Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stanza Ebook Reader for iPhone With Calibre

In my post about Kindle and the Kindle iPhone app I was a little off due to my new found enthusiasm for ebook reading. I've been having a good time reading several books on my tiny screen - it really works - using Kindle for the iPhone. My only apprehension is that the iPhone screen will not be good enough to use while basking in the tropical sun when I go to Cancun in May. But I picked the wrong application. The Kindle solution I proposed requires a jailbroken phone, which not everyone has, and there is a much better alternative: Stanza for the iPhone and Calibre on your computer.

At first blush, Stanza has many features Kindle does not, and I'm not sure if anything from Kindle is missing on Stanza. But Kindle does have a nice feel and good speed. Some operations on Stanza can be slower (especially on my 3G, the most brain dead iThing still sold) and the feel is different. But after a little digging, and working with the very good Calibre application and Stanza on the phone, I have concluded that this is a far better solution. There is nothing to prevent you from using both, but Stanza is the way to go.

Using them is simple - no instructions necessary - just get Stanza from the app store and Calibre here: http://calibre-ebook.com/download. Both are free.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Using the Kindle iPhone App for Reading Non-Kindle Ebooks

Please see my update - I found something that works much better and does not require a jailbroken phone, which using a back door to the iPhone file system does. Readhttp://bobklass.blogspot.com/2010/03/stanza-ebook-reader-for-iphone-with.html

I've tried reading PDF's off the iphone, but I really wanted to read big ebooks. It was very much hit or miss, mostly miss. The PDF could be too big or too small and would not reformat appropriately. Not useable.

The answer - Amazon Kindle. The Kindle itself is a great device, but one whose days are numbered (unfortunately - I think they are a great idea). The Kindle iPhone app is free. Kindle books are expensive, but there is usually a free download of the first few chapters which gives you a good idea of both the books' contents and the reading experience on the hand held. The XML-ish text reformats based on the size font you want. The PRC file format seems to mostly be XML and some binary compression standards. Bookmarks are kept. It all works nicely. And Kindle isn't a horrible deal right now - $259 for the device and free global wireless data access (for now). 

PDF's, TXT or DOC files can all be turned into Kindle PRC files with a free app called MobiPocket Creator. Home made PRC's can be a little idiocyncratic, but they aren't bad. You sftp into your device (OpenSSH from Cydia and Winscp) and drop these files into your hand held (find the folder by searching for *.prc with Winscp). I am reading multiple books this way right now, and the Kindle app keeps my place nicely. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


FlashForward: Season One Pt.1Flashforward
When ABC's FlashForward started last fall I was immediately thrilled with the premise - a mysterious temporal event takes place causing all human consciousness to see a glimpse of the future. The show's first 10 episodes were great, leaving me wanting more! My wife Gayle (who reads constantly) passed the Robert J. Sawyer book on to me when she finished it, thinking I would like it. She was right. It is a great complement to the TV series. The premise is similar, and the characters and feel of the story has some similarity, but they are different stories.

The book definitely is more satisfying. An easy, quick read, I recommend zipping through it before the second half of the first season is over. My only disappointment was the ending. After blazing to a blistering climax, things go a little too far, and it lost me (I guess I wouldn't be getting a second Flash Forward).

What are you going to see in your FlashForward?

FlashForward [Blu-ray]