Children’s author — and, full disclosure, occasional VodkaPundit drinking buddy — Amelia Hamilton has just published her second book. I have my advance e-copy here, and I can’t wait for the dead-tree version to arrive so I can read it with my younger son.
It’s called 10 Steps to Freedom: A Growing Patriot’s Guide to the American Revolution. The illustrations are by Anthony Resto, and perfect for the five-and-under set. In plain language, Amelia tells the story of the American Revolution in just ten steps. It’s a great concept, nicely executed. And it’s the kind of liberty-loving literature that used to be standard fare for children’s books, but which now hardly exists.
So in came Amelia to fill in the gap, like she did with her first book, One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots. She’s promised an entire series of Little Patriots stories. This one she self-funded through Kickstarter like a real American entrepreneur (remember those?), so you know she really believes in what she’s selling.
My favorite illustration comes on the third page. You can click on the thumbnail to embiggen it to full size, but look at that — a patriot brandishing a pistol in defense of his rights! In a children’s book! Think of the children! Will no one think of the children?
Oh, relax — it’s perfect.
The progressives will throw a monthlong hissy fit just because of Page Three. Imagine what they’d do if they found a copy freshly unwrapped at their child’s birthday party. I’m not trying to start any family fights; I’m just sayin’.
But that’d be worth my $8.99 right there, folks.
I don’t play golf for the same reason I’ll never try cocaine — I’m pretty sure I’d like it, and I don’t need any more expensive hobbies. Now pro-golfer Phil Mickelson might be giving up the game because he doesn’t want to pay any more expensive taxes. Or at least that’s what I gleaned from his cryptic interview with Scott Michaux. Could the tax man really drive him permanently to the 19th hole?
Unlike Mickelson, I can’t afford to go Galt. But my wife and I are taking home less and saving more, which sure makes it feel sometimes like we’re living in cash-poor Galt’s Gulch. We’ve discovered though that a nice safety cushion helps you sleep better at night than a new mattress does.
Is there anything you’re giving up this year due to your smaller paycheck?
So this is a real thing demoed this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, the giant annual event in Las Vegas company in their rights minds would ever send me to in person.
It’s called Oculus Rift, and it’s the video game console you strap on your face. With a big HDMI cable or something coming out of the top of it. It’s been a big success with Silicon Valley-type Kickstarter investors — but something tells me they’re a lot more likely to strap game consoles to their heads than most other people.
On the other hand, the opportunity to play your favorite first-person shooter or fantasy adventure game in a totally immersive environment…
…would you do it?
Just as soon as I’m finished writing up this post, I’m going to the App Store to download DeleteMeMobile. Here’s what it’s supposed to do:
DeleteMeMobile which launched for iOS devices in the Apple App Store on Monday and already has several thousand users — aims to strip your personal data from many of the largest websites that collect and sell it, including Spokeo and Intelius.
These sites collect a huge amount of information about you, from estimated net worth, religious and political affiliations, children’s names, websites visited and articles read (yikes).
The DeleteMe app is free to search what kind of information is out there about you and it comes with one removal from any data broker site. After that, there is a $24.99 subscription for three months with unlimited deletions. The app is similar to the company’s web-based DeleteMe service.
Here’s how the app works: After downloading it and providing some basic information to sign up, the app searches data-broker sites looking for information about you. About eight results listings will pop up for the typical user. A user can click the results by saying “This isn’t me” if it’s not a proper match or hitting “DeleteMe” to remove the data.
Pricy, but maybe worth it if it works as advertised. It certainly reminds me of Catwoman’s MacGuffin from The Dark Knight Rises. So I’ll try it out and report back to you. But you might ask if it works with Facebook, after reading this next story from Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo:
Today, Facebook finally made itself useful. It gave us a reason to care about likes, check-ins and tags. That reason is a search engine, which Facebook is calling Graph Search. It’s a feature that many users have long demanded. Now, you can type in simple queries to find the most interesting photos, businesses, or media among your connections or across Facebook’s hordes. For instance, if you want to know which TV shows your friends enjoy, just type “TV shows liked by my friends” into the new search box at the top of your screen. And you can go even further, slicing up your network—or even all of Facebook’s users—into tinier and tinier niches. If you’re a New Yorker who’s planning a Girls party, try “friends who like Girls who live in NYC.” If you’re a guy looking for a deeper connection, add a few more parameters: “photos of friends of friends who like Girls who live in NYC who are single women between 20 and 34 and like Arcade Fire.”
