Kindle browsing

The Kindle Touch 3G is the only new Kindle with 3G available and you won’t be able to access anything except the Kindle Store and Wikipedia with it.

My Kindle Keyboard has 3G and I’ve used it, in the case of flat-phone-battery-syndrome, when out and about, to send emails to my family to let them know where I am, that I’m goin to be late, and more. I’ve used it to go on Facebook, and to read Hacker News (via I think that yes, OK, it’s a shame that the absence of wikitravel means that this xkcd is no longer accurate, but the loss is greater than that – having such a cheap device with unfettered access to the internet is A Good Thing – I guess Amazon decided the bills just weren’t worth it.

Keep Posting

Pete has some good advice for writing a blog that lasts: Keep Posting.

I should post more, but I’m frequently paralysed by choice. I’m a software dev manager, so I’m interested in down-in-the-mud-coding, software quality, personal and team productivity, agile techniques, web analytics, business value and return on investment.

That’s not to mention the fact that my two-year-old is finally sleeping at night and I’m starting to pick up videogaming again (did I mention I have a 3DS so that I can finally complete Ocarina of Time? The console is physically delightful and OoT:3DS is the best version Nintendo have made of possibly the best videogame ever).

Also: Kindles, tablets, portable computing, mobile apps vs. web. Someone at work described me as ‘decisive, but easily distracted’. I like to know about everything; frequently, this doesn’t leave time for writing about anything.

The conversation of ‘readme’

It used to be that when I found an article that was too long to read there and then, I would add it to delicious, tag it as ‘readme’, and hope that one day I would get around to it.

These days I just click my Kindlebility bookmarklet and read the article next time I’m on the bus or train, but still get value out of the articles that other people are posting to delicious. Am I doing them a disservice by not posting things I think are interesting enough to read? What social obligation am I under to reciprocate in this loose-form network? Why does it worry me? Should I learn to let go, or should I write code to free me from this tyranny?


In my attempts to find better ways of getting long-form content onto my Kindle to read offline, I’ve mainly been using two tools: Instapaper and the Later On Kindle Chrome extension.

Instapaper has great formatting, and repeated delivery works like a new issue of a periodical, but as far as I can tell, on a slightly unpredictable schedule (or at least on a schedule that is slightly inconvenient to me).

Later on Kindle sends the content pretty much instantly, which is much more useful since it means that provided I leave a few minutes to make sure it all gets processed, I can send some pages just before I leave work, and read them on the way home! The big downside is that your page ends up text-only; it doesn’t keep images in the same way that Instapaper does. Also, having it in the Chrome toolbar is very nice.

The solution for me is Kindlebility. It uses Readability to parse the page into a sensible layout (including multi-page articles), converts that to a PDF, then emails the result to your Kindle. It’s triggered by a bookmarklet, which means it can be added to any browser. Even better, it’s open source (more info in this blog post), which means that if I want to, I can avoid using any middleman at all!

Right now, this is by far the best solution I’ve come across so big thanks to Daniel Huckstep for putting it together!

Getting your words to my kindle

Nathan and Tim both made a sensible comment on my “Readme” post – Instapaper supports daily delivery of unread articles directly to a kindle – use that!

This is a great idea; I’ve started using it and it works very well.

But this means that I’m using Google Reader to do my aggregation, and then when an article is too long to read right then, scrolling back to the top of it, opening it in a new tab, hitting the Instapaper bookmarklet, and letting it do its thing.

I already star articles in Google Reader that I want to read later (by pressing ‘s’). When I meet something on the wider web that I want to mark to read later, I add it to my scuttle install, and tag it with “readme”. This is two lists of “read me later” content.

So I want two things:

  1. When I star an item in google reader, it gets automatically added to scuttle tagged “readme”
  2. Items tagged with “readme” in scuttle are automatically added to Instapaper via their API

In fact, I really want more than this – I want to use a port of Arc90’s Readability (there are many, in many different languages) to grab the content from the page I’ve tagged, and then every day generate my own .mobi file and email it to my kindle – basically, take the instapaper bit out of the equation. However, other than calling out to KindleGen, I can’t see a way of generating a .mobi file at all. Any pointers would be very welcome!

Hacker Monthly workflow

I got a Kindle for Christmas, and I subscribe to Hacker Monthly. HM is provided in PDF, epub and .mobi – the Kindle can read .mobi file natively, so when the latest HM arrived today I was keen to try it out.

A link to the latest download is delivered by email, so the normal workflow for viewing the PDF is like this:

  1. receive email
  2. click link to PDF
  3. file downloads and PDF reader opens

For the kindle it appears to be this:

  1. receive email
  2. click link to .mobi
  3. file downloads
  4. compose new email to my address
  5. attach downloaded .mobi file
  6. send
  7. wait for it to arrive on the kindle (a minute or so)

I could simply connect the Kindle to a computer and transfer the file over USB, but that kind of defeats the point doesn’t it?

I had been hoping to just be able to load my email in the browser on the Kindle and click the link from there, but unfortunately I use GMail which opens links in new tabs, which the Kindle browser doesn’t support (even in mobile GMail, which is what I’m actually using on the Kindle).

Are there better options that I’m missing?