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Old 07-29-2010, 05:59 PM   #1
J. Strnad
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How would you select text?

With four side buttons and five front-panel buttons, how would you select text if you were designing the firmware?

For example, if there were a built-in dictionary function, how would you select the word to look up?
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:29 PM   #2
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hmm - good one. highlight the sentence (up/down buttons) - then the word (left/right buttons)?
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Old 07-30-2010, 12:39 AM   #3
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I'd have a menu option that turns on a flashing cursor on the page. Then use the d-pad to move the cursor to a word (up / down / left / right). Finally a press of the middle d-pad would select the word that the cursor is nearest (if the cursor is in the middle of a word then that whole word gets selected, if the cursor is at the beginning of a word then the word to the right of the cursor is selected). A bit like how you can double-click on a word in most programs and the whole word gets selected without you having to actually point to the beginning of the word, clicking, and dragging to the end of the word.
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:20 PM   #4
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Okay.

So let's try this:

Pressing Home and Center (center button of the blue pad) activates the dictionary. A word somewhere around the middle of the screen is highlighted. Now up/down, right/left move the selection around one word at a time. Then you hit Center again and the word is looked up. You read the dictionary entry as you would any text.

Pressing Home and Center, while in dictionary mode, returns you to where you left off reading.

Does that seems like a reasonably easy dictionary function?
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Old 07-31-2010, 05:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by thekidintheclock View Post
hmm - good one. highlight the sentence (up/down buttons) - then the word (left/right buttons)?
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Old 07-31-2010, 02:55 PM   #6
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moffatm and J. Strnad's solutions benefit words closest to the centre but make for many clicks to access the first and last sentences of the page.

My solution is to use a "dichotomic divide and conquer search algorithm" sometimes known as a "binary search" (although technically that is for a sorted array of items) to balance out the number of clicks needed to get to any line.

For the following, assume there are 25 sentences on the screen labelled A to Y and 11 words on a line numbered 1 to 11. Also assume we want a word at sentence E number 4.

As with J's idea home+center activates the search. Sentence M (half way) is underlined. If there were 26 sentences (A to Z) then the search would randomly choose M or N.

Since D is less than M we press the up button. The G line is now selected. Again the up button is pressed but now, with an even number of lines left (A to F), the search needs to randomly decide between C and D and say C is chosen.

C is less than E so the down button is pressed. Since C wasn't selected the only options left are D, E and F and since E is the middle line it is underlined.

Now, we are at the line we wanted so we press the middle button to acknowledge the correct line and search for word.

Word number 6 is underlined. 4 is less than 6 so the left button is pressed. Since 6 is not wanted 1 to 5 are the choices and 3 is smack in the middle; it is underlined.

The right button pushed and now the search randomly chooses between 4 and 5. If 4 is the winner we can press the centre button to acknowledge otherwise we need to press the left (to get back to 4 from 5) button then the centre button (technically since there is no other choice the search function could auto-select the 4 word for us).

A similar version of this could be used for go to page number. For that, though, I would divide the page range in 3 blocks so that left, centre and right buttons would select the appropriate zone. Eg. we have 99 pages in our book or chapter (depending on how the go to is to work). The initial ranges would be 1-33, 34-66, 67-99.

If the page range is not divisible by three you need to allocated the remainder. If the remainder is 1 add it to the centre. If the remainder is 2 add 1 to the left and right ranges.

Last edited by shall1028; 07-31-2010 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:52 PM   #7
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Shall1028 - Very good; I do think that is the best algorithm for the job. I'm pretty sure you can't do it in less clicks, and it really is pretty easy to program, as well.

Karma to you!
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:49 PM   #8
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Shall1028, I am humbled in your presence!

I'm wondering, though, if the number of button presses is the only measure of convenience. For instance, pressing up and then down and maybe up and down again could be more work than pressing up five or six times. Ditto for right and left.

Last edited by J. Strnad; 08-02-2010 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:15 AM   #9
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:40 PM   #10
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Binary search for line; linear search for word within the line

Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Strnad View Post
For instance, pressing up and then down and maybe up and down again could be more work than pressing up five or six times. Ditto for right and left.
I've been thinking about this for the weekend. When using a microwave oven I will often enter 1:11 or 1:33 instead of 1:10 or 1:30 just because it is easier.

