Apple’s New Slate is Stale

by on Jan.28, 2010, under technology

iPadI make no apologies about the fact that I’m not an Apple guy.  I don’t really have anything against them, but I’m not a fan of paying more money for a product that (at least from my perspective) does less for me.  Both my work and my hobbies and habits require a PC.  So Apple can do what Apple does, and it is no skin off my nose.  Generally I think of their products as well conceptualized, elegantly designed, and great options for those who prefer to use them … until yesterday.

Yesterday Apple unveiled their latest product to as much hype and fanfare as has become customary to such launches.  Their latest offering – the iPad.  The iPad is a 9.5″ x 7.5″ tablet unit that looks essentially like a huge iPhone.  And, as it turns out, basically IS a huge iPhone.  As the specifications were revealed, it became clear that this was NOT a fully-functional tablet-style laptop but rather a version of the iPod Touch that is big enough to read books and newspapers.  The only other feature that seems to have been scaled from the smaller version is the storage capacity (and the price points).

The truth of the matter is that it seems this product was NOT designed as a productivity tool, but simply as a leisure tool.  You can use it to play games, to watch videos, to browser the web (without Flash), and to read your ebooks and enewspapers.  But it doesn’t have the processing power or storage capacity to handle professional applications.  And from what I can tell, it doesn’t necessarily do any of the things previous devices do any better.  For instance, sure it is a better form factor for ebook reading than the iPod, but not better than other ebook readers.  All of the other models out there use eink displays which make them easier on the eyes are readable in full sunlight.  The iPad can browse the web and play games just like the iPod Touch and iPhone, but it IS JUST like those devices – no better (just bigger).  The iPad also seems to be missing any communication capabilities (aside from messaging) – no phone, no camera.  If I were to pay the price points listed for such devices – especially if I get the 3G service, I’d want to at least use it as a phone (preferrably a video phone).  But no dice.

So the bottom line it seems is that Apple put out an unstellar new product at an undesirable price with an unusual name targeted at an unclear niche.  If it were more of a MacBook with an iPhone-esque interface option that could fully support the full set of software products that a typical Mac can run, I may find this more interesting.  But as it is, I do not and I’m not sure who will.

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Applefication – Part Deux

by on Sep.11, 2009, under career, Internet, technology

The teeth are in the flesh. The poison is coursing through my veins. I’m hoping this will act as a vaccination – an exposure I can coast through and move on – rather than a first step towards the downward spiral of the disease. I’ve taken on at least one stripe of the Apple (two if you count iTunes).

You see, this week I traded in my company-issue BlackBerry for an iPhone. As I write this, its glossy touch screen is giving me its come-hither look, occasionally shivering with the arrival of new emails (a definitively more feminine form of vibration than the BlackBerry ever seemed to give off). I’m doing my best not to invest more into it than necessary. Sure I’ve downloaded my iTunes music library into it as well as all of the Ask a Ninja podcasts I have yet to watch. And I’ll admit that I’ve acquired a good number of apps to help me with various things such as finding restaurants, keeping up with Facebook, listening to Pandora, and watching the various Woot sites. But so far I’ve avoided purchasing anything for it – all my apps are free and the rubber sheath I have was lent to me by a c-worker (thanks, Ray).

But I have to admit, I understand the draw and I will likely get drawn further into it. I already had an unhealthy attachment to my BlackBerry and that barely had anything on it. Now I can access all of the same things, but better, faster and more. So it is inevitable that I will become enthralled and entangled with this device in no time (assuming I haven’t already). The only defense I have in my favor is that it doesn’t seem to have much staying power. While I found myself charging my BlackBerry once every other day, this iPhone needs to be charged at least once a day and occasionally needs a midday boost (it was previously used, so perhaps its battery isn’t what it used to be). That is enough to keep me from being completely enamored with it.

So the conversion that I previously foreshadowed has taken hold. Hopefully I can avoid it spreading deeper. After all, I have a desktop and laptop at home that could stand to be upgraded and those MacBooks and Mac Minis are very tempting … NO! I can resist. I WILL resist. I have no choice (after all, they are pretty damn expensive).