I don’t know about you, but this gives me the heebie-jeebies. My acquaintance Patrick Ruffini is all excited about it, but he’s one of those crazy-smart data-mining statistical-analysis types. Me, I’m a guy who spends a lot of time posting his professional and personal life on the internet — and Facebook has me seriously rethinking the latter.
If you’d really like to protect your privacy, a good first step probably isn’t a new iOS step. You’d probably be better off just avoiding all those Like and Share buttons. I’ll still use them professionally — and all of us here at PJMedia would love it if you did, too.
But personal likes and shares? Maybe we should do those the old-fashioned way, with a phone call or over the dinner table.
Yes, one of my favorite movies has been Sweded. Awesome and endearing all at once.
All the action of the original Star Wars, mapped.
Click on the link for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Eartha Kitt performing “C’est Si Bon” in 1962. I don’t speak a word of French so for all I know, she’s singing about thermal conductivity in covalent bonds.
But who cares? That voice. That look. That… Eartha. Yum. She could make the directions for burning toast sexy.
I’ve found YouTube videos of her in concert just months before she died at 81 and she Still. Had. IT.
For her, we need something icy cool with a French twist. So here’s a little something I invented called Martel’s Hammer.
1.5 ounces Magellan French gin
1.5 ounces Grey Goose vodka
1 lemon twist
1 cornichon (it’s a tiny, sour French pickle)
Rub the lemon twist around the rim of your martini glass, then discard. Gently stir your gin and vodka over ice until well chilled, then strain into the glass. Garnish with the cornichon and — if you like them dirty — add an extra splash of the cornichon juice.
Here’s the one I just made.
I like to tell myself Eartha would approve.
Last month, when Apple announced the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch, their pricing seemed to preclude the long-rumored 7.85″ iPad “Mini” or “Air” or whatever they end up calling it. I even went so far as to ask if Tim Cook had killed the iPad Mini in the crib. And yet the rumors persist, some incredibly detailed.
But let’s take a look at the iOS universe and see if there’s really a place for a smaller tablet. I’ve prepared a chart to show all the devices, excluding the iPad’s optional 3G or LTE feature, because that doesn’t really matter here.
Apple hits every price from $0 to $699 in hundred-dollar increments, with one $50 increment at the 32GB 4th generation iPod Touch. The overlapping prices are what interest us here. A company can offer similar products at the same price, but only if there is enough differentiation between them to make sense to the consumer. Otherwise, the product line is just a huge, jumbled mess — and that isn’t how Apple operates.
The iOS line doesn’t have many price overlaps, but they are instructive. For $199, you can get either a 16GB iPhone 5, or an iPod Touch with the same memory. What’s the difference? The phone gives you, duh, a phone — but it also locks you into an expensive contract. Also, the iPod uses a cheaper (but still “Retina” density) screen, and an older, slower processor. So we have three points of differentiation.
$299 gets you an iPhone 5 with 32GB, or the new 5th generation iPod Touch. Again, same memory on both devices. Same screen on both devices, too. And the same A6 processor. The only differentiation is that one is a phone that comes with an expensive contract.
At $399 is where things get interesting. You can have the 64GB phone, the 64GB iPod, or the 16GB iPad tablet. We have two tiny devices with tons of storage versus a bigger device with comparatively little storage. You get the bigger screen, but you lose memory, the Retina Display, and the new A6 processor.
Where do you squeeze in a smaller iPad?
First off, two assumptions. The iPad Mini/Air/Nano/Whatevs will have the same 1024×768 resolution as the iPad 2. Those pixels would be packed into a smaller space, so the screen would be damn sharp — but not Retina Display sharp. We also have to assume that it would use the same A5 processor and the same 16GB of storage space, so as not to destroy the buying case for the iPad 2. Apple might be tempted to cheap-out and limit the Mini to 8GB, but that’s just not enough memory for a tablet.
At $249, Apple will already sell you the iPad Touch with the old processor. What is there to differentiate between the two devices? Buy the Mini you’d lose half the memory, but you’d gain the bigger-but-not-Retina screen and a faster A5 CPU — is that a good model? It just might be.
I’m going to make you read the text before we get to the video for this one, because it took me a long time to understand why I love this record so much — and maybe I can bring you up to speed in just a couple minutes.
Cole Porter wrote one of the great American songs with “Night And Day,” from Gay Divorce. I’ve never seen the show, but I bet I’ve heard the song more than a thousand times, and by too many artists to count. But none compares to this concert version by Frank Sinatra.
It might seem strange with his extensive touring history, but in 1962 Sinatra had yet to put on a show in Paris, which he decided to make a part of a new European tour. You usually think of Sinatra as the guy easy in front of a massive swing band, but he did something different that year. He put together a band, Sextet, which is exactly what it sounds like — a small jazz combo. None of the six members had ever been part of a band together before, but most of them had played with Frank. That common bond turned them into a real band, instantly. I don’t know how large the concert hall was, but the music and the vocals are as intimate as a candlelit dinner for two.
Sinatra only recorded two other concert albums. Sinatra at the Sands is a still-beloved collaboration with bandleader Count Basie and arranger-conductor Quincy Jones. Can you imagine that much firepower on one stage? It remains one of the great concert albums of all time, even though it consists of selections recorded over a month of concerts, rather than a record of a single show. It was released in 1966 as the second part of Sinatra’s 50th birthday package, which began the previous year with September Of My Years.
The Main Event was Frank’s final concert album, and the less said about it, the better. It sold like crazy, but I find it absolutely unlistenable. Sinatra hits half of the songs with brutal bombast, as if he were trying to fill the whole of Madison Square Garden without the aid of amplifiers. And without any of the tenderness typical to his phrasing. On the other songs he just sounds tired. Good lord, but it’s crap. Anyway.
Although Sinatra & Sextet: Live in Paris was recorded as a single set in ’62, it didn’t get a commercial release for more than 30 years. Fans had to wait until 1994 to hear some of the best concert material he ever recorded. It’s light, it’s breezy, it’s jazzy. It’s fun. Sinatra is clearly playing up his jazz chops, bending more notes than Salvador Dali did clocks.
The concert also shows Sinatra at the peak of his powers: As his voice was settling into an easy baritone, but before it lost its subtleties to whiskey and cigarettes. Frank’s phrasing was never better than it was during this era, either. “This era” running from the mid ’50s through the mid ’60s, from In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning on through to September Of My Years.
Now when I said this version of “Night And Day” was a Sinatra record, that’s not quite right. Really, this is a jazz duet between Sinatra and his longtime guitar player, Al Viola. Did I say “guitar player?” No, that phrase won’t do. Viola here is Frank’s guitar accompanist. These two play off each other exquisitely, resulting in something that makes me stop and listen — really listen — every single time it comes on. Enjoy, then we’ll get to this week’s cocktail.
Every. Single. Time.
For this, we need something Frank himself drank and helped to make famous. It’s a variation on last week’s cocktail, and it’s the Dry Manhattan.
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
lemon peel garnish
Fill your cocktail shaker halfway with ice, pour in your bourbon and vermouth, then hit it with the bitters. Stir, very gently, until well chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass, then garnish. Feel free to have some fun with the garnish, too. I’ve seen bartenders do some crazy stuff with a lemon peel.
Here’s the one I just made.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take another listen to Frank & Al.
It starts around one minute in, but watch the whole thing for the setup. And it’s amazing. Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé presenting together at the 1976 Grammy Awards, but performing a scat duet of “Lady Be Good.”
A couple years later, Tormé would record this number with Buddy Rich, with the lyric re-written as “Ella Be Good.” What an amazing record.
