Sunday, September 27, 2009

Red Mars: Free but not Open

Back in March of this year I saw IO9's posting about the free download of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars ebook in PDF format. I snagged it immediately and eventually loaded it into Calibre along with the rest of my ebook collection. So far, so good.

Last night I was looking through my ebook collection trying to find some Sci-Fi to load on my Kindle. I found Red Mars in Calibre's book listing and decided I would put that on my Kindle (a classic Kindle, BTW). I set Calibre to the task of converting Red Mars from PDF to MOBI format for transferring to my Kindle. The conversion completed normally and I transferred the MOBI version of Red Mars to my Kindle. Much to my dismay the viewing the MOBI version of Red Mars only showed the Table of Contents and then displayed a message about dowloading the ebook from Amazon.  Thinking that there was a problem with Calibre's PDF to MOBI conversion routine I fired up my copy of Stanza and used it to convert Red Mars PDF to both MOBI and the native Kindle format, AZW.  Both these fomats behaved the same way.

I now believe that the free PDF of Red Mars is DRM'd to prevent conversion to any other format.  Something all the breathless gushery about Random House's release of Red Mars seems to have missed. For now, I've not deleted Red Mars from my collection and I did download a different copy of the PDF and I'll repeat the conversion process to see if the same issue occurs.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Scribefire from Ibex901

Testing Scribefire blogging tool from my 901 eeePC running eeeBuntu.

Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both yes and no.
   -- J.R.R. Tolkien

DeFacto Gun Control

From the self-fulfilling prophecy department....

There was much talk earlier this year amongst the Internet media about the unprecedented demand for gun ammunition; mostly .40 and .38 caliber bullets. The general consensus seems to be Oh My God! Look at all those Liberal Democrats in the Congress and the White House. There gonna ban guns and ammo for sure or The country's falling apart, its everyman for themselves! Buy guns and as much ammo as you can afford and then buy more just in case.

These dire predictions, initially began appearing in late February 2009. Now in September,2009 there are Internet media reports indicating that either the shortage is continuing or that it is easing.

My point in all of this? Hoarding ammunition and over buying resulted in at least nine months of an ammunition shortage that effectively acted as gun control legislation. All the dire predictions over impending government action and law-making against hand guns, their ammo and other firearms effectively used economics to limit a gun owner's ability to purchase and provision their arms.

One would hope that the supporters of gun rights would educate their constituents about the economics of the situation so that they do not impose this inadvertant form of gun control on themselves.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Calibre: Ruler of eBooks and eReaders

I've inherited She Who Must Be Obeyed's Kindle 1 when we got her a Kindle 2 for its text to speech capability. I like the Kindle hardware, but have never been enamored of Amazon's store/DRM web that the want to trap you in. While listening to TWIT a few weeks ago someone in the irc chat mentioned that a open source software package called Calibre was a way use your Kindle without entering the Amazon web.

I've been using Calibre now for about 3? months and have been very impressed. Calibre runs on the Windows, Linux and Mac OS X platforms.  It stores and indexes your ebook collection, will convert ebooks among various formats.  All of the information about the  ebook is only stored once in the database creating  the concept of a logical book.  All the major ebook  formats are supported, as well as plain text, PDF. From Calibre's FAQ:

calibre supports the conversion of many input formats to many output formats. It can convert every input format in the following list, to every output format.


After Calibre converts your ebook to a format compatible with your ebook reader it can sync the format of your choice onto your reader.  For me, this means converting ebooks to the MOBI format and then syncing the MOBI format onto my Kindle 1.

Calibre supports SONY PRS 500/505/700, Cybook Gen 3, Amazon Kindle (1 and 2) and the iPhone (with the stanza reader software). Syncing supports updating metadata on the device from metadata in the library and the creation of collections on the device based on the tags defined in the library view. If an book has more than one format available, calibre automatically chooses the best format when uploading to the device.

You don't need an ebook reader to reader books stored in Calibre. Calibre has a built-in content server that allows you to read ebooks through a web-browser.

Scribefire from Anda

Hello all;
Testing Scribefire from my Ubuntu laptop Anda.

Lets see what happens....