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Make a “Literary Clock” from a Jailbroken Kindle (instructables.com)
446 points by codesections on Aug 4, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments

"The Clock" is a 24 hour hour long movie made by Christian Marclay which contains thousands of film clips each with a clock somewhere in them, so that the whole thing keeps the right time. Whilst scanning for the time in text may be tricky, the work involved in finding those clips is unimaginable. Sadly copies are only held by few museums.

I heard there were attempts to stitch together a remake with all the same scenes by some torrent site users. Not sure how far they got or if they ever finished.

At some point, in order to finish the movie you can just release a few films just so you have a clock scene in them.

The amazing progress of image recognition over the last few years would vastly reduce the amount of work required. You would need to chain together a more generic object recognition network, and feed the results into another trained network to detect numerals. Analogue clocks might work better with more traditional geometric detection.

I actually adapted Jaaps work to a web version of the clock yesterday.


That's great! As a web app, if you have a Kindle Fire you can do the following:

1. Go to the SETTINGS area 2. Click on DEVICE OPTIONS 3. Triple-tap the SERIAL NUMBER option, towards the bottom of the screen. 4. The DEVELOPER OPTIONS will now be accessible. 5. Find the option labeled STAY AWAKE. Click on it to ENABLE.

The Kindle will now remain on while charging (a "clock" mode). Load the page in Silk - kindle browser and you're set.

This would probably be more work than it is worth, but it would be neat to have an option to take into account time differences between the location in the quoted story and the user's location.

For example, this quote is used for 8:19:

> I had arranged to meet the Occupational Health Officer at 10:30. I took the train from Watford Junction at 8.19 and arrived at London Euston seven minutes late, at 8.49.|The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim|Jonathan Coe

If the location aware option were enabled, it would give that to me at 1:19, not 8:19, because I'm in PDT (UTC-0700).

(Well, 1:19 if London is not also on daylight savings time. If they are, then I'd get it at 0:19. This is one of the reasons it is probably more work than it is worth. You'd not only have to have the location information for the quotes, you'd also have to deal with the rules for daylight savings time in multiple locations. This would be a pain in the ass).

Why would you do that? you want to see the quote for 8:19 at your 8:19 local time, otherwise it's not a very good clock.

I think it is meant to be an interesting clock, not a good clock in the timekeeping sense. There are many times that do not have an associated quote, so the time it shows if often off by several minutes.

If you just need a good clock, https://time.is/ is hard to beat.

I think it would be interesting to, say, look at the clock just before 5 PM, as I'm getting ready to knock off work and find something fun to do, to be told that it is five minutes to midnight at Hogwarts and Dumbledore is advising Hermione that three turns should do it.

I think it still wants to be a useful clock, i.e., you want to be able to see at a glance how late it is where you are now. That's actually why the current time is highlighted.

Although your idea also has some merit.

Thanks, used the JSON files to quickly script a console version. Now I have a kitty giving me a nice quote with the time every time I open a new terminal :)

Care to share?

Sorry, missed your reply.

Here you go: https://github.com/jimbauwens/literature-clock-console .

It's a very simple node.js application. If you don't like node.js the logic can be easily ported to any other language. I just didn't feel like parsing the data files with a shell script.

This could also make for a really cool chrome extension.

Very cool! Are there more than 2 quotes for each time? E.g., will tomorrow's 10:17AM quote be different to this morning's 10:17AM quote?

Some times have a lot of quotes (e.g. midnight and noon). In these cases the quote is selected at random. About a third of the minutes have no quote. The author of the Kindle project (Jaap) has fixed some of these by using a close vague quote (like 'around noon' for 11.57). The remaining missing minutes just use the closest earlier quote.

This is awesome.

For those of you that hobby with this stuff, what would be the most stone cold simple cheap way to get a machine that would output this page into a monitor continuously?

Like if I had an extra display lying around and wanted to make a little wall installation, what’s the most direct path, something like a raspberry pi?

You could send it the page via Chromecast.

Looks awesome!

The difference between the "time" and "non-time" font styling is more subtle here - when I changed #main_text to have color: gray, it became a bit easier for me to see the time.

You're right. It's better with a bit more contrast. I've lightend the main_text a bit.

Does this work on iPhone?

It only changed once for me.

Would be cool to fade between times so I can use an old iPhone as a clock.

Should work fine on iPhone. Maybe you were unlucky to visit it at a point with no quote for the following minute or two, causing the same quote to be repeated.

Ah, understood.

How many minutes don't have a quote?

536, so a bit more than a third.

Oh wow; that is significant.

It might be fun to make a Twitter version of this. Ie, select a random tweet that references the time (vs. a book quote).


I might use this for my smartwatch.

You should. Some of the paragraphs are quite long for a watch, though ;)

This is awesome! I dug up my old 2nd gen Kindle in the hopes of following along, and sadly the battery is busted :(

Instead, I'm currently in the process of making a macOS screen saver to replicate this!

I'm blogging my updates at http://jamesliu.io/posts/macos-screensaver/

GitHub repo: https://github.com/disposedtrolley/literary-screensaver

If you're lucky it will still run with USB power attached. Depending on where/how you want to set it up that should be an option.

I did the same with mine. When I found it again it was dead, but I left it laying on my desk with the USB cord attached (accidentally). When I dug it up again a couple days later it was up and running. It will shut down almost immediately when I unplug it.

It's displaying a rotation of various webcomics now.

Hmm I might have to give that a shot. Thanks!

YES! insta-star from me!


That's awesome! Up until now the only reason I have jailbroken every kindle I've owned is to have the screensaver be the book I'm reading rather than the dull preset ones. Finally I've found reason 2!

