Archive for January, 2010

iPad underwhelming? iPhone 4.0 might explain alot

Posted in Randomness on January 28, 2010 by jaymallow

After reading a lot of blog posts and articles about the new iPad one thing is consistent in all, the disappointment of not running Flash or multiple apps. However what I’ve yet to see is anyone realizing an explanation that makes perfect sense, iPhone 4. There is universal expectation that Apple will unveil the next generation iPhone later this year and if you look at the ship date for the iPad 3g a sense of logic emerges. The pressure for Apple really is on with its next iPhone offering. Both from Google’s Android and the fact that many iPhone users weren’t too incentivized to upgrade to 3gs. (like me) The 3gs really was a minimal software and hardware upgrade and the time is coming around that iPhone 3g contracts are up. So Apple really has to offer iPhone users a real incentive with a new device to upgrade and not look too hard at a competing device. So a lack of features on the iPad makes sense from an Apple perspective.

First there’s the secrecy issue. Say what you will NO ONE knew exactly what the iPad looked like or what it would really be capable of until yesterday. False pictures and wild speculation abounded. Keeping the iPad’s capabilities under wraps until the next iPhone allows Apple to present the iPhone as a step up for both devices instead of having well known features advertised almost half a year before that device hits store shelves.

Secondly there is the software development side.  The iPad  had to first be backwards compatible with existing apps then give a window of time for developers to upgrade. If iPhone 4.0 really is a step forward, giving developers another three months of wiggle room makes sense especially if some 3.0 apps will HAVE to be upgraded. It also lets app developers perhaps wait to update their app for both devices and offer varying features for both devices without having to reinvent the wheel more than once. Also the additional window of time lets people get used to the possibility that newer apps simply won’t work on their old 3g phones and iPods. (thus additionally giving them an incentive to upgrade)

The fact that the iPad 3g is being delayed a month I think is telling. It makes perfect sense to hold off on that product and announce the iPhone with the 4.0 SDK when the iPad 3g hits the shelves. This would give those who are looking at purchasing an iPad 3g more incentive to do so while tempering their expectations of the device out of the box.

iPad? hmmm….. PT 2!

Posted in Randomness on January 27, 2010 by jaymallow

Last August I wrote expecting/predicting the arrival of the iPad from Apple. After watching the unveiling I was pretty spot on about a surprising amount. I’m not going to go over the specs and such just give my impressions and gloat about what I was right about.

Bigger iPod/iPhone?: Well yes and no. It is essentially a big iPod touch and has the ability to supposedly run “almost every” app from the app store but that was a given. What is interesting is the expanded apps for the iPad look closer to the same programs running on Mac OSx. It will be interesting how much of a “hybrid” OS this really is. Again it won’t be Apple primarily pushing the envelope of this operating system and time will tell if it’s the best of all worlds or not. Already from what I saw I liked the tweaks offered to email and calendars. The best on calendars is that in landscape mode “day view” really has an old school dayplanner look to it. A little disappointing on the internet side of things is that it appears that flash isn’t supported. Also unclear is whether multiple apps will be able to be run at the same time. My guess is that they probably won’t at shipping but once they put that ability in the iPhone it will be upgraded.

iBooks: Yeah Apple has set its sights directly at Amazon and unveiled its own reader and bookstore. It remains to be seen how much Amazon and Barnes and Noble will support this app with their own apps. There is a Kindle app for the iPhone already that presumably should work on the iPad but it’s definitely a no frills reader. Though one idea/prediction I had absolutely made it to the iBook reader, turning a page LOOKS and is the same action as turning a real page. (it’ll be interesting to see if there will be customizable gestures or commands for those that don’t want to swipe) It’ll take side by side comparisons to tell whether this reader is a step up or not. Also content and price wise the iBook iTunes store will be a “wait and see” to see what content Apple has to offer and its strategy for that store. I’m guessing the iBooks will be more expensive and have more content they’ll also probably publish earlier than Kindle books. How Apple will manage an eBook reader with other readers available on its device will be interesting to watch. (For example there isn’t another mp3 player for the phone)

iWorks: As I predicted Apple has learned from the initial launch of the iPhone. Included in the presentation was specific to address the business community with spreadsheet, word processing, and slideshow applications. Of course how these apps actually work and how well they work with email and other programs are still a question. (i.e. will you be able to open an attached Excel or Word file edit it and email it back?) But again Apple is at least aware of the business sector and time will tell how app developers will utilize the greater computing power and multi-touch screen.

