Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

i drank the cupertino kool-aid…

…and it is good.

Steve Jobs, with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, founded Apple Computers in Cupertino, California, on 1 April 1976. I first bit into the Apple in the early ’80s, when The Beloved acquired an Apple IIe and taught me how to do my college papers on it using Bank Street Writer. It was a satisfying marriage of hardware + software, the Apple’s blinking screen complementing the software’s powers to compose a written document and allow deletions and edits BEFORE IT WAS PRINTED. It had cut-and-paste! It showed upper- and -lowercase letters as they would appear on the page!

At the time it was the pinnacle of technology, but given Moore’s Law, Silicon Valley research-and-design innovation, and savvy techpreneurs, computing in general and Apple in particular went on to smaller, better, and faster.

Today Apple founder Steve Jobs is hailed as a visionary for his creative genius and insistence on melding style + substance to create highly functional consumer products that are also beautiful to look at.

I didn’t get to taste another Apple until the late ’80s, after I’d been sprung from college and was working as a sports feature writer for the now-defunct Manila Chronicle, where they  installed Macs for writers and editors. It has since become the standard for the publishing and graphics industry.

When Apple first came out with laptops I wanted one badly but cost was a deterrent. You do get what you pay for, after all. Other Apple products were more easily acquired – the Shuffles, Nanos, iTouch, iPod. But having reaped a good harvest lately, I’ve finally brought home a couple of the juicy fruit.

This is now my writing workhorse and the pride of my computing stable – a 2011 Macbook Air, 11-inch aluminum unibody, 4GB RAM, 128GB flash storage, packing Lion OS, iWorks, and Office for Mac, the essential suite of programs for my needs. It’s light and impossibly thin, perfect for slipping into a Longchamp Le Pliage or some other tote. 

Ik puts this one through its paces. It’s a 2009 Macbook Pro, 13-inch aluminum unibody, 4GB RAM, 320GB hard disk, crammed with a slew of programs – Lion OS, Office for Mac, Aperture, Photoshop, InDesign CS5, etc etc. This one’s for Alex, the photography major.

“Once you go Mac, you’ll never go back,” chimed Ik the other day, having read it somewhere. It’s true a PC can do the work, but without the same savoir faire or psychic gratification. Apple’s graphical user interface alone is worth the price of its laptops. Imagine being able to manipulate objects on the screen with gestures on their Multi-touch glass trackpad – the pinch to change sizes of photos and rotate them; the four-finger swipe to call up Launchpad; the two-finger scroll-down and -up – it’s all easy and intuitive. Using the trackpad in lieu of a mouse has also alleviated the focal dystonia in my right hand.

Do I sound like an enthusiastic disciple? The Cupertino Kool-Aid is sweet, and I drink it willingly. Bless Steve Jobs for planting the seeds for his technological orchard on that long-ago April Fool’s Day.

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pop goes the world: towards a ‘bookful’ society

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 21 October 2010, Thursday

Towards a ‘Bookful’ Society

A newspaper article from a couple days ago heralded the use of “tablets” in selected Laguna public high school next year in lieu of textbooks. The headline used the term “e-book readers”. The two devices are different from each other in fundamental ways and I wonder if the proponents of this project are aware of this. Certainly they should know which term to use when speaking of them.

Next school year, around 1,000 “tablets” are to be distributed to freshman students of the Laguna National Science High School, UP Rural High School, and one public high school from each of the province’s four congressional districts.

The devices, said to cost $100 each and will be sourced from China, have already been dubbed “Rizal Tablets”, after the national hero. They are expected to provide students with easy access to instructional materials since each device can come pre-loaded with the prescribed textbooks and references.

Laguna provincial board member and educational committee chairman Neil Nocon was said to have “likened” the Rizal Tablet to “Apple’s iPad or Amazon Kindle”.

First, the iPad and Kindle are dissimilar and should not be confused with each other. The terms are not interchangeable.

“iPad” is a brand name and refers to an Apple product that looks like a handheld computer monitor. It glows like one, can connect to the Internet via Wifi and 3G, and is used primarily for consumption of media – surfing the Internet, playing games, and reading e-books. The generic name of similar devices is “tablet”.

An Apple iPad is great for viewing content in color. Image from here.

“Kindle”, on the other hand, is a brand name for an “electronic book reader” developed by online retail giant It can only be used for reading texts in electronic formats. It also comes in WiFi and 3G flavors, but for now can be used only to access the Kindle Store to purchase and wirelessly download e-books.

