Friday, December 3, 2010

Charter subscribers get notified that Nomad Editions is live; Real Eats and Wave Lines available to readers

The two first magazine issues from Nomad Editions went live today, an issue Real Eats and one from Wave Lines. Wide Screen is due to go live on the 8th.
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Charter subscribers received notice this afternoon that their magazines were available to be viewed -- which is why I was able to grab a screenshot. An e-mail from Samuel O.J. Spivey, VP at Nomad Editions, let subscribers log-in to see their first issues.

The issues are meant to be read on mobile devices, which is good, because the web-based magazines will not impress many who have seen flipbooks. But carefully readjusting your screen will give you an idea of what you can expect on mobile devices as the pages reformat and reflow the pages. The effect will be more obvious, and more useful, when seen on various mobile devices with different screen sizes.

A look ahead to next week: Freedom Communications releases four new newspaper iPad apps; tablet app from Portugese news magazine Visão looks very promising

With all the depressing news out there today concerning WikiLeaks, the economy and more, it would probably be a good time to sit back and look at some new newspaper and magazine tablet apps. But, honestly, I'm just not up for it. So I'm going to spend the weekend living with these newly released media apps and will write up the posts for Monday.
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A preview of Monday posts:

• TNM reader Pedro Monteiro has been working with a team on an app for the Portugese news magazine Visão. The app, Revista Visão, looks very promising.

Interestingly, a decision was made to make the app landscape only, the opposite choice some developers have made. Of course, this means that the app will be totally "native" since print magazines are portrait. Looking at a few of the articles the choice seems like a good one and this is certainly one post I look forward to writing.

• Freedom Communications has released four more iPad apps for its newspapers. The apps are for the Burlington Times-News, The Daily Press (Victorville, Calif.), The Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, North Carolina), and the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Unlike the app from Visão, I'm kind of dreading looking at these apps. They appear to be developed by Handmark and look at first blush like overblown iPhone apps. I've written some very positive things about the media apps from Handmark and they regularly send me press releases about their latest apps. But I've heard nothing about these and stumbled upon them on one of my regular trips to the iTunes App Store. Oh God, this could be ugly.

So rather than end my week by blasting some newspaper publishers for completely blowing their tablet strategy, I think I'll spend some time with all these apps and come back Monday. Maybe I'll win the lottery between now and then and come back in a giddy mood. (Good luck with that.)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange answers questions from Guardian readers, talks about Amazon Web Services

In a far too short Q&A, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange answered questions today from Guardian readers -- you can read the entire session here.

The one question, and its answer, that I found both revealing was this one from someone writing as "rszopa":

Q: Annoying as it may be, the DDoS seems to be good publicity (if anything, it adds to your credibility). So is getting kicked out of AWS. Do you agree with this statement?

Julian Assange:
Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit inorder to separate rhetoric from reality. Amazon was one of these cases.
AWS refers to Amazon Web Services, of course. Whether Assange is being honest about whether WikiLeaks intentionally set-up Amazon to expose its position is hard to say. But the ramifications of the incident may well be greater than Amazon may think. Amazon has many ecommerce sites beside its US one (I've used the French, UK and Canadian sites myself in the past) and this incident may reinforce the fact that Amazon is a US-based company, and therefore, can not be trusted.

Morning Brief: Newspaper go blank over media law; WikiLeaks loses its domain, registers in Switzerland

Some newspaper editors across Hungary protested a new media law by producing blank front pages for their newspapers yesterday. The new law they say gives strong new powers to the government to control the media in their country .
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The news magazine Magyar Narancs, pictured here, was one of those protesting the new law. "Placed before Parliament in December, the draft law on media services and communications would provide total control of the Media, and through that the government of the electronic and print media over the Internet," the editors proclaimed on the paper's website (Google translation).

"The media council", an organization made up of officials chosen by the government, would have powers under the new law to fine publications whose content was deemed "unbalanced" or contained sex, violence or alcohol. The council could impose fines of up to €90,000 on print and web-based media entities and fines of €700,000 on radio and TV broadcasters.



WikiLeaks lost its domain name today as EveryDNS.net as it expeled the muckraking organization, forcing WikiLeaks to use a new domain, WikiLeaks.ch.

EveryDNS.net said they made the decision because WikiLeaks had been the victim of massive cyber attacks, forcing the website offline. "These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites," the company said.

