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PDA friendly alternate front page

By d40cht in Meta
Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:21:10 AM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

For those of us who (occasionally) feel guilty about spending all our time at work reading K5, I was wondering whether we could have a low-graphics, PDA friendly alternate front page for K5.

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comments (24)
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K5 is one of the best looking and best presented sites I've seen on the web - when viewed on a modern PC with a decent browser. However all the tables, icons and general formatting tend to render rather inadequately on a tiny grey-scale Palm V. Any chance of adding a low graphics (see here for the BBC news low graphics version) front page so that some of us mobile (consience-troubled) geeks can read in our spare time (as well?).


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When do you read K5?
o At work 22%
o At home 32%
o On the move 0%
o Anytime my boss/girlfriend isn't watching 45%

Votes: 71
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
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PDA friendly alternate front page | 37 comments (37 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Alternatively... (2.00 / 4) (#1)
by ti dave on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 05:55:51 AM EST

One could try this.

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

No. (5.00 / 2) (#2)
by ambrosen on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:13:15 AM EST

A WAP gateway compiles WML pages to WBXML for delivery over WAP, it isn't a proxy to convert HTML to WML. wap.google.com does this to some extent, but doesn't do anything with forms, so it's useless for browsing K5 from a WAP device.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Agreed... (none / 0) (#28)
by ti dave on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:54:11 PM EST

There are other sites that HTML to WML for the reader "on the fly",
but I wasn't aware that forms weren't supported.
That would indeed make the k5 experience quite passive.
Some of the sites listed in my linked directory list them.
Heh, try to assist, and I get the mojo bitchslap.


ti dave

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
WAP is not the answer (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by eemeli on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:30:54 AM EST

A listing of WAP access providers has nothing to do with viewing kuro5hin on palmtops. The problem isn't being able to access the page itself, but the format in which it's presented; a Palm V has a 160x160 pixel display. Looking at, say, the k5 front page on that is quite a challenge.

[ Parent ]
A little rhyme (none / 0) (#9)
by hovil on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:31:33 AM EST


[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#23)
by ambrosen on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:04:51 PM EST

WAP over GPRS is really rather handy.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
I was thinking the same myself... (3.00 / 3) (#3)
by kimpton on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:30:02 AM EST

I've recently just converted a website I worked on to be PDA friendly and it proved to be quite easy to get a nicely working mini-site. I only created a subset of the features of the main site working on the principle that just providing a few of the functions was better than nothing. Giving users access to the sections, stories and the ability to post comments would be a good start.

I think adverts may be a problem as you are seriously limited for screen space. Maybe a text link at the top.

I'm going to get a wireless network set up for my house and PDA soon, so a PDA friendly version of Kuro5hin would be excellent :)

Parsing the RDF feed (2.00 / 1) (#5)
by Talez on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:33:09 AM EST

Theres gotta be some way to take the RDF feed and turn it into PDA friendly HTML or something like that... Just gotta find the program to do it!

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
Just headlines (none / 0) (#7)
by kimpton on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:10:05 AM EST

I think the RDF feed just provides headlines, which would be easy enough to display nicely for a PDA but thats all you would get....

[ Parent ]
Would that be bad? (none / 0) (#10)
by President Steve Elvis America on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:08:33 AM EST

I have a Palm III that I am hoping to upgrade to a Sony Clie soon. With my small amount of memory, I don't want to get all the comments. I don't think I would have anything that is internet enabled so it could be good to maybe get the articles too for front page stories, but not the comments. I think the .rdf is a good start though, so I can at least see what articles are there.


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America
[ Parent ]

Actually, more than just headlines (none / 0) (#35)
by Talez on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:54:25 PM EST

It's the headlines + the intro of the story. The headlines are also links to the HTML story as well when properly parsed

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
[ Parent ]
my blackberry would love this (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by walkah on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:06:41 AM EST

I was, in fact, just thinking on the commuter train in to work this morning how wonderful it would be to get some news through my wireless web browser that a) worked properly b) was legible in a 32 char wide window and c) wasn't bell canada (sympatico, etc) filtered.

hopefully enough others will agree enough to make this idea reality.

lynx (3.80 / 5) (#8)
by marx on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:17:08 AM EST

Although I don't use a PDA, I use lynx pretty often on my laptop and workstation, and it rocks. K5 renders perfectly in a 40x20 terminal. If your PDA can't support something like that, then I don't see how you have any dreams of being able to browse the web.

I know there are terminal programs for PalmOS. So if lynx can't be ported, you could telnet somewhere and run it remotely.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.

Re: lynx (none / 0) (#12)
by jeffenstein on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:28:42 AM EST

I think what he may be looking for is a way to download the pages and read them offline. I believe there are a few utilities to do this for palmtops.

[ Parent ]

Just tried it (none / 0) (#31)
by /dev/niall on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:55:25 PM EST

I just tried it, with the goal of posting a screenshot showing how horrible it looked and telling you "hah! it sucks".

It looked quite nice actually. ;)

The problem with my PDA (an Ipaq running Pocket PC 2002) is that while the browser will allow me to turn off images, it still displays the tables "properly"; ie. side by side, and not stacked beneath each other as lynx does. This means a lot of side scrolling, even if I use landscape mode.

-- 报告人对动物
[ Parent ]

alternate formats considered harmful (2.42 / 7) (#11)
by Ken Pompadour on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:18:37 AM EST

What a bad idea... software developers for PDA applications can't deal with a difficult problem, so they shift the burden to the content producers.


...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
Re: alternate formats considered harmful (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by jeffenstein on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:43:09 AM EST

We're talking about small devices with limited amounts of memory. My PalmV has 2MB of memory. I don't have 20+MB to put some bloated web browser that understands CSS, frames, XHTML, javascript, ActiveX, flash, and whatever else is trendy this week. Plus, that wouldn't look very good on the small screen of a palmtop, unless my palm was to suddenly grow to the size of my lap.

Please don't suggest using a laptop instead. Palms are convenient because of their size and ease of use. I don't want to lug around a laptop, wait 5 minutes for it to boot to consult a note, look for an outlet after half an hour because the battery is dying, etc...

[ Parent ]

not shifting the burden on anybody. (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by kimpton on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:47:27 AM EST

There's only so much you can do on PDA browser to make sites readable. If the site uses fixed width tables (200 px +) and large images it's going to render badly on a PDA, no matter how much effort the pda browser makes reducing/removing/resizing images or adjusting the html. If a site has been desingned for 800x600 it's just not gonna work on a 200x320 pocketpc.

With the amount of people owning PDAs capable of browsing growing, creating a layer of PDA friendly display scripts to direct PDA browsers to will just be another thing web developers have to consider, along with the variety of browser and standards they currently have to struggle with.

[ Parent ]
XML (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by vrai on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:37:40 AM EST

What we need is a way to get scoop to return an XML version of an article (with comments). Then people could render it anyway that they wished.

The only problem I can see is that it wouldn't be possible to enforce the viewing of textads. Perhaps getting the XML feed could be a subscriber only perk?

I might even submit a patch :)

even with an html feed (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by damiam on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:39:34 AM EST

You still can't enforce textad viewing. XML doesn't make ads any easier to block than they already are.

[ Parent ]
HTML (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by vrai on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:53:08 AM EST

But the HTML is used 'live' - straight from the servers onto our browsers. Thus only those people who run stuff like junk buster would be removing the ads. This is an extra step that most people can't be arse to do.

To view K5 on a PDA (offline) you need to process it to make it fit on a tiny screen. Thus the extra step from above is now mandatory. Hence even the most lazy person is likely to drop the adverts (they take up valuable space on the PDA's screen). A pure XML stream would allow you to render site onto any device you want: PDA, toaster, smart-fridge. I for one would subscribe in an instant (if they accepted credit cards) if I could access the site in such a manner.

[ Parent ]

I completely agree (none / 0) (#34)
by schwardo on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:50:27 PM EST

XML + multiple XSLT stylesheets is the way to go.

[ Parent ]
Narrow approach to larger problem (4.33 / 3) (#16)
by J'raxis on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:59:53 AM EST

I voted this down because it is a narrow approach to a much larger problem. The problem is that the HTML here is atrocious, and horribly non-standard. The fact that the site is PDA-hostile is just one of the many, many problems with the HTML here.
  • Kill the font tags. One or two lines of stylesheets in the header can serve the same purpose.
  • Kill the tables, use DIVs and stylesheets. On noncompliant browsers, the site will look like Slashdot in light-mode, but will still be usable.
The look of this site would be relatively easy to duplicate in stylesheets, I believe. I would suggest keeping a table to retain the tri-columnar design (stylesheet positioning is dismally supported), but all the comments, and stories on the front page, etc., could be wrapped in DIVs to look more or less the same.

— The XHTML Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Fair enough (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by d40cht on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:09:08 AM EST

Hey - fair enough. Generalising is fine... :) I'm all for style sheets too....

[ Parent ]
Stylesheet K5 (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by J'raxis on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:58:52 AM EST

I actually just tossed together an example in about 15 minutes. Looks nearly identical to the current comment layout, but all done with DIVs and stylesheet controls.

Rusty, et al., if you’d like to see how easy it is to convert the site to clean HTML, take a look.

— The XHTML Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

bah (none / 0) (#27)
by hurstdog on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:07:36 PM EST

Rusty, et al., if you'd like to see how easy it is to convert the site to clean HTML, take a look.

You have no idea what it will take to convert this to valid html. There is an effort to convert to valid xhtml underway to do it already, but progress is slow. Every box you see on the side of the screen is in the db, and there is a lot of html in the main codebase too (we're taking it out). Some of the stuff is nested 3 layers deep, and making sure tags don't conflict through that is tough. Another problem is backwards compatability. If we fix some boxes, and change the code, people need to upgrade those boxes when hey upgrade the code. Thus everyone that uses scoop has to go through and upgrade their boxes. Not an easy thing to automate without breaking everything.

We don't like the bad html any more than you do. So please, we're working on it. If you want it to go faster, contribute. Complaining and talking about how easy it is does nothing other than frustrate the developers.

[ Parent ]
Misinterpreted (none / 0) (#33)
by J'raxis on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:20:18 PM EST

I think you misinterpreted what I meant by “easy.” I know it’s difficult and time-consuming to fix everything — I meant it was “easy” to use stylesheets to make the site look exactly like it looks now, or better if you want to change the design around at all. A while back, I converted my own site to clean HTML; it took well over two months of time (I’m reworking the whole thing again using a simpler PHP templating system), and I don’t even have any database stuff, or other people using my code, to worry about.

As for your “contribute” comment, I’ll just assume that in your haste to flame me, you didn’t follow the link. Granted it isn’t much, but I’ve not seen much discussion here or in other HTML-related stories that work was underway to clean up the code, so I didn’t know anything was in-progress. Of course, with attitudes like this, you can all go bite a dick.

— The Misinterpreted Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Sorry about my tone... (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by hurstdog on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:03:45 PM EST

You're right, I misinterpreted it, I apologize. We do want to move to stylesheets eventually, we're working on xhtml compliance first.

I did actually follow the link, but I didn't really take it like you intended. We know its possible to emulate k5's look with stylesheets. I was just frustrated by the misinterpreted comment about how easy it was. Again, I apologize for being an ass :)

[ Parent ]
Tri column design. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by kimpton on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:17:56 AM EST

You suggest keeping the tri-column design. You wouldn't get much space for each column on a 200px PDA screen width.

[ Parent ]
Sidebars (none / 0) (#22)
by J'raxis on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:00:44 PM EST

Well, my suggestion was to convert the current site’s code without changing the look at all. It would, considering the µscreen issue of PDAs, probably be a good idea to get rid of the sidebars.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Plucker? (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by graal on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:14:09 PM EST

I sort of alternate between AvantGo and Plucker, which spiders websites down and converts them, and makes them available on my Pilot. I found that Plucker works pretty good - you can tell it to what depth to follow links on any given site. I've no idea how it would render the K5 front page, though. It's also free. Link: http://www.plkr.org

For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Alternatively... (4.50 / 2) (#26)
by graal on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:52:30 PM EST

I came across this bit of code which will convert the current browser page to a .PRC file (Palm Doc), suitable for AportisDoc or whatever Doc reader you're using:

javascript:location.href='http://pilot.screwdriver.net/convert.prc?url='+escape(window.location)+'&a mp;title='+escape(document.title);

Bookmark it. When you hit the bookmark, you get a .PRC of the current page. ...from the excellent website: http://pilot.screwdriver.net Again, no connection. Cheers, graal

For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

I know (4.66 / 6) (#25)
by rusty on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:22:07 PM EST

A PDA-friendly page has been on the TODO list for an embarrasingly long time. The sad part is, it's will be awfully easy to make. I just haven't done it yet.

I'm still travelling (hi, LA!) but I will take care of it when I get home. Meanwhile, hopefully some of the services mentioned in other comments will help.

Not the real rusty

I hate to do this to people... (3.33 / 3) (#32)
by dram on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 05:33:37 PM EST

But why don't you make it only available to people who subscribe to K5? I know it seems like a cheap type of thing to do to people, but I think it would be a good feature to add to the list of things that one gets for subscription. I know that K5 (read: Rusty) is hurting for money right now. Maybe this will help you out a little bit.


[ Parent ]
Scoop (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by MattOly on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:05:54 PM EST

We've been tossing around ideas at Satanosphere for making a more AvantGo compatible version. We've tried using Scoops built in "light page", but without much success. Lately, I've been toying with the idea of using the email digest feature as a tool to make a static read-only (except polls) version, light weight. It's on our back burner, but it's something I'm really into.

Captain Tenille is working with the other Scoop developers, so if we have success, you'll see it elsewhere, too.

A final note to...the Republican party. You do not want to get into a fight with David Letterman. ...He's simply more believable than you are.

oops. (none / 0) (#30)
by MattOly on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:18:57 PM EST

That was supposed to be in responce to Rusty's comment above. I gotta quit posting drunk.

A final note to...the Republican party. You do not want to get into a fight with David Letterman. ...He's simply more believable than you are.
[ Parent ]

Excellent idea (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by fortytwo on Sat Apr 06, 2002 at 11:11:16 PM EST

Anyone up to making a web clipping(tm) palm interface?

PDA friendly alternate front page | 37 comments (37 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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