Nook Simple Touch: A $50 Tablet

I have reloaded my nook simple touch about four times now. Some of it is very good, some of it isn’t so hot. The nook can be a $50 tablet in addition to being an e-reader, etc. If you combine it with a phone that supports tethering, it’s truly a neat piece to have. My one gripe is the android 2.1 OS on the device tends to seriously underperform. At first I thought it was the eink display and then I figured out it really is just that crashy. The nook was developed to be an e-reader and not much more.

So why root it? For one, it reads books really, really well. If you root it, you now have access to Google Books, Google Market, Amazon AppStore, Amazon Kindle Books, Kobo and just about anything else you could want. In addition to all that wonderful crap, you can install Google Reader, which weirdly enough doesn’t support offline reading, and whatever PDF viewer you want. The stock B&N one is pretty good, but I’ve found for older PDFs, Documents Easy Viewer is essential and also lets you view office documents in 16 shades of glorious gray.

Note that the process I used roughly followed the lifehacker article, except that I’ll link to the newest versions of things. You can follow the LH version, just keep in mind you’ll end up about one version behind everything. It was dated pretty much the moment it was written. You should seriously install dropbox first on your nook, it makes the rest of this much easier.

Before doing anything, sign in with your google account and register the device. You must also have a youtube account married to your google account. You will not be prompted after you root it to register and I haven’t figured out how to get to the java object controlling this process and this is why I reloaded my nook several times. You have been warned. Register the device first.

If you follow the lifehacker article, you have more customization with the nook because you’ll be using touchnooter. If you want to bang out this entire process in one flash but don’t mind having any customization, use SalichaNooter. Finally if you really want to hurt yourself, consider minimalnooter. You should read all three of those first posts to know what’s going to happen with each of those ROMs. They’re all fairly interrelated. I went the touchnooter route and that’s what this doc will cover but I ended up customizing it to SalichaNooter’s standard before even knowing about the other ROM. Oops. The big difference is Salicha’s ROM comes with the ADW theme out of box.

Before you do anything, update the firmware. (Current as of this writing). Throw the ZIP into the root directory of the nook when mounted to your PC and then unmount the nook and put it to sleep. It will reboot. You should be on 1.1.2. You will know if you got there because the display will be faster and wifi will actually work. You want wifi working first.

Step 1: Download the touchnooter rom. Use a high quality SD card (go buy one). If you’re using a mac or Linux do something like dd if=touchnooter of=/dev/sdb bs=1M and you windows guys are probably screwed.

The nook will derp around for about 10 minutes then it will turn off again. Remove the memory card.

Step 2: The nook will boot and prompt you to sign into google. You did configure wifi before you did this, right?

Step 3: Open up NookTouchTools. I map my right hand buttons to “options” and “back”. You can actually hit “options” from the menu bar up top but it tends to be glitchy and not display. I make my “n” button map to “home”. When you hit it, it will prompt you to use ADW Launcher or the B&N bar (I forget what it’s called). I set mine to the B&N bar. Observe the right hand side. You will very faintly see an arrow. This is ButtonSavior. Tapping it will always launch ADW from the “home” icon.

Step 4: Open NookColorTools, uncheck and recheck the “allow non market apps” checkbox. Not sure why but it gets screwy quickly if you don’t.

Step 5: Open YouTube, sign in (if prompted). For whatever reason until you sign in you can’t send apps to the nook from google play.

Step 6: Install the eink debug app from this thread. You have to register to see and download attachments. I prefer the regular one. This changes the screen to monochrome, which is really nice for reading text and scrolling it. This is important in google reader and opera.

Step 7: Install opera mobile. Not the one from the google market. Use that link, it goes to my dropbox. It will install Opera Mobile 12.0.2, which is the last version. Using the eink toggle gesture and opera you get that buttery smooth scrolling. The opera baked into the ROM is too old and does funky stuff. Alternative: Install Maxthon.

Step 8: Install vending.apk (google market) to enable updates. Again that’s the known-good version from my dropbox. You want updates.

That’s it. You now have a fully functioning nook tablet and ereader which will work with all the stock stuff (including in store lending) and also read email, read RSS feeds and view PDFs.

