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Quick review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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So what’s the deal with the new Kindle Paperwhite?

I purchased a new Kindle Paperwhite book reader a few days ago.  Since I have two other Kindle devices – an original e-ink Kindle and Kindle Fire – I pretty much knew what I was getting.

Really, if you already have a Kindle e-book reader then the only reason to get the Paperwhite is for the built-in reading light.  If you have the earliest Kindle, the one with the keyboard sans touch screen, then the addition of the touch screen is nice but not essential.

One step forward, two steps back

The amount one reads, all other things being equal, is about both availability and convenience.  With the addition of the back-light, the Kindle Paperwhite adds another level of convenience.  With my older e-ink kindle it was something of a bother, or at least an inconvenience, to get an external light source just right in order to see the e-ink Kindle screen in a dark room.  Now, with the built-in reading light, all that inconvenience is eliminated.  As for availability, there are more books then every available for Kindle through purchase, public library lending, Amazon lending library, and books being place in the public domain.

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite takes two big steps back through, what I would call, “the great silencing of the Kindle”.  Unlike earlier versions of the e-ink Kindle e-book reader the Paperwhite is mute – it has no speakers… and it has no speakers because it is incapable of making any sound whatsoever.  No text to speech, no audio books, no music, no nothing.

Every product has a set of features.  Some people just count features – the more features the better.  Right?  Well, no.  Different consumer segments (and individuals) place a different value on each feature.

I’ll take a long-shot here and propose that there are very few avid book readers that would judge the value of text-to-speech as “low”, or “frivolous” to the point that this feature should be eliminated from a product.  Or, to put it another way, that the ability of an e-book reader to play audio books, and more importantly, the capability to convert any e-book to human speech would always enter into a buying decision.

The generic text-to-speech capability of the older Amazon e-ink Kindles along with voice navigation of the screen gave those with a visual disability the world of books that they may not have any other way with such convenience.  Now Amazon has taken that capability away.  Why?

Companies don’t do things without a business justification.  But, does the business justification outweigh the benefits the speech-enabled Kindle gave to certain under-represented segments of society.  Google as a company started out some simple values.  One of them was, “Don’t be evil”. (” …said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out”, ”  read more )

The Take

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is fine addition to the Kindle e-book reader line of products.  It’s outstanding feature is the addition of the built-in back light.  I find that I read more books more often on the Kindle Paperwhite for the simple reason that I don’t have to fuss with finding the lighting to read the Kindle in a dark room.  In a well-lit room there is little difference between the Kindle Paperwhite  and any of the older Kindle e-book readers.

Amazon took two steps back with the Kindle Paperwhite by silencing it.  No audio books and no capability to turn “any book into an audio book” though its excellent text to speech capability.  This was a wondrous feature.  My older Kindle e-book reader with aural capability will not find its way into the trash any time soon due to this lack of capability of the newest Kindle e-book reader.  The visually impaired have lost a friend at Amazon.

Amazon should take a look at Google’s informal corporate motto in their pre-IPO S-1 filing and re/think the Kindle product roadmap in this context.

We believe strongly that in the long-term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains.  (reference)

Read More

Read other postings on this site related to the Amazon Kindle  ( )

Folks that have any e-book reader would benefit from Calibre

Folks that want the audio for a large collection of books in the public domain should check out LibriVox

Written by frrl

December 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

The new Yaesu FTDX5000 up close and personal

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Check it out

Written by frrl

June 27, 2010 at 12:29 am

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Review: Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Payer FM Transmitter

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Me and Gaga


How do you bring your GaGa with you? – as well as your ZZTop, Jeff Beck, and the rest of the gang?

The solution has to be cheap, nearly a throw-away. It has to be simple to operate. Nothing fancy – I just need it to play MP3’s.  And it has to play it through an FM Radio.  Oh, OK, I really want it to use on a motorcycle; and maybe in the car.

I have an iPod Touch and that is great for listening to music, podcasts, audio books, and all the rest. 

But I would rather not take that with me in the car, and on the motorcycle.  What’s the solution.

Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Payer FM Transmitter

After I did a bit of research, I picked up a Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player/ FM Transmitter with 2GB of memory.  The price was right $19.99 (not $20; just $19.99 – under $20)

Here is the description

The Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range is new from Mach Speed – A wireless MP3 player and FM transmitter that lets you take your tunes to your vehicle. The Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player/ FM Transmitter is a 12V USB device offers 100 FM frequencies, built-in 2GB of memory, and an additional line-in connection. All you have to do is insert the 12V adaptor end of the Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter receptacle or power port. Tune your FM radio onto one of the preset frequencies, then use the channel button to set the player’s broadcast frequency to match the one you’ve set on your radio. The Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player/ FM Transmitters features include previous track and volume decrease, play/pause, next track and volume increase, and channel button. This device also works with virtually any media device, or use the internal memory. The CarTunes Max Range is the perfect companion, wherever you may roam.

This is an all-in-one solution of bringing your tunes, podcasts, audio books, and other media with you on the road or any place where you have 12v available.  It has 2 GB of memory on-board as well as a slot for an additional memory card.  It also has a 3.5mm jack for an alternative input if you don’t want to use the built-in MP3 player capability.  In this case, what you feed into the 3.5 mm jack gets transmitted to the FM radio.

The FM transmitter section covers the entire FM broadcast band.  So you can pick any “unused” frequency in your area.  The FM transmitter seems to have good range.  As tested, the range is at least 50 feet.  Used in a vehicle, you will never need this range.  The FM transmitter was powerful enough to overcome some local FM radio stations in the area.

Its simple to load music on the device.  Just plug in the supplied USB cable to the device and a computer.  You know the drill; just drag and drop the MP3’s that you want to play onto the device.  It’s as simple as that.

The Take


  1. The price is right.  For $20 you can get a combo MP3 player with 2GB of on-board memory, FM transmitter section, alternative inputs (3.5mm jack), and external memory expansion.
  2. The FM transmitter section is more than powerful enough for vehicle use and to overcome weak local FM broadcast stations.
  3. The FM transmitter covers the entire FM broadcast band (88-108Mhz) so it should be easy to find an “unused” frequency in just about any area.
  4. It’s one-piece, no wires, and easy to take with you.
  5. Simple operation.  Previous song; next song; pause
  6. The device remembers what song was playing and the FM transmit frequency  the last time you powered it down.  When you power it back up, it picks up where it left off.


  1. The display is way too small to be useful.  You will need a magnifying glass to see all the information that is in the display.  In a display as big as your fingernail is the name of the song playing, a spectrum display, bit rate, length of the song playing, a few more things.  Add to this the fact that it is generally in your 12v accessory plug located away from easy view while you are driving.  There is no way you are going to be able to read the display.
  2. No playlists, no easy navigation of the songs on the device.
  3. No shuffle play
  4. No on/off switch.  Plug it in, it boots, and starts playing.  Pause is the only option; no “off”.


I have an iPod Touch but I don’t want to drag it around with me in vehicles, especially a motorcycle.  The Mach Speed Car Tunes Max Range MP3 Player with FM Transmitter is an inexpensive solution to bringing your tunes with you which plays through a standard FM broadcast radio receiver within a range of about 50 feet.

The controls are minimal.  It is difficult to navigate the songs other than previous and next song.  The digital display is too small to be useful.  There is no shuffle play – for those who do not like predictability.

All in all – this is a useful “throw-away” device that serves a useful purpose.  It’s simple and direct.  Load it with up to 2GB of music and go.  If it gets trashed, lost, or vibrated to death on a motorcycle – it only $20 lost.  Between the time you buy it and the time  it ends up in the trash, this device should provide sufficient utility to justify the $20 cost of this all-in-one solution to bringing your tunes mobile without placing a more expensive MP3 player at risk in adverse environments.

Written by frrl

June 8, 2010 at 4:20 am

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Confessions of a new ( Streaming ) Netflix subscriber

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I have known about Netflix for some time now – I ignored it.  But since I had $8.99 burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to give it a try.  ( You can get a 2-week trial for free ( ) )

Using a DSL Internet connection and an older 2.5Ghz dual-core CPU w/4GB of RAM with dual monitors (24in and 26in) I found the experience nothing short of amazing.  Even with a slow internet connection there were no interruptions in the 2 movies that I watched.  The sound was good through my Logitec Z-Cinema speakers.  I am even able to update this blog on one monitor while I watch the Netflix movie on the secondary monitor.  Doing both cranks the CPU to only about 40%.

