Thunderbolt on a roll at last

Thunderbolt is on a roll. A few months ago we were moaning about a lack of peripherals. Suddenly there are disk drives and docks, such as the new Elgato Thunderbolt Dock, appearing by the day. All this is before most of us get our hands on Thunderbolt 2 which is already here on the new MacPro and, presumably, scheduled to migrate to other models in the range this year.

Back of Elgato's new Thunderbolt Dock which will retain for around £200 including an otherwise expensive Thunderbolt cable. It is just one of the dozens of new peripherals being launched to support the standard

Back of Elgato's new Thunderbolt Dock which will retain for around £200 including an otherwise expensive Thunderbolt cable. It is just one of the dozens of new peripherals being launched to support the standard

Things are hotting up. Today, from MacRumors, we hear that Intel is planning yet another enhancement, code-named Alpine Ridge, that will increase bandwidth from TB2's 20Gbps to a blistering 40Gpbs.

The specification shows a 50 percent reduction in power consumption and new sockets which can also handle device charging up to 100 Watts. There will be adapters for backward compatibility with TB1 and 2. The development means that everything, including all peripherals, additional ports and even the MacBook's power supply will soon be handled by just one cable.

No news yet on a date for the introduction of Thunderbolt 3 but all this activity is encouraging for those of us who have committed to Thunderbolt in preference to the slower but ubiquitous USB 3.0 standard. The renewed confidence will encourage the sale of the still-expensive disk drives and other peripherals.

Meet and Seat: A truly dreadful idea from KLM

Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ user and you are fair game when you venture abroad with KLM

Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ user and you are fair game when you venture abroad with KLM

Probably the only place you can now be free from "social networking" is on a plane. I savour the hours of peace, without even a phone call, text, email or friend request. And I don't feel obliged to chat to the guy in the next seat if I don't want to.

All that could change if Dutch airline KLM's Meet & Seat programme takes off.  It allows you to check out social profiles of other passengers and plonk yourself next door to someone with similar business interests. Does anyone, I wonder, think this is a good idea. It sounds just about as appealing as Russian roulette.

British Pathé: 85,000 historic videos now on YouTube

You can now watch 85,000 historic British newsreel items on YouTube, covering 80 years of world events. There are also even older examples such as this video of Queen Victoria's funeral in 1901, thought to be one of the world's first newsreels. The quality is remarkable considering the primitive equipment. Note the way in which the cameras are all fixed in position and it is up to the funeral procession to pan past in quick time. I particularly like the naval shot of what appears to be the Royal Yacht rushing past a parked ship at unfeasibly fast speed while the camera stays resolutely fixed to the spot.

There are weeks, if not months of entertainment and nostalgia on the British Pathé YouTube page. I am already addicted.

Choosing exactly the right MacBook for you

Rob Griffiths' dilemma, outlined in MacWorld:

There was my main iMac, which I love. Then there was my “power” laptop, a mid-2010 15-inch MacBook Pro (with the 1680-by-1050 display and a recently installed 750GB SSD), which I love. And there was my “light” laptop, a mid-201211-inch MacBook Air, which I love (and which replaced an older 11-inch Air). So what was the problem?

If it sounds familiar, it is. For several years I was addicted to the 11in MacBook Air. I have owned three of them and two are still around, performing faultlessly. I loved the go-anywhere portability and light weight. Even the small screen I could live with and the latest Air served as my main computer even when travelling for up to a month.

Then I realised that most times when I travel I would take the Air and park it on a desk and there it would stay until the return flight. For day-to-day computing I was becoming more and more content to use an iPad. I began to see the Air as restrictive. In particular, as a keen photographer, I missed a built-in SD card and I felt I really could do with more processing power and a better, larger screen. 

Just over a year ago I caved in and bought a specced-up 15in MacBook Pro with retina screen. It became my desktop computer and my travel companion, despite the unaccustomed size and weight. After an 11in Air you really know you have a computer in your bag. But I now have my processing power, I have the convenience and speed of the internal SD card slot and I also value the two Thunderbolt ports (one feeds my old Cinema Display at home, so I really do need that second port). With its 16GB of memory and 512GB SSD drive, the Pro has never been found wanting. And I just love the large retina display which is a delight, particularly when I am stuck abroad for weeks on end. No longer do I have to compromise.

