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Other posts by Jon Jermey

An Appeal to Tablet and E-Reader Manufacturers: Standardize your power cords, already!
January 16, 2013 | 2:00 pm

Some things I collect avidly and with great pleasure, like detective stories. Others I accumulate reluctantly and with increasing distaste, like power supplies. As with most twenty-first century households, we have an ever-growing collection of power supplies for various devices which have broken, been stolen or simply retired from old age. ‘I’ll keep the power supply!’ I think. ‘It may work for something else!’ But it seldom does. Each new manufacturer feels duty-bound to require some new combination of voltage and jack size which renders every previous power supply totally useless. I recently acquired a new ten-inch Android tablet as part of...

The 5 Steps of Intelligent Proofreading
December 21, 2012 | 10:07 pm

Over the years I’ve scanned and OCR’ed many printed books into electronic form for Gutenberg Australia—most of the Edgar Wallace collection there is my work, for instance—and during that time it’s become clear that not all typos are equal. After awhile, in fact, it became possible for me to divide typos into categories, as follows: Category 1: Typos due to English orthography Some letter sequences in English serif text happen to resemble others. The sequence ‘of her’, for instance, looks very much like ‘other’, and ‘thing’ looks very much like ‘tiling’. Every second or third book I scanned had these mistakes in it...

E-Books means never having to say “excuse me”
December 17, 2012 | 8:42 pm

It’s the week before Christmas, and the post office and local stores are full of people I’ve never seen before. Where do they shop the rest of the year, these folk? Do they live in suspended animation till December? I can only surmise that the warmer weather here in Oz wakes them up, like locusts, just to clog the supermarket aisles and make buying a postage stamp a two-hour operation. But at least they got me thinking about one of the nicest and most often overlooked aspects of purchasing e-books—you don’t have to relate to the other customers. Not that bookstore...

Post-Apocalyptic Reading: A short story from the end of the world
December 10, 2012 | 10:00 am

With the End of the World coming up on the 21st of December and all, we need to consider our reading options carefully. (Here’s a tip: don’t start the Wheel of Time series.) Nate Hoffelder has a piece on Digital Reading in a Post-Apocalyptic World over at the Other Place that got me thinking ... Maw was kinda upset the day the Apocalypse came. I remember her yellin’ at Paw: "Bruce! You’re a CPA! What the hell use are YOU gonna be?" But Paw, he just took it calm. "Elsie," he said, "I got on to the file-sharin’ sites before the power went down." He held up...

Tablets and E-Readers: The missing control
December 8, 2012 | 12:00 pm

So I’ve stumbled out of bed and dragged myself to the breakfast table, propped up an e-reader on a stack of unused coasters, got a slice of buttered toast in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, and ... And what? I don’t have a spare finger to press buttons or swipe the screen with, and if I did it would be covered in butter and jam. And an e-reader propped up precipitously in random places really needs another hand to hold it while you swipe, otherwise it’s going to leap off the coasters and tumble over the...

What E-Book Revolution?
November 6, 2012 | 2:51 pm

John Rhode, aka Miles BurtonThere is a special circle of literary hell reserved for completists—those of us who feel we need to read every book in a particular series, or by a particular author. Our friends and family recoil in horror each time we plunge into a dusty second-hand bookshop or shuffle through another obscure website, looking for those last few elusive volumes. Perhaps this time it will all be different—but it never is, and the next bookshop, the next Google search, sends us haring off again, hope triumphing over experience. I am a fan of classic detective fiction, and detective fiction doesn’t get any...

Divided we stand, Unity-ed we fall? Why Microsoft should pay attention to the history of Linux
October 28, 2012 | 8:16 am

Here it is at last, folks—a brand new operating system for the iGeneration! Straight from the market’s leading software manufacturer, specifically designed for tablets and smartphones, it’s free from all that tiresome text and crammed with brightly-colored blobs! Move them around, tap them, press them, fondle them! It’s a whole new way of interacting with your phone, your PC, your fridge, your spouse! Yes, it’s here, it’s now, it’s the revolutionary innovation of 2011—it’s Unity! Wait ... what? You thought I was talking about Windows 8? Sorry, folks, but for those of us who embrace the Linux way of life, all...

You too can have a body like mine — with e-books!
October 24, 2012 | 7:15 am

My wife had been a keen customer of the local women's-only gym for several years, so after last Christmas, when they closed down and re-opened as a unisex establishment, I decided to go along, too. Nine months later, I’m still among the regulars, dragging my aging body along four or five times a week to run, walk, cycle, stretch, row and pump iron. What keeps me going, apart from my iron will and rigid determination? Well, a lot of the credit has to go to e-books. Let me explain: The gym, like most public areas these days, is festooned with big...

The Man with 11 Androids on the Perils of Multiple Registrations
October 16, 2012 | 5:42 pm

The man with one clock, they say, knows what time it is; the man with two clocks is never sure. Where does that put me, the man with 11 Android tablets? I don’t actually have 11 tablets, of course. My current total is four, of which one is out of commission and one is too slow to be much use for anything. But up until yesterday Amazon thought I did. Why? Because the tablets occasionally crash, and I then have to reboot them and reinstall all the software. The first time this happened I also had to download all the apps from...

Cupcake, Gingerbread and Jelly Bean: A user’s guide to Android’s many different versions
October 7, 2012 | 5:56 pm

One secret of Microsoft’s success is the rapidity with which they eradicate their older software versions when they bring out new ones. Just like last month’s copies of Playboy at the newsstand, last year’s version of Windows disappears very rapidly from shops and other outlets when this year’s comes out. Only on eBay can you find copies of Windows XP, and as for Vista, it might as well never have existed. Doctors bury their mistakes; software companies shred them. Desktop Linux, of course, is at the opposite extreme, with old versions, new versions, spin-offs and forks all existing more or less comfortably in...

Calibre tools for your Android device
September 30, 2012 | 9:06 am

Many TeleReaders will be familiar with the Calibre e-book collection manager, that astonishingly powerful and ever-developing software tour de force from Kovid Goyal and his associates. For those that aren’t, Calibre is a free open source multi-platform interface which stores, and provides access to, a collection of hundreds or thousands of e-books in over a dozen different formats. It will find and display your e-books, convert them from one format to another, download cover images and metadata from the Internet, produce a list of titles and authors, and much more. The drawback with Calibre from a tablet user’s point of view is the way it stores its...

Why (and How) I Scan Old Books
September 24, 2012 | 9:34 am

Epson scannerIt was Flann O'Brien, under his byline of 'Myles na Gopaleen' in The Irish Times, who wrote: "When I want to read anything, I usually write it meself." I know this because I have The Best of Myles (1968), published in paperback by Picador, which I found second-hand at a church fête some weeks ago. A quick search of e-book sites reveals that there is, as yet, no other way to read it than on paper. All yez Kindlers, Koboists and Androghedans, as O’Brien might have described you, will have to find some other book. But not me. In a few...