Friday, April 2, 2010

iPad Eve and a Wonderful Surprise

Tomorrow is the rarest of days in GeekDom.  With iPad's arriving finally to the masses, many geeks wait anxiously.  Even many confident it is no-big-thing have ordered them, while others think the iPad could be the-next-big-thing; perhaps one of the ten most innovative gadgets to emerge since the invention of the microprocessor.

My brother is buying one, and I'd already asked him to guest write a post here of his experiences.  In this economy, and as an under-employed individual I was going to wait this one out.  I was already planning a 45 minute drive to the Apple Store next week to see and more importantly, feel one in my own hands.  And I was eyeing rumored cheaper tablets that may be coming with Google's Android operating system, hoping by then perhaps I could afford one.

My brother and I had a wonderful time these last several weeks considering the potential of a tablet device after both watching Jobs introduction on streaming video.  We both thought geeks who lambasted the Apple Tablet because it was a weak PC, were completely off the mark.  We both have experience helping people who do not want a computer, they just want a device that lets them surf the net, send e-mail, update their Facebook status, watch videos and read books, but  do not want to grapple with anti-virus, network troubleshooting, backing up and the host of other issues that computers come with.

And we felt we had sufficient geek cred to think our opinions are valid.  He and I have been in this game since near the beginning, starting in 1980 when we both lived in the Bay Area.  He and I had been nearby when the PC industry was built.

And I was ready to actively participate in this latest moment, should it prove to be a watershed one, but virtually.  I've read the blog posts, poured over the news, listened to the podcasts and was ready to watch Twitter streams tomorrow as packages arrived.

And then a odd thing happened.  Wednesday afternoon a box came for me, with an Apple Wireless Keyboard.  I do not own any Apple products, other than my wife's iPod Touch.  Looking over the paperwork, I noticed it had been shipped to my address, but had been ordered by my brother.  Was it a mistake?  A creeping suspicion came over me, "It couldn't be?"

I called my brother and indeed, an iPad is arriving tomorrow, a gift from a wonderful big brother.  It'll be exciting to again share with him a big moment in PC history.

In 1980s it was his lead that landed me a job in what was one of the first of the handful of computer stores then in the Bay Area, and thus probably one of the first dozen in the US.  When I had to sign my first NDA on the Friday before the 1984 Superbowl and was shown the Macintosh, not being able to tell him what was coming almost killed me.

That first Monday at Macy's (I was now in my second computer job) Steve Jobs came by to see the reception his little device was receiving.  He saw me demoing the Mac that day, something I wrote about on its twenty-fifth anniversary.  It was my brother I first called with that fun news.

My brother bought a Mac from me back then, and he generously shared it with me when he was out of the country as he was frequently then.  We both knew then the Mac would change the world, and indeed it did.  While I've never owned a Mac preferring instead the more affordable PC's, you have to admit that the Mac begat Windows and the PC world we have now.

So tomorrow because of a wonderful brother, I'll be sharing in the great unboxing.  Now I can write here and in my Family Tech columns first hand.  And my wife and I are already discussing how tablets may potentially benefit not only our family, but her own students.  We'll all be dong a lot of thinking, learning, and experimenting and sharing it all here.

The thing I need to remember, and I do remember most of the time, is the Tablet is not a PC.  It is a device, an appliance that does many of the things we do now with a PC. It won't do everything a PC will, but I believe it will do what it does easier, in a more convenient way, in more places, and without the troublesome overhead the PC demands.  In a way, it is like a car versus a motorcycle.  Both provide transportation.  And while I wouldn't want to use a motorcycle to pull a trailer with a 20 foot boat on it, a motorcycle lets me into the commute lanes, it will go places cars will not go, it uses less gasoline, is more nimble in backed up traffic and is more fun than a car.  And just like a motorcycle, the Apple Tablet is designed for one person to use it, not a family to share it like a computer setup with accounts will.

I have created two new labels for this post, "iPad" and "Tablet".  Much of my postings about the Apple Tablet will actually pertain to the topic of "Tablet". To me, Tablet is a form factor, a way of doing things.  It won't be important if it is from Apple, or if it runs Android, or whatever.  I am expecting the Tablet to be the main topic here, the Apple Tablet just the first important implementation of it.

This should be fun.

Thanks Bro.

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