43 posts • joined Tuesday 14th July 2009 14:42 GMT
Waitrose does the self-serve thing properly. You get your own scanner, which you carry round the shop and merrily scan each item as you buy it. At the end, you swipe your card and it downloads the info from the handheld scanner and Bob's your uncle. Very rarely has any problems, and no stupid 'bagging area' required. (You can put stuff straight into your own bag as you shop, which is great.)
Users aren't the real problem
What woke me up to the real problem was installing LastPass. It could slurp all the passwords I'd stored in Firefox (usernames and passwords, indeed) and import them. Indeed, it actually makes this point explicitly during the installation - if LastPass can do this as a normal extension, so could any other extension.
Your passwords are not secure stored in any of the main browsers, whether from other users or from malicious code. The only answer is to remember all your passwords yourself (unlikely for most of us), use LastPass/OnePass/whatever service to store them, or use a local secure keyring if your browser will play nicely with it.
Re: Inertial? no way -"Still, it would be WAY better to have that for a grenade launcher."
You have rather missed ribosome's point, it appears.
That's how they're supposed to work
Bizarre 'research'. The point of cloud-sync apps is absolutely NOT to place all files on the server and never to have them on the device. Rather, it's to use the server as a way to ensure that the same files are available on all devices.
So, for example, I use Dropbox precisely to ensure that I can have local copies of files on my phone/tablet/desktop. If they weren't on the device, what use would they be to me?
Now, it could be that a 'securely remove from this device' function would be a useful addition to these services, but none claims to offer this AFAIK.
Learn something before speaking
In a vain attempt to forestall the usual freetard comments, I'll repeat what many seem to be unwilling to remember - less than a quarter of the total cost of publishing a book is spent on manufacturing and distribution of the physical product. That's true across the industry, and in some areas it's considerably less than that (scale having its benefits).
Add in the significant cost of formatting the text for all the various devices (which is a lot harder than you'd think if you've never tried) as well as the VAT issue, and there is genuinely very little room for savings in ebooks.
And for those who accuse publishing of excessive profiteering, you've clearly never actually looked at the results of most publishing companies. If we wanted massive profits, we'd be in a different industry - software, perhaps!
As a recent CSC purchaser...
...I say No to the final question in the article. One big reason is that compacts with the quality of CSCs seem to be more expensive than the CSCs for some reason. Also, even as a beginner, being able to select a brighter pancake lens instead of the zoom means I can take photos I wouldn't otherwise be able to.
As ever, it's horses for courses and I suspect that the (no longer very) new formats will at the very least force manufacturers to think more creatively about what they offer customers.
Good satnav but what about keyboard support?
I use this on the occasional days I need satnav, and CoPilot does the job well, guiding me to my destination with minimum fuss. It's also quick to find routes and to re-route when I stray from its wishes.
However, it has one glaring flaw that never fails to irritate: it doesn't support any keyboard but the built-in Android one. Try using another keyboard (like something that supports predictive text entry) and it just fails. Instead of using Android's own text fields, it's implemented its own (presumably for cross-platform reasons) that don't handle changes well at all. To enter data, one has to leave the app, change input method, go back to the app, enter your destination and then (of course) reset your keyboard to the normal one. There's no good reason for this, especially after all this time. Sort it out, ALK!
"The problem is that they want the same price as the print editions"
Don't forget that manufacture and distribution account for <20% of the sale price of a textbook. When you take into account the fact that print books are VAT free and ebooks aren't (in most territories), the price differential is actually pretty small - unless you expect publishers to take less revenue from digital simply because it's digital rather than because it's cheaper to produce (which it isn't by very much).
Well I work in educational publishing and those commenters were right on the mark. What is crucial in education is not the format but the content. Creating "Garageband for ebooks" doesn't even address the hard problem of generating high-quality, pedagogically useful, relevant and appealing content for the classroom. At best, it will help teachers to distribute their own material in nicer format. Which may be valuable but is hardly 'disruptive' to the educational publishing business.
In other words, once again we (may!) have a tech company looking only at the technological portion of a problem and failing to grasp the larger picture.
Used it, but eventually moved on
I used MailDroid for a while and it's pretty good, certainly better than K-9 (despite having an even worse icon!). But eventually I moved on because MD just filled me with Meh. I was never really sure why, but I suspect it was partly because of its ridiculous price (£10!).
These days, I just use the stock mailers on my Samsung Galaxy S2 (which is OK apart from an irritating lack of long-press menus) and my Transformer tab. :-/
WHS have been listing the Touch for a while (and have been selling the older model for even longer) but so far they've listed the price as £179, which is way too high. The Kobo's a nice reader, but it's $125 in the USA. If they start selling it at £110, they've got an excellent chance. Glad to see Kobo finally launch the Touch over here. I've been waiting for it for months!
