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Old 05-04-2007, 10:01 AM   #1
curiouser
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Question Why no native Reader apps?

Beyond "hello world" and the recent clock hack, I haven't seen anyone compiling apps to replace the native reading app on the Reader (e.g., xpdf, HTML browsers, Simplereader, etc). There seemed to be more activity on this front for the Librie in its day. There were some comments about porting a Librie app to the Reader in this thread, but there was no follow up discussion.

Are there hardware differences from the Librie that no one has quite figured out, or is there simply no interest in pursuing this path?
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:11 AM   #2
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I think the reason is two-fold. Firstly, Librie could not read anything except LRF, so the incentive to make custom viewers was much higher. Secondly, there is currently no easy way to run those custom applications, and with the signed firmware updates it's become even harder. However, I'm currently investigating some options and hopefully the second reason will become less of an issue.
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:45 AM   #3
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However, I'm currently investigating some options and hopefully the second reason will become less of an issue.
Tease...
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Old 05-04-2007, 11:38 AM   #4
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Alex,

The cold hard reality is this.

Yes, you can replace the firmware on a Sony using a program to pull new firmware off a memory card into RAM and then program it into the FLASH. But, and you knew there had to be a but... if that image made the Sony un-bootable: you're toast. The tool requires the Sony to be able to run a program to do this, so if it can't get back to the point of running that program... you won't be able to fix what you broke. Only Sony could fix it at that point.

The first filesystem supplied with the tool could hack the Sony to eliminate the signature for using the USB firmware method. But I can only imagine Sony would then close the door for the memory card based tool, upgrade off SHA-1 signatures and provide a fixed PDF viewer and some other nifty feature everyone would want to get most users on the newer even more secure firmware. Or just simply show their ugly and upgrade the DRM and tell everyone: upgrade by this date or you can't buy new ebooks from the CONNECT store.

Even with a working firmware upload ability, as with the original firmware, uploading entire filesystems to add a tool will rapidly become a mess: "I want the Mobipocket Viewer but there isn't an image online with that and the Go game"... if creating Sony Reader filesystem images was easy for your Average Joe they'd be making them already to add fonts et al.

On the silver lining side of all this, the things that make 3rd party apps a bust on the Sony are the same things that make the unit more solid and robust.
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Old 05-04-2007, 12:22 PM   #5
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I find myself kind of ambivalent about the 3rd party apps situation. On the one hand, I don't really need them for what I do, so I don't really miss them on a personal level. On the other hand, I see their availability (or would see it if they were available) as a good persuader for others to buy into the Reader, which, in turn, would make the Reader more successful, and add to overall e-book progress.

Then on the third hand, I'm kinda peeved about the shutting of the door in the first place (something that seems to be looking more like it may have been done deliberately). I may not want to walk through it at the moment, but I kind of resent not being able to do so when I could before.

It's a bit discouraging, after all the company's talk (a lot of it specifically related to the Reader) about being more open. In fairness, I suppose the Reader is one of the most open devices (that isn't actually a computer) they've released in terms of using non-Sony-proprietary file types and media, but closing this door is ... disappointing.
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Old 05-04-2007, 12:40 PM   #6
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But as you say, this ISN'T sold as a computer, but as a dedicated book-reader for the non computer-expert. If Sony were to "officially" open it up to replacement software, don't you think that would result in rather a support nightmare for them?

I have LOTS of computers already. I don't want or need another one. I bought my Reader for reading book on .
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Old 05-04-2007, 01:05 PM   #7
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That's an excellent point, Harry. Though I would quibble (that's not to say 'argue,' you know ) on a very small portion of it: I don't know that it would be that much of a support hassle for them.

They really ought to release a de-bricker of some sort if they went that route. I'd expect one such to cover most situations -- in fact, the Hard Reset would probably already fill that bill.

Beyond that, they could just tell people who managed to really hose their units, "We don't support 3rd part stuff, but we'll be happy to clean up your 3rd party app generated mess ... for a fee." They already seem to have that part down pat.