I kept the latest 11in Air in commission. For some months, I would take it on shorter trips and, occasionally, out for walkies in my backpack. But single-day outings became less frequent. While working with two or even more computers is pretty painless these days, thanks to iCloud and Dropbox especially, there are always some small niggles when you pick up a computer that hasn't been used for a week or two.

Eventually I started taking the bigger computer even for short trips. I now use the MacBook Pro exclusively and the Air is sitting in the cupboard, unused but certainly not unloved. Every time I power it up I face a barrage of updates and I am wondering why not to sell it.

Where from here? I have more of less come to the same decision as Rob Griffiths.  When it comes time to update in the Autumn I will replace the 15in MacBook Pro with the smaller, lighter and more totable 13in Pro. Like Rob, I've spent some hours playing in the Apple Store and, all things considered, the 13in Pro is just about the ideal tool for someone who wants just one computer for all purposes. My only caveat is that I will wait to see what announcements Apple makes during the year but, for the moment, I favour the smaller MacBook Pro. 

 

Having a blast with Readly in magazine heaven

I was enthusiastic about Readly, the all-you-can-read magazine streamer, when I reviewed it last month. Now, with more experience under my belt, I am totally hooked. Despite having favourited only six or seven publications out of the available 400, I am getting remarkable value for my £9.99 monthly subscription. I have gorged myself on most of the back issues (up to twelve months' worth) on all my favourite titles, ranging from photography, to motoring, to hi-fi equipment and I am loving it. Some other titles, while not of primary interest, are also worth browsing. For instance, television listing magazines are not something I would ever consider buying. But when they come free there is no harm in taking a peek to find out what's new.

My friend Paul Gauntlett suggested an alternative to Readly, Readr, and I have dutifully had a play. Some 10,000 magazines are listed including, as Paul points out, MacUser. The lack of useful computer titles is my only gripe with Readly. However, I found the user interface of Readr rather confusing and not as friendly as Readly. The service is a little cheaper ($9.99 instead of £9.99) and the cast of publications is different. But I see nothing to cause me to turn away from my first love, Readly. It is certainly worth investigating both options, particularly to look for your must-have titles, before parting with your cash.

When I reviewed the iPad app I confirmed that reading an A4-size publication even on an iPad mini is perfectly acceptable and, indeed, pleasurable. I still think so. On a four-hour flight from London to Athens this week I managed to catch up on the back issues of Amateur Photographer and Shutterbug among others. A big advantage of streaming services such sd Readly is that downloaded magazines stay on the device until deleted. You can carry around with you a gigantic stack of publications--just like you can carry your entire book library on a Kindle or iPad. Magazine heaven.

Mobile Bliss: Enter the 30-second charge

When my electric car appears I am unlikely to stray more than 30 miles from the comfort and convenience of my little electric umbilical cord on the drive. I can dream, however.

When my electric car appears I am unlikely to stray more than 30 miles from the comfort and convenience of my little electric umbilical cord on the drive. I can dream, however.

As I await delivery of my 120-mpg electric Nissan Leaf, my thoughts are now increasingly concentrated on battery charging. Battery technology is the only thing holding back the adoption of electric vehicles (apart from the obvious one of the price premium, but that problem would right itself in time). I will be lucky to get a range of 85 miles from the Leaf and, already, my scheming brain is toying with improbable tasks such as driving from London to Manchester and back. I hear that Nissan dealers offer a 30-minute charge, so in theory I could cover the 200 miles to the north by navigating from one dealer to the next. Once there, though, I might never get the car back to London except on the back of an RAC low-loader. 

This is all fantasy, of course. I will probably never venture more than 30 miles from the comfort of my little home charging port and I will be content because 90 percent of my car mileage is local. All this makes the Nissan both a niche product and an expensive vehicle, suitably only as a second car. This is a pity.

