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Squeezing a Wikipedia Snapshot Onto an 8GB iPhone

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-you'll-miss-the-latest-edit-wars dept.

Handhelds 169

blackbearnh writes with this excerpt from O'Reilly Radar "Think about Wikipedia, what some consider the most complete general survey of human knowledge we have at the moment. Now imagine squeezing it down to fit comfortably on an 8GB iPhone. Sound daunting? Well, that's just what Patrick Collison's Encyclopedia iPhone application does. App Store purchasers of Collison's open source application can browse and search the full text of Wikipedia when stuck in a plane, or trapped in the middle of nowhere (or, as defined by AT&T coverage...)"

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169 comments

Survey of Human Knowledge? (3, Insightful)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571633)

"Wikipedia, what some consider the most complete general summary of human knowledge we have at the moment."

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571693)

[citation needed]

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (5, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571699)

"Wikipedia, what some consider the most complete general summary of human knowledge[citation needed] we have at the moment."

There. Fixed that for you.

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (4, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572097)

In all seriousness, I'm starting to get extremely annoyed by what is IMHO flagrant abuse of the [citation needed] tag on Wikipedia, I don't know how many times I've seen it used in situations where it just wasn't needed. And I don't mean in "But anyone who spends all day working on FOO knows that BAR!" situations but more along the lines of "The earth orbits the sun[citation needed]." or even better "Sir NameOfArticle was in his day frequently regarded as a national hero in $COUNTRY.[citation needed]. <Six paragraphs that detail, with plenty of sources, exactly how famous Sir NameOfArticle was.>".

I've actually begun wondering if maybe there are certain individuals who are deliberately trolling Wikipedia by adding [citation needed] in places where it just doesn't belong and then sit around giggling as they read the discussion pages of various articles they've messed with.

/Mikael

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572233)

It also seems completely random and arbitrary. If they need citations, then they need citations on every sentence/idea/paragraph that isn't general knowledge. Maybe a bot goes though and randomly adds them.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572635)

Maybe a bot goes though and randomly adds them.

[citation needed]

Am I doing it right?

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (1)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572651)

If they need citations, then they need citations on every sentence/idea/paragraph that isn't general knowledge.

I think that's a good viewpoint. Now, I am all for Wikipedia and have on many occasions found it to be of paramount value, but there is no way anyone in their right mind should trust an "encyclopedia anyone can edit". The way I see it, Wikipedia is a collection of sources, and WP articles function mainly as summaries of those sources. No-one should accept anything that's written in WP without checking where the information came from, and that's why everything that doesn't fall under common knowledge should be referenced - even if that means long reference sections and a superscripted number after every sentence.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (2, Insightful)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573237)

Look, this is how it works: I'm asked to find out what COBIT is. Naturally, I google it and find a hit in Wikipedia. From there, I get a fairly comprehensive idea of what it might be - with external links that I don't bother to click. I then explain to the team what COBIT is and tie it in with our business objectives. The team then might want to investigate further or get certification if it is a requirement for the job.

Now, I'm not sure what you mean by trust. I do trust that the information I gathered on COBIT is as accurate as I needed it to be at that time. Now, if I am an MD and need to prescribe a drug to a patient, I certainly would not trust Wikipedia for the dosage. I'd look it up in a medical reference on that medication and published by the drug company.

So for 90% of decisions, IMO Wikipedia is no worse than using last year's edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573577)

Why is this any different than any other encyclopedia, or any other source for that matter?

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573623)

It's crappier, with less reliability, horrible editing mistakes, and is utterly worthless.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (0)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573191)

Well on /. it seems to get used a lot by people who want to disagree with you but can't find any way to do that in a way that doesn't make them look bad so they try to cast doubt on what you are saying, or waste your time, by asking for pointless "citations".

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572169)

"Wikipedia, what some[who?] consider the most complete general summary of human knowledge[citation needed] we have at the moment."

There. Fixed that for you.

There. Fixed that for you.

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572627)

"Wikipedia, what some[who?] consider the most complete general summary of human knowledge[citation needed] we have at the moment."

There. Fixed that for you.

There. Fixed that for you.

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Survey of Human Knowledge? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571707)

Came for the frosty piss, leaving hot, thirsty and disappointed.
Ahhh, but Wikipedia will probably do well instead.
AC friends, you're slacking!

Nice! (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571659)

Now I can get lost in the mass of links wherever I go! Life's Good

Well, I could if I had an iPhone, sounds like an impressive achievement though, but how much space do you have left over after it?

