Tag Archives: Books

Tom and @GaryVee made my day

Tom was at a Thank You Economy reading last week, and stuck around long enough to chat with Gary. To my surprise and pleasure, they talked about me, and 360|Conferences.

We’re in our 5th year. They (i hate ‘they’ and if I meet them they’re getting punched in the neck) say most startups don’t make it past the 5th year. This year is truly going to be 360|Conferences’ crucible. We’re doing 3 events (plus a few of our smaller things) and if they don’t make enough money to buy out Tom’s interest and pay me a salary that’s livable… That’s probably the end of things.

This post isn’t doom and gloom tho, quite the opposite. This the year I’m rocking the business. Sponsorship for 360|Flex is the best it’s ever been, even when we were doing two events a year. Attendance while lower than I’d like, is going well and there’s still a few weeks for the fence sitters to realize what they’re missing. 360|iDev is already 1/3 sold out, so that event is likely to be a complete sell-out show!

This short clip is why I’m doing what I’m doing, it meant a ton, more than I can express to have Tom ask Gary for his thoughts, and to capture them on video for me. If you think I don’t play this video every morning, you’d be wrong.

I love what I do for many reasons.

1. I want to support the Flex and iOS/Mac (and maybe Android ;) ) communities. I want to give them a place to share and learn that’s about them, not someone else, not about greed and milking attendees, etc.

2. because I want to have the free time (i know that comes later, LOL) of running my own business, to work where I went when I want so that Nicole and I can enjoy our lives together

3. Because I want to become financially stable in this business to be able to grow, maybe hire people and contribute to the economy, and most definitely start taking vacations with my family again. For the last several years those have been back burnered.

 

I can’t wait to say hi to Gary when he comes through Denver in April.

In Which i disagree with @elleinthecity, Borders closing, not the end of reading.

I love books, just ask anyone who knows me. I read a lot. I still have a wall of paper books I re-read from time to time, and I have my Kindle (and of course the various iOS Kindle apps!). Books are as a big a part of my life as anything else is. I thank my mom for bribing me to read and do book reports in exchange for new GI Joes.

It makes me truly sad that we’re losing Borders, that Powell’s had to lay-off some of it’s employees, but the reality is, it’s 2011. Books in their old form are making less and less sense. Publishers of course refuse to see this truth. Neither can places like Borders who chose to ignore eBooks.

Reading isn’t dying, books are. Paper books to be specific. Don’t get me wrong, that makes me sad too, i love the feel of a book in my hands. But time’s they are a changin’ and the smart money isn’t on fighting the future, it’s about embracing it.

Remember The Warehouse? Tower Records? They’re gone, music isn’t. Remember Hollywood Video? Blockbuster? They’re gone, movies aren’t.

It’s the same thing, every single time. Over and over again, we see posts like (not surprisingly written by someone in Publishing) this bemoaning the march of time, the march of technology as the greatest sin ever to be committed against society.

Publishing needs to see the writing (pun intended) on the wall, and adapt. Fighting this forward movement, is like fighting the tide. Just ask the CEO’s of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Tower Records, et. al. Don’t fight your customers, don’t make adapting to the future something your customers have to make a “us or them” choice.

Yes a street without bookstores is a sad street. Let’s not be melodramatic either. Book stores like Borders will go away, used book stores, classic bookstores, will thrive, as they always have. Publishers, should be embracing technology, making people WANT to buy eBooks.

iApp Review – Popular Mechanics Does it Right

I’m a sucker for giving publishing a chance. I don’t know why, they fail more often than not. Just look at Wired (iTunes Link), and Men’s Health (iTunes Link).

Popular Mechanics (iTunes Link), might be the exception for many reasons.

1. They priced the app right. 1.99. It’s a beta, so I hope they see that the price is a huge deal and keep it at something reasonable, and below the dead tree edition.

2. They don’t go rich media crazy like Wired did. There’s plenty of pages of simple text for reading. Maybe a nice transition of a graphic element sliding in slightly after the page transition finishes, but every page isn’t a multimedia orgy.

