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From Issue #49 August 14, 2014

Editor’s Note

Flying so high like a bird in the sky

By Glenn Fleishman Twitter icon 

The cover of issue 49

The Music Room at St. Mary’s. Photo by Dinsa Sachan.

For more information about our new app, reading and downloading The Magazine anywhere, and locking in permanent ownership of older issues, read on later in this note.

In this issue

Personal drones don’t yet crowd our airspace, but it’s now completely typical to see unmanned aerial vehicles tootling through parks, above weddings, and around monuments and attractions. Most of these are made from commercially available kits or purchased as fully assembled, ready-to-go products. There’s something appealing about programming and controlling these airborne robots, and snapping photos or capturing video way up high.

A few issues ago, Nancy Gohring looked at information gathering on farms, which include drones as one component. In this issue, Andrew Zaleski finds a couple in Baltimore High in the Sky who design drones from scratch, build them, and fly them for art and commerce. It’s a testament to the state of things that using only some prefabricated parts, it’s affordable and reasonable to roll your own drone.

A little closer to Earth — or perhaps, far, far away — playwright David J. Loehr recollects how his grandmother tried to exercise jurisdiction over a Christmas present in his youth. In Still Life with James T. Kirk, David tells us of his unique childhood; his grandma was no meanie, but she did have a collection to build.

Dinsa Sachan checks in from India on What Cost, Silence. A clever young man looks into ordinary materials and puts them to an extraordinarily useful purpose. You’ll never quite look at Tetra Paks the same way again. (A detail in an image from the story appears on our cover.)

Finally, Nicole Dieker broke out from the conventional working world on her own. You might call her Less Conventional, but attending events designed to instill a sense of independence, creative expression, and business know-how helped her get to this point in her career. Nicole and I also spoke for a recent episode of my podcast, The New Disruptors.

An update on our app

Two weeks ago, we released version 2.0 of The Magazine’s app. The release was challenging for some subscribers, because of a few minor errors on our end that weren’t revealed in extensive testing. I’m sorry for that, and we were able to fix most access issues within a day and the rest within a few days. A few lingering issues should be resolved with back-end updates today. (If you’re having any problems whatsoever, please contact us!)

We received a tremendous quantity feedback about the new app, designed by TypeEngine, and which ties into their publishing system. Unlike our 1.0 version, which I was keeping up to date with the help of contractors, a team of people are working on our 2.0 release. You’ll see improvements in the coming days and months as we start to add features that we simply couldn’t begin to afford to implement on our own.

I had a great conversation with John Paul Titlow at FastCompany’s FastCoLabs, and he wrote an article about our work and the challenges of app-based publishing that’s full of good insights on his part beyond anything I’m doing at The Magazine. If you want to know what brought me to switch platforms and more of where we want to go, give it a read.

We will soon have a 2.0.1 release ready to fix a few minor problems that affected a relatively small number of people (based on feedback, at least). There’s also some behind-the-scenes modifications that should improve the reliability in using an iTunes or Web account.

I realize that a few features and design elements present in our 1.0 app aren’t yet in the new version, and they’re on the list to add back in. It was critical to get this release out in advance of iOS 8 to keep The Magazine coming to you. Our 2.0.1 version is not the end of the road for new features.

Among top requests, people want a clearer indication that an issue is being downloaded. (The Download button changes to Downloading and gradually fills in, but not everyone has noticed that.) I also heard folks want a visual display of which issues are downloaded on the device (stored locally), and the ability to delete downloaded issues. This all makes perfect sense, and we had to balance getting the app release with the full complement of issue-management features. These changes are in the queue, and I misjudged how important those would be at our initial release. We’re also considering how to add back in Instapaper read-later support.

Thank you for your ongoing patience and support! Because we’re entirely subscriber supported, we literally could not do this without you.

Marking ownership of issues in our archives

On a related front, I had no idea how many people would want to lock in permanent ownership of our archives up to mid-July, Issues #1 to #47. We didn’t provide a “download all” or similar button in the app, and so it’s not ideal to download one at a time.

As a workaround, we’ve added a button on the Web site that will let active subscribers lock in the archived issues to download through the app, or read and access via the Web site in the future.

If you subscribe via the Web, just log in and click the Accounts link if you’re not taken there automatically. If your subscription if via iTunes, first link your iTunes subscription with our Web site: tap Settings (gear), then tap Read Anywhere and follow the instructions.

On the Accounts page, you’ll see a link that says, “You can mark ownership of all back issues if you haven’t already.” Click it and any issues not already connected to your account will be added. As long as you remain connected or logged into this account via our app or Web site, you can access those issues in the future. You can also use the Accounts page to see which issues you own.

If you visit Accounts and don’t see this option available, please get in touch so we can check on your account, get it fixed, and email you when it’s done.

On August 29, we end full access to archives as part of a subscription; back issues are available as single-issue purchases or in bundles, while current issues are permanently owned by active subscribers, as well as available for sale to others.

If you’re a previously active subscriber, you can use the app to lock in ownership of old issues or drop us a line and we’ll take care of your needs.

Read anywhere and everywhere

Previously, we didn’t use passwords for accounts; now we do. And, of course, there was a problem in the first 24 hours of launching the new app with some accountholders being able to obtain a password! That’s all fixed and many of you have enabled your accounts.

If you have a Web-based account — whether paid by credit card, a gift, or through our Kickstarter campaign — you can log into the app and have identical access as you do on the Web. Tap any Subscribe button, and then tap Log In under the Already Subscribed? lable. You can then enter your user name and password, and have full access to your subscription.

For iTunes subscribers, launch the app before setting up an account on our site — it’s easier that way. In the app, tap the Settings (gear) icon or any Subscribe button, then tap Restore Purchases. This will enable a new option in the Settings menu: Read Anywhere. Tap that button and enter the email address you want to use, and then confirm via the email that’s sent. This connects your iTunes account with our systems, and we can then provide you all your owned issue and subscription support on our Web site.

With either an iTunes or Web account, you can read and download issues everywhere: in the iOS app and on our site; as issues in the app, as individual articles on the Web site, or downloadable ebook files from our site. We’ve tried to make this as fluent and seamless as possible and we believe it’s working as designed for all users.

Feedback

We love hearing from you. In the app, tap the gear icon and then tap Feedback. You can tap Email to send us a message, or tap Twitter, Facebook, or Website to communicate with us by those means. (If you don’t see the gear, tap in the middle of any article page.)

You can also email us directly with your thoughts and critique. We also read comments and questions on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. (Although we see iTunes reviews, we cannot respond there; please contact us directly with any issues that need a response.)

Glenn Fleishman is the editor and publisher of The Magazine, and contributes reguarly to the Economist, Boing Boing, TidBITS, and Macworld. The father of two, Glenn won two episodes of Jeopardy! in 2012, and he won't let you forget it.

You can purchase our complete archives, almost 300 articles, as a DRM-free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats. We ceased publication of new work on December 18, 2014.
You can purchase our complete archives, almost 300 articles, as a DRM-free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats.
©2017 Aperiodical LLC. The Magazine's online ISSN: 2334-4970. We ceased publication on December 18, 2014. You can purchase our complete archives, almost 300 articles, as a DRM-free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats. Read our privacy policy. Learn more about us. Billing troubles? Email us. Talk with us on Facebook and Twitter. Consult our FAQ for more answers. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.