Although I’m able to turn pages and make good use of my BookChair, there are times that I would rather read on the computer. This is mainly because of neck trouble and trying to learn C++; getting the keyboard out of the way, setting the book on the keyboard table, turning the pages and hoping Dragon doesn’t pick that up, and glancing up and down from the book to the screen make it a little more cumbersome than I would like. I’ve been thinking it would be nice to just vocally switch windows; read the book on the screen, then go into Win32Pad to dictate some code.
It turns out that I can potentially do that now using Amazon’s Kindle for PC application, which is free (with the exception of the books, of course). I hadn’t had very high hopes for the application’s accessibility, considering that Amazon isn’t great with it (see the lack of captioning for Unbox video products). However, it’s actually not that bad. (Better with Vocola commands, which I will create shortly.) While all buttons must be accessed by mouse commands, actually reading isn’t a bad experience at all.
C++ without Fear was not available for Kindle, but C++ Primer Plus was, so I downloaded a free sample to test how Kindle PC would work with Dragon. To open a book, mousegrid to the Home button (yay, verbing nouns) and click it if it’s not already highlighted. Then, by the same method, double click the book icon. The clicking isn’t as tedious as it sounds because the buttons are large; the grid doesn’t require much narrowing. To turn pages, say “Go left” [previous page] or “go right” [next page]. Up and down do the same thing respectively. To turn multiple pages, say “Go <direction> <number>.”
Text is very clear, and there is a button to adjust the font size. There are also a Go To and a Bookmark button, but Kindle PC already saves your last position when you exit, so that you can open the book where you left off. Note that I didn’t say page number — Kindle sometimes doesn’t use them. That somewhat disorients me, but for something like a programming text I suppose it would keep me from getting overwhelmed. That is, seeing 20% read looks more encouraging than “Oh god, I have 900 pages left. Dammit I’m slow!”.
At the moment you can’t create notes, unfortunately. (UPDATE: Now it can. You can’t copy text, for understandable reasons, but that sucks for a programming book. I do wish there could be a PDF style layout option, by which I mean the possibility of an autoscroll feature. Kindle PC is nowhere near perfect, but it is passable.