to read the full article.  If you want to see more than the five on the page at http://smarturl.it/interviews, just scroll down towards the bottom and click the “Previous” icon located at the bottom left-hand side of the article list.

 

The Kindle 100

Now that we’re in the month of May, Amazon has updated their list of 100 highly-rated Kindle books that have been discounted to $3.99 or less – each of these has been hand-selected by the staff of Amazon.  You’ll see them classified in a variety of genres, and I’ve zeroed in on a couple in the mystery / thriller and science fiction genres.  To see what I am talking about, you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/100books into your web browser.

 

Sports App

A week or so ago, I told you about the free sports apps available for your Kindle Fire or Android-enabled phone / tablet computer – actually, I promoted my favorite baseball team to the detriment of others – and I’ve had a lot of requests from people to send them the link again.

To see the lists of free apps detailing most of the professional sports teams – not just baseball but football, basketball, etc. – you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/sportapps into your web browser.

 

Pinterest and The Blog’s Social Media Pages

I’m not much for following “pins” of others on Pinterest, but many of you are and have asked for the link to the blog’s Pinterest page.  You can click here or type in http://pinterest.com/fkbooks into your web browser and start following away!

While I’m on the subject of social media pages, here are links to the blog’s Facebook and Twitter pages:

Facebook: click here or type in https://www.facebook.com/fkbooks into your web browser.

Twitter: click here or type in http://twitter.com/FKBT into your web browser.

 

That’s all I have for now – I hope you have a great weekend!

Michael

 

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Another Rambling Blog Post

Well, it’s finally Friday and I figured it was time for another rambling blog post where I have no set agenda before I start banging away on the keyboard.  Please make sure you read it all as, who knows, you might find a few “somethings” available for free somewhere in the post!

I don’t know about you, but it seemed as if this week had a drag to it…I’m glad the weekend is coming up, which will be my first full weekend at home vs. the road in about a month!

 
Kindle Keyboard Giveaway

There’s only one more day to go before time is up on the Kindle Keyboard with 3G giveaway!  In addition to the Kindle Keyboard, I am also giving away 25 super-nifty coffee mugs with the blog’s logo which are soon bound to be collector’s items and sent up the bidding charts on that large online auction site headquartered in California (that alone should make you want to enter).

Contrary to rumor and popular belief, you do not need to be a member of either Facebook or Twitter in order to enter:

  • If you are a Facebook member, you can click the link for one chance in the giveaway.
  • If you are a Twitter member, you can click the link for one chance in the giveaway.
  • If you use your email address and refer ten friends to the giveaway, you get up to ten additional chances in the giveaway.

If you did the math like I did in my head, that’s a total of 12 chances and 83% of those chances don’t require Facebook or Twitter.

Some people have reported the giveaway widget times out while using your Kindle Fire (I do find that ironic).  If you’re having problems, how about trying it out on an old-fashioned computer?  Tell your friends about it for additional chances to enter!

Haven’t entered, or want to enter with more email chances?  You can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/043g into your web browser.  It’s easy, it’s free, and I am certain your friends and family would like an opportunity to win, also!

 

Free Book Links

I’ve updated the page on the blog’s website for various free Kindle book links.  While the list is not all-encompassing (I am saving some material for later posts!), there should be enough there to keep you busy and entertained for a while.

You can check it out if you click here or type in http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/free-book-links/ into your web browser.

 

The Life List

The Life List is a romance by Chrissy Anderson that is free today in the Amazon Kindle store, and it has received an average user rating of 5 out of 5 stars based on 88 customer reviews.  You can check it out if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/lm19hg into your web browser.  I received a note from the author saying today is the last day for it to be free.

 

Religion & Spirituality Books

Now through May 5th, Amazon is running a special saving up to 87% off on 100 Kindle books in the Religion & Spirituality category.  Looking over the list of offerings, it’s quite diverse from Christian fiction to Zen wisdom, and the books are priced at $3.99 or less (most of them less).  If you would like to peruse them, you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/0413religion into your web browser.

 

Random Kindle Tips

Over the years, I’ve posted various tips to the blog in an effort to help you (and me) maximize the use of your Kindle.  Many times, I am asked something along the lines of “could you send me the link to…?”

If you would like to check out the tips I’ve posted to the blog over the years, you can click here or type in http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/tag/kindle-tip into your web browser.  If you do go to this page, it will show the title and a summary of the last five posts in that category.   You can click on the post’s title to see the entire thing or, if you want to see more than the last five on the page scroll down to the bottom and click the “Previous” icon at the bottom and to the left of the last post on each page.

 

Kindle 100

Each month, Amazon discounts 100 best-selling and / or highly-rated Kindle books for $3.99 or less in a variety of genres or lists like Oprah’s Book Club.  You can check out the Kindle 100 for April if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/100books into your web browser.

 

Darcy’s Decision

Darcy’s Decision is a historical fiction novel by Maria Grace that is free today in the Amazon Kindle store, and it has received an average user rating of 4 out of 5 stars based on 33 customer reviews.  I received a note from the author saying this will be free through tomorrow, and you can check it out and pick up your free copy if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/xohhol into your web browser.

