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Handhelds The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Websites Friendly To eReader Browsers? 96

DJCouchyCouch writes "I have a Kobo Touch eReader that comes with a bare-bones web browser. Since the screen is E-Ink based, the browsing experience is pretty poor due to the low refresh rate of the screen. Scrolling is twitchy and often laggy. Are there sites out there that can reformat a website to be more like book reading? I'm not asking for a perfect, tablet-like experience, just something better than what it does now."
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Ask Slashdot: Websites Friendly To eReader Browsers?

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  • Instapaper! (Score:5, Informative)

    by vandel405 ( 609163 ) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:31PM (#37580208) Homepage Journal

    Instapaper is great for this type of thing: []

    • by bedouin ( 248624 )

      Thread closed.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Read It Later similarly reformats pages for you. There are a few different Android clients for both RIL and Instapaper, and with browser plug-ins you can easily add any page to your reading lists.

      Alternatively if the browser on your eReader supports Javascript bookmarks there are loads of "clean-up" bookmarklets you can try (Readability springs to mind). Switching to the print view works on a lot of pages too.

  • I just wish I could program the kobo.

    -- hendrik

  • Scrolling? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joh ( 27088 ) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:39PM (#37580248)

    Does the browser really try to scroll? On e-ink? Madness!

    This is not a problem with web pages, it's a problem with this browser. It should paginate web pages and page instead of scroll through them. Problem solved.

    • Re:Scrolling? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Saturday October 01, 2011 @08:04PM (#37580400) Homepage

      The browser on the Kindle doesn't scroll, it just jumps one page at a time, at least when you use the page buttons. It may jump in small bits if you move the cursor over the bottom of the page. I honestly haven't used it enough to remember. But it does have a reader mode which reformats the web page to strip out all the unnecessary junk and make it easy to read on the screen. It works just like the reader mode in Safari, which I think was based on Instapaper (as the top comment suggested).

      That mode actually works very well, and if you wanted to read some long article on the Kindle I wouldn't mind using it. But between the network connection, the CPU, and the eInk refresh rate the browser is very painful to use. To load any moderately complicated web site to the point you can navigate to find what you're after is an exercise in patience.

      Maybe the submitter should consider accessing the mobile versions of websites (where available). That would help.

      • That mode actually works very well, and if you wanted to read some long article on the Kindle I wouldn't mind using it. But between the network connection, the CPU, and the eInk refresh rate the browser is very painful to use. To load any moderately complicated web site to the point you can navigate to find what you're after is an exercise in patience.

        It's not exactly smooth, but I regularly shop on a third-party book store from my Kindle, using its web browser.

        And yes, it helps immensely to use their mobile version. I also wrote them and requested that they default to it when they see Kindle user agent, and show a separate download link for .mobi just as they do for .epub (so that you don't have to go to the combobox to pick a format) - which they promptly did. But then it's exactly the kind of website one would be likely to surf on Kindle, so I wouldn'

        • by carleton ( 97218 )

          Care to make a plug for them?

          • I don't think it'd help you much, considering that it [] is a Russian e-book store.

            As an aside - ironically, unlike you guys, we've had non-DRM book stores with wide selection, pricing well below paper books, and a dozen formats for any conceivable reader device - from J2ME phone to Kindle - for several years now. All completely legal and paying royalties to authors with their approval. Reason being, they know that they have to offer a good deal and to make shopping as convenient as possible, because otherwise

    • It scrolls. Its method for scrolling? Pagination.
    • Perfect! Now I just have to convince the Kobo people to implement it!
    • You'd think they'd have thought of that idea... since Lynx has been doin' that since '92.
  • Just because people recommend Instapaper, I'm going to tell you about [] . Same idea, really. Slightly better instrumented wrt mobile apps.

  • by grantek ( 979387 ) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:43PM (#37580276)

    I often read the internet using Lynx through a slow SSH connection, fits the e-ink display model well (it'd use the display better for walls of text), but many sites won't work, javascript won't work, frames won't work (other text browsers like Links apparently do a better job there). Even slashdot doesn't work well with Lynx any more (login doesn't work on my system so you can't use preferences to fix it), which sucks because it reminds you how difficult it is for physically disabled people to get around things we take for granted.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      Agree, though I was going to suggest links2 which does both text and text + images, I often use it when I am on my workbench machine and I usually work from the CLI

    • elinks does some basic CSS and JS, actually.

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      I still use good old Netscape 3 on some sites, including Slashdot. No styles, no javascript, no images. I couldn't read /. at all without it, the default look makes my aging eyes bleed and it's so slow you have to drive stakes to see if it's moving. With NS3 it's essentially plain text, and very fast.

      • You know, you can still force Slashdot into retard mode. You permit scripts from slashdot and fsdn, deny google, and use preferences to turn off all the horrible options. Then if you must you can use a user script to disable the sidebar -- I did this one my EEE701, which has a teensy tiny screen and the sidebar makes slashdot unreadable.

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          Yeah, but that still doesn't get past Mozilla's gawdawful slow rendering engine. NS3 renders at 10-20x the speed, no shit. Having no patience with the World Wide Wait as it is, I prefer having it sped up to somewhere near 1998 levels whenever possible. I swear, 1998 and dialup (rendered on a 486 to boot) was faster than today's bloated pages on broadband!

          • Well, I have no trouble believing that. Before it could do alpha effects, and sub-pixel font rendering, I imagine the engine had a lot less to think about. On the other hand, I prefer to use a single browser. It *is* pretty awful scrolling Firefox on something without a lot of acceleration.

            • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

              Yeah, and my internet box is still a lowly P3-550 with a mere 1GB RAM. It's outlived all the P4s and keeps on chuggin' along. You'd think that would suffice to do what amounts to rearranging text on the screen via a simple interpreted script, but apparently not. The whole Moz family has dreadful programming Zen. :( Good example of why coders should be forced to work on the minimum hardware, not the very best -- make 'em realize what they're doing to anyone who is behind the bleeding edge.

              Whatever major "up

              • You can do that, though, with squid. The most common non-caching use of squid that I'm familiar with is to run adzapper (although you can cache, too) to remove unwanted content from webpages. I've done it, but AdBlock Plus is so good that I just use that. It does the same thing, unlike Notscripts on Chrome. That's unfair; Notscripts does manage to never load certain elements, but it still has to rewrite pages after they are first interpreted rather than before, which makes it fairly half-assed in that regar

                • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                  Would I have to run my own proxy server with this Squid thing? Use small words, my network-fu is lacking, or possibly negative. :(

                  I nurse "old" systems along too, partly for thrift, but largely because yeah, I hate to see a functional box go to the dump, it's a waste. Everything I have here is salvage, other than the odd part bought when I couldn't scrounge it. Unfortunately the bad-capacitors era took out a lot of otherwise perfectly-functional P4s (and my soldering-fu ain't that great either). Conversely

                  • Short answer no, medium answer yes but it is not a separate machine, slightly longer answer is that a server is a program, not a computer, and a computer that has a server running on it which is willing to serve someone's requests is also called a server, because nerds are bad at names.

                    I have a Shuttle P3 with bad caps. I think I may actually fix it, but I've put it off quite long already.

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      Those are small enough words, but my brain still hurts. :)

                      I've held onto a couple really nice boards with bad caps too, having a fantasy that someday I'll fix 'em, or try to anyway. Or at least get some soldering practice. Not terribly motivated so long as I've got a stack of good boards of similar qualities, but the day may come when you can't find a board that works with your legacy whatever that you can't live without... so I'm reluctant to throw 'em out.

                    • well basically, you install the server program (squid with adzapper) on your local machine, and then your machine becomes an ad-blocking proxy server. then you just set your proxy to your machine (referring to it as "localhost") and bingo, you are now using your own proxy. An extension like torbutton will let you trivially toggle use of the proxy.

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      Ah, thanks, saved for reference. My brain is now working again, the instructions being simple enough to untangle its two left f/e/e/t/ halves. :)

                    • you might be able to get a free "virtual appliance" that will do it in a virtual machine or some such, but that has additional overhead and is not really suitable for a P3 :)

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      Spare machines aren't a problem, I have plenty of carcasses that can be made to earn their keep :) Tho scrounging 'em AGP cards, that's been unexpectedly thin pickings!

  • by Psx29 ( 538840 ) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:46PM (#37580298)
    The best way to read things on an e-ink device is to subscribe to the RSS feeds you want and use Google reader. Hopefully the feeds provide the same content as actually visiting the site and not just a headline.
  • Just have Calibre import the website then put the resulting E-Pub on your device of choice. It's a great way to read news, blogs and other stuff on the go.

    • I would imagine the point is to use Whispernet on the go. If you have a PC handy to run Calibre, why would you bother reading it from Kindle in the first place?

    • I second this. Calibre has been great to me. I used to read all my news sitting at the computer. Now I have it download the news daily and package them as an epub, stripping away a lot of the pointless formatting on those sites. I can now read away from the computer.

      However, if you need something "on the go" where you don't have access to your PC, then I can't help...

  • I guess this is the time when those websites that serve content in 20 pages actually come handy.

  • Having written web sites I am irritated by these small screen browsers that "interpret" what the site should look like. I prefer to load a style sheet for narrow screens that make the site usable for smaller screens and still gives me some control over how the site looks. For example my churches web site [] (a work in progress) that tries to collapse gracefully for the small screen device.
  • Maybe a new css media type should be created to address eReaders. Perhaps a low resolution or black and white type.
    • by rjnagle ( 122374 )

      in css 3 media queries will be able to handle that. (that's also something which should be supported in epub3).

    • There's already a print type, they should have an option to render it. Possibly it would be easily done with a user script. Then you just need a rule to force all links to be drawn with underlines even if they turn it off in the print sheet.

  • You bought an eReader that browses, not a real browser, You can't expect too much for the price that you paid. This issue stopped me from buying an eReader as I want to browse more than read.

  • It's way easier to use --- I hate signing up for stuff, and it doesn't do any annoying spamy stuff like instapaper does. Check it: []
  • Seriously.

    The Kobo just suck ass. They are all nice and pretty in the store demos, but the don't hold a candle towards a Kindle or Nook (the e-ink ones). And I'm talking e-ink, not the Fire or Nook Color or a regular tablet.

    Kobos are the Ladas of the car world.

    • by xenoc_1 ( 140817 )

      Kobos are more open. Kindle is locked into Amazon's AZW format for DRM'd (read: general non-geek public) legal book purchases.

      Kobo uses the Adobe DRM/EPUB ecosphere. My Kobo WiFi ($79 at Borders 6 months ago during their store closings) has books on it bought from Borders (back when Borders via Kobo was a separate instance of kobo from kobo), Kobo, Google Books via Adobe Digital Editions sideloading, and Powell's books (via Google Books via ADE sideloading).

      My wife's Nook Color has all the Kob

  • by shonangreg ( 1868062 ) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:53AM (#37582216)
    You could try readability: [] It works well on my browsers, though I don't know if it will work on your browser.
  • you're using the wrong tool for the job, obviously. that's like asking why the freeway can't have wider lanes for your tractor.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.