Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surviving in a world of zombies - using ebook readers

Dear friends,

This is the fourth installment of my series "Surviving in a world of zombies" (for the previous parts, see here, here and here).   Today, I am going to discuss "ebook readers".

Over the past years several of you have commented that the speech transcripts of Hassan Nasrallah I post here are very long.  Well, compared to a typical article or blog post, they are indeed.  Compared to listening to one hour of TV, they are extremely short.  But yes, you have a point and not everybody can (or wants) to sit down and read speech on a website.  So here is my suggestion to you - use an ebook reader.  This is how:

Copy the entire speech into whatever text editor or word processor you like, and save it in the simple "text file" format.  Then copy it to your cellphone which might already have some halfway decent text reader already installed on it, or available for download from third-party distributors.

If not, I can highly recommend ZXReader, a wonderful piece of software which supports the following formats: TXT, FB2, RTF, and ZIP.  Check here for a good review of ZXReader.  ZXReader has been designed to work on Symbian-based cellphones.  The download page in English for ZXReader can be found here.

If you are the lucky owner of a Nokia Internet Table (N770, N800, N810 or N900) or some Motorola or Siemens smartphone, then you can simply install FBReader.  It is every bit as good as ZXReader which, I suspect, it inspired in the first place.

For Android-based phones, you can get FBReaderJ - a Java port of FBReader.

[Now, if you are the user of an iPad, iPod or iPhone or any other iThing you could probably download the iPayTooMuch iBook reader from the iTunes store and use the iCopyFiles application (now with its new super-cool interface "Mountain Cougar"!) to copy the text file to your device, but why would you want to read a Nasrallah speech anyway?!  Check out  the awesome Apple "i" instead.]

The big advantage of these book readers is that you can literally carry an entire library of books with you.  If you leave the application, it will remember where you stopped and reopen your text at the correct spot, even if you are reading many different books at the same time.  Also, the text, fb2 or zip file formats are very small, so you can carry a huge amount of texts with you even if your device has a modest storage capacity (I typically carry about 40 texts ranging from relatively short articles to Dostoevsky's major books in fb2 or  text format on my cellphone, all nicely fitting together in a little less than 25MB!) .

If you are on a very tight budget, like myself, and want to get a minimalist smartphone which can double as an ebook reader, get the Nokia 5230.  In the USA, there were deals at RadioShack for about 25 bucks with a T-Mobile contact.  Ok, the Nokia 5230 is most definitely not the best smartphone out there, and Symbian is dated, but its *cheap* and it does have a good screen on which reading with the ZXReader is a real pleasure (It also has a good sound quality and the best phone-based GPS on the market!).  You can also listen to streaming Internet radio (I mostly listen to KPFK in Los Angeles) or watch al-Jazeera, France24 or Press TV on these devices anywhere you are, which is nice when living in a society of zombies who are stuck to their TV sets spewing imperial propaganda.  Nokia has a basic but decent podcasting client too, so you can have your device download whatever show you like for you.

One more thing: there are plenty of dedicated book readers out there, including Amazon's "Kindle", Barnes and Noble's "Nook" and others.  My advice is simple: STAY AWAY FROM THEM.

First, they are pricey.  Second, no matter how small or light they are, they are an extra device you have to carry with you.  Third, they are designed to be used with DRMed contents.  Fourth, the companies making them keep the control of these device and what is on it, not you; in fact, Amazon even removed contents from their Kindle device. Fifth, the hardware on these devices is not always designed to act like a simple memory stick, and some will require you to install proprietary software on your computers, or even use proprietary cables.  Sixth, these devices are designed to have you pay for the books you read, which I find morally wrong as I encourage people to share (I don't believe that there is any such thing as "electronic piracy").

It is a much better choice to screw the "suits" and their corporate world and use the many websites which offer "ebooks" in various formats for free such as, for example, e-reading, in the Ukraine, or use any filesharing (The Pirate Bay, Demonoid, The Gutenberg Project, OneBigTorrent, Torrent411, RuTracker, etc.) or file hosting (Rapidshare, Megaupload, Fitbit, Mediafire. etc.) option out there.  There are many more options out there and just a little research will find you pretty much anything you want, including banned/censored books which no publisher is willing to print (such as the English text of Professor Ariel Toaff's "Blood Passover" - available here).

I really believe that electronic book readers are a fantastic resource and truly a crucial technology for surviving in a world of zombies.

The Saker