27 January 2010

Apple iPad Impressions

You must really like me or respect my opinion in tech if you're reading this in addition to or instead of the dozens of tech/gadget blogs.  So... thanks for reading!

What kind of device was I expecting today?  Based on the plethora of rumors, the device in my head was a 10" touchscreen Macbook.  A device running an OSX kernel with a modified interface modeled after iPhone OS.  The purpose?  A handheld extension of your desktop environment.  Priced around $999.

The iPad is not that device.

Revealed today was a larger iPod Touch.  A device for casual Internet surfing and media consumption.  Great for travel.  Great for e-mail.  Great for entertainment outside of the home environment.  And that's where the device gets into trouble.

Steve Jobs made it painstakingly clear that the iPad fulfills a role between that of the smartphone and the desktop/laptop environment.  It should fulfill it's role better than the efforts of the iPhone to be a computer and the laptop to be mobile.

In my best sarcastic and cynical voice, it sure does a great job of not being a smartphone or a computer.

I am positively struggling to identify the demographic for this new device.  Who is iPad for?  The only person I can think of who it really fits is the consumer without a smartphone AND a laptop.  Owning one or the other distracts from the feature gain.  Particularly the 3G if you own a smartphone; it's completely redundant to pay for 3G service twice.  Why can't I tether my iPhone's 3G connection to an iPad over Bluetooth?  What a great reason to own both devices that Apple is missing out on.

No multitasking.  I.e. no simultaneous chat apps or Pandora while you surf or read.
No USB port for your own keyboard or flash drive access.
No camera for video conferencing.
No wireless extension of your desktop.  Media must be dumped to the device via cable + iTunes.  In this regard, ORB might make a kick-ass way to access your desktop media.
Book pricing looks more expensive than Kindle books.

Negatives aside, why *is* the iPad still an attractive device?  Compared to netbooks and e-readers in the price range, it has a lot of desirable functionality and a package without being too much more expensive.  Less than 2x the price of Kindle, 100x the functionality.  Less than 2x the price of netbooks, better mobility.  There's enough here to be attracted to, for sure.  I just don't know who's buying.

iPad has more interest to me in terms of what it means for the future.  Steve Jobs' vision for the device is not just another platform for the same old media, but a new way to present media.  Newspapers with instant delivery and context-rich data association, like related videos and stories.  Books with links to inspired art, music, poetry, movie adaptations.  Games designed with a multi-touch interface in mind.  The bottom line is that iPad is poised to be the device that ushers in a new paradigm in media interaction.  For that reason alone, I'm happy iPad is here.

I'm definitely up for discussing implications and impressions of the iPad.  Leave a link in the comments to your blog or email me at theryanburke(at)gmail.com.

06 January 2010

Too Many Games

The other day I had to sit down and compose a list of games I've missed that I've wanted to play.  It took me awhile and I don't know when I'm going to get around to them!  In no particular order-

Games to Play
Uncharted 2
Demon's Souls
Resident Evil 5
Batman Arkham Asylum
Killzone 2
Assassin's Creed 2
Star Wars Force Unleashed
Valkyria Chronicles
Devil Summoner - DS
Eternal Sonata

Games to Play More
Left 4 Dead 2
Modern Warfare 2
Republic Commando
Mario Kart Wii

All of these games either got stellar reviews from press, from friends, or had demos that had me wanting more.  The games in the second list I presently own and need to play more of.  Has anyone played through any of the titles above and recommend I not even bother?

This topic brings me to a bigger picture complaint of mine.  There's too much media!  I'm currently working one weekend a month and I can't put a dent into playing through all this stuff.  And that list is mostly the big-budget, AAA-titles I've missed.  What about all the great indie stuff that is under my radar?  Without actually playing the games, how do I know which ones I can safely disregard or live without?  As an example, the general reception of Brutal Legend was only OK, but the game was basically designed for me specifically.

The light side of this problem is we are just now pulling out of the heavy winter season of game releases.  After January, only a couple must-have games will come out between then and next winter, giving me time to catch up on all the gaming goodness.

Multi-season television series are a problem of a greater magnitude.  I need a Time-Turner.

04 January 2010


Keeping up with Katie inspired me to write about what I was doing on the eve of Y2K.

I was at my high school best friend's house watching TV until the ball dropped. We definitely held our breath as the clock struck 12:00, with the notion that the end of modern society was an ever-so-slight possibility. Then, we wondered how much some company had to have paid to have the first advertisement at 12:01 and marveled that it didn't even start with "whew, glad we're still here! now let me sell you something..."

Quickfire Challenge

Happy New Year to all!  I haven't yet written the date with 2010 in it, I know it's gonna be weird when it happens.  I can't seem to fall asleep and I've run out of tweets and RSS feeds to catch up on.  Rather than type out a proper detailed post, all I can bring myself to do is some quick updates.

Christmas was great!  It was wonderful to see my family and get to spend some quality, leisurely time with them and Lisa in Poland.  Interesting country, too.  Couldn't help but wonder why my entire seventeen years of education skipped it over with the exception of being invaded in the war.  Warsaw and Krakow are spectacles in their own ways and I consider myself lucky to have visited them.

My big Christmas present this year is guitar lessons.  I've been meaning to dedicate time to learning an instrument since last Christmas.  Lisa knows me well and understands that we both benefit from the structure of a lesson and I look forward to starting up the rocking soon.

Borderlands is a slightly different approach to both the RPG and FPS genres.  I only recommend playing it if you can secure a few friends for an entire campaign.  I enjoyed the mix of gear hunting, talent progression, and use-based skills with the Halo-esque tactical assault missions.  Good stuff.

Steam's annual holiday sale was again splendid this year as the year prior.  Games added to my collection:  the complete Star Wars collection (mostly secured for Jedi Knight series and KOTOR), Beyond Good & Evil, the Space Quest series, the Max Payne series, Torchlight, Indigo Prophecy, and the guilty pleasure that is Zombie Shooter.  Most of these games I've played through before, but for whatever reason don't currently own.  The sale prices were so good that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to own them now and through such a robust system as Steam.

I was poking around the archives and thought this post was funny for one reason:  the hardly-mentioned Felicia Day.  It was my first exposure to her work and I had no clue I'd be standing in line to meet her at Dragon*Con in 2009!

The house is still coming along, but not yet worthy of pictures.  I have some cable management to complete, we need a few more items of furniture, and some stuff needs to go on the walls.  Once we accomplish these goals, we will be very happy to show your our home!  I used a power drill to mount something to a wall today.  First time I've ever done that, but I can build a computer from parts in under sixty minutes.  Sigh.