One in a lifetime

Steven Paul Jobs, called Steve Jobs, co-founde...

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I went to the hospital this morning with mum and saw the doctor as we normally do and then left mum to have her chemo and returned home to hear that Steve Jobs had died. I was shocked. It wasn’t a surprise, we knew he was sick with cancer and that at some point the inevitable end would come. Still, when it did come it was a shock. A moral shock; a shock to the system. I found myself unusually affected by it.

Steve Jobs of course has been much revered. It’s old hat these days to call him a visionary, but it’s a very apt description. He was a man of unusual imagination, belief, and clarity of vision. That he was a huge influence on western society is beyond dispute. He created his own world, his own perception of what was possible and then let us all in on the deal – for a cost. His ineffable belief in his own right and the innate charisma with which he sold that to the world meant that when the fork in the road came he carried us with down the road less commonly travelled. It led to a place of elegance and intelligence of design, of imagination, innovation, and determination to lead rather than follow. That’s his legacy, for ultimately all his rivals were obliged to follow where he led rather than be left behind. It changed the world, and Jobs himself was a one in a generation figure.

There is much to regret in his passing for those reasons alone. The rest of it is more human. I have read today tributes pour in from all quarters, from everyone on facebook and twitter and online. The loss of someone like Jobs makes us re-evaluate much we have previously accepted. His death is like a psychic shock to us all because his name and his legacy has permeated society so completely. Adding to it all is the frequentry idolatry he inspired, and zealotry of so many of his followers. If Apple was not quite a religion in many quarters it is near enough to being a cult – with Jobs at the heart of it with a Yoda like wisdom.

It’s all very easy for me and the likes of me to selfishly despair at what we lose with the death of Steve Jobs. Public and much revered figure that he is, the much greater loss is to his friends and family. Sad to see such a man leave: he made such a difference.

iPad dreams

ben ipad 3Image by Jennifer Maddrell via Flickr

So today's iPad 2 day. Like many have been waiting for this day. Like a lot I had every intention of finally joining the iPad in crowd with this release. I was champing at the bit in fact…but, methinks I'll now wait for the iPad 3.

No doubt the iPad 2 is an advance on the original. It's smaller and lighter, and probably cuter for all I know, and has some nice improvements, including the much discussed camera. On balance though, and judging only by what I've read, there's not enough for me to splash my hard earned knowing at some point a much enhanced iPad 3 is going to hit the market.

That's it really. This release seems interim, it's got enough to get the punters excited, but not enough really to justify someone like me – more discerning, a little more tech savvy – to jump in. I want an iPad. I crave an iPad – I already have the apps. I don't need one though, and for all my drooling I'm willing to wait for v3 to fulfill all my iPad dreams.

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After a lot of intrigue, gossip and anticipation details of the much awaited Apple ‘tablet’ was announced overnight. The iPad as they’re calling it, is a predictably gorgeous piece of hardware. It’s got the same touch screen functionality of the iPod and iPhone, and is clearly their big brother. Judging by what I've seen and read it's about the size of a trade paperback I figure, and about the thickness of a 80 page novella – it’s less than a centimetre thick. It’s got all the functionality and connectivity of the iPhone, except you can’t make a call on it (which, less face it, is the most boring of the iPhone functionality), and like the iPhone and iPod uses the iTunes store as the one stop shop for all manner of goodies, from the plethora of apps, to music and movies, and, I presume, soon to be ebooks.

In actual fact the iPad rides the crest of a fair to middling wave for ebook readers. Amazon’s Kindle has been out a few years and is a reasonably elegant if plain piece of work. Sony has been in the market for a while also, and by all reports there is about to be an explosion of ebook readers hitting the market.

It’s hard to believe that they haven’t missed their chance. The iPad is about to blow them all out of the water you would think, with only the low-cost models having a market. 

The iPad isn’t a PC, but it’s not far short of it. You can browse the web and read your email and listen to your music – and read ebooks – while taking advantage of the myriad apps you can download to it. Unlike the specialised ebook readers this is multi-functional, and therefore likely to be used more more widely and more often, making it better value for money in the long term. And it’s prettied up in that beautiful Apple way.

In terms of the ebook market,l you would have to think given their experience and expertise that iTunes will soon become the pre-eminent portal for ebooks across the web.  Seriously, I don’t know how the likes of Amazon can compete unless they corner the cheap end of the market, or they value-add somehow.

In actual fact this is the product I’ve been after for years. Yonks ago the Apple Newton came out – a very rough predecessor – and died in the arse in a big way. The time wasn’t right then, it is now. For years I’ve been travelling OS with a laptop in my bag. Even the lightest are towards 2 kilograms, and all that for a few basic functions I wanted to perform away. The iPad has all I need for my travel needs, and more, and is 0.7 of a kilo, with inbuilt connectivity. I want one, I want one bad, but I’m going to try and restrain myself from being first in. Won’t be long after though.
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