Magical…

Magical. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." --Arthur C. Clarke

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“Ook ook ack! Eeeeeek! OOOK!” [Trans: "My God, it's full of apps... " ]

I usually don’t repeat subjects, and I JUST reviewed the iPad2. But sometimes a marketing campaign can trod over the same raw nerve so many times before one has to spout off on it.

I don’t want to get off on a rant here but…

Apple’s overuse of the word “magical” when promoting the iPad just gets under my skin. Actually it annoys the poop out of me. Probably because it’s patently horseshit. It’s a piece of TECHNOLOGY, people, not the gorram Philosopher’s stone. We’re not a bunch of knuckle dragging homo habilis hominids howling and flinging rocks, sticks and poop at the frakkin’ monolith. Sometimes I wonder what Apple’s marketing people think of their audience. I do realize what they’re getting at, the idea of an information appliance so immediate and intuitive to use, that the actual interface disappears and you become immersed in just using the thing.

Yes, iPads are damn clever little machines. Actually, they’re right proper little slabs of electric crack, they’re so fun. Despite the absence of Flash, (and in all fairness, Flash ain’t working too well on competing Android tablets yet) I am still quite impressed with Apple’s technical (and marketing) achievement with the device. It is the user interface advances of iOS that does it, and beats down the scrambling competition. You just pick the thing up, you get it, and it just bloody works. Which if you’ve ever had to deal with computers for any length of time, Mac or PC, that feat alone is almost Nobel prize worthy. And seriously folks, this comparatively ancient Power Mac G5, with Gigabytes of RAM, an LCD display, Intuos tablet, internal RAID and Terabyte external drive is pretty frakkin’ Star Trek tech compared to the 48K Atari 800 I first mucked about with in the 80s…

And Yes, it’s been rightly proclaimed that Apple did not make iPads for Power users, guys like me, tho’ I still like the things. Nor did they build them for Tech Geeks, who heap piles of abuse on Apple for all the geeky thinks that the iPad is not, and trumpet the raw specs and “open” platform of the Android powered Competition. Geeky types actually seem to prefer their technology to be complex and challenging and glory in getting in there and tinkering and customizing their tech to their liking. But the general consensus out there is that the three significant players, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, and the still-in-the-pipe RIM Playbook, all have their issues. The majority of the rest are still so much vaporware or decidedly crappy knock offs..

But for the most part, everyday folk, and a surprising number of professional people (outside the computer tech fields), couldn’t care less about the deep specs or getting under the hood to tinker with the OS, or manually install pirate apps (or Pr0n). Like owning a fast Italian sports car, unless you’re, as the Top Gear lot might say, a “complete motorhead”, you don’t want to spend all day “mucking about under the bonnet.” You just want to get in and DRIVE. Drive FAST. And I might add, without the motor dropping out or needing to re-build the gearbox every random 2 to 200 miles.

My son quite rightfully points out that most people haven’t the faintest idea how a semiconducting transistor works. A lot of folks don’t even know what they are, nor need to. True enough. I’m something of a technologist, as necessary being a design professional in this digital age, and my knowledge of the physics and details semiconductor technology is sketchy. But I DO have an appropriate general knowledge of how my computer works, and I am well aware that’s it’s a piece of technology. I might not be able to build one from scratch, but I probably could assemble one. I certainly maintain the one I am writing this rant on.

The iPad is a piece of technology, advanced, arguably cutting edge, but still technology. All due respect to Arthur C Clarke’s famous axiom, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” it’s not a magical black box. We’ve been out of the trees and caves for a while now, and can even use fire and tools. I’ll thank the people at Apple to consider that we’re grown-up’s and live in a technological society and stop insulting my intelligence. No one should expect to open up an iPad and find leprechauns and unicorns drawing on the back of the screen with rainbow crayons.

That’s just my opinion, and frak ‘em if they think I’m wrong.

OK, got that out of my system. I expect to have more constructive things to say next time. B4nz41.

Oh. Apologies to Stanley Kubrik and Apple, but hey…

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