How to get email alerts for free Kindle books at Amazon, using IFTTT and top 100 free amazon lists

Update, December 1, 2013: Unfortunately Amazon removed the rss link for the top free book list, leaving only the rss link for the best seller list. Until we get a good alternative (working on it), I opted for a regular check at these amazon pages, for free Kindle books and also promotional deals:

    note: You can adjust to other Kindle departments in Kindle Store using the Department browser  on the left

Although there are many tools & sites for checking on free kindle books at Amazon I have settled on using IFTTT (the tool that reads “if this than that”) and amazon top 100 lists (particularly the top 100 free list), to build my personal “low cost”/”high value” kindle library.

So, anytime that a new free kindle book enter the top 100 lists I follow, IFTT sends me a mail, & “buying” the book is only two clicks away. Another advantage on using the kindle top 100 amazon lists is that you can configure for specific categories that interest you.

People sometimes ask me, why don’t you “download” the books…? Well, it’s illegal :), you certainly won’t find all the books, and that doesn’t compare to having the books in my official amazon account. Amazon bundles amazing services with its amazon kindle books, particularly highlighting (I talked about kindle highlight previously here) . That is the killer feature  for studying, business reading & personal development, I refer to my highlights a lot and having them properly backed up & accessible is really awesome .

So, here’s how to easily configure an IFTTT recipe to send you a mail anytime a new kindle book enters the top 100 free list for a category.

1-First, check the top free kindle page at amazon and browse (left side) to the categories that interest you. You can create an IFTTT recipe for each Amazon category. 


2-On the bottom of the page copy the link address for the “RSS feed “, ex: Subscribe to: Top Free > Computers & technology”



3-Now log in into IFTTT (or create an account first), then create a new IFTTT recipe:



4-For the “this” part (trigger channel) of your recipe choose the “RSS/Feed” channel:


5-On the trigger feed, choose “New feed item”


6-On the feed URL paste the amazon RSS link you’ve saved from the top 100 free page:


7-For the “that” part  (action channel) of IFTTT recipe choose the email action:




8-As for subject &  body of the email that IFTTT will send you, you can use the default. No changes needed.



9-Give a name to your recipe, as I follow several categories I name each one differently, and that’s done!


Now you’ll just have to wait for your first IFTTT notifications right in your email inbox. As long as you have single click buy configured for your amazon account, “buying” the free books will be a two click experience. Click to open the link from the email, and click to buy.


Note: You should always check the current price before buying, as sometimes the books are not free anymore by the time you check the email.

this book in particular is currently not free anymore :(


but it was free at the time I bought it…


So, that’s how I do it! to date I’ve built a reasonable library of more than 1.000 kindle books, the vast majority free at the time I bought them.  Including some best sellers, top rated books & even expensive book collections.

It’s been of huge value to me on several areas in my life.  That being the reason I am a really devoted amazon customer & fan! Amazon just rocks!

So really…What are you waiting for creating you amazon account and filling it with amazing content and kindle ebooks?

good kindle readings!

Related posts on Kindle

How to get email alerts for free Kindle books at Amazon, using IFTTT and top 100 free amazon lists

How to save 3000$ in ebooks :) ? Don’t have a kindle yet? Well…you should get one (…not necessarily buy one :) )

Kindle eBooks as a great Learning/Self Development platform

Fixing Amazon Kindle Daily Review page usability on touch enabled tablets – a case for “url site scripting” ;)


Book Quotes-Debunking the Leadership Myth: The Story of Conscious Leadership by Ryan Caradonna, Jake Caines


I started this post thinking in collecting all my kindle notes on books that somehow related to this blog topic… Soon to discover that this would be an absolutely impossible task to get done in just one post. No way could I gather all this content in a single post. So I will do it a little bit more gradually, one book at a time.

Starting with a leadership book that become one of my all time favorites. An absolutely amazing book that I got (as usual :) )  through some alerts on kindle free leadership/business books (yes, absolutely free at the time! and currently at $3.44 it’s a bargain! a must have honestly).

I was caught completely off guard by the immersive quality of this (rather extensive) book. My leadership role is still, how to say, very residual… but I’ve  read many other books on the topic and, honestly, this is my favorite and it was great to review my quotes & notes.

Having said that, reading this book was not easy….it was not supposed to be. I guess that’s the way it delivers, it asks hard questions, it questions our thinking, our beliefs. But it gave me lots of hope. I was not the same after reading this book… and that’s usually the kind of feeling that drives me in reading all sorts of books.

Anyway, my point is not doing any kind of review, I am way too lazy for that, along being a very inexperienced leader. I’ll just leave you with a selection of my 364 highlighted passages. Hope not too many that could get me in copyright trouble. :)

Some of my favorite highlights from Debunking the Leadership Myth: The Story of Conscious Leadership by Ryan Caradonna, Jake Caines:

“Where do behaviors originate? Behaviors come from beliefs. The source of your behavior is your belief. What you do is a result of who you are, and who you are is determined by what you believe. Your actions are a result of your thoughts. Your beliefs (why you are doing something) determine your behaviors (how you are doing it)”"

“A Deeper Level “The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.” – Gerald G. Jampolsky”

“But this is where conventional leadership stops, at the behavior level. It focuses on the “how” and “what” but ignores the “why.” This is the point at which conventional leadership cracks and is a critical reason as to why it isn’t working in the face of intense pressure”"

“Conventional leadership tells a myth that behavior change is sufficient to produce better outcomes. It’s not. To generate meaningful outcomes consistently, to truly make an impact, change must happen at the belief level.”