 

Baseball

Baseball?  What does baseball have to do with a Kindle?  Absolutely nothing, but I do love baseball!  As a Texas Ranger fan living in the home of the minor league Astros, it’s tough to really watch games these days.  It’s even tougher with the new crop of players, with Michael Young now doing well in Philadelphia, Napoli swinging for the fences with each at-bat in Boston, and Hamilton whiffing away in LA (it makes me smile knowing LA is paying so much for ex-Rangers who aren’t performing right now in the American League West race).

You can download a free app and follow the Rangers on your Kindle Fire or Android-enabled device if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/rangers into your web browser.

I realize there is a small percentage of people out there who aren’t Ranger fans, and that’s ok.  There is a company who has a free app for just about every major league team – plus other major sports – in the Amazon App store.  You can check them out and download your favorite team(s) app if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/sportapps into your web browser.

That’s all I had for now – I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Michael

 

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A Rambling Blog Post

 

This is a somewhat rambling blog post…part of it relates to some information I want to share with you while the remainder of it is just me banging away at the keyboard with whatever comes to mind.  If you would like to write to me, my email address is michael at fkbooksandtips dot com (I type it out that way in a small effort to try and avoid the spammers).

 

Changes to the Blog

As most of you know, there have been some changes to the blog over the last week and a half or so.  However, I am still receiving emails / posts to the blog’s Facebook page, etc. from people asking “hey, what happened?”

If you missed the post discussing the changes, or want to read it again, you can do so if you click here or type in http://wp.me/p3fe5C-453 into your web browser.

The overwhelming number of emails, etc. I have received to the changes to the blog have been encouraging and supportive, and I appreciate it.  I hope you are enjoying learning about other places to feed each of our free book addiction, finding new authors who have graciously made their books available for members of the blog at a significant discount, and learning a tip or two about how to better your overall Kindle experience.  I think you will enjoy what comes down the road and I really appreciate the encouraging words as the blog moves forward in a new direction.

I have also received some pointed notes from a smaller number of people who are insistent I revert back to the way things were and have been pretty blunt I only tell them about free Kindle book offerings on Amazon.

Folks, this is out of my hands and beyond my control.  I will be the first to say I didn’t like the change because it is causing me to take a good financial hit, but the more I think about it I am getting excited because it is a new challenge and has some good opportunities not only for me but also for you as we try out new things and hopefully learn a lot.  After I got over my frustration, the change Amazon is enforcing also made me realize things had become routine over the last few months: I really dislike the routine and complacency in my day job, and am always open to a challenge or change in direction.

Stick along for the ride and try it out: I guarantee you will find some good, and free, Kindle book offerings; you’ll also find some stinkers you can’t stand.  I also will be willing to bet you’ll find some useful information as this blog has never been about being a 100% dump of freebies like some sites (that are probably shutting down now), but I do try to put some personality and differentiation into it. 

If you think about it, a 100% free model of anything – Kindle books, apps, even government-funded entitlement programs – is not a sustainable model in the long-term.  Authors, for example, do need to sell a few books to give them a reason to keep creating the things we enjoy reading.  I’m a huge believer in offering free things as an incentive, but I am also a bigger believer in paying people for working – especially if I receive a benefit from it.  If I am going to receive 4-6 hours (or more) of entertainment from something like a book and you compare the hourly rate to other forms of entertainment like eating out, clubbing, or going to a movie I see no problem at all with paying the creator of that entertainment (the author) a couple of bucks because he or she provided that entertainment outlet.

I’ll still be getting and reading free books, and I’ll still be telling you about free books, but I’m also going to be telling you about other things.  The blog, like everything else in life such as your job, company, family, and the environment has to adapt to change or it will wither away.  I don’t want to wither.

I’ll get off of my soapbox and mini-rant for now, but I will admit some of the emails and sense of entitlement in those emails pushed a button!

 

Authors Telling Me (And You) About Free Books

Just because I have slowed down the spigot of free books doesn’t mean you need to go through withdrawal.  Independent authors are still going to the blog’s Facebook page and posting about their free days on Amazon: give it a look, and you can find some good things that way.  While you’re there, how about giving the page a “Like?”

To check out the independent author posts, here is what you need to do:

  • Point your web browser to www.facebook.com/fkbooks
  • On the right-hand side of the page, just below the total number of “Likes,” is a section titled “Recent Posts by Others.”  Take a look at this section.
  • On my computer’s screen, it shows the last four posts.  To see more, click on the “More Posts” menu item at the bottom of that section.

 

The Blog’s Emails

The blog’s email capability has been up and down lately.  Most of you who have signed up still receive them, but there are a few of you who have had it stop – you try to sign back up, the server says you are already subscribed, but you still don’t receive them.

I hope to have that fixed shortly with a new email provider.  Once that is ready to go, I will shoot out a post telling you how to get it.

 

Read an eBook Week

I hope you have enjoyed some of the variety on some of the Read an eBook week free eBook offers.  I’ll be telling you about a few more as the week continues!

