For the last year or so, one of my favourite mobile applications has been TomeRaider 3. This is a rather nice database reader for various mobile devices (I’ve used both the Palm and Windows Mobile versions).
What lifts TomeRaider 3 head and shoulders above all similar programs I’m aware of, is the availability of snapshots of various Wikipedia versions in the TomeRaider 3 file format. Thanks to the efforts of Erik Zachte, TomeRaider 3 files are available for download and for purchase (if you want the latest version with images in a hurry). He also makes the script he uses to generate the files available, and I can confirm that it works very well.
I originally started with a sub 1Gb version (I used Erik’s script to generate the file myself) of the English Wikipedia on a Treo 600 phone. Having an entire Wikipedia on a phone in your pocket is wonderful. If you’re the curious sort, and read a lot, having a enormous encyclopedia in your pocket means you can never be bored. And it’s great for resolving any questions people raise (usually in the pub). Obviously similar results could be achieved using an Internet connection, but here in the UK, GPRS is too slow and expensive to make this a good option.
I’ve now moved on, and while the text only Wikipedia on Palm was impressive, the sub 4Gb file with images that Erik offers is on another level altogether. I now use a Dell X50v as my reader – the VGA screen and the dual memory slots (SD and CompactFlash) make it almost perfect for TomeRaider and Wikipedia, while still being pocketable.
As the 4Gb file with images will take many days to generate, I now find it easier to regularly buy the latest version directly from Erik. His prices are very reasonable, and he posts the DVD very quickly. As the Wikipedia keeps growing, I just hope that flash memory prices continue to fall, as my 4Gb CompactFlash is already starting to look a little small
Erik deserves a lot of praise for his work, but I’ve also made several donations to the Wikimedia Foundation over the last year, so that they can continue to develop and support the various Wikipedias. If you use any of the Wikipedias frequently, please consider making a donation.
Trial versions of TomeRaider 3 are available, and several full versions of Wikipedia are available for free download, so if you’ve got a Palm or Windows Mobile device with a good sized flash memory card, it’s well worth a look.