Well, I gotta say, I’ve been having great fun with my snazzy new wireless keyboard. In fact, I’m on the bus right now, hacking up this blog entry, keyboard in my lap, TX battery slowly bleeding away. Pretty darn cool, I think.
But the real bonus is the new capabilities this keyboard affords. One of the things I’ve always been curious to try is Palm development. However, the barrier to entry is pretty darn high… getting a devkit working on Linux is a non-trivial procedure, to say the least, which is saying a lot, given I hand-rolled my first GBA development kit.
The other option had always been an onboard environment of some description. And there are a few that are workable. There’s HotPaw Basic, which provides a fairly complete Basic environment right on the Palm. ‘course, it is Basic… shudder. Then there’s LispMe, which is a reasonably full-featured Scheme implementation. Unfortunately, it has stabilities issues on the TX which ruled it out. Additionally, I came across OnBoard C, which is actually a C development environment which runs right on the Palm, and generates standalone applications. ‘course, it’s C… which provides me with a little more hanging rope than I would like.
And then I discovered PP Compiler. Like OnBoard C, this is a full development environment for the Palm which generates 68k or ARM applications. However, this is a Pascal compiler. IOW, I get a reasonably powerful, and safe programming environment that allows me to write, well, essentially anything I want! It also appears to have a fairly lively user community and developers who are actively maintaining the project.
‘course, the next question is, now what? Honestly, I have no idea. But it is pretty cool. :) And at least it gives me another justification for purchasing this keyboad…
So, in my on-going search for ways to justify the purchase of my PDA, I’ve decided to try and read my first e-book on the thing, specifically “The Da Vinci Code”.
Okay, quit laughing. I’m entitled to read a little pulp from time to time, too, ya know. So piss off! And, hey, it can’t be as bad as Decipher. No, seriously, it really can’t. If an author tried to write a book worse than that, I’m pretty sure his/her own lower intestine would reach up and strangle him/her, Douglas-Adams-style.
Anyway, surprisingly enough, the experience has been remarkably positive. I absolutely love real, physical books as much as the next guy (actually, probably more… I have this really nasty habit of “stopping in” to book stores and walking out with two or three new items to add to my collection. Which would be fine if paperbacks still cost $5, rather than the current going rate which is upwards of $10… frickin’ wallet rapists), and still think that the classic paper book provides a superior overall reading experience, although that’s probably at least in part due to nostalgia. But I have to admit, this whole e-book thing might not be so crazy after all.
Now, going in, I knew that e-books have some problems:
- Eye fatigue.
- Difficult to see in bright-light conditions.
- Poorer “random access” facilities.
- Less durable (for obvious reason).
In my case, the first two were my major concerns, especially given my poorer vision. But, as it turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought. The screen on my TX is clear and readable. The brightness controls make it pretty usable in a variety of light levels (though reflection is an issue). And as for the other issues, well, I can deal with them. Plus, e-books have a few advantages:
- Smaller pocket-print, thus easier to carry around.
- Easy to read one-handed, or even no-handed with autoscroll.
- Ability to adjust fonts, colours, etc, to suit the reader.
- Can carry around a whole collection of books easily.
- Very easy to just power on and read. The reader automatically remembers where I was and opens directly to where I left off.
- Works in dark environs. I could read while Lenore’s sleeping, if I wanted.
- Allows me to easily read material from resources like Project Gutenberg without having to print stuff off.
As for actual software, I really can’t say enough good things about PalmFiction. Unfortunately, the only things the author can say are in Russian, so you kinda have to fumble a bit with it. But once you do, wow! The feature set is incredible!
- Reads txt, PalmDoc, Word files, RTF, and others, and can even read compressed files.
- Can display the text using anti-aliased fonts converted from TTF sources.
- Supports any screen orientation, so you can read left- or right-handed.
- Can display in true full screen on hi-res devices. No wasted screen space!
- Does a great job of word wrapping and hyphenation.
- It’s FREE.
And there’s probably many more features I neglected to mention. Truely an awesome program, and far better than trying to read PDFs using PalmPDF.
On a separate but related note, the next e-book on my list is a Russian work called The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. ‘course, I was originally planning to read The Golden Calf by the same authors, as recommended by Arkadi, our resident Syberian. However, the folks at that site haven’t completed the translation, and the last thing I want is to be left hanging halfway through. ;)
I decided to install a little sketching tool for my Palm called DiddleBug, and with it, I’ve found it possible to express myself in new and unique ways, by unlocking my latent artistic talent. With it, I’ve been able to tap into the deep well of my being, to create works of art that would have otherwise been impossible. You can see the result yourself. He’s my new site logo. Nice, eh?
Of course, I must admit, I also wanted to spruce this place up a little bit more and add some colour. I think it worked out nicely. Don’t you?
Update: Courtesy of lenore, my logo is now named Mr. Squiggle.
The sequel has arrived. We were passing by a Future Shop downtown, and we decided to stop in, and lo and behold, they got in new stock! So I decided to take the plunge once more. I hope I don’t live to regret this.
OTOH, this time I bought the extended warrantee. Of course, normally, these things are scams, and primarily act as just a great way to pump up the sales dude’s commission. But, in this case, particularly given my first experience, it seemed worth the money. Of course, if I decide enough is enough, I just threw $60 out the window. Then again, if things go south in 6 months, it’ll all be worth it (the warrantee is for a rather ample 2 years).
‘course, the real irony in all this is that, just today, I discovered PocketMod. It’s been raved about again and again elsewhere, so I won’t get too deep into it, but it basically lets you make small, customizable 8-page booklets, which can contain anything from calendars to to-do lists to music staffs, and are intended to act as little organizers/notebooks/what-have-you. Which, of course, is exactly what my Palm is for. :) Oh well, a PocketMod or two is still useful for other things, and I’ll put my more ‘mission critical’ stuff on paper, rather than dedicating the information solely to my Palm (eg, important contact information, etc).
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