Despite the attacks, the almost complete lack of support from American journalists and media organizations, WikiLeaks is currently online. I would rip up my degree in journalism in protest over all this . . . if I could find the damn thing. Must be in a box containing my disco dancing shoes.



In the meantime, here is Amazon's statement in full explaining their decision to end service for WikiLeaks:
There have been reports that a government inquiry prompted us not to serve WikiLeaks any longer. That is inaccurate.

There have also been reports that it was prompted by massive DDOS attacks. That too is inaccurate. There were indeed large-scale DDOS attacks, but they were successfully defended against.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) rents computer infrastructure on a self-service basis. AWS does not pre-screen its customers, but it does have terms of service that must be followed. WikiLeaks was not following them. There were several parts they were violating. For example, our terms of service state that “you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content… that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.” It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content. Further, it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren’t putting innocent people in jeopardy. Human rights organizations have in fact written to WikiLeaks asking them to exercise caution and not release the names or identities of human rights defenders who might be persecuted by their governments.

We’ve been running AWS for over four years and have hundreds of thousands of customers storing all kinds of data on AWS. Some of this data is controversial, and that’s perfectly fine. But, when companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isn’t rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it won’t injure others, it’s a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere.


Yesterday Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the Pentagon Papers, called for a boycott of Amazon over this action.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

So what exactly is going on? House votes confuses some newspaper websites, while other ignore vote altogether

The House of Representatives just voted to . . . a) extend middle class tax cuts, b) let the tax cut expire; or c) do nothing.
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It's hard to tell looking at the major newspaper websites. The New York Times, long after the final vote tally was counted, has still not reported any news at all.

Most other sites reported the news as an extension of middle class tax cuts (correct). But the Washington Post saw things differently, at least for a while, writing a headline that said that the tax cuts would expire (it was replaced with a different headline later).

The WSJ, predictably, was quick to condemn the move to let tax cuts on those earning over $250,000 expire immediately producing a video where three guys complain about the House vote. Fun stuff.

Guardian updates it's iPhone app one last time while it prepares to launch new paid app and first iPad edition

A final update was released today for the Guardian's iPhone app while the newspaper makes final plans to launch a brand new version of its mobile app and launches its first iPad app.
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Writing on the Guardian's own blog page, Jonathon Moore said that the current app has had some bugs worked out in the new update:

We've recently experienced some issues with the offline reading functionality on our iPhone app. This was due to an oversight during our testing processes and – to make matters worse - coincided with the US holidays, meaning that the update to fix these problems took some time to get through the AppStore approval procedure at Apple.
Moore states that the current iPhone app has been downloaded over 200,00 times in just under a year.

A new app is just around the corner for the Guardian. The app will require UK readers to pay a recurring fee: £2.99 for six months and £3.99 for a year's access. US customers, though, will be able to download the app for free through the US Apple App Store, as the Guardian tries to monetize the app through advertising.

Moore said the paper is working towards a pre-Christmas launch for the new mobile apps.

In the meantime, an iPad app is still in development. "We're still working through the final features but, as always, we're aiming high and hoping to steal a march on the current news-oriented iPad apps already available. We'll reveal more details about this soon," Moore wrote.

Yahoo! Porn comes to the iPhone! (OK, maybe not)

You would be forgiven for thinking the apps pictured here are fake, merely mock ups of what some porn apps would look like on the iPhone. But you'be be wrong. These are real apps, part of a portfolio of apps from Boris Kreynin that now total 100 for the iPhone and 33 for the iPad.
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While many publishers complain about the process of getting their apps approved, and others wonder if Apple is playing games with their tablet editions, other developers are apparently able to get away with just about anything.

Now if you think good ol' Boris has brought pornography to the iPhone you'd be wrong, of course. No such luck.

Working under the name "www.yablosoft.com", Boris Kreynin has been launching paid apps at a quick pace. All of them are of, well, dubious value -- but Apple apparently doesn't seem to mind in the least.

Take, for instance, his Kama Sutra app. For $7.99 in the US App Store you can install an app that is written in German. Not surprisingly what few reviews that exist are all one-star. The picture used for the logo and the one and only screenshot is obvious stock photography of an attractive young lady dressed in business attire. Pretty tame.

(By the way, "Kama Sutra" was his follow-up app to Super Kamasutra. "Super" was apparently less "super" because it cost $3 less.)

