Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

Over the past few years, I have collected quite a few books in .pdf format. All are what you might call “technical manuals”: WordPress how-to’s, Google tricks, genealogy cheat-sheets…

Most of the time, I read these docs with the standard Adobe Reader, sitting at my desk. Fits the bill, but nothing fancy and definitely not very comfortable.

So it occurred to me: get an eReader. That way I could lay on the couch to read or spend my time more productively while waiting for an oil change.

First, let me say that I am not very comfortable with electronic books. I much prefer paper and ink!

However, ebooks do have their advantages. They are certainly cheaper and simpler to obtain, and are much easier on your back. And they are the future of publishing, so it seems. Who am I to stand in the path of progress?

That being said, I do see the need for a portable, light-weight dedicated device to be able to enjoy my little virtual library.

Time to do my homework, so for the past 2-3 days, I have researched eReaders. Kindles, Nooks, Kobos… lots of choices and lots of prices, ranging from about $100 to several hundred. Some deal with .pdf files, but most have to convert these files to their own format. Not really what I’m looking for.

My other options include viewing my ebooks on my Blackberry or iPod. Blackberry is just not practical, too small. iPod is also a tad tiny for a 200-page file and my not-so-young-anymore eyes.

Then I searched for a better pdf viewer/file app. I downloaded several, tried ’em out, didn’t like ’em, deleted ’em. I even managed to crash my hard-drive by trying to add a .pdf file to iTunes. Don’t know what happened, but fortunately my computer survived!

I finally settled on PDF-XChange Viewer, a free app that I already have on my computer. It is excellent for converting those downloaded newspaper clippings from GenealogyBank from .pdf’s to .jpg’s. It is just more versatile than Adobe Reader.

So that solved the problem of the ereader program, now for a portable device to read my .pdf ebooks on. One that I can afford, as right now we in Texas are dealing with The Summer from Hell, which is accompanied by The Electric Bills from Hell!

Then I remembered an article I’d read some time ago about turning a netbook into an ebook reader. Ok, I have an unemployed netbook (my granddaughter just got an iPad to replace her dead laptop for her freshman year in high school, so I got my little Dell back).

The article suggests a couple of ereader programs, but they didn’t work too well for me. I couldn’t get the page to display to my liking once rotated. I did adjust the power setting to save the battery and the screen brightness to save my eyes.

But after a bit more creative electronic manipulation (trial and error!), I did come up with a solution that I’m pretty pleased with:

  • Open the document of choice in PDF-XChange Viewer (set as default .pdf viewer)
  • Rotate the screen 90 degrees to the right
  • View full screen

This is what I got (sorry, pix taken with my Blackberry, which doesn’t have the best camera in the world!)








This is quite easy to read and the up/down arrows “turn” the pages.


  • Portable
  • Internet access and my genealogy records available
  • Costs nothing to set up netbook as ebook reader


  • Battery life about 3 hours

Now, I’m off to sell my first-born to pay my electric bill….


5 thoughts on “What to do with all of these .pdf files?

  1. mdianerogers says:

    Nice adaptation, Ruth. I’ll try this too as I already have a netbook I take out with me. Are you using EeeRotate too then as mentioned in the LifeHacker article?


    1. Hi Diane! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Yes, I downloaded and set up EeeRotate and it works great. Makes the netbook almost like a “real” book. You have the advantage of not losing your place when reading on the couch, waking up two hours later and finding the book closed on the floor!

      Have a great day!
      Ruth Stephens


      1. Hey Diane,

        I noticed that “Jane’s Your Aunt” (love that name, by the way!) is on Blogger and “Newdale” is on WordPress. Which platform do you like the best? I’m a die-hard WordPress fan!



  2. I’m gonna tell Sarah you’re planning on selling her!!!


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