Monday, April 26, 2010

We've only scratched the surface...

It all started with the launch of the iPhone. Apple didn't just deliver a 'design' cellphone. Along with the introduction of the actual device, a year after launch, Apple has created a dedicated platform to support the software apps on the handsets. This is what they also did with the iTunes store selling 99-cents-a-song music to their iPod customers years ago. Such enabling platforms serve two very large but distinct market segments. On one hand you have the music, movie, TV shows, audio and eBook content provisioners, together with the creators of software apps. On the other hand you got the end users, who consume that same content and also buy handset apps. In the meantime, the performance of these platforms is measured in billions of downloads, millions of items available at the store for sale, and almost 200 thousand 'free' and 'paid-for' iPhone apps.

Recently Apple launched and started shipping their own version of a slate computer, a.k.a. the iPad. That's kinda like an iPod with an 'a'. Sort of... Announced in January, first shipped in the US (alone) early this April (that's less than a month ago), and already claiming a million ('n change) units sold. In less than 3 weeks. Who can do better?

Right now nobody can say (other than Apple's visionaries, perhaps...) what the impact is gonna be of these new devices. Many tried to position them and compare them to Netbooks but that's a pure waste of time. Apples with oranges... Or kinda Space Shuttle with the 'Spirit of St Louis'... If there's anything to compare an iPad with, if you really insisted, is an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Almost identical from a look and feel and/or an operational usability viewpoint, other than the iPads having more than four times an iPhone's display real estate. That's a rather simplistic view though, adopted 'logically' by any shortsighted sixth-grade tech geek. But, could that be all?

Nope, it ain't. Large screen matters. Apps that are already ported from the iPhone to iPad (so-called HD or made for the iPad) have extensively made use of the new APIs and class libraries that Apple provided in an enhanced and 'refreshed' SDK. The kit contains, among other, a whole bunch of brand new lovely GUI class objects and animated pop-up windows that bring user experience to a different level altogether, unseen before, except in those up-market video game consoles. Electronic newspaper and book reading becomes all of a sudden a different ball-game. Like Jobs said, the Kindles of this world paved the way. But they haven't got a clue what would follow in their steps just behind them. The iPhone paved the way too... but even Apple's visionaries didn't imagine what its impact was to be. They probably get flabbergasted themselves as they see the hundreds of thousands app creators taking advantage of their enhanced and function rich Libraries. Suddenly this whole matter almost looks like a sample of 'Intelligent Design': Apple first created an outstanding piece of hardware that is meant to be used as a magic funnel that provides access to the entire world of human knowledge. At the outset, the device has got certain hardware properties at a level of quality and performance never previously experienced in mass markets by any 'computer' gadget. Beautiful product design, lightweight, immensely long battery life, gorgeous monitor screen, outstanding processor performance, excellent response times, fabulous wireless connectivity, smooth, seamless, robust and durable... the works! Like any hardware should really be.

However, hardware alone is only part the story. Surely far less than half the story. Hardware is just an enabler. Once you start using it, you forget about its existence and properties altogether. You only feel sorry about yourself and the hours of life you've wasted struggling to make work those miserable Wintel boxes in the nineties... The orgasmic feeling is in the software part of the equation. I honestly salute and raise my hat to those Apple software architects and engineers. Even that miserable Gray Powell. What they have put into the SDKs and ObjC is like the works of Almighty Creator of the Universe, who provisioned the laws of nature (from gravity to evolution) and made possible to enjoy the world we live in. Apple's engineers have created in similar fashion an environment for the development of apps, like the infinitely Wise Almighty created the laws of physics that are necessary for anything we know to exist, including ourselves. You might think I'm pushing this too far, but I know I'm right, at least at a level of illustration or lateral reasoning. The scope of the two works of 'creation' is different by all means, but the strategy is the same: Provide the right game rules and a few template building blocks and the rest will fall into place by the laws that rule both ecosystems.

I don't believe Jobs was ever thinking that with his tools a dude would come up with an app like Magic Piano... Or Korg's iElectribe. Or the Accordeon, programmed by few Russian software kids (we actually owe it to Corby that we enjoy so many iPhone apps nowadays... those Russian app developers are just among the best around... anyways, that's a parenthesis, as I just thought to mention that).

So far, most iPhone / iPad apps we use are made for individual users. I'm not sure we saw many yet established by larger organizations and targeted to their customers, other than eCommerce sites and news providers. Certainly, many of the corporate provisioners are larger organizations. How about ERP suppliers though? Do they realize the potential their companies might gain by using the new devices and endorsing the lifestyles that go along? We haven't seen many compelling apps in that area yet. I didn't think so.

Let me give you an example. This morning I had to participate in an exams committee at a local Business School. Student teams presented their business plans that they created around new product ideas, etc... Among those, a one-man-show 'team' presented the idea of what the student called the iMenu. What's that? Simply something like an iPad offered to restaurant customers in lieu of the traditional paper based menu cards to decide their choice of meals. First I heard of, I thought, "yeah sure... and pigs can fly...". But then, as the kid progressed in the description of the functions of his product and explained his vision of the future, it all started making sense. A lot of sense! Like,

  • Via excessive use of clever GUI, multimedia and short clips, the meals could be specified in a lot more compelling detail and be made to look inviting, intriguing, and quite interesting, seen from unusual angles like never before.
  • Ticking the client choices on the iMenu would be used to transmit wirelessly the orders and optimize kitchen operations while keeping inventories of ingredients up to date in real time.
  • iMenus can also be used to alert customers when their meals are about to be delivered, based on real time progress information arriving from the kitchen. A webcam can even transmit live footage of the chef and his/her assistants preparing those very meals... That's the ultimate definition of a services business, like we experience it in restaurants and... hospitals: clients are active participants in the production process. Greeks have known this for years. They invite restaurant customers to select their own choice of raw meat and fish from the available stock and have the cooks prepare the meals in front of their very eyes. I got a cousin who stays there to the end to make sure the chef is not throwing in a piece different than the one my cousin selected and paid for. Japanese steak houses, inspired by a 70ies business model used by the Benihana of Tokyo steakhouses, a successful restaurant chain in the US, know all about this concept too. Why not? Chef Ramsey would love the idea! Jamie Oliver already offers an outstanding iPhone app that will get your eyes wide open to the possibilities available to us all in the brand new world of smart-phones and slate computers at the service of the culinary crafts.
  • If certain meals become no more available (often the case with the day 'special') their reference would simply vanish from all iMenus, to ensure that customers don't get embarrassed by selecting something to find out minutes later that it's no more available for the rest of the day.
  • iPads could further entertain customers while waiting by providing to them access to news, entertainment apps, social games (there are many available for free already), etc... Long waiting times for meals to be served in a busy restaurant is extremely demoralizing. If you exhausted discussion subjects with your dining peers, an iPad-like device could offer infinite possibilities of interesting pastimes while waiting.
  • Wine selection could also be a compelling event in its own right. Video clips could be used to show the entire wine production process by which the nectar you're about to start sensing is produced, giving a totally new meaning to the wine experience.
  • If, in addition, the client registers a free membership to the restaurant's customer club, by inputting his/her email address in the iMenu, the restaurant could be even willing to share its own trade 'secrets' and recipes. Why not? Both sides win. The restaurant creates a bond with its customers who can then easily become 'repeat' customers and ambassadors of word of mouth (WOM) recommendations to friends and family. By leaving email connection points, the restaurant could subsequently keep informing its customers about future offers and actions. Adding value, that is!
  • Last but not least, handling of payments and credit card processing, all with the same magical device.
iPad-like devices could thus enhance everybody's culinary culture and elevate it to levels of great enjoyment. Goes without saying, the cooked meals (it's the core business, after all) need still to be well prepared, with quality ingredients, warm and well presented in proper and oven-warmed dishes, the restaurant ambience with lighting and music sufficiently compelling and conveying a homely feeling, per all the known rules of best practice in good restauration... An iPad-like device and functionality alone is not gonna cut it for the restaurant, if many of the remaining components fail. Chef Ramsey would agree with me in a heartbeat! It takes more than an iMenu to run a restaurant, right?

Let's accept it, we have only scratched the surface. We have barely started to grasp what is doable and hardly had the chance to think about all the possibilities. I'm sure our generation experiences life in the most interesting times of human history and endeavor... it's a real blessing. Do an exercise. Pick up a business, any business, and 'see' with your mind's eye inside the ecosystems surrounding it, enabled with iPads and iPhones, Android based and alike devices. Alice in wonderland, Harry Potter and Peter Pan will suddenly cease to appear like child fiction. 'Magic' becomes 'real' and the 'Matrix' or the 'Minority Report' won't seem so far and away no more...


UPDATE: Despite my deep respect for His Jobness, his recent vendetta with Adobe over Flash will eventually hurt us all. Adobe is a good company and we all need their products. El Jobso has often had his bad moments, and the recent Flash conflict is again one of them. Jobs' being impractically silly now. Really really!

We'll see. Right now, go read this article about Apple already climbing above MSFT in market cap in the S&P 500 index; a lot more fun than the Adobe related dark moment. ROFLMFAO!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A pathetic petty ego addict called Woz (pronounced as in 'I was')...

There used to be a genius in the seventies called Steve Wozniak, who was the legendary co-founder of Apple Computer Inc together with His Jobness. Wozniak was 'the other Steve' so to say... Thus, both Steves founded Apple together. The 'Apple' we all know, which has become the third most capitalized company on the planet as of recently, soon to become number one without the shadow of a doubt (heard that Monkey Boy? Go on, dare laughing at them like that other moron Michael Dell did in 1999). A company that even your dead grandma has known about their products.

Wozniak (a.k.a. Woz) was the technical brain behind Apple II. I am not sure whether he was practically ever involved in the development of Lisa or Mac, but he was the architect for sure of all things Apple II, the legendary personal computer that changed the way we thought about personal computers. That was in a time where computers were normally associated with astronomic operating expenses even for cash-rich companies, and occupied rooms long of facilities space. They used to call them Electronic Brains in some languages too (Greek as an example).

As it turns out, Woz's period of technical genius only lasted a few years. Ever since mid eighties, when Woz left Apple to become a teacher (how noble), his genius vanished. All the poor sod has been trying to do all the time ever since is show-off and do anything that could generate press attention to his persona. He's become addicted to anything that smelled like a tabloid trigger for cheap fame. Especially in the last ten years, and Apple's phenomenal climb to the stratosphere under Jobs' leadership, Woz found the ideal platform to keep on showing-off 24x7. Not that he has anything interesting to say, no way! He's dead addict for the attention of the geek community. He fights tooth and nail for every gram of such an ego dope.

What's even worse, he's also been extremely pretentious and utmost unfair in his criticism of Apple, despite their keeping him on the payroll 'for life'. He's actually been playing along with the waves of demagogy and populism used by tech tabloids and has been feeding them with what he thinks is additional 'in-house' view of every situation under scrutiny. Every time I've read articles quoting the Woz I found myself inches away from throwing up in the nearest restroom. There are so many pathetic stories related to the BS he's been spreading around, but I'll spare you that... I reckon it'll be bad to even refer to a single incident; that would waste too much blogging space and increase the environmental footprint of this post for no significant reason.

