All posts by Mike Dixson

Mike Dixson has been working in the IT industry since 1999 and has always been innovative in his approach to technology and life, looking for ways to solve and make more efficient all aspects of life from the mundane to the magnificent.

How eBooks and iBooks Might Cost Us All

I was looking for a book on Buddhism yesterday and, as I’m sure it not uncommon for many reader, I checked Amazon first had a browse around and found a book I liked the look of. Amazon had a used copy for sale for 1pence + £2.75 p&p. Now that’s a pretty sweet price all in all.
I thought I’d check if there was an eBook out there of the book as I wanted to be able to get my hands on it sooner and found it for £12.

It occurred to me that we might see the death, or at least dramatic reduction, of the 2nd Hand Book. I can’t imagine that publishers of eBooks/iBooks would be happy for you to sell on your eBooks/iBooks, after all they get no cut from this so why would they want to facilitate it?
Also if the eBook is DRM’d to you then it won’t even work for someone else even if you can sell it to them. Or worse still if the practice of putting your credit card details, or other such personal details in the file, are taken up by publishers then you wouldn’t even want to sell that eBook on as you’d be giving away private information that you wouldn’t want out there.

So will will all end up buying ebooks and keeping them forever? Will the days of being able to pick up a second hand book be a thing of the past? And more importantly does this mean we’ll always have to pay the publisher’s full price for a book?

Slashgear raises some valid counter points that could make 2nd hand eBooks work:


Rise up and make TV! Public Access Internet Channel

We’ve had the revolution of the Facebook masses getting Rage Against The Machine to number one instead of the latest corporate produced (s)hit from Simon Cowell. So how about the same for tv.
Now we don’t have a tv chart that we can influence so directly as we do with music, more’s the pity. But how about we rally together and start out own online tv station. I know some great script wrtiters and actors who do some very interesting projects, why not bring those to the masses and generate excitement about online?

With any luck the mass media will pay some attention and maybe start putting more challenging programming on. Or at the very least some of the amazing talent out there will get recognized and taken on.


Semantic TV guides, the future of tv

I’ve been laid up lately with a broken leg and consequentially I’ve been watching a lot of tv. I’ve been surprised that there’s actually some good shows out there worth watching and also just channel upon channel of crap.

I got to thinking, how to do I get to find all the good tv, that I’m interested in watching nowadays. Largely I’m just flicking thru channels and find something, there are also some decent tv listings sites. But I wondered if there’s not a better way. Really I want to be able to find tv shows based on a load of symantec data. I want to be able to say I’m interested in these topics, now plot me a days tv watching based on my interests.

The other thing that occurs to me is what will the future of tv broadcasting and scheduling look like. It’s already less linear than it was with things like iplayer and itv on demand etc.
So when there’s a cloud of recorded shows floating around in the ether what’s going to be the method for scheduling shows then, will it be entirely pulled by the user or will broadcasters broadcast a set schedule even though you can realistically watch the show whenever?

I wonder what the industry has in mind? I also wonder what users want? The schedule provides a pattern to life and familiarity where as everything on demand means that discussing tv is no longer as useful a social currency.


eBooks – Publishers Don’t Screw The Pooch on This One Please

I’d love to buy an eBook Reader, I pretty much have the one I want picked out too, the BeBook One however I’m being a bit cautious here.
Since Apple have launched their iPad I’m really hoping that Publishers don’t cock this up. I don’t have anything against the iPad, it’s just not an eBook Reader, it doesn’t have ePaper and so the reading experience is going to hard on the eyes for a full book.

But where I worry publishers might really screw the pooch with the iPad is by losing the point of what a book is. A  book is a collection of information, whether that’s a story or a text book. If you watch Penguin Books’ iPad presentation here you can see they want to make books a more interactive thing. Great, for kids books, and if done in the right way great for adult books. But these guys are publishers, not technologists and so unless they get the right people on board sooner rather than later books are going to get ugly.

Kevin Rose of spoke about some of the possibilities for ebooks on the iPad with some interesting ideas. I like the idea of linking the book with your social networks. So as you’re reading you can see who else you know is reading this book, chapter, even page. I like the idea for encyclopaedias of making them media rich, and  hyperlinking. So you’re reading something about Winston Churchill and you can play a video or audio clip of one of his speeches. Then it says about Sir Anthony Eden, the Prime Minister who followed after Churchill with a link to the entry. Penguin, comparatively, look like they might be going over the top.

My other fear is that publishers will panda to the iPad and make these bright colourful media rich eBooks that will be no use on eBook readers. From what I understand about eBook formats the iPad eBooks that Penguin are looking to publish are in ePub format. Which is a format readable by eBook readers, but how will it look? Are they testing their books on these readers too.
If I buy my BeBook One now will it be obsolete by the end of the year?

My last concern, I’d like to be able to replace all my current books with eBooks so I keep my existing library and can add to it in the future. However not every book coming out is available as an eBook. Publishers really need to pull their finger out on this. Embrace that this change is here and work out their position on it. I hope that publishers have a road map here and that they are talking to the hardware providers too.


Smarter Washing Machines to Tell You When You’ve Left Stuff In Your Pockets

This is a half formed thought so far but I’m banging it up here anyway. Can we make washing machines that detect if there’s something in your pockets?
All clothes come down to a few basic materials, so if you could eliminate those materials anything else left must be a foreign body that perhaps shouldn’t be in the washing machine and the user alerted.


Bluetooth Hearing Aid

A colleague of mine, Dan Shane, suggested to me today a good topic to post on my site would be bluetooth hearing aids.
A quick Google around shows that someone beat him too the idea first for example

There’s also a walk through of how to make your own:

It’s certainly a great idea. If/when I lose my hearing and have to have a hearing aid then why not make it a bluetooth one that I can connect to my iphone, ipod, tv and any other audio devices that I have in the house so that I can just have the sound straight into my ear rather than making them loud enough for the hearing aid to pick up and amplify.


Zero Foot Print Earphone Plugs

In this crazy world where you can buy a 64GB usb drive that is little bigger than the USB plug itself how comes ear phones still have a zonking great big plug on them.

What we need for our iPod/iPhone and other PMPs is a zero (or near enough) foot print earphone plug.
If the cable was strengthened near the socket than that could be used to pull the plug out, eliminating the bulky plug entirely.