Last month's Mobile Portland meeting featured a panel discussion speculating on the upsides and downsides of the newly announced Apple iPad. I was there, and was contacted by iPadInsider.com to write them a guest-blogger recap to run on their site. I agreed.
It's now been a month and they've still not run it; the device may actually be available before they ever do. Assuming they do.
With that in mind, I've decided to just run it here. I worked too hard on it to just waste it.
The impending availability of the iPad has spawned a not-inconsiderable amount of excitement and speculation as to how we'll all be impacted by Apple's groundbreaking new device. In an attempt to address some of the speculation, February's Mobile Portland meeting gathered 5 experts from disparate fields -- fields that are pretty much universally expected to be significantly impacted by the iPad. Each expert took their turn speaking about their area of expertise for around 10 minutes, which was then followed by about half an hour of lively panel discussion fielding questions from the standing-room-only audience.
The first speaker was Small Society's Raven Zachary (http://twitter.com/ravenme, http://smallsociety.com/), who spent some time addressing what is currently known about when we'll be able to get our hands on the iPad -- which really isn't a whole lot:
"We don't know much; we don't have a ship date, we don't have a preorder date, and if you're outside the US, it's even worse."
Among the interesting facts presented in Raven's talk was the impact that iPhone (and iPod Touch) have had on the mobile market. He said there are over 75 million devices in the hands of users -- about 50% iPhone, about 50% iPod Touch. He also said that iPod Touch has been rapidly gaining on iPhone, and that there are two massive growth periods each year: back-to-school and Christmas. iPod Touches are expected to overtake iPhones this year, as more and more are getting into the hands of young people. Young people came up several times throughout the evening, and it's clear that the appeal of Apple's devices will continue to stay strong as each new generation gains buying power.
"iPad is a safe place to try out new publishing models, and the publishers are looking to experiment. Apple says 'we are safe,' and they're listening."
From what Jon had to say, publishers have already been trying to come up with new ways to deliver their products, and iPad promises to be a fairly win/win way to try out new methods.
Jon also spends time talking with people in the "mobile" industry as well as the publishing industry, and shared an amusing anecdote about the lack of discussion about iPad at Mobile World Congress this year.
"At MWC, not one person mentioned iPad. Then again, no one mentioned Palm, either, so I don't know if that really means anything."
Next up was James Keller, also from Small Society, (http://twitter.com/semaphoria, http://smallsociety.com/) who ran through some of the exciting new user interface / user experience changes the iPad has innovated. Amusingly, pretty much everything she had to show us came from the handful of photos and youtube videos taken by journalists on the day of Steve's presentation, so there's still quite a lot of speculation as to how certain things work, or even what they're for. One of the things that most stood out was how Apple is now taking advantage of the larger display, creating sort of 'split-screen' areas for showing menus, options and additional content without having to obscure the content at which you're looking. Pretty neat stuff.
She then went on to talk about how the introduction of the iPhone changed her life, creating what she referred to as her 'night-stand device.'
"I sleep next to my iPhone. The last thing I do before sleep is check my iPhone. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my iPhone."
James suggested that iPhone's impact her life could potentially be duplicated by the iPad as well. Whether iPad secures the coveted spot on James' night-stand is still up in the air, as well as just how useful it'll be as a device on which she can accomplish any work. One thing she's sure of, though: she can definitely see the appeal of iPad as a 'relaxation-time' device.
"It's the perfect weekend device, even from the perspective of a power user. I'm likely not going to be wire-framing on it, but when I'm watching a movie and doing a crossword? Heck yeah."
Then, coming back once again to the youth demographic, she pointed out what promises to be a pretty important demographic the iPad could potentially affect: students.
"I think the iPad has a huge potential school appeal; I walked around with a back-ache for years at college, and the thought of having all my books and notepads on a small device is awesome."
Chances are she's right; She can't be the only person sick of lugging books around. Someone in the audience suggested that he's heard that there are several pilot schools that are planning to issue an iPad to each student for that very reason. We've already seen schools requiring iPod Touches, so not only might not that be far from the truth, but it's also entirely possible that Apple could play a pretty huge part in the textbook industry in the near future if it's true.
"What the web used to represent was this sort of, 'window' into a different world. But all of a sudden the iPhone started booming and it has allowed for interaction with sites in ways that are far less boring. You can do a lot more now than just look through that window."
