Some software use notes
A miscellany today: Amazon’s Kindle for the Web, WordPress’s new Offsite Redirects feature, and a little complaint about iTunes.
- Kindle for the Web
Kindle for the Web lets you embed a chunk of a book onto a Web page. I thought it would be a fun thing to experiment with here and played with it a bit this morning but it turns out to look lousy in narrow column — it really needs a full-page width, which is hard on any page with a sidebar (i.e., gazillions of Web pages). So either I’m doing it wrong or it needs some tweaking.
- WordPress Offsite Redirects
One of the toughest choices you make as you step out onto the Web is where to put your writing. Lots of choices today, sure, from self-hosted to free or paid hosted services. But what happens if you need to move? People still need to find you, your stuff is embedded in the Web with tons of links, you’ve got some rank in Google… you don’t want to throw any of that away.
This is called lock-in, and it’s how too many Web and software businesses hold onto customers — not, in other words, by real loyalty, but by inertia and inconvenience.
So super kudos to the WordPress.com team for offering a new feature that lets you move away from WordPress.com and point your incoming traffic forward to your new home. It’s not a free service (don’t know how much it costs). But the most common scenario is for someone who started a free blog at WordPress.com who’s now planning to operate it as more of a business and needs the freedom and versatility of hosting their own site. That kind of user isn’t going to mind paying a small fee, whatever it is, to hold onto the links and traffic she’s already accumulated.
As WordPress’s Matt Mullenweg said on his blog, quoting Dave Winer: “The easier you make it for people to go, the more likely they are to stay.” Indeed!
- Irksome iTunes
iTunes is now an almost-decade-old tool, one that supports an ever-wider array of Apple products, and that groans beneath the weight. What I don’t understand is why, in all this time, they haven’t fixed what I find to be the single most annoying problem with the interface, one that still trips me up nearly every day. It’s with how the search box works.
Here’s the scenario:
- I type a search in the box at the upper right of the window — say, “Mountain Goats.”
- I realize I’m not finding what I’m after because the left-hand column selecter is not on my “music library” but on some playlist.
- I click “music library” at the top of the left column.
- The search term disappears from the box and so I HAVE TO TYPE IT AGAIN.
This is a recurring irritation. Surely it’s possible to keep the search term loaded and apply it to the new choice in the left-hand column? I mean, I don’t know, maybe it’s not a really simple problem, maybe it’s even a big hairy problem. But Apple has now had how many years to fix it?
Maybe there is some logical basis for viewing this as a feature and not a bug. If so, I certainly can’t see it!