Archive | June 2011

Kindle app hack for Nook Touch

Just a quick post today to show you something I came across. This article claims that some hacking can be done to the Nook Touch to allow it to use the Kindle app.

This would be useful for those who want to buy the new Nook Touch but also have some Kindle books. Amazon is very restrictive about where their Kindle ebooks can be used. If you buy a Kindle ebook from Amazon.com you can only read it on your Kindle or in the Kindle app, which is not made for e-readers other than the Kindle. But with this hack you can apparently use the Kindle app on your Nook.

Personally, if I owned a Nook I wouldn’t want to mess with it this much, but that’s just me. I know there are a lot of people who love this kind of thing.

BeBook Live Android Market Firmware Update

I was fortunate to be able to get a testdrive model of the new BeBook Live tablet. The BeBook Live is, overall, a good entry into the tablet market, and more affordable than most others. I will probably write a fuller review later, but for this post I just want to point out a very useful firmware update.

One of the problems with the standard firmware is that it does not include access to the official Android Market from Google. I noticed this right away when I first started using it.

There is now a firmware upgrade available for the BeBook Live that updates the operating system to include the Android Market. You can download it here:

BeBook Live Android Market Firmware Update

That download includes the following instructions, which are very simple –

To get the Android app market on your BeBook Live:

* Unzip the file.
* Put all files on a fat32 formatted micro SD card. Keep the folder structure.
* This means: there should be 1 folder in the root of the SD card, all other files should be in that folder. This folder should be named sdfuse.
* Reboot the BeBook Live.
* Installation will automatically start.

The folder structure on your SD card should look like the image to the left.

After you reboot the tablet, it will automatically update the firmware. This takes a few minutes so just let it complete. You’ll see four green bars appear, which is an indication that the update is working. After it’s finished you’ll have full access to the Android Market on your BeBook Live.

Once you’re done, delete the folder on the SD card. Otherwise it will attempt to update your firmware after every reboot.

Other Android tablets can require a lot of complicated work for this type of update, but this process was very easy. It will be simple even for someone who is not experienced with this type of update. The instructions above explain all that you have to do — basically just copying the downloaded files onto your SD card and then rebooting.

I am really pleased to have found this. It’s basically the firmware that you’d want on this device.

Creating ePubs with Sigil

Recently I had the task of creating some ePub ebooks. I did some research to find the best program to use for this, and the best I found was Sigil. This is a free program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is very easy to use. It’s simple and works well. It even beats out paid programs like Adobe InDesign because that program requires a lot of levels of unnecessary complication.

Here are some basic steps to take:

1. Download the version of Sigil that you need for your computer.

2. Install.

3. Get the text of the publication that you will be working with (more on this below). Sigil can import TXT, HTML, and other EPUB files.

4. Read the Basic Tutorial. This is an excellent tutorial that shows you everything you need to know to get started. I recommend just following along with it and doing each step. After that you”ll be really familiar with the process and you can do more involved work with your ePub creations.

My Tips

Here are some things I think are important that aren’t covered in the basic tutorial in detail.

Margins: One thing that Sigil lacks is a built-in method for setting the margins of pages. There is a really easy solution, though. You can just add a line to the CSS in the code view. I’ve found that this works well:

body {padding: 3%;}

You can change the percentage to anything you like. Putting some padding around the edges really makes the book look more professional and easy to read.

ePub Viewers: The ePub files that I’ve created look really good in Adobe Digital Editions, which is Adobe’s ebook viewer. They also look good on my BeBook Neo, so I assume they will look fine on other similar e-readers. I put my ePubs on my iPhone and opened them with Bluefire Reader and they look good there as well. I tested my ePubls in Stanza’s desktop reader, and it is not smart enough to recognize Sigil’s page breaks and some of its formatting, so I don’t recommend using that program or other less-developed ePub viewers.

Page Breaks: This is covered in the tutorial but I just want to reiterate it. Sigil has an excellent little tool for creating page breaks. This can be used, for example, at the start of each Chapter. You just put your cursor above the Chapter title, and then click the button that looks like a curly “Ch”. Where you’ve created these breaks, the reader will see nicely formatted chapter beginnings that are separated from the end of the previous chapter.

What’s not mentioned in the tutorial is this: You can make global adjustments to your text before you split the pages, and then those adjustments will be included on every page without you having to edit every single page. For example: if you implement the margin CSS code that I mentioned above, you should do this before you start splitting up the page. Each new page you make via the Chapter break will inherit that CSS line that you added to the first one.

Text Prep: I recommend doing a lot of work on your text before you import it into Sigil. For example, if your source file is HTML, you can set Headings on each Chapter title (or section title or whathaveyou) in the HTML. You can prepare any other special formatting like italics, line breaks, indents, etc. That way if you lose your work in Sigil, or if you need to start over, you’ll have it all saved in your source file.

For everything else, you can just play around and see what you can learn. If you have any questions about using this program, feel free to leave a comment. I might know the answer (and might not!).

Tablet Comparisons

I made a new Squidoo Lens: Tablet Comparisons. This one is similar to the eBook Reader Comparisons lens, but obviously about tablets instead. It lists tech specs on each tablet so that you can reference them all in one place, hopefully making it useful as a shopping guide.

Right now the tablets covered are: iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Blackberry Playbook, Toshiba Tablet, and BeBook Live.

I plan to keep it updated as new tablets come out and as new models are released for the current available tablets. If you know of a new tablet that should be included, feel free to leave a comment to suggest one (either here or on the lens itself). Sometime soon I’ll be updating the eBook Reader Comparisons lens to include the new eReaders that I wrote about in my last post.

 

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