failing like never before

25Apr/100

The ipad… and Other Fail News

I stopped by Best Buy on my way to the grocery store to have a quick look at the much lauded Apple ipad. My opinion summed up in one word:

meh.

Pros:

  • shiny
  • long battery life
  • more portable then a typical laptop

Cons:

  • almost impossible to achieve a reasonably fast typing speed on it
  • shiny (which results in fingerprints and glare)
  • does nothing that my laptop can't do
  • can't do a lot of things my laptop can do
  • costs $150 more then the refurbished laptop I just bought
  • closed platform
  • wide-aspect movies look weird on a 4:3 screen
  • back-lit screens are not ideal for reading books
  • development work for the ipad must be done in Objective¬† C
  • less portable then a Motorola Droid or Nexus One (or even an iphone)

In other fail news:

A week ago, I got a big batch of images that needed to be resized and displayed on one of the websites that I manage. This required that I crop and resize each photo so that it be exactly the correct size to be displayed on the site, a time consuming and quite laborious task. So I figured I could probably whip up a script with Python and ImageMagick to help automate the process, with idea being that my program would allow the user to simply highlight the "relevant" area of an image and then the program would crop and resize it to the correct size.

I ended up having to use wxPython to do all the GUI type stuff, which meant I had to spend some time learning the ins and outs of GUI programming seeing as how my experience with that kind of stuff is fairly limited. So for the past week, I've been spending about an hour a day learning wxPython and knocking together a sort of program to make my life easier. Today, I looked at my image resizer program and realized I had created some of the most god-awful code ever seen by mankind.  It was basically 100+ lines of uncommented and completely unintelligible spaghetti code.

I threw my monster out and did the cropping and resizing by hand, which ended up taking me less than an hour.

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30Jan/100

The ipad is Not the Kindle Killer

The inter-webs have been abuzz about the revelation of Apple's new ipad, and as always, I'm late to the blogging party. Now I'm no Apple fanboy, and I'm not particularly impressed by Apple's new slate. Personally I wouldn't buy it, but I'm sure there are tons of people out there that would love to own one. The one thing however, that has really been bugging me lately, is how so many people are proclaiming the ipad to be the Kindle killer, and that Amazon (and all other e-book reader makers) should just close up shop. Yes, the ipad is capable of providing so many more services then the Kindle, such as full web browsing, office programs, and movie playing capabilities, things that the Kindle cannot possibly offer. But Apple fans are forgetting that the reason that people buy Kindles and other e-book readers, is so that they can read books, and not browse the web.

E-ink, the display technology behind most e-book readers, is an amazing technology, and not just because of its superior battery life, but because reading it is like reading a newspaper. Anyone who has read plain text on a computer screen for hours at a time, knows that it is not a particularly fun experience. Back-lit screens are stressful on the eyes after long periods of time, whereas reading a good-old-fashioned paper book is a much easier experience. I own several e-books and I actually read Stephanie Meyer's God-awful Twilight book on my computer screen and it was not an experience that I want to repeat, not just because of the terribleness of the book but also because of how my eyes were starting to burn from staring at a back-lit screen for so long. Now I have a friend that says he likes to read books on his iphone for extended periods of time, and I'm fairly certain that hes either a freak of nature, or a bold faced liar. But aside from the scarce masochistic few who enjoy burning their retinas out staring at glowing boxes, most everybody else would rather read paper books.

E-ink has allowed for electronic reading devices that are easy and comfortable to read on. This is something that the multi-use ipad does not offer, and it is the reason that dedicated e-book readers like Amazon's Kindle aren't going anywhere just yet. I don't mean to imply that the ipad is doomed to failure, but rather that the ipad is a device meant to do many things and cannot compete with dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle.

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