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Apple's iPad - some observations

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I just typed "iPad" into the mental_floss back-end search engine and was amazed to discover that we haven't yet written anything substantial on this possibly game-changing device. There was this post, the interview with Chris Anderson of Wired magazine talking about the future of publishing vis-à-vis the iPad, but that was about it.

So, here's a post about the iPad because I went to the Apple store yesterday and gave it a whirl after reading this amazing Boing Boing post by Cory Doctorow over the weekend touting all the reasons why you SHOULDN'T buy the iPad. (And if you're considering one, absolutely read the post.)

Disclaimer: this isn't an official review of the iPad "“ just some observations.

Observation no. 1: I couldn't believe how many people were fighting to get their hands on the device! Not to buy it, just to try it. And the way some people were excited just to see it, as if they'd just discovered nirvana. I actually overheard someone say this, "Holy sh*t! There it is! Would you look at that! Wow!"

The table where they had the iPads on display had several rings of people standing on their tippy toes to see over the people in front of them as they waited impatiently to get their hands on it. The only other times I saw something like it, was when I visited the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem and when I visited the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

Observation no. 2: There's no Adobe Flash on the iPad. Why? If you could watch free TV shows on Hulu, then why buy them on iTunes? If you could play Flash games on sites like Miniclip, why buy them at the App Store, where Apple takes a 30% cut of every sale. This, by my way of thinking, is the biggest flaw of the Apple tablet. It's hard not having Flash on my iPhone, but on this larger device, you can't really live without it. So you have to believe that sooner, rather than later, someone like Brightcove will come along and release an app that gives you a workaround. Or Apple will cave to public pressure. Because too many sites rely on Flash to bring you their content. So this will have to change. But for now, it's a big black mark.

Observation no. 3: If you like reading books on the Kindle, you'll totally love reading them on the iPad. The screen is bright, the text pops, and the user experience is rich and fast. I think a lot of people will buy the iPad just for the e-books, especially since it's infinitely cooler looking than the Kindle and has that Apple cachet. The New York Times once wrote a piece about how Apple has a monopoly on Cool, and when it comes to e-book readers, this is no exception.

Observation no. 4: Pictures look amazing! You can stretch them, turn them, poke them and pinch them however you want and they just leap off the screen.

Observation no. 5: This thing is FAST! I don't know which version I had in my hands yesterday, but it was the fastest machine I've ever played with. No wait time on anything "“ at least none that's noticeable or annoying. I remembered back to the early "˜90s and how we had to wait for the dozen blue bars on AOL's homepage"¦ and wait, and wait, and wait. I knew back then that the day would come when there was no load-time. That day has arrived.

Observation no. 6: It's easier to type on than the iPhone, that's for sure. Still, it's no walk in the park.

Observation no. 7
: I'm going to have to go back and play around with it some more before I decide if I need one now or if I'll have to wait for the next version.

What about you all? Anyone buy one yet? What do you think?

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Cinera
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technology
This VR Headset Promises a Movie-Viewing Experience That Rivals Theaters
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Cinera

Movies in 2017 are typically viewed one of two ways: on a big screen in the theater or from the comfort of your home. A new VR headset called Cinera claims to combine the best of both experiences. As Mashable reports, the device, currently seeking support on Kickstarter, lets viewers enjoy theater-quality home entertainment without so much as lifting their heads, let alone a finger.

Unlike other VR headsets on the market, Cinera is designed primarily for watching movies and TV shows rather than playing video games. Inside there are two screens—one for each eye—which create a 3D, IMAX-like effect. According to the product’s Kickstarter page, the picture resolution is eight times that of an iPhone and three times that of a professional theater screen. And because Cinera is all about enjoying theater-quality media in the comfort of a home setting, it includes one vital feature most VR headsets don’t have: an adjustable arm that holds up the hardware so your head doesn’t have to.

With less than a week to go in the campaign, Cinera has already surpassed its $50,000 funding goal at least five times over. Cinephiles looking for a different type of VR experience can reserve their headset for a pledge of $450 with shipments set to go out in November.

[h/t Mashable]

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Reactions, Youtube
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science
Here's Why Your Phone Battery Can Explode
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Reactions, Youtube

When you hear about exploding batteries, what comes to mind? If you're like most, you think of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, the disastrous Samsung device that was recalled last October (and subsequently banned from airlines) after a string of reports indicated it was catching fire.

While Samsung might be the latest—and certainly, most public—example, it is far from the first. This phenomenon in which a battery spontaneously explodes is called thermal runaway, and it has been plaguing the consumer market for as long as lithium-ion batteries have been around.

There are a few reasons for thermal runaway: overcharging, overheating, physical damage, and, as is often the case, faulty manufacturing. (The Samsung Galaxy explosions were caused by overheating and faulty manufacturing by two separate battery suppliers.)

So, one lithium-ion battery factory explosion and several third-degree burn victims later, why haven't we figured out a safer way to engineer these smart devices? Well, in short: A solution is well underway. A group of researchers are currently troubleshooting a battery they believe to be noncombustible, longer-lasting, and capable of holding three times more energy.

To learn more on the chemistry behind this phenomenon, watch the video below from Reactions:

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