Sunday, December 26, 2010

“Daily” iPad Newspaper Set for January Launch

“Daily” iPad Newspaper Set for January Launch, article. will use lots of video and it will have cool multimedia bells and whistles, including some kind of 3-D effect that lots of people are very excited about...
Most important for other media companies: The Daily is supposed to use a new “push” subscription feature from Apple, where iTunes automatically bills customers on a weekly or monthly basis, and a new edition shows up on customers’ iPads every morning.

I think this is the first major newpaper/multimedia vehicle created from scratch for digital delivery. Kinda interesting, especially the price, 99 cents per week. Now that's a reasonable price.

I always find newspapers incredibly boring, I'm not interested in 98% of what they talk about. But this new format I find interesting, it could be used for so many kewl things.

By the way, when people say "ereaders", they tend to only think "books". I think that needs to change, much more reading is happening with magazines and newspapers. And a proper ereader needs to handle this speedily and well. And sorry, I don't think the Kindle does that, the iPad is the only thing for it so far. (Though I still think we need a bigger, but light-weight, iPad for a real immersive experience in this area.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

V-luxe, iPad "TV set"

I think this is a great example of the cool creativity one product can inspire for others.

When her campaign was young, I donated $50, and last week I got the iPad cover. I really like it, it's very rough and textured wool. (Recycled French army blankets.)

She tells me that along with the iPhone cover and purses, it'll be for sale soon on her site.

I might not get the V-luxe itself, it doesn't really fit in my more square and modern furniture style. A pity, for I think it's very cute and kewl.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dodocase for Kindle 3

One of the big iPad-related success stories of 2010 has been the Dodocase, a hand-made custom case for iPad.

Now they are making one for the Kindle 3 too. I confess I find it very charming. Almost makes me wish I was using the Kindle more, so I could justify buying it. (Durn the grey screen.)

Anyway, it will be very exciting to see where ereaders and tablets go in 2011.

  • What will the iPad 2 be like? 
  • Will there be other sizes of iPads? 
  • What will the Kindle 4 be like? Will it have color? Or at least a high-contrast screen? Will it finally have a touch screen?
  • What kinds of Android tablets will come out? Will some of them be mature and cool products? 
  • Will there be other tablets in high quality on other platforms too? 
  • Will producers handle the issue of accidentally-triggered buttons which haunt every device so far? (I think it could be done simply with buttons which require a real press instead of the merest touch, and not too big buttons either.)
  • Will anybody make readers and tablets which have a really good gripping area of a decent size and non-slip surface? 

Tap magazine

There is a new magazine about iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), called Tap.
I've just subscribed to it (you can find it in newstands in UK, or for the iOS devices here on Zinio), and it look really promising. It is clear that their intention is to do a good, professional job, not just a mercenary one, and that they will cover many serious apps, not just games. And they feature interviews and other in-depth content.

I am interested, because like the mag's editors and like I've said more than once, I believe that tablets and the iOS devices are not only a lot of fun, they also have many important and serious uses, and are in fact exemplary of the rise of perhaps the most important popular platform since the Personal Computer.

Heck, even considered just as e-readers they are important, and they can do a thousand more things than that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

iPad II rumor

iPad II rumor.
It sounds realistic. And it would be cool if it really comes already next month, although that's less realistic, they can sell millions Mark 1's before spring, which would be the normal upgrade schedule for Apple, a year.
I hope it's thinner and lighter.

But three millimeters smaller? I know a few case makers who will be p'd off about that one. :-)
Hmm, or maybe they'll be happy that all the upgraders will have to buy a new case?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Readers will be free

When people have said that ebooks will always be limited to "people who can afford the device", I have said things similar to those which reader Stephen A says in a comment on an earlier post:

Both decent e-book readers and tablets will be cheap (<$50) to free in a year. I purchased a Maylong-150 android tablet for $99 from Walgreens recently. While not as spectacular as the color Nook it is a perfectly good ebook reader which runs all android readers: aldiko, nook, kindle, and Borders, etc. as well as browsing and all the other functions of android. The Indian government has demoed a tablet with comparable capability for $35 with the aim to drive the price to $10-20. MIT Media Lab's OLPC program is targeting the $50 price point.
My prediction is that $50 android tablets will be ubiquitous by next year with free units available from cell providers and bookstores. This will change things radically both due to their omnipresence and due to the use of multiple tablets at a time.

Then I guess it will be time for those devices higher on the price scale to compete on quality and capabilities, might get interesting.

My neighboring electronics store is already giving away *laptops*! Free with a broadband contract. This is Currys, UK.

Readers will be free

When people have said that ebooks will always be limited to "people who can afford the device", I have said things similar to those which reader Stephen A says in a comment on an earlier post:

Both decent e-book readers and tablets will be cheap (<$50) to free in a year. I purchased a Maylong-150 android tablet for $99 from Walgreens recently. While not as spectacular as the color Nook it is a perfectly good ebook reader which runs all android readers: aldiko, nook, kindle, and Borders, etc. as well as browsing and all the other functions of android. The Indian government has demoed a tablet with comparable capability for $35 with the aim to drive the price to $10-20. MIT Media Lab's OLPC program is targeting the $50 price point.

My prediction is that $50 android tablets will be ubiquitous by next year with free units available from cell providers and bookstores. This will change things radically both due to their omnipresence and due to the use of multiple tablets at a time.

Then I guess it will be time for those devices higher on the price scale to compete on quality and capabilities, might get interesting.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We want user-control

Look at MegaReader, an app which gives easy access to over a million free books from various places around the web. That's cool in itself, but what I really like is that it also gives the reader choices of:

  • 23 fonts
  • Step-less choice of colors for text and background
  • Step-less choice of font size
  • Control of margin width
  • ... and so on

Now why don't we get that in the big fancy readers from Apple, Amazon, and B&N? Some of them only have one font, in four or six sizes, and one or two options for background. Do they think their customers are all sheep who get confused by too many choices? Or don't they have software engineers who can do this stuff? If it's the first one, that certainly goes against Microsoft's philosophy when making Windows 95 where you can customize everything, and Windows became omnipresent.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More new uses for iPad

Who would'a thunk?

Sure, it's pretty much just a toy, but many important developments and inventions started as "pretty much just a toy".

Another one: Art Authority, and app I've liked since the very beginning of the iPad. It's an app for browsing 50,000 of the world's famous paintings, and include much data about the paintings and painters.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New uses for iPad

I keep hearing of new uses for iPad. For instance, my friend who is an artist, wrote to me:

I had meant to say to you at the time, when I sent the cat image, that the reason the eyes looked so alive was because I had used my ipad to show me a photograph of a real cat, and was able to concentrate on the detail of how tones worked, where the shadows and highlights were, and whether they would be sharp or softened.
My extra new found use for the ipad is as an artists tool... if I want to know how feather barbs look in detail, load a photo, and sit my ipad next to me, and concentrate on the detail...!
The ipad is a wonderful thing, and it has quickly become an essential part of my daily life..!
I really don`t think that some people realise the potential.. and, I confess, I don`t either yet.. but I am learning..!

