Good Men in a Bad World

April 27th, 2010

I think this is poignant. Someone came to Google and typed in…

Everyman is a good man in a bad world

Were they looking for solace? Someone to understand? Whoever they were, they found their words echoed back, in the first line of a long-ago novel written by William Saroyan.


Every man is a good man in a bad world… Every man himself changes from good to bad or from bad to good, back and forth, all his life, and then dies. But no matter how or why or when a man changes, he remains a good man in a bad world, as he himself knows…

That’s from the 1952 novel Rock Wagram, and I’d blogged about Saroyan as “The Novelist You Can’t Read on Your Kindle.” I just worry that he’ll be one of those authors who won’t transition into the next generation of media. In our shiny future, we’ll have expensive “readers” with fancy new features – but with a couple of last-century authors who somehow just didn’t make the cut.

Which makes its feel that much more poignant that here on my blog, at least, I was able to match up this long-ago author with one more anonymous reader from the 21st century.

One more anonymous good man who’s lost in a bad world…

I had to laugh when I read this line in a 1998 children’s picture book.

It’s about a boy who lives in outer space. His parents leave him with a robot baby-sitter, who insists that 8:00 is always bed time. (The book’s title is Benjamin Braddock and the Robot Babysitter.) He hacks the robot’s controls, convincing it instead that 8:00 is always fun time.

And then he tries to explain to the robot what fun is…

“Books,” said Benjamin. Books are fun.

“They never need batteries, they fit in your knapsack, and when they get broken, you can fit them up with tape!”

Well, one of those things is true for the Kindle — it definitely fits in your knapsack! But it does need a battery.

And you can’t fix it with tape.

That’s what I typed into Google the day my Kindle died. And surprisingly, Amazon was no help. Their only suggestion for a possible cause was…a low battery.


1. Plug the Kindle into a wall outlet.
2. Ensure the Kindle is charging (the indicator light should be on).
3. Wait 2 minutes.
4. If necessary unplug the Kindle and reset by moving and holding the power switch for 15 seconds before releasing it.

That didn’t solve the problem. And according to other posts on the web, that wasn’t even the only possible solution. One web site revealed that it was possible to perform a “soft reset” by pressing three keys at the same time: Alt, R, and Shift (the upwards-pointing arrow). And when that didn’t work, I went on to their next suggestion: the hard reset.


Turn your Kindle over.
Take the grey cover off.
You see a small hole labeled, “Reset.”
Take a paper clip and press it in the hole.
Hold for 5-10 seconds.

It didn’t work — my Kindle’s screen was still frozen on a blank Wikipedia page. But the site had one more piece of advice…


Again, if that doesn’t work, try again with the Kindle plugged into the charger.

And that worked! I’ve never been so happy to see the Amazon logo smiling up at me from the grey screen of my no-longer-lifeless Kindle. I let it continue charging, and eventually checked to see if would actually display my home page. And there it was…

Including the Charles Dickens novel I’d been reading just before my Kindle went blank!

The Day the Kindle Died

April 19th, 2010

I’d been reading a free Charles Dickens novel — Hard Times — and realized I was more interested in learning some details about Charles Dickens’ life. Charles Dickens died in 1870. My Kindle died on April 18, 2010…

I’d pressed the search button on my Kindle, and then used my favorite shortcut — typing @wiki to begin a search on Wikipedia. And soon I was reading another page of trivia about Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop straight from Wikipedia.


Dickens fans were reported to storm the piers of New York City, shouting to arriving sailors (who may have read the last installment in Britain), “Is Little Nell alive?”

In 2007, many newspapers claimed the excitement at the release of the last volume The Old Curiosity Shop was the only historical comparison that could be made to the excitement at the release of the last Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I hit the back button, but my wireless connection had blipped out. The Kindle wasn’t even able to reload the page about Charles Dickens (which I’d already been reading). Frustrated, I pressed the Back key, and the Home key, but nothing happened. I even tried pressing Alt-P — to at least see if I could make it play music!

“She’s not answering my helm,” I told my girlfriend — doing my best impersonation of either Captain Kirk or an old British sailing captain. I turned my Kindle off, but even that didn’t affect its screen. It continued displaying the blank beginning of the Wikipedia page which it hadn’t been able to download.

My beloved Kindle…was dead.

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next!

(Oh boy. My first blog post with a cliff-hanger ending…)