Are You Effin’ Kidding Me?



And I note that my sidebar is currently displaying an ad for the NRSC –
“End Democrat Control in Washington!”

Well, the 30-pin attachment goes with a USB input to your computer, just like the iPhone, and—

Fuck it. I’m buying one anyway. A giant iPod Touch is exactly what I need.

@blogenfreude: Straight-up truth.

The single most predominant use I get out of my iPhone is browsing and reading, on the couch and in bed. I hate reading on a computer — it makes me feel like I’m working. And moving the computer to the coffeetable doesn’t do it with me.

Single-biggest drawback of reading on the iPhone: It’s tiny. You can zoom in on website text easily enough, but PDFs aren’t usually worth the trouble.

PDFs like Supreme Court decisions. Or geek manuals explaining how to program an iPhone.

So I’m in the sweet spot for a gizmo like this: It does what I need. What it doesn’t do, I don’t need.

I have the weakest iPhone out there: the 4-gig original model. No 3G, no video camera. When I bought it, no App Store. Yet I’ve been extremely happy with it from the start, for the simple reason I could browse from the couch. That was incredibly liberating, disengaging the Internet from my laptop. I’ll happily blow $500 on a large-screen model.

Especially since I can claim it as a business deduction.

@blogenfreude: Oh, and I’m probably buying the keyboard attachment, too. See that tank? I’m in it.

But hey, let’s go down the list…

No widescreen. True. Drawback: Letterboxed widescreen movies. Advantage: Everything else. Remember, you can turn it on its side. This is very handy in practice, and would be less handy with an oblong device.

No USB. True. Sort of. You can get a connector-USB thingy, but it’s not a direct USB port. And how do I use the USB port on my laptop? Charging my iPhone.

No multitasking. True, as a practical matter — the underlying system does multitask (i.e., run multiple programs at once), but that functionality is not provided to app developers. Practical difference: None, in my experience. I don’t need my iPhone to open multiple programs at once.

No cam. True. And no loss — I rarely use my iPhone cam, unless the kitty’s staring at a potted plant in back, or I want to memorialize the asshole who blocks my car door in the parking lot. A frontside cam for Skype-like stuff would be interesting — but I’ve never videoconferenced.

No e-ink. True. The Kindle uses different screen technology. The Kindle also doesn’t do color. And Kindle graphics look like shit. But if the Kindle is exactly what you want — an ebook-reader, and nothing else — then you’re not in the market for an iPad.

No slot card. True. This is presumably for additional memory, or for easy transfer of files. My iPhone doesn’t have a slot card. My iPhone only packs 4 gigs, compared to 16 gigs for the iPad base model. I have more iPhone memory than I need. I don’t pack it with music and video.

Off-list: No Flash. True. I’ve been browsing with my iPhone more than two years. I can watch YouTube videos on it. I can’t watch Flash ads on websites. With very rare exceptions, I haven’t missed anything I want to see.

I get the jokes — starting with the name — but after following this very closely the past few days in the geekosphere, I haven’t seen any criticism that addresses what I like about the iPad, and how I would actually use it. The geeks want it to be something else, which is fair enough. Me, I’m liking it for what it is.

@nojo: Whenever Apple comes out w/ a new gizmo, I reflexively want one. On the other hand, I could have a droid right now, but I haven’t taken that bait. And they say that Verizon will shortly have the Nexus One. I have no idea what to do ….

@blogenfreude: Well, not every gizmo — I don’t see the point in an AppleTV, and I’d like to see the point in an AppleTV. An AppleTV that was a combo DVR/Netflix player would be an interesting critter, but it’s not the one that exists.

For that matter, I never saw a need for an iPod — not living in a town with an outstanding 24/7 jazz station, anyway. But that’s just demographics — I would have loved an iPod when I was younger, but darn, they didn’t exist. (I finally got an FM Walkman late in the day.)

MacBook Air? Not for me. They do look elegant, but I do need a beefed-up laptop.

And Android phones? Haven’t seen one live, but what I’ve read of them, the timing’s wrong — if they had come out before the iPhone, they would have been killer. (Never mind the whole Verizon/AT&T pissing match.) Apparently they’re just slightly awkward compared to how the iPhone works, but that may be as much a matter of taste.

More background: I’m letting my magazine subscriptions expire.