(Painting in progress)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Four portable keyboards for the iOS, comparison

What do you do when you're on the go and your inner touch-typing devil grabs hold of you, but the iPad/iPhone screen keyboard is just not your scene. Well, you must have an external one, of course. Sadly, there has not sprung up a scene for this like it has for iPad cases, but there are a few.

On my photo is an iPad in leather case/stand, and a Matias folding keyboard, and a Think Ouside portable keyboard, and a Freedom i-Connex foldable, and an Apple Wireless (non-foldable) keyboard. They all connect via bluetooth (Except the Matias, which is USB), for better and for worse. (Remember you must un-pair one divice before you can connect another.)

The Matias (who makes the best desktop keyboard I know, the Tactile Pro) foldable is reasonably priced at fifty bucks, but... it's just too big to be really portable in these times. (Notice there's a Mac and a Win version.) And the keys are a bit mushy, and it doesn't have a lock for lying flat.

The Think Outside (or I-go) is very small indeed, and very good for all of that. I find I can actually touch-type on it, despite my large hands. But it's out of production, and generally sells over $100. And it is kind of fiddly, multiple uses for each key and such. And it doesn't really lie flat on a table.

The Freedom i-Connex is a pretty new product (there's a couple very similar one, but I *think* this is the one I got), and I like it. It is full-size for touch-typing, and yet pretty compact when folded. I like the feel of the keys. There are some things to get used to, for example the distance to the right shift key is more than I'm used to, so I keep pressing arrow-up instead. But I think I can get used to it. It also comes with the nicest pouch of any of these.

The Apple Wireless is a simplistic design, and it's just gorgeous. It's even compact and light. Many people love this keyboard to bits, particularly women for some reason. But the key travel is very short, which some people don't care so much for. And of course it does not fold.

  • Matias: 444 grams
  • Apple Wireless: 333 grams
  • Freedom i-Connex: 261 grams
  • Think Outside: 178 grams
I think that my favorite so far is the Freedom i-Connex. It has a good compromise between size/weight and usability (it goes in a jacket pocket), it's not expensive, and it feels pretty good to my hands. I think with a little training I could get up to a good 'n comfortable speed on this one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pogue reviews color Nook

David Pogue, my ol' pal and NYT tech journalist, review the color Nook in a video on this page.  But you can view it in much better quality via iTunes.
(Hint: he likes it a ton better than the old B/W one, as I'd suspected.)

There's also an accompanying article with more detail.

I reeeeeeaaally wonder when Amazon, if ever, plans to introduce a color Kindle. I don't think they can keep their position without one.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google eBooks

Google has finally opened its long-rumored ebook store. This might be interesting. The other platforms are all proprietary, and you can't read an iBook book on a Sony reader or vice versa (though props to Amazon for reader apps on multiple platforms). I'm not sure what Google can do for openness, but at least so far they're promoting it.

The restrictions between countries are pretty damn severe. Google, who is promoting openness, here reveals that you not only can't buy books if you're an American customer who is outside the US, you can't even download books you already have bought! Apparently.
"For U.S. users traveling abroad: Before you head to the airport, be sure to load and sync the ebooks you wish to have with you for continued reading without interruption."

I think it's a bit different with Amazon. I have heard of people buying ebooks on their Amazon account while in Africa. But it's all a bit complex and puzzling for sure.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ten millionth iPad sold

Ten millionth iPad sold. In nine months.
"It's just an over-grown iPod Touch, who will want this?"...

Pocketbook. Confusing market

Wow, the eReader market really is confusing now. New devices are avalanching on our heads and prices are all over the map. For instance, when I see the 7-inch color screen Pocketbook Android device at $160, I must  wonder how much the Samsung Galaxy Tab can really have to justify over three times the price... ?

... The first differences which fell to my eyes were a lower screen resolution and a higher weight, for the Pocketbook. And indeed user reviews seem to agree, user zetareticuli saying:
"I agree with your observations. The display and the weight of the device are the biggest negatives. The quality of the display is below average and the device is heavy for a portable e-reader. I still think it is a pretty good deal for the money.

Yes, there's a surely a difference, but the price difference is the one which springs to mind.

But at the very least, this tells us that already in the very first year of color tablets, we are finding products priced under $200, and that is quite amazing. When the iPad came out in early 2010, everybody was shocked that it was priced so low as $500. (Indeed I still consider that a good deal, I'm just sayin', things are developing fast.)

Kindle gift books

The good news is that you now finally can give a kindle ebook as a gift. (The ebook itself, not the reader device.)
The bad news is that so far it seems to be limited to the US.

I don't know what happens if you gift an ebook to somebody who don't have a Kindle. Can you read it in the free Kindle app on your computer (or device), or do you have to get a Kindle? Anybody know?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SmashWords, pushing ebooks

On my main blog, readers have often recommended SmashWords as an excellent source of ebooks. Smashwords is a distributor, not a publisher, and they are growing rapidly. They sell ebooks through their own site, and also through Apple, Sony, and B&N. They expect Amazon also soon. I think it is interesting, both as reader and writer. Here is an interview with the founder. And here is their page about how they distribute, written for the authors.

We need a LARGE ereader (updated)

I have just realized something: with the battle this month being between the 6- or 7-inch ereaders and the 10-inch iPad, we don't think about it much, but for many uses, the iPad is actually not large enough.

I can just hope that somebody will judge it commercially viable, but personally I would buy a Super-iPad (or Galaxy Super-Tab or whatever) in a second.

I would say it should have high resolution. Not necessarily as high as the stunning 326 pixels per inch the iPhone 4 has, but rather higher than the current iPad. And it should be... I dunno, maybe 15 inches. (These measurements are the screen only, and diagonally, like usual for monitors.)

Why? Art books. And comics. Me, I love comics, but I just can't bear to read them on a screen where I have to zoom into the panels and navigate around on the page in order to read and enjoy the artwork properly. OK, the software helps with the navigation of panels, but... I am sure that a super-display would be a totally different experience with comics. And the same with art books, photo books, graphically rich text books, atlases, etc.

In fact, thinking about those categories, it becomes obvious that this is a much-needed product.
The problem of course is mainly two-fold, cost and weight. But given a little time and technology, both have a marked tendency to come down. (And as for weight, actually there are many art books published which are too large and heavy to read hand-held.)

I don't think any other company has the guts or vision to do this until Apple has done it first, so I really hope Apple makes one, and soonish.

(PS: as if the Universe was underlining my statement, the minute I had posted this one, I got the announcement of an iPad story-book based on the Kung Fu Panda movie. If you have seen the movie, it is spectacularly visually rich, and a picture book based on it really deserves a bigger screen.)

I almost forgot: if a larger tablet would gain a couple of features, like pressure sensitivity, it would become very strong competitors for design and art creation. And in fact for many, many forms of content creation. That actually, more than the reader aspect, practically guarantees the appearances of such devices, hopefully in a foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Readers in the wild

I went across the street today to the local junk electronics store, Curry's, to buy an iPod Nano for Jade for xmas. To my surprise, they not only had the Galaxy Tab on display, but also Sony's ereader, and at least two other brands (Samsung and... takamako...what's it called? It's not even on their site.). It seems ereaders for xmas is being taken very seriously by retailers.

It must say, some of the Sony machines are astoundingly small and light-weight. Go Sony! (Now go Sony and get out of this little proprietary format- and store cage you have locked yourself into.)

