No, YOU’RE a Tool…

These are my thoughts on Paul Thurrott's very effective anti-iPad linkbait. Good job, guy...

These are my favorite quotes from his article:

"...very expensive for what you get..."

Throughout the piece he lauds Amazon's work with the Kindle. Anyone else see the irony in this statement? Very expensive for what you get? Enjoy your one-function device and its 16 shades of gray...Give me a break.

"...overall it's a decent device..."

Very magnanimous.

"...The power plug is the bigger, uglier old-style plug, not the new small, square one you get with iPhone..."

Did a guy who runs a blog called "SuperSite for Windows" really just call an Apple plug ugly? When I bought my PowerBook six years ago, I looked at a bunch of PC laptops as well. They all had long, thick gray chords with heavy "bricks" on them. Given the pc world's reputation for thoughtful and innovative design, I don't expect much has changed since then. Also, is it reasonable to assume that a larger device might necessitate a larger power plug? "I can't believe this computer power plug is bigger than my phone charger." LAME.

"The box it comes in is oddly thick, given Apple's penchant for thinness. Most of the box is just air, and that part is below the device. Weird."

Does anyone even come close to Apple in terms of charge chords and packaging design? I'll admit that I'm a little strange, but I still have the packaging for my nano and mighty mouse - I'm sure I'll get around to throwing them out eventually, but they were just too beautiful to trash right away. How dare he.

"But it's bigger and much heavier than I'd like for a movie player or eBook/newspaper reader..."

So he's saying that the iPad is bigger and heavier than a good movie player and eReader should be. So let's break it down:

Bigger than a good movie player - I'm gonna assume he didn't really mean that.

Heavier than a good movie player - Not true. In all my searching, I only found one that was lighter.

Bigger than a good eReader - He must mean the regular Kindle at 8" x 5.3", because the Kindle DX is actually taller than the iPad at 10.4" x 7.2" (iPad is 9.56" x 7.47" - the screen sizes are both 9.7" diagonal). Not a whole lot of difference there.

Heavier than a good eReader - This one is somewhat valid. Kindle DX (9.7") is just under 18.9 oz and Kindle (6") weighs 10.2 oz, which makes the heaviest iPad (at 25.6 oz) between 35% and 150% heavier. I think he's being too picky, though. While 150% more is a lot more, we're talking about 15 oz here - less than a pound.

"In fact, if anything it's too big."

How big is the Kindle DX again?

"I hate not having a case on this thing. It gets smudged just from the air, it seems."

Grumpy Gus.
Now here's my favorite paragraph:

"The iBooks application is laughably bad as I suspected. The Amazon Kindle app, however, is awesome. No silly "looks like a book" design or superfluous page flipping animations. The Kindle app is how eBooks should be. Bravo, Amazon."

Other Notable Quotes:

"...the screen is way too reflective..."

"...Contacts is ridiculous..."

"Anyone who believes this thing is a game changer is a tool. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is."

Why do people insist on going on the record against Apple products? Why? In the world of punditry, it would seem that your greatest asset is your credibility. Why do these people consistently rally against the next big thing? Archiving shockingly bad tech reviews and predictions has become popular enough that you would think that mac bashing tech writers would have gotten wise by now (SEE Gruber's Claim Chowder posts and the Macalope's "Fools of the Year" both via Daring Fireball).

While not all of Thurrott's thoughts are ridiculous, my gut reaction is that most folks out there positing against the iPad are just linkbait. And Thurrott meets all of my Linkbait criteria: he's dismissive, a little bit outrageous, often wrong, and supremely confident in his views. That said, we'll have to wait and see if it's a game changer or not.

FOOTNOTE: First, I googled portable dvd player. The first four hits (under shopping results) were Sony's DVP FX930 , Panasonic's DVD LS 86 , Audiovox's D1788 , and Toshiba's SD P93S . Respective weights: 2 lbs, 2.2 lbs, 3-5 lbs (amazon is unclear), and 2 lbs. Depending on configuration, iPads weigh 1.5 or 1.6 lbs, which is lighter, right?

Then I checked Amazon. I searched "dvd player portable" and checked the first six product results. Respective weights: 2 lbs, 1.6 lbs, 1.8 lbs, 3.6 lbs, 2 lbs, and 4.5 lbs. I think Mr. Thurrott's claim is now thoroughly debunked.

Paul Thurrott via Daring Fireball.

