This week (or three) in MacHole

I hope you channeled Mel Allen while reading this post's title. If you don't know who Mel Allen is, you're probably a soccer fan. Now excuse me while I search for torrents of old Baseball Bunch episodes.

Okay, that failed.

Since I last darkened the halls of The Tech Report with my shambolic musing, much has happened in the world of Apple. Assuming you interpret "much" as "three." These events, in ascending order of geekfroth-inducing power: new MacBook Pro models, iPhone OS 4.0 development preview and, what was it, oh yeah, the iPad went on sale. Or, as I responded to them, "Cool, too bad I'm broke," "Cool, multitasking at last," and "Meh, a big iPod touch."

In terms of upgrades, the new MacBook Pros feature Core i5 and i7 processors, Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics chips, higher-capacity standard hard drives, and Mini DisplayPort outputs that now support audio. Early benchmarks show the new machines to be faster than their previous counterparts. Yeah, I know. Shocking. Nonetheless, I must now devise a plan to pawn off my now previous-gen MBP to the new guy at work and score one of these. This plan will involve marshmallow crème, a Flip HD and a gaggle of Billy Barty impersonators. And, naturally, keyboard cat.

Apple's preview of iPhone 4.0 on April 8 was stuffed full of so many new features, enhancements, and APIs that I kept waiting for Steve Jobs to offer the assembled media a "wafer-thin mint." To make the gluttony more palatable, Apple broke out the feature set into seven "tent poles," the biggest of which, in my opinion, were the aforementioned multitasking and Apple's new iAd advertising system. Some have argued that Apple's multitasking scheme for the iPhone is nothing more than a fancy process switcher masquerading at the Multithreaders Ball. Are the proponents of such a silly metaphor correct? Who cares? People want background processes running to VoIP notifications, audio control, etc., etc. without perceived loss of battery life. If this works, fantastic. Still better than MultiFinder.

I haven't delved into the nuts and bolts of iAd enough to spew forth my opinion, but it's probably coming. After all, I'll undoubtedly be creating some super-sweet tiny ads for it in my day job. Like others, though, I hope this doesn't spell the end of ad-free paid apps. Hopefully, the pseudoscience of impressions and clicks doesn't infect every developer out there who hopes for a continuous revenue stream via iAd placements. Word to the potentially unwise: ads are supposed to make you like something, not loathe it.

And so we've come to the iPad. As neato keen observers of this blog may recall, in my preview of the iPad, I fell fairly squarely in the camp of believing Cupertino's "magical" new device would be little more than a midnormous iPod touch. Within moments of the iPad going on sale, lo, two Saturdays ago, the blogocube was awash with instareviews declaring that those of us bivouacked in said camp just didn't get it and were probably proud owners of Google G1s.

Obviously, a trip to the Apple Store was in order. But not on that Saturday. Or Sunday. Or even that week.

Eventually, I trekked to one of the four Apple Stores within 10 miles of my residence (so spoiled compared to my Amiga-owning days), joined by a couple of co-workers. Mac-dweebs all, we descended upon the semi-barren store (middays at this particular mall are heavy on strollers, light on Macheads) and each settled in front of a delightfully tethered 16GB iPad.

We touched, we pinched, we swiped, we shook, we opened Mail, we played movies, we tried to cut the tether with a pair of blunt nail clippers while the Geniusii were distracted by soccer moms looking for iPhone cases to match their track suits (fail).

Three minutes later, we hit the food court as a collective "meh" exited our not-so-collective mouths. Indeed, the iPad did seem to be a giant iPod touch. Perhaps it was the lack of iPad-specific apps the Generati had installed. Or that spending a combined $1,200 to have a really slick Scrabble board wasn't all that appealing to me. Or maybe I just don't get it.

Which is fine by me, since it saves me a nifty chunk of cash.

I hope the iPad does turn into something supercool. But I've been hoping that about my Apple TV for almost two years and, well, I think we all know how that's turned out. Of course, the iPad is definitely not a "hobby" for Jobs & Co., so it could eventually become some sort of quasi netbooky thing of value in my arsenal. But for now, it's really hard to justify filling a gap between my iPhone and MacBook Pro when I can't even see any light peeking through.

But if you've got one and dig it, share the love and let us know why. I promise only 68% of readers will taunt you.




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