Or, to put it another way
Android has a 27% share of the tablet market. (Assuming Windows is negiligible, which can't be far off the truth.)
That's actually pretty good IMO. Indeed, it's rather better than I'd thought it might be. My family has one of each (iPad for the wife, Asus Transformer for me) and each has its merits. And a decent fight between platforms can only be good for consumers - as long as they compete on features and price rather than patents...
Widescreen is better
I've said this before, but widescreen is actually better for business. I've got both an iPad and an Eee Transformer, and I've used both for work.
A4 docs don't fit on an iPad's screen nicely. Most docs are portrait, and in portrait mode, the iPad has large black bars down the sides of A4 docs at full page view; it's even worse when apps have toolbars. On the Eee, by contrast, a portrait doc fills the full width of the screen and still just leaves space for toolbars top or bottom. In other words, A4 portrait docs (which is the majority of business docs) are much more readable on the Eee than on the iPad without resorting to zooming and panning (which is a pain).
16:9 is better
I wonder whether the people who disdain 16:9 tablets have actually used one. To be fair, I wasn't sure before I got my Asus Eee Transformer, but there's one big reason that 16:9 is better than 4:3 - it's closer to the aspect ratio of A4 paper.
When I'm using my tablet at work, I'm often looking at PDFs or Word files, and holding it in portrait orientation means that the A4 page is fully visible, with space for the toolbars above and below. When you try that on an iPad, you end up with letterboxing or cropping.
That's right - for real work, 16:9 is better.
And I'm not convinced by the aesthetic argument either. 4:3 just means there's less difference between the two orientations - and hence less point rotating it. With a 16:9 tablet, there's a real difference between the two modes, and each has its uses.
Given that email and web browsing are such important uses for fondleslabs (love that term!), I'm perpetually amazed at how useless the iPad mail client it. The simple lack of a "Select all" option makes such a difference. Google's mail for tablets is a lot better but still lacks features compared with proper mail clients.
Of course, most of these folk are probably using webmail, which works just as well on any browser. Mostly. My personal greatest annoyance is that Lotus Notes (which my company uses) refuses to work at all on the Android tablet browser ("Your browser is not supported"), and offers up only its Lite version on the iPad, which is designed for phones, not tablets.
By all means, offer us what you think will work, but let us make the choice. Just because you haven't heard of our browser doesn't mean it won't work.
Not Xoom, but try Asus Transformer
The Asus EeePad Transformer is both cheaper than the Xoom and (in some ways, at least) better. If you buy the keyboard dock (a primary reason to opt for this tablet), you'll be able to plug your mass-storage camera into the full USB slot on the keyboard and access it like any other USB drive.
I can't speak to the movie editing because I've not tried.
No keyboard docks...
I looked on Comet, and they're listing the keyboard bundle as "discontinued"!
Looks like it may be a supply issue on the keyboard, though. How much was it as a separate item?
And how are you liking the tablet part?
Seems to provide less functionality for more money than Diigo. I've been using their PowerNote app on Android and it's pretty good, plus you get the bookmarking and sharing features of the web platform. Their iOS app isn't as good, which is interesting, but it does exist.
"Waterstone's regularly charges more than the hardback price for an eBook which no matter how you look at it, just seems bizarre."
Absolutely right. I find this bizarre, too, but remember that retailers have different levels of control over the pricing of print and ebooks. It may be that they discount the print but can't discount the ebook, leading to odd disparities.
But notice here that the disparity is not the publisher's fault, as many seem to assume. Rather, it's a result of the _retailers_ manipulating prices.
"And they never try to match Amazon."
No, but they don't do that for print, either. They're different businesses. Big surprise.
This idea that most of the costs in publishing are in manufacture is just ignorant and wrong. It's been put about for years by those with an agenda to push, and been debunked just as often by those who actually work in the industry.
It's pretty obvious - few industries could cope with manufacturing costs that were 80% of the retail price, and publishing is no exception. Generally, manufacturing, distribution etc. make up less than 30% of the retail price. That's why most publishers list ebooks from 30% of print price.
But don't forget that ebooks are liable to VAT, which print isn't. That pushes the price back up again.
Unless you want for some reason to suggest that publishers ought to make less money from ebooks than print? And that sounds like an agenda rather than sound business to me.
(I work in publishing, in case you hadn't noticed, and this isn't a rant at the specific commenter. I just get annoyed by this idea that, just because there's no physical product, ebooks ought to be almost free.)
Sony vs Kindle
Sure, this is more expensive than the cheap Kindle but it's got a touchscreen. On pure tech terms, the user needs to choose which is most useful to them - touch or wireless. (Plus, this device is smaller than the Kindle because it doesn't have that stupid keyboard. How often do you really need to use a keyboard when reading?)
For me, though, it's the EPUB support that's the killer. If you buy the Kindle, you're locked into Amazon's closed ebook world. If you buy Sony (or BeBook or most others), you're in the wider world of standard formats and a proper market. Adept DRM is rubbish, but it's unfortunately the reality at present for many commercial ebooks, and dissing the Sony because of it's rather unfair when you conside that the Kindle is locked down even harder.
"Which brings us to a point economists keep trying to tell environmentalists: humans don't consume resources, humans create resources by inventing the technologies to make use of them."
This is, of course, nonsense. Humans and all other living things clearly do consume resources (unless we think that, say, the amount of iron ore in the earth is infinite). The point is, rather, that the definition of "resource" changes with time depending on the available (and economically viable) technology that is available.
All human activity (with a very few exceptions) simply changes the form of the matter of this planet to greater or lesser extents, rather than creating or destroying it. But that change can make the 'resource' involved siginificantly less available to those who follow.
Ironic given this week's top FB story
This is rather an ironic announcement given the fuss this week about Facebook uploading phone numbers of all contacts from users of their iOS (and possibly Android) apps and making those available to all and sundry.
It's an SEC filing, remember
Don't forget, companies have to be as pessimistic as possible in SEC filings. They are legally obliged to say anything bad that might happen to damage their business, so that potential investors are aware of them. So lots of the concerns in the article are not the problem they might initially appear. Others, of course, are!
Also, the loss of capacity in the battery is hardly surprising. Indeed, losing only 40% of capacity in around 6 years (assuming fairly average mileage in the roadster) isn't that shabby. Compare that with laptop batteries!
Free market anyone?
What Amazon want to do isn't set prices, though - it's to dominate the market by artificially low prices. Is there anyone crying out for "fixed price" real books? Why should the ebook market be different?
What Amazon were trying to do, if you read the trade coverage, was to usurp the positions of publisher, wholesaler and retailer, and thereby to grab all the profit for themselves. Yes, they even wanted publishers to sign contracts that made Amazon a publisher themselves, with the right to create new editions etc. of the product! No wonder the trade rebelled.
A tad unfair, there
"Macmillan reckons they'll stump up $15 for the latest title and refused to sell its books for less"
That's not really a fair description of Macmillan's position - they want to charge _up_to_ $15 for ebooks, but also as little as $5. Amazon wouldn't let them have the flexibility all publishers (and other suppliers) have always had: to set the price for their own product. Amazon freely admit that they sell ebooks at a loss to drive sales of the Kindle - at the moment. But how long would that last once they had control of the ebook market, over both publishers and consumers?
Lots more BitTorrent for me, then
First thought, for me, was "Oh, I'd better start downloading lots of Linux distros by BitTorrent again soon." If they're going to intercept perfectly legal filesharing traffic, let's make sure they get lots of it!
"the congestion might be so acute that stock brokers and other securities market employees would be unable to telework from home"
And oh how terrible that would be.
Seriously, is preventing stockbrokers from working at home the worst result they could come up with?
Google will "consult" on "some" books?
Wow, Google's generosity in promising to "consult" European publishers when they scan _some_ European books is outstanding, isn't it? I mean, one might almost have thought that there wasn't some law saying that they had to do that, and more (like actually get permission!).
Meh. Hope (as someone working in publishing, and a writer) that the deal gets struck down and we instead get sensible laws in the US and EU (and elsewhere!) that allow indexing and searching while protecting authors.
Given the draconian libel laws in the UK, I'd have thought the shops would be well advised to take down these pictures promptly. Once an accusation of libel has been made, it's up to the defendent to prove their innocence - English law assumes that, a basic case having been made, they are by default guilty (no, really). So, anyone who could reasonably be identified from such a picture could make a pretty good libel case against the retailer, who would then have to demonstrate that their allegation was true (i.e. that the person was, in fact, guilty of theft)!
10 year expiry?
Will this card really last 10 years? ISTR that the chipped passports carry chips that are guaranteed by the manufacturer for only 3 years or something like that. Will these ID cards be any different? And will we be forced to renew them when the chip dies (which also bears rather strongly on the "fry the chip" discussion)? Passports don't have to have a working chip to be valid, but will this be true of the ID cards?
Copyright on facts
@ Mel Collins:
No, you can't copyright facts, but you can copyright the _arrangement_ of facts. It's called 'database right' and applies to databases (Duh) including phone directories, and seems to be a no-brainer to apply to researched data like the tables at issue in this case. IANAL, of course!
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