A fun ride through the cyperspace
Archive for May, 2010
On April 30 I closed my IBM ThinkPad laptop and returned it to my old employer, took a short bus ride, and received my MacBook Pro from my new emloyer. Since then I spent less than 30 minutes on my old Windows PC and worked exclusively on the Mac.
A big step after 21 years with DOS and Windows? No, no at all. I expected there to be some toothing pains, some awkwardness during the transition, some problems and frustrations. But no, none of that. I switched off the Windows laptop, switched on the MacBook and started to be productive almost instantaneously.
Apple and I go back a long way. In school I worked with Apple II computers during the early Eighties. In 1983 I saw my first Apple Lisa, the predecessor of the Macintosh. While owning Commodore and Atari computers (and in the early Nineties my first PC’s) I wrote newspaper and magazine articles covering Macintosh computers, and even wrote a book comparing the Macintosh to other computers.
But somehow I never managed to get my own Mac. The machines were to exclusive for my budget, and later I was firmly integrated in the Windows and Linux ecosystem, compensating lack of finances with inventive spirit and the willingness to spend hours on end building my own machines and troubleshooting incompatibilities. In addition to that, two “traumatic” experiences alienated me further from the Apple universe: a rather unsuccessful experience with Apple stock (bought during a period which Steve Jobs recently called Apple’s “Near Death Experience” – and worth many times its initial value had I held on to it), and the outcry of over a hundred angry Mac users regarding an article I wrote for the ZEIT Magazin.
I grew tired of Mac evangelists, tired of the almost sect-like attire of Mac aficionados. I got angry when Apple managed to make even my parents think they invented the MP3 player. And I got annoyed by the smug “I’m a PC – I’m a Mac” advertising. But now can freely admit it: all the time I actually liked Apple, actually liked Macs, and would have loved to have one for myself.
True, there is a lot to criticize about Apple. The tightly controlled environment. The secrecy. A certain arrogance of some of its promoters. My friend Bernhard had a quite nasty experience in the early days of iTunes. But after all Apple does what every company should do: maximize profits and controlling their market segment. Only with the addition that Apple tries to do this with perfect products, while other market participants seem to have lower standards for themselves.
On May 1st I turned a new page in my professional career. I started working with an exciting new startup company, and I switched from PC to Mac. Im looking forward to an exciting ride.
When I met my new boss (blogpost pending) for the second interview in early April, he had a big grin across his face and laid an iPad in front of me. It must have been one of the first devices in Germany, and it was interesting to put my hands on it. Now that prices and availability has been announced I am free to talk a bit more about it.
When I picked it up for the first time I was surprised how light it actually is. Knowing how much technology is inside, knowing the frame is out of solid aluminium, knowing about the huge multitouch glass plate I expected more weight. Since this first experience I handle it several times a day and have to adjust my statement. Holding it in one hand is actually a tiresome experience sine the weight is not negligible. Placing it on my lap however or putting it on the desk is a nice way to work with it.
The pad itself is fast. It is pretty fast. Launching apps is almost instantaneous, and interacting with them have no detectable latency. It is ho working with a computerized device should be: fast, responsive, intuitive. Intuitive is the key here. An application like Google Earth is incredibly intuitive to operate. The large multitouch surface leads to a natural and almost haptic way to deal with software Only in very few cases I have to rely on the online help of apps.
Is it for me? Not really. I prefer the versatility of a laptop – an iPad culd at best be an auxiliary device for me. But for browsing the web or answering emails, for my personal taste the cost is not justifiable. However I can see many, many applications for the iPad. It would be the ideal tool for my father, who does not want to deal with “normal” computers at his time of life, but would probably welcome an intuitive device like this. I can also see many aplications where the ad gets used as mobile data display and data entry device, starting with opinion research and ending at warehouse logistics.
The iPad definitely is a game changer which will redefine what we know about (mobile) computing. While there have been tablet PC’s for quite some years, the iPad the first of its kind to really get to the bottom of an idea and strip all dead wood away.
The photo is for my dear friend Lorna, who lusts after an iPad but is not as fortunate as me to have one available in her job. Sorry, Lorna, I could not resist to tease you