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Steve Jobs wants the computer to be the equivalent of a toaster... which I think is absolutely awesome for "normal folks". The computer is supposed to solve problems, not create them. That's why I'm bullish on the iPad. Some type of black swan event is likely to occur in personal computing. I don't know if the iPad is "the event" or just a major accelerant, but people are clearly waking up to the fact that they don't need all this complex shit.

I'm not worried about guys like us. There will always be machines for us (powerful, complex, etc.). Why? Because if for some magical reason there wasn't all of a sudden, we're the type that would just make one.




From what I'm getting, it seems the current and future generations of young people are adapting to computers, not shying away. Sure people who grew up before PCs may love this type of stuff (because it's more intuitive to them), but they'll eventually all pass away. Intuition is based on what we know and are used to, and the current generation is growing up on PCs. That's why I'm wary that dumbing down computer for "normal folks" is the future.

If the iPad replaces traditional computers, it will only be because using a touchscreen and virtual keyboard is more practical than a mouse and a physical keyboard.

Also as a tradeoff to simplifying the experience, the experience is also weakened. And as users become more savvy, they'll want to try out new stuff. These things may not be compatible with the iPad platform because of its closed nature. There are eventually going to be some scenarios where some cool new thing only works on open platforms like OS X or Windows (or linux).

Also I'd like to add that one of most popular reasons I hear from friends who don't like mac is that it dumbs down the experience. That it's for people who don't know how to use computers (like their parents). I actually had this same faulty preconceived notion until I found out programmers usually preferred os x (and switched).


  If the iPad replaces traditional computers
Like TV replaced radio and movies, like automobiles replaced bicycles, etc. Why would iPad replace anything? It just makes it more comfortable to me browse the web or read the book on a couch. When I am in mood for some programming I will put it aside and sit down in front of my desktop or grab my notebook. The iPad replaces traditional computers no more than spoon replaces fork.


Exactly. It can certainly excel in a niche, as Apple is well known for doing. I think that niche exists, but I think it's shining point will be enabling new ways of doing things we never thought of, primarily through it being a standardized platform with creative eager developers.

I don't think there's any reason why a nice simple product with great design and UI can't be used by all, including the technical/geeky type.

I don't think it's going to replace traditional computers.


There are two kinds of people. Those who like to fiddle around with technology per se, and those who use it as a means to an end. Just because most of your friends are in the former category doesn't mean most young people are.

Also as a tradeoff to simplifying the experience, the experience is also weakened.

This is a classic geek fallacy. This is the reason smart phones were so godawfully unusable before the iPhone came out. Ask any designer—removing things can dramatically improve a user experience because it decreases the cognitive load.

There are eventually going to be some scenarios where some cool new thing only works on open platforms like OS X or Windows (or linux).

Definitely. I'm not quite ready to jump on the iPad world-domination bandwagon just yet. But keep in mind that many cool new things will only work on the iPad as well, and it remains to be seen how locked down the iPad will remain, so this isn't a definitive argument by a long shot.


> There are two kinds of people. Those who like to fiddle around with technology per se, and those who use it as a means to an end. Just because most of your friends are in the former category doesn't mean most young people are. I'm not even talking about all my friends. (I'm not even a CS major.) I'm talking about pretty much all the people in my high school. And all the kids which the media portrays as technically savvier than their parents. So unless my high school was somehow unusually technically capable, I don't think I've been a victim to selection.

But I do understand what you're saying. Obviously there will be people who will be more technically savvy than others, but the overall trend will be towards more new technology in our lives. What seems new and complicated now will just be pencils and erasers to the next generation. So while I do believe that technology will become more transparent (more natural), I don't think it should/will become dumbed down.

> This is a classic geek fallacy. This is the reason smart phones were so godawfully unusable before the iPhone came out. Ask any designer—removing things can dramatically improve a user experience because it decreases the cognitive load.

Yea I'm well aware of that. I don't think good design and power are mutually exclusive. But I was specifically referring to the general idea that simplifying things naturally results in less power. The trick is to simplify it without sacrificing power, in which you'll result with what we call design. But I think it's important to realize that simplifying without sacrificing any power is probably impossible. You'll undoubtedly lose some degree of power. Closing the app platform results in a simplified experience, but we can all agree it takes some power away from developers too. I probably shouldn't have used the word "experience." I meant experience to describe the capabilities of the system.


Your argument is too complex to be sound.


Sorry I have a tendency to complicate my communications.

Not sure exactly which part you thought was complicated, but I'll take a stab and reexplain this:

good design is about fitting as much power into as intuitive an interface as possible. Simply removing things does not necessarily mean better design.

It's like getting a car with raw power or good mileage. The trick is in getting as much of both as you can, but sometimes you may prefer one over the other.


I was trying to put down your argument against simplicity by poiting your argument's complexity. Hence the smart-ass downmod, I accept it.

But I still disagree with you, there isn't a simple equilibrium between power and simplicity. And this is my interpretation of the Apple philosophy, I would bet I share it with many Mac users, and it's odd to me, not with you.

The simplicity in the experience greatly determines the pleasure you take from it, and this determines the context where the "power exchange" happens. Your "power", or the value you get from a product/service is all determined in this context. Albeit being a techie, and having a special interface with these machines I can no longer stand more hurdles since I discovered that it hasn't to be like that.

And it's such a nice discovery to make.


let me first define simplicity. I do not mean it in the sense of lack of unecessary complexity. That is always a good thing. I mean it in the sense of removing complexity (any type of complexity).

My argument's not that simplicity is bad. I'm saying that you can't just strip away things or a single button would always be the best product in the world.

I'm not saying there's an equilibrium between power and simplicity. I'm saying the trick is in getting as much of both as pasible.

