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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Kindle Mystery Solved

My brother complained that while he was in Greece, his Kindle suddenly stopped being able to sort by "Most recent". Then the same thing happened to me in Turkey. There are very few software bugs that are location aware, so I just chalked it up to a freak coincidence. Then it happened to me again yesterday!

But this time, I figured out what happened. All these incidences happened during an internal battery change while overseas! When you take out the battery and put in a new one, what happens is that the Kindle's internal clock resets to time 0 Unix time, which is Jan 1st, 1970. Well, that means that the last modified date on the files that you touch (i.e., books that you read) get set to somewhere around 1970, which leads to odd sorting behavior.

This isn't an issue when you're in the USA, because all you have to do is to turn on wireless and the clock will get reset by the cellular phone network that the Kindle uses (no, there's no way for you to set the clock manually on the Kindle). The lesson here is that if you want to get extra reading between recharges while overseas while not losing the sort functionality, use the Gomadic Battery Extender. Or lobby Amazon.com to let us set the date and time on the Kindle in the future.

6 comments:

bawa said...

I often use the www.ipl.org, stands for Internet Public Library which has a Lot of things to read..all legally online.
Under their book section you have a large number of sites dedicated to online books, apart from the Gutenberg project you wrote about. Some have very pleasant screen friendly layouts: I like www.classicauthors.net myself, but there is a whole range of them.

Piaw Na said...

For whatever reason, this year's been the year that I'm discovering that free reading just doesn't cut it. If you think about it, it makes sense --- the cost of reading a book isn't what I pay for the book, it's the time spent reading!

When I look over my reading for the year, the free reading has been the lowest quality, compared to the stuff I pay for. This means that when I want to read something, I search for it at my local library first --- if I can't find it, then I buy it for the Kindle.

There's a story about Professor Arvind at MIT. When he first arrived in the US, he was surprised to discover that the MIT library would let him check out as many books as he liked with one library cards (in both India and Singapore, libraries restrict you to 1-4 books checked out at a time). In a fit of exuberance he checked out 20-30 books, and then spent the rest of his first semester discovering that the true cost of reading a book is the time it takes.

This story might be apocryphal, but I think it reflects the correct attitude in an information-rich society.

bawa said...

That I agree with absolutely! My local library is good, but most of it is in the local language and I like to read them in their original language whenever possible.
Things like the ipl are pretty handy sometimes.
Like the anecdote about Prod A from India: great thing about that country is the amount of books you can buy so cheaply and post them cheaply to your hometown. Book both new and second-hand; and I confess that is the only time I have been known to by them the kilo! (as in "add another 200gm book to round up my 5 kg packet"

Piaw Na said...

Heh. One reason I switched to the Kindle (which is a product I love) is that I have no more space left for books even if I were to be able to afford them!

messiScores said...

You can set the Kindle clock anywhere in the world where there's a CDMA network just by turning on the wireless switch in the back, waiting for the Kindle to acquire the network and then turning it off again (no point keeping it on since you can't connect through it to Amazon).
Anyway - thanks for pointing out that the sort problem had to do with the Kindle losing timing. I just ran into the same "most recent" bug in India.

Rain said...

Great Tips! Thanks. Been looking for a couple of days on why my kindle suddenly sort thing erroneously until i found the info on your blog. :)