3. They started slow. Both Men’s Health and Wired, dove right in with high priced, “billed as complete” as far as I know offerings. It’s nice to see Pop. Mech. admit they’re testing the waters.

4. They valued consumer feedback. The app asks you (sadly it doesn’t seem to know that I’ve already done the survey, which is a might annoying) to fill out a survey about your experience with the app. The content, the ads, etc. Neither Wired nor MH, seem to care. In fact I had trouble with the MH app (It ate my $5 issue) and it took me hours to find an email to ask for help, and the email bounced. The support site, is only for subscribers. FAIL on so many levels, the app is deleted from my iPad.

5. don’t waste space. Honestly I’m not sure how big the PM app is, but I don’t think it was as big as Wired. I don’t want my magazines to take up so much space I’m debating what to sync and not sync, video or magazine. etc. Bloat is overrated.

I’m really digging the Pop. Mech. issue so far. As always great content, but also a pleasing experience. I’m not taping, swiping, and pinching every element to see if there’s something hidden like in other magazine apps. I’m very hopeful that they learn the right lessons from this beta, and create a digital magazine worth subscribing too.

For me that would be.

  1. Not $5 an issue. between $2 and $3 i think is the sweet spot. I don’t want to pay as much or more than the dead tree edition costs.
  2. Subscription price that makes sense. Not more than the dead tree, and not (digital) cover price X 12
  3. Leave the multi media orgy for others. Every issue should be just interactive enough to make sure I don’t think they simply uploaded a PDF of the print issue. I don’t need that much interactivity, it takes away from the content.

Amazon and Publishing are killing eBooks with 1000 cuts.

My Kindle, which I love and carry with me everywhere I’m likely to be reading, is dying. It’s dying a slow death from a thousand cuts. I used to buy a new eBook from Amazon almost weekly. Sometimes I’d buy 3-4 at a time to have at the ready. Now I look thru the $0.00 section, and the $.99 self publish section (Shout out to Christian Cantrell. Go read his stuff. Yes, that Christian Cantrell from Adobe, LOL. He writes awesome Sci Fi Short stories)

Looking at these screen shots, what incentive is there for me to buy the eBook version. Bear in mind, I have free shipping with Amazon prime. Though even with shipping, if I wasn’t in a hurry, regular shipping doesn’t cost much, and is often free if I’m in no hurry.

So really where’s the benefit of buying an eBook? Less than $3 dollars savings? Really? Over a paperback in two cases?! The middle book isn’t released yet, should we guess how it’s paperback price will look compared to the Kindle price?

This is such a huge fail, and it’s Amazon, and the Publishing Industries’ to share. They’ve both taken what was IMO a promising start to revolutionizing publishing, and forced it back into 1980.

I know Amazon lost (way to stick to your guns and fight for your customers) and caved to the publishers, but now rather than use their new found power (i’m talking about the publishing companies) to find a reasonable balance in price and deliverable, they’ve run the price right back up to where it makes no sense at all for the consumer.

It feels like they’re trying to kill ebooks, by making them not worth the price. Way to be green publishers.

Green? Yeah green. By making eBooks so unattractively priced, the Publishing industry in encouraging our continued attack on the environment. Maybe they hope earth will choke on green house gasses before they have to come to terms with technology and the changing landscape of publishing? If we’re all too busy gasping for air, we won’t notice that books are to blame. (Yes that’s over the top, but illustrated my point)

On top of this completely retarded pricing, that more or less incentivizes me to purchase a dead tree copy of all three books, each eBook is DRM’ed. Each of these are listed with Text-Speach disabled. So not only am I paying an outrageous price for my eBook, but the publishers are telling me to fuck off, I get no actual features that make an eBook great. And of course, I can’t use the eVersion outside the kindle.

So I pay pretty much the same price for paper or eBook. Yet with paper I can sell the book to a used book store, loan it to n number of friends, give it away, keep it for the next 30 years, etc. Where as with the Kindle version (this is aimed at you completely Amazon) I can’t loan it out, I can’t sell it, I can’t gift it, I can’t have my Kindle read it to me while I fold clothes, and should the Kindle platform die, I can’t even re-read it. Where’s the incentive in buying the eBook version?

