Recently I was at the airport waiting for a seven-hour flight and decided to download an eBook (or two) to read during the flight. The airport – Heathrow – would provided internet access that I could use with some spare credit I happened to have on my Skype account. At this point I discover that the iPad Skype app cannot authenticate me for this; I need the separate Skype WiFi app, which I can’t install unless I already have it. The system has a webpage that claims to let me log in, but it doesn’t work. Okay, I’ll grab it on my laptop and transfer it over.
My initial attempt was to buy one of Apple’s iBooks. So I have the file on my computer in iTunes, but it can’t be copied to my iPad without syncing. Syncing would obliterate all content currently on my iPad because I don’t usually use it to sync. This is not an acceptable solution. While contemplating this I notice that it’s possible to dump files into the Kindle app without syncing. Great! Let’s try that.
Buy the same book from Amazon, have it delivered to my laptop. Find the arbitrarily named file, drop it into the Kindle app on the iPad and it’s copied over. Hurrah! Let’s check that it actually worked…
Ah. Apparently the settings were reset, and we can’t get past that screen without an internet connection. Presumably if we could the DRM on the books would become worthless. But wait, I have Stanza installed as well! Let’s see if it can read the file!
Nope. DRM prevents it from doing so. Fine. Let’s strip the damned DRM off. Several minutes of Googling later and I have an un-DRMed version of the same. Trying again, and… nope. Can’t read the format. So after some more Googling I have a file without DRM in the right format. Finally, half an hour later, it works! I repeat the process in a couple of minutes for a second book and board the plane.
But then, four hours later, partway through the second book, I am spontaneously presented with this screen:
Yes, it shut off mid-flight. Brilliant.