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Messages - Mike D. aka jmiked

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The Book Corner / Re: Any Dresden Files fans out there?
« on: April 12, 2017, 07:43:34 pm »
A note on the Dresden TV series: The original 2 hour pilot film was only shown once on TV (IIRC). It aired about a year after the series ended, and was only shown at 2AM. I happened to see the listing by accident and recorded it. I think the producers said it wasn't on the DVD because the studio would not allow it.

It was very different from the series itself. Bob was Bob the Skull and not a human appearing spirit. This episode was heavily edited and scenes re-shot to make a one-hour episode (the eighth aired).

The Book Corner / Re: Any Dresden Files fans out there?
« on: April 11, 2017, 09:39:39 pm »
I've read them all, although I'll admit that I've enjoyed them less as the series has grown (not less enough to stop reading them, however). This is not necessarily a slam against the series, I find that I feel that way about almost all series at a certain point.

I did enjoy the TV series, even though it departed from the books in some significant ways.

NogDog: the Garrett series is one of my favorites.


Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: April 07, 2017, 10:58:33 am »
I was binge-watching Shetland, a police procedural set on the Shetland Islands (off the coast of Scotland) this morning, and Netflix auto-ran the second episode of a two-parter. I got really confused until I figured out that it was a completely different story. I checked and found that it had gone from S2E3 to S2E5, skipping S2E4, which wasn't even listed.

I went to Netflix's wretched web site and found the only way to give feedback is to call them, so I did and found I wasn't the first to have reported it. The support guy couldn't give any info on when or if it would be fixed. I put the DVD that has those eps at the top of my DVD queue. I'm pretty sure I'll get that before the problem is fixed with the streaming site.

While I had him on the phone I expressed my extreme displeasure at the "new and improved" rating system, which replaces a useful five star system with a pretty much useless thumbs up and thumbs down system.

Edit: Within about 6-7 hours after I called Netflix, the missing episode appeared. They get a gold star for the day.

I am pretty disappointed that our library changed formats and I am unable to read ePub library books on my Kindle. I am considering purchasing a compatible eReader. Any thoughts on Nook and Kobo?

I have a Kobo Glo and like it a lot (except for the raised bezel). I'm not so fond of the Nook, B&N doesn't seem to know quite what to do with it, IMHO.

Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod...) / iOS 10.3 update
« on: April 05, 2017, 01:14:47 pm »
I was going to wait quite a while before installing the latest update to iOS, but I only waited a few days. The tech sites I trust reported no problems, so I downloaded and installed it, mostly for the security updates.

The update also contains a conversion to a new file system (the first in several decades for Apple), so it take a bit longer for the installation process than is usual. The new system includes optimization for solid-state drives, something that didn't exist when the previous file system was created. Two things I noticed right away: there seems to be a bit more free space available, and some programs load more quickly. Neither of these is a huge difference, and I have no numbers to back up the impression.

No changes to any of Apple's apps that I could see. I keep hoping for improvements to Apple's ereader app for no other reason than competition (since I don't use it), but no such luck. It still has just about as few actual reading features as Amazon's app.

There is one new feature of the Settings menu, though. You can now get a list of the apps that are going to be deprecated from iOS 11, which will coming probably later this year. These affected older 32-bit apps will not work in iOS 11, and will disappear from the app store. It will only support 64-bit apps. You may have seen the "This app may slow your system down and won't work in a future update to iOS" message. This is what that means.

I have 37 (out of 200 or so on my iPhone) apps that will not work on the "future update". Only two really concern me: Bento (the excellent database I've been using for years to keep track of my books), and Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (which was killed off several years ago after Maltin became dissatisfied with the developer's update performance). I've found a barely adequate replacement for the database, but nothing for the movie guide. Neither of these apps were ever available for Android, unfortunately. Nor were satisfactory alternatives.

In summary, I can report that the update went well for me, and it added several useful features.


Not Quite Kindle / Re: Favorite Fast Food
« on: March 29, 2017, 04:16:18 pm »
Schlotzsky's cheese sandwich. Especially the large one, which I keep telling myself will last me for two days. But doesn't. :o

Same with a Thundercloud Sub cheese sandwich.


I just discovered this last weekend how to fix the Kobo software problem with line spacing on ePubs (thanks to help from Mobileread forums). So I'm back to using the Kobo Glo in addition to my Kindle Voyage. The Glo (it's an old one) is noticeably slower on page turns than the Voyage, but I can live with that.

The software on the Kobo won't win any awards, but it has a lot more formatting features than the Voyage does.

