Wired on iPad

Wired made the May issue of the magazine free on the iPad app so I thought I’d give it a try. I downloaded the app, then the 300+ meg issue and headed for the back deck for some reading.

I popped on my Oakleys, sat in the rocking chair, and hit the power button. Nothing. I hit the power button again. Nothing. Weird. Tried the Home button. Nothing.

And that was the first thing I learned from the iPad edition of Wired – you can’t see a damned thing on the iPad screen with polarized lenses. Off the the shaded front porch to continue this experiment.

The issue opened with short video which I suppose was meant to be funny, then dropped me off at the cover. Okay, that was really annoying. I swiped past the cover and landed on an interactive Lexus ad. This was neat for a few seconds, but then I was ready to move on. I couldn’t swipe off the page because swiping had been hijacked by a feature of the interactive ad. That’s when I discovered the pop-up slider on the bottom of the screen which will take you directly to any page.

Next another ad, followed by the Table of Contents. This is where I started to learn how the flow would work. You get a page with content (an article) and you see a certain amount on the screen at one time. If there’s more to it there will generally be some design element of the page to indicate it’s continued by scrolling down. Swiping to the right won’t take you to the next page of the article, it will take you to the next article. Occasionally it’s a little hard to tell if you should keep scrolling down or if you have reached the bottom. Once I realized how this worked I was pretty happy because it meant I finally wouldn’t have to deal with my single biggest problem with magazines – “This article is continued on page 215”.

Then another interactive ad for Qwest. This one was pretty good. You could spend way more time on that ad than anyone could possibly want to spend. If you navigate away from this ad and come back it sends you all the way back to the beginning. Shame.

It was pretty front-loaded with ads (as magazines tend to be) including another interactive ad for Dasani that took me a few minutes to realize was an ad. I thought I was learning something. Then I saw the tiny text at the top that said “ADVERTISEMENT” and I felt dirty.

“Why TV Ads Drive You Mad” was the first article with interactive elements. It had two audio clips with a visualization so you could compare them. From there many of the articles had some interactive piece, ranging from simple animations of common submissions in MMA to a video of vasectomy. I wish there was a feature that allowed me to unwatch that one.

The app crashed on me 3 times. Twice on relaunch it took me back to where I was. One it took me about 5 pages back. Occasionally I found it difficult or impossible to swipe to the next page, even on pages without any interactive bits. I realize now that if you put your finger on the page and pause for just a second before swiping it almost always works (except in the Lexus ad). There were a couple of other times where a video just started playing randomly, and once it scared the crap out of me. These little videos really contributed nothing at all to the magazine.

One thing I should note is that I almost never read Wired cover-to-cover in one sitting, but I did this time, and maybe in record time. I guess it was just that engaging.

When I first started hearing about magazines coming to the Kindle I remember saying to a friend that I would buy Kindle editions of magazines, but not Wired. I’ve always enjoyed the whole Wired experience (even the ads) and I didn’t want to miss out on that. Since then I’ve only subscribed to one magazine on Kindle – 2600 – and it’s one I really only get for the text. Nobody gets 2600 for the design elements. So I was happily surprised to see that on the iPad and with this app Wired may be even better than it is in print.

But no, I won’t be reading next month’s issue on the iPad. Not because of any problem with the app or the experience, it’s a simple financial decision. I already have a subscription to Wired and I pay $1/issue. If I want to switch to the iPad edition I’ll have to pay $3.99 a month in addition to my print subscription. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I’ll reevaluate when my print subscription runs out, but I can’t see paying 4X more for the same magazine.

Acronyms

For some reason I started reading about acronyms on wikipedia, dictionary.com, merriam-webster.com, etc.  At first is seems like there’s not much to it – take the first letter of a bunch of words, put them together, and you have an acronym.  Oh, but there’s so much more.

FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, that’s an acronym, right?  Depends who you ask.  Since it’s pronounced “F-B-I” and not something like, “fibee” some say that’s not an acronym but instead an initialism.  An acronym is a word, such as NATO.

People in telecom always joke about the industry having too many TLAs, Three Letter Acronyms.  That makes a lot more sense to me now that I know the word acronym was created at Bell Labs in 1943.  Everything is AT&T is abbreviated. It’s to the point now where many acronyms have two or three meanings within the company.

Ever get annoyed when someone says “ATM Machine” or “PIN Number” because the last word is redundant? Apparently this is called RAS Syndrome or  “redundant acronym syndrome syndrome”.

Then there’s the Recursive Acronym. This is an acronym that refers to itself. With a couple of notable exceptions like Saab (Saab Automobile Aktiebolaget) these are almost always computer related. Programmers always think it’s clever. I think I first came across this with GNU (GNU’s Not Unix). PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is another example. These may also be called Macronyms.

Nested Acronyms call other acronyms. IBM POWER is a great example. It expands out to International Business Machines Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC. But RISC is an acronym. So it expands one more time to International Business Machines Performance Optimization With Enhanced Reduced Instruction Set Computing.

If you’ve ever had to sit through any sort of meeting with HR people and watch a PowerPoint slideshow you’ve been exposed to the Backronym. This is a sort of contrived acronym made when someone takes a perfectly good word and decides each letter needs to stand for something. An example is Amber Alert (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response), which is really named after Amber Hagerman. You know that thing we call the Patriot Act? It’s really the USA PATRIOT Act, or Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

False acronyms are just what they sound like. Fuck doesn’t stand for  “for unlawful carnal knowledge”, “fornication under consent of the king”, or anything else for that matter.

And finally there’s the Orphan Initialism or Acronymization, sometimes called a kind of Pseudo-acronym. These are often seen when companies or organizations that are typically known by an acronym drop all the words and change their name to the acronym. At that point the letters no longer stand for anything. KFC isn’t Kentucky Fried Chicken, it’s just KFC. 3M dropped Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, AARP dropped American Association of Retired Persons, and ESPN dropped Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Even SAT, formerly Scholastic Assessment Test, formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test, doesn’t stand for anything nowadays.

 

Discovery

The Shuttle Discovery landed today for the last time. I watched it live on Ustream.com starting about an hour out. It’s the beginning of the end of our shuttle program. In April Captain Mark E. Kelly will take Endeavour up for it’s last flight (STS 134). Then in June Captain Christopher J. Ferguson will take Atlantis up for the final shuttle mission (STS 135). It’s the end of an era. But more people watch Charlie Sheen “winning” on Ustream. This makes me sad. At least Sonic Booms and KSC (Kennedy Space Center) did trend on Twitter for a short time.