Coupled with this, my phone contract was up for renewal at the end of September. For a few extra pounds a month, I can join the world of up-to-date shiny new devices.
It would seem that my path forward is simple – but I’m hesitating. You see, I don’t want to be the person that buys something *because* its new and shiny. I don’t want to join the cult of new. I’ve got an 8 year old car, a house that needs doing up, and one of my dogs is starting to show a few hints of arthritis; I love old stuff!
I also love efficiency. I see technology as tools, tools for me to get stuff done. For the first time since becoming a doctor, I got my own room this month; and I’ve loved setting it up just right, so that I know where urine specimen bottles are, so I can maintain eye contact with patients whilst typing, so my every motion can be as effective as possible, giving me time to do the important stuff.
Generally, I like my technology new, because new tends to be faster, tends to be more efficient, allows me more time to get stuff done. But my current phone browses the web, checks emails and takes decent photos. It turns on quickly, it loads information fast: I don’t believe that my workflow will be sped up by a new phone.
I’ve been distracted by newness. As Robert Murray McCheyne said:
“Sit loose to this world’s joy, time is short”
Inspired a little by my friend Jon, who recently downgraded from an iPhone 4 to an old, non smart Nokia, I’m going to skip this upgrade, and be content with the incredible phone I already have, and maybe try to rely on it a little less.
Nick’s iPad Review
My brother, Nick is a pretty big Apple fanboy, a breed of people I generally disagree with. He just bought an iPad, but didn’t get on with it, selling it after a couple of weeks.
Surprised by this, I thought it would be interesting to hear his take on it in a review…
Steve Jobs said, at the announcement of the iPad in January 2010, that it is only possible to make a successful new market by being “far better at some things” than neighbouring markets.
My experiences with the iPad 2 show an amazing, innovative, well thought out product. For people who buy coffee table books, or only browse the web at a very basic “let’s check facebook” level, it’s pretty ace.
However, it’s neighbouring markets are smartphones, and laptops. It’s too big to fulfill some of the key needs of a phone – if you have the capacity to carry a tablet, you probably have room for a laptop – and its not got the versatility of a full PC. So, for the average geek, it probably fails to fully displace these markets.
The look of the iPad 2 is really, really good, and it fits into your hand beautifully – so slick and futuristic, you feel like someone out of Star Trek. Apple have put a lot of money into making it light and thin (so much so, at launch the iPad 2 was worth more than it’s weight in silver). The build is thin, which may excite some people, but the general size is still too big to easily carry around for long periods, which means you have to get a bag (may I recommend the Cool Bananas 24Seven).
But, as said, it does look very nice, and if that’s your thing, this is perfect. The build quality it top notch: solid, thin, light and sturdy – not a millimetre of bending if you lift it up from one corner. The only definite complaint is that the curved back forces the volume buttons and the cable socket round quite an awkward corner, and it’s hard to plug in the charger cable.
The screen looks great, with viewing angles as close to 180° as makes no difference, and the colours are solid. The gloss finish feels very nice, and the screen is bright enough to prevent the majority of glare. Videos looks amazing. The sound quality is surprisingly deep considering how thin the speakers have to be, and Jobs’s claim of a month of standby battery charge seems to be very accurate.
The operating system is great and really is very intuitive, if restrictive. If you’re used to an iPhone or iPod touch, then this is no different, there are a few quirks which really could and should be ported to the smaller Apple devices (for example the brightness can be adjusted from the multitasking bar).
But for the most part, Apple’s control of both hardware and the software works really well in the mobile market. There’s very few times where it slows down noticeably, and there are enough well thought out tricks that Apple have put in to make using it a little easier.
In a recent update they allowed the keyboard to be split, meaning that if you are holding the device in two hands you can type fairly effectively with your thumbs. However, the keyboard can be moved up the screen which means that it can block whatever you’re typing into and having this happen sometimes seems to be the best compromise.
Sadly, I found that typing for any period of time really makes your hands ache – I’ve heard a lot of people mention that buying a bluetooth keyboard sorts out this problem. But with a tablet this expensive should you have to buy more kit to make it work…?
The cameras are adequate, although the outward facing camera is higher quality than the one facing the the user. While this seems pretty understandable, the only time I used the camera was to take photos of myself, or to use Facetime, so it would be better if the user-facing camera was of a higher quality.
It’s also important to remember that you look like the idiot on the right (me) every time you take a photo. The lack of a flash also ruins a lot of perfectly good photos, unless you’re standing in bright sunlight.
