The Day We All Got Punked by Apple

3 02 2011

Apple iProduct lovers across the twitterverse and blogosphere who have been waiting for some news of the release date, or indeed the mere existence of, the mythical, magical iPad 2 had a moment of hyperventilation yesterday afternoon and it had to do with some hearsay at the launch of Apple’s new iPad-only newspaper, The Daily. The Daily itself really didn’t strike me as all that big a deal. Oooh, another news agency owned by Rupert Murdoch. Wow. What is that now? 50? I also get the sense that I can find something much more insightful for my money too – it rated for ages 9+. The big deal about it is that it’s exclusively for the iPad (for now) and it adds subscription billing to the app model which other publications will probably pick up on, but really, it wasn’t the biggest technology launch of the day. Yes, there was something else much more interesting to ooh an ahh at. Google debuted its Honeycomb app market for tablet computers running the Android OS. It’s hoping Honeycomb will be as big a hit as its Android app market for smartphones. It’s a bigger, shinier, all around sexier version of an already wildly successful product. It has worlds of potential. It may even turn out to be what the tablet computer market is missing – any real, serious competition for the iPad, but it has one big problem in the short-term. They have yet to announce a release date for Honeycomb and if it happens anywhere close to the release date of the iPad 2, nobody will notice or care for a while. That will have a bearing on Android-powered tablet sales because most techno-geeks – or at least the well-funded ones – are instinctively drawn to the newest thing. Google got a tiny taste of what that kind of overshadowing might be like yesterday. Apparently, somebody who knows somebody who knows how to contact Reuters saw an iPad 2 off on the sidelines at the launch of The Daily… and the net was all over it. Honeycomb what? Isn’t that a cereal?

At first blush, this sounded absolutely excellent. A sneak peek at what I’ve begun calling The Precious snuck into the launch of something far less cool simultaneously proving to the world that the iPad 2 is in fact on the way and getting free press for at least a few days from blogs, twitter, and a news cycle mention from traditional media as well. What a stroke of genius! I twittered news of the sighting just like many others. After a few seconds of thought, though, it didn’t add up. There’s one big flaw in this scenario as far as I see it – one thing that is impossible to ignore. In this age where every cell phone, no matter how cheap and basic, has a camera in it and in a room full of professional journalists no one got a picture of the thing that so many are waiting for. That makes no sense. One of them might have missed it – half a dozen at most – but a whole room full of reporters representing all sorts of media outlets from tech blogs to major news channels and none of them sees what is almost surely going to be one of the next big things on the market and grabs their camera or smartphone quicker than a fat kid grabs a Ring Ding? No way! This article from techcrunch.com (cool site!) has a few other points but it echos my main one as well. I think we got punked. Sorry Reuters, I’ll believe it when I see the pictures.

Apple is still getting some free press and the iPad 2 is still shrouded in mystery. Also yesterday, while Google was showing off its cool, new tablet OS, the post holiday return numbers for the Android-running Samsung Galaxy Tab, an android powered tablet and the iPad’s closest competition, were released and the news isn’t good. According to this article in Beatweek, the return rate for the Galaxy Tab was 13%. Thirteen out of every 100 are returned for a refund. That’s a big deal because not everyone who isn’t completely happy with a device returns it. Sometimes people miss the return deadline, or otherwise end up keeping the thing and waiting until something better comes along to upgrade So there are theoretically more unsatisfied customers out there who just weren’t unsatisfied enough or able to return their Galaxy Tabs. By the way, the return rate on the iPad – 2%. On the bright side for non-iPad tablets, many tech blogs including Techcrunch.com were really impressed with the Honeycomb OS and think it might challenge the iPad (they got to test it for about 20 minutes on a Motorola Xoom). Even with all the improvements to the tablet version of Android, we still have no concrete knowledge of what the iPad 2’s specs are yet, so it really is anyone’s guess. Still, I think that Apple had a bit of fun with all of us and maybe ruffled Google’s feather’s in the process. Well played, Apple, well played.

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What Do House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the iPad Have In Common?

24 01 2011

 

 

 

Both are small and partially made of plastic? No. Both are viewed as smug symbols of elitism by some Tea Party-ers? Maybe. It sort of depends on who you’re asking. The answer is that the public will be receiving both the iPad 2 and Pelosi 2.0 this year. If you’re wondering if this post is going to be both a bit of political theorizing and some nerd-girl swooning over a yet-to-be-released, shiny, new tech toy, the answer is yes. Why? Because I’m just that geeky.