Weekend Technology Adventure

I went to the mall with a friend of mine to brave the lines and the crowds and the hullabaloo and pick up his iPad. Luckily he pre-ordered, and the lines weren't that bad. Although, it was exciting enough that I was only able to capture two videos, the one above and this one. NOTE: The videos are a joke; don't be mad at me.

The lady behind us in line was both crazy and clueless. She said, among other things, that she needed to buy several iPads, one for each of her children. But, being a conscientious tech consumer, she wasn't buying anything until they answered all of her questions:

"Does it have email? Can I connect it to a printer?"

She also made the following observation:

"Yeah, it does kind of look like a an etch-a-sketch."

Looks like Apple has done it again.

We were also fortunate enough to avoid the other exciting thing about buying Apple products at Perimeter Mall. Check the video...Very sad.

Apple vs. Flash


But seriously, why doesn't the iPad support Flash?

Four Letter Words

Very nice. But notice the frequency of semi-dirty words?

"The algorithm's tendency towards scatological or 'dark' subject matter is influenced by a variety of language and perception studies..."


Although after my last post, I feel obligated to say that maybe pointless work isn't really pointless. Just the pointless work that I'm not crazy about...

Rob Seward via Rhizome

Rechargeable Batteries and My New Desk Chair

Yesterday I went to Staples to get a new desk chair [note the the three comfort customization levers; sure, I wish there were a couple more, but the price was right...] and I picked up some batteries and pens as well, and I fear that my actions will offend those among you who fear the impending destruction of the planet as we know it by the reckless pollution, consumption of resources, and the general tomfoolery of the post-industrialized world.

Desk Chair:
The chair I bought was made in China, so chances are the materials were harvested and shipped all around the world using non-sustainable, petro-chemical dependent systems and so on before they ever got to me. As I assembled it (I put it together myself, thank you very much), my apartment filled with the stench of nasty, fake, plastic-tasting chemicals. They wreaked so strongly in fact, I actually opened all of the windows out of fear that I might suffocate to death or inhale carcinogens that could one day metastasize and kill me, and of course when assembling such products, one is forced to confront the ever present threat of friction induced chemical fire and/or explosion.

I went with every intention of buying rechargeable batteries. I already have a charger, and I use rechargeables for almost all of my small electronics (wireless computing and gaming peripherals). When I looked for batteries though, I found that four rechargeables cost $12, whereas twenty, yes TWENTY, regular batteries cost $10 (in both cases Duracell). Also, two of the batteries in the twenty-pack are "ULTRA ADVANCED". I don't know what that means yet, but I do know that the four rechargeables said nothing about being either ULTRA or ADVANCED. The only words they had in all-caps were "DURACELL" and "RECHARGEABLE". Eighteen regular batteries plus two ULTRA ADVANCED batteries for $10 equals SOLD.

EARTH:     0
ME:     1

I'm writing to tell you what I've done, and to say that I'm not sorry. The fumes from my toxic chair will fade as they dissolve in our mutual atmosphere, and when my twenty, yes TWENTY, regular batteries run out of juice, I'll drive a few miles outside of the city and throw them into a river and buy some more. If you sense bitterness, it's because somewhere along the way I got tricked into buying a battery charger, and batteries that cost six times more than regular ones. Lame.

Reunited and It Feels So Good


So I got an Xbox in the mail this week and to my surprise, it's not my old box at all, but a completely new one. It seems that Microsoft sometimes chooses to send replacement boxes so that RROD victims "can get back to playing and enjoying [their] Xbox quicker". Getting a new box is a nice surprise and the whole send in for repair process didn't take as long as I expected. So, while I'm not mad at them anymore, I will be keeping the box they sent me with the foam inserts just in case I get RROD again.

The UPS Store and My Red Ring of Death

So, inevitably the day came that I had to strip my Xbox of its hard-drive and faceplate like the dog tags and letters for home of a fallen fellow soldier and take it in to the local UPS Store for shipment to a mysterious Microsoft repair station somewhere in Texas. When I walked in, I laid my stripped Box down on the counter and the UPS woman (middle aged black lady) instantly asked if I had "the form". I slid the paper across the counter to her thinking "she may have done this before..." While she typed something in, another UPS worker (thirty-something white guy) standing behind her said "Aww, Dude. Did you get the RED RING OF DEATH? That sucks. My roommate had that a few months ago." He went on to tell me about what I've come to know as "The Towel Trick", which is a method of temporarily circumventing the RED RING OF DEATH by wrapping your Box in a warm towel or blanket for about half an hour, at which point it overheats and, for a while at least, forgets that it has the most fatal and dreaded of all console failures, the RROD. [NOTE: Check it out on YouTube if you're interested. The squeaky twelve year old kid that showed me how to do it assured me at the beginning of his video that it doesn't void the warranty. He sounded trustworthy...]