I really do love this new medium, and I can't wait to witness them getting better over the years. Just compare the new iPod Touch to the iPod 1st generation.
We have a good start, just look at this ridiculous spread.  (And typically, hardly two of them read the same format. Well, most read ePub. But the big gorilla, Kindle, does not. Crazy.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oddities of the Galaxy

I really like the Galaxy Tab as an ereader. Primarily because it's about the perfect size for it (as a compromise for portability), and has a way, way better screen than the Kindle 3.
But also it's a good machine. Nothing beats the iPad yet, but, well, I have to admit, it's a pretty good machine.

Here's a typical little oddity of computers though: this evening I wanted to turn the Rotation Lock off, so I could read a broad text sideways. But I couldn't remember where I had set the lock, and I couldn't find it *anywhere* in Settings!
I tried the Search function, but very "intelligently", this only searched the web, not the machine itself!
And of course there's no user guide or help system on it.  Well, none came with it, I have since found on online, a smallish PDF with the basics. Why haven't they at least loaded this PDF on the durn machine, with a shortcut to it somewhere?
I finally had to google around until I found a review which happened to mention where that damn setting was. It was in the "shortcuts panel" which one can drag down from the status bar which sits at the top of most screens, full of oblique symbols. Well, the problem is that this is the *only* place it sits. It's quick when you know where it is, but...

This is what's making David Pogue rich, and the rest of us frustrated: the lack of explanation for the very complicated gadgets which are supposed to make our lives easier.

It's worth it, though. I'm reading Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight on the Galaxy Tab,  and it's a pleasure.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tab and keyboards

Many people have problems connecting bluetooth keyboards to Samsung Galaxy Tabs.
I hear that Google says that Android is not yet really meant for tablets. I think that's a bit slow, the tablets have been coming for a long while now. But on the other hand, what marvels we'll surely see when it becomes so!! (That was only half sarcastic.)

Anyway, while I could not get the GT to work with the Apple Wireless keyboard, I did get it to work with the super-compact Think Outside foldable keyboard. Zippidy. The stealth writer lounges once more.

I got rubber grips (updated August 2011)

[Update 2015: Further on, I've found that often even better for a good grip is a simple strap, easy to make yourself.]

I've been, uhm, griping about grip surfaces (or the lack of good ones) on tablets and readers for months, and for almost as long, I have been searching for a good material to make my own. I have lost count of how many different solutions and materials I have bought and tried, but suffice it to say that none of them were all that good. (For example, electrician's tape made little difference. And plasti-dip paint is messy, and while it does make a bit of difference, it was not a lot. The latest was a roll of non-slip tape for floors, about $35! Perhaps robbery but sadly  not rubbery.)

But it seems I found just the thing finally. These self-adhesive rubber pads. (Called "Non-Slip Rubber Pad", sold by National Artcraft. I think they are not normally sold to the public, you get them 36 at a time, hand-packed in a plastic bag without print or labels. They were out of stock for a while, so git 'em now if you want them.)

As often happens, I had to import them from the US, and go via a re-shipper, because as also often happens, they won't or can't ship outside the USA. Good grief, a long trek just for some durn rubber pads. (They do ship the Waxman product overseas though.)

I just got them and did the job today, so it's too early to tell if they will stay on after much use (I think they will though), but one thing is for sure: it totally changed the experience of using and reading on my Samsung Galaxy Tab (see review below). My grip is now really secure with no effort at all. It feels great.

(Update: they don't stay well on the glass front, but stay nicely on the plastic back.)

It also protects the device to a degree, you can lay it down on any flat surface without any worries. 

Unlike most "rubber" materials, these pads actually are rubber. You can smell it. Your fingers may even smell a little bit of it after using the device. (Update: the effect lessens over time.)

Obviously you have to cut them to size. I did it just by eye, I'm sure one can achieve a more professional looking result by careful measuring and cutting. I recommend "washing" the device first with a damp cloth, damp from warm water with a tiny bit of dish liquid in it, and drying it with a soft, dry cloth.

I used six pads, and they are only $14 for thirty-six of them, so it's hardly an expensive solution neither. The Galaxy Tab is just the size of the Kindle 3.
The iPad has room for six, sitting neatly along each other. This makes for some little gaps, hardly a problem.

Update: It works just as well just putting a couple in strategic places. Also, I've found it aids the grip further if you fold up the middle of a pad to make a little ridge across it, the fingers rest well on that.

Warning: after sitting a couple of months, these pads are hard to take off, and leave a thick layer of glue which is labor-intensive to take off (even using lighter fluid). And some precisely-designed iPad  cases (like the gorgeous Grove case) won't take the iPad even with these slim pads on (exactly two milimeters thick), so I guess one should think twice, they are clearly designed to be pretty permanent.
[Note: re stickers removal etc, I've been recommended Goo Gone, from reviews it sounds great.]

Unusually, they seem to have a thin layer of glue, then a very thin layer of plastic, then a thick layer of glue, and then the rubber itself. Trying to remove them the thing is to get hold of the thin plastic layer, not easy. Sticking a knife under would help, but it would scratch the iPad. I found the best way is to peel off the rubber, and then roll in the edge of the thin plastic disc with your fingers until you get an edge you can grab hold off to peel it off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We need rubber grips

A little tidbit of advice to makers of readers/tablets: these things are difficult to hold because one is always likely to trigger some button or other. A good thing would be to make the buttons more distinct, harder to trigger by accident. Another good thing would be to make rubberized grip areas on the sides and the back. This would give you areas where you know you can hold without hitting buttons, and also it would give a much more secure grip. It would heighten the user-experience considerably.

Galaxy Tab, early review

Well, I got the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and I must say, it's very close to being what I had wished for: a Kindle 3 with a high-contrast screen. In fact it's almost exactly the size of the Kindle three, only a couple millimeters longer and thicker.
(Apparently those millimeters didn't suffice for the product to be able to support regular thumbnail-sized SD cards, you have to get Micro-SD cards.  Astounding.)

I'm still investigating the other things this small tablet can do (quite a lot, being a full Android machine), but I can say this: it's pretty close to being a perfect portable ereader. (I hope we will get two kinds of ereaders as the years go: this size for portable, and big ones 10-12-inch screens) for home reading and serious study, for art books, for complex pages, etc.)

But what were they thinking with the price?? $600? It's definitely not $100 more worthy than the iPad. In fact, the iPad's screen size is a definite plus (though not essential like Jobs claim). I'd say maybe $100 less than the iPad. Which would give us $400, more reasonable. And sell it for $300 in half a year, you have something.

The screen is great for reading.
I only wish the various reading apps gave us finer steps in regulating text size. For me it's pretty important to find the exact size which is the optimum compromise between readability and how often I have to change the page. But other than that, for instance Amazon's Kindle app  is mighty fine.

Another small wish is a bit more shaved off the weight. The Galaxy Tab is 400 grams. The Kindle 3 is 250 grams, which is wonderful.

