Monday, November 26, 2007

Amazon's "Director of Kindle" has no problems with Kindle hacking, may allow Kindle to be used as a platform for third party apps in the future

I came across an interesting tidbit at SeattleTimes: Briar Dudley talked to Charlie Tritschler who apparently heads the Kindle program at Amazon. Getting right to the meat of it:

Is Kindle hackable? "It's not something we're opening up, but all devices can be hacked. That's something people can do."

Will there be APIs for software developers to write Kindle applications? "That's an important future direction for us."

Now contrast the "that's something people can do" to Apple's early reaction to iPhone apps where Jobs decried the idea in the name of 'security'. Pragmatically, there is definitely a conflict between any company's goal of making the most money they can out of a product and opening it up to be hacked though I wouldn't say the two are orthogonal. Hence, even this non-negative reaction that Amazon has to the Kindle being hacked is a refreshing change from the norm. As Tritschler says, I doubt that Amazon will be giving out the keys to the castle, so to speak. But I don't expect them to "brick" hacked Kindles like Apple did with iphones. And if (when) they release the APIs, I am sure there will be some sort of filtering process but I think it will still make the Kindle a better product ultimately benefiting Amazon. Time will tell!

Kindle Boot logs and hardware speculation

Some interesting conversations taking place over at Kindle Developer's Corner at Mobileread.

Kindle saves its boot logs to a user readable part of the flash memory AND on the SD card in the device. To quote Nate, "It's almost like they are begging you to hack it."

Based on early analysis, it seems that the UI is written in Java (if true, this may explain some of the *slowness* issues ;). Igorsk at Mobileread also tried to identify hardware details.

As far as I can guess from the sources:
The base system is based on a Gumstix board.
The CPU is XScale PXA250.
The I/O chip to talk to the PN-LCD, keyboard, scrollwheel and battery is from Foxconn.
Flash chip is OneNAND from Samsung.
The CDMA modem is AnyData DTG.
USB controller is Philips ISP1761 (it has On-The-Go!).
Eink controller is Apollo (the older one used in PRS-500 etc, I think).
Audio is WM8971.
Give this some time and I bet someone will gain shell access on the Kindle. Can't wait to join the hacking efforts as soon as I get my Kindle on Dec 4th :)

Kindle supports (atleast some) 4 and 8 GB SDHC Cards

There has been some speculation about whether Kindle supports SDHC cards. Amazon itself says that you can use upto a 4 GB SD card. However per early reports from Guy Teague at and KindleKorner, he was successfully able to use a 8 GB A-Data SDHC card.

To quote him:

here's your answer. an a-data 8gb sdhc class2 card was recognized
instantly, reported 7.5gb free, and the kindle transfered files from
the internal memory to the sd card where i was able to read all the
transferred files.

I would wait to hear more confirmations of this before buying a new SDHC card for the Kindle. If anyone has positive or negative experiences with SD cards w/Kindle please leave a comment!

Also as an fyi, I have heard/read some not so good things about A-Data cards in general.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reading feeds on the Kindle for free

Courtesy of TechCrunch, here's a way to read feeds on the Kindle for free using the "Experimental" browser. This is not an uber-hack but useful nevertheless

You can also enter any URL, including Bloglines (but not Google Reader, which requires Javascript and which the Kindle browser does not support)Here is a Kindle hack: you can check out your RSS feeds for the New York Times or the full feed of blogs like TechCrunch for free using the browser, rather than choose to pay a subscription to get them downloaded to the Kindle.

Why just bloglines? You should be able to use any web based feed reader that doesn't require Javascript through the built in browser. So there you have it, never pay for feeds on the Kindle again!

Update: Turns out the Kindle browser supports Javascript! Courtesy of user Tallmomof2 on

"Your Kindle comes with an Experimental application called Basic Web which is a Web browser that is optimized to read text-centric Web sites. It supports JavaScript, SSL and cookies but does not support media plug-ins (Flash, Shockwave, etc.) or Java applets."

Update2: Both and should work well as RSS feed readers on Kindle. Unfortunately I can't personally verify this till I get my own Kindle on the 4th! If someone else does, I'll update this post.

Reading PDFs on Kindle and Converting documents for free

Good morning Kindle fans! (and skeptics :)

I think a post removing what seem to be some very popular misconceptions about the Kindle is in order.

1) You CAN read PDFs on Kindle, albeit only after having Amazon convert then for you or converting them yourself to PRCs using Mobipocket's Creator software which is freeware.

To quote Amazon's help page:

Converting PDF Files
PDF conversion is experimental. The experimental category represents the features we are working on to enhance the Kindle experience even further. You can email your PDFs wirelessly to your Kindle. Due to PDF's fixed layout format, some complex PDF files might not format correctly on your Kindle.
You can download the Mobipocket creator here. In my experiments it created a well formatted PRC file out of a complex PDF with images. It was very readable.

2) There seems to be a way to have Amazon convert DOC and other formats into the native Kindle format (AZW) for FREE. Again, to quote the Kindle Help page from Amazon.

Delivery to Your Account E-mail Address

If you are not in a wireless area or would like to avoid the ten-cent fee, you can send attachments to "name" to be converted and e-mailed back to your computer at the e-mail address associated with your account. You can then transfer the document to your Kindle using your USB connection.

So there, I hope that was helpful to you. Let the games begin!