My Take on News, Politics, and Technology

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Is the iPad Worth the Cost?

I use to call the iPad a vestigial device, because between my laptop and netbook I could do just about anything (web browsing, word processing, reading newspapers, etc…).  The iPad looked like a slightly lighter netbook with less functionality coupled with a $600 sticker price. After long-resistance to the product, I had a few opportunities to use one. The touch screen made a big difference in content navigation and I started to see the benefit. At its current price, I still didn’t have the incentive to purchase one.

Since I am a university student I usually spend about $800 dollars on textbooks per year, or I would if I didn’t buy them used from half.com and ebay auctions. Because of the prevalence of used textbook markets, most textbook publishers now offer e-book content at a fraction of the cost. Amazon even lets you rent e-books. With these savings in mind, I purchased an iPad 2 and started renting e-books. I saved about $400 dollars through his feature, so I figure my iPad only cost me $200. A fair price in my opinion. Sure, I could have bought a kindle for less, but I would lose much of the e-book content offered by the touch-screen and multimedia features. After a couple of months I found it to be my favorite electronic device. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference the touch screen adds to the user experience.

Some of my most used iPad apps are:

News Apps

Flipboard

I use flipboard because it has an elegant graphical interface. You can add different news content by clicking a blank tile and selecting the category and name of a content provider. There is a plethora of free content available. My feed includes: Fortune Magazine, Gizmodo, Future Lab, NPR, Bloomberg News, USA Today, Huffington Post, National Geographic, TedTalks, TechCrunch, Frontline, etc…

Honorable Mention: Reuters News Pro

Productivity Apps

InClass

Hands down my favorite audio recorder for iPad. InClass makes it easy to export audio files to other electronic devices. It also keeps all of your recordings stored in a notebook and dated so you never have to scramble to find the recording you’re looking for.

Honorable Mention: Keynote

Game Apps

Angry Birds HD

It’s my go-to app when I have 1-2 minutes of free time. Apparently most of my free time exists in small increments.

Honorable Mention:  Kingdom Rush

Entertainment Apps

TED

Lets me watch all the TEDTalk videos and even download them to play while offline.

Honorable Mention: Netflix

So there you have it… my top iPad apps. What do you think of the iPad? Is it worth the cost? If you have one, how did you justify it? What apps do you recommend? I’d love to hear your comments!

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My PostSecret

The university I attend has a distinguished speaker series where they invite pop culture icons, politicians, motivational speakers, and the like to talk at our performing arts center.  I attend as many as I can, but I usually do not find the speaker terribly interesting. I recently attended one that I found entertaining, interesting, and memorable. The speaker was Frank Warren and the topic was PostSecret. Frank Warren challenged individuals by giving them the following postcard,

In 2004 he printed 3,000 of these postcards and started passing them out to anyone who would take one. Today over 2 million postcards have been submitted to the PostSecret project. I recently purchased one of his books to get it signed at his speaking event. Every book has secret’s almost everyone can relate to (but maybe not admit to). Here are some of Frank’s favorites,

As I read through the book that I purchased, I stopped at the postcard below and stared at it for about 5 minutes.

Not because it particularly stood out to me. Most postcards had elaborate art and text, and you could tell a lot of time had been spent on it. Why did this piece stand out? Because it was my own handwriting! Many years ago one of my high school teachers found discovered PostSecret. All the students in my class were assigned to make a card and send it in. The reason I sent in this secret, which is probably the blankest postcard in the book, is because,

  1. It’s the first thing I thought of. At the time I was very interested in philosophy and this was a branch from that stem.
  2. I couldn’t think of any fanciful secret that was worthwhile
  3. I’m a student and I wanted to finish the assignment as soon as possible!

After my 30 seconds of brief creativity in this card, I completely forgot about the project and probably went on to kill bigger fish, like my lunch plans at the cafeteria.

It’s interesting to see that the small things you do (for me this postcard), can come back full circle. After doing some follow-up for my postcard online I found that it had inspired a short 5 minute movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1362124/ and a one-act play http://www.nilesstar.com/2010/09/28/chicago-playwright%E2%80%99s-one-act-piece-debuts-in-niles/.  The play was created by Jessica Puller and ended up winning the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Play Competition for Youth Theatre.

I was surprised to see something as small as a 30 second activity had caused others to spend days and months on creating something new and meaningful.

My take away from this is that the smallest things you do; whether it is your daily routine, a piece for work, or a school assignment, can turn into something much more significant to someone else in a different way. Anybody can look at their daily activities and think little of it, but what you do may inspire others. There’s just no way of knowing what it is or when it happens.