I'm missing a good app for reading Instapaper articles (Instapaper saves web articles in readable format, to read later on a portable device), those I've found so far are not optimized for the big screen, only for phones. But it's not bad for web browsing at all. And it's excellent for RSS (web page feed) with Greader for example. In other words, one of the best compact ereading devices we have so far, methinks. If you can afford to pay Rolls-Royce prices for a Mercedes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

iPad OS 4.2, finally

Finally! Half a year after these features appeared on the iPhone 4, the iPad will now get sort-of-multitasking, folders for apps, and so on. 'Cuz iOS 4.02 has just been released.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

iPad Tutorial: How to read your old (non-ePub) ebooks using iBooks

How to read your old (non-ePub) ebooks using iBooks, iPad Tutorial

The app "calibre" (Mac only?) is pretty amazing.  It will even fetch news from all kinds of web sites, format them in iPub, and transfer it automatically to iBooks in your iPad! Very nicely formatted too, readable and with chapters and links.
If your favorite web site is missing from the list, somebody on the mobileread forum can probably mix you up a "recipe" for it! I had it done for The Online Photographer amongst others. Highly useful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dell Streak download issues

Now my Dell Streak will not download at all from the Market (app store). It's incredibly frustrating. And not at all uncommon, a Google search gives nearly 22,000 results!

I've rebooted of course, no joy. And so far I've not found any help.

It's a pity, for otherwise this five-inch device is not a bad pocket-sized ereader.

Hurrah! I found the solution here. (It's not "options" though, it's "settings", in the menu from the home page.)
But I have to say that it's a really poor show that an update to the Market app will block downloading...

I even found an app (Hard Copy) which will let me read my Instapaper articles on the Dell, kewl. (Although it seems to have no options for changing text size, quite a disadvantage which I'm inquiring about.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Galaxy Tab review (updated)

Galaxy Tab review.

"The grippier casing comes into its own when you’re using the Galaxy Tab for ebook reading, and indeed Verizon preinstall Amazon’s Kindle app which works well on the 7-inch display. At 1024 x 600 across a smaller panel than the iPad’s 1024 x 768 resolution, the Samsung actually has a higher pixel density; that adds up to crisper text. The Tab is also light enough to comfortably hold one-handed above your head, such as when lying in bed, whereas the metal and glass iPad soon gets tiring."

And, ooh, the web browser apparently has text re-flow (text fits to the window) when you zoom in! Apple, may we pleeease have this in safari?!

Like the Dell Streak (and probably all Android devices), the Galaxy Tab has not just a Home button, but also a Menu button, and a Back and a Search buttons. Search button I can live without, but the Back button is very practical to get back to the last app, and I think especially that Jobs super-minimalism is again a little overdone in not having a Menu button on the iPad, for it is really good to have. On the iPad, you often have to search around on the screen to find where in the interface the app producer has decided to stick a menu for preferences and so on. Granted, it might also have been made simpler with a standard for where the menus are, but I think a simple menu button would work great.

It seems the GT will work with a bluetooth keyboard. That's good news for writers who like a very compact word processor on the go. A fold-able keyboard (under 200 grams) and an iPhone works well, I have used it, but that screen is a bit on the small side. An iPad instead is great but adds quite a bit of weight. I think a machine like this GT is a very nice compromise.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kindle app for Android

Through Kindle Chronicles I just found out that the newest version of the Kindle app for Android has a search feature where you just speak the term you want. Pretty cool, I like how fast this technology is growing in usefulness. (Maybe I'll get the galaxy tab anyway despite the shameless price.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It’s a Tablet. It’s Gorgeous. It’s Costly.

It’s a Tablet. It’s Gorgeous. It’s Costly. NYT review of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab.
It's good, but most Android apps are made for small screens, and then it's just too expensive. It cost more than an iPad for lord's sake. I think you have to be very anti-Apple to think that's a good deal.

If not for this, I might have been tempted to try it as an ereader, for it's very light and have a good size (7-inch screen on a device the size of a Kindle3). And I guess that unlike Nook Color it will run the Kindle app.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Color epaper is coming

Color Comes to E Ink Screens, NYT article.
[Note: I think NYT is one of the places it's worth it to sign up (free), they have many good articles. (One can make an extra "throw-away" email address just for such things.)]

Can't wait to see it in the wild. How's the contrast? How's the speed?

"However, the new color E Ink display, while an important technological breakthrough, is not as sharp and colorful as LCD. Unlike an LCD screen, the colors are muted, as if one were looking at a faded color photograph. In addition, E Ink cannot handle full-motion video. At best, it can show simple animations."

If the colors are muted, I guess the contrast is not much better either. And so far they're pretty expensive, couple hundred bucks over a cheap LCD.

Oooh, bad news about the contrast:
"To create the color image, E Ink uses its standard black-and-white display overlaid with a color filter. As a result, battery life is the same as its black-and-white cousins, measured in weeks rather than hours, as with the iPad. The color model from Hanvon can be easily read in bright light, although the color filter does reduce the brightness."

No good. I thought they would start to use little colored balls instead of little b/w balls. A filter on top of the already dull b/w epaper screen, I don't care for.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paper is clumsy

I'm listening to a good and entertaining podcast, Kindle Women, and in an old episode one of the girls told about how, after a couple of years of reading all her books on a Kindle, she read a hardcover book, and she found she could hardly do it anymore, it's so clumsy and inconvenient. "How come I never noticed that when I used to read these things?" she mused.

That might not be the important question, but I think it's just that she had no other experience and no alternative. Now we have, ereaders. And they are just starting to become good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Steve Jobs on a 7-inch tablet

Steve Jobs has sadly almost crushed hope for a 7-inch iPad, when he said: "One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent of the benefits of a 10-inch screen," Jobs said during the call. "This is far from the truth: 7-inch screens are 45 percent as large as an iPad...this size isn't sufficient for making great tablet apps."

Well, apart from Steve's many famous 180-turn-arounds*, this is complex, innit? For example, if a 7-inch iPad were to have the same amount of pixels as the ten-incher, it might have almost the same value, at least for those with good eyes and slim fingers, no?

Also, to follow Steve's math: an iPhone has only 1/8 the area of the iPad. Does Steve really believe that the iPhone is only 1/8 as good as the iPad? If so, why did he put the phone in the forefront several years ago when they were actually working on a tablet first? And why does it cost about the same as an iPad? (In fact I think that's a good question. Why is it more than twice the price of an iPod Touch? The Touch has almost all the features.)

To be honest, the essence for me is getting a 350-gram iPad (12.5 oz). 7-inch or 10-inch, no biggie. But yeah, bigger screen is better, if not for the durn weight when it's a hand-held device.

*And these examples don't even include my favorite: the the original "lamp" iMac, the first flat-panel iPad, when it came out he said that the reason they had separated the screen from the processor and disk and drive, was that the latter do not work well in a vertical position, so they'd decided to "let each unit be what it wanted to be". Woopsy, two years later, we have a slab iMac with all the drives vertical! Whuhapp'ned?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Publishing today

Post about books and publishing on my main blog.

Ipad respect-explosion

After I had absorbed what the iPad was (about when Steve was done talking about it in his intro in January 2010) I was in no doubt at all that it would be a big hit.
But it's shocking just how big a hit it is. It is the fasted-expanding consumer-device in history! It is met with enthusiasm from toddlers over university students over pros over artist, and to 100-year-old users.
And now it is also being strongly recommended by one of the most prestigious business-consulting firms in the world. Don't think I've seen anything like it.
Noting that chief executives are usually not directly involved in deploying electronics in their company, Gartner this week recommended that CEOs should treat Apple’s iPad as an "exception," or risk being left behind.
Gartner believes that the iPad will "disrupt" technology use, as well as business models, in the corporate world. It has advised CEOs to ensure that the iPad is being "seriously evaluated" within their company.