So while we're talking about the RROD and the towel trick, he starts to measure the Box with a tape measure. Before he can finish, the UPS woman (middle aged black lady) interrupts him saying "They're 15" x 13" [NOTE: It turns out Xbox 360's are actually 12.15 in wide x 3.27 in high x 10.15 in deep. But I'm assuming she was referring to the dimensions of the box that I was purchasing, the box that about 54.2 percent of all Xbox 360 owners have purchased over the last couple of years.]

I go on to tell the UPS guy that Microsoft sent me a postage pre-paid adhesive instead of sending a box so I had to buy the box myself - $6.50. Not bad, I guess. Although, originally Microsoft was sending out free boxes [coffins they called them, appropriately morbid] with padded molds inside to protect your 360 during shipment and all you had to do was drop it off. I doubt it cost them $6.50 a box to do that, but it's not the first time Microsoft took the cheap and easy way out at the expense of their customers, is it? [An initial internal test production run of the 360 came back with a 68% fail rate. To be fair, this was just internal testing, but come on. Did they fix it or what?]

Then from across the room, an older white guy (probably 40-50, looks like he's dressed from an L.L. Bean catalog) gets our attention. He's finished getting his package sent off and he comes over to talk to us. "Did you do the overheat thing where you solder the two pieces together?" I said no instantly, because firstly, I can't imagine cracking open my $300 Box with a soldering iron, and secondly, I have some respect for the concept of the warranty, especially in the context of Microsoft's well-documented RROD fiasco. He kept talking: "Yeah, I tried this fix-it-yourself thing I found on YouTube, and it didn't work for S***. I spent like $50 on parts, too. Ended up just buying another one, but I got the Elite this time. It's supposed to be designed differently; they don't have the same problem."

He went after his Box with a soldering iron because of something he saw on YouTube. Unbelievable. And he spent $50 on parts, plus $300 for a brand new Box when he could have sent it off to Microsoft for about $100. What a series of unfortunate decisions. I sure hope he's right about the Elite.

But the point of the story is that I walked into a UPS store with an Xbox and one of the workers instantly knew I had RROD, and his roommate had just recently recovered from RROD. But he was a young white guy and a gamer, so maybe he doesn't count. The other worker though, the middle aged black lady, she knew that I was supposed to have a form for her, and she knew off the top of her head that I needed a 15” x 13” box. AND, some random older guy who didn't look like a gamer at all had had the same problem. So there we were together from all our disparate walks of life united by our shared pain, talking about YouTube, the towel trick, and how Microsoft is a piece of crap.

When I leave the place (promising the young guy that I'll check out Mass Effect 2 and BioShock 2) I'm smiling to myself, and my friend Jonathan is waiting in the car because we're going to lunch. I tell him I just had an interesting talk with a gamer and lay out the whole story and he laughs and laughs and tells me his story. When he had RROD, Microsoft was still sending pre-padded boxes to people. All he had to do was load it up and take it to a UPS drop off location; he chose Staples. When he walked up to the counter with his sealed, unmarked brown box, the young girl working the counter said "Oh, no. Is that your Xbox?"

If a young guy comes in carrying a box of roughly these dimensions, he's a RROD victim. Period. That's incredible.

[This same friend has another similar story. When he got his Apple Magic Mouse in the mail shortly after they released, the delivery guy asked him what it was because he had been delivering identical boxes all over town for days. The UPS life must be kind of interesting. Imagine going to work one day and half of the packages you have to deliver to random people around the city are exactly the same. I'd be really tempted to "lose" one of them just to see what I was missing out on.]

So, maybe I live in a tech oriented part of town or something, but this seems unusual. It makes me believe the insane numbers that have been thrown around regarding Xbox 360 failure rates (54.2%) are probably true. At any rate, all that's left for me to do is sit around and endure what I'm told will be at least three weeks of Boxlessness. I miss the gaming of course; my friend Jonathan and I have a regular appointment every Wednesday night that I haven't been able to honor for nearly a month. What's worse than the gaming fast, is that the Box is our only DVD player, which means we've been watching Netflix on our computer and it's terrible. I mean terrible. The TV hasn't been turned on in weeks, except for the time I was so desperate to get my gaming fix that I fired up the Wii. Which, of course, left me ashamed and completely unsatisfied.