“     •   Ignorance: Conventional leadership doesn’t really understand the power, or the potential, of beliefs. A conventional leader isn’t aware of his own beliefs and their power in his life, and he certainly isn’t aware of them in the lives of others. In some circumstances, ignorance may be bliss. For conventional leadership, ignorance is impotence.”

Back to School…Again “It is what we think we already know that often prevents us from learning.” – Claude Bernard”

“Unfortunately, this is the fallacy of conventional leadership. Unconscious Competence is the goal. At best, this myth is ineffective; at worst, it is dangerous. And this myth is everywhere. We have been told that we need to become experts in our field, so that we can perform our work with muscle memory, out of habit, like riding a bike. Conventional leadership places a tremendous value on experience. Why? Because it falsely believes that the behaviors that led to success yesterday will lead to success again today.”

“To navigate effectively with a map, you need three basic elements:      •   Humility: You must admit that you are lost.      •   Self-awareness: You must identify your current location.      •   Confidence: You must move forward”

Unlearning “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao

“It is much more difficult to let old ideas go than to embrace new ones. And while difficult, the ability to unlearn is pivotal to your success as a conscious leader.”

“Performance is the output; people and process are the inputs. If you want to impact the output, then you need to change the input.”

“Unaware of beliefs (his own or others’), the conventional leader exerts his influence on his environment. The unidirectional arrows represent his outward pushing, regardless of context and oblivious to its dynamic nature. He believes (subconsciously) that either he can’t change or that he doesn’t need to change. Functioning at a level of unconscious competence, the same ideas the created limited success in the past will now facilitate his failure.”

“The enlightened conventional leaders talk about the “How” of the “Why.” In other words, conventional leadership isn’t that concerned with the quality of your current motives (challenging you to change). It is concerned with changing other’s perception of those motives, regardless of their actual quality.”

“As you are writing your story, don’t try to make a point. It is easy and natural; it’s also normal. Making a point can be fun as it makes you look good. But it can’t create transformational change. It won’t produce anything positive, significant, or meaningful. Be different. Instead of making a point, have the confidence to make a difference. By doing so, you will be writing a different story.”

“The man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammed Ali

“What matters is not your experience, but what you have done with your experience. What have you learned? How have you grown? How have you changed? What have you done differently based on that experience? The conscious leader (as we discussed in Chapter 2) reflects on his experiences. He takes those learnings and then applies them.”

“The conscious leader really does believe that people are the most important part of an organization. And because his behaviors flow from that belief, he doesn’t mind spending the time and effort training a high-capacity individual. In fact, he enjoys it. If a leader really values people above all else, there is nothing more impactful—and more rewarding—than developing another person.”

“The myth of prioritization is simply this: You will get everything done. The truth is just as simple: No, you won’t.”

“Looking in the mirror can be challenging. You need someone who can identify your blind spots. You need someone who can be a protective hedge against self-deception (a skill we all possess). You need someone who can challenge your beliefs, your ideas, your systems, and your status quo. You need someone who can pressure-test your best thoughts. The ability and willingness to challenge are characteristics of a great partner.”

“Great People + Great Process = Great Performance (most of the time) This doesn’t necessarily work in reverse, however. Performance is the output. People and process are the inputs. If you want to change the output, you must first address the inputs. Only by first improving people and process (the inputs) will you be able to impact performance (the output).”

“An objective is a reality check against an outcome, not a replacement for an outcome. You can test the progress of your desired outcome through the use of objectives. But objectives and outcomes are not interchangeable. An objective is a component of, not a substitute for, an outcome.”

“Show us an organization who is highly focused on objectives, and we will show you an organization with compartmentalized teams capable of making lots of points, but unable of making a difference.”

“The conscious leader often devotes more time to understanding the problem and framing the issue than to actually developing the solution. Why? More value is created in understanding and framing the problem than in developing the solution. Without an accurate diagnosis, impact is impossible.”

“Change for the Sake of Change Conscious leadership is about impactful change—change that makes a positive difference. This means that change is purposeful and intentional. And it means that change is initially internal; you change the world by first changing yourself.”

“ The word “best” is superlative. Best, by design, cannot be advanced or progressed. The myth of best practices assumes that the environment is static—like a photograph.A conscious leader recognizes that questions are more important than answers. A leader sets a new direction by asking questions that challenge the status quo. A manager is driven to provide answers that reinforce the status quo. The concept of best practices is all about providing answers. The concept of better practices is all about asking questions.”

“Change will often result in failure. If the change is good, then the failure will be limited to the temporary perception of those who crave normalcy. If the change is bad, then the failure won’t be merely perceived, it will be real. Sometimes, the change will be good but the timing will be bad, which results in temporary failure but ultimate success. However, you should be conscious of the fact that you cannot consistently generate meaningful change and not experience failure.”

