July 29, 2014

The Trouble with Kindle Fire

Something like five posts ago, and more than a year and a half ago, I said I would get both me and my (now) nine year old son a Google Nexus 7 tablet.
Well I did. About eight moths ago. While no one and no thing in this world is perfect, I am rather pleased with it and so is my son.
Thing is, I made this decision after I already owned the (original) kindle fire tablet. Actually it was an OK tablet (I gave it to my mom a while ago), as far as reading books on kindle is concerned. It even worked sort of OK as a web browser, except Hebrew websites sometimes got partly written backwards. Arabic websites were plain terrible (I do try reading them from time to time), which is odd because you figure if Hebrew works (mostly) OK, so should Arabic  ...but no.
What was absolutely ludicrous were the apps. Turns out I could not install any apps, even free ones, unless I had a credit card with a valid US address. As far as I can tell this is still the case.
Lucky for me there were these two days when I could, so I did install some free apps...
My niece thanks me to this very day...
So if you plan on using a kindle fire outside the US for any prolonged period of time, consider some other tablet...

July 21, 2014

Intermission- My Book on Kindle

I published my first book on Amazon a bit more than two years ago. So far it's the only book I published there, but I hope to publish more in the next few years (my Hebrew publishing works faster, thanks for asking).
The book is not perfect. Actually it's twice not perfect:
First, because it's my first book, that was published in Hebrew back in 2007. I didn't exactly know what I was doing back then.
Second, because the translation is far from perfect. I translated it myself, and it's the first book I translated, so, again, not perfect...
Nonetheless, it is a cute book, I think.
It used to be that if you published via Kindle Direct Publishing, you could give away your book for free, for five days every quarter. According to Amazon something like 200 people got my book for free this way in the past two years.
Less people actually paid for it, of course.
Nowadays I cannot give it for free, but I can give it for a discounted price, and I am starting tomorrow, for five days.

So you can get your copy over here:


Hope You enjoy it...

July 15, 2014

It Has Been a While

I have not written in this blog for more than a year and a half now.
I actually have a good excuse for that - i became a teacher, so at first there was a lot of studying to do, and later there was a lot of teaching to do.
So in the near future I plan to wrap up this series about tech companies that has dragged beyond its intended scope (in time, if not in actual posts...)
Later a plan to talk here, just as I do on my Hebrew blog, mainly about my job as a teacher, but in a general detached kind of way. You'll see...
Stay tuned.

January 3, 2013

Kindle Apps Everywhere

Like I said last week, the choice of English books in Israel is usually not overwhelming.
Knowing that I can get into the Kindle bookstore at any time and get one of more than a million books is a wonderful feeling.
Though I now own a Kindle fire device, I installed the Kindle  app on pretty much everything. It's a great app, I highly recommend it!
With the latest Pratchett novels it was more of a read it on everything attitude. 
This is how I got to read Snuff for example...

December 27, 2012

A Long Long Time Ago

I remember when there used to be a time, say twelve years ago or so, when there were not so many books in English in the bookstores in Israel.
I'm not saying that there were no Pratchett books in the stores at the time, I'm just saying that there was no way of knowing what you'd find in there, and the new hardcover books were REALLY Expansive.
The Truth of the matter is that things did not greatly improve in the past twelve years, but they have somewhat improved.
The big difference was Amazon (including the UK branch). There was a fairly long period of time during which I used to order books from the UK Amazon, and in particular Pratchett books in the hardcover versions.
The delivery did not take long, and there was the knowledge that for a short while you had a book that no one else in Israel had.
But these days are over.
How do I order the new Pratchett books? More about that in the next post.

November 27, 2012

Onwards to Amazon

Nowadays people probably need reminding that the Amazon, is also a name of a river, or that the Amazons were a legendary tribe of female warriors.
Probably no one needs reminding that Amazon is also the name of a leading online retailer.
My relationship with Amazon has known some downs throughout the years, but mostly it has been a good one, with many more successes than failures.
In the next few weeks I intend to explore my relationship with this company, which will lead us forward to other, perhaps greener pastures in the future of this blog,
So stay tuned...

