Hands-On with the New iPad (3 Gen)!

Having had the new iPad for a couple of weeks now, I thought that I’d share my experiences with readers of the Irish Apple blog – but, what is there to say that hasn’t already been written by the major blogs or tech sites? A cursory search will bring up a glut of “First Impressions”, and “Hands-On” reports from all the names in the tech industry – here’s Ian Osborne from Macformat, for example, and Andy Ihnatko, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times. Yes, the new Pad is everything that they say it is: a beautiful machine; fast, responsive, with a wonderful display, making the most of photographs, games, and videos.

The real beauty of the machine, however, lies in the actuality of the device itself. Back in 2010, when the iPad was first launched, Apple spoke of having created a whole new category – the reality of that claim is apparent to anyone who has spent a bit of time with an iPad. The screen size and clarity brings a host of Apps to life; from sketching or journaling to browsing the web or game playing – the iPad is by far the best device; but more than that: the iPad is the more appropriate device on which to engage with certain Apps.

Indeed, the iPad has barely left my side since I bought it: from having it by my bedside as an alarm clock, which displays time, weather, tweets, Facebook updates & rss feeds through Alarm Clock HD; checking all my Google Reader feeds with River of News; watching live news broadcasts from Al Jazeera, France24 & RTE News Now; to reading books with Apple’s iBooks or Amazon’s Kindle app. But lest one think that the iPad is just a device for consumption, it is much more than that: full office suites, blogging tools, handwriting recognition, websites on the fly – the iPad handles it all.

That, perhaps, is the secret of the iPad: more intuitive and less formidable than firing up a laptop – kids, for example, can operate the iPad instantly – and more reasonable than trying to accomplish tasks on the tiny iPhone screen – and more, the iPad is so easy to handle: swipe, touch, boom! You’re in and working, or playing!



(This post comes courtesy of iPad App Blogsy)





Apple’s Education Event

Intriguing post from Loop Insight : Look beyond the headlines?

We are all expecting announcements centred around textbook publishing, and third-level texts in particular. What if Apple uses this opportunity for One More Thing?

A 7″ iPad anyone? Competing with the Amazon Fire..? It’d be particularly handy for schoolkids/students; could be competitively priced…

Better tune in on the 19th for the definitive answer!

UPDATE: Andy Ihnatko hands-on with the Amazon Fire, here

Mike Elgan details Apple’s impending war against Amazon – introduces the notion of a possible iPad announcement…


UPDATE #2: More details, or “rumours”, if you will, are emerging about the Apple Event on the 19th – specifically, that Apple will introduce a Garageband for ebooks which will “allow authors to easily develop ebooks for iPad”. There’s no further scuttlebutt about a product announcement at the Education event, however, at least one report has it that the iPad3 will be introduced at a separate proceeding in February – see Boy Genius for further details

Obsolescence guaranteed?

Recently I’ve been having a few problems with my MacBook – the type of problems that are faced by many users – apps hanging, the appearance of the dreaded SBBD, performance slowdown, etc. Nothing unusual there, my MB is a late-2007, Core2Duo, 2gb RAM, 250Gb HDD, so due an upgrade – or replacement.

Yeah, I’d say most people would think of rockin’ down to their local Apple Store or Reseller and picking up an MB Air or Pro, maybe pass on the older model to a family member…but with the prospect of shelling out €995 for a base model MB Air I began to recall an article I read recently regarding planned obsolescence – the concept that, after a certain length of time, the relevant product will be of little use and will need to be replaced, rather than repaired. For those of us who are Apple owners, this state of affairs is very familiar! Every year a newer, better product – in 2012 alone, we’ll get (in order of appearance) upgrades to the MacBook Pro, an evolutionary iPad, upgrades to the MacBook Air, and possibly the fabled iPhone 5 just in time for the Christmas rush…and dare we even mention the legendary iTV, a 50″ version of which is rumoured to be in Jony Ive’s lair?

So, in these times of austerity do we need to dance to Cupertino’s tune?

The answer is probably fairly simple: anyone who can afford to throw a couple of grand at Apple every year or two, will continue to do so; for those of us mere mortals with constrained budgets, however, we may have to rethink our computer’s longevity. We will have to decide whether we can live without iCloud, multi-touch gestures, OS support. If the response is “yes”, then there are a number of options open to those with older Macs.

First up: Throw more Ram at your Mac. This is the ultimate ‘no-brainer’ – install as much memory as your Mac can handle, you will notice a significant change in your computer’s performance. Word of advice, though: for economy’s sake choose a third-party memory supplier like Kingston, or Crucial – Apple levy a hefty premium on memory chips – if you take your chances with ebay (and who hasn’t?), there are significant savings to be made on brand memory modules.

Next, big up your HDD: you can never have enough storage. It’s relatively easy to switch hard drives, video walkthroughs are everywhere on Youtube, for all models.

If you’re feeling very adventurous, you could add a Solid State Drive (SSD) to your Mac – though these drives are relatively expensive, they offer much better response times/performance than regular HDDs. Another option for those with laptop Macs is to remove the optical SuperDrive, replacing it with a SSD, while retaining a HDD in addition! The idea is to load the OS and applications onto the SSD, while keeping Documents, Photos, etc on the HDD.

For a detailed explanation, and other advice, see this article on Wired

All components can be obtained on eBay…

In other words, it may be worth spending maybe €500-€600 to revamp your old Mac and extend its life considerably, rather than an outlay of upwards of €1000 for the latest shiny offering from our favourite California provider..

