Monday, June 25, 2012

Microsoft Surface no iPad killer!

The real issue is the media, every few months we have "new iPad killer" or "new iPhone killer", being announced by the tech Media. Lets have a look at the track record of the media in this regard: The Kin was meant to be the next iPhone killer, and after 7 billion dollars (yes thats a real figure) of Microsoft R & D and marketing, the "iPhone killer" was withdrawn from sales after 90 days, they couldn't even give them away to Microsoft employees. The playbook was meant to be the next iPad killer, its dead and millions of dollars lost, the HP web os was also meant to do the same, didn't even last a month. The zune was meant to be an iPod killer... its dead, and millions in losses again despite Microsoft pushing it for years and years with no real sales that even made a dint in real market share. 

I get sick of hearing the next apple killer product is here, and yet when one does some little analysis on the product it self , in this case the surface, its hap hazard design, its confusing two model , not compatible with each other hardware and software, and Microsoft's insistence on only selling in online for the world, and in Microsoft only stores in the USA (just like the zune, strategy, cause that sales strategy worked so well for it last time), one can clearly see that this product is not destined to sell any real numbers, and is more of a prototype or a idea for other OEMS to follow perhaps... but iPad killer... no way in a frozen snow flake in hell is it that. 

I am all for competition, for if you don't have it in the IT industry you get things like Windows and all the very boring and non inspiring plastic cheap rubbish laptops and desktop PC's that all the Microsoft OEM's make. There are many things in the current iOS that have been borrowed from Android that help us Apple users have a better experience (though I would argue they borrowed more than their fair share from iOS). The next Windows 8 phones do look good and its OS is a bright light in the "copy cat" smart phone operating systems of late, however that brand new Windows 7 phone you bought on the weekend, hope you like its operating system for the next two years of your contract, as it WILL NOT run Windows 8 phone software, AS NO phone currently released will run windows 8 OS phones, (way to shaft your user base). 

Thus all I am saying put things into perspective, take a look at the history and track record of the media and Microsoft in particular, once you do that, it makes it hard to believe that Microsoft has released anything of real note or impact, once again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

iPads in Education

I found this today, it was in a presentation I attended on the Gold Coast , about people saying iPads are a waste of time in the classroom, promoted this bit of research....

From a book by Dr. David Thornburg called, “Edutrends 2010: Restructuring, Technology, and the Future of Education.” Starsong Publications, 1992.(Yes, 1992 is right!)  The statements are about the reluctance to accept new technology in education.  Here are a couple

*               “Students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems.  They depend on their slates which are more expensive.  What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks?  They will be unable to write!”  -  Teacher’s Conference in 1703

*               “Students today depend upon paper too much. They don’t know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?” Principals Association, 1815

*               “Students today depend too much upon ink.  They don’t
know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil.  Pen and ink will
never replace the pencil.”  - National Association of Teachers in 1907

*              “Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our
country.  Students use these devices and then throw them away.  The
American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded.  Business
and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.”  - Federal
Teachers in 1950

*              You can’t use those calculators on the test.  If I let you do that, you wouldn’t ever learn how to use the tables in the back of the book and use interpolation to figure out your trig ratios.”  - High School Math Teacher in 1980

*             “Why would you ever want the Internet for student use? It’s just the latest fad – have them use the library.”  - District Employee in 1995

*             “Teachers will never use email.”  - Teacher on a
District Committee in 1996

*             “Why are we talking about students having laptops in high school?  I don’t think most parents will even give their kids their old computer, much less buy them a new one.”  Member of Laptop Committee in 2000

*             “Turn off and put away all Cell Phones, iPods, and Electronic Devices during class!”  - Signs around AHS in Fall 2006

*             "Students who are continually allowed to do word processing on a computer are not given enough handwriting practice.  Without practice using pencils and pens, students’ handwriting will become illegible.  Handwritten work should continue to be an essential part of a student’s education.  What happens when there is no computer available?"  , a quote at a Educational Conference in Australia 2009

Thursday, March 01, 2012


I have recently acquired a brand new 80's Cocktail arcade Cabinet (pictures below) that plays many of my favourite games from the 80's. Besides the unit being very nostalgic , and presents the games in the same way as they were, there have been a few things that occurred to me on why these old units are so much fun to play. 

 I hear you say, "but I can play all these games on my xbox or MAME on my computer".  While this much is true there a few things that can NOT replicate the real arcade experience..... let me explain :

The controls are important!

First an most importantly these games were designed to be played with the real controls of the day, not control pads of the xbox, not touch interfaces , real control sticks that were digital, and real buttons you can mash. This can not be easily replicated with modern day controls. Also these games were designed with very low resolution CRT monitors, not HIGH RES monitors or LCD displays that just make the old graphics look wrong, too sharp and blocky. So if you are going to get one, make sure its a real ARCADE CRT and nothing else.

                                                            The social aspect is missing

I play online games all the time on my xbox, I have enjoyed many many 100's of hours playing various halo games online, but not too many people chat to each other, or if they do, the swear and carry on in a rude childish manner. If you did this in person in the arcade years ago, you would have been punched out! No one behaved in this manner, people played for total fun, and while you might have teased each other a bit , it all was all fun, and not taken seriously !  Nothing beats the aspect of playing games with the other person sitting right next to you, this is not easily replicated with your computer.

                                                        Plain simple fun !

Self explanatory really, but the old 80's games are simple (by todays standards), but are fun, simple and quick enjoyment. They have very little learning curve, but take practice to master, and are unforgiving, which makes it all the more fun. People who did not grow up in the 80's do not know the whole social aspect and the discovery of going to the arcades, socialising with real people in the real world have missed a golden era!  Every time you went to the arcades, you would see something different, see some new game technology or aspect you have never seen before, it would lead to conversations before and aftwards of games, or things that happened in the arcade.. it was a total real life experience, this is not replicated in any way.  So if you are like me, and grew up in the late 70's and 80's with going to arcades as your social aspect, relive some of the fun you had with your kids, friends etc, and get yourself an arcade table, you won't regret it!

I liked the aspect of a cocktail cabinet, which were very popular in Australia, and were found in many fish and chip or pizza shops of the day. I intend to get a stand up unit later this year (like the one pictured above) to replicate al those horizontal games I liked, and to play some head to head games that come out in the later 80's. Finally I hope to complete my collection of 80s nostalgia and fun with a pinball machine, as I haven't seen any thing that comes close to replicating the real feel of a pinball machines, its so real and tactile its not an experience that can be reproduced by any other means...

Alas the expense and the maintenance of such a machine is a little daunting to me, so it will be a few years I think till I can muster enough funds to acquire such a machine.