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Is the iPad an iFad?

Apple unveils the iPad in January 2010

So Apple revealed their newest hardware peripheral to the family of Macs and "i" devices, the iPad. I have been very interested on their take of the netbook or tablet pc. You can find the complete technical specs here iPad Tech specs, but here are the major ones:

  • Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)

  • Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)

  • Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)

  • Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology

  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)

  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

  • UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)

  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)

  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

  • 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

  • Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery

  • Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music

  • Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

  • Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV

  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

As usual for Apple products, the device looks gorgeous. They use the same single mold aluminum back casing found on the new macbook lines. The screen is full color with the same capacitive glass screen technology the iPhone/iPod Touch use. There are 2 models- a WiFi only and WiFi/3G. You will be able to purchase a 3G monthly plan from AT&T anytime without a contract, cancelable at anytime and all of this can be done right from the device (pretty sweet). How much is this puppy? Take a gander:


Another question my post could have asked was: "Who is mad at the iPad?" There has been a huge backlash against the device and the lack of its capabilities as a full fledged computer. Most of the backlash has come from the tech world, Geeks like myself. Though I am not in that camp- I see their point. I don't think they see Apples- or really care to.

I made the same mistake myself years ago when Nintendo announced their Wii product. I thought- it ain't gonna sell. My prediction of a device being bought my parents and grandparents, only to be used on family nights like a board game were mostly true. The detail I missed was the massive amounts of those units they would sell to the audience they built this thing for, the casual audience. Their bet was spot on selling 67.4 million units worldwide to date. Why is that? Was it the new motion controller? The Nintendo Brand? Mario?

It was all of these things and a very concise and clear marketing direction. They knew who to sell this to- not the hard core gamer (who my feet are firmly planted with), but to all the non-gamers out there. You know, the rest of the world. The Wii could not measure up with the Xbox 360 or PS3 in terms of hardware or video output, but it was not the concern of Mom's across the nation or Nintendo. People understood how to wave the Wiimote and point it at the tv and press a big button. Nintendo removed the difficulty found in today's controllers and packaged it in family friendly attire.

Switch to Apple who is following in Nintendo's footprints. Now I am not saying that the iPad is introducing a new revolutionary way to interact with a computer- ala the Wiimote. I am saying the iPad doesn't need to do that- the iPhone already did it. Apples major revolution is the iPhone OS, their multi-touch technology. Tap an icon and the program opens up. No real setup, no compatibility issues- the installation is done when it is downloaded. Very easy for the non-tech saavy. It makes sense that they leverage the innovation they created to build a larger device that can seemingly do everything you want to do with a hand-held device the size of a hardback novel. Surf the web, watch movies, listen to music, check your email, visit Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The biggest geek complaint of the iPad is it is just a big old iPod Touch. I can't argue that point specifically. My question is, what is wrong with that? The iPhone is a very good OS. It has the potential to do many more things than it has been restricted to do. I am not sure if many of my fellow geeks have used a netbook device, but they are no where near the experience you can find on a full fledged laptop or desktop computer. They are slow, not very responsive, they have tiny screens with a Windows OS that just doesn't fit- there is a lot of screen scrolling as you navigate. You won't use these devices to do any "hard core" computing. They are marketed as net devices, or internet devices, that allow a user the freedom to consume media and the internet in a lightweight form factor. You are kidding yourself if you think a netbook is going to allow you to listen to music and Photoshop photos, check your emails and create a PowerPoint presentation all at the same time. The thing will screech to a halt.

But that's where we circle back to the iPad. It is a simple device that will allow you to consume media. There is a misnomer many websites and tech folks have been throwing about and that is that the iPhone and iPod Touch can't mutlitask. That is not true- they very much can. It was Apple's decision to restirct all mutlitasking to just their apps and not third party ones. Apps like the music player and mail client all run in the background. The reason cited was for battery life. Whatever the reason, know that Apple simply could allow mutlitasking through a software update. It makes sense to have that on the iPad and I am fairly certain it will happen. My guess is that they will allow the user to set what apps run in the background in the settings area, a sort of toggle for those apps.

This article will not convince my geek bretheren to buy this device (though I believe many will despite what they say), I just wanted to add a bit of perspective. I was over my sisters house and my niece (who is 29) asked me about the iPad. She wanted one really bad. She got an iPhone, after she saw my first gen one. She has a netbook for checking her emails, YouTubing and Facebook. She was excited about it- was putting away money to get one in March. I was surprised she even knew about it. Then her sister said she would like one and my sister chimed up that she wanted one. We geeks have our desktop computers, laptops, iPods, phones and a bevvy of gadgets we either need or just plain desire. This is just another device that may fit in with some of those devices. But for my niece- the iPad is all she needs.

**I certainly can see myself with this device. I also see Apple expanding the capabilities of the OS to allow more flexibility to do much more than it can do in the next year. I guarantee that it will have some bells and whistles not shown when it releases. Apple was never going to please everyone with the iPad- expectaons were to high. I always said that if my iPhone could be doubled in size it would be great. Steve heard me but more than quadrupled my wish. The iPad will be an interesting device to see after 1 year.



A Tributing Return

So, where have I been? I don't have a large readership (perhaps about 5) so this post is more self serving than anything else, but hey aren't most blogs? 