Anyways, it's fun reading this Wired Online article about the dude who 'left' a new iPhone prototype in a bar last week, where he spent the evening celebrating his 27th birthday. This bonehead Apple employee goes under the name of Gray Powell, and a 'gray' character he is indeed. Don't they use IQ tests when they hire engineers at Infinite Loop One?

What I enjoyed most in the article wasn't what Woz had to say (as I said, his 'opinion' usually suckz) but it was more fun to go thru the reader comments. As usually, the early comments were by frustrated losers, Apple haters, who can't even afford the cheapest iPod, and are condemned to the eternal Windows treat, wasting their miserable lives by doing security updates every single boot of their box. These dudes went on and on, spreading cheap moralizing stories about the 'fear' regime that rules Apple, the company's obsession about product pre-launch secrecy, yadda yaddy yadda... Again, these folks sound like people who never worked in a real company... probably they are either unemployed or some sort of civil servants with plenty of time to comment on each and every tabloid blog.

Thankfully, comments are quickly dominated by the righteous, who understand both business and have probably worked in similar technology company positions, or they still do. In any case, the report and its reader comments are highly recommended, especially if you love Apple as much as I do.

Friday, April 23, 2010

St-George's today...

St-George kills the dragon... So, there were dragons after all!
Great day for Greece today, as on St-George's day the tens of thousands (if not hundreds) having George as their Christian name, in fact it's Yorgos (Γιώργος), celebrate their name day. It is indeed name-days that are far more important to us Greeks than birthdays (who wants to celebrate the day one adds another unit to his/her age count and grows older so lightening fast). My dad use to be called George (RIP) and a few lads I know, to whom I wish the best and many happy years, despite the country's borrowing troubles. Happy name day too to our poor-sod Prime Minister, who became an instant and infamous celeb recently, George Papandreou, who instead of laying back, enjoying ouzo and writing books or maybe lecturing (easy stuff), he decided to lead the country amidst the biggest financial clusterf**k in their (recent - do I need to add that?) history. Don't you worry Georgie boy. The Krauts and the IMF will be forced to help you after all... they got no choice anyway! Just keep those striker nutcases off the streets and everything's gonna be alright, eventually!

My best wishes for good health and prosperity to all Georges I know and those I don't. My special wishes go of course to George Manos, regular reader of my blog insanity, and my cousin in Volos, George Paterakis, whom I called this a.m. and wished him too, first time ever in my life, I'm ashamed to admit! Also, my eldest son is a George, but we had to adopt the local Flemish version of the name and called him Joris! Yorgo would have sounded too... unFlemish, the spouse thought... He doesn't care much about them name-days though, as he was raised a good Catholic (you wish) and he only minds the birthdays bit. Anyways, Χρόνια Πολλά to you too, son. And enjoy cycling on your vintage Brooks saddle in A'dam. It's gonna be a beautiful day today, sun and warm at last, so hit the pedals real hard and make the best of it!

And... above all, folks, I kid you not : Οπου Γιώργος και μάλαμα...

UPDATE: By popular demand from those trying to grasp the meaning of the four last works in Greek, well, that's the title of a 'classic' rebetika song from my early days in Greece, meaning, "Every George is made of silver"... I was told that in the George Papadopoulos dictatorship days, this was paraphrased into "Every George is a... jerk". Phonetically silver and jerk rhyme in Greek - both are three syllable words with alpha (α) as the vowel used... Anyways, here are the song lyrics (my translation):

As much as I have loved my mother, I have loved you too...
Whatever I owned you have wasted,
and you've left me broke at the end...

It doesn't matter, no worries, may you have it all,
one day you'll be blaming yourself for that,
But my own heart has no substitute
Every Yorgos is made of silver...

Only me it was that felt deep pain for you,
and I have given you everything I got,
And, although I had to taste bitter poison because of you,
if you asked my soul I would have given it to you...

It doesn't matter, no worries, may you have it all,
one day you'll be blaming yourself for that,
But my own heart has no substitute
Every Yorgos is made of silver...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21st...

The day AAPL will go thru the roof! Almost 15 bucks up in pre-market. The wow effect!

It also happens to be April 21st today, when back in 1967 (I was 14 then) a bunch of CIA backed army colonels established a military junta in the fatherland, that lasted 7 years. May all them bastards rotten in hell! Most of them are already six feet under, anyways! Most of the key actors never managed to get out of prison either. To the Greeks, a life sentence is a life sentence... not like what's going on in this Mickey Mouse country I'm living now, where you shoot someone for kicks and after getting a life sentence you're out in the clear and free as a bird after serving singled digit years behind bars. Pathetic!

Anyways, fans of His Jobness and his Apple opus, rejoice today! It's gonna be real big! Take my word for it...

Artist's Touch

Portrait of a Med student...
Artist's Touch is a simple but quite capable app for the iPad that makes artists out of the artistically goofiest of people.

Watch this video to see how it works. It started as an iPhone app but it's far better to use it on the iPad and its large real estate.

I used similar techniques of artistic cloning with other packages (like Corel Painter as an example) but I've never met the efficiency of this package before. Sure, you can do a lot more as a virtual painter working with Painter and a Wacom tablet, no doubt about it. But I find Artist's Touch quite efficient and surprisingly good. It's real value is far above the dollar price you pay at the App Store.

This example shown here took me, say, less than 5 minutes to do. I actually spent more time to frame it and color-correct it on Adobe Lightroom. The kid on the portrait is Seb, a med student and one of the two kids who unboxed my iPad two weeks ago. The original picture upon which the Artist's touch portrait rendering was based is shot by Seb's co-student and best pal, Bram, a Med student himself (the other kid of the unboxing event), and an excellent hobbyist photographer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What makes a leader a Leader!

KLM CEO Peter Hartman. The man's got cojones .
Thousands of business schools worldwide will spend millions of lecturing hours annually 'teaching' their students about leadership. If I had a penny for every time the word is being used in a day I'd be a billionaire by now. We love to talk about leadership in business all the time, but more than 99 percent of those using the word as part of their daily vocabulary wouldn't see leadership if it hit them in the face. Am I right, or am I right?

However, there are very rarely a few of those improbable moments when scarce business people do show leadership. With a capital "L"! Just like this! They do indeed! And become an example and a role model to the rest of us. We witnessed such a case a few days ago. With Peter Hartman. CEO of KLM, a subsidiary of big mouth Air France!

The news went like this:

KLM, a subsidiary of Air France, began test flights Saturday with a Boeing 737 flying up to 41,000 feet (13,000 metres), the maximum altitude at which the aircraft is certified to fly. "We observed no irregularities either during the flight or during the initial inspection on the ground," said chief executive Peter Hartman, who was aboard Saturday's flight. (I bolded the words here).

Did you hear that, folks? The bleedin' CEO went into the aircraft and took a test flight two days in full blown Ashmageddon time, where most of the remaining so-called European 'leaders' of ours were covering their a-- in the name of 'security'. This man Hartman has cojones like melons, bro! Look at his picture here and admire a man for all seasons! With the guts it takes to change the establishment!

I've been sick and tired listening to those show-offs, the Politicians, come to TV to BS about security in the first place and more of that cover-a## BS! And when, KLM, the Dutch again, not the frogs... you listen?... neither Angela's Krauts, let alone those 'courageous' Brits, resumed flying again in the last 24 hours, the rest of the European cowardish politicians flock followed their lead. "Heard the news, folks? The Dutch didn't crash yet, so let's go do the same before voters come after our a--...". Pathetic! Not to talk about the Brussels based Eurocrats themselves, and the leadership they've 'shown'. ROFLMAO.

I'd say, vote Peter Hartman for President of Europe. What the heck were they thinking getting politicians in positions of leadership? Takes the likes of Hartman and His Jobness to change the world! Capice?

To iPad or not to iPad... that is the question!

10 days living with the iPad, and I'm as crazy about it, as it was love at first sight on Thursday, two weeks ago, when the UPS post-woman arrived with the package. In the meantime hundreds of reviews of all sorts to read on the net. Ars Technica published one of the best ever, IMHO, whereas some reporters still attempt to describe the magic gadget, reasoning from their anti-Apple feelings, focusing on irrelevant iPad shortcomings and missing the point altogether.

One thing I know for sure is that the experience of doing the things you are supposed to do with the iPad is simply stunning. There are few good reasons for that.

Accessibility. No wait times to start-up (even boot time is less than 12 secs, if you powered down the device) and the steps necessary to reach the stuff you want to reach are within one or two soft touches of the screen, with your finger.

Visual quality. The monitor, under suitable light conditions (not too bright ambient light, that is) is simply superb. The depth of colors, lights and shadows, is beyond words can describe. They are rumoring about possibly bringing OLED to iPads. I don't think it's worth the money. I saw OLED in action and I am sure the current monitor quality of the iPad is as good. And far less expensive. OLED is again a wishful thinking of those morons who always find reasons to delay their purchase. Losers...

Response times. I did a speedtest again yesterday, standing 12 m away, below an Airport extreme wifi station of mine with two building floors in 'concrete' in between. My rated bandwidth is 30 Megabits a sec. The iPad reached 20.5 Megabits. I reach 28 megabits and change on my 27 inch iMac connected to the base station with a Gigabit Ethernet cable. There are times I hardly have the time to select a Youtube clip and the darn thing starts playing it in subsecs. Same thing with surfing on Safari. Googling responds within millisecs. I don't have any desktop or laptop doing these things any faster. Sure thing...

Temperature. And Battery life. Same experience. The iPad NEVER gets any hot! Even warm, for that matter. It's a COLD snake, it is! And battery goes for more than a day of intensive use. Non stop it burns 10% or less per hour. That mostly leads to more than 10 hours of non-stop use. Compared to that, my iPhone boils eggs.

The Apps factor. I don't know how many already realize this, but the iPad/iPhone/iPodT paradigm is rendering the known browsers obso-fokkin-lete! By doing this, they actually achieve three objectives. a) Provide a far more compelling user experience and additional functionality not present on Browsers, b) speed up the experience reach by having dedicated apps buttons to touch-'n-go, and c) most important of all, lock users within the boundaries of their app. In a regular browser, user loyalty to a single provisioner is the best synonym to oxymoron.

Larger real estate (monitor) matters. When the iPad was launched, the cynics called it a larger iPod Touch. And laughed bitterly. Like Monkey Boy when he was told about the iPhone, first time over. Lemme tell you though. The extra size allowed the creativity of app developers to reach levels of GUI experience unseen before. Honestly. From news apps to games and financial apps. Now you're talking. Having spent a few hours with a screen this size, you kinda of thinkin' "how could I have ever been pleased with the stuff the iPhone does!" Of course, kudos also go to the Apple SDK architects who provided so many new enhanced class libraries and APIs, and made it possible to create apps with the best user experience we witnessed, ever...