“Although simplified and condensed, these examples expose another common myth of conventional leadership—the fault myth. The fault myth says that in order to solve a problem, you should start with those most at fault, which is always “them.” As a conscious leader, you need to debunk the fault myth and accept this principle as truth: significant impact and transformational change always starts with “me.”

“Despite its promises, conventional leadership cannot induce real, meaningful change. Why not? Impact requires changing who you are, not just what you do. Transformational change is belief change. Conventional leadership can’t even recognize beliefs—how can it possibly change them?”

“One word of caution: note the final lines on both of these lists. While the final outcome of conventional leadership is predictable, normal and known, the final outcome of conscious leadership is unpredictable and unknown. These unpredictable and unknown might initially seem daunting, but we would encourage you to embrace them instead of fearing them.”

“Be patient. You won’t become a conscious leader overnight, and you can’t transform who you are in a week. You can’t make the move from Unconscious Competence to Conscious Competence, debunk a host of myths, unlearn old beliefs (charged with emotion), and accept new beliefs within the confines of a 30-day action plan.”

Amazing book, go back to it very often for inspiration & help on difficult times. Free or at $3 it’s a must have in any leadership/management collection. Give it a try . Don’t forget to check the Kindle books business/investing category page for other best sellers & related Kindle content.

Perception & Reality, The magic in breaking illusions

“disillusion”, -to destroy the ideals, illusions, or false ideas of,

In truth I don’t really remember how it all started… So forgive me for my lack of precision. But looking back through my personal notes & journals I can see the thought started developing mainly through my work related activities.

I just started noticing how (mail exchange being a rather good repository for this) , here and then, sometimes in a very subtle way, some efforts just seemed to go particularly wrong or not causing the desired outcome… not due lacking knowledge or know how (I’ve been privileged to work with some of the most amazing minds I know) , or unpredictable events, or lack of action… but only because someone (including me), somewhere, had mistaken completely what the actual starting point was, or even where were we supposed to get.

Apparently, simple misperceptions in the way how we (humans) perceive or read the world around us, seemed to have a very reasonable negative effect in our effectiveness in achieving any desired outcome. Go figure! :)

When people see things as they are not, no matter how strong, how capable, how smart, how effective, how amazing they are… they will probably have a real hard time getting where they want to be.  Particularly if they don’t start to “seeing it  as it is” as soon as possible.

In fact it can get hard to believe that what we “see” is not actually what “it is”. Probably that’s because, regarding our physical surroundings, our senses do a rather good job of showing us  a very close picture of what reality around us really is. Yes, a very close picture. But even then, it’s not reality itself. Don’t believe me? Let me share one of my favorite visual illusions by Edward H. Adelson:


Can you count how many white checks visible are in this picture?

Ok, good, that shows that…. you can count checks :) (I hope), but did you actually noticed that the A and B checks are exactly the same color?

Or may be you didn’t know that the human eye  has a physiological blind spot. Actually surprisingly noticeable… How can it be that we don’t notice it, even with one eye closed? Well, our brain “magically” fills the blind spot guessing what may be there. Test it and you’ll see (or stop seeing…).

Or may be you already know about this one.

Magicians and illusionists have been exploring these kind of human ”features” extensively for centuries, creating the most fun, amazing and unbelievable illusions.

How does this relate to achieving goals, getting results, happiness, productivity, fulfillment? Well…. It does not, sorry about that. At least not directly, but I find it to be a rather good analogy (and it is fun! :) ).

Fact is, our senses do a really amazing job at perceiving reality. At least perceiving the part of reality that can usually affect us immediately. Btw, we do not see infrared, is that because they are invisible? or because they are invisible to us? (completely different story)

Our senses show us our physical surroundings reality almost perfectly. The problem is that, these days, we are forced to act upon, decide, choose, perceive and evaluate much more than our immediate physical surroundings. We have to picture what’s happening in our projects, business processes in remote locations, feelings deep inside other people, our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues, even deep within ourselves. Our senses didn’t catch up with this reality yet. They can’t help us in the same way.

We have come to blindly trust our minds for that. The problem is that our mind  can frequently morph itself into the most effective “magician”, unfortunately sometimes working against our best efforts. Deluding us, silently. Showing us a “reality” that does not exist. Filling the blind spots in ways that we usually don’t even notice.

How does that relate to getting results? Well, perception, not reality itself, dictates our actions. That’s why some would state that perception=reality.

But reality always speaks last. Reality couldn’t care less with our perceptions, flawed or otherwise. Reality has the final word on the results we achieve with our efforts. The one place I know of where reality does not dictate our results is in the “Matrix”. :)

What started has a professional, productivity improvement possibility, quickly became much more than that. And today I would risk to say that this focus to consciously master our perception, our biases,our ego and getting closer to reality can be of great value in most areas of human life.

What does that mean? First of all it means that we learn to know about our brain works, how our feelings can affect your perceptions, how our mind can fool us in very predictable ways. We learn the significance of getting closer to reality, being it external or internal reality, in order to be more effective pursuing our goals and dreams.

We learn about all sort of marketing tricks. We learn about cognitive dissonance, the halo effect, the Hawthorne effect, confirmation bias, anchoring effects, inattentional blindness, the Dunning-Kruger Effect and many others. We learn to better know ourselves and others, to know what we don’t know, what we think we know. We learn to better differentiate perception, reality, facts and assumptions. We learn to live in a world of almost absolute uncertainty and use that in lots of unusual and interesting ways.

We learn that it doesn’t usually matter how often we are “seeing it wrong” but how quickly we can “see it right”.

Ironically, magic can happen both ways, there is also magic in breaking so many of our own delusions and finally being able to see reality as it really is.

This is the way I see it anyway…

Take care,


A missing perspective in Personal Development guides & howtos–knowledge, perception, reality & action

Scott Hanselman on a rather unusual topic?

I had a great time watching Scott Hanselman on an rather inspiring, useful & fun talk around productivity & personal development (from david allen’s gtd, to stephen covey 7 habits, to iphone usage on the bathroom, not forgetting information overload… great fun, go watch it!). I follow Scott’s blog for years now (you do remember he worked for corillian right? :) ), but it was a first time seeing him on this topic. Amazing talk.

The struggle inside
In fact after sharing with friends and team mates, it was clear that it “stroke a chord” inside almost everyone watching it. We all are usually mostly overwhelmed with long to-dos and drowning in information….  I say that no one goes this deep (like Scott & even JD Meier) on productivity & personal development systems & best practices, unless there’s a strong struggle inside, a need for getting the best out of each and everyone of us. Not because you want to, but because you believe deeply inside, you just have to.

A tiny missing link or tip: Knowledge & Action

To the point, let me try to explain the way I see it…

For any endeavor or goal you choose to pursue, there are a few mandatory steps:

  • You need to know where do you want to go, (I would even say where do you need to go- there’s a difference) – the leader view – future mind set – future reality you want to attain, strongly correlated with why
  • You need to know where you are- what is the current reality – let’s call it the scout mind set-
  • How to get there – what do you need to do to go from current reality to your future goal- the manager mind set
  • And then Do it! Stop thinking, stop knowing, just do it!
  • (once in a while, gather feedback and  repeat from the start)

Now comes the tricky part :)

All this steps are hugely critical for the final outcomes you will get, BUT we all have different skills levels, maturity and capacity for each one.

Fail in any one of these steps and you will mostly rely on luck to get where you wanted (needed!) to be… not the best way to go.

For example, some people will lack vision, so they will probably be very effective, even efficient, but reaching the wrong goals. Not good.

Others are great visionaries, but have a hard time tuning their perception for reality as it is now (usually because they want the goal so much) , so even with the needed know-how and bias for unstoppable action they will still miss the target, or spend unnecessary effort reaching their goals. Or not reaching them at all.

Others will lack action focus & energy, may be prone to procrastination, demotivation or low energy levels. Been there, done that. :)

It’s, probably , not even fixed for a given person, as it can change on different contexts. (although a recurring stable pattern will likely emerge)

if it were a game…

For gamers and RPG lovers imagine your character (you in fact) has 20 skill points to spread into this 4 skills… but only 20. Let me try a gross estimate for myself:


Skill Skill points
Goal Setting, future perception
know where do you want to go
Perception -current
know where you are
How to get there ,
Ex: technical knowledge, past perception
Action, Energy levels
resistance to procrastination  and instant gratification

A rough approximation, but I would say that’s me :) (in average) . A particularly physical lazy guy,  (also read very lazy programmer… ) , not particularly smart, with a rather strong preference & willingness  in absorbing large quantities of information.

Now, probably like in a RPG game, with training and experience you can get a little extra skill points to use in your life. But don’t count you will get many more, may be 2-3. :) That’s it.

And no one seems to score a perfect 20 in all the skills, why is that?

I would even argue that there are probably very real, physical, brain related differences that could cause people bias for any of these skills.

Also note that interestingly, only 1 in 4 steps is actually doing something (although this does not imply 1/4 time), but it’s worth noticing. So, IMO, and as we’re all blinded to reality anyway, perception has a huge role.

Information Hoarding or Useful Knowledge?

There’s actually (always read like if I were starting with, “in my opinion”) a thin line separating information hoarding and being up to date on valuable  and actionable information.

Not all knowledge is useful knowledge, but useful knowledge will improve 1) your goal setting skills 2) your perception of current reality 3) know how –what to do to get from here to there.

In fact I would say that an emerging skill nowadays is knowing what you need to know. Then deep dive on it. Forget the rest. Don’t let fear drive your need to know everything, you already know you won’t  get there, right?

Also know what you don’t know. This is a huge skill… (IMO, IMO, IMO,….)you will soon discover that you usually think you know things… you think you know, that’s the problem. Reality could not care less for what you think, ignore reality and it will hit you hard.