I think it's not ludicrous to say that os x has a simpler user interface but you have just as much power as windows. The complexity is still there. It's just well hidden under intuitiveness. But the important thing is that os x didn't get there simply by having less features. Stripping away things doesn't always help make it better. Consider a video encoding tool. You could make the software easier to use by making it a file picker and a encode button. But this easier is relative to the user. You're definitely sacrifing some power. But if you hide advanced controls you can simplify th ui but removing often unused controls while keeping power features like codec selection available. But it's not just about simplifying by removing any and all features that a single group finds unecessary. It depends in your users. Ideally, all the power with all the simplicity.


There are two kinds of people. Those who like to fiddle around with technology per se, and those who use it as a means to an end.

I used to be the first, now I consider myself more the second. You could say I'm getting older, but I like to think I'm getting smarter.

Hey--I enjoy hacking away more than ever. But if the means is getting in the way of the end, then I'm just really impatient anymore. It's like waiting for a slow computer, sort of. Or, better yet--having to figure out which slot of RAM in my desktop is having problems before I can do some development at an acceptable speed without tons of swapping. I can do this stuff. If I'm learning something from it, great--but it's still getting in the way of what I want to be doing.

Just because technology gets in the way of doing work doesn't mean that work is not technical in nature. And, of course, there are plenty of valuable, useful endeavors out there that are not inherently technical in nature. Those are not somehow lessened simply they desire to focus less on the tool and more on the result.


  There will always be machines for us
If anything to be able to develop these or for these simple machines.


I don't think appliance computing institutes a disconnect between what hackers and non-hackers compute on. I actually think the opposite is true but that the tools aren't here just yet to support that conjecture.


All you really need is a scary "programmer mode" on the iPad that lets you be root. Does anyone have any guess as to whether Apple will allow that? Presumably if you could be root you'd be able to get around whatever horrible drm they're planning for iPad as paywall on the client. Does that mean they'd never allow it?


I like the rational in this new RFS but don't like the idea of building a biz that gives 30% to Apple and lets them cut me off anytime they wish.


You don't have to assume that. Maybe the biggest company that grows off the iPad will be one that merely uses an iPad app to acquire users for something else.

Plus, is it better to make $10 and give $3 to Apple or make $5 and keep all of it?

Being at their mercy is a little more worrying. But if you had enough users you'd be much less at their mercy.


I don't have a problem with paying a business partner 30% if it makes sense. In the past, I built a business where I only had one client, IBM...they sold my app frameworks into their clients...big honkin' enterprise deals. They dictated the terms at all times. Life was good for a few years, but the party did end. My issue with Apple isn't how much they want for their cut, its that there is no choice...only one market, they control all the terms.


It may be that Apple factors that 30% into its pricing decisions and ends up with a razors & razorblades model, at least to some degree. This could be a huge net positive for developers because of the expanded market.


You say "root", but do you mean, "root"? There's a difference between "more access that permits development" and root.

I want to be root. When it comes to deciding what code runs on my system, I want to be the final decider. I want to be real root, not sandboxed root. See: PS3 Linux. I suspect the Apple of today would give us sandboxed root and tell us to like it or get bent.


I meant real root. It's a bummer to think Apple could get away with giving people sandboxed root, but maybe they could.


What's the difference between "sandboxed root" and the access they allow (registered) developers at the moment?


I doubt they're going to allow it. Doesn't matter, since the device will probably be jailbroken rather fast and some dev tools are already out there as iPhone apps. I remember having terminal pre app store days on iPhone v1 when I jailbroke it.

I think jailbreaking on the iPad is going to be a very interesting thing. Jailbreaking your phone was kind of a scary proposition because you'd lose your phone if it got bricked and not be able to get the $200-$300 subsidy on replacement,etc. With the iPad, the worst case is going and buying the equivalent of another computer at the same price.


They've never allowed it on the iphone/ipod touch. Thats what jailbreaking gives you.


Yeah, but it could be because they assume no one would want to do development on such small devices. Whereas it might actually be optimal to develop some iPad apps on the iPad. I should just ask the guys at Apple...


Do you really think there is good reason to develop on handhelds or do you just think that solving this problem might be a good way of unexpectedly solving other problems?


There might eventually be XCode for the iPad, but I doubt it'll come with root access. Apple doesn't want people developing apps that require root access to run, that would circumvent their entire model. Anyway I suspect the current iPad hardware would have a hard time compiling anything.

No doubt if Apple did make XCode for the iPad it would require an Apple developer license to run. What they seem very keen to avoid is having a cheap compiler or virtual machine or interpreter on the platform that lets people download code and circumvent the App Store. I doubt that they are against people developing on the platform for its own sake.


I think the key would be whether Apple engineers would prefer to develop on iPad. That, or a shift in the way iPad/iPhone apps are developed.


Very true. I'm sure there will be some power apps made for the iPad. It's definitely doable for us to work on the "watered down" machines, but I think the problem lies in the fact that "normals" have been working on the difficult machines. We can create what we want. The "normals" cannot. The "normals" need someone to champion them, kind of like a PC Messiah who will save them from the shitshow that is Windows and difficult computing.


" ... but people are clearly waking up to the fact that they don't need all this complex shit."

Telephones used to be complex, in that they needed many people to complete calls, then they got bone simple.

But then they got complex in a different way. I don't think you can buy a phone today that just gives you a dial tone and basic DTMF buttons.

Mobile phones are worse (so to speak). But as best can see there are increasing numbers of people using their mobile as their only phone.

There's a market for feature-less devices (check out Reader's Digest for their ads for phones and such; basic behavior and a few Big Button options for the AARP crowd).

But it seems there's a larger market for at least all sorts of complexity.




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