Yes Virginia there is an external keyboard: Finally bowing to the way most people write with a computer Apple will have a dock/keyboard available for the iPad. (just a side note: since the dock will have the same connector as the iPhone will it be compatible?) Also the iPad will be able to use a keyboard via Bluetooth. This is where third party developers and accessories will begin to play a role, I can easily see a case/keyboard combination that will truly blur the line between the iPad and a laptop. (imagine simply being able to slide out or detach your laptop screen)

Pricing: Again I got it right last August when I predicted that the price would be between $500-$700 dollars. I just didn’t expect that they actually would have six devices ranging from $500-$850. Again perhaps Apple has listened to those that love Apple who have railed against 50% price reductions after six months. What they have done is present people with choices and allowed the consumer to determine what they are looking for in a device. In this you really have to appreciate Apple’s sales strategy for selling to people. They now have devices from the iPod touch starting at $200 up to the MacBook that incrementally offer varying options and abilities. This allows the customer to evaluate their needs/wants and begin at the outset to craft a device with their personal intent in mind. Oh and I expect this pricing and device configuration to last at least for a year.

The “data plan” heard round the world: Perhaps the biggest shock of the iPad announcement was that AT&T would offer 3g coverage and it would be WITHOUT A CONTRACT! Consider that folks. Apple is selling unlocked iPads for the same price (less even) as unlocked iPhones. Also that YOU the customer would decide on which data plan you want and it would be pay-as-you-go. Apple must have gotten out the thumb screws on AT&T to get this deal and it’s unprecedented. This is the first time a major wireless company has changed the way business has been done since forever in America and it was done by a hardware provider responding to customer angst.

Wrap up: Ok let’s face it this device has been dreamt about for over a decade. On the one hand no device could possibly live up to the starry eyed imaginations of Star Trek geeks. On the other hand if the reveal seemed a little underwhelming I suspect that this device like the iPhone has a lot more capability than was shown today. Consider this, I bought my iPhone 3g two years ago and I’ve yet to see the limit of what that device can do. (battery life not withstanding) The Trojan horse in this consideration is multi-touch. The iPhone changed the way people use mobile devices because of the intuitiveness of multi-touch. It changed the way people surfed the web. Now expand that capability to almost ten inches. Now put that in place of sitting at a home computer or laptop. Add in peripherals and you have an exceptionally malleable device that can mold itself to many different users. While personally I think there are real questions that need to be answered from a productivity/work aspect as to whether or not this will stand in for a traditional laptop consider this: my Dad has been thinking about getting my Mom a MacBook and now is really reconsidering/looking at the iPad. My Mom uses her current laptop mostly for email, Facebook, and web surfing and is frustrated to no end when it doesn’t “just work”. THAT’S the market that Apple is aiming at. My biggest question will be weather an iPad will be able to REPLACE a desktop or lapktop especially if it can manage other Apple devices. It would be excellent for the iPad to synch with an iPhone, or iPod independent of an iTunes enabled computer. Especially if you could pair a 200+ gb iPod classic and use the Classic as a mobile hard drive. A lot with the iPad comes down to getting it into people hands and seeing what they do with it. All I can say is I want to get my hands on one.