The Pixar factor... Almost everything in the iPad experience seems to be computer animated. Animation creates a feel of dynamic transition from one frame to another and keeps the user enjoying the feeling like never before. It all looks like an advanced video game. Anything you do, zooms in or out, fades in or out, it just 'lives' with an remarkable dynamism... Computers are finally made like they should have always been. Thanks to El Jobso and his A-Team. I can die happy now.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Gee, and I was wondering where the competition would come from... I suspected the Chinese and Koreans for starters but I forgot our neighbours altogether. Our beloved Krauts cried "eureka". They just invented the WePad! I, me, mine is too much Lennon. We, the Germans, we shall start a new wave of monumental BS, flying in the stratosphere like an Islandic ash cloud, by replacing the 'i' with a 'we'! Because that's what their English teacher told them Krauts the 'i' stands for on iMacs, iPods and iPhones, not to mention the iPads. Well, listen good, boneheads! This 'i' on those products stands for 'ich' as much as Wii stands for 'Wir'. Capice? I doubt it...

Anyways, I expected more serious competition than what we saw in those Mickey Mouse Krauts and their WePad... Honestly. The boyz at Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA, must have real fun watching this... They might have missed the party though... Too busy pushing hundreds of thousands of iPad inventory down the channels to feed the growing queues of buyers... Whereas the Krauts keep testing their miserable slates with USB mice hanging off mini USB 'standard' ports. I wonder when they'll invent the WeMousePad to go with...


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Words are not enough...

48 hours with an iPad in my hands and it's already become worse than addiction. My 'poor' iPhone is out there playing sad music on its iPod app. That's the only use I found for it right now...Apart from occasional calls. My Macbook got the first real rest in its long life staying inactive for more than 30 hours, first time ever since Fedex brought it here three years ago. If it was a person it would actually enjoy a (very) long, well deserved, and earned vacation.

In the meantime, the iPad experience is beyond my wildest expectations. A wet dream! It's like rediscovering media, the net, social networks, blogging, the works. Like Mossberg said, a real media consumption animal. The screen quality is impossible to describe. You just want to kiss it. Ancient Greeks would have put it on an altar and worship it!

As an example, I copied Steve's portrait from the latest issue of the TIME magazine iPad app and reworked it with ArtistsTouch for the iPad to make it look like an oil painting. All in less than 5 min... Like Steve said the other day... Have you ever seen anything like this before, folks? Even close?

This post is by no means an iPad review... I'll have to do some more testing for that. In the meantime, the battery index is on 40% with only one full charge 24 hrs ago, having used its initial charge that it was shipped with. I guess, for my regular use, one full charge every second day is more than enough. I need at least 3 full charges a day for my MBPro. It's actually power plugged most of the time. On the iPad, I disabled mail push and notifications though. And when it rests, it rests... it's on OFF altogether. Reboot only takes a few secs (12 - 15 sec, I reckon), so why bother?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Undressing the beauty!

Like I said! Better than sex! Undressing performed by two (Brussels) Med-School students (MSc) with all the care the beauty deserved. Thx much kiddos (Bram Bourgonjon - beige T-shirt, and Sebastian Faict - in red). In the meantime, experience so far is beyond human words. We can finally see software and GUI working as they should always have.

BTW, Bram knew all about how-to. By just reading the reports since the announcement. This way, I got a free training that saved me a few hours of self search. Thanks a mille, kid!

Stay tuned... some serious reviews and experience sharing is under way.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

iGlad with your iPad?

The tech world is populated by two sorts of alert individuals along with the lagging majority, that is, the smart and the morons. The former rushed out to buy an iPad the last few days, no questions asked... So far this only happened in the US, where Apple started shipping the iPad last Saturday, right before Easter Sunday... Some non-US residents even found old friends, or friends of a friend who live in the US, and got theirs shipped to them allover the world. Mine was like this too. It is now relaxing at a customs desk in Köln, Germany, as we speak, with the Kraut clerk not sure what to do about it. Keep it for his own use, and claim they had to destroy it because they thought it hid a bomb, or confiscate it because it belonged to a suicidal member of AQ (with my own weirdest name... not a problem), or do his damn job and have it shipped before I pass out waitin'. Better be careful, dude. Every move you make... I'll be watching you! Online with the courier tracking system.

On one hand you have all those iPad smarties, who put a sticker on their foreheads reading: iGlad (that I bought it). On the other hand, bonehead morons keep on moaning: "You know, it's got no USB and no camera, no multitasking (OMG) and it's got no hardware keyboard, and it's got no 3G yet, and on and on and on...", spitting jealousy venom all over the place. Somebody go tell those morons that the iPad was never meant to have these "missing parts". They are not missing! They are out 'by design'! Got it? The reason iPads are gonna be successful is exactly because those plain vanilla PC 'things' are missing! If the iPad had those things, that would make it the Apple version of the netbook, wouldn't it? They haven't been listening to his Jobness again... they never do! Mentally incapable and entirely deaf. Brainwashed by bonehead Monkey-boy! No good! Folks, this is not how Apple works. Capice? How many cycles would it still take for you morons to eventually get it? Jeeeezus!

Remember the days when Microsoft was going to take the smartphone industry by storm and launched their first version of Mobile Windows? I even bought some stock of the f@ckers then, hoping for a blast payback! I wished... A gazillion versions after that and Windows mobile still suckz more than ever before! And, do you know why? Because those Microsoft software designers will never get it. They took Windows, which is basically an OS for developers, and ported it onto the little tiny TFT of a cellphone. They thought the Universe would hail the buggers with 'Hosanna, Praise the Lord!'. Actually, their monumental blunder was to think of a mobile device as another PC form factor! That's exactly how you define arrogance and stupidity. Open Webster's on these two entries and you'll find Ballmer's photograph on either of those! In the meantime, creative hackers found the solution for owners of Mobile Win based phones: install Android instead! True story! Mobile Windows proved a dog, again! Ballmer proved totally incapable of transforming his kinetic energy (monkey jumps) into the proper brain energy! Duh?