Ultimately, with flash enabled camera phones producing such high quality pictures in comparison, there’s practically no point in using the iPad 2 for this purpose.
All the above is irrelevant without asking the question – how is it to use? The answer is that it’s really nice to use, initially. I would come home and plop on the sofa and pick up my iPad and check my facebook, load up some news websites, no problems.
But within a few minutes, I would get frustrated having to switch apps, tired of clunkily changing between sites. I inevitably ended up switching to my laptop after about 10 minutes.
The bottom line is that in no way can the iPad replace even a basic laptop or netbook. It makes a very good companion but it can’t compete. So… anyone want to buy an iPad?
Why Windows 8 is going to be rubbish: Lowry’s Law.
But “Why?”, I hear you cry. It’s nothing to do with the software itself, but due to Lowry’s law, an immutable law of Windows releases.
In with the new
Before I carry on, a little explanation for those of you not addicted to tech blogs. Windows 8 is the latest release of the Windows operating system. Microsoft have just released the “Consumer Preview” version, which is a free to download, draft version of the software.
The result of this is that millions of people have had a chance to play around with Windows 8.
There have been lots of changes under the hood in Windows 8, but by far the most noticeable to users is the change to two competing interfaces. Most of you will be very familiar with the normal Windows desktop – icons on a background, with the Start Menu, and a taskbar along the bottom. The Start Menu has now been killed off, and replaced with ”Metro” – the colourful boxes you can see above on the right.
To hate or not to hate
Reactions have been mixed, with pretty negative reviews from a lot of high profile blogs. Statements such as “It’s going to be an utter nightmare“, “a failure to learn from mistakes of Vista” and “like two very different operating systems trying to be one” lead to some concerns. A former Microsoft employee has created a website called FixingWindows8.com, a site that’s been so popular I’ve not yet been able to load it, due to the traffic crashing the server.
Perhaps the worst indictment is that of tech guru Chris Pirillo’s non tech-savvy father. Here is a video of him totally failing to work out how to use Windows 8:
Personally, I installed the Consumer Preview, and used it for around an hour. I found the two interfaces completely contradictatory, and time wasting. I found nothing of value in Metro, and the loss of the Start Menu a devastating hit to the efficiency of my workflow. I couldn’t cope with trying it any longer than that, and immediately uninstalled it.
However, my opinions, the opinions of consumers and tech professionals matter not: Windows 8 is going to be awful due to the (newly named) Lowry’s Law
Lowry’s Law: Every other serious consumer Windows release is rubbish.
Let’s look at the evidence. (Windows didn’t really take off until 3 came out, so Windows 1 & 2 aren’t classed as serious releases).
Windows 3 – sold 10 million copies in 3 years. Led to Windows becoming the dominant operating system worldwide. Introduced mouse pointers, copy and paste, and countless other features we take as standard today. Good
Windows 95 – an innovative change, that set the tone for future versions of Windows for the next 15 years – however, pretty buggy, and still reliant on an MS DOS framework, causing driver issues galore. Famous for its prolific BSODs. Rubbish.
Windows ME – released in a hurry because XP wasn’t ready yet. Disgustingly buggy, with no real new features over 98. Known as the “Mistake Edition”, along with other less polite terms. Rubbish.
Windows XP – probably the most successful operating system ever. Slick, friendly, crash-free and resource efficient – it’s 11 years old, and still 40% of internet users are running it. That’s a definite “Good”.
Windows Vista – came installed on millions of cheap laptops, at a time when cheap hardware wasn’t quite enough to run Vista comfortable. Coupled with over zealous security pop ups, and lots of driver issues, I think its been the biggest driver of consumers to Apple in the last 5 years. Rubbish.
Windows 7 – basically Vista v2.0 – cleaned up the bugs and dialed down the security pop ups. Time had passed and drivers had been created for Vista and 7, and cheap laptops had the spec to run it well. Good.
Windows 8 – It’s not looking good.
So that’s it. 20 years of evidence support Lowry’s Law, meaning there’s an undeniable truth that Windows 8 is going to be rubbish. However, things are looking great for Windows 9…
Religion vs Jesus (video)
I don’t pretend to have all the answers to Christianity, but I often find church a distraction, Christians a frustration, and – more importantly – antithetical to many of Jesus’ statements. This video makes that point fairly admirably.
Also, from a purely aesthetic perspective, there is some beautiful flow and rhyme in this, with great visuals, and a subtle but supportive typographical underlay. If that’s your sort of thing…
Not much has happened.