But this live performance? I can’t put it any better than one of the YouTube commenters, who wrote, “OH MY GOD. My face hurts from smiling SO HARD.” Yeah. That. The best part is, every single person in that auditorium, including that year’s winner, knew they just got absolutely schooled by two of the finest vocal performers in all of jazz history. And the ones who didn’t know it? They didn’t deserve to be at the Grammys.
To drink, we need something smooth, sophisticated, and sweet enough to match all the smiles.
Only — only — a Manhattan will do.
2.5 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 maraschino cherry (preferably with the stem still on, but my jar didn’t have any like that)
A cocktail shaker
Plenty of ice
Fill the shaker halfway with ice, then pour in your bourbon and vermouth. I happen to like Maker’s Mark for my Manhattans — anything fancier tends to get lost in the vermouth, so why bother?
Stir slowly and gently for ten seconds. Thou shalt not count to 11, nor count to nine, excepting as to then proceed to ten.
Do not break or chip the ice.
Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a single cherry.
Now rewind the video and play it again with your Manhattan. You’ll find both are improved immeasurably, along with your attitude.
Here’s the one I just made.
This is it, the last weekend of summer. Sure, that’s not what the astronomers or the meteorologists will tell you. But you know when you see Labor Day on the calendar, and feel that first chill in the afternoon winds, that this is it. Our music needs to be something breezy, and maybe a little melancholy.
George Benson’s “Breezin’” is a too-obvious choice — but so what? It’s still damn good music. Here he is performing live in the UK, an unbelievable 35 years ago. Benson had himself a crossover hit with “Breezin’,” which was all over the Top 40 stations the summer I turned eight. It was almost certainly the first jazz tune I ever heard on my own radio — a tiny olive green handheld AM relic powered by a nine-volt battery I used to remove so I could stick the contacts on my tongue. The fact that it played on my radio gave it an acceptability factor it never would have gotten had Mom or Dad tried to force me to listen. And a lifelong love was born.
For the occasion, we need just the right drink. It’s a little something I came up with for my lovely bride, and I call it — of course — Breezin’. (Melissa vetoed “Passing Wind.”)
Any decent brut champagne
2 ounces Citron vodka (Ketel One Citroen is excellent, priced right, and mixes well)
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Six leaves of basil
In the bottom of a small cocktail shaker, muddle the basil in the pomegranate juice. Add the simple syrup and vodka, then a handful of ice. Shake gently until chilled, then divide evenly between two champagne flutes. Top off each flute with champagne. Give it a quick stir, then garnish with more basil. They’ll come out a sunset color, which seems sadly appropriate.
Serve with George Benson turned up to six and the last Saturday of the summer.
Here are the two I just made.
Louie Armstrong, “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans.” This is a live performance, but I haven’t been able to figure out where or when. I do know the musicianship on display here is breathtaking.
We have a choice here between a Hurricane or a Mint Julep, but Melissa still has all that mint growing in the garden. So, Mint Julep it is.
We also have to hurry up and play this one — and drink this one — before we lose the very last of the summer weather. Monument Hill cooled off a couple weeks ago, and doesn’t look likely to warm back up very much before the autumn sets in.
2.5 ounces Kentucky bourbon – Maker’s Mark preferred
2 fresh mint sprigs
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon water
If you happen to have your wife’s grandmother’s old julep glasses, by all means give them a quick polish and use them. If not, a Collins glass will do. My wife likes hers a little weaker and a little sweeter, so I double the water and sugar for her.
Trim your mint sprigs so that they’re the right height to serve as garnish. Trim off all the lower leaves, then muddle them in the bottom of the glass with the sugar and the water. Muddle them hard and release all that minty goodness.
Fill the glass all the way to the top with shaved or crushed ice, pour in the bourbon, then top off with a little more ice. Stick in a straw (we’ve got to get silver ones to go with the glasses!) then garnish with the sprigs.
Here are the two I just made.
AND ANOTHER THING: I’d usually leave it at that, but sipping at my cocktail and listening to Armstrong got me thinking. Or, as close to thinking as one can do on a sunny Saturday afternoon spent sipping at a cocktail and listening to Armstrong. What I’m thinking is, the huge debt we owe to Louis Armstrong.
