Tuesday, June 12, 2012

E-reader alternatives.

We have all seen ereaders. They vary in price from low to high.  They are also usually very fragile and easy to lose. If anyone can lose something it is me. One of the reasons we have held back from getting one. Besides we would prefer something that will fit in our pocket. Since most e-readers will not fit in the pocket, what is there as an alternative?

Came up with something as least for me is better than an e-reader is an e-listener. A what? Actually it is a pocket media or music player. The advantage here is that you can listen to an e-book rather than reading it. Best advantage here is even if it is dark, you can enjoy your reading. Backlit screen not ever required.To use the music player as a reader so to speak, you must convert the text into voice.  Most computers now a days come with some kind of speech synthesizer. To do the conversion, the reader files should be in the standard pdf format. A program called Calbre can usually convert most e-reader formats into the standard pdf file format.

Although, I have not documented the Apple computers as of yet, I have done it with MSwindows and  Linux. You can go to http://www.instructables.com/id/Ereader-is-optional-by-using-your-portable-music-p/ for the linux version and you can go to http://www.instructables.com/id/Ereader-is-optional-by-using-your-portable-music-p-1/ for the MSWindows version. You can use these instructables to convert your pdf ereader file to a sound or music file. We usually try to separate each chapter a separate music file to make reading (that is listening) easier..

One other advantage of converting pdf and or text files to audio is that you can make your own podio  books for listening. Write your own stories such as mysteries. If good enough, they can be sold online. This is also great for shut in students who can not make it to class as they can still hear the lectures that have been converted to podio fornat.

Everywhere there are kiosks and or access to the internet with just a web browser. At least where we live the public libraries are many terminals for web access. If not many retail eatery establishments have internet access. so if you have a portable wireless internet device, you can access pdf files in a different way. Web servers use html files to serve out content. Actually there are several programs such as Calibre that can turn a pdf document into some kind of  html document that a web server can provide for easy web browsing.

Linux has some command line tools for conversion of pdf into web server compatible html files. You can more information at http://www.instructables.com/id/Display-PDF-files-with-a-linux-server/.  Generally, I can down load a pdf ereader file and convert it to html file for reading from a web server. In any case, if you do not have a web server, you can easily directly load the html files into you browser for reading.

if you are more adventurous, you can actually set up a web server fairly easily, but beware it may not be internet safe. We run a private home web server on our wired (not wireless) network. Makes it easy to server the converted pdf into html files to everyone in the household. I like to take downloaded pdf files from www.instructables.com for easy reading on the Chumby clone. Examples of setting up an easy web server is available for linux at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Quicky-web-server-for-linux/  and for MSWindows at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Quicky-web-server-for-MSWindows-XP/.

Good luck.

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