Tim O'Reilly predicts the imminent demise of the Kindle ebook reader unless it makes the move to open standards and abandons DRM and proprietary formats. I've been trying to get someone at Amazon to answer my basic questions about the "DRM-free" option for authors and publishers ("Does the EULA prohibit a reader from moving a DRM-free file to a non-Kindle?" "Is there a patent or other restriction that prevents competitors from making readers or converters for the DRM-free files?" and "Can DRM-free files be remotely downgraded, the way that the DRM'ed files have had their read-aloud functionality taken away after the fact?") and been totally stonewalled, as have O'Reilly.
Kudos to Tim for a great editorial and especially for the use of "strategy tax" -- what a great phrase!
So we sold GNN to America Online in June 1995. Big mistake. Despite telling us that they wanted to embrace the Web, they kept GNN as an "off brand," continuing to focus on their proprietary AOL platform and allowing Yahoo! ( YHOO - news - people ) to dominate the new online information platform.
So it was with a feeling of deja vu that I listened in mid-2007 to the promises of Amazon about the potential of its new proprietary e-book platform. While no payment is required to participate, there are clearly onerous restrictions that could limit the growth of the market: a proprietary file format, and the requirement that the e-books only be sold by Amazon.com.
The file format was a problem for us from the get-go: Amazon's Kindle file format doesn't provide support for tables or for so-called monospaced fonts, two formatting features that we use heavily in our line of technical books. And there is a viable alternative: Epub, the open format from the International Digital Publishing Forum, is based on the Web's native format, HTML, and provides full table and font support. This is the first "strategy tax" paid by those who embrace proprietary platforms: They can't support the needs of every niche and must prioritize their support for mainstream needs.
Craiglist has something wonderful on it: a vast collection of more than 600 vintage Smith-Corona typewriters, including accessories and marketing literature. Yours for a hundred grand. My collection consists of over 600 typewriter items including the company’s first typewriter in the 1880’s to one of the company’s last typewriters in 2000’s and all models in […]
We’re huge fans of portable power gadgets, but this one isn’t going in my pocket to help me keep my phone topped up after lunch. Anker’s Powerhouse is the size and weight of a concrete construction brick, and at $500 and 120,000mAh, by far their largest power pack yet. It’ll charge your laptop 15 times […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]