But now the new apps use more provocative shots for the logo and screenshot -- and always the same shot for both so that the buyer has no idea what they are getting. Girls of the Golden West screams out "Adult +21 ONLY!!" The app was released yesterday and already has 16 five-star reviews -- amazing. But . . . one review shows up as a one-star judgement and warns that not a single picture is included in the app:

If you're looking for erotic photos, you're out of luck. However, if you'd like to purchase a horribly written, sexless novella that's in the public domain, well this is your lucky day.

I wasn't happy with this App. But the 20 friends, family and employees of the Developer who rated this POS sure were.
So why is Apple giving publishers a hard time, but letting in developers who are pulling obvious games on its customers?

The answer probably lies in two areas: 1) all these apps are under the "Entertainment" category where a lot of strange stuff shows up. Without actual nudity these apps may be flying under the radar of Apple's otherwise prudish censors; 2) Apple continues to fumble its media partner relations, they don't seem to understand the publishing game and seem to be separating out business development (strategic partnerships) from the app store. That is, business development is limited to the creation of new products like the Apple TV, while in the real world of media, all the activity is actually occurring inside the App Store.

If the publishing trade associations were of any value -- and they are not -- they would have long ago been engaging with Apple (and Google) and providing a benefit to their members. But publishers are pretty much on their own, and at a disadvantage.

I sense that Apple will once again do a Spring cleaning of the App Store. This will clear out a lot of junk and more than a few rip-offs -- just as it did this February. But until it improves the quality and judgement of its app teams we're still going to have these issues. Chalk it up to a long adolescence at the Apple App Stores.

Financial Times reports the Beeb is coming to the iPad with a paid subscription service using its iPlayer

For those thoroughly unimpressed with the BBC America channel there is hope on the horizon. According to a report in the Financial Times the BBC is planning to launch a paid subscriptions service for the iPad.

Because the Beeb is forbidden to charge for its content within the UK, the new paid service would be available elsewhere, with the US being the first market targeted. The move would bring the BBC's iPlayer to the US iTunes App Store possibly by the middle of next year.

No word on the subscription charge for the content, but Luke Bradley-Jones, managing director of BBC.com is quoted by the FT as stating that "We’re quite bullish about what we can charge, but we are still working out the details.”

Bradley-Jones also said the new iPad app would have “a handcrafted feel, very much being about the best of British”. I guess that means it will look good, but break down every couple thousand miles (couldn't help myself).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Amazon pulls the plug on WikiLeaks

The non-profit media organization WikiLeaks has had its service terminated by Amazon. Although it is said that the site will return to a Swedish provider, the muckraking website is currently not live.

According to a statement from Sen. Joe Lieberman, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, the decision was Amazon's:

This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the Wikileaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on Wikileaks' previous publication of classified material. The company's decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organization that is hosting Wikileaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. Wikileaks' illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company - whether American or foreign - should assist Wikileaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with Wikileaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information.
The decision by Amazon to accept WikiLeaks as a customer for its web hosting services was an odd one to begin with considering the enormous controversy surrounding WikiLeaks and its recent document dumps of sensitive material.

During the past few days WikiLeaks had reported a massive distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). The DDoS is rumored to have come from a number of sources and has occasionally left the website offline.

Retweet: NYT looks at Google's proposed acquisition of Groupon; The Atlantic says is it worth the steep price tag

For many people the company Groupon is still a very under-the-radar type of firm, delivering coupon discounts to a younger, tech savvy audience. But Google apparently wants the company and is said to be prepared to pay a huge price tag to acquire it: $6 billion. That alone should be news. And today, thanks to the NYT and a few other outlets the deal is getting more attention.
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Last night the NYT's DealBook ran this feature on the deal written by Evelyn M. Rusli and Jenna Wortham.

Google has offered Groupon $5.3 billion, with the promise of $700 million in performance bonuses for management, according to a person knowledgeable about the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Several people close to the deal said Groupon, which is based in Chicago, was expected to approve the acquisition and an agreement could be signed as early as this week.
The article goes on to explore the background of the deal and opinions on either side of it -- a very good backgrounder.

The Atlantic's associate editor Nicholas Jackson posts this morning this opinion that the deal is worth the huge price tag.
Just two years old, Groupon has built a huge following around a very simple idea: one really good deal every day in every major city. (Today, in Washington, D.C., the deal is $20 for three Bohemian Belly Dance classes, which would normally cost $60.) The fine print: Buyers aren't charged -- and the deal isn't "on" -- unless a critical mass of people sign up. That way, the company or organization being promoted that day is guaranteed to bring in enough new customers to make steeply discounted deals worthwhile.
From Jackson's perspective it's a good deal.