A kick up the bum
I got all excited, I made a design, and then I did about a day’s work on the CSS. And then nothing. In order to nag myself into getting more done, I have decided to launch the unfinished theme. This is it. As you can see, its a little rough round the edges.
Shamed into action
The hope is that I will actually want to have a working site, and will thus push on with, well, finishing it.
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
Paul J Meyer
Multiple header sizes…
Are an important part of website design
Even though I never…
…use ones this small!
Things I could do
As you may realise, I’m also using this post to throw a variety of elements into the blog, so I can check I have styling for them all. I also need to display some numbered and bulleted lists, but I can’t think of a relevant list to write. So, instead…
My favourite colours:
- Golden Yellow
Least favourite books ever:
The end of the post
Thanks for reading! Keep nagging me to finish this!
All the WordPress haikus – moved!
I’ve been keeping track of the WordPress haikus for the last few years. So far I’ve got one for 15 releases!
Rather than updating this post every time I update them, I’ve moved it to the Projects section of this site, so you can check it there for infrequent updates.
Keep waiting for that haiku interview, but until then, keep reading All the WordPress Haikus…
Five places to waste your time
The internet is a wonderful invention, but it can be used for good or evil. In the midst of trying to get stuff done, I’m constantly distracted by other things to click on, to read, to learn about.
“It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”
~J. R. R. Tolkien
Twitter is my absolute No 1 stop for distraction, but its such an amazing/terrible invention that I’ll give it a post all its own at some another time. For now (and as a further piece of procrastination) here is a list of five of my favourite sites for wasting my time:
Lifehacker is a fantastic place to read interesting articles about becoming more productive. It’s hacking your life: literally trying to reset how we function, and find more efficient ways of living life. Of course, if you mostly just read Lifehacker when you should be working, its going to be, rather
depressingly ironically, totally counterproductive.
Slashdot was named specifically to be annoying to pronounce. Try saying ” HTTP colon slash slash WWW dot SLASH DOT dot ORG” – fun, eh? That’s pretty geeky, and a perfect introduction to the site, which gives news about tech, web and geekdom, with a slant towards open source. I find it a great place to fantasise about having the tech chops to be a true sysadmin – even if I suspect I’ll never get further than running my own home server. The comments are also always detailed, informative and entertaining.
Favourite bits: Ask Slashdot - users post their own technical challenges for community help, Slashdot Polls – see large scale responses to tech questions that relate to life. Also, check out the Quotes right at the bottom of each page.
A lot more polished than Slashdot, Engadget is my place to learn about all the exciting new shiny gadgets that are coming to the world over the next few months. Despite the fact I never buy any of them, and generally have no desire to own one, I still read in depth reviews of new phones, laptops and gizmos frequently, when I could be better spending my time.
Favourite bits: Generally just enjoying reading the latest articles, but the Reviews are my favourite, regardless of the item. Engadget is also my preferred source of Liveblog when there’s a new Apple/Google/Palm/etc launch event.
BBC News & Timeslive
As a little bit of a news addict, I tend to visit two main sites: BBC News for my UK hit, and Timeslive for South African snippets. The BBC are blatantly the best news organisation in the world, and their site is a testament to that – its currently the fifth most visited site in the UK. Whilst less well written, I enjoy visiting the SA Times website to get an inside flavour of how things are going in South Africa: since we are planning to move there, its good to know when a government department can’t account for £100 million of its budget.
Favourite bits: The front page of each is my main port of call, but I also rather enjoy the BBC’s Science & Environment section, and Times Live coverage of SA Politics. When I want to feel especially low, BBC Sport are always there for me with the latest Orient scores…
Of all the sites mentioned here, Reddit is the only one I’m slightly ashamed of. The self styled “front page of the internet”, it is a community, much like Slashdot, where articles and links are upvoted to gain precedence on the site. However, it has a much more puerile mix of images, links and comments. I’m a recent convert from Digg to Reddit, and whilst I spend less time on reddit than on the others above, it’s definitely a good destination if you urgently need to put off doing something. I refuse to register an account or I’ll never get anything done again!
Favourite bits: The never ending stream of irrelevance that is the front page, but also AskReddit, where people present their real world problems and are *generally* supported, encouraged and helped, with a sprinkling of sarcasm and trolling.
So, there we go. I hope this list helps you to not achieve something in your life quite soon. Just reading this post has probably been a good start!