Smartphones and tablets… What’s the point?

A longtime reader who asked to be anonymous got his first tablet and smartphone a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed, to say the least. “What’s the point?” he asked me privately.

To be honest, I understand. I got my first tablet a couple of years ago–a Nook Color that I loaded Cyanogenmod on. And, to be honest, once the thrill of hacking an e-reader into a full-blown tablet with no restrictions on it wore off, I didn’t do a lot with it. When I thought of it, I would check the weather on it when I was getting ready in the morning, and maybe glance at my e-mail with it, but mostly it sat on my end table. I probably used it 15 minutes a week.

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Amazon bundles free/discounted e-books with print books

Amazon just fired off another salvo in the e-book war, one that’s going to be very difficult to return: Selected e-books are available for free or at a substantial discount if you bought the print book new from Amazon at any time, dating back to 1995.

Of course, being an e-commerce site, Amazon has the data to do that. Barnes & Noble doesn’t, necessarily. Their records of in-store purchases will be spotty, at the very least.

It’s a fair and reasonable deal for consumers, and I think it’s a good deal for authors and publishers too. Read more

Calibre turns 1.0

Calibre, the free e-book management software, hit the magic version 1.0 this past week. That’s not to say the previous versions were unstable, because they weren’t. In the world of open-source software, frequently software doesn’t hit version 1.o until the authors decide that it’s reached a certain level of feature completeness.

In that sense, Calibre’s time has come.

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Loading your own stuff onto your e-reader

I have a fair number of documents I created myself–that probably shouldn’t surprise anyone–but I don’t think I’m the only one who does. And from time to time, I’d like to reference them, and I may not have my computer with me.

Carrying around a cheap Nook or Kindle isn’t much of a problem, though. If only I could get my Word documents to display on it… It turns out that’s not hard to do. Here’s how to load your own content onto a Nook, Kindle, or any other similar device. Read more

Book scanning on the (relatively) cheap

Ars Technica has a fascinating article on the trials and tribulations of building a book scanner from a kit.

They lament the lack of software support, however–namely, a program to convert the image files generated by the digital camera into a PDF. Should I point them in the right direction? Why not? The key is Imagemagick, of course.
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