Tag Archives: Apple

October 6, 2011, 1:19 am

RIP, Steve Jobs

I’ve been taking a blogging break this week to get caught up at work, but I wanted to say a few words on the passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Those of us who are lifeless Apple fanboys follow Apple news know that Steve had been very sick for some time now. His passing is not unexpected, but it is still a shock now that it’s happened, and it’s a sad day.

My first experience with an Apple product was using an Apple IIe while I was an undergraduate psychology major. The psych department had a small computer lab with some Apples in it, and I used one to run statistical analyses of an experiment I was doing. I hated the Apple IIe. To me, it was a computer for English and art majors, or perhaps for elementary school children. All those cutesy graphics! And music! Hard-working and self-respecting science nerds such as myself shouldn’t stoop to such devices. But, it was the only machine in…

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December 10, 2010, 8:34 am

Rebuilding the Antikythera Mechanism out of Lego

Andrew Carol, an engineer at Apple, has rebuilt a model of the ancient Antikythera Mechanism entirely out of Lego blocks. Watch this amazing 3-minute video:

A fuller story behind all this is here. I feel like running out and buying out the entire stock of Lego from some unsuspecting toy store.

I was just talking with an older colleague of mine yesterday — he’s been teaching math at my college for over 50 years — about how technology has changed since he started, and I remarked that in many ways I’m more amazed by the mechanical calculator technology of the 50′s and 60′s than I am by modern digital computers. I remember my Dad bringing home an old mechanical calculator from his work and opening it up to reveal gears upon gears inside. Watching this video reminds me of that.

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August 18, 2010, 8:35 am

One month with the iPhone 4

Outfit Ice iPhone 4 case
Image by griffintech via Flickr

Longtime readers will remember that I’ve owned an iPod Touch for a couple of years now, and it’s a marvelous device. The only things that kept it from being the perfect handheld, for me, were the lack of a camera and the lack of a microphone for taking voice memos. For a couple of months, though, other issues came forward. I began to think about how having 3G connectivity to the internet would be nice. I realized that my ages-old Samsung phone was way past its prime. And most seriously, iOS 4 was slowing my iPod Touch down to a crawl. All these things, plus the fact that my college has a discount deal with AT&T, finally pushed me over the edge into iPhone territory.

My wife and I both ordered iPhone 4‘s, mine a 32 GB model (to match the capacity of my iPod Touch) and hers a 16 GB model. The 16 GB model is apparently more popular, because it was put on…

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April 3, 2010, 6:07 am

Is the iPad really what students need?

Dave Caolo believes that students are one of the four groups of people who will make the iPad huge, because:

Students are on a fixed budget, and e-books are typically cheaper than their paper-based counterparts. Also, consider all of the money publishers lose when students buy used books from the campus bookstores. Additionally, Apple can distribute textbooks through iTunes U — an established and proven system that students, faculty and staff already know how to use.

Suddenly the iPad is a device that follows a student from his/her freshman year of high school all the way through graduate school. Why buy a laptop when every student has a device that can be a textbook, reference tool, Internet appliance and whatever else the imaginations of developers can dream up?

I do believe that the iPad’s success will be closely tied to its success in the EDU sector, but Caolo’s analysis misses…

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July 17, 2009, 9:03 am

Why I am not a Linux user any more

linux-desktop-i-want-to-believeFor the last couple of days I’ve been trying to install some new software on the Ubuntu Linux machine that my kids use in their playroom. Being able to get a real computer for the kids for about $75 (about half of which was spent on the monitor; the box itself is a castoff desktop from the college that I bought for $10) and run all the software they could possibly want to use at their age for free has been great. But having to deal with the technical side of Linux and the usability issues in software reminds me of why I no longer use Linux in my daily life.

Back in 2001, when I started my new job at my current institution, I took the plunge and installed Red Hat Linux on my school computer rather than Windows. I had a colleague at my former work who was a Linux zealot and I figured I would take the transition period to my new job to switch operating systems. At the time, one of the…

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October 26, 2008, 8:39 pm

About that iPod Touch…

…I got one.