When Apple created the iPhone, they considered that, in order to be successful and attract new aficionados to the Apple camp, they had to shift the paradigm. About how people prefer to work with a smartphone and what functions they would like to find on it. After launching the iPhone and iPod Touch, they then observed their own ecosystem around those two products. 75 million units sold since the launch, with 150000 apps available on the App store. Almost 4 billion apps downloaded to-date. That makes a serious sample to draw conclusions about the entire population of their target markets. And then, after they were convinced their approach was just right, they went out to launch the iPad. The way it is. As we saw it demoed last January! Light and stylish and cute and lovable and an extension to a user's body and brains! In the words of Johnny Ive, simply MAGICAL! With no USB, multitasking or external hardware keyboards attached. No strings attached either! How hard is this to grasp, folks?

Just hold on a sec... can you actually 'feel' what 150000 apps really means? I mean, do you have a real sense of the number of apps available on the Store? Say, you need to spend a minute to go thru one app's information page on iTunes. You read the app description, see samples of its screens, maybe read a user review or two, all in 1 minute! Kinda hard, innit? Make it 1.5 min on average, to be on the safe side. Do the math. It'd take you the best part of 160 days (24x7) nonstop to go thru this exercise exhaustively for all of them apps out there. I'm gonna tell you this, then... I tried this insanity for a few hours by checking only a small number of apps available on the iPad. I'm telling you, man, it was baaaad! I got a bursting headache. I don't normally get those... It has been claimed that, right at the launch last Saturday, 'only' a thousand apps were available on the iPad, but to me the experience felt more like ten thousand.

Oh, BTW, do you know how the system works? Suppose, you got an iPhone and you have a number of Apps for it. You upgrade first your iTunes to 9.1 and then you check your apps storage. Most likely, an integer number next to "apps" on the left iTunes pane will tell you how many of your apps need updating. In many among those, (and more are getting added as we speak) the app creators added an iPad version. In that case, each updated app with two devices supported (iPad and iPhone) leaves its original position under the title iPhone apps and moves on a new position at the top, under the title, iPhone and iPad apps! Slick!

So, why do you think entrepreneurial developers keep doing that? Write iPhone apps, I mean... Seems like 21st Century gold-rush. El Dorado all over again! Name any impossible subject, just for kicks, or any buzzword that comes to mind, put it on the iTunes search field, and there must be at least one app about it. Most often however, there are dozens hits. Don't even try generic terms like 'news' and 'sports' or 'science' and 'math' or you'll be flooded! Is it really that simple to develop an iPhone/ iPad app, then? As it appears, well, it is rather simple. Apple took all the measures to meet this objective, both at the development level via a megarich SDK, but also in the logistics and marketing parts of this business. So, all anyone needs to do to get rich, is just think about some sort of an unexplored user need and built an iPhone/iPad/iPodT app about it. You don't even need to be a developer who knows the iPhone SDK or any ObjC for that matter. There's a bunch of China based developer companies who would do the programming and testing for you if you paid them the man-effort. Real cheap! You just have to generate an idea. The rest's been taken care of!

Mossberg said it. The iPad will change the PC world habits for ever. And, the Moss knows. Trust me. The Moss is no moron! The iPad, he sez, is ideal as a tool for media consumption, without the periphery that the so-called negativist 'savvies' want to attach to it. It's also ideal for communications among people. To write mails, publish content, send instant messages. You don't even need the 3G version to do all that. Only a wifi connection. It's true, some app developers went a bridge too far with their fantasies. They forgot that an iPhone only has a rather small screen for serious content consumption. So, they went out to write apps that are naturally made for larger real estates, but their enthusiasm convinced them it was worth the try. Nothing's lost though. They paved the way. For something like the iPad to come along and take the world by a tsunami storm. Wait and see, you whining morons! But don't come begging for your own personal unit later. I'd push it all the way down your arrogant gob if you did...

Monday, April 5, 2010


True story! I haven't actually rushed to pre-order the little magic as I felt they'd ship it to Europe right after the US. Unfortunately, I happen to live in one of those tiny miserable countries in the Continent that, although it's right in the "eye of the storm" in Central Europe, most US companies seem to be looking at it all the time and never seeing it. So, little Belgium fell out of the Apple radar screen again in their future plans to ship iPads to Europe end of the month (or maybe early May). Only the large Eurozone countries and tiny but megarich Switzerland were selected in the first batch.

That was enough to piss me off by all means. Therefore, I burried my pride and went to ask for help from a couple of my best pals in the US (who happened to be ex-colleagues not long ago). One of them, Tommy, the best boss I ever had in a lifetime, actually managed to put his fingers on one of those marvels just minutes ago, and gave me a call to tell me I was the proud owner of an iPad! I pinched me real bad to make sure I wasn't dreaming! The best news I had in ages. THIS REALLY MADE MY DAY! WOW and WOW again! Tommy, you are the GREATEST!