So it begs the question.  What about your local brick and mortar video store – Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Family Video, and the like?  What is the future for these stores in an age of high-speed broadband, inexpensive storage, and a legal environment that can allow for the streaming of intellectual property and still keep all the stakeholders that create, produce, and deliver the movie happy?

  1. Why would I physically transport myself to a video rental store if I can get the movie online on-demand?
  2. Why would I go to video store to browse a shelf-space limited selection of titles when the internet could potentially provide an “infinite” selection of choices  (every movie ever made any time)  (see The Long Tail )
  3. Why would I go to a music store when I can download (purchase) any of 3 million tracks from iTunes?
  4. Why, even, would I want to purchase (own) a music track when I can “lease” a track from Rhaposody through a monthly subscription fee.  (Why do people insist on owning this property? )
  5. Why would I even want to purchase a DVD disk (physical media) or even store the bits of a digital version if I can get it online anytime I want?
  6. How about books? Why purchase any physical book when I can search (full text) and read any of the hundreds of thousands of books online for a montly subscription fee at  books24x7 ?

All of this is about disruptive technologies and its affect on traditional business models.  I hear people all the time complaining about executive salaries – they are too high – they are 100x or 200x what an “average” person makes in the United States.

So, the question is this – What are you willing to pay a an executive team that navigate through an onslaught of disruptive technologies, including movements by a sea of competitors and new entrants, and produces a winning competitive strategy and drive the execution of that plan?

How much are these people worth?  Are they any different than sports athletes that make $25M/yr ?  Both are directly responsible for revenue generation.  Why do we seldom hear complaints about the compensation in the sports industry?  But  a CEO and executive team that can generate $12B in profits shouldn’t earn $30M in compensation? ( )

Jim Keyes is CEO of Blockbuster ( compensation package )

Blockbuster CEO Has Answers [ Dec 2008  ]

Blu-ray has extended — and enhanced — the life of the optical disc as a movie-serving platform. As an early adopter, I begrudgingly settle for a digital download in a pinch, but I prefer the quality, flexibility, and special features that come with a DVD or Blu-ray rental.

Keyes doesn’t know if countrywide bandwidth will be there to digitally deliver quality movie experiences by the time Blu-ray discs run their course. He sees an opportunity to fill the gap, providing in-store servers loaded with high-quality releases that can be transferred to flash memory cards in 30 seconds. In the end, it’s all about getting folks into his stores or even to potential Blockbuster kiosks at train stations and airports to serve up speedy celluloid.

He’s the only one who sees it that way, and he relishes being a contrarian.

“Let everybody fight it out, kill each other, and spend lots of money on set-top boxes tethered to big screen TVs,” he says. He prefers a portable solution as the heir apparent to the DVD, and one that hopefully entails a trip out to your local Blockbuster store…

… Keyes’ main goal is for Blockbuster to succeed as a media retailer. When I asked him if he perceives his biggest competitive threat to be Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) or RedBox — the DVD rental kiosks bankrolled by McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and Coinstar (Nasdaq: CSTR) that are popping up all over the country — he dismissed them both.

“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” he said. “It’s more Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).”

Read more –

Watch the environment – Mr Keyes… about one year later…

Speaking Jan. 5 [2010] at an investor event in San Francisco, Keyes said the proliferation of “new kid on the block” Redbox’s kiosks and Netflix’s domination in the by-mail subscription business pose formidable challenges in 2010 as Blockbuster spent much of last year establishing new financing ($675 million credit facility) instead of growing its business.

Read more –

What is Clayton M. Christensen thinking in regard to disruptive innovation?  ( website, books )

Written by frrl

March 14, 2010 at 5:08 am

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EVERNOTE – Save your ideas, things you see, and things you like: Comprehending the Business Model of FREE

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evernote_logo2The Challenge: Remember anything – make is searchable and available from just about any network connected device.

There are applications that come and go.  You download an interesting application, try it out a few times, and then, there it sits, idle on your computer, unused, just taking up space.

These unused applications will stay on your computer until you refresh the operating system.  They won’t be back.  You didn’t use it and you won’t install it again with the new operating system.

Many apps have not make it past these refresh points on my computers or Apple iPod Touch – except a few.

And one in particular that you should know about


Welcome to your notable world. Use Evernote to save your ideas, things you see, and things you like. Then find them all on any computer or device you use. For free.

