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Comment Re:Another iPad wannabe? (Score 1) 228

The touchscreen trend launched by the iPhone is a definite step backwards in user interface terms.

A functional user interface should be unobtrusive - it should integrate seamlessly into your other activities. In the case of mobile phones, that means being able to type out a quick text in your pocket, being able to go forward or back a song without looking at the device, or changing the volume mid-call without taking a look.

Touch-screens demand your attention if you're trying to do all of these. That might be a good way of promoting enhanced addiction to the device itself - a key aspect of Apple's success in all its products - but it takes away from usability.

I've filed news stories on an old-style Nokia candybar keyboard - 450 words or so - just using the 10-key numeric keyboard and text-message style tapping. I'd hate to have to do that on a touch-screen. And that's before you remember that the huge, energy-consuming touch-screen would probably have left you without battery power sometime the previous day. Quite an issue when you're travelling long distances at short notice.

Comment Re:Not a netbook/iPad/laptop competitor (Score 1) 230

Something I really like about this is it seems like an adult device, and it's pitched as such: the expectation is that you use it to create, and the set-up - touch for consumption, a pen for creating - encourages you to engage productively with the material you browse.

What bugs me about the iPad as a concept is that it appears designed around lazy, passive consumption. You're meant to sit, presumably with your jaw hanging slightly open, with your eyes focused on a point about 30cm ahead of you.

It pours pictures, texts, sounds into your head, but it doesn't encourage you to do anything with that raw consumption. Microsoft's answer demands more from it's user, and because of that I find it far more appealing.

Comment Re:Real Answers (Score 2, Insightful) 671

But really, why would you buy a Kindle DX when you can have an iPad for the same price?

Because the screen on a Kindle looks like a book. The old kind, the kind which would hold you engrossed from first page to last, leaving you feeling refreshed and full of new ideas at the end, rather than bleary eyed from staring at the flickering, overcoloured backlit screen in front of you until 4 in the morning, after an evening browsing, browsing, browsing, unable to concentrate on the ebook you've just bought, partly because of the eye-strain, and partly because it's too tempting to flick listlessly from your ebook to wikipedia, following link after link, task-switching to read your emails, your facebook, your blog comments. The Kindle doesn't invite you to check out a news story in another tab, or google up some trivia about the C64 or Cicero or the architect of the Taj Mahal. It offers you just one, rich world, that you can devote yourself to.

What's Jobs's vision? You sit there passively on a sofa, consuming idly, listlessly seeking out entertainment put together by somebody, somewhere out there on the web, as your back begins to ache from your awful, inert posture and you get a crink in your neck from staring down at the tesselating brightly coloured lights shining from the fetish object on your lap.

You can't even create on it, because he's taken away the sodding keyboard.

Jobs says the iPad offers a "much more intimate" way of browsing. Well, fuck that. Browsing is disjointed - a link, a new tab, a new blogger, a long list of blog comments, a compulsive e-mail check, a 'surf' over to a news portal. That's not intimacy, which is something you build up through sustained, dedicated involvement, be that with a person or with Crime and Punishment or The Da Vinci Code or the Philosophical Investigations. The web is about diversions and fleeting contact and entertainment. It's useful, it's even fun - but it's no more intimate than Disneyland.

If Jobs really believes its an 'intimate' experience then he's fallen into a black hole of his own making, and the iPad is just another clever device designed to paper over the rapidly expanding gaps in lives devoted to monk-like passivity. The spiritual successor to the TV remote.

Comment Re:Does none count? (Score 1) 481

No that bit of dialogue is vile, what are you on about?

That whole film suffers from the flaw that the directors haven't a clue what intelligence is.

Will complains about Clark being unoriginal, but the only way his supposed brilliance is portrayed throughout the film is via his machine-like ability to quote from texts he himself has read. That and a robot-like ability to effortlessly solve maths problems.

So it just perpetuates a damaging high school myth, the idea that intelligence is something effortless, that the really clever people are the (non-existent) ones for whom solving problems is as easy as blinking.

In fact, the truly brilliant are the ones who, in addition to being highly creative or having laser-sharp analytical skills, are also extremely dedicated and energetic with the ability to keep working on a problem for as long as it takes to solve it.

Any geeks on Slashdot should be furious about Good Will Hunting - it subscribes to the myth that true success is effortless and that anybody who works for something is a dork. Not an appealing ideology.

The Best of Verity Stob 110

Alex Moskalyuk writes "For 17 years, a British programmer who calls herself Verity Stob has been entertaining the readers of Dr. Dobbs Journal, EXE and The Register with her witty humor and variety of writing styles, which has now been collected into book form. In the foreword to the book, Danny O'Brien from NTK says that before the days of Dilbert, Futurama, User Friendly and Slashdot, the market for geek humor was dangerously under-served. So Verity attempted to add a little humor." Read on for the rest of Moskalyuk's review.

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