I actually cut them loose ten years ago, then picked them up again when Iraq heated up — I needed some alternative viewpoints to what was conventionally on offer, and the 2002-03 Web was still a work in progress. (Never mind that I’ve been making part of my living developing websites since 1995…)

Today, fifteen years into the Web, it’s a different game: I’ve got New Yorkers and NYRBs and London Reviews stacking up on the table, because I’m spending a lot more time reading things online, especially now that I’m a Daily Bloviator. (And McGrath’s latest article on teabaggers tells me less than I’ve learned from TPM, for example.)

In short: With a more convenient couch browser than the iPhone on offer, I’m diving in. That’s what makes the iPad a game-changer for me — reasons that have nothing to do with everything the geeks hate about it.

My thought on it is that while there’s a lot of techies out there going ‘meh’, there’s a whole host of smaller manufacturers looking at it and going “oh fuck”.

These guys, for instance. Any margin they may have had on hardware sales of their $2k touch surface (with a lower-res display and no wireless) is about to go up in smoke. On the other hand, they could stand to make some serious $$$ selling their *software* to iPad owners.

On the other hand, things like this (at $399, it’s a cheap one) are pretty much done for. And don’t even get me started on the crazy-expensive “home automation” stuff.

As for the AppleTV, I’m of the opinion that Apple is simply holding off on that until they can talk the major networks into some kind of subscription model. Could make cable TV obsolete, if done right. In the meantime, they’re letting the Windows crowd suffer through nightmares like CableCard.

Didn’t fall for Apple TV – Netflix streams on my PS3 (Gran Turismo anyone?). I don’t think I need it, but I am easily persuaded. Hell, my Roomba Pet arrives tomorrow. My defense is that it’s mostly for my cat.

@al2o3cr: Well, there’s one handy thing missing from an iPhone: an infrared port. Gawd, I’d love to clear four remotes from the coffeetable, but even the cheapest universals look like more trouble than they’re worth.

And yes, Jobs does call AppleTV a “hobby”, which is about right — it’s not even a decent science project right now. I will also grant that Hulu (Silverlight or Flash? I forget) is a missing piece for an iPhone/iPad — I sure as hell am not going to buy a TV show.

I’d also love to get an iPad for my parents — but then I’d have to get them a cable modem and wifi. Life’s complicated.

@blogenfreude: I want an AppleTV, but the AppleTV I want doesn’t exist.

For that matter, what I really want is live streaming MSNBC and Comedy Central. Lord, I would ditch my cable so fast…

@nojo: Your life could be worse – here in NYC my cable, with the regular premium channels, is 160 bucks a month. I can’t quit you.

If we needed USB Steve Jobs would have given it to us. But we are wireless and life is good.

@nojo: I love my Air. It’s just what I needed. Plus on me it doesn’t look girly. More Bang & Olaffson. Like the ridiculously expensive radio I have.

There was a recent article in the Times about how to do all the things on your TV without paying for cable. Couple weeks ago. I would go looking for it but I’m in the middle of shellacking my newel post.

@blogenfreude: Ouch.

Cox Cable in Sandy Eggo is a sweet service, as such things go, even if they’re dragging their feet on MSNBC HD. The cable/net/phone bundle comes to about $135, without the premium channels. (I can wait until next year to see this year’s season of Weeds.) The phone I could do without, but I need a cheap landline in order to deduct the wireless bill. (Freelance has its benefits. Just not health insurance.) The cable I would love to do without, but I’m not waiting until Tuesday to watch Monday’s Daily Show NewsHour online.

I’m not spoiled — no PS3 for me — but long ago I decided I would be happy to blow the bucks on things I need (like good coffee), and skip the rest.

“Need” being relative to American Standard, of course. (Toilet reference very intentional.) You’ll have to pry my widescreen from my cold, dead hands.

@Benedick: Girlfriend got an Air at work – initially she didn’t like it, gave it back, but now she’s OK w/ it.
@nojo: We had to watch Season 3 of Weeds this weekend b/c GF runs into Modine all the time at work – his son goes to NYFA, where she works. Christ, I had to show her Full Metal Jacket for the first time.

@Benedick: If we needed USB Steve Jobs would have given it to us.

He already did.

USB was actually an Intel invention. But nobody paid attention to it until Jobs built it into the original iMac — and provided no alternative. Suddenly the USB market exploded, and the old Apple and PC keyboard inputs were dead in the water.

Jobs pulled the same move (and at the same moment) by ditching the floppy disk, which all the geeks ridiculed him for. After which the floppy promptly died.

Wifi? Not invented by Apple, but they were the first to exploit it.

He’s not always right, although I thought the Cube was a very elegant model. But you really don’t want to bet against him.

