holidays.happy()!

29Dec11

It has been great to be back in Toronto for the holidays! I have seen a lot of sorely-missed old friends and got great presents from my family (props to my brother’s megaman magnets). So far with Sara (who got me a wonderful coffee grinder) we have made:

  • open-face apple pies… it was supposed to be topped but we had enough apples to fill two pies, and two bottomless ones worked out very well
  • cinnamon rolls, from a great recipe my sister found years ago
  • next planned baked good: biscochitos!

Foreground: Kindle DXG with myts-6 terminal. Background: Lebowski pants.

I also have had an opportunity to hack around a lot on my Kindle DXG (DX Graphite), which I got a few months ago. It is not one of the newest (e.g. ‘fire’) versions of the device, but it’s the most recent one of the large-screen versions, which for me is essential so that I can read my .pdf papers with ease. It has a great e-ink screen and displays grayscale beautifully.

I was pretty happy with the Kindle, but the thing that made me want to keep it for certain rather than possibly return it was that it has free internet access all over the world! Sort of. There is a browser, which can display text and basic images pretty competently. It supports a few aspects of JavaScript and CSS but mostly not. It has problems displaying pages that are larger than 1 MB. It’s best if I’m looking for a restaurant nearby, or trying to read my emails on the bus.

I previously installed the Duokan operating system, which has a much-improved .pdf reader (especially for 2-column documents) and lots of cool-looking Chinese text that I cannot read (but it’s not important). But, this week, I installed a new set of tools which are very neat:

  • first, the ability to telnet into the kindle’s linux operating system over USB
  • second, some cool screensavers of Samus and Megaman instead of the original bunch of famous authors
  • third, a ‘launchpad’ to add custom commands (and make Duokan easier to use)
  • finally, a terminal!

The terminal is really pretty amazing. It took a couple days’ worth of trial-and-error before I found the right version that actually works on the DXG, since there are about a dozen different types of kindles out there. I can’t say it has been very useful yet, but definitely playing with this computer was a great christmas toy.

For accessing the web, this opens a limited set of new possibilities. When you access the web with the normal browser, you can go to any web page you like, but you cannot download files like .pdfs and .mp3s to your machine. Through the command-line, it seems you can now actually download anything that you like so long as it is on an Amazon server. The photo of my kindle shows me after I successfully downloaded this pdf, this jpg of Kim-Jong Il looking at stuff, and this mp3. Note that both “amazon.com” and “s3.amazonaws.com” are fair game, but I don’t know of any connections that are possible.

So what possibilities are there other than downloading pictures of dead dictators from tumblr? I’m not really sure. But I have grown more fond of my Kindle over time. Having the ability to play .mp3s has helped, any my friend Mariel’s suggestion to use it in place of a magazine while on gym machines has been great. It’s been a pretty handy way to carry .pdf recipes around. Now that I can access linux, maybe I should install LaTeX on it? An old-school version of Maple?

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