Dang. This is exceptional to the Nth degree.

The only thing more unbelievable than the continued growth of Apple's success in the past decade is the growth of the use of vampires in popular culture. Every year I think: "amazing, it must have peaked now," and every year it grows again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kindle's grey screen, and keyboard

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I would use my Kindle a lot more if the screen was not so dang grey.

It just strikes me: I read so much about the Kindle, but hardly anybody ever mentions this. But to me it's such an important flaw. To me it's like a fabulous million-dollar car that can't go above 20 miles per hour. 
I need such bright light to read on the Kindle, and even then it's not really a pleasure.
So I use my iPad a lot more. It also has the great additional advantages of easily being able to read all kinds of Net-delivered content, including web pages. But it's so heavy.
OK, I'm repeating myself. I'm sorry. But it's just: why does this not bother everybody?

Admission: when the Kindle 3 came out, I was very enthusiastic about it, because it had improved speed and yes, a little better screen contrast. But after a few weeks, well, I just sort of "fell off it" again. The improvement was simply not big enough.

I wonder if e-paper will improve drastically soon.
I can live without color for most reading. And I don't need snow-white for the background. That's actually too much. A light grey is perfect for reading, in my view. Good contrast, but not so much brightness that it is way over the surrounding environment.

Oh, while we are wishing: the Kindle's keyboard is not great. You have to really peck at it to use it. Sony Reader now has a touch screen which no longer hurts the contrast of the screen like on earlier SR models. The Kindle would be much more useful with this, and an on-screen keyboard for the odd time when you need to do a search or whatever. This could also make the screen larger without making the device larger.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bags for small machines

I made a video about fitting the iPad and the new 11-inch MacBook Air into bags from Waterfield.

MacBook Air 11-inch in Waterfield bags from Eolake Stobblehouse on Vimeo.
It fits in the Waterfield ( iPad Wallet, and in the 10-inch Muzetto bag, even with the thickest sleeve case.
This video was made when staff at Waterfield Design asked for a photo of how the 11-incher could fit into the iPad Wallet and Muzetto. I thought a video would give a better feel for it.

They are wonderful bags, by the way, best "look and feel" I ever bought.
Same goes for the 11-inch Airbook: *Nothing* slow about it, full sized keeboard, high-rez screen, but only weighs one kilo. This is a portable like portables should always have been made.

In the Muzetto 10-inch bag, I can fit an iPad, the 11-inch Airbook in the "heavy duty" Sleeve, *and* an Apple Wireless Keyboard, all at the same time (plus a few small/thin items)!
In the iPad Wallet bag, I can fit the same, only without the big sleeve.

Palm Your iPad with a Hand-e-holder

Palm Your iPad with a Hand-e-holder, TidBITS article.
Seems quite useful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The eyestrain debate

The eyestrain debate, article.
So far there doesn't seem to be a lot solid evidence that LCD screens are more straining for the eyes than e-paper. I never saw the logic behind it anyway. The light hitting your eyes is just light, how can the eye know if it's reflected or projected?

Contrast might do it, so I think one should take care not to use too bright a white background. (I use light grey when I can.)

Also flickering might create a problem, but so far as I know, unlike old CRT displays, LCD does not have an issue with that.

One thing with eye strain is to remember to blink often. One sometimes forget while reading or working.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cruz Reader

Thanks to TCGirl for pointing to the Cruz Reader, shipping now and seems to be a very interesting alternative to the Nook Color. It's even a full Android tablet, which should mean that unlike the Nook, it should be able to run the Kindle app, letting you read Kindle books on a slightly bigger screen with color and higher contrast. (You can already do that on iPad, but it's heavier and more expensive, though it has a near-ten-inch screen.)
Update: wait... it has access to the "Cruz Market", not the regular Android free Market. Ten bucks says you can't get the Kindle reader there. Durnit! 
Nope, confirmed here. Per the video lower on the page, it seems the processor and touch screen (a "resistive" type) is not so bad for the price. 

The Cruz Reader has a 7-inch screen and weighs 450 grams like the Nook Color.  And it's only two hunnert bucks, well cheaper than the much smaller 5-inch Dell Streak, which is seriously over-priced at $549(!).
The Cruz handles email, which it seems the Nook can't do. Apparently you can't produce/create anything *into* a Nook Color.
(BTW, I sure hope that the ultra-delayed Android Market (app store) downloads I've seen on the Streak (up to days!) is not universal.)

I found a video.
It seems a little slow, like on page turning. That's not so cool, considering it does not have to wait for e-paper to change.

It seems like every reaction takes the better part of a second, surely way slower than an iPad (or the Dell Streak).
It also seems that he has to be careful to press very distinctly on the screen to get a reaction. The iPad is great that way, you literally barely have to touch it for it to react. You just dance over the screen rather than slog through tasks.

The Cruz Tablet seems more responsive, but it has less pixels and is $100 more.  Velocity says on YouTube, about this, in a comment/answer: "The Tablet has a faster processor, more storage, and a capacitive touch screen." It's a pity about the smaller screen though.

Wow, I can tell we will see many, many cheap Android tablets, look at this "Fujian Sanxi" 7-incher, might sell for only $150, it's Asian it seems. YouTube review. Producer's site (a bit confusing). It's only 250 grams like the Kindle 3! Kewl.
One thing is for sure, during the next year, the small-tablet market is going to take off like gangbusters. Right now there is also the Augen Reader and Augen Tablet, respectively for $99 and $149 through K-Mart. They are not getting great reviews, though, and neither is the Pandigital Novel.
I might add that if Apple were to make an iPad at 400 grams (either 7 or 9 inches), I would probably not bother to look at any other brands, that is such a great product apart from weight for hand-held reading.

Beachmere Inn

Here's an excellent idea: the Beachmere Inn in Maine is loaning out Kindles to their guests for free.
Thanks to the Kindle Chronicles for their interview with the owner.

Very smart idea to get a logo sticker made for the nice leather case. 


Post on my other blog: Shelfari, book community.

When is paper gone?

I just stumbled over this photo, and the thought struck me: when and who will be the first generation growing up for whom paper and paper-books are unusual and foreign objects? Those born in ten years? Twenty? Thirty? I'm putting a hunnert bucks on twenty, though I wouldn't be terribly surprised if even ten is a good bet.

It's funny how it's a scary thought to us that something which is so intimately familiar to us might one day no longer be around very much. Quite irrational, but very real. The reality combined with the irrationality makes many people substitute anger for fear and attack with angry claims that of course that is impossible, can never happen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A new Nook in color (updated)

How about a Kindle with color screen? Yes please!!
Well, sorry, not yet anyway. But the color Nook just came out! (Nook Color home page.)