Amazon, you came so close to crushing it. Really, you were right there. the Nook, sucks, IMO. Most of the other craptastic devices being crapped out every other day, by mostly no name vendors stand no chance at ever being anything more than Marginal. You were the market leader. Now… my Kindle is full of things I’ve downloaded off the web. Not pirated content, tho that’s an option, but content i can get from free from sites like instapaper, the Calibre desktop app, etc.

Sorry Amazon, I’m not giving you or these lame ass publishers money. It only encourages this terrible anti-consumer behavior. One of both of you will learn, and it appears it’s gonna have to be the hard way, for you and consumers. Way to go.

Authors; Tery Brooks, John Scalzi, George RR Martin, Jessica Livingston, John Birmingham, et. al. Stand up, you’re impacted just as much as consumers. It’s not 1980 any more, times change, help your publishers figure that out. If I could pay you all directly, for an open, DRM-free eBook file, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

iPad….. nice but not magical, yet (my Review)

So I’m writing this on my iPad. I’m not feeling the magic. (update, i had to save it so I could edit on my Macbook, else this post take would’ve taken 40 years to write)

Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty, but not useful. Yet.

And before you decide I’m just an Apple hater, let me lay out my credentials for those that don’t know me.

I own:

Unibody Macbook, 2 Minis, 3 iPods (including an iPod Photo), 2 iPhones, 1 iPad, 2 Airport Express, 1 Airport Extreme, my wife has a white plastic macbook.

I’ve Previously owned:

a Macbook Pro, Newton 110, Powerbook 510, Performa.  I think it’s safe to say my fanboi-ness is secure.

That out of the way.

The iPad is a very pretty device, and if your life (as some do) revolves around reading websites, watching videos, and …. well that’s it. Checking email I suppose too. Then the iPad is the perfect toy for you (albeit, for those simple tasks, the price IMO is a bit steep).

I tried. I didn’t write this review the night i got my iPad, I didn’t write it Sunday night, I waited and actually tried to do things I’d normally grab my Macbook for.

First I went up on my deck, to get some sun, and enjoy working outside. Since I was just gonna reply to a few emails, I grabbed the iPad.

  • While I enjoy seeing myself, i don’t want to watch my face as I type emails. That’s easily fixable though, so it’s not a knock. Why Apple is obsessed with uselessly glossy screens is beyond me.
  • First I tried holding it and typing with my thumbs. I prefer landscape mode, and have locked it in that orientation. I have big hands, so it’s quite possible, but not a long term thing. Then I set it in my lap, as many have proclaimed is the perfect use case… I got a sore neck. By this time I’d responded (lengthy responses sure) to two emails. Perhaps if I invested in a $40 (?) case from Apple that i could sit on our patio table, and use? Or buy a Bluetooth keyboard?
  • One email I needed to send an export of attendee data to. I couldn’t. The export is .xls of CSV. kudos to Mobile Safari for opening the .xls and showing me, but I needed to send it to some one. Sure the iPhone doesn’t support this, but if the iPad is a revolutionary bridge device between my iPhone and a laptop, I expect a few laptop like things to be there.
  • Of course since I can’t run two things at once, I had to close out mail.app mid compose to look up a discount code for a sponsor. Close mail, open safari, go to eventbrite, copy the code, close safari, open mail.app
  • Then I thought I’d take a break, check on my Kingdom and my weird little people on Planet Wilker. Thankfully the display is so crisp and bright, it overpowers (mostly) the sun, so i could actually enjoy those games.

Last night I went to a user group meeting, taking only my Mifi and my iPad.

  • The auto brightness doesn’t seem very responsive, so I was routinely blinded when loading something with a white screen in the darkened room. No biggy really, annoying a little, sure, but not a “Damn you Apple”
  • I had two tasks I was hoping to get done, or at least get started, while listening to the presentation. Write an email to attendees of 360|iDev (thru eventbrite.com’s email feature), and compose the last speaker email to speakers at 360|iDev using mailchimp. The result. FAIL. Both websites use HTML based text editors, apparently not the html web that Apple supports. Kinda crappy. Can’t use Flash, can’t use some HTML…
  • So I spent the UG meeting, not using my iPad except to occasionally tweet, and that was only because my iPhone was in my pocket

I’ve tried to replace some of the things I do on my iPhone and my laptop

  • I completely understand why Apple made the iPad support iPhone apps. It’s nice to launch and crow about 100k + apps. I have yet to use an iPhone app on the iPad that wasn’t completely and utterly fail. Why use it in 1x mode? I’ll just fire up my iPhone. In 2x mode, no app escapes the ugly tree. I understand the logic, but think Apple should have given developers more time to get their apps ready. I mean really, no facebook app? Hell, the mobileMe app… uh Apple. I know you want me to shell out $30 for the iWorks, but I’d love to be able to access my mobileMe account in a native iPad app, how about that?
  • I think the iPad will be much more interesting 3 months from now. Now that developers have an actual device to test with, those that (I can’t blame them) waited to actually use the device before building apps for it, will begin releasing apps. Right now the iPad app store is woe-fully anemic… well maybe not if you’re independently wealthy, and can afford every $9.99 app, LOL. Even then, there’s only a small list of apps I’m buying later, as I feel richer. Most of the apps I want, aren’t there.

Yeah Apple is about the experience, I agree, and sure surfing the web is very nice, if you only want to surf the web and consume. If you actually want to create… well so far the iPad hasn’t done much to support creation. I read one review that gushed and gushed about how awesome surfing the web is. OK sure, but I don’t spend my day complaining about surfing the web now.

So what do I like?

  • The feel of it. It’s a nice piece of equipment. The screen (once covered in a smudge/glare free cover) is awesome. Sure I’d like to not have letterboxing when I watch a movie but whatever, that’s a first world problem, and not that important to me.
  • The OS, it’s the iPhone OS, which while I wish wasn’t so closed off, and anti-hacker (Pro user), it’s an easy OS to understand.
  • The Apps. iPad apps, are nice. They use the screen really well. Those that will shine are the ones that didn’t simply recompile for the larger device.
  • The future potential. The iPad right now, for me is a cute toy that gets attention, and let’s me play a few games, and waste time. The iPad in 6 months, could seriously kick ass. There will be more apps that are useful, there will be (Please Apple, it’s kinda obvious) some way for me to work on files in mobileMe (or Googledocs) over the cloud. Screw this dragging files into iTunes, and back and forth. It’s 2010 Apple, you have a cloud storage service, that people are paying money for now. Tie that in to your devices!

What don’t I like? (and please, you don’t have to agree, I welcome your opinion, but if Apple makes you happy with what they deliver, don’t try to tell me what I should be happy too)

  • It’s a bit heavy. Not really a “Bad mark” but it’s not light.
  • The video app needs an update. Looking at my movies, it’s fine to see the thumbnail and name. Looking at TV shows. A thumbnail from an episode, isn’t helpful. I had 6 icons. Some Seinfeld, some Big Bang Theory. No labels. I had to open one up to see that it was the folder for a season of that show. I like the breakdown by season, that’s nice, but not having any visible clue, it’s like hunting around to find the show you want to watch.
  • The single port. This is totally an Apple thing, and I wasn’t surprised, that they’d only have a dock connector, and sell $29 things that plug into the dock connector. Doesn’t mean I think it’s ok.
  • The lack of Flash. I don’t actually miss Flash THAT much, because I’ve had my iPhone for a while. I think flash on the iPhone isn’t really a deal breaker. But the iPad is another device entirely. I expect on a media consumption tablet, that I could hit up Hulu, or youtube (fuck having a separate app, that’s lame), or any of the what? 80% of the web that uses flash to deliver content. It’s a business play pure and simple, and as a business person, I can’t find fault. As a consumer, hacker, and person who tries to see thru bull shit, I think it’s weak sauce. “Open Web”, my ass, it’s the “Apple Web”, and them trying to come off like it’s anything but a power grab, is disingenuous at best.
  • the iPad of now. If 360|iDev wasn’t the weak after iPadmas, I probably would have waited. It just doesn’t do anything I can’t do now with the tools I have. I don’t need “an semi-adequate alternative” I need a “solid replacement”… the iPad isn’t there.

Why I won’t be buying ebooks for a while

When I finished my last ebook the other day, i went to my bookshelf. Mainly it was to save a little money, I read fast when I read fiction, so I was consuming about 2-3 books a month, not a cheap hobby.

So I picked up a trusty paperback I’ve read 3 times previous but not recently (the last 4 years or s0).

I had forgotten how nice a book feels. No I’m not suddenly an anti paper luddite, but real books are nice, the feel of paper (in this books case) the degrading spine (mass market paperbacks sadly aren’t designed to last) requiring kid gloves to read it, etc.

But that nostalgia aside, i’m still a big proponent of eBooks, but I’m reconsidering my opinion that they’ve ‘arrived’

Not only does Amazon cow towing to McMillan bother me, but in general the trend of Amazon and the publishers.

I had hoped after what? 2 years of Kindle sales, stats like every Kindle owner on average buys 2.7 or something more books than non Kindle owning Amazon users, etc. That the publishers would get onboard the clue train.

But that doesn’t seem to have happened.

Rather than figure out how to make money in the marketplace as it exists, they’ve bitched and moaned for 2 years, without fixing a broken system.

I had hoped, and have said often, that the change in publishing, will have to be forced, and that I hoped Amazon was strong enough to “Apple” the publishing industry into the 21st Century.

I appear to have misplaced my hope. Sure it would suck to not be able to buy Tor titles from Amazon, I love Sci Fi. But it was a game of chicken, and Amazon jumped out of the car first.

Unfortunately rather than support the modern age, most authors seem to be on the attack of eReader owners, and crying foul on Amazon. Rather than lobbying for change from within most just sit back and bitch about how truly powerless they are. WTF guys come on, you’re the content creator, the power IS yours.

So for now, I’ve established a book buying moratorium. As much as it pains me, I can’t support an industry that staunchly refuses to adapt to the world around them. If the Music industry and figure it out, publishing should be able to as well.

I’ll get books at used book stores, I’ll use Paper back swap, and I’ll get free books for my Kindle when I can.

There’s always bittorrent too, sorry publishers, but forcing paying customers away, is your own doing*

I hope other Kindle owners will stop buying books as well. There’s plenty of other sources, and plenty of free content as well. My Kindle won’t be collecting dust by any means.

I’d love to hear what you think.

*Not an admission of piracy, if I WERE to download a book off a torrent and like it, I’d buy the paper version.

My take on the iPad – Might as well join in

Despite what my more fervent fanboi friends think, I don’t hate the iPad.

As the organizer of a conference for iPhone developers, I can’t wait to see what they do with the iPad. I can’t wait for panels on the differences, etc.

This post isn’t about that. This post is about me as a techy, power user consumer. The exact person the iPad isn’t for.

Alex Payne captures my thoughts on this really well. From a Flex Developer standpoint (Yeah that’s right hater, Flash!) I think Doug sums it up well.

I’m not gonna lie I let the rumor mill wind my expectations up more than I should have.

I was expecting

  • iPhone OS – Got it
  • Cellular plan of some sort – Got it
  • affordable – sorta got it. based on features it’s murky but it’s not $2000, so that’s something.
  • Ability to run more than one iApp at it’s native size in a window – Nope didn’t get that
  • A USB Port or two – Nope
  • Some type of awesome MobileMe integration that would allow me to download files on my iSlate straight to mobileme where I could consume them on my real computer. – Nope, not even close, and MobileMe still sucks, not even an upgrade to it.
  • Flash – nope. Though I wasn’t surprised. Apple controls the playground, and in true bully fashion has no reason to stop.

