Scholarly uses of the Palm (or lack thereof), continued…

David’s comments prompt more discussion on how the Palm may or may not be used in a scholarly setting. The vague focus of this entry is offline reading of documents on the Palm.

[Note: I’m actually addressing David in this article. Hence, the usage of “you” and “your”. I’ve flip-flopped on whether this should be another comment or an entry. If I’ve made some editorial mistake here, we’ll just have to live with it…]

I do know about the UQAC site. I actually downloaded Durkheim at some point last semester for my Theory of Ritual class. That was before I bought my Palm. I also remember you mentioning it on your site. 🙂 For sure, the UQAC site is a great step in the right direction. Unfortunately, most of what they have falls outside of what I really need to read. My current reading list has:

  • Derrida
  • Foucault
  • WV Quine
  • Wittgenstein

Note that my reading list is still very new and the way it is currently built it contains authors that I’m not likely to read in the course of my day to day research but rather authors that I need to make an effort to find time for. For instance, Derrida is not an author that I would directly read in the course of my research. What typically happens is that I find that some of the authors that are pertinent to my research form their own theoretical viewpoints based on Derrida’s work (or, more precisely, based on a certain Anglo-Saxon understanding of what Derrida said). Since all the authors above keep appearing in the works of the authors I read, I figure I should read them too.

I’ve also been very bad at keeping my list up to date, which explains the fact that it is still very short. It is now maintained on my Palm so that should help.

I use Plucker to download and package news daily. I don’t use the Palm as my main tool for getting the news (Firefox and its Sage plugin do that for me) but there are some news sites I like to have on the Palm, for reading on the bus or while I wait for the train, for instance. I also wrote a script that parses my Firefox bookmarks and creates a configuration file for Plucker so that it plucks all my bookmarks that refer to entries in the Wikipedia.

I haven’t tried PDF files on the Palm really. I have the Adobe Reader for Palm software but I haven’t used it yet. I am guessing (and I’m pretty darn certain I’m right about this) that it works well only with PDF files that treat text as text rather than as an image. That’s not a problem for PDFs that were created directly from word processing software and similar tools: they usually treat text as text. However, that’s a problem with legacy documents digitalized to PDF by scanning since they usually treat text as images. That’s my problem with the JSTOR service for instance. Now, don’t get me wrong: I think JSTOR is a great service. (JSTOR doesn’t trap their clients in their own little system like Questia does, for instance.) However, the PDFs they produce for downloading articles contain text as images rather than text as text so they are pretty much unusable on a PDA. I see that your opinion is that PDF on PDAs is just unusable, period. Thanks for the warning. I’ll keep that in mind.

Returning to plucker now… I think, if I’m not mistaken, that you use Ubuntu, which is based on Debian, if I remember well. Debian certainly has packages for plucker… which is how I installed it here. (If you’ve read my colophon before I updated it recently, it said that I use Red Hat but that’s obsolete info. I’ve been using Debian for 2 years now.) Now, I don’t know how you should (or shouldn’t) go about using Debian packages on an Ubuntu distribution…

I can put “talking about Plucker in more detail” on my list of things to do at some point in the future… To be honest, I have a lot of other things to do that are more pressing (or more interesting), and, as usual, because my approach on this kind of thing is skewed towards the arcane rather than towards user-friendliness, I’m not sure I’m the best person to explain how to use it. (For instance, I don’t use Plucker Desktop, which may in fact be a great tool that simplifies a lot of things for many users.) There are a few quick and very useful things I can say for now:

  • pluck-comics is broken.
  • don’t use plucker-prc-install: that’s a remnant of an old installation script that must not be used.
  • do use plucker-setup.
  • the main tool for plucking is plucker-build: I think the documentation talks about running python directly (eg. python but that’s not necessary.

All of the above applies to the Debian packages.

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