On Disc DLC is OK to Me

Gamers are getting their panties in a bunch because of on disc DLC.

One word: Modchip.

This nominally goes back to the “protected content only screws legit consumers” vibe that the PC market has had since forever. In a lot of ways, the vibe has been PC only. The most recent example is the Diablo 3 news. Quite simply put: you can’t play diablo 3 except online. It’s not like it authenticates and disconnects, it wants you to always play online 100% of the time. Cracks are already out there to “fix” the game, but of course they’re illegal. More on the point the people who want to stay legit get screwed. I can’t play the game in the 45 minutes I’m on the train. I can’t play the game at the office when I’m in weird hours. I can’t play the game at the local burger joint while my kids terrorise the playground.

How does this relate to DLC?

Well it’s sort of an interesting thing, capcom is re-evaluating the on-disc DLC policy. Why?

Is it because they want to pay microsoft $10k to get a download posted? No…

Is it because they’re pulling a DICE and putting out their patches in DLC to avoid certification? No…

It’s because they realized if the pirates have the DLC on the disk, they can play the content. Yup, you read that article right. A fighting game with the content (key) not even released yet saw people using the content on xbox live.

It has nothing to do with consumer outrage and everything to do with squeezing every last dollar out of your wallet.

I’m Sort of Internet Fameous, Sort Of…

I had to update the About Page and put up contact information. I keep forgetting non-geeks don’t know about registration information.

I was doing my normal ride into work thing where I am reading the morning news or a book on my phone (soon to be replaced by a nook) and one of the pages I read is The Digital Ambler. I don’t know this guy personally and I forget where I got the link from. He’s got his head about where I have my head where he runs a blog (actually two if I remember correctly) where one side is mysticism and the other side is his personal life. I happen to only run one blog because at some point someone is going to link your blogs and it’s all for naught. I’m also fairly open about my thoughts on this stuff and love to naval gaze over beer.

Anyway, he mentions that he’s nominated for a versatile blogger award and my first thought was “Oh that’s cute” and I basked in the fond memory of the hotdog HTML editor and updating my blog by cat’ing a template to the index.html after I edited it. People would hand out little tags you’d put on your blogs and it was sort of a nice way of saying that someone approved of your work. This would later lead to trackback pings and web rings and such. Wonder who’s nominated?

  1. Camylleon’s Cave
  2. The Key to the Clavicula Solomonis
  3. The Grey Book of Runes
  4. CGA in a VGA World
  5. Beloved in Light
  6. skatologicalhumor
  7. The Difference Between Beauty and Fear
  8. Amaranthine


I decided I better track down the nominee process quickly, and while poking around like an idiot I glanced into the spam folder on my phone and saw the The Digital Ambler himself (Polyphanes) did actually give me a heads up on the about page and the spam queue ate the request for approval.

I am officially a shithead, but you already knew that reading the blog.

That being said, I originally had mixed feelings on the issue. I’m sometimes a jerk, more often than not I overspeak my position on the blog just to get a reaction out of the internet, and my readership from Hogwarts thinks the politics and tech needs to be toned down, my Red Army followers think the magic and tech needs to go away, and my fellow Grey Beard UNIX Wizards think the magic and politics should go. Basically, no-one likes all of the blog which amuses me endlessly.

To further make this amusing to me personally, I don’t personally think I know that much. IT is all of standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Mystical thinking? Half the time I look back on my posts a month later and consider deleting them. Politics? When’s the last time anyone’s opinions mattered?

That being said, thanks for the nomination Polyphanes, I appreciate it.

On Mysticism or The TechnOccult – Modes of Thought

Yes recently the blog has been on what most people would call a jewish mysticism kick. I find as I get older I end up going through these periods where I think about things, then I think about how I think about things. What does the mirror see when it looks into itself? These rants are inspired by the format of The Whiskey Rant. It might not be right, but lets entertain the thought.

Eventually, we decide we need to understand the structure of how we think.

