Kindle-friendly PDF from LaTeX

My latest reading device is the $79 Kindle (6" no-touch screen, with ads) which is super-light and small enough to fit in a larger shirt pocket. Today I used a LaTeX template from the blog It's Forty Two (copied at paste2.org/p/1806643) to turn an existing 100 page document into a 300 page PDF that reads quite nicely on the Kindle's small screen and presumable will display well on other tablets, e-book readers and smartphones. The LaTeX package lscape and the command \resizebox were useful to get some of the diagrams to fit the page. I have not tried this for a document with many (long) formulae and I suspect it would be considering putting the entire doc in landscape mode!


Vodacom's prepaid accounting very poor [resolved, for now]

Source: ITWeb
Update: Vodacom called me within 90 minutes after I posted this message on HelloPeter.com and sorted out the problem, very politely and in Afrikaans. That's good service! I still believe they have issues with their systems, though –possibly related to the way the different access methods interact with their main database.

I am very dissatisfied with Vodacom's prepaid accounting system. On Saturday 2011-06-25, I transferred R389 from my main telephone to my data number 079 344 5422. I got an SMS message on both phones, saying that the transfer was successful and giving the reference number as 111C2Y1X10GGXT. Yet when I do a balance enquiry via *111# on the recipient number (which I have tried about ten times) I still get a balance of about R29 some twelve hours later. The receiving number can make and receive calls so it is active on the network. How is this possible and where is the plethora of government watchdogs and consumer authorities if something like this is even possible?

When I logged on to my main account on Vodacom.co.za this morning, I briefly saw my old (pre-transfer) balance on the screen. I am sufficiently technical to understand how this is possible but how can they allow it to happen?

My reason for urgently needing Vodacom data is that my Telkom ADSL line has been down for nearly four weeks now. The two companies are starting to resemble each other – a generally excellent network combined with customer service and accounting systems that are very, very shoddy. Perhaps Vodacom should stop spending money on changing their colours and start fixing their systems!


Kindle calamity strikes again

2nd damaged Kindle
About three weeks ago I picked up my Kindle one evening where I had left it in the afternoon, only to discover about 25% of the screen completely broken. It was a sad moment but after about a day of mourning, I called Amazon who kindly offered to replace the device for free, and pay for the return shipping of the damaged item. My relief was considerable and the replacement Kindle was delivered right to my office. Amazon is a fine company and I have always had really good service from them and especially appreciate their letting me activate and cancel subscriptions at whim so that I can in fact subscribe to a newspaper only for a few days while I travel, for example.

Image my chagrin when, a full four days after receiving the brand new Kindle, I knocked it off a shelf while rushing up the stairs, dropping it on its face on the floor. You can guess: same problem, but this time it was a single corner that was working properly. Eina! This was really 100% my fault and I am afraid that I ordered a new one the very same evening.  Among other things, I am reading The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis and am eager to resume. Nevertheless, I have to wonder whether I too am a Kindle serial killer?

What can one do with a partially functioning Kindle? It can still masquerade as a USB stick but I am struggling to find the application for such a large one.


GoogleMaps wormhole opened by my WiFi router

Quite strange things started happening over the past few days with my mother's position on Google Maps, which she shares with me using the Latitude application on her Symbian smartphone. Her position would very regularly show up right at my house and it took 15 minutes of trying to get her to adjust the settings today (manual setting of location is an option, after all) before the penny dropped.

I had recently moved a WiFi router from my house to my parents' and although I changed the name of the wireless network, it had obviously been scanned by equipment ID by Google when they surveyed (or, are surveying) my suburb and Latitude was positioning my mother using this device. Wikipedia informed me that Google Maps uses information from GPS first, then from WiFi access points and finally from the cellular phone network masts. Now, why does Google Maps not do a reality when check when a confirmed GPS reading outside in the street is followed by a WiFi location 15km distant, within seconds? I am going to wait and see whether they update their database by analysing readings in my parents' area but I would really be interested in tweaking the location algorithm and/or having more options in Google Maps itself.