Reeds Almanac

B1801

Large numbers of sailors are completely sold on the traditional Reeds Almanac as an essential aid to planning voyages. Many will probably stay with the printed paper edition for a variety of personal reasons, but also because some will not be prepared to rely on an electronic almanac afloat. Others will readily adopt the electronic edition and some will probably acquire both versions.

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NAME: Reeds Almanac
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1801
DATE: 100113
AUTHOR:
PUBLISHER: Reeds
BINDING: electronic PDF and hard back
PAGES:
PRICE: Printed paper edition £45
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: marine almanac
ISBN: 978-1-40817-226-1
IMAGE: B1801.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/akydumb
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Electronic publishing is now more than twenty-five years old. Publishers and readers are still trying to understand its benefits and weaknesses. The famous Reeds Almanac is now published in both paper and electronic form as the publisher hedges bets. Readers may also hedge bets.

The printed paper form of the almanac is well-established and proven. It continues to have the advantage over electronic almanacs that it does not require electrical power and can be put away on a bookshelf until required, making its use the same ashore as afloat. It also has no requirement for connection to communications systems. Its weakness is shared with any other printed paper book. It has to be produced in volume, the publisher has to store the resulting bound volumes, and these volumes have to be distributed in some way to the readers. Once the print run has been executed, the book’s information is fixed. The only way of updating and annual is to add margin notes or insert printed notes close to the location of information they replace or update.

The electronic form potentially has many strong advantages. It can be updated at any time and it is possible to load the content into an application that is automatically updated every time the reader connects to a communications network and requests updating, or performs a function that automatically requests updates by network connection. As an electronic information source, the almanac can be loaded onto any device that is capable of supporting the reader application.

This new edition of the Almanac is available in two elements. The free application is downloaded to the appropriate reader device, and then the user pays for a subscription to the almanac, downloaded from the publisher’s server. Potentially, the almanac could be integrated into an onboard computer that handles navigation and communications afloat and presents selected information on one of several screens on the boat.

This year the review is of the electronic version of the almanac. The application was installed on a number of devices, including a Windows PC. The process was easy and reliable. The review subscription was downloaded and during the review period, the almanac was updated successfully. The content matches the printed edition with the exception that unlike the paper edition the digital product is quickly updated. The reader is subject to the speed of updating by the publisher but during the review period this was fast and automated.

Large numbers of sailors are completely sold on the traditional Reeds Almanac as an essential aid to planning voyages. Many will probably stay with the printed paper edition for a variety of personal reasons, but also because some will not be prepared to rely on an electronic almanac afloat. Others will readily adopt the electronic edition and some will probably acquire both versions.

Once the electronic edition has been tried, a great many sailors will come to rely on it exclusively. It makes use of the content very easy. Electronic platforms on even small vessels are now generally reliable and one of more back-up systems can be installed. Although still relatively expensive, rugged water-resistant computers and local networks are now available and increasingly, sailors have access to a number of communications networks so that digital contact can be maintained once at sea. In port and close to shore, 4G mobile phones and WiFi connection to the Internet is possible. At sea, satphones can be used to provide a link from even the most remote corners of the world. However, the digital edition of the almanac does not rely on Internet connection. If the sailor updates before sailing beyond shore-based networks such as broadband and WiFi, the copy in the boat’s computers can be used without an Internet connection. The copy can then be updated as soon as the boat is in range of low cost broadband services and radio networks.

Having reached this point of flexible and fast updating of a nautical almanac, the publisher or a third party may then move to the next stage of integrating the almanac’s content with other onboard systems, so that a sailor can move seamlessly through the navigation steps from planning to executing a sailing plan, with real-time inputs from sensors and communications systems, including GPS. As the almanac is data loaded into a proprietary application, integration only requires the will to modify the application.

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