Amateur Engineer Figures Out Why His Kindle Randomly Restarts

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Amateur Engineer Figures Out Why His Kindle Randomly Restarts

Amazon is offering a refund for its leather Kindle case without claiming responsibility, but an enterprising engineer has figured out why his Kindle crashes.

It doesn't seem to make sense that a leather case could cause an electronic device to malfunction. The strange thing is that the official case for the latest version of the Amazon's Kindle ebook reader with a light attached to it doesn't cause any problems for users. But many people who have the case without a light have complained that the device will freeze or constantly reboot. Removing the case stopped the problem, which confused people even further. Amazon didn't admit that there was a problem in design or execution but was still offering refunds saying that "our engineering team is looking into this." That is unnecessary, because Alex Gizis, CEO of Connectify, was able to figure out that the problem lay in the metal hooks that hold onto the Kindle device.

Most people, myself included, would just toss away a device that isn't working properly. But not Gizis. "It didn't seem to make a lot of sense that a leather cover would crash an electronic device, so I got curious and started to look closely at my Kindle's case," he wrote on his Connectify blog.

The lit case which retails for $59.99 uses gold hooks which supply power to the light bulb so that you can read on the go. Gizis figured out that the non-lit case uses two black painted hooks to attach the Kindle to the leather case. At first, these hooks conduct no electricity because the paint blocks it but as the case sees more wear and tear, the paint starts to chip off. And because this is where the light would get its electricity from, Gizis made the leap in logic that maybe it's siphoning off power from the device, causing all of the power downs and headaches.

"So out came the handy-dandy Radio Shack multimeter, set to measure resistance," said Gizis. "Depending on your contact you can see some pretty low values, which imply a pretty good connection between the two. This is why the Kindle crashes. Once a bit of paint has rubbed off the hooks, power starts flowing through the cover, leading to brownouts; the CPU does not get enough juice to operate properly and ends out either hung or rebooting!"

Source: Connectify

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Oh God, that's golden. No pun intended.

Smart guy! Maybe he should consider starting an investigative website looking into why products really fail with no apparent reason?

On second thought, he'd probably get sued; companies hate it when you tell people how much they suck. Maybe he'd better stick with the Connectify gig.

My dad does this all the time.

He used the same devise to find out why his hover broke. he took the whole damn think apart spent half an hour messing around with it and then just sniped of a bit of wire and saved himself a lot of cash.

Thank god there's still some do it yourselfers out there. I love when something doesn't work opening it up and poking around. Granted I never do much good doing this, it's always interesting to take a peak.

Pro tip:

Wet'n'wild clear coat nail polish. Two dabs on each hook.

Best liquid insulation application ever.

We routinely use it for insulating atomically sharp scanning probe tips.

The Rogue Wolf:
Smart guy! Maybe he should consider starting an investigative website looking into why products really fail with no apparent reason?

On second thought, he'd probably get sued; companies hate it when you tell people how much they suck. Maybe he'd better stick with the Connectify gig.

They would see a lot of libel suits, I assume. If one thing ended up wrong, it would be a cluster fuck, I would think.

I would love if they could do a thing like that, itd be epic

Amazon deserve to be embarrassed about this. I'm glad this guy was there to figure it out.

Seems stupid that no one figured this out earlier. I'm not saying anything bad, mad phat props to him. I've worked a bit with electricity and it's pretty common knowledge that if electrical tape comes off of a hot wire, then electricity is free to move as it wants. It's stupid they thought just painting them over would be a permanent fix.

Anyway, I'm glad that got solved, not that it's going to entire me to buy one, I like my books made of paper, the weight of a book, the smell. All part of the experience.

Uber Waddles:

The Rogue Wolf:
Smart guy! Maybe he should consider starting an investigative website looking into why products really fail with no apparent reason?

On second thought, he'd probably get sued; companies hate it when you tell people how much they suck. Maybe he'd better stick with the Connectify gig.

They would see a lot of libel suits, I assume. If one thing ended up wrong, it would be a cluster fuck, I would think.

I would love if they could do a thing like that, itd be epic

It's only libel if it's not true.