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Friday 5: Auto Motivation

by on Jun.19, 2009, under home & stuff, technology

Having been a driver for 18 years and having driven numerous cars in that timeframe, there are some things that I’ve learned over the years.  Here are a few of them:

  1. A part that costs less than $30 will give out when you least suspect it and gladly cause another $1000 in damage when it does.
  2. While individual drivers may be intelligent, a group of cars driving together is only as smart as its weakest link.
  3. Never underestimate any driver’s ability or likelihood to do something unexpected or stupid (including when you are a passenger).
  4. Nobody likes getting pulled over and most people don’t likely shift their habits much or for long due to being stopped.  That aside, if you get stopped, be polite and respectful.  If you want to fight it, fight the system, not the cop – the former often works, the latter almost always doesn’t.
  5. Don’t assume, no matter how competent the mechanic, that small details won’t get overlooked (e.g., forgetting to tighten the drain plug for the transmission, forgetting to tighten the lug nuts after hand tightening).  Check their work – especially if it is your work.

Bonus:  If you are driving down a 25 degree include on a country road at over 60mph and come upon someone going slower than you’d prefer – especially if you are towing a camper with a sofa tied to it – don’t try to tap the guy’s bumper to get him to let you past.  Conversely, if you are the slow guy in front, get the hell out of the way.

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At a Loss

by on Jun.06, 2009, under money, technology

I’ve lost it.  All of it.  Well … most of it … and hopefully only temporarily.  Specifically what I lost was data – lots of it:  hundreds of digital photos, thousands of MP3s, countless documents, spreadsheets, graphic design projects, videos, etc.  All gone without so much as a hiccup of noise to announce their departure.  You see, they were all saved on an external USB hard drive – a 1Tb drive that I treated myself to last fall – that suddenly decided to cease to function.

The loss is inexplicable and immeasurable.  The drive had been working fine no more than a couple days ago.  But when my wife attempted to fire it up today to access it, it seemed disinclined to come to life.  The power light would come one and blink a bit.  Her laptop would attempt to connect to it.  But in the end, the drive didn’t seem to want to perform.  I, being the manly man of technology that I am, attempted to use my own laptop and a number of different USB cables to troubleshoot the issue, but to no avail.  It is kaput.

The good news:  (a) it seems the device is still under warranty and (b) there are services available who may be able to recover the lost data.  So hopefully at some point in the near future I will have a shiny new external hard drive that works and all of my files conveniently found and restored (unfortunately not without incurring some costs, but little in life comes for free).  And beyond that I hope that I can manage to get to a point where such a loss is less likely (e.g., having my files in more than one place to avoid such catastrophic results).  But in the meantime, I’m floating in the limbo of not knowing if, when, or at what cost I will have my data recovered (or whether one of the costs of recovery is a void to the warranty).  And such a lack of knowledge leaves me at a loss for comfort, security, or resolve.

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Socially Conscious

by on May.21, 2009, under Internet, technology

It seems that I’m branching out.  I’ve done something that I didn’t think that I’d ever do – I signed up on Facebook.  I avoided it for a long time, but now I’m in and I can’t leave it alone.

The thing is, I’m not technophobic.  Internet technology is my life and my work.  I’ve been doing some form of social networking long before it had a name.  In college, well before the majority of the world knew what a website was (mostly because very few people had seen one yet), I had found myself absorbed into a realm of online chat rooms and bbs sites and usenet groups – so much so that I nearly failed my second semester.  Which is precisely one of the reasons that I have forced myself to be cautious of my involvement in such services since.

I use email and IM, but mostly only as needed and primarily reactively (many of my friends can attest to the fact that I’m not very good at keeping in touch).  I’ve generally reserved my use of the internet as an information tool and avoided active engagement.  Even this blog is something I do fairly casually and without any strong compunction to vigilance (readership is not a strong goal here – though I do thank those of you who choose to read).

So as I said, I took that plunge.  It was initially not intended for dedicated use (I actually created my account to be able to test something for work).  But I’m not it now and I’m connecting with lots of people that I haven’t talked to or seen in years (in some cases, decades).  I try to limit the time I spend there (it can be addictive), but I’m there and I’m embracing it.  I figure it will be an interesting way to learn some things about some of the people with whom I’ve crossed paths (and maybe they will learn a few things about me as well).  Maybe my life will be profoundly effected by people I previously barely knew.  Who knows.  The least I can do is branch out there and see what happens.

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