That’s it. The camera everyone wants might be fun, but i don’t use the one on my Macbook, so…

I can survive without the USB ports, since clearly apple doesn’t like us to have access to the guts, that’s livable.

No multitasking is a deal breaker. Let’s be clear, I have an iPhone, I have a Macbook. If I want the “Real web” I can look at it on my macbook which is nice and light. If I want the Apple version of the web, I can use my iPhone.

Assuming I got the device I wanted, I never in a million years Imagined I’d leave my Macbook at home. Clearly I wouldn’t leave my iPhone at home either. I’d cary the tablet for when I walk around, or just need to do some lightweight work. I’d carry with me at conferences for note taking and controlling the mac mini’s on site if they need it. etc. it’d be a utility device. I could stream music, and work on my keynote for Wednesday, I could fire up IM and not be away from it, ditto for twitter. I’d basically be free to roam and not be tied to my laptop at the registration desk.

When I was going out and didn’t need my laptop, i figured my iSlate would be with me. Heck I could toss it in Nicole’s purse, or just hold it.

It’s not (yet) the device I want.

I admit, my hopes were pie in the sky. From the vitriol flowing out of twitter the last few days, I’m not alone. It’s almost like the Jets vs. sharks scene in West Side Story. The die hard fanbois are rushing to the defense of Apple and the iPad and those dissappointed and even angry are rushing to call it names, and shout how Apple has failed them. I say them because while I’m sad it’s not the device I want, I have no doubt it will sell like mad and people will love it. Fanbois will love it because it’s in their contract. Normal consumers will love it because it’s simple, doesn’t do anything but surf the web and send email, etc. My mom truly is the perfect candidate for this device.

I agree with Alex that it seems that Apple is turning down a path, where hackers and power users aren’t welcome, and aren’t their core business. They’re truly turning consumer. This is good, great, but also bad.

Good because I want Apple to succeed, I truly love their products and industrial design (though I hope they ditch shiny backs on ipods. Clearly Steve jobs has had his finger prints burnt off to not see the smudges the rest of us see, or he has a Eunuch to operate his iPod and iPhone for him). Bad because as Alex says, they’re turning their attention away from what (I think) they’re all about. Apple was founded by hackers, Apple survived a long time on hackers, and tinkerers and power users.

Lately all their devices are less and less hacker, tinkerer, power user friendly. I’m sure plenty of self proclaimed power users will say otherwise, running Photoshop all day, with other apps open, does not a power user make in my mind. Open Terminal, hack your shit! Change settings via bash, etc. That to me is a power user.

That’s not possible on the iPad.

Hope in the Jailbreakers

I think the iPad has huge, huge potential. I think those folks that are angry have forgotten one key thing, the first version of most Apple gear is just meh. the first iPod, not so hot, awesome by the standards of the day of course, but compared to what iPods can do now. no.

The iPhone 2g when it was released had no apps but those Apple provided. Had no MMS, had no (long list of things, some still on it)

the OS wasn’t that great, the features weren’t that great, etc. the iPhone 3GS is quite a different machine. More powerful, more feature rich. I bought my 2G iPhone when the 3G was released, on Ebay. i didn’t fully jump on the bandwagon of iPhone until the 3GS. That was when it was a device I could use and like, outside of my fanboiism.

The Macbook Air had issues with it’s CPU cores, etc. Macbook pros mooo’d. There’s plenty of history of first gen issues. nothing major and Apple fixes them, but it’s common that the first run is to get the bugs out. Apple will make the iPad better. Perfect? no, but I hope it is eventually something I’ll want as a consumer.

P.S. Fanbois, please refrain from commenting on why I’m dumb for expecting something other than what I got. I’m sure you got exactly what you expected, you’re buying 4 of them the moment the site allows it, and you and Steve are on the same wavelength and this device is 100% the most awesome revolution in computing. I’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t add to the discussion. You have a blog, use it.

I would like to know what everyone thinks about the iPad in the least fanboish ways possible, what will you use it for, what do you think it’s strength is, other than, of course being Magical