5 Things - Week Ending 11/29/13

This is the 54th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

FAA to Allow Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

This is great news! I never understood why I couldn't read article on my Kindle or play games on my iPad during takeoff or landing. It looks like the Federal Aviation Administration has relaxed the rules.

Amazon Raises Threshold for Free Shipping

David Streitfeld:

Amazon.com tightened the requirements for one of its most popular shipping methods Tuesday morning.

The change is to Super Saver Shipping, which for a over a decade mailed items free as long as the order met a $25 threshold.

The new threshold: $35. Amazon gave no reason for the change.

I think this move by Amazon is designed to encourage people to sign up for Amazon Prime (membership that cost $79 per year and offers unlimited free 2-day shipping on most items).

This makes good business sense because people will either purchase more items to make sure they get free shipping or pay for Amazon Prime. Most people don't like the idea of paying for shipping and would rather buy an extra $10 item to avoid a $4 shipping fee.

Kindle First Lets you Read E-Books a Month before Official Release

Nick Summers:

Editors at Amazon Publishing will choose four upcoming titles and highlight them for the Kindle First scheme. Readers can then pick one of these e-books to read each month on their Kindle or Kindle reading app for $1.99.

As an added incentive for its premium Amazon Prime membership, it’s also offering the scheme as a free bonus for new and existing subscribers.

I think this is a really neat program that Amazon just launched. If you are intrigued by one of the four books that Amazon editors pick out for early e-book release, you pay $1.99 (where in the real world could you purchase a brand new book for $1.99?). If you are an Amazon Prime member you get to pick one of the four books for free.

This month's selection is between the following four books:

  • Soy Sauce for Beginners
  • The Widow File
  • Timebound
  • Sweet Nothings (A Sugar Springs Novel)

I am debating if I want to get The Widow File or Timebound.

To learn more about Kindle First and to sign up for the monthly email to be notified of which books you can choose from, click on the link earlier in this paragraph.

I challenged hackers to investigate me and what they found out is chilling

Adam L. Penenberg:

With so much of my life reduced to microscopic bits and bytes bouncing around in a netherworld of digital data, how much could Nick Percoco and a determined team of hackers find out about me? Worse, how much damage could they potentially cause?

What I learned is that virtually all of us are vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping and are easy hack targets. Most of us have adopted the credo “security by obscurity,” but all it takes is a person or persons with enough patience and know-how to pierce anyone’s privacy — and, if they choose, to wreak havoc on your finances and destroy your reputation.

Fascinating article that shows how vulnerable most of us are when it comes to online security.

Speed and Power Packed Into a Thin iPad Air - Walt Mossberg - Personal Technology

Walt Mossberg:

Bottom line: If you can afford it, the new iPad Air is the tablet I recommend, hands down.

Agreed. I bought the iPad Air the day it came out and it is lighter, thinner, and much faster than the iPad 4 that came before it. If you like the iPad, you will love the iPad Air!

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