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4 days with the iPad

April 10th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted in Geek, Uncategorized, tech

I tweeted (and cross-posted to Facebook) the fact that bought an iPad a few days ago.  A few folks asked for my thoughts on it.  Rather than email everybody individually, I figured this would be the best place to publish my thoughts on the device.  This will not be an exhaustive review, the web abounds with those this week.  Start here if you’re looking for very detailed analysis.

Overall, I’m fairly smitten with the device (32GB WiFi-Only version, BTW).  I find myself using the iPad for the following activities:

Web Browsing

Email

There is nothing really sexy about the email app, but it’s definitely serviceable.  The biggest plus I’ve had with it thus far is more of a compliment for Google.  My mail, calendar and contacts are all part of my Google account.  I had already set everything up once before (to sync with my iPhone), so getting everything on the iPad took only a few minutes.  Both Jen and I keep our Google Calendars up-to-date and shared with each other, which adds tremendously to family harmony.  Having a consistent view of mail, contacts and calendar across my desktop, iPhone and iPad is pretty bitchin’.

News

Web Browsing is very pleasant.  The first thing I noticed here is how incredibly fast it is.  For a device with a 1GHz processor and only 256MB of RAM, it smokes.  Most major news organizations have built custom applications for the iPad.  I’ve only tried the NPR and BBC applications.  I’ve been less impressed with the NPR app, but the BBC application is pretty nice.

If you’re the kind of person that still consumes a lot of news via RSS (news feeds), the NetNewsWire application is pretty nice ($10).  The benefit of this application (versus using Google Reader via it’s standard web page interface) is that NetNewsWire will let you view webpages linked from the feed without having to leave the app and launch Safari.

Social “Stuff”

I find that Twitter is starting to replace Google Reader as my default source for surfacing the day’s news.  I’m using Twitterrific (free version) as my default Twitter client on the iPad.  So far, I’ve got no complaints.  I’ve also heard that TweetDeck is nice, but haven’t taken it for a spin yet.

I don’t spend a ton of time on Facebook and I haven’t seen an iPad-specific version yet.  Any facebookin’ that I do currently on iPad is via Safari.  It works, but is not optimal.  The current Facebook interface is not optimized for browsing with a touch-device.  The buttons and links are just a bit too small to be clicked via a big (some would say fat) finger like mine.  The current iPhone Facebook application is fantastic…my hope is that they release a version for the iPad that leverages the larger screen.

Entertainment

IPTV

The two applications that have gotten the most use thus far are Netflix and ABC.  Both applications are fantastic.  I believe a Hulu application is in the works.  Clearly the world is going this way, and the iPad is shaping up to be a great video consumption device.

Games

This is a great gaming platform.  I’ve download a half-dozen games (Plants-v-Zombies, Minigore HD, We Rule, Let’s Golf among others) and have been very impressed with quality of the games.  I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, as more and more kids are getting iPod Touches as gaming devices.

Music

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the iPad is a very capable iPod.  iTunes and the iPod application work as you would expect.  What I love more than that is Pandora….oh sweet, sweet Pandora.  The only negative currently is that you can’t have Pandora running in the background (something the iPod application conveniently gets away with).  I believe this should all be rectified when iPhone OS 4 is released for the iPad in the fall.

Comics

I’ve never been much of a Comic Book guy…but Ethan is in a major super hero mode these days so comics have been creeping their way into my life.  We installed the Marvel Comics app and I’ve got to say, it’s awesome.  It’s free and there are a half-dozen comics that you can also download for free.  Paid comics are either $1 or $2.

eBook Reading

iBooks

iBooks is Apple’s default application.  I’ve not purchased a book yet, but have downloaded a few of the free books (made possible by Project Gutenberg).  The iBook application is very nice.  You can customize typeface, size, brightness and a host of other items to ensure that you can find a setting that’s comfortable for your eyes.

Amazon Kindle

I have purchased a few Kindle books (they have a software version of Kindle for iPhones and desktops/laptops).  The Kindle app for the iPad works well.  It’s not quite as awesome as iBooks, but it gets the job done and I like the fact that it keeps everything in sync (last page read, etc) across all my devices.

PDF’s

I already have a fairly significant investment in technical eBooks, the majority of which are in PDF format.  I bought the $1 GoodReader app, and it is amazing.  I actually keep all my PDF eBooks in my DropBox account, which GoodReader integrates with.  Everyone has to work with PDFs on a regular basis, pay the $1 and get GoodReader.

Expensive Children’s Toy

Ethan is cut from the same cloth as his father and is infatuated with the iPad.  We have watched a few movies from Netflix (Iron Giant and Scooby Doo), checked out a few comics and downloaded some educational games.  While I do not endorse procuring $500+ items for 3-year-olds, it has proved effective and entertaining with adult supervision.

Final Thoughts

Should you rush out and buy an iPad?  It depends.  If you were already considering purchasing an eBook reader like the Kindle or Nook, I would get the iPad.  While you could argue that the Kindle is a bit easier on the eyes, I don’t think that it justifies the cost considering reading books is all it can do.  The iPad is a very good eBook reader along with all of the things listed above at which it excels.