There is hope, however. A new system could be offering a 30-second iPhone charge by the end of 2016. Just imagine how this would transform the usability of all mobile devices. And scaling up the system, just possibly, could help with the greater task of charging my car. One day soon, I firmly believe, there will be a sudden breakthrough in battery technology, not just in charging times but in terms of power storage. I can't wait, although spare a thought if you see my white Nissan stranded on the hard shoulder of the M6. My trusted Mophie Power Station wouldn't cope with that. 

iDroop: And the cure comes from Zagreb

No sooner do I start fretting over iDroop and searching for a safer pocket for the iPhone than in sails the solution from Zagreb, Croatia, of all places.

Bye bye worries over phone-induced impotence. A pair of WTF jeans from the Balkans is likely to be all the protection you need. These radiation-proof keks could be just the ticket, despite the hefty price tag. Pedja Pusela and his extensive coterie of colleagues aims to nip the modern scourge of iDroop in the bud.

The jeans even come in V1 and V2 versions just like the German's secret rockets which rained down on London at the end of the second world war. With copper-bottomed protection like this, what man could resist? I'll take the V3 please, for ultimate protection.

iPhone Battery: Stop the drain and improve your life

This is the time of the year when the 9-month-old iPhone begins to show the first signs of reduced battery; when we start to check compulsively that battery charge percentage at the top of the screen. It is when the phone starts to need a top up before the end of the working day.

  Just how many of those apps, some long forgotten, need to be enabled for background refresh? Very few, if you are honest with yourself

 

Just how many of those apps, some long forgotten, need to be enabled for background refresh? Very few, if you are honest with yourself

What to do? We all have our pet schemes, including closing all those apps that “remain in memory” after use. Sometimes, though (as in this particular instance) we are doing exactly the wrong thing.

This is just one scrap of invaluable advice I gleaned from Scotty Loveless’s Ultimate Guide to Solving iOS Battery Drain. This is required reading for anyone who worries about that ever-shrinking battery reserve. Among other advice, Scotty tells us how to:

  • Test battery drain by using the usage and standby times
  • Disable background app refresh and location services for apps you don’t care about 
  • Learn to stop quitting tasks in multitasking. Leave them open, it’s kinder to the battery
  • Disable push notifications for apps that annoy you

Armed with this advice I took the surgeon’s scalpel to my settings, especially to location services, notifications and background refresh. I was astounded to find that so many seldom-used and inconsequential apps were enabled to use background resources. I even realised I do not need notifications, nor background refresh, for some of the apps I rely on regularly.

My settings are now pruned to the bone and I look forward to seeing how the battery life improves as a result. Scotty’s final bit of advice: Turn off the battery percentage indicator and quit worrying.

iDroop: New peril for virile chatters

Today it has been disclosed that carrying an iPhone in your trouser pocket is likely to lead to erectile dysfunction.¹ So there. "Researchers" and "Scientists" have spoken. For the past ten years I've been shouting into the the phone at arm's length for fear of a brain tumour. Now I need to fret over brewers' droop: Is there no end to the angst? I am rapidly running out of pockets, arms and optimism.  So where to keep the phone when not in use? The only solution is to have it trundle after you in a lead-lined carry-on-style coffin and communicate entirely  by Bluetooth. Come to think of it, doesn't Bluetooth cause bunions? 

________

¹ Health warning: This story comes to you courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Office 365, Mac and iOS for £65 a year

In its first week Microsoft Office for iPad has been successful, with over 12 million free downloads. When the suite was introduced I was very negative because, for me, I saw no need for anything other than the free iWork suite. That said, I can understand that the millions who use Office at work will welcome the ability to edit and work on documents in native format. The free apps, as I understand, allow viewing but not editing. The smart option seems to be to subscribe to Office 365 Personal which gives you the Mac suite plus full access to the iPad apps. Tom Bradley at TechRepublic explains:

When you buy the standalone Microsoft Office desktop suite, that's all you get. The desktop suite costs significantly more up front and is licensed for only one PC. Period. Office Home & Student 2013 costs $140, and it only includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For $220, you can get Office Home & Business 2013, which adds Outlook -- or for $400 you can get Office Professional 2013, which includes everything in Office Home & Business 2013, plus Publisher, Access, and some additional tools.

