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Friday, January 7, 2011

iPads and Ends

The V2 story is final coming to a conclusion. On my desk is a box containing all the V2 e-cigarette materials purchased over the last month or two. They are being returned and the company has already refunded all of the money.

This seems like a victory for the consumer.

As for the business owner, V2 in particular, there are still some issues.

One is the concept of credit card purchasing and shipping. Come to find out that the modus operendi at V2 was to take an order for a product which was not fully in stock, i.e., a kit that contained multiple items some of which were known not to be in stock. Then to fully charge the credit card you provided for the entire purchase amount. Then to ship all the in stock items only - leaving your credit card to fund the difference between the first particle shipment and second particle shipment.

This is a big no no for any company that takes orders and ships products. I believe that its part of the agreement you make when you agree to accept credit cards.

The e-cigarette world is still the wild and wholly west - fortunes to be made, etc. Stigmatized smokers are desperate to escape the high tobacco taxes and scorn of the elite. Where there is desperation there will always be profiteers.

My iPad arrived a few days ago and I have been writing my blogs on it for the last couple of days. Over all I would say that, so far, I am reasonably happy with it. However, there are still some big issues.

Most disappointing is that the iPad 32G Wifi that I purchased does NOT have GPS. Apparently Apple is very clever about hiding this - they never say anywhere that it does not have one - its just sort of not mentioned anywhere. Only after I received mine and I complained to the seller it wasn't working did I find out that there wasn't one to work. I bought it for, among other things, software develop of some music and sound applications, so it won't really matter - but its still disappointing that I was fooled.

The lack of flash is a problem if you intend to do anything serios with your iPad - like write. Many websites, like Google blogspot, use these features for various editors and other tools and its a pain when they don't work. So while I write the blog on this new iPad I still have to use my MacBook to publish it.

I will have to explore the other non-Safari browsers as well - but that seems even more stupid - to have to pick a browser to use based on what you want to do. There are several out there - including one that runs flash on a remove server and sends you the output - but I doubt it would work for anything interactive.

Safari on the iPad at least does not seem to have any way to get at the underlying link for images. Another big pain. In Firefox you just click the image and a menu appears to get at the link location. No dice on the iPad.

I also bought an Apple wireless keyboard. Required in my book for doing anything on the iPad that requires more than about 25 characters of text input. This works quite well and it seems to sleep and wake up in a reasonable, automatic way. The only annoyance is that if I pick up the iPad and take it somewhere else without the keyboard to work I have to go and tell it to turn off the bluetooth - otherwise there is no way to enter text.

I also bought an Apple Magic Trackpad - stupidly thinking it would work with the iPad. No dice. There are several interesting things about this. First, there is a bizarre religious hate for mouse-type input devices for the iPad. Post after post on forums about "why on earth would you need a mouse for your iPad' (the Trackpad is basically a mouse).

The biggest problem is that if you prop up the iPad and use the keyboard you are left with reaching to the screen to do most everything you would do with a mouse - like go back and select text, hit buttons, and so on. Sure you can do it - but its literally a stretch. The trackpad would make this just a wrist-motion issue.

A jailbroken iPad will work with the Apple wireless mouse - so that's next on my agenda - to jailbreak my iPad and see if I can get the trackpad working. I don't see why not.

What's more curious is why the iPad does not support the mouse. My guess is that it makes using the iPad just enough like a toy (that is, not having a mouse) that people will not through away their computers or laptops for iPads. The 32G Wifi iPad + keyboard + trackpad is probably about $800 USD in total. Quite a bit less than a low-end Apple Mac or laptop.

The combo has the advantage that you can take the "screen" part off and use it as its own device quite easily - not something you can do with a MacBook. This is very handy - I leave the iPad on the kitchen table when I am not using it. If in want to read or do something with it while I watch TV I simply pick it up and start using it. Its small enough not to be a problem - a laptop would be quite a bit bigger and more cumbersome.

The final thing I bought with the iPad is a sort of compass-type stand. It looks like a metal compass you might have used in high school. It makes a good stand for the iPad and its convenient and closes up to a fairly small foot print.

As for iPad and iPhone software development: I have gotten started with that. I looked at this a long time ago - probably iOS 1.0 or 2.0. It was still pretty immature at that point. Now its quite a bit better and everything, like the devleopment iPhone simulator, is reasonably mature as well.

I have been reading the Apple Human Interface Guidelines for iOS (which is the iPhone/iPad operating system software). The perspective for these devices is very different from a UI perspective than, say, a laptop. The focus is on what I would consider to be very game-like, low attention-span issues.

Very different from a commercial application where you have a dedicated GUI and task in mind when you write software. I will cover more of this as things unfold.

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