Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 194 03/03/12


Judging by the number of emails we’ve had recently Amazon had a bumper Christmas so this week it’s a Kindle Special.


Contrasting Views On Kindle 4

I have been given a Kindle but I am unhappy with the lack of contrast between the background and the print, which causes a muddying effect compared with a book. Kindle say there is no way to adjust the brightness. Can you help?

Ian Churchill, by email


You didn’t mention which Kindle you have but it sounds as though it is the most recent K4 version as there has been some criticism of screen contrast. Not all devices are affected though, so it may be due to variations in manufacture and there has been speculation that this could be a result of the faster screen refresh during page turns, giving it a slightly washed-out look. Compare it with a display model in your local computer store or stationers and if there is a noticeable difference you have a good case for having it exchanged. If there is little or no difference, and you want to keep it, then there are a couple of things you can try. There are no contrast adjustments but some users report a marked improvement after switching to a sans serif font; otherwise increasing the brightness of your reading light should help.



Kindle Does Not Compute

I was given a Kindle for Christmas and was assured that I could obtain books etc. through my Windows XP computer although I do not have wi-fi.  I have purchased a book from Amazon, using Kindle for PC and have tried to connect the Kindle to my computer to be able to read the book. Unfortunately nothing is happening so I now have a Kindle that I cannot use! Have you any ideas?

Rosemary Bury


Not a problem, all you have to do is open Windows Explorer on your PC, Scroll down the list to the Kindle folder in Program Files. Double click on it and open the Content folder. Holding down the Ctrl key highlight the two files associated with the book that you want to transfer (they will have .apnx and .azw extensions). Now press Ctrl + C to Copy the files to the Windows Clipboard. Next connect the Kindle to the PC using the USB cable.  In Windows Explorer a Kindle folder will appear as an external drive, open it, then the Document folder it contains. Position the cursor in the open folder and press Ctrl + V to paste the two files. Disconnect the cable and the new book should appear on the list when you press the Home button.



All Fired Up

We spend part of each year in a rural area of central France and have no Internet access. We can however access the Internet via our Kindles, which is a great help and is nil cost. It is quite tedious though, both getting on to the net and actually accessing and sending emails. Can you advise if the new Kindle Fire will be an improvement in this area and whether or not accessing the Internet will remain free?

B H, by email


One thing the Kindle Fire doesn’t have is a 3G connection, at least not on the first model, which went on sale in the US late last year is and due here soon. It does have wi-fi, though, and a media player, browser and email program included, so you can use it for watching TV programs and movies, web surfing and emailing at free wireless hotspots, which won't cost you anything. If you have a smartphone with a wi-fi hotspot feature you could link or 'tether' it to that as well but this could prove expensive thanks to overseas data roaming charges.


The Kindle Fire has other attractions. It has an excellent 7-inch colour touch screen with 8-hour battery life and under the bonnet there is a well-specified Android tablet, but it’s largely hidden from view behind the ‘Carousel’ user interface. However, it's possible to ‘root’ the operating system and turn it into a worthy alternative to other tablet computers, at a fraction of the cost. There are several easy to follow tutorials on the web and the whole process takes around ten minutes. Be warned that rooting invalidates the warranty but it does allow the Fire to access thousands of apps from Android Market and other sources. These include a more flexible user interface (Go Launcher) a better browser (Dolphin), a decent file manager (ES File Explorer) and much more besides. In fact the only things missing from the Fire are a built in camera and microphone, though the latter is easily overcome as the headphone jack also supports a mike connection



Sleeping and Screensavers

A few weeks ago (January 14th) you showed a reader how to change the screensaver images on her Kindle 3. I have another suggestion. If she is happy with a blank screen, rather than import her own images, then she should try powering off by holding the switch until the green light flashes when the screen will go blank. I am not sure if the picture mode is actually standby rather than fully off.

Alan McGibney, by email


Thanks for that tip, however, be careful. If you hold the slide switch for too long it may force a ‘hard’ reset, and you will have to wait for it to initialise and you might have to re-enter your details. It’s far better to use the normal sleep mode (briefly hold and release the switch) or just wait for it to go into sleep mode on its own. This has little or no impact on battery life, providing the wireless mode is off. The e-ink display is static – a bit like an Etch-A-Sketch -- and only draws a tiny amount of power when the screen is refreshed.




© R. Maybury 2012 2002


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