Jon Fortt, writing on the CNBC website, says Google, if it wants to get into the local advertising game, should just buy a newspaper company (really!).

"Heck, if Google is that desperate to get into the local advertising market, it should buy the largest newspaper company in the U.S.: Gannett."

The problem, of course, is that no newspaper company has penetration of as many markets as a company. Further, as I've complained about many times here, newspapers have been slow to use the web and mobile to bring local advertising to its readers, preferring, instead, to just create products that attract a few new national ads (mobile newspaper apps are almost always just RSS readers that have nothing to do with local retail or classified adverting, a huge lack of vision on the part of the industry).

Morning Brief: The Crazy; Google Editions nears launch

Was there something going around yesterday. You know, some virus that made media writers a bit ... crazy.

I was going to do a round-up of all the positively insane stories there were posted yesterday -- like the two wonderful examples about Richard Branson's Project iPad magazine, what exactly is "digital harmony" anyway? -- but decided that since the crazy is pretty much the norm now in our US media industry it isn't really news when someone writes about the end of Apple, or that tablet magazines are a waste of time. It is simply just another day in medialand.



The WSJ reports that Google is "in the final stages of launching its long-awaited e-book retailing venture".

I've always thought people were overestimating the significance of Apple's move into the book market with its iBooks store. To me, someone who has had Apple products since before the Mac, I see iBooks as one of those features that are important to its new tablet. That is, if Amazon didn't create a Kindle app at least the iPad would still have a way to bring in books.

I'm a huge fan of Amazon. I use the online store and I use the Kindle app on my iPad. I'm satisfied.

Now here comes Google Editions.

I admit that I don't yet fully understand their model (definitely read the WSJ story for more background) but this quote from a bookseller does peak my interest:
"Google is going to turn every Internet space that talks about a book into a place where you can buy that book," says Dominique Raccah, publisher and owner of Sourcebooks Inc., an independent publisher based in Naperville, Ill. "The Google model is going to drive a lot of sales. We think they could get 20% of the e-book market very fast."
The issue I see here is "what demand are they fulfilling?" It is much easier to enter a market where customers are current dissatisfied with their choices. Are consumers unhappy with traditional booksellers and online sellers like Amazon?

Here is Google's own definition of its soon to arrive service:

Google Editions is an upcoming program that will allow consumers to easily purchase and read digital editions of books. Consumers will be able to preview a book, as they do today in Google Books, and will also have the option to purchase its Google Edition. After purchase, the book will live in the consumer's online bookshelf, available to be accessed and read on most devices with internet access and a web browser; as well as on supported partner devices (to be announced during our public launch).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

American City Business Journals sign with Handmark to relaunch its roster of 42 website properties for mobile

The Business Journals, a division of American City Business Journals, announced today that they had entered into a partnership with handmark to launch new mobile applications for their 42 website properties. The St. Louis Business Journal mobile apps have already launched with apps for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone.
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“We are dedicated to providing comprehensive, exclusive coverage on both local and national issues that affect our subscribers’ businesses and assist them in opening doors and making connections,” Huntley Paton, Executive Editor for The Business Journals, said in the company announcement. “Mobile is an integral part of our growth strategy to deliver a more relevant and convenient experience and we are proud to have Handmark as our partner.”

There are already 40 other mobile apps in the iTunes App Store for Business Journal properties (excluding the new app for the St. Louis Business Journal from Handmark). These apps appear to be all straight forward RSS feed readers.
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The newer app for the St. Louis Business Journal offers more navigation options, including an option to read "Premium" content available to subscribers only.

“The Business Journals’ team has an innovative approach in expanding their content and we are pleased to support a great new mobile experience for their customers,” Paul Reddick, Handmark CEO, said in the announcement released today.

The new apps developed by Handmark to replace the older mobile apps will be launched in the first quarter of next year.

A look at the new International Herald Tribune iPad app

Released on the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the International Herald Tribune has two new apps for iOS devices. Here is a quick at the iPad edition of the venerable newspaper.
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The free app promises that readers will be able to access all content without charge until early 2011. I assume that at that time they will institute a pay model of some type modelled on what its parent company, The New York Times Company, decides it wants to do. Interestingly, though, the app shows up under its own name rather than under the NYT umbrella.

