The Times has been disconnected

So today The Times was finally put behind a paywall after a few weeks that allowed users free registration.

It’s insane.

The whole point of the Internet is the interconnectedness of all sites, so the sites that limit access will find it hard to attract traffic to themselves.

I know for a fact that I don’t tend to write blog postings that link to sites that are not universally accessible, so even if I were given free access to The Times’ website, I wouldn’t blog the content I found there without summarising it to such an extent that the blog posting would make it irrelevant to read the original article.

My gut feeling is most bloggers think the same way, so The Times (and soon the other NewsCorp sites) can wave goodbye to a lot of incoming traffic, which again means they’ll find it hard to attract new readers.

It’s the same problem that reviewers are now finding with the iPad’s magazine applications:

Despite the initial novelty of “swiping” to turn a page – not to mention interactive photo galleries, beautifully designed charts, audio snippets and videos – the app possesses the disadvantages of print without acknowledging the opportunities of the digital medium. Ads, for instance – lots of them. Unlike the easily ignored banner ads on Wired’s website, in the iPad app you find yourself assaulted by full-page brand advertising for the likes of Heineken, Samsung and Continental Airlines.

Wired wants you to read the app like a magazine, too: one page at a time. Little is done to improve navigation beyond the ability to view a list of all the articles in the issue.

And more than 11 years after Google made every webpage accessible from the search bar, the Wired app inexplicably lacks a search function. The publishers of iPad apps seem largely disinterested in linking to webpages. Perhaps this is a relic of their print editions.

There’s a bigger problem with the lack of links: If I decide I particularly like an article within an iPad app, there’s no way to link to it. Even if I could, you would need to buy the app to see what I’m talking about.

It looks like many publishers are trying to move back to before the Internet. This is understandable – it’s the world they know and understand.

I just hope most people will realise that paying money for these reactionary initiatives – whether Internet paywalls or iPad magazines – will make the Internet worse, not better.


The problem with tablet computers is that they’re too big and too light at the same time: Too big to fit into a soft and safe pocket, and too light to make a hard case feasible.

So products like the iPad will probably break all the time unless people put them into big cases, in which case they might as well have bought a notebook.

So I started wondering whether the solution would be to roll up the computer instead, and my father-in-law has now sent me a video that shows that I wasn’t the first person with this idea:

It looks like a great idea, although I’m wondering whether the outer casing won’t scratch the screen when it’s rolled up — I would have thought it needed to be soft on the outside. I also wonder whether it needs to be so big. An iPad rolled up wouldn’t be much bigger than an banana, I reckon, so it would fit into a jacket pocket or a lady’s handbag.

Sadly, however, this is just a design project AFAIK, not an actual product.

But perhaps somebody will make an actual product out of this one day. If it’s Apple, they could call it the iScroll.

Who’ll use the iPad?

Apple iPad Packaging Revealed
Originally uploaded by JDAC

I’ve been discussing with wifie who’ll use the iPad, and we find it hard to find a single group of people that it’s perfect for. Let’s have a look:

  • School kids and students won’t like it because they can’t play the Flash games that are their raison d’être, and because they multitask all the time (homework is always done while MSN’ing in another window).
  • Content creators (such as bloggers) won’t like it because it doesn’t have a proper keyboard, and because it’s hard to attach a camera.
  • Gadget nerds will think they don’t really need it because they already have an iPhone, a netbook, a laptop and a portable DVD player.
  • Mature technophobes who would really like a minimal solution for light web browsing and emailing won’t like it because the iPad requires a proper computer for synchronisation, too.
  • Business people will not buy it because it cannot be connected to a lightpro for presentations, and they might also want a front-facing camera for conferencing.
  • Commuters won’t like it because it’s hard to hold on to on public transport.
  • Porn addicts will dislike that it needs to be held in the hands.
  • Book readers will not buy it because the screen isn’t as good for reading as electronic paper.
  • Women won’t buy it because of the name, and because it doesn’t fit in a handbag.
  • Game players will only buy it if there are games available for it that are better than their equivalents on other platforms, and that’s not the case (yet).

So I must admit I find it hard to figure out who exactly will think it’s worth the money, unless some ground-breaking games are soon released for it.

How will you hold the iPad?

Apple iPad
Originally uploaded by nDevilTV

The usual crowd seem to love the new iPad, but neutral observers seem to be distinctly unimpressed (and not just because of the sanitary name).

I tend to agree.

If it’s supposed to be Apple’s netbook, it should be running MacOS, not the single-tasking OS of the iPod Touch and iPhone that is restricted to applications from Apple’s application store, and it should have at least one USB port so that you can connect a printer, a camera or a keyboard, and a monitor socket so that you can connect it to a lightpro if you’re giving a presentation.

If it’s a hand-held web browser, it should support flash (which is needed for 90% of the web games that are Marcel and Charlotte’s main reason for using a computer).

If it’s an eReader, would most people not prefer a “real” one like the Kindle which uses electronic paper instead of a back-lit LED display, especially as the iPad is only 132 pixels per inch (ppi) compared to the Kindle’s 150/167 ppi or the iPhone’s 163 ppi?

I can also see a problem with how to hold it. You typically balance a netbook on your legs or put it on a table, and you normally hold a smartphone in one hand while you operate it with the other one. Neither seems practical for the iPad: If you balance it on your legs or put it on a table, the angle is wrong for looking at the screen (and you could easily drop it if you’re using it on public transport), and if you hold it in one hand, you only have one hand to operate it with (which is not ideal for fast typing), and it could easily be snatched out of your hand.

I therefore think that most users will buy the keyboard dock and/or the iPad case, which allows the iPad to be positioned upright or at an angle (scroll down to the bottom of the page if you follow the link), but that makes it even more expensive, and even less practical to carry around.

To conclude, I really don’t think the first-generation iPad will catch on. However, Apple could easily design a very attractive second-generation device if they added a few ports, upgraded the OS and integrated the case.

Watching the wheels

Split wing mirror
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Shortly after I got my driving license, we went to Tuscany on holiday.

My parents, who we were visiting, thought it would be good for me to learn to drive on the right, too, so they let me drive their car, a Fiat Multipla.

One feature of that car is that it has split wing mirrors (see the photo): The top part is a normal wing mirror, while the bottom part is fixed to show the bottom edge of the car.

It’s probably designed to make parking easier (and it definitely works for that purpose), but I found it invaluable to learn to gauge the width of the car.

Basically, at first I had no idea where the edge of the road was, but once I learned to check the bottom mirror, I found I could see precisely where I was.

I probably only used it intensively for an hour or two, and I then got a really good feel for the width of the car.

Actually, when I returned to the UK, I realised that I actually felt less able to gauge the width of my own car.

It’s not really the kind of thing you need all the time, but it would be a wonderful feature every time you drive a new car.


Thomas’s new car
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Som jeg har skrevet før, bestod jeg køreprøven i sidste uge.

Phyllis’ forældre brugte det som en undskyldning for at skifte deres biler ud, og vi fik så lov til at købe Anns gamle bil.

Da Phyllis er ejer af vores Citroën C8, besluttede vi, at jeg skulle stå som ejer af den fire år gamle Nissan Micra S.

Vi er begge forsikret til begge biler, så reelt bliver Micraen nok bilen til småture og Citroënen bilen til længere weekendture.

Men det er altså min første bil, og jeg tror såmænd nok, jeg skal blive glad for den.