Today is the day that AvantGo became AvantGone. I was looking for a replacement and found a discussion about the topic. The simplest replacement seemed to be MobiPocket. This used to be a $20 piece of software for reading e-books, but Amazon bought the company and now it is free. Though they want you to buy e-books from their store, they also let you set up RSS feeds for free. I knew nothing about RSS feeds, so this morning I downloaded the software and tried to figure it out. I found some RSS feeds for the New York Times, Space.com, and The Economist and sychronized. Eventually it seemed to be working okay and I was off to work. But when I went to read the articles, the ones from Space.com were good (though a little jumbled with text for credit and ads), but the Times and Economist were just headlines. I guess headlines work fine if you add them to your My Yahoo home page, but not for offline reading.
Another alternative that looked more complicated but was more like the offline browser I used to use on my Mac Powerbook and therefore not limited to RSS feeds was a combination of two pieces of software. They were using Plucker, a free document reader for the Palm, along with a SunriseXP, a desktop program that gets webpages, turns them in to Plucker documents, and puts them on the Palm.
Installing Plucker was pretty easy, but getting SunriseXP took some reading. Within the thread I mentioned earlier, one person gave pretty good instructions. I tried that, but started running into problems on how to synchronize. For instance, he says to save the Plucker files on a SD card and then load the SD card into the Palm, but when I did that I couldn’t figure out how to make Plucker find those files. Then I found an extensive wiki about SunriseXP where I learned how to have the Plucker files created and synched automatically whenever I synch the Palm on my computer. It can even put the files on the memory card (2 GB) instead of in Palm memory (32 MB). The thread had said it would be too slow to that, but the files move very fast. I was able to convert my entire blog into a Plucker document in a few minutes, resulting in a 4 MB file which then loaded onto the Palm in just a few seconds.
Doing the blog was easy. I set it up to look at my archive page and set the link depth to 1 to download every page which that page links to (0 would just download the page). In AvantGo I had done something similar, but since I was limited to a few MB of AvantGo storage for all of my different channels combined, I was only able to get about 25% of the blog. I set it up to get all of movie reviews too.
The New York Times was more challenging. Fortunately, the discussion thread had mentioned the NY Times mobile edition. The problem with that is that if you try to explore those pages with a PC you are automatically forwarded to the regular NY Times page, so I couldn’t figure out which URL’s to enter to get various sections of the Times. By using my Palm’s web browser on my wifi network, I was able to get the URL’s. They all start with:
Then you end the URL with a number:
19: Latest News
Each section is about 500 kb.
The results are very clean on the Palm. It can even be set to download images, reducing the size or number of colors to save file space. This is much more powerful than AvantGo which was kind of buggy.