Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Kindle for PC

One of the features lacking in Amazon's Kindle plans for e-book domination has been the fact that in order to read e-books purchased from their store you need to have a Kindle.

No longer.

Amazon has just released the new Kindle for PC software, currently in beta with Mac version coming soon, which is a free download and allows you to view Kindle e-books on your home computer or laptop.

image

If you're leery of beta software best wait for the release version, though I installed and did the basics without any issue.

Kindle for PC is a quick install. In moments, I was presented with the application's opening screen:

image

The "Register now to get started" dialog wants your Amazon account information, but it is not necessary to fill this in as there is a "continue without registering" option. I went ahead and filled in my Amazon account information and clicked "Register".

Here's the application resized for better viewing:

image

The interface is simple almost to the point of being plain. But then it has a fairly narrow, specific purpose: to view Kindle-formatted e-books. Since I registered the software with my Amazon account, Kindle for PC went through a quick sync cycle to see what Kindle e-books I had already purchased. Of course, I don't own a Kindle and therefore have not purchased any e-books from the Kindle store, so nothing showed up.

Fortunately, Amazon makes it easy to add Kindle e-books to my collection by placing a button at the top of the app that says, "Shop in Kindle Store":

image

That, of course, brings you to the Kindle storefront where, with a quick search, I can find my e-book, The Hall of the Wood.

If you're curious about how the buying process works, click on the "How buying works" link beneath the "Buy" button at the right. This will bring up the following dialog with the new Kindle for PC option listed alongside the more traditional ones:

image

You'll also see the Kindle for PC device already selected if you registered when the app came up:

image

For demonstration purposes, and because I've never actually seen my e-book other than in DTP preview mode, I went ahead and purchased my own e-book. Chalk up another sale for me. Once I went through the payment method, etc., I get this:

image

After clicking "Go to Kindle for PC", I'm brought back to the Kindle for PC app:

image

A quick double-click on my e-book and it brings it up in all its glory:

image

 

Now that's cool.

I can't say I'm real keen on reading e-books on my PC (or Mac if I had one). In other words, I still want an e-reader. But Amazon is addressing a void in the Kindle's feature set. One less thing for someone on the fence about purchasing one e-reader over another to concern themselves with. Plus, who knows, for people who want to buy e-books from Amazon but don't have an iPhone or Kindle, now they can.

[ Advertisement: SF/F Shorts by Amazon ]

[ Follow me on Twitter ]

Tor Free E-books: The Complete List

tor-books-logo

Note: If you're visiting from Tor Books, welcome. If not, and you're interested in signing up for Tor's Free E-book Giveaway, you can still sign up at their site, though they're almost done with the promotion. Right about July 20, 2008 is the end. Tor's promotion is over and as far as I know the links have been taken down. Sorry if you missed it.

I've been running a series of blog posts, one each week, featuring each of Tor's free e-book giveaways. In short, each post delves a bit into that week's e-book and provides some background on the author.

In addition, if you're interested in downloading the e-books, I have links on each post for the different formats Tor has offered them in.

Here's the list of posts featuring each e-book (in order of their appearance):

  1. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson [ read my review ]
  2. Old Man's War by John Scalzi [ read my review ]
  3. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson [ read my review ]
  4. The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory [ read my review ]
  5. Farthing by Jo Walton [ read my review ]
  6. Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell [ read my review ]
  7. Lord of the Isles by David Drake [ read my review ]
  8. Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold [ read my review ]
  9. The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove [ read my review ]
  10. Reiffen’s Choice by S.C. Butler read my review ]
  11. Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder read my review ]
  12. Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest [ read my review ]
  13. Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
  14. Starfish by Peter Watts
  15. Touch of Evil by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
  16. A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
  17. Orphans of Chaos by John Wright
  18. In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
  19. In the Midnight Hour by Patti O'Shea
  20. Battlestar Galactica by Jeffrey Carver
  21. Flash by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
  22. Soul by Tobsha Learner
  23. Darkness of the Light by Peter David
  24. War of the Oaks by Emma Bull
  25. Dogland by Will Shetterly
  26. Spaceman Blues by Brian Francis Slattery
  27. The Buried Pyramid by Jane Lindskold
  28. Spirit Walk by Charles de Lint

Tor Free E-book: Spirit Walk by Charles de Lint

imageIt's been long enough since I last reported a free e-book out of Tor that I can't help but think I missed one (or two).

Anyway, Tor's got another one out there. This time we get to take a look at Charles de Lint's Spirit Walk. From the post:

Charles de Lint’s Spiritwalk (1992) is the sequel to Moonheart, his groundbreaking novel about the people in and around a house in modern Ottawa that straddles this world and another one. Here is the same cast of characters, as they deal with a pair of very different threats to the ancient house. As in Moonheart, de Lint skillfully combines a contemporary sensibility, a great sensitivity to the rhythms and patterns of myth and folktale, and a set of simply likeable characters whose lives you find yourself wanting to hang out in.

From the post's comments it appears while this is a continuation of a pervious novel, it does stand enough on its own that it is not required you read Moonheart. I imagine like any pseudo-series, where at least the world and some of the characters appear in both works, having read the previous novel will enhance the experience but not having read won't necessarily ruin it.

