I am the ghost of groovymother.com. Woooooo!

This is an old page from Rod Begbie's blog.

It only exists in an attempt to prevent linkrot. No new content will be added to this site, and links and images are liable to be broken. Check out begbie.com to find where I'm posting stuff these days.

Filed under 'kindle'

February 8, 2011


Marketplace for Kindle book lending. List the books you have available to lend and find books you’re interested in. All free to end users, since the site’s owners can make money from Amazon referral links. Very smart.

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December 30, 2010

Lending Kindle Books

Just launched, Amazon now let you “lend” Kindle books. A fab feature, but sadly crippled in this (initial?) form.

1) You need to initiate the process from Amazon.com — you can’t do it from a Kindle
2) Publishers have the right to disable lending, and a quick scan through my Kindle purchases show that most large publishers have blanket blocks in place.
3) Loans are currently limited to 14 days, and you can lend a book once and only once. Publishers currently cannot adjust these limits.

Despite these gripes, this is clearly a big step in the right direction. Hopefully this is just Amazon’s first stab at shifting the digital-media-lending Overton window.

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August 16, 2010

Kindle and iPad Displays: Up close and personal

The striking difference between the iPad LCD screen and the Kindle’s e-ink at 400x magnification.

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July 27, 2010


A moment’s hearty hurrah for the fine, forward-thinking folks of O’Reilly Media

While catching up on a chum’s splendid bloggish-thang, I noticed that the new book by Rands is now available. On the Amazon page, the dead-tree hardcopy was still on pre-order, but the Kindle version was available straight away.

Normally, at this point, I would have hit that tempting, orange, A/B-tested-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life “Buy Now with 1-Click®” button and been on my merry way. But then I noticed that the book was published by O’Reilly.

O’Reilly (and can I just interject here to show off that I’m old-skool-geek enough that I still hit their website by typing ora.com into my browser, because that’s what their domain was when I bought my first animal-woodcut-covered book, dammit. Also: Get off my lawn!) have a smart attitude to eBooks purchased from their own website. You can download your eBooks in various DRM-free formats: PDF is almost always available, but often so too are ePub and mobi, and occasionally something called “Android”. (I believe that’s some sort of Chinese iPhone knockoff)

Because of this, by purchasing eBooks directly from O’Reilly, I can carry them around and read them in a variety of fashions. If it’s a mainly wordy book, then the soothing-to-the-eyes e-ink screen of my Kindle is just dandy. The reflowable ePub format works a treat in iBooks on my always-in-my-pocket iPhone and increasingly-always-in-my-bag iPad. And with Apple’s recent iBooks update, I can quickly switch to and from the designed-and-laid-out-by-a-professional view of the PDF which perfectly mimics the physical original.


So thank you O’Reilly and Associates Media for your top-notch splendiferousness. I hope more publishers start taking this approach too.

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November 25, 2009

Love the new Kindle boot screen

Love the new Kindle boot screen

The "relaxing with a book against a tree" motif is such a perfectly romanticized vision of reading. Far better than the regular reality of where I read: crammed on the piss-smell-filled Muni.

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November 12, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure books for Kindle

I can barely think of a less-perfect match than “Kindle” and “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. The “Back” button will be priceless!

July 1, 2009

Amazon.com: The Economist: The Kindle Store

This makes me tremendously happy — The Economist is now available as a Kindle subscription. Interestingly, it’s priced almost identically to the dead tree subscription, which is causing a rare amount of bitching in the Amazon reviews from those who don’t understand the, erm, economics of magazine production. (Clue: Adding dead-tree subscribers increases the rate you can charge advertisers. Adding advertising-free Kindle subscribers doesn’t.)

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March 30, 2009

Circumventing Adobe ADEPT DRM for EPUB

A pair of interesting Python scripts. One of which grabs your decryption key from the Windows version of “Adobe Digital Editions”, the other using the exported key to decrypt legitimately purchased eBooks and output DRM-free copies.

I imagine if one were to use them in conjunction with some sort of ePub -> Mobi converter (such as the open source “calibre”), one could purchase eBooks which are not available for the Kindle, conduct some sort of potentially illegal (Fuck you DMCA) wizardry, and enjoy reading said eBooks on the portable device of one’s choosing.

Unrelated: Currently reading “The Damned Utd” by David Peace on my Kindle.

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March 15, 2009

kindlefeeder.com - RSS and Atom Feed Subscriptions For Your Amazon Kindle

Get any RSS feed automagically daily on your Kindle. Great for getting the newspapers and magazines (*cough*Economist*cough*) that you can’t buy a subscription for. (Built by a resident of Betahouse)

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March 3, 2009

Kindle for iPhone. Well played Amazon

Sharp (and surprising) move by Amazon — you can buy any ebook from the Kindle store, and read it on your iPhone.

I suspect this is a trojan horse move: give users a live demo of how how good the bookstore (with its free samples) is, let them build up a library of purchases in Amazon’s walled garden, then once they realise how crummy (and battery-draining) the iPhone is as a reader, reel them in in for Kindle device sales.

