Offline Browser

One of the things I liked having on my Palm was an offline copy of my blog and all of my movie reviews. At first I used AvantGo to do this, but that company went out of business and the software only worked through their web servers. Then I found Sunrise XP and Plucker, two pieces of software that would get the pages and then let you see them offline. That was a great combo and, even though the companies no longer supported their product, they worked just fine. And whereas AvantGo limited the size of your cache, Sunrise didn’t care. So I got all of my blog and all of my movie reviews. I also use it to get Roger Ebert’s latest reviews, and sections of the New York Times.

I hoped for something similar for the iPod Touch, but there didn’t seem to be anything. There were a number of programs that would let you download the page you were looking at for use later (like Instapaper), but nothing that would get a whole site through some kind of Contents page or index.

So today I was looking around for apps and found one called Browse Later Lite which seems to do just what I wanted. I already have a New York Times app, so I didn’t need it for that, but I’d like to have my blog and movie reviews, so I set those up to download the contents pages for each to a depth of 1. The movies are all text files and I was able to download 300 movies reviews in a couple of minutes. But the blog has a lot of pictures and there is no way to turn pictures off in the Lite version (the full version for $1.99 allows you to turn images off). To get all 500 entries and images (even a few MB of images I have stored offsite on my own domain) it took over an hour. Ouch. And unlike Sunrise XP, it doesn’t seem smart enough to know not to download pages that haven’t changed since the last time. That would save a lot of time. The total download was 27.2 MB for both sites.

The browser that you view the pages in is really Safari, so it has the limitation in Safari that you can’t change the text size. So movie review pages have this tiny, tiny text. You can stretch the page to see the text in a larger size, but then you have to scroll left and right to read a line. That’s a terrible interface, but that is Apple’s fault. The blog entries work better since they are constrained to a narrow column that looks about right when stretched to fit across the iPod screen.

Still, this is another thing to check off of my list of capabilities that the Palm had. I still need a way to sort Contacts by category and sync it back to my computer somehow. The built-in Contacts app is just terrible.

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