673rd post: Creation of Ebook version + Renamed first story

Having used my Kindle 4 for half a year already, I enjoyed reading on it. Well, apart from not being able to read in some dark places due to the absence of built-in light, but being able to read under room light without hurting my eyes, or bright sunlight outdoors, which are primary advantages over an LCD screen, are big advantages.

Well, the problem with reading my stories on my blog is that it requires a constant internet connection if you were to read more than one part of it. On top of that, neither the desktop nor “mobile versions” (iOS and Android versions actually) offer a comfortable experience of reading because the text is just too small, and zooming in doesn’t re-flow the text and requiring to pan around, only to start over when heading to the next page.

So, I am proud to announce that I will be making an e-book version of all of my stories (except the 5th story). To make this accessible, I will also include a QR code so that you can use your smartphone to scan and download it to your e-reader app, along with a direct link beneath it to the same file if you want to side load it to your reading device. It’s on the “Stories” tab on my blog. It is also added to the dropdown menu widget (visible only on PC version) for your convenience. The end of the file name has a date in YYYYMMDD format that, if you have previously downloaded a copy before, would tell you if the version I’m hosting is the same as what you have or a newer edition.

As of the time of writing, only the 1st and 2nd story has been put up. Due to the massive size of it, only parts 1 to 37 are currently only included in the e-book version. Also, since the software I used to create it could only support and edit .EPUB formats, Kindle users would find that they would be unable to open it as the format is not supported and would require software on the PC like Calibre to convert into a format the Kindle could read and let you adjust the text like .MOBI or .AZW. (Yes, I know how inconvenient this is since I use the Kindle myself.) You could convert into .PDF with this software, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

Well, I could create a Kindle-friendly version, though it could take me a while to have it in sync with the .EPUB version. For obvious reasons, there will not be a QR code for the Kindle version.

While creating the e-book version of the 1st story, it came to me that I would need to rename it. I had thoughts of doing so before, but I’m not the kind of person who could come up with names without difficulty.

An Original Story By Me” was just a tentative name in use since the first part was published 5 years ago and clearly not suitable to be a final name. I named it as such because all of my other posts at that time were about my ramblings or anime-related stuff and make it obvious that what I wrote in it was fictional and not real, if they never saw the tags that is. The name “Losing Identity” came about

Nowadays, it mostly story-only and I would have to indicate with things like “666th post: (title)“to say that it’s not a story post. The numbers correspond to the order I started writing it, not in the order I publish it. The running numbers included the (separately numbered) story posts.

(Note: This was cross-posted from the updates blog)

642nd post: Kindle – 3 weeks later

It has been 25 days since the kindle arrived (Seemed longer to me) and in that time, I have finished reading 2 Harry Potter books, plus quite a number of manga volumes. These, however, form quite a small number of the amount I had already loaded on to it.

Since then, I had figured out how to take screenshots on my kindle.  How to take the screenshot varies on which version it is (press and hold the keyboard and menu buttons for mine). If you do it correctly, the screen would flash and the screenshot would appear in the documents folder when you connect it to the PC.

Of course, the Kindle has a hidden feature where you could view images: just create a “pictures” folder in the root directory. To make sure it is optimal for the screen, make sure the image is as close to 600*800 (3:4) as possible in monochrome, though images could still open if you didn’t do that. The loaded images would appear on the main menu in the same way as a normal ebook, but using the folder name as the title and, obviously, lacking the author area.

I recommend that you create collections if you are going to load a lot of books and images, especially if a group belong to the same series. Makes your life easier scrolling through the long list of books you have loaded.

When you delete a book or text files (you can download .txt files via the browser and would appear as a book), it would be removed from the device memory. But, if you remove a folder of images, it would disappear from the list, but still resides in the device memory. It would remain the the memory until you delete it via the PC in the same way you loaded it. A 150-page book rendered as image takes up about 20MB of space, versus just 4MB for a 800-page text-only (plus a few images) book. Quickly takes up memory if you have several of it. 20MB is after optimization for the device, so it would be more if you just put images as they were without any modifications.

When I said you could load images, I don’t mean that you could only put in photos from your camera (though you could if you want to), but being able to load comics onto this. I recommend Mangle to create a version that is the most suitable for reading on the Kindle 1-4 and the DX. The page where you last read would appear when you open it again.

American visual novels are usually in colour and you would feel strange seeing it in black and white. As Japanese comics are usually printed with just one tone of black ink, the technique of dithering is used to give the illusion of shades, and unprinted regions of the paper (which is usually white) for the light colours. This is where manga shines at, becuase the e-ink display is basically just white or black. Grey is achieved by alternating white and black in a region, with spacing depending on the shade of grey.

