Thursday, January 28

Technical Report

So all of yesterday was consumed with the hubbub surrounding the new Apple iPad. Despite having my life split between the ultra-progressive technology world and the maddening simplicity of third-world following-monkeys-through-the-forest-studies,  I realize that consumer devices still are not exactly within the "scope" of this blog. The links do exist, when one considers that the research of social networking gurus such as Ronald Burt and Sandy Pentland is just an extension of Human Ethology.

But, I was so enraged by the prospect of this Apple tablet, I had to figure out a way I could open my yapper publicly. Fortunately, I realized this was a perfect excuse for me to talk about my computer that I'm using while I'm in Africa down under. I had no idea what sort of setup I was in for when I decided to move to South Africa. I'd say was quite fortunate in the end, but I planned conservatively. I decided I wanted a legitimate netbook after my last stillborn Sager - it would be smaller, cheaper, and probably somehow better.

I'm now using an Asus eeepc 1005HA for all my work and play needs. It performs about as good as I could have expected. I still keep way too many firefox tabs open, way too many other programs open at the same time, and it seems to handle it all with poise. Battery life is very good, too, though I don't move it much because its tethered into my external HD's, speakers, mouse, and keyboard. One shortcoming - not enough USB ports (only 3) but I don't think there's another way to have done it. I just bought a cheap USB hub and now everything is fine. Well, except maybe that the 10 inch screen is a bit small for my one and only source of computing technology.

I initially wished to buy one of the exotic Asus tablet eeepc's, but they weren't widely enough released before I moved to Cape Town. Plus, Asus never did release the 10 inch version, only the 9 incher. Plus, I have no idea what I'd actually use a tablet PC for, I just liked the idea, so I'm very happy with my choice.

This returns us my original impetus for making this post: the new iPad. Let's cut to the chase and compare it to the Asus Tablet PC.


What netbooks have that Apple doesn't
  • Built in physical keyboard and mouse
  • Better specifications
  • Stylus support and handwriting recognition
    • Apple, what the fuck is the point of having a tablet without this?
  • USB ports, flash ports
  • Multitasking
  •  A real OS with real hardware
    • like a camera
    • end a useful amount of storage space
    • and flash
  • A hell of a lot better price point
  • Freedom to do what you bloody well please
  • A sensible way to hold and use the computer
What Apple has that netbooks don't
  • 3G support
    • if you like AT&T
  • um
  • uh
  • oh right, better battery life
    • because 6 hours at heavy load on a netbook isn't enough
  • BOOKS!
    • fuck yeah
  • ...
  • Bueller?
Yes, I am a hater.

Bottom line: guys, there's a reason why no one has made a successful tablet, despite trying for 20 fucking years. I'm all for innovation and shit, but a tablet is a peripheral. I've used the iPhone a respectable amount, and I find it to be a useful enough device (haven't done a hands-on comparison with a droid yet, sadly). The iPad is not even an iPhone - its an iTouch with everything a little bit bigger, which on the whole is not an improvement.


In all seriousness, the libertarian in me (which grows stronger by day, it seems) screams in agony every time I read more than a page about recent apple products. Apple purposefully releases products which are sometimes cripple, but almost always take power out of the hands of the user. Apple was once the glorious crusader against the evil Microsoft, but their tactics are not much different. Apple makes it easier for themselves by viciously controlling their hardware specifications, again taking power out of the hands of the user. When viewed in this light, and you see the incredibly vast collection of hardware Windows supports, that product is damn impressive.

I'd like to sum this up with a little anecdote about one of my recent Apple experiences. I was taking a reused G4 machine and setting it up as a multi-zone music playback server, and I intended to use OSX because of all the optimizations it has for Apple hardware. However, in order to cover multiple zones, I needed to add extra output ports for speakers; the single on-board stereo jack wouldn't cut it. I asked one of the local Mac Fanatics about how I could get the OS and software to handle the extra sound card I installed. She replied, with a short laugh, "this is Apple, you don't do that."

To me, this encapsulates the modern Apple mentality. This was not perceived as an issue of whether or not such a thing is possible. Rather than being something you can't do, it was something that you don't do. Don't ask questions, Uncle Steve always knows best - you, the user, are a incapable of judgment and decision.

So I used Linux instead, and everything worked pretty damn peachy.

In other news, you know you're getting over a sickness when you start getting annoyed with yourself that you spent all this time recovering at home and didn't use the time to catch up on little things in the house that you'd been meaning to do for a month or longer.


  1. When his health finally forces Steve Jobs to retire, I think Apple should tap Dennis Rodman as their next CEO.

    Oh, and if you think that research on Second Life counts as ethology, you may have been reading the wrong Tinbergen brother.

  2. Can't you at least SOMETIMES not be behind the times?

  3. When I finally convinced (coerced, forced, etc.) Buzz to get his own cell phone instead of always borrowing mine, his only request for features was that he be able to choose from among a few ring tones. Note that this was in 2007, not 1987. He will always be woefully behind the times.

    The iPad seems to be basically a strange mating of the iPhone and an e-reader, losing some of the attractiveness of each thing. The iPhone is nice because it's small and portable and can make calls; an e-reader is nice because it's lightweight and simple and has a ridiculously long battery life. (I personally really like e-ink technology, which the iPad doesn't use.) Having browsed the available product lines for e-readers a bit, I'd say I like the iPad better than the Kindle, but since I loathe Amazon and the Kindle that ain't sayin' much.

    (Final note -- my brother has a Droid, and I got to play with it a little bit, and it's pretty darn awesome for its size. So I may end up with both a Droid and a Sony e-reader sometime this year after I finish killing myself teaching sixth graders...)

  4. Two replies, two examples of me trying to appear humorously out of date being taken seriously.

  5. yeah, you're such a misunderstood genius