new toys – the iPad

Well it has been a while since I popped out a post here but the arrival of a new tech toy makes it worth a bit of a scribble. Adrienne managed to pick up a spunky new iPad for me while she was traveling in New York last week.

It is my second day with it in my hands and I am not quite sure how well it is going to perform for me. As a piece of technology it is simply beautiful. It is light and thin with a beautiful screen and fast performance. At the moment though it is hard to see that it is a ‘game changing’ as claimed by some of the commentators.

The fact that I am using it before the official launch in Australia has revealed just how much control Apple has over their devices. It only works as an Itunes accessory. I could not even turn it on without first synching it to my iTunes account. Once powered up and synched, I wanted to see what new apps I could find, except the app store doesn’t work in Australia yet. The official launch is not until the end of next week so it looks like i’ll have to wait until at least then before accessing the really interesting stuff. Similarly it seems that I will not be able to use the iBook service just yet either, or buy the Apple iWork applications either, so it’s current utility is rather limited.

One thing that is good, unexpectedly, is the typing on the full size virtual keyboard. I expected it to be quite difficult without the physical response of the keys, but it is actually very comfortable. The auto correct that it uses probably helps me a lot as well too, and the fact that my typing was pretty crap in the first place.

I will keep playing with it an try to generate more output with it than I have done previously with the more mundane PC keyboard.

Blackberry envy cured

I have been developing a love hate relationship with Apple. At the moment though I am firmly in the ‘love’ phase again though. My old phone had been gradually getting worse as the screen filled with static.

Adrienne got herself a blackberry and can now get emails anywhere. This is something that I have resisted while working for other companies, but now that we run our own business it is incredibly useful.

So with Adrienne getting email and being able to respond to it anywhere, I started to get more than a little envious. I had to at least consider an iPhone.
I am now continually surprised at just how much I can so with this device.

It covers the obvious basics. It makes and takes phone calls, and synchronizes with my calenders. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. After playing with some of the fun but pointless applications I have started to find some amazing tools.

This post is written entirely using my iPhone. Now that I have this I might actually make the excuse to write some new random stuff.

Facebook Fading

I was just looking back on my previous post about Facebook. The little sparks of contact and inspiration that came from the discovery of new friends and old, quickly turned into a nuisance. Although I still check in on my own profile every now and then I barely use it at all. One of my big concerns has been around the constant need to share private information with every application developer that wanted me to use their app.

I should be able to see exactly what data is being shared and be able to limit it and control its use. Until this happens I am unlikely to signup to too many more applications on Facebook.

It is fascinating watching how the “gen y” crowd is using this and other social networking services. They are totally fearless about sharing every last detail about their lives. It makes me feel like an old fart to say so but the way that they these services is completely different to my own. They practically live in these worlds; or rather they co-exist in both the online and offline worlds.

For me though these worlds are still quite separate and the world of Facebook has taken a noticeable back seat to the rest of the non-Facebook universe.

iPod in airport = Bad

I am finally in a plane headed to Melbourne and lucky to be here at all. I missed my flight at 8:30pm for 2 reasons.

  1. When I looked at my boarding pass I confused my seat number (5D) with the departure gate. Stupid.
  2. While I was patiently waiting for the (now overdue) boarding call I was listening to a ranting podcast, completely unaware that the plane was infarct leaving on time and was trying desperately to call for me.

Still unaware of my error I proceeded to board the plane from the wrong gate with everyone else in the lounge. As I scanned my boarding pass, there was suddenly a problem. My pass was returning the wrong name. Do they ask for id? No. Do they try and resolve the problem? No, they direct me onto the plane anyway.

Thinking that at last I could relax and be on my way I sit down and stow my bags. A moment later there is another problem. Someone else has my seat number. I am just about to get grumpy now, when the hostess mentions that this flight is headed for Coolangatta and not Melbourne.

Oh. Dear.

Once out of the plane the Qantas staff were very helpful in getting me back on track, although the next available flight was at 10:20pm. It certainly gave me an opportunity to reflect on my attention while traveling.

The end of external media?

On the ‘Apple Matters’ blog today Chris Howard discusses the success of the iPod and the decline of the physical media that music is delivered on. Although this is significant I think that Apple has done more and less to drive this trend.

As Chris states they were not the first to launch a flash or hard drive based music player. Around five years ago I have mixed memories of shelling out AUD$700 or AUD$800 for a Creative Nomad 6GB Jukebox hard drive based player. This ‘little’ baby was basically a 3.5in hard drive repackaged into a portable CD player form factor.

From a technical perspective this gave me everything that the iPod Mini provides. This was happening during Napsters heyday so there was no shortage of easily (if not legally) obtained music, it supported playlists that could be managed via the device and on the synchronised PC. But it never really took off. Why?

  • It was still quite big and bulky. Bulkier than even the CD players of the day.
  • The interface was awkward and required concentration to navigate through.
  • The process for loading up songs and managing playlists was a learning experience.

These are exactly the areas that Apple have addressed with the iPod, in all it’s incarnations to date. They created a pocket sized device, with a simple tactile user interface and developed software that for both Mac and PC that was easy to use.

On top of all of this, Apple then made it cool to geeks and non-geeks alike. With fun iconic advertising and the white headphone wires they made their devices visible even when they were stuffed in the over sized fashion jeans pockets of their owners.

So where to from here? Well with digital formats the device IS the media. It is the thing that you carry with you. What is changing is how you use it and what you put on it. iTunes is influencing this with their track by track downloads. Podcasting has the potential to listening habits by consuming peoples listening time with non record label content.

The big step in bringing portable digital music to the masses has been made by Apple and I thank them for it. The next battle however is for the time you spend listening to it. Do you just randomly shuffle you 60GB of music files? You may never listen to the same track twice! I have practically left the CD loaded music behind, as I listen to a backing up stream of podcast content.

So what will you be listening to today?