 

The Spring Break Washington DC Trip

Here’s an update for those of you who purchased my children’s book as a fundraiser for my daughter’s spring break trip to Washington, DC (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can click here or type in http://bit.ly/NEzWll into your web browser to read the post about their collaborative efforts in writing their first Kindle book): the plane leaves next week.  I’ll be posting comments about her trip and experiences once she returns.  Thanks again to everyone who helped make this trip happen for her!

 

That’s all I have for now – I hope each of have a great rest of your week!

Michael

 

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Rating Kindle Books with the Kindle

I receive a question like this periodically so I thought I would answer it in a group forum – remember, if you have a question about the Kindle you can always email me (michael at fkbooksandtips dot com)

 

Rating Kindle Books With the Kindle

Doug and a few others had a question about rating books after they have been read, and here is a condensed version of Doug’s email to me:

Michael, I found your kindle book blog after my kids got me a Kindle for Father’s Day and I used to subscribe to your buck or less blog. The first thing I do when I turn on my Kindle in the morning is read your blog. I really like the tips and book offers.  I do have one question, on finishing a book you get the opportunity to rate book or share that you have finished book. Since I can’t share my opinion as I don’t twitter or facebook or whatever you need to social network does my book rating get added to the total?  Thanks again for your interesting blogs.    Doug

If you didn’t know, what Doug is referring to is on most Kindles, after you finish a book the very last page is actually a pop-up from Amazon, allowing you to rate the book you have just completed.  The heading starts off with “Before you go…” with several options you can pick and choose.

The first option on a Kindle Fire is to review / rate the book (it’s the second option on my e-Ink Kindles), where you can type up your thoughts on the book – along with a star rating – which will then post to the Amazon website.  While I do try to write a review of each book I have read on my Kindle (and I am way behind), I usually do it on the computer as I inevitably fat-finger either the Fire or e-Ink Kindle keyboard.

The second option on a Kindle Fire (first option on an e-Ink Kindle) is to Tweet via Twitter or post via Facebook you have completed the book: if you are a member of one of those social networks, you can share the news accordingly if you so desire (the accountant in me wonders how much Twitter and Facebook are paying Amazon for that functionality, or is Amazon paying them to link back to the Amazon store?).

If you scrolled down one menu option below the “Tweet” option, you can select “Rate this book,”  which will open a new pop-up window to grade it on a 1 to 5 star rating.  As most of you know, I try to rate everything I have read on the Amazon website as I believe we are all one little (but large) community, and I appreciate your reviews – and hope you like mine – as I might be interested in what you like to read and vice versa.  On the other hand, we may have totally different tastes in literature.  However, I try to provide a few brief comments of what I liked and disliked vs. relying solely on the “star” rating system without providing a spoiler and I appreciate reviews that do the same as most of the time it gives me a good gauge of the book. You can see the reviews I have written at any time by pointing your web browser to http://smarturl.it/mgreviews

Hope that helps!

Michael
Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your e-Ink Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week trial subscription! Click here for the Amazon page of the Free Kindle Books and Tips blog or type in http://smarturl.it/fkblog into your web browser.

Check out our Facebook page and give us a “like” by clicking here or typing in http://www.facebook.com/fkbooks into your web browser!

 

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A Rambling Blog Post

It’s time for another rambling blog post, usually these are where I have no set agenda before I start banging away at the keyboard…today that really isn’t true as I have just a couple of things I want to relay to you.  I am, however, typing off the cuff vs. working from an outline!

 

What I’m Reading Right Now

Right now, I am reading Triumph Over Calamity by C. Peaden, which is a short book about one of the families stranded on the Carnival ship out in the Gulf of Mexico two weeks ago.  It’s a short read, and a little choppy because it is basically a summary of a journal the author maintained while she was on the ship, but I am enjoying it and it is interesting.  I got it for free in the Amazon Kindle store on Tuesday, but as I type this post up I don’t know if it is still free.  You can check it out by clicking here or typing in http://smarturl.it/yl5415 into your web browser.

 

What Tomorrow Holds

If you missed the post I had over the weekend about upcoming changes to the blog, or care to slog through it again (only after a cup of coffee or something) you can click here or type in http://wp.me/p2b82w-453 into your web browser.

Let me clear up one misconception some of you have: I’m not going anywhere!

In other words, the blog is not going to automatically stop publishing but will still be here: there will be new posts, tips, free Kindle book offers to non-Amazon sites (yes, there is such a thing!), author interviews, even the return of giveaways after a four month or so absence.

I am, however, considering launching a subscription-only site that will focus on the Kindle book offerings from the Amazon store.  It wouldn’t be free to read, but if it does launch it would be a nominal subscription that you could read on your e-Ink Kindles (like many of you do now for 99 cents per month) and / or via email.  I’m not talking about big bucks here, but enough to cover the operating costs and make it worth a couple of hours of my time each day.

Yesterday, I put out a post asking you to take a quick two question survey that should take you all of 30 seconds start-to-finish to complete.  A little over 4,000 of you have done that so far and the responses have been favorable.  If you haven’t had a chance to register your opinion and / or vote, you can click here or type in https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/fkbt into your web browser to let me know your thoughts.  Your opinion matters to me, and there are no wrong answers!