I guess I'll be sleeping short hours the next few days waiting for the morning after, when the courier will bring me the love of my life! Stick around folks and you'll hear lots about my upcoming experiences with my new iPad. Promises to be better than sex...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Design 'boerke'

Unusual clip created by a project team of graphic design students (Hogeschool Gent) among whom my youngest offspring is an active participant. They even got the first prize (a real trophy) among peers with this particular submission. They used Adobe Premiere to do the non-linear editing. It's about a hypothetic video ad and a logo for an imaginary ice-cream "boer" with explicit 'design aspirations', I guess... Culture and ice-cream. This specific college discipline is about animation projects. As for the clip, you either like it or hate it. I like it, as I should, 'cos I am biased... right?

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2010

Tom Boonen gets fan encouragement in vain...
The Tour of Flanders 2010 for elites will go down in history as one where the Belgian bike demons were beaten by a Swiss superhero, Fabian Cancellara. Belgians took second, third, and fourth place, but in this Tour what counts is being the number one... the rest is motherhood and apple-pie.

Anyways, as I announced yesterday, our shooting team took positions with Bavo in the 'bergen' and myself and Vincent downtown Oudenaarde. Terry let us down and had brunch with his girlfriend instead. Soit disant! Anyways, enjoy our collective work in a Flickr slideshow I posted a few moments ago.

The best pictures by far were shot by Bavo. His gear was a Nikon D90 with a 18-130 zoom, I think. He stood at a point where cyclists had run the best part of 200 km and the climb was hard (10-11%). By all counts Bavo shot the most dramatic pictures I came across in a day like this. Especially the one with Tom Boonen being encouraged by a frustrated fan was sublime (see here left)! He also shot Cancellara and most of the remaining celebs, and among those the American superhero Lance Armstrong (Radio Shack).

Vincent shot the cutest pictures of fans watching on the sideways and I shot all the rest. Mind you, I was equipped with the most expensive gear (a Canon 7D with a 70-200 zoom) but my pictures were by far the weakest of all. I also shot the most pictures among the three of us, as usual, more than 200 shots in total. Obviously, neither the volume nor the quality of my gear suffice to guarantee the best results. It takes something else too... it's called talent, which I obviously lacked today! Never mind, all in all, the result was acceptable, we had fun and we almost froze to death from the cold wind.

Another Tour of Flanders written in the history books with Herr Cancellara claiming the victory in today's tug-of-war. And got Tom Boonen pissed like hell. Well, what can yeah say? It's just a game, innit?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rejoice brothers! The iPad hit the shelves. Χριστός Ανέστη!

Ladies and Gentlemen, WE GOT HIM!
On Saturdays before Easter, Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jezus of Nazareth only by the coming of midnight! Not in the US though, at least not this year. Believers of all religions of the world have rushed to the US this weekend and already started Easter 2010 celebrations at 9 am this morning in front of the temples of today's dominant religion for the übergeeks! A New Church with scores of cheering High Priests dressed in Blue! The Apple Stores!

For several hours now, the net has been simply flooded with hundreds of reports that describe early adopter experiences. TV crews and reporters assembled in the dozens in front of Apple's flagship stores in NYC and SF. Uploads keep hitting YouTube at the rate of one clip a minute, showing acts of unboxing and first tests. A number of live blogs follow the events in real time too. It has been reported that the energy levels and bonding among fans waiting in queues are infectious. Cheers as in heroes welcome accompanied early buyers as they exited the stores with their iPad boxes. A certain character had lots of fun by exiting a store with an empty bag and with his camcorder shooting the crowds as they were cheering on him; he got his moment of glory alright, before the crowd realized he was a phony... Pumping the fists and passing high fives everywhere. Like someone said: "This thing... it's not about technology... it's about a culture!" Even Woz rushed to queue in front of the SF store to pick-up his three iPads - what a miserable show-off this moron is! I betsa he did that to see his pathetic name appear in reports around the world again. Why doesn't he just shut his gob up, for crying out loud?! Apparently, even Daniel Lions (aka Fake Steve) recently interviewed the bugger for Newsweek! If you can't reach God himself, at least you can reach his pretentious look-alikes...

In the dozens of clips I watched and photographs I saw it seems that anyone with an iPad also bought a bunch of accessories too, like docking stations, keyboards, VGA connectors, camera interface kits and the iPad Case. I'll be curious to see which new all-time records the June quarter will bring Apple's numbers to. It's gonna be scary.

In the meantime, those who fanatically despise all things Apple and its fans (like the Romans hated and chased Christians in the early AD centuries) were also in large numbers present in the blogosphere today, ready to spit out their venom. Well, don't mind them, morons... Like Jesus said in his prayers: Forgive 'em Father, 'cos they won't even see it, if it hit 'em in their ugly face...

On the other hand, quite a few among the publicly known Apple evangelists, like St-Walter (Mossberg) and St-David (Pogue), already reported much longer battery lives between charges than Apple had previously claimed... above 11 hrs. Wow! That's pretty cool. And everybody else is reporting that the browser speed is lightning fast! Apple's A4 processor is well on its way to eventually prove a new world wonder. In between, Apple published a whole bunch of new video clips demoing their preloaded apps. Apparently, in addition to the 150K iPhone apps, which presumably run on iPads as well, there are at least a thousand native iPad apps already available for purchasing and download. These also include Apple's three iWork apps. I especially like those. They will cause a major paradigm shift in the traditional Office productivity routine of ours. For text, spreadsheets and slide-presentations.

A new era in personal computing, folks, has seen the light today. Away with files and folders and folder tree structures. Away with multitasking only good for swallowing useless processor cycles. Away with the mice, styluses and trackballs. The new devices shall transform into some sort of natural extension to our bodies. They'll be the magic windows to a new world where common humans are gradually made into knowledge super-heros. Bless his Jobness, who came to earth 54 years ago and even fought Medicine stats to emerge as a pancreatic cancer survivor and resurrect from his death with a transplanted lever! Yes, Your Holiness, we are all true believers!

