Okay, I know Dave and I are probably the last two people on the face
of the earth who use PalmOS. But we still do, to read news and
ebooks prepared with Plucker
there was one big frustration: none of our Plucker files were
beamable. So if I downloaded a really interesting article and wanted
to share it with Dave, I couldn't (unless we went back to our
desktop machines and transferred it that way.)
The Palm just said
Unhandled exception, error code = 5395
I tried all sorts of things in the
feedme code that
calls Plucker -- adding --beamable, moving it earlier or later in
the argument list, trying other arguments. --beamable is supposed to
affect the "copy protect bit", but checking on the Palm devices
confirmed the copy protect bit wasn't set, and still beaming didn't work.
And I just stumbled on the answer tonight, and since it's not
documented anywhere, I must document it in case somewhere, there's
someone else who still uses PalmOS and Plucker struggling with this
It turns out that a document with a colon in the name can't be beamed.
On any PalmOS device we've tried, regardless of generation or
manufacturer. This of course isn't documented anywhere I can find.
So Fri: BBC World News isn't beamable. But simply give it a
colonoscopy -- rename it to Fri BBC World News --
and beaming works great.
Sheesh! Ain't debugging grand?
[ 19:43 Feb 12, 2010
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For years I've been reading daily news feeds on a series of PalmOS
PDAs, using a program called
that finds new pages on my list of sites, downloads them, then runs
to translate them into Plucker's
open Palm-compatible ebook format.
Sitescooper has an elaborate series of rules for trying to get around
the complicated formatting in modern HTML web pages. It has an
elaborate cache system to figure out what it's seen before.
When sites change their design (which most news sites seem to
do roughly monthly), it means going in and figuring out the new
format and writing a new Sitescooper site file. And it doesn't
understand RSS, so you can't use the simplified RSS that most
sites offer. Finally, it's no longer maintained; in fact, I was
the last maintainer, after the original author lost interest.
Several weeks ago, bma tweeted
about a Python RSS reader he'd hacked up using the feedparser
package. His reader targeted email, not Palm, but finding out
about feedparser was enough to get me started. So I wrote
(Carla Schroder came up with the all-important name).
I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and I'm very happy
with the results. It's still quite rough, of course, but it's
already producing better files than Sitescooper did, and it
seems more maintainable. Time will tell.
Of course it needs to be made more flexible, adjusted so that
it can produce formats besides Plucker, and so on. I'll get to it.
And the only site I miss now, because it doesn't offer an RSS feed,
is Linux Planet.
Maybe I'll find a solution for that eventually.
[ 20:08 Oct 20, 2009
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