Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Kobo Touch EReader Induces RAGE FACTOR 9

WARNING: Ranting, SHOUTING and rude words ahead. Read at your own risk.

So, I went and bought my Dad a Kobo Touch and it arrived today.

I chose the Kobo over the Kindle because I figured it would be less tied into Amazons so-called "Ecosystem" and Sony are the king of proprietary formats. Also the Kobo is supported by Calibre so I reckoned the odds were that it would be reasonable quality (most reviews were positive) and hopefully I wouldn't need to feck about in Windows just to use it.

This view was reinforced when I did what I always do when considering buying a product which undoubtedly would come with software that only works on Windows, which is to Google for "kobo linux" and see what comes back.

The top result was this blog which cheerfully stated that using Kobo on your Linux PC is super easy;
  1. Plug it in to your Ubuntu machine. It shows up as a USB storage device.
  2. Drag and drop books in any supported format onto it.
  3. Unplug, switch on, read books.

Neat! Except for one tiny thing.

It turns out that the advice given there is pretty much totally wrong.

You see, when you fire up your shiny new Kobo the first thing it presents you with is a screen that tells you that you need to "setup your ereader by browsing to www.kobosetup.com". Ummm, no, I don't reckon I should need to do that, after all the afore mentioned site says this on the subject;

The setup software is Win / Mac only, but you don’t need it. When you start the device, it insists that you run the setup software. You don’t have to. As far as I can tell, the setup does two things:
  • Forces you to create a kobobooks.com account. Lame.
  • Updates the software on the device.
I should note here that the above blog was written over a year ago and it is possible that the fun guys in the Kobo marketing department have spent that year "improving the user experience" of their formerly excellent product, and as part of that "improvement" they have made the setup process mandatory and "improved" it to the point that a retarded chimpanzee would be embarrassed to wipe his arse with it, so enough said of that.

Anyway, it is true that you are given a skip button, but when you choose to skip you are told that "setting up your Kobo is important" and you will be "reminded later".

When they say "reminded later" they actually mean "nagged relentlessly".

Undaunted, I ignored the nagging, figuring I could find a way to turn it off later and went straight to Calibre. Cool, straight away the device was detected and I was able to send books to the it.

Browsing in Nautilus showed that the books were indeed copied onto the Kobo as expected.

However, after ejecting the device and attempting to view my library I found that there were no books on it at all and that further, when re-connecting the USB cable to it that Calibre had now changed its mind and was reporting that indeed, there are in fact, no books on the device after all.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

It turns out that you MUST download the "Kobo Desktop" application, install it, run it, allow it to "Connect to your Kobo account" (which seemed to do nothing) and then download what looked to be a massive "upgrade".

Going by the time it took to download I'm talking an iOS sized update download in the hundreds of megabytes range.

When it finally completed the upgrade it started "Checking for books".

This went on for over half an hour until I gave up and pressed "cancel", after which it congratulated me on successfully setting the thing up. WTF? Whatever dude.

Ok, cool, apparently it is done, so, I rebooted to Linux so I could try Calibre again.

While doing so I disconnected it from the USB.

The device then went straight to a screen that basically said "Updating" in 10 different languages, it sat there for a couple of minutes, restarted and went straight back to nagging me about doing the "Computer setup" thing again! Gaah!

So, reboot to bloody Windows again and the "Setup your Kobo" thing autostarts.

Now it wants me to login to my "Kobo Account". Hmmm, it did seem a tad strange that it tried connecting to my imaginary Kobo account earlier but appeared to do nothing.

Anyway, I do not have, nor do I wish to have, a fucking Kobo Account.

Apparently I can also use Facebook. Unfortunately, my negative feelings towards participating in Faceplant in any way at all pretty much means I guess I will have to open a goddam Kobo account.

I hate these fucking companies.  No, really.

So I register with my dodgy email address, making sure,  as a big FU to "Team Kobo" that I untick the "Spam me relentlessly with crap I don't want to buy" tick box anyway and let this god forsaken piece of crap continue on with whatever it is it needs to do.

To really ice the cake, the stupid setup app cheerfully informs me when it is finished that now "You and your friends can now share your Kobo reading activity through Facebook Timeline"


Did I mention how much I fucking hate these companies?

OK, whatever, at least it is finished, hopefully I will never have to revisit this retarded piece of crap ever again.

Before I could manage to restart however, I note that the idiotic Kobo app had now noticed that I don't have any books yet and started presenting me with a screen full of  random books with YES/NO buttons beneath. Apparently it was interested in knowing if I had read them and whether I liked them or not. I assume that this is so they can bombard me with "helpful suggestions" as to what books I might like to purchase through their stupid fucking book store.

