This is Gonna Be HUGE!

This started off as a comment on Kneale Mann’s blog, but then I realized that a lot of my regular readers are probably expecting me to weigh in on the iPad, and why not! Ironically, Kneale’s post is about all the free publicity that the iPad is getting. ¬†ūüôā

There are a lot of people griping about what the iPad doesn’t have, and its name:

iTablet was the obvious (good) choice IMHO, but it breaks the ‘two-sylabble rule’ of the Apple naming conventions, and the recent predilection for the use of the letters ‘iP’ at the start (iPod, iPhone). ¬†Complaints about the name are missing the real story here:

All the coverage I have read misses just how much this device is going to revolutionize everything! Apple has created a huge developer community and worked them into a lather over the potential of becoming rich, famous, or rich & famous developing the next multi-million-downloaded iPhone app.  Now they provide those same developers a new platform to innovate on.

Lots of analysts seem to think that this is about Kindle vs. iPad, but that misses the point too.  The Kindle is a very well executed specialized reading device which will continue to do well in the segment of eBook readers.  The iPad provides the opportunity for innovations of much greater scope.

Expect big revolutions in:

  • Medical charting and visualization
  • Marketing
  • Gaming
  • Graphic design
  • eBook technology
  • GPS & mapping
  • Education
  • Human interface design
  • How you enjoy video and music
  • Point of sale enablement
  • Retail displays

Just as an example: imagine you go into the local car dealership, and instead of being handed the usual marketing glossies you are handed a iPad with an interior and exterior visualization of your new car with all the interior and exterior features & colours, exactly to order.  The same could be applied to making all the selections for a new home, where colour and material choices can be visualized in a 3D rendered world navigated by intuitive screen gestures and/or movement of the whole device.

The tablet itself is a nice piece of work at a compelling price point (especially compared to the capabilities offered by netbooks), but the real monster unleashed here is the rabid pool of developers who now have a completely new form-factor to innovate on. In 6-12 months, the folks at Apple will look like geniuses (again).

Will Apple Finally Kill the Radio Star?

As I was growing up, the only way I could get introduced to new music was listening to a few select stations that I could pick up in our back-woods log cabin. ¬† Aside from one musically enlightened friend who gave me guidance (thanks!), I was at the whims of these stations DJ’s and program managers for the music I was exposed to.

What is the dynamic today? What brings to my attention the hidden gems that would otherwise hide in my thousands of songs? What tells me what new music I could listen to?

Of the several options I have tried I find myself returning to the Genius Playlist Creator and Genius Recommendations on iPod/iTunes. I suspect that many others of the other iPod/iPhone users out there have done the same.

In some ways this is a great thing:

  • The music is tailored to your tastes (the ‘demographic of one’)
  • It fits with your schedule, and not some time slot defined by radio listener demographics
  • Its location independent (well, ok satellite radio offers this too)
  • You don’t have to hear ‘popular’ songs multiple times a day
  • While the radio station was keen to appeal to everyone they risked pleasing nobody
  • As your mood changes, so can your music
  • You can easily try new music and buy

But there are drawbacks:

  • Your music is now controlled by an algorithm; while its amazing, I notice many song show up VERY often (almost like iTunes is trying push certain artists… hmmm)
  • You are only pointed to new music in iTune’s library; it makes me wonder what I’m missing… does iTunes bother with fringe artists?
  • There is always the risk that Apple decides to actually manipulate the results to promote music not based on taste, but who is paying more to be promoted (hey – this sounds familiar)

I’ve tried the new forms of radio: internet-based, satellite radio, even a brief foray back into local radio, but they are all basically the same formula… ¬†I think they have finally lost me to the ‘demographic of one’.


How to Revolutionize Your Note Taking, For Free!

Mind mapping on PersonalBrain

Mind mapping on PersonalBrain

I have many times tried to find new methods for keeping track of things by taking notes, creating databases or the like, but always loose my discipline as the storage medium gets large and unweildy.

So I was already pretty skeptical when my friend Omer pointed me to ‘PersonalBrain’ 4.5 by¬† After about 3-4 months using this tool regularly I am more and more enamored with it.¬† It is the only simple information management tool that actually seems to get more useful the more information that goes into it.¬† Also, it doesn’t require any setup or great thought about the relationships between information like a databases do.¬† You just enter material, manipulate it, and add links between related items.

The GUI is really what makes this work.¬† You can add ideas or ‘thoughts’ with parent and child relationships on the fly, and then make changes as you find better ways to rationalize your ‘Brain’.¬† You can then use a point and click interface to navigate the brain you have created.¬† The mind map concept is a web of linked thoughts that is supposed to be a much more natural way to organize information, since it mimics the way the brain organizes material.

I suppose that this tool would not be particularly attractive for very linear thinkers, but for people like myself, who are always (sometimes to my frustration) jumping from topic to topic with loosely related thoughts, this is a great way to capture your thinking and find out what you really are on about!

The best thing about this tool, is that you can get a very useful version of it for free.¬† So useful, in fact, that while I would like to buy a more full-featured version, the $150 jump to the ‘Core’ version is too dear and doesn’t add much to what I already get out of the free version.¬† If I used a PC, I might consider the $250 PersonalBrain Pro version that integrates into Office on the PC, giving you powerful e-mail management, but hey, if you read this blog at all, you know how unlikely that is for me!

You can download PersonalBrain for free HERE, which gives you a 30 day trial of the full version.¬† But don’t worry, if you get hooked, the free version is still really useful!¬† The tool is available on the Mac, Linux/Unix and the PC; with slightly different features.

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