I like this from the article: "Looking more like a tablet, but focused specifically on reading..." 
I am sure there must be many people like me, who loves their iPad, and it's main function is as an eReader, although I should say that I include web articles in this, something the Kindle is weak at.
The Nook Color will read to you, which on the other hand is something the iPad is weak at, at least yet (you can get it to do it, but it changes the whole user interface experience for the worse, because it's part of the interface for the sight disabled). 

The color Nook has a 7-inch screen (the Kindle's is 6") and weighs about 450 grams (one pound) (that's about 200 grams less than iPad, and about 200 grams more than Kindle 3*). It's also half the price of an iPad (though not in the same class I'm sure) at $250.  I really want one, but I strongly suspect that I can't even buy books for it, since B&N refuse to sell me books on the web because I'm an "alien" (not American). They are so keen on this policy that even using an American name and credit card, they detected I was abroad and refused my money!

I am frankly a bit surprised that B&N beat Amazon to it when it came to a color screen reader. Amazon can't be so naƮve that they don't realize how much color means to many people. Just try and go out and buy a black-and-white TV or computer monitor today!

*Yes, the Kindle 3 is really only 250 grams (8.8oz), this is delightful and an outstanding accomplishment, I don't think any other reader so far comes close [Update: I was wrong, the new version of Sony Reader is actually even smaller and lighter].  I have heard that many elderly people greatly appreciates this, since many of today's books are quite heavy tomes and get heavy to hold. Heck, this is true even for healthy young people, I have cut up many a paperback in two or three parts (along the back of course!) just so it would be easy to hold when reading in bed. Bibliofiles shudder at this, but I say: "love the content, not the form" (hey that's good, that should be this blog's motto... done). And you can always buy a second copy for your shelf, I'm sure the author won't mind...

This article has an interesting point:
"If B&N allowed its customers to actually use the devices they'd purchased the way they wanted to use them, some of them would immediately download Amazon's Kindle application for Android devices. And then, duh, they'd buy e-books from Amazon instead of B&N.
This policy won't last in the real world even if Barnes & Noble sticks by its decision. The gadget hacker community that has jailbroken Apple's locked-down iPhone has done something similar with Android phones that mobile carriers have brazenly crippled for their commercial advantage. So I give it a few weeks after the scheduled mid-November Nook Color release before our friends in the gadget-jailbreaking world give us a way to unlock that device, too."

Hmm, hmmm... if this happens so, it might actually be the solution to B&N refusing to sell ebooks to us forriners... we could read our Kindle library on it instead. It might even be good to not get one's library spread over too many proprietary systems.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kindle Singles

Amazon had a great idea, Kindle Singles (link goes to an article, oddly, there does not seem to be any Amazon page for this) (honestly I think this is a strange way to do things), which takes advantage of the fact that ebooks are freed from the traditions of length which came with the paper format.
They are even taking submissions. The "singles" will be books with a length between long articles and short books (something like 10,000 to 30,000 words), and will of course be cheaper than ordinary books.

"'Ideas and the words to deliver them should be crafted to their natural length, not to an artificial marketing length that justifies a particular price or a certain format,' said Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti. 'The costs of print production, marketing and distribution have historically driven the page-counts of book monographs up and the word-counts of magazine and newspaper articles down'."

The Ars Technica article about this comments: "Anyone who has ever read a terrible "business" or "self-help" book consisting of a single idea furiously puffed up into 200 pages of pabulum will no doubt agree with this sentiment."
Yep, no kidding. A great many books could be reduced to article length with hardly any loss.
... Aaaaaand of course, some people's immediate reaction is to use the idea the opposite way: They take their existing business book, on Sales of course, and sell each chapter as a book! Oh, come on.

By the way, read this Engadget post on the subject. Man. "If I sound really sarcastic about everything, everybody will think I'm so smart".

Kindle Chronicles

I warmly recommend the (blog and) podcast the Kindle Chronicles by Len Edgerly. It's highly professionally done, like a good radio program rather than a podcast (which, let's face it, very few people make any money from).

And by the way, I've taken a Paypal subscription to support it. In recognition of the content normally being free, they have set very cheap levels of subscriptions, although I missed a $2/month option in between the 1 and 4 dollar ones.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Notion Ink's Adam tablet

This article is getting old, and one wonders if and when the product will actually appear, but at least one thing interests me: the screen can function both as a backlit LCD screen, and a non-backlit screen in bright light, meaning it could be used in daylight unlike other LCDs. That would be the best of both worlds, if they can manage to show good quality in both modes.

Lendable ebooks on Kindle

"Select" Kindle ebooks will become lendable soon, though with many restrictions. I think the dumb one is the 14 days limit. You rarely have such hard limits when borrowing a paper book from a friend. It also seems each book can only be lend out once.

Kindle books outselling print 2 to 1 for Amazon's top 10 bestsellers

Kindle books outselling print 2 to 1 for Amazon's top 10 bestsellers, article.

That's astounding. I was always very optimistic about ebooks, but the speed this change is happening at right now is unbelievable. I would say that this says "done deal" to those who doubted that ebooks would ever overtake "real books". Sure, this is hardly global statistics, but it's a store and a selection which is very indicative of the way things are going.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cursor positioning? Hard?

I just made a little post about a leap forward in ease of cursor positioning. Joy.

20 iPad competitors

It's hard to overview the exploding tablet market, but this article, 
20 iPad competitors, makes a brief attempt.

Apple's influence is remarkable. One gets the feeling that if tomorrow they launched a pocket ashtray with wi-fi, by next month, 20 competing products would be announced too.

But of course, it's not because it's Apple. For example their Cube computer from 2000 failed in the market and was not imitated. It's when they do something spectacularly right like with iPhone, iPod, or iPad, that those explosions happen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

iPad technology propagating

Apple says that some of the technology in the new generation MacBook Air comes from the iPad. This is my article about quality based on it, and here is the keynote speech with Steve Jobs.

Steve said it is what would happen if an iPad and a MacBook "hooked up". 

I'm impressed with the smaller version, the 11-inch MacBook Air. It's not a heck of a lot bigger/heavier than the iPad (1 kilo vs 680 grams), but it has a full sized physical keyboard built in, and has rather more power and flexibility (it runs a full OS X Snow Leopard after all). Very impressive. The downsides are less battery life, and loss of the attractive simplicity which has helped the iPad being such a huge hit.

Despite that, I would say that at just around one kilo (2.3 pounds) [Thanks to Anon for correcting me there], it can be used as an ereader device in many situations (it runs a Kindle app for example), and it will probably fit well in airplane seats, which has been another situation where iPads have sprung in.

I'm not replacing anything, I fully intend on keeping both, and get double the joy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another iPad/Kindle comparison

A busy site (many updates at least) is GoodeReader. They get a lot of info out about new devices. I'm glad we have sites servicing the desire for information about ereading devices.

I have respect for these guys, it's clear that they are very sincere about what they do. But about their iPad/Kindle comparison, I do have a couple of protests:

1: They say correctly that the iPad is too heavy for one-handed use for long. Yep, weight (680 grams) is an issue with the iPad. But then they also say that the Kindle weighs "next to nothing". This would be true if he was holding a Kindle 3, which is amazingly light (290 grams), but he is actually reviewing a Kindle Dx, and it is a lot heavier (530 grams).

2: They say that the Kindle has better screen contrast than the iPad. While it's true the Kindle is the right choice if you have lots of light, like direct sun, I am puzzled by this statement, since the low contrast (grey background) of the Kindle is one of the main reasons I'm not using any of my four Kindles all that much despite the delightful low weight of the Kindle 3. (Update Jan 2013: the Kindle Paperwhite has solved the problem of the dark screen. It's a great device for long form reading.)

3: They say that the Kindle's physical keyboard is easier to use than the iPad's virtual one. But you will notice that on the iPad he is actually typing, while on the Kindle he is just waving his fingers in the air above the keyboard to symbolize how easy and fast it is to use. In fact it's not. Unlike some people I'm not a huge fan of the iPad glass keyboard, but the Kindle's is not great either. You simply can't type fast and use several fingers. The keys are very small and a bit hard to push, and you have to use one finger and push one key at a time, very deliberately.

4: They say that the iPad can be distracting from reading because of all the things it can do. Very true! But he claims that the iPad will distract you in the middle of reading with a popup saying "you have mail". I don't know what kind of email client he is using on his iPad, but I have never, ever had a "popup" like that when using the iPad.  Also, if you don't want to be distracted, don't use the email app on the iPad, it's simple, and don't buy any apps which may distract you.

5: They say that the book selection is much bigger for the Kindle store than in the iBooks store. True, but if you get the (free) Kindle app for the iPad, then on your iPad you will have the Kindle selection plus the iBooks selection, plus various kinds of reading which you there are no apps for on the Kindle. (Other ebook apps, RSS feed readers, and so on.)

6: They say that the Kindle store book selection is not different depending on which country you are in. This is  not true. While I have not had problems myself, I have heard about people who can't buy the books they want on the Kindle store because the particular book they wanted can only be sold to people on US ground.

7: I agree with his positive review of the new William Gibson book Zero History, but I notice that the only book they have on the Kindle Dx is the dictionary... I wonder how much they have really used this device?       :-)

8: They say correctly that both devices can surf the web. But I wonder if they have really tried it much on the Kindle? It is a very, very, slow and patience-testing experience. I would only use it if I really had to, and had no other device near. Seriously, page-loading, and particularly navigation, is painfully slow on the Kindle.

My own sum-up comparison is that the iPad is far more flexible, much faster, and has a much better screen (and color). And it's a multi-purpose device.  The Kindle is lighter, cheaper, and can be used in sunlight. It's only meant for reading, which will be an advantage for some, not for others.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wall mounts

Two solutions for wall-mounting iPads: Wallee and PadTab. The latter is smaller, cheaper, and does not require tools to mount or any holes in the walls. I've ordered it for my book-holder by my bed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cheap tablets

I find it interesting and very promising that some can already sell a seven-inch (Android) tablet for only $150!
Of course it's not as good as an iPad! But if they can sell a poor one for $150 now, they can sell a better one next year, and a really good one in two years. Just look at cameras. You can buy a really good digicam now for $200. Or if you have an iPod 4, you already have a really good one.

Tip for podcasts, and the confusing iTunes

Except for those pod- or videocasts which you plan to enjoy on the go, meaning outside of hotspots, it is often just as easy to listen or watch "live" in iTunes on your iPad or iPhone, rather than first download, and then remembering to sync when there are new ones. You save both time and disk space.

I don't think a regular iPod can do this, though, they have to go through iTunes, the app, not the store.

And talking about that, man, Apple has really painted themselves into a corner. What is iTunes? Well, it's a web site. No, it's not, it is a music playing app for Mac and PC. No, it's not, it's an online store, unconnected to the web. It sells music. It also sells video/TV/Movies. No no, it's a distribution system for free university lectures. No, wait, it's a book store. But only for audio books, for ebooks you have to use the iBooks store. But wait, the iBooks store is clearly also the iTunes store, you use the same login and the same system!

And the "iTunes" app on iPad has a completely different function from the "iTunes" app on Mac/PC. The function which iTunes has on the desktop (playing music) is called the "iPod" app on an iPad! On the iPad, iTunes is an online store.

And if that's not confusing enough, iPad also has a "Videos" app which, well, plays videos. But why did they not just combine this with the iTunes (or iPod?) app like on the other devices? There are also videos on the iPod app. So which videos turn up in the iPod app and which in the Video app? I don't know. Some even turn up on both!

And by the way, why can't we delete the Apple apps which we never use, like the useless "Notes"? (Only one font, and it's illegible.) They just sit there and fill up space and make it harder to find the apps you do use.

Geeeeeez.  Apple is like a beatiful, beloved girlfriend, whom you wouldn't be without, but who you sometimes just want to bend over a chair and give the quarter-inch rattan switch.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I made a wallpaper

I made a fun wallpaper.

Ihnatko's iPad-only trip

Unfrozen Caveman Restauranteur, article.
"This is a bit of a historic trip: it’s the first one in which I’m using the iPad as my sole computer. It’s working out swimmingly, just as I thought it would. I even had a new iPad doubleplus love moment."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


If you have trouble on the iPad reading PDFs because of too long or too short text lines, I recommend GoodReader, which now can reflow the text to fill the screen, and lets you set exactly the font, size, and color you prefer. Excellent.

(I've recommended to the developers, though, that while no margins might be a good idea on the iPhone because of the small screen, on the iPad it's not, there should be margins to aid readability. I hope they take my advice.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bags/sleeves (updated)

Highly promising line of bags/sleeves for Kindle and iPad (and other things).
15 October, I have just updated that post. 

Tips & Tricks iPad Secrets by Jon Bonnick et al

Tips & Tricks iPad Secrets by Jon Bonnick et al, e-book or app.

I recommend it. The chapter on the iPad keyboard alone has taught me a host of things I had no idea the iPad keyboard could do. And it's simple to read for us with modern short attention spans: one simple tip per page.

(By the way, why can't we buy Apple-published ebooks in iTunes? All the other content for iPad can be bought there, but iBooks ebooks only on the iPad itself. Worse yet, iBooks is clearly already part of iTunes Store, since you buy with that account, so there seems to be no reason you couldn't buy via your desktop computer too. And like this, there is no way you can link to a book, which is silly.)

Interestingly, the ebook version of this collection of tips costs only two dollars, unusually cheap for an ebook, while the iPad app version of it with the same content is even cheaper at only one dollar! Like I said before, perhaps Apple or somebody has gone too far in suppressing the prices of iOS apps. Normally I complain that ebooks are too expensive at $15, but this may be going too far in the other direction.  I think that if a book (by definition more than a pamphlet) has any value, then surely it must be more than a dollar. I'd say five bucks for a smaller book, ten for a normal book might be reasonable. For books of extraordinary size or value, maybe fifteen for a volume.

By the way, for the authors of this book I would comment that the title is too generic. There are so many, many books with names including the words tips, tricks, and secrets, that it makes it harder to spot this book in the forrest either when searching or browsing. Also, while the ebook version is really nicely layouted ("laid out"?), in the iPad app version it looks like it has been blown up from an iPhone app, so the text is unattractively large.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jane Goodall and iPad

Jane Goodall, chimpanzee scientist, enjoying her iPad on the train. Photo by Michael Aisner.

BTW, I have just read that the speed of acceptance of the iPad into society is the highest ever for any electronic device! Don't want to brag, but I saw it coming. It's why I ordered mine minutes after it was released, I was certain they would have trouble keeping up with demand for a few months.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More wallpapers

iPad forums has some good wallpapers too.

(Notice how these two are good examples of art with a low tone-range, which will not clash with the icons on the iPad.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

E-paper's future?

I wonder if there will ever be, within, say ten years, a non-backlit display technology in broad use which will have contrast and colors comparable to print on paper, or even close? It seems hard to imagine when you look at a Kindle now, but then an iPhone was hard to imagine in 1995.

I don't know why e-paper is so damn grey. You would think that the hard part was making millions of miniscule plastic balls spin to position exactly like you want them, not to make them white!       :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Paper magazines on screen

As the post developed on my other blog, I started realizing it might better have fitted on this blog. Well, no big deal, you can just take a single skip to go there and enjoy my experience with digital subscriptions to paper magazines.

Cheat sheet: I think we have a very good start in many areas already, and not even a year has passed since the first popular tablet hit shelves. Hot diggity.

Hard to find iPad wallpapers

It's not so easy as you might think to find good iPad wallpapers. Because most of them are just too colorful or complicated. They don't consider that they will have to support the icons too.
Here are a few good ones.
Tell me if you know others.

I like abstract things and simple things. Even some photos can be abstract. The picture above is actually a photo! Of a graffiti.

The iPad never sleeps (really)

From emperical evidence, I have established that the "sleep button" on the iPad does not actually put the device to sleep, but merely turns off the screen. Possibly this is also true for other iOS devices.

Item one: if an iPad is paired with a bluetooth keyboard, another iPad/iPhone can't use that keyboard, even if the first iPad is "asleep"!

Item two: if an app, say just a clock app, is running when you hit the "sleep button", the battery drains much faster than if no app had been running.

Item three: an app which had been running when you put the iPad "to sleep"  does not boot up when you press the "sleep button" again, it merely is still running, and since we don't yet have iOS 4.2 with multitasking for iPad, this can only mean it's been running the whole time.

Item four: the iPod app keeps playing on the iPad after the device "goes to sleep". 

See illustration, they call it "sleep", not "screen off".

I think this is very odd, and I don't know why Apple has chosen to do it this way and to call the button something it is not. But it's good to know it, so you'll know to save battery power by leaving nothing running when turning off the screen. And if it's critical, perhaps turn off the device altogether (hold down the sleep button). It might have security repercussions as well.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The end of ePaper-based eReaders?

The end of ePaper-based eReaders?, post.

I'm sure e-paper will hang on for a while, but I'm also sure that they have to get highly innovative with that technology re contrast and reaction time (and color), for it not to become a tiny niche in the reader/tablet market. Otherwise it will mainly be used by the over-fifties who have no use for this new-fangled fast-moving world of web text, but just like to read books with no pictures.

An iPad stand? Yes Sir.

This iPad stand, the edgily monikered "Block22", is garnering a lot of roses. And sure, it is pretty. 
I think it can be better, though, and I'll try to prove it.

I'm also planning to have a custom leather sleeve for the iPad made, and one for the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Friday, October 1, 2010

“Most Powerful Tablet Anyone Has Ever Made”

I'm been saying from the start that if the effort were put into it, especially into the software, a tablet could become a super-tool for higher education (and lower too). And now it seems somebody is doing something about it.

I like the interface looking like it was designed for adults, unlike the iPad's, which frankly (and despite my love for the iPad) looks like it was designed for children, with the over-widely-spaced colorful icons which you can't really do anything about, there's no other options of menus or smaller icons, or text-only icons, or... anything. Which means that when you have many apps, it's a chore every time to find one. And no, folders don't help all that much either, sorry. I really hope Apple have plans of developing that interface, but I'm not sure how optimistic I should be.

iPhone 4 vs Dell Streak

I bought the Dell Streak because I thought that if the 3.5 inch screen on the iPhone 4 is so good to read on, the 5-inch one on the Streak must be better.

Turns out it isn't. I have a subtle preference for the iPhone 4. Despite both their screens being very good.
The only thing I can figure is that it must be the high-resolution Retina display on the iPhone. Despite my eyes not being good enough to see any pixels on either of them.
But when I use a loupe, the quality difference is clear. And so I guess that it's right in that grey area where I can't see it consciously, but subconsciously it makes an important difference. Huh, how about that?
So, a light-weight 5-7 inch reader with a high-contrast, high-resolution display would be heaven.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saying Good-bye to My Paper Magazines

Saying Good-bye to My Paper Magazines, article.

And a quite positive article too. It seems that many magazines are going into digital subscription with an aim for very reasonable prices, which is good news for both publishers and readers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

IA Writer

Well, if we don't yet have hardware directed squarely at just writing, at least we have a couple apps which do it. Like the new IA Writer. It is getting loads of great reviews. I've barely touched it yet, but I'm a bit puzzled, because even for a guy who is always asking for simpler tools, this one seems curiously under-featured. I mean, it basically don't have any features. Or rather, no settings. You can't even change the font. Or the text size!
That I regard as a mistake. One guy's maximum readability is another guy's headache. A twenty-year-old with 25/20 eyesight will not prefer the same text size as a sixty-year old with cataracts.
And for the font they have gone with mono-spaced? Why? The only reason mono-spaced fonts exist at all is that old typewriters couldn't do anything else. It does not help readability at all, unless you've done years of reading manuscripts in this form, so you're used to it. 
In any case, at least it's interesting. I'll turn it around some more. Although I might stick with My Writing Nook for the while.

Get an reader as an ebook?

This is funny, Amazon's server saw that this ereader is a "book", and so they promote getting the book converted to Kindle format!

Reading is still good in the Net age

Reading is still good in the Net age, is the message of this article, and I couldn't agree more.

But I must say, I've been thinking about all this talk recently, from Steve Jobs and others, what a shame it would be if professionally edited news writing weren't to survive.
And in principle I can see that. I'm all for quality. But when I read newspapers (on paper or online), I must say I'm not all that impressed. The bulk of it does not seem very interesting, or even very well written. 
Just look at the article linked above. It's an article the Wall Street Journal, for pete's sake, one of the most famous and respected papers in the world. And yet the article is a mess. It's just a great muddling-around over several paragraphs, in order to say one thing: reading is still good. I have a feeling that it, and the even more confusing illustration, is supposed to be funny, but it's not.
It's not very PC of me, I know, but I must say, I think I write better than that.

Instapaper Mobile site

Instapaper is one of my favorite mobile apps. Now they also have a mobile site, which lets you browse many sites on a hand-held device in simple text form.
For some reason it does not work with some sites, like my blogs, but it's works very well with sites like NYTimes and Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An American in Paris Says Au Revoir to His Laptop

Can you live with just an iPad on a working vacation?

Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal, has a positive experience when he takes an iPad to Paris in lieu of his laptop. I will hazard that as the apps for iPad mature and expand, this will become very common indeed, faster than everybody, including me, had expected.

"Overall, my attempt to substitute a tablet for a laptop was a big success, and I’d do it again for a short trip or working vacation. As tablets get better, this will only become easier. For instance, Microsoft is working on a touch-based tablet version of Windows that could make the slates even better laptop replacements."