I was not the only person who thought the iPad was a stupid name, for the same reasons: NYT story here.
Strangely, Fujitsu thinks they already have a product they named iPad, so now Apple has to fight over the stupid name. Mr. Jobs, let Fujitsu have the name. Surely someone at your place can come up with a better name. I'll suggest iPort. iPower. iPop. iPlay. iPath. iPage. For free you can have these. Or call me. We'll brainstorm.
So today Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad around lunchtime. Depending on whether you want wifi or 3G, etc. you can purchase a $500 version (ok, $499) or an $829 version, or one in-between. But, if you want to hook up to wifi or 3G, you'll have to have a monthly plan. The tablet-like device looks really cool and does a lot of things, positioning it in between an iPhone and a laptop. It has word processing (and can charge at a docking station with a keyboard like a laptop), an internet browser, presentation software, a built-in iPod, movies and an e-reader with iBookstore. Depending on what you use your laptop for, it could take the place of a laptop while you travel. For example, if you lug your laptop to conferences/workshops so you can use your PowerPoint, check your email and surf the internet a little, then this might be great for you. You can leave your laptop at home and use this as a great travel device. Could it take the place of a home computer or business computer, if you have a docking station? Maybe, if you could have a large screen with your docking station. Most of the computer consumers probably just use a computer for word processing, internet, email and the occasional presentation. Depending on how much storage you need, maybe.
I think the question on everyone's mind is whether the average person needs an iPhone, an iPad and a computer. There's a lot of overlap there, but you can't take a computer everywhere and the iPhone is really small. In a perfect world, it would be great to have all three, but that's a lot of money to have all three, especially if you have to purchase an internet plan for both the iPhone and the iPad from a wireless company and then have an internet plan for your computer.
So, I have a Kindle and every newspaper is asking how the iPad will affect the Kindle. Should someone buy the Kindle or spend twice as much or more to get an iPad that does a lot more things than just hold digital books? If you have a laptop and an iPhone and even an iPod (like me), I guess I couldn't justify buying the iPad, which would also cost an additional $360 or more per year because of the wireless plan, if I really just wanted to read books. It doesn't take the place of an iPod because you wouldn't carry it where you can carry an iPod (walking around, exercising). It does play movies, so maybe it could replace your DVD player? Your portable DVD player? Your television?
I guess there will continue to be consolidation, with video game consoles that play DVDs and Blu-Ray and stream television, and tablets that browse the internet and play music and store books. I guess the trick will be figuring out how much overlap consumers are ok with given variations in portability and functionality.
I also think iPad is a stupid name, but nobody asked me.
I've written a number of posts on my research so far that applies Open Source concepts to risk models and to improving securities disclosure. We should also turn the lens on financial regulators and explore ways in which greater transparency can ensure regulators are more effective at their jobs.
The examination of financial institutions appears to be incredible intensive (I needed a flash drive to store the examination manuals for the FDIC for my research files). But regulatory forbearance has long been a concern in banking law. In other words, how do we know those manuals are being followed; sometimes regulators may not blow the whistle on problems at a financial institution for various reasons, including career preservation.
Because of the opacity of examinations, we don't know when regulators are refusing to do their job or when they make mistakes. This problem is compounded as the business of banking (or insurance or investment banking) has become more complex. Consider how difficult it is for any regulator to audit any single firm's financial condition or modeling let alone to spot systemic risks caused by homogeneity or blindspots among the models of numerous institutions.
Greater transparency of the examination process would allow the many minds of the marketplace to backstop regulators and uncover both errors and forbearance. Again, this borrows heavily from ideas in Open Source software.
Note that greater transparency would have restored the public and market's confidence in some of the major crisis management decisions of the past year - such as why Bear and AIG were bailed out and Lehman was allowed to fail. We can engage in academic arguments forever about the wisdom of the bailouts, but so far we have had to trust the regulators. Similarly, how do we know that those vaunted stress tests of banks were valid?
Please note that I do not advocate Congressional oversight of monetary policy. That is a downright horrible idea. I'd substitute a few bluer adjectives for "horrible" were this not a family blog. But there is a huge difference between making regulations - including monetary policy - transparent to the marketplace and to the public and giving control over the interest rate punch bowl to a group that faces reelection every two years.
There are legitimate arguments that immediate transparency may contribute to panics and banks runs. There are also limitations to the "many minds" argument, as Adrian Vermeule (Harvard) has written about. In economic terms, many minds can sometime devolve into herd behavior whether rational (information cascades) or irrational.
But there is little reason why we can't at least have post hoc transparency.
Have you ever heard of "sweethearting"? I worked at a grocery store as a high school student, but this is a new concept to me.
sweethearting n. the unauthorized giving away of merchandise without charge to a “sweetheart” customer (friend, family, fellow employee) by the fake scan or ring up of merchandise by the cashier.
Marketplace has the story of a new software called StopLift that monitors checker body motions through a video technology to detect sweethearting. Take a look at StopLift's site, which has a fascinating video of actual checkers engaged in sweethearting. StopLift claims that 30% of checkers engage in the practice! And the company has even named all of the different strategies with titles like "Two at a Time" and "Up & Over." Fascinating stuff.
By Microsoft ...
<p><p>&lt;a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage"&gt;Video: Future Vision Montage&lt;/a&gt;</p></p>
OK, so I'm getting ready to make a very big step here. I think I'm going to get a new cell phone with some sort of email capability. I left practice for academia in 1998, right before the advent of the Blackberry. As part of the "law practice auxiliary," however, I was able to roll my eyes whenever my husband broke out the "crackberry." We even had to have rules around the house (no Blackberry-ing from 6-8 p.m.). I remember my 5 year-old daughter coming home from the zoo with the pronouncement that "Daddy checked his Blackberry at the zoo."
All that being said, I'm tired of having to travel with a laptop just to be able to check email messages for $9.95 a day at the hotel and gosh knows how much at the airport. Given the new airline luggage fees, I would prefer to leave the laptop at home and carry on my luggage instead. (Although, according to the Onion, American Airlines will charge me a "leaving laptop at home fee.") So, I want some sort of Blackberry thingy.
So, tech-savvy readers, what do you think? iPhone? Blackberry Storm? I've read some reviews of the Storm, which seem to say it misses the mark. But I've heard the iPhone is buggy. Here are some facts that will skew the calculation: (1) I use Outlook for email, not gmail; (2) Champaign does not have 3G yet; and (3) I'm currently an AT&T customer for cell, home phone, satellite and Internet.
PC Magazine has named the University of Illinois -- Urbana-Champaign the most wired campus in the U.S., up from 6th place last year. The magazine looks not only at student resources, such as the availability of wireless and loaner or cheaper laptops, but at curriculum offerings in the technology fields. This honor has brought up the slightly embarassing point that the campus doesn't have outside wireless; only 1% of outdoor spaces can access the network. I might be more embarassed if we were in say, California. During most of the academic year, outside is not a super place to surf the web anyway!
Check out this new device by Silicon Valley company Luxim, which ZD Net describes as "a lightbulb the size of a Tic Tac that gives off as much light as a streetlight." Folks are discussing the story at slashdot.
In May I will be presenting in a forum that is foreign to me. More about that later, but I note it to explain why I have been watching TED more than usual lately. And hanging around Presentation Zen. Yesterday, Garr Reynolds pointed to a presentation by brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor that is about as close to perfect as I can imagine. It is simultaneously personal and universal, humorous and poignant. Her message is so simple that it is impossible to miss and so profound that I reckon it will be impossible to forget.
TED has posted excerpts from a fascinating talk by Nicholas Negroponte from the first TED conference in 1984. That was the year I returned to BYU after serving a Church mission in Austria. Before my mission (1982), I was programming COBOL on punch cards. When I returned, I was required to take a class called Introduction to Computer Programming, which was really a class on how to use PC software (WordPerfect, Lotus 123, Basic). On the first day of class, the instructor began by distinguishing "hardware" and "software."
Obviously, Negroponte was well beyond that ... but still primitive from today's vantage.
Seriously? The moon seems so 1960s. We have already been to Mars (at least with machines), but our prestige will be hurt by China replicating a feat we accomplished 40 years ago? Mark Whittington is not joking:
Returning to the Moon represents the first step in establishing space as a venue of human economic and political activity. The potential of space or lunar based solar power, now being studied by the US military, and fusion power fueled by helium 3 to address the world's energy concerns is incalculable. The Moon is the key to accessing these resources.
