Monday, January 13, 2014

In Tests: Made Kindle X-Ray files themselves -

01/13/2014 – by Jens Baumeister – eBook News


Even if Amazon’s X-Ray function is now found in more and more books, there are many Kindles eBooks, where the context service can not be activated. English speaking users working on a plugin for Calibre to allow these plants to X-ray vision. We have the state of things looked at to see whether the program is already ready for the end user.

Sometimes useful, sometimes gimmick. Amazons X-Ray on the iPad.

Sometimes useful, sometimes gimmick. Amazon’s X-Ray, here on the iPad.

Not for any Kindle book, there are X-Ray. Just who invites his ebooks from sources other than Amazon on the device – about the Project Gutenberg or Baen Books – has to do without this function. To change the working users of the U.S. Forums MobileRead been around for more than two years on a plugin for the ebook management program Calibre, which is to analyze the book files and enrich it with information from Wikipedia and Shelfari Amazon’s service. us regulary at the moment, but only for those who want to know how X-Ray looks behind the scenes. Quick results are a matter of luck.

Sweeping restrictions

First, the positives: You have to worry about his ebook files. The X-ray information is stored in a separate file and reloaded by the Kindle, or from the corresponding app. So the plugin does not change any eBooks, but only generates an additional file, which must then be downloaded to the reader. But you should be aware of some limitations aware:

  • The plugin must be able to analyze the contents of the book, so only DRM-free eBooks come into question.
  • for these books a halfway complete entry at must exist, which only works in English is practically the case.
  • Due to these limitations, it was not so easy to find a meaningful eBook for testing. The most common free English books are to be loaded on Amazon now for free as an X-ray version. Finally, we opted for the SF novel “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow, which is legally available on the website of the authors as a free download, while the Kindle version costs money, first at Amazon and secondly does not contain X-Ray.

    It seems to be easy …

    Not elegant, but functional: The dialog for data entry.

    Not elegant, but functional: The dialog for data entry


    There is no official download URL for the file because the plugin is still in development. The latest version that we could find, can be downloaded here. The installation works as you know it from other Calibre plugins: The zip file is not unpacked, but “Load Settings-> Plugins Plugin from file” over involved in the program, then the user can select which Toolbars Calibre to show it.

    The generation of the X-RayDatei is then quite simple: You select a song and press on the “XRay” button. Then you have to select in a dialog window, select the location and the appropriate Shelfari URL of the title and, optionally, the address of an English Wikipedia entry about the book (here the corresponding address for “Little Brother” is) enter (in our case here).

    The finished file with the extension. asc must then in appropriate folder (“. sdr”) be installed on the Kindle. Also, iOS users can benefit from the X-ray data by using a tool such as iExplorer. A jailbreak is not required. Books and personal documents can be found on iPhone and iPad under “Apps / Kindle / Library / ebooks”, the asc file must be in the folder “Apps / Kindle / Library / ACX” are copied.

    … but it gets complicated

    At first glance, so everything pretty simple: a touch to create an X-Ray file for the title you want, download them to the Kindle, done. The reality is different. First, we found that at least our unit made problems when we tried to load book and X-Ray file via USB. After much experimentation, we found only one way, the generated ever working X-Ray files:

    1. The desired book as a personal document sent by mail to Amazon.
    2. The resulting document from Kindle to download and import into Calibre.
    3. xray plugin with the newly imported specimen use.
    4. asc file, as described above, copy to the correct location.
    The error messages are rarely helpful. Here was a false Wikipedia URL for the cause.

    The error messages are rarely helpful. Here a false Wikipedia URL was the cause.

    But even this circuitous route did not bring the desired success in many books. Time we faced in generating the X-ray file with cryptic error messages which could be resolved in part by again Mobipocket Mobipocket “converted” the eBook. Other times produced the plugin though a file, the contents were jeoch not appear in the Kindle app. “Little Brother” so I was not about the first eBook that we have gestetet – it was only the first in which we even got a halfway usable result


    sobering result

    xray result for two figures before and after manually creating appropriate alias entries.

    X-ray result for two figures before and after manually creating the appropriate alias entries.

    But even this result was rather sobering. So the plugin recognizes figures about only if the full name is as advertised, as it appears on Shelfari. This makes especially for “Little Brother” problems because the corresponding entry also Leetspeak hacker alias of the protagonist contains (“Marcus Yallow (aka w1n5t0n/m1k3y)”). This string is in the book in this form before, so not a single occurrence of the main protagonists is detected. Remedy is to manually set an alias file in the format “ | , …”. For Marcus Yallow the saw, for example, like this:

    Marcus Yallow (aka w1n5t0n/m1k3y) | w1n5t0n/m1k3y, w1n5t0n, Marcus


    Then appears an “X-ray beams” for the character, but to what extent this is really accurate, is another question. So X-Ray is still of the opinion that the minor characters In and Darryl are important than the main protagonist. However, this purpose could also, that every occurrence of the city name “Los Ange les” is interpreted as naming of In

    Conclusion: A big construction site with an uncertain future

    Overall, the X-Ray plug-in is an interesting experiment in this form, but still not ready for the end user. For this reason it is far indeed discussed only within the Mobile Read forum and is not advertised to the outside. However, it is questionable whether the plugin ever manages to market. The correct identification of the character names, and creating appropriate alias files, for example, a problem that can be solved only with difficulty automated, although a MobileRead users wrote a PHP script that tries to do just that. A German-language version of the plugin is impossible anyway, as long as there are no local counterpart to Shelfari.

    For other problems, such as our many failed X-ray generation experiments, certainly easier to remedy could create, but the project has been not very active in recent months. It all started already in 2011, shortly after the initial launch of X-Ray. The last published version of the plugin comes from October 2013, and the discussion thread on MobileRead has fallen asleep more or less in November 2013. No wonder, X-Ray is officially “upgraded” an increasing number of Amazon titles, the scope for the plugin shrinks so steadily.

    Anyone with an interest in technology and would like to provide self-generated eBooks with X-ray or simply want to learn more about the underlying file formats that can deal with the project. All others should be discouraged. The frustration of the fruitless experimentation is usually out of proportion to the benefit, if it actually works once.

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