My Photo


  • Jen-Luc Piquant sez: "They like us! They really like us!"

    "Explains physics to the layperson and specialist alike with abundant historical and cultural references."
    -- Exploratorium ("10 Cool Sites")

    "... polished and humorous..."
    -- Physics World

    "Takes 1 part pop culture, 1 part science, and mixes vigorously with a shakerful of passion."
    -- Typepad (Featured Blog)

    "In this elegantly written blog, stories about science and technology come to life as effortlessly as everyday chatter about politics, celebrities, and vacations."
    -- Fast Company ("The Top 10 Websites You've Never Heard Of")
Blog powered by Typepad
Bookmark and Share

« festival of lasers | Main | my kind of town »


I am less worried about Amazon dropping all Macmillan titles than their varied treatment of books by subject and attitude. The former is all about the money, and that is what Amazon and Macmillan should be concerned with. Macmillan wants higher profit margins from ebooks; Amazon wants lower margins to grow the business. That doesn't bother me one way or another.

I am, however, concerned when Amazon makes political or moral decisions about what to stock. They are supposed to be in the business of making money, not playing nanny. A comprehensive bookseller like Amazon has a reputation to uphold, and that's for getting me the books I want, not just the books they think I should want.

Now that Amazon has stepped in that pile, it is going to take a while before their shoes are completely clean. Look at Google's adventure in China. They got seduced by the old extra inch of shirt tail fantasy. Then they learned something about the Chinese shirt tail market. They had the sense to get out.

A lot of the commentary on the iPad ignores something I think will be important: this is a big iPhone you can write on with your fingers. My mother-in-law bought a MacBook, just so she could use Skype and email to talk to her sons in Australia and New Zealand. We (okay, I) pushed for the Mac because it's easy to use, but I overlooked something vital, and so obvious I never even thought of it. My mum-in-law has never used a typewriter. She's never worked in an office. She doesn't know how to type, and the 'desktop' context used by ALL operating systems is alien to her! Yipes! She corresponds by hand, though, with a wide range of people nearly every day.
So, here we have a graphics tablet/screen that doesn't have a virtual desktop, and really shouldn't even need a keyboard. I've seen apps (I have a new iPod touch. OMG!) that use handwriting and other apps that are for drawing. I have three different ebook reader apps, all of which pretend to be books, and a few newsreaders. No office-type stuff.
In fact, apps are more usable for most mobile-phone experts, which is a wider market than computer users. Really, someone should write an app that doesn't use a keyboard equivalent, but is more like a phone pad with a key for each letter in normal alphabet order. QWERTY is so last century.
Also, where it will really take off is internet shopping. Amazon aside, there's a eBay app, and there may be other commerce apps. If not now, then soon. Heck, there's the iTunes store! Impulse buys are sooo much easier with this device!
Now, if they can just get the movie player aspect right.

Darn. I messed up the Bold Off command. Sorry.

Shouldn't that be iConoclastic iNgenuity?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.