Without Armstrong, jazz and pop as we know them simply wouldn’t exist. He did more than any other single artist to define them both — and he did so as an instrumentalist of unparalleled talent and as a vocalist of sublime and restrained emotiveness. Without Louis, how do you get to Charlie Parker? Without Louis, how do you get to Ella or Frank? He’s the guy who started it all.
Oh, and he wasn’t a bad actor, either, with 18 movies to his name.
We’re lucky we had him. I’m going back to my cocktail now.
Despite a deep and rich musical tradition, Mexico doesn’t produce a whole lot of jazz. But my lovely bride really wanted margaritas this afternoon, and who am I to say no to that?
So I did some digging, and then some more digging, and discovered Magos Herrera from Mexico City. She has a lovely voice, great control, and her band has a sound just right for sunshine, a deck chair, and an icy margarita.
4 ounces Patron Silver
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1.5 ounces (that’s 1 jigger) Cointreau
2 lime wedges
Plenty of ice
Salt the rims of two margarita glasses, and put a handful of ice in each. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, pour in your ingredients. I always go in this order: Lime, Cointreau, Patron. Does it matter? Probably not. Give it a few gentle shakes, then strain the mixture into the glasses. Garnish with lime.
Here’s one of the two I just made. Melissa has already wandered off to the deck with hers.
Julie London is pure sex. And in this performance of “Bye Bye Blackbird” she’s even more purerer sex. The bass player sure knows it. Try watching him for a few moments, if it’s possible to take your eyes off of Julie. Stay through to the end for a perfect final touch.
We’ll need a cocktail with just as much sex appeal, yet slightly bittersweet to match the lyric. A classic champagne cocktail fits the bill.
A sugar cube
A decent brut champagne (Korbel or similar sparkling wine will do nicely)
A twist of orange
This one is so easy, it’s almost as sinful as the song. Soak the sugar cube in the bitters, drop it in the bottom of your champagne flute, then fill it with champagne. But please remember to pour gently and slowly, or the bubbles will be spilling up over the top like Julie is almost spilling out of that dress.
Garnish with the twist, and you’re done.
Here are the two I just made.
BLEG: According to YouTube, the bass player is with the Bobby Troup Quintet, but that’s it. Can anyone ID him? Red Mitchell, maybe?
Cy Coleman playing for Hugh Hefner and assorted Playmates in Hef’s Chicago penthouse? Nothing but a dry gin martini will do. And a smoking jacket, if you’ve got one.
4.5 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
1/4 teaspoon dry vermouth
Two handfuls of ice
A large cocktail shaker
A nice big chunk of lemon zest
An easier way to measure the vermouth is to just pour a little into the vermouth cap. However you do it, pour it into the martini glass, give it a swirl, then gently flick out into the sink whatever doesn’t stick. Take your lemon zest and rub it lightly around the rim of the glass, inside and out. Give it a gentle twist right inside the glass, then deposit it there.
Put the ice in the shaker, then pour in the gin. Now just shake the bejeebus out of that thing for 30 seconds. I mean, hard. Like it’s an Olympic event. I don’t mean for you to bruise the gin — I want you to send it to the hospital. We’re making martinis the Chicago way.
When you pour it into the glass, your martini should be almost milky white, with ice crystals floating in it. Now take that first sip — quickly! — before the effect goes away. It won’t last long, I promise. Ideally, neither will your martini.
Here’s the one I just made.
Poncho Sanchez requires a mojito, natch. This track from Conga Blue one of my favorites, but he may never make a better album than Afro-Caribbean Fantasy. Really, both of them belong in your collection.
While you play the song and maybe pull up Amazon, let’s make a mojito.
Several mint leaves
One sprig of mint
The juice of one-half lime
2 ounces of your favorite light rum
1 tablespoon sugar
Put the leaves, lime juice, and sugar in the bottom of a highball glass, then muddle it. Fill the glass halfway with ice, add the rum, and stir quickly. Fill the glass the rest of the way with ice, then top off with club soda. Give it one last stir, and garnish with the sprig.
Here’s the one I just made.
