// Internet Duct Tape

Looking for mobile synchronization application and offline HTML reader

Posted in Gadgets, Music, MP3s and Internet Radio, Technology by engtech on August 21, 2006

This is driving me nuts. What I’m looking for should be too hard to find, but for some reason I can’t get my hands on it.

There are two things I want:

First: An application for S60/Symbian/J2ME phones that can read web pages or RSS feeds OFFLINE. I live in a draconian part of the world that does not offer flat rate data plans for anything ressembling a reasonable plan.

For some reason when I try to use Opera or the built in phone browser it always makes the assumption that I want to surf using GRPS. A perfectly valid assumption if I did not live in a Syberian gulag (aka Ottawa).

Second: I want a PC application that will automatically synchronize specified files with my phone when I hook it up to my PC. This isn’t really a big deal, I could hack together a script to do it in minutes, but if there is something out there that does this already then I want to know about it.

After the break, my results with various solutions.

Solutions That Should Have Worked But Don’t:

AvantGo does support non-GRPS synching provided you can connect your phone to your desktop Internet connection via Bluetooth or USB. Unfortunately that is not supported by the Nokia 6682. Which is too bad, because that one feature would make this phone so much more useful.

MobiReader does offline synching of RSS feeds (which it calls eNews). The only problem is that it’s eNews viewer looks like crap. It has *huge* problems with viewing and navigating pages. For instance, <P> gets converted to spaces (only <BR> is understood). I don’t think it understands <A NAME=””> anchors, either.
MobiReader really is next to useless unless you are creating your own content, publishing an RSS feed on the web, and willing to job through hoops to support it. I also find it incredibly difficult to navigate through a large page.

The one nice thing about MobiReader was the ease of synching. Attach phone by USB, press a button in application, done.

Solutions That Might Work:

Sunrise RSS Plucker is an open source tool for converting RSS feeds and websites for offline reading on handhelds.

Solutions That Might Work:

I’m going to give iSilo a try. It comes with a Palm Database (PDB) creator called iSiloX. It looks like it does a good job of generating a nicely viewable and navigatable documents. The iSilo reader is shareware that degrades into lower features freeware after a 30-day trial. One problem I haven’t quite figured out with the iSiloX creator is how to get it to not download specific links on webpages (ie: banner ads). You can build configuration files for each page you download to specify the link depth to follow, what links to ignore, only load links on the home server, etc.

iSilo supports synching with HotSync (Palm) or ActiveSync (Windows Mobile). Neither of which work with my phone.

PDB files can be read by iSilo, MobiReader, QReader, eReader and ReadM. So even if the iSilo reader isn’t the right application, the iSiloX creator might be useful. It turns out the PDB is container format, so iSilo is the only reader that supports iSiloX files. But that’s ok because the software is perfect and does exactly what I want.

Update 1:

What’s really nice is they have a command line version of the PDB creator called iSilioXC. You can easily set up iSiloX to run as part of the Windows scheduler, or use iSiloXC on linux/solaris/mac with cron jobs. I’m calling iSiloXC from a perl script to take some HTML files I munged and put them in a PDB file as part of the munging process.

Automatic synchronization is still an issue with the Nokia 6682, but I might be able to get something working with OBEX over the USB using these instructions and ObexTool. I was hoping I could use SyncBack but it doesn’t recognize the path to the phone. I might try the Windows SyncToy as a last resort.

4 Responses

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  1. blaine said, on August 29, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    We’re definitely looking for the same things. I went searching for an offline symbian reader and your blog came up…mobireader was the most popular.

    How did iSilo work out for you? That’s what I was using consistenly for my Palm. I’m going to look into that now. I didn’t know you could use it for the phone as well.

    So, did you get it to work? And what about syncing? What worked for you.

    An idea for a followup blog post…good software that you’ve found worth installing. What productivity/util/games (i need something for killing time) have you found worthwhile installing on the 6682?

  2. engtech said, on August 29, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    iSilo is working great, but I haven’t come up with an automatic sync mechanism yet.

    good software that you’ve found worth installing

    Sitting in a draft on my hard drive :)

  3. All Posts by Title « //engtech said, on September 16, 2006 at 9:40 am

    […] Looking for mobile synchronization application and offline HTML reader Mobile, Gadgets, Commentary […]

  4. […] Because I don’t have an unlimited data rate plan, I wanted to be able to read webpages offline by downloading them on my computer and synchronizing them to my phone using the USB cable. These were the possible solutions I found: […]

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