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The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One

fractalus Need? No. Useful? Yes. (300 comments)

I have an Android tablet (which I'm using right now to enter this post) and an iPad. I've had both for years and I've done some development for them.

People DO use these things to be productive, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Part of the challenge is that even five years in our whole thinking about what an application should be has been shaped by thirty years of desktop and laptop devices. Anything that truly needs a keyboard (like writing this post) becomes cumbersome, even with something like Swype or SwiftKey. Pens suck, unless you're using a tablet with proper pen support (Note devices are great for this) but even then, most people don't currently need a pen.

It's not just the touch thing, though. It's really, really hard to build a good UI for a powerful app, even on a LARGE screen. To do so on a small screen without eliminating "power" features is almost impossible. And those power features are what people really need for productive work. They might only need 10% of them, but if the one they need is missing, that work has to wait until they can get to a larger device.

I don't think this is incurable, but it's hard to argue that writing a long essay on a 10" touch screen with no hardware keyboard is fun. I know people who use an 11" MacBook Air as their primary coding platform, but I know that I'm far more productive sitting at a desk with a properly-sized monitor and keyboard. (My MacBook Pro plugs in to those things if I have to use it for any extended period.)

Productivity is all about removing obstacles to task completion. From that perspective, tablets satisfy a very narrow slice of uses and fail miserably at the rest.

For non-productive tasks, though... I can sit on the couch and look up stuff while watching TV (for those few things I still watch on TV) and the tablet is far more portable for movie-watching, news reading, and light emailing than a laptop, without being as constricting as even the biggest phones are. I don't carry one everywhere but it's definitely one of the things I think of as I'm walking out the door. My kids love tablets (so I regulate their time on them) and being able to video chat with family is a slam dunk.

You don't NEED a tablet but they are useful. They make excellent primary computing devices for people who ONLY have light computing needs. My late 87-year-old grandmother-in-law couldn't use a computer all that well but she rocked on her iPad.

4 days ago

Cracked Game Released To Get Back At Pirates

fractalus Re:Sundog did something roughly similar back in 19 (509 comments)

I believe on the Atari ST version it didn't tell you explicitly like this, it just periodically "crashed" to a solid red screen and you had to reload from your last save, losing your progress and being docked ten points, just as if you had "died".

about 2 years ago

Paul Vixie On DNS Changer: We're Dealing With Malware the Wrong Way

fractalus Re:One way is to catch outbound Spam (163 comments)

I already get spam that pretends to be my mail server and instructs me to open the attached file to figure out why "my" message was rejected. Do we really want to encourage this pattern?

more than 2 years ago

Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need For Software Patents

fractalus Re:Oblig: TED Talk (372 comments)

Surely there are more targeted ways to advertise to doctors than on national TV during prime time. Those ads aren't for doctors, they're to increase demand among the general population, who can pressure their doctors into prescribing things whether it's in the patient's best medical interest or not.

more than 2 years ago

Google Trying New Strategy to Fix Fragmentation

fractalus Re:The world you want is here today, in UK at leas (355 comments)

I just did this math with T-Mobile, I figured I'd break even a little bit before the end of the first year. But it's really going to depend on which phone you try to use. T-Mobile's selection of phones for their monthly plans sucks. A Galaxy Nexus directly from Google looks a lot better, but it's hard to compare apples to apples.

In any case, I won't be staying on a contract plan once my current contract is up. If I elect not to buy new phones at all I'll start saving nearly $70/mo. by switching (two phones).

more than 2 years ago

Adobe Stops Flash Player Support For Android

fractalus Re:Where are all those Flash is the Future ppl now (332 comments)

How many Android owners like it when NO other options exist?

Yes, Flash on phones is horrible. It's only slightly less horrible on tablets. And many SWFs designed for keyboard-and-mice-toting desktop PCs are useless.

All these problems, plus the poor battery life and general sluggishness of Flash, were certainly convenient scapegoats. They're even true. But Jobs wasn't an idiot. He knew that if Flash had been available in iOS, legions of developers would have used it to do an end-run around the app store's restrictions. That's not about money (what Apple makes from the app store is trivial compared to what it makes on hardware) but about protecting the brand. Jobs foresaw a future where Flash became the default development platform for the iPhone, with all the crappy performance it exhibits on Android, and he didn't want that reputation for his product. The iPhone was already taking enough heat from at first requiring devs to make HTML apps; remember that Jobs didn't want native apps available at all.

And for the record, I own no iOS devices, am not an Apple fan, and can completely see where Jobs was coming from.

more than 2 years ago

What HP's TouchPad Fire Sale Teaches iPad Rivals

fractalus Re:$100 is an impulse buy, $500 is not (312 comments)

I've has my Galaxy Tab 10.1 for a couple of months. Before that I had a Nook Color that I rooted. I started with the NC because I wasn't sure if I would have a use for a tablet, and the NC was half the price of the Tab.

There's no doubt these are primarily consumption devices; although they can be used for creation, that's not their strength and the more creative work you do on them the less fun it gets. What surprised me was just how much of my ordinary computer use was consumptive, and that now it's easier to squeeze in a bit of consumption here and there without resorting to a full computer. Instant on, super-long battery life, and an OS that's simplified make a huge difference.

As much as I was surprised how much I now do on my Tab (so much so that my regular computer gets dusty), imagine what it's like for people that really do want a computer "appliance". Apple created an entire market of consumers out of people who previously weren't consumers: people who didn't want the hassle of [another] computer. This is part of the magic of the iPad, and why nearly 30 million have been sold. The TouchPad's demise doesn't tell us much about the tablet market overall except that the TouchPad wasn't what people wanted compared to an iPad. Android has similar market-share (and mind-share) problems, only differing in degree.