Edit: The line spacing problem referred to is that side-loaded ePubs could not have the line spacing adjusted, and led to many, many books having double- and triple-spaced lines, or lines that nearly touched. Hard to read that way.


Let's Talk Kindle! / Re: Kindle discount for Prime members
« on: March 28, 2017, 07:51:56 pm »
I stumbled across that by accident yesterday. I took advantage of the offer to get a Paperwhite to send to a friend. I'm going to load it up with books that match his interests.

I was going to get him the basic model. With the price drop, I could afford a Paperwhite.  :) :)


The Book Corner / Re: Non fiction books that have stuck with you
« on: March 27, 2017, 07:55:11 am »
Levels of Knowing and Existence (1959) by Harry Weinberg has stuck with me over the years. It's a relatively non-technical book on the nature and limitations of language.

I've read it four or five times since discovering it in the mid-sixties, getting something new from it each time. I keep hoping it will surface as a Kindle book. I've even considered having it scanned and converted.


Let's Talk Kindle! / Re: Went back to paperbacks from Kindle
« on: March 26, 2017, 11:23:03 am »
I'm sorry to hear about your MIL's affliction. It's the reading that is important, it's good that she can still do that.


Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: March 25, 2017, 01:41:09 pm »
This week I've been binge-watching Murder in Suburbia, a series on Acorn TV. It's a sort of cozy police procedural with humorous dialogue from the two lead characters, two women detectives with dating problems (you have to have some sort of psychological hangup or problem to be a lead character these days, right?). There are only two series, made 10-12 years ago. Nice light entertainment, despite all the murders.  ;)

Let's Talk Kindle! / Re: Format Conversion Issue
« on: March 25, 2017, 01:33:04 pm »

I have a Kindle Voyage and I want to put a book on it. I downloaded the book and it is in EPUB format. This book includes title, page numbers, etc.. I used Calibre to convert it to AZW3 format and I chose Kindle Voyage for page layout. So, Calibre converted it from EPUB to AZW3. Next, I connect the Voyage to my computer, I copied the AZW3 book to Voyage. Next, I unplugged the Voyage and found the book on the Voyage. I noticed the book was missing the cover image and as I went into the book to start reading it, the words and sentences were all on top of each other and it was impossible to read.


My goal is to download a book either in EPUB or PDF format and convert it to either AZW3 or MOBi and copy the book to the Voyage so I can read it without any formatting or layout issues. I would like the book to have the proper title, cover, page numbers and layout so it can be read on the Voyage.

I've converted hundreds of books between mobi, azw, epub, and PDF. The trick is to get the proper settings in Calibre. It's not easy, as Calibre is a very complex program that has a steep learning curve. It took me a long time to get my preferred defaults configured (I'm very picky).

If you can, stay clear of converting PDF files. This almost never works satisfactorily. It can be done, but in my experience requires a lot of hand-editing in the process, or a good knowledge of regular expressions.

The only way to get actual page numbers is to buy a book from Amazon that already has them encoded. Even then, they aren't very reliable. Remember that even in printed books, page numbers change between versions - paperback vs. hardback, new/revised printings, etc.

Let's Talk Kindle! / Re: Format Conversion Issue
« on: March 25, 2017, 12:58:00 pm »
I think those other files are usually the cover art, metadata, and files generated to hold any notes you create in the ebook along with your page position. Calibre does not generate those, but once you put a converted ebook on your Kindle and start reading it I think the Kindle will generate them automatically for each book. The format and styling is usually stored within the mobi or epub format itself. It is just a container for HTML and CSS, I believe.

I frequently have books I've converted appear without the cover art. It's not a big priority for me so I haven't spent any time trying to figure out why. I'm pretty sure that if someone went to the Calibre forums on Mobileread that someone could likely shed some light on this.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: March 21, 2017, 09:07:54 am »
Rosemary and Thyme. A mystery series in the UK. I discovered on Youtube and now I can't get enough. Unfortunately, there were only three seasons.

There were also three books, written by the series creator.


Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: March 18, 2017, 07:50:34 pm »

I think we're up to 17 seasons.

The first half of the 19th series has just shown up on Acorn TV.


The Book Corner / Authors disappeared from Follow list
« on: March 17, 2017, 05:11:48 pm »
I found out by accident today that most of the 20+ authors I'm following in the Kindle store had reverted to a not following status. I don't know when this happened, but I had to re-follow the ones I could remember.