While I’ve played around quite a bit with philosophy, it’s lacking. There never has been any sort of thinking where man does not look at the universe and consider it’s parts. Eventually anyone who seriously puts any time into it comes to mysticism. I think it’s a travesty we don’t teach “The Mysteries” or even civics class. Somewhere, we ended up so politically correct that we couldn’t teach these things because of the fear of indoctrination. The worst part is, institutions of indoctrination (religious schools) don’t present things as mysteries anymore, they’re concerned with putting people onto the path of salvation or somesuch. Some people want the answers. Some people (me) want to learn modes of thinking to more clearly perceive things. This doesn’t say I’m right. This just means if you haven’t gone into any sort of classical thinking and ended up at occultism, give it a try.

People tend to take it too seriously, I think. The rabbis have been kibitzing about kabalah for literally ages and I think people have the right thinking for this problem: You can reduce the process of magical thinking down to “a very small shell script”. This is a particularly sticky wicket to the believer and a nail on the cross for people who would rather see spiritual thought written off entirely. The first google result will figure out any correlation you could possibly want. Want magic squares? We do that too! (Also CPAN whores – add internationalization to author names so you can credit this module).

But that’s not the point. We can literally rip out the values of entire languages in seconds now. In the case of that last CPAN module, we’re ripping out the values of languages which aren’t even formalized (Ethiopian). Why bother? It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the modes of thinking.

Modes of thinking? Yes. I recently read The Chicken Cabalah. It’s a typical DuQuette book where it’s written lightheartedly but more importantly the joke is occasionally on the reader. (Don’t worry, you’re let into the luls later). People talk about it being a useful introduction to cabalah. It’s not. What the book provides is a good introduction to the application of the modes of thought present in classical thinking. Specifically addressed are fundamental questions about identity. Identity? Identity is how we frame ourselves in reality. What is reality? Now we’re in the thick of it. (The dry, unentertaining version is the four worlds, but I suggest you read DuQuettes book for the humorous, playful version about reality being an armchair). They start out in a room full of chairs. They  move up and they end up in a factory cutting out parts for a chair. They move up and they have the IKEA plans for a chair. They move up and they find… nothing. What does the notion of something to sit on look like?

This is really a neat model of thought, or I think it is at least.

More importantly, we have another interesting idea we can apply here – the physical world is going away. What does that mean? We’re losing the strong identity of things and we’re moving into a space where things don’t physically exist. The movies we watch are delivered digitally, “filmed” digitally in a computer, we watch them on screens we don’t own, and billions are fought over “rights” and “distribution” of something which doesn’t exist in terms of 1s and 0s. I don’t mean this to be an anti-capitolism rant. I strongly feel that artists should get paid something for their work. On the other hand, owning things keeps becoming more and more of an abstract concept. At what point do we get issued a food replicator and a laptop at birth? Probably around the time when Apple decides it makes more money selling you “media” than it does selling you hardware. The future looks amazing. It will be glorious, we return to the godhead. It will be our undoing as we indulge our fetishes. “Kurt Cobain, shotgun mouthwash, daily at 3pm ONLY ON FOXNEWS”.

We are forever parodies of ourselves – the mirror looks into the mirror. Science has been “finding the resolution of reality” with the large hadron collider for how long now but we still can’t put a number on the resolution of the spirit.

What do we do now? Today? Our torah is a blog. Our kabalah is ascii. Our holy script is whatever our default font is for the paragraph tag. Mine is courier new, 10 point. It was transmitted to our prophets at 9600N81.

Of course, this got me thinking about math, and what’s our new math? Maybe we are ready for new math. The old hebrew was written right to left, in one long line, which is pretty much the reason why people have been doing crosswords on pie plate liners ever since. What would the old rabbi have done? Would they have assigned a value to right to left? Every punctuation mark? Every space? Well, if we think yes, we find some interesting places to look for inspiration.

We think about the famous first verse in the bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. Running this through our electric rabbi, we have some real insights! “Kept in balance by the wisdom”, “Jesus Christ the Groom, I am that I am”, “The biggest douche in the universe” (not kidding). Well if we convert to ascii, and add up all the numbers, letters, whitespace and punctuation, we get 4808. What is 4808? In Hebrew notation: “And He Opened His Mouth In Blasphemy Against God, To Blaspheme His Name, And His Tabernacle, And Them That Dwell In Heaven”.

And that folks, is why I only use EBCDIC.