Chris talked about how having a device you can touch and pinch and rotate could make for really great interactive web experiences, as well as how iPad's always-on network connection and location-aware abilities could make for some really great gaming experiences.
"The gaming thing is where I'm starting to get most excited about the iPad. People are starting to tie in location sensitivity -- like playing Marco Polo with your friends on your iPad at the mall, for instance."
Chris also talked about the challenges of migrating from small-screen-based apps on the iPhone to the much larger resolution of iPad. He suggested that simply scaling up an app to fit the new resolution isn't enough, and that if a user is going to have a nice gorgeous screen, the developer needs to make their stuff look as good on it as possible.
"When we started seeing the iPad, people started asking us what the gaming experience is going to be like. New display challenges, having so much more space, etc. The key will be: don't just blow it up, use the best of what you have."
Up last was Dave Shanley from CrowdCompass (http://twitter.com/dshanley, http://www.crowdcompass.com/), who talked a bit about the history of the tablet PC, how it's failed in the past, and what Apple has been able to do differently to make it a possible success. Dave included a bunch of old pro-tablet quotes from Bill Gates that, out of context, seem to be extremely pro-iPad. Here's one the audience seemed pretty amused by:
"The tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available whenever you want it...It's a PC that is virtually without limits -- and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America. -- Bill Gates in 2001"
Then Dave took some time to address the common complaints regarding Apple's locked-down platform, suggesting that perhaps their approach isn't doomed to failure because of its lack of openness after all.
"Who will ultimately be successful may really come down to 'is the walled-garden approach better?' or perhaps 'is something a little bit more open the way to go?'"
"How open does it need to be to be successful? How much does openness really affect the user experience of the people buying it?"
Even people who're entirely a part of the "open is better" camp likely have to admit that Dave has a point here. Sure, geeks want to be able to use these devices in awesome ways, but, at the end of the day, most of the people purchasing them are best served with the simplicity and restrictiveness that Apple offers them. That idea brings us to the one statement that best summed up what everyone's experiences suggested, one that Dave Shanley really nailed:
"Who is the iPad built for? Who will buy it? I think fundamentally the answer is: 'not this crowd.'"
"On the other hand, what you think you want, and what you actually want at the end of the day may be two different things."
The murmur that went through the crowd after Dave said 'not this crowd,' really hit home that virtually everyone in the room was already thinking the same thing. Many people said it'd be great for their grandparents or their kids, but few present really seemed to be under the impression that iPad is really targeted to them.
During the Q&A, virtually every one of the panelists espoused an opinion that could be summed up thusly: "The iPad is really cool, and I want one -- but I'm not quite sure what I'm going to use it for." The general consensus, though, is that that's how people reacted to the iPhone and the iPod Touch as well. Surely the people who buy this thing are going to figure out what to do with it, and once they have, everyone else is going to want to do it too. Raven had this to say:
"When people go into an Apple store and touch one, it's going to be like 'oh my God, I have to have this,' and they'll have to then invent a justification to buy one."
There were a lot of great quotes from the panelists at the meeting (many of which you can read on Google Buzz from Feb 22nd, complete with horribly inaccurate panelist names) but the one with the most crowd reaction came from an audience member whose name I didn't catch.
"People are exhausted with multitasking. Even if it's just a magazine rack, you can really only look at one magazine at a time. Lack of multitasking on iPad is actually a plus."
To a large extent he's wrong -- Jason Grigsby responded to this with the classic example of needing to add up some numbers on a webpage, for instance -- but his point does fall in line quite well with what Dave Shanley had to say about the limited functionality inherent in Apple's products, and how that approach may be the best way to serve a majority of their customers.
The meeting concluded with a poll, during which somewhere around 90% of the people in attendance raised their hand to indicate that, based on everything discussed that evening, they fully intend to buy an iPad as soon as it's on sale. How we got from 'this device is not intended for anyone in this room' to 'pretty much everyone in this room is going to buy one' is a perplexing and amusing mystery, but there's no doubt that most will buy one. Just what they'll actually all do with them remains to be seen, however. We'll have to wait and see.
Whatever it is they do with them, though, we can bet it will be cool.
I spent about 5 minutes yesterday trying to craft a one-sentence short story for Twitter, but gave up. Turns out I needed another 40 minutes and a whole lot more sentences to transfer the noir-ish detective story from my brain into my Android phone. Here it is:
The steel grey of pre-dawn shatters into existence as the ringing of my phone rips me from my dreams.
"What?" I bark, as I fumble for my cigarettes. These days, the few dreams I have are my only solace from the grisly reality that makes up my life tracking down serial killers, and I hate having them cut shot.
"OK, I'm on it. I owe you one Kandinsky. Yes, another one. Put it on my tab."
After I cracked up last year during a particularly long -- and oddly personal -- string of victims from a certain cocky serial killer, the force made me take a year off to clear my head. Kandinsky has been giving me leads off the record so I can still try to catch the bastard in a, shall we say, "unofficial" capacity. Motherfucker messed with the wrong cop -- and now the cop ain't a cop no more. No more ethics rules. No more disciplinary hearings. That fucker is going to pay.
After finishing my cigarette and slamming a couple shots of bourbon -- my usual breakfast since I was a kid -- I grab my overcoat and head out to go sneak a peek at the latest murder scene. Lucky for me I'd passed out last night still wearing my clothes. If I believed in God, I'd thank him for this one small favor, but I don't, so I thank Jim Beam instead. Maybe that's just semantics.
I arrive on the scene even before the city dicks have had a chance to arrive, let alone to put up the crime tape, so I walk purposefully in and flash my library card at the building's security guard. I identify myself. He lets me in with no trouble, no idea that I'm telling a lie.
I can tell immediately, this is just like the others. There's no mistake; this is the same guy. Same MO, same calling card. He's taunting me. If I could just figure out the pattern...
The security guard tells me the frog's name was "Digg'em" and I don't find anything out of the ordinary in any of his belongings. From the yellowed clippings all over the walls, it seems the frog may have had some notoriety in the past, but I just can't see how it ties in. I pull out my notebook to add details and to see if anything from the other victims might shed some new light on things.
Sonny, the first victim, was some kind of bird. This initially seemed relevant, since the second victim was a toucan named Sam, but I spent weeks investigating the bird angle until the next victim turned up. It was a jungle cat named Tony. All that bird research wasted. Fuck.
The fourth victim was about three months after that; a little Irish guy nicknamed "Lucky." Then, six weeks later, a little bear with a sugar addiction. He had powdered sugar all around his nose and his stomach was filled with nothing but; it seems the killer may actually have done that poor little bear a favor by putting him out his misery. Still, favors or no, I'm going to take the fucker down.
Quite some time passed then, during which I went a little crazy. My drinking became a lot more pronounced. The chief kept telling me bourbon was not a balanced breakfast, that I should lay off it and have some cereal, juice, milk and toast instead. Cereal. Fuck that shit. My pop always said cereal was for faggots, so I never touch the stuff anymore.
I held myself together until after the discovery of the next victim, which, as it turns out, ended up being victims. Plural. Extremely plural.
See, some neighborhood parents began reporting their children missing. After a couple days of Amber Alerts and 'round-the-clock searching, some of the parents found a treehouse, labeled "Honeycomb Hideout," chock full of children. Dead children. That really got to me. Brought back painful memories from my own childhood. Billy. Jimmy. Ugh. I don't want to think about that...
That's when things started to get really bad for me. Probably four months passed without any more victims. I started cracking up. Then, mercifully, a report had come in. I had rushed to the scene to find the victim still alive. Barely. I tried to get him to tell me whatever he could about the guy that did this to him. Little guy had several priors for stealing cookies, and I think that made me a little rougher with him than I intended. Who knows, maybe it was just me going crazy.
In any case, he died in my arms, and the ME said it's possible that my violent shaking may have contributed to his death. The little bastard just wouldn't talk. I needed information, dammit.
In any case, that's when I went on suspension. Since then, I've been getting tips from Kandinsky whenever he can and have been burning through my father's life insurance payout as I try to track down the son of a bitch who has been toying with me.
I hear footsteps coming down the hall, and from the sound of it, it's the boys in blue. I get up and shove my notebook in my pocket, making a mental note to go over the contents again -- for the millionth time -- in hopes that I can try to figure out a pattern. And maybe try to figure out who is next.
The footsteps come around the corner just as I'm leaving the frog's apartment, and I try to hurry out unseen.
"Hey, you. Stop!"
Fuck. Not unseen. I sigh and turn around slowly, ending up face to face with the chief. He sees me and looks extremely angry.
"God dammit, Mikey," he yells at me. "How many times have I told you? You are off this case, off the force, even. You can't be here. You can't be playing vigilante. You can't act like a cop. Let it go."
