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Talking to the Kindle

I am still very happy with my Kindle. Even though it is now only the old version, with shiny new devices having supplanted it, it still works perfectly well and I have all sorts of uses for it. However, it does mean that hopes of Amazon fixing some of the flaws with the device are less realistic than ever.

A particular bugbear of mine is the so-called screensaver feature. It is not really a screensaver because e-Ink displays are designed to sit unchanged for hours, days or weeks at a time. It is more of a button lock, which deactivates all controls except the power slider at the bottom, which can be used to reactivate the device. I can see the value of that but have several gripes about the implementation. I do not see why changing the display is important; some kind of tab or overlay could give a visual clue that the controls are in lock mode. If they did want to make it like closing a book, then at least it could use the cover image from the work being currently read or, even better, a user selected picture.

Most inconvenient of all, there is no easy way to set the timeout on the feature. Ten minutes is plenty if you are actively reading a book but insufficient for other applications such as displaying a recipe. By the time the screensaver comes on, your hands might be so messy that you cannot easily reach over and unlock the Kindle again: time to go back to printed books and sheets of paper!

There is a way to turn off the screensaver, by entering a sequence of commands into the search box that comes up with you hit the enter or delete keys on the home page:

;debugon
~disablescreensaver
;debugoff

Turning off debug mode is not strictly necessary but remaining in it makes me feel nervous in case I accidentally hit a hidden key combination that wipes the device! There is no visible feedback that the commands have done anything but you will find that the power slider no longer has any effect. To turn it back on, repeat the sequence but with the command ~resumescreensaver in the middle (~help will show you a list of other possible commands although without explanations).

The biggest challenge is remembering the commands; last night I had the bright idea of loading a short document on the Kindle containing the vital instructions. When I go to my PCC meeting tonight, carrying the Kindle rather than a large stack of printed papers, I will now be able to sit through the longest discussion without having reaching forward and fidget with buttons!

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