Saturday, September 13, 2014

Michael Hart, a Pioneer of E-Books, Dies at 64

Michael Hart, a Pioneer of E-Books and founder of, Dies at 64, article.

Not fresh news this, but he was an interesting character.
Over the next decade, working alone, Mr. Hart typed the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the King James Bible and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” into the project database, the first tentative steps in a revolution that would usher in what he liked to call the fifth information age, a world of e-books, hand-held electronic devices like the Nook and Kindle, and unprecedented individual access to texts on a vast array of Internet archives.
Today, Project Gutenberg lists more than 30,000 books in 60 languages

Friday, September 12, 2014

The time is 9:41, no more, no less! Or: *now* is the dawn of Internet-everywhere

So, after huge glitches in the streamed keynote speech, and a 40-minute delay in the pre-ordering schedule which had a couple million people foaming at the mouth, people can finally buy the wonderful new iPhone 6, and 6 Plus (my fave, regular readers will know why. Finally a perfect take-everywhere computer.)

Have you noticed that every picture of the iPhone 6 shows the time as 9:41?
Is this Apple micromanagement still surviving Steve Jobs? Or is it just simpler because they are all made with photoshop instead of taking an actual photo of the screen? (I could understand that, it's surprisingly hard coordinating the brightness of the screen with the ambient light, and handle reflections.)

I wonder why 9:41 exactly? Does it have a significance, or was it found to be the most aesthetic formation of number shapes, or was it random? [Update: Thanks to Ken for this answer.]

Aaaaanyway... Maybe it's me changing emotionally too, but I am surprised at how much I lust after this phone. I sound like my pal Laurie when the first one came out: "I want an iPhone, and I want it *now*!"
I was not very interested then, but it makes some sense, because as a photographer/videographer he zips around the country and the world every week, whereas as a webmaster (then) I work from home, and really only use email, not phones.

This one, though, due to the size, really makes the computing-device side of the "phone" come into its power for the first time. In fact, the usefulness and the attraction of this compared to the "mini-phones" of yesteryear is like night and day, to me anyway. We saw this already with the Samsung Note 1, the first "phablet" at 5.2-inches.

When Jobs introduced the iPhone 1, he said it was "a revolutionary Net device", showing a web browser on the phone. But browsing the web on a 4-inch screen is like doing athletics in a full knight's armour. Almost doable, but a royal pain in the but.
This, not 2007, is the real dawn of Internet-everywhere.

And it's a perfect portable ereader. (Hmm, did I say that before?) Web articles, books, magazines, documents, research... Keeewl.
(OK, except for the high price, that is. Which is why I recently called for the creation of a dedicated ereader in the size and form of this phone. It should not have a phone contract or a $700 price tag if you don't really need the phone part.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus with 5.5-inch display (updated)

[Watch the entertaining Apple Keynote releasing iPhone 6, Apple Pay, and the new Apple Watch.]

iPhone 6 Plus with 5.5-inch display announced starting at $299, article.

I want to thank my fans at Apple for answering my requests, by far the biggest of which the keen reader will have no trouble recalling: that the iPhone six came with a 5.5-inch display, making it a perfect portable ereader (and generally better for so many things)!

I wonder what kind of profit margin companies are getting on phones though. I just bought, as seen below, a wonderful high-class 12 inch tablet. And the 5.5 inch iPhone 6+ is over £250 ($400!) more expensive than that tablet! It is around £700 ($1000) with 64 GB storage! To me that it looks like ugly price gouging. I love apple and their products, but sometimes their pricing really leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Anyway, as I had expected, Apple did not want to disenfranchise their customers in tight jeans, so the phone comes in two sizes, the big ("phablet") iPhone 6 Plus, and the more regular-sized iPhone 6 (with a good-sized 4.7-inch display). I think those sizes are perfectly chosen.

The cameras are improved in various small ways, though the resolution is the same 8MP. The most important improvement is optical image stabilization to help with camera shake, really a must these days. But that is only on the 6 Plus. (I think that's one of the reasons it's slightly thicker (though still thinner, amazingly, than the iPhone 5s).
Oh, the autofocus is also faster, which is important.

The iPhone Four was the first iPhone I got genuinely interested in. iPhone 6 Plus is the second one. I expect it to be outstanding.

Our old ally Janet Tokerud has posted about why you should get the 6 Plus. In part:
5. 2-Column Landscape View in iOS 8. Not available on iPhone 6.
6. One device is better than 2. This is a mini mini iPad not just an iPhone but that too. 1 device to maintain and purchase. 1 cellular connection. You won’t need to lug your iPad mini or maxi around as much. Or you can sell/trade-in the mini.

I couldn’t agree more. Unless one really just needs a phone, or money is really tight, this is currently the king of hand-held Everything Machines. I haven’t been this excited since the iPad 1.

I’ve tried writing a book on an iPhone 4. Can be done, but it gets old. This one, no problem. Portable keyboard, and boom, you’re a mobile writer. I'm actually thinking of a book I want to write on this. Get out of your home/office and yourself, good for the creative juices. (I like a good simple text editor which saves in the cloud, like My Writing Spot.)

And it’s a great portable entertainment center too. Buy all ten seasons of Friends and never fear a waiting room again!
And it sure looks gorgeous. I did not think they could beat the iPhone 4/5. I bet that rounded, slim form, bigger, feels really good in the hand.