The story left off with me giving up trying to justify spending $399 for the 32 GB model, even though I’d saved up for it. Cheapness is in my DNA, and I’ve never been able to spend money on anything without feeling like I should have stuck it in a savings account instead. But, one day, my wife comes home and informs me that the daughter of one of her co-workers works at the Apple Store in Indy and gets a 15% “friends and family” discount. After trading a few emails, the deal was set up, and a few days later I had my grubby hands all over it (you see just how grubby your hands really are with this thing) with $60 knocked off the price. So, you see? It pays to wait.

I’ve been using it basically nonstop for a week now, and here are my overall impressions:

  • It’s incredibly thin and light, yet it also feels very sturdy, and despite having an all-shiny-aluminum back I haven’t…

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September 11, 2008, 3:55 pm

iPod update: A new hope

So at the end of the comment thread on my iPod lust decision process about whether or not to buy a new iPod touch, I concluded somewhat glumly that I had probably better wait until the gap between what I’d saved up and what the 32 GB model costs is made up somehow. I am happy to announce the gap has been closed, and then some, thanks to the dude that comes around every now and then to buy back textbooks. He just happened to drop in this afternoon, and I freakin’ unloaded, to the tune of three dozen books sold back. (My shelves are happy too.)

In case you’re unfamiliar with this process, there are people who make a living off of coming by professors’ offices and purchasing unused books for cash (at a rate far less than their retail value)  and then selling them to the open market. Ever wonder where those used books in the college bookstore come from? Some of them come from students, but…

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September 9, 2008, 5:50 pm

Help me buy an iPod, or not.

Apple today announced the newest iteration of the iPod nano and some changes to the iPod touch, among other things. This has been an eagerly-awaited day for me, since I took the honorarium from my April gig at Benedictine University and salted away most of it to get an iPod touch once the updates came out. But I must admit that I was really hoping that the 32GB model would be under $300; I was $100 off. So I turn to the blogosphere to help me decide how to blow my stash.

Constraints and preferences: I have $232.50 saved up. I have 12 GB of music (just music, no video) in iTunes and I would like to carry all of it with me plus some video. I would like — really like — to have mobile access to wifi in a handheld device. I currently have a 20GB photo iPod (second generation? third generation? something like that). And coming up with a whole lot of extra money — OK, well, really any

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July 30, 2008, 5:35 pm

Why I won't be getting an iPhone just now

My interest in the new iPhone has never reached critical mass, but after finding out that I can get 15% off AT&T cell phone plans through my work, I started thinking again. The basic family plan, after discount, would be $100 per month, which is more than what we’re paying now ($60/month) but possibly worth it if the iPhone is as great as some say. But my interest tanked again when I saw the coverage map near my house:

The finger on the map is roughly where I live. The orange color indicates “good” coverage, which according to AT&T means that it “should be sufficient for on-street or in-the-open coverage, most in-vehicle coverage and possibly some in-building coverage”. If I stray over to the other side of our subdivision into the yellow, it’s only “moderate”. Most of where I live and work is no better than “good”.

Sorry: But if I’m going to drop $300 on the phone and $1200 per year …

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June 10, 2008, 7:03 am

Open memo to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve Jobs,

I appreciate your noticing that the iPhone is prohibitively expensive for most some people. Cutting the price to $199 for the basic model is a good step. But: When the phone/data plan for the iPhone still starts at a minimum of $60 per month, cutting the price doesn’t make the thing more affordable. You’re talking about a reduction of $200 or so to a one-time startup price, but keeping the cost of ownership unchanged. Whereas, if the good people at AT&T would cut the price of the plan, you could likely keep the price unchanged and it would be a lot more affordable.

But then again, you are a genius and a rock star all at the same time, so why am I telling you this? Instead, please assert your reality-distortion field on your pals at AT&T to get them to play ball with normal people who like technology but can absolutely live without it if the price is too high. Which it …

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