With the IPAD hype in full swing we turn around and take a look at the current ebook readers on the market, specifically the Sony PR-505. We talk hardware, software and lead you down the patch of cross-platform open source hacks and tricks where we talk about CALIBRE as a great Ebook-management software. Why does the PR-505 come without an internet connection ? And why is that a good thing. Put down your smelly paper book and come listen to KC0034 .. to find out.
- Why we got a Sony Ebook reader.
- Hardware specs of the Sony PR-505.
- Built in software on the Ebook Reader.
- Handling different formats.
- Converting and acquiring content.
- Using CALIBRE for cross – platform ebook management.
- Sources for getting content.
- Official Sony Site for the PR-505.
- Project Gutenberg.
- Get free ebooks via Google.
- Calibre Ebook Management Software.
- Music by Zoe Chello.
When you come down to it, all geeks are voyeurs. They just LOVE to look at how other geeks have setup their little Geek-Palace and get some tips and ideas from there. Recently I posted the pictures of "The Laundry Room" on Flickr. Last week however, i had to re-arrange some of my setup due to the fact that I made little "impulse buy". This purchase consisted of a 24 inch Imac that was on sale at Dixxons (A Chain of electronic stores in the Netherlands that frequently have pretty good deals on Apple stuff). Since this was a model that was no longer being made ( Its all 27 and 21 inch now) they had a few 24 inch macs on sale for as little as 1095 euro’s. We had walked passed the store a couple of times over the last few weeks and had commented back and forth that this was in fact a it was a very good deal for anyone looking for a cheap but awesome Mac. Since Nyana has put our other Imac on the kitchen table , it is almost in constant use , you know how the story ends right? Our techlove got the best of us and before we knew it we were dragging a big white box into our home.
This of course meant we had to re-arrange some of the items in my office. Since I had about 24 inches of real estate coming my way, I thought of moving my 28 inch secondary display that was hooked up to my Macbook Pro, to our bedroom (so serve as a TV screen ) But once I had set everything up, their proved to be plenty of room for both displays in my office.
So right now I have the 24 inch Imac on a "central" position on my desk, flanked by the 28 inch monitor on the right. Now you might think that this amount of screen real estate is obscene .. and you’re probably right, but it is also very practical. You see, as a cross platform "slider" jumping from operating system to operating system, this "giant screen" is very useful. The 24 inch Imac is more then powerful enough to handle more the one operating system at once. So instead of "just" running OSX and some applications, it is more then capable of running Windows 7 or some installations of Linux side by side. So where we had two computers on two screens before, I’m using one "central computer" with multiple screens (and multiple keyboards).
Multiple keyboards ? Why ?
It would be perfectly possible to use just one keyboard and mouse combination on this machine. The wireless apple keyboard (I’m using one from Logitech) is brilliant BUT there is an issue. There is a small difference between French AZERTY keyboards by Apple and French AZERTY keyboards for pc’s. For one the placement of the @ key, and several other buttons. This is not really an issue when you use Ubuntu or Windows virtual machines (For Windows there are bootcamp drivers that fix this keyboard ‘indifference’ ) For Ubuntu systems you can choose the ‘French Macintosh’ keyboard layout when you install. All of that is not really a problem. The problem comes to the party when I need to ‘remote control’ windows machines using the remote desktop software called Logmein. The remote systems (of friends and family) that i need to fix/upgrade/use etc have French Azerty keyboards. Now when I do this using a system with a mac keyboard layout the keyboard mapping gets all garbled up on the other side and its VERY annoying. So to fix this problem I remote control other users systems from a Windows 7 virtual machine using a second external keyboard. Its like having two computers side-by-side with two keyboards, but just one central ‘cpu unit’.
And then some.
But lets not forget the ‘remote’ systems that are under my command. Using remote connection programs like the terminal, The Remote Desktop Connection viewer from Microsoft, the FreeNx client for Linux, all of these applications hook me up with other systems (around the house / around the planet) that I can control from this ‘center seat’. So is 52 inches of real estate too much ? Depends if you say its just for ‘one’ computer. Its in fact for "several systems" at the same time. (AND for a full 28 inch wide version of Tweetdeck it is just plain overkill).
I could even add another player to the party by hooking up my Macbook Pro on the other side of my screen and use TELEPORT to control it using just one apple keyboard – mouse combination. But the addition of a "second" computer to the mix does not strike me as very productive .. Yet 🙂
Ok , you can be good with your hands .. and you can build your own freakin WORKING astromech droid. As this video below illustrates, this gentleman is one belonging to the latter category. Some day you get up and you say : Today I want to build an R2-D2 unit and impress all of my friends. Good for you buddy .. go right ahead. BUT this man takes it one step further and takes his little droid beyond visits to HOOTERS and such. As we can see his little R2 unit brings joy to children, people who are sick and less fortunate and .. even those who are going to get married. So for that we applaud him .. (and insert the video).