It’s official: Facebook is forcing us all to switch our profiles to the new “Timeline” format, whether we want it or not. I can assure you that, empirically, it sucks.
Back when I was studying journalism, rather than making fun of journalists, they taught us that a newspaper or magazine layout should follow a Z pattern. A reader’s eyes quite naturally start at the top left corner, scan right, zip down and to the left, then right again — so your layout should work with human nature to make the sale.
They taught us to put the newest and most important information — the item that would get readers to spend a quarter — on the top left corner. (A quarter? Yeah, I was learning this a long time ago. But it’s a timeless lesson.) If the big item was big enough, give it the whole top line of the Z. The second biggest story follows on the next part of the Z, followed by the third, and then the fourth — if there’s room for four. Three, they told us, was more or less ideal. Too much information, and the reader loses focus before he ponies up the 25¢.
Here’s the layout for Timeline.
What dominates the top third of the screen? Static information. Your name, your banner (I don’t have a banner yet, so just a headshot), and some personal data like job and where you went to school. You know, stuff that doesn’t change very much, or at all. In other words, the first thing a visitor to your profile sees is a bunch of crap they already know. And lots of people are putting up big, busy banners which dominate your eyeballs. Timeline isn’t as bad as MySpace, but only because Facebook doesn’t let you use a zillion different fonts or animated GIFs. But let’s keep that quiet, before Zuckerberg gets any more bright ideas.
The next place your eyeballs travel is to the status update box. That’s fine for you, lousy for visitors. After that, something called “Activity.” Well, I know who I just friended, and you’re probably not all that interested. So… why the prominence?
Scientists concluded that CFL light bulbs can be harmful to healthy skin cells.
“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,” said lead researcher Miriam Rafailovich, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University, in New York, in a statement. “Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.”
According to Rafailovich, with or without TiO2 (a chemical found in sunblock), incandescent bulbs of the same light intensity had zero effects on healthy skin.
The scientists found that cracks in the CFL bulbs phosphor coatings yielded significant levels of UVC and UVA in all of the bulbs — purchased in different locations across two counties — they examined.
I was an early adopter of CFLs, but have since removed almost all of them from our house. Not because of reports like this one, or because of the potential for expensive cleanups after a broken one, or any of the other many problems the screwy little bulbs create.
No, I took them out because the light sucks. And also because they’re too expensive, don’t last as long as advertised, and therefore aren’t any cheaper to run.
I still keep a few installed, mostly outside. The sconces around our house have frosted covers, which masks just how damn ugly the light is. Besides, we’re trying to make it possible to see the sidewalk at night — not to put on makeup in the bathroom mirror or prepare tasty-looking food in the kitchen. It’s also nice to run the equivalent of ten 100-watt fixtures on just a fraction of the apparent wattage.
We keep two in the garage, also — but that’s out of three ceiling fixtures. I’ll explain in a moment.
CFLs broke a lot of promises.
I think you’ll find that Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz go best with an Old Fashioned.
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon.
1 sugar cube
1 dash bitters
1 teaspoon mineral water
1 handful whole ice cubes
And, of course, an Old Fashioned rocks glass
A grownup cocktail doesn’t need a bunch of useless fruit in it — so put away the maraschino cherries and the giant orange wedge.
Hit the sugar cube with the bitters, then muddle it into the water. Add ice, pour in the bourbon, and quickly stir.
Yes, you could just use a tablespoon of simple syrup and skip the cube and the muddling. But that would be like a heroin addict using a pre-bent spoon.
Here’s the one I just made. Cheers.
One of the big selling points of Microsoft’s Surface tablet is that it will run the full Office suite natively. Ars Technica‘s Peter Bright got to take the beta version out for a test drive and discovered — no pun intended — only the surface functions have been touch-optimized:
And… that’s about it, the full extent of the finger support that Microsoft has added to Office 2013. If it doesn’t sound like much, there’s a good reason for that: it isn’t. For stylus users, the company says that accuracy has been improved, particularly in OneNote, but using the software with fingers is problematic.
