30 August 2009

Reading ebooks just got much better

The first image shows one breakthrough in ebook reading: calibre. This tool will convert between the many incompatible ebook formats and most importantly output in .epub, the open, XML-based ebook format to hopefully rule them all. First step out of the way, converting the hundreds of .pdb and .prc format ebooks I have on my Palm to .epub.

Next step, finding an ebook reader that works on the Nintendo DSi now that I have System 1.4 because that killed the previous reader I had, a basic effort called DS Reader that has had no development for years, only handles plain .txt files and doesn't work with international characters like é and ß for instance. Lo and behold, DSLibris comes to the rescue (second pic), with an author who is interested in pushing further, so it supports .epub, .otf fonts (OpenType) and uses the DS held like a book. It doesn't handle .epub files with multiple html entries in the manifest very well yet, yet being the operative word, and some of the translations performed by calibre have had questionable results in DSLibris, but I'm not sure yet whether that's down to DSLibris or calibre since that's also in beta. Best of all with both, they use the Trac system for bug reporting, which means that the bug reporting and feature requesting system is completely open.

To my mind there are two real obstacles to making the DSi a Kindle for those with more sense than money. One is for Nintendo to allow access to the SD card on the DSi through a more open SDK, the other is to allow better third party access to the DSiWare shop and it seems progress is being made on the second front at least: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/newsArt.cfm?artid=19854.

An exciting time, but more and more we see Nintendo holding back innovation.

22 August 2009

Vista bashing is sooo tired

For the umpteenth time reading on the web I get the message "Vista suxx, XP rules". I for one would never go back to XP. I have a modern machine with enough memory, a good enough graphics card and processor power to spare to be able to run Vista and you know what? It's better than XP for me.

  • Aero? That thing that you get "advised" to switch off if you have to use Vista? Get real bitches, turning off Aero reduces Windows to the kind of relationship it had with your graphics card in XP and before! I like the fact that now a whole bunch of operations can be offloaded to the graphics card, like window redraws for instance, without tasking the CPU.
  • The Start menu? We get told to replace it with Classic, just like Win2k, well, no, the fact you can hit the Windows key and just type the name of your app quickly to get to it rather than cruising up and down lists of items without handy identifiers like program icons in a carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing fashion is better why?
  • The fact that indexing is done behind the scenes for quicker searches? That's good too (not that it matters when I use Directory Opus anyway, the one program that no version of Windows is complete without.
I'm sure there are plenty of other technical reasons why I can rightly prefer Vista over XP, but I can't think of them right now and a rant is supposed to be written in a hurried fashion, otherwise the passion goes from it. Oh yes, and those that tell me I should use Linux? Maybe I will when the apps that I put bread on the family table are available for it. The time is getting closer, but it's not there yet.

Gah, an article without a picture?