Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Mad Science: Three Looks at the Tablet Wars Edition

Good morning, and happy Friday. Let's get to it, shall we?
PFC Badley Manning
in happier times.
U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning is expected to testify at his trial in the Wikileaks case soon, and apparently he's going to argue that he’s been “punished enough” given the nature of his initial confinement. According to reports, he was held in solitary confinement for eight months without clothes, blankets, or bed sheets, ostensibly because he was considered a suicide risk. However, repeated evaluations supposedly showed that after some time had passed, doctors didn't consider him at risk of hurting himself at all; it seems that he was just a very weird dude. And while I can confirm that I have no special knowledge of this case whatsoever, it's not at all hard to imagine that the military would treat this guy in whatever the worst possible circumstances were that they could justify. Given that he was apparently acting at least very strange, well... I'm gonna go ahead and doubt that Manning's lawyers can prove he got anything less than what he had coming.
With that in mind, I think it's important to remember that while Manning has been charged with some very serious crimes, he’s still lucky after a fashion. I mean, he hasn’t been charged with Treason, which is a little weird if you ask me considering that he was charged with “aiding the enemy.” Frankly, I've no idea what the difference is, save that Treason carries the Death Penalty. So, bottom line, no matter what has already happened to Manning, as his lawyer, I’d be tempted to tell the guy that he ought to shut his mouth regardless. The government could probably execute him, legally speaking, given what he’s done, and it's worth remembering that our current President has already shown a willingness to do exactly that to people who piss him off, even American citizens.

I don’t know if you’ve used Windows 8 yet, but I’ve tried it several times, and I hate it. So I was shocked to see that Windows 8 sales are outpacing similar sales of Windows 7 over 7's initial sales runs, which is surprising because I thought Windows 7 was an excellent product. Moreover, the new sales numbers have been driven by upgrades apparently and not by the sales of new devices.
Now, supposedly Windows 8 has been much cheaper than Windows 7 was over its initial run, and maybe that’s what’s driving the difference, but 8 is such an inferior product that frankly I don’t understand why people want it at all. Personally, if this is the way of the future for Windows, I’ll be buying a different operating system from now on, and God only knows how I'm gonna manage that next time I have to upgrade our family's primary machine.
But maybe I'm the only one? Who know?
You can go ahead and get used to the idea of NJ Governor Chris Christie as a successful national-level political figure. He’s about as popular right now as it is technically possible for him to be.
What’s interesting to me is how Hurricane Sandy is potentially shaping the 2016 Presidential Race. Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are both believed to be mulling presidential runs in 2016, and if that’s the case, then Sandy is the opportunity for them to show their skills to the public at large. Christie responded to the storm with a show of bipartisanism and what I personally think was a masterful handling of the actual crisis itself. His state was hit harder than New York and seems to be recovering at least as fast. Cuomo, meanwhile, is pushing Congress for $42B in aid to New York State with which it is believed he’ll try to not only rebuild but also basically redesign the state's downstate infrastructure in order to better withstand what he’s on record as saying are ever more likely future big-time storms. I have no idea if that will work—or even if it’s possible—but I think it’s visionary thinking in any case, and I’m looking forward to seeing what, if any, specifics come out of the studies its going to spawn.
Also, while it might seem like Christie and Cuomo would be natural allies in the fight to get more and better aid from the Federal Government for the Northeast post-Sandy, the fact is that they’re not. At all. Christie is a Republican and Cuomo is a Democrat, and they’re going to be competing for the same home turf in the same national election on potentially the same issue. So I’m not saying that the Hudson River is America’s new internal DMZ, but I’m also not expecting too many kind words to cross the river, either.
At any rate, it's going to be an interesting time, let me tell you.
While we're on the subject of operating systems and Windows 8, it's worth noting that computer makers are still trying to figure out what to do with the tablet computer revolution. With the advent of Windows 8 and the proved popularity of the iPad, companies are scrambling to find ways to differentiate themselves from the pack—and from the market's extant successful products—with the upshot being that there’s a lot more potential processing power and basic raw ability in even an iPhone than there was in a full-sized desktop a mere ten or fifteen years ago. I mean, if you wanted to, you could easily do real work with just your cell phone! But there’s no proven way to go from tablet to computer yet, and while lots of companies are trying to make a single all-purpose world-beating device, it doesn't seem like anyone has yet figured out exactly how to do it—or even what a single all-purpose device is supposed to look like.
If you're wondering, the hyper-linked article above covers a pair of new notebook/tablet hybrids, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 and Toshiba's Satellite U925t. It's worth noting that both machines come with full keyboards and are clearly meant for real work, and indeed, given that both provide laptop power in tablet size, both cost more like what you’d expect to pay for a full—and fully capable—laptop than they would if they were competing solely as tablets.

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13
What? That's not enough on the Tablet Wars? Okay, how about the new Virtual Reality Glasses Wars?
What I want to know is this: don't you have to have a working prototype of a thing in order to patent it? I mean, don't you have to have invented it in order to hold the rights to the invention? Because I looked at Microsoft's patent illustrations, and I have to call bullshit on what they're claiming to be able to do. Is it possible? Sure, it probably is. But do they have a working copy? Maybe they do, but they sure as Hell haven't shown it to anyone.
Well, besides taking a minute to crow about how much the NY Giants kicked ass last weekend, I don't have much else. I will, however, say that this has been a banner month in terms of readership, so if you're new here, let me just say thanks for stopping by.
With that said, I'd really, really like to get some more commenters. I know that folks are reading because I have stats that tell me they are, and in a lot of cases, folks that I know tell me that they like the blog. And that's awesome. It really is. But what makes a place like this addictive is conversation. Yeah, I have Alan and Tony Laplume (a fine blogger in his own right), but what I really need is more folks who have an opinion and want to express it.
Is that you? It could be.
So. Tell me what you like. Tell me what you hate. Tell me when you think I've got my head up my ass. It's cool. I may not agree, especially with the later, but the forum is here for you to speak your mind, and I'd love it if you'd avail yourselves. And yeah, I know you can't leave anonymous comments, but you can make up a funny name and post that way, and God knows that people have. It's not a problem. Enjoy! And make yourselves at home.

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