Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Ed Hardy, Jan 27, 2010.
I built my house with a radial arm saw.
*reads a certain article*
I'm definitely thinking that there must be a better way to computing (the current "desktop" paradigm is horribly inefficient), but the New World way just isn't it to me.
Then again, I like power, I like flexibility, and in the case of tablet computers, I like a stylus-or, better yet, a Wacom pen. And most of all, I hate compromises.
I suppose that's what irks me the most about the iPad. It's so close to the ideal with its light weight, long battery life, and IPS LCD (most LCDs in portables are the cheap TN variety), yet so far at the same time-all because it lacks a Wacom pen. I'm not sure that a capacitive stylus will work as well, especially where palm rejection is concerned (touch+pen digitizer setups on Tablet PCs just disable the finger touch digitizer entirely when the pen is within range), and I don't want to handwrite or draw with a fingertip. Too unnatural. I could get over things like lack of Adobe Flash and even multi-tasking (the iPhone OS CAN multi-task, but it'll have to be jailbroken first), but I cannot do without the pen.
Furthermore, I'm feeling this big clash big time when it comes to the pocket computer space. Windows Mobile (and, to a much lesser extent, Maemo Linux) is pretty much the last of the Old World pocket computer platforms still in existence-and WM7 might change that. iPhone OS, Android, and webOS to a minor extent lead the New World. The New World is getting all the new app development, has more stable underlying code, and unquestionably much more robust Web browser support, but the Old World has PIM, Office suites, etc. in spades still-not to mention that if you like handwriting, drawing, or anything else that uses a stylus, you're stuck in the Old World.
It's especially frustrating because, as noted, I hate compromises! Why can't I have it all?
Nameless, I think - and this is jujst from wat I can extrapolate and discern from various places - that Maemo might be really appealing to you. However, the ideal that having control is computing might be in serious flux.
The idea of control... in flux... wow. Maybe it's the malware kiddie's fault? With more rigid contol over what computing means, and corporate control over people's data and apps in the Orwellian version of cloud computing, perhaps there will be less risk of individual users suffering devastating data loss or of compromising the email accounts of their contacts lists through Outlook holes and such. Then again, all it'd take is one or two carefully aimed attacks to wipe out the data of MILLIONS of users when their data is pooled. And as we've seen, even the US Department of Defense is vulnerable, to a teenager in England if memory serves. And banks are vulnerable... to a teenager in New Zealand. And that climate research email account being hacked from somewhere in the old Soviet block and having their raw data being disseminated and mis-interpreted by practically everyone, that was fun. And on and on it goes. 1337 4@XX0rZ (elite hackers in plainspeak) have done everything from getting into supposedly secure servers and doing everything from poking around curiously and sampling the data, to stealing millions of dollars, to wiping it all out just for the bragging rights. Of course mostly they're only interested in grabbing as many zombie computers as possible for use in spamming empires.
But whatever the cause, in my mind it seems patently obvious that with a decrease in granularity as users are forced to participate in this experiment comes a commensurately increasing risk, the old 'putting all your eggs in one basket' routine. And make no mistake, Apple and others like them in this sort of effort are not leaving choice to the users, it's forced due to decreasing options - most of us can't build our own computers from scratch. I've not heard of anyone growing their own silicon wafers and nano-etching them in their mom's basement. And the value of that collective egg basket goes up every minute, as people depend ever more upon their online data.
There is no practical reason for a Windows 7 tablet to be heavy or thick. All the processing power of an average netbook can be crammed into something barely larger than a netbook screen and lid. Cooling isn't much of an issue any more with Atom processors, and some clever finning on the back of a magnesium shell would easily keep operating temperature comfortable, while keeping the screen safer from folding than a plastic shell. Better yet, use metal foam as a contact patch (recently reported innovations there are quite remarkable) between CPU base and battery sheet, the battery being the entire dimensions of the screen, and get almost all the stiffness from the magnesium-shelled battery, leaving the screen and motherboard rather weak but very, very light, and cooling the CPU like never before. A half inch thick tablet running Windows 7 Ultimate will easily out-perform an iPad in virtually every scenario... except insofar as customizations for buying stuff from Apple's store are concerned, as those are likely patented. But really, do people want to be tied to one store? Maybe a lot of people. What do I know about marketing?
Anyway, such a device, sold with a fully updated (retailers could have a simple flash-at-the-cash installer available, their own local AV databases being updated in the device constantly) Comodo security suite installed and tethered to a cellular server for always-updated level of safety seems a better bet for preserving one's local data. Slap both a 128GB SSD and an SDHC slot in the thing, along with two USB ports, and no one would complain about local storage limitations. And since Apple is plainly raping people with their $100 per incremental memory increase scam - seriously, why do Apple fanboys fall for this nonsense when anyone can browse eBay and see exactly how cheap solid state memory is these days? - the pricing could be a serious leveraging element in competition with the Shiny White Apple Thing market. Tablet functionality with Windows 7 is great. Digitizer sensitivity and accuracy in a very average Windows tablet is an order of magnitude finer than with the iPad, making CAD and various other graphics applications vastly more usable. Imagine all the animators, graphic designers, photographers, art students, all the millions of potential customers who currently used kludged-together Bamboo, Wacom or other tablet accessories, or even just a mouse, suddenly being given access to a sub-$1000 tablet as small as an iPad but infinitely more capable. Bring it down to $750 and it's right in the middle of Apple's range, so easily competitive.
Like I think I said earlier, I have nothing against people using a glorified iPod for their main device. If that's all someone needs, great, their needs will be met. But for people who need more, it'd be nice if Microsoft's partners would step up to the plate with something perfectly practical in technical and financial terms, but which seems not to interest them in the least. If they're going to stay competitive, they're going to have to offer nicer toys. Toys which appeal to geeks, sure, but also to the great unwashed and their deep, untapped curiousity about just what computing can mean in their lives.
As for the whole "new world" vs "old world", it's nowhere near that simple. It'd be much better IMO to just greatly simplify the underlying code to make it as efficient as possible and improving the GUI instead of dumbing everything down and unnecessarily removing a bunch of features. The main reason the whole closed-down ecosystem bothers me is partly the fact that I'd be limited by what a panel deems useful (nobody will need this because I don't, so I won't approve this/< company > doesn't want you to change anything at all unless it's specifically designed that way). See: 250+ fart noise generators and no native Google Voice app.
About viruses: A lot of them exploit careless or non-techy users, such as koobface (click here for a funny video! now click here to install a plugin!). But most of those could be done away with by better security. It doesn't have to be a huge, complex, resource-hungry monster to be effective. (Like UAC was)
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