Monday, October 24, 2011

Commercial Appeal, Apple iPhone conspire to stick it to the customer

    The Commercial Appeal has erected a paywall for those wishing to access its website from mobile phones; and they've gone about it in a particularly nasty way.
    Visit the CA website from your iPhone and you'll encounter a log-in screen with an option to register. If you aren't registered, you'll be prompted to give them a log-in name, password, and lots of personal information, such as your PHONE NUMBER. Then they send you an email to make sure they have a live one.
    Only when you click on the link in your email to activate your account do you learn that you will be expected to pay a substantial fee, either 99 cents a day or so much a month.
    Now I have no objection with the Commercial Appeal charging for its services. It's their product and they can do with it what they will. But I do have a problem with them deceiving me into providing all sorts of personal information and then telling me that I can only get access if I pay. "Oh, and if you don't pay, one of our pesky operators is now going to start calling you regularly on the phone in an attempt to brow-beat you into subscribing to our left-wing rag."
    Obviously I'm peeved with the CA, but I'm also peeved with our dear friends at Apple. The Commercial Appeal site remains free when I access it from my desktop. But my iPhone insists on sending code that tells the CA to please format its site as a mobile site. And so I'm expected to pay.
    In fact, the Safari browser does this with every site. I have never once seen a website that I liked better in the "mobile" format. I end up searching around for the button that allows me to view the full website. This is often time consuming, and I often press the wrong button because many mobile sites won't let me zoom in to make the button large enough to press accurately. The iPhone screen is plenty big enough to see a webpage; all you have to do is zoom in and out.
    Some web pages have no "button" giving access to the full site. For those situations I paid 99 cents and downloaded the Atomic Web Browser, which allows me to specify what code it will send out to the website I'm accessing. Usually this allows me to get the full webpage, but not in the case of the CA. With the Atomic web browser I'm still hitting the mobile phone pay wall even though I've got it set to emulate Internet Explorer 6.
    I'm probably going to be switching away from my iPhone in the near future. But what really annoys me is that iPhone refuses to give us what we want. They know many of us hate web pages formatted for mobile devices, yet they give us no choice in the matter. They know we want to read laying down, but they cause the screen to rotate so we can't. It's an anal-retentive control thing that just drives me nuts.
    I really didn't visit the CA site all that often; perhaps three times a week just after waking up. I certainly don't need to get their news on my iPhone.
    But it annoys me that my iPhone tells strangers that I am using a mobile device. That's my business. If I want the world to believe I'm sitting at a desk, that's the message my iPhone ought to send out. It's my iPhone, I want it to do what I tell it to do.
    Whether it's the Commercial Appeal or whether it's our cell phones, we want products that will serve us. Those who refuse to serve us out of a sense of pettiness will soon find that we aren't customers anymore.
    So Apple iPhone and Commercial Appeal, it's been good knowing you, but I can probably live without you.
    (Galaxy Nexus, I hear you calling!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Having been banned from Freeland's blog a few years back, permit me to respond to comments in the ongoing Haynes/West affair and provide some limelight on the case of Mary Sue Shields of Columbus, Mississippi. In this case, too, Ms. Shields' guilt was determined by testimony from Dr. Haynes that the "victim" in the juke-joint, New Years dance-floor fight died from a heart attack brought on by the drunken brawl. Dr. Hayne's autopsy did find evidence of heart disease, but concluded that the victim's death resulted directly from the fight with Ms. Shields and her brother. Her brother went to her defense after the fight started on the dance floor. The only weapon involved was a broken barstool.

Ms. Shields was charged with murder, found guilty and is currently serving a life sentence without parole. Her appeal has been denied. Judge Kitchens said the life sentence he imposed was the only sentence permitted by the legislature. I'm thinking that Judge Kitchens was assistant DA during DA Forrest Allgood's prosecution of Ms. Shields' case.

In the comment section of the Columbus Packet, a reader says that Mississippi is the only state that does not allow juror's questions. I saw an Alfred Hitchock episode on TV decades back that involved juror's questions, and how one juror's questions ultimately led to the acquital of an innocent man charged with murder. Turns out that the "juror" that asked the questions was the real "murderer" and he felt a sense of guilt that an innocent man was being railroaded for a crime that he had committed.

Shortly after Ms, Shields' letter to the editor of the Columbus Packet, I sent an e-mail to Tom Freeland with the link that I am sending you. I never got a repsonse from him.

See if you can do better.