Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 1896

I have found the complete issue of an anual report of the Simthsonian Institute of 1896. The book was digitized and is available for download at To be more precise: 1624 (!!!) pages were scanned. And it comprises such an enormous, huge knowledge about all sorts of ancient things from all over the world. All with illustrations and precise descriptions. It is a pure pleasure to read it and explore its illustrations.

So many things the book deals with: Games like chess in all of its variations and also loads of ancient games played by native people all over the world. Not only their names, but also exhausting description of how to play them. Same counts for excotic instruments like this bronze age horn: Bronze Age Horn And even more, it provides some interesting articles about possibly forgotten mysteries like that of this plate: Magi with Baresma Reading through this book, I cannot help but being reminded of how important it is to conserve knowledge. This book is a comprehensive archive of exotic utilities native people made use of in the 19th century. How many of this knowledge might already be forgotten, how many games no longer played, how many instruments haven’t made sounds for how long? And I really think this is one of the greatest achievements of the digital age and of the internet: making such rare knowledge available for everybody. And thus helping spreading and conserving it.


Creating ebooks in ePub format for Sony Reader

I’ve been trying to find out the best way to create an ePub-format document. Of course, I could have used a well-known Adobe product, however, I found a way of creating such books without the use of any commercial software. Here’s the list of free software you need: Amaya: Your text needs to be a valid xhtml document. You could use any of your favoured text or xml editor. This one is my favoured. Remember to use “xhtml 1.1″. However, if you think you are familiar enough with XHTML, you could use any text editor you like Calibre: This is the converter program that turns your xhtml into an ePub document Oops … that’s it. Two programs only. Now open Amaya and create a XHTML 1.1 document. Save it. It is important to make excessive use of headers with the class=”chapter” attribute. Here is an example of a minimal hello-world.xhtml document:

Hello World

Hello World: Chapter 1

This is the text of the first chapter.

Hello World: Chapter 2

And some more text. Remember that the header tag must contain the class="chapter" attribute.

Mind the red class attribute. It is a good idea to generate a minimal stylesheet (.css) file that solely contains a definition of the chapter class, e.g.: .chapter {} and bind it to your xhtml document using . Why? Well, this way the chapter style shows up in Amaya’s style tab from which you can choose it easily when creating a header. If you want to make sure your XHTML document is valid, use html tidy in order to check it: tidy -asxhtml -utf8 -i -m YOURDOCUMENT.html Well, the rest is straight foreward: Start Calibre and import you xhtml document. Add meta tags and create your ePub document.