News - Part 14

Music Lovers: Are You Checking Out Amazon’s Monthly List of $5 MP3 Albums?

Did you know that MP3s you buy from Amazon are totally iTunes-compatible, and totally DRM-free? DRM-free means no restrictions on copying to all your various devices, no restrictions on backing up, and no problem using these MP3s on both Apple-brand and non-Apple devices that can play MP3s. That means you can play ’em on your iPod, iPhone, Android phone or tablet, Kindle Fire, PC, Mac, or any other device that can play MP3 files. And did you also know that Amazon kicks off each new month in its MP3 Store by discounting 100 MP3 albums and posting that list to the “deals” page of the MP3 store? I’ve been posting about this list each month for over a year at the Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily site, so I can tell you true: every month’s list has more than a few of those “essential” albums that always turn up on annual lists of…

The Difference Between Hardware and Software

This post is prompted by a question I got on Facebook yesterday. A lady commented that she really loves her first-gen Fire, which doesn’t have a camera, but doesn’t want to have to buy an HD model just to get the camera feature of the HD models. She wanted to know if there would ever be a camera download or app made available for her Fire. The answer is no, and this lady does not understand the difference between hardware and software. Hardware: The Physical Stuff You Can Touch Anything that’s physically built into the machine you’re using, whether that machine is a computer, a Kindle Fire, an iPad, or even a fancy-schmancy espresso maker, is hardware. It’s called hardware because it’s made of literally hard, physical materials. Your machine’s screen, microphone, buttons, on/off switch and camera (if applicable) are all examples of hardware features.

Amazon Instant Video Myths and Facts

I originally wrote this post, dated 5/27/13, for the Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily site, and it’s reprinted here in full with that site’s permission. Amazon’s policies and processes described here are accurate as of that date, but subject to change at any time in the future. The comment thread on Amazon’s page dedicated to yesterday’s $5 Instant Video sale Gold Box deal was very lively, and filled with many myths and signs of confusion. An earlier KF on KND post on Managing Your Instant Video Library addressed a lot of the confusion surrounding Instant Video licensing and usage, but it seems more information is still needed. MYTH: You don’t really “own” the Instant Videos you purchase, because Amazon or the studios can make them unavailable at any time. FACT: You most definitely DO own the Instant Videos you purchase, though not in the form of physical copies. Licensing restrictions placed on digital…

Carcassonne: My New Favorite Game App

This is a cross-posting of a piece I originally wrote for Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily. It is reprinted here in full with that site’s permission. I am a HUGE fan of games of all sorts, including board games, so it came as a real shock to me that I’d never heard of Carcassonne (4/5 stars, currently priced at $4.99) before I came across it in the form of a Kindle Fire game app—it’s also available for other Android devices in the Google Play store, and for Apple devices in the iTunes App Store. Carcassonne is a turn-based strategy game about empire-building, and even though it was only invented in 2000, it’s become a hugely popular board game in Europe. When you hear “empire building” you may be thinking of Risk, but this game doesn’t involve careful management of invading armies and weaponry. Instead, players take turns laying down tiles with pictures of different…

Rechargeable Battery Problems: Overcharging, Leaving It Plugged In

Does it seem like your thingie isn’t holding its charge as long as it used to, or like a full charge doesn’t give you as many hours of use as it used to? Does it seem like your last thingie died a lot sooner than you expected? It’s recently come to my attention that many folks don’t know two crucial things about charging their devices with rechargeable batteries, and that’s where the trouble begins. DON’T OVERCHARGE Rechargeable batteries lose a little bit of their holding capacity every time they’re overcharged. By “overcharged”, I mean when they’re plugged into an outlet for charging beyond the time it takes to fully recharge the battery. **UPDATE 1/23/14** To anyone who’s thinking it’s not possible to damage a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery by leaving it plugged in too long, see this DMM post, where I discuss the difference between what’s technically correct about Li-ion batteries…

Bargain Hunters: It’s An Ideal Time To Get A Free Amazon Prime Trial

5/16/13 UPDATE: Note that the 30 Day Free Prime Trial offer may no longer be in effect; it was valid as of the writing of this post, and comes back from time to time, but I can’t guarantee it’s still in effect as you read this. I am a bargain hunter par excellence, I know a great deal when I see one. I also know that time-consuming, hassle-filled “bargains” aren’t really bargains at all, and neither are low prices on crummy products or services. Having said all that, I can tell you that taking advantage of free trial periods for premium services is one of the major tools in my bargain hunter’s utility belt. Free Trials: These Days, It’s Easy To Cancel Before The Expiration Date You may be leery of “free” trials, because as we all know the sellers’ goal is to hook you in and hope you forget…

Kindle Fire / Android Tips & Tricks: Where’s My App? Revisited, Where’s My Music? And Where’s My Audiobook?

In my last Kindle Fire Tips & Tricks post I included information on how to force a newly-purchased app to show up on your Fire when you don’t want to wait for it. I’ll just reprint that tip here, then go on to elaborate a bit more on how to force other types of content to show up. Note that some of these same methods will work on ANY Android device, so if your thingie is something other than a Kindle Fire, it still may be worth giving these tips a try. Where’s My App? If you are in the habit of downloading a new app and then immediately wanting to try it out, you’ve discovered that purchased apps don’t immediately, automatically show up on your Fire’s carousel. And you may have resigned yourself to waiting a few hours, or until the next day, for that app to show up….

What Is Twitter Good For, Anyway?

Take it from the Digital Media Mom, Twitter is not the colossal waste of time you’ve been led to believe it is. True, many celebrities and teenagers have used it only for purposes of wasting their own and others’ time, but that’s not Twitter’s fault. Hard though it may be for you to believe, Twitter can be an amazingly powerful tool and resource you may soon find yourself using on a daily basis. Twitter Basics Twitter is one example of “social media”, which is really just a jargon-y way of saying “tool that facilitates communication between individuals and groups”. Blogs, online discussion groups, message boards and newsletters (whether online or the old fashioned, real-world type), group emails and even phone trees could all be classified as social media, depending on how they’re being used.

Can I Share Content From My Thingie?

This is a question I get pretty often, in many variations. “Can I share the movies on my iPad with my daughter, on her iPad?” “Can my wife use an app I bought for my Galaxy Tab on her Android smart phone?” “Can my roommate listen to the audiobook I got for my Kindle Fire on her own Kindle Fire after I’m done with it?”  The answer to the question of whether or not you can share content from your thingie with someone else’s thingie is twofold: It depends on the thingies, and the content. I can’t possibly address every portable device (the thingies) or every existing piece of content. So I’m going to deal in types of thingies and types of content.

Surviving A Kindle Fire Factory Reset – With Most Of Your Stuff Intact

If you’re here to answer the question of what happens to all your content when you get a new Fire, or when your Fire is lost or stolen, see my post Managing Your Kindle Content: Cloud vs. Device, Deleting and Storing Content. Relax: you will not have to re-purchase all your stuff. See the post for full details. What follows is a reprint of a post I originally wrote for Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily, plus a few subsequent updates I’ve made, where indicated. It is reprinted here in its entirety with that site’s permission. When your Fire starts acting hinky, as mine did a couple months back, sometimes there’s nothing for it but to do a “factory reset”. This post is about how to tell when it’s necessary, how to do it, and how to preserve as much of your Fire’s content as possible in the process.