Mesmerizing iPad

Today iTouched the iPad.  I mean I spent a few minutes holding it, touching its screen with my dirty fingers, rotating it, shaking it, browsing to a few sites that people said won’t work, checking out my own blog on it, and doing a few more trivial and usual things.  What can I say?  It’s mesmerizing. Hypnotic.

I am not a big fan of Apple products.  I never had one and I am not planning to have one.  I appreciate the slickness and everything, but it’s just not my cup of tea.  Especially at those prices.  And I wasn’t ever much interested in their products either.

But the iPad seemed different.  Nobody could quite figure out what it was, and even reviews from those people who had the device seemed confusing.  It’s seemed like a cool toy that nobody knew how to play with.  Which usually means you either have something revolutionary or something really stupid.   And Apple and Steve Jobs aren’t stupid, so circumstances were suggesting revolutionary.

After seeing it with my own eyes and touching it with my own fingers, I have to agree.  It is revolutionary.  Not necessarily in a way that everybody should run to the shop and buy one, but in a sense that Apple and Steve Jobs are experimenting with something that more people should be experimenting with.

Now, enough with all that non-sense.  How was it, really?  I liked it.  A lot.  It was pretty intuitive and easy to use.  It was pretty much the size and weight that I was expecting after seeing a billion reviews.  And it works well.  My own blog looked nice in it.  Even embedded YouTube videos were working fine (using the HTML5, not Flash, but I had nothing to do with it on either publishing or consuming end).  YouTube itself worked fine.  Flickr was fine, except for the slideshows which require Flash.  I tried a few applications that were installed on the iPad – Kindle, LinkedIn, solitaire and more.  Checked Google Maps.  Everything was working nice.

I particularly enjoyed the YouTube experience.  An embedded video from a blog post, expanded full screen and rotated horizontally was something.  Somehow it just felt natural to do so.  And I never felt I should do this in the browser.  Plus I was pretty impressed by the sound quality coming out of the device.   It wasn’t like your average mobile phone.  It was way better.

After using the device for just a few minutes I started thinking of buying one.  I was discussing with other people in the room if should batch order together and if we should wait for the 3G version or get the WiFi one, etc.  It was only when I came home and spoke to my wife I got the hypnotic effect dissolved.  That often happens when I speak to someone smart.  And it had nothing to do with her being my wife.  Her arguments were solid.  After all, I recently bought a laptop for roughly the same price.  And the laptop does way more things than the iPad, and most of them it does better than the iPad too.  I have the full-blown QWERTY keyboard, not a touch screen.  I have bigger screen.  I have a hard disk with a whole lot of files.  I have a better choice of software – anything from games to personal finance tools, not simple apps to access websites. And so on and so forth.

Resume?  It’s a slick device, it’s pleasant to use, and it will get quite popular.  There are certain people and certain scenarios which would benefit from using iPad instead of a mobile phone or a laptop.  But I am not one of those people and I none of those scenarios happen in my life often enough to throw away that much money.

How about you? Have you touched one already?  Do you want one?  Do you see yourself using one?  What for and how?

The Men Who Stare at Goats

I got my hands on “The Men Who Stare at Goats” movie.  I saw the trailer a few times in the cinema and was waiting for it to start, but either I missed it altogether or the scheduling was changed.  Anyway, watched this one in the comfort of my own home.  To be honest, this is not being a major visual effects movie or a new 3D silliness, I think I didn’t lose much by missing the big screen.

In short – I really enjoyed this film.  It is original, weird, funny, and smart.  The casting is awesome and all these people have a place to act and a role to play – outstanding performances from all of them, including the goat.

If you are not sure whether you should see this film or not – think Coen brothers.  Even though they have nothing to do with this film (as far as I know), it feels like something that they would have done.   If you enjoyed any of their work – this film is definitely for you.  It has the same weird story, irony, and a thin line between a joke and truth.   Beautiful work and very engaging.  It’s one of those films where you are so busy watching it that you don’t have the time to think and predict how it will end and where the story is taking you.  It’s a roller-coaster – enjoy it while it runs.

Rating this movie doesn’t feel right, because it doesn’t compare much to anything else and stands on its own, like a piece of art that it is.  But I’ll give it a 5 out of 5, even though there were bits that I’d love to see changed.  Well deserved.  We need more movies that can take audience by surprise and engage them through the whole film and not just the first 3 minutes.

Clash of the Titans

Last weekend I watched “Clash of the Titans” with a bunch of friends.  I was insisting on watching it in 2D, since it was widely known that 3D in the film was added in post-production and hence won’t be anything remotely similar to the real 3D, but my arguments weren’t convincing enough and we went to 3D cinema anyway.  Don’t make the same mistake.

As I expected it, 3D really sucked.  Do you remember those bulky CRT monitors that we used to have with our desktop computers, back when everyone wasn’t a happy laptop owner?  If you do remember them, then you probably remember the horrible experience when such a monitor was configured for a low refresh rate, say 60 Hz.  The images on such a monitor were flickering, there was no sharpness, and your eyes and had would start hurting pretty soon.  That’s very similar to the experience of the pseudo-3D.  Horrible experience in other words.  In fact, it was so horrible that we kept taking glasses on and off constantly.  One could watch this film totally without 3D glasses, but in certain places it was easier to have them on.

So, was pseudo-3D the only thing that spoiled my experience?  Nope. I felt that the movie was very shallow in pretty much every aspect – acting, story, special effects, drama, scale, and so on and so forth.  Just to give you some idea with a little spoiler – there wasn’t much of a clash in this film, and there were no titans.  About 40 seconds of screen time were given to a rather large creature, which many might confuse with a titan.  But when we are in Greek mythology, a word “titan” actually has a very particular meaning.  So, no titans.

And yet another something else that didn’t help my perception of this film was a fresh memory of “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” – another Greek mythology action movie that was released recently.  And as much as I didn’t want to watch “The Lightning Thief” it turned out to be quite a nice flick.  And it happened to be way better than the titans with no titans.

Overall, I’ll give the titans a 3 out of 5.  Skip it and you won’t miss much.  If you really want to see it though, make sure you watch it in 2D – save yourself some money and a headache.

P.S.: I only now realized that I forgot to review “The Lighning Thief”.  I will correct this shortly.