Are Kindle Hacks good for books?

Just deleted a post that linked to two Kindle hacks and 1 Nook hack -

  1. How to get free browsing and US range and prices outside the US. 
  2. How to break DRM of Kindle for PC books (although Amazon has already fixed that).
  3. How to get Nook books to work on Sony Reader.

The reason is that it was really hard to decide whether these hacks are good for books and for people who love books.

DRM Hacks have lots of consequences – only a few of which are good.

It’s very fashionable to break DRM. You are the grand protector of poor, trampled rights.

However, what does it really do?

This is what happens when you hack the DRM of books -

  1. The hacker and anti-DRM people get a sense of satisfaction. 
  2. Ethical people feel that they can now share their ebook with friends. They do.
  3. Unethical people feel that they can now get ebooks for free. They do too.
  4. Publishers get even more paranoid.
  5. The amount authors make becomes less.
  6. Publishers push back even more against eBooks and eReaders.
  7. Progress is stalled.

Why do ‘Good and Open’ people and companies want to impose their moral values on other people?

Who owns the right to decide what moral or ethical model books are sold under?

  1. Is it the author?
  2. Is it the Publisher or the store?
  3. Is it readers?

If a hacker says that things should be free or free of DRM – Is he really entitled to decide that?

Or is it a prerogative of the content creator which the hacker is usurping?

What will free international Internet browsing do?

Nothing much. Amazon was going to release the feature in 2010 anyways.

Bandwidth isn’t free so if people start abusing the workaround too much, Amazon will have to shut it off until the formal feature release date.

What will international kindle owners buying US books from outside the US do?

Just give Publishers another reason to stall on eBooks.

Consider the cycle -

  1. Someone in Spain feels they are entitled to read whatever they like.
  2. They figure out a workaround.
  3. Just to make sure everyone knows how cool they are – they publish it on a big, huge blog.
  4. Now 50% of international kindle owners start buying books whose international rights aren’t allowed for the Kindle.
  5. Publishers freak out. In this case especially so as the payments will go to whatever Publisher has the US rights.

You’ve just managed to get Publishers even more stressed out.

It makes them less likely to embrace eReaders and eBooks.

Don’t think all these hacks serve books or people who love books in any way. Can’t really peek into the future so who knows what effect these hacks will have.

What do you think – Do hacks like these accelerate progress or stall it?

DIY Kindle Mod for Europe wireless use

Important Note: Modding the Kindle 2 to work in Europe is an ongoing project by http://ikindle3gs.eu/ – Its not yet finished. In no way is this blog affiliated with it. This post covers it because it is a rather interesting endeavour.

There are some really interesting mods and hacks being done for the Kindle (most in the software). However, this one will take the cake if it succeeds.

Kindle Mod for Wireless Access in Europe

Its interesting to see the steps to mod the Kindle for wireless access in Europe. There are a few main steps -

  1. Remove the lower back and then the back.
  2. Remove the battery to be able to get to the wireless modem.
  3. Remove the  CDMA/EVDO modem and put in a UMTS/HSPA modem that works in Europe. 
  4. Solder in a SIM Card holder and attach a SIM Card.  
  5. Put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

There’s the usual unscrewing things and taking apart things and putting them back together. We do get a rather good look at the innards of the Kindle -

Kindle Already has a SIM Card Slot - Wonder Why.

Kindle Already has a SIM Card Slot - Wonder Why.

A few key takeways from the modding process -

  1. Kindle has one (or more) USB host port(s).
  2. People have an amazing proclivity to assume Amazon doesn’t pay for bandwidth i.e. the whole ‘it would be nice to get free Internet on a netbook’ comment. 
  3. WiFi ought to be possible and some would say a better choice than HSPA.

Most of all, it’s hard not to notice …

It seems to be rather easy to mod Kindle hardware for Europe.

If you think about it, there are just two main steps

  1. Replacing a US wireless network modem by a wireless modem suited to European networks.
  2. Adding a SIM card holder and a SIM card to the rather fortuitously placed SIM card slot.

It’s almost as if Kindle 2 were designed to be easily moddable for use in Europe. Too bad the European mobile networks want the whole cake for themselves.

Coming back to the mod

It seems to be stuck at the software part. Perhaps someone will help unblock it and help demonstrate a Kindle with Internet Access in Europe.

Text Messages from the Kindle

For more Kindle Tips please check out our Kindle Tips app – 133 Kindle Tips for just $1. It has 130+ tips for your Kindle and lets you get the most out of your Kindle.

Now, on to the tip for sending text messages from the Kindle.

