Social Connections


I have been a tablet user for many years, far before the tablet craze came about. My first tablets were 'convertables', essentially laptops with flip-over screens that you could write on with a stylus. They were a best-of-both-worlds solution. You could type on the full keyboard, and then expressively write directly on the display.

The pen-on-screen movement was admittedly not the best interface. It was difficult to move the pointer around like a mouse, but some applications worked quite well. It was fabulous as a graphics design tool! Drawing with a pressure-sensitive pen is perfect for digital art. It was also perfect to edit/comment on documents. A big, bold circle with the words "What are you, crazy?" hand written in thick ink certainly gave the author of the document a clear indication of what I thought.

I still use a convertable tablet as my main work device. But when people today say 'tablet', they mean a whole different beast. Today's tablets, like the ubiquitous iPad, are thinner, lighter, multi-touch sensitive, and designed as killer media consumption devices. I must confess, I LOVE my iPad (or should I say, my half an iPad, as I bought it as a joint venture with my son). It is fantastic on trips. With music, movies, books, games, notes, etc. all packed into an easy to read form factor, it is a natural for my business travel. It even fits on the teeny-tiny space between me and the guy in front who has his seat fully reclined. I love to travel with it (when my son lets me).

The iPad is clearly the market leader. Is there room for anything else? Other tablets have tried....and failed, to really make a dent in Apple's market share. To be 'better', you first have to be 'different'. And that's where Amazon's new Kindle Fire comes in.

It's early days for the Kindle Fire (it hasn't even shipped yet), but it's clear that it has the chance to be 'the tablet for the rest of us'. It's inexpensive, it's connected to media and shopping, and it comes from a trusted consumer brand. A brand that is already at the top of the e-reader market. This one's got a legitimate shot! I think they'll have to do something about third-party apps (where Apple makes a killing), but time will tell. In the meantime, the tablet market continues to thrive.

What do you think about tablets in general, and the Kindle Fire in particular?



Canon vs Nikon

I'm a Canon shooter. No, it doesn't mean I work at a fort...that's a different kind of cannon. It does mean that I am squarely on one side of the Canon vs Nikon war. Like most people, it's not because I'm passionate about the superiority of my chosen brand, but merely because that's the side I became used to, bought the lenses for, learned the feel of, and nothing more. The two industry giants seem to alternate back and forth which one has the most advancements at any particular time. The good news is that this battle keeps everyone sharp, and all consumers win as a result.

I happen to like the Canon line. I have a few Canon point-and-shoots, an older DSLR (XTi), and a more modern one (7D). They all take pictures when I push the button on the top. The Canon lighting system is definitely behind Nikon's, but I've compensated by adding a wireless flash trigger (the ST-E2), and the 7D has it built in (although it doesn't do high-speed sync, so it's slightly less useful). We could equally compare low-light performance, etc. but they're both 100x better today than they were a decade ago.

The worst part about the rivalry is the terminology around them. Canon's Image Stabalization technology is called Vibration Reduction on Nikons. Canon's RAW files are called NEF with Nikon. Even their product names are similarly confusing such as Canon's 40D vs Nikon's D40. This is where consumers lose in this war. It's all more confusing than it needs to be. Like the PC vs Mac war (press 'CTRL' on a PC, 'Command' on a Mac), it really doesn't add any value to the conversation.

I think I'll stick with Canon. For new buyers out there, it really doesn't matter on what side of the fence you land. The key thing to keep in mind is that you almost certainly want to land on one side or another. Lenses are very expensive, and not easily transferable between brands. Make your choice and forget about the competition. Of course, there are other players as well (Sony, Panosonic, Olympus, etc.) but let's not worry about the also-rans at the moment.

Which brand do you use?


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