(In the interests of full disclosure, I am intending to purchase the iPad, courtesy of Santa, when the upgraded version is released in early March!)

Update: Public Sector Pay Agreement

As I mentioned in the previous post, the entire Agreement was subject to a limiting clause, which allowed a get-out for the Government if there was “unforeseen budgetary deterioration.” Apparently, this clause is undergoing a re-write: the Irish Left Review has more at: http://www.irishleftreview.org/2010/04/12/shhh-rewrite-work-recession-diaries-april-12th/

(Thanks to my tweep, @tnteacherTim for the heads-up.)

In other news: PDFORRA, the Representative Association for enlisted personnel of the Defence Forces, and the Civil and Public Service Union, have become the latest representative bodies to recommend rejection of the agreement to their members. This was reported on RTE News at 9pm on 12 April ’10.

Public Sector Pay Agreements 2010

Recently, the Dept of Finance issued the Draft Public Sector Pay Agreement 2010-14, in conjunction with the Social Partners; this agreement, if passed by the Unions, will have major implications for work practices and conditions.

It is my opinion, however, that this agreement represents something far more insidious: an attack on organised labour. At a time of national catastrophe, when anti-public sector sentiment has been stoked to boiling point, the government has seized the opportunity to deliver a hammer-blow to the cause of labour – one which could set the movement back decades.

Between all the HR verbiage, one thing is evident: the balance of power will now have shifted firmly to the side of management. Workers, and their Union representatives, are relegated to mere consultative status – the policy decisions will have been made, workers are obliged to accept them and co-operate in their implementation. But more than this, the Agreement may be accepted, its proposals effected, then the entire document may be shelved if there is “unforeseen budgetary deterioration.” (Document 1, Page 9, para.28)

While the document speaks of the  laudable goal of “delivering excellence in service to the Irish People”, this must be achieved “in the context of reduced resources and numbers”; in other words, the same, or increased, workloads with fewer personnel. This reduction of workers is happening as we speak – the Defence Forces is down to its lowest post-war levels at 9,366, substantially below its Establishment of 10,500. In the Education sector, 2,000 teachers and Special Needs Assistants have lost their jobs; at third level, contract personnel are not having their contracts renewed, Contracts of Indefinite Duration are being actively avoided, in defiance of the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act, 2003.

In addition, by accepting the document, employees and unions (and employers, for what it’s worth!) are precluded from engaging in “strikes, or other forms of industrial action…in respect of any matters covered by th[e] Agreement”

The diminution of workers’ rights continues throughout the Sectoral Agreements documents: we see, for instance, that an extensive “review and revision of employment contracts” is to take place, which purports to “identify and remove any impediments to the development of an optimum teaching…environment.” The particular wording of this section, appears to give management carte blanche to define what an “optimum…environment” is, and what constitutes an “impediment”. Further, by accepting this agreement, employees must agree to the removal of any such impediment. There exist other provisions in which employees must co-operate with the introduction/implementation of workload models, and with redeployment/re-organisation/rationalisation. Promotion, and indeed increments, will be linked to nebulous “performance indicators”.

Inconsistencies, or perhaps plain stupidity, abound. Take this, for example, from the Civil Service Sectoral Agreement: “Management reaffirms the importance of the continued promotion of the work life balance arrangements in the Civil Service.” So far, so good, one may think! However the paragraph goes on to state that “[t]he transformation agenda accepted by both sides requires that previously agreed work-life balance policies and arrangements may need to be reviewed and revised as appropriate in the context of more integrated public services and with a reduced cohort of staff.” Does anyone doubt that such practices will be revised, and that the benefit will be to management or the organisation?

Here’s another gem, from the Prison Service Sectoral Agreement, which, in all likelihood was drafted by someone who doesn’t have day-to-day contact with criminals: the  ” Introduction of enhanced sentence management processes.” This section tells us that there are “progressive regimes” operating throughout Europe, and offers Northern Ireland’s system as a case in point, where “prisons…promote mutual respect, a positive working relationship with staff, other professionals and fellow prisoners.” Such a regime would “form the basis of proposed…changes in the Irish Prison Service” and would “allow reduced staffing levels where feasible…freeing up staff to open new areas of the prison estate.” So if I read this correctly, Prison Officers are to engage, with the criminals they oversee, to reduce their own presence on landings and wings, so that they can take on additional tasks opening up, and controlling, more areas of the prison, possibly with reduced staff.

The Public Service has been treated shamefully, and cynically, by our political masters – we have been offered as the reason why the country’s finances are in such turmoil, while the real culprits remain virtually unscathed. The Public Service has suffered most with salary reductions and levies, the vast majority of these workers are on or below the average industrial wage, yet senior Civil Servants have cuts reversed, politicians refuse to forego pay increases, and the banking system can afford bonuses to its employees.

Now, Public Service workers are being asked to suffer further attacks on conditions, on pay, ands on their rights as workers, all in the name of “sharing the pain”, whatever that means. But we are not fools. To date, the TUI and ASTI have recommended rejection of the agreement to their members, the INTO recommendation passed by only four votes, indicating serious concerns by delegates.

One would hope that the other Public Service Unions or Associations will also recommend rejection, otherwise we will be treated little better than serfs.

The Public Service Agreement can be found at the following link: