My, how software has changed since I started my techie career many moons ago!
While I like my new Kindle Fire, I see no reason to limit its functionality to just the desired services which Amazon wants to push at me. For instance, my post last week included instructions on personalizing the Kindle Fire user interface without rooting ( I hate the Amazon Carousel!). This post follows up on that theme and explains how to add additional third party apps to your Kindle Fire without rooting.
Perhaps you would like to use a microphone with your Kindle Fire. Wait ... I thought the Kindle Fire did not have a microphone, and thus could not allow voice input?? No problem! If you purchase an inline stereo microphone (cost: $3) and install the Tape-A-Talk App from GetJar, you are in business! Here's the process:
In addition to GetJar, I've also used Android Freeware to download apps for my Kindle Fire.
One final note, it is very easy to determine whether the inline microphone you might purchase will work with the Kindle Fire, but the key is to "count" the number of rings on the audio plug. The microphone / ear buds must be stereo capable, which means "three rings on the plug". See the image shown below.
In closing, you may be interested in reading the comments (multiple pages) in the discussion for this post from Lilliputin. I have definitely used an inline mike with my Kindle Fire and Tape-A-Talk, but some apps seem to not work properly if they are looking for a physical mike that is part of the device.
My Kindle Fire arrived last Saturday, and given an extended Thanksgiving vacation, my life has revolved around two items: configuring my Fire and the search for skiable early season snow (x-ski)!
While not an iPad, the Kindle Fire is worth every penny of its $199 price. Amazon's App store is rapidly expanding, and the seven inch screen is proving quite capable. However, the smaller screen compared to the iPad makes the value of apps much higher when it comes to optimizing the viewable area.
I do have one BIG nit with Amazon. I HATE the carousel. This user interface feature takes up almost 1/2 of your startup screen, and delivers little value. The carousel displays every app, book, video, or song (MP3) which you've ever read or purchased via Amazon. In my case ... a whole lot of books via my public library. Thus, the carousel had to go! (continued below)
For the first few days of the Fire's existence, you could download without charge Go Launcher EX from the Amazon Apps Store. Apparently, Amazon did not like people removing their carousel and wallpapers; thus, they removed Go Launcher from the Amazon Kindle Fire Apps Store. No Problem! There is an easy work around. Just download the app directly from the vendor's web site (no charge). You first may want to read this excellent review from Lilliputin complete with video about Go Launcher. However, in short, this app allows you to personalize your start-up screen as "you" desire. (see image shown below, installation instructions start below the screenshot)
Note: See the bottom of this article for an update (link) which explains how to install non Amazon Android apps w/o rooting via GetJar.
At this point you can set up your Kindle Fire home screen to display your desired content. When you first turn on your Kindle Fire, you will be presented with this option: (see below)
Select Go Launcher EX, and make it your default action (easy to undo). This makes the dreaded carousel disappear except upon your command!
Should you wish to return to the native Kindle Fire user interface and start-up screen, you have a number of options:
1. Uninstall Go Launcher (remember, you did not root the device!)
2. Navigate to "all apps" and start "Launcher". This starts the native Kindle user interface.
3. Remove the "default startup" setting for Go Launcher:
Settings => Applications => Go Launcher => Launch by Default => Clear Defaults
Now that you are comfortable that one may easily return to the native Kindle Fire user interface, you will want to configure Go Launcher to fit your desires. Take a look at the screenshot given below (click to maximize). There are three basic options you'll want to explore.
Go Launcher Ex Configuration Settings:
Once you add some apps to the desktop, just press down on any app for a few seconds. All the apps now become movable (or remove from screen).
Finally, here are are my "initial apps". Let me know what the apps you have found useful via the comments section of this blog post. You'll note that my focus is not games!
Have fun exploring your new Kindle Fire!
Still with me? (additional Kindle Fire content)
Since this orginal Kindle Fire post, I have added these posts:
Just in case you want to branch out ... NorthstarNerd.Org explores more than just the serious side of technology. Visit my SkiCam Man posts! (learn a little about Nordic Skiing and Northern Minnesota)
It's been a while since a new tool really excited me, but BatchGeo is just such a tool! In a prior post I reviewed and discussed how much I like data visualizations, and was even interviewed by the NY Times a number of years ago because of my work in this knowledge domain. Thus, why do I love BatchGeo?
What's even more amazing all the data from your Excel columns will be as close as a mouse click on any geo point. Let's investigate an example ... the most recent results of the Cincinnati Half Marathon. The data elements (i.e. Excel columns) for each runner are:
Obviously, your data could have any fields, but given this service is about mapping ... location should be present (city, state, country, etc). Here is the finished GeoMap (partial screenshot given below). Given most of the competitors were from the Ohio area, drill down into the map to gain a perspective. Once you have the map at a reasonable resolution, click on a few "elements/data points!" The service also incorporates search against all the data in your database.
If you would like to try the service, I've included an excerpt of the marathon database (i.e. 260 records out of the original 1,241 runners). Remember to copy the field headers as well as the Excel data. When you browse to BatchGeo, just paste your data in the large window indicated ... you can't miss it! You then should either click on <Validate & Set Options> or <Map Now>. While you could just click "map now" select the validate option. You don't actually have to validate any data elements, but it does give the option to group your data by any desired variable. Given this service is oriented towards geo mapping, the logical grouping will normally be focused upon some "location variable". I chose "city".
If you want to try other examples, the easiest way to find Excel data is by using Google Advance Search. Use the file drop down to limit your results to <xls> files (i.e. Excel).
There are three options for your final output:
And the promised screenshot ... click on image to view full sized.
Did you know the Northstar Nerd is actually four people, or five, or six people?! As crazy as that may seem, I just received an answer back from Google tech support on an anomaly I had noticed on both historical WebTrends, and current Google Analytics data. Here is the situation, my company has around 120k employees. Web metrics data from both systems stated that in a 30 day period over 220,000 unique visitors had visited our internal employee portal.
There were two ways I could interpret this data:
I chose option #2, as I doubted that my company had recently hired 100K employees. My other action was to contact Google and provide them the data from both systems, and explain the scenario.
Earlier today I received a nice answer back from Google. After much internal discussion, they felt my data was correct, but I had to remember what the term "unique visitors" actually indicated. Almost all web anlaytics services (Google, Omniture, WebTrends, etc) use tracking cookies. Cookies track unique browsers, not unique people or vistors.
Let's consider my own example. I have four computers: an engineering work station, a laptop, an iPad and an Android smartphone. On each system I use mutliple browsers for various technical reasons (Atomic for iPad, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari). Thus, since cookies are measuring unique browsers (i.e. cookies) during a 30 day period, I might represent 12 unique users in a web analytics report. Remember, when I use a different browser on a different computer, I will be assigned a new unique tracking cookies for that computer and browser.
While most users might not use as many computers and browsers as the NorthstarNerd, it is not unusual for a typical user to have more than one browser, and visit your site from both home and work. Thus, most people would at least score a "four" on the unique visitor / cookie count ... I suspect more.
The moral to the story is be careful if you report "unique visitor" data. Your users might not be as unique as you thought. Finally, Google also told me that based upon my data they are working on trying to determine a way to account for this issue.