How to Read Any Online Magazine on a Kobo eReader

I’ve been trying to read various magazines — for example, The Economist — on some form of eReader for a few years now.

At first I couldn’t do it because they didn’t have electronic editions. Then they did, but only online. Then they offered electronic versions you could subscribe to, but only for Apple products.

Now I can find a lot of them in online bookstores — for Barnes and Noble, or Kobo — but the subscriptions only let you read them on each bookstore’s tablets.

But there’s a workaround for the Kobo eReaders that I wanted to share.

It takes advantage of Pocket, which lets you save web articles for later reading. Turns out that Pocket is integrated into all of Kobo’s eReaders, so any articles you save to your Pocket account will show up on your Kobo.

Here’s how you can read any magazine or newspaper that has an online version on your eReader:

  1. Sign up for a Pocket account.
  2. Download and install the Pocket plugin for your web browser.
  3. Go to the homepage of the magazine you want to read (e.g., economist.com)
  4. Subscribe to the magazine (if you haven’t already).
  5. With your subscription, navigate to the “print edition” version of the website.
  6. Now you can start saving articles for reading. Either right-click on the link to the article and select “Save to Pocket” or open the article and click the “Save to Pocket” icon in your browser’s toolbar.
  7. Wait for the popup that tells you the article has been saved to Pocket.
  8. Go to your ereader. Navigate to the “Articles from Pocket” section.
  9. Sign in to Pocket if you haven’t already.
  10. Your saved article(s) should sync to the ereader. Tap any one of them to read it!

How To: Fix Blank Screen on the new Nook Glowlight

I bought a new Nook Glowlight soon after it came out. I’m happy with it for the most part, but it has an annoying habit of going to a blank screen when I put it into sleep mode.

When I wake the Nook from this blank screen, it looks like it displays the book I was reading correctly, but each tap of the screen advances the text, even if I tap on the bottom to try to get to the Settings menu. Eventually the Nook freezes completely.

To fix this problem, I reboot the Nook when the blank screen first comes up. To do that, I hold the power button down for 20-30 seconds, until the blank screen is replaced by the booting up screen. I know it’s rebooting when I see the word “nook” printed in the middle, then “E-ink”, and finally the spiral of dots that means “loading”.

Hope this helps other Nook Glowlight owners!

How To: Sync Last Read Page Between Nook for Android and iPad

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble claim their ereaders will sync where you are in your books between the different devices (iPad, Android phone, PC or Mac) you might be reading on. Amazon’s works in the background, without a hitch, but Barnes and Noble’s (Nook) takes some finesse to get working.

I nearly pulled my hair out in frustration trying to figure out why the last read page in my books wasn’t syncing between the Nook software on my iPad and the Nook software on my Android phone. I looked in the Settings for both devices, trying to find something that said “sync” and might have been turned off, but no luck.

Here’s how to get them to sync:

  1. Whenever you finish reading on one device, instead of just closing out the software (or putting your device to sleep), go back to your “Home” or “Library”.
  2. Look in the upper-right-hand corner of your Library screen. You should see a pair of curved arrows. Touch those arrows to force your device to upload its information (last read page, new bookmarks, etc) to B&N’s servers.
  3. When you open your second device, make sure you start out on your Home/Library screen, and hit the same arrows. This will force the device to pull the latest information from B&N’s servers (including the last read page you just uploaded).
  4. Open the book on your second device. It should jump to the last read page from the first device.

That’s it! Hope this helps, and let me know if you encounter any other weirdness while using the Nook ereader software.

How To: Run Clojure with Clojure-Contrib Library

I recently picked up Programming Clojure and started working through it, trying to wrap my head around this new variant of Lisp.

Installing clojure itself was pretty simple (sudo apt-get install clojure, since I’m using Ubuntu), but I had a hard time figuring out how to make the clojure contrib libraries available from the clojure REPL (I kept getting errors about the clojure-contrib classes not being on the classpath).

