Friday, May 22, 2009

"We have a wretched govern­ment here which has completely mucked up the system and caused the resignation of me and many others, because it was this government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act and it is this government that insisted on the things which caught me on the wrong foot, which if I'd been cleverer it wouldn't have done."

Wretched the government may be, in other ways, but isn't Sir Anthony Steen missing the point? He seems to be living in a completely solipsistic world.

"Cameron also forced the former Tory minister Sir Peter Viggers to announce his retirement after Viggers claimed £1,645 for a floating duck island."

These Conservatives really are going to be a hard blast of fresh air when they get into office, aren't they?

PS. Interestingly, that top quote disappeared from the article moments after I linked to it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The iPhone as a book reader

The iPhone is quite revolutionary: not as a phone, not as a podcast or music player, but as a book reader. I am not sure they designed it with that in mind but I think the dam is about to burst and we are about to enter a new age of reading. That sounds like hyperbole but I am convinced it is not.

The portability of the iPhone, its constant presence in ones pocket, combined with a passable screen for reading and eReader apps like Stanza and eReader mean that you can carry around a library in your pocket. That has been theoretically possible for ages but with the iPhone it is actually a library I want to read. Whenever I have a spare moment, I can pull out my iPhone and read a page of a novel. The next time I open the ereader application it will be open on that page. I am casually reading novels in a way that I haven't done for years.

All Apple have to do is to put an ibooks section on their itunes software and they will have instantly grabbed themselves a large slice of the future book market. I bet Amazon, who have put their eggs in the Kindle basket, are worried about that possibility. At the moment, actually buying ebooks is a little bit of a minefield because of competing formats and very difficult for me because I live in Japan. There are all kinds of petty restrictions on international rights. ITunes has the international presence to get round that (as, of course, do Amazon but they seem to be fiddling around with a particular idea about Kindle being their vehicle. I think the iPhone is changing the game and that the pace of the game is speeding up.)

In the meantime, as always happens when rights owner dilly dally, I am discovering the possibilities of free content. The free Project Gutenberg has so many books. I am reading Austen's "Persuasion" at the moment. Finished "Last of the Mohicans". Maybe Jane Eyre next? Or War and Peace. I might put Ulysses on it, so I can gradually read a page at a time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Writing this on my iPhone. The iPhone's book reading capacities have been a revelation. For years I waited for a screen that would simulate book paper. That has now arrived in the form of Kindles and other book readers. But now I begin to question whether that was the block after all. Perhaps we were just waiting for a big enough screen to be in our pockets and memory enough to carry the books. The iPhone is good enough for me to start dreaming of converting all my books to digital and getting a room back. The digital book revolution is underway, I think.

On a related point, since iPhones, Kindles etc. are things on which people do spend money then perhaps the cavalry is on the way for newspapers and other publishers ... But do they understand that they are no longer in the distribution business?

The Songs of IBM

Hail to the IBM