technology

Kindle Killer?

Is the forthcoming Plastic Logic Reader a Kindle killer? I guess it all depends on what price they put on it....

Stanza Comes to Windows

Stanza, the ebook reader for the iPhone/iPod Touch that I blogged about previously, finally has a program that allows you to transfer books from a Windows machine to your device. (Previously, only a Mac version existed.) The program installed much more cleanly than that of rival BookShelf's, and I moved a PDF book from my computer to my iPod Touch wirelessly with very little trouble.

Stanza is clearly the best ebook reader for the device, there is just no contest anymore.

Also, I discovered that the service Stanza uses for public domain/creative commons ebooks is called FeedBooks and can also be used with the Kindle, Sony Reader and other ebook/PDA type devices. The formatting is designed for these sorts of devices so the books render better than those from Project Gutenberg. (Though Gutenberg still has the much larger library. Fortunately, Gutenberg books can be read on the iPhone and iPod Touch using Stanza.)

New RIAA Rules Will Shut Down Pandora

As being widely reported, higher fees for online music imposed by the RIAA may force Pandora.com to close down. Pandora.com is my favorite Internet radio site, and it can't be any better for other Internet Radio enterprises. This is really a classic case of the music industry shooting itself in the foot; by making their rates inordinately high they're not only going to miss out on the revenue they would get from major sites like Pandora having to close, but also from the literally millions of people getting turned on to new music and going out and buying CDs and digital downloads and so on. What a bunch of assholes.

Windows Vista Completely Insecure

If you needed any more proof that Windows Vista is the worst thing ever, news comes out of a new, un-fixable exploit,

Presenters at Black Hat revealed that most, if not all, of Windows Vista's security features can be taken out with a single browser exploit, using Java and .NET to execute malicious code. ... As researcher Dino Dai Zovi told SearchSecurity, "that's completely game over."

If you're thinking of buying a new computer, get a Mac or something running Linux. Seriously.

The best Ebook reader for the iPhone/iPod Touch

I've been getting really frustrated with Bookshelf's limitations, not the least of which is the fact that if you put your finger down somewhere without holding it long enough it JUMPS to the top or bottom of the paragraph, meaning that if you're trying to scroll down and take your finger off too quickly it jerks you away from whatever you're reading. Also the interface is ugly, the HTML book I'd imported didn't format quite right resulting in the first chunk of it being centered, and did I mention it doesn't read PDFs? This thing cost me $10?

Then along comes Stanza. Stanza has a beautiful interface, a huge library of public domain books easily available, and the book formats it supports? "Stanza contains built-in reading support for Amazon Kindle, Mobipocket, Microsoft LIT, PalmDoc, Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format, HTML, and PDF." [Emphasis mine.] And even better: It's FREE!

The only catch? The program to transfer books from your computer to your device only works with Macintosh. Apparently, they're working on a Windows version (and maybe even a Linux version, which would make me happy to no end). For now, though, I found the works of HP Lovecraft that I was reading on Bookshelf in Stanza's free library, so I'm good for the time being. Once they get the software working on other platforms, this will be the only eBook reader anyone should even consider using on their device.

iPod Firmware and Word Processing

The new iPhone and iPod Touch firmware is officially out, though the iTunes Store is either down or two busy so I can't actually buy it.

One thing I noticed going through the App Store— there's still no proper word processor for the iPhone/iPod Touch. This is something Windows Mobile devices have always had over their Apple counterparts; they run Microsoft Office Mobile, which, as loath as I am to compliment Microsoft products, frankly rocks. Apple Notes is not nearly powerful enough, and as for the online solutions, Google Docs only lets you read documents on the iPod, I couldn't get Zoho Writer to work at all. The only online solution I found that works is Glide Mobile, which is terrible.

i used to write all the time with my Palm Pilot and fold-out keyboard. It was great because it was cheap, had a long battery life and was really light to carry around. Eventually, though, I got tired of only being able to write in plain text and having to convert things to and from the Palm Doc format all the time. However, newer devices have much better word processing solutions. Warren Ellis, for instance, writes on his Linux-based Nokia N810. At nearly $500, I think I'll pass on getting one of those myself (you could get a laptop for that these days), but there's no reason that a word-processor and a full-sized external keyboard couldn't turn my iPod Touch into an extremely useful writing machine. So why don't either of these things exist?

iTunes App Store Opens

Apple has opened the App store for business, though the firmware updates for the iPhone and the iPod Touch are still a day away. (iPhones but not Touches can actually get the 2.0 update through a direct link.)

Naturally, after downloading the iTunes update with the App store, my first course of action was to try and find the PDF eBook reader I've been waiting for. A search for "PDF" came up with bubkis, but I did stumble on this App (which has "PDF" in the description -- Apple, time to work on your search functionality). It allows you to copy files, including PDFs, to your device and read them. The only thing missing is the ability to bookmark pages.

I'm not buying the app until I know it can bookmark, but I've sent them an email asking about it. I'll keep you all posted.

Update: I also just found this app, which doesn't read PDFs, but does read HTML and text. If FileMagnet doesn't do the job, this is what I'll probably be using until a proper PDF reader comes along.

Update 2: The makers of FileMagnet replied to my email:

Hi Eric:

Thanks for your interest in FileMagnet. FileMagnet's PDF viewing is identical to the way Safari on the iPhone shows PDFs. There's not currently a way to bookmark pages as far as I know. We will absolutely be looking into providing more powerful PDF viewing in a future update!

Regards,
Ken

So no dice there. Sigh. If only the iPhone SDK were available for Linux, I could really build something (or at least try to)...