Friday, August 21, 2009

Objects of desire

Unless you live in cave, you are probably at least vaguely aware that speculation is rife that Apple is about to release, or at least announce, some sort of tablet device. Such a device has been rumoured for many years, but this time the rumours appear to have more substance. The wonderful folks at MacLife have gone so far as to do a detailed workup, with quite drool-worth graphics, of what such a device might look like, and what functions it might offer.

Now let me be quite open about this: I don't care if they call it an iTablet, an iPad (seems unlikely, too much like iPod) or an iBiscuit (iLibris, anyone?). I want it. But only if it will do the following:

Allow me to write, squiggle, doodle and otherwise draw upon the screen, and save my scratchings in some convenient format (JPG will do just fine). As someone who constantly jots things down, my life is absolutely littered with note pads of various descriptions: I can see 4 from where I sit, without turning around to check the shelves behind me. My chances of finding the one that contains the notes I need approach zero. Every conference or vendor event seems to give me another block of dead tree slices to write upon, and create notes that I can't find: there must be a better way.

Read newspapers, specifically the Sydney Morning Herald and the Weekend Australian. I do read newspapers online now, but I like to read a newspaper while eating my breakfast. I eat my breakfast in the family room (large room at the south end of the house, with no computers). Eating breakfast in my study is impractical because a). there isn't space on my desk to put down a bowl of muesli; and b). my white cat Percy expects to be able to sit on my lap while I'm in my study, but he knows that he can’t sit on me while I'm sitting at the table in the family room. It's about the only thing that the little idiot has ever managed to learn, and I'd hate to waste it.

Having access to newspapers on a tablet style device would have numerous advantages, for me and for the environment. Right now, when a newspaper arrives in my house, half of it immediately gets tossed into the recycling basket: I do not read the sports section or the real estate section, and I rarely read the enclosed advertising material (Dell, please note: sending me a flyer every day will not make me any more likely to purchase your products).

This is always assuming that my newsagent manages to deliver the paper: my local newsagent is a half wit, and I have the agency on speed dial, because they screw up so often. Any technology that would spare me having to deal with this particular business would be welcomed with open arms.

Then, when I've finished with the paper and my husband has done the suduko, the whole thing gets tossed into the recycling. Kilos of used newprint leave this house every week, much of it unread. We subscribe to the Sydney Morning Herald, so on Sundays the Sun Herald is delivered to us. The SMH is a OK as a newspaper, but the Sun Herald is the type of rag that you wouldn't used to line a hamster cage, for fear of upsetting the hamster. Shoddy journalism, verging on gutter press, it usually goes straight to recycling.

All this could be stopped, which would reduce the burden on the local council's recycling activities, and keep my house tidier.

If the new device would also allow me to read ebooks, and watch the occasional DVD, so much the better. But for me, note taking and newspapers are the big, must have features.

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