Compare that to Office 365. Office 365 Personal costs $70 per year. It includes licensing for the current version of Office on a PC or Mac, and on a tablet, and it also comes with 20 GB of cloud storage on OneDrive, plus 60 minutes per month for Skype calls. Just comparing the value of Office 365 Personal against the cost of Office Professional 2013, it will take almost six years of Office 365 subscription payments before you'll spend the same $400.

If I needed the full compatibility with Microsoft Office and, more to the point, if I still created extensive spreadsheets, documents and presentations, the subscription-based access makes a lot of sense.

Even within the iWork suite I have no need for Keynote and I make very sparing use these days of Numbers and Pages. Most of my work is centred on plain text or Markdown which serves well for the writing I do. But the subscription service does appear to be a good deal, particularly since Office 365 includes three apps that have no integral iWork equivalent: Outlook, OneNote2¹, Publisher2 and Access.

Apple does offer free apps for Mail, Calendar and Contacts which mirror Outlook but in a less integrated fashion. In the past I have been no fan of Outlook although I admit I haven’t used it for many years. I also tend to prefer the more flexible approach of Apple's PIM applications.

Apple should be pleased with the positive reaction to Microsoft's initiative. It provides much greater integration of Apple products for business users and should be a positive factor in explanding sales of iPads and iPhones.

Here in the UK, Amazon is offering the family pack of Office 365 for an annual subscription of £65. It sounds like good value to me, particularly since it can support up to five users in one househol―plus giving an extra 20GB of cloud storage per user and up to 60 minutes' free worldwide Skype calls per month. It also gives full access to the iOS apps and this is now the icing on the cake.

I cannot fault the value. The main question is whether or not I really need Office 365. While the cost seems reasonable, it is an annual recurring charge. Apple's quite respectable suite of competing applications come free.

¹ I am now told that OneNote is not included in the Mac application but it is available as a separate download from the Mac App Store. Access and Publisher are for PCs only.

Microsoft Office 365

Note: The above Amazon link offers an annual subscription of £65. If you subscribe direct with Microsoft the UK price is £79.99

Waterstone: Ebook sales in UK to decline

Tim Waterstone, founder of the British high-street bookseller, Waterstones, has predicted that sales of ebooks in the UK will soon go into decline. "Ebooks have developed a share of the market, of course they have," he told the Oxford Literary Festival, "but every indication―certainly from America―shows that the share is in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK".

Waterstone founded his bookshop chain in 1982 and sold in 1993.

I can only speak for myself. I haven't bought a printed book for some five years and have no intention of doing so in the future. Whatever happens in the short term, I still believe that ebooks, will gradually replace the printed word. It just makes sense.

Review: Readly, the Spotify of the printed page

  My favourites page in Readly: Fairly typical fare for the tech-centred male. But the Readly catalogue covers just about every category you could think of

 

My favourites page in Readly: Fairly typical fare for the tech-centred male. But the Readly catalogue covers just about every category you could think of

I love the concept of Spotify.  It covers all my music needs and I am now sold on the idea of a fixed subscription, less than the cost of one CD a month, which gives access to the whole world of music. In the same way I am growing to love Readly, the Spotify of periodicals. One subscription currently allows access to over 400 magazines and many of their back issues. By next year I would not be surprised to find 1,000 magazines in the kitty.

Up to five years ago I would spend at least £40 a month on photography, automotive and other technical magazines. I stopped wasting all this money when I found that I could access most of the information I need from blogs and publishers' web sites. I did miss browsing from page to page; I even missed the ads. But up to now I have been happy with my alternative sources of information. Indeed, when it comes to tests of cameras, cars and other objects of desire, bloggers are often better informed and more entertaining than the paid hacks of magazines who tend to be journalists first and enthusiasts second.

With this background, I belong to the prime target audience for Readly and I have been giving the free trial a full canter.

Platforms

Readly is currently available for iOS, Android, Windows and Kindle Fire (but not Kindle e-in readers) mobile devices. A Mac app would be very welcome because Readly magazines would be even more enjoyable when viewed on the larger screen. It would also allow a greater number of back issues to be stored, just as you used to keep a pile of magazines in the old days. Just think how much space you can recover in the corner of the bathroom.

