Put your laptop on eBay now (or “How I learned to love the iPad”)

As an IT manager, I’ve been a huge advocate of laptops ever since the early 2000s (when they finally became powerful enough to adequately handle almost any software you threw at them). And why not? Look at the alternative – a big, ol’ box under your desk with a keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, etc. tethered to it? What a mess.

But then, along comes the iPad. Now, I will confess that it’s taken me a solid year to even somewhat “get” the iPad. My office bought one almost as soon as it came out and I and my co-workers have passed it between ourselves, kind of going “Uhh… OK.”

But the device has finally made more sense to me over the past month or two. While it’s certainly no laptop killer in the workplace, it DOES change the home purchase dynamic quite a bit.

Consider this: as we all know, most home users do very basic things with their systems – work with e-mail, browse the web, play some music, do some basic document work. It’s these simple needs that gave rise to the netbook phenomenon just a year or two ago.

My contention has always been “What do I need that for when I have my laptop and my iPhone? The laptop is perfect for home and I can bring it with me when I need computing horsepower out of the house and, for any other time, I’ve got my smart phone!”

But it finally dawned on me about three weeks ago: I almost never use my laptop as a portable device. The reality of it is that it basically sits in my workroom. Stationary. Unmoving. Kind of like my labrador.

Whenever I pack my laptop with me on a trip it always winds up being overkill, just to look up a street address or check mail. Whenever I bring it with me to the couch I wind up aggravated because it takes up the space on my coffee table usually reserved for my feet.

The potential for the need for a home computer to be replaced by personal tablets is actually there – time will tell how it shakes out.

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Skype v5 for Mac: Web 2.0 design gone bad

I began writing this post prepared to rant about the many ways I dislike the most recent incarnation of Skype for Mac OS X .

Then I stumbled onto this and realized I’d be wasting my time:

Five Reasons Why Skype 5.0 for Mac Sucks

3d-skypeIn the past few weeks, as the new Skype has been autoupdating itself onto client’s systems, I’ve witnessed something I’ve never seen in the ad agency I work for: a full-on user revolt. Our company uses Skype for much of its internal communications and our people hate this new version so much that many have taken it upon themselves to revert back to v2.8. And, so long as the old version still works, who am I to complain?

Clearly, we aren’t the only ones unhappy with this redesign, as even Skype has put out a fairly ham-handed call , a la the Gap, for people to redesign the UI for them. I’m encouraged to see enthusiasts already picking up the ball and running with it but I can’t help but to wonder just what the heck Skype was thinking when they decided that v5 was a good idea.

Skype is, in my opinion, a fantastic tool. In a world drowning in incompatible IM clients (AOL Instant Messenger/iChat, Google Chat, Yahoo! Messenger, etc.), Skype has always stood above the rest as a fully-featured, cross-platform product. In particular, it’s video calling capabilities have always surpassed those of the competition and, now that both home and wireless bandwidth is making it possible to video call from anywhere, they’re poised to take a dominant position in that communications revolution. But they can’t afford to do things like butcher their UI and alienate their users at a critical time like this when the field is still “up for grabs.” In today’s tech savvy world, the name of the game is “Do or do not – there is no try.”

Skype would do well to remember that.

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