 

The Big List of Free Book Links

In a post yesterday, I said I was going to take down the big list of free Kindle book links by category / genre today.  Let’s just say I was impressed – and surprised – at the number of people who hit that link in order to grab more Kindle books for free.  It actually set a new record for the number of page views to the blog’s website!

I’ll leave it up for one more day and take it down sometime tonight before I go to bed.  Don’t know where to find it?  Just click here or type in http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/free-book-links/ into your web browser!

By the way: as I type this up on Tuesday night for posting on a Wednesday morning, there are 6,882 non public domain books for free.

 

Baseball

Baseball?  What does that have to do with a Kindle?  Absolutely nothing!  Spring training has started, I’m excited, but I will raise my hand and say I’m having a hard time with the player’s names – free agents switching teams, the youngsters trying to make the team, living in a city with the worst team in baseball (Astros) with no hope for several more years is a little frustrating.

However, that’s nothing that a ballpark hot dog, a bag of peanuts or sunflower seeds, and a large cold beer sitting in the stands can’t cure!

Have a great rest of the week-

Michael

 

 

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Another Rambling Blog Post

It’s a little of this, and a little of that: another rambling blog post where I have no outline or set agenda before I start banging away at the keyboard…mainly, I wanted to tell you about a few things related to the blog.

Emails

I don’t know about you, but it seems to have been a hectic last couple of weeks…not as hectic as one of my co-workers who was stranded on the Carnival cruise ship that finally docked last night (I thought of getting my co-worker a box of Depends as a “welcome back” gift, but seeing as she works in HR that may not be considered appropriate!).  However, with my day job and trying to be a husband and father, homework checker, fix-it around the house guy, and carpooler I’m tired!  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it should be getting better soon.

That being said, I am way behind on replying to your email questions.  I should be able to slug through a bunch of them over the weekend!  If you would like to write to me, my email address is michael at fkbooksandtips dot com (I type it out that way in a small effort to try and thwart the spammers).

 

Kindle Books for a Buck (or Less) Blog

If you subscribed or followed the Kindle Books for a Buck (or Less) blog, you already know this so feel free to skip to the next section.

After a little over a year and a half, I stopped publishing to that blog this past week.  You can read the reasons why in the final post I did if you click here or type in http://bit.ly/WvU2om into your web browser.  It’s rather long, and gives you a little bit of the economics of the blog and eBook publishing world, but I thought some of you data nuts (like I am) would be interested behind the rationale.

After posting that last entry, I had a few people contact me and wondering if I was bitter?  Not at all: I learned a heck of a lot about the eBook publishing business, made some good friendships over email with several independent authors, and picked up a lot of good books (and a few stinkers). 

While I may have stopped publishing to that blog, I am not taking the site down: there are a lot of good book recommendations on that blog.  If you’re looking for a good (and cheap) read, I encourage you to take a look at the prior posts: even one of Stephen King’s books is available for 99 cents!

Also, this decision does not change the publishing of this blog or my other five blogs – they will still be published!

 

The Blog’s Free Reader App

There are a lot of you are reading the blog on the free reader app for the Kindle Fire or your Android-enabled smartphone / tablet computer.    A very small minority of you have been receiving a black screen, with no content, over the last couple of weeks and have been unable to see the content.

It’s almost a year since I introduced that app for free, so to coincide with the one year anniversary and the 500,000th download of it I have commissioned a “re-do” of the look and feel of the app which should be available soon.

So, what will be new in the app?  It’s not going to be drastic:

  • A link to the blog’s page where I have permanent links to the free Kindle books on the Amazon website by genre (click here or type in http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/free-book-links/ into your web browser to see it).  That way, as I make changes or additions to this page you can see them plus it gives you an alternative to the daily posts in case you don’t see anything you care for on a particular day.
  • A link to signup for the email delivery option of the blog posts.  On a side note, I haven’t been too happy with the email software I’ve been using for delivery of the posts as it seems to have “peaked” and rarely allows new subscribers.  I’ll be transitioning that soon, so stay tuned for a future update.
  • A link to visit the blog’s Facebook page.  I realize some of you don’t “do” Facebook and I understand, but the majority of the readers do – this way, people can see the interaction going on the blog’s Facebook page which includes posts by independent authors telling you about their free books.  You can see the blog’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/fkbooks

If you would like to get your free copy of the blog’s app for the Kindle Fire and your Android-enabled smartphone / tablet computer you can download a copy (for free of course) from these two places:

 

What is an e-Ink Kindle?

A frequent question I receive is “what is an e-Ink Kindle?”  The short answer is it is any Kindle that does not have the word “Fire” in it!

 

Smart URL Links

Some people have asked me what the smarturl.it links are all about and what they do.  The simple answer is they are primarily for the benefit of the people who are reading the blog on their e-Ink Kindle via the subscription model: a lot of the times the Internet service available on the Kindle may (or may not) allow them to click a link in a blog post and get one of the free book offers.  This way, they can jump on their computer, enter the link, and grab the book.

