Negative: Free PDF Reader With Inverted Colours Mode

I was looking for some free – like in free beer – alternatives to PDF Expert, the reader I’ve been using for years for its invert colours feature but can’t install anymore (both my licences are not recognised anymore). I found Negative.

This cool little app doesn’t seem to have any tool (no highlighter, no handwriting, no annotations, and so on). But it’s small, fast, free. And it does what it says:

Negative, free on the App Store.

Force Any iOS App to Use Dark Mode, with Shortcuts

A few apps on iOS do not support dark mode–in my case it concerns five apps, some I often use: my bank app, Antidote FR/EN dictionaries, my mobile carrier and Apple’s own “Apple Store” app.

Apple’s Shortcuts–free in the App Store–comes with a neat feature called Automation that can force those apps to use dark mode, well kinda by automatically turning Smart Invert on each time you launch one of those apps.

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Creating a Custom Resolution with SwitchResX

Yesterday, I mentioned using SwitchResX to create custom screen resolutions when those provided by Apple are not enough to compensate for my bad eyesight.

But you don’t have to have a bad eyesight to create a custom resolution. Maybe you want things on screen to be a bigger so you can see them from farther away? Or whatever.

Let’s just create a custom together.

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iPad and Poor Vision Part 1: Setting up the iPad and iOS

The iPad is an amazing device–for leisure, for reading, for listening and for working–as long as you don’t take into consideration one tiny detail: out of the box, I can barely use it at all.

Why? Because of my terrible eyesight, texts, menus and buttons are unreadable: too small, too thin, and not contrasted enough.

Luckily, iOS comes with many accessibility options that can help a lot. Depending your needs.

In this post, I will list the settings I use to compensate for my bad eyesight. It’s not an exhaustive list–not even as far as vision goes.

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macOS: How-to invert colors in a video

Why would anyone want to invert colors in video, you may ask?

Well, let me ask you this: why wouldn’t they want?

More seriously, I do that for a very specific reason: my bad eyesight makes it so that I can’t read black text on a white background. You know, the kind of text you occasionally find in books, or in slides. The kind of slides, you’ll find almost everywhere while watching College de France many lectures. Like in Dario Mantovani’s Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains).

A slide from Dario Mantovani’s lecture "Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains)". Text is printed in red on a white background.
A slide from Dario Mantovani’s lecture “Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains)”. Text is printed in red on a white background.

To read this slide, I need the background to be dark and the text to be light.

Under macOS, I could easily invert colors of the whole screen, but that’d be impractical as that’d also invert colors in all my other windows that are already dark.

Here is how I invert only the colors of a video under macOS (see here for Windows).

  1. Install IIna, a free fork of VLC optimized for macOS. It’s a great app, really.
  2. Open the video you want to invert and go to Video->Video Filters.
  3. In the window that opens, click the + sign at the bottom left and select Negative. Click Add.
  1. Back to the first window. Click the Save button that is next to the new line with your filter and give your filter a name.
  2. Done. From now, with any video you play in IIna, you just need to go to Video-> Saved Video Filters, and click your filter. Or you can define your own custom keyboard shortcut in the Filter window.
The same slide in inverted colors. The text is now blue on a black background.
The same slide in inverted colors. The text is now blue on a black background.

My deepest apologies to Dario Mantovani for the treatment I put him through, but I’m sure he’ll understand that I was more interested in being able to read his slides than to look at him during his lectures 😉

The Fujitsu ScanSnap v600: a Book and Magazine Scanner

A bad eyesight that’s getting worse make it so that I can’t read print anymore: black text on a white background is illegible for me.

“It’s easy, David,” you could say, “just open your ebook and put it in night mode”. You’re right, and it’s exactly what I’ve been doing for a long time—that or using an accessibility setting in macOS and Windows that allows one to invert the colours of the screen.

And it’s working great until one wishes to read a printed book.

Many older books are not available in digital format, even some recent books aren’t. Because the publisher consider these books are not worth being digitised, or because the publisher doesn’t like ebooks, or fears piracy. Whatever the reason it sucks.

What am I to do? Not read the book I want to read? No, thanks. I’d rather make my own ebook.

Work in progress: the partial scan of “A Grammar Book for You and Me” by Edward Good. It’s opened in PDF Expert, that has the option to display PDF in inverted colours. But it’s a standard PDF with white pages and dark text, as one can see in the thumbnails on the left

Enters the ScanSnap v600, a Fujitsu scanner optimised for books and magazines.

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Get the Most Out of Audible Without Spending a Fortune

Maybe It’s the child in me that loves being told stories, or it helps with my bad eyesight? Whatever the reason, I’ve always liked audiobooks, and I listen to them more and more.

Also, not being a native speaker I find it useful to listen to the audiobook while reading the ebook: it helps me to get an idea of how words sound, and even more important to get a better understanding of how sentences and paragraphs are constructed to convey rhythm.

For the last fifteen years or so I have mostly been purchasing my audiobooks from Audible. At first glance though, Audible looks very expensive with prices varying between a few bucks to $70 or more for a single audiobook. But that’s only at first glance.

Here is a recap of all you can do to get the most out of Audible without spending too much–and some titles suggestion to help you get started, if you need it.

This Special Edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is exactly the same as the standard edition I also own. Both beautifully narrated by Claire Danes but the Special Edition comes with a few cool bonuses: if you don’t already own the previous edition, get this one instead.

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