Courtesy Woody Woodward at Kindle Korner (and via Kindle Chronicles) here’s a pretty cool tip -

Our Kindles have the ability to send SMS “TEXT” messages to cell
phones by using e-mail gateways. Any Web-based e-mail that works with
Kindle may be used for this. Simply address the e-mail to the 10-digit
cell phone number at the appropriate gateway.
e.g. for ATT cell customers 1234567890@txt.att.net
This is a (unverified) list of gateways for various cell services.
AT&T: @txt.att.net
Alltel: @message.alltel.com
Cingular: @cingularme.com
Nextel: @messaging.nextel.com
Powertel: @ptel.net
Sprint: @messaging.sprintpcs.com
SunCom: @tms.suncom.com
T-Mobile: @tmomail.net
US Cellular: @email.uscc.net
Verizon: @vtext.com
Virgin Mobile: @vmobl.com

So there are three steps to texting via your Kindle -

  1. Use your normal email program on the Kindle. You can learn how to use email on the Kindle at the Kindle Top Tips post. (hack# 11 on the list)
  2. Take the number you want to text to, say 4258943912, add the appropriate gateway for that number, let’s say AT&T – @txt.att.net, and you have 4258943912@txt.att.net.
  3. Text away.

Do let me know if you run into problems or find any new gateway emails. Also, these should be free.

Kindle Tips – Top 25 Kindle Hacks

May 13th, 2013 – Please Subscribe for Free Daily Emails that list 30 to 50 free kindle books every day. Hand-curated.

This post is inspired by Igor’s post on Kindle Hacks and the Kindle Tips list at college degrees. The focus is on covering the top 25 tips and hacks that will help you get the most out of your Kindle.

If you own a Kindle 2, please first see this post for Kindle 2 Tips – a lot of the shortcuts below don’t work for K2.

Kindle Tip #1 – Kindle Hacks from Igor
Igor’s Kindle hacks and the shortcuts he found are at the Reversing Everything Blog – Kindle Hacks.  This post is the source of most kindle tips and i’d recommend bookmarking it. A few of the best tips are -

  1. Sleep Mode – press Alt + the text key (aA) as though you were waking it from sleep. Putting Kindle into sleep mode also conserves battery life.
  2. Display the time while reading a book by using Alt-T. You can also press the search button on any screen and enter @time to get the time and the date.

Kindle Tip #2 – Free Books on the Kindle via PC
The best source for Free Books is at http://www.manybooks.net/ The Kindle compatible url is http://mnybks.net. I also have a post listing free book sources that is arguably the best list for Free Kindle books.

Kindle Tip #3 – Free Books directly onto your Kindle.
You can download free books straight to kindle from a number of sources -

  1. ManyBooks mobile site (Kindle Compatible).
  2. FeedBooks – you have to download http://www.feedbooks.com/kindleguide and can then downloads books directly. There is a help article, or you can use the mobile version of feedbooks (which is not as easy as using the book).
  3. Munsey’s mobile site.

Kindle Tip #4 – View PDF files on your Kindle.
Rather than using the amazon experimental conversion which can be sketchy, Convert PDF files to Kindle format using MobiPocket Creator on PC (choose the publisher edition), or using Stanza on Mac. Full details at my article on converting PDF files for the Kindle.
You can also try PDF Hammer’s tool for editing PDF files in your browser.

Kindle Tip #5 – View blogs for free on the Kindle.
Please do note that blogs have a subscription fee to cover Amazon’s costs for the WhisperNet service. If a lot of people start circumventing the paid route, there is a chance that the methods used might get blocked and/or charges apply to WhisperNet. So if you must use free blog downloads, please use them in moderation :) -

  1. BlogLines – Read RSS feeds using Bloglines.
  2. FeedJournal – there is a nice article on getting blogs to your kindle for free using feed journal.
  3. Kindle Feeder – please note that this is almost certainly illegal according to amazon’s tos. So i’d recommend using one of the other options.
  4. FeedBooks –  you can create your own newspaper (multiple feeds) or feed (single feed).
  5. MobiPocket Desktop – There are over 34k newsfeeds available through Mobipocket Desktop. The process is simple to set up; you select the feeds, and set them to be downloaded onto your device. Downloading the feeds to your Kindle is automatic. Although automatic downloads are specifically disallowed under Kindle terms. You probably have to use MobiPocket Desktop 6.0.