The links are also designed to allow those of you who do not live in the USA to take advantage of the free book offers, also – regardless of what type of Kindle you have.  I’ve set each smarturl.it link up to point to the free Kindle book offering in the Amazon-specific USA, UKS, Canada, France, and Italy websites.

If you would like to try the blog’s email delivery directly to your e-Ink Kindle, you can check out the free two week subscription by clicking here or pointing your web browser to http://smarturl.it/fkblog

 

That’s really all I had for now – I hope each of you have a great weekend!

Michael

 

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Answers to Your 8.9" Fire Questions

I have received several questions about the differences between the various flavors of Kindle, and I do try to answer each one as best I can: I will raise my hand and say for the past month I seem to have been using the 8.9” Kindle Fire almost exclusively (that is the larger screen model), and my trusty Kindle Keyboard has been shedding a few tears lately because of neglect.

Today’s post attempts to answer the two main questions I have received numerous times, and if you are considering purchasing one of the 8.9” Fires I recommend you take a look at the review of this version I wrote (you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/89firereview into your web browser to see it); I have updated this review a bit since I have been using it more; I’m still waiting for my revised comments to be “approved” and to show up on the review.  If you think the review was helpful, I would appreciate a “Yes” vote just underneath the review on the Amazon website.

There are a couple of different versions of the 8.9” Fire, so here are the specs on the one I purchased: 64 gig of memory, the built-in 4G, and includes special offers.  I considered paying the extra $15 after I purchased it to turn off the special offers, but I’m glad I saved my money and left them on as I was able to get a couple of $20 Amazon gift cards for just $10 each because of the ads I viewed when I first turn it on.

Why am I posting this?  I get these two questions multiple times a week: I figure if a certain number of you had the same question, there must be a heck of a lot more of you who also have the question but just haven’t asked!  Without further preamble, the question will be in bold, with my response in a regular font.

 

My Fire came with a micro USB cord but not a power adapter; can I use the plugin socket that came with my regular e-Ink Kindle, or any other USB-compatible device, to plug the micro USB portion into the electrical socket?  Why didn’t Amazon include a power adapter with the device?

I’ll answer the last question first: I don’t know why Amazon didn’t include a power adapter with the Fire.  I can guess it was either a cost component or they wanted to have yet another sales opportunity.  Whatever the answer may be, personally I find it very annoying they didn’t include one.  For those of you who purchased the first-generation Kindle Fire last year, you may recall they included a power cord / adapter combination where you couldn’t detach the micro USB component to transfer files from your computer to the Fire: you had to purchase a separate one.

In answer to the first question above – can you use the plugin socket that came with your regular e-Ink Kindle, the answer from my experience is “no,” as it doesn’t put out enough power to charge the 8.9” Fire.  Amazon indicates (not specifically, but implies it) you can charge your 8.9” Fire with that adapter, but I’ll be damned if I could get it to charge, even with the Fire’s power off and hooked up to that charger overnight on more than one occasion.

Can you use the plug-in socket that comes with other USB-compatible devices?  That answer is different, because “it depends.”  What does it depend on?  Well, it depends if it is putting out enough juice to start recharging the battery in your Fire.  Not all chargers are created equal, so check it out carefully – for example, the charger that came with my Motorola RAZR smartphone puts out enough power to charge my Fire, as does the connection I have for my car’s charging port.  The USB charger I use for one of my cameras doesn’t put out enough power to charge the Fire.

So, how much power do you need?  You need an adapter that has at least 9 watts of output (the e-Ink Kindle charger is 5 watts).

Amazon, of course, has a charger they will be more than happy to sell you.  If you purchase it at the same time you purchase the Fire, they will charge you $9.99 for this power attachment; if you decide to purchase it a few days later, they will increase the price to $19.99.  You can see the one I am talking about if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/powerfast into your web browser.  This is actually a pretty good charger and will charge a fully-drained Fire in about 5-6 hours, I just think the $19.99 is a little pricey, plus I don’t like the fact at this price you can only charge one device at a time (you can, however, also use this charger to charge your e-Ink Kindle).

An alternative charger you should consider is one made by PowerGen: it is 10 watts of power, and has two ports so you can charge two things at the same time.  Best of all, it is only $9.99 – so, for $10 less you get a charging device that will charge two things at one time and it has a little bit more total power output than the Amazon-branded one.  You can check this one out if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/powergen10w into your web browser.  While this model can charge two things at once, only one of the two ports has enough power to charge your Fire: read the product description and you will know which port to plug in your Fire and the other port for different devices.

The PowerGen is just one example.  You can peruse the Amazon website’s charger section (click here or type in http://smarturl.it/chargers into your web browser), or you can shop elsewhere online or in a regular store near your house.

 

How is the 4G connection, and is the introductory data plan a good deal?

The 4G connection is a lot like how I have heard one of my friends describe his relationship with a girlfriend: when things are good, they are real good and when they are bad, they absolutely suck.