@nojo: I bought my first and only stock in Apple a couple of years ago. Against the advice of the nitwit at BoA, I might add. I love Steve Jobs. No, srsly. I lurve him.

Oh, and the Air has no CD drive because it’s all magic. And yes, I do have a new Mighty Mouse.

@blogenfreude: Like Benedick, one of my clients is very happy with his Air. It doesn’t meet my needs — especially for the price — but there’s a market for it.

@Benedick: I lurve my Mighty Magic Mouse.

I lurved my old wired mouse, but the damn roller ball kept gumming up, to the point where I couldn’t clean it, and it became useless. Plus, since I refuse to use a trackpad, the USB connection would fray over time.

Magic Mouse? Wireless. Scrolls by sliding a finger across the top. The size takes a moment to get used to, but the moment passes. Ridiculously expensive? Yes. Except that it’ll last forever.


There are already gadgets like RedEye which act as WiFi/IR gateways – expect to see a zillion more once the hype machine really gets rolling. And on the other hand, expect to see devices getting smarter – there’s no reason why one couldn’t have a media box that was controlled via a plain HTTP web interface. Just imagine, you too can have a cable box that tweets what channel you’re watching…

OK, that might be a little creepy. But every bit of technology to do that already exists and is available at consumer-level prices right *now*.

Do you mean the Magic Mouse? I’ve now officially disowned my old Mighty Mouse (with the little scroll ball that always jams up at the worst moment) in favor of the new multitouch hotness.

@Benedick: How often do I use my CD drive? Well, Silent Creative Partner had me install some animation software the other day for a future project. And on occasion, I like to partially rip a DVD so I can get the dance sequence from 500 Days of Summer.

But really, an external drive would suit me fine, as seldom as I use it. It’s everything else about the Air that doesn’t work for me — I need the umpteen ports on a MacBook Pro, I need to stuff bigass memory chips into it, and I need a 300-gig hard drive.

Which is to say: I need to earn my living with it.

Here’s where a stock geek would say: Therefore, the Air is a piece of shit. Which is why you never want a stock geek to run your company. Woz was the geek, not Jobs.

@nojo: I love the inertia thing it does. You flick on the top and it keeps going till it slows down. Excellent for large text files and scrolling through comments chez Stinque.

@al2o3cr: I still use the standard Mac mouse that came w/ my G5 about 5 years ago – am I missing something? I run a Mac Mini, if that’s relevant.

@al2o3cr: RedEye? Oooooohhh.

$188? Oh.

Damn. Get that below three figures, and get back to me.

@nojo: We lost the Air in the sofa cushions once … honest. But rest assured – one day they’ll make one w/ enough cojones for you.

@nojo: I wanted something very portable I could drag around on which I could do basic stuff and email, etc. It’s marvelously portable and so good looking it’s worth the extra. I got the solid state or whatever it’s called cause I figured why not? So now I love how quiet it is, too.

By me one of the real pleasures of Macs is how gorgeous they are. And whoever came up with the idea of the illuminated upside down apple on the lid should be very rich. In almost every move one sees at some point someone will whip out a Mac. And there it is, glowing at you.

@al2o3cr: Yes, Magic Mouse! Mighty Mouse is something else.

@Benedick: I forget the term, but that’s how an iPhone behaves, and yes, it’s very nice. You get spoiled on those nuances damn quick.

@blogenfreude: I don’t know whether the Mini does bluetooth (required for wireless), but if you’re happy with a five-year-old mouse, you’re probably not missing anything. I pack a mouse to the coffeehouse with me, which means a USB cord would last about two years before fraying beyond redemption.

But if you’re curious, head to one of those Manhattan Apple Cathedrals, and check it out. Scrolling down a long page by just flicking a finger is fucking bliss.

@Benedick: And whoever came up with the idea of the illuminated upside down apple on the lid should be very rich.

That would be Jonathan Ive, Apple’s industrial-design guru from the original iMac on. And yes, he’s very rich. And also a Brit.

@nojo: Has Bluetooth, although I have no idea what to do w/ it. Suggestions?


“Apple Cathedrals” – ha! I thought I was the only one who felt like the stores were getting just a tad cultish…

All I know is, if anybody tries to give me a “personality test”, I’m outta there. :)

As for the RedEye: yep. The price is painful now, but that’s likely because there’s not that many people who want to tie up their phone running the TV. But add in millions of people who are already leaving an iPad on the living room table and things might change. I also see the RedEye as a temporary stopgap, like the little doodads people used back in the day to make USB talk to old serial and parallel devices. The real win is with more of the home-theatery stuff getting WiFi/internet – witness the stream of DirectTV ads crowing about “set your DVR from anywhere!”.