Re:Nice! (3, Informative)

Starayo (989319) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572149)

The filesize of the app is about 2GB. Pretty amazing!

I'd be grabbing it right now if I didn't only have ~350MB of free space left on my iPhone...

Would be a great app for iPod Touch users.

iPhone apps for computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571669)

Will somebody please build a emulator for iPhone apps!

It's a shame to have all this development go wasted on a rather expensive and fragile device with a huge monthly cost.

Thank you!

Re:iPhone apps for computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571743)

Its a pity this very important concern has to be voiced as an AC for fear of Apple-lash. But AC, I am pretty sure once enough development has been achieved, someone will develop an emulator (if it doesn't exist already) and all will be well.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572451)

To be honest, what would probably be easier would be just hacking the emulator that already comes with the development tools to run any app at any time.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (5, Funny)

Filip22012005 (852281) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571759)

That problem has recently been solved. With the recent addition of sms-sharing, you could use any iPhone remotely.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (4, Interesting)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571907)

FTFA:

But I released the code to this application; it was open source from the very start. So it was pretty easy for them to take it and to port it to the OLPC.

Already done.

However, I'm not sure that I want precisely what this iPhone app is. It strips out references, and from the sound of things also the discussion pages. I'd say about 1/2 of articles I check the discussion pages to see what's really going on. Also he says he strips a lot of the metadata, and obviously images, none of which are things I"d want to give up (some of the metadata might be superfluous, but if I'm copying Wikipedia onto my computer, I want to copy Wikipedia onto my computer.)

I understand there are licensing issues with images, but even so, the SVG ought to be safe. And that wouldn't add as much of a disk space hit as the gifs, etc.

One of the other issues is the timing of Wikipedia dumps. They only do text-only dumps, and according to the article they only happen once every few months. It would be nice to implement an image review policy, and figure out a way to allow for mirrors (or just some increased bandwidth at Wikipedia HQ) so that we can actually have the entire English Wikipedia, regularly snapshotted and compressed, available for download. And really, for that kind of thing a 3-month or even yearly turnaround would be well worth the wait.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572155)

I think you're missing the point of this project, which is to fit it on an 8gb iPhone.
Do you have any idea how much more overhead gets added by what you suggest? You are completely off-topic.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572181)

The filesize of this app, as-is, is 2GB. I wonder how many images are on wikipedia.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572315)

Fragile? I have dropped my iPhone onto concrete three times from 5 feet up. I carry it all day at work and don't use any of the protectors. I treat it as I do any other phone. Fragile isn't a word I would use to describe it.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572687)

On the other hand, one of my colleagues dropped it to a floor from his desk. Now the screen is full of cracks.

Anecdotal evidence goes both ways.

Re:iPhone apps for computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573287)

Pictures?

Images! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571677)

You can't live without the images!

Re:Images! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573121)

It's Wikipedia not crazybitches.com, for God's sake!

Some people never grow up!

Not a Problem (4, Funny)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571703)

This is easily doable.

Once you trim the earth reference down to "Mostly harmless".

Re:Not a Problem (2, Funny)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572127)

This is easily doable.

Once you trim the earth reference down to "Mostly harmless".

What reason did you have for adding "Mostly"?

Re:Not a Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572351)

It really is easy. The complete wikipedia article download is 4.9GB. Which wouldn't require any skill to fit on an 8GB iPhone.

What a total geek.... (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571709)

1. Goes to foreign country - one that he has never visited before
2. Doesn't have wireless access.
3. Instead of wandering about the country he spends most of his time programming ("Then basically, I spent a significant fraction of my time there in Japan, again, in 2007 writing those applications") an application so he can look up stuff about the country he isn't spending much time actually visiting.

I bow before you sir. Awesome.

Re:What a total geek.... (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572011)

Yeah, when I went to Nicaragua a few months back (to learn Spanish) I had to stop myself from digging into my WordPress blog to play around with the formatting and make things display nicely.

I did end up spending a blog post talking about the difference between image scaling with sampling and image scaling by averaging pixels. It was curious how the difference would probably not be noticeable at home, but on the 8 year old laptop I was using, the averaging method took a good 10 seconds per image, while the sampling method was like 1 or 2.

Re:What a total geek.... (4, Interesting)

pzs (857406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572151)

You're right that this guy has flown the geek flag pretty high here; however, at least it's to some useful purpose. There are all kinds of facts about a country that are quite hard to discover just wandering about in it, and Wikipedia would be the ideal candidate to answer them.

Last time I went on holiday (to Australia) I came back with a dozen questions I wanted answering, just because I didn't have internet access while I was out there; Wikipedia access would answer many of these questions. Examples:

  • I heard that Beds Are Burning [wikipedia.org] was about the Australian aborigines - I never knew this before and wanted to look up more details on it.
  • As a result of that, I wanted to know far more information about how well aborigines were integrated in Australia at the moment. Answer: badly [wikipedia.org], but again hard to find out just by wandering around in Australia and difficult to raise with a random Aussie.
  • Australia is experiencing a lot of drought at the moment, but while we in Sydney, it rained quite a few times. I wanted to know more about the drought [wikipedia.org] and what parts of the country it was affecting.
  • ...

I could answer these questions by going into an internet cafe, but this isn't always possible. A portable Wikipedia sounds like a great idea.

Talk to people, and public libraries (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572577)

I think you could probably get answers to your questions by visiting public libraries, and talking to people. Maybe the "talking to people" bit might not get you definitive answers (though probably as good as a lot of Wikipedia content) but you might have found out a whole lot more. Also the public libraries probably had a lot of this info if you were looking for solid facts.

I appreciate a portable + off the net wikipedia would be a cool tool as well but nothing beats chatting to the locals.

Re:Talk to people, and public libraries (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573575)

Libraries - take time to get to, assuming it's even open, and can take a ton of time to locate the book you need, and THEN locate where in the book the information is. If I'm in a foreign country, I do NOT want to spend large quantities of time cooped up in a library when I could have just as easily gotten the information on wikipedia in 5 minutes, no matter where I am.

Talking to people - Personally, I'd rather not bug locals about history that's either a) sensitive (ie: a drought killing thousands), or b) common sense to everyone local. But with that option, that's just me.

Re:What a total geek.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572597)

Posting as AC because I don't feel like getting modded down, but it's quite obvious what happened here.

1. Anime guy goes to Japan
2. Anime guy is intimidated by the difference in the culture as he expected it (e.g. no one cares about his anime)
3. Anime guy neither speaks nor attempts to learn Japanese. No one is impressed by his anime catchphrases
4. Anime guy therefore has no friends. Is not "picked up" by other foreigner groups because of his awkardness (see anime)
5. Anime guy spends his life in solitude programming, just like back home. Guess the change of environment couldn't alter his true self.

Captcha: hermit. Amusingly fitting.

Another step closer (0, Redundant)

powerslave12r (1389937) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571767)

http://xkcd.com/548/ [xkcd.com] That day is here.

Re:Another step closer (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571989)

No. The Kindle supports online access to Wikipedia, but this requires a network connection. The iPhone supports the same. A while ago someone created a cut-down version of Wikipedia which you could browse completely offline on the iLiad. It sounds like someone has ported this to the iPhone, and because it's now on the iPhone it's news.

Putting Wikipedia snapshots on portable devices is interesting. I don't really see why you'd do it with an iPhone; the iLiad takes CF cards, so you can just keep a 16GB CF card for Wikipedia and not fill up space you'd otherwise use for something else, but the iPhone's storage isn't expandable so it's a strange thing to want to do. The text of Wikipedia is not that big. A complete (uncompressed) copy is 200GB, but that includes all revision history and user pages. The current version of the English Wikipedia is around 4GB of text. This leaves another 4GB for filling up with images.

Not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571771)

You can fit as much as you damn please if you leave out all the media.

Re:Not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572117)

Untrue. You have to leave out considerably more than the media. RTFA.

Nothing new (4, Informative)

Hrshgn (595514) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571805)

This is nothing new. Wikipedia has been available for several years now in MDict format: http://www.octopus-studio.com/product.en.htm [octopus-studio.com]

Re:Nothing new (2, Insightful)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572369)

Given the trouble Patrick had squeezing down a full DB dump of Wikipedia to fit into 2GB (for the app store), I find it impossible to believe that the 162 MB files I've found so far for Wikipedia in MDict format are anywhere near the full text (which Patrick's app is).

Re:Nothing new (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573649)

The MDict version was created in June 2006, and I believe uses a dump from 2003 so that the files don't get too big for the MDict database format.

Re:Nothing new (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573229)

I put Wikipedia on my Laptop a few years ago, for when I'm travelling around with no net access. Since then I periodically update it.

Last I checked, it was only a 2.2GB download gzip'd.

Iphone, yes but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571817)

What about my palm/mobil phone/netbook/olpc/etc/etc?

