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November 05, 20:26 | Comments (2)

Ebooks on the Nokia 3650 with Repligo

My new-found love for ebooks is in part driven by the combination of my Nokia 3650 and a program called Repligo. With Repligo, you can turn most any document type—be it Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, or most importantly, PDF—into a highly compressed RGO file that's optimized for small-screen viewing. You get the Repligo viewer for free and the encoder is $24.95.

As an example, I'm currently reading Pragmatic Version Control with this solution. The original PDF was 1.2MB and the RGO file is around half of that. So fitting all of the 165 pages is no problems. And the viewer is pretty darn fast as well, so reading is (almost) a complete joy.

This is how it looks:

A few caveats:

  • The Repligo Encoder is only out for Windows (you know, that legacy system you run through Virtual PC). Their FAQ speaks of a possible Mac version, but I wouldn't hold my breath. (This does shut G5 owners out in cold as Virtual PC doesn't work on those machines)
  • The Repligo Reader conflicts with iSync causing non-fatale crashes each time you sync. Annoying, but if you're willing to forego RGO file recognition, you can delete /System/recogs/RecRgo.mdl on the phone to make the crashes go away. You'll have to find and move new files /Documents/ and open them directly from the viewer, though, as the phone will no longer recognize the .rgo extension.
  • There's no forced backlighting as ReadM and others have. So either you read a page and go to the next within 15 seconds or you suffer constant light mode switching. Pretty annoying, but the developer says they're "aware" of it, so hopefully a fix won't be too long.

Now, why on earth would you want to read books on a a screen the size of a match box? Here's a few reasons for you:

  • You'll always have a bunch of books on you and it doesn't require carrying around a big bag. I have 128MB on my MMC, so with books the size of Pragmatic Version Control, I'd be able to carry around more than 200 at once!
  • You can read in low-lighting situations like on the back-seat of a car at night or in bed when the girlfriend insists the light should be off.
  • You can read standing in a crowd, such as the early morning busses I need to take into Copenhagen Business School. Pages are easily turned with one hand.

November 05, 13:48 | Comments (17)

Dude, Where's My Digital Rights?

Michael, I'm thrilled to see your offering ebook versions of your latest book. It makes it easier, faster, and cheaper to access your voice in Europe and the rest of the world. But I'm very disappointed by the heavy-handed DRM controls burdening the ebook currently available.

The following rights are reserved:

  • Copy: not allowed
  • Print: not allowed
  • Lend: not allowed
  • Reading aloud: not allowed

What's that all about?! I want to print out a chapter to read in bed and I want to copy it to my Nokia phone to read on the bus. I can do neither.

Please tell your publisher to stop taking away rights that are freely available with the paper version. I'm doing them a favor by buying a ebook version that has zero marginal distribution and production costs, and they're punishing me for the fact.

That's just plain wrong.

The complaint above was filed with Michael Moore—author of the just released Dude, Where's My Country—a few minutes ago...