Here’s how you do it: start the clojure REPL with an extra argument pointing to where you’ve installed the source files for clojure-contrib. For example:

clojure -cp /home/rontoland/Code/clojure-contrib-1.1.0/src

Since the clojure-contrib libraries are used throughout the book, I put the above code in a small script and saved it in my /usr/local/bin folder as clojure-repl, so I don’t have to remember the longer command.

How To: Change Imagefield Thumbnail Size in Drupal

In Drupal, the Imagefield fieldtype comes with a built-in thumbnail generator. If you’d like to control the size of the thumbnail, just set the value of the imagefield_thumb_size variable, like so:

variable_set('imagefield_thumb_size', '200x200');

That’ll set the imagefield thumbnail size to 200 x 200 pixels.

Sound Fix for MacBook with Ubuntu 8.04

After upgrading to 8.04, I found a strange bug: my sound worked normally from the internal speakers, but when I plugged in a set of headphones, no sound came out.

I scratched my head for a while trying to work this out till I found the workaround recommended here.

Basically all you need to do is right-click on the Volume Control applet, select Open Volume Control, then Edit -> Preferences. Check the box for “Surround,” then close the Preferences window and unmute the track marked “Surround.” That should do it.

Upgrading the Macbook to Ubuntu 8.04

Bit the bullet today and upgraded to the latest Ubuntu distribution: 8.04.

I decided to try the automatic updater built into the Update Manager (after backing up all my data).

Everything went well until it asked me what to do with the /boot/grub/menu.lst file.

Since my system is dual-boot Ubuntu/Windows, I’ve customized by boot menu to display the Windows XP partition when the computer starts. When the updater noticed the altered file, it asked me if I wanted to keep the old one or use the default (new) one.

I told it to keep the old one, since I wasn’t sure I could duplicate the changes I’d made easily. The updater went along with this decision for a while, then decided it couldn’t get some files it needed from the internet and crashed.

Luckily, my system was still running okay, so I found the menu.lst file and made a copy of it, then rebooted. The computer booted up into 7.10 fine, but when I ran the update manager, it told me my system was up to date!

What had happened? After looking around for a bit, I noticed my /boot folder had references to a new linux kernel, 2.6.24-16-generic. I pulled up my old /boot/grub/menu.lst file and saw it referred to the 2.6.22-14-generic kernel.

Ah-ha! I thought. The new kernel must be the one for 8.04. So I edited the menu.lst file so that this was the first entry:

title Ubuntu 8.04, kernel 2.6.24-16-generic
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.24-16-generic root=UUID=03265ecc-a831-4aaf-8d13-fc06036d9211 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.24-16-generic
quiet

(the part after UUID may vary from what’s on your computer; be sure to use whatever your old menu.lst file lists for your old linux kernel)

Then I rebooted the computer. Sure enough, this time it told me I was in Ubuntu 8.04! I ran the update manager again to check for anything it didn’t load after crashing, and found 2 updates I needed.

When I pressed “Update” though, it told me dpkg was already running, and I had to run “dpkg –configure -a” to fix things.

So, I opened a Terminal and typed in “sudo dpkg –configure -a”. It downloaded a few files, then asked me (again) if I wanted to replace the /boot/grub/menu.lst file. This time I let it use the default (new) one, secure in the knowledge that I had a backup of the old file.

That fixed everything. It wrote the menu.lst file it wanted, then rebooted. After reboot, I copied the part of the old menu.lst file that referred to my Windows install and pasted it into the new menu.lst.

Everything works now, none of my data is missing, and I can still get to Windows.

So, if you’re upgrading to 8.04, be sure to backup your menu.lst file if you’ve changed it. Let the updater overwrite your old file, then manually paste your tweaks into its /boot/grub/menu.lst once the update’s over. If I’d just done that, my update would’ve gone smoothly.

PS–If you’re upgrading a Macbook, your sound may not work when you boot into 8.04. Try running “alsamixer” from the Terminal, then use the up arrow to max out the volume for the each of the channels it shows. That should do it.