Looking for an ebook reader, found an excuse to get an XO


Living in Thailand I can’t just pop into Barns and Noble or order books online using One Click™ without silly postage costs. So I often end up paying for the PDF version and reading on my laptop. This is OK for small documents but strains the eyes when trying to read real books on an LCD (sorry LED) display. Sure we have a printer but its an Inkjet and its not practical to print a whole book. Think of the Trees! not to mention the cost of replacing the every 10 minutes.

So I’ve been reading up on these ebookie reader things. The Sony’s reader looks nice, but by the sounds of things page turning takes for ever, and well as my T-Shirt says “Fuck Sony”. Then there is the Amazon Kindle with its wireless support. But hang on you have to have it connected to a mobile phone network, and it only works in the US. God! When will these companies learn. In short neither product is for me. Are you listening Mr Jobs.. forget the iPhone, come up with a well designed iBook MacBook heck just call it iPaper and I will be first in line.

I had almost given up on the idea, when I read a post about a guy programming (Forth!) on the XO. I fancied one of these funky little green laptops from the start and really like the idea of them being open source and hackable. So I did a little research, turns out they are great little book readers, screen which flips round, 200dpi direct sunlight monotone mode, PDF reader, WIFI, only uses 2watts power. I want one!!! What’s more for 200 quid (about the same you fork out for Sony’s and Amazon’s crippled machines) you can Give 1, Get 1. OK, so its not a 100 dollar laptop, its actually four times as much but you do get the satisfaction of knowing that a child in a developing nation will also be enjoying this funky little green machine.


Until everyone is lucky enough to get their hands on an XO, here are some tips for people like me stuck reading lots of PDF books in OSX.

1. Don’t bother reading it, you can have the computer read it to you. I have mapped CTRL + S to be read this text. Leopard’s new computer voice Alex is the first almost human sounding computer voice I have heard. This works ok for a few pages, but is generally slower than reading and you the computer will mess up on some words.

2. Jirasak showed me this cool trick: CTRL + ALT + CONTROL + 8. Inverts the display colors so that black text on white is now, white on black. It makes reading easier for me at least. YMMV.


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