Sunday, March 18, 2012

There's nothing like new technology to bring out the idiocy of wannabe critics

Or is it more sour grapes?
Are there really such fools in the world, who don't understand that just because a particular aspect of technology is possible, it doesn't make that technology feasible to implement in consumer products?

Why didn't every car by 1985 have a CD player? Why are DVD players still sold today? Why do stores bother selling 4-gig flash drives and SD cards when we have 64-gig available now? Why are basic calculators available when you have such nice ones available from Texas Instruments and HP? The simple answer: price.

Some people need just a $1 calculator instead of a graphing calculator, just as some cars through the 1990s didn't have DVD players. A store could simplify its inventory by selling only the largest size of flash memory available, but they'd lose a lot of customers. In the same way, Apple could have released previous iPads with 4G and what's actually a 5 megapixel camera, but they'd have been much more expensive and wouldn't have sold by the millions and millions. Clearly the lack of a 5-megapixel camera didn't dissuade 19 million people from buying the original iPad.

This person also needs to pay attention to updated news. It's actually LG that makes the new iPad's screens, not Samsung. And even if Samsung did, this person will never understand why competitors sell to each other. It all goes to show that capitalism promotes cooperation as much as competition, and always peacefully.
This is a strawman. Never mind that those who complain about the cost of living aren't always those who buy new technologies. Even if they were, people have every right to complain, when it's government that keeps prices artificially high. Take a family that drives 15,000 miles annually (rather conservative considering how many families have two commuters). If they average 30 mpg, then for every dollar per gallon that government keeps gas prices higher than true market, that's an iPad every year.

If people would only think, as I often do, of all the money government steals from them, that each month that money could buy a new TV, iPad, pay for a new car, maybe there would finally be enough anger to take back our liberty.
The next time this moron goes out, I'd like to see him rung up on paper by every supermarket cashier, deli clerk or bank teller, and have his receipts augmented appropriately by the increased labor costs.

A tool, whether a rock used as hammers or a computer, is simply something that reduces the human labor required. This can be the labor to do something at all, or the labor to do something with accuracy. There's no honor in having to mentally add up a receipt, which only invites the customer to argue that it wasn't done correctly. People invented the abacus, various adding machines, electronic calculators, and bar code scanners because they save money in the end. They save the vendor money, which means the customer saves money.
There is no inherent wrong in having something "wanted" that isn't a necessity for pure biological life. It's the very fact that so many of us (I won't say "most") produce things for others to buy, from electronics to restaurants to financial services, that gives us a wonderfully complex and prosperous economy.

Nobody "needs" automobiles, cable TV, or even flush toilets. Thank heaven that people like this don't run the world, otherwise they'd have us living subsistence existences in forests.
Good luck to this dimwit, who seems to like dealing in stolen merchandise. An iPad in good condition commands much more than the prices he thinks.

Apple's products hold amazing resale value, deservedly. So you can't replace the battery, but I have to say as a non-owner of anything Apple, the quality of materials and fit-and-finish are top-notch. When I decided to surprise my wife with a tablet, I decided on a Thrive because of expandability (SD card and full-size HDMI ports!) and a very easily replaceable battery. However, I was very disappointed that Toshiba's manufacturing conditions and QC allowed a small white speck underneath the glass. (The vendor was really good and gave us an exchange.) I can't imagine such a product defect leaving one of Apple's factories.

Some people clearly don't put thought into their attempted insults: "if you already have one" for a product that's just come out? Of course, he likely means "if you already have an iPad 1 or 2," but even so, what's it to him if someone wants to upgrade? It's not his money.

There are uses for a tablet, and there are uses for a PC. I'm composing this on a full-sized PC, but I can't exactly lug it on a train or airplane, and there are scenarios where you don't need a regular keyboard.
The first twit is welcome to not buy what the rest of us would like. And the second has a computer that weighs under 1.5 pounds and is dimensionally smaller than a typical magazine, with a touch screen?

It's not a matter of what a device can do, but what you can do with it. All the processing power in the world does no good when you need it to be portable but it isn't. You don't use a driver on a par 3, let alone the green.

I'm no Apple fanboy but already considered the original iPad a great piece of technology for that price, and the third-gen with its gorgeous screen is simply fabulous. Our next tablet, though, might be Toshiba's new Excite, as my preference is to trade a super-high-res screen for infinitely expandable storage. Life is always about tradeoffs (indeed economics is the science of trade-offs, being the study of human choices and their consequences). The Excite is lighter and thinner than the Thrive, in fact as light and slightly thinner than the iPad 3. However, to achieve that it uses micro ports for SD, USB and HDMI, which is less convenient than the Thrive's full-size ports.

I haven't read yet if the Excite supports a USB hub. The Thrive does, allowing someone to use it comfortably standalone on an airplane, while a keyboard and mouse are packed in luggage to use at the hotel. Try that with an iPad -- then again, standard ports might finally be on Apple's agenda for the next iPad. Why hasn't Apple done that already to create the ultimate tablet? Because they went with a particular variety of technical features, and their own operating system, in the anticipation they could still make a huge profit. And they have. There will never be a "perfect" of anything to make all would-be buyers happy, but that's part of the wonder of capitalism. Individuals and companies are always coming up with new ideas and new combinations, and if you don't like what's offered, start up your own. That's what was done with the Raspberry Pi, one of the neatest PCs to come around in a long time.

Much criticism has been thrown at Apple for its factories in China, which could never exist in the United States. American-level wages would make Apple's products too expensive to sell well. But if people think that business model can work, nobody's preventing them from starting their own companies. Such an endeavor could create one million new jobs, cementing an entrepreneur's names to the pages of history as helping to save the American economy. I won't hold my breath. There's a good reason we buy so much from China.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In memoriam

We're still in shock at work. The measure of this man's life is how much everyone misses him already. To some, he was a great manager: smart, capable and supportive. To everyone else, he was a great friend, or an acquaintance some of us now regret was not a friend.

T was a mensch. See you on the other side, sir.