Archive for June, 2009

Kindle madness

Monday, June 8th, 2009

I’m just going to say it for the record. The Amazon Kindle goes on my list of one of the greatest tech toys I’ve ever gotten. I’ve had mine for about a month now and it’s been absolutely fantastic. The page looks so much like text printed on a page that I’ve been able to read books left and right. This comes at such a good time too because I’ve been running around too much to sit and read an actual book. I have tried to set a goal for myself of reading 40 books a year. Last year was my first year and I conquered my goal.  That may have had to do with the fact that I had a broken leg for a month and a half so all I did was read books during that time. This year however, has been a challenge due to the fact that I’ve been moving around a lot. All the driving has me a little out of the flow of reading.

The Kindle solved all of these problem. First, I carry it everywhere just like my mp3 player. I started to count audiobooks into this equation late last year therefore I really enjoyed putting audiobooks on my mp3 player. The Kindle solved that too with it’s very listenable text-to-speech (TTS). I had written a script in Linux to grab PDF’s off my server, convert them to text and feed them into the program Festival (a TTS program) for this purpose but now I don’t need to (or so I thought but read on). The Kindle proved very easy to listen to and not too robotic. I had a collection of PDF books on my server that I used Calibre to convert to .mobi format instead of the proprietary .azw format of the Kindle.

Then it all fell apart. Amazon was sued by the audiobook companies. They have overhead. They pay people to read the books for their audio versions. Who was I to get a book and think I could have my personal robot read it to me? How obsurd.  I jest because I was really pissed that Amazon just caved in instead of giving them a fight. So, somehow Amazon decided to turn off the feature for your Kindle to read most books to you unless it gets authorization from the publisher. I found the book I bought recently did not have that authorization and since it was originally published two years ago I doubt they’d try to find out if they could get it. So, I’m kind of screwed there.

Scrreeecch! Hit the brakes! You thought I gave up there? Please… There are tools to convert and rip .azw files. Calibre won’t do it and neither will Stanza but they tell you to find 3rd party programs. That’s a slick way of saying, “Hey if you can find it out there I won’t look. Once you’re finished bring it back to me and I’ll handle the rest.” So, off to find these 3rd parties. I will let you know what I find. Especially if I can come up with a command line program to do it. That way I’ll have the files converted and ready for my Kindle seconds after it notices it’s plugged in. The script will copy new .azw’s convert them and put them back as .mobi files.

The love of tech continues.