Thursday, November 25, 2010

reinventing the bookshelf

Oh man, I got all the cool apps but I don't know how to use them. The way it goes is that you install it then you dabble with it. That is you use all the easy stuff. Soon you want to tackle a challenge and duh! Ok, then you scour the net to find every ebook and manual in PDF format or HTML you can find. Soon you have files and folders all over the place. Linux has this app called Calibre, a master at organizing ebooks. You can suck in ebooks in different formats, convert them to one standard format (of your choice), then view them with a few clicks. Here is a pic:
I guess I could demand it be more automated sort of like Picasa but I am happy to have it as it is. Picassa scans your hard drive for every picture, makes a thumbnail and puts it in a menu tree. Calibre does give you control over what gets selected but once selected it is awkward to remove other than delete. Mostly I go into the Ubuntu system file manager and move the file to another directory, then refresh Calibre. Calibre is so handy and as usual I do all the easy stuff first, there are deep and hidden secret powers lurking beneath the interface.

I am migrating toward using the PC as a complete system to handle most home media. It is a trend any electronic handy person can envision. PCs can do TV with a card and cable service is a plus, internet, play audio and video files, be a reader of various documents, do email, internet browse/search, calculate and control. Books in print just might become rare, what was that? Gutenberg turning in his grave? I can see more and more book shelves being knick-knack displays. There on the shelf is your favorite picture, it's a digital picture frame. At rest, it's a photo display, when you pick it up, it's a wifi-pad to the house computer.

You think I am nuts, my brother had a VHS video collection that could be used as a sofa. If that many videos could be stored and played off a 1 terabyte hard drive, a huge chunk of living room real estate has been recovered. Add to this a collection of books, magazines and newspapers. Actually the local library should have an online service where you can for a small fee read anything online on demand, no need to download. But what about human contact. Walk into the library with your wifi-pad or trade your card for one of the library's.

Having the work on one workspace and the manual or tutorial on another is a big deal. I find I have to practice some skills over and over till I got them down, you know the repeatable results thing. Then I can tweak them and discover new stuff. No joke, I can sit at my PC all day and not waste a minute. And I am just an average Joe. OK, I'm a geeky Joe.

Somehow I think there needs to be a difference in the personal computer (single user) and the home computer (shared users). If we can mash together the business server with multiple home users (family members PCs) we can manage personal data and shared data. We just have to make it practical. This can be done with present day off the shelf parts and we haven't even talked about controlling the home life support and security systems.

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