Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Reflections on the iPad

Alas, I have been so involved in getting our new product ready for market release, that all other activitiers have fallen by the wayside: playing the piano, drawing, walking along the Charles river, sipping a beer with friends. But back to the tech world. I have played around with the iPad some more, both at work and sitting and lying on the couch waiting for sleep to overtake me.

What makes this thing a pleasure to use? First, it is small and lightweight. Second, the viewing angle is superb. It is the same as if you were reading a book or witting on a piece of paper. This is important. You feel less like you are at work and far more comfortable when you neck is not tipped back. And it has to be tipped back even further if you are over 40 – a big deal for people like me, thought I’ve seen no advertising on this point. Perhaps a pitch to the 40+ would not be “cool,” as they say here in America.

One thing that really surprises me here is the verbal venom that I see in the technology postings. Why call someone a moron I’d they disagree with you, or even if they disagree with you. This is middle-school playground behavior. Or standard operating procedure for grown-ups in politics or on those television channels that specialize in shouting. (F News?)

No shouting for me. I prefer silence, or music. Before dropping off to sleep I read a few pages of Moby Dick (the excellent free version), or listen to the Bach or the Houston Person channel on Pandora radio. On my trusty iPad of course.


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Bacterial I

A beautiful, sun-filled and tranquil Saturday morning, with time to enjoy several cups of coffee and further experimentation with Harmonious, the “procedural drawing” app for the iPad. I still haven’t figured out what procedural drawing is, though as a computer jock, I ought to be able to guess. As my finger traces out a path on the screen, a trail of shapes is left behind, rectangles, for example. As the finger slows or applies more pressure, the size of the rectangles changes. One axis of the rectangle is aligned with the direction (velocity vector) of the pressure track. Seems like a really upscale brush with magical properties, but if the Angry Robot Zombie Factory wants to dub it procedural, so be it. Of course, I am being (deliberately) dense, since there has to be plenty of code – procedures – to translate the pressure track of my finger into a trail of rectangles. But between procedural and magical, I will choose magical, at least on weekends!

Bacterial II

Since my last post on the Harmonius app, you will note that I have discovered color. What a thrill! Of course it was there all along, an option just waiting to be touched and brought into being. There is a gallery of drawings with Harmonius, and also a few web sites that discuss the app. So far I have just one criticism. One can save drawings to the iPad photo gallery, or upload them to the Harmonium gallery. But there doesn’t seem to be a way to save a drawing locally, come back to it later, then edit it and perhaps, when satisfied, upload it to the Harmonium galllery. Maybe I just haven’t found this feature. Time for another cup of coffee and to enjoy the sun!


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Plant life on planet K

Let us imagine that these images are sketches by a traveler to planet KrrK. There is an abundance of species on the planent but with a silicon-based chemistry, not a carbon-based one. This makes some aspects of recycliing much easier. The denizens love nothing better than a dessert of crushed bottles with a light dusting of beach sand. And of course colored bottles are prized: the trace elements not only make for a more visually appealing meal, but also add flavor. Love those trace elements! I should note that the denizens blessed (cursed?) with the gift of speech communicate using consonants only, hence the unusual name of their planet. Another consequence of this linguistic peculiarity is that their music is entirely percussion based — though percussion instruments can be tuned, of course. More on this in another post.

Animal life on planet K

Note in case there is a doubt: the inhabitants of KrrK subscribe to a theory of evolution, which they refer to as “Gmmkrkrdd,” meaning to “change and ramify,” if I understand correctly. The fossil record is unusually well-preserved on KrrK owing to the silicon basis of life there. The notion of Gmmkrkrdd was discovered some 4,000 years ago (earth time) and was quickly accepted after a short period of intense debate. It seems that on KrrK, issues once setttled stay setttled. In this respect, their politics is more like earthly mathematics.

More seriously, the above “art” is another test of artwork on the iPad. The tool (men say tool, my women friends and family say “toy”) is Harmonious, by the Angry Robot Zombie Factory. It is described as using “procedural drawing techniques.” Whatever that means, it is great fun to use. (I hate to give credence to the toy theory, but alas, there it is, I said it). I find that slowly moving ones’ index finger across the surface of the iPad works best, with a fair degree of pressure to keep the motion slow and even.

Regarding the iPad itself, my fellow geeks, coders, software architects, quality assurance honchos, and assorted others who dwell in our cubicle-packed technoworld are undergoing a subtle shift of attitude. The sarcasm, the snide and condescending comments are gradually giving way to time spent touching and experimenting with the device while I am occupied with more serious matters such as finding memory leaks in our code. Much of this shift is due to their discovery that the device-tool-toy can be used to read comics. A discovery for me as I come to know better my new country is that comics are not necessarily for kids. Indeed, there is a subpopulation for whom this is not only a passion and pastime, but the essence of cool.


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Well, the software project has been all-consuming of late. No posts to the blog. No walks along the Charles River, either early morning or late at night. No more than a few minutes a day to touch the piano, to let her know, yes, I remember you, you are still part of my life, please bear with me – soon we will make music again till the wee hours of the morning. Nonetheless, I did have time for one indulgence: an iPad, ordered by mail, to avoid the crowds. Despite the scorn of my fellow geeks, it is a wonderful device. Indeed, magical! No doubt I am too close to the reality-distortion field emanating from its A4 processor – an undocumented feature of this piece of electronics:-)

What is the iPad for – for m? So far just a very few things, but important ones. (1) Rereading Moby Dick. I had forgotten a detail of the book: an emphatically stated (and oft-repeated) message of racial and religious tolerance. Remarkable considering its 1851 publication date. (2) Watching a film on the Netflix app with a friend. Japanese film, Departures. Sad, moving. iPad is fine for an audience of one or (better) two. (3) Best of all: the art apps. Below are some samples, not intended to show off any great artistic qualities, but just to show what is possible in a few minutes of finger-painting. As for content creation versus consumption, this is an absurd debate. The creators need the consumers and vice versa. In any case, fingerpainting is fun, whether it is an act of creation or (for adults) evasion of reality.


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