On Tablet Computing

So what do I think about the iPad? I think I don’t need one now. When I was asked my thoughts on Tuesday, I responded that I would purchase a competing device in 2012. In my mind, the iPad is no game changer similar to the iPod or iPhone. Just look at the number of tablets released at CES this year.

But make no mistake – the iPad is a sign of things to come. While missing some essential features in my mind, the iPad will improve with time as Apple learns to listen to its fans and gadget lovers and its apps, memory and contents grow. The truth is, I believe that by 2014 most of the people you associate with will carry some form of tablet computing device. It will always be plugged in to your preferences and you will be able to obtain your music, photo and book/periodical library with a few flicks of your finger. New television and podcast episodes will be downloaded automatically while you sleep for the next day’s enjoyment. Thanks to services such as Spotify (when it becomes available in the U.S.), almost any song ever recorded will be available for a small monthly subscription. The response to any question you could dream of within a few minutes reach. Your phone calls will be made through the device via Bluetooth instead of through holding a physical phone to your ear; international calls will be merely pennies through Google Voice or another VOIP provider. And this is just the technology that currently exists. In fact, the above activities are already many people’s reality.

Some people will embrace this future; some people dread it. But, in the end, it’s irrelevant because this future is inevitable. Moore’s law of computing memory and speed will continue into this decade as well and the results will bring dramatic change in the way we interact and spend our time.

The only thing I regret as we move to more personal, wireless, portable, always-connected, multimedia, touchscreen devices is that old media may begin becoming expensive again. After years of obtaining information for free from online news sites, the idea of paying for it is unappealing. It’s good for old media; bad for consumers. But I also believe that information wants to be free and much of it will find a way to break the chains of subscription fees in time. It’s all just a matter of time. Just wait to see what the future will bring.

A Year of Home Ownership

It has been one year since my wife and I bought our first house. The year went by very quickly, as each successive year tends to do. We have had some unexpected costs with the house as well as some intentional costs. But that is part of home ownership and was to be expected. What I have not been ready for, however, is the amount of time home maintenance requires. In the evenings after a long day of work or on the weekend when there are other things to fill your time, the house requires upkeep and attention. Having two young kids doesn’t make this upkeep any easier, but the kids are at least able to each have their own room and space to run around. We even have a playroom for them and space to keep all of their toys and knickknacks that seem to multiply week by week.

But despite the work, I don’t regret buying the house one year ago. I don’t know what the value of the house would be appraised at given the current real estate market or how difficult it will be to sell the house one day. But we knew that would be the risk when we decided to buy in what many saw as a declining housing market. Some people told us it was a great time to buy; others told us would be stupid to do so. The verdict is still out on whether it was a good financial decision or not for us. It has definitely been an improvement in our lifestyle. I’m just happy we didn’t buy the same house a few years ago. If that were the case we would really be feeling the pain today.

A City Reborn

The tragic news from Haiti the past few days conjures up images of another modern earthquake that too many people have already forgotten, even though it occurred only fifteen years ago this week. On the morning of January 17, 1995, Kobe, Japan was hit with the most devastating earthquake since the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. I remember eating breakfast before going to school and seeing images of the damage the quake left in its wake. The Kobe earthquake (or Hanshin earthquake, as it is sometimes referred to) literally destroyed the port city of Kobe and left thousands of people homeless during the coldest time of the year. Little did I know then that Kobe would forever become part of my life story.

Fast forward almost four years from the quake. I arrived in Kobe at the end of October 1998. The Kobe that I remember was not destroyed at all, but was built up as a brand new, beautiful city. What was an industrial, port city had been reborn as a modern, clean, high-tech waterfront city in less than four years. Images of Seattle, one of Kobe’s sister cities, were floating through my head during my first few days in Kobe as I learned the city, with the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Throughout my two years in Japan, however, I spent very little time in Kobe. The entire two years was spent in Kansai, among its wonderful people, but was spent in and around Osaka and Kyoto. But I will always remember the cleanliness and beauty of Kobe, the brand-new city by the sea.

Tritonal – The Air Up There

Since this past September I have spent hours listening to “The Air Up There” podcast by Tritonal. It’s essentially a two-hour long podcast of progressive trance music. I have been listening to it when I walk to the train in the morning, as I read on the train to and from the City, when I work-out, and just when I want something to listen to. The music may not be for everyone and admittedly is not the best when you just want to relax or try to sleep, but it’s great to keep you moving at a rapid pace. The ambient sounds and great vocals mesh well with the breakbeats and trance music. I have been a fan of electronica for a long time and am glad I found this podcast. I have listened to some of the episodes dozens of times. Thank you, Tritonal, for the great work. 

I dare anyone who believes that electronica does not take talent to create to listen to The Air Up There. You can find it here and on iTunes