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Created September 10, 2012 02:49
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Use a phone as cards for a little intervention in Chinese

Last week-end I was at the wedding party of a good old friend in Chengdu.

I masochistically proposed to talk a little bit, and then had to prepare a five minutes intervention in Chinese, in front of a few hundreds hungry sichuanese people.

Tough work. I had to prepare a bit and planned to print my text on cards, but it was far from convenient, as there is no printer at my in-law's house, and the computer is a frightening beast powering IE6 and five hundred blipping icons in the tray.

I decided I should try with my (big) phone. Minimum requirements were:

R1) The setup need to be solid and should not fail me if I have no internet access. I also need to be able to save files where I want to so I can do manual backups.

R2) I need to be able to use huge font size for my cards

R3) I need to be able to edit cards on the phone itself (eg for last minute modifications)

R4) I need to be able to "swipe" back and forth the cards on my phone.

R5) I prefer being able to indicate card splits.

I'll skip here all the tools I tried and rejected. Suffice to say that Google drive was rejected because of R1, pure Dropbox because of R2, pure text editors because of R2 and R4.

So I had to hack my way out (I was already on the plane, couldn't download new apps). Here is how I handled it:

  • The cards content is written in a very simple HTML

  • The cards are displayed on the phone screen using open source mobile reader FBreader, which is sort-of capable of reading some limited HTML, and handles very well the swiping requirement R4.

  • The cards file is edited on the phone using Dropbox text editor.

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