Feeds

How to hack a Sony Reader

Inside the Linux-based e-book viewer

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Amazon’s Kindle receives plenty of publicity, but it’s only available in the US. Book buffs elsewhere have to content themselves with other e-book readers, of which one of the most popular is the Sony Reader. The PRS-505 is available from High Street stores like John Lewis and Waterstones, making it one of the more visible devices at the moment.

Sony_reader_red

Sony's PRS-505: eminently hackable, thanks to its Linux foundations

It’s also comparatively easy to tweak and hack, thanks to the way it’s designed. The core operating system is MontaVista Linux, and though the speed of response of the e-ink screen and the lack of a full keyboard means that you can’t really use it as a general purpose computer, there is a fair bit that you can do with it.

Some is simple customisation: you can change the fonts, icons and logos, or add your name and contact details to the About screen, for example. Buttons can be reassigned, or disabled too, so if you prefer to shut the Reader down rather then send it to sleep, then you can add that function to an easily accessible key, instead of having to work through a few menus to find it.

It’s actually possible to go a lot further than that. The reader is controlled using JavaScript and XML, and there are even applications such as dictionaries and Sudoku that can be run from an SD card.

When a memory card is inserted in the reader, it’s scanned by the operating system. As well as looking for books, the folder /Sony Reader/software is checked for an autorun.xml file.

Sony PRS-505 Reader electronic book

Activated with XML and JavaScript

This file defines functions for things like button presses and controls the skin elements that will appear on the display, all through JavaScript. It can also launch applications. According to the service manual, it can be used to load a diagnostic test too – and it’s by using this mechanism that you can start to customise your reader.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls
Filing suggests handset with display strips
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.