November 20, 2012

I know it's a bit early to make this decision but...

I know it's a bit early to make this decision but I've decided so I might as well share my decision.
I've reviewed Apple, and then Microsoft and then Google, and my next company to review is Amazon, which will be short, or so I think right now, anyway...
Sorry for spoiling the surprise - I have a Kindle Fire, and I'm not too pleased with it, for reasons that I promise to detail soon.
So here's the thing - ever since the iPad came out I started thinking what is the best way to do computing assuming that there are at least four 'sizes' - desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
I think that starting late next year my model is going to be desktop and tablet.
I'm going to get a nexus 7, both for me and for my older son.
My daughter already has a Asus tablet, so it should all work out.
Nexus 7 looks like and affordable way to do what I want to do on the road - mostly games, web surfing, mail and Google Docs.
Will tell you how it all worked out - but that will be more than a year from now!

November 10, 2012

My Browser is Chrome

I can't even explain why I think this new 'Jam with Chrome' app is so great.
I mean We've had tons of music apps for chrome, and it's not like I'm going to start a band now that Jam with Chrome exists.
But it's cool, and it's cheaper then Garage band, and it takes less memory. So you may call me silly, but I like it.
I also really like Chrome, in all of its manifestations - On Linux, On Windows (I've installed it dozens of times just for the day on Ben Gurion University's computers), on iOS (so much easier to handle Gmail through Chrome than through that annoying Mail iOS app...)
I wonder if this Jam with Chrome works for android tablets, because if it does, and probably also if it doesn't...
More about this next week.

October 30, 2012

Let Me Tell You What I Did Last Summer

This blog is going to change directions in the next little while.
For the past year or so I've discussed, Apple, and then Microsoft, and then Google.
I'm almost done with that.
Going to devote a post or two more to Google (next week), and then one or two or three to Amazon, And then I think I'll focus on the coming Israeli elections for the next few months.
After that we'll see...
But before that, I would like to apologize or at least explain:
I have started this blog several years ago, in the past year or so I have posted fairly regularly, and then suddenly stopped.
The reason for this is that I pretty much had to change my whole life around in the past few months.
Suffice it to say that I had a pretty steady income writing curricula for the US education system, and now I more or less work as a teacher in Israel, and studying to get my Israeli teaching licence.
On the one hand that makes me very busy.
On the other hand I do much less writing on a regular basis, so that should leave some more 'writing time' for this blog...
I think I'll be able to post more regularly here, at least in the coming few months.

September 11, 2012

I'm Sorry to Say This But...

Google Adwords is not really working for me.
First I wanted to use Google Adwords to publicize my blogs, that was maybe three years ago, but then I thought to myself, hey, I'm going to use money to get readers? Really?
So I decided not to do it.
Next, almost two years ago I started to sell ebooks (at the http://mendele.co.il/ site, they're really nice guys, but that's not our topic for today...).
About a year ago I managed to convince Shlomit Guy (site in Hebrew) to sell her book also as an ebook in the Mendele store (it's a book about her adventures with English Soccer, which is actually called Football, but that is also not our topic for today...)
It sold for 40 NIS (about 10$), while selling at the stores the print version for 89 NIS (about 20$), I thought it was a bargain.
I advertised it for about two months, spending a bit more than 600 NIS (more than 150$) on the campaign. The result - one copy sold. The next quarter, no campaign, and again - one copy sold.
Right now I'm running an Adwords campaign for my book (kindle edition), so far it looks like the results are not much better...
So this whole theory about how if only you spend less on Google Adwords than you actually sell, and how that can make you into an instant millionaire? maybe some day, but apparently not today...

September 4, 2012

I Really Wish Google Books and Google Music...

