Monthly Archives: July 2009

Comic-Con: Now Bending Space and Time!

Everyone who’s experienced it knows that Comic-Con is a mind-bending extravaganza with the capability to tax every iota of your energy and endurance, both in preparation, execution, and in the long slog to and fro. And to top it all, this year it’s managed to seemingly tear the fabric of reality and reverse the flow of time itself.

To wit: ComicBase 14 was released into the wild at Comic-Con, but it won’t even officially exist until early next week. And since we were all working crazy hours struggling to get ComicBase 14 out the door in time for Comic-Con, that staff was so exhausted (and the office was thrown into such disarray) that we won’t have the extensive web site configuration and other materials ready to allow us to actually ship ComicBase 14 until next week. (I had hoped for earlier, but a round of flu has been knocking off Human Computing staffers members like Watchmen’s Mask Killer).

So there you have it: a product that doesn’t exist yet has been busy killing its creators, thus delaying its birth.

And the best part? In two week’s time, I’m actually going to be on a movie set  in Albuquerque…reenacting Comic-Con!

I swear, I couldn’t make stuff like this up…

(Almost) a Wing Commander!

Ever since we devised the rank system on Atomic Avenue (a mishmash of US and British Air Force titles for the most part, with no small hat tip to the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), there’s never been anyone who reached the 2500 rating points required to make the top rank: “Wing Commander”

Checking my feedback this morning, however, I noticed I’m getting awfully close…


In theory, this means ten more Five-Star ratings would put me over the top. I’ll admit, for a system that I helped concoct (and which I suppose I could rig by editing the database), I’m irrationally excited by the prospect of hitting the top rank.

(Maybe then I’ll finally get the key to the Wing Commander’s Executive Washroom! 😉

Kindle Hacking: Changing the Screen Saver Pictures on the Kindle 2 and DX

Article_HeaderThis may or may not have anything to do with the soon-to-be-announced ComicBase 14, but for my fellow Kindle fans out there,  I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned in the last month or two to help you make the most of your Kindle 2 or Kindle DX (I’m afraid I don’t have access to an original Kindle, so I can’t vouch for hacks which are meant for that platform).

First up: I love the screen savers on the Kindle, but I wanted  like to swap up the pictures for ones of my own choosing. But the pictures in question live on a hidden partition which isn’t user-accessible. Here’s how you do it:

1. Get your Pictures Ready

For the Kindle 2

Get your favorite images, and save them in 600 (width) x 800 (height) format, in .jpg (or .gif or  .png) file format. Make sure you leave a bit of a margin in your image as the viewable area of the image will be slightly smaller than the physical dimensions would indicate. Color is fine, but keep in mind that you’ll be viewing them in 16 shades of gray on the Kindle. Also, smaller images load faster than large ones, so try to keep the image sizes under 300K or so.

The Kindle will cycle through your images in order of their file names, so if you have a particular order in mind, you might want to save the files with a number in front of their name, e.g. “01_My First Image.jpg”)

For the Kindle DX

The same advice applies as with the Kindle 2, except that you will want to save your images at 824 (width) x 1200 (height)

2. Plug In Your Kindle via USB.

It will appear as a removable drive under My Computer

3. Set Your Computer to Show Hidden System Files

Go to Start > Settings > Control Panels > Folder Options and click the View tab. Scroll down and uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files” box, then click OK. This will let you see the hidden “System” folder on your Kindle.

4. Copy the appropriate “hack” to the top level of your Kindle

The following hacks come from MobileRead Forums user ClarkNova. I’ve tested them myself and can verify they work great on my Kindles, but they’re not official releases from Amazon, so caveat hacker (use at your own risk). They both basically work by showing the invisible partition on your Kindle which holds the built-in screen savers, allowing you to modify that folder. They’re also reversible using a second hack (at the end of this article).

For the Kindle 2

Download and unzip the above folder. Copy the enclosed file,  “Update_kindle2_user_screen_savers.bin” to the top level of your Kindle.

For the Kindle DX

Download and unzip the above folder. Copy the enclosed file,  “update_DX_screensaverhack-install.bin” to the top level of your Kindle.

5. Update your Kindle

Unplug your Kindle from your USB connection and restart it by pressing its Home button, Menu button, choosing Settings, pressing Menu again, then clicking Update Your Kindle. When the it’s done, it will restart.

6. Copy Your New Pictures to the Kindle

Plug in your Kindle Again via USB and you’ll see a new folder in your Kindle’s System folder called “screen_saver”. Inside are all the original Kindle screen saver pictures which you can add to or replace with your own pictures that you prepared in Step 1. Because we’re good like that, we’ve thoughtfully provided you Eight Fantabulous Glen Orbik Original Paintings from ComicBase, in Kindle 2 and Kindle DX format which you can download as well.

7. Restart your Kindle

Unplug your Kindle from your USB connection and restart it by pressing its Home button, Menu button, choosing Settings, pressing Menu again, then clicking Restart. Your new screen saver images will now appear in rotation. 


Undoing the Hack

If you ever want to go back to the original screen savers, just plug in your Kindle, and copy the the “Update_kindle2_restore_default_screen_savers.bin” file (for the Kindle 2) or the “update_DX_screensaverhack-uninstall.bin” (for the Kindle DX) to the top level of your Kindle. Update your Kindle by doing the Home, Menu > Settings, Menu > Update Your Kindle routine, and it’ll undo the hack and restart your Kindle.

Coming Soon: ComicBase 14

It’s a big one…a really big one… and it’s coming up soon.

We’re just now putting the final touches on the amazingly cool ComicBase 14, and I, for one am tremendously excited.

For one, I’ll finally be able to open my big mouth soon about the amazing things we’ve been cooking up for the past year. My Facebook friends may have caught a couple of clues as to what we’ve been up to, but for the most part, we’ve been pretty good about keeping the new version’s feature set under wraps so we can have a proper “reveal” at launch time. And that date is coming up very, very soon indeed!

Watch this space: lots more to come!