My father died in September of 2009 and I just haven't felt like posting on this blog. I was back and forth on writing my thoughts here of my Fathers death, but everytime I sat down to do so, I ended up not really compelled. But enough time has passed that I feel my life has gotten back to its normal swing- for a few months I was just going through the motions, focusing on work and helping my Mother out.

I wrote the eulogy for my Dad the night he died. Morbid the thought, but I had already begun to think about it weeks prior. Really just pulling my thoughts together and thinking of what I would say. My father was a very strong influence on my life. I strived to be just like him- he was one of those rare people that truly was a good person. He was a vey likable person who loved his family deeply and was my family's moral compass. His passing has left a huge hole in my life- I still think of him every day and would love to just chat with him as we did many times.

I'll end this post with some of the last things I shared with my Dad before he died.

Star Trek: The last movie we saw together in the theater. We loved Sci-fi flicks and he loved that movie as well. It was the last film he saw in a theater.

Ben Franklin Biography: The audio book we both listened too and talked about while he was getting his chemo and was in and out of the hospital.

Gin/500 Rummy: We played many games together at the hospital- either with me or with my sister and brother. He routinely kicked my ass. This was a great way to keep his mind off of being sick.

Love: Of all of those things I metioned above, this one is the most important- the thread that pulled all of those memories together. It is the thing we shared the most and the thing I will miss the most.




iPhone Test

So, Squarespace has finally released an iPhone blogging app. Color me impressed so far. You can obviously post articles, they include picture uploads as well.

The real gem is that they allow you to view and edit posts from within the app no matter if you posted them on the iPhone or web. Pretty cool. You can also check your web statistics to see the traffic coming to your site Next build looks like they'll have commenting tools built in.

Very good freshman effort so far!


The Birds and their Tools

Alfred Hitchcock loved to terrify people. He delighted in the perverse nature of man's soul and psyche. One film stands out, as the evil was not human, but of the avian type- more appropriately, The Birds.

This article's focus is not to speak about the movie Birds, or Hitchcock's genius (that could be a later blog post) but I wanted to share an interesting article and video that had my memory fetch the imagery above.

They say art mimics real life and in the case of the following article I found, Sir Alfred Hitchcock had his finger on a certain pulse. Watch the video below and then read on...

This video was made during previous experiments. In the Brevia section of the 9 August 2002 issue of Science, Weir et al. report a remarkable observation: The toolmaking behavior of New Caledonian crows. In the experiments, a captive female crow, confronted with a task that required a curved tool (retrieving a food-containing bucket from a vertical pipe), spontaneously bent a piece of straight wire into a hooked shape -- and then repeated the behavior in nine out of ten subsequent trials.

Creepy cool, huh?

So, Oxford scientists have been running experiments with crows, all centered on food retrieval, and recorded that these animals are able to use up to three types of tools in procuring their food. The article I read tested the birds in different scenarios and they were able to adapt and utilize up to 3 different tools to accomplish their task. Now, these Caledonian crows are known to use tools in the wild to retrieve food, but the scientists wanted to see if these birds had cognitive skills beyond non-human or primate animals that showed similar cognitive skills. The results were that the crows could adapt and create tools, sometimes as the need arose, without any previous tool training. Though the researchers stated that these results do not prove complex cognitive abilities, it does mark an example of higher cognitive competence above non-human animals.

So, though modern Cinema would have us believe that our futures would look something like this:

 Rest assured it will most likely resemble this:

Hitchcock was so ahead of his this scene:

 All in all, the future doesn't look too bright for us humans...




Comics to Read

I am a big Comic book fan. sadly, I don't have the time now to collect individual comics as they are released, but I do try and pick up compilations of particular series and graphic novels that interest me. Lately, I have been able to read some great graphic novels and trade-backs. I want to recommend two comics here that I read recently that were very good.

The first comic I want to recommend is called Y: the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra.

This Graphic Novel starts in our present world when suddenly all mammals with a Y chromosome die. The protagonist in the story is Yorick Brown who, along with his male monkey, are the lone male survivors of the plague. I will not get into spoilers, but the story unfolds rather quickly through some quick flashbacks (which are introduced at the beginning of each chapter) and bringing you up to speed. The world is thrown into chaos and a very twisting and inventive story unfolds, the first novel being a survival story. There are 10 graphic novels in total for the entire run. I have only read the first one, but I have the others queued up for purchase. A must buy.

The second graphic novel I am recommending is City of Others by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson.

I haven't read a Bernie Wrightson comic in a very long time, he had left the genre for the last decade. The one that comes to my mind the most is Cycle of the Werewolf by Bernie and Stephen King. That graphic novel became the movie Silver Bullet. That graphic novel drew me in completely through the visual style- Bernie Wrightson's panels popped off the pages with a surreal realism that breathed life into King's basic story. City of Others follows the exploits of killer for hire Stosh Bludowski who has no capacity for the human emotion of caring. A job he takes leads him into a world full of zombies and vampires. Very cool concept (although not terribly original), but executed well. Niles and Wrightson, who share writing credit, create a very likeable anti-hero and construct a very depraved world. Wrightson's art is spot on and again breathes life into an otherwise thin story. This graphic novel makes me want to track down more of Wrightson's early work. I just hope he stays in this medium for a long while now.