I gave the Kindle Android app 1 star and rage quit

Here’s why:

  • The See in Store buttons has failed for over two weeks as of 08/19/2014 (including the version before full screen was added).  All I get is a blank gray screen.  I call it the Gray Screen of death.
  • The button that appears when you buy a book  (I think it’s “Read Now”) has never worked.  I always have to go the Libary page and Sync to get my book.  I think it’s like those walk buttons in New York that are not connected to anything.
  • About 20% of the time, Syncing to get a book looks like it works, then, when I open the book, Kindle crashes because it wasn’t really done downloading, even though the indicator bar filled all the way up.
  • No wishlist support at all in the app
  • Twice, my app lost all access to its books and had to be re-installed before it could do anything.
  • It took six months for the full screen mode to show up on my Nexus 7. My other book reader had it almost as soon as that feature was available.
  • One click ordering is bad – I prefer the enter password every time approach.  If I didn’t lock my tablet, I’m pretty sure my 2 year old toddler would have bought some books or apps on Kindle.
  • The recommendations keep on getting worse and worse.  I get a bunch of mainstream books recommended when I’ve bought 98% science fiction and fantasy – which Amazon knows. I have to switch to the more specific recommendations tab every time – it doesn’t remember that I never buy anything.  The old layout showed the recommendations immediately, even if they were mediocre.

I’ve decided to try Google Play books for the heck of it.  Here are my initial impressions:

  • The reader is minimalist with a nice page animation
  • Page turning is much faster
  • I have not been able to figure out how to send a sample from the website, only while in the reader
  • I like full screen mode (although Kindle has this now)
  • DRM still stucks

Update the first:  I don’t like the way the Google Play books reader sometimes highlights stuff in books (like Geographical place names). Very distracting.

Update the second (08/29/2014):  You have to “pin” a book for it to stay.  This makes no sense for eBooks, which are usually less than 1 Meg, and not for a tablet with Wifi only.  It make more sense for videos.

Also, I have found some books not on Google play, and bought a Kindle book that was much cheaper (around 50%) and read it without using the Android app; recently, I was willing to pay $0.50 more for The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks to read in Google play.

Mutant Firefox 4/3.6 Hybrid Seen in the Wild

I wanted to be able to run both Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4. Why? Because I’m a web developer, that’s why.

Screenshot of weird Firefox 4/Firefox 3.6 combination

In doing so, I have managed to create a mutant, Frankensteined Firefox 4/Firefox 3.6 hybrid. (See screenshot.) It has the new tab style, the larger back button, but is missing the big orange button and is showing the old-fashioned File, Edit, etc menu across the top.  It also does the new Firefox 4 CSS3 stuff like transitions.

The obvious solution (uninstall both 3.6 and 4, reinstall 4) did not work, possibly because I did not check the “Remove my Firefox personal data and customizations” on the uninstall for 3.6. All it did was get rid of Firefox 3.6.

So far Googling has not produced much in the way of help, but I’m going to keep banging on this and see if I can get it sorted.  Because I’m on Windows, I suspect registry editing and profile deletion with extreme prejudice may be involved. It could get ugly.

Update: No luck on getting an orange button (which I had as recently as Firefox 4 RC2), even after scrubbing the profile and Program Files directories, searching the registry for any odd information, and removing and reinstalling Firefox 4 again, As a guess, it’s a Windows XP issue, or is possibly related to my use of Songbird, which uses the Gecko rendering engine.

Update2: Problem solved! I had to figure out that the “big orange button” is called the Application Menu, or AppMenu. In brief, right click on the offending “File/Edit…” menu and uncheck Menu bar. This is probably also a good tip for those who hate the big orange Firefox button: you can also right-click on the tab bar to turn this setting back to the old-school menu.

Firefox 4, RC2 overwrites Firefox 3.6. Gee, thanks.

The Firefox betas, all 12 of them, used to nicely install alongside the production version of Firefox, version 3.6.x. When I installed Firefox 4 RC2, this is no longer the case: Firefox overwrites the old version.

So far, installing Firefox 3.6.15 to its own directory (after installing FF 4) and making a shortcut by hand seems to be working, although FF 3.6 can’t be run at the same time as FF 4: it just runs Firefox 4 again instead. Although Firefox users seem to upgrade faster than Internet Explorer users, I still have to keep an eye on Firefox 3.6 for a while. For instance, although FF 3.6 does CSS3 gradients, it does not support SVG backgrounds, which Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) does support. IE9 of course, does not support CSS3 backgrounds, but does support SVG backgrounds.

I’ve already switched my loyalties to the lightning fast Google Chrome a while ago. For a while, I was using Firefox just for Firebug, but now the Google Chrome Web Inspector is getting pretty competitive: it shows declarations it doesn’t consider valid and marks them with a little exclamation point icon, so you can see you -moz-box-shadow declarations (or even your -webkit properties where you do something silly like rgb(0,0,0,0.5) instead of rgba(0,0,0,.5). This is my new favorite mistake, by the way.

Frankly, despite some differences like the SVG versus CSS3 gradients, the whole browser area is headed in the right direction after many years of languishing in IE6 limbo, so I don’t care nearly as much whether IE9 or Firefox 4 comes out on top as I once might have. Despite the progress, there’s still going to be jobs for CSS3 and HTML wranglers: now with mobile, it makes even more sense to have someone focus entirely on the front end, even without a large team.

Speaking of which, I’m currently available to add all sorts of CSS3 and HTML5 goodness to your favorite website.