Kindle (part 2)

it_overview

The Kindle is an electronic book-reader from Amazon. It has a place for certain tasks on a boat.

Continuing on from the first page written some 2 years ago, the latest information and links we have are presented on this page.

Our Kindles continue to accumulate ebooks, whether they are novels and other recreational reading, cook books, reference books or manuals. In addition we are starting to write our own manual of how we “run” Maringret. That may sound over the top but for certain tasks which you might do only every few years (e.g. stepping the masts) we find it helpful to have a “to do” list from our last time – to serve as a reminder if nothing else. Other tasks such as going to the top of the mast or going under the water to check an anode are a lot easier if you have a list of what tools you need before you arrive at your destination. As boats get more complex there are ever more lists to keep to try and keep thing moving long smoothly.

Equipment Manuals Titles and Authors

We have been able to locate PDF forms of the manuals for most of our equipment. One problem is Kindle specific, when the Kindle lists the documents which are the manuals, it lists the file name or the title that is specified in the PDF document. Also it lists the author as it is specified within the PDF document. Without spending a lot of time studying the problem is seems that the text that is displayed is not always what one might wish. Some documents have the part number of the manual as their file name (e.g. 124-A67T.pdf) which then is displayed by the Kindle. This is nowhere as convenient as having something like “wheel barrow manual” displayed. A similar thing occurs with the author field where some of the manuals have something like “\367\37700100a00r00s” displayed as the author which isn’t much use. We couldn’t find any tools supplied with the Macintosh that permit you to change these fields. Then we found a web page by Michele Pasin where he had the same problem and detailed the solutions to it he found. He lists the following 2 programs as solving the problem:

We tried both of these programs and they both worked for us. Now our PDF manuals have meaningful titles whch speeds up locating the required manual.

Maringret Manual

In order to keep track of the myriad of details involved in a boat the size and complexity of Maringret we have started moving our lists of parts and sequenced steps onto the computer. We weren’t sure how to store them: as text files, as word processing files, as HTML web pages. Text files might work on any computer but don’t allow for much formatting and organisation. Word processing files tend to be proprietary and possibly limited to specific platforms. We ended up choosing HTML which allowed formatting without being platform specific. An extra is that the Kindle will display standard HTML easily.

We defined our manual as a website whose “home page” was the Table of Contents which then has links to the “chapters” which in turn are web pages who link to the topics which comprise the chapter. This works quite well for technical manuals with lists, simple tables and either photos or diagrams, each topic is a separate document comprised of text, lists, tables and graphics.  It is actually how all the ebooks for the Amazon Kindle are created (note that Amazon supplies special tools free of charge for this task). In esence we are creating a website when we create our manual, you can find special tools for creating website or alternately some word processors have such functionality. Two free HTML editors for the Macintosh we found are:

Any web browser allows you to review the book, once it is working as a web site then you can move it to the Kindle where it will appear as a document.

The easiest way we found of moving a web site to the Kindle is by using the free program calibre. calibre will take the home page of your website (i.e. your book or manual), convert it to the necessary formats and then move that “document” onto your Kindle. These are the steps:

  1. start up calibre
  2. click on the button “Add books” and use the file selection dialogue to choose the HTML document that is the “home page” or Table of Contents of your manual
    – the manual will appear in the list of documents in your calibre library, it will be in the format “ZIP” which means that calibrew has made a ZIP file of it
    note: the document Title and Author will come from the values specified in the HTML code of your web pages
  3. single-click on your new document to select it
  4. click on the button “Convert books” and select “Convert individually”. A new window will appear, in the menu button in the upper righthand corner select the output format “MOBI”, then click the OK button. calibre will now start converting your document to the MOBI format which is a format the Kindle can read.
  5. once the conversion is completed then connect the Kindle to your computer, a new button will appear on the calibre toolbar, the “Send to device” button. Click this button and select the option “Send to main memory”
  6. Once the file transfer is complete then select the “Eject device” option from the “Send to device” button. You may now disconnect your Kindle from your computer.

Your manual will now appear at the end of the list of documents and collections that is on your Kindle Home page. Go the end of the Home page and then you can fial your new document (i.e. your manual) as you would any other Kindle document.

  • the Kindle serves as a very good documentation tool for trouble shooting and problem resolution
  • with the document being in HTML the document is very portable and easy to send to others

After multiple years our Kindles are still serving well. The inability to create collections within collections is still one of the major limitations.

There is an update to this page located here. as well as a preceding article here.

  • PDF-Meta for editing Title and Author in PDF files
  • PDFInfo for editing Title and Auhtor in PDF files
  • Blue Griffin for editing HTML files
  • Kompozer for editing HTML files
  • calibre for converting the format of your manual and loading it onto the Kindle
  • Project Gutenburg for thousands of free ebooks

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