Better (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571837)

And for those preferring accuracy and editorial responsibility :

http://www.ipodnn.com/articles/08/02/27/britannica.on.iphone/

State of the articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571925)

How are the snapshots taken? What if at the time of taking a snapshot there is a vandalized version of an article?

Wikipedia has an entry on the Kama Sutra ... (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#28571949)

... so clearly this app will never make it through Apple's review process.

Re:Wikipedia has an entry on the Kama Sutra ... (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572065)

I would be of the opinion that they could never make a complete review of this package, as Wikipedia is constantly changing, and already huge.

Re:Wikipedia has an entry on the Kama Sutra ... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572219)

"Snapshot" means that it isn't constantly changing.

Still, the only way they do a complete review is if they are slavishly, inanely devoted to process rather than results (because the group of people offended by Wikipedia is so small as to not be worth worrying about as customers; perhaps this isn't obvious, but I would take it as obvious).

Re:Wikipedia has an entry on the Kama Sutra ... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573187)

Sometimes I have the idea that the approval process consists of an Apple employee typing swearing words into any text field of an app.

We're in the middle of creating an iPhone app for a client and they provide an API for the app. I've actually advised them to filter out a bunch of bad words, so the approval process won't be impeded for some dumb reason.

iPhone wannabe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28571969)

I wish I had an iPhone. I'm stuck with this Windows Mobile phone where I copy large files and applications over USB from my PC to it. If only I could download 2GB of data slowly from the Apple app store via my cell connection! Then I would be free!

Re:iPhone wannabe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572805)

You, sir, are a troll, so I shall not correct your ignorance.

Re:iPhone wannabe (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572813)

Actually the app is 0.1MB from the app store, then it downloads the database from a non-apple server. And like the other poster said, you can install it over WiFi.

Cool (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572067)

It's cool but not $10 cool. I use 2 free apps that let me access wikipedia. Nothing really new or radical about this app unless wikipedia is really much larger and the author managed to cull 2gb from it.

Because it works with 0 bars (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572533)

I use 2 free apps that let me access wikipedia. Nothing really new or radical about this app

Except it works when you're away from a hotspot, even if you paid only $220 (not $100 + $80/mo * 24 months) for your device.

Profits (1)

notseamus (1295248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572091)

It would be nice if he shared/donated some of the profits from this to Wikipedia, seeing as he's getting the database for free. There didn't seem to be a mention of it in the article or his personal site.

XML Compression (4, Interesting)

firefarter (307327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572185)

So, I'm reading here that they convert the XML into proprietary metadata and compress that.

Why not use EXI (Efficent XML Interchange) http://www.w3.org/XML/EXI/ [w3.org] which has been tested as more efficient that gzip and requires less memory to parse? Especially since the XML processing can remain the same, since the nodeset is the same.

Re:XML Compression (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572501)

Off topic, but this always fascinates/annoys me:
firefarter says, "Why not use EXI (Efficent XML Interchange) which has been tested as more efficient that gzip and requires less memory to parse?"
Why do so many people (mostly in the British English tradition) so often use "that" as a comparative in place of "than" ?
Not wanting to nit-pick, just curious why I see it so much.
Is it seen as odd but acceptable? Is it laziness? Is phonic similarity erasing the difference between the two words? Is it just tradition? Also is it, as I think, mostly a British habit?
I see it all the time, but never in shorter comparisons, (ie "He is smarter that I am.") where presumably it is more obviously odd sounding.
Any comments?

Re:XML Compression (1)

firefarter (307327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572565)

Happy to fuel your fascination, but it was just a typo. Chill.

Re:XML Compression (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572657)

I was "chilled" before I posted, firefarter. I'm just curious. In your case you say its a typo but I see it frequently and doubt that it can be dismissed as a typo. I assume something more is in play.
In your case not, apparently, but many very articulate people do this as the norm.
Anyone else with an insight?

Of Typos and Thinkos (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572917)

You should study how mistakes are made a bit more. When typing fast, I often mistype one work for another. Even though I know very well the rules for "its" and "it's" (a mistake you made in your post), "their" and "there", "than and then", sometimes my fingers just decide to type one thing even though my brain is thinking another. Sometimes I type "you" instead of "your", too. Or "to" instead of "too". None of this has anything to do with not knowing the rules. It's partially about not proofreading (c'mon, it's just a slashdot comment), but even proofreading can miss them because the brain sometimes reads what it means and not what it sees.

