Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Because We (the FAA) Said So...

You may have long suspected that there is no genuine technical reason that electronic devices need to be stowed during takeoff and landing on a commercial airline flight.

Most of us in fact have been aware of this for so long that the jokes about it have become as tired and shopworn as the old airline food jokes. Alec Baldwin brought the joke back for one last round with his Saturday Night Live appearance.

But the truth of the matter is much as you've suspected. Independent testing demonstrates that the actual risk of interference with aircraft systems by a Kindle or a non-transmitting handheld device is not significant.

A curious technology writer, Nick Bilton, had this to say on the matter.
“The power coming off a Kindle is completely minuscule and can’t do anything to interfere with a plane,” said Jay Gandhi, chief executive of EMT Labs, after going over the results of the test. “It’s so low that it just isn’t sending out any real interference.” 
So the most likely case seems to be that the FAA has not altered regulations it enacted many years ago when devices were different and when accurate and comprehensive test results may not have been available. 
I've always accepted that the regulation existed to force passengers to be more alert and ready to take emergency action during the most critical portions of the flight. The FAA does not support this claim and cannot explain why the rule exists.
What can you do about that?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who is this about, anyway?

One of my most long-established pet peeves about web content, and presentation of information on the web is what I call Header Fluff.

Early browsers were often plagued with this unsightly condition. But even if browsers have grown somewhat free of this heartbreaking life challenge, content designers can still succumb to it for their individual efforts.

Here's a page we encountered recently.

The news story is in there somewhere. Even with a generous definition of other parts of this page as useful content, the total proportion of meat is around 15% here I think.

I want this publication to succeed, and I hope they wake up to the imperative that they lead with content.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Red Queen's Race Continues

It seems that the proliferation of interesting platforms designed to deliver us media forces us to stay constantly in motion to see what's next.

The old conversation about which "portal" and later which "platform" would prevail -- that conversation has evolved.

Now we are in a conversation for what will integrate and expand the social media space. We can agree that there will be more than one influential platform and our next exploration is that of how to make them work together.

Two recent rollouts speak to the emergence of new needs and requests in the marketplace for media delivery.