The compelling feature of Evernote is that there is an Evernote application for just about any operating system and any networked device AND every thing you saved is on the network.  What this means is that Evernote can synchronize all your notes (ideas, things you see, things you like) in a central repository – over there on the Evernote servers – for free.

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Written by frrl

September 25, 2009 at 2:01 am

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Emergency Preparedness: 30 ft fiberglass mast and base for $40

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Emergency Preparedness: 30 ft fiberglass mast and base for $40

Need an emergency 30ft fiberglass mast, base, and stakes for $40?  Read on.

mastguy_kitThe Antenna Mast Guy

If you travel to hamfests in the Midwest maybe you have seen the “mast guy” or the “pole guy”.  This guy has been traveling around to hamfests (according to him) for the past five years selling this stuff.

He always has good sales.  He has the right product at the right price in the right market with customers lined up to buy.

I am not sure what the original use of these were, or where he got these from – but he always seems to have a trailer load full of them.  He will mix and match whatever you want.

What you can get for $20

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Written by frrl

September 20, 2009 at 7:18 am

Second Date: Review of the Degen DE1123 DSP AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio with 1GB MP3 Player & Recorder

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Second Date:
Review of the Degen DE1123 DSP AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio with 1GB MP3 Player & Recorder

Read our related posting – Review of the DEGEN DE1123


Cheap Date

This a follow-up to my experience with the Degen DE1123 “do it all” AM/FM/SW radio, recorder, and MP3 player.

Now that I have had this “device” for a few weeks, here are some further thoughts and observations.

Overall, this is a very cheaply made device.  The slide switch on the left hand side is probably the weakest of the controls.  It is hard to move and position at the right setting.  The plastic case is thin and does not have a good feel.

The device packs a great deal of capability.  It can “do it all” for $79.  Here is what I use it for.


  1. I found that it is an excellent voice recorder.  It has a build in Microphone and records at the proper bit rate for voice recording quality balanced against recorded file size.  I use it extensively for recording conference calls which I attend daily for 3 to 5 hrs a day.  I did not expect to use it for this purpose – and that it works as well as does is a surprise.
  2. I use it to listen to recorded audio books.  I read or listen to a couple of books a week.  The DEG1123 is better than my undocked Apple iPod Touch since the DEGEN has a much better speaker than the internal speaker in the iPod Touch. 
  3. Of course, the prime use for which I purchased the DEGEN was to time shift radio programs which were not available as podcasts and for which I am not able to arrange “appointment listening”.
  4. The ability to record 70 hrs of audio either directly from the radio (AM/FM/SW) or from the built-in microphone is the real real value of this $79 device.
  5. Transferring files to/from a PC with the supplied USB cable is fast and easy
  6. The AM/FM/SW radio section is acceptable.  I live near Chicago with power-house radio stations.  So reception on this radio is not a problem.
  7. With the supplied 3 x 650 ma batteries the run time is about 18 hrs.
  8. My biggest gripe is the audio record volume.  When recording directly from the radio the actual recorded audio when played back is only 1/2 the volume level when recording.  The only way to get around this is to plug the headphones in when recording and crank it up.  Alternatively, post process the audio with a free open source program like Audacity and increase the volume.

When “Cheap” is better than “Insanely Great”

As odd as it might seem the real value of this radio is that it is cheap and almost “disposable”.  That is, I would never think of taking my $200+ Apple iPod Touch for a bike ride – but I will take the DEGEN.  The batteries in the DEGEN are 3xAAA – you can change them on the fly – not so with the Apple iPod Touch with its internal proprietary battery pack.  The playback on an undocked iPod Touch through its internal speaker – can’t compare with the DEGEN front mounted large speaker.

The face-down smash test.  I accidentally dropped the DEGEN 1123 from a height of 4 feet on to a hardwood floor.  The DEGEN landed perfectly face-down causing the battery compartment cover to fly off.  The 3 x AAA batteries were ejected and rolled across the floor.  I retrieved the batteries and put them back in the compartment.  It radio worked.

Bottom line, sometimes cheap and disposable with good capability is better than “Insanely Great”.

Go buy a DEGEN 1123 and enjoy a cheap date.

Here is the Manual for the DEGEN 1123 –


Written by frrl

July 31, 2009 at 5:44 pm

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