Content

  I even had a free peek at the one-time highlight of my week, the Beano. Sadly, Dennis the Menace, the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx have lost their once-irresistible allure, although I remain impressed by their staying power.  Talking of the Smallest Room (bottom right), Readly is the ideal way to recover that dusty corner stacked with dog-eared periodicals.

 

I even had a free peek at the one-time highlight of my week, the Beano. Sadly, Dennis the Menace, the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx have lost their once-irresistible allure, although I remain impressed by their staying power.  Talking of the Smallest Room (bottom right), Readly is the ideal way to recover that dusty corner stacked with dog-eared periodicals.

Readly is available in the USA, UK and Sweden (judging by the company name, Readly Aktiebolag, this is a Swedish outfit). While just over 150 of the titles are in Swedish, more than 250 are in English. They range wide over the whole gamut of specialist- and general-interest periodicals.

I even found Beano, a comic I was addicted to when aged eight or thereabouts. I've often thought of buying a copy for old times' sake but never plucked up the courage. Now, however, a free Readly peek has confirmed that childish humour hasn't changed much in the intervening decades. I am also happy to note that my tastes have moved on. Occasionally, one needs that sort of confirmation in life.

There are one or two weak areas in the catalogue. "Computing and technology", a field of particular of interest to me, is bereft, in the English language at least.  MacWorld is available in Swedish if you have the patter. All the English-language magazines in the category appear to cover audio/video and there are no mainstream computer titles available.

All in all, despite these quibbles,  I would defy anyone not to find at least half a dozen titles of interest; and that is all it takes to make the service worthwhile.

After signing up for the free two-week trial you can browse all publications and favourite those you would like to sample or read regularly. In the case of English speakers, we have the opportunity to select a medley of US and UK magazines which is highly useful, particularly in the tech field where most stuff is now published sort of in the middle of the Atlantic. In technology the two main versions of the English language converged years ago.

  In the search box you can look for a specific title or narrow your choice down to a category of interest such as Computers  & Technology. Animals & Pets or Fashion & Beauty

 

In the search box you can look for a specific title or narrow your choice down to a category of interest such as Computers  & Technology. Animals & Pets or Fashion & Beauty

Initially I chose about a dozen titles, including photographic magazines from both sides of the ocean, a brace of UK car periodicals and some audio/video monthlies. This is more than enough to keep me going and I will probably prune the list once I have settled down with Readly. It is important to bear in mind that when you select a title you get access to a stack of back issues, although I couldn’t decide whether there is any sort of limit because the service is relatively new. Nevertheless, there is a lot of pleasurable reading to be done. 

Downloading

On the Macfilos 120 Mpbs broadband most magazines were downloaded in under 30s. This contrasts with the slow progress when using 3G. In any case, I would not recommend wasting your data allowance in downloading periodicals. Readly allows pre download and storage of any selected issues so you can stock up with reading material for later access. There is thus no need for an internet connection when reading. You can opt  to download over a cellular connection but this is wisely turned off in the basic configuration. Still, it is good to have it available in emergency.

Last weekend, on a long train journey, I was browsing for new magazines and issues and I would have  welcomed a queuing system to allow selections to be downloaded automatically when wifi is reinstated. This would be similar to the queue system in RSS aggregators such as Reeder where I can now initiate sending stuff to Instapaper from the wuthering depths of the Piccadilly Line. Previously this was not possible and I had to try to remember my selections until I emerged at Holborn.

By default, downloads are limited to 30 issues but this cap can be adjusted in line with the available storage on the iPad. So far I have captured 15 complete magazine issues and have used only one gigabyte of storage. This is less than I expected, about 66 MB per issue, and it means I could afford to increase the limit on downloads in order to create that eminently readable bathroom stack of back issues.

  In portrait mode reading is possible, even on the mini. . Sometimes, however, the type can be annoyingly small, leading to the need for zooming in order to read comfortably. This reservation would not apply when reading on the large iPad Air screen.

 

In portrait mode reading is possible, even on the mini. . Sometimes, however, the type can be annoyingly small, leading to the need for zooming in order to read comfortably. This reservation would not apply when reading on the large iPad Air screen.