I am not making this up.


P.S. Also, the two ereaders I was considering buying my kids for xmas will almost certainly not have the Kobo logo on them.

 Anyway, now when I unplug the device it just says "Sleep mode" instead of nagging about setting it up so that's a good sign I guess.

Uhoh, nope, not a good sign after all. When the Kobo touch screen is activated there it displays a "release notes" screen which when you can just click past, which then returns you to the hated "Computer Setup" nag screen.


Even better, now when I start Calibre, the device is not recognised at all.

FFS. I have actually gone backwards.

Once more, back to Windows I go and into the hated "Kobo Desktop" app.

The stupid Kobo app can't see it either and the device is now permantly in "Sleep mode."

I am just about ready to pack this thing up and send it back.

But no, I decide to persist. Back to google and I discover I can do a reset by pushing a button inside the tiniest hole I have ever seen. It looks even tinier than the hole you use to eject the sim card in an iphone. I resort to a using stripped wire tie to reset the thing.

Oh, happy days, it is asking me to connect to Facebook again.

This had better be the last time it asks me that or god help me . . . .

I press the FUCK OFF button.

Now I reach an ugly web2.0 style mash-up of book covers in my "Library" section.

Oh, but hold on, what's that? Those are the books I put on there a mere 2  hours ago!


Apparently putting the books on the Kobo had been successful all along, it's just that the idiotic thing decided it would refuse to see them until I had signed up to their abomination of a book store.

That is the work of assorted Business Diploma & Marketing 'tards I'm sure.

Anyway, finally I had some success. The trouble is that now, I'm torn on whether I should be glad my books are finally readable or fucking furious at wasting over 2 hours getting to this point.

This is where I put on my grumpy old man hat and remember a day when you could buy a piece of tat, open the box and just use it. The worst that could happen is that it is Xmas day and you forgot to buy batteries. Oops. What do you mean the shops aren't open dad?

Imagine that, you opened the box, plugged it in and it did what it was supposed to do.

If it didn't it was broken and you took it back.
So what is it with this crap these days? Every arsehole with a Degree in Marketing wanting to tie you into fucking web stores and "ecosystems" (whatever the hell they are) and then wanting you to put your shit all over the Internet via Facestab or Twitter or whatever happens to be trendy at the moment.

When did we all decide that this sort of corporate rogering sans the lube and without even a courtesy reach-around was acceptable?

I bought the Kobo in a (clearly) misguided attempt to avoid at least some of that nonsense but no, it just doesn't seem possible to buy stuff these days without being required to undergo a full rectal examination in order to even use a device that you paid for with proper money.

Fuck you Kobo, Amazon, Apple and all you other privacy leaching sociopathic shitstain companies. FU to Facebook too.  And when Microsoft start pushing everything through their new Win8 appstore that will be another entry on the long list of things to hate them for too.

Oh, and get off my god damn lawn!

Yeah, I'm totally going with furious.

After battling for more than 2 hours with this infuriating thing I decided to go take a dump and do a bit of reading on it.

I reckoned I deserved it.

So, I settled in and fired up a book. I flipped through a page or three and something pops up at the bottom of the screen.

What is that? Hmmm, it looks like a facestab logo.

Next to the facestab logo it says, and I shit you not, "New award: Page Turner"


Am I playing a game here or reading a god damned book?


Die marketing scum, DIE NOW!


Anonymous said...

Absolutely concur with your comments!
I too am totally pissed off with these damn companies dictating the terms of use of their devices.
It's like buying a car then being told you must subscribe to using their spare parts before you can use the car.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for you post, i was just about to buy the reader and what you wrote is *exactly* what i wanted to avoid (and how i would have reacted).

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've just picked up a Kobo Touch in the last week. Yeah, they HAVE made it so you've got to go through their setup process and create an account on their bookstore. On the plus side though, you can do this without plugging the device into a PC.

I set the device up, it grabbed an update without pain and was happy to accept books from calibre straight after this. The procedure was reasonably painless for me.

It does still have the annoying marketing stuff, though.

Bob Burroughs said...

I have an early model Kobo reader. With the last Kobo Desktop (2.1.6) I cannot load a book I bought from the Kobo store to the reader. Not with Kobo Desktop, not with Calibre, not at all. I'm going to toss this reader into the fire, purge several megabytes of junk software off my computer, and drop my anger management class.