rumorsIf you weren’t absolutely certain that you were going to have to install a new firmware update on your Kindle to be able to continue accessing Kindle’s online services, you can rest assured it is true now. Snopes—one of the Internet’s chief authorities in debunking rumors—has checked this one out and given it the “true” seal of approval.

The required update affects only Kindle models from 2012 and earlier; more recent ones already have the software they need. As noted in the comments to our earlier article, the purpose of the update seems to be to install a new pack of SSL certificates so that Amazon can sunset an older, lower-security set.

Kindle owners have until Tuesday, March 22 to complete the update wirelessly; after that, it will have to be applied via USB connection to their computer.

It’s a little odd that something seemingly so easy to check needs the imprimatur of Snopes for some people to believe it—but if this means more people get the news in time, it’s probably just as well they did.

(Found via The EBook Evangelist.)


  1. Quote: “It’s a little odd that something seemingly so easy to check needs the imprimatur of Snopes for some people to believe it.”

    Not so odd when you take note of how tight-lipped giant corporations are, particularly the tech ones, about explaining what they’re doing, much less admitting to errors. They tell us so little—and what they do seems so vetted by their lawyers and marketing departments—that the public has a right to feel suspicions. Even when their purposes are benign, they sound deceptive and evasive.

    Why, for instance, didn’t Amazon simply explain that the key reason for this forced upgrade was SSL certificates? Even people who don’t understand what that is technically can grasp their purpose Why was its email more like a ‘do this or else’ threat? In my case, I wondered if Amazon was trying to sneak on me an upgrade that would disable the text-to-speech in my Kindle 3. (I checked. It didn’t.)

    Amazon is not alone. Some Macs have a bizarre problem with Bluetooth keyboards and mice. The keyboards can disconnect several times an hour for no seeming reason and the mouse can jump around bizarrely. Here’s one discussion of that:

    I had it and was fortunately that one of the fixes, changing a preference, worked for me. But why has Apple been so tight-lipped about the problem and why is a report that the problem will be fixed in the next OS X upgrade just an unsourced rumor? Why this corporate lack of candor? There’s no doubt the problem exists.

    My sense is that Amazon, Apple and a host of other companies need a new position that might be called the VP of Candor, whose job would be to force the company to explain what it is doing and to admit to its mistakes. The position would balance out both the law department, which never wants to confess to any error that might end up in court, and the marketing department, that never wants to admit any failing that puts the company in anything other than a perfect light.

    I touch on that theme from a different angle and specifically for hospitals in my most recent book, Senior Nurse Mentor. The essence of that applies here. If you want something done, hire someone to do it, and then both empower and hold them responsible for it.

    Internally, organizations fall apart because they fail to deal with internal problems. Hospitals are notorious for that. Externally, they fail to listen to their clients.

    * Amazon is failing to treat publishers and (when they know it) authors well. For a company that sells books, that’s utter folly. In the end, they’ll pay a heavy price.

    * Apple is failing to listen to the customers under the assumption that it knows best and that OS X and iOS users must simply accept the sorts of products that a rather artsy but impractical Apple deigns to give them. The results are a disaster.

    1. Why should schools buy an Apple laptop? They’re virtually impossible to repair, as Macfixit has been warning for years. Upper-middle class people may welcome a broken MacBook Air as an excuse to buy another. Schools can’t afford to think like that. They buy 100 laptops under the assumption that, as time passes, parts from broken ones can be used to fix other broken ones.

    2. Why should business buy a Mac desktop? Now that Apple has begun to relegate the Mac mini to an upscale Apple TV, the company does not make a single Mac in the same category as perhaps 95% of the business PCs. Not one. Again, Apple apparently regarded its market as people with lots of money but very little sense. Businesses like component desktops because they make good economic sense. When the computer needs upgrading, you can replace it without buying a new display. A year or two later, you replace the displays or upgrade the RAM. Apple doesn’t allow that. The display is built-in. The RAM is soldered in. If ether goes bad, the entire unit is junk. No sane business works that way. That’s akin to Detroit’s blunder in the early 1970s when it didn’t have appealing, fuel-efficient cars. The result gave Asian companies, which did, an open door into the U.S. market that they’ve never lost.


    All too often, corporate upper management functions in a echo chamber, one where ordinary employees know they dare not criticize executive decision-making. Back in the mid-1980s, I worked for Boeing Computer Services and, would you believe, I was a tech writer for a massive, mainframe timeshare system on which the company had spent hundreds of millions? That was well after the PC revolution and, indeed, we programmed and documented on PCs. All the rank-and-file on the project knew time-share was doomed, Boeing’s upper management didn’t. They even financed a so-called study to prove that time-share was a viable business model. It wasn’t.

    Amazon and Apple are making similar mistakes with their public attitudes. Amazon foolishly thinks it can bully publishers and (less directly) authors. That will come back to bite them.

    Apple even more foolishly thinks it can bully the federal government (federal courts, DOJ and FBI). Earlier I noted that, unlike the major book publishers, Apple could afford to continue to fight the DOJ’s so-called price-fixing case. But having a few million dollars to burn on in-house lawyers didn’t help the avoid a settlement that’ll cost Apple $450 million. If they’d used softer language, they might have avoided that. Bash a district court judge, and appeal court judges get defensive. Bash the DOJ, and they will fight you all the harder. Now Apple is taking on the FBI. Not a smart move if your businesses practices are much cleaner than Apple’s are likely to be.

    Apple has a massive ego problem that could well be its downfall as surely as Amazon propensity to bully. I’m sometimes tempted to tell people that one of the best ways to understand corporate behavior isn’t market analysis or the stock market. That’s being too rationale. It’s to figure out what drives the egos of its corporate executives.

    Amazon’s problems flow from executives who think that books are mere commodities like a toothbrushes. They forget all the complex emotions people have about books. Apple’s woes flow from executives who think its products are like high-end jewelry, that an inflated price and limited, long-term value are a plus in the marketplace not a negative.

  2. Personally, I’m still suspicious. The closest they’ve come to saying why we need to update is that it will stop downloading books if we don’t. I’m still not convinced by that – I have plenty of books, for now, and I can get more without downloading them from Amazon.

    As Michael Perry said, they’ve basically told us “Install the update or else”. They haven’t explained why it’s needed, or what else it does, if anything.

    I’d figured out it was partly about SSL certificates, from trying to get a second hand rooted Nook to use the Kindle app – that now works fine.

    What bothers me is what else the update might do to my old Kindle 3. I’m guessing mess with the user interface, for the sheer joy of modernisation, and show me a lot of adverts I paid not to see, when I bought it.

    Personally, I’m hanging back until I’ve read enough horror stories about installing the update to decide for myself. I’m quite prepared to never buy another book from Amazon. That wouldn’t even stop me using the Kindle to read more books, so installing the update is not the only option.

    • According the the document Amazon installs with the upgrade, it also lets a Kindle 3 read upgraded KF8 formatted books, comics and the like. That has advantages, but there may be a downside too. I don’t care about ads, since I just ignore them.

      I did test text-to-speech as soon as I upgraded and it still works, so that’s one factor you need not worry about. I’ve stuck with my Kindle 3 precisely for that feature, which has been removed from later models, almost certainly to help Audible’s profits.

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