Read the Printed Word!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My E-Bookshelf

I have often wondered as to why is it that we see no icon on the desktop called ‘My Book-Shelf. ’when ‘My computer‘ is so universal. Is it because computers have replaced books ? Can they ever do that?
In my own case, the very first computer, I owned was an AT286 Machine, which just displayed a DOS prompt. Even then, as I recall, I had one folder (called a directory , those days) where I kept such files which was for any kind of reference. Since Windows 3.1 days then I have always had an icon on my computer desktop, which took me to my digital resources like Dictionary, Railway Time table, CDA Hand Book , a few Tamil books etc. Today, I have a Linux Machine with the “Calibre’ meeting all my needs of 'reading off the screen', which includes some reference material, some fiction and some news feeds.

While it may be true that we do not need a book shelf in every office or home PC, a E-Bookshelf on every computer is not only necessary, but very much practicable. Today with the rising popularity of open source resources, we have a huge volume of rich contents in the public domain. To manage all these resources we have open source e-book management software applications like Calibre. All you have to do is to download an application, configure it and start surfing the net for resources of your interest. Mind you, not for a moment, am I suggesting piracy. There are any number of projects like Project Gutenberg which are involved in digitizing classical works. There are sites like which are giving away good E-books for free and they charge only for the print edition.
Even if one is not interested in classical poetry or for that matter any kind of serious literature, a book shelf is required even if it is purely for resources of utility nature, like CDA Hand Book, Railway Time Table, Dictionary, or may be ‘Golf made Easy’ .
I only wish, a ‘My Book-shelf ‘ Icon becomes a reality, at least in Schools and other Educational Institutions even if it is not as omnipresent as ‘My Computer’.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Booklet printing and The Spirit of Ubuntu

These days we tend to do more screen reading than traditional book reading. While it is okay to read blogs, news-feeds etc off the screen, certain materials like tutorials and how-tos need to be studied leisurely.

Taking printout on A4 sheets is ok, but it is still not so convenient. To have a good feel of reading, the material should be of book-size, with ample margin for binding and  should be held open with a thumb or thumb and the little finger. I have always been loking for an app which can do booklet printing. The other day I found just that.

You can just right click on a file and generate a booklet in a size of your choice. what's more , you save a lot of paper.

There are many apps which only a minuscule few may want, and big IT companies don't care. An open source software enthusiast, who needs such a feature, looks  around, to see if it is available. If not available  he proceeds to develop one, alone or with other like minded people.

And once a facility is developed, the real fun is in freely sharing it with the whole world. That is the spirit of Ubuntu, a far cry from the software giants who toil hard to produce stuff people don't need and toil harder to sell it to them at exorbitant prices.