I know the devices are very different, and I'm not trying to draw a general analogy, but this approach seems to have worked well enough for Palm.
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Old 05-04-2007, 03:41 PM   #8
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To be dead blunt here, what is there to add anyway? The clock is neat-o, but I don't want something flashing at me while I'm reading a book!

The only thing I see of value is more robust reading software that supports multiple formats (.lit, Palm, Encrypted PDF, etc.).

While the Reader certainly has some coolness appeal as a mini-Linux box, the vast, vast, vast majority of purchasers are in it for one specific reason: reading books.

-Pie
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Old 05-04-2007, 04:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by scotty1024
upgrade by this date or you can't buy new ebooks from the CONNECT store.
Scotty, this is a potential threat that makes me tremble with ... laughter. I could care less about the connect store considering their poor choice, high prices and limited formate plus DRM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EatingPie
To be dead blunt here, what is there to add anyway? The clock is neat-o, but I don't want something flashing at me while I'm reading a book!

The only thing I see of value is more robust reading software that supports multiple formats (.lit, Palm, Encrypted PDF, etc.).
I would like better RTF support, TOC & images. With that capability, a non-Sony, easy way to add/remove ebooks & a hierarchal file structure, I would be satisified.
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Old 05-04-2007, 04:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatingPie
The only thing I see of value is more robust reading software that supports multiple formats (.lit, Palm, Encrypted PDF, etc.).
That's the most obvious one to me too, Pie, but I expect there are other apps that would be desirable to other folks, and I'd just as soon they be able to do them if they like, even if those apps are completely disinteresting to me.

Touching on the Palm again, for every app I find useful on the thing there are about a zillion others that I don't care a fetid pair of dingo's kidneys for, but somebody else obviously liked the idea enough to make them. I'd say over 75% of the ones I have and use I didn't know I wanted until I saw that somebody else made them available. I'd just like the Reader to have that same sort of potential.

At the same time, I am in no way suggesting that the Reader doesn't perform its designed task to my satisfaction (it does), nor that it needs extra add-ons to make me happy with it (I'm already quite happy with it), just that it would be nice if those add-ons were possible, should a need/interest in them arise down the road, and that it's kind of annoying that the possibility seems to have been deliberately removed.
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Old 05-04-2007, 05:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by slayda
...I would like better RTF support, TOC & images. With that capability, a non-Sony, easy way to add/remove ebooks & a hierarchal file structure, I would be satisified.
And *I* would love to see a support for plain text files.
I know, I know ... The Reader DOES support txt files ... kind of, sort of ... that is.
Why on the Earth can't I choose between three built-in fonts and why can't I adjust the margin width? The sans-sherif fonts are MUCH more readable on a low resolution screen.

If the Reader could display plain text files in a sans-serif fonts with no margins I would never have to create silly rtf files, or convert my text collection into lrf files.
Sigh.
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Old 05-04-2007, 05:52 PM   #12
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I think the UniCODE support, which means support Asian Code will be great.
Since they are only selling in US now, it maybe just a wish...
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatingPie
To be dead blunt here, what is there to add anyway?
How about a better system for organizing books? Given the SD card option you can easily put hundreds of books onto a Sony Reader, yet they haven't even bothered to finish Collections support?! (Try putting a collection onto a SD Card, or even worse splitting a collection across the reader/card.) Even better would be the ability to nest collections. As it is, the navigation for finding books once you have more than 20 or so is simply dreadful.

Oh, and if they're going to leave the current kludge in place they might at least fix the Connect software so that deleting a book from a collection at least prompts removing the book completely. Or rewrite the entire application into something that doesn't act like it was thrown together by a barely competent user using a GUI builder.
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Old 05-04-2007, 07:05 PM   #14
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C'mon, Thiana, don't hold back -- tell us how you really feel.
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Old 05-04-2007, 07:53 PM   #15
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i want to dice, slice and make a good cup of joe. it ain't gonna happen, its a book reader and a mighty fine one too.

if you want all those things get a pda or a tablet pc. or a vegamatic and a coffe pot.
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