Hell hath frozen: The Book of Eli Review

Posted in Randomness on January 17, 2010 by jaymallow

I’m keeping an eye out for flying pigs. Two things that I would have never thought would happen have occurred in the movie The Book of Eli. First, a major Hollywood movie presents a Christian faith honestly and without a detracting negative, and secondly a movie that I would definitely call “Christian” totally kicks ass.

Just a quick synopsis, The Book of Eli is about a post apocalyptic world where one man (Eli/Denzel Washington) walks through the wasteland with a precious possession and a mission, the possession- the last Bible, the mission-take it west. In this quest Eli comes across a town overlord who has been searching for the book hoping to use the power of religion to expand his power. Copious amounts of sword fighting, gunplay and explosions ensue.

The utterly dystopian future the Hughes brothers present stands tall with The Road Warrior and in my opinion exceeds Road Warrior in creating a world where humanity is truly fallen. Cannibalism is commonplace, water is the most precious commodity, and wet naps are currency in this world. The feel is really reminiscent of Japanese anime samurai movies complete with the samurai. Denzel Washington plays the wandering aged warrior perfectly. It seems weird to say that the fifty six year old Washington plays an awesome action character but man Eli is borderline iconic. He’s a man who has a code of honor and a quest that He takes by faith and acts accordingly. He’s soft-spoken, even kind to those who confront him, but if you touch him or get near his backpack he will surely f#$@ your shit up with righteous vengeance. (This movie is definitely in the running for the greatest Bible quote before an action sequence.)

The great contrast/conflict in this movie is about faith, or rather between a view of what faith is and true faith. Carnegie (Gary Oldman), views faith as an opiate of the masses, a way to placate and subjugate others (even for their own good). Eli’s faith is honest and genuine in the God of the Bible. Carnegie knows about the Bible, Eli has memorized it. It’s at this point that I have to say yes Denzel’s portrayal of Eli’s faith is that positive and honest, Eli believes in God, that God spoke to him, and that God will protect him. He even admits that it sounds crazy and it doesn’t make sense. (I loved Eli trying to explain “walking by faith and not by sight”.) There really is a deep movie underneath the action and gore. Sadly it’s the “deep” of the movie that I came away wanting more of. As great as Oldman is as obsessive Carnegie, I would have liked to see a little more of “really I’m doing this for the people”. It would have been even more poignant a point to make that a personal faith walked out is more powerful than imposed “faith” even if it’s “for the good of the people” which really is just for the good of the person in power. Also with Eli I would have liked to see a little more of his journey of faith fleshed out. At one point Eli states that he’s been carrying the book for so long that he forgot that he was supposed to do what was in it. That’s Eli’s conflict. That’s his story. It’s not that these deeper notes aren’t hit but I wanted them to play out a little longer and louder.

Perhaps the biggest irony of this film is that the thing that “scars” it is beautiful. Mila Kunis is so oddly out of place simply because she is the only unblemished thing in the movie. Somewhere there was a monumental breakdown in character design. Kunis looks as if she’s about to head out to Starbucks then Ambercrombie. It’s not even that she acts poorly in the role. Give her a facial scar or withered hand, something that makes her less than perfect. Perhaps then the audience wouldn’t have the uncomfortable experience of feeling that a scene that should be repulsive feels warranted.

Even with this detraction I’m going to do something that again I never thought I’d do. Wholeheartedly endorse a “Christian” movie. This is going up there in my favorite of all time movie lists. Go see it.

Someone else thought of that danggit

Posted in Randomness on January 7, 2010 by jaymallow

It’s funny when sometimes you have an idea that you think is unique or different and then find out that yes someone thought of that. Shortly after Christmas I was downloading songs from Itunes and watching Highlander and I thought, “I wonder why more bands don’t do movie soundtracks?” Say what you will about Highlander the movie, Queen’s songs were great and I defy anyone to say that “Who wants to live forever” isn’t one of the best fantasy songs ever.(I mean that both the content and music fit a fantasy story better than any one song I’ve ever heard) Queens work on Higlander and Flash Gordon, AC/DC’s on Maximum Overdrive, (which is the only good thing about that movie I can’t believe Rifftrax hasn’t done that one yet), and who can forget Bon Jovi on Young Guns, all these movies at least musically fit together very well. As my mind wandered on the possibility of a modern band doing a soundtrack the most obvious that came to mind was Muse. They have enough of an orchestral sensibility and their songs are thematic already.

