Dad was right - again

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One rule I learnt from my father is this: "Whenever you see something, that is truly sensible and does its job well, grab it and lay down a drawerful of spares. Nothing, that is not glitzy dysfunctional junk, has a chance of surviving in the market as it is."

The latest proof of this rule is the announcement last June of the death of the Skiff Reader. I had only just found out about its existence and specification and was frantically googling where to buy it. This would have been exactly what I had been waiting for a long time. With a screen significantly larger than DIN A5 (i.e. than Ipad and Kindle) and a resolution of 1200*1600 plus WLAN it would have allowed me to read scientific articles as PDF in comfort. Currently I subscribe to several journals, whose PDFs I get for free, on paper and all too often needlessly print others because I just can’t bear sitting in front of this screen for reading.

In meetings too a stack of paper is quite impractical while hiding behind an open notebook is impolite and distracting. The Ipad is far too small to be of use to anyone over nineteen. Highlighting and annotation too is more easily done by touchscreen than by mouse. So as I said, it would have been just perfect and, it seems, quite rugged too.

But, as the man, who saw it coming, said: "[T]he Skiff was too strange to survive. Outsized, ugly ..." What on earth does he mean, ugly? Who cares how a tool looks, as long as it does its job right? As another commenter put it: "I’ve been waiting for years too to get a decent sized, yes-it’s-my-work-tool-not-a-gadget-I-get-out-waiting-for-my-plane type of device. We are plenty that need to store research papers for quick reference. This would have been a must with djvu and pdf reading capacities." Are we, who want something to actually use and not to impress the stupid, really such a small minority of nerds and cranks? It seems we must be.

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