Re:Of Typos and Thinkos (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573189)

A plausible explanation for written communication.
But if you were to "study what my post said a bit more," you wouldn't assume I was only refering to written communication. =-)
Although people also make mistakes in oral communication, they tend not to be typographic. Your thoughts do not explain why this is also a common spoken habit/pattern for many people (mostly British, in my experience)
Thanks for the post

Re:Of Typos and Thinkos (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573399)

Well, the thing is, I have never heard anyone use "that" rather than "than" in verbal communication. So, no, I can't really follow that line. Only thing I ever here is "then" being mixed up with "than", in both directions.

Re:Of Typos and Thinkos (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573497)

Sorry to bring it to your attention. Now that I've pointed it out, you probably will start to hear it (because it is definitely out there.)
Now it will bug you as much as it does me. =-)

Re:XML Compression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572963)

Why do so many people (mostly in the British English tradition) so often use "that" as a comparative in place of "than" ?

Because the word "than" has been stolen for things that aren't actual comparatives- I cringe a little bit every time I see "different than". It's more than, less than, bigger than, colder than, more efficient than, but "identical to" and "different from". Oddly, as a Brit I notice these things much more often in what is obviously American English.

I used to think it was a typo, but it's a pretty massive typo. Maybe it's a thinko: people start typing "tha" and their fingers fill in the "t". The same thing happens to me every time I try to type "internal" and find my fingers typing "internet"- by the time you are six letters into a word you are pretty much running on muscle memory. If I ever heard someone *say* "that" as a comparative, I'd have to introduce them to the stick of learning.

Re:XML Compression (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28573393)

AC, glad someone is at least a bit in sync with my thought on this. But you too assume it is just a written mistake. I hear people speak this pattern all the time (and I do want to take the stick of learning to them.)
Your post reminds me of another British pattern I read and hear all the time--
using "different to" rather than "different from"
Does this grate on British ears like it does on mine?

Complete human knowledge? (0, Flamebait)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572197)

I go to Wikipedia for two things; when I want summarized descriptions of fictional stories, and information about weights and measures and official standards. And boring details nobody has any opinion about which are so chipped in stone, I don't have to worry about how fractured and tangled up the editors' various emotional/intellectual states were at the time of the entry inclusion. Stories are safe because they're not real, and it's hard for Official Culture to get along when it distorts the way you convert miles to kilometers. (Though it would bloody do so if it thought it could get away with it!)

Other than that, Wikipedia is Humanity's dream-state navel-gazing summary of what it WISHES were real and not what IS. There is so much content on Wikipedia I disagree with that I barely even notice the red-light flashing in my brain when I scan any given article, or as more often happens, the lack of an article.

No wonder you can cram that thing into 8 gigs. Hell, I was flipping through an encyclopedia from the 40's, and under "Dynamite", it had detailed instructions on how to MAKE it yourself and how to blast rocks from your property. --Wikipedia isn't even as informative as a general knowledge set of dead-tree books from last century. But it IS smaller and more portable. I guess that's good.

And sorry, XKCD fans, but the Hitchhiker's Guide, (fictional though it is), isn't hamstrung with political correctness and facts washed out of existence by human insecurities. Maybe when humanity grows up and can handle looking at reality straight on will Wikipedia become something to be proud of. At the moment it's merely the litmus test for social maturity with embarrassing results.

Sorry for ranting, but honestly!

-FL

Re:Complete human knowledge? (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572435)

[citation needed]

I'm not really kidding. Your anti-Wikipedia rant is entertaining, but it doesn't provide any substance. Speaking for myself, when I go to Wikipedia for a refresher on something I already know about, I'm generally pleased with the quality of the results, which makes me think that the articles on subjects I don't know much about are likely to be pretty good too.

Your line about "political correctness and facts washed out of existence by human insecurities" provides a clue as to what really bothers you about Wikipedia: reality's well-known liberal bias. Unless you can provide specific examples, with citations, it's reasonable to assume that the Wikipedia groupmind knows more about the way things really work than some random dude on /.

Wikibooks is for how-to guides (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572545)

Hell, I was flipping through an encyclopedia from the 40's, and under "Dynamite", it had detailed instructions on how to MAKE it yourself

Wikipedia doesn't have how-to guides. If you want that, use Wikibooks.

Re:Complete human knowledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572667)

Other than that, Wikipedia is Humanity's dream-state navel-gazing summary of what it WISHES were real and not what IS. There is so much content on Wikipedia I disagree with that I barely even notice the red-light flashing in my brain...

