Eating some anti-iPad crow

Well, time to eat some crow… I sit here in a hotel in Akron, looking forward to the Spokesman Club Ladies Event tomorrow morning, and typing this blog post on my new iPad using a wireless keyboard. My negative feelings about the iPad (I quote my first review in full: “Bleh. It’s just a giant iPhone.”) are on record on this blog, as are the more positive and enthusiastic comments from others and the warming of my attitude. Here’s a fairly thorough, chronological list for those who are interested in perusing (though I’m not sure why you’d want to!):

You’ll notice that the tone mellows after the initial rant and that the last post–by an anonymous guest reviewer–is pretty spot on and even prophetic in places, given that it was still discussing the 1st generation iPad. But beyond the “warming” noted in those posts, several things have changed since then.

For one, I feel like I am watching Microsoft implode before my very eyes. One of our local malls now has a Microsoft Store, like Apple has its Apple Store. In fact, both stores exist on the same floor of the mall, though mercifully they do not exist side-by-side. If you have been in an Apple Store but not a Microsoft Store, it is easy (with just a little oversimplification) to describe the latter fairly completely by comparing it to the former. The Microsoft Store looks like an Apple Store, except the clean, white, “Ship of Lights from the 1970s Battlestar Galactica” theme is replaced by a more varied and colorful theme that is probably supposed to say, mainly, “Look, we’re not copying the Apple store because, hey, colors.”

“All I remember is flying my Colonial Viper, and now I wake up in an Apple Store!”

I was excited when I saw the store was coming to the mall, but now that it is here it is just depressing. The Apple store is always chock full of customers and happy blue-shirted service reps running around helping them buy goodies, while the Microsoft store is almost always completely devoid of customers, with not-as-happy colorful-shirted employees mainly stand there with no customers to talk to unless they are playing X-box games with each other or Fruit Ninja on a big screen. And when I say “devoid of customers” I really do mean devoid of customers. Barren. Just barren.

Back when I was excited about the potential of the new Surface tablets (which did one of their commercials at the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena, by the way–the “angry, dancing school girls” commercial), my good friend and Apple-phile John Robinson sent me some “intervention” e-mails to help me see through the haze, and it wasn’t pretty. While I still have hopes for (a future version of) Surface if Microsoft survives, I’m not so hopeful that Microsoft will survive. I still don’t think that iPad fully demonstrates the possibilities of a tablet computer, and I do like the brief demo that Josh Penman gave me during a visit at HQ where he actually printed a Word document off of his Surface to a local printer with an ease that real computers should be able to do, but none of those things has proven enough to prevent me from submitting to the Borg’s siren call. (“You will be assimilated into the Apple ecosystem. Resistance is futile.”) And the depressingly empty Microsoft store has only enhanced my concerns about the company’s future prospects.

The other things that helped me switch over were minor, but they built up over time. My concerns about the ergonomics and awkwardness of typing on the same geometric plane you were reading were eased the first time I saw Phil Sena using his wireless keyboard Bluetooth-paired with an iPad propped up on an Origami workstation (in fact, the very same set up I am using now). I had long been sold on the quality of MacBook Pros, having seen a few upclose, like Adam West’s, and bought my wife one last year to replace her old, well-used, even-survived-a-sweet-tea-on-the-keyboard-spill MacBook. I knew that various programs would allow you to run Windows software on a Mac if you needed it (still no Apple substitute for MS Access out there that I’ve seen), and I had long thought it would be nice to have a MacBook Pro for myself, or even a desktop Mac (you know–if all of a sudden a meteor made of money landed intact in my yard). I’ve never been anti-Apple–other than for the sake of ribbing Mr. Sena, which someone should do–and I’ve loved every iPhone I’ve owned.

But I have been anti-iPad. And some of my criticisms still stick, methinks. I mentioned the fact that it seems to still fall short of what I would want from a “tablet computer” and I would love for Surface to make that come true with whatever operating system they decide to create, if they survive, after Windows 8 is banished to an OS Nether-realm. I don’t like that the “real Internet” (as the original iPhone commercials used to talk about as they zoomed in on a digitized copy of the New York Times) still isn’t really the “real Internet” (as demonstrated by the fact that my attempts to post this blog in WordPress through Safari were frustrating and forced me to stop and compose most of it in the WordPress App while I go to the full WordPress site to do some final touches). And being micromanaged by the ghost of Steve Jobs is a bit frustrating after being so used to the complete freedom to tinker/modify/accidentally destroy that is PC ownership.