Guess who just bought a Kindle and Case for Christmas? Looks like I'm going to have to keep an eye out for wear and tear.

thiosk:
Pro tip:

Wet'n'wild clear coat nail polish. Two dabs on each hook.

Best liquid insulation application ever.

We routinely use it for insulating atomically sharp scanning probe tips.

Also the reason Darth Vader never used Force Lightning.

Also Wet'n'Wild sounds like either a Waterpark or a Porno

Why would they even connect the hooks together if they are attached to a source of power? Isn't it obvious that would create a circuit?

It is a very unusual design decision to use battery charging ports for anything else that is not charging the god-damned thing.

I'll keep the Kindle App on my iPod, thanks. Cookies to the guy for figuring it out though.

thiosk:
Pro tip:

Wet'n'wild clear coat nail polish. Two dabs on each hook.

Best liquid insulation application ever.

We routinely use it for insulating atomically sharp scanning probe tips.

I can second this. We use the stuff (or something quite similar) in controlling what gets detected on the samples in our electron microscopes. That which doesn't conduct doesn't get analyzed, so we can mount them safely in a polymer while analyzing the specimen correctly.

If it was that easy, somehow I get the impression that Amazon was employing software engineers to investigate the trouble, not electrical engineers. Big difference.

Anarchemitis:
If it was that easy, somehow I get the impression that Amazon was employing software engineers to investigate the trouble, not electrical engineers. Big difference.

Tell that to the idiots in management. Because I'll tell you as a business student that the stereotype of managers as narrow-minded fuckwits is something they learn in college.

Or maybe it's because people who major in management tacitly admit that they're not smart enough to be accountants, engineers, artists, or other people who are actually fucking useful.

Makes sense and is not all that dramatic.

If just leather would cause restarts, that'd be kinda weird. But a leather case with metal connectors? Which are actually connected? Just a stupid design issue.

I used to work at a warehouse where on the the salesman loved doing this sort of thing to various defective gadgets from our stock. I remember when the perimeter security went out, he went out with one of those multimeters and tested every single segment of wire before he determined the issue and fixed it. Remember, he was just a salesman, not the tech guy who normally fixes these problems.

Anarchemitis:
If it was that easy, somehow I get the impression that Amazon was employing software engineers to investigate the trouble, not electrical engineers. Big difference.

That's assuming engineers were even able to look at it to begin with. If Amazon's higher-ups were so convinced nothing was wrong with the cases, chances are the engineers were never told to look it over.

Oh wow, this guy's a super genius! The first thing I thought of when I saw the pictures before even reading the article were the two little metal things on the case. Seems unlikely they'd cause problems but it's the first place I would have looked after realizing removing the case removes the problem. Doesn't seem like a particularly hard thing to figure out, especially for someone who works in the field.

Now children, look carefully. That's why you stick with hard-copy books.

I'd probably just cut a small segment out of the metal bar that holds the two pieces together, and call it good. Now there's an open, and it's not a problem.

This is cool and all, props on the man for figuring it out... but the title makes it sound like an "Onion" article :P

Amazon should give that kid a prize.

Anarchemitis:
If it was that easy, somehow I get the impression that Amazon was employing software engineers to investigate the trouble, not electrical engineers. Big difference.

This. If I'd known about the full context of the issue my first thought would have been to take it down to the EE lab and do exactly what he did.

I suspect the issue was more that very few people knew all of the pieces of the puzzle, not that nobody was smart enough to put them together. This is pretty basic stuff (which in turn means that Amazon should be pretty ashamed that it happened).

Kermi:

Uber Waddles:

The Rogue Wolf:
Smart guy! Maybe he should consider starting an investigative website looking into why products really fail with no apparent reason?

On second thought, he'd probably get sued; companies hate it when you tell people how much they suck. Maybe he'd better stick with the Connectify gig.

They would see a lot of libel suits, I assume. If one thing ended up wrong, it would be a cluster fuck, I would think.

I would love if they could do a thing like that, itd be epic

It's only libel if it's not true.

I think you need to re-read what you quoted:

If one thing ended up wrong

That's kind of his point. If such a site made even one error in what was wrong with a product, game over. Especially if the incorrect error was something that made the manufacturer look bad.

thenumberthirteen:
Guess who just bought a Kindle and Case for Christmas? Looks like I'm going to have to keep an eye out for wear and tear.

thiosk:
Pro tip:

Wet'n'wild clear coat nail polish. Two dabs on each hook.

