Saturday, December 8, 2012

Surface review

An iPad Lover’s Take On The Surface With Windows RT, review.

With all that up-and-running, I immediately headed to the Windows Store (the virtual one with apps, not the physical one with Surfaces) to get some apps. Total nightmare. In the ten days I’ve been using the Surface, that Store has either been down or completely unresponsive a large percentage of the time. It just hangs and hangs and hangs, seemingly forever. I restart, re-open and some things work, then it hangs again. I’ve been trying to download one app for days — still no luck. I’m sick of restarting. And the back-button just isn’t working. Joy.
Of course, that doesn’t even speak to a lack of apps in said store — which, let’s be honest, is the real problem.

My local PC store told me that here in UK also, the Microsoft Surface tablet is only sold in MS stores. Good luck with that, MS! (He also said some computers with Win8 were coming, but probably not before xmas.)

Altogether, Win8 and the tablet seem to be off to a godawfully poor start. Of course MS is famous for doing that, but then get it better, and take over completely (Windows was no good until version 3). But it has been a looong time since they did so, and one has to wonder if they are simply way too far behind in the race this time along. Particularly the great lack of interest from even the large app developers is a very, very bad sign. iPhone/iPad was besieged by developers even before it was *possible* to develop for the platform. ("Web apps," said Steve Jobs, "do that, they're great".)

Books on paper: for when nothing else works

I have come to see paper books as a sort of emergency solution. There are big drawbacks to them, they are very expensive and takes many months to make, you can't change the font size, they are big and heavy, bringing more than a couple is very impractical, they are vulnerable and don't wear or age well, you can't look up words in them or connect to online encyclopaedias, they have to be transported several times to reach the reader...

But: if a person does not have the money or the skills, or for some reason the desire to own an ereading device, a paper book is still a way you can get this valuable content to him, so hurrah for them!

The New Minimalist

Is Digitization Enabling Minimalism for a New Generation?, article.
Let’s imagine I took every e-book in my Kindle library and converted it into a physical book, and then took half the stuff we watch on Netflix and converted those films and shows into DVDs (let’s assume the other half are rentals we wouldn’t keep), and then printed out my years of archived photos (less than most people have, but enough) and stuck them into albums. Just how minimalist would we really be then?

Yep. I would call myself a minimalist, though not a radical one. And yet, in the years between getting Comfortable economically and being able to get my stuff digitally (roughly the naughties decade), my big lust for good books and visuals still made me assemble, heck I dunno, a couple thousand books and disks. I had to keep buying book boxes (not cheap considering my cherry-wood minimalist good taste), I have them in every room.

I have actually weeded out the collection at least three times, but it appears that I'm now close to the level where the rest is hard for me to get rid of. Even if I know that at least 90% of it I won't ever read or watch again in that form, I'm too attached to it.

But it'll change, there's no hurry. As I get more digital in my habits, I can feel my feelings for the physical objects slowly change in the direction of them being just simply that, physical objects. My DVD of Blues Brothers is just a plastic disc and paper cover, it's not the movie I love so. It's faster, though not cheaper, to find and watch it from iTunes than to locate it in my collection.
Books mostly, I can barely stand reading anything on paper now. I still buy blu-ray discs, though I'm not exactly sure why. But an HD movie is such a big download.

But anyway, it's amazing to think that these days you need just a chair and table and a bed, and for all your communication and entertainment and education needs... well, basically an iPad! Wow. Heaven for students and minimalists.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The new wild west

Why the Daily Failed, or the new wild west of Net magazines, a post on my main blog.

iPad 2 vs 1, get a 2

I've been saying that I don't find that the difference between the iPad 2's screen and the 3's Retina display is all that important, except cosmetically. I stand by that, but one thing I hadn't noticed until today is how big a step forward the iPad 2's screen was compared to the iPad 1's.

I don't recall anybody writing about that, and I don't know how Apple did it, especially since the have the same size pixels. But compared to the second generation, the iPad 1's screen is just sort of grainy and muddy. It has an odd tri-color shimmer to it, like the pixels are visible somehow.  The second generation has a beautiful, smooth clear rendition, the grain effect is totally gone. It's just much better to look at, even though the amount of detail is the same.

Combine that with the lighter weight, the better camera, and the higher speed, my advice is: when buying a used iPad, only consider the first generation if you can get it much cheaper than an iPad 2. (There are even quite a few apps now which only run on iPad 2 or later.)

It's amazing how fast this development is going. The iPad still feels like a new tool to me, but already the first generation is basically outdated.

I wonder what they're going to do for iPad 5? (The fourth gen is basically a speed bump.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

News Corp. Shutters The Daily iPad App

News Corp. Shutters The Daily iPad App, article.

The app was initially hampered by technical problems, but The Daily’s key issue was a conceptual one. While the app boasted lots of digital bells and whistles, in the end it was very much a general interest newspaper that seemed to be geared toward people who didn’t really like newspapers. You can’t make that work no matter what kind of platform you use.

I am not exactly sure what he means by that. But I agree inasmuch as the app/newspaper The Daily didn't appeal to me at all from the beginning. I would have bet ten to one that it wouldn't survive. (But I couldn't find any takers.    :-)

Dunno if I am the right judge though, since I have very little interest in newspapers. I have honestly tried to read them from time to time, but apart from the tech sections almost nothing seemed interesting to me. I'm not interested in politics and I'm not interested in sports, or in car crashes, or all that stuff. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

iPad with USB keyboard!

Once again you can use your iPad with a full USB keyboard. (My old video is here.)
You need an Apple USB adapter of course, but here's the new thing: you simply plug in an Unpowered USB hub between the iPad and the keyboard.
For example the excellent keyboard on the Alphasmart Neo can be used.

Just ignore the "device not supported" message the iPad gives you.
(I've not tested if this works with the new Lightning connectors on iPad 4 and Mini. You need a different Apple adapter for them of course.)