@al2o3cr: like the little doodads people used back in the day to make USB talk to old serial and parallel devices

Kept my old HP laserprinter alive for years that way.

witness the stream of DirectTV ads crowing about “set your DVR from anywhere!”

Do I drool when I see those ads? Yes. Yes I do.

@blogenfreude: For your purposes, Bluetooth allows you to consider wireless keyboards and mice. The Magic Mouse is a bluetooth device. If you like it, you can use it with your Mini.

@nojo: I’ve often dreamed of going wireless – any of your recommendations will be immediately acted upon.

@blogenfreude: The Magic Mouse actually allowed me to get rid of the pad. My previous mice were optical, but they still handled better on a pad. This critter craves a flat surface.

But the shape’s a tad wider than most mice, and the personal ergonomics of a mouse are extremely important. (I do not take mice for granted. Or keyboards.) So definitely play with one first.

Still, fewer wires the better. It was the iPhone that forced me to get a cheap home wifi, and the moment I did, I realized how much I hate ethernet cables. I may be a geek, but I prefer things simple.

@blogenfreude: I’ll be interested to hear how the Roomba works out for you. I got one about five years ago and it lasted about six months. The thing was badly engineered. All the guts were exposed and the twirly bits were constantly getting jammed with hair — cat and dog. It took longer to sit with my tweezers and straighten it out than it did to get the regular vacuum out and do the whole house. I was hugely disappointed.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ:

Wikipedia link

Executive summary: unlike an LCD, an e-ink display can hold an image without using any power. They’re apparently better for some people to read on, as they are an actual reflective surface with darker bits like printed paper. Downside: they don’t have much tonal range (4 shades of gray, anyone?) and they absolutely suck at anything close to video.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Most screens you’re familiar with are LCD, with some form of backlighting.

“E-ink”, used by the Kindle, is a different critter entirely. It doesn’t require backlighting to view, and is closer in concept to ink on a page. Right now it’s also a bit slower than LCD to refresh, it’s not available in color, and it doesn’t display shades of gray very well.

Without the backlight, it also draws a lot less power than LCD.

So it has its uses, but those uses are constrained by the technology as it exists. Some people prefer it to LCD for reading, since backlighting can strain the eyes. (Years ago, I considered reading on a monitor equivalent to staring at a lightbulb.)

I do a lot of reading on the iPhone, and the backlight is much less a concern to me than the limited space available. Such things are a matter of taste; we’ll see whether the iPad is more congenial.

@karen marie: This one is allegedly designed to work w/ pet hair – the only reason I bought it. Well, that and a decent discount.

@al2o3cr: More geek fun: the iPad uses flat instead of vertical LCD crystals, which makes it more viewable at extreme angles.

Not sure how significant that difference will be in practice, which is why it’s geek fun.

There are tons of linux tablets out there and netbooks galore that are much cheaper and do more than this thing. The last couple of generations of MacBooks are rocks, available for short change on CL and for a few bucks you can toss a 500G drive in them and get 5 more years out of them, parked ready to use next to the couch.

@Benedick: @nojo: How do I do the finger flick thing?
I love my Air, because I needed something super-light for travel and it was a gorgeous, gorgeous accessory that goes with everything. After I quit the job that required telecommuting I ditched the desktop PC. The Air does everything I need: word processing, internet and e-mail, and my checkbook. I also watch a lot of online TV and movies on it, because Mr Cyn and I have very different tastes in that regard. I do have the external DVD drive for movies and installing software.

@FlyingChainSaw: Except I don’t want it next to the couch. I want to lie on my back and read. That’s how I’ve always read, and no gizmo is gonna make me change that.

@Mistress Cynica: If you have the Magic Mouse, you just flick your finger across the top.

If you have the Magic Mouse and it doesn’t do that, open the Mouse control panel and check “Scroll (with momentum)”. You can also adjust speed and such at the top of the control panel.

I think your Air trackpad offers similar options, but I never use a trackpad.

@nojo: Then you are better off with a netbook that allows you to view the reading surface without holding it, keyboard/cpu on tum, cocoa in one hand, cigarette in the other.

@FlyingChainSaw: No. No I am not.

I do not want a netbook. If I wanted a netbook, I would buy a hideously expensive Air. I do not want to balance a keyboard on my tummy and constantly adjust the screen. I do not want to use a trackpad on my tummy to navigate the screen.

