February 11, 2011

Extend Your Kindle-fu

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:49 pm by dgcombs

I read a lot of blogs. It’s part of an affliction I picked up as a teen. If I didn’t have a book to read, I’d read the back of the cereal box, the discarded directions from some tool my dad bought or even the words around the center of a television test pattern. The problem is that I keep forgetting which web sites I like to read. I’m sure it’s just a phase, but it’s still annoying.

I’ve tried a number of RSS feed readers but most of them require you to stay at a computer to read them. I don’t like most of the RSS readers anyway. Then one day it hit me like a ton of ATOMs. Why couldn’t I use my Kindle as a blog reader? The answer is pretty obvious: Because Kindle’s web browser stinks. If you could only convert the web pages and blogs into a Kindle document. Then it would be a breeze to read on a Kindle.

It was about this time that I noticed that Calibre has an option called “Fetch News.” I wonder what that’s all about?

I opened it and scrolled through the list of English news pages. The list is enormous, some 300 entries. But wouldn’t you know it, the one entry I remembered wasn’t even in there, Script Junkie. There was, however, an option to “Add a custom news source.” Why not?

I opened the window and gave it the name, “Script Junkie,” and entered the feed address and finished off by clicking “Add/Update Recipe.” I re-opened the feed and found a button that said, “Download Now.” Almost like chocolate, immediate gratification! Within seconds I had an e-Readable copy of Script Junkie. What’s more, using Calibre’s built-in tools, I could convert it to AZW or MOBI format and push it to my Kindle over USB.

But wait! There’s more!

Calibre also has a feature called “Sharing Books via Email.” I set it up to send the Script Junkie ebook to my free Kindle email account and within a minute, Amazon automatically pushed a perfectly readable version of the RSS feed to my Kindle.

On a roll now, I found two options worth looking at:

The first was the configuration that allows you to automate sending books using Gmail. That little check box that says “auto send” is a really nice feature. I challenge you figure it out as homework.

The second is a feature that lets you schedule Calibre to download feeds. It’s on the same page with “Download Now.”

Combining these two features lets me download the latest Script Junkie articles, convert them to an e-Readable format and automatically email them to my Kindle… at 9:30am.

But wouldn’t you know it… there’s even more!

If you visit the Calibre web site documentation and actually read it (remember my affliction?), you can also find some information on using the Calibre Command Line interface to do the same thing!

Clicking the “Switch to Advanced Mode” shows the Python code that implements the Script Junkie custom recipe. You can further customize the Python to modify HTML tags, clean up the HTML and optimize it for viewing on a monochrome kindle. The commands ebook-convert and calibre-smtp can be used to automate the process from an unattended cron job.

Have I told you how much I enjoy Calibre lately?


1 Comment »

  1. Emily said,

    Terrific idea! Love it! I don’t like reading on the laptop….not comfortable or easy on the eyes. I had the same ‘affliction’ when growing up. I read the Bab-O can!

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