Monday, June 14, 2010

The Joys Of Ignorance

A little bit of knowledge is a reason to instill panic on the unsuspecting masses.

When we elect people to Parliament and they become ministers it would not be unreasonable to expect them to have half a brain. The problem is that they keep opening their mouths and removing any remaining doubt we had.

This proclamation from one of Queensland's finest demonstrate how dangerous a little bit of knowledge can be.

I am not sure who these health experts are but I have not seen one peer reviewed study stating that 3D TV is any worse that any other piece of technology. I know of one anecdotal story from someone who was involved in testing a 3D game and they found a certain level of disorientation in some subjects but as far as I am aware no further investigation was done.

Second, who are these manufacturers that issue such dire warnings?

In reality no one has identified 3D TVs as being any worse than any other bit of tech. It is true that some people are adversely affected by 3D video but no more or less than other technologies such as CRT TVs, plasma or LCD displays, computers, fluros, even my mum was sometimes affected by driving in the car at times.

Oh yes, roll out the old pregnant women and children. How on earth does being pregnant make 3D TVs more dangerous? The truth is that the warning that the manufacturers issue is the standard disclaimer that manufacturers issue for all flat panels, and is not unique to 3D displays. They do this so that people will not sue, not because they believe it is a serious issue.

The paranoia over 3D is no different from that which accompanies any new technology that the ignorant do not understand.

The warnings in the last paragraph are ridiculous.

"They should also avoid watching 3D TV under fluorescent lighting or direct sunlight and it's also suggested the screens should not be placed anywhere near stairs or balconies because viewers can become disorientated and that could lead to an accident."

To suggest that someone walking down a stair will be disorientated as they glance towards a 3D TV shows how ill informed the minister is.

Maybe the minister in question should go back to what he is good at...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Apple iPad - Tablet, slate or what?

Since its launch many commentators have referred to the iPad as a different class of device, and have also referred to it as a tablet. The problem with these commentators is that by doing so they show their ignorance of the sate of computing tech today.

First of all this is not a new class of device. The slate computer has been around for a number of years and a Google search on slate computer will reveal to the least tech savvy amongst us that this type of device is not new. A slate is basically a computing device with no attached keyboard, a touch and/or active screen and minimal buttons for quick functions. The slate form factor has been popular for specialised operations but has not had a large penetration in the main stream. It has remained a fairly niche product, mainly due to user ignorance. Manufacturers have not been keen on publicising slates up until now and no one has put a lot of effort into developing or promoting the form. The iPad is really a low end slate device, without a serious CPU, RAM or OS. Hardly new, if you are talking about a crippled computer being a new type of device, but seriously, I think not.

Tablet? Well the Tablet computer has been around for about ten years and comes in two basic forms. Convertible or slate. A convertible Tablet is similar to a laptop but the keyboard twists and folds up onto the back of the computer to allow it to be used in a slate mode. This makes the device larger and heavier. Many people use a slate form factor and attach a portable keyboard and mouse whe required. The Tablet has a pen, active matrix display and may or may not have touch. It is a mistake to call the iPad a Tablet computer. It is a slate without the tablet functions. To be a tablet you need to be able to use a stylus which has been specifically omitted from the iPad.

I am eagerly awaiting the plethora of Windows slate computers now in the pipe line to see what they are like. It would be nice to see some real slate Tablet computers emerge from the scrum.

At least one good thing will come from the popularity of the iPad. It demonstrates to manufacturers that there is a market for real slate computers (as opposed to the toy that the iPad is) and that some real development work will be put into developing a serious contender.

The truth is the iPad is a very high quality device but the average consumer does not care. They want a device that is cheap and convenient. If the main stream PC maker comes to market with a real computer for the rest of us then then they will carve a huge market for themselves. This reminds me of an exchange between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs from the movie The Pirates Of Silicon Valley.

Jobs "Our products are better than yours."

Gates "It doesn't matter."