“Problematic” might be putting it gently, after reading all of Bright’s article. Now this is only a beta version, but MS has promised that Surface and Office will ship in October. That’s not a very long time to rid three or four major, legacy applications of dozens of menus of touch-unfriendly drop-downs and radio buttons and all the rest.
Worse would be to release it as-is, with a promise to “fix” the problems later. Just ask RIM, which shipped it’s PlayBook without even a simple email app — and never recovered.
Anyway, it all makes sense to me now why Microsoft has pushed Surface as the tablet with a keyboard. I wrote last month right after the big reveal that readers should
look at how Microsoft has introduced its tablet: With a keyboard. They aren’t saying, “We’ve built a great tablet.” They’re saying, “We’ve built a tablet with a great keyboard.” It’s a tablet that’s trying really hard to be a laptop when it grows up.
Turns out, you’re going to need that keyboard — and its built-in laptop-like touchpad — if you really want to take advantage of Office. I concluded then that the Surface is “confusing product from a company which seems confused by what a tablet is supposed to do,” and one month later there doesn’t seem to be any reason to conclude anything different.
Tablets aren’t laptops. People use them differently, even when they’re performing the same tasks as on a mouse-and-keyboard computer. Apple understood this, and re-wrote (and re-imagined) their iWork and iLife suites from the ground up for iOS. Even the iPhone and iPad versions have major differences between them, since the iPad’s big screen opens up whole new possibilities which just won’t work on the iPhone.
But Steve Ballmer wants “Windows everywhere,” dammit, and he’s going to keep pounding square pegs into round holes right up until he blows yet another emerging computing market.
Apple has won an injunction to stop Samsung from selling older models of the Galaxy Tab in the United States:
“Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products,” [U.S. District Court Judge Lucy] Koh said in her ruling on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The ban marks one of the first major victories for Apple in the U.S. as it continues to bombard rivals with patent complaints. Apple’s win isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, however: Samsung plans to appeal the decision, of course, and this ban only affects the Galaxy Tab 10.1, a tablet that was introduced more than a year ago. Samsung has already unveiled a newer version of the device — the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 — which is not impacted by Judge Koh’s ruling.
The highlight of the case came very early on, when Samsung’s own lawyers were unable to tell their own product apart from an iPad from ten feet.
I’m not sure the injunction will actually mean very much, although it’s certainly a vindication for Apple.
IBM once built the world’s best portable keyboard. Its official name was “TrackWrite,” but everybody called it “the butterfly” because of the way it spread its wings when you opened the computer. John Karidis designed it for the ThinkPad 701 back in 1995, and watch this baby in action.
It’s so well engineered, that there are still butterflies in perfect working condition, even though the last one was produced in 1996. That’s right: although the 701 was IBM’s best-selling laptop, the butterfly keyboard was abandoned after only one year. TrackWrite was a wonderful indulgence for a laptop with a 10-inch screen, but the very next year after it was introduced, 12-inch screens became the new norm — and bigger screens allowed for a full-sized keyboard without any fancy engineering.
Just like a real butterfly, the TrackWrite was beautiful but short-lived.
That’s the first thing I thought of when I watched Microsoft introduce its new Surface tablet computers last night: A gorgeous keyboard without a market. Microsoft has designed what is undoubtedly the best portable keyboard ever… for a touch tablet. In fact, if you go to Microsoft’s promo page, this is the very first image you’re presented with.
That’s how MS wants to introduce you to their new tablet — a tiny little screen with a great big keyboard. Scroll down the page a bit, and Microsoft reminds you that “some activities call for a keyboard.” The description continues:
Surface comes with an integrated Kickstand and a revolutionary, 3mm thin, pressure sensitive cover that doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad. Your Touch Cover connects to your Surface with a single magnetic click. Now you can chat with friends and respond to emails comfortably.
It’s really a very nifty piece of kit, and it’s included for free. Apple charges you a less-than-nifty $69 for their wireless keyboard, and it doesn’t attach to anything at all, not even with magnets. But you have to wonder if Apple doesn’t still have the right approach.
Somehow, despite the paucity of news this week, our Friendly Neighborhood Vodkapundit found something going on in the Blogosphere:
Here are the links to the items that Steve mentioned in his video: