I inherited my wife’s Kindle after I got her the new HD Fire for Christmas. I’d been on the fence over whether I’d like having an ereader, since I enjoy reading but was not really sure if I’d actually use an ereader as opposed to just buying used books, which tend to be cheaper than ebooks. As such, I never bought one for myself, but was more than happy to accept my wife’s used Kindle.

I love the damn thing. I love it for two main reasons. 1) You can put a metric crap-ton of books on it. Seriously, it’s wonderful to be able to reduce an entire library of books into something about the size of 2 beer coasters. The fact that Project Gutenberg now offers a lot of it’s books in kindle format is just icing on the cake, really. 2) I can transfer PDFs to it. Seriously, where the hell has this thing been all my life?!

You may be wondering about how useful #2 is. Well, here’s the deal. I do a lot of crafting and a lot of cooking. While I do have a large collection of cook books, often enough I’ll cruise my favorite food blogs and find recipes that you can’t find in a book, or at least not in one that I have. BK (before Kindle) if I found a recipe that I liked I had two paths of making the recipe. Either I would print out the recipe, use it, and if it was good I’d add it to the huge stack of printed recipes I have sitting on my desk, or I’d pull up the web-page, use the recipe, and then forget to bookmark the page and lose the recipe forever (or at least the recipe would be muddled with other, similar recipes to a point where I wasn’t sure which site I got it from).

With the Kindle, I can sidestep the need for printing the recipe on paper (and thus feeling wasteful if I don’t like the recipe). Instead I can get the recipe into a PDF and transfer it nicely to the kindle. I’m still working on an easy way to get things into Kindle format, so for now I use PDF. I’ll hit on the method I use for that later. I’ve also started doing this with crochet patterns as well, and it works great (bye bye huge binder filled with printed crochet patterns).

Anyway, with all these utilitarian things on my Kindle, I realized that I needed a stand. When using the Kindle in the kitchen, it works a lot better if it’s propped up so you can see it easily, and if you’ve got something to protect it from spills. A non-engineer might just pop it in a ziplock bag and lean it up against something, but I’m not a non-engineer.

After 45 minutes with a drafting set and some graph paper, I had a design for a kindle stand. It was an overly complicated and modestly expensive to build design. After looking at it and admiring my work for about 5 minutes, I realized that I was over-thinking things. 15 minutes and 11 cents worth of material later, I had a functional Kindle stand

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The stand is made with cardboard (quite obviously) that I folded into a stable A-frame with a cup to hold the kindle. I reinforced the cup with a loop of string (you can see it going across the front) and then attached another piece of string to the back of that loop and fed it out a pinhole put through the back of the stand. I then looped the string back on itself and tied a sliding knot against the back (I used a triple fisherman’s bend) so that I could adjust the angle of the stand. I had a spare clear DVD case that was being thrown away, so I cut the front off of it for a splash shield. It doesn’t quite fit, so I’ll likely find something else for a splash shield.

I’ve got some preliminary designs going for an upgraded version of this build, using slightly better, but still mostly recycled material. But for now, this works like a dream for both holding the kindle during cooking and holding it up for crochet patterns. It might be nice to build one that has a mount on it so I can clamp it to a cupboard off the counter, but one step at a time.

Now, as mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten a decent method together for getting PDFs of online recipes (to a point). The trick is that Kindle PDF reader is kinda stupid, and will try to stretch to fit PDFs to screen while ignoring any text information within the PDF (treats the PDF like a picture and just zooms). Alternately, if you want the text in the PDF big enough to read, you have to scroll around the page in two directions to see everything, which is annoying as crap.

The easiest way around this is to use a PDF printer (such as BullZip’s PDF Printer) and go into preferences and set it to print to A6 sized paper. A6 is 5.8 x 4.1 inches, which is pretty close to the size of the Kindle’s screen. Thus, when the Kindle goes to resize the paper for a fit-to-screen, it doesn’t actually change the viewable size much.

I’m still working on a useful way to convert recipes/patterns to Mobi or AZN files, but so far the work-flow for that has been much more complicated. Complicated enough that I’m not really thrilled with the results thus far.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

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