NASA is plugging away on the next moon mission, but I have a hard time seeing Americans get excited about the moon again. Even if the ultimate goal is to put humans on Mars and we use the moon for practice. Especially not because of some vague notion of technological prestige.
“A new version of Word that has more buttons than the dashboard on the space shuttle. You need a pilot's license to use it. Have you seen it? It's incredible. First time someone showed me the interface I thought it was a spoof, like that fake ad about what an iPod box would look like if Microsoft made it.”
The new Word combines thirty odd menus of features and activates them via tabs and buttons, instead of text. It doesn’t work with other software programs, including old versions of Word, which can’t open documents done on the new version. It takes me an inexplicable three clicks and a trip to the secret Windows Office button to create a new document. Said secret Office button also contains a Send submenu, a Print submenu, and a Publish submenu, because those things are all so very different, apparently. It is, in short, a strange combination of bloated, confusing, and unambitious, and I would avoid upgrading to the new Word for as long as your tech services people will allow.
I know, I know, complaining about Microsoft is like hitting alt-F4 on your keyboard when you’re in your blog posting program. But still. It’s like the company never thought to look at how Nintendo succeeded with the Wii or how Google succeeded with Google. And those companies are its direct competitors. Everyone in the legal academic world uses Microsoft, but really, I’m going to look hopefully, longingly at Google Docs, marvel at the advantages of simplicity of design, sigh, and then return to my high-kilobyte, memory-intensive, draft paper, which I will revise by toggling unhappily between the footnote insertion menu (it is under “references”), the comment function (it is under “review”), and the typeface management region (it can be found at “home”).
This article makes me very sad. I have enough existential angst without now wondering whether my life is really being run by a 20-something guy who doesn't leave his house very much. And all those hours I spent discussing whether free will, agency and even Paradise Lost were just wasted. I think in order to maintain my sanity I'm just going to have to be in denial here and refuse to believe that I am either part of someone's computer simulation or worse, someone's avatar! (But if I am, couldn't I be a little taller and maybe have red hair, like a nice strawberry blonde?)
I am watching iPhone users from afar. USA Today reports that "90% of 200 owners said they were 'extremely' or 'very' satisfied with their phone" and "85% said they are 'extremely' or 'very' likely to recommend the device to others." Of course, some iPhone users love it even though the phone doesn't work:
Right now I can't make or receive calls inside my house. With Verizon, I could get calls inside, outside, anywhere. The service was so good, in fact, that I never bothered to get a landline. With AT&T, I must retreat to the backyard, where mosquitoes drain me of blood. Worse yet, my iPhone often takes five minutes to even detect service in the backyard. After figuring this out, I recounted some of these difficulties to my mother. She suggested that I keep my Verizon service as a backup. This led to a brief argument in which I angrily defended AT&T, claiming that the telecommunications giant was making major infrastructure upgrades. My mother hung up on me. Yes, AT&T's crappy wireless coverage is tearing my family apart.
Apple probably didn't intend to release a phone that will make me less technologically accessible than before. The iPhone: the mobile device that forces you to get a landline. OK, I don't really have to get a landline—I could just move to another house. But even though I can't use it to make phone calls, I still love the iPhone.
Applehound reports that the "OS X graphical interface and applications are extremely solid!" Then proceeds to list 68 bugs!
Then there's this.
In the mid- to late-1990s, I become a tech-media junkie: WIRED, Red Herring, Business 2.0, Industry Standard, etc. Several years ago, I switched to blogs for my tech news. Forbes now tells us that advertisers are doing the same:
Silicon Valley is booming again. But if you work in tech media, there's blood on the floor. Take Red Herring. It hung onto its offices after getting the eviction notice earlier this month. But gossip site Valleywag is breaking story after story not just on its beat--but about its woes. Meanwhile, bigger publications are hurting too: ... Business 2.0 saw ad pages drop 21.8% through March from the same period a year ago; PC Magazine's editor in chief walked out the door after ad pages fell 38.8% over the same period; and one-time online powerhouse CNET is reporting growing losses even as the companies it covers flourish. It may be happening in tech first, but there's no reason the same thing won't happen, eventually, in every media niche.