Gnome-ish icon theme for Calibre 0.4: it’s back!

calibre-theme-renatoram-preview-web

A couple of years ago I cobbled up an icon theme pack for Calibre, the awesome ebook manager and converter, to give it a look that’s both more appealing to my personal taste, and a bit more uniform with the general style of Linux applications. It’s mostly a cherry-picking of icons from various Gnome icon themes, plus some modified slightly by me: I don’t want to take any credit where it’s not due (all license details are in the README.txt in the package).

That package pretty much fell in disrepair, and even the independently made 0.3 version has pretty much disappeared from the web.

But no more! I decided to give it a whirl again and so, without further ado, the 0.4 version of the package! It should be compatible with Calibre 0.9.x and subsequent versions (probably 0.8 too, and at least up to 1.0.x), and it contains instructions for very simple installation (it’s a matter of copying one folder).

It’s now much more complete than before, though far from being a 100% replacement. Some icons are pretty hard to replace… and many icons are for functions I have never encountered in Calibre: it’s a big tool!

Here is a bigger preview (click to enlarge):

calibre-theme-renatoram_PREVIEW

Download from Box.com the calibre-theme-renatoram-0.4.zip

Enjoy your spiffied-up Calibre, and please let me know if there are any problems with the hosting of the file (or if you want to offer a hosting place that allows hotlinking).

Enable embedded fonts and advanced layout in Aldiko

Have you ever wondered how it was possible that all of the ePub readers for Android sucked so hard? Turns out the don’t all suck, it’s just their User Interface design that does.

Aldiko Reader Icon Well, I just discovered that Aldiko Reader, an app that I tried and dismissed a long time ago, is much more resourceful and featureful than it looks: those features are just very well hidden (and absolutely not advertised in the app’s Play Store page… talk about SEO suckage)*.

So without further ado: here how to bring your Aldiko Reader in the new millennium (aka: embedded fonts, good layout and even SVG embedding!). Click on the images for a full sized version!

1 – Install Aldiko Reader (free) from the Play Store (many phones have it preinstalled: check the version though, if it’s older than 2.1.0 you can probably install the newer one in parallel).

2 – Import your spiffy ePub tapping on Files, browsing, selecting them and choosing “Import to aldiko”

Step 2.1Step 2.2 Step 2.3Step 2.4

3 – Now open your book. I know, none of the layout works (that’s my point!), not even the Italics, most likely.

Step 3.1

4 – Tap on the page, or the Menu button, then open the Settings, More... menu

UPDATE: the app has been updated and the options menu has moved (but it’s still there). New screenshots soon…

Step 4.1

5 – Here comes the magic (and the WTF): uncheck the “Advanced Formatting” option (srsly, yes). This actually enables the ePub advanced formatting that the publisher so lovingly programmed in the book.

so this…

Step 5.1

becomes this…

Step 5.2

6 – Go back to your book and rejoice! Fonts! Colors! Styles! Actual layout! Even SVG illustrations are correctly (and rather beautifully) rendered! The mind just reels, right?

Step 6.1

Now, small rant: defaults matter.

I’m sure it you have any interest in UI design you heard this mantra over and over again. It’s because it’s fucking true. Defaults matter. Choosing to not use the publisher’s layout by default is a completely bone-headed choice, UI wise.
Remember: 70% of the users (maybe more) never change the defaults. So they’ll think your reader sucks, because it does not render stuff that even ADE (Adobe Digital Editions) does, on tiny underpowered and OLD devices like my BeBook Mini.

The fact that the settings for this further confuse the matter just makes things worse. Why the hell would a sane person call a setting “Advanced Formatting” (with the text underneath that says “Click to enable publisher’s formatting” or something), when DESELECTING it (to be fair, “clickng it”, like the line suggests) actually activates the true Advanced Formatting?

It’s cool that there is an override to disable fonts and layout: some people’s idea of a good layout sometimes suck, with unreadable fonts and busy pages. But that’s an Accessibility matter, and should certainly not be the default!

* There actually already was a good ebook reader for Android… it’s just not widely available: the Barnes & Noble Nook reader does use embedded fonts in epubs, SVG illustrations and so on, it’s really a pretty good epub reader. Problem is, it’s officially available only on the Nook reader! Now, if you know where to look you can actually find perfectly good installable apks of it, but I can’t consider it a valid alternative for the casual user. It’s not even supposed to be available in my country! And even then, you have to enable “Publisher Defaults” to see the correct layout.

Note: screenshots will follow, later, for each step.

Vector Illustrations in ePub ebooks

Update: changed file hosting. AGAIN.
Aggiornamento: cambiato l’hosting dei file. ANCORA.

(In italiano, sotto)

This ePub ebook shows how to embed a vector (SVG) illustration in your ePub book.

Both the text and the code itself act as examples, showing a couple of very simple applications of vector illustrations.

Finding a complete and short example online proved to be nontrivial, so I wrote one myself.

Happy tinkering, enjoy!
Download the ePub format ebook.

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Questo ebook in formato ePub mostra come includere un’illustrazione vettoriale (in formato SVG) direttamente nel vostro libro in ePub.

Sia il testo che il codice stesso del libro fanno da esempio, mostrando un paio di semplici applicazoini delle illustrazioni vettoriali.

Trovare un esempio breve  e completo online si era dimostrato non banale, così ne ho scritto uno io stesso.

Buoni smanettamenti!

Scarica il libro in formato ePub (in inglese, tanto si capisce lo stesso).

Funzionamento dei segnalibri su BeBook Mini

Una rapida spiega sul funzionamento dei bookmark (almeno su epub, l’unico formato che uso in effetti) sul Bokeen BeBook Mini: la documentazione, non sarà una gran rivelazione, fa piuttosto pietà. E’ scritta in un inglese piuttosto goffo ed è chiaramente fuori sincrono rispetto al software… ma insomma, non sono problemi insormontabili.

Impostare un segnalibro: premere il tasto 6 brevemente. Sulla riga in fondo allo schermo compare “Bookmark added successfully”

Sfogliare i segnalibri impostati: premere il tasto 6 a lungo. Compare una lista di tutti i segnalibri impostati per quel libro. La cosa bella e’ che se ne possono impostare (credo) all’infinito: la lista e’ multipagina esattamente come la lista dei libri nell’interfaccia base, e si sfoglia con i soliti tasti avanti/indietro. Altra nota positiva: il bookmark contiene automagicamente una frase citata dall’inizio della pagina segnata, oltre al numero di pagina. Piccola nota negativa: sfogliare la lista dei bookmark è piuttosto lento.

E buona lettura!
(io ho preso il Mini per Natale e sono gia’ a 1/3 del secondo libro!)