Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gawk While You Can

The question has been raised just about everywhere about if tablets are going to overtake PCs in Joe User's life. I've seen varying arguments for it happening, and others saying that it'll never happen. I've always read them with a grain of salt, gleaning what I can from them, and discarding the chaff. Until yesterday, that is. I read an article that, well, I pretty much agree whole hearted with.

Wait. What?

Yeah, I know. Shocking that I don't have a "Yeah, but..." statement to go along with it. Gawk while you can.

I'll wait.

Now, let me explain.

The keyboard. It's all about the keyboard. Some people don't mind not having a physical keyboard to peck out their manifestos on, but me, if I'm doing something that requires more than a Words With Friends game, I want a real keyboard. It's a quirk of mine. Hunt-and-peck sends me into a spiral of flashbacks to my first computer/typing class, and it's not pretty folks. And before you suggest it, I don't want to lug one around with me, as a peripheral for my ipad. I have enough things to carry and remember, what with purse (heavy enough already, thanks) diaper bag (not storing it with the sippie cup,) cell phone, etc. I have a hard enough time remembering my cheap-o sunglasses, for goodness sake. Thus far, I haven't forgotten a kid or the ipad, but honestly, it's just a matter of time.

Another thing about it, is that I realize I'm not Joe User. I am, however, friends with lots of them. While they want real keyboards to type their emails on, they also want it for things like hot keys.* Several fancy themselves as amateur photographers, cooks, bloggers, etc. As such, things like photo editing and more in depth applications require a real keyboard/mouse in order to not be a frustration. They are similar to me, in that their ipad/tablets have replaced the laptop for some things (Facebooking, Twitter, shopping, music, etc) but not for the things that are a bit more time/labor intensive. When the powers-that-be figure out how to resolve that issue, I think the tablet is gold.

*hot keys = keyboard short cuts. think "Crtl + C" instead of clicking the menu option for "copy."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Peer Pressure

Realizing that I've beaten the social media policy drum before, I shall try to refrain from rehashing it all again. However, I had to share a triumph: my son's school has adopted a formal social media policy. We were notified yesterday that the school handbook had been updated regarding the school's policy for social media and its students (and before you ask, I had nothing to do with it.) If a tiny school in the middle of nowhere can have a social media policy, what's stopping your company? You don't want to be outdone, do you?* Don't be lazy.

*Forget everything your mother told you about peer pressure for this. You want to be like the cool kids, who have social media policies. Only the losers don't have one. No, really, they lose the lawsuits. It sucks to be the loser.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gamers to the Rescue

Let me clarify something, before I get into the meat of this blog post: I am not a gamer. Geek, yes. Nerd? About some things. But gamer, I am not. I was doing good to beat Super Mario Brothers, back in the day. Pinball, I'm golden. Air hockey? A more ruthless soul has not been met. Video games, though, notsomuch. But, being a geek and around computer people on a day-to-day basis, I know gamers. And knowing them, this article doesn't surprise me much. In fact, it makes me proud that gamers are helping do something so useful.

What I am curious about, is how will this information be utilized later. No, no, not the protein folding data. We pay medical researchers for that stuff. No, what I'm curious about is who else will start utilizing gamers as cheap problem solvers. We already have complex problems being solved via distributed computing* in other areas of science as well—SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) uses it to analyze radio telescope data, for example. What intrigues me, is the question of who else will turn a problem into a video game, and then let gamers do the dirty work, as it were. We already have folks who are using twitter as cheap research and development and open source code operating systems, so why not make a game out of problem solving? I'm not talking about the stuff that's kind of a given, I'm wondering what non-lifesaving problems could we solve. Could they figure out how to make my dishwasher load itself (my laziness knows no bounds, sure) or figure out how to find that one sock the dryer always eats. Figure out how to make flying cars an affordable reality; how to make my regular car's heater work faster on a cold morning. Would those things change the world? no. would it help the common man? Oh yeah.

*lotsa unrelated computers, networked together to compute a common problem