Google should be throwing money at devs to write Android tablet apps if they want to catch up to Apple, our even just stay in the game. Otherwise they risk being marginalized, and if that happens on the tablet side it may leak over to the phone side.

more than 3 years ago

Julia Meets HTML5

fractalus Re:Why is this surprising? (129 comments)

The silly thing is, if you do it with a shader in WebGL you can do 3D raytraced fractals in real time in a browser. Doing this kind of thing in JavaScript really just shows how incredibly inefficient at number crunching JavaScript is. I mean, yes, you CAN do it... but really why should you? For the detail levels they're showing, a native application is 1000x* faster.

*Not directly measured. But I have some experience in this area.

more than 3 years ago

Race On To Fingerprint Phones, PCs

fractalus Re:can you say (139 comments)

Actually that's fine, too. If they start blocking people who don't spend enough money pre-emptively then suddenly they've sent potential future customers directly to their competitors. If you stop someone from even being able to be your customer, you can be certain they will never change their mind.

It's the same thing that happens to sites that have a following, then erect a paywall and discover nobody reads the site any more. They take the paywall down, but the users never come back. Any site that tries to block people based on their non-consuming will find themselves abandoned.

more than 3 years ago

Hands-on With the iPad Alternatives On Display At IFA

fractalus Re:If Samsung can't price for volume, who can? (156 comments)

Oddly enough, people were suggesting that the price for the iPad would be $800 or $900 or so, and yet it came out at $500 or $600. Samsung hasn't officially announced their price yet. Speculation is that it will be high, but it might not be.

more than 4 years ago

Our Video Game Heritage Is Rotting Away

fractalus Re:No fear. (492 comments)

An Atari 2600 is so amazingly simple that there is little in there to fail. The PS3, on the other hand, has a bazillion failure points by comparison...

more than 4 years ago

School District Drops 'D' Grades

fractalus Re:How about... (617 comments)

Numeric grades are just as prone to inflation.

more than 4 years ago

Will Ballmer Be Replaced As Microsoft CEO?

fractalus Re:Are you serious? (342 comments)

Shareholders don't invest money into MS to get no return on their investment; they want to see growth in the stock price and/or dividends, because that's what matters to them. If the stock price stays flat even while profits soar, investors are right to ask where the hell the return on their investment is.

more than 4 years ago

Do Home Computers Help Or Hinder Education?

fractalus Re:A challenge to game designers (305 comments)

Yes, games exist that teach kids things besides how to use computers and how to play games. 360Ed makes some. (Disclosure: I work there.)

more than 4 years ago

Rupert Murdoch Hates Google, Loves the iPad

fractalus Re:Logically... (412 comments)

Murdoch doesn't want a paywall. He wants Google to pay him, not the end user, because Google has deeper pockets and it's a battle that can be fought once and won. Getting users to pay would require winning them over constantly and is more work, especially when they're already used to free.

more than 4 years ago

Videogame Driving Skills Don't Apply In Real Life

fractalus Easy. (241 comments)

Stop playing your driving games in third-person view.

more than 4 years ago

Is Internet Explorer 6/7 Support Required Now?

fractalus Re:Why redirect them? (512 comments)

If only it were that simple. Users (a) aren't always aware that they're using an outdated browser and (b) will therefore simply blame your site rather than their browser. Unless you tell them explicitly their browser is at fault, they will not know.

more than 4 years ago

ISP Mistakenly Emails Customer Database To Thousands

fractalus Re:Passwords are needed - CHAP (259 comments)

The only reason for CHAP to exist is so that you can avoid sending the password in plaintext over an unencrypted channel. Proper encryption fixes that problem without introducing the greater problem of requiring plaintext password storage.

To be fair, many systems involving end users do store passwords in plain text because a frequent tech support issue is forgotten passwords. I have never built such a system because I've always disclosed up front that this is a bad idea, and we create alternative solutions that don't involve giving out passwords (just resetting them).

more than 5 years ago

Spammers Use Holes In Democrats.org Security

fractalus Re:A rookie mistake (129 comments)

PHP being dangerous for novices doesn't make it a poor tool, it makes it a poor tool for novices. C is a useful tool too, and in many cases can be the best tool for the job, but in the hands of a novice it can be dangerous.

The problem isn't PHP specifically (because just about any web-oriented programming language can have similar problems) it's that there are lots of people interested in making dynamic web sites who don't understand the risks. Building and deploying dynamic web sites means subjecting them to possible attack from billions of other people. This is a far different (and bigger) challenge than simply deploying a desktop application, but we still have scads of "tutorials" that treat security as an afterthought.

Web programming is not, nor should it be, something anyone can "whip up" without understanding what they're doing. Think of it this way: "Hey Bob, while you're in that level 4 biohazard lab, why don't you check out this nifty tool I made. I'm pretty sure it won't damage your suit. What? No, I don't have any experience making bio lab tools. Or working in one. Does that matter?"

more than 5 years ago

Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

fractalus Re:Solution? (539 comments)

If Apple is developing an anti-consumer backlash, they have only themselves to blame. Poor customer service, poor developer relations. Obviously some of their competitors will be happy for them to get a bad rap, but you reap what you sow. Apple makes a great product, for as long as it works and you like what it does. When it breaks, or you want to get it to do something outside of Apple's plan for the product, that's where the pain starts.

more than 5 years ago



fractalus fractalus writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fractalus (322043) writes "Network Solutions is pushing a new "service" with their WHOIS results called "AboutUs", which is a wiki where people can comment on web sites. While the virtues of such a space are debatable (now a site owner has to maintain not only their own content, but battle the hordes of nay-sayers who will vandalize a wiki) they also "helpfully" extract addresses and phone numbers from the site and publish the WHOIS information in a convenient-for-crawlers web page. Is this really a good idea?"


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