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Category: Technolust

Boys love toys I am afraid – it is just the way it is.

HTML5 Geolocation Data Sucks

I have long been excited about HTML5 having access to a geolocation data. It should make it possible to build a whole range of applications for phones and other devices that are cross platform but make use of the users location. Unfortunately reality bites when you try and actually build an application based on the technology.

I have been working with Sencha Touch and the Ext.util.Geolocation object but am having problems with accuracy. I have noted the following behaviour.

When I call for a location on iPhone (3G) and iPad (v1) I get a one with around 1.3km accuracy. Basically it places me at one of two spots about 1km apart. If I switch to the native maps app then it places my position within 10m of where I am standing – that “wow it knows where I am” accuracy . Switch back to my web app and the first call to the GeoLocation returns similar accuracy. Any subsequent calls return the old inaccurate positions.

DIY Book Scanner: Learn By Doing

Simple Scanner
Almost Free Scanner

In the last weekend of the Christmas break I was sat in Starbucks in Waterstones in Edinburgh considering which of a stack of potential books I was going to spend my Christmas book tokens on. I had just been playing with a Sony eBook reader and so was thinking maybe I should take the plunge and go digital with books as well as the rest of my life.

I wondered what I would do with my existing books. It would be nice to be able search through these and have them all with me when I travel. There would be issues with copyright if I were to copy them but there would also be technical problems. How would I get them in EPUB or PDF format? I did some Googling and came across a great site diybookscanner.org. There are some really innovative designs on this site and it got my obsessive thoughts going. There were two problems.

  • I only had 48 hours to play before going back to work and my wife and kids wanted some of that time.
  • I didn’t have a workshop. Just a desk and some simple tools.

Could I produce a scanner in that time? Would it work?

When will eBooks stop being a rip off?

3374-originalAmazon are selling an ebook of Siddhartha by Herman Hess for the Kindle for $3.51 and it appears in different versions for even more. Siddhartha is out of copyright so it costs them nothing for the rights on this book. The $3.51 is all for them.

Does this mean that $3.51 is the cost of distributing an eBook through the Amazon system? That would imply that the publisher (nee the author) would get the value of any ebook that retailed for over this sum. With Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (which retails for $9.58 on Kindle) for example the authors would get $6.07? Somehow I doubt it!

That price tag of $9.58 doesn’t compare very well with $10.19 for the paperback version of Pirsig’s book.  The Kindle version can be yours in 60 seconds or less but it is controlled by Digital Rights Management (DRM) so really all you are buying is the right to have a permanent relationship with Amazon who will supply you with a copy to read on an authorised device. For 61c more you could have one made out of real paper that you could hand on to a friend or loved one, sell, donate to charity or even burn to keep warm. Sure it won’t last forever but it still has a residual value. My paper copy is yellowing but perfectly readable. It was printed in 1978 (that is 32 years ago!). It has a price tag of £1 and I bought it from a second hand shop for £1.50 ($2 ish) about 10 years ago.