It was out of my hands!


Yesterday I had one of the weirdest experiences. A few days ago the McAfee Quickscan function froze when I paused it. Try as I might I could not get the darned thing to reboot itself. So in sheer desperation yesterday I contacted McAfee for help.

After filling in all of the various required fields I was put in contact with someone call Radhika Ja. Male or female – I didn’t know. Here in the UK or maybe in the US – might have been. Although thinking about it now he or she was probably in Mumbai. Once I had told him/her the problem they asked me to relinquish control of this laptop so that they could navigate their way around inside it to fix the problem.

Without doubt, it’s the weirdest sensation not being in control of what’s happening in front of you in your laptop, watching someone other than yourself operating it from a remote location. But in no time at all Radhika had fixed the problem once he/she had downloaded the diagnostic tools he/she needed and rebooted the laptop, all the while being watched by me. To see your mouse cursor moving around the screen not under your control, let alone various screens being controlled by someone else half a world away is totally crazy. Within a minute of the laptop being back up and running he/she had fixed the problem.

Normally I would not dream of handing over control of my precious laptop to anyone. But as I’ve used McAfee Antivirus software for years and totally trust them… Need I say more?

Definitely a weird experience.


Why should any writer bother to update an eBook?

As you will all know, in a recent post I said that I was giving one of my books a much needed spring clean. Thinking about it I sent the following email to Amazon:

Dear Amazon, a thought occurred earlier today. Why is it that when a writer uploads a second, third, fourth, tenth incarnation of their work that the relevant eBook on peoples various Kindles, Kindle for PC and Smart Phone apps, isn’t automatically updated? After all through KDP you always inform us of something that needs changing.


This morning I received the following reply from Amazon’s eBook publishing arm Kindle Direct Publishing:

Hello Jack,
Thank you for contacting Kindle Direct Publishing.
I understand your concern regarding the automatic updates to books.
At this time, customers who have purchased a Kindle book cannot automatically download the revised content.
Our technical team is aware of this issue and working to automate this process.
Publisher feedback serves an important role in helping us to improve our platform and provide better service.
Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts.
Have a nice day!


Note the word ‘purchased’.

In other words – go take a hike mister! No writer enjoys being given what amounts to the ‘Bums Rush’, least of all me.

All of this begs the simple question, why if they cannot automatically update, do they bother to notify the author(s) of any given eBook about any errors, insisting they be fixed? You would have thought that rather than merely pay lip service to what amounts to one sided quality control on the part of the author, that they would at least follow through at their end after a writer had taken the time and trouble to do what he or she was asked.

The current KDP publishing system is a total nonsense. Even so I shall continue to clean up Glob’s tales as promised, come hell or high water…


Dumb as a Rock? Far Worse…


For months now I have been battling with the computer equivalent of an Indian Call Centre, for Amazon UK over a clear fault in the software of the otherwise excellent Kindle for PC Application installed on this laptop.

While I also own a standard Kindle, owing to my age and my less than perfect eyesight, I need a much larger screen to enable me to enlarge the print even more than the stand alone Kindle allows. To that end, I have duplicated all of my physical library of research books into Kindle form on this laptop, merely to have everything necessary for me to write my novels in one place. Clearly a sensible, not to say, practical move on my part. Therefore I am able to use my Kindle for PC app daily as a necessary research tool.


Now for the real reason for this post.

It all started several months ago after the then latest update for the application was automatically installed. In effect what happened was that the new software inexplicably decided to place gaps at random throughout the text shown on the screen. By that I mean that words were broken up, and larger than standard gaps appeared between words. Each time I sent a message of complaint I received yet another email apologising for the problem and promising that they would look into it and get back to me. Needless to say they didn’t. To say I was less than pleased would be an understatement.

Eventually I found out what the problem was by myself when one day I needed to enlarge one particular passage in one of the books, far more than usual owing to the small font size in the particular eBook. The problem is that in effect when you alter the font size and words per line to make it easier to read, the software employed has the computer equivalent of a hissy fit!

When I once again sent a message to the ignoramuses, via the application’s ‘Contact Us’ button, telling them I had done their work for them by finally being able to clearly establish the exact problem, yet again I received an email thanking me for pointing out the problem and promising to pass on the information to the relevant department within Amazon. Sadly, many months have gone by and the problem still persists after several more automatic updates.


Next we turn to the software program Amazon employs to run their automatic book information emails. As we all know there are some writers out there who think nothing of stooping to employ an underhand technique known as ‘sock-puppeting’ –  the unscrupulous practice of promoting their own books by writing glowing reviews using a false online identity. Amazon loudly condemns the practice. For that I applaud them.

But, once again the dumb software Amazon employs for attracting reviews tries to get a writer to engage in the practice themselves by asking you to ‘review’ your own work!!! Its pointless trying to complain to anyone in Amazon, because it appears that no one is actually monitoring the software algorithm in use. Plus, the automated emails offer no chance for you to complain, even though you will see the ‘Reply’ button at the bottom of each email.

If you send Amazon a separate email pointing out the problem, all you will get once again is their equivalent of the ‘Indian Call Centre’ which we all dread communicating with, in this case inhabited by yet more ignoramuses with a strict mandate to only pay lip service to a problem; never to fix it!

In both of the examples I have given you, whether you are a reader, or in my case a contributing writer for Amazon, makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. Like all major publishers, they simply don’t give a damn!

Come on Amazon. Who is running your company, dumb software or people? Don’t bother answering that. We already know the answer…