I think that since the number of words within a sentence is quite small on a Kobo that the binary search for the word within the line is not necessary.

Originally I was worried that switching methods from binary for finding the line to linear for searching a word might be too disruptive but since I also suggested going from a full underlined sentence to underlined word I think there will be no problem.

I still think that a binary search to find the line is useful. I checked a document at Medium and Smallest font sizes and found there were 20 and 30 lines respectively.

With a binary search the maximum number of clicks to find a line would be 5 for each example (actually 4.high-decimal for 30 lines or 4.low decimal for 20 lines but you can't have decimal click). If you just linearly click up or down to the line then with the 20 line example 50% of the time you may need to exceed 5 clicks and for the 30 line example it becomes 75%.
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:55 PM   #11
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Go to page on Kobo

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Originally Posted by SameerH View Post
listening
Reading? Scanning? ...or... text-to-speech!

Some more thought on go to page.

I think the layout should be two lines (again with my 99 page example):

1-33 34-66 67-99
Back Cancel

It would start with the center range underlined. The Back would not, of course, be available (greyed out?) at the first level but on the subsequent ones. Back and Cancel would be accessed by pressing the down button.

For the number range line the left, center and right buttons would immediately go to the next level whereas the down button would just move down to the Back and Cancel line.

The only special case exception for the end would be needed if the number of pages divided by 3 gives a remainder of 2. You'd have something similar to:

45 __ 46
Back Cancel

The center button would do nothing.
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:57 PM   #12
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If I was inclined to do that, I'd just use some other device.
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:21 PM   #13
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If I was inclined to do that, I'd just use some other device.
The difficulty with a linear forum (i.e. non-threaded) is that pronouns without initial referent lack adequate context.

Does "that" refer to SameerH listening, using a binary search to quickly locate a page when there is no existing alternative, using a combination binary and linear search to locate a word for dictionary look up where there is no existing alternative or J. Strnad's being humbled in my presence.

I hope it's not the latter. It would be nice if for once in my life that two people in all the world were humbled in my presence.
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:10 AM   #14
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The algorithm is an interesting thought experiment, but I think perhaps a little unintuitive?

I think it could be pretty straightforward to make the Kobo work with selecting. Pressing the centre of the navigation pad to get the menu is a redundant function. Scrap that functionality and have a central press while reading an ebook activate a box that grabs the top left-most word (reversible for right-to-left languages if the Kobo even supports those). Pressing again will fix the word you are on and then pressing left and right will select the word(s) in that direction. If you decide you don't want to do anything with it partway through, pressing any other button or pressing and holding the centre for three seconds would make it disappear.

The only question mark is how to activate features. My inclination is that if it is a single word, the dictionary comes up, whereas if it is a sentence the reading comes up. If that doesn't work, perhaps up and down can serve as distinct functions while selecting words, or perhaps pressing menu will give case-specific options.

Obviously no interface using a single d-pad is going to be completely intuitive. But I think that would be a lot easier to explain than multi-key presses, and it really isn't necessary to have the centre of the navigation pad serve as a menu launcher since everywhere else its function is to activate something.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shall1028 View Post
The difficulty with a linear forum (i.e. non-threaded) is that pronouns without initial referent lack adequate context.

Does "that" refer to SameerH listening, using a binary search to quickly locate a page when there is no existing alternative, using a combination binary and linear search to locate a word for dictionary look up where there is no existing alternative or J. Strnad's being humbled in my presence.

I hope it's not the latter. It would be nice if for once in my life that two people in all the world were humbled in my presence.
"To admire means that you regard me as the handsomest, the best-dressed, the richest, and the most intelligent man on this planet."

"But you are the only man on your planet!"

"Do me this kindness. Admire me just the same." -- the Conceited Man in The Little Prince
Sorry, I was referring to the original question posed in the thread title.

My point, which was lost, I think, in the brevity of my post, was simply that this is a complicated, inelegant feature that the device clearly wasn't intended to support and, in my opinion, shouldn't support. If hypertexting, dictionary lookups, searching and other features like that are important to you, then perhaps the Kobo eReader isn't the device for you. Or not the device for you when you want to do those things.

For simply reading novels, or other text based content that is read in a linear manner the Kobo is great. That's it's strength, and the reason why I bought one.
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