Kindle Tip #6 – Google Maps and GPS
This is covered under Tip #1 – however it’s so good I have to list out details. You can get Google Maps and a GPS on the Kindle using Alt-1 when in browser mode. The Kindle seems to have location-awareness in the CDMA module and plots your current location on Google Maps.
Basic Options:
Alt-2 find gas station nearby
Alt-3 find restaurants nearby
Alt-5 find custom keyword nearby

Kindle Tip #7 – Official Help on the Kindle

Firstly, In case you are in trouble with the software or hardware of your Kindle, you may want to contact Amazon directly via e-mail or phone. E-Mail: kindle-cs-support@amazon.com. Phone numbers -
* 1-866-321-8851 (if you are calling from within the US)
* 1-206-266-0927 (if you are calling from outside the US)

Secondly, using Kindle NowNow you can get direct human answers.

Kindle Tip #8 – Unofficial Help on the Kindle.
Forums at Amazon - If you don’t want to scroll through them all, this post on amazon kindle forum posts has a list of all forum posts in Nov 2007, Dec 2007, Jan 2008.
You can also check out the Forums at BookSummit – i’m on it most waking hours and will get back to you immediately if i have a solution.

Kindle Tip #9 – Guide Books for the Kindle
Personally reviewed and recommended – Kindle Tips and Tricks Guide by Brent Newhall. The Free PDF version of the Kindle Fan Guide on your computer and see if you think the Kindle version is worth 5$ (I think it definitely is). Then head over to the Amazon Kindle Store if you like and buy the Kindle version of the Kindle Fan Guide.
The Kindle store has two other kindle guide books – Decoding the Kindle, and Stephen Windwalker’s Kindle Guide.

Kindle Tip #10 – Audiobooks and Free AudioBooks
Listen to Librivox Audiobooks on the Kindle – LibriVox has over 1000 full audio books. A nice writeup on how to Listen to audiobooks at reelsmart.

Kindle Tip #11 – Extend the Kindle’s capabilities with Gmail, Yahoo, and IM.
You can really benefit from the Kindle and WhisperNet by using the mobile versions of various mail and im services -

  1. Use Yahoo Messenger at http://us.m.yahoo.com/p/messenger/.
  2. Use Gmail at http://m.gmail.com – Help at reelsmarts article and Gmail etc article.
  3. Use YMail at http://m.yahoo.com.
  4. Use google reader at http://www.google.com/reader/m.
  5. Use google calendar mobile version at www.google.com/calendar/m.

Kindle Tip #12 – Kindle Supported Formats and Converting Documents.

What formats does kindle support? A: 4 text formats – .azw (Kindle-specific), .txt, .mobi; and .prc. You can also convert files in certain formats for use on the kindle – PDF support is experimental. Conversions are supported for Word , HTML, and 4 image formats – .jpeg, gif, .png, and .bmp.

Free Conversions to kindle format – If you send attachments to “name”@free.kindle.com, you can have files converted and emailed to you, and then transfer the document to your Kindle. Formats that amazon will convert are Word DOC, HTML, JPEG, TXT , GIF , PNG , BMP , PDF (experimental, results vary).
You can also (for $0.10 each) get Paid conversions sent straight to the kindle by emailing documents to youraddr@kindle.com (attach the documents you want converted to your mail).

Kindle Tip #13 – Kindle WhisperNet Coverage Map.
Will you have WhisperNet on your travels? Here is the Amazon Kindle Coverage Map.

Kindle Tip #14 – Find a Kindle blog you like

If you’d like more coverage of a certain type on this blog, let me know. There are a wide variety of Kindle blogs listed at the kindle wiki’s blog list.

Kindle Tip #15 – Give Back to the Kindle Community and Fellow Kindle Owners

Spread the word by showing off your kindle to prospective Kindle owners at See a Kindle in Your City section of the Kindle Forums.

Kindle Tip #16 – Add to the Kindle’s storage capacity.
The kindle does support upto 200 books – however a simple 4GB or 8 GB SDHC lets you carry around a ton of music and books and documents. You can use a SD or SDHC card and amazon support/forums say 4GB SD card is tested. Users on the amazon forum say they have successfully used PQI 8 GB SDHC card and 8GB SD cards.

Kindle Tip #17 – Buying Books in Mobi format from non Amazon retailers.
Buying books in Kindle format from other retailers (although i’d recommend buying from amazon and helping them to contine with free WhisperNet) -

  1. Ebookmall
  2. Fictionwise
  3. ebooks.com – An update courtesy Dennis – Ebooks.com is DRM protected and technically while it is possible to do it there are legal issues doing so. See http://www.teleread.org/blog/2007/12/12/kindle-swindle-tag-campaign-from-defectivebydesignorg/ for more info.