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June 2, 2008


In 2004, due to a job change, I switched from commuting to work via public transport to driving each day. The biggest change this made to me was the sudden loss of time I had previously largely used for reading (and, it should be said, playing Game Boy). My book consumption dropped significantly; my only other regular (how to put this delicately? “porcelain-based”) reading time given over to catching up with Entertainment Weekly and Private Eye.

But the pendulum is shifting back again now I’m in San Francisco. The route betwixt home and office is now more easily travelled by Bart and Muni than private automobile. Thus—hurrah!—I have time to consume the printed word once more.

Given that I’m a lazy unfit bastard, though, the thought of carting around weighty chunks of paper was less tempting than ever. I glanced at Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, but the idea of paying $400 for a device whose sole purpose was to get me to give more money to Amazon didn’t seem to make much sense, not matter how tempting and shiny the Kindle might be. But within a week, after unexpectedly earning a decent chunk of change from Amazon1, I decided to pull the trigger. I am nothing if not an irrational sucker for a shiny gadget.

A month later, I’ve finished reading three books2 on the device and the novelty has worn off, so here’s my experience so far.

First up, the things that I knew because every review mentions them: The screen is excellently clear and comfortable to read (the variable font size means you can switch to larger print when you're tired), and the page-change lag is negligible. The built-in wireless networking works just grand, meaning you can surf Amazon's bookstore and download new books wherever you are (within the US). And yes, the Next/Previous Page buttons are as annoyingly easy to hit as has been reported. It's not too bad when you're sitting down and reading, but when trying to get comfortable lying on your side I've usually had to page back and forward a bit to correct for accidental nudges.

That said, the ease of page-flipping illustrates an unexpected advantage of the Kindle beyond simple lightness: It’s much easier to read than a regular book when you’re standing on a train with one hand gripping a pole for support. You keep the Kindle in the other hand, your thumb poised over the “Next Page” button, and can flip without moving more than that one knucklemuscle. (The exception to this are books with footnotes, which require a somewhat frustrating hyperlinky jump to read.)

Amazon’s book selection is decent, if not comprehensive. Maybe half of the books I’ve searched for are available. Some areas are noticeably lacking—Computer textbooks, which would benefit massively from being searchable and lightweight, are missing due to the lack of a monospaced font on the Kindle. Interestingly, my reaction to books that are not available is that they are effectively dead to me. I’d love to read them, but now that I own a Kindle, I don’t think I’d want to buy deadtree again.

For me, the biggest surprise was something that seems to have been played down on Amazon’s site, but is a killer feature to me. For every book in the Amazon Kindle store, you can send a free sample to the Kindle. The sample usually includes the first chapter or two of the book—more than you might be able to skim in a regular bookshop—enabling you to better evaluate the title before purchasing, which Amazon has made characteristically seamless; at the end of each sample is a one-click link which will charge your credit card and download the book to the Kindle within a minute. As I type this, my backpack holds eleven samples of books I’m interested in, effectively acting as a queue so I need never be without reading material.

Perhaps surprisingly, given my EFF-loving copylefty fair-use tendencies, the DRM imposed by Amazon doesn’t bother me too much (summary: your purchases are tied to your account, so you cannot “gift” or “loan” books to others or read them on any device other than a Kindle). Unlike music, which I want to own so I can it enjoy over and over for the future, I tend to read a book once then stick it on a shelf, resulting in, as part of the moving process, the dumping of many boxes of once/never-read books at the local Goodwill. And given that Kindle ebooks are always cheaper than Amazon’s already heavily-discounted prices, I’m even less worried about the effectively ephemeral nature of the licensed ebook.

In summary, if you asked me if I recommended the device, I would offer a solidly warm yes with the following caveats: First, you should browse Amazon’s Kindle store first to work out what proportion of books you’re interested in are available. Secondly, you should be comfortable spending $360 on a device that will undoubtedly drop in price and/or be superseded by improved hardware within a year (also known as “being an iPod owner”). And finally, if you’re of a collectory bent, recognize that the satisfaction of a stuffed bookcase cannot be felt with e-ink and bits in flash memory.

But for me, the Kindle has reignited my love of reading, and I look forward to seeing where it takes me next.

1 My blog post about Programming Interviews Exposed got a shedload of traffic. The links in that post to Amazon had my referral ID attached, and some of that traffic bought the books, along with assorted other trinkets (including an engagement ring!), leading to me making a tidy sum in commission3. Thanks again to whoever submitted that post to Reddit!

2 Bad Monkeys (a recommendation from Keith, which in turn I recommend to all), Feeding the Monster and Faithful (which was a reassuring read during the Sox’s sweep by the A’s last weekend). It’s worth noting that I already owned hardback copies of the latter two, but they had languished unread on a shelf.

3 And yes, the links in this post are similarly referalified. Given that Amazon offers me $35 for every Kindle they sell through such a link, it is left as an exercise for the reader to judge how this affects the impartiality of what I’m writing.

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November 23, 2007

Amazon Kindle Real-Life Review (Verdict: Lightweight, Long Lasting and Easy to Grip... In Bed)

Best review I’ve seen of the Kindle so far. I’d be tempted to get one, but for the much-noted DRM restrictions. If I’m unable to “lend” or “borrow” e-books I’ve purchased, like I currently can with dead-tree, then it’s of no interest to me.

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About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.