Blog Archives

Extinguishing the Kindle Fire

After about a month of use, I am ready to send back my Kindle Fire. Thankfully, Amazon gave until January 31st 2012 to return it. The reason I am returning it is because I no longer want or need it. I brought it to be a lazy device. I planned on using it when I wanted to sit down, read a magazine, browse the Internet, and maybe watch a movie. Sadly, these are the features that lack on the Kindle Fire.

Magazines that have apps like GQ, for example, the only magazine I currently subscribe to, has an app which formats the paper magazine to the Fire’s screen, has videos and links built-in and you do not have to zoom into the magazine to read the articles. This is a really nice reading experience. In most cases, I like reading GQ on my Kindle Fire more than I do on my normal paper subscription. That was until the current issue arrived at my door about a week ago (a week after I started seeing it on Newsstands) and it is STILL not on my Kindle Fire. 3 weeks ago I saw the latest edition on a Barnes & Noble Nook tablet.

The magazines that don’t have an app are pure pain to use. They basically scanned the magazine in PDF form. You MUST zoom into every page you want to read. The problem with that is that you have to zoom in in the center of the screen, if not, the page turns. There is also a problem with orientation. Some ads and articles require landscape mode and SOME require portrait. It’s a bit annoying to keep turning the device around to find the perfect format.

The web browser is horrible. It’s slow, it crashes, and tends to forget the tabs you have open. Mobile sites tend to work fine but if you are using a full site, you will have some issues with it. Since I brought this device mostly for browsing the internet, this is a bit of a bummer.

Video is another pain. If you want to stream something from Amazon Prime, it usually looks pretty good. The issue is, the streaming library is kind of weak. You can buy videos from Amazon but since I have Netflix, I’m not going to pay to rent each movie. Getting video from your computer to the Kindle Fire is a bit annoying as well. It requires a Micro USB cable, which Amazon does not include with the Kindle Fire. They do provide this cable with normal Kindle’s so if you are lucky enough to own a Kindle, you can use this cable with the Kindle Fire. The lack of cable isn’t even the worst part. You need to put your file in the correct folder, not just a drag and drop like an external hard drive. If you are transferring a video, you must put it in the Video folder, transferring a song=Music folder. You get the idea. Now, since this thing ships with no manual at all, good luck figuring out where the hell the content you transferred went. You need to search for the Gallery app, which is already installed on the Kindle Fire, just hidden by default, and that’s where all the non-Kindle content is stored.

Right now, I am only using my Kindle Fire as a magazine reader and I feel like it’s a waste of money. I don’t need a $200 device to just read magazines. It’s also not like I’m saving any money using the Kindle Fire instead of getting a paper subscription. I did the math and it turns out that I will be saving money by getting a 2 year subscription of the paper magazine rather than paying per issue on the Kindle Fire. I’ll also have a better time reading on paper than I do reading a big PDF file.

I like the Kindle Fire for it’s size and weight and I would recommend it to anyone who can find a use for it.

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Netflix price increase, separates DVD from Instant Streaming

Netflix logoThis morning, Netflix posted on their blog that they are increasing the price of their monthly services. Users now have a streaming only option for $7.99, a DVD only option starting at $7.99, and a streaming+DVD service starting at $15.98. To add Blu-Ray discs, users are still expected to pay $3 extra on top of their monthly plan.

Customer reaction to this has not been positive, with many people complaining on Twitter and in the comments on the blog post. These new prices do not go into effect for existing costumers until September but many people are canceling their account now. Personally, I switched from the unlimited streaming+ 1 DVD for $10 (which is now $16) to the new DVD only plan which is $7.99. I have no need for the streaming service since I only used it on very few occasions and the experience was definitely not worth the $5 increase. There seems to be a lot of people choosing the DVD only plan since the Netflix streaming library is very limited.

In some good news, Netflix announced a new DVD management team. With these new prices, we hope that Netflix gets some much needed overall improvements.

The Cloud. Good, Bad, Dangerous.

I’m sure you heard someone mention “the cloud” before. If you are wondering what “the cloud” is: The cloud is a term used when something is stored in a server instead of the physical machine you are working on. For example, email is stored in the cloud. When you get an email, it goes to the server of your email provider and it gets pushed to your email client via the internet. It is never stored on your computer.Cloud computing

The good thing about cloud based services is that no matter where you are, you will have the same experience on any device with the same data on all the devices you use. Your email is the same at home, on your phone, on a friend’s computer or at the computer lab in school. Netflix and all video streaming sites (YouTube included) is cloud based meaning that you are not downloading anything and you do not need physical media such as a CD or DVD to use it. The advantage of this is that you can watch your Netflix Queue on any device that is Netflix compatible and you can start watching a movie on your cell phone and continue watching it on your TV in the same place you left off on your phone since the server keeps track of where you stopped watching. One of the cloud based services that I use is Evernote.  Evernote is a free (or paid, depending on how much data you want) service for typing notes, saving web clips, images, PDFs, and handwritten notes. The notes that I have in Evernote are never stored on my computer but instead in Evernote’s servers which means I can access these notes from any computer, any phone (with a Evernote app) and even my iPad. Cloud based services are always convenient since they are, in a way, always with you and always the same no matter where you are accessing them.

More and more people are using cloud based services while I’m trying to use it less. It’s fine for notes and simple things but a lot of people are trusting it with their important data such as documents, music, movies, pictures and all sorts of personal data.

I am a movie fan and a tech geek. You would assume that I am a Netflix user. I’m not. You would assume that I use Google Docs to write papers for school. I don’t. Being an Apple fan, you would think that I am praying for the day that iTunes goes into the cloud. Actually, I’m very fearful for that day.Netflix queue

The internet is not 100% reliable. Servers go down, websites go down, companies go out of business. Imagine a world where everything you do is not stored in your home. Your movies, TV shows, music, books, documents, pictures, and magazines are all in the cloud and one day, for some reason, your internet goes out or the servers that provides you with all this content goes down or the company that provides you this content goes under: You are now screwed. Nothing you can do about it since all of your content is in someone else’s hands. You put all your eggs in one basket and that basket is now crushed. Remember a few years ago when Sidekick users lost ALL of the content on their phones? Messages, contacts, music, pictures. All gone because the server crapped out and lost all of the data for these users. A few weeks ago, a Flickr user lost 4 thousand pictures because Flickr lost them. Flickr ended up finding them but lets say they didn’t. This guy would have lost thousands of memories and hard work.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s great having things not stored in your home. Backups of your data are one of those things that should be in the cloud so if you have some sort of accident at home (fire or a flood) , you can always get your data back. I’m not saying to never use cloud based services, I’m saying to think before you decide to have all of your content located in a server hundreds of miles from your home because one day that content might be gone forever.