Archive for Thu, Jan 28, 2010

H2: 01/28/10 Jon Kyl, Guy Benson, Tom Corbett, James Lileks

01281002 Hugh Hewitt: Hour 2 – Hugh talks about the Democrats’ plan to use reconciliation in the Senate to jam down Obamacare with Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, reaction to the state of the union with Guy Benson, interviews Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett, and talks about all the news of the week with humorist, blogger, columnist and author, James Lileks.

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H1: 01/28/10 Mark Steyn

01281001 Hugh Hewitt: Hour 1 – Hugh talks about the Democrats’ attempt to resurrect Obamacare, and the state of the union speech last night, with Columnist to the World, Mark Steyn.

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About the iPad, if you care

Since the iPad doesn’t give you X-ray vision or the power of flight, some are complaining it’s another overpriced useless toy. I had to wince while reading some HotAir comments on the iPod; it’s a reminder that reflexive anti-Apple booshwa is bipartisan, but comes in two flavors. The nerdy geek-techie types – in my experience, mostly liberal – are Apple-haters because jobs comes out with something that does not support whatever wild-hair flavor of open source goodness that makes it possible to suck down HD versions of movies from Bulgarian pirate sites, and locks people into closed systems. Ideally we should all get the New York Times for free, you see, and if they come up with a paid app that lets you read their paper and browse a century’s worth of archives, you should be able to crack it. And if the masses can’t figure out how to do that? Sheeple!

The conservative complaints are discouragingly fuddy-dud: Apples are for fashionistas who must be liberals because they care about aesthetics. You get the picture of someone in Sansabelt slacks peering at a monitor set on 640X480.

These are broad characterizations, and hence unfair; there are many liberals who love shiny Apple toys, and as for conservatives who love Macs, well, one word: Rush. (I’ve found that libertarians are more likely to love Macs, too.) The idea that coolness, aesthetics, hipness and forward-looking ideas are somehow incompatible with tax cuts and deregulation is rather mysterious.

That said: is the iPad good? Don’t know; haven’t seen it. But I suspect so. Is it great? It will be. If that sounds like tempered praise, it is; the first version of the iPad will, in a few years, look as crippled and clunky as the first iPod. You may recall how that item was loudly derided by all, what with its steep price, 5 GB capacity, grey screen (running Chicago font, of all things). Now it rules the world. So will the iPad . . .

. . . when it gets a few more things. It doesn’t have multitasking, and for long-time Mac users, this is hilarious: so we’ve lost Multifinder, now? It doesn’t have a camera, so it’s not a tool for video conferencing. It doesn’t have Flash. But I’m guessing it will have multitasking in the next OS update, as will the iPhone; the camera has been reserved for version 2; Flash, Steve Jobs hopes, will be replaced by HTML5, and hence not under the control of Adobe, and not so crash-tastic. When these things hit the iPad, they’ll make it better. But that’s not critical. Movie editing on the iPad isn’t critical. Books, newspapers, magazines: that’s the ticket.

Books, that’s obvious. It’s an e-book reader. Right now e-books are just text – a color tablet with a really, really fast processor makes possible a new genre of books. Example: a few months ago I was reading a novel set in Rome while waiting for my daughter to finish karate class. A character would enter the book; he seemed to be a real historical figure. Twenty years ago: forget it, unless you have the appropriate reference books at home. Ten years ago: wait until you got home, research him on the web, find some boring page. Now: put the book down, get out the iPhone, google the name, squint at the wiki entry. iPad: double-tap the name, and you get a bio, a picture of the fellow’s bust. Simple stuff. But expand the idea: when I read about locations in Rome, I found myself googling them to see what remained, what was real, and the results were always frustrating. Not enough.

Imagine “Angels and Demons” in iPad form, with every single location, every piece of art, every clue, available in a pop-up window. It’s not hard. You send one underpaid intern to Rome with a $150 pocket-sized HD camera, you have the content. At first it will be a novelty; then it will be the norm.

Magazines can make the transition easily; I don’t care if I get the same Economist in iPad form, because that’s enough. The content is strong enough as it is. Newspapers, on the other hand, can break free of the existing online templates, which are loaded with cruft from a million managers, laden with the legacy of countless redesigns, and aimed at people who read stuff on their computers.

Do you really like to read things on your computer? I suspect enough time with an iPad will make people realize that reading things on a computer screen is like reading a book on a television set. When Jobs said the iPad was pitched as the item between the computer and the iPhone, I laughed: gosh, I didn’t know that niche previously existed. But come to think of it: yes. The computer screen is no fun for reading. Mobile phones are handy, but bleepin’ small. The iPad is the size we’ve been used to for years, an object that fits in the human hands.

Put it this way: right now people are poking through the code in the iPad’s software developer’s kit, figuring out a way to make money off this. Others are waiting to give Apple their money so they can get a jump on what might be the next platform, or at least the most popular version of it. People may say “I don’t know what you’d do with it,” but they’ve said that about new innovation. Except, perhaps, the atomic bomb. That one pretty much spoke for itself.

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January 2010