Never mind the fact that i’m online most of the day, and live at least 80 percent of my waking hours connected to some kind of broadband connection, sometimes you just have to go “off the net”. Since I spend a lot of time in the car (and on the road) I consume a fair amount of web based content like for example E-books and Podcasts, while i’m “away” from my home network. In order to have a picnic, you need to make your sandwiches before you leave, and the same thing is true if you want to listen to podcasts in the car or read some RSS feed on your Ebook reader while you are having lunch. The biggest “Bitch” of this process is that you need to “sync up” before you go. This means firing up whatever computer you require, download the content that you want to have, attach your portable device and sync it up. No biggie one would think, however I think the whole procedure is a bit to much hassle for my taste. Why in this day and age do we need to go through all this trouble to get our content on our portable devices. Can’t they get it for themselves ? Can’t this process be automated in some sort of manner ? There has to be a better way. The reason for my rant comes from the fact that I always “forget” to sync up the night before and end up needing to “update” my Ipod (and Ebook reader) with ‘fresh’ content in the morning, before I leave to work. I can tell you nothing is more annoying then having to ‘fire up’ a system, WAIT for content to download, CONNECT your portable device, WAIT for it to sync up. Even if I get up early enough for the entire process to complete its stilll a hassle. There has to be a better way.
Why does my Ipod, a device that has wifi and can surf the Internet like my Ipod touch, need a cable to sync podcasts !
If you think of it, its completely ridiculous. Every morning i would have to Boot up Nyana’s Imac (our main music collection and podcast subscriptions are on that machine) Launch Itunes (wait for it to “send its genius results back to apple) download fresh podcasts (quite an effort if you have quite a few) Hook up my ipod to the cable and sync over the podcasts. Never mind the stupidity of the concept of having to ‘tether’ a wifi enabled device to another wifi enabled device, its also a MANUAL process. I HATE manual processes, especially if the time consumed by them could be better spent having coffee or sleeping 40 seconds longer. So there had to be a solution for my problem. It would be ideal if the Ipod touch could have a built-in podcatcher. But that would “duplicate” some of that precious Itunes functionality Apple is so protective about. But after some Googling I DID find an application that might help me out. Unlike what we mostly talk about on the blog here, its NOT a freebee, but for 79 eurocent i thought i COULD give it a try. RSS-PLAYER may have a very simple name, but it does the job quite surprisingly. Available in the Itunes store it lets you (after installation to your ipod touch or Ipone) look for podcasts in its online directory (and subscribe to them) OR enter RSS feeds of podcasts manually. All in all its a very simple application that does its job very well. You “refresh” your subscribed podcasts from the home screen and RSS PLAYER will DOWNLOAD the latest episode of each feed to your Ipod over wifi. The OTHER episodes in the podcast feed are ALSO available to play via streaming. This is a very handy functionality when i want to listen to some episodes i hadn’t downloaded earlier, while i’m still at home. Whenever i’m cleaning the house or training the dog in our yard, i pop the Ipod in my pocket and “stream” whatever episodes there are in the feeds while still in reach of my Wifi access point. Should i want to listen to an episode “offline” I just select the episode and ask for it to be downloaded manually aswell. RSS PLAYER deletes the older episodes (you can save up to how many you prefer) , gives you a little ‘floppy disk’ icon before the feed entry to show you the episode has been “downloaded” or is available for “streaming”. The application “parses” your RSS feeds every hour or once every day, however the application has to be running (and wifi needs to be enabled and connected) to do that.
The way I use it is that I plop my ipod touch in our charging station, open up RSS PLAYER and tell it to ‘refresh’ my podcast lists. RSS PLAYER downloads all the podcasts in the background as it charges, and in the morning I just snatch the Ipod from the charger and am off. And when I don’t have the content available offline, I can just war-drive my way to an open hot-spot and download (or stream) my content from there. A truely remarkable app for a small price. Ok , it might be a liiiitle bulky and not have the well polished “finish” other native Ipod-Iphone apps have, but it does the trick. My Itunes isn’t polluted with podcasts, RSS PLAYER has built in playlists for unplayed episodes etc, it supports downloading AND PLAYING of screencasts .. its everything you want when you are too lazy to sync.
Download RSS PLAYER app from the Itunes Store or go to their website HERE .
In part Two : Syncing up my Ebook Reader
The say you can find just about everything on the internet, and if "they" say that , its probably true. From the formula for a perfect Café Latte to the formula for an atom bomb, from pictures of kittens to full out FluffyPron ( hello @woollymittens 😉 ) There is indeed no source of information more powerful then "The interwebs". One side of the net that has been "under – appreciated " for providing us with valuable information is Youtube. Sure enough, "The Tube" is awesome for entertainment. Posting little flicks of you best friend face-planting his fresh nosejob into gray unforgiving concrete is hilarious (and a wonderful tribute to gravity), but youtube has more to offer sometimes. Personally I see Youtube as a great source for "instructional" videos. Wether its on some DYI work (putting up Cornishes in my office) or for something as simple as walking your dog. Our Dobberman Dog "Lot’cha" (Klingon for : I’ll tear your nuts out with my bare teeth if you bring that copy of Windows Millenium into this house) is a super-sweet dog, but VERY enthusiastic when we go on walks. Needles to say she can yank her (and my) chain so hard, I am positive that my right arm MUST be longer then my left one. So yesterday , after another tug-of-war between my and my beloved K9, I hit the youtubes for some short and informative videos on "how to walk your dog". And behold ! it is FULL of it ! No longer do you need to worry about reading through an enormous amount of texts and instructions, Youtube can be the perfect source for short, informative, compressed and handy instructional video’s.