A lot of the tech media are declaring the iPad an instant failure, and while I justly accuse many members of the tech media of smacking Apple around the last 25 years for sport, in this case I'm inclined to agree.
I've already seen some of my peers assembling lists: mostly nitpicky little feature complaints. The fact that it's basically a giant iPhone/iPod Touch also has the free software community up in arms, since there's no way to install software on the thing except through Apple's App Store, or perhaps by jailbreaking it.
Sorry friends, but these are all thin reasons. The big reason the iPad will fail is very simple: there' no market for it.
Honestly: who will buy this thing? Does Steve really expect people will run out and plop down $500, minimum, just so that they can browse the web and doodle on the couch? Hey, I've got an idea: how about I pay $500 more an get an entry-level MacBook?
Three years ago, almost exactly, I declared that the iPhone was "basically the greatest portable deivce ever created". I'm going to brag here: I don't think I was far off. But why? It all goes back to why the iPhone satisfied a years-long fantasy of mine: device aggregation. Why do you need a phone, a PDA, an video iPod, a portable gaming system, etcetera... when you can put them into one device? Isn't a smartphone just a small computer? It doesn't seem like rocket science to me.
Now, Apple is trying to do the opposite: they're going to split the aggregate apart again. This may prove a lot more difficult than they suspect. I regularly carry my phone and laptop around with me. Why should I buy an iPad if I have both, or either?
Well, Steve will maybe direct me towards the fact that he got five major book publishers on board for iBooks. To that I would say that eReaders generally suck. I can get the latest paperback novel at my local chapters for 7 bucks. It's very durable, and comes bundled with a very intuitive user interface. Media storage format, the bookshelf, is also quite cheap and highly decorative. No, even Amazon can stick its Kindle in the trash. For this tech-addict, paper books are here to stay for a good while yet.
Steve will choke back his notorious temper and tell me how much nicer it will be to browse the web on the couch with the iPad instead of having a potentially cumbersome and hot notebook computer on my lap. In rebuttal, I will direct him towards the iPad's monumental failing as a web browser: no Flash. Millions of websites use Adobe Flash, and honestly, if you don't have Flash, you don't have a decent web browser.
So who will buy the iPad? Rich yuppies who have money to burn. But there are only so many of them. Trust me, I can see a yuppie-toy from fifty yards away. How many Macbook Airs have you seen lately? Exactly.
About the most interesting thing that came out of the entire keynote was the revelation that the iPad is running on an Apple-designed processor: the "A4" (or more accurately, a 4th generation ARM-based system on a chip originally developed by ARM Holdings and subsequently licensed to many different companies, including Intel, nVidia, and Qualcomm for further development. you can read more about the ARM architecture here if you're not asleep already).
Look, we all knew the Apple magic wouldn't last forever (investors certainly think so, Apple's stock price has tanked this week by over $20). Look Steve, just try harder next time. Stop thinking about those rich yuppies with money. Stop thinking about futuristic gadgets you've wanted to build since Star Trek: The Next Generation was on TV. People need to get stuff done, and Apple gadgets have, until now, let them get stuff done, have fun, and look cool while doing it. That's a killer combination, but I don't think the iPad will do any of those things well enough to be a success.
You may remember the furor that was created when CBC decided not to pursue permanently acquiring the "Hockey Night in Canada" theme music, paving the way for the music to be sold to TSN. The move left an incredibly bitter taste in many Canadians' mouths. The bitter were chided by pundits and the CBC management, who stated that a theme song wasn't going to affect any viewership.
Well, here we are a year and a half later. I haven't followed the song to TSN, as the pundits joked. But I HAVE stopped watching Hockey Night in Canada. Why?
Well, frankly, HNIC wasn't a very good show. The perennially senile ranting of Don Cherry is quite enough to give viewers the "no" feeling. All that kept me with CBC was the sense of loyalty to patriotic tradition. Which was all fine and good until the CBC showed us exactly how it felt about traditions.
So now I watch hockey on Rogers Sportsnet, thanks wholly to John Shorthouse's lively commentary sprinkled with self-aware humour. Coincidence? Maybe. But I would still be loyally watching CBC if I felt a sense of sentimentality towards HNIC, regardless of whether that sense was well-founded or not.
If you take stock of the posts on Geekman's World for the past six months, you'll probably be able to divide them into two categories: a) "OMG! Check out this cute/funny/amazing internets videos"; or b) "OMG! MY life sucks and wah wah wah."
Neither are particularly good reading material.
The problem is that I haven't had a lot of time or energy (depending on when you ask me) to reflect on things. There are a lot of things I like about my job, but the fact of the matter is that it is often pretty draining. You become very cynical at our office because, every time the phone rings, it's a client who wants something. Sometimes, what they want is difficult, or impossible, but they want it done anyway and SOON. Invariably, you get the job done well and you rarely get thanks from the client; just as often you get complaints.
The other extreme with work is when there are days and there is nothing to do. You have to sit in a chair and twiddle your thumbs. Trying to find things to do on a slow day in the office leads to hours of time passing slowly, and you become excruciatingly, painfully bored. You think of all the times you stayed late or came in early or used some personal time to get work done, and you ask your boss if the staff could leave an hour early, just today. He will invariably suggest some terrible data entry job that you could do, causing you to cringe and saunter back to your cube to bleed away the rest of the hour.
That being said, it's definitely worth mentioning that the two things which make the job worthwhile are supportive and good-natured employers and co-workers, who are both essential to making the work experience pleasant overall.
I would love to explain all sorts of things that make me excited about work, but again, that falls into two categories: a) technical stuff that goes way over your heads (yes, all of you); and b) stuff that I can't talk about right now. That second one is the real humdinger. Some of you know most of what's going on through private conversations. It would be great to recount it all in proper detail on the site, but right now, that's not possible. This kind of stuff has been going on for YEARS now. It's an epic tale that started in 2006 and has wound its way through many twists and turns.
We are two weeks away from the finish line.
But that's just the beginning. There is still so much to do. But, at least I'll be able to talk about some of what has been going on over the years. I look forward to that.
I've also recently realized that I still have what it takes to build a good-looking website. So I'm going to take it upon myself this year to finally do what I've been talking about for ages now: redesign my site.
A while ago I set up "Twisted Pair", my "IT on a Budget" blog. I updated it quite infrequently, the site was uninspired, and the truth is that I'm on much less of a budget these days than I used to be. This November, the domain expired and I shrugged and let it go (some squatter has since snatched it up). In the new Geekman's World, I'd like to have this stuff on the main page. Those of you who are not especially tech-inclined can ignore it (or maybe even try to read it and learn something). But today, IT is one of the most essential parts of who I am. When I look back through my life: a love of computer systems has been persistently dominant; my website should reflect that.
In the meantime, I'll be going full stink to get my job done. Everyone please wish me luck and send good energy my way so that I can deal with the occasional fit of stress or frustration.
Congratulations: you are one of the few Humans in history who will be able to celebrate "Palindrome Date Day":
Happy Palindrome Date Day! 01/02/2010
In fact, if you're around my age, we're lucky enough that we'll probably celebrate several in our lifetimes. Nice, considering that before this century, the most recent Palindrome Date Day was 08/31/1380. We're pretty spoiled, huh?
We can immediately look forward (and one backward) to: