Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The pulchritudinous chanteuse Taylor Swift attracted plaudits this week for defying the might of Apple, the world’s most profitable company.

She wrote “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation” (during Apple Music’s three-month trial period).

Her whole piece was packed with praise for Apple, but she resolutely made her point, and it worked — Apple backed down and will now pay artists during the initial trial.

Well done Taylor. The labourer is worthy of his hire. People need to be paid for their work. fotoLibra jumps on any and every attempt we see by corporations to dodge paying photographers their rightful fees.

Taylor Swift doesn’t need to pay photographers, apart from organised photo shoots, obviously. But we can’t help but notice the draconian conditions imposed by Ms Swift’s promoters on photographers who attend her concerts. Here are some extracts from her photographer’s contract (my emboldening):

“The photographs, taken in accordance with Paragraph 1 may be used on a one time only basis.
“You and/or your employer will be responsible for all costs related to the rights granted in this Authorisation.
“On behalf of yourself and the publication you expressly grant the perpetual worldwide rights to use the published Photographs for any non-commercial purposes (in all media and formats), including but not limited to publicity and promotion on their websites and/or social media accounts or pages.
“If you or the publication breach this Authorisation, all rights are granted herein will be immediately and automatically rescinded.
“If you fail to fully comply with this authorisation, authorised agents [of Taylor Swift] may confiscate and/or destroy the technology or devices that contain the masterfiles of the Photographs and other images, including, but not limited to, cell phones and memory cards, and the Photographs and any other images, and eject you from the venue, in addition.”

Ah, bless!

Printed books are zero-rated for VAT in the UK. Ebooks are taxed at 20%.

Publishers have taken a softly-softly approach to VAT on ebooks, fearful that if they kick up too much of a fuss the Government will awaken to the fact that printed books are presently zero-rated and slap 20% on them overnight.

Such a move would decimate the British publishing industry — and by extension picture libraries, photographers and all the industry’s ancillary suppliers would take a huge hit. It’s therefore unlikely to happen, but who can predict what a politician may take into his head to do.

City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner has announced on its website:

VAT treatment of ebooks – The firm is taking a groundbreaking case challenging HMRC’s view that ebooks are standard-rated for VAT purposes, in contrast with physical books which are zero-rated.”

Hard-nosed commercial firms like BLP do not take cases on pro bono, or challenge national or international law simply for the greater good. Therefore they’re doing this for one of their clients, and that client will have deep, deep pockets.

Who can it be? Who will benefit?

Well, the consumer will benefit if prices fall by 20% (they won’t). Publishers will benefit from a boost in sales.

But by far the biggest beneficiaries will be the retailers. Apple sells ebooks. Tesco sells ebooks. They will both see a hike in profits. BLP numbers Apple and Tesco among its gilt-edged list of clients.

Our digital publishing company Heritage Ebooks sells 50 illustrated ebooks from its site for every one ebook sold by the rest of the UK’s ebook sales outlets — Waterstones, Foyles, Tescos and so on — put together.

And for every one of our ebooks that we sell from our site, Amazon will sell twelve from theirs.

It is disproportionately huge. OK, so we’re tiddlers, microbes even, but I expect the proportions are similar whatever you publish.

Amazon has been subject to much opprobrium and contumely for selling ebooks to UK customers and charging the full 20% VAT while taking advantage of the 3% VAT they pay as a company based in Luxembourg. Like Starbucks, Macdonalds and KFC, large American companies have an aversion to paying their fair share of tax in Europe, and as their lawyers and accountants are sharper than ours, they can get away with it.

And now some organisation, through BLP, is challenging HMRC’s ruling on the grounds that charging different rates of VAT on print books and ebooks breaches EU law on fiscal neutrality.

Come on, this has to be Amazon. Who else could afford such a suit? And who else would profit more?

Amazon charge us, the publisher, for the bandwidth used when a customer buys and downloads a Heritage Ebook from them. Because our ebooks are highly illustrated, they have large filesizes and therefore incur high bandwidth usage fees. And because one or two books are downloaded via 3G rather than broadband, Amazon charges us across the board at mobile phone companies’ bandwidth fees.

The result is that for two of our titles, we are losing 10p on every sale made through Amazon because of their charges. Amazon are thereby forcing us to raise our prices.

And I thought their intention was to drive prices down.

