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Old 05-04-2006, 10:48 AM   #1
LittleTalker
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Useful tools for the iLiad

Hi everyone,
since we already know some of the features of the iLiad and soon many of us will be probably getting one soon, I think it might be good to share ideas on tools that might enhace the use of our latest geek toy.

First, offline explorers. Right now the iLiad can't browse the web despite of its network capabilities. It does however open locally stored XHTML files. While the small gap between "having network capability+rendering XHTML" and "browsing the web with some limitations" is filled, we can only see our favorite pages by storing them to disk first. An offline browser does that automatically, so you can use it to store your favorite site (if it's an xhtml site of course). While I don't have the time to make a full comparison, the most popular are compared at this URL (the URL tool goes all crazy with it, sorry about its looks):
http://www.metaproducts.com/mp/chart...&ex=17&links=1
Be aware that the chart is on the site from the makers of 'offline explorer' so take it with a grain of salt.
Also, there is an opensource, free offline explorer here which I haven't tested but might do the task just as well.
I have personally used offline explorer, years ago and it worked for me. The tricky part for this kind of program is to handle javascript links (some sites will use javascript to take you from one page to another, as opposed to using actual links, which may fool an offline browser since it basically works by changing the URLs in the links to recreate navigation on your hard disk.
Also, when you use this program you must configure it so that the links are converted to relative paths (ie: /images/someImage.gif), because absolute links (ie: C:\mysite\images\someImage.gif) will not work in the iLiad.
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Old 05-04-2006, 11:18 AM   #2
sammykrupa
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Great, but..

Thanks for the info.

But what about sites that are just plain HTML and images?
Any HTML to XHTML converters? Or is HTML support coming to the iLiad?

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Old 05-04-2006, 12:44 PM   #3
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RSS to PDF conversion

If you use RSS news syndication, you will probably want to get these news into your iLiad for convenience. I have checked a few ways to do this:

1: RSSOwl is a news aggregator that lets you export the news to three formats: (x)html, PDF and rtf. Two of these already have viewers available on the iLiad. It's the one I recommend the least because the PDF generated is ugly and displays HTML code if the feed is in that format (I tried teleBlog's feed and it doesn't look too great). Then I tested the html exported file which looks great on the browser, but failed to validate as proper XHTML (also a problem with an HTML feed since it's not properly escaped). It might still display on the iLiad, but only Henrycat can test that now. I'll try to upload the file later in case Henry is interested.

2: rss2pdf is a site (located here ) where you can request for a feed to be converted into PDF. You can easily create bookmarks in your favorite that generate an updated PDF that looks much better than the one you get with RSSOwl (at least with HTML based feeds). You simply create a link that starts with http://rss2pdf.com?url= and ends with the url of the feed you want converted (like http://www.teleread.org/blog/wp-rss2.php for instance). The resulting link would be this . This site also allows to use aggregated feeds in OPML format (which is like a collection of feeds). )

3: Adobe Acrobat: for those owning the tool (this is not the reader which is free, but the PDF editor that you pay to use). They claim to have a tool named 'tracker' which is a news aggregator with incorporated PDF exporting. So, like RSSOwl but not free and probably with good output quality (but that's just my guess).
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Old 05-04-2006, 12:46 PM   #4
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Sammy: I don't know if there is such tool, but converting html to XHTML isn't easy as far as I know, so automating the process of converting several files might be a difficult task. I think HTMLTidy (a free tool) does clean up most of the code but I have no idea of an automated tool to do that.
Edit: I just tried this online free tool and although not beautiful, it does convert html to PDF. Still far from automating the process though. Might need to investigate a bit further to find something useful.

Last edited by LittleTalker; 05-04-2006 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 05-04-2006, 01:08 PM   #5
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If you read here you will see that the iLiad natively supports just plain HTML:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...?threadid=6392

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Old 05-04-2006, 02:49 PM   #6
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Well, a page can be xhtml even if its URL ends with '.html'. To know if a page is xhtml you must see the source (view/page source in the menu). If at the beginning you see a line like this:
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> , then the page is xhtml.
(some pages disable the 'view source' option in IE, but firefox will always allow to see the source, try CTRL+U).
There are lots of xhtml pages out there (most blogs, the wikipedia, and any other thing that 'smells like web 2.0' will be xhtml, for example). Mobileread is an xhtml site so it can be viewed with the iLiad, and since HenryCat tried a mobileread page, I think all the references to html you saw actually mean xhtml.

