Changes afoot

So I’m showing my niece, a freshman at the Newhouse School at Syracuse, my web work, and she’s all excited by Amy’s site and so on, and then I send her to this site, and she says, “Really this is it?”
Sufficiently needled, I am going to get my two-years-overdue redesign in place soon. Netwert.com will have a shiny new home page (incredibly, I used to do them all the time) and some updates to the Ideapad’s layout and orientation.
I’d like to think Lindsay is at least impressed that when I began this blog, she was in second grade. But I doubt it. So: onward.

Irrational exuberance

I’m skeptical about the new Apple iPad.
I don’t think it’s as big a deal as the excitement portended, at least not right away.
I’m dubious that, at least at first, it’ll do things in dramatically different ways that my current MacBook/iPhone combination cannot emulate.
I sure as heck don’t need one.
But, um, I kinda want one anyway.

On punditry

The longer it sits there, the less I like the post below this one. I’m leaving it there for posterity (and the one on the work blog, too). But I suspect the near future will prove me all wrong—in the priority of my observations, my knee-jerk reactions, my skepticism. I sit here and wonder why I reacted like I did; after all, I was a pleased early adopter of the iPhone and the iPod, limitations and all. If I lived in the suburbs, and I had a room I called an office with an iMac on my desk, I’d probably crave an iPad, a situational divide made all the more striking by the Mac laptops I have at home and work (and, as noted, the iPhone already in my pocket).
So Sippey sounds like he’s right. Gruber is probably right. Pogue is almost certainly right, and he’s full of “don’t listen to me yet” hedges. Which makes me, er, wrong. Or at least noticeably off the mark.
I look forward to playing with an iPad in the real world this spring, where I can make some real, and properly reasoned, conclusions.

First thoughts: iPad

From my post on aiaio:

I’m no gadget prognosticator, and as an Apple shareholder, I hope I’m wrong. But this looks like it’s going to be a bit of a niche product, at least at first.

I’m guessing that the iPad will have a fantastic user experience, be a wonder to behold and use, but give very little practical reason for purchase. At $629 and up for the 3G model, I’m certainly not giving up my Kindle thoughts, since I already have an iPad Nano (you know it as the iPhone) in my pocket to do the iPad’s heavy lifting. And I didn’t even mention the keyboard dock. What the heck?
I’m not selling my AAPL just yet, though. People had their doubts about the iPod, and look how that worked out. And who knows? Maybe there’s a huge market for people that want iPhones without giving up their non-smartphones.
I suppose the problem is that I, like everyone else, was waiting to be OMG BLOWN AWAY by a new device that, in many ways, I already own. Taken on its own, the iPad is a nice device, if not a worldwide game-changer at first blush. The real news is that Apple’s hype machine got the best of us all.

links for 2010-01-20

  • "Starting in early 2011, visitors to NYTimes.com will get a certain number of articles free every month before being asked to pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the newspaper’s print edition will receive full access to the site." Not to crow too much, but I proposed this very model for Economist.com back in 2002 (Andrew Rashbass, call me when you're back in New York)

The latest in spamming

Blog comment spam has gotten direct and chatty lately, to the point where I’ve had to read things twice to verify whether or not the content is real. Some of it is obvious, like opinions unrelated to the blog post referenced, but even the idea of sharing opinions is a new twist.
At the risk of encouraging more of it, I thought I’d share Saturday’s comment spam contents here, for those who haven’t seen the likes of it, unedited:

Refreshing site. My co-workers and I were just talking about this the other evening. Also your blog looks great on my old sidekick. Now thats uncommon. Keep it up.
I really enjoyed this article, can I copy a paragraph to a new site that I’m building? I’ll add a link back to this page and credit you with being the author of course.
Thank you for your great post. I also must say that your blog design is top notch. Keep up the great work.
I did a search on the topic and found most people agree with your blog.

Unfortunately, all this does (as with most spam) is waste my time. I’ve resorted to googling the names, email addresses and/or URLs of my commenters to ensure validity before posting. Ah, what next?

Duane Reade, testing customer loyalty

From my post on aiaio:

The new program is more confusing and far less valuable. Consumers now get two points per dollar spent and the same $5 reward now comes at 500 points. Or, in layman’s terms, after $250 spent rather than $100. Earning the five bucks just became two and a half times as difficult.

My wife and I probably spend around $1000 a year at Duane Reade. With our normal memory patterns (read Amy doesn’t use the loyalty card very often) we got $40 in store credit last year, and were eligible for $50: not bad for just showing up. Now that $1000 spend is worth just $20 in reward dollars, or $10-15 when we factor in the days we forget to use the card.
Ten bucks a year is below my worth-the-trouble threshold, so I’m basically done with the rewards card. I wonder how much less I’ll look to DR as my default convenience store as a result.

I may help kill print

When it comes to the news, I am a proud anachronism. I read the New York Times in print every single day that I am home (and many when I’m not). We get seven-day home delivery, and on Mondays and Wednesdays, when my wife and I want the same things (the media business coverage, Metro Diary, the Dining section), I buy a second copy at the newsstand.
I love my Times. I literally read it cover to cover, leafing through every page, glancing at headlines and diving into a relatively large number of articles. I’m an expert in the dying art of the accordion fold. I read nyt.com online during the day, of course, but despite my career in new media, I’ve never so much as considered deviating from my print copy of the daily paper.
Until.
After shrugging off the Kindle for the past year or so—I’m not much of a book reader; I read a few gajillion websites, half a dozen magazines and the aforementioned paper—I stumbled across the amazon.com page advertising daily Times delivery. A few days later I found myself on the subway playing Toobz on my signal-less iPhone, staring jealously at a woman reading on her Kindle. And suddenly it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Less money. Less waste. And other stuff to read when the paper is done.
I began to seriously wonder, should I buy a Kindle and switch to electronic delivery? I did a little cost assessment and realized my newspaper is a very expensive habit. The Times, to its credit, gives daily subscribers a break: our papers cost us $11.70 a week (at the newsstand it’d be $17). Factoring in the Monday and Wednesday purchases, and assuming we remember to stop it when we go on vacation, 50 weeks of the New York Times in print costs us $785 a year.
Compare that with the Kindle, which costs $259 for the small version—the pocket-sized, and therefore commute-friendly, one—and $13.99 for a monthly subscription to the Times. After one year, I’ll have spent $427, and I’d have a shiny gadget to boot. Heck, we could get a second one for Amy, and after 14 months, our spend would be tied, $910.60 for print versus $909.72 digitally.
More intriguingly, I could just download the Kindle iPhone app, save $259, and read the Times right there. Then again, I’m not sure I want to permanently downsize to a 3.5″ screen; the Kindle would reduce eyestrain while still being cost-effective.
Regardless, the piece of the future that I was willfully neglecting has suddenly come into sharp relief. Getting the newspaper on a gadget, nicely designed for comfortable reading and invisible updates, has become a realistic option. Even for a daily-paper addict like me.
I do still enjoy reading things on, y’know, paper. So I’m not about to toss our subscription out the window. (I suspect that even if we went digital, we’d keep getting weekend delivery, just to have the Sunday New York Times Magazine and its crossword in hard copy. Then again, Jeff Bezos has bathroom reading covered, too.) But the news here is that I am at long last considering it. And if I’m ready to give up my beloved newspaper, the horizon just got a whole lot closer.