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Tom Briant

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Monday, April 25, 2011

A Prediction of the iPad from 1994, which usually engages in snarky comments about ephemeral people, has a great story about a clip on YouTube.

Knight-Ridder newspapers back in 1994 thought far enough ahead to put together a think tank to plan for the future. You can see in this YouTube clip that they got a lot of the details right. True, the tablet uses a stylus instead of your fingers to touch the tablet's screen and the icons are straight out of 1994's Windows 3.1/Mac OS Classic. But the rest of the presentation looks like it's today's news. Even the plans for the advertisements of the future, going from black and white 2-D text and pictures to full color text and pictures, seem au courant. See an item you like and want more details? Just tap on it and see all the features. Just like an on-line Frys ad.

One detail they didn't get right is the pervasiveness of the Internet. The 1994 tablet had local 2-way radio capabilities (cell phone?). If you wanted to read your local paper while you were on the road, though, you would have to use a magnetic storage card that you refreshed at a kiosk. Public Wi-Fi was not in the designer's minds; but the need for something to do its job was.

So kudos to Knight-Ridder for thinking about the future in terms beyond "What if we put in Page 3 girls like they do in England? That'll boost circulation!" Pay attention to the term "bridge of familiarity" You'll hear that a lot as the tablet/iPad continues to evolve in terms of hardware and software.

Tom Briant

Monday, April 11, 2011

Commodore goes retro

I'm going off the Apple train of thought for this post.

The Commodore 64 is back and apparently it has a future.

I'm not talking about men going back to the things of their youth and hitting up eBay for an 8-bit C-64 in the original box, plus the 5 1/4 disk drive and heck, the cassette tape drive, too.

No, I'm talking about the reorganized Commodore USA.

Commodore Computing has new ownership and they want to capitalize on ‘80s nostalgia.

Their Website has a retro look to it and takes orders for the C-64 in several configurations. For $250, you get the classic case, chassis and keyboard; plus a multi-format card reader with 1 USB 2.0 port. For $595, you get the Intel Atom (the same CPU as many netbooks) CPU and motherboard, NVIDA Ion2 graphics, 2GB of DDR2 memory and a 160 GB SATA hard drive. You get a DVD tray drive , a 250 Gb hard drive and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at $695. You get a DVD slot drive and a 500 Gb hard drive at $795 and for $895, a 1 Terabyte drive and a BluRay Drive!

I should mention that the built-in graphic options include VGA, DVI, and HDMI. So for $895 you should be able to play a BluRay movie. I say should because...

The software development lags behind the hard ware. Right now, you get a CD/DVD with Ubuntu 10.04, which is a good operating system that doesn't include a way to view a BluRay movie immediately. In turn, Commodore will mail customers the Commodore 1.0 operating system which includes emulation software for the classic C-64 8-bit system and a collection of games.

Could you run Windows 7 on this thing? I don’t see why not. You’d want the 32-bit version, though.

Could you run OS X 10.5 or 10.6 on this thing? I confess to curiosity, because a popular hardware hack has netbooks with the Intel Atom CPU running 10.5 and 10.6. I understand that Apple put the kibosh on this type of hack after 10.6.2.

Before any of you plunk down anything on the plastic, read Lance Ulanoff’s reminisce about his C-64 that he wrote his college papers on. Lance sees no reason to go back to the past.

But the bands Flock of Seagulls and Bowwowwow played Los Angeles recently. There’s always a market for nostalgia and the things of our childhoods. I guess if you got the cash...

Me, I’m going for a Mac mini and OS X 10.7. And an iPad when I can afford it.

Listening to an old cassette tape in my boombox,

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Voice

Friday, April 1, 2011

Snakes on an iPhone

Welcome back! I've been gone too long. Sorry about that.

It's April 1st, the traditional time of hoaxes. Haven't got any. Instead, I nominate the Twitter feed of Bronx Zoo's Cobra, which amused us while the Zoo tried to entice the snake back. Rodent-scented wood shavings did the trick and the snake (she has no name-yet) is now back in custody. Safe and sound. No mice harmed in her return, either.

How is this Apple related? Well, according to the Twitter feed, which we always believe (!), the snake wrote her tweets on an iPhone. Get her an iPad!



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