epub DRM be gone!

I’ve been trying to figure out how to read epubs from Kobo on my Kindle3G – and Linux for that matter, seeing as how the desktop client has stagnated.

I fired up a VM of MacOSX 10.6.7 and installed Adobe Digital Editions which takes the URLLink.acsm files and downloads DRM-infected .epub files which you can read through the Adobe program.

Well that’s not good enough, so I downloaded ineptepub.pyw and removed the DRM, then imported the .epub’s into Calibre 0.8.1 and converted them to .mobi format suitable for the Kindle and just about any other platform you like.

Power to the people and all that – information is power and Kobo/Adobe are trying to keep it from us!

Its not like its piracy – these are free books or books I’ve purchased and publishers are trying to tell me I can only read it on approved platforms – I can imagine librarians telling people they can only read their books if seated on a green leather sofa wearing +2.5 prescription glasses supping a cup of Earl Grey!

Come Back OO.org All Is Forgiven!

I thought I’d try LibreOffice 3.3.2 for Linux after having read that Oracle have effectively dumped OpenOffice back on the community after having failed to monetize it, but succeeding in losing all the developers and community support.

Nowhere in the installation instructions does it say if you don’t uninstall OpenOffice first, you’ll end up with no file associations!

After finding that LibO doesn’t actually fix the only thing I hate about OO.org – broken OLE support and the inability to open embedded objects in Word documents – I reinstalled OpenOffice 3.2.0

Well that didn’t fix the associations either, so now I’ve had to manually set Nautilus’s open-with property for all the MSOffice .xls[x,m], .doc[x], .rtf, .ppt[x] filetypes and hope I haven’t forgotten any.

The OpenOffice .odt/.ods and StarOffice .sxw/.sxd filetypes still seem to work. Of course that “fix” will only work for my user and not system-wide, which I assume relies on a mimetype setup somewhere.

Update: after a couple more uninstall/reinstall cycles, I found that running update-desktop-database and “update-mime-database /usr/share/mime” seemed to force the file associations back in place for everything except RTF, which is fixed by removing the application/rtf entry from /usr/local/share/calibre-gui.desktop

Android Apps

Amazon now have their own Android Appstore to compete with Google’s Android Market. They give away a free (normally paid-for) app every day. I missed SwiftKey the other day, now its just fecking Angry Birds or some crap.

For some reason its amazon.com (USA) only, but it seems to work via email/wifi for amazon.co.uk (UK) accounts, just not via SMS/3g I guess. A lot of the free content seems to be duplicates of what’s already on Android Market though.

There was some worries about the DRM scheme that Amazon uses, it seemed that their copy-protection relied on the user being online when using the app, but its since been clarified that it only needs to be online for download/first use and occasionally it may sync (call home) like Android Market does.

I also made my first Android Market purchase of LauncherPro Plus, well its not quite on the Market yet, so I still had to use PayPal, but you get the point. It was only £1.92 or something thanks to the worthless $$$ 😉

Its an alternative launcher app – basically changes the functionality of the icons at the bottom of the screen. Instead of being just web browser and phone, you now also have contacts and messaging; but more importantly each icon now has a swipe gesture – so when you swipe the app icon, it pops up a list of your most used apps; the browser icon brings up your favourites list; the messaging icon brings up your unread SMS and so on.

Also the icons themselves are used as notifications, e.g. the phone icon will show the number of missed calls, the messaging icon shows the number of unread SMS etc.

Useful for me with fat fingers is that pressing the home button when already on the home screen will open your notifications list so you don’t have to struggle to drag the tiny notification bar down from the top left of the screen.

There’s also some LP+ specific widgets like “People” which is like a shortcut to your favourite contacts with photo’s and buttons for map location, email, contact info, SMS, phone and even Google Talk if you’re in the USA.

I found a few useful plugins for Calibre:

I must try Kindle Collections plugin with Mum’s Kindle3 as its a right royal PITA to create/allocate collections on the Kindle itself. The goodreads.com plugins seem to be able to fetch metadata/covers for some books that Amazon can’t.

I’ve also added a couple of new categories to the blog – Ebooks and Android, I’m considering removing the Xbox category and just making it a tag as most of the posts are actually about XBMC (now Plex).

Update: it seems even with an amazon.com account, it still doesn’t allow you to download apps outside the USA.


Couple of updates to earlier posts.

#1 my PC is still crashing, so it wasn’t the hard disk (although that did need replacing anyway). My DVD burner is pretty shit these days – it never seems to be able to read the DVD’s it burns, so I’ve unplugged that for now, also I’ve unplugged my webcam, reseated the RAM and a general wiggling of cables etc.

It survived 8.5 hours of mprime torture last night, and 2.5 passes with memtest86+ this morning, without the side fans on, so its not CPU/RAM/heat issues.

I’m pretty sure it is dodgey NIC and/or driver, so need that replacement PCIe card to hurry up from ebay-HK. If its not that, then next up is try a new PSU.

#2 I updated to Calibre 0.7.50 using the binary install method (have to remove /opt/calibre/ first) which fixed the issue with not getting the ratings from Amazon. Showed Mum how to use it to upload to her Kindle3 and also how to download from Amazon.

I watched London Boulevard, which was a pretty good tale of a guy just released from prison trying to go straight. Kiera Knightley played an almost pointless role, but Colin Farrell and Ray Winstone were great gangsters as usual; even Anna Friel played a pretty funny drunk.

Calibre ebook reader

Due to Mum’s recent purchase of a Kindle, I downloaded the Calibre ebook reader/converter software. Its very good and the only way you could possibly catalogue 4,000 ebooks.

Unfortunately the version supported by Ubuntu Lucid (Dad’s PC) is very old – 0.6.x, so I found this PPA which installs the latest version.

The version suppported by Fedora 13 (my PC) is also pretty old – 0.7.38, so I found some SRPM’s for 0.7.45 and rebuilt them, it looks like the last version F13 could support as it doesn’t have Python 2.7 or SIP 4.12. However it seems pretty unstable – if you try to update metadata or convert an epub to mobi format it just sits there using 100% CPU doing nothing!

The author says this is a packaging bug, so I decided to try his binary installer which seems to be the only “platform” he supports:

python -c "import urllib2; exec urllib2.urlopen('http://status.calibre-ebook.com/linux_installer').read(); main()"

This downloads and installs the latest version 0.7.49, which somehow works on F13 (statically linked perhaps?) and fixes the CPU usage bug and manages to download metadata/covers for more books than before, and is much faster overall.