[NTLK] iPhone is not the new Newton (& announcing a Newt sell-off shortly)

Lord Groundhog lordgroundhog at gmail.com
Wed Dec 30 11:41:09 EST 2009

~~~ On 2009/12/30 13:54, Riccardo Mori at rick at poc.it wrote ~~~

> quoth Lord Groundhog:
>> I was glad you mentioned it; it grouts my rat to be told
>> that I can't treat MY gizmo, paid for with MY cash, as MINE.
> I don't follow, sorry. ...
> I don't feel anybody intruding with my usage or experience of the iPhone in
> any way.

Sorry Riccardo, I guess this is a case of my not leaving enough context when
I trimmed the e-mail.  We were talking about the difference between the
Newton's ability to allow 3rd party development and the iPhone's hardline
"no trespassers!" approach to 3rd party development, necessitating for some
users the jailbreak.  The trouble is, Apple has shown a certain willingness
to make life punitive tendency towards people who jailbreak -- it's easy
enough to google for folks who find that iPhone firmware upgrades leave them
with a pretty mini-brick.  And to save you the trouble of writing back, yes,
I know they aren't obliged to support the jailbreak; that's not my (and
others') point.  The point is that if they didn't lock out developers, the
jailbreak would be unnecessary and the upgrades wouldn't brick the iPhones.

In the more general way that you're writing, I have no disagreement.  If you
don't jailbreak, Apple doesn't interfere with your phone.  And if, like me
you don't own an iPhone they also don't interfere with your phone.  ;-)

>> My second biggest beef is with any technology is that kind of arrogant
>> know-it-all paternalism to which you also make reference.  ...
> I really think that all this 'paternalism' you and others see is truly in the
> eye of the beholder. You see, every device out there (in varying degrees) is
> the product of a series of design choices. Behind every device out there,
> someone (a person or a group of designers/engineers) has 'decided' how users
> may use and manipulate it. The Newton included. Therefore, a more reasonable
> position, in my opinion, would be along the lines of "I find device X to be
> designed in a more compatible way with my habits or needs, while device Y
> works in ways I find more complicated, more user-unfriendly, more whatever".

Perhaps it is in our eyes and not in Apple's "mind".  But isn't that what
the phrase "user experience" implies?  In any case, the paternalism is
clearer in the context -- which I trimmed out -- and in other posts on this
topic in the past. 

Again, of course you're right that all devices are the result of design
decisions.  And of course you're right about the "more reasonable" way for
us to talk about it -- if we're talking about the objective analysis and not
the most subjective aspects of our experience.  Let me rephrase for clarity
-- my personal issues and all:  the way iPhone is designed (in the specific
context of the company being led by the kind of man that would remove the F1
key of someone's keyboard) "reminds me of a time when I was younger and my
mother decided she should remove the alcohol lamp from my chemistry set
because she couldn't see why I'd want to heat anything".  Better?

Thankfully my father decided it would be better to teach me how to use the
lamp safely.  In the case of Apple and the iPhone, there's no higher court
of appeal to protect me in similar fashion to what my father did for me.
THAT'S the problem as we see it.

> ... 
> Do we really know all that? It's speculation, it's a dead horse being beaten
> over and over. I think it's time to leave it alone.

You may be right.  But somehow I doubt it'll happen.  ;-)

> In all these years, the number of people I have met online and offline who
> personally *hate* Steve Jobs is appalling. ...
> And I never really understood the reason of taking these things so
> personally, as if Jobs personally offended or hurt them.

You may be misunderstanding *our* motives etc., just a little.  I don't hate
the man.  That really would be appalling.  (BTW, I love what he did with the
whole NeXT thing.  If he'd been able to do that at Apple, we might've had
OSX by 1995 or '96, and that would've been an amazing step forward.)

I suspect that the reason we seem to "take it personally" is that there was
a time when we had more of what we wanted than we have now, and we feel as
if it's been taken away.  And it seems to coincide with the return of Jobs.
Of course that's simplistic.  But just to take two products, the Newton and
the Pismo, look at what we had in them.  The Newton is 12 year-old
technology that has been kept viable (admittedly with blood, sweat and tears
on the part of the amazing people here at NewtonTalk as much as anything)
despite Apple's willingness to leave us -- I mean, leave *the Newton* --

As for the Pismo, it's the dream machine of portable computing in terms of
design.  Of course it's out-moded now, at least to speed-demons:  the
processor is old and slow, and blah-blah-blah.  But if you want to see a
user-serviceable laptop design that's limited in practical terms only to the
willingness of the owner to wield a few simple tools, the Pismo is IT.  If
you want to see a design that features flexibility and expandability, the
Pismo is IT.  

Both these machines are outdated now, but that's through the closed upgrade
paths, not through any fundamental design failure.  At least, that's the
opinion of people like me, and I'm sure there are people who will happily
disagree with it all.

> I think I already mentioned my point of view. I'm a Mac guy because of all the
> computers and devices I have used so far, Apple hardware and software have
> proven to be the best for me. The Newton is the best in its category. That's
> why I sought it and happily still use it. And when the iPhone was introduced,
> and I understood its capabilities and its wonderfully conceived user
> interface, every other mobile phone suddenly looked obsolete to me; so when
> the iPhone 3G was finally available in my country, I bought it without
> thinking twice. And, to this day, I never regretted that choice.

Yes, I'm also a Mac guy.  I had to come to Macs later in life than I
would've liked, but in 2000 I got Lady Pismo, and before long she acquired
her 3 sisters.  They were soon joined by a number of other Macs, desktops
and laptops, going back to the Classic so far, and right up to my PowerBook.
If only I could've done it years ago!

I'll agree (more or less) about the iPhone interface, although of course I
want HWR.  But I don't see the apps I want for it, and the rest of the
phone's "real" stuff isn't good enough for what I want.

> ... Best of both worlds, in a nutshell. With the
> iPhone and the Newton, it doesn't have to be an either/or process.

I can see what you're saying here, and if I liked the iPhone *as a phone* I
might have gone this route too.

> (Also, I have no problems with the fact that Apple filters what gets in the
> App Store and what doesn't. I think that such an important mobile platform has
> to be 'protected' and maintained as stable and as crap-free as possible.
> Sometimes the process isn't smooth and strange rejection episodes happen, but
> considering the astounding amount of apps they have to evaluate, some bumps on
> the road every now and then are to be expected.)

Just think though;  if they'd taken that attitude with that other "important
mobile platform", OSX on my laptop (it's important *to me* that my laptop be
stable and crap-free when I'm hundreds or thousands of miles from any other
computer for weeks or months at a time), I might still be limited to
browsing with Safari, doing my e-mail on Mail, handling my music with
iTunes, GarageBand, etc., writing stuff in TextEdit or Pages, and so on and
so on.  This really doesn't sound sensible to me.  And as it happens, my
laptops all ARE stable and crap-free despite all these 3rd-party apps I run.
And some of them are **shudder** way better (for me) than Apple's own apps.

> Does all this makes me an Apple fan? Perhaps, but if tomorrow a better product
> comes around, I will use it. It doesn't have to have an Apple logo on it. But
> it *has* to be better and *has* to fulfil my needs in a better way than any
> Apple product. Tough job.

Altogether agreed on that!

> Cheers, and a very happy, very green New Year :)

And you too, Rick.  If only we could patch the world for 2010 as easily as
we'be been able to patch our Newts!  Thanks to everyone here and Happy 2010!


~~~ ~~~ ~~~

³Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from a Newton.²
            -- what Arthur C. Clarke meant

(With thanks to Chod Lang)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~
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