Archive for October, 2012

Hurricane Sandy!

October 29th, 2012, 3:32pm by Mike

Writing from the middle of the storm! Well, if by “middle” I mean 500 miles from the eye of the storm — but we’re getting pretty well pounded here in Boston.

In the interest of future context, the “Frankenstorm” is a rare, late-season hurricane that started up in the Carribbean and basically tracked due north toward the mid-Atlantic. The storm was predicted to combine with a strong, cold jet stream, and a high-pressure area over Greenland was to prevent the normal hurricane track, and force it onshore. In the about 7 days leading up to its arrival, the hype has built and built — and as of now, it looks like it was pretty well-founded.

Here in Boston, we’re having lots of wind, and power outages (or so I’ve heard), but not much rain, and we probably won’t get too much. The coast is really getting battered by the waves, and there’s massive flooding in New Jersey. I cancelled my work trip to NYC — turns out that flights and trains were all cancelled, and NYC transit shut down last night at 7pm — so it would have been all for nothing, anyway.

And I just saw on Twitter that a crane atop an under-construction building, across the street from the hotel I often stay in, is about to collapse.

Every disaster these days seems to bring with it new technological ways of experiencing what’s going on, and this one is no different. Between Twitter’s Sandy hashtag, all sorts of interactive maps (like the Boston Globe’s and NStar’s power outage map, live streams from the Weather Channel, and live updates on the NYT’s site, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with info.

You’ll know if we lose power if the site goes down!

State of the Apple: Announcements, etc

October 26th, 2012, 3:55pm by Mike

So as we’ve discussed on Twitter, Apple surprised zero people this week by announcing the iPad mini, a 7.9″ version of the iPad. So now there are 5 different  screens for iOS devices:

  • 3.5″ 960×640 “retina” display @ 326 ppi (iPhone 4S)
  • 5″ 1136 x 640 retina display @ 326 ppi (iPhone 5, iPod touch)
  • 7.9″ 1024 x 768 display @ 163 ppi (iPad mini)
  • 10.7″ 1024 x 768 display @ 132 ppi (iPad 2)
  • 10.7″ 2048 x 1536 display @ 264 ppi (iPad 4)

 

My gut feeling about the iPad mini from having only watched the announcement (and making a paper mockup is that it doesn’t fill a niche that I think I have. I realize I’ve said this about many products I’ve gone on to buy (particularly from Apple), so I reserve the right to change my mind. Clearly the sell is on portability and one-handed use, but there are already small iOS devices that cost less (iPod touch 32 GB is $130 less than iPad mini 32 GB), and much more capable iOS devices that cost a bit more (iPad 4 costs $170 more than iPad mini across capacities). So price-wise, it fills a gulf of $300 between the iPod touch and the iPad 4 — but I’m not sure it actually fills a capability gap, at least for me.

I have no doubt they’ll sell a ton of these, but it seems like they’ll have some issues to overcome to convert the technologically literate:

  • Marketing: I actually heard people on the train this morning exasperated that Apple would release a product with a non-HD screen to compete with similarly-priced products with an HD screen (specifically, the Kindle Fire HD was mentioned). I just bit my tongue for several reasons, but in some ways, we’re back to the megahertz discussion of the PC days. People love quantitative specs, so much that they’ll often make irrational decisions. Apple has tried to get ahead of the curve on this — in the keynote, they started selling it as the “iPad, concentrated” rather than stripped-down and shrunk.
  • Typing: Having typed on both an iPhone and an iPad, I can’t figure out how this thing will stack up. It seems too big in both dimensions for thumb typing, and far too small for normal touch typing. If my initial thoughts are close to correct, I think I’d rather shoot myself than try to actually bang out anything on an iPad mini.
  • Actual use cases: I think they’d do well to find and show some examples of how the iPad mini is perfect for certain use cases. For me, the subway is one (though the Kindle is my choice for this, particularly since I also have an iPhone). The fact of the matter, though, is that nobody needs one of these, and those that do already have an iPad, a Kindle, an iPhone, or all three. Another potential example is for kids — might be fun to have an iPad that’s cheaper, lighter, and smaller for kids to use around the house. Kids that are older than mine, that is…

 

 

 

Half Ironman Triathlon tomorrow!

October 13th, 2012, 1:53pm by Jake

It’s payback time! Of course, in keeping with tradition, it’s going to be 90 at Castaic Lake tomorrow. Same as last year‘s Magic Mountain Man Triathlon. Same as the 2 marathons. Somehow, the 3 half marathons I have run have there been on days where the mercury barely touched 70. Just my luck. Heading up there soon to get my bib & set up the transition. Going to be a tough day. I might post an update or two during the race, but don’t count on it.


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