 

 

 

Apple Mac Blues

September 9th, 2010
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Geek stuff here: yesterday we bought a new 21.5″ iMac from the Apple Store in Regent Street.

It won’t print.

This morning we gave up and called Apple Care. We spent 2 hours and 10 minutes on the phone with them without any solution. The guy admitted he was completely baffled. We still cannot print from the iMac.

We have a Konica Minolta Magicolor 2450 and a Toshiba e-Studio 16s networked in our London office through AirPort Extreme. We have no problems printing wirelessly to these printers using a MacBook Pro on 10.5.8 and a MacBook on 10.5.8.

We copied data and settings from the MacBook to the iMac using Migration Assistant. The PPDs were not copied across.

We downloaded new PPDs from Konica and Toshiba and installed them.

The iMac will not see either of the printers which are on an AppleTalk Local Zone. The Add Printer option on the 10.6 iMac has “Default | Fax | IP | Windows” while the 10.5 MacBook Pro has “Default | Fax | IP | Windows | Bluetooth | AppleTalk | More Printers” and the two wirelessly networked printers appear under the AppleTalk window.

We connected each printer directly to the iMac using an ethernet cable. It still wouldn’t see them.

What are we doing wrong?

Apple’s Tech Support guy said that Apple only supported USB printing. From the great pioneers and advocates of WiFi (I bought an Apple AirPort 10 years ago) that comes a little hard.

We figured out a convoluted workaround. By checking Sharing Printers on the iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro, we can finally see the printers, but this means we must have two computers running in order to print. Not a satisfactory solution.

Anybody got any bright ideas?

We’re taking it back to the store this afternoon, because of the multi-coloured stripes across the screen. Apparently the graphics card has collapsed. Not an auspicious start.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Readers may recall the troubles I’ve recently had with an enhanced ebook: The Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe.

Ever the early adopter, I rushed out and plonked my money down when the immortal Oxford English Dictionary was first published electronically in 1993. We didn’t use the word ebook back then.

It was merely called “The Oxford English Dictionary on Compact Disc”, and it came in a chunky A4 sized white plastic box. This was considerably smaller and lighter than the 16 volumes of the printed work, and of course somewhat cheaper, as well.

Inside the plastic box came a printed instruction manual, a floppy disk which contained the program and the necessary fonts, and a CD-ROM which held the data.

I can’t use it any more because it only runs on Mac OS 7, 8 and 9, and I no longer have a computer that uses those operating systems. Or a floppy disk drive.

But all is not lost. In June last year I had a cheery letter from Oxford University Press offering me, as a registered user of Version 1.0d, the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd ed — new Mac-compatible CD-ROM v4.0 on a Special Offer!

For a mere £149.25 more I would be able to read my version of the OED on a more up-to-date computer.

Of course for the same amount of money I could buy all 16 volumes second-hand from Abe Books.

And I wouldn’t have to chuck it away when Apple finally release Mac OS XI.

But now OUP have announced that the next edition of the OED may well be available only as an ebook — no print edition at all. So we’re moving to a situation where we will have to pay out regularly for upgrades to carry on using a necessary reference work.

It’s what the software and publishing giants have dreamed of. Books that expire after a certain time. After all, who is still using Photoshop I nowadays?

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This morning The Times, The Telegraph and The Independent all had front page solus photographs of Steve Jobs holding up the new iPad. If only fotoLibra could have just one day’s worth a year of the publicity Apple gets!

iPad is a much better name than iSlate. Whoever thought iSlate would win out?

So Apple’s latest gottahave has finally been released. It’s as lovely as anticipated and it does several of the things that were expected. No phone, no camera, not even a little one buried in the frame looking at you so you can do video conferencing. Not needed because there’s no phone. But I suppose as it’s an internet browser it can Skype, so it could be used as a phone?

Of course I want one, and I want it now.

But what will I do with it? What basic need does it fulfil?

Most of us in the sedentary Western world live a three screens life — mobile, laptop, TV. When I’m not reading, I’m usually to be found staring at one of these objects. What I’m not so certain about is how much I hanker after a four screens life.

Which was always a good argument against Amazon’s Kindle, that clunky black and white book sales outlet. The new iPad blows the Kindle out of the water. It is incomparably more desirable. Put the two together and they look as if they’ve come from different centuries (which they probably have). Of course the iPad’s bookstore feature only works in the US, as Kindle’s did until very recently.

