Posts Tagged ‘computers’

Steambox – who asked for this?

January 8, 2014

the Valve Steam Box appears to be getting closer to being unleashed upon the world. A little back ground.  For anyone who doesn’t know, isn’t in the scene or whatever, there is a PC gaming service called Steam. You buy games from their website, and download/play them with their software.  It’s hugely popular for probably one reason: they sell games dirt cheap. The only problem, if you can call it that, is that they are PC games. To bridge this gap they are now bringing out Steam Boxes, an attempt to bridge PC gaming and console gaming. You’re supposed to be able to easily hook this thing up to your television, and build your gaming library with Steam.

Here’s my problem: why?  If you have a computer that can handle steam, you probably have a computer that can be hooked up to your television. so, just hook it up to your television. There are plenty of videos on youtube to show you how to do it.  Want a controller for it? Buy one. Amazon has a bunch of them. In a couple of days, it can be at your door. No problem.

Now, maybe you don’t have a computer that can use Steam or be hooked up to your television. Maybe it makes sense to just buy a steam box to open up access to computer games. Except from the article above it says the cheapest steambox looks to be $500. That’s not cheap to me. If you’re throwing $500 down to play computer games…why not put that  $500 towards an actual computer that  can do more than just game?

So who asked for this? A moderately expensive neutered gaming system that will be largely redundant with  your other computer sitting in your living room.  Maybe this is something necessary for Steam to grow, but I just don’t see the need for it. I don’t understand the hype for it, or any of the want, when the majority of its purpose can already be filled by oher machines you’re likely to already have in your house.

 

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Typewriters, the new bottled water

April 1, 2011

I have a feeling that, among thirty year olds, I might be a bit of a rarity. I remember Johnny Carson, not from best of videos but from staying up far too late at too early of an age to watch him. I remember Cheers and Nightcourt, also not from re-runs. I remember the Atari 2600, DOS, and a time when the Lions were a decent (though not good) football team. And judging from my girlffriend’s poetry class, knowing what hammer is may also be a rarity (three guys, no idea what the claw of the hammer was called, one confusing it with the handle, which I’d personally love to see in use). I have also used a typewriter, manual and electric.

Apparently they are coming back into style.

I find this cute. Every typewriter I have used has been a sturdy, well constructed machine. There is something reassuring to this. The slap of the keys, the movement of paper, the rise and fall of the ribbon of ink, revealing a new letter with each fall. They were also a pain in th ass. You make a mistake and you have to break out the whiteout, brush it over, move the paper down, hope to god you line it up right, re-type it.  Rewriting was a literal thing then. To redo something, you literally redid it, from start to finish. If you happned to start moving too quickly and your fingers slipped a bit, you would suddenly find yourself with a handful of metal keys jammed together, stuck.

Personally, I don’t miss them. The keyboard might not offer the same tactile pleasures and reassurances, but it offers a helluva lot of convenience.  Maybe it’s one of those things where, unless you had to do it in some point in your life, it has a certain nostalgic appeal. But having to use one in the past, I don’t miss them, and I’ll make this trade every day of the week. Viva la office suite.

Ipad – unImpressed

January 28, 2010

I probably shouldn’t have had my expectations set quite as high as they were. Right off, I admit, that I am partly to blame for how let down I am over the recent unveiling of Apple’s Ipad. If you have an Ipod touch, you essentially have the Ipad in miniature. But listing the shortcomings of the Ipad is probably something best left for another site (like this one). Instead, I’ll just mention how it falls short from a writing/reading perspective.

First, it’s funny to see Simon&Schuster ignoring earlier comments about where they see prices for ebooks as Apple pushed for a much lower ($13-15) price point:

Publishers acknowledge that digital content should be priced lower than the print content. “We listened to what consumers have said,” said Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster.

Anyone who wants to go back and look at a previous blog entry, I have a quote from a Simon and Schuster representative saying that they envisioned ebooks costing about the same as a hardcover ($35) because they would chuck some extras onto it, like the bonus features on a DVD.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a big difference between this and a Kindle beyond the Apple having color and, at least, a $300 higher price tag. Considering it’s questionable that the Mac will debut with nearly the size of library Amazon already offers, while also pushing a higher price point, it’s not a great short term outlook. When you add in that the Ipad doesn’t support flash (you know, that technology that makes youtube possible) and its utility as a blog/news reader becomes hindered as nearly any embedded video becomes unwatchable.

On the writing front, it’s primary input seems to be an on-screen keyboard. I’m not a huge fan of laptop keyboards because I find their compact size uncomfortable for long stretches of typing. The onscreen keyboard looks even more crammed together and not built for any sort of writing session. There is a keyboard accessory that comes attached to a re-charging dock. Looking at the pictures and reading specks on Apple’s website, however, and it appears that the keyboard is literally attached to the dock like your head is connected to a neck. I have to assume that it’s on a wire to allow you to sit back in your chair a bit and type but I could just as easily be wrong.

On top of that, it appears the Ipad also doesn’t support the use of a stylus. One of the most substantial positives, for me, when I look at buying a tablet is the ability to flip it around, grab a stylus, and literally jot notes down on it. For attending class, it seems ideal. I can do away with a notebook that tears and wears, that often has several classes intermixed through out it or the need to have several competing notebooks. Instead, I can just open separate document files and keep ALL of my notes in one little place that I can tote with me anywhere. If it has a mic, I can even simply record the lectures/class and maybe convert the audio into text. Not including the ability to use a stylus obviously removes this ability entirely. So instead of being a useful tool for a writer/student, it loses a lot of functionality.

Also, there’s the inability to multitask. Like to listen to music while you write? Well, you better go buy an ipod then. Want to do some research on the web while you work on short story? Better save because you can’t open both.  Want to work on a story you’ve already started on another computer? You’re going to have to buy an adapter because the Ipad doesn’t even have a USB port.

Maybe I was expecting too much simply because it was being made by Apple. While I’m not a huge fan of their OS, I love their basic style and the functionality of their equipment. Having been looking at “convertible” tablets for awhile, as well as conventional tablets, I was hoping Mac would find a way to improve on the basic concept and at a price point that would make it a realistic option for myself. Unfortunately, Apple appears to have made a device with no real purpose. It can be good for viewing movies you download (as long as they aren’t flash) or just reading something (though not both at the same time) but nothing much beyond that. If you’re looking for a device to just read e-literature with, though, I think you’re better off just buying a kindle or one of the similar devices. They are cheaper and the screens are easier on the eyes. If you’re looking for something to write on, and are investing at least $500, I have to suggest going with a more full featured laptop (of whatever configuration you like).  The convertible tablets are bit heavier than the Ipad, but they have far more functionality. And if you’re set on a tablet, you should be able to find one that at least offers the use of a stylus.

edit: just found this article about a third party company offering a stylus compatible with the Ipad. at least someone out there is realizing that a stylus is actually a pretty useful device when all you have to interact with your computer is a touch screen.