Yes, technophiles are waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the iPad 2’s release date and many, myself among them, will head out to reserve one as soon as they are able to and then, once the happy day arrives, they will wait in insanely long lines for hours to, at long last, hold in their hands the second generation iPad. The clouds will part, beams of sunlight will pour warmly down from the heavens, celestial choirs will sing, and it will be Christmas in … whenever… for thousands of Apple lovers. The announcement has been expected for months and there are various theories about when it will come, many stemming from people with too much time on their hands analyzing every one of the few details they can get ahold of.  Those details are very few indeed and speculation is rampant, so take it all with several grains of salt. I’ve been casually following the iPostulating at Beatweek and I’ve also looked at Mac Rumors, where I pulled this picture from, and while there is a lot that’s just talk, these are some features that are generally accepted due to the surfacing of the photos of what are supposed to be iPad 2 cases made in China. Apparently, somebody doesn’t know how to keep a secret.

No doubt some of the silence surrounding the release date has to do with Apple’s co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, taking another medical leave of absence – this time without setting a date when he’ll be back. Jobs took a medical leave in 2006 in order to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer and another in 2009 to undergo a liver transplant. With a medical history like that, the level of concern expressed by everyone from stock market analysts to run of the mill Apple fans is understandable. I join the chorus of those wishing Mr. Jobs a speedy return to health.

So nobody who’s able to confirm anything to the rest of us knows when the iPad 2 is coming or what fabulous things it’s going to be able to do when it gets here, yet many people are anxiously waiting, blogging, and talking about a device that Apple won’t acknowledge even exists yet. The question then becomes why. Why are so many people so excited by the sequel to the iPad? History. Apple functions on a very predictable schedule and has for several years now. They come up with a great product and then, within a year or two, the second generation is released and they have:

* Fixed all of the inevitable bugs that go along with anything 1.0.

* Created a buzz which results from their 1.0 being so good – a device that has become the gold standard in its category or damn close. For example, nobody says mp3 player. We all talk about iPods.

* Figured out what “it would be awesome if this thing had/could do ____” and added that feature to the second gen. product if it’s at all possible.

A bit of patience tends to be rewarded if the newest Apple gadget is your heart’s desire. As a bonus, most of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc generations don’t change a whole lot from the second gen. device – maybe they’ll have more memory or look a little cooler – until

there’s a major innovation (think classic to iPod touch) that really warrants an upgrade, so your second generation product stays current for a few years and you get your money’s worth which always feels rewarding when you’re dealing with techno toys. Since the iPad’s debut I have been waiting for all of the reasons I have described. As I recall, the iPad didn’t have much in the way of new device bugs. There were, however, things people wanted to see added or improved. The speakers could’ve been stronger. Many people want to see a camera added. I’m not among their number, but nobody called to ask my opinion. More

memory is a plus. The biggest thing I heard about was the screen’s glare issue, so that might be dealt with. The newest iPhone has a super high-resolution Retina Display screen. While this article says the iPad 2 won’t have it, an improvement in resolution and less glare is all but a given, especially given that an ad for Amazon’s Kindle e reader took a swipe at the iPad over the glare-prone screen. Throwing my own hat into the release date guessing game, I’ll say that we’ll have an announcement before June and I’ll have my iPad 2 in hand by December 1st.

On the political front, the House Minority Leader’s public image upgrade is looking to be on about the same time-table as my future iPad2. Starting well before the mid-term elections Nancy Pelosi had become the arch-villain in the Republican’s fairy tale of why everything that’s wrong with DC and perhaps even the world is the fault of the evil, no good, country-destroying, monolithic left. Even though sensible people on either side can take a look around and see that laying the blame for problems that were quietly growing in complexity for decades – even reaching back to the Reagan years in some cases – at the feet of Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid, or even the Democrats as a group as the foolishness it is, Nancy Pelosi has become the personification of every one of our nation’s ill and all that’s hated about the nature of bureaucracy in general for many on the right. Her name was invoked to great effectiveness in campaigns by conservatives against then-incumbent Democrats during the mid-terms and conservative commentators on TV and in radio take every opportunity to skewer her for whatever’s making them unhappy at that particular moment. Glenn Beck was already joking about poisoning her in 2009. Some might say the character assassinations have worked a little too well. Last April, a man was arrested for threatening the then-Speaker of the House and I’m sure that not the first or the last threat she’s received. Unfortunately, it seems death threats are par for the political course. That’s nothing new of course – Abraham Lincoln kept a file of his in his desk at the White House – but just because it’s an old idea doesn’t make it acceptable. In short, whether you like Minority Leader Pelosi or not, you have to admit that she’s become politically radioactive – a pariah even among some members of her own party.