The image viewer is, however, not without its some odd problems:

  • You would need to exit the image viewer before putting it on standby mode or you would be stuck at a blank screen on resuming and would need to close and reopen again anyway.
  • If you enabled full-screen mode, you would need to disable it before you close the image viewer or the full screen mode would mysteriously be disabled (with the option in the menu assuming as if you are still in full screen mode) when you open another image folder. You need to “disable” and “enable” again to view it in full screen.
  • When you kept viewing previous images, part of the image you previously viewed is still clearly visible with the image you are supposed to be viewing overlapping that may be cut off (blank areas especially) by the said previous image. Switch to neighbouring pages to fix this. The same odd problem might happen when you just enabled full screen mode.

This image has been zoomed in

The Kindle comes with an “experimental” web browser that does support images and cookies. Though the keyboard isn’t really nice to type with, you could actually access twitter on this thing. (Redirects you to the mobile version if you try to visit the main site.) You can use the previous/next page buttons to scroll the pages, and he directional keys to select links and such.

Trying to visit sites like Neowin, or even this very blog, would cause the Kindle to crash and would have to restart it to get it working again. Too much things the Kindle couldn’t handle? Except when using for the first time, or just recovered from a crash, the last page you viewed would automatically load.

Crashes seem to only happen when I visit certain sites with the browser, but don’t make me talk about recovering from crashes.

I had brought it out and about for some days. The size is about the same as the iPad Mini. While reading on the train, I found no disruption reading it while the train enters and leaves tunnels during the day. On a backlit LCD screen, I found myself needing to adjust the brightness to comfortable see anything. Sometimes, the problem with these LCDs are the screen is too dim to see anything, when viewing in a bright place, but adjusted for a dark place and vice versa. On-screen brightness controls (as opposed to a physical one) that may be burred somewhere in the settings means that this is a pain to adjust.

If I had not discovered ebook and the e-ink display, I might had gotten the more expensive iPad just to read books since my iPod Touch is too small for it. Also, reading off a computer screen, even if it’s not a CRT screen, isn’t a comfortable way to read.

640th post: Kindle 4 (2012 version) arrived

Back in 21 December 2012, I ordered an Amazon Kindle from the US store, along with other problems that followed involving the delay of delivery due the holidays.

Anyway, it arrived at the delivery center closest to my home on Friday, 4 January 2013. I knew Saturday deliveries are only by appointment. The day it was delivered (6 January 2013) being a Sunday, I wasn’t sure if I should be expecting it to arrive since it’s the weekend until I saw on the courier’s tracking page earlier that day that I saw it being delivered. It was a good thing that I wasn’t planning to head out that day, though I did on Saturday.

The Kindle is packaged in a “fustration-free” packaging that uses minimal resources. The only things inside was the kindle itself, a microUSB (or was it mini?), and a card containing some basic information. (Why include a very long printed legal information anyway?)

I opened it up and was presented with several languages to choose from. (Japanese was not included, and is not sold at Amazon Japan either.)

Since the day I ordered, I have been preparing the things to load onto the kindle, like ebooks and such. Even before ordering, I had already accumulated quite a number of PDF files. I tried reading those, but reading it in an uncomfortable position or a display that hurts my eyes or on a tiny display (iPod Touch) isn’t an ideal way to read these things. I could print, of course, but onto a sheet of paper that I would look at only once isn’t exactly pratical or saving money.

This Kindle is the first device I own that uses the Eletronic Ink (e-ink) technology, though not the first to not have any built-in light. E-ink displays consumes energy only to change what is being displayed and, unlike other display technologies, not requireing energy to maintain what is being displayed. The slow refresh rate makes it impratical for use for displaying rapidly-changing images, and colour versions are still in the development stage, which is why its applications of use are limited to reading text or still images.

Reading on the Kindle is as sharp and crisp. Despite no backlight, it is still readable as long as there is light at where you are reading. I read this thing while on the train during the day, and it didn’t bother me when the train entered or leaves a tunnel while reading. This is usually a problem when I use other devices where I found myself having to adjust the screen brightness that is a hassle to get to since the controls aren’t hardware-based.

So how big is this thing? I could give you all the specific measurements, but even I found myself wondering how big the measurements provided is in actual terms. You would understand it better as “the size of a CD player”; larger than an iPhone, smaller than an iPad. The size of the screen is 6 inches.

I had considered getting an iPad just to read PDF files, but as I was searching about, I discovered eBooks, eBook reader, and the eInk display. Might have heard of those before, but never really thought much about it; partly because I don’t see these things in the eletronic store. What further prompted me to buy it is that the cost was at US$99, and the add-supported version added a US$20 discount. Then as I ordered, I noticed that I was looking at prices for the 2011 edition: the 2012 edition was US$10 cheaper. This meant that the final price was US$69 (not including tax and shipping). A few dolars cheaper does make a difference when the amount is converted to a different currency, with some of the amount going to the banks and MasterCard/Visa as fees. The lower the cost, the less I pay to them.