When all the brouhaha and hyperbole have been swept away, what have we got with the iPad? It’s a big screen iPod Touch with some software packages thrown in. It’s a big iPhone — without the phone.

I can live without it. For now.

But when Version 2.0 comes out …

Here’s an index to the fotoLibra Pro Blog for the whole of 2009.

As I complained 6 months ago, it takes a surprising amount of time to compile, so if there are any WordPress experts out there who know how to automate this process, we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re new to fotoLibra, welcome, and may we suggest you read through the HINTS & TIPS section, and if nothing else read Great Expectations. If you enjoy a bit of controversy, read BAPLA Shock Horror.

Comments are welcome, even on old posts, and will be read and often responded to.

HINTS & TIPS

ABOUT FOTOLIBRA

ADOBE

BAPLA

CUSTOMERS

E-BOOKS & PUBLISHING

IT

LAW


MISCELLANY


NETWORKING

NEWS

PICTURE CALLS

SECURITY

TRADE FAIRS

BOMBSHELL

July 24th, 2009

I recommend anyone joining fotoLibra to read the Great Expectations blog posting to find out more about the exciting community they are joining.

Ben Shipley posted a comment which I said I’d answer in a new posting. Now David Carton has reminded me that I haven’t answered it, so here goes. First, Ben’s original comment:

It would be nice if the list view showed lightbox adds as well as views (at present the only way to get this info is to try to delete the photo).

Also, after working with other libraries, I am not sure what “views” means – did the photo show up among 1,000 others, or did someone actually bring up the full-size preview? And is that “someone” a valid customer or does it also include fellow members?

The best thing about fotolibra for my money is the way you all try to keep members informed – you seem like a very cool bunch of souls in general – but one can never get too much clarity, especially when it comes to what is selling out there.

Along same lines, I am curious where you see yourselves in the photo universe – what niches you aim for, where you saw this going when you started, where you see it headed today, where you fit into the whole amateur/professional photography experience, not just commercial stock. We get hints from Jacqui, but clarity definitely breeds patience.

Right. The first request is a simple feature enhancement. We already gather this information; the problem is figuring out to feed it to you in a neat, uncluttered, intelligible way. The data feed you currently get has nine columns; adding a tenth is going to make it uglier. We will work this out. It may involve having to drop down through layers of data.

‘Views’ (I answered this) means Thumbnails that have been clicked on to create Previews. The people who click could be either buyers or sellers; if they’re not logged in we don’t know who they are.

We always enjoy compliments. Thank you for that one.

OK, here’s the big one. In our photo universe, we’re not Getty Images, Corbis or Alamy. We’re much smaller, much more flexible, faster and much more personal. Buyers deal directly with the owners of the company, not a nominated ‘account handler’. Some people love this, others actually prefer anonymity and disengagement. When did you last speak to someone from Amazon, Adobe, Google, Microsoft or Apple? But you probably give them your money.

In Britain there are over 600 picture libraries. 440 of us are serious enough about the business to pay an annual subscription of about £500 to BAPLA. In terms of visitors to our web site, we come eighth. So we’re in the top 2%, and we only started 5 years ago. But we still need to do better.

Our major market is book publishing. It’s a market we know and feel comfortable with. We don’t reach ad agencies and design groups as we should. We sell to calendar and greetings card publishers. We don’t do much in the way of celebrities, news or sport.

We started with the intention of providing access to family albums, shoe boxes, the fading photographs in Granny’s attic. But we were swamped by the digital revolution.

HERE’S THE BOMBSHELL. We still want those pictures, so now we’ve decided to do something about it.

Alongside the existing Member, Pro Member and Platinum Member accounts, we are creating a completely new membership category.

It’s going to be called HERITAGE MEMBER. It is completely FREE, and it gives you UNLIMITED storage.

WOW!! I hear you shout. What’s the catch?

The photographs must have been taken before January 1st 1980. They must adhere to our Submission Guidelines.

And that’s it.

Membership will run in tandem with your existing fotoLibra membership. Full details will come with the formal announcement. We hope to have this in place by the beginning of September.

Amazon’s Kindle is now allowing blogs to be posted. Here’s one user’s experience, which can be read in full at http://www.daniweb.com/blogs/entry4341.html:

When I looked at the preview of what my blog looked like in the Kindle after adding my first blog to the system, I was shocked at the terrible quality.

