Electronics, Photography, Gadgets

Month: June 2010

Amazon Kindle DX 2.5.3

Just 4 days with 2.5.2 and my Kindle DX has been updated again – this time to 2.5.3. I can’t see any difference in the functionality and the browser still works. Maybe this will be the final release.

Kindle DX Update 2.5.3

Amazon Kindle DX 2.5.2 Update

It’s a bit of a mixed bag. I have to admit being disappointed by some of the updates and very surprised by some others. Let’s start with the biggest disappointment – PDF zooming and panning. I find the implementation to be clunky with the zoom options limited to 150%, 200%, 300% and actual size.

Kindle 2.5.2 PDF Zoom Options

While it is an improvement, I had hoped for something which fits to the screen and allows for smaller increments so that one can get rid of useless borders while retaining the larger zoom options if needed. On the Kindle DX, the “fit to screen” zoom level is about 50% – moving to 150% is a big jump – come on guys! In the image below, you can see the 150% selection box when zooming into a PDF fitted to the Kindle DX screen size. Panning, once zoomed in, can also be excruciatingly slow in some PDF documents, so the feature is of limited use. I still recommend trimming your PDFs before downloading them to the Kindle as described in one of my previous posts.

PDF Zoom Selection Box at 150%

The next feature I had been wanting is collections and thankfully this feature delivers – and given it’s simplicity, so it should. In the home screen, one can press the menu button and then select “Create New Collection” to basically create a folder. After creating the collection, simply move onto the document you want to place into the collection, move the joystick to the right and select “Add to Collection…” which gives you a list of your collections into which the document can be placed. Pretty simple. Additional features include sorting your home screen “By Collections” as well as the ability to rename and delete collections. Below is a screen shot of my much tidier home screen via the use of collections.

Documents Sorted into Collections

Here is a screen shot of the Kindle in my electronics collection.

Kindle 2.5.2 Collections

As expected, the “social networking” options do not work in Germany and presumably all owners of the Kindle outside of the US will have the same issue. The really big surprise, and I don’t know if this is a mistake which will be patched later, is the ability to use the built-in browser. In the previous version of the firmware, this was impossible for international users – now it works just fine. If you are an international user of the Kindle and have the 2.5.2 update, press the menu button in the home screen, select the option “Experimental” and the launch the browser. Happy surfing, but please be aware that you may be charged for it’s use. I haven’t been able to find any official comments on this topic yet.

Browser on International Kindle DX

Update: My Kindle DX is now running on 2.5.3.

AXE029 PICAXE Breadboard Adapter

As we use breadboard quite extensively in our microprocessor experiments I decided to take a look at the AXE029 breadboard adapter for the PICAXE which I purchased from the reliable people at tech supplies. The first thing that surprised me after receiving it was that it is not pre-assembled but in kit form; in retrospect it was perhaps a little naïve to think that it would pre-built. After a few minutes soldering, as the kit is not hard to put together, everything was in place and working fine – before and after shots below. On the AXE029 device there is a jumper which enables you to select between an 18 pin or 28/40 pin PICAXE and this allows you to place the AXE029 directly next to the PICAXE pins on the breadboard – works a treat with the 28X1 PICAXE microprocessors but not the 20M. For the 20M, you will have to place the AXE029 somewhere on your breadboard and connect it to the 20M via wires – not a big deal.

AXE029 Breadboard Adapter

One problem that I have had for a while now, and which is unrelated to the AXE029, is reliably getting a connection to the PICAXE. Using the MacAXEpad and connecting to the PICAXE via a USB cable, I often get connection errors. I’ll have to take a closer look at this – I suspect the USB driver on the Mac but it is hard to tell.

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