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Making Special Offers useful

May 8, 2013

I was wondering if I could use the infrastructure behind the Kindle Paperwhite Special Offers for something useful, something good, something that doesn’t involve serving advertisements. And I think I’ve figured it out 🙂

To begin with, it’s simple enough to remove the advertisements, but then I’m still stuck with this error message on the Home page

“Please ensure your Kindle is registered and connect wirelessly to receive the latest Special Offers”

In my view, that is just a waste of screen space, and it really bothers me to see it every time. As I was thinking about it, I thought of another thing I wanted for my Kindle – some kind of note in case it was lost, so that whoever found the Kindle would have the details to return it back to me.

So, how about making my own Special Offer, replacing the text and the images with my own content, and placing a nice note for the finder of my lost Kindle in the banner area on the Home page? Turns out, this is very possible, and actually looks great when implemented.

Here’s what’s required to achieve it:

  1. Jailbreak the Kindle, and ssh into it (Kindle IP
  2. Edit /var/local/adunits/admgr.json, and keep only a single ad entry (Here’s a nice JSON parser to make sense of it all)
  3. Use scp to download the advertisement assets in /mnt/base-us/system/.assets/XXXXxxxxXXXXx (whatever the number of the remaining ad is)
  4. Change the images to custom slides, using the same size files. It’s helpful to open the old files, and then paste new content into them
  5. Stop the framework (“stop framework”)
  6. Upload new images, and details.html file (if you like to have a custom message when the banner.gif is clicked on)
  7. Calculate new MD5 sums of the images (“md5sum *” inside the asset folder, and don’t forget details.html if you changed it too)
  8. Update admgr.json with the new MD5 sums
  9. Update admgr.json to add a 0 onto the end of X and Y coordinates to remove ability to click on ads (so that they are offscreen, ie. x=321 turns into x=3210)
  10. Make sure all uploaded files have aug+r permissions (“chmod aug+r *.*” inside assets folder and inside adunits folder)
  11. Start the framework (“start framework”)
  12. Voila, a custom screensaver and advertisements are on the Kindle!

So there it is. When all the steps are correctly followed, the new images and text are substituted in, and the Kindle displays both an attractive new screensaver, and a nice message urging whoever found it to return it. I like it much more than the annoying error message, or the even more annoying Special Offers.

PS: Don’t forget to turn on Airplane mode so that the Kindle doesn’t gain new advertisement content, and use Calibre to load books onto it.


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