Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The right interface

When I was a teenager I was an avid reader of electronics magazines. What was available at home at first and later what I could afford. I remember that my favorite ones was Elektor magazine, that grew from a German-only magazine to be distributed to other languages and countries, mine included. They have this great summer edition that included over a hundred different small circuits.

Over the years I have almost stopped buying magazines (not because they are bad but because they use shelf space and I have not much time to read them). The last paper copies I bought were from Circuit Cellar Ink, but these same guys decided that a digital edition will ease their business, and for those abroad it will be be much cheaper. Selling bits is a good idea that seems to be making Google and many others much good. I even wrote several articles for Circuit Cellar magazine about different projects I made.

A few years ago I learned that Circuit Cellar Ink was acquired by a European group that handled Elektor magazine too. I was invited to a couple of meetings in Germany, together with other international authors, where the future of magazines was discussed. I guess there is an ongoing battle between paper and digital copies, the latter being painfully easy to copy. But at the same time, I found myself not very happy with the way I would browse a digital magazine.

Business like Zinio pop up, offering a better protected distribution than just a bare PDF, but as a I user I always felt these DRM platforms will make my accessing to the content I paid more difficult should I have to renew my computer.

When nobody expected the iPad, the tablet revolution brought a new type of computer that was definitely more friendly to be used for browsing magazines. Apple saw the opportunity and created their own news stand on the Apple store. Later with iBooks they offer an easy tool to create richer documents, but being old fashion I am closer to PDF format for magazine contents. Google did a similar thing for Android.

For me, what is wrong with browsing a magazine in my computer screen is the latter, I mean the screen, which is exactly the wrong format for portrait magazine content. Unfortunately, the first iPad did not worked well with the PDF files that I was receiving from Circuit Cellar magazine at the time.

But I am writing this today because I found myself browsing an Elektor magazine PDF on a not so new Samsung tablet with no problem at all, while sitting on the coach. It is definitely a much better experience than using a modern laptop with a beautiful display but with the wrong format for the content.

So for me, the tablet is the right interface for magazine content and I love it because no matter how many issues are stored, it does not grow my shelf space needs!!

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