I realized that I had not seen any updates when I knew some new titles had been published, now I know why. To be on the safe side, I'd recommend people do a spot check to see if this has happened to anyone else.


Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: March 15, 2017, 02:02:43 pm »
I just discovered that the second series of Hinterland is available for streaming. It's been a while since I saw the first series, so I've begun binge-watching from the start. It's a police show that takes place in Wales. It's filmed twice, once in
Welsh and once in English. I'm watching the English version.  ;D ;D

Anything Else Amazon / Re: Echo - general
« on: March 13, 2017, 07:06:00 am »
I called Amazon.  My Settings > Device time zone was still set to America as opposed to US.  That makes a difference.

ETA: "America" setting is for places that don't change to DST.  "US" setting is for most of country which does change.

Thanks. That info will come in handy if Texas goes off DST permanently. There are several bills in the state legislature that propose to do exactly that.


I can't see an benefit to Amazon for adding ePub capability to their readers. They can't even be bothered to add a simple routine to get the time from the internet on WiFi models.

The inexpensive Kobos sound like a good solution for those that wish to stick with an eInk device (as I do). I've had A Kobo Glo for three or four years. It seldom gets used, as there is a bug in the generic ePub software that is used for side-loaded ePubs that renders line spacing control inoperable and frequently leaves the lines so close they are almost touching.* This bug doesn't exist in the part of the software that reads the proprietary KePub format. I've been trying to find a work-around for this the entire time I've owned the Kobo. Now that the extended feature set in the AZW3 format has arrived, it's of less importance to me.


*The Kobo reader has two different pieces of software installed: one reads generic ePubs, the other reads KePub, which is proprietary to Kobo and has DRM included. The KePub software seems to get updated, the generic reader is pretty much ignored. As far as I know.

The Book Corner / Re: Anyone a Historical Mystery fan?
« on: March 05, 2017, 06:38:23 am »
I read very few historical mysteries written by contemporary authors*, but I do like the ones by Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller:

From the Amazon page:

In The Bughouse Affair, this first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations.

This series is written by a husband and wife team who each have their own very successful mystery series that have been appearing for decades. Pre-Kindle, I used to buy each of their new works in hardcover the day they were available.

The Carpenter/Quicannon series are a bit pricey though, at $9.99 each. But I think they are worth it. I think there are currently five in the series.


* I do, however read many mysteries that were originally published back in the 1890s and after.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: Who drinks coffee and who doesn't?
« on: March 02, 2017, 05:31:18 pm »
I don't drink coffee. I don't like the taste and it tends to upset my stomach, although the aroma is nice. Both of my parents were serious coffee-drinkers, none of us four kids drink it at all. Also, both parents were pretty much chain-smokers, none of us kids smoke at all. Go figure.

I normally drink tea (decaff), both ice and hot. With a nice cuppa hot chocolate in the evening.


I'm very sensitive to punctuation issues in particular.  My reading comes to a full stop when I run across a mistake. In books that have been scanned and converted by OCR (by major publishers), I see things such as reversed curly quotes at the end of a sentence and sometimes missing quote marks.  It may as well be a flashing red light or siren. It's the same for its/it's. I was reading a book this week where the OCR app had put "be" instead of "he", so I catch those kind of errors also. I also have a thing about using proper dashes: em dashes and en dashes. Using a hyphen or a double-hyphen as a substitute for either is guaranteed to earn a few curses. One of the few places I'll yield a bit is accepting a breaking space around an em dash or en dash, so the Kindle can do a line break there if need be.

Oddly enough, reading a book published in the UK that does not put periods after titles such as Mr, Mrs, and Dr doesn't trigger my detection circuit. And I'm fine with the older books that use the double quotes inside of single quotes for dialogue, instead of the reverse.

And I insist on proper use of the ellipsis, not three periods in a row. I can see the difference most of the time.

Yeah, I'm too picky. But I've been conditioned by 60+ years of reading properly done books.


Thanks for the heads-up. I'll read anything by Brown, never been disappointed yet.


Not Quite Kindle / Re: How much for a professional headshot?
« on: February 23, 2017, 07:21:09 am »
Whew. That's a relief. When I read the thread title, the first thing that leaped into my mind was someone wanting to hire a hit-person. Tell me again about the symptoms of reading too many thrillers...



Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: February 16, 2017, 07:39:32 am »
I've binge-watched a dozen or so of the 130 episodes of The Highlander, primarily the ones with Elizabeth Gracen and/or Roger Daltry. They were mostly the more humorous eps, which were my favorites.


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