Two weeks ago I again had the pleasure of photographing Creative Mornings NYC. July’s Creative Mornings global theme was “space”, and all of us attending the event at Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO were all treated to a great talk by astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz (@shaka_lulu on Twitter). Here are a few samples…
I’ve been sorta quiet around here lately due to a busy summer work schedule, a book project I’m working on (more on that later!), and attempting to get outside with whatever free time I have.
Something else that’s been filling my time are the great lineup of shows and interviews over at 5by5 Studios. Long time web geek Dan Benjamin has pulled together some excellent cohosts and coverage of the tech business, web development, MongoDB, general geekery and even UFOs.
So while I’m not pushing much content out there head over there to fill your brain. And if you like what you find you can become a member and get a cool t-shirt like I did.
Via Tech Nation comes a nice audio interview with engineer, professor and author Henry Petroski. On the heels of his latest book The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems he discusses the differences between Science and Engineering with Dr. Moira Gunn, how they work together, are viewed differently by the media and the public and how they’re funded differently. The 40 minute conversation ends with a discussion about engineering’s role in our world’s infrastructure and in solving problems from energy to agriculture.
The Duke University professor has written many books on engineering and design including two of my favorites that I routinely suggest and lend to others — The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are and To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design.
I haven’t read his latest work yet, but can’t wait. Petroski has a way of presenting, both in this interview and in his books, these sometimes intimidating or seemingly unapproachable technological issues in a very accessible way.
Went though a draft of this in my head as a funny Q&A with myself — 19 questions asking if I’d need the newly announced device to help me get existing work done better or if I could expect to jump in tomorrow helping clients create content for a newly introduced publishing model all answered with a simple “NO”. Followed by question 20 “will I still preorder it?” answered with a “Probably”. What I realized as I typed it up was that it all came down to work value vs. consumer value. As someone who is a somewhat recent iPhone owner and a long time Apple laptop user there was no solid work value I could find in this new type of 3G computing device but there is still plenty of consumer value as a consolidation and update of devices we’ve seen before.
Falls flat on my “Work Use” criteria
I’m a web developer working with middle to large size development and design teams. I’m not a middle manager or department lead, I don’t do a ton of presentations to clients and as a freelancer don’t attend daily conference room based meetings. I used the iPhone features I already have to stay connected while on the go, and when I need more then email, web and online tools I need a lot more and need to carry the laptop. Text editing, source control, multiple web browser installs and extensions, fully featured Photoshop are where my bread is buttered and a device that grew up from the iPhone instead of down from the laptop [like the MacBook Air] just will always fall short there.
As a photographer shooting purely for fun this doesn’t really help me for the same reason. I wouldn’t be using it for sales, but photo management and editing. Until there are more 3rd party apps that follow the new iWork or iPhoto model we saw demo’d today [I’m looking at you Adobe — bring me iPad Lightroom or Bridge] this just doesn’t do enough. The first thing I’d want to do with this is sit down with a cup of coffee or a beer after a shoot and get a head start on my workflow by integrating with my existing library, tagging and rating that turns 300 photos into 10 or 20 I want to process further. Slideshows are great if I’m meeting with clients, but the iPhone is “good enough” for for me on the go and I don’t have cause to carry this /just/ to show some photos off.
If your work involves communication more then or as much as content creation this may very well be a great device in the workplace, but for me, until it becomes something more or something I’m helping clients create content for it [more smaller publishing outlets in the future?] it just doesn’t help me out.
Still a great consumer device
Take “getting work done” out of the equation and what are you left with? A device for consumption of media by consumers. So what’s the iPad offer to that market?
A full color eBook reader that matches the Kindle DX in size, and (may) do a better job with the PDFs I randomly pick up here or there [like David Duchemin’s Craft & Vision series for photographers]. The market already puts a value on this type of device at $489.
A WiFi enabled photo frame when not in use. Though prices have come down in the last year or so, good size & quality screens w/ wifi updating will still run you $200-$300+.
A nice extra screen for watching video, video podcasts, or other content throughout the day, freeing some existing monitor space or making me more mobile around the house [someone get netflix or hulu running on this thing and you really get me charged here]. Thus removing any desire for another monitor or a netbook I may have had.
Add a few favorite games or [another] device running iTunes remote to control my music from one room to another to polish it off and you have something I can really see myself using around the house and for a price that can fit an established marketplace and a tech geeks budget.
Desire fits the pricing model
At the end of this day of lots of news, commentary and discussions I’m left with the following conclusion — at the entry point of $499 for the 16GB WiFi only model there’s a LOT to like about it and I see a good market for it [stealing sales from Kindle DX and Apple’s own iPod Touch]. At $829 + $30/month for the 64GB model with unlimited 3G data usage it just doesn’t do enough to carve out a new space between an iPhone and a laptop + wireless card for many people to justify the cost & it becomes a niche device like other existing tablets [or even the MacBook Air].
We didn’t get a magical new device made from unicorns and rainbows today. It isn’t going to change the way I work. Won’t [yet] change the publishing industry. But that’s all ok. What I do see is a solid offering by Apple and a solid start for a new device type at a good entry price point. And for the much smaller % of people that will find use in the 3G features or iWork & email on the go they can get all that, too.
Everyone loves blogs full of lists, amiright? Why not another one? I’ve been carrying around a first gen iPod Touch for a little while now and while I’m not addicted to the app store, I have tried a few games here and there and find most don’t have good mechanics or longevity and get deleted not long after I’ve got my $1.99 worths from them, but these 5 games are the real deal.
Take the addictive and ongoing community bits and gameplay of Facebook’s Mafia Wars and combines them with a working GPS map of the real world and ability to claim real world places like foursquare and you have TurfWars. People across the world from New York to Sydney are fighting it out for Capo of their local neighborhoods and using their influence to generate money and fame. Check out the live online map of claimed turfs and popular cities.
The positioning doesn’t require an iPhone with GPS, and also works with whatever wifi based magic LocationServices does if you have an iPod Touch. This is a free game, though paid version are available if you’d like to start with additional bonus points. Interesting tech, addictive game. And if you play, add me to your mob! GARUM501.
On the eve of Halloween its fitting that the 2nd game in the list involves killing zombies. Bloody, repetitive, side scrolling, zombie killing. Kill more zombies and earn better weapons so you can kill more zombies. By far one of the more entertaining games I’ve played on the iPod! From the game FAQ:
Q: How many levels are there?
A: The game goes on forever, until the zombies finally catch up to you and snack on your tasty brains
Mmmm. Brains… Check out the trailer and more at the official site!
Need to concentrated on something else and clear your head if only for a minute? The fast paced and intense gameplay of Canabalt requires your full attention as you run across rooftops escaping from some Terminator like future. Play in your browser too!. Canabalt.
Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution
For fans of the series this would be CivLite — missing some variety in strategic options and multiplayer ability, but the game translates fairly well to the portable format. Like with all Civ games, hours have mysteriously vanished while playing. Civilization Revolution web site.
When what you want is some mindless time killing and don’t want to play solitaire or sudoku the old favorite FlightControl is there for you. In the game you play air traffic controller managing the landing of a busy airport and helipad by ‘drawing’ each aircraft’s flight path with your finger. A minute to learn. A lifetime to master. On sale now for just $0.99! More at the Official FlightControl site.