It is not backlit; it uses a different technology called “e-ink” that will make you think of the Etch-A-Sketch of your childhood days, and was designed to mimic as closely as possible the look of printed text, with charcoal-black letters on a gray background. The font size can be changed, a boon for the visually challenged. It can even function as an audio-book device, although the built-in computer voice is tinny and none too pleasant. Have your loved ones read to you instead.

The Amazon Kindle is fantastic for reading. Image from here.

Now, the pros and cons. I own a second-generation Kindle and am waiting impatiently for my US-based cousin to come over to Manila next month with the third-generation version I ordered. The Kindle is very light, weighing only several ounces, and can be held for long periods in one hand, making it great for reading in bed. Since there is no backlight, there is no glare. The e-ink screen lets you see the text even in bright sunlight. A full battery charge can last a week or longer, as long as the wireless feature is not switched on. However, all it can do is let you to read books.

You can do more things on an iPad, such as surf the Web and use a wide variety of “apps” (applications) that allow you to do most things you can already do on an iPhone and more. The display is fabulous – crisp and clear and in brilliant color, perfect for playing “Plants vs. Zombies”. But it’s heavier than an e-book reader; the backlight might cause eyestrain if used to read for extended periods (about as long as it takes to read several textbook chapters, perhaps?); and the battery charge lasts only hours.

In a campaign speech last May, senator Richard Gordon proposed buying a Kindle for each of 17 million public school students to “raise the quality of education” by making access to textbooks easy and cost-effective. I remember liking the proposal when I first heard it – anything that gives people access to information is a good idea.

Laguna’s move to pilot-test the use of such devices as early as next year is exciting. Will the use of tablets or e-book readers spread the love of reading among young people? Will it raise functional literacy? Will it provide our students with knowledge and critical thinking skills? Let’s hope so.

But before they do roll out the plan, the Department of Education, the Laguna provincial board, and educators should look closely into the merits and disadvantages of each kind of device and be certain they are making the right choice for students. Which of these two types of devices do they actually plan to get?

It has also been mentioned that this project comes close to DepEd secretary Bro. Armin Luistro’s “vision of a bookless society”. I assume he means a society that uses handheld electronic devices for reading, not a society that does not read. I hope that the students given such devices will be allowed to use them to read for pleasure and not just for school, because the cult of the book brings some of the deepest joy that thinking man can experience.

A well-written story can take you to another place, another time, and put you in the mind of a character very different from you and make you feel what she or he feels. Fictionist Stephen King called it “falling through a hole in the paper”. In this case, it would be “falling through a hole in the screen”, but as long as the result is the same, I have no objection.

And may we soon bring about a “bookful” society, where the written word is enjoyed as much as the mindless drivel on television. If he were still alive, that would make Jose Rizal very happy, especially if it means that his Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and other works will be made available to a wider audience. ***

Jose Rizal portrait here. From here, image of Stephen King holding a one-of pink Kindle as described in his for-Kindle novella “Ur”.

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decoding the new iPad ad

“iPad is thin. iPad is beautiful.” – It went to Doctora Belo for liposuction and Fanny Serrano for a makeover.
“iPad goes anywhere and lasts all day.” – It’s also super-absorbent for those heavy days.
“It’s magical.” – It reads palms and Tarot cards.
“It’s 200,000 apps and counting.” - Except Flash-based.
“All the world’s websites in your hands.” – Except those using Flash.
“It’s already a revolution – and it’s only just begun.” – It’s forming a shadow cabinet to take over the world.

It’s a great invention, and kudos to Steve Jobs and the entire Apple family for creating yet another must-have gadget that you’ll hock your soul to acquire. Assuming you haven’t already for the iPhone.

Er, Mr. Jobs, some questions, though – No Flash? No printing support?  No USB port? No laying it flat because of that wonky curved back? No webcam for chat, though it has a mic? No, you don’t want me to go on?

“No” is not a word we want associated with the iPad or anything Apple. The beauty of their products in terms of design and tech are unparalleled. That’s why the iPad’s lack of certain features that many users have found necessary for a complete experience is such a letdown. That’ll open the way for Google and other non-Apple companies to learn from these mistakes and come from behind with something more affordable that’ll fill up the iPad’s gaps.

Zachary Quintooooo….! Huh? Yeah, yeah, that’s an iPad. Zaaaccchhh….!

But we believe in you, Apple! We have faith that the next-gen iPad will be crafted with the stunning yet elegant, simple yet haute-fashionable design you’re famous for, and distract us from noticing that you still haven’t put in support for a mouse.

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