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Archive for the ‘ebook readers’ Category

Initial thoughts on Sony ebook reader PRS-T1

Posted by Zumbs on May 3, 2012

Before making my choice, I had a good long look at the available ebook readers. While support for multiple ebook formats was a plus, my main objective was to get a book that would help me organize my notes for tabletop roleplaying.

After making a odt to pdf converter, it was easy to convert my notes to pdf, so the ability to handle pdfs was the primary functionality. In order to be convenient, it would need many of the abilities of regular paper. I would need to be able to add notes, maybe even drawings, to the pdf. It should be reasonably easy to skim through a pdf. I have a lot of documents, so some way of organizing it would be useful. Being able to connect the ebook reader to a computer and transfer pdfs were, naturally, of the utmost importance.

After looking at reviews, including some nice youtube videos, I made my choice: Sony PRS-T1. Primarily because its pdf handling is quite good. Like other readers, the screen is a bit slow to update, and sometimes the touch screen does not register your presses. But it does all that I need it to do. The reader can be connected to a PC, pdfs can be copied to it and opened on the screen. The reader also run Android, which is nice.

It does not come with reader software for the PC, so you have to download it from Sonys homepage. Like iTunes, the PC software helps you manage your library on the PC. When using the reader software, it prompts you to log into your Sony account. That is a bit annoying. It’s pretty easy to import files into your library – simply point it to a folder and it will import anything in it.

The library files can be moved into collections that can help organize your library. With 190 pdf documents, this is important as the ebook reader cannot use the folder structure to organize manually added pdfs. However, using collections requires that you add the library by using the Sync feature of the ebook reader. And the Sync feature requires that you have logged into your Sony account. Annoying!

So, let me reiterate: In order to get the most of your ebook reader, you have to have a Sony account and be logged in. Thus far, this is my major annoyance with the ebook reader.

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Bulk conversion using LibreOffice

Posted by Zumbs on April 22, 2012

I do a lot of tabletop roleplaying. As a Game Master, I play with two different groups in the same world. The oldest running campaign has been running for more than a decade. The notes populate more than three large binders. As we do not play at my flat, it is infeasible for me to carry all that to the game. Rather, I try to pick out the important portions and leave the rest be.

A significant portion of my notes are stored on my computer in different formats. The newer documents are stored as odts, but older documents were created using various versions of WordPad and Word.

Over the last few years, the quality and functionality of ebook readers have been improving. Most of these handle formats like pdf. So, if I could convert my notes to pdf, I could bring an ebook reader with all the notes that I did not have room for in my bag. Some of the better ebook readers I have been looking at, even allow adding notes and handwriting as a new layer to existing pdfs, so I can make notes in the documents during play.

But I still need to convert all my files to pdf. There are more than 200 files involved, so doing it by hand is way to time consuming (and nigh impossible to maintain). My office program of choice, LibreOffice, comes with a nifty command line utility that is able to convert files from one format to another. Unfortunately, LibreOffice does not currently support bulk conversion on Windows.

And then there are all the custom needs, things that would be nice:

  • Keeping the same folder structure
  • Copying time stamps from the original file to the copy
  • Sync of files that are not odts (e.g. maps)
  • Ability to set metadata for generated pdfs

In the end, I wrote my own little utility program in .NET that have those features. It’s available on Sourceforge. LibreOffice 3.5 is required, but not bundled. The screenshot below shows the user interface.


Screenshot of the Bulk Converter Using LibreOffice utility. The upper part of the window is used to configure what the bulk converter should do. Move your mouse over the different options to get more information on what it does. The big, white space in the bottom is a text box that is used to write output from the converter. Press Go to start and Cancel to stop the current run.

As noted above, the utility only supports conversions from doc to odt and from odt to pdf. LibreOffice supports a lot of conversions that I have not enabled. Partly because I do not use them, and partly because it would require extensive testing to enable all of them. But I am open for requests 🙂

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