Reading the information of other ebook readers by other brands, they do not support displaying Japanese characters as text, despite saying that they have “support for multiple languages”. (It was hard finding out what those specific languages were.) Also, I know that the ad-supported version is targeted for the US market only, but since I already heard that the ads are non-intrusive, and the screensaver of the ad-free version is always the same and can’t be changed, I thought: “why not?”

Since I received this Kindle, I find myself reading more often than with actual physical books.

638th post: Update on Kindle Shipment

The Kindle I mentioned earlier has been delivered to forwarding service with US address at 5am on the 27th of December 2012 (JST).

The forwarding service took two “business days” to process it (sort it out from other people’s packages that arrives at the same time), and then another two “business days” to prepare to ship it to me.

In between these two events, it is held at their warehouse for up to 30 days (for free) so that I could wait for other shipments to arrive and ship everything from the US address together, which I didn’t have any. The state it is located in, Oregon, has a 0% state tax at the moment.

Unless the shipment comes with information regarding its value, you would have to declare its value (in USD) before you are allowed to ship it out. Then they charge US$11 (international shipping) + cost of fuel (based on actual weight or volumetric weight, whichever is higher) + “mandatory” insurance (based on some percentage of the total declared value of items you selected for shipping) – discounts. New users would receive a US$10 discount (which expires by the end of the month and redeemed manually) and, depending on the payment or the bank that issues your debit/credit card, you might have an additional discount that is applied automatically.

What is the problem I faced since the last post? I still have yet to receive it, and it’s still in Portland! Further delays is the weekend and New Year in between. Apparently, those days are not counted as “business days” I mentioned earlier! Adding to the confusion is that the US is in a timezone that is more than half a day behind mine. I finally see real progress when it’s finally being shipped via DHL now, though still in Portland at the moment. Scheduled date of arrival is 7 January 2013.

Will I use this forwarding service again? Maybe: for things not found at where I live where they don’t ship out of the US for some odd reason, but not illegal to import/export it. Otherwise, try to have it to ship directly whenever possible. Avoid using at the time where it’s known to have a lot of people using it, and with so many non-working days.

PS: Another separate order I ordered the day before I ordered the Kindle to be delivered via SAL has yet to arrive. It would be funny if I receive this before the Kindle as courier mail is supposed to be faster than normal mail.

(I didn’t count the numbering of this post wrongly: previous post is actually the 636th.)

627th post: Tumblr blog

I have created a Tumblr blog somewhere in July, but never get around to announce its launch.

I have been aware of tumblr for quite some time prior to joining it but I didn’t really know what it was about. I tried various themes and some modification of those to see how that would fit.

What you are seeing now is the third theme I have used that allows me to show multiple reposts at ones and auto-scale the images at random, but in the order I reblogged them, so that there is little wasted space. However, it doesn’t handle video and audio well if they are not at the top.

The previous layout did allow me to manually adjust the size, and even as large as the whole screen or the original image size (whichever is smaller). The problem with that is that it only shows the first image of a photo set unless viewed individually.

I may change again due to the video / audio problem, but finding one that you can scroll without ever needing to click on a “next page” link and infinitely scrolling down until the very first post can be challenging.

What do I put in here? Mostly reposts of what other people I’m following has  posted. Images I post to Instagram do appear here too. You could say it’s an image-intensive version of this blog and is updated more frequent that this blog, but less frequent than twitter.

624th post: September 2012 update to my blog stories

So much has happened since the last update that I have to split into multiple sections to make things clearer.

Story 1 (An Original Story By Me) 

3 years since publishing Part 15 as the original ending, I did feel that the ending did see kind of abrupt. After watching the 2011 K-On! movie (which came out on Blu-Ray in mid-2012), I felt that I needed to insert something that is to do with graduation and yet feel the impact of it. All the newer stories I had written would not fit it well either because it’s too early in the story’s timeline to put that in, or the graduation idea was already used, which wasn’t as impaction as what I am planning here. This story fits with that idea well, but the problem is that, with a 3 year gap between Part 15 and Part 16, my memories about the characters and setting might have become rusty.

Story 2 (Alternate Dimension) 

I mentioned something about “affecting the entire population” (everyone) being turned into schoolgirls. What is ambiguous about this is that I never mentioned to what extent this affects. The whole city, the whole country, or the entire world? Even I myself am not sure which to use. However, I did imply in Part 85 that the radius is quite big as I mentioned about the protagonist heading to the mountain ranges that is quite far away from the city where the story takes place in.