Tour of Flanders 2010

Tour of Flanders tomorrow Easter Sunday and traditionally the day before, that's today, thousands of amateur bikers are touring along the same or similar 'parcours' (roadmap) like the elite monstres sacrés will do tomorrow.

Weather's wet as usual (actually cold and rainy... suckz indeed) but those amateurs are driven by the flame of the glorious feeling that they'll make it thru the 2010 tour roadmap their way. BTW, the worldwide celeb and Tour de France multiple winner and American hero Lance Armstrong will be biking along too, tomorrow. But for him, its just another training day to prepare for the upcoming hardcore Tour de France in July, later this year. I guess... but who am I? I know about pro bikers as much as my average blog reader knows Mandarin Chinese. That's not much...

Of course, I'll be standing by with my 'assistants' to shoot the event with our best gear tomorrow. My youngest sibling will follow the start of the Tour in Brugge, whereas I'll be waiting a little after midday at the "Museum of the Tour of Flanders" downtown Oudenaarde, and a friend and regular visitor of this blog, Bavo, who's also an expert in building bikes of all sorts, will be shooting from the VIP lounge in one of the tour's 'walls' somewhere in the Flemish Ardennes. It promises to be a good shoot, trust me. Will be publishing the results on Flickr as soon as they become available.

In the meantime, awaiting tomorrow's event, enjoy the photobook I Blurbed last year right after the 2009 Tour (both for amateurs and the Pro's) and the short Flickr slideshow that I just shot a few hours ago, of those miserable amateurs biking in the wet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Adam Curry calls Ballmer a dick and a douchebag!

I had the time of my life earlier today when I watched the latest episode of John C. Dvorak's Cranky Geeks. One of John's guests was his own boss, podfather Adam Curry, ex MTV video jockey and a Dutch celeb in the eighties (I thought he was active on Radio Veronica in the 70ies as well). Anyhow, nowadays Adam does everything high tech, from podcasting, managing media companies, and programming in X-code and Obj C! How someone could turn from disk jockey into a developer and a media pundit, well that's a mystery. I reckon he's made some pretty good dough as well from all these gigs of his! VCs seem to luv him. A great showman. Dutch American wonder boy! Cool!

In any case, AC seems to be a smart cookie somehow and the stuff he talks about, with the usual buzz and tech lingo, very much like the hard core IT boyz are using on cyberspace, are not too bad. In this particular show, he's been explaining why most Silicon Valley reporters are plain dickheads based on what they reported so far about the iPad and what was missing (like cameras and standard USB ports and more shit like that). He said something quite right, I think. He said that these pundits were all missing the point. Both, the iPhone and the iPad, get rid of the file and folder metaphors and are extremely simple to use with finger touching. Especially iPad's new size factor with much larger real estate makes the difference, being just right for the common man to do a few useful things, without worrying where the heck those synced files end up and get stored into. Right on the money, Adam! I said that too, mind you, a few blogs ago! Adam also mentioned that developing apps for the iPhone and the iPad is pretty straightforward because of the richness of the iPhone SDK and the disciplined approach imposed by his Jobness upon developers. Dvorak confirmed that statement too by observing that this was the obvious reason why so many iPhone apps were built and made available in such a short time. Right on the money too, John!

Eventually Dvorak asked Curry why he thought Microsoft didn't follow suit and do something similar? They were the world's best copycats at one time, weren't they? What's going wrong now? It was then when good ol' Adam went like, "because Ballmer is a dick!". Which statement I too happen to agree with wholeheartedly! And a little later Adam called Monkey-boy a douchebag! For similar reasons as the first time. Way to go Adam! I'll start to like you after all...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

iFixit iPad teardown? A cheap April Fool's day shot!

The ...iPad per iFixit!
iFixit is known for tearing down all of Apple's stuff and they're doing a good job in dissecting the hardware in order to help and guide users who'd like to do the same. This way, I once broke up a dead iPod, got an undamaged piece out of it, transplanted it into another broken iPod and actually fixed the latter, true story.

Have you an idea what the f@ckers pulled out today? See here! Yep, Ars Technica, a pretty serious blog, shows off this news alert about the iPad: iFixit has a teardown of an Apple Tablet. The battery was removed a lot easier than they expected!

Millions of curious geeks (me too then) rushed into iFixit to see the darling undressed and under the hood... and what have you thought we got? An April Fool's day cheap shot! I almost had a stroke when I saw that. They dissected it allright! Not the iPad though... but the MessagePad 2000 from the times... sugar-water Sculley was in charge! Fokkin' morons! And if you read carefully, they haven't said they dissected the iPad... just the Apple Tablet! Are you shittin' me?

Now then, between you and I, I don't know who pulled the joke. Is it Ars? Is it Fixit? The Fixit article seems legit, for crying out loud. Maybe it was Ars after all. A credit to their name! A-Holes...


UPDATE: Finally, a legit teardown of the iPad shown here, courtesy of FCC. Sweet! I'm pretty sure, now that some of iPad's semiconductor guts are out there in the clear, some part suppliers' stock prices will be on the climb next week when the market is open again, and after having seen the early sales stats over the Easter weekend.

And in case you wondered what this thing on the right is, well, this seems to be (iFixit sez) the communications board from the iPad 3G.

  1. Infineon PMB 8878 X-Gold baseband IC.
  2. Skyworks SKY77340 Power Amplifier Module
  3. Three Triquint power amplifier / filters.
  4. Infineon U6952
  5. Numonyx 36MY1EE