I love Apple Episode 1: iPad

My love for the company known as Apple is widely known. I love to be told what is and isn’t cool, how I must do something, and I especially love it when a company forces me to do things a certain way… OK maybe not.

In any case the Apple iPad reviews have been sickeningly glowing lately. Why a device that costs more than my Acer Aspire One, but can do far, far less has been receiving so much love is quite beyond me. So far I’ve read one fair review. But I did get a chuckle today. It turns out that Apple has decided that the random function of the iPad should be deemphasised and hidden as they feel their “Genius” function is superior. (No idea if this is true or not; I’d never install iTunes on any machine that I had any respect for.) CNET, ‘cos they love Apple so much, have provided a tutorial to access the old random function, but there’s one problem for the much suffering iPad users.

It’s in flash…

USB; Unlikely Special Bus?

I was reading news on ZDNet and I ran into this concept.


It’s an idea by a designer, Gonglue Jiang, and I must confess that it annoys me. Why? Well because it’s one of the classic things that “Ideas” people do; think of a concept but don’t look into if it’ll work or not… and in this case it won’t.

Why? For one, USB doesn’t work like that. The connection requirements of USB is very similar to the way that Ethernet over twisted pair works in that you can’t just link from one cable to another, a device called a hub or a switch is needed to do that. The space inside the plugs illustrated are not big enough to contain much at all; even the wiring would be tight. One could say (as they often do) that he’s a design guy not an engineer, but surely he’s noticed that hubs/switches are needed.

But that’s not all. While the plug is too small to fit a hub/switch, it’s too big to be a plug. This design would block other ports and thus would waste ports while creating new ones. Also, the weight of all these plugs would add more stress to the socket than it’s probably designed for.

This is the problem with many “Sci-Fi” shows… and Sci-Fi LEGO MOCs. Priority 1; appearance and coolness, Priority 99999; functionality and believability.

Single-stage-to-orbit light fighters? Not a problem!
Infinite range? Why not?
Species from different planets interbreeding? Sure!
Maneuvering in space just the same as in an atmosphere? Yep!

The funny thing is one of the more believable Sci-Fi TV shows in (relatively) recent times was Firefly, a space western! Anyway, getting back to USB, what really annoys me the most though is he won an award for this. Maybe it’s attitudes like this that make “Sci-Fi” like Star Wars so popular?

Ed Roberts, PC Pioneer

The creator of the Altair 8800 died on this day. There’s a nice post by Bill Gates and Paul Allen paying respect to his legacy. As they say, he wasn’t as well known or respected as he should have been, but he was the one who proved that a home PC was possible, and I suspect his efforts gave us all the computers we (for the most part) enjoy 5 years earlier. Certainly without him there’s a good chance that Microsoft would have never existed.

His history is quite interesting; his starting point was a his model rocket hobby. He formed the company MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) initially making guidance systems, then calculators when they sold badly. These were a vast success until TI (Texas Instruments) started muscling in forcing him to think of a new product. The Altair was it. Such small beginnings resulted in such a important creation.

Thus it should be hardly surprising, yet still interesting, to note that when MITS was at probably it’s most successful he grew tired of it all, sold up and after a few years he retrained (at 41) and became a doctor in a small town.