For example, (this is for me specifically) some of my most relevant sources of useful knowledge and information: emails, calls, speaking with people, listening, books, meetings, documentation, blogs, data, statistics,intuition

Actually let me rephrase that as “For example, (this is for me specifically) I THINK that these are some of my most relevant sources of useful knowledge and information: “… :)

I can also spot (as for me and based on my current goals) some not very useful information sources: facebook, twitter, newspapers, tv news, …

Useful knowledge reduces unnecessary effort or action. Although you will always need to act, to move. In fact, you or at least anyone!

Working as a team, or a collective body & brain

Now, this is interesting, because if people have different skills, you can then get a team to actually be way, way stronger and greater than the sum of its parts. Everyone can be honest with their skills. In fact, self awareness is hugely important, that team members know were they excel, were they can usually trust their insights and when other members can help with blind spots and perception-reality gaps. Action biased, strongly motivated and focused team members will be crucial to actually get the work done, get there, were you want to be. Explore this and teams will thrive.

The cost of useful knowledge versus wasted effort

Off course you can’t know everything you actually need to know. Sorry. Even if you think you do. There’s a cost to pay in accessing every bit of knowledge. What you can usually do is asking yourself, is there any further question, any additional bit of information that I can easily get ?(when compared to the probable cost of acting with false assumptions or total lack of needed knowledge).

Note that sometimes, just taking action will be more effective, you can then get feedback… as long as you can afford the cost of that “test”. But do not try to cross the road with your eyes closed in order to see if the green light is on. It will probably cost you much more than just simply opening your eyes.

But how do I know if I need to know something?

Don’t ask me :), but I guess you can always ask a few questions to yourself:

  • Do I want to know this because I just like to know? Do I just enjoy knowing this? Pure curiosity driven (ex: I love to watch documentaries on physics, the universe, big bang, multi-verse, string theory, you name it, I want to know because its fun, no further reasoning needed)
  • Will I act in anyway on this information? (now or anytime soon)
  • Am I somehow responsible for this goal  (or a related one)?
  • Can I help someone with this information (maybe someone did not understand it properly or need the info badly)?
  • Do I need to know it in detail now? or do I just need to know it exists and be able to get back to this, if and when needed, in the future?

So, this it it, that’s why I have a few objections on declaring/advising  radical information “diets”… That’s why I don’t agree entirely with the famous Chris Anderson email charter.


Know what you need to know. Know what you don’t know. Work with others. Know where you need to go, know were you are, know how to get there, and get moving!

(it seems almost simple…. :) )


It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so

                Mark Twain (or may be not, who knows? :) )



Troubleshooting–Beware the Inattentional Blindness

The last post (and first podcast) on You’re not so smart blog caught my attention and reminded something I’ve seen and experienced personally when doing most kinds of troubleshooting sessions (bugs, performance issues, security audits,…).

Did you saw it?

If you didn’t see the video, here it is, give it a try(even if you saw the original one or read the book).

So, how does all this relate to troubleshooting?Well, It’s true the video/study targets particularly our visual perception, but I would say it can be much more powerful that just visual perception.

Back to troubleshooting…

When we are searching for a specific thing/cause we usually miss all kinds of information. Note that our brains actually do that for all kinds of good & practical reasons, it’s just that it can also severely impair our troubleshooting workflow & accuracy.

Generally, and when troubleshooting, I would say to postpone any hunches or possible causes for a specific problem as long as you can. Focus on collecting useful  information first, do not think, do not analyze, be a passive observer… be as curious as you can but aside from that do not be the first to… “shoot”.

When you finally go for some  solutions/causes, then be aware that you will be more susceptible to miss, filter information or even distorting it to make it “fit” to your thinking.

We usually don’t like being wrong too, and our ego can also further disrupt further relevant information processing. We also, again… usually :), don’t like to be the root cause of the spotted issue/problem/bug… we will resist to that, the “certainly, it was not me” syndrome.

Final thoughts

So, what does this mean for for software developers, testers, and many other related roles? Well… some thoughts:

  • know your stuff, but accept  that problems usually don’t choose technologies or fields just because you’re particularly skilled at them
  • first, gather all the information you can, be a passive observer, go for a diverse baseline of data/information
  • having that, then start diagnosing, putting the pieces together
  • when searching for something specific, try to keep perspective & all possibilities open, know a little bit how your brain usually works, your biases (confirmation,inattentional Blindness)
  • let your ego out of it, it’s not personal
  • and (particularly for software developers) please learn to properly read stacktraces! :)

I think there’s a reason for Edgar Poe’s Dupin, Agatha Christie’s Poirot or Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to usually only reveal the puzzle solution right near the end of the story. It’s not that they waited until the end… it’s that they focused on gathering information, then putting the pieces together, not the other way around.

Further reading


PS-What do you hear?

What about another amazing ride on the power of our brain reality twisting skills? Hear for yourself!



Now…back to this annoying “bug”… :)



Kindle eBooks as a great Learning/Self Development platform

Almost a year now since I got my first Kindle. :) Being a somehow frenetic reader way before ebooks, and although I still like to read “regular” books, I must confess that when it comes to learning&self development, ebooks & kindle are hard to beat!

Why is that? Well… lots of reasons, but for now I’ll focus on the  highlights & notes feature. It’s amazing as it allows you to really extract so much more value from ebooks & reading in general. Curious thing, I had never been an “highlighter”… and always left my books in a pure & “pristine” state.