The same can be true for the 4G connection – it can be real fast when it wants to be fast, and you can be dead in the water in the strangest places.  For example, I can be out in the middle of the country and see a cell tower on the highway / frontage road, and the cell service is screaming fast and very convenient.  On the other hand, I can be in downtown Houston, the display says I have full cellular strength, and it just won’t work – no Internet, no email, no anything.

In other words, I have a love-hate relationship with it.

Concerning the introductory data plan – the one where you pay a one-time fee of $50 for 250 megabytes of data per month for 12 months, I have mixed emotions about it, also.  I am not a heavy user of email or web surfing, I dislike video chat, and I don’t download big files all of the time, so I initially thought the 250 meg per month limit would more than suit my needs.

I was wrong.

Why was I wrong?  It’s all of the apps loaded on your Fire that auto-magically turn themselves on that constantly check the Internet for updates, apps like Accuweather and The Weather Channel, a few news apps, and Words With Friends.  The Weather Channel app had to be the worst: despite manually shutting it down, it would miraculously come back on and download maps, constantly check for updates and refresh said maps so frequently it chewed right through the month’s allotment in a day and a half.

No kidding.  And it’s not a very good app, either, in comparison to Acccuweather so I deleted it.

Bottom line is you need to watch the data throughput carefully, or you will go over.  I upgraded to the 3 gig per month plan, which is the same plan I have with my work iPad and seems to be enough.  That’s $30 per month, so I wasted the $49.99 on the 250 meg per month plan (AT&T wouldn’t give me a refund even though I upgraded).

Part of me says I should have stuck with the Wi-Fi only version, but I’ve traveled a few times and despite my comments on the connectivity in downtown Houston, I would rather pay the $30 per month vs. $9.95 per night for hotel internet access.

Of course, depending upon your cell phone’s mobile data plan you can turn it into a mobile hotspot and tether your Fire to the cell phone.  I’m not about to tackle the ins and outs of that as each cell carrier and cell phone is different.  However, I have done it before and there are free apps you can install on your phone to do it: the free ones haven’t done much for me and I purchased one for $9.99 that seems to do the trick (which reminds me, I need to write a review for it!).  You can check out the one I like – but remember, it is not free and costs $9.99 – if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/easytether into your web browser.

 

Reading the above, it would seem like I have a lot of complaints!  Sure, I have a few as I don’t drink the Amazon Kool-Aid and think everything is peachy king.  From an overall perspective, however, I am quite pleased with my 4G Fire, and still think it is a much better financial deal from a purchasing standpoint as compared to an iPad!

Hope that helps-

Michael

 

Download the Free Kindle Books and Tips blog app for your Kindle Fire or Android-based smartphone or tablet – for free, of course – by clicking here or type in http://smarturl.it/fkbtfreeapp into your computer’s web browser from the Amazon App Store or click here or type in http://bit.ly/fkbtgoogle into your computer’s web browser for the Google App Store.

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Read This Blog on Your iPad (for Free, of Course)

I’ve been asked this question a few times this week – how do you read the blog using your iPad?  Here is how you can read it for free:

The Pulse app is pre-installed on your iPad, and the Pulse app basically is a collection of various blog posts and news feeds: as long as your iPad is connected to an active Wi-Fi connection or the cellular network, the blog posts and news feeds will be updated throughout the day. While you need an active Wi-Fi connection to update the news feeds, because the blog posts and news articles are stored on your iPad you can read them while you are offline or not connected to the Internet.

To add the Free Kindle Books and Tips blog or any other blog to the Pulse app, just follow these steps in order:

  • From the iPad’s home page (or whatever page you may have relocated it), locate the Pulse icon and tap it one time; if you deleted it, you can quickly download it for free from the iTunes store.
  • A list of existing feeds will now appear. To add a blog or newsfeed, scroll down to the bottom of the page and tap the blue “plus” or + icon in the lower left-hand corner (it is titled “Catalog”).
  • Tap the search icon located at the top left of your touch screen in the new pop-up (it looks like a magnifying glass).
  • You will see an input line titled “Search for anything” at the top of your touch screen. Tap that line one time to display the virtual keyboard at the bottom of your touch screen.
  • To add the Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips blog, just type in “fkbooksandtips.com” (without the quotations), then tap the “Search” icon located at the bottom right-hand side of your touch screen.
  • After you tapped the “Search” icon, the name of the blog should now be displayed on your touch screen. Tap the blue “plus” or “+” icon located to the right of the blog’s name to add it to your Pulse feed.

I hope that helps!  Why not do your iPad friends a favor and send this on to them?

Michael

 

Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your e-Ink Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week trial subscription! Click here for the Amazon page of the Free Kindle Books and Tips blog or type in http://smarturl.it/fkblog into your web browser.

Are you receiving the blog’s posts by email? You can if you click here or type in http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/subscribe into your web browser – just fill in your email address, smack the “Subscribe” button, and make sure you reply to the confirmation email!

 

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Another Rambling Blog Post

It’s that time again, time for another rambling blog post where I have no set agenda before I start banging away on the keyboard…if you would like to write to me, my email address is Michael at fkbooksandtips dot com (I write it out that way in a small effort to avoid the spammers).


The Blog’s Website

Sometimes you love technology, and sometimes you hate it: it seems over the last couple of months I’ve been cursing it!

About three months ago, I had to move the blog’s website from one web hosting company to another as there was too much traffic for the plan I had at the time: all in all, that’s a good thing.  I moved (with a lot of assistance) the blog to a virtual private server and life was going to be good!

It started out that way, then quickly changed…for some reason, and the hosting company help desk was no-help, the blog’s website started timing out and going down about a month ago at random times as well as not-so-random times.  The week of Christmas, it seemed as if every time I had a blog post the server would go down 15 minutes later: it would appear a couple of hundred people hitting the server in a 15 minute period would bring the server crashing down.  Seeing as how the blog’s website is a pretty basic WordPress-enabled site, and the data throughput requirements were small (it was not like I was pushing out multi-gig movies or something), this made no sense at all.

Out of frustration, and one too many calls with the hosting provider as to what was going on, I became extremely perturbed and had the website moved again right after Christmas and things are looking good again!

If you haven’t been to the blog’s website in a while, I encourage you to go to www.fkbooksandtips.com and click away.  To entice you, go click the link in the upper left-hand corner titled “Free Book Links” and give it a click: if you go to that page, click on the “All Free Kindle Books” link and take a gander at the 6,397 free Kindle books you can pick up from the Amazon site or click one of the other links to see the freebies by category.

 

The Kids’ Washington DC Trip

Many of you have asked me about my children’s fundraising efforts for their trip to Washington, D.C. during spring break (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can click here or type in http://bit.ly/NEzWll into your web browser to read the post about their collaborative efforts in writing their first Kindle book).

Thanks to your generosity and purchases, my daughter’s trip is paid for and my son needs another 197 books to be sold (after the Amazon commission and the government’s fair share) in order to say he paid for it 100%: thank you!

For the self-plug moment, especially since it is a new year, if you would like to help support their efforts – and get a book devoted to inspirational quotes for each day of 2013 – you can grab a copy of their book, Quote of the Day 2013, if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/qod2013 into your web browser.  If you are an Amazon Prime member and haven’t had your free borrow for the month, you can borrow the book (free for you), yet Amazon will give them credit for a sale.  My wife and I would appreciate it!

 

 

 The Blog’s Social Media Sites

I receive several messages a week asking if the blog is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites.  The short answer is yes, yes, yes, and I don’t have enough time for more social media sites!  There are some benefits for following the blog’s Facebook site, for example, as many independent authors stop by the blog’s Facebook page and tell you about their books that are being offered for free which I think is great.

If you would like to be a part of any – or all – of the blog’s social media sites, you can check them out with the following web addresses:

Facebook page: click here or go to http://www.facebook.com/fkbooks (and give the page a “Like”)

 

Twitter: click here or go to http://twitter.com/FKBT (and click the “Follow” icon)

 

Pinterest: click here or go to http://pinterest.com/fkbooks

 

 

College Football

No, this is not Kindle-related but who is going to watch the championship game against Alabama and Notre Dame? Seeing as how my team already beat Alabama this year, I may just have a seat in the lazy chair and read for a while, which leads to…

 

What I’m Reading Now

Today, I am reading Scott Nicholson’s The Home which, after 27% of the way through, is a pretty good book in the horror genre; you can check it out if you click here.  You may remember Scott had a guest blog post here a few weeks ago telling us a little about him and some of the influences on his writing.

If you missed the interview with Scott, or want to read it again, you can click here or type in http://bit.ly/13coDLy into your web browser.

If you would like to see all of the guest blog posts by independent authors we’ve enjoyed over the past few months, you can click here or type in http://bit.ly/UAQcb9 into your web browser.  This page only displays summaries of 4 articles per page, and to see the entire post just click the title of the post.  To see more than just the four posts on the page, scroll to the bottom and click the “Previous” icon to see the previous four guest blog posts.
Anyway, that’s about all I had for today…I hope each of you has a great week and even better 2013!

Michael

 

 

 

 

Collections and Categories for Your Kindle Fire Books

This is a repeat for many of you (so you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t read it), but this re-post is in answer to the many emails I have received over the past two weeks regarding the Collections App for the Kindle Fire.

Many people have asked me over the past year – including my own family – why I don’t read books very often on my Kindle Fire: I primarily read on my Kindle Keyboard or Kindle DX, although the Paperwhite is trying its best to take their places. The main reason was the Fire does not allow you to organize your books into genres / categories as all of the books are lumped together on one endless bookshelf after another on the carousel.

I’m not the only one who has a complaint or annoyance with this, as I can’t tell you how many discussion board rants and posts I have read of people wanting that functionality: it’s how I organize the 100+ books I have in my electronic “to be read” pile on my e-Ink Kindles and is something I consider a must-have with an e-Reader. I kept hoping Amazon would release a software update and implement the feature, especially with the new versions of the Fire that came out this past month, but they never did.

Well, I decided to bite the proverbial financial bullet and hired a group of talented app developers to design one for me –they came through, and now it is available in the Amazon App Store.