Microsoft Office Live Workspace

What is Office Live Workspace?

imageA lot of people are mobile these days. I am. I have my laptop with me most times so that when I want to fit in some work on my current novel or other documents I flip it open and go. But every once in a while I leave the laptop at home. The dilemma then becomes one of how do I fit some work in on those documents when the files are not accessible?

Enter Office Live Workspace.

Office Live Workspace is a free "access your documents anywhere" service from Microsoft. With the service you can store hundreds if not thousands of documents remotely, then access those same documents from any computer.

Technically, you don't have to have Office on your desktop, but the integration is quite slick, so I would recommend it. Also, the product is beta, so keep that in mind.

Installation & Setup

You get hooked up with Office Live Workspace by installing the Microsoft Office Live Add-in available via Windows Update as an optional update. I'll assume you can handle that part of the install since it really is just another update. Also, once you get into the service, you'll likely be prompted to install some updates. Go through the motions and let it install what it needs.

Now, either you already have a Live Id from previous apps you might have installed or used or you'll need to sign-up for a new one. If you've already got one, you can sign in from the Office Live Workspace home page: image

Otherwise, here's the step-by-step to get setup with Office Live Workspace.

1. Let's say you've fired up, say, Microsoft Word. Once the Office Live Workspace add-in has been installed you'll see the following dialog asking you to take the plunge with Office Live Workspace:

image

2. If you click "Continue" you're brought to the following web site where you can sign up for the Workspace service.

image

3. Type your email address and click "Next". You'll then see this:

image

4. Go through the motions of filling in the form in order to set up your account. Good luck with the captcha—it took me more times than I care to admit to get it right.

Once you've filled out the form to their satisfaction and clicked "Finish", you'll get a confirmation of sorts:

image

5. Go to your inbox and wait for the email to show up. When it does, click on the "Activate your workspace" link.

image

I ran into some problems at this point. The service was fairly unresponsive (see above comment about this being beta ;-) ). I waited a bit, and finally got in:

image

That's it. You're in. People familiar with SharePoint will see some commonalities here. Basically you've got a repository for storing documents and other files. You can upload files, create a new workspace for grouping files, or view shared documents if others have opened up their documents for you to see.

Save a document to Office Live Workspace

Uploading a document is easy. Let's do it through the web page first, then we'll look at how to save a document to the remote Workspace from within Word.

To upload a document to the Workspace over the web:

1. From your Workspace page, click on "Add Documents".

sshot-14

2. Navigate to a file using the resulting Open dialog and select it.

3. You'll see a progress bar next to the title of your document as it uploads. The time it takes to upload your file depends on the size of the file.

4. Done. File has been uploaded:

image

image

Now, if you're using Microsoft Word you can upload files directly from there.

1. First, sign-in using the account you created above.

image

2. This is one of those times mentioned above where you'll need to install some updates. Click through until it's happy.

image

Unfortunately, you will be asked to reboot. Once you've done that, open up Word again, select "Save to Office Live" again and sign-in.

3. A File Save dialog will pop-up. Double-click on the "Documents" folder (it doesn't look like a folder, but that's what it is) and click "Save".

image

Give it a sec…

sshot-32

That's it. Document saved.

Open a document from Office Live Workspace

Just like saving/uploading a document can be done from the web interface or through Microsoft Word, so can opening a file.

1. To open a file through the web interface, locate the "Edit" (leftmost) button.

sshot-33

2. You'll be confronted with a warning about unsafe files:

sshot-27

Click "OK"

3. Your document will open in Word or whatever program is assigned to open the file type you chose.

Now, to open a file stored on your Workspace through Word:

1. Select the "Open from Office Live" menu item. A File Open dialog will pop-up. Select your file.

image

2. Click "Open" and your document will open in Word.

Make changes and save. You'll see the "Saving" dialog again as the document is saved off to the remote Workspace location.

sshot-32

That's all there is to it. You've signed up for an Office Live Workspace account, uploaded a file to the service, opened it from the remote location, made changes, and saved it back.

Conclusion

I'm planning on using Office Live Workspace for those days when I don't have my laptop with me but where I also have some time to work on documents I typically only store there. I do have some concerns over security—I'm not going to store personal financial data out there. But as long as the service remains stable I think it will help me stay productive.

Further Reading

For more info and assistance visit the Office Live Workspace Community page.

[Follow me on Twitter]

Brandon Sanderson: Do a WARBREAKER comparison

image

Brandon Sanderson is offering his novel Warbreaker as a free download.

What I like about this particular freebie is that he's not only making the final version available but previous versions as well. That's kind of a twist. How often do you get to see what pains an established author went through from first draft to polished final?

He starts with Version 1.0, which bears a warning:

this version is very, very rough. It includes characters that I decide to cut halfway through, has some serious lack of foreshadowing for elements at the climax, and contains a lot of typos. Read at your own risk!

You can make your way through versions 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, and, finally, 4.2, the latest and greatest. He's also got a Word doc which compares versions 1 and 2 if you want to see the differences side-by-side.

Sanderson is giving away Warbreaker under a Creative Commons license. The book will be available for purchase in June of this year.