First of all, it was black and white. My blog has pictures and on the Kindle they were not just black and white, they were low resolution black and white. It changed my carefully chosen font to a Times New Roman. In short it looked horrible. Sure, you can get away with a black and white eBook Reader for books, but if you are going to add other content, you need it to be full color or it just looks ghastly (or you are asking bloggers to come up with a special Kindle design, which is an unreasonable expectation).

It was at that moment, staring at that horribly ugly preview of my blog that it hit me. This is clearly a job for Apple.

Rumours of Apple working on an e-book reader have intensified over the past few months. Would it be like a big slender iPhone? Will it actually come? Or is this just wishware?

To many people, me included, the look and feel of a thing is as almost as important as the content. If I see my work in Times New Roman (a wonderful typeface, drowned by ubiquity) I feel physically sick. Fonts are the clothes words wear, as I quoted in my Encyclopaedia of Fonts.

And from fotoLibra’s point of view, the sooner we have colour e-books the sooner we can sell images to e-book publishers.

It will happen. So we are preparing for it.

Fried Green Hard Disks

February 27th, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The MacBook Pro I use day to day is the least successful Apple Macintosh I’ve had. It’s been back to the shop four times, most recently for a replacement battery (battery life was down to 2 minutes, after 96 cycles). Luckily I kept my PowerBook G4 (battery life over 3 hours, cycle count 318) so until normal service is resumed I’m using that. It is noticeably slower and the screen is dimmer, but otherwise it’s a match for the newer MacBook Pro — and far more reliable.

Have you heard the noise a dying hard disk makes? It’s awful; in its portent more than its sound. You know there will be inevitable expense and your life will be disrupted. The disk that died on Wednesday morning was a Fujitsu. As Neil Smith says, you must allow for one in five hard disks failing every year.

We’ve replaced the 120 GB Fujitsu with a 320 GB 7200 rpm Western Digital. That was done by Thursday lunchtime. Using Apple’s Time Machine, the MacBook Pro is backed up every hour, so when the Fujitsu started making dying duck in a thunderstorm noises, I stopped using it. So no data lost — I hope.

We set Time Machine to restore my data to the MacBook Pro at around 2pm yesterday. As I write this (10:45 am Friday) it has 4 hours 32 minutes to go. It is not a speedy procedure. But what I get back (I’ve done this before) is my computer with all my data, settings and passwords valid and intact as they were on Wednesday morning.

And a faster 320 GB hard disk.

There are mutters in the office that I should not have been running a 120 GB hard drive with an average of 640 K spare space. But hey, pictures take up a lot of room.

I wonder how long it will take me to fill up 320 GB?

MacBook Pro Battery

January 23rd, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

I bought a new MacBook Pro in May 2007. By August 2008, after I had taken it back to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Regent Street three times for various problems, I noticed the battery life was down to about an hour.

In September it developed an irritating little quirk. After about 10 minutes with the battery still in the 80th percentile it shut down without warning. This became more than irritating, but I didn’t really have the time or inclination to schlep down to Regent Street again so soon.

I put up with it, leaving it plugged in all the time, and when I needed a portable computer I used the old PowerBook G4, which was a very fine machine.

Finally I could stand it no longer, and on Monday I went online to the Apple store to see about a replacement battery.

First shock was the price — £97. That’s $135. That’s a lot of money. Then I noticed the reviews. 102 reviewers had given this battery one star out of five. There was a chorus of protest about the quality and durability of the MacBook Pro battery. Clearly Apple had bogged this one, and from the chatter on the site they had stuck their corporate fingers in their ears and were going La-La-La very loudly.

I rang the Apple Store. A very nice chap whose accent I could barely understand tried valiantly to help me for about 20 minutes, before giving up and suggesting I took it to the Apple Store in Regent Street.

So I booked an appointment with the Genius Bar for Thursday, the earliest available time from Monday. I told the Genius I had a battery problem, and that he may already have heard about it. He grimaced. I opened up the machine and it ran for just over a minute before shutting down without warning.

He carried out a few diagnostic tests, shrugged, and gave me a brand new replacement battery. No charge.

The computer was nine months past its warranty.

The battery (made by Sony) may be crap, but the Apple service was absolutely superb. No fuss, no quibble, just a new battery.

Nearly full marks to Apple. If only it hadn’t happened in the first place.