The first iteration of the app in late October / early November had some bugs to it that were problematic to a handful of users, and the negative reviews of the app piled on really fast. I am happy to say those first-generation bugs have been resolved and I appreciate the positive emails people have sent me saying how much they love it.

You can check the app out if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/firecollections into your web browser.

 

 

What does the app do? It’s pretty straight-forward: the app will classify your books into your own categories and launch your book directly from the app so you can start reading. Here’s a look at how I have started to organize the “uncategorized” books on my Kindle Fire (there’s a lot of books to categorize on my Fire):

 

 

If you look at the picture, you’re able to see five categories I created, but if you were sitting in front of my Kindle Fire and swiped down the screen you would see others. The little icons on the shelf represent each book I have in a particular category – you can change the color of the book icon’s spine if you want if you want to further classify your category or if you want all of a particular category to be blue, red, green, etc. On my Kindle Keyboard there are 23 categories, and I imagine there will be something similar on my Kindle Fire HD when I am finished.

 

Moving books to categories is also easy – each book is initially put into an “Uncategorized” category until you tell the app where you would like for it to be placed. To move a particular book from the “Uncategorized” section, just tap the book’s icon and a new window like the one below will open:

 

 

From this screen, you would then tap the “Move to Category” line and put the book into whatever category you desire. Can’t make up your mind or decide where it should be? That’s okay – you can put a book in as many categories as you want. For example, I have many books categorized in both “Mystery” and “Thriller.” The key here is you as the user decide – not me or a random computer. If you change your mind on a category, or realize down the road you may have misspelled a category, you can either move the book to a different category or rename any of the categories.

Once you have created a category and put a book (or more) into it, you can check it out: the picture below is what I have started with the “Mystery” category on my Fire. I have a ways to go on finishing my uncategorized books!

 

 

Once you are in this category – or any other category within the app including the “Uncategorized” section – to get started reading just tap the icon of the book and the book will launch. And yes, for some of you who are wondering, while software limitations won’t bring them directly in to the app to look at, you can still see a book’s stock cover image once you launch the book!

I imagine my Fire will have a lot of books on it now, as I have a lot of things in the electronic “to be read” pile! In case I have too many to quickly find a particular author, title, etc., the app will sort them by various parameters like the author’s name or book title to minimize your time hunting and maximize your time reading.

Once you’ve finished reading for the day or that session, either leave a bookmark where you were reading, or tap the middle of your Fire’s screen once to bring up the menu at the bottom: make a note of your location or page number then tap the back arrow one time. A dialog box will then open up where you can type in the location or page number. Going back to your category screen, you will see the last location you just input (see the screen above – they all say Location 1 because they have not been read on the Fire I used to take screenshots). That way, you will know where you are in the book while perusing your categories.

Why is that important? The Kindle reader, when launched from the app, automatically goes to the first page vs. going to the last page read: that’s a block with the Fire’s operating system the technical team couldn’t overcome (and they tried mightily). Now that you know what page / location you last read, when the book opens just drag the book progress / slider bar at the bottom of the book’s opening screen (it opens up automatically when you open the book or tap the middle of the book’s page on your Fire) and quickly go to your page.

One final thing: rather than having to open up a new web browser or use the free app for the blog to see the free book offers and tips, if you have an available Internet / Wi-Fi connection you can access it directly from your Fire. Just tap the “Free Kindle Books and Tips Blog” icon at the bottom of the category screen and you can grab the freebies right there.

I tried to make it simple in the design – one app to categorize and read books, as well as the same app to read the blog.

No, unlike most of my other offerings and the original app this one is not going to be free: I need to pay for the programmers (they don’t work cheap) and remember, I’m still trying to see if I can make blogging a full-time enterprise. I’ve initially priced it at what I think is both economical for the user without trying to gouge anyone as well as at a price point where I think there could be some nice sales volume that will allow me to make a profit after I pay the programmers, Amazon takes their percentage, and the US government takes what they believe is their fair share. At just $2.99, I hope you will give it a try and, if you do, I believe you will get a lot of value out of it!

If you do like it, I would appreciate a positive / favorable review on the Amazon website. If you think I missed something in the design or there is something wrong, please shoot me a note (michael at fkbooksandtips dot com) as the technical team and I are already compiling a list of future enhancements. If you had previously reviewed it with the old version of the app, please consider modifying your review.

Here is the link again:

Click here or type in http://bit.ly/firecollections into your web browser.

 

If you have read this far, I appreciate it – thanks for sticking with me over the years! What started out as just a fun way to share the free Kindle books I heard or read about during the week with a handful of people a couple of years ago is slowly, but surely, growing and turning into something I hope can be a full-time job!

Have a great Christmas and New Year,

Michael Gallagher

 

 

Organize your books on your Kindle Fire with our updated Collections and Categories App! Click Here or type in http://bit.ly/firecollections into your web browser to get it now!

 

Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your e-Ink Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week trial subscription! Click here for the Amazon page of the Free Kindle Books and Tips blog or type in http://www.tinyurl.com/fkblog into your computer’s web browser.