Kindle Tip #18 – Use Kindle as a journal and as a calendar (v. rough and basic functionality)
These are rough – To use an empty book as a journal (courtesy OlManRiveh at the Amazon Forums) simply create a .txt file (with the name of your project). Have it converted and placed on your Kindle. Then add notes to the text file as you wish. These notes can be edited as you wish.
There is a free Kindle calendar and a free weekly planner available at the Kindle 3 Labs page.

Kindle Tip #19 – Send Text Messages for Free from Your Kindle

Courtesy Woody Woodward at Kindle Korner (and via Kindle Chronicles) here’s a pretty cool tip -

Our Kindles have the ability to send SMS “TEXT” messages to cell
phones by using e-mail gateways. Any Web-based e-mail that works with
Kindle may be used for this. Simply address the e-mail to the 10-digit
cell phone number at the appropriate gateway.
e.g. for ATT cell customers 1234567890@txt.att.net
This is a (unverified) list of gateways for various cell services.
AT&T: @txt.att.net
Alltel: @message.alltel.com
Cingular: @cingularme.com
Nextel: @messaging.nextel.com
Powertel: @ptel.net
Sprint: @messaging.sprintpcs.com
SunCom: @tms.suncom.com
T-Mobile: @tmomail.net
US Cellular: @email.uscc.net
Verizon: @vtext.com
Virgin Mobile: @vmobl.com

Kindle Bonus Tips – Undocumented shortcuts, features and easter eggs

May 2013: Subscribe for Free Daily Emails that list 95 free kindle books every day. Hand-curated.

(courtesy Igor S’s excellent Blog Posts on Reverse Engineering the Kindle – this is taken verbatim). Again this is best read on Igor’s blog. And his work is the basis of nearly all the good tips and tricks related to the kindle you might find.

Picture viewer

I’m not sure why Amazon didn’t make it public (maybe because paging is kinda slow), but there is a basic picture viewer in Kindle.
To activate it:
1) make a folder called “pictures” in the root of Kindle drive or SD card. Kindle also checks for “dcim” made by cameras.
2) put your pictures for a single “book” into a folder inside that. The subfolder name will be used as the “book” name. Supported formats are jpg, png, gif.
3) in Home screen press Alt-Z. A new “book” should appear. Open it to view your pictures.
4) In the local menu you can toggle dithering, resize to fit and full screen mode.

Keyboard shortcuts

Various undocumented/underdocumented keyboard shortcuts. I italicized most interesting ones.

Global keys

Alt-Shift-R reboot Kindle
Alt-Shift-. restart GUI
Alt-Shift-G make screenshot
due to an implementation bug, screenshots can only be stored on SD card, not the main storage. A gif file is saved in the card root.
Shift-Sym start demo
Enabled only if allow_demo=true is passed on the Java commandline. Needs a special demo script present on the SD card.

Home

Alt-Shift-M Minesweeper
Alt-Z rescan picture directories
Alt-T show time

Reader

Alt-B toggle bookmark
Alt-T spell out time
Alt-0 enable/disable slideshow
Alt-1 start slideshow (if enabled)
Alt-2 stop slidehow
Alt-PageForward/PageBackward go to next/prev annotation or one “chunk” (1/20th of a book) forward or backward

Settings

411 show diagnostics data
511 run loopback call test
611 diagnostic data service call
c/e/s
126 Lab126 team members

Font List

J show/hide justification options

Picture viewer

Alt-Shift-0 set current picture as screensaver
F toggle fullscreen mode

Minesweeper

I,J,K,L up,left,down,right
M mark mine
R restart
Space open cell
Scroll move cursor up/down
Alt-Scroll move cursor left/right
H return to Home screen

Text input

Alt-Backspace clear all
Alt-H/Alt-J move cursor
(the following don’t work in search field for some reason)
Alt-6 ?
Alt-7 ,
Alt-8 :
Alt-9
Alt-0

Browser

It seems there is a location capability (GPS?) in the CDMA module. I cannot check it as I’m not in USA but the following shortcuts are programmed inside the browser.
Alt-1 show current location in google maps
Alt-2 find gas station nearby
Alt-3 find restaurants nearby
Alt-4
Alt-5 find custom keyword nearby
Alt-D dump debug info to the log and toggle highlight default item
Alt-Z toggle zone drawing and show log

Audio Player

Alt-F next
Alt-P play/stop

Search commands

These command work in the search field. You can enter only beginning of the command if that’s enough for it to be unique.

Public commands (always available)

@help
@web
@wiki/@wikipedia
@store
@time

Semiprivate (available but not mentioned in @help)

;dumpMessages dump current debug log into the “documents” directory
;debugOn set log level=2 and enable private commands
;debugOff set log level=1 and disable private commands

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