However, I understand the micromanagement concept and the ecosystem that it helps to enable. And, frankly, I’ve been tempted by the idea long enough that I think I will move into the ecosystem completely. I’ve got an iPhone, as does my Beautiful Wife. She has a MacBook Pro. She has an iPad mini I bought for her, and now I have an iPad. (I think she requested a mini because she didn’t think I would spring for a full-sized iPad. Then I bought me one. I might be in trouble…)

My next steps are currently projected to be these: Buy a Mac Mini–which is way easier to imagine affording sometime in the foreseeable future than its more complete siblings–for use as my desktop, and then experiment with an iPad/iPhone-only mobile computing existence. I would sell my current laptop and hope to help pay for part of the cost of getting MS Office (at least Word and Excel) for the Mac. If those steps will happen, when will they happen? I’m not sure, but I will report back if that money meteor hits the yard.

The saddest thing for me? Not that I have to eat some crow. I’ve eaten crow before. It’s not so bad if you cook it right. (Note to undiscerning rumor-monkeys: I don’t mean literal crow.)

No, The saddest thing for me about deciding to switch from a PC-based existence to an Apple-based one is that it feels like Han Solo deciding to sell the Millennium Falcon and get an Enterprise D. But an Enterprise fits my needs better these days, methinks, just like a nice minivan fits my needs better these days than the old 1972 Four-Door, No-Air-Conditioning-In-Texas, Metallic-Blue Chevy Nova named Euclid that, to this day, I still wish I had.

But maybe in a crazy world where J. J. Abrams is directing both Star Trek and Star Wars, anything is possible. (Though if I see a single lens flare in Episode VII, I’m suing.)

And if Microsoft gets its act together and begins bundling Wookies as standard issue, I might be back.

32 thoughts on “Eating some anti-iPad crow

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    As long as we’re making analogies with Star Trek:

    “I don’t know whether to congratulate you or not, Jim.”
    I wouldn’t.”


    You are now in the Undiscovered Country, if not the Twilight Zone. But… welcome to the Apple Ecosystem, of which I now seem to be very nearly an integrated part. (Well, I will be if and when I replace these Windows laptops.)

  2. Wade Brown

    Welcome aboard the Enterprise! I embarked just this past Wednesday! The missus and Mom surprised me with one and I’m coming to find it a handy little tool. Mr Sena is very proud of me, to say the least.

  3. Texasborn

    I may have already posted these comments here before. There was a funny cartoon posted on Facebook that displayed the result of a “gotta-have-it-now!” Mac’s fanatic desire to buy the very latest on Apple computer devices as each one came into being: iPod, iPhone, iPad…iBroke!!

  4. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Hey, I just watched that scene from the old Battlestar Galactica a week or two ago! 😀

  5. Steven

    Perhaps the easiest way to compare Apple to the PC is to use the legendary quote my brother always uses “Apple is for entertainment and the PC is for Business”. The fact that Apple stores are “flooded” with customers only proves that the “average person” is more interested in “entertainment” than a business machine. That’s a sad reflection on society.

    Fact is, The CIA, FBI, The National Weather Service, United States Military, NASA and the New York Stock Exchange (and every other stock exchange for that matter) all use PC machines….Why? It’s because of the PC’s ability to handle vastly more complex scenarios and business-type of software than any Apple computer could even dream of measuring up to. To use a Star Trek TNG analogy (yet again), it would be like comparing “Commander Data” (being an Apple computer) to the “Nth Degree” version of “Barclay” (being a PC computer) – there is no comparison. Last time I checked, Blue Gene/Q is a PC computer. Why hasn’t Apple tried to build one? If they even tried, no one would take them seriously. Again, back to my brother’s famous quote.

    As a highly successful businessman and investor, I can most certainly say that anyone who walks into a business meeting with an “iPhone” is laughed at and not taken seriously at all. Of course, my firm only uses the BlackBerry device (for obvious reasons). The only complaint with the new BlackBerry Z10 is that it lacks a version with a “physical keyboard”. I checked with BlackBerry over the weekend, and I was assured that it will indeed be available by the end of this month. Bottom line: As one of my business colleagues put it “The kind of device you use reflects the user using it”.

  6. Wow. I’m not sure, Steven, why you are consistently (1) so judgmental about things, and (2) such a braggart. On the latter item, I can only recommend (again) John 5:31, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true,” and I will add John 7:18, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory.” What deficiencies exist in you that you constantly have to brag about yourself as if your ideas can’t stand on their own?

    On the first item, I have no help for you.

    But to the substance of your weird “Steven Schembri is, once again, shown to be smarter than most other mortals, who are, in fact, morons or degernates” comment, I have no problem with Microsoft being used by most businesses. I love Microsoft. I hope I can return to them. (You did read the post, right? You tend to look at the words and not read it…) There are many reasons for businesses to love Microsoft (before Windows 8, at least, which I hear many businesses absolutely hate). Unlike with Apple, your IT guys can “open up the hood” to tweak and change more easily. It has massive Third Party support in terms of software and equipment. As I mentioned in the post, I would want to get something that would allow me to run MS Access on a Mac, since I still see no Apple-based DB alternative that even comes close, and MS’s Office for the Mac does not include it.

    However, these things don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the products, as you seem to so ignorantly imply. The experts I’ve read tend to agree that the Apple operating systems are far superior to Windows, for instance. (Part of the reason there is a larger Third Party support system for Windows is the need for such a support system. It would be weird to criticize a healthy patient for a lack of an extensive life support system.) Another issue is the persistence of legacy systems. Having been through some system conversions myself, they are painful and traumatic. It is often much easier and, up to certain limits, more cost-effective to keep your current system going with whatever band-aids, rubber bands, duct tape, etc. that you can instead of moving to a completely different system, even if it is a better one.

    We could go on, and we could list some companies that use Apple computers in the wonderful ways those computers serve needs Windows & Blackberry machines fail to do as well, just as those same companies use Windows and Blackberry machines for what they do best that Apple doesn’t. (Unlike your company, apparently, most companies seek to use whatever platform works best and understand that no one platform is the best in every area. I’m sure you guys will learn eventually.) But that would rob me of the little bit of time I want to take to highlight some of the really weird things you said. For instance, “I can most certainly say that anyone who walks into a business meeting with an ‘iPhone’ is laughed at and not taken seriously at all.” Really, Steven? Some of the most successful people I know have walked into their meetings with iPhones. If you really think your experience as (ahem) “a highly successful businessman and investor” means you can make such sweepingly ignorant statements, you have a long way to go, sir. (We’ll just say “not exactly Nth Degree Barclay.” In fact, less Nth Degree Barclay, more Pakled…)

    And I have to say that as a “business man” you are only aware of the most obvious of trends. At least as of 2008, 80% of surveyed busniesses used in-house Macs. 21% said that they use 50 or more Macs. Part of what has made a difference is that Macs are able to run both Windows and Apple software so as to have the best of both worlds, while Microsoft and Windows is generally impotent in this area. IT professionals explain that the reason they are trending towards Macs is the increased stability of their operating systems versus Microsoft and that the most compelling reasons to stick with Microsoft is the level of support, not the quality of the emachines. All of this was before Apple even began courting companies, which they have only really recently begun to do in earnest. No reason to think the trend will not continue. Especially if Microsoft keeps doing stuff like Windows 8.

    And your “bottom line”? “The kind of device you use reflects the user using it.” Very true. My work requires a great deal of content generation & publication, public presentation, and research, which requires a great deal of travel and having multiple devices work together as if they were one device. The move to Apple I am working on does, indeed, reflect that I am that sort of user. Apple dominates in this, especially for industrious individuals without IT budgets. Other platforms can certainly do it as well, but, generally, not as smoothly, efficiently, and virtually invisibly.

    But not only does the choice of device reflect the user, but the user’s attitudes and fettish-like attachments to those devices reflect a great deal about them, too. For instance, those who obsess over how much “super universally wow better (I am smart and strong)!” their operating system is and who exude an attitude of “ha people who use that are stupid idiot people who aren’t as smart, good, and smart as I am — and good.” (Again, Pakleds: “We are smart! We are strong!” Hilarious episode.)

    I’m rooting for Microsoft. I’m rooting for Blackberry. I’m rooting for Android. I think the market is served by a robust offering from all quarters. I’d love to move back to Microsoft. But given the current environment, it makes sense to move to Apple for the time being. I will simply have to find a way, I suppose, to bear the horrible, horrible burden of your judgment on me. Again. It will be hard, to be sure, but I think I will find a way somehow.

    I don’t see a real need for you to write back, Steven, since I’m sure it will be more of the same, just with more words and more boasts, but feel free if you just can’t resist. And if you do I probably won’t have the time to respond, for reasons I will hopefully post about later. But if you do, please describe yourself as “a highly successful businessman and investor” again. It’s hard to get tired of that.

  7. Wade Brown

    Steven, Steven, Steven. Yuck. And Mr Smith – great response! That was a well-needed reply. As far as my involvement with both PC and Mac, working with the Army and the myriad of contractors providing services to us, Apple is well represented among them in our meetings and onsite services. Never, never paint anybody with a broad brush in any situation or issue in life. That’s just ignorance and immaturity displayed on many levels.

  8. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown: I wouldn’t trade that combo of remarks for all the iPhones in North America.

    It’s just a good thing that a friend of mine in the Church (now deceased), someone who knew the IT business and Microsoft products very well, isn’t here to chime in. He’d nuke the stuffing out of the Micro$oft Religion, and have the “stuff” himself to back it up.

    I do appreciate my two Windows laptops (XP, because I have so many good legacy programs, and W-7). They serve me well. But my first personal computer was a Mac and even then I found the way Macs do things much more user-friendly, at least to someone like me.


    In learning that my brain’s own “operating system” may be summarized as ENFP rather than INTJ or INFJ, I also learned the fallacy of thinking my ENFP-POV is universally applicable. Any engineering solution, natural or artificial, has its strengths and weaknesses; this has nothing to do with the inherent worth of a solution. (Of course I simply love your quotes from John: watchwords that have let me see through many a heresy and faction in the Church and outside of it.)

    Simply because I can, please allow me to quote some speculative fiction that fellow Church member Jason Ward (creator of Duke Edward Solaris, INTP) and myself (creator of Alain Harper, ENFP) wrote together. Alain wasn’t trying at all to be diplomatic as is usually the ENFP wont; the NT kind of vanity concerning knowledge and competence that Duke Edward had needed to be hit right between the eyes and that’s why I’d like to pass on this quote…


    “Leaders don’t seek to please people,” Edward retorted. “They do what is best for those they lead, no matter the cost.”
    “Yes, that’s how you always ‘talked back’ to your father. ‘Wise fool’!” By his [Alain’s] tone of voice alone, it was the worst rebuke that the man could give to the Duke: a complete dismissal, if only for the moment, of Edward’s knowledge and competence. “Next to lack of knowledge of the Lord of the Realms [the true God, thinly veiled in this fiction], people like you who think that their point of view is the only right one are the biggest plague faced by those born of women.”


    I like Apple stuff. That’s the beginning and the ending of my use of it – for me. So sue me. 😉

  9. Steve

    Hope I’m not out of line here… but I found this line of discussion entertaining. A computer can’t string barbed wire on the back forty, so I see them as little more than a TV typewriter. Of course, I’m the village idiot when it comes to computers. Maybe I can get Mr Hollywood to help me clear some brush… a little dirty under the finger nails never hurt anybody.

  10. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    The Other Steve: If they can develop a robot that can play soccer (and I’ve read somewhere that some are trying, hoping to beat human players eventually), then I’m pretty sure they can develop a robot that can clear brush on the back forty. Fingernails and all. I do expect humans to be much less expensive for a while though… they’re easier to make. 😀

  11. Steve

    @John: When they come out with one those, please let me know. And I’m also in the market for a good levitation device and tractor beam as well. Boy, would those come in handy! Hahahah… thanks, John. 🙂

  12. “I feel like I am watching Microsoft implode before my very eyes.” I’m a computer geek, and I concur. MS will soon be the next IBM if they keep going at it they way they’ve been doing. I’ve mellowed towards Apple over the years, but I still like the idea of easily getting under the hood. However, as a geek and business person, I find my iPhone does 80% of what I need on the road. The design is well thought out, and I need the extra screen real estate to plug numbers into websites. Neither it or an iPad will totally replace my laptop, but it beats BlackBerry. There is a reason RIM has lost market share, and not all of it technological as much as bad business decisions.

  13. Thanks for the observations. A “laptop replacement” is what I’d love to get out of my iPad, though I didn’t go in expecting it since it isn’t really designed to be that. I agree about the “getting under the hood” comment, though I’ve reached a stage in my work life where I need to be able to let go of a little of that control, for good or ill, as much as I like it. I need my technological life to be more managed for me at this point. (Where’s Jarvis when you need him?) And I agree with you about the iPhone — ironically, one of the things that had delayed my iPad purchase (other than price!) was the fact that iPhone was such a good tool. However, I’m finding with certain apps, the iPad is more “laptop-like” than I thought it could be, so we’ll see.

    And I do hope RIM gets their act together, too. Multiple strong companies make for a better market, methinks. Thanks for the comment!

  14. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    (Where’s Jarvis when you need him?)

    Well, there you are. How come none of us thought to mention Jarvis earlier? Maybe all we need is to put Tony Stark in charge of the IT industry… 😉

    Of course, not even Jarvis and the Iron Man suits combined can match the capacities of my own fictional Sentry (meta-tech beats high-tech or even hyper-tech every time), but that’s another and completely irrelevant subject… 😀

  15. Don Wheatley

    From 1986-present I have been a computer programmer writing PC applications that work on Microsoft’s operating systems. At times I feel like an unpaid employee for Microsoft because of all the patches, fixes and “tricks” I have to make at times in order to get my applications to work properly. I am too tied to Microsoft to go with anything else and none of my customers would tolerate anything but Microsoft for the applications in place at the moment.

    But a hardward tech that I work with at times made an observation just after Windows 8 came out. He felt like this will probably be the death of Microsoft because of all the headaches he was having working with it. He is usually much more positive about Microsoft than this….

  16. Steven

    I love this quote (that was brought to my attention by a colleague) from someone who responded to a poster on YouTube who was trying to be critical of the new BlackBerry Z10. Incidentally, it was chosen as one of the top two “Top Comments”. psl2013 said “iphones are for adolescents. z10 is a real phone for professionals. Move along, kiddies.” That essentially encapsulates exactly what I said in my previous post here, yet stated differently. Shakespeare would be proud. My version of that is quite simply “Apple = Fisher Price and BlackBerry/PC = Professional”.

  17. You’re right, Steven. Those comments certainly do express the same weird and oddly juvenile sentiment that yours did. When you grow up and have something more mature to say, let us know. A modicum of credibility would be nice, too, but — hey — beggars can’t be choosers….

  18. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Mr. Smith and Steven: I don’t want to turn this into “Let’s-Pile-On-Steven Day”, but what such comments remind me of is the all-too-common attitude of those of the NT temperament toward those of every other temperament – especially NFs, who seem to gravitate toward Apple products like no one else. Well, Steven, 1) Mr. Smith is by all the signs an NT yet doesn’t hold to the intellectual vanity that tempts many NTs; 2) what I’m really reminded of, juvenile as the analogy truly is, 😉 is how that classic NT, Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, looks at everyone else, especially classic NFs such as the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny. Strange, then, that he keeps on being beaten at his own game by those two… which may yet happen in real life, in the IT field.

  19. Steve

    Alright guys, break it up. Especially you, Steven… you’re the one pushing things… over stupid stuff that doesn’t even matter. Find something else to do.

  20. Parallels Universe

    Mr. Wheeler,

    Even most Windows fanboys should acknowledge that the “NT temperament” is a far more professional and stable temperament than the Vista or ME or even the XP temperament, and is certainly far preferable to the Windows 8 temperament, which Steven so vocally prefers over the Mac temperament.

    That’s obviously not what you intended with your Meyers-Briggs reference, but in all this Windows/Mac talk it seemed worth noting. 🙂

  21. Andrew

    I know it’s a bit old, but I just saw this post and comments and couldn’t help but comment that I know at least in the business world I run in, the executives, directors, VPs, etc all readily use iPhones (it’s amusing to work with a group in a conference room and have one of their phones go off–everyone checks to see if it was theirs). Given the sharp intellect I’ve seen from these men (and their positions within a multi-billion dollar company), I wouldn’t so easily write off iPhone as a child’s toy in business application.

    Back on topic, I was much like you Mr Smith. I even snubbed smartphones for many years, preferring to stick with my flip-phone with no data plan (it did have a couple frills–I’d text and take pictures with it). The only Apple device I cared about was my 4GB iPod Nano. Then one day I upgraded to an iPod touch. Within a year, I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 4S, and salivated over the new iPads. Although I guess the Apple collective didn’t assimilate me entirely since I ended up with a Galaxy Tab as tablets went. But part of me still plans to upgrade to an iPad someday when I can justify the expense. 🙂

  22. Thanks for the anecdote, Andrew! Beyond the rabid Blackberry-only/Apple-only/-only devotees out there, I believe most people really do simply buy either what they need (or “need” in some cases) or the closest thing to what they need (or “need”) that they can afford. What others will say notwithstanding, it’s a matter of looking at the whole market and getting what suits your needs, and there are an increasing number of valid options now, which is great.

    Thanks, again, for your comments!

  23. Norbert

    I find this discussion reminiscent of putting a Ford guy and a Chev guy into the same room. It’s the kind of subject where a person can become passionate about their favorite. One of my favorite sayings is, “I’d rather push a Ford than drive a Chev”.

    Thing is I’ve worked on both, they both have their pros and cons. I don’t really see either of them disappearing any time soon, because one is overall superior to the other. Even though I meet people that would like me to think otherwise.

    And much like the Ford or Chev guy, I buy what I think suites my situation best.

  24. I agree, Norbert — that’s an excellent analogy. I’ve known my share, of “Ford vs Chevy” people, as well, but I wouldn’t have thought of it if you hadn’t mentioned it.

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