Reading

This is the first app which has made me want an iPad Air. Don’t misunderstand, Readly magazines do look good even on the iPad mini. But here we are dealing with an A4 page (or A3 in the case of a double-page spread) compressed to a degree where small print can sometimes be difficult to read. Zooming is a great help but becomes frustrating after a time, particularly when you have to remember to zoom back to standard view before moving to the next page. Although I have not had the opportunity to try the app on the larger screen of the Air, I imagine it should be possible to read comfortably in portrait without any need to zoom.

  The same page in  landscape mode works very well on the iPad mini. There is no need to zoom the text in order to read and one flick of the finger moves from the top half to bottom half of the page

 

The same page in  landscape mode works very well on the iPad mini. There is no need to zoom the text in order to read and one flick of the finger moves from the top half to bottom half of the page

All is not lost for mini owners, however. I soon discovered that reading in landscape on the mini is preferable to using portrait format. This is counter-intuitive since most periodicals are printed in portrait format. Despite this, when viewed in landscape on the mini, the type is larger―in fact the width of the screen is only slightly less than that of the printed page. Surprisingly, too, there isn't much scrolling to be done. The mini screen in landscape mode accommodates half of typical A4 page and it is a simple matter of one flick up or down to reveal the other half of the page. On balance I prefer using landscape with the mini and it is probably even more impressive on the Air.

  The two-page spread view is useful to gain a magazine-like impression but the type is just too small to be comfortable on the iPad mini. On the Air, I am sure, the two-page view will be useable.

 

The two-page spread view is useful to gain a magazine-like impression but the type is just too small to be comfortable on the iPad mini. On the Air, I am sure, the two-page view will be useable.

Landscape viewing gives the option of two pages to view. Articles in many magazines stretch over a double-page spread and it is  often useful to be able to see the full layout as it would appear in the physical magazine. However, the pages are so compressed on the mini that reading is extremely difficult. This could be a viable option for Air owners and I suspect reading double page spreads in landscape mode will be popular.

Overall, the viewing experience is exemplary and, with the larger screen of an iPad Air to play with, I would find it hard to fault. Fonts are crisp and illustrations vivid (at least on my sample magazines but I suspect individual publishers will produce different levels of sophistication). Pagination is quick and reading is a definitely pleasurable experience.

Interaction

Bookmarks view which includes the title you have given to the clipping. This is a valuable facility where you can store references to articles you would like to revisit.

Bookmarks view which includes the title you have given to the clipping. This is a valuable facility where you can store references to articles you would like to revisit.

While most of the magazines I have tried are dumb PDF versions, there is scope for future development. Readly already includes a built-in web viewer and some publications feature a limited number of hyperlinks (notably Amateur Photographer from which most of these illustrations have been taken).

This is welcome and opens the possibility for greater interaction as Readly magazines become more sophisticated.

The web viewer includes a sharing button to cover basic functions (copy, email, open in Safari, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) but it would be nice to see popular read-later services such as Instapaper or Evernote included. 

In addition to the sharing button there is a simple bookmarking feature which stores selected pages alongside details of the magazine, the issue, page number and your entered bookmark title.

Navigation

  Tap on a page and you see the top menu bar with a very useful navigation bar comprised of page thumbnails.

 

Tap on a page and you see the top menu bar with a very useful navigation bar comprised of page thumbnails.

Tapping on a page brings up the top menu (double-page view, bookmark and share) and a usefully sized thumbnail page bar. This is especially useful if you are returning to an issue you have already read and wish to find a particular article that you remember.

Value for money

Using Readly is like having a free pass to your local newsagent: Just sweep up as many magazines into your arms as you wish and walk out without bothering to stop by the till. Example: Among the titles I have already downloaded into the Readly app are Amateur Photographer and Autocar. Both are weeklies. Autocar costs £4.99 while AP is £2.80. This means that to buy all issues over the counter would cost a tad over £33 a month. With Readly these two periodicals represent just a small part of the material I can download and read every month for only £9.99. Whichever way you look at it, this is good value for money.

Crucially, in this example, I do not currently buy either of these weeklies. I have not bought them for over five years, although I was once a loyal reader. It just isn't worth the cost when there is so much information available free on the web. But I am happy to read them on Readly and I am being wooed along the way by the advertising. Both AP and Autocar can also now add me to their list of regular readers. Job done. Readly cooperation justified.

  In technical publications such as Amateur Photographer, advertisements can often be as interesting as the editorial content. The fact that all a magazine's ads are included in the Readly version is a strong incentive for publishers to participate. Readly is likely to add greatly to magazine readership which, in turn, governs the rates publishers can charge for advertising.

 

In technical publications such as Amateur Photographer, advertisements can often be as interesting as the editorial content. The fact that all a magazine's ads are included in the Readly version is a strong incentive for publishers to participate. Readly is likely to add greatly to magazine readership which, in turn, governs the rates publishers can charge for advertising.

Publishers probably gain little direct income from Readly subscribers. But there is a potential for a vastly increased readership and, crucially, greater exposure to advertising among those readers. Advertisers will certainly prefer Readly distribution to the more normal form of paywalled viewing where ads are often stripped out or replaced by Google's click payment system. Furthermore, using Readly is just like browsing a physical magazine, page by page, ad by ad, feature by feature. This, I am sure, is the publishers’ motivation for cooperating with Readly. For my part, I actually enjoy reading the advertising in technical journals. I can browse through offers, lists of items for sale and learn about new products.

Given the breadth of content, which can only become more extensive as the subscriber base increases, it is hard to imagine anyone could accuse Readly of being poor value for money.  Admittedly, if you find only one title of interest then you could be better advised to subscribe direct. But this is unlikely, I think, and your interests would have to be very narrow indeed if you can find only one item of interest. 

Another sweetener: If you do currently subscribe directly to any of the magazines in Readly’s library (whether for physical or electronic copies) you are probably committed to a minimum period. Readly’s subscription can be cancelled at any time if you decide  you don’t like it. And bear in mind that your Readly sub covers the family, with up to five devices linked to the one account.

Despite my dislike of paywalled sites, especially those of newspapers, Readly makes a great deal of sense to me. I am convinced even before the end of the two-week trial period and I have already handed over my credit card details. I can see more publishers joining as the months go by, just as music publishers have increasingly supported Spotify, and the future certainly looks bright, both for Readly and for us readers.  This is just another nail in the coffin of printed media, but a very welcome and useful nail at that.

Hiding iOS apps from inquisitive eyes and fingers

One of the big problems with iPads and iPhones is the absence of multi-user facilities. I hate friends asking to use my iPad because all the apps are only a finger press away. How much worse must it be if you are pressured into letting children use your tablet. My brother, who manages IT in a large school, tells me that he has a constant battle to preserve the integrity of the stock of iPads, both to stop children downloading Candy Crush or worse and to prevent them changing the password. No sooner has he closed one loophole, the ingenious small people find another. 

One solution for your own iPad or iPhone is to hide apps. Mike Wehner at  tuaw.com has detailed how to do this by nesting folders. It sounds like a lot of fuss over nothing but, if your iPad is in demand by friends and kids, the time spent could be worthwhile.

Find out how to hide your apps here.

My Passport Pro: Thunderbolt advances, cheaper too

Last year I was not alone in worrying about the future of Thunderbolt. Despite Apple's wholesale change to the new interface, peripherals have been slow to appear and prices have been surprisingly high. Meanwhile, the slower and cheaper USB 3.0 standard has been making great headway.

Western Digital has now introduced a portable drive that, for the first time, gives hope that Thunderbolt is here to stay. With a capacity of up to 4TB and a starting price under £300, the My Passport Pro is an attractive external drive and is one of the cheapest Thunderbolt storage devices I have seen. It is also unusual in not requiring an external source.

The most exciting feature, however, is that this is a dual-drive system which can be set up in RAID 0 (for maximum storage) or RAID 1 (for maximum security). The drives also support Apple Time Machine. With a short built-in Thunderbolt cable, the Pro is sure to be an excellent travelling companion for any Mac power user. 

The 2TB My Passport Pro with twin 1TB 2.5in disks retails at £299 (including VAT) while the larger capacity (and 14.5mm thicker) 4TB configuration costs £409.