So for the basics, you highlight & add notes on any kindle reader (I prefer the real Kindle to do this , although I sometimes use the free mobile reader, as I’m always switching between them both).

You can then return to the ebook, on any reader (mobile, cloud,etc) and see all the hightlights & notes you’ve made. It all syncs to your amazon kindle profile, so you also have a great backup.


photo (13)

Kindle Mobile Reader – Book Highlights


photo (8)

Kindle Cloud Reader – Book Highlights



You can also review all your notes & highlights directly on the Kindle device, selecting  the My Clippings book (you can see it like a dynamic ebook on your device, collecting all you highlights & notes).


My Clippings on Kindle Device

There’s also a .txt file available with the content if you connect the kindle to the desktop with usb.

But there’s a minor catch here, the "My Clippings file only saves the highlights you do on that specific kindle device. If you highlight on the android/iphone the notes won’t make it to the file. That can be annoying, specially when you switch kindle devices.

Anyway, there’s much more to that. All your highlights are also available online at your kindle profile page here. Like this:

imageKindle Home Page

From there you can go to any book and recover your highlights&notes, and also share them publicly.




In one page you can see all you highlights & notes. A great starting point for building a quick personal  ebook. ;)



with a little copy & paste, and minor editing you can get a pretty good ebook with all you preferred content, like this one wich contais all my notes, ever!:




I even created a table of contents with one chapter for each book I’ve read. For periodic & quick recaps that’s amazing.


Amazon also got it right that we often buy books for learning & changing, not just reading, and there’s a specific feature that helps you to review & remember  your books highlights, its called the daily review. It will cycle trough all your finished books, periodically, and show all your highlights, one at a time.


The daily review

You can also check other books highlights & posts… (Ferriss “on fire”, as always! :) )




And follow some interesting fellows :)



BTW, don’t miss this week free books. Just create your account and buy them “free” . :) Then, read them on free cloud/mobile readers. You don’t need to have a Kindle!



So, that’s it for now, keep reading, and learning! :)

Related posts on Kindle

How to get email alerts for free Kindle books at Amazon, using IFTTT and top 100 free amazon lists

How to save 3000$ in ebooks :) ? Don’t have a kindle yet? Well…you should get one (…not necessarily buy one :) )

Kindle eBooks as a great Learning/Self Development platform

Fixing Amazon Kindle Daily Review page usability on touch enabled tablets – a case for “url site scripting” ;)


On the new Chris Anderson “Email Charter”, Some additional notes

There’s clearly a trend in the last few years of a serious growing concern on email processing overload. Yes I suffer from this too. Who doesn’t? :)

The Chris Anderson Email Charter

Recently, Chris Anderson took the stand on this and did a precious effort in trying to gather some of the best guidelines available on the issue. And so we have now the a new Email Charter with 10 small/quick to read good practices.

I love Chris books & posts, the amazing TED work Chris does as curator, but I really think people are getting the email issue a little wrong!

I can’t also agree with even a much more radical view of email :) of one of my favorite bloggers, Leo Babauta on his amazing zen habits blog.

Disclaimer:The following applies mostly to work related email, that’s email we all exchange with team members, partners, customers, suppliers . In this context we’re almost always goal driven. Mail, as a communication tool, supports all involved in pursuing specific goals.

And as a communication tool, what’s the main purpose of sending an email? It’s actually getting recipients to have the better perception possible of the reality around a a specific task/goal, so they can take the best action possible , avoiding misunderstandings, misperceptions and so working towards the goal with the minimum effort.

What’s the purpose of communication in general? getting recipients to have the minimum perception-reality gap regarding any subject you’re trying to present at the moment. And trust me, that’s not as easy as it seems.

With this in mind, let me explore some rules on the Chris Email Charter for which I have some doubts:

1. Respect Recipients’ Time
This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.

No, it is not!!! (IMO) it should be …. the onus is on YOU to minimize the time recipients will take to complete the intended goal/task the mail is all about, not only “reading/processing” time . Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.

Do you see the difference? Yes, all seems great when we’ll start receiving cryptic twitter like mails with partial information… that we read in a snap in order to cure our “mail” problem, only to waste much more time fixing bad decisions later caused by wrong perceptions and lots of misunderstandings.

5. Slash Surplus cc’s
cc’s are like mating bunnies. For every recipient you add, you are dramatically multiplying total response time. Not to be done lightly! When there are multiple recipients, please don’t default to ‘Reply All’. Maybe you only need to cc a couple of people on the original thread. Or none.

Yes, I agree not overuse cc, but be careful not sharing relevant information with recipients that may have to take decisions on the thread at a later date. CC recipients aren’t usually required to get back to you so it won’t delay total response time.

As a personal note, I read all my mail carefully, being in the to or cc, I don’t care. Yes, I’m aware that I’m a kind of information “freak”…

“9. Cut Contentless Responses
You don’t need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying "Thanks for your note. I’m in." does not need you to reply "Great." That just cost someone another 30 seconds. “

Yes, but you should judge this wisely, always with the end goal  you’re pursuing  in mind. Would you spare a thank you email which costs both 30 seconds, risking demotivation of your coworker or team member?

