after a couple weeks

kindle user experience in week two

1. My non-fiction hunger has led me to search "transcipts" at the website of PBS.org (series: nova, frontline, independent lens, P.O.V., secrets of the dead)Some files are downloadable PDF; most are html passages of text to copy/paste into a document for sending via email to the Amazon.com convert-to-AZW service.

2. Other websources to glean: propublica.com (investigative journalism), feature articles at lonelyplanet.com, documentary film sites like cnam.com, der.com, bullfrog films, nationalgeographic.com

3. Handling images: usb from kindle to PC, then create folder named "pictures." Each folder of images copied into "pictures" will appear on the kindle HOME as a separate "book" title that can be opened, rotated, magnified and so on; possibly annotated with a note, too.Empirical question: how best to give best quality (dimension, color, format) and reducing filesize?Conclusion: there is a small reduction in filesize by saving JPG images into grayscale (black and white). The biggest saving comes from resizing the source images to 800x600 pixels instead of loading files in original dimensions. Recommended steps: use a photo editor like the free Picasa (picasaweb.google.com) to make any adjustments and corrections. Save those changes (picasa preserves the originals separately in case you want to go back again), and then use the File >Export. In the dialogue box is an option to resize (as well as to add a discrete watermark or text) to 800 pixels wide, for example. Once you've created that folder of selected images at the desired dimensions, then you can load this onto kindle>pictures >newfolder_nameThe advantage of keeping the folder in color is that you can use the USB connection to give a copy of that folder to friends. Even though the kindle display will be 16 shades of gray, those files still retain the original colors and once copied to someone's PC will display that way.In the event you wish to create photos + text, an easy way is to use MS-Word Insert >Image >from file. Choose multiple images to dump into the document, then add text. Finally you can print to PDF for kindle to display, or you can use the amazon File Convert service.Another rapid way to open many photos and add brief text is PowerPoint >Insert >Photo >New Album. Choose "image + caption" and create the set of slides. Write the captions then "save as..." PDF to kindle to display, or you can "save as..." JPG (each slide & its caption become a single JPG), or you can directly change PPT to mobi, which kindle can display, by using the free mobicreator software.

I've been happy with the screenshot tool (shift+alt+G) to make GIF views. I made one of the device registration/serial number page, among other things.

4. Experiences with the amazon (email) file conversion service: putting 'convert' in the email SUBJ line yields the kindle file (*.AZW) for wireless delivery (on wifi, but at nominal cost using 3G) and for online amazon login and download (for manually transferring to kindle by using usb to PC).Not putting 'convert' in the email, but just attaching *.TXT or *.pdf will deliver the files in the same way, but will a different display. Sending the same file content as *.DOC (and kindle conversion) gives correct line breaks and deep gray text. By comparison, sending the file as *.TXT may run together some line breaks, as well as give even darker text.

5. For the browser on wikipedia, the MENU >Article Mode truly does make the small text simpler and less cluttered to read. Pressing the 5-way does not allow text highlights into MyClippings.txt, but instead allows one to move from hotlink to hotlink before selecting one. The wikipedia footnotes gave a link to a book at the Gutenberg Project which offered a download in several formats. Pressing the one for kindle prompted the dialogue confirmation to accept the file download.

6. Looking at yahoo.co.jp allowed a glimpse of the East Asia font display: works fine.

7. Overall conclusions about choosing the most useful and convenient form to load a file:

(a) Webpage snippets can be gathered with PC browswer plug-ins (e.g. firefox's Zotero) or the InstaPaper.com service. Other ways include the Webcapture function of Adobe Acrobat's full version (not the free PDF reader version). Other freeware lets you collect HTML pages for offline viewing, too. Finally, you can copy/paste passages & URL the low-tech way, by mouse clicks or keystrokes, and put that into a document.
(b) The general principle is to obtain and use the content "as is" in order to save time and steps between selecting and actually reading. In the case of *.TXT and *.PDF and *.AZW (or *.mobi, or *.prc) you can just copy the file into the kindle DOCUMENTS folder and begin; or send it wirelessly. But in the case of *.DOC and *.RTF and *.HTM the conversion step is necessary (unless you merely copy the body of the file into a TXT or print to PDF).
(c) Files converted from *.DOC-RTF-HTML retain the formating features of multiple font sizes, shade, tables, line-breaks, and images. Hotlinks seem to be preserved, as well: if the URL is written from the http point then the conversion renders it "live," and when the link is embedded in underlined, linked text then the conversion retains that, as well. On the other hand, putting TXT files onto the kindle gives no live links; however, sending the file by email (without the SUBJ command "convert") does deliver an AZW file and the URLs that begin http will become "live."

In sum, filesize differences are negligible for text-dominant passages in pdf, html, doc, rtf or txt. Apart from PDF, all the other files can be read with full kindle tools (search, highlight, add note, dictionary and web lookup, adjust display sizes and so on). So in the interest of expediency and reading pleasure, the best way seems to be to add files "as is" and thus take the fewest intervening steps between desire to read and actually opening up the file on the kindle. Grab a funnel and pour all the files in the kindle DOCUMENTS folder to begin!

8. It is a pleasure to browse or search the Gutenberg (and various other collections of free texts).I downloaded the "magic gutenberg" *.mobi file of hotlinked titles and clicked one to download and open.

Still to do: try the magazine, newspaper and blog subscriptions (2 week free trial period).The transcripts or capsule descriptions for public radio are worth gathering, too:onpointradio, npr.org, fresh air, and so on; in addition to world (languages) news at news.google.com.I'm curious about the usability of old maps, sheet music, and screenplays/scripts on kindle.I should try to voice command User Interface at some point, too; as well as Text-to-Speech.I wish I could prepare my own images as screensavers, even though kindle images are nice.

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