I have the follow computing devices at home: iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone.  Clearly this is not going to replace my phone.  I also have a need to have a nice desktop that I can get “real work” done with.  What I see the iPad putting the squeeze on is my MacBook Pro.  While I think that I will still want a laptop in some fashion (the iPad’s software keyboard is nice, but I wouldn’t want to work on it all day), I believe that the few times that I’ll need it going forward, I could get by with something much less expensive than an MBP…maybe something like a Linux-based Netbook.

The part that really has me excited about the launch of the iPad is that I believe it has set the bar for what to expect from a tablet device.  I believe that this will play out exactly in the same way as the launch of the iPhone.  Everyone else in this space will have to bring their A-game and within 2-3 years, you should see a decent crop of tablet devices that *may* rival the iPad in features/functions and most likely be less expensive, at which time a much-larger percentage of the populous will be adopting these devices.

The iPad can only be considered a primary computing device for the least-demanding web consumers.  For everyone else, it’s a fantastic secondary device.  If you already have a family computer, but would like something portable that can be shared by other family-members, the iPad is a good bet.

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A Guide to Hiring Programmers: The High Cost of Low Quality

August 6th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Geek

A pretty sweet article about how companies should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best talent…and how it can actually save them money. The article is focused on software developers, but I believe it’s relevant in most fields.

Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” Installed

April 20th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Geek

So I’ve been a pretty major “LinuxDork” ™ for going on 10 years. My typical ritual is to try to install it on an old desktop roughly every 12-18 months thinking that I can cut the cord from Windows and use it as my primary OS. It usually ends up being an exercise in futility…especially trying to get everything working on a modern laptop (wireless, 3D acceleration, power mgmt, etc).

So I’m pretty stoked that after almost 10 years of futzing with it, I have a fully-functional Linux desktop environment installed on my laptop. Start-to-Finish, total install/config time was about 3hrs. I’ve definitely spent that much (or more) setting up a windows box in the past. I might have spent an additional 1/2 hr doing research to make sure that my current laptop (Dell e1505) was a good candidate for Feisty.

I downloaded the ISO, burnt the CD, and let the default installer walk me through partitioning my HD, setting up dual-boot (automatically, sweet!), and other basic configuration settings.

After that, it was mostly an exercise in “apt-get’ing” most anything I needed. The wireless setup isn’t for the uninitiated, but it also wasn’t rocket science. I basically just followed the instructions verbatim from the following articles:

  • http://home.concepts.nl/~bergmans/linux/install_linux.html
  • http://yergler.net/Ubuntu_on_the_Inspiron_E1505
  • http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=297092
  • http://lunapark6.com/ubuntu-704-feisty-fawn.html
  • http://doc.gwos.org/index.php/HowToMountsmbfsSharesPermanently

After the above was said and done, all I had to do was install some Firefox plugins and I was set. The beautiful thing about all of this is that everything basically “just works”, which is unbelievably cool if you’ve ever spent much time with computers.

If you’re a developer, OS enthusiast, or just someone who is tired of Windows/Scared of Vista – but doesn’t want to go Mac – Linux (Ubuntu in particular) might just be what you’re looking for.

What really happened after the Deathstar blew up.

April 5th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Geek, General, humor, video

Blender DESTROYS a bag of marbles

November 17th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Geek, humor, video

Why don’t I have this guy’s job?

For more videos, check out http://willitblend.com

read more | digg story

Today’s Chuck Norris Fact

June 4th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Geek, General

We’ve (Jen and I) been spending the weekend moving all of Jen’s data+apps from her old Mac Mini to her new MacBook (which is totally sweet, BTW)…so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time “tweaking” the MacBook for her.

One new nugget of awesomeness is the Chuck Norris Facts Widget. The fact below gives you a taste of what the widget has to offer:

Most people know that Descarte said, “I think, therefore I am”. What most people don’t know is that the quote continues, “…afraid of Chuck Norris”.

Broadband Access Creates Jobs

January 25th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Geek

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060124-6037.html

Google World Domination

November 30th, 2005 | No Comments | Posted in Geek

Plans detailing the specifics of how Google will soon become our digital Overlords!

Bloggers Break Sony

November 17th, 2005 | No Comments | Posted in Geek, General

As a follow up to the recent postings about the whole Sony-CD-DRM-Rootkit Fiasco, I’ve come across an article that explains the roll the “blogosphere” has had in getting Sony to truly “fess-up” on the severity of the issue.

The article’s main point is that if it wasn’t for the constant barrage of negative (and true, mind you) information being produced by the bloggers, Sony would be able to produce a sanitized press release, let the major news outlets give a quick blurb about it, then continue on with their draconian DRM-laden business practices.

I know that bloggers don’t tend to get very much cred for supplying real news. Granted, most bloggers are just jokers like me blabbering about inane personal things or posting pictures of their cat, but there are a lot of serious bloggers out there doing real journalism in a very professional manner.

I believe that the rise of the blogosphere is a direct result of media consolidation. When only a handful of companies in the world get to produce what we see as news, you tend to get a very myopic world-view. It is refreshing to see that the populous at large can still band together and get information out to the (internet savvy) public.

Here’s the story for reference.

Surreptitious Sony Spyware

November 10th, 2005 | No Comments | Posted in Geek

This is a follow-up to the previous post about Sony installing Spyware on your computer:

The good news is that California and New York have (or will have soon) filed class-action lawsuits against Sony for this. The bad news is that as of yet, Sony doesn’t seem to be very apologetic about the whole situation, and on top of that, make it very difficult for a user to uninstall. More information about it can be found here.