It is the NYT that provides the content for the paper, of course, but its focus on international news for a European or Asian audience has always appealed to me. The app itself uses the NYT and Financial Times model: native layouts in both portrait and landscape make reading easy, and while there is no push to zoom, fonts are easily controlled. In other words, this is an RSS reader designed for the iPad rather than a replica of the print edition.


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Top Left: Section navigation menu; Top Middle: typical article in portrait with
a weather widget seen on the bottom; Top Right: layout with ad in portrait.
Bottom Left: typical article in landscape; Bottom Right: same article with ad.


One senses that this is just a stopgap app that will evolve into some sort of paid model down the line. Enjoy now while it is free if you are a reader. If you are a publisher, this is yet another example of what I guess you would call the NYT approach to a tablet newspaper. It will be interesting to see if the new Murdoch daily uses this approach or tries something different. It could decide to mimmick print like the Sporting News Today app (let's hope not) or else go native like this one.

Comcast erects 'toll booth' for Netflix delivery service; FCC to seek more information about the claims

This is precisely what advocates for net-neutrality have been warning about, a cable company using its leverage as an Internet delivery system to stifle the efforts of a competitor. In this case, Bloomberg reported yesterday evening about the actions of Comcast which is supposedly imposing a fee on Level 3 Communications Inc., one of the companies Netflix uses to deliver movies and TV shows to its customers who want to stream content over the Internet.

“By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its network,” Thomas Stortz, Level 3’s chief legal officer, said in a statement. Comcast's position is that by streaming Netflix content Level 3 is essentially using up too much bandwidth.

According to the WSJ, the FCC is investigating Level 3's claims and is seeking more information.

'Project' launched: iPad-only magazine from Virgin Digital Publishing is Richard Branson's latest big adventure

It arrived with very little fanfare -- at least compared to the highly hyped daily newspaper from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Instead, this first venture from Richard Branson's newest venture, Virgin Digital Publishing, named 'Project' is a bit under the radar, as befitting a first effort in tablet publishing.
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Project is available in three editions -- UK, US and Canada -- but this is most likely because sales of the $2.99 issues go through the appropriate app stores (or did the issue go three separate spell checkers?).

The app itself is free to download, then readers are offered up the one issue currently available for purchase, though readers can also see a preview of the issue for free.

The new tablet magazine launch is led by editor in chief Anthony Norguera with Project having its own digital and development team. But Seven Publishing Group is listed under "Publishing" leading one to believe that the new entity is working with an outside firm to make this iPad magazine happen. An ad team is also in place, though it appears to be a skeleton crew at this point.


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Like a lot of magazines heavy with video content, this is a hefty download. But instead of making the app itself huge, the user here downloads the issues from within the app. For me the process took about two minutes, with a slower connection it might take longer. But once installed, this tablet publication offers complete portrait and landscape versions -- they are identical, but the fact that you can read this in either orientation mandates a large sized download.

The 'cover' itself is a video (again, in both portrait and landscape -- last time I'll repeat that, promise). You can see that video at right in the TNM video channel window. This theme is repeated elsewhere in the magazine. For instance, the Jeff Bridges feature again starts with a video of Bridges walking on a beach, presumably in Santa Barbara.
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There is no way to access the content quality here having just installed the app -- and that isn't the domaine of TNM anyways -- but the app is very impressive at first blush. Can they produce this every month, every four months? We'll see.

For other publishers, this app is pretty intimidating. The video and animation involved here can only be duplicated by a dedicated tablet publishing team -- and I might add, a magazine like this can only exist on a tablet.


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I should mention the Lexus ad here. While all the features have embedded video, for some reason the Lexus ad uses YouTube for its content. It works, I suppose, and it mercifully makes the issue a little less hefty.

Again, like some of the better apps, the ad is viewable in both portrait and landscape. This ability to get two sets of creative will no doubt be a challenge with selling last minute ads for tablets with dual orientations. Interactive agencies will have to get used to this, and if I were selling ads for a tablet publication I would be eager to target clients and agencies that already understand this.



So far the reaction to the magazine within the iTunes App Store has been very positive -- actually extremely positive. The only criticism in the US store so far has to do with the download times. While the most negative review in the UK store is "why would I prefer this to print?", which is pretty funny when you consider the huge amount of video and animation in this app.