He grabs my arm and drags me down the hallway.
"Look, I like you Mikey, so I'm not going to report this. But if you're seen here, you're going to cause me trouble. And if you cause me trouble, I'm going to have to report it. You gotta stop with this, man. Are you taking your meds?"
He could tell by my face that I'm not.
"Dammit, Mikey. You gotta get yourself together. I know you've had a rough life... hell, that shit from when you were a kid is enough to drive anyone craz-"
"I'm not crazy!" I yell as I grab him by the collar, breathing hard and shaking. Even I can see how crazy I look right now, so I let go and take two steps back with my hands in the air.
The chief looks both infuriated and sad as he shakes his head and and walks away. I walk out of the building and reach into my pocket for my flask, swallowing a long slug of bourbon. I grimace. My breathing begins to slow.
"Shit," I say to myself, not unaware that talking to oneself is one of the first signs of insanity.
"You gotta get yourself together Mikey." The chief had been telling me that for some time now. He's been right, though. I'm losing it. If I can catch that killer, though, losing my mind is really a small price to pay.
I pull out my notebook again. If I can just figure out a pattern... figure out who might be next...
"You can do this, Mikey." Me again. "Just keep looking. There is something there linking all these victims, you know it. You just have to figure out what it is. Look harder."
Out of all the bastards giving me shit these days, I think I'm the most irritating. I really get on my nerves.
"Fuck you, Mikey."
"Fuck me? No, Mikey, fuck you."
I laugh and put my notebook back in my pocket. I light a cigarette, walking off into the grey hoping that the nicotine will help give my brain the boost it needs to make the connection that I know is in there somewhere. If I can just make that connection I can figure out either the next victim or how I tie into the whole thing.
If I'm lucky, maybe I'll do it before it's too late.
I recently found some bizarre footage from the set of Predator 2, and have been trying to pass it off as being from the upcoming Robert Rodriguez film Predators, cuz I'm a jerk like that. Alexa suggested some minor changes that she thought might improve it, so I spent a few minutes figuring out how Windows Movie Maker works. (Easy to make something crappy, hard to make something nice.)
Here's the result, which I think you'll agree is a significant improvement.
I've been getting irritateder and obnoxiated every time I inadvertently get sent to an ow.ly shortened url only to find it's been link-jacked. So I just did some 'research' and discovered that NOBODY USES OW.LY except your popular range of Twitter clients. People love your client, and they love sharing links. This results in them sharing links WITH YOUR CLIENT. Which results in me swearing and owls being threatened.
This means you are squarely to blame for this annoyance that I face on a daily basis. So knock it the crap off.
In my frequent rantings about this on Twitter and Buzz, people always say "Oh yeah! I HATE that!," so I know I'm not alone. I'm just one of the few bothered to say anything about it. Here are a few that I ran across today:
@ahockley - I consider the use of ow.ly as an indicator of someone I probably should ignore
Linda Lawrey - Oh.. Now I know.. I don't like those links for that exact reason!
Duncan Rawlinson - You're right. I forgot how annoying that thing is! I turned it off although it really shouldn't exist at all...
Woodsy the Owl - Give a 'hoot' don't pollute... the Internet with your shitty linkjacking.
Seriously. I'm beginning to hate owls now. And it's your fault.
UPDATE: Someone from HootSuite contacted me and clarified a few things. First off, they say ow.ly shortening is "opt-in," that users have to go out of their way to get HootSuite to shorten the url via ow.ly, that they are free to use whatever external shortener they want. It's just that prominent 'Shrink It' button that uses ow.ly.
Secondly, they point out that one can just click the X in their linkjack bar to turn it off "permanently." I've clicked that X a number of times, yet keep seeing it.
Thirdly, they advised that I install browser hacks to circumvent their doucheyness on a more permanent basis:
and that if I want to keep my content from being linkjacked, that I should just install 'framebusting' code which has been used for years. Great, so I need to take action to prevent not only myself from being affected, but also my content. Douchey.
There you have it, straight from the owl's beak. They know what they're doing is douchey, but don't give a hoot. The solution offered is a really simple one, though: "Don't click on the links your friends send you."
And that's the plan. I hope you'll keep this in mind when you decide how you want to share links.
UPDATE UPDATE: I asked why they jack links if the service doesn't make them any money. This was the reply: