Monthly Archives: October 2012

Kindle Paperwhite: Not perfect, but (for me) perfect enough

KC slate 01 lg V389678398

In the week following my recent Kindle post (My experience with Kindles released 9/2012, includes Paperwhite), I’ve focused on using my Kindle Paperwhite 3g as I would any other e-ink reader. I felt inspired by a paperwhite user review that read (paraphrased), “The Paperwhite isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect enough.”

Sure, I’d love to see the paperwhite’s screen completely even without any shadows at any light setting. But when I set the lighting as follows, I found the screen pleasant:
Based on ambient lighting, push the Paperwhite light setting up to where the light is visible, and then move to the setting immediately below that.

For me, that approach seems to provide the whitest screen, clearest text, and most pleasant reading experience.

Tips for enduring extended power outages (or what we learned from Snowtober 2011)


(Image above as of Sat 8am EDT)

My friend Kai and I have been trading storm prep reminders, based on our experience with extended power outage following the Snowtober 2011 storm.

Note: These tips focus on what you can do now to make any post-storm power outages more comfortable. Please  refer to the Red Cross or your state’s web site for official safety tips.

  • Be aware: Understand storm timing and path to better anticipate how it might impact you. If ordered to evacuate, go. An old school battery-powered am/fm radio is great for staying informed after the power goes out. Sign up for your state’s emergency alert system.
  • Water: Stock up by filling existing containers or buy bottled water. I haven’t needed water yet post-storm but I’m not interested in risking being without if city water isn’t an option. If you’re on a septic system, fill up your tub pre-storm.
  • If you rely on well water: Be sure to fill up your bathtub with water so you can flush the toilet. (Thanks, Kevin Everett, for this tip!)
  • Medicine: If there are any prescription or over the counter medications you rely on, be sure you have enough on hand.
  • Food: Before the storm, eat the food in your frig and freezer — some folks like to fill their freezer with ice pre-storm. Be sure to have easy-to-eat unrefrigerated items like nuts, fruit, canned goods on hand. I also buy canned coffee since I need my caffeine fix first thing each morning.
  • Laundry: Do it now, because it may be your last chance for a week or so. (Thanks, Kevin Everett, for this tip!)
  • Planning to use a gas grill: Be sure your tank is full pre-storm. (Thanks, Kevin Everett, for this tip!)
  • Be prepared for cold: Gather blankets, sleeping bag(s), warm clothes.
  • Pets: Be sure you have adequate food, water, and medications for your pets. In addition, have pet carriers or crates on hand — essential if you have to evacuate to a hotel or shelter. If you find you don’t need to evacuate, consider lending your pet crates to your local shelter to enable folks with pets to stay if they weren’t able to bring their own crates.
  • Batteries: Check your stuff and determine what you need before you go to the store. I usually need AAA and D cell.
  • Rechargeable batteries: If you use rechargeable batteries, get (and charge) a second battery. (Hat tip to James Kendrick for this tip)
  • Safe light source: Have a safe light source on hand (not candles). I have a Coleman LED Lantern that works great to light up a dark room.
  • Charge your stuff: Whatever you might need for safety, communication, or entertainment, including cell phone, tablet, laptop, iPod, Kindle, etc. Remember that you can charge other stuff using your laptop and a USB cable.
  • Prep your phone: Remember to turn off WIFI and only turn on cellular data when actually using it (h/t @Jkendrick). Download apps you might need to watch local news via the Internet (e.g., ustream). Remember that larger apps frequently require wifi for download (something you won’t have during a power outage). Bookmark your electric utility’s mobile outage map. Consider getting and activating a pay-as-you-go mobile hotspot to enable Internet connectivity for your laptop or tablet if you don’t have a cell phone data plan.
  • USB car charger: Have a car charger on hand that lets you swap out USB cords, so you can charge your iPhone, etc. using your car battery if needed.
  • Get cash: No power = no ATMs. Have cash on hand, just in case.
  • Get gas: If power is out, many gas stations won’t have electricity to enable you to pump gas. Those that have electricity will have long lines… get gas now (for your car and generator).
  • Network: Talk to your neighbors so that you can offer each other support. Have a contingency plan if it gets too cold to stay in your home (my house hovered in the low 40s following Snowtober storm, making it impossible to get a good night’s sleep).
  • Help your neighbors: Help them find other accommodations if needed. Consider picking up inexpensive pay-as-you-go cell phones for elderly neighbors who don’t have a cell phone or landline. (Most of my elderly neighbors have AT&T uverse phone service which won’t work for long during a power outage.)
  • Employer contact info: Be sure to have your manager’s phone number and email on hand. If you work for a large company, save their office closure phone number to your cell phone.
  • Pay bills: If you use online bill pay, pay your bills now rather than risk late fees
  • Provide out of state friends/family with a way to monitor the storm: I’ll be emailing them links to the CL&P outage map, Ryan Hanrahan’s blog, and the Hartford Courant.
  • Keep frig cold: Keep the frig door closed. Also, pre-storm, take some freezer bags and fill them with water and make ice blocks. You can use them to help keep fridge cold longer if no power. (tip from ‏@growingwisdom via @AndersFinn)
  • Social media: During storms, twitter is a great place to get news & info. I recommend these folks for news & info during/after CT severe weather events –

My favorite tip of all (from Kai): Before the storm, take a warm shower and run around turning lights on/off because you can 🙂

Also a caveat: There’s no guarantee cellular networks (phone or data) will be usable post-storm. Verizon Wireless worked without a hitch in my neighborhood post-Snowtober, but Sprint voice service was spotty. Your mileage may vary!

Notice any gaps in this list? Additional tips are welcome, please provide your twitter handle or web site in comments along with your tip — I’ll add them to this post with attribution (for as long as we have power & wifi 🙂

My experience with Kindles released 9/2012 (includes Paperwhite)

I just wrote to Kindle Feedback ( sharing my recent experience with Kindle devices released September 2012 (Kindle Fire HD, $69 Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite 3g). Here’s that Kindle feedback, in case it’s useful to others.

Dear Kindle Feedback –

I have owned each Kindle sold with the exception of last year’s $79 basic Kindle and the Kindle DX. I enjoy using Kindle products because Amazon offers the best selection, pricing and customer service around.

I want to share my recent experience –

Kindle Fire HD

  • Love, love, love it!
  • Bought the 16GB and found it too small (I’m a big audiobook fan), so returned it and am now awaiting the 32GB.
  • It’s the 1st tablet that offers equal support for audiobook listeners.
  • Immersion reading: I initially pooh poohed this as a marketing stunt but it’s fabulous! After a long day at work, I can read and listen to the book at the same time… it’s a lovely experience.
  • I can watch all my favorite videos on the HD via Amazon streaming (including instant prime), Netflix, Hulu Plus.
  • The volume is crazy loud. I’ve never had a tablet that was loud enough to watch a movie while giving the dog a bath… until the Fire HD!

Whispersync for Voice:

  • As an audiobook fan, I love that I can start listening to a book while out walking the dog and then come home and read the (text) book.
  • THANK YOU for your aggressive pricing on Whispersync deals: I’ve bought many Kindle books + the audio version as part of a whispersync promotion for less than the price of the hardcover book! I really appreciate that, as someone who loves to read (and reads alot).

$69 Kindle (9/2012 release):

  • Fabulous device!
  • This Kindle is an amazing value.
  • It is unfortunately dismissed by some as “low end” but I think it’s the best Kindle Amazon has made.
  • It’s light and comfortable to hold. Even with the lighted cover, it’s still light and comfortable to use.
  • The control buttons at bottom are black so they fade into the device (not a distraction).
  • The text is very crisp and bold — easy to read.
  • The page buttons are comfortable and well placed.
  • This kindle is an absolute joy to use — it makes reading comfortable and the device itself doesn’t interfere with the experience — in fact, the $69 kindle hardware enhances the reading experience.
  • I only wish you offered a 3g version of the $69 Kindle, as well!

Kindle Paperwhite 3g: The good –

  • The form factor is lovely — perfect size and weight.
  • I love the textured screen, makes it seem more like reading paper pages.
  • The 3g works very well.
  • The Paperwhite cover is fantastic — love how it puts the device to sleep.

Kindle Paperwhite 3g: The not so good –

  • The 1st Paperwhite I received was clearly defective (the entire right side of the screen was much brighter than the left). I appreciate Amazon’s responsiveness and how quickly a replacement was sent to me.
  • Unfortunately, this is the 1st Kindle product I’ve felt disappointed in — I am assuming my replacement Paperwhite is “normal” but there is still variation in light intensity *within the text area*. If the lighting variations were just in the margins they’d be less distracting.
  • The variations in light intensity (within the text area) make the text on a given page appear uneven — some words appear bolder/clearer than others.
  • Rather than just settling in to read, I find myself fiddling with the light setting to get it bright enough to illuminate the text while trying to keep the light setting low enough to minimize light variations inherent in the screen.

There you have it, a wrap up of my experience with most Kindles released September 2012. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.