Perhaps the gentleman works for paidContent?

Morning Brief: An iPad virgin no more, 'Project' project is launched; more on WikiLeaks and the New York Times

The Richard Branson (Virgin Group) backed iPad magazine effort is available on iTunes today and TNM will take a closer look at it later today. Project, in case you had not heard, is available for the iPad only, but also has an online blog in support (here).
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This morning paidContent.org looked at the app but the writer, Robert Andrews, was not impressed because he was forced to upgrade his iPad's OS and iTunes. Sorry, if you have not updated your iPad OS by now what the hell are you doing writing about iPad apps? Pretty embarrassing post, if you ask me.

• Speaking of embarrassment: the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents clearly are not that embarrassing to the current administration in the White House. How can you tell? The New York Times has yet to have one of its writers publish another hit piece. Instead the paper wrote an editorial basically saying that this is all not really news.

My own theory on all this is that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released this batch of documents not so much to expose anything as devastating as the helicopter video but to get back at those who he felt were going after him personally.

Who knows, it's a theory.

• Politico looks this morning at the relationship between the NYT and WikiLeaks, mentioning in passing that it did not get the documents directly from WikiLeaks but through The Guardian.

It's a good piece but one pretty much knows how readers will react to it: uniformly negative towards the NYT. Americans, by and large, simply do not want to know what their government is doing -- creating, in my opinion, a very dangerous political environment. What will happen if a future administration actually exercises the new powers it has accumulated of late: indefinite detention, the right to assassinate American citizens without judicial restraint, etc.?

I know it's just Politico, but other sites such as the Washington Monthly and TPM are either seriously questioning the media for publishing these latest docs, or at least sounding skeptical.

The media reports, you decide. It's a simple system. But apparently some on both the right and left are now advocating something much different for this country. Scary.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tim Moore launches second edition of 'Letter to Jane'; iPad magazine app gets boost from Apple in App Store

Back with his second edition of Letter to Jane magazine for the iPad, Tim Moore brings a minimalist approach to app development, leaving the words and photographs to do the work.
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In May of this year, shortly after Apple first launched the iPad, Tim Moore, then a 25 year-old photographer from Portland, Oregon, launched his first iPad app. At that time Moore told me that his magazine efforts had "been a blog for a year and half, and then it moved to kind of an indie zine this past Christmas."

"I wanted to (bring the magazine to the iPad) ever since I heard about the thing, but wanted to see what the big magazines might do. Then I got a feel for it -- then got one in my hands and realized I'd really like my work to be on there," Moore said then.

That first effort to bring Letter to Jane (named after the Jean-Luc Godard film) was difficult enough as Moore said he hadn't done any programming since high school.

Now, a little over six months later, Letter to Jane magazine: Late Autumn, the second edition of the tablet magazine, is still a minimalist affair. At only ninety-nine cents to download, it is definitely worth a look. Further, if any programmers out there want to donate a little time, this magazine is certainly worth your efforts.


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Left: The forced portrait mode makes viewing landscape composed photographs difficult; Middle: articles lead off with an intro page, and then you swipe to reach the interview; Right: each article comes with a text-only version.


The magazine's content centers on fashion, art and music, but at its core is photography. Because of this, the lack of a landscape mode hurts the magazine's artwork. Apps such as The Guardian Eyewitness basically is in landscape mode. Sure, you can view it in portrait, but one learns quickly that the app is better in landscape with each photograph filling the screen. Portrait photographs simply aren't used in the Guardian's app because of this.

Here, however, everything is in portrait. The problem is that Moore has to double up the photographs to make this work. Full screen portrait shots look great, landscape ones are at a disadvantage. To compensate, Moore often matchs a color shot with a black & white one.

Survey shows Android users are not as brand loyal

Ultimately this isn't good news for Google's Android platform: according to a study by the German firm GfK, while 59 percent of iPhone users say they would stick with the iPhone, only 28 percent of Android users say they would choose another Android device for their next phone.
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"Loyalty with a handset is a lot more complicated these days in that people buy into experiences at the high-end level," Reuters reported GfK's lead analyst Ryan Garner as saying. "If a phone doesn't do what it says it will do or what the owner hopes it will do, the maker will lose loyalty."

My own experiences with Android phones, while limited, show both why the techies love the platform, and why some consumers find them frustrating: the UI is not intuitive -- at least not in comparison to iPhones and dumb phones. Playing around with a new Motorola Android device this weekend, purchased for someone who wanted a physical keyboard, the device just didn't seem as consumer friendly as either the iPhone or the new Windows Phone 7 devices. Also, I was surprised to see that while Apple and Microsoft prominently promoted their OS's, Android devices found at AT&T stores never even mentioned the platform being used. This must be the result of the manufacturers attempting to built up their own phone set brands, not the platform they are built on.

It's not surprisingly, therefore, to find that the platform that does second best is RIM's BlackBerry -- 35 percent of owners say they will stick with the brand.

Note: despite my first impressions of Android, I think it will continue to be a leading mobile OS, of course -- and it will be extremely important to future tablet devices. Also, I made a small change to the headline.

WikiLeaks latest document dump left out the US media; US blogosphere not proving to be a good alternative

If it is true that the New York Times did not receive the WikiLeaks cables directly from the source, it means that no U.S. media company was a direct source of the news. What does this say about the state of the media in the U.S.?

A good example of the transformation of the online media world can be seen over at the liberal blog sites Daily Kos and the Political Animal blog at the Washington Monthly. Both sites have been in the tank for the Obama administration despite the general unease liberals have with the administration. Doing his best Sean Hannity impression, Steve Benen writes about the latest WikiLeaks doc dump: "If the argument from the leakers is that there should be no such thing as private diplomacy, they'll need a better excuse to justify this kind of recklessness."

I've been wondering why WikiLeaks did not choose an online organization in the U.S. to give the cables to -- but who would that be? Could any of them be trusted to actually work their way through the cables and report on them? Doubtful, though I suppose the Huffington Post would be the logical candidate. (Read through the comments on this post on HP and the distrust and absolutely distain readers have for the MSM is palpable.)

Morning Brief: WikiLeaks and the media; some iPad owners complain about Wi-Fi reception since upgrade

Good morning. TNM is back from the Thanksgiving holiday break. Thank you for the notes sent over the weekend, I appreciate the feedback.

Another major WikiLeaks document dump occurred yesterday. It would be easy, at least in the U.S., to have not heard about it as the cable news networks chose, by and large, to ignore the event. CNN chose to concentrate on covering holiday travel traffic instead, dutifully reporting that there was no news to report on the subject. Amazing.

The latest WikiLeaks release involved 251,287 cables sent from 250 U.S. embassies. Once again The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Speigel received the major leak, along with Le Monde and El País. The question on my mind is will the NYT again immediately follow-up its initial stories with another hit piece -- the last one penned by John Burns. So far nothing, but the day is young.

Update: Apparently the Times got the leaked diplomatic cables care of The Guardian, not directly through WikiLeaks. Well, serves 'em right, I guess.


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Tim Moore contacted me yesterday evening to let me know that his second edition of his indy iPad magazine Letter to Jane.

Moore, then 25 and a photographer from Portland, released his iPad app and I featured it as one of the first (if not the first) example of citizen publishing I expected to see in the future.

"It is currently compatible only with iOS 4.2 but an update has been submitted that extends compatibility with 3.2 as well," Moore wrote last night. "Also issue 01 is now free and there is an update with a slight redesign already submitted, as well."

I will talk more about the app this afternoon. But in the mean time it is interesting that Moore is finding that there are some capability issues with designing for the new iOS, several other apps have also warned users of backward capability issues.

Further, a huge thread has been started on the Apple website discussing issues with Wi-Fi many owners are experiencing since the OS upgrade. I haven't personally experienced problems, and this doesn't seem to be much of an issue with readers on the Mac forums so it is hard to judge how wide spread the issues really are.



TechCrunch is reporting that Sony is already offering a 25 percent discount off its Blu-ray Google TV units. Now just about everything is being discounted this holiday season, a sign retailers and manufacturers know they will have to work hard for sales in this economy, but a discount off a new product is somewhat rare, and not at all a good sign.

Google TV has had some bad press as broadcasters haven't exactly been enthusiastic about the new device. Further, the system seems to be suffering through some UI issues. David Pogue, the New York Times tech writer, penned a pretty scathing review saying that "(O)n the great timeline of television history, Google TV takes an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity."

In the meantime, Apple's latest, and more modest attempt at tackling the living room television has met with more success, mostly due to its very low price: $99.