I want something that is as casual to use as a magazine or book. I could easily move the laptop to the coffeetable, or balance it on my tummy, instead of reading on an iPhone. I do not. I do not find that convenient.

I want a 1.5-pound flat device that I can easily poke with my fingers while on my back. And I probably want a combo keyboard/stand so I can easily use it on the coffeetable if I feel a need to type — say, after scrawling a post in longhand.

I also do not want cocoa. I want the blackest fucking coffee available on the planet.

@FlyingChainSaw: I also like to read on the patio, and in bed. I am not going to drag around a laptop or netbook with me every time I hop around the apartment. I’ve tried that. Doesn’t work.

In practice, for me, a laptop is really a portable desktop — very handy for working at the coffeehouse, or driving video for a live stage show. Not very handy for other purposes.

Like I say, for very specific reasons, I’m in the sweet spot for an iPad — a larger iPod Touch is exactly what I need. Whether that applies to a large enough market for Apple, dunno. But the criticisms I’ve read so far have nothing to do with what I find valuable about it. And at five hundred smackers, it’s just barely within my price range for the utility it would provide me.

@nojo: Okay, Nojo, you’ve rationalized your purchase. When do they go on the market?

Still sounds really pricey for a thing that shows you letters and numbers on a screen. There are a lot of nifty Linux tablets around with nicer form factors and probably lower weight:

@SanFranLefty: “60 days” for the standard models, “90 days” for the 3G versions.

Or, if you’re Stephen Colbert at the Grammys, tonight.

@FlyingChainSaw: The Gecko pad looks curious, and of course the ex-CrunchPad is its own saga. Both are aimed at around $300, and while I can’t find a review of the Gecko itself (8-gig storage, weight uncertain), its netbook predecessor is considered underpowered.

And the CrunchPad doesn’t exist.

For convenience, let’s use $300 as the comparison price for (very) roughly equivalent devices running Linux, and let’s set the Apple Tax at $200. Is the iPad worth the difference? For me, yes — I don’t find the competing models compelling. I don’t find them worth spending $300 on.

But what about the HP Touch and similar models sure to be announced real fast? We’ll have to see.

I can say this: I hate how websites look in Windows, because I hate Windows typography. Obviously that doesn’t necessarily apply to Linux, because I don’t run desktop Linux. (Server Linux is another matter entirely.)

And for me, there are some hidden bennies with an Apple device: iPhone Bento syncs with Desktop Bento over wifi, for example — no need to be plugged in through iTunes. Plus, I do like the iPhone OS. A lot.

So I’m happy to pay the iPad Tax, since that $200 includes everything that’s compelling to me, starting with form factor. Actually, a difference of only $200 makes the iPad even more compelling.

I read that you will be able to get MLB.TV on the IPad. That closes the deal for me.

@Dodgerblue: Of course I ignored that one:

Chad Evans, director of mobile product development for MLB Advanced Media… went through several screen displays showing how the content will look, including users’ ability to touch players for details…

All that creepiness can be yours for $99.95.

This has been a most informative and helpful string. I would probably get one too but have to constantly justify the iphone to Ma Nabisco especially now that I’m overseas and paying for the monthly data and phone package but not using it because of the international fees.

A letter-sized iTouch would have been great for this trip. I thumbed my way through a couple of the stories from “Consider the Lobster” on my ifon riding the metro, and it was doable, but barely. The 200 page 17th century memoir of a guy who was held captive on My Subcontinental Isle was free to my iPhone/Kindle app, but I really don’t know if I’ll even attempt to read it on the phone.

But Flash would be an improvement. Oh and that streaming Daily Show dream of Nojo’s? F&^king stream on this side of the date line is like pissing with a kidney stone; ever tried to follow a Wyatt Cynac riff when it rebuffers every 45 seconds? Grrrrr. Oh and hulu is completely blocked over here, so I’ve lost out on House and all those new quirky comedies on NBC like “Community”. Anyone else watch/like Community?

@Mistress Cynica: The Magic Mouse is fab. I don’t use it with my Air but with the iMac I work on. The momentum scrolling is very useful, nothing like it on Air. It does other stuff too. When I was mostly working on a Powerbook I used external keyboard and mouse. This is the best I’ve had.

Now I have to get back to shellacking.

Not one but two cartoons today about the fabulousity of the almighty Apple:


Mother Goose & Grimm

My stepson the graphic designer swears by his Macs. For my number crunching in Excel give me a PC every time. For reading anything deeper than Stinque I’m a traditionalist who sticks with a low-tech book.

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