This really seems to get you worked up... Why don't you Just use your encyclopedia from the 40s and don't think about wikipedia, if that really seems more useful to you.

And sorry, XKCD fans, but the Hitchhiker's Guide, (fictional though it is), isn't hamstrung with political correctness and facts washed out of existence by human insecurities.

So... no you compare WP to a imaginary guide? Didn't you just accuse the rest of humanity of trying to live in a dream state? It would be more effective if you showed us how bad wikipedia is by comparing it to something, you know, existing.

*shrug* Did this a year ago on a psion 5MX (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572339)

http://www.instructables.com/id/SBK1NAUFF78M26B/ [instructables.com]

I found these instructions in May 2008 and created a reasonably current snapshot of wikipedia that is still rather compact on a Psion 5MX. Not quite the same "curb appeal" as an iPhone, but a lot more functional.

Best,

Re:*shrug* Did this a year ago on a psion 5MX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573031)

How did you get the current snapshot of Wikipedia? I'm working on the Mark 2 (Nokia N770, shinier hardware but sadly hamstrung by the 2GB memory card limit) and I want a current version of WP, not some years-out-of-date CD edition. If you can provide some details I'll put them in the Instructable and give you credit.

- PKM

Wikipedia Midlet (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572395)

Bah, that's nothing. I made an offline Wikipedia midlet! Unfortunately J2ME is unpleasant to say the least, and my phone only supports 2 GB SD cards so it only has some of the articles and without text.

EXCELLENT app, but limited (2, Interesting)

jbarr (2233) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572397)

I've been using this app for quite a while on my 1st gen iPod Touch, and it works and works well. It's amazing just how many articles it has. Other than some cosmetic and minor feature issues, the only real limitation is that Apple limits data file size to 2GB, so there is an obvious limit as to how much can go into the file. But it is amazingly complete. No images, no fancy tables--just text articles at your fingertips.

If you Jailbreak your iPhone/iPod Touch, then an excellent alternative is the Wiki2Touch app. Unfortunately, it seems that it's been pretty much abandoned in development, so it may be hit-or-miss if it works on OS v3.x. This implementation was REALLY slick. It provided a 4GB data file (that was much more complete) and a small Web server. You enabled the Web server, fired up Safari, and pointed it to a local URL. The app presented quick and very readable articles. And if you went to the trouble to download and process, you could also add about 4GB of image files to make things more complete (on a larger-capacity device, of course.)

Here's a review that I posted for both apps just over a year ago on my iPod Touch Tips site:
http://jimstips.com/ipod-touch-tips/ipod-touch-review-wikpedia-on-your-ipod-touch.html [jimstips.com]

In both cases, the main complaint is updating. In order to update the data file, you have to re-download the data, and depending on the app, you are typically at the mercy of the developer to provide an update. Otherwise, you had to download, index, and install the HUGE files yourself.

If you absolutely HAVE to have updated, offline data, check out the Wikipanion app. It's a nice compromise.

WikiPock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28572413)

If you have a PDA running Windows Mobile, Android or Blackberry, you can use WikiPock: http://www.wikipock.com/

Advice (2, Funny)

DissociativeBehavior (1397503) | more than 4 years ago | (#28572927)

App Store purchasers of Collison's open source application can browse and search the full text of Wikipedia when stuck in a plane

This page [wikipedia.org] is not recommended when you're stuck in a plane...

Where Are the Windows And Linux Versions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573055)

I've always thought somethings like this would interesting for a standard operating system, for when your Internet connection goes down, for when you're traveling with a laptop and don't have access to a wifi network, or, in tough economic times, for when perhaps your financial situation declines and you can't afford Internet access (hopefully temporarily) but still have the computer you bought when times where better (or were given an old legacy computer by someone no longer using it).

It's kind of a pet peeve of mine to see so many things created for the closed relatively small i-phone ap store and not ported to the operating systems we all have for normal computers. It's not an issue with Apple, I love itunes and ipods, it's just that I'd like to see these things available to a larger market, maybe as open-source aps. I've actually been waiting on something like this for a long time, specifically for Wikipedia, but I don't have an iphone or an ipod touch, and a monthly fee is a bit much for something that is a essentially a "backup" Wikipedia.

Warning: 3 majors problem with this app. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28573075)

I bought this application 6 months ago and there are 3 majors problems with it:
1) The search function is broken because you need to type the exact word (prefix)
2) This is plain text: no pictures and no tables so most articles with "list" are useless
3) No update mechanism so the dump used will be outdated soon.

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