Well someone thought of that. Rumor on the net today suggests that Muse may be doing the soundtrack to Clash of the Titans. Matt Bellamy has told the British Tabloid Daily Star that they were at least approached to do it. Weather they actually are/have done/will do the soundtrack Matt’s obscure on, citing Muse’s heavy touring schedule. Course that may be covering for the possibility that final decisions in post production about score and such are usually one of the last things that get finalized, they could be doing the whole score, or just a few parts, or just end up with one song on the soundtrack. Either way Bellamy was vocal about the band’s desire to do movies at some point.

Here’s crossed fingers that Clash of the Titans will be enhanced by the awesomeness of Muse in some way. I’d rather hear a Muse soundtrack sooner rather than later. I might not have been the first to think of it, but it’s still an awesome idea.

2000-2010

Posted in Randomness on January 4, 2010 by jaymallow

Recently on a friend’s Facebook page someone mentioned a time capsule that was put together ten years ago at a party I’m pretty sure I attended. That got me thinking about the last ten years and what’s happened to me over that amount of time.

Addresses lived at: 10

Driven across country twice

Jobs held: 7

Years working 60+ hours a week: 5

Cell phones owned: 6

Phone #s: 3

Cell providers used: 4 (Sprint, Nextel, Verizon, AT&T)

PDA’s: 3 (including current iphone)

Computers owned: 3

Email accounts: One

Cars owned: 6

Churches: 2

“Pursued” relationships: 4

Friends I’ve had that have gotten married during this time: I count at least 20 (that’s conservative)

Number of weddings attended: I’m pretty sure around 12 or 13

Caregroups attended: 7

New Attitudes attended: 6

Church ministries served in: 5 (Chair set up, Hospitality, Worship, Visual, Singles)

Church “leadership” classes: 4

There were a lot of “too many to count” categories, but if I think of more I’ll edit them in.

New Red Dawn just a little scary

Posted in Randomness on January 2, 2010 by jaymallow

2010 looks to be a great year for movies. There are a lot of movies on my “radar” for the next year but one has been simmering in the background of my mind, Red Dawn. Like almost any child of the eighties I was outraged at first to hear that a beloved bit of cheese and Regan era propaganda was being remade. Then I heard that the “Red” in Red Dawn were the Chinese and I was a little interested. Then I saw the propaganda posters and I was hooked. Given the messages on these posters this MAY be a movie as culturally reflective as the first.

The original Red Dawn captured such a unique moment of American sentiment that I had at first wondered how in the world could you even translate it to modern day America? I mean the original Red Dawn is quite possibly the most conservative movie ever made. (I swear it’s on the NRA’s “favorite movie” list) There isn’t now the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union for a bunch of untrained American teenagers to kick in the ass. However, there is the reality that the vast majority of our national debt is being held by China and our debt is only getting worse. (some estimates would put our national debt near 80% of our GDP in fifteen years) What if China just called in the note? Looking at these “propaganda posters” you can see the vein that the Chinese are taking in the new movie.

Given the worst recession in decades, the general hatred of Wall Street, and the fact that Americans are distrusting and disapproving of Washington in general make these bits of “propaganda” eerily appropriate. Having the Chinese present themselves as “liberators” offering the “true freedom” of limited choice while promising a rebuilt economy, well that’s not just plausible it’s downright creepy. Of course there are overtones of America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and it will be a noted irony in the movie to have Americans fighting an insurgency after all this is Hollywood. But I’ll be keeping my eye out for this movie and hoping it isn’t prophetic.