[reader] Wikireader received

Doug Jones dj6mf at frombob.to
Tue Oct 20 20:52:16 CEST 2009

Torfinn Ingolfsen wrote:
> Hi,
> On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 1:41 AM, Doug Jones <dj6mf at frombob.to 
> <mailto:dj6mf at frombob.to>> wrote:
>     This single change would approximately double the (already considerable)
>     usefulness of the Wikireader to me.
> Aha - I think I see where this is going. :-)
> Next, I will want to have my ebooks on the SD card.
> Is there any software convert text only ebooks into "Wikipedia format"?

For any book that really is text only (for example all those Project 
Gutenberg books that are simple ASCII text files) all you have to do is 
create a wiki page on a wiki and dump the text onto the page.  (Might 
have to filter it a bit to get rid of characters that the wiki might 
confuse for wiki markup, but that should be pretty easy.)  Of course a 
wide variety of file formats can be exported to plain text by using a 
word processor.

I'm on an Ubuntu machine right now.  I can install MediaWiki (the 
software Wikipedia runs on) with a few clicks;  it's in the Ubuntu 
repositories.  Then I can run the wiki server on this machine and build 
a private wiki.  Then dump that data through Wikireader's tools, and 
you've got the compressed files to put on the SD card.

I haven't looked, but I'm guessing that there already exist tools for 
sucking HTML content and other kinds too into a wiki.  If not we could 
write some.

Here is the use case I am thinking of:

- A person who does not have any kind of internet access while away from 
home and work, but wants to carry a collection of useful information 
with them wherever they go.

Here, "useful" means useful to that particular person and perhaps not to 
anyone else.  Thus the need to make it easy for the user to collect the 
information together, get it into a format the Wikireader can use, and 
copy it onto the SD card.

I envision a desktop app I can install on this Ubuntu machine that 
simplifies these tasks, with a nice GUI interface and all.  I might even 
be able to write such a thing myself.  :-)

But the first step is to make the changes I outlined in the earlier 
post.  Unless I am completely mistaken, only a small number of patches 
would be required, so it would be relatively quick and painless and easy 
to debug.

Of course, an alternate approach is to add lots and lots of code to the 
Wikireader so that it can handle many kinds of formats.  This might 
happen in the future, perhaps OpenMoko is already working on this, but 
we have to recognize that this would be an embedded development problem 
and not one easily accessible to the many people who like to write nice 
cross-platform desktop apps using whatever toolkits and languages they 
happen to like.

The approach advocated here shifts almost all of the development to 
writing code that runs on desktops, and minimizes the amount of new code 
written to run on the Wikireader itself.

And as support for other formats is gradually added to the Wikireader 
itself, we can of course support that too if we wish.

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