Would work well in Israel.
It's not that Google books does not work at all. I can search books .
A bit more then twenty years ago, someone told me that if I wanted to improve my bridge, I should read Why you lose at bridge by S J Simon. I did, but sadly it's very hard to find this book now.
Once I could read some of it at Google Books, but now they only tell you about the book, and point you to the Amazon website: 38.95$ is a bit steep for me...
Google books does show some books by Martin Gardner, but you can't buy any books from the site itself (or Google play store, or whatever you want to call it...)
I hope they'd let us use it someday, even in the middle of the middle east.
I have even less to say about Google Music. I just doesn't exist here...

August 29, 2012

Unconventional Uses Of Google Maps

For some odd reason 'The Gun Seller' by Hugh Laurie was only translated to Hebrew in 2011. Maybe because the TV show House was in its last season, and everyone was talking about it.
Anyway, I bought this book at a discount (the infamous 'four books for 100 NIS').
I initially bought it because my wife asked for it, but then some time last week, I read it.
It's an OK book. Funny to read a book written in 1996 as if it's new, when the most terrible thing the guy can say about arms dealers is the first Gulf War (1991).
Anyway, at the end of the book our hero is in Casablanca, and the writer says that its a very boring industrial city.
I wanted to check him on that one. As far as I can tell it looks more like a French city then an industrial city in the English speaking world.
On the way to Casablanca, I stopped for a short visit to Tangier and Tetuan, two cities dear to the writer Mois Benarroche; he was born in Tetuan, and only came to Israel at the age of 12.
It was a lovely trip.

August 26, 2012

Public Google docs

Let me start off with an apology. I hope to write this blog on a weekly basis, but in fact I have not written in it in the past few weeks. Let's just pretend that I had and unexpected summer holiday, and get on with business.
The business I was at before the 'holiday' was Google Documents.
I was about to say that the next phase in my Google Document 'career' is to start making public documents.
Now don't get me wrong, I fully intend to start making public Google Documents in the coming year, it's just that so far I didn't get around to it.
You see, before making a document, such as my MA thesis about speculative fiction in Hebrew Literature, I need to complete it, and then translate it.
So, in short, writing blog posts is easier...

July 31, 2012

Non Intervention

Usually I don't talk about Politics, and even this week when I will have something to say about politics, I will try to make it as blurry as possible.
You see, there has been a fine tradition in US Israeli relations.
According to this fine tradition, each party refrains from stating his (or her) preferences about the other party's Politics.
Thus, for instance, if there is a US Presidential race going on right now, than the Israeli Prime Minister in particular, and all of Israel's Members of Knesset in general will refrain from stating their opinions about the aforesaid Presidential elections.
I don't think it will be too much to state my own opinions about Israeli politics though, since I am Israeli, right?
Well, Israel has many parties (I think something like ten in the current Knesset), of this embarrasingly rich tapestry, I now support the Israel Labor Party, and its head Shelly Yachimovich (see picture above).
The Israel Labor party only has something like five seats (out of 120) in the current Knesset, but is considered the major opposition to the current Prime Minister, and up to about two weeks ago  Shelly Yachimovich, was indeed the head of the Opposition.
So it was very nice according to this policy of Non-intervention that our Prime Minister hosted Mitt Romney so nicely here last week, allowing him to raise more the 1M dollars in campaign money, and it was also nice on his part that he cancelled his planned meeting with  Shelly Yachimovich.
I think this is a beautiful policy all around, and I intend to keep this wonderful policy of Non Intervention.
I will not say anything about the US Presidential race!

July 25, 2012

Using Google Docs - Part II - Google docs and Creative writing

Perhaps now is the right time to say this: I've introduced at least thirty people to Google Docs, and taught them how to use it.
I can't say all of the cases were resounding successes, but some of the more interesting cases were last year when I taught creative writing in Beer Sheva.
You see, quite a few of the kids I taught were originally from the Former Soviet Union (mainly from Russia and the Ukraine).
The cool thing was that when they first opened their Google Docs account, the menus were all in Russian. This really helped some of them get along!
On the other hand I also teach creative writing at the Beer Sheva Municipal Library. There my students are a bit older (the median age is above sixty). 
Not all of my library students have gotten the hang of Google Docs, but the ones that have? let me tell you! it makes working on a manuscript so much easier!