Let The Truck Be A Truck

Let The Truck Be A Truck

A few posts back I made reference to “tabletizing” the desktop/laptop OS. Since that post, Linux Mint has remained at the top position on Distrowatch, followed by Mageia, then Ubuntu. Distrowatch may not be the “be all end all” of distro ratings, but seems to be one of the best indicators of at least interest of a particular distro.

Linux Mint’s main offering of their latest version (13, an LTS or Long Term Support release) comes in two main different desktops: Cinnamon, and MATE. Cinnamon is an offering to make the Gnome 3 desktop a more traditional desktop, while MATE is a Gnome 2 fork for those that really want to stay with that experience. Mint also offers an xfce and KDE edition. I am currently running the xfce variant of Linux Mint 13 on my Linux box.

I have not followed Mageia closely, but understand it to be a community fork of Mandriva that came about when Mandriva fell on some difficult times financially. They have a default environment of KDE, but also offers Gnome 3, xfce, lxde, and a couple of others.

From various places I’ve read around the net, folks seem to be still critical of Unity (the default Ubuntu desktop environment), as well as the desktop formerly known as Metro for Windows 8. Of course there are some folks that seem to like those interfaces, but to my unscientific observations, there seem to be more folks critical of these “tablet oriented” interfaces on the desktop/laptop than those embracing it.

My take, and it seems there are others who may agree, is when a tablet experience is all I need, then I will reach for my tablet. When I am on a desktop or laptop though, it’s because I need it to do something more. Something the tablet either cannot do, or do as well or efficiently as a laptop or desktop.

The late Steve Jobs made the analogy that personal computers are like trucks. At one time, when the US was much more of a farming nation, most folks had trucks. As that trend changed though to less farming and into other occupations, less trucks were used in favor of cars. Of course, trucks never went away, and similarly, I don’t see personal computers completely going away anytime soon.

So why “tabletize” the experience of a personal computer? I know in the case of Windows 8, I can click on the “Desktop” tile to get to a more traditional, Windows 7-like experience, or do some registry hack. When looking at the case with Ubuntu, I can install a different evironment.

But I shouldn’t have to.

Why take the truck (in this example, let’s assume the standard pickup), and cut 6 feet off of the 8 foot bed, taking a key function of the truck and reducing it to a significantly less function? It seems to me that the truck functions as a truck when, well, we let it remain a truck.

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More iPad Thoughts (NOT A Review)

You can’t help but to have read articles on the iPad since it’s announcement, and now that it is officially out, there will plenty more.  I’m sure I’ll check one out the next time I’m near an Apple store. I did not get one since I honestly cannot think of a compelling use case for me that would warrant dropping $500 on what I see as a companion, primarily content consumption device. I would expect that Apple at some point in the not too distant future will have a price drop.

Most of what I found were reviews, one of which from the NY Times. Actually, it’s two reviews in one article. One for “Techies”, and one for everyday folks. I do have to disagree though with articles premise that the everyday people are/will be iPad lovers, and the “Techies” iPad haters. Being a techie, I am not dismissing or hating the iPad. If I were still commuting to work on the commuter rail, that would be a perfect scenario of using one. I work with all techies as well being in IT, and there has been plenty of interest with many intending to get one. It would have been more appropriate I think if the article simply indicated each one as the iPad critic, and iPad fan review.

I’m obviously not going to try and review this since I have never used one. If you are interested in some initial thought articles on the iPad, check Paul Thurrott’s first impressions here, and another articles from the NY Times here. I have a few thoughts of the concept:

  • The extra screen real estate is a plus for many applications.
  • A great form factor for eBook reading and carrying in a bag or backpack. Something I would definitely consider if I were still taking the train to commute to work.
  • I’m wondering what is better for long term reading though – the reader screen of something like the Kindle, or the gloss color screen of the iPad?
  • And speaking of Kindle, I’m curious to see how the actual Kindle app on the iPad is compared to the native Apple book reader.
  • Seems like a perfect type of device to do Skype on, but no camera. Perhaps there will be one included in the next gen hardware.
  • No Flash.
  • Screen is not widescreen format, so I would expect to see those black bars when watching a movie on it.
  • From what I’ve read in reviews thus far, it seems like it’s a bit on the heavy side for its size.
  • Same closed system of applications for the device as is the case with the iPhone & iPod Touch. Maybe some think this is a positive, but I tend to lean toward a more open system myself. That said, I do have an iPod Touch and really like it.
  • I know this is just a pet peeve I have of the marketing, but come on, is it really “magical”? It’s real technology, and when I hear the word “magical” used, I start thinking of Disney music.

I can probably think of a few more things, but I would really want to check one out in person prior.

iPad – What Do You Think?

I’ve been really bad about putting up new posts both here and my other blog lately, but how could I miss out on putting up something about the latest thing this week – the Apple iPad. What do I think of it? Well, I’m not sure yet. It’s definitely is a wonderful piece of technology. It’s a new category though, so not 100% sure where this will “fit in” just yet. It’s more than just a big iPod Touch, more than just an eBook reader, similar yet different than a netbook…

You get the idea. And we’ll have to wait and see what happens when they are actually available for purchase how well they sell, and what demographic(s) will be buying them.

What say you though? What are your thoughts, praises, critisisms, comments on the iPad?

SawStop: Electrical current = Safety

ss_logoOne usually doesn’t think of standard tools in the shop as high on the list of “techy gadgets” but one tool is using a pretty neat technology to help improve safety.

SawStop has table saws on the market that if any part of the user’s body comes in contact with the blade, the saw instantly stops, and the blade retracts into the body of the saw.

How does it work?  There is a small electrical current that runs through the blade.  Inside there is an electical sensor that if it senses a change in the voltage (by a finger, or in the case of their demo, a hot dog), it triggers the brake which stops the blade.  The momentum of the spinning blade stopping in a fraction of a section pulls it down into the body of the saw.   Pretty cool stuff.  Check out the vids below.

Of course, they are not cheap.  I think last I saw about $1800 for the contractor model, and $3800 for the cabinet model to start.

The Table IS The Comptuer

Now don’t get me wrong. I think this multitouch technology is really cool stuff. I can see it being utilized by the military or other government applications, corporations, etc., but when I envision it being a coffee table in the home…

  • Multiple instances of “Get your feet off of that table!”.
  • Will the table really recognize your toddler’s toys, or for that matter, their coloring that finds its way off the paper, or licking, or some other mess from who knows where that they decide to deposit on its surface. But I guess the rounded corners means it’s child friendly, so it’s all good.
  • Ah yes, the new medium for the old fashioned slide show. Instead of having one’s friends and family over to yawn at the slide show on the white screen of the vacation to where the heck was that anyway, now they can have them gather ‘round the coffee table. On a similar note as before though, how will the table recognize that particular person’s head that is now asleep, drooling on the table?
  • I can see a boom for chiropractors everywhere. All that looking down working with photos, maps and whatnot on the table can only mean neck adjustments galore.
  • The video mentions the table being used as a remote control for your TV. Guess we won’t have to worry about lost remotes.
  • Where do you put your coffee table books, anyway?
  • Speaking of books, if it can recognize different objects, could I put a book on it and it will read it to me (ahhh, memories of childhood)? Or better yet, could I put my head down on the table too and absorb the book’s material in an osmosis-like process? Perhaps there would be a market for a MS Surface pillow?

Well, I guess the possibilities are endless…

Oh yeah, and it’s $10,000.

Another video touting its “capabilities”…