Yes, sometimes people like getting feedback, sometimes they need it to boost motivation, and guess what happens when people feel motivated? Goals are much easier to reach! Focus on your goal, the mail is a only tool! Don’t trade mail time for wasted time!

My alternative email best practices

So, some rules of my own for work related email that have been very useful to me:

1) For the need to communicate you’ve identified, is email the best tool you have so that the recipients can get the message with minimal perception-reality gap? Some times it is, sometimes it isn’t. Judge it carefully. (this only would need another post)

2) Get rid of irrelevant emails, in which you have no role whatsoever. Or at least create some rules to move them out of the way, being able to recover them at a later time if needed. Almost all mail I receive serves a specific work purpose.

3) Actually read the emails! carefully… don’t speed reading for the sake of “email processing productivity”. That’s not the point, the point is improve your decision making skills and reach goals.

You will avoid lots of bad decisions and wasted time just carefully reading the mails. I actually can read relatively fast… and I have a bad habit of scanning through emails when stressed out …. avoid that!

You should want to get all the information you can, with minimal distortion. Take your time. There have been times when only reading a mail for the 3rd time I got the proper message in a way that finally my perception closely matched reality allowing me make a better decision.

4) When writing emails: It’s not about how good your writing skills or style are!! That’s not the point It’s about helping recipients getting the message loud & clear as easy as possible. It’s about getting results! 

Resist the embellishment of your mails just because you’re skilled . Control your “ego”!

I was so damn guilty of this… I feel ashamed. People really don’t like long & verbose emails (I actually do but I don’t mail me very often… :) ) they will miss important information lost in your long paragraphs (like this one)… and misunderstandings are more probable to happen.

Currently I try to only use a sentence per line.

Like this.

With lots of space between sentences.

Got it?

5) When you know your recipients mail reading habits, adapt your style accordingly to make their life easier. Know the probable context.

For example, some people don’t read ccs, some don’t read long emails, some don’t read emails, some only read subjects, some only read the mail if is stays on the mailbox long enough to be visible at the top…

Don’t assume everyone should or is handling mail the way you do! Don’t assume to much, you’ll be disappointed.

6) Don’t trade email processing time for wasted time on misperceptions & misunderstandings! If you’re a decision maker, and you need 4 hours a day reading & processing mail in order to make very good decisions you’re probably doing what you must.

Be careful with “lets kill email once & for all strategies”. You’re probably much better to keep paying attention to the mail.

7)If you’re working or leading teams, train & mentor them on writing & reading email skills, always with focus on attaining good communication flowing constantly, supporting good decisions and getting results faster.

8) Do not read what it’s not there! Our mind loves to fill the gaps, not knowing is something that feels naturally uncomfortable… We like to know everything, and when we don’t…. we create our own version of reality, not what is, but what we think it is…. and we don’t note the difference!

Although filling the gaps is one of our most powerful skills, at the least note the difference between what you’re reading, and what your mind is creating for you.

Final thoughts…

Our senses get an huge, HUGE, input of data (visual, sound,etc) every second… but that’ wasn’t a reason for an overload or shutdown, its actually critical so that we perceive the world around us and make our survival possible with a really close view of reality.  Brain evolved to handle the load.

So it should be with communication tools like email and others. Yes, we need more publicly accepted charters and guidelines (Chris has a good start), but never forgetting that communication has a purpose that may well pay back the time you spend using it.

That’s it, I’m relieved this is not a mail, so long that it turned out to be! :)

What do you think?


Kind Regards,


J.D. Meier [Principal Program Manager on the Microsoft patterns & practices team] great blogs & books

Principal Program Manager Microsoft patterns & practices team,  J.D. Meier work has caught my attention long ago, when security was one of my regular hobbies. Smile His books & work at the p&p team at Microsoft were always a great source of inspiration. And I’m sure it will continue be that way in the years to come. You can check his “p&p” blog here.

With some surprise, I must confess Smile, I recently discovered that JD is also extremely passionate on other, “more mundane”, topics like Personal Development, Emotional-Intelligence, Leadership & many others. And he dedicates his other *great* blog Sources of Insight to these topics!

So if you’re struggling for some work-life balance… first of all, good luck! Smile second, please check JD blog!

Other particular point of interest for me, is that he takes some core principles of agile methodologies into work-life balance topics. And that’s fresh!

And there’s also his book “ Getting Results the Agile Way “, witch its available to read online here, and buy at amazon here. Hope to read it soon. Unfortunately there’s not a Kindle version available yet. Sad smile I’ll  probably “instapaper” some of the free available content.

Some interesting posts …there are so many… :

Five-Minute Thinks – Sources of Insight

How To Read Faster – Sources of Insight

What is a PM? – J.D. Meier’s Blog – Site Home – MSDN Blogs

Personal Development Books – Sources of Insight

Day 8 – Dump Your Brain to Free Your Mind – Sources of Insight

40 Hour Work Week at Microsoft – J.D. Meier’s Blog – Site Home – MSDN Blogs

(interesting quote on BI , JD says: “Smart BI (Business Intelligence).   In an online, connected world, there is no reason to be flying blind.  You can guess at what works, or you can instrument, test, and measure.  This is the key to Amazon’s online success.  They can learn and respond.  By using BI effectively, you can figure out exactly what customers want, how much they want it, how they are looking for it, and where they are finding it.  Don’t “push” products.  Find the “pull.”  You can find the appetite or the demand to help drive and shape your supply.”)

Little disclaimer: please note that regarding work-life balance, “pie in the sky”, “get all these great things done” kind of books you should (IMO) take some distance & skepticism , some things works on specific contexts, some apply to you, some  probably don’t. But they frequently have something that you can use someday, somewhere… (I hope…) Smile

Fixing Amazon Kindle Daily Review page usability on touch enabled tablets – a case for “url site scripting” ;)

In a previous post (see Kindle eBooks as a great Learning/Self Development platform) I’ve shown how to get the best from Amazon’s Kindle Highlights feature. This feature and all the amazon highlight personal store features are probably the main reasons for not buying physical books anymore, except for a very few cases.

Anyway, I was using the daily review page occasionally on my laptop. Then I got the chance to start using a tablet to review my notes, and the page suddenly appeared much more interesting and useful.

Useful indeed, but not usable! as the small preview/next buttons are only at the top, and touching the flashcard or the page don’t jump to the next page as it should…


Waiting for amazon to fix this… well, good luck! So, I was pleased to see that there were actually a pretty workable solution: just fixing the code inline, injecting an additional click handler directly! Amazon surely is using jquery right? Right indeed, they are!

How do you inject custom javascript behavior on a site? Well, easily through the address bar, just prefix your code with javascript: and you’re done! or off course you can try to spot a cross site scripting  flaw on amazon site… but  I doubt it would be an easy task. :)

So, go to the daily review page and just paste the following code in the address bar:

javascript:$(".reviewContentWrapper").click(function(e) {$(".nextReviewArrow").click();});

Nothing happens right? Well, just click the flashcard, your next flashcard should load automatically! Much better now! My fingers can finally rest from that “humongous” effort. :)


Sure it works on iPad, just add a bookmark with the link. Every time you open /reopen the daily review page just select the bookmark. You won’t go anywhere, but the page will become far easier to use. As long you don’t close the page it will keep working, even when you choose to review another book.


Not a permanent fix but a very usable one from my recent experience! ;)


Have fun!


How to save 3000$ in ebooks :) ? Don’t have a kindle yet? Well…you should get one (…not necessarily buy one :) )

Yes, I bet the title caught your attention right on. :) Well, anyway I thought today was a good time to recap that you can get all sorts of interesting ebooks from amazon, for free. Yes, I would also say that an actual Kindle device is a great tool IMO, but you have also the kindle free apps from amazon: ipad, iphone, cloud reader, pc, android… You just need and amazon account to get started.

btw, Please be advised that I am an enthusiastic amazon fan & customer. I do have a kindle keyboard, And, Yes, I regularly buy ebooks!

I actually find it difficult to have a good reason for not starting your own digital library right now…

Currently there is some kind of market place visibility war going on… authors & publishers need better rankings, visibility, one of the fastest ways to do that is to promo the books regularly… so regularly we monitor (thanks powershell, iftt & alerbox). :)

A few days ago I finally set up some powershell & ie automation to be able to compare all my orders (free and not free ones), with current prices and some other book information.

The results are interesting… (even taking into account that several of these books are clearly over priced… ) Got the results into Excel, and I was pleased to see, that at least, my book addiction didn’t reach my wallet! :)

Another side note, I usually follow only two/Three kindle categories, so this is just a small glimpse of the free content regularly available.


Hoping that I didn’t mess anything up (and always remembering that data, like perception, is not reality!), but I double checked several items. Bet it’s at least approximate.

Off course Excel is a great tool for the stats but I couldn’t resist to get this data on a small tool I’m using for quick dataset analysis & visualization (based on ms pivotviewer). Maybe we can get this published through SmartPivot, how knows? :)

So, Right click my scrapped CSV where I collected order prices, current prices, stars, reviews, & book covers…



And we get a much more expressive & interactive view of my digital library:


Slice & dice, or kind of  :)


Zoom it!


Detail it:


Unfortunately time to read is much harder to get these days, so most of this content still waits on my beloved kindle. But I can also say that I’ve read amazing books (at the time free), just a glimpse:

Critical Thinking Strategies for Success (Collection)

Do the Right Thing

Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy



Final note, crossing my fingers that this won’t be the post that shuts the free content down! :)

By the way, this week pick. Bet it will last to next Monday only. ;)



Now, go grab some reading! :)

Related posts on Kindle

How to get email alerts for free Kindle books at Amazon, using IFTTT and top 100 free amazon lists

How to save 3000$ in ebooks :) ? Don’t have a kindle yet? Well…you should get one (…not necessarily buy one :) )

Kindle eBooks as a great Learning/Self Development platform

Fixing Amazon Kindle Daily Review page usability on touch enabled tablets – a case for “url site scripting” ;)



%d bloggers like this: