Tax avoidance – scum?

Recently companies that are taking measures to avoid tax (legally) have been big news. The newspapers in particular, keen to take recent heat away from themselves, are making big issues about it. And it’s seen a rise in people rallying together and taking things into their own hands – in this case by often refusing to buy from such companies (a tactic that’s unlikely to work other than cause UK workers to lose their jobs).

But, frustraingly for me, it’s full of people who have some indignant sense of moral outrage – people I suspect are hardly in a position to throw stones themselves.

Have you ever been cut-up by another driver only for him to get angry with you? That’s them deflecting the anger at themselves elsewhere – in this case you. You’re seeing the same here – people who probably have a cupboard full of copied DVDs but complain that Vodafone might be trying to avoid some tax here or there.

All this came, for me, to a head when I read a story on PC Pro. Basically, are going to stop selling items themselves – they will rely instead on third parties. This is because the loophole that allowed them to sell cheaper products from Jersey has been closed. This means they’re having to compete with companies such as Amazon on the same level and, simply put, they can’t. What I wasn’t expecting was one of the comments…

Good ridance to and all companies whose only competitive advantage is a tax dodge. Tax havens are parasites and should face diplomatic and economic sanctions, or be nuked.

Extreme? Yes. But it’s not unusual

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver


Useful Kindle online services

Kindle Cloud Reader

Kindle Cloud Reader is a web site that allows you to read, online, your Kindle eBook collection.

Kindle Previewer

I’ve mentioned lots of ways of converting various eBooks into a Kindle format. Amazon also provide the Kindle Previewer, an online service that lets you preview how a converted eBook will look on the Kindle.


Kindlefeeder is a service for Amazon Kindle owners that lets you aggregate your favourite feeds and have them delivered to your Kindle in a convenient, easy-to-navigate format.

Read Web Pages Later

The following 3 links are for existing online services that allow you to save web pages for reading later. However, they all have specific options for sending this information onto your Kindle….


Kindle Direct Publishing

Created your own book but not sure how to now sell it? Now, via Amazon’s Direct Publishing service, you can self-publish your books on the Amazon Kindle Store. It’s free, fast, and easy.

Books self-published through KDP can participate in the 70% royalty program and are available for purchase on Kindle devices and Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices.

With KDP, you can self-publish books in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and specify pricing in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros.


21 free Amazon Kindle software

My mum already has one and I know my wife won’t mind one either. The Amazon Kindle is a rather remarkable device – it’s superb for reading books at a really good price.

I love the idea of eInk and I think those people who think iPads are just as good have obviously not used one for any measure of time. When it comes to reading an eBook nothing beats eInk, and the Kindle is the best eInk reader.

Anyway, enough of the sell. Downloading commercial books is the easy bit.

What if you have want to do something different – say, put your own document onto it? How about getting free books onto it? Well, here’s my collection of the best free software around…


An open source project, to create some cross-platform software that will quickly and easily crop PDFs. Why would you want to do that? Say, it’s a Word document converted to PDF – chances are it’s surrounded by a thick white border. Use briss to remove this before putting on the Kindle and it’s 100% easier to read!


If all that seems far too manual, there’s K2pdfopt which converts a PDF to images, optimises it for the Kindle and then puts it back to a PDF again.

PDF Split and Merge

This is one of those pieces of software that does exactly what it says it does – use it to modify PDFs by editing out sections or merging some together. Again it’s open source.


Not software this time but a “bookmarklet” – add their provided link to your favourites and the next time you’re reading an article and wish to read it on your Kindle, click the bookmark and it will send it to your Kindle via your Kindle email.

Hamster eBook Converter

A piece of software that will converts any eBook format to work on your Kindle.


After all that, how about something which does everything? Manage, organise and convert eBooks? calibre does just that.


An open source project still in its early stages, eLibrary will catalogue and organise your eBooks. It may be early days but the software looks very promising!


Duokan is something different – a replacement OS for your Kindle. But it sits aside the existing Kindle OS rather than replacing it. It has a number of features that makes PDF viewing better and is particularly recommended for comic reading.

The original is in Chinese but an English language version has been released. You can read more about it here including further links.

Mobipocket eBook Creator

And when you get bored of what’s available, why not create your own eBook? Mobipocket produce free home and publisher eBook creator.


If you create your eBook in PDF format then you’ll have maximum exposure as it can be just as easily read on PCs and Macs. PrimoPDF is one of the leading free PDF creators.

Clippings Converter

Kindle users will know that there’s a way to clip portions of the book they are reading for future reference. These clippings get saved in “myclippings.txt” in the documents folder of the Kindle. Clippings Converter is a simple tool that converts these chunks of saved text into Word, Excel or PDF files for better organisation and other use.

Kindle Reader

A standalone piece of PC software, provided by Amazon, Kindle Reader allows you to read your eBooks away from Kindle device. Unlike the Cloud Reader, you can use this to read books offline.


If you use Instapaper to save web pages for reading later then you may find Wordcycler of use. Sitting in your system tray it will automatically send Instapaper items to your Kindle when it’s connected via USB.

Auto Kindle eBook Converter

A simple piece of software, Auto Kindle eBook Converter converts PDF, Lit, and HTML files to a Kindle-friendly .MOBI format.


Another useful JavaScript bookmarklet SENDtoREADER will send any web page that you’re viewing to your Kindle via WIFI.

Kindle It

In a similar vein to SENDtoREADER, Kindle It will also send web pages to your Kindle but this time it’s a Firefox and Chrome browser extension.


Greader2Mindle converts your unread Google Reader items to .MOBI and then emails them to your Kindle via WIFI.


PDFMasher assists in converting a multi-page PDF into a single flow document.


PaperCrop converts PDF documents, such as articles and academic papers, into a PDF (or image sequence) so that it can be read on a small screen.

KDK Emulator

Still in progress, KDK Emulator is a Kindle emulator for the PC.

Alissa’s MobiHandler

A small program, MobiHandler adds the ability for Windows Explorer to handle .azw/.mobi/.prc files better; cover images are shown as thumbnails, and you can see the book titles and authors on the list of files. You can also see the Properties of the books.

And finally…

When you buy PDF eBooks from certain online retailers (for example, WH Smith) they are advertised as “PDF” – but they aren’t really. You get a download of an ACSM file, which you have to open through Adobe Digital Editions to download your eBook. Once it’s downloaded, it’s locked into Digital Editions, and there is no compatibility with the Kindle.

John O’Nolan has had exactly this problem and has worked out how to resolve it using a piece of software known as ePUBee.


Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

For a while I’ve been watching the eBook reader market with interest. Not necessarily for myself, but my wife is an avid book reader, and only a truly amazing device would probably move her away from the paper variety.

Amazon’s Kindle was a start, but it relied on a limited 3G network arrangement in the UK (basically it was a US company providing it, so to keep costs down images, for instance, for newspapers were suppressed). However, it’s ability to easily download newspapers and magazines directly to the device was a real selling point.

On July 29th, started taking pre-orders for the all-new Kindle featuring a new electronic-ink screen with 50 percent better contrast than any other e-reader, a new sleek design with 21 percent smaller body than the previous Kindle, while still keeping the same 6-inch-size reading area, and a 15 percent lighter weight. The all-new Kindle with wi-fi is available for ÂŁ109 and with free 3G wireless and wi-fi for ÂŁ149. Both of these prices are, I have to say, are amazingly good.

The UK Kindle Store features a vast selection of titles – including new releases and bestsellers. In addition, over 170 top UK and international newspapers and magazines are also available in the UK Kindle store for single purchase or subscription. All subscriptions are auto-delivered wirelessly to Kindle and start with a free 14-day trial.

The full of improvements in the new Kindle are…

  • All-New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen – 50% better contrast than any other e-reader
  • Read in Bright Sunlight – No glare
  • New and Improved Fonts – New crisper, darker fonts
  • New Sleek Design – 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6″ size reading area
  • 15% Lighter – Only 247 grams, weighs less than a paperback
  • Battery Life of One Month – A single charge lasts up to one month with wireless off
  • Double the Storage – Up to 3,500 books
  • Books in 60 seconds – Download books anytime, anywhere
  • Free 3G Wireless – No monthly payments, no annual contracts
  • Built-In Wi-Fi – In addition to the 3G wireless, you can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots
  • 20% Faster Page Turns – Seamless reading
  • Enhanced PDF Reader – With dictionary lookup, notes, and highlights
  • New WebKit-Based Browser – Free 3G web browsing (experimental)

If you’ve been interested in an eBook reader and haven’t yet “taken the plunge” then I think this is an excellent time to finally give it a try.