Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why I don't use the iPad for serious writing - Charlie's Diary

Why I don't use the iPad for serious writing - Charlie's Diary, article.

Yes. I've been railing against the lack of arrow keys on the iPad's keyboard since the second I realized it didn't have them. What a Steve-Jobs-decision. "We don't need arrow keys, they are old technology, people are supposed to use the touch screen". While nicely repressing the fact that with fingers, placing a cursor precisely in text is a very clumsy task.

I admit that even if all of Charles Stross' attack points were fixed, I would probably still not use the screen keyboard for more than short emails. It just doesn't work for me. (I've seen people type really fast on it, I wonder how they do it.) I need a touch keyboard for real writing, which limits the iPad, obviously.

And since, for my current big writing project (a book about Domai), exceptionally I do need access to emails and web pages to get snippets, a desktop or airbook will probably be a better deal anyway.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Amazon's Hit Man"

[Thanks to TKC]
Amazon's Hit Man, long article.
Even more awkwardly for publishers, Amazon is their largest retailer, so they are now in the position of having to compete against an important business partner. On the West Coast people cheerfully call this kind of arrangement coopetition. On the East Coast it’s usually referred to as getting stabbed in the back.

I love that. Whether or not it's more common in some geographical areas or not, it's a great difference in outlook on life and business: you can see it as a cheerful game, you-loose-some-you-win-some kind of thing, or you can see it as a deadly competition, only the last to stand is the winner, and everybody is an enemy unless they're a temporary ally...

It must be a very joyless life to have the latter kind of outlook. I mean, how can you possibly win? Even if you get to be King of the Hill like Microsoft once was, suddenly a new platform is the big new thing, and they jog past you. How much more fun to not care if you're the biggest and baddest, and instead just enjoy making good stuff which makes your customers happy. If you have that and it keeps bread on the table, that's the good part. Grinding the faces of competitors into the cold mud on the way seems a bit of a cheerless game.

Of course the fears can be understandable:
Book publishing, an inefficient industry if there ever was one, seems ripe for reimagining. According to a recent report by the Association of American Publishers, sales of adult paperbacks and hardcovers fell 18 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Ouch! Eighteen percent! That should give pause for thought amongst believers that paper will never go away. (Well, it probably won't, but it'll be marginalized dramatically, like music on vinyl. The upshot is that we may see some really beautiful works of art in future paper books, because they have to make most of the medium.)

But trying to stop your little ice floe from melting won't help. Sooner or later you have to set out for a different life support. You may find one, or not, but the ocean doesn't care, sad at that may be.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"History Won’t be Kind to Apple & Textbooks"

History Won’t be Kind to Apple & Textbooks, article.

When Phil Schiller came on stage last Thursday, he was a serious man. He said, “Education is deep in our DNA.” His somber and thoughtful approach suggested that Apple intended to make things different and better in education. Apple is in a position to call some shots in the industry, and that kind of power should not be taken lightly. Mr. Schiller behaved, on stage, in accordance with shouldering that burden.
Only later did we find out that it was going to be the same old line; Apple gets its not inconsiderable piece of the action, 30 percent. And, as we know, the lock in with iBooks Author to the iBookstore.

I kind of agree. Apple could make a huge difference in education with the news software et al. But loosening up the licence and easing off significantly on the profit cut (especially when they set a price limit of $15 for everything) would look much better and be much more in accordance in the strong "we want to help" vibes.

"Here's some free software to help children, please give us 10% if you sell through our store" sounds better than "Here's some free software to help the children, you're not allowed to charge for your books outside our store, and inside we'll take 30% and we will ooooowwwn the textbook market in five years, bwaah-haaahaahhh!"

Heck they could even charge for the software if people want to sell outside the iBook store, I'm sure nobody would mind that. But the thirty percent always sounded pretty high to me, and for economically priced textbooks it's just squeezing the lemon too hard.

E-Book fast-page-flip Prototype Demo

To be frank, I don't know if this will be a huge step forward, since in ebooks you have search and usually a scroll bar, and in any case you can only really see about two pages at a time, so how many you can flip back and forth at a time is how valuable?

But it looks nice and quite intuitive, so it might work for some books and users.
It's only a prototype yet, though, and doesn't even use Apple's own software bits, so don't expect it this year.

Tablet ownership doubled over Christmas

US Tablet ownership doubled over the 2011 holiday season, article.

Surely the Kindle Fire is responsible for a lot of that, with a million sold per week, but it's generally agreed that the iPad is still holding its top of the hill position. And of course they are hardly interchangeable. [Update: Apple says they sold 15M iPads in the holiday quarter.)

But anyhoo, from zero to 19 percent in two years... And from 10 to 19 percent in two months!  That's gotta be the fastest adoption rate of a new technology ever.
Oh, and by the way, according to other studies, the number one use of the Kindle Fire is: reading! I admit I would have hesitated to guess this. I think this is a good score for abstract thinking version sensual "thinking".

I am interested to see how reading will look in a mere ten years. What with thinner, lighter, cheaper ereaders, small and hopefully some bigger too for graphics-rich reading, and probably no turn of the rising trend of printing and distribution costs of paper publications, surely tablets and readers will by then have taken over a huge lump of reading duties in developed countries. And then (or well before), like with mobile phones, it may go even faster in less-developed countries, due to poor traditional infrastructure.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Behringer iPad docking mixers

Behringer iPad docking mixers.
The iPad is used for screen and storage.
Sounds pretty neato. Though they keep it a deep secret what this thing actually costs, so I can't share that, sorry. I can well understand why they will hide the price so well, it's so the competitors don't find out, of course. (Oh, there goes my finely tuned sarcasm again, golly.)