Best liquid insulation application ever.

We routinely use it for insulating atomically sharp scanning probe tips.

Also the reason Darth Vader never used Force Lightning.

Also Wet'n'Wild sounds like either a Waterpark or a Porno

We have a theme park here in Australia called Wet'n'Wild, has some bitchin waterslides.

Why didnt they make the hooks out of plastic or someother nonconductive polymer? Would have been cheaper to begin with.

Kermi:

Uber Waddles:

The Rogue Wolf:
Smart guy! Maybe he should consider starting an investigative website looking into why products really fail with no apparent reason?

On second thought, he'd probably get sued; companies hate it when you tell people how much they suck. Maybe he'd better stick with the Connectify gig.

They would see a lot of libel suits, I assume. If one thing ended up wrong, it would be a cluster fuck, I would think.

I would love if they could do a thing like that, itd be epic

It's only libel if it's not true.

It's only not libel if you can afford to keep going to court over and over and over about it. :/

Mighty good thing I don't bother with these confangled new age book things. I'll stick with carving pictures into a wall with a mammoth tusk thank you.

thenumberthirteen:
Guess who just bought a Kindle and Case for Christmas? Looks like I'm going to have to keep an eye out for wear and tear.

thiosk:
Pro tip:

Wet'n'wild clear coat nail polish. Two dabs on each hook.

Best liquid insulation application ever.

We routinely use it for insulating atomically sharp scanning probe tips.

Also the reason Darth Vader never used Force Lightning.

Also Wet'n'Wild sounds like either a Waterpark or a Porno

What about a porno shot at a waterpark? Or a porno themed waterpark.

mrwoo6:
My dad does this all the time.

He used the same devise to find out why his hover broke. he took the whole damn think apart spent half an hour messing around with it and then just sniped of a bit of wire and saved himself a lot of cash.

I am beginning to wonder if this is not how most of these problems get fixed. Maybe "our engineering team" means a few thousand do-it-yourselfers scattered through-out.

This one time I found a work-around for a problem with Diner Dash on my iPod, and I sent an e-mail to the developers. That work-around was posted shortly thereafter, while they worked on a fix.

Some things just get overlooked, and hindsight is 20/20.

Admittedly, this one should have been pretty obvious, given all of the facts. However, Amazon probably was having trouble getting the right facts to their engineers...

thiosk:

atomically sharp scanning probe tips

What is that? want to know because its so specific.

008Zulu:
[quote="thenumberthirteen" post="7.252324.9371056"]Guess who just bought a Kindle and Case for Christmas? Looks like I'm going to have to keep an eye out for wear and tear.
We have a theme park here in Australia called Wet'n'Wild, has some bitchin waterslides.

Why didnt they make the hooks out of plastic or someother nonconductive polymer? Would have been cheaper to begin with.

Because all they have to do is not put in the light at the end of the process. It still takes the same route on the bulk manufacturing process and it's cheaper just to paint it rather than set up an entire new manufacturing line just for one feature of the product. Not to mention it's also probably stronger and longer lasting than a plastic hook that will wear away with time.

fanklok:
Mighty good thing I don't bother with these confangled new age book things. I'll stick with carving pictures into a wall with a mammoth tusk thank you.

thenumberthirteen:
Guess who just bought a Kindle and Case for Christmas? Looks like I'm going to have to keep an eye out for wear and tear.

thiosk:
Pro tip:

Wet'n'wild clear coat nail polish. Two dabs on each hook.

Best liquid insulation application ever.

We routinely use it for insulating atomically sharp scanning probe tips.

Also the reason Darth Vader never used Force Lightning.

Also Wet'n'Wild sounds like either a Waterpark or a Porno

What about a porno shot at a waterpark? Or a porno themed waterpark.

I'm sure the first one already exists, and I wouldn't like to visit the second one.

Can someone explain to me why an e-book reader is more useful than a book, an audio book or just a .rtf file on your phone?

Because everything I've seen seems to say to me that it's less useful, easily steal-able and you only rent the books?

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