Had not even thought of that. I rooted mine so I can remotely drop books into it without having to go get it and plug it into my computers. Also, the ability to read epub files is really nice.

There is a send to kindle app [0] which has worked for every document I have ever tried and it works almost instantly. I use it a ton. It even works for epub books I have converted to mobi through calibre (doesn't work perfectly all the time but if you got some programming/hacking skills, you can make it work. I got a book that mobi kept trying to translate each paragraph into a separate page through a triple conversion from epub to single page html doc (then vim find/replace page breaks) and then to mobi).

[0]: https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle

You can email files to your kindle directly; although I just recently started using a kindle so I'm not sure if that's a new feature.

But there's a caveat: you lose the book cover in the process. I think Amazon does that intentionally.

I got my first Kindle in 2012 and it already worked then, so not particularly new.

I'd like to be the current page of the book I'm reading!

The screensaver hack allows you to do that.

Instructions? Was looking a few months ago to no avail

If you have a firmware 5 kindle (Touch, Paperwhite, Voyage, Oasis), see the screensavers hack thread on Mobileread:

> Dou you prefer to just show the last thing that was on screen, with an overlay indicating when the device's alseep? Just drop a blank file named last in the linkss folder. Restart your Kindle ([HOME] -> [MENU] > Settings -> [MENU] > Restart; or simply use the Screen Savers > Restart framework now button in KUAL), and you're done

from https://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=195474

Obviously make sure you read everything (really, everything, including all the tiny text, even if it doesn't seem relevant) before you start.

I.e. an option to disable the screensaver? :).

This is awesome. It would be cool to adapt the same idea to images which contain numbers (house numbers, highway exit signs, etc) like "1245" to represent 12:45. Since you've identified the number in the image, you could even blur the background slightly and add contrast between the image portion and background (since the numbers may only be a small part of the image).

Not very efficient, but a cool way of combining screensavers and clocks. Not sure how many "aesthetic" screensaver-quality images contain numbers though

E-readers are so cheap now that makes sense.

Years ago I built a little clock that displays "It's a little after 2". Ardunio-class CPU with a 2x24 character display. Looks dated now.

I'd like to build an e-ink unit that will run for a year on a battery.

Kindle-sized e-ink displays themselves are quite cheap and can be driven from a microcontroller:


...to do things that the huge expensive modules with builtin controllers can't, like more intensity levels:


Slightly related: A twitter bot telling the time using photos of Flavor Flav - https://twitter.com/flavorflavtime

A colleague of mine made a photo frame out of his Kindle, https://twitter.com/f2prateek/status/1003019245125451776

A friend of mine in college decided to make an LED clock for an EE project. Everyone else who decides to make an LED clock strives for accurate time. My friend decided that nobody needs time closer than quarter hour intervals. So that's all it displayed - it was highly accurate to within 15 minutes.

This is brilliant. If you panckaged this up as a product you could sell a tonne of pre orders on Kickstarter

Literally just saw this on the verge, nice project. Sadly I don't have an old kindle. I do have an old nook but I don't know if its possible to do the same with that

Nook is linux-based too IIRC. Should be possible to adapt the author's approach to the nook. You'd just need to root it using nook specific instructions.

Interesting! I might try that

Very cool. Don't have a broken Kindle, so I decided to make a Chrome new tab extension to display these!


I was expecting something more closely resembling a clock.

I suppose these days a clock doesn't necessarily resemble a grandfather clock and I get that most clock don't have arms any more but still...

That's cool! I was looking into doing a project that turned old Kindles into Meeting Room Booking Signage. Did anyone stumble upon previous work in that direction?

I made this: http://fluffyelephant.com/2015/12/reuse-my-ebook-reader/

It's not a kindle, but a Sony PRS-T1.

What I did was simple: Jailbreak it so I could get to the Android dev menu and disable sleep. Make a webpage with javascript that pulls in an image from yr.no (for weather) and gets xml from ruter.no (for subway times). Then just use the built in web browser and put it all in a frame to cover all the ugly parts and also covers the android status bar up top.

PS: If you just want a working meeting room booking system. We have these on the wall by every meeting room at work: https://www.evoko.se/products/evoko-room-manager/

Cool, I will look into this.

The pre-built systems all cater to larger orgs that have no qualms at spending thousands on this nice to have feature.

If I can't hack it for fun in a day on spare hw it's not worth it to me.

This is so cool! Just one ask: If you have gone through all these trouble, just make a GitHub repo to store your files so people can fork, contribute etc.

I've been building something similar with a Nook Simple Touch. They run Android 2.1, and you jailbreak them in a similar way.

Nice keep us updated, I've got one with a dodgy battery which is dying to be used for a project like this.

This is such a great, inventive idea. Would definitely like to have something akin to that as a screensaver, for example.

You can show the page http://jenevoldsen.com/literature-clock as a screensaver. Search for "show web page as screensaver".

I wonder whether someone made a boarding pass display out of these. Zoom will be tricky, I guess.

Is there a way to do something similar for a phone's lock screen background?

Or maybe even for a laptop

It is amazing that you throw away working and functional Kindles around when other parts of the world having one of those is extremelly expensive. Kudos for "America", where everything (I mean everything) is disposable.

This is so cool! Thanks for sharing.

Oh so cool this!!

I cant‘t open this page in a sane way, because I‘m from the EU.

Reading it now, from the EU. I had to scroll to the bottom of an opt-out pop-up and click okay, which wasn't too onerous.

Huh? Worked for me. "All no".

I'm in and from the EU, and had zero problems.

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