Archive for the ‘Reference – Tech’ category

Reading Is An Investment In Thinking

December 31, 2008

The Long Decline of Reading

It takes hours to finish a book, even for the fastest readers. This wasn’t a problem when books had less competition, but with the three massive timesinks of cable TV, videogames, and the internet, people look at that massive time investment, and they get apprehensive. Sure, they know that books can be just as enjoyable as movies or games, if not more. They may even feel guilty about not reading. But what if this book is no good? What if I end up hating it? What if I can’t understand it? Imagine all the time wasted! And so they stop before they even start.

A long, detailed, and excellent article.

Strangely, public libraries aren’t mentioned at all.

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ECTACO jetBook And ePub

December 29, 2008

My curiosity won’t let me rest, of course.

I found out the jetBook is also in China, called the Dr. Yi. (I don’t, however, know if this means the jetBook is of Chinese creation. But I wouldn’t be surprised.)

dryi

dryispecs

Of particular interest to me is this:

CPU: ARM9 200MHz

Because look at this for the Sony Reader 505:

CPU: Freescale i.MXL, ARM920T core, 150-200 MHz

That says to me the jetBook should have the horsepower needed to deal with ePub files. I had been wondering about that.

Reference: GutenMark

December 29, 2008

GutenMark Home Page
Attractively formatting Project Gutenberg texts

What is GutenMark?

GutenMark is a command-line tool for automatically creating high-quality HTML or LaTeX markup from Project Gutenberg etexts. As of April 2008, there is also a graphical front-end called GUItenMark that greatly simplifies usage for casual users. Both Windows and Linux ‘x86 are supported. Mac OS X is also supported, though in some respects it lags the others. Limited iPhone support is also possible.

In combination with other freely-available conversion tools GutenMark aims to convert Project Gutenberg etexts into publication-quality Postscript or PDF, for print-on-demand applications. The goal is for this conversion to be completely automatic, without manual markup or editing, but for the forseeable future some manual intervention will almost always be needed—at least, if your standards are at least as high as mine.

I took the Project Gutenberg plain text file of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and ran it through this.

Amazingly, this:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman.

was transformed to this:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.

As it should be!

I was impressed with the available options and did some light testing. It could be a very useful tool for Project Gutenberg etexts that have only a plain text version available.

On the other hand, I also downloaded the Project Gutenberg HTML of the same Holmes and it was superior.

But this tool remains a very painless way of changing those text files into a format that can then go on to further processing to create an eBook.

Eejit Geeks. Things Should Just Work!

December 29, 2008

Ectaco Jetbook downloads

I do not know what a line feed, text editor or DRM is, nor do I know how to convert!

I’ve just wasted a good part of two days playing around with various “tools” to create an FB2 (FictionBook) file format eBook.

I’m no novice, but the task defeated me.

The tools were shit.

1) One converter from HTML to FB2 ignored photos and styled text weirdly.

2) An entire program devoted to creating FB2 eBooks was buggy as hell and the files I thought were perfect turned out all FAIL!

3) A desktop FB2 file reader couldn’t display italic text (but it could display JPEGs — go figure!).

All I wanted to do was see one — just one! — FB2 eBook, even if I had to create it myself!

And here, in the above thread, eBook geeks are trying to convince a member of the general reading public to develop some g33k ski77z in order to do some eBook reading.

That’s just half-assed stupid.

That’s like everyone having to be a frikkin financial expert (and I choose that example to rub your FAIL 401K in your face!).

Now just imagine the general public encountering that Zero-G Toilet of Adobe ePub DRM!

That’s just another formula for FAIL!

The Monthly Digital Lifeline Bill

December 29, 2008

Numbers to keep in mind

$260 a month. That’s how much the average US household is spending each month on digital services that did not exist a generation ago. They include: mobile phone, broadband access, cable or satellite television, personal video recording. This number comes from a survey by the Center for Digital Future, a department of the University of Southern California. Even more interesting is the amount of money spent by the poorest households: their monthly bill of digital services isn’t as low as one would imagine: $180. This suggests two thoughts: one, these services are no longer a luxury but have become as basic as a car; two, given this amount of money, hoping to squeeze a few dozens of dollars more per month for content services is unrealistic. Except for highly specialized premium services (almost never paid by the end-user), editorial on the Internet is very likely to remain free. European spending is lower, but catching up. — FF

Emphasis in the original.

Yeah, I can see that.

I know my book spending will go stratospheric when I go all-e.

Why?

That will end the days of my picking up used paperbacks for cheap. Even if eBooks level out to an impulse-buy price, there’d still be no matching a fifty-cent paperback!

Reference: Public Libraries And eBooks

December 27, 2008

The fine folks over at MobileRead have put together a wiki for public libraries that offer eBooks.

I live in New York City, so I don’t have to pay the $100/year fee to get an NYPL card.

Suck it up, baby!

Besides, for that $100 fee, you are competing against my domestic borrowing rights!

I hate you for doing that. You know that, don’t you?

The Zero-Gravity Toilet Of Adobe DRMed ePub

December 27, 2008

There’s a classic shot in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey when the main character has to first consult instructions on how to use a zero-gravity toilet:

0g-toilet

Imagine having to go through all that!

And yet — there is something actually worse than that.

It’s the instructions on how to go about using Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks!

Here are the Zero-Gravity toilet instructions:

zerogtoilet2

Now contrast the amount of text there to instructions for using Adobe DRMed ePub:

adobedrmepub01
adobedrmepub02

Can you imagine the poor technically unsophisticated schmo having to deal with all that?

“For God’s sake, all I want to do is read eBooks!!!”

Really, it turns out it’s easier to take a shit in space than to deal with Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks!