Jan 22 2012

The Hidden Cost of Apple’s New Textbooks*

Adel Gabot

I admire Apple‘s efforts at improving education. God knows its about time to dispense with the old textbook paradigm and lugging the heavy, increasingly obsolete books around in a backpack from class to class. Apple’s recent launch of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author is a great step towards this, but despite the drive to bring down costs, there is a small, but significant hidden penalty to all this, I think.

The books are damn big!

They’re large and take up a lot of iPad/iPhone space. DK’s Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Life tome is already almost half a gig large. But that’s nothing. The Pearson Biology textbook is a whopping 2.7 gig in size! I know they’re relatively inexpensive, and we’re all thankful that they all top out at $14.99. But imagine loading up four or five of these “big” textbooks on your iPad – that would be, what, already 10-12GB or more?

Considering that the vast majority of cash-strapped students only have 16GB iPads, that would mean giving up a lot of the apps they currently have to make room for the textbooks. I know, we all have priorities, but this problem is certainly a big thorn in their side.

To give up what makes the iPad unique and enjoyable in favor of what’s “needed” sort of defeats the purpose of the device. Sure, most apps are only a few megabytes in size, but how about the larger, more complicated ones, like GarageBand?

I’m not knocking Apple and it’s efforts to bring education into the 21st century. Far from it. Just wanted foks to stop and take a good look at what’s really here in front of us now, and think about it. There’s a fair distance to go, really, before we can safely say that we’ve done all we can to improve the education situation. We can bring the sizes of the textbooks down to more manageable levels, or, failing that, maybe bring down the costs of iPads and other technologies so students can afford to get the higher capacities. Something like that.

But it’s good to have these new, revolutionary breakthroughs in the field. Where would we be without these little feats? We just have to take care that we don’t get carried away by our successes and pat ourselves on the back.


Reprinted from Technoodling.net

Dec 13 2011

Using Blogsy Part Two

Adel Gabot

Ok, I’ve been using the new outdoor setup (my iPad 2, my new Logitech Keyboard Case and SmartBRO unlimited data account) quite extensively the past few days, and I’ve written my two new reviews for Technoodling on it, mostly in cafes, plus quite a number of other things; like chatting with the TN crew, writing blog posts and my usual surfing. I’m glad to say that I kinda like it.

The keyboard is nice, if a bit too bulky and a bit heavy for my taste. It still fits in the Crumpler Herbas, so I guess that’s good. I still don’t like the fact that it keeps the back of the iPad bare and unprotected. Yesterday I went to SM Megamall to have the back protected by Invisible Shield (by Zagg, the very manufacturers of the case who recommend doing this very thing on their site), but hemmed and hawed for an hour before deciding I didn’t need to spend P1,500 to have a plastic sheet, which would eventually yellow and peel off after a few months, stuck to its back. I’d rather have it naked in all its glory, with the regular wear and tear showing up over time. It’s not like I was going to sell it anytime soon anyway.

What also bothers me is something another reviewer said on one of the sites – that the rubber baffles holding the iPad to the case would in time loosen up. As it stands now, everything’s peachy keen: the iPad’s held together with the keyboard case nice and tight, but time will indeed tell.

I’m pretty happy with the unlimited surfing account I got last week from SmartBRO. It’s kinda …no, not kinda, it’s really expensive, but justified. I like that fact that I can surf unmolested anywhere, at anytime, and it’s very liberating. I hardly ever turn it off (and I wonder why I should; only during times when a wifi connection becomes necessary, certainly), and I can’t often tell I’m using 3g instead of wifi.

I like the software I bought in anticipation of this setup. Blogsy, Pages (which I bought some time ago for writing), some image manipulation software and a few social communication apps all serve me in good stead. Blogsy, I’m still getting to know how to use, but it seems to be the most used app. It still has some kinks it hasn’t quite gotten rid of, like inputiing photos. Last night, I had a devil of a time inserting graphics into my WordPress posts for Technoodling, and I had to keep trying until it took. It crashed once so far but hasn’t since. Also, it doen’t consistently show the same options for virtually identical postings: for instance, it showed the option to post something as pending for one article, but didn’t for another. The software also has limited sources for photos. I wish it had provisions for Photobucket, for instance, my photo provider of choice. I didn’t have the same problems on my big iMac setup at home.

On the whole though, I’m pretty happy with the system, as it is now. It stopped my hankering for a new laptop, for one. I’d already set aside P40-50k in the back of my mind for a newish second-hand 11″ Macbook Air, and if this setup didn’t present itself in that online article by Harry McKracken which spoke of him having a new “computer” which is essentially this setup, I would’ve found an Air by now. (My previous old first-gen Macbook Air still works but looks to be on it’s last legs. It can barely run Lion, and a disturbing crack has appeared again on the hinge like before – and this time I have no more Applecare to rely on.)

I like how the keyboard is damned solid, and can seem to take as much abuse as I can dish out. I like how the power lasts and lasts (I charged it once, briefly, when I got it last Saturday, and it’s been steady ever since). I like the power of the iPad and how it lasts for 10 hours. Coupled with the unlimited data account I got, I don’t have to worry about time spent on the system, unlike say, a Macbook Air which would last me around half the time. This computer just lasts and lasts.

I look forward to long, happy days with my new “computer”.