Monthly Archives: June 2013

Google Books – 24 hours to a few weeks

From Google Books “Name, submit, and update files for books without ISBNs” page (emphasis added by me):

Files uploaded through the Google Uploader may take up to 24 hours to display in
your account. Files uploaded through the web form will display in your account
after processing, which may take a few weeks.

Google can complete searches in microseconds, retrieve a photo from its exabytes of global imagery also in microseconds, but they need a few weeks to process an uploaded ePub file?

And why would files submitted via their Java uploader be ready faster than files submitted via their web form? Wouldn’t both paths go through the same validation process? What is this “processing” anyway? Can they use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? 🙂

Why, Google, lord of all data, why is your process so difficult and slow?

Minimalist Word

I have seen a lot of writers slam Microsoft Word and praise minimalist Markdown editors. But I never understood that.  Here is Word 2013 on my Surface RT (you can do the same on any another device).  Auto-hide ribbon and taskbar are enabled. This is the entire screen, not just Word’s window:

Microsoft Word on Surface RT 000

You can choose to auto-hide the ribbon, display tabs only or tabs and commands. So if you want a distraction-free environment, Word can do that. And when you need the full power of Word, it can do that too. Tabs only:

Microsoft Word on Surface RT 002

Tabs and commands:

Microsoft Word on Surface RT 003


Microsoft Word on Surface RT 004

Taking screenshots of eReaders


I often take screenshots of my stable of eReaders to show clients how documents actually appear. Software previewers are often wrong to very wrong. Also they do not show the actual user experience, like menus and links, on the device. The one problem with device built-in screen captures is that they show you what the device thinks it is displaying (the contents of the framebuffer) instead of the display quality. What you actually see is affected by many factors – lighting, eInk ghosting, brightness, etc. Photographing all of the different screen technologies properly is very difficult.

Many websites show how to take screenshots for specific devices but not all of them in one place, nor where the screenshots live on the device. After you are done taking screenshots, connect the device via USB and (almost) all will present themselves as a storage device.

Kindle 1Shift-Alt-gThere is no confirmation that a screenshot is taken. My K1 has an SD card which mounts as Untitled. GIFs are in Untitled (root directory), named screen_shot-xxxx.gif.
Kindle 2Shift-Alt-gScreen flashes once. GIFs are in Kindle → documents, named screen_shot-xxxx.gif.
Kindle 3Shift-Alt-gScreen flashes once, then again a few seconds later once the capture is complete. GIFs are in Kindle → documents, named screen_shot-xxxx.gif.
Kindle PaperwhiteTouch bottom-left and upper-right of screen at the same timeScreen flashes once. PNGs are in Kindle (root directory), named screenshot_YYYY_MM_DDTHH_MM_SS-xxxx.png. For every screenshot here is a wininfo_*.txt that contains xwininfo output (object tree debug information).
Kindle Fire (1st gen)Found these How to take a screenshot on any Kindle Fire and How to take screenshots on the Kindle Fire but have not tried them yet. Photographed instead.
Nook (1st gen)I use a flatbed scanner which unfortunately does not capture the color LCD very well.
Nook ColorNook key + Volume downCamera icon will appear in notification area (lower left) when capture is complete. PNGs are in media → Screenshots, named yy-mm-dd-x.png.
Nook Simple Touch/GlowBoth use an infrared grid touchscreen which seems to be overloaded by the flatbed scanner’s light. The touchscreen is unresponsive for several seconds after a scan. I now photograph rather than scan.
Nook HD/HD+Nook key + Volume downAnimation showing slightly reduced version of screen appears plus a notification that the “Screenshot was captured”. PNGs are in MyNOOK → Pictures → Screenshots, named Screenshot_YYYY–MM–DD–HH–MM–SS.png.
Kobo TouchIts infrared grid touchscreen seems to be overloaded by the flatbed scanner’s light. The touchscreen is unresponsive for several seconds after a scan. I now photograph rather than scan.
Kobo AuraIts infrared grid touchscreen seems to be overloaded by the flatbed scanner’s light. Touchscreen was unresponsive until I rebooted with the paperclip reset button. I now photograph rather than scan.
Kobo ArcPower + Volume downScreen flashes and shutter sound plays once the capture is complete. The device does not appear as a storage device. You need to run Android File Transfer. PNGs are in Pictures → Screenshots, named Screenshot_YYYY–MM–DD–HH–MM–SS.png.
eMatic EB105B
eMatic EB106
No detectable mechanism. Photographed.
iPhone/iPadPower + HomeScreen flashes and shutter sound plays once the capture is complete. PNGs are in standard camera roll. Use Preview to import.
Android 4.0 (ICS) and abovePower + Volume downAppears in gallery.
Microsoft Surface RTWindows + Volume downThe touch Windows logo on the front face, not on the keyboard.

Mystery doc used as background in America’s Book of Secrets

I was watching America’s Book of Secrets – S02E10 – Presidential Assassins, and @18:57, I spotted hexdump output scrolling behind the images.  Unfortunately, the beginning frames had no obviously unique text:

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 23.10.13

But a few frames later, I spotted probably searchable text “rafrht Alwera”:

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 23.10.41

Here is where it becomes strange.  Googling for “rafrht alwera” returns just 1 hit, a PDF file that looks like it also contains hexdump output:

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 23.44.15

Opening the file in Acrobat and searching for the text “rafrht” returns one match but not the hexdump Google found.

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 23.02.20


Oddly, hexdump on the PDF does not show any “rafrht”. So what did Google and Acrobat find?

HP 90W Slim Combo Adapter with USB – manual and specs

I purchased an HP 2000-2c23dx because I needed a low-power laptop that I could use in the minivan. It cannot run Crysis, but it was on sale at BestBuy for $279. HP’s site provided frustratingly little information, Power – 65W AC adapter.  Worse, I could not find a verifiably compatible DC power adapter for it, and I did not want to go DC-AC-DC. Searching HP’s store for “auto power” returned one hit, “HP 90W Notebook PC Auto/Truck Adapter” with absolutely no technical details nor compatibility chart. One drawback was that it clearly only had DC input.


Clicking on the “AC Adapters” breadcrumb returned 15 hits. One adapter claimed to have both DC and AC input, and another clearly had both:

Both provided compatibility, but alas, my 2000-2c23dx was not listed.  On HP’s site, the 90W Smart Combo AC Adapter’s only photo shows a cigarette lighter plug but no obvious AC cord:


While the 90W Slim Combo Adapter with USB’s only photo shows a NEMA 5-15 to IEC 60320-1 C5 cord at the top:


Frustratingly, I could not find information anywhere, HP or the net, on the power connector size on the laptop or the adapters, or a manual. The DC connector on the AC adapter that came with the laptop looked similar to the black tip on the Combo w/USB (the yellow tip on both adapters was obviously too small). Also, I could not find anywhere how much power the USB port could put out. 2A would be nice because I could charge an iPad with it. Without much hope, I ordered the Combo Adapter w/USB.

In case you do not want to scroll through the photos… the Combo Adapter w/USB works. HP has thankfully standardized on their laptop DC connector, at least for laptops that use 90W or less. The USB port is rated at 2A. Even though I now have HP part numbers, I still cannot find any documentation on HP’s site. So I scanned the HP 90W Slim Combo Adapter with USB manual (PDF).

Here is what arrived. The brick above, with a C5 AC connector at the end not visible (right) in HP’s product photo:


A twist-lock connector for DC input centered on the long side not visible (back) in HP’s product photo:


And the matching connector on the cigarette lighter cable:


Visible in HP’s product photo, the blue twist-lock connector for the DC cable to the laptop and the USB port:


And the all important DC connector (laptop end) on the cable that came with the Combo Adapter. Fortunately it is identical to the DC connector on the AC adapter that came with the laptop.


_MG_8833-960 _MG_8835-960

The cigarette lighter plug says it wants 12V @ 9.8A which is 117.6W.  All of the outlets on my minivan warn that the combined output cannot exceed 120W. Since the laptop probably uses 65W only at full load, I am fairly certain this adapter will not constantly draw 9.8A. I will measure and post consumption data later. The cigarette lighter plug has a nicely concealed, but easily accessible, 12A fuse (partially visible in my photo, but clearly documented in the manual).


The Combo Adapter outputs 19.5V @ 4.62A (90.9W) + 5V @ 2.0A (10W) = 100.9W = 86% efficiency.


For comparison, here are the specs for the AC adapter that shipped with the laptop, 19.5V @ 3.33A = 65W.


Oddly, the Combo Adapter is over twice as big as the AC adapter, so unless you really need DC input, just pack the AC adapter.