Archive for March, 2010

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Kindle for Mac scores low on usability

Here’s my first experience with Amazon’s new Kindle client for Mac: After digging up my password and logging in, I was presented with a bunch of books. I picked the last one I’d been reading. It downloaded slowly, without a progress bar, then dumped me on some page in the middle. Apparently my farthest-read location, but I honestly don’t remember.

A cute little graphic on the screen said I could use my scroll wheel. I’m on a laptop, so I tried the two-finger drag–the equivalent gesture sans mouse… and flipped some dozens of pages in half a second. Now, hopelessly lost I searched for a ‘back’ button to no avail.  Perversely, there is a prominent ‘back’ button, but disabled. Mocking me.

This feels rushed. I wonder what could be pushing Amazon to release something so unfinished? -m

Friday, March 5th, 2010

A Hyperlink Offering revisited

The xml-dev mailing list has been discussing XLink 1.1, which after a long quiet period popped up as a “Proposed Recommendation”, which means that a largely procedural vote is is all that stands between the document becoming a full W3C Recommendation. (The previous two revisions of the document date to 2008 and 2006, respectively)

In 2005 I called continued development of XLink a “reanimated spectre”. But even earlier, in 2002 I wrote one of the rare fiction pieces on, A Hyperlink Offering, which using the format of a Carrollian dialog between Tortoise and Achilles, explained a few of the problems with the XLink specification. It ended with this:

What if the W3C pushed for Working Groups to use a future XLink, just not XLink 1.0?

Indeed, this version has minor improvements. In particular, “simple” links are simpler now–you can drop an xlink:href attribute where you please and it’s now legit. The spec used to REQUIRE additional xlink:type=”simple” attributes all over the place. But it’s still awkward to use for multi-ended links, and now even farther away from the mainstream hyperlinking aspects of HTML5, which for all of its faults, embodies the grossly predominant description of linking on the web.

So in many ways, my longstanding disappointment with XLink is that it only ever became a tiny sliver of what it could have been. Dashed visions of Xanadu dance through my head. -m

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Newsweek should never have been free

Andrew Zolli argues in Newsweek that online content should never have been free. I’m probably not the first one to make this profound observation–but if it were not for the free online edition of Newsweek (and link aggregator sites like Digg) I wouldn’t have read a single word of Newsweek in years, nor would I be linking to it as my previous sentence does… Maybe Newsweek is OK with that. -m