Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Technological Unintended Consequences

You guys know I've been pretty happy with my iPad. The biggest benefit of the tablet is that it has unshackled me from the 6+ pounds of my laptop, which I've carted around the world for years and years. I've always been puzzled about the direction laptops took over the years. My second computer (first was an IBM PC) was a...pause for effect...Osborne CPM machine (pictured above) back in 1981 or so. Lucky I didn't go blind on that little 5-inch screen, but I did manage to write a couple of books on it, including one that used a pretty nifty database I put together. I sort of wish I still had the old thing, but last I heard it was being used as a doorstop in some non-profit's office.

Early on, I got hold of one of the NEC "notebook" computers (a friend of mine was their flack) that were never in widespread distribution. It was a wonderful little monster, only good for word processing but I used it all the time. And yes, I did have an Apple Newton, but in my defense I'd like to point out that I was writing for the Chicago Tribune News Syndicate at the time as one of their computer "experts," and they chipped in the money for me to buy the thing and try it out. I spent hours inputing my address book, personal data, etc...and it crashed...I spent hours inputing my address book, personal data, etc...and it get the picture. Plus, it would only "recognize" my handwriting if I wrote with my left hand. I discovered the Newton a couple of years ago in a box in the basement, and I think I finally threw it away.

Anyway, the iPad is what I always wanted...light, fast, always connected, able to do almost anything I wanted to do on the road. I have an app for podcast that I'm working with, and my Blue Snowball USB mic will connect through the iPad's camera connection audio editing, which is the only thing holding me up there. Ideally, I'd like a subset of GarageBand, my primary audio editing tool. Since the iPad already has a subset of iWork, I'm hoping GarageBand is in the future.

So, as to the unintended consequence, I don't ready the pathetic dead tree media anymore. I whip through the news, RSS feeds, etc. every morning while swilling coffee like a crazy person. I previously did this on a laptop, and every time I came across something interesting, I'd pop it onto the MB Blog. In fact, I wrote most of my blog posts over coffee in the AM. Since I changed to the iPad as my morning "paper," my blog posting has dropped, because that's harder to do on the iPad than a laptop (or maybe I just haven't ramped up to full speed on using the iPad). It's also harder to use the internal keyboard...I have a wireless keyboard, but I'm still figuring out how to juggle the keyboard, the iPad and coffee at the same time.

So this is my excuse for the relatively light blog posting...I'm working on it!

BTW, David Crane over at Defense Review has a great article on the Reset Rifle-Integrated Power Rail, essentially a powered accessory rail for the AR platform and/or next-gen battle rifles:
Manufactured and marketed by RESET Inc. as an “integrated powered rail adapter for any tactical weapon”, the RIPR is designed to act as a central power source and thus obviate the need for multiple batteries types for tactical rifle/carbine/SBR accessories like combat optics, laser designators/illuminators a.k.a. targeting lasers/illuminators, and tactical white lights.
My friend Clyde Caceres had one of these at Wes Doss' conference a few weeks ago and I spent a bunch of time with it. It's an interesting concept...a central battery driving a powered rail, so accessories could be made smaller and lighter. David quite correctly notes a number of potential problems in his article (so read it!), but this may be the way military weapons are heading. My understanding is that the system can also carry a data pipe, allowing real time GPS feeds, information updates, all kinds of Starship Troopers stuff. Worth keeping an eye on, n'est-ce pas?


rick said...

So using your iPad in the mornings, do you feel just like astronauts Poole & Bowman from 2001?

John Richardson said...

That Osborne brings back memories of my first computer - a Kaypro 4 +88. It has a 9" screen and TWO floppy drives. It only cost $2499 plus tax but it did come with some software. It also included MS-DOS v. 1.25.

Will said...

When they figure out how to put a battery somewhere else, it might be viable. Seems most hate the Redi-Mag that looks/sits in the same place. No weight savings with that honking huge thing! Better to wait until they get the nano-tube capacitors on the market. That will probably replace most batteries.

nj_larry said...

If you can't attach a teletype to the thing it ain't worth a damn.

Overload in Colorado said...

Voice to text entry is the future! No keyboard or touch screen needed. The voice entry on Android phones is OK, but needs to be better before it replaces the keyboard; give it a few years.

Just like Lorne Greene in Battlestar Galactica. Sci-Fi to reality in 30 years.

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