Last edited by LittleTalker; 05-04-2006 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleTalker
Well, a page can be xhtml even if its URL ends with '.html'. To know if a page is xhtml you must see the source (view/page source in the menu). If at the beginning you see a line like this:
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> , then the page is xhtml.
(some pages disable the 'view source' option in IE, but firefox will always allow to see the source, try CTRL+U).
There are lots of xhtml pages out there (most blogs, the wikipedia, and any other thing that 'smells like web 2.0' will be xhtml, for example). Mobileread is an xhtml site so it can be viewed with the iLiad, and since HenryCat tried a mobileread page, I think all the references to html you saw actually mean xhtml.
Hi, LittleTalker.
Actually, some of the pages Henrycat tried in his answer for my question weren't XHTML (and some weren't valid HTML either):(Pages were checked by the W3C Markup Validation Service.)

So maybe this could mean that the iLiad might have a decent HTML browser?
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Old 05-05-2006, 03:33 AM   #8
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That's crazy... why then can't the thing browse the web if it has an html viewer and networking capabilities?
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleTalker
That's crazy... why then can't the thing browse the web if it has an html viewer and networking capabilities?
I think it could browse the web, but nobody will like the results becouse of "slow " e-ink screen.
Imagine, if you need to scroll the web page - your eyes will "blow up" from screen flashing (((( E-ink refreshes the whole screen even if only one pixel is new on the page... Banners, and so on, what makes screen do full refresh

Battery will be empty in an ~1,5 hours of web browsing...

Last edited by TaKir; 05-05-2006 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 05-05-2006, 06:53 AM   #10
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Well, I don't think it's hard to disable animations on a web page, especially if you are making the viewer. My bet is that javascript and embedded objects (applets, flash and the like) will not work so animation would be very limited.
Even so, browsing in bad conditions is better than no browsing at all.
Maybe Henrycat can shed some light on this...
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Old 05-05-2006, 07:25 AM   #11
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But why do you want to browse with the iLiad? It's like saying you want to browse with MS Word instead of/as well as Internet Explorer! The iLiad is clearly a document reader, not a browser. Sure, it connects to the internet, but for a very specific content-fetching function, why must ALL connections be used for browsing? One day in the future, we'll have the ideal machine that can do it all, probably changing screen size according to function (or shooting the info directly into our brain, who knows), but this is not it, methinks.
From personal experience, all hybrids in ANY field lose specific quality in exchange for doing more than one thing... having hybrids is often convenient, true, but that doesn't mean we should get rid of all specific appliances, eh? I have been waiting for years for something that ONLY read books, getting rid of weight, battery drain, wrong screen, extra buttons... I want an electronic paperback, and it looks like we're finally getting it!
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Old 05-05-2006, 07:28 AM   #12
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All i was told was that "live" browsing was never contemplated, and offline was considered doubtfull and so abandoned.

Continued use of wireless consumes a lot of power, Eink isn't fast enough for any kind of animation, the browser on Iliad would require a lot of work to remove the various elements not to be usead (flash mainly) and to paginate the content correctly on screen.

It wasn't planned but that doesn't mean it won't be added in the future
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Old 05-05-2006, 08:48 AM   #13
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Elahuget: I want to browse using the iLiad for the same reason I want to read my PDFs on the iLiad: read away from the desk with an easy-to-handle screen (I did consider a tablet PC before learning of the iLiad) and being able to do it for hours with no eyestrain (so the tablet is out...). I read much more content from the internet than I do from books. Actually, I'd say so does the majority of people nowadays (those lucky enaugh to have internet access, of course). I think of the iLiad as an e-Reader, not an e-book-reader. There is so much more to read than books (rss feeds, blogs, comics). So e-readers should be able to cope with all the sources of content we have today. It's not a matter of making it a hybrid (as in: calendar, games, e-mail... I don't care for these features). It's about displaying static content meant to be read. I usually like to browse the wikipedia and read about whatever comes to mind. After a little while, my eyes can't take it anymore. I am hoping to do the same using the iLiad. So what if that drains the battery? I plan to use it at home, connected to my wireless LAN and I don't mind to plug the power outlet while I read. If the wireless connection is there, why not use it?

Henry: let's hope they end up implementing something for the wireless (I can't browse my files, I can't browse the web. Oh wait! I can connect to IDS! I always wanted an exclusive wireless device to connect to an online store!!! great!!!).
As to 'removing' undesired content, it's not so much work IMHO. When you visit a page with lots of flash and you don't have the flash plugin, you can still see the page but with no animation. Thus the iLiad should have no problems with flash since there's no flash at all (the same goes for any other embedded object such as java applets). If you disable javascript by default, block hover effects (not so hard either) and prevent gif animation, then you need little else to prevent animation in pages. Of course it's not going to have all the features of a regular browser, of course many sites will not be possible to browse at all. But as I said before, limited browsing is better than no browsing at all.
And, about paginating content, isn't that already implemented? I was actually impressed on how well the HTML is displayed, I though it would look very sluggish. That's where my perplexity comes from, since it seems it takes very little to enable web browsing.
I guess it's another case of 'we are aiming at corporate use' again. But corporate users would probably thank browsing as well.

Last edited by LittleTalker; 05-05-2006 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleTalker
But as I said before, limited browsing is better than no browsing at all.
That may be true for the people that frequent this board, but not necessarily for the general population. If their favourite page fails to load because is uses a Flash-Menu without fallback, java and some weird activex plugin they will mostly not come to the conclusion that the webmaster is at fault. No, it will be “The iLiad sucks! Why cant I view www.dancingjesus.com?”
The moment iRex would advertise “Browse the web on your iLiad” people would simple expect to be able to do everything they do on their PC, including Flashgames or homebanking.

A way for Irex to provide at least a limited browsing-experience would be to provide a limited version of their IDS-Server to end-users. Like an RSS aggregator it could keep package and preformat a number of selected Websites and RRS feeds and transfer these to the iLiad.
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Old 05-05-2006, 01:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleTalker
Elahuget: I want to browse using the iLiad for the same reason I want to read my PDFs on the iLiad: read away from the desk with an easy-to-handle screen (I did consider a tablet PC before learning of the iLiad) and being able to do it for hours with no eyestrain (so the tablet is out...).
I can understand that, but I think we need something different to do so, not e-ink. Apparently, appropriate technologies for no-eyestrain, fast-refresh is being currently investigated, we won't have to wait much. But asking e-ink to be other than what it is... doesn't make sense.

Quote:
I read much more content from the internet than I do from books. Actually, I'd say so does the majority of people nowadays (those lucky enaugh to have internet access, of course). I think of the iLiad as an e-Reader, not an e-book-reader. There is so much more to read than books (rss feeds, blogs, comics). So e-readers should be able to cope with all the sources of content we have today.
Any page of the internet is meant for reading, basically, apart from streaming media, so you're not leaving much out, eh? I think books, magazines and newspapers have different formats because of different content, and I don't ask for magazines or newspapers to come in paperback format... which is what you seem to be asking for right now. Now, if you're willing to take the trouble yourself in adapting that internet content (taking away frames, margins, side menus, banners...); or, another solution, pay for the internet content provider to adapt it and serve it to us on the IDS platter... it's still not a magazine, but it might do.

Quote:
It's not a matter of making it a hybrid (as in: calendar, games, e-mail... I don't care for these features). It's about displaying static content meant to be read. I usually like to browse the wikipedia and read about whatever comes to mind. After a little while, my eyes can't take it anymore. I am hoping to do the same using the iLiad. So what if that drains the battery? I plan to use it at home, connected to my wireless LAN and I don't mind to plug the power outlet while I read. If the wireless connection is there, why not use it?
Why not use your PC connection, which is also "there"? I can see the sense in developing a program to download x page (or set of pages that you configure, including RSS) at some set time, and have it all ready to be popped into the USB drive for you when you wake up in the morning, say (or any other time), like I have my virus scanner at 5 am, so that in the morning I just have to check the final result (AND it doesn't use up my memory/processing capacity while I'm using the PC). Make the best of the PC with its functions, and use the iLiad for reading. As soon as it becomes multipurpose, the price shoots up (just see the Sony Reader vs. iLiad for that).
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