Despite her notoriously gaffe prone, generally nervous performances in press conferences and such which I attribute to a touch of stage fright (You can actually see her freeze up before she starts to trip over her words.), she is, contrary to popular belief, not a dumb woman. You don’t work you way up through the congressional leadership and become the most powerful woman in American political history by being an idiot. While the American public at large might decide to vote a likable doofus into the presidency, our Representatives take voting for their majority leaders, minority leaders, and speakers of the House very seriously. They vote for the one among them who can get things done and, whether you like the results or not, Nancy Pelosi got a lot done and she was able to keep most of the House Democrats in rank even after the Republicans took control at the beginning of the month. The fact that only three broke ranks to vote for a repeal of Healthcare Reform is a testament to her abilities. Still, she can’t do much when her public image is this toxic. She has to do some damage control… and it looks like she is. She has, for the most part, been able to avoid a lot of media attention with the exception of a few interviews. There are not many pictures of her coming out, so she’s generally under the radar. She wasn’t front and center at the memorial for the victims of the shoot in Tucson. She was the only member of the congressional leadership to attend the state dinner that was held for China’s President Hu Jintao, but I challenge you to find a picture of her there. Even the fact that she stuck around after losing the Speakership reflects well on her and casts a new light on someone reportedly only in it for the power and the parties and such. By just lying low and keeping as quite as the House Minority Leader can be expected to be, she’s keeping herself from become the story. That doesn’t sound like much but in six months, when the 2012 election cycle really gets underway, it will be much harder for Republicans to use her as the poster woman for why all liberals should be despised if she hasn’t said or done anything overly controversial in the last several months. If she can stay in the background while Speaker Boehner and the Republicans try to get their agenda legislated and take the political flak that comes with doing so, she’ll begin to look more like a person and less like the demon she’s been cast as. In fact, the Republicans might come to regret posting that “Hire Pelosi” sign over the RNC. They underestimate her at their own peril.





The Resolution Review

17 01 2011

It’s resolution season again! Time to see how well I did with my 2010 goals and set some for 2011. Last year was not one of the better ones I have on record – two car accidents, no job, no grad school, and no boyfriend – so seeing it relegated to the history books doesn’t break my heart. Even though I’m far from being an optimist, I’m looking forward to a better 2011. So, to review, 2010’s resolutions were as follows:

  • Reduce the size of my big behind! A rather cliché start to my list, but something which must be done nonetheless.

+1 – I am happy to say my rump is smaller. Not by much and nobody will be asking me to model bikinis or anything, but I have lost some weight and that’s good.

  • Swear less – particularly behind the wheel.

+1 – I do swear less, especially behind the wheel. It’s because I’ve been doing less driving, but it still counts. As hard to believe as it is, I do think that I cussed less in 2010. 😀

  • Be more understanding (See resolution #2) and more reliable.

+.5 – While I have made strides in the “understanding and tolerating” department, and my reliability improved a little, the car accidents did a number on my reliability.

  • Better manage my finances.

+1 – I have gotten better with my money largely out of necessity.

  • Be more positive – view the glass as half full as opposed to half empty and possibly poisoned.

0 – Despite my efforts, my outlook remains less than sunny. It hasn’t gotten any bleaker, though, which is good.

  • Make a perfect beouf bourguignon.

+.5 – While not perfect, my beouf bourguignon certainly is quite tasty.

  • Find a market that sells duck, buy some, and make a meal with it that’s as good or better than the one I had New Year’s Eve.

+.75 – I have found a couple of places where I can buy duck and I made some that was good, but I still need to perfect it.

  • Take my GREs AFTER PROPERLY PREPARING FOR THEM!

0 – Without a job and without much hope for one in the foreseeable future, I think this has to be put on the back burner for a while. Grad schools, aren’t going away and if I’m smart enough, I’ll get to one eventually.

  • Stop feeling guilty, responsible for, or inferior due to things beyond my control.

+.25 – Marginal progress. When you’re a person who likes to be in control, it’s hard to deal with not having much of it.

Out of a possible 9, I have ended this newly passed year with a disappointing 5 – barely passing, but passing nonetheless – on my resolutions for 2010. Since there is nothing I can do now but vow to do better, that is what I shall attempt with this year’s resolutions. And with that, here is 2011’s Resolution List.

  • Read at least one nonfiction book and one biography a month. Just because I’m not in grad school doesn’t mean I will allow myself to be uneducated. Besides, there is no such thing as being too well-read. That knowledge might come back to help me somewhere down the road.
  • Mat, frame, and hang the painting I bought the week before I lost my job two and a half years ago. I still love it, so it should be displayed and enjoyed.
  • Be a better blogger. Post at least three times a month.
  • Be more positive – view the glass as half full as opposed to half empty and possibly poisoned. It’s a carry over from last year, but whatever.
  • Continue to thin out because I’ve still got way too large a booty.
  • Get involved. I would love a job, but at this point I’m all but convinced that I’ll see menopause before I see another paycheck, so I just want to have something to do that benefits someone other than just myself.
  • Roll with the punches. Very little of my current situation is well within my realm of fixing and that will bother me greatly, but it’s better to just keep calm and carry on, as the saying goes, rather than dwelling on it and being miserable.
  • Save any cash I scrounge up for a new computer (and an iPad) and, once I get said computer (and an iPad) give the one I’ve got to my father, because the one he has at work is practically an antique. It’s a perfect goal – money management, thinking of others, and the reward of new electronic gizmos. I think I can do this.
  • Work for some part of time this year even if I hate the job to no end. Because computers (and an iPad) don’t buy themselves.

So my resolution total for this year is also 9. Let’s see how I do.