Story 3 (Disorientated Feelings)

If you had read up to Part 50 of this, and Alternate Dimension (Part 86), note that this story is at a timeline earlier than Alternate Dimension (Part 86) as the latter had skipped ahead in time so that I can quickly get past to where this story might end due to Alternate Dimension‘s protagonist prolonged lifespan, and staying together with this story’s protagonist. Story 2 and Story 3 would become nothing more than of the same story from different viewpoints if I don’t diversify as both stories have already reached the point where they both married each other (sort of), have children, and live in the same house.

Even though the protagonist of this story has recovered from an illness that prevents her from knowing her own children that were born from her (the first two), no names were given to the children and are referred to by which order they are born in starting from the oldest. There are 4 children in total, with the second child being a boy, and the rest being girls, though the concurrent plot of this story and Alternate Dimension relating to gender change can make this confusing. To make things less confusing, I use male pronouns for the husband and son even though they have been turned into females, and explicitly say so if their gender has changed.

(Remember: Mizuho uniform would turn anyone into young females on being worn, even if they were an old man before wearing it, and turn back on removing it. However, removing the Mizuho uniform itself is difficult, and the uniform would try to brainwash the wearer into wanting to permanently become a young girl.)

Story 4 (An Unexpected Wish)

Well, the last part was published in March 2010, which is just a few months after writing An Original Story By Me (Part 15) mentioned at the top. This story follows the cousin of Disorientated Feelings‘ protagonist whose parents and brother had been killed by a burglar shortly after she had left for school that day.

There’s nothing wrong with the storyline, but it’s somewhat difficult to write this as I can’t really think what would happen next. When I try to think about it, ideas for Alternate Dimension and Disorientated Feelings came to my mind instead. I hope to continue writing this in some point in time. The timeframe for this is around when the protagonist of Story 3 just came back from her studies from abroad.

Story 6 (Teary Promise)

This story follows a girl trying to find new love, but is also struggling to let go thinking of her crush who had been killed by a devastating tidal wave that was caused by a strong earthquake (Based on the actual March 2011 event), and she herself narrowly escaping from being killed.

This story is set in a small town away from where stories 1-4 take place, but things get weirder when I subconsciously mentioned content from Story 2. Another story I hope to continue this: I might have more ideas for this than Story 4, which means that I could be writing this sooner. It wasn’t my original intention to have gender bender topics in this story, but I guess writing Story 2 for a very long time does seep it into my thinking.

All stories

I couldn’t help but notice that Saeko Hiskawa (protagonist of Alternate Dimension) and Mizuho Academy is mentioned quite a lot in all of my stories. It’s like the protagonist of all stories do not know each other except Saeko Hisakawa, who is like the common person that all have. Not surprising considering the multiple roles and long lifespan she has.

Officially, I would publish new story parts when I feel like it, but unofficially, I do so towards the end of every second week. My twitter feeds would tell you what I’m up to that can affect me writing this even though I may not mention it directly.

You know, the process to write a gender-bender story of my own to whatever I like can get aroused myself when thinking of the content which, could either lead me to write what was on my mind in my arousal state, or delete that later on. Large chunks of text I might add.

My publishing rate is not as quick as what I would like it to be, but the very long individual parts does make up for it: the ones I wrote back in 2008/9 were a lot shorter than it is now.

As of the time of this post, I have already written some paragraphs of Disorientated Feelings (Part 51), with the urge to add more words to it, but I also have work-related things to worry about that can affect my thinking and availability to write them. Either way, I’m writing these stories in the first place as a way to write down my overflowing thoughts, and thank you for your comments (though there are hardly any) and support.

612nd post: Custom Domain

I bought a custom domain in August last year for the main blog, which is takhsiru.net. However, while creating a new tumblr account today (4th July 2012) did I realize that I could use the characters that come before that for other places with just editing the DNS settings of that same domain.

I have changed the domain for most of my blogs. Entering the older URL still works, but would be redirected to the new URL. The names of each blog affected listed below are in bold.

  1. Chasing After Rainbows (existing; here)
    the1iam.blogspot.comhttp://www.takhsiru.net or takhsiru.net
  2. 虹を追いかけて
    xn--n8jos8fqkx000ci6n.blogspot.com or 虹を追いかけて.blogspot.comjpblog.takhsiru.net
  3. Neverending New Beginnings
  4. 終わらない新しい始め
  5. Profile and Blog Updates
  6. にじとき
  7. Injuration
  8. :;:〒 takaharu じー」

 At the time of writing this, I have not discovered other places I have that could do this except for WordPress. However, WordPress insists that I must pay $14 (per year?) to be able to do so with my existing domain.