Now, I’m not one for bold predictions. I mean, yeah, they can provide your fringe church of the heart with a short-lived marketing bump and budgetary boost; but, that’s only until they prove you to be a jackass. Just ask this guy.

(One thing I am grateful for is that the timing of my recent vacation coincided with all of this apocalyptic fervor, which (the latter) I was very glad to miss out on. What a time to disengage the grid, eh? For those of you still concerned for the arrival of the end-times, I can tell you this much, fairly definitively: While my guess would be that the actual apocalypse would be a weather-related disaster (especially when the sun explodes) or would involve weather-related disasters (see Book of Revelation for a popular rendition of a rapture story; but, note that we did recover from the Great Flood), weather-related disasters, taken as a predictive chain of events, are not harbingers of the apocalypse. There have been weather-related disasters/natural destructive phenomena occurring since time in memoriam: witness the Galveston Hurricane; the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius and Krakatoa; and, the New Madrid and Lisbon earthquakes. Furthermore, our modern disasters are far less deadly than historical disasters, given scientific (related to prediction and joined warning systems) and medical (including the existence and application of modern disaster response teams) advances. While any disaster affecting or taking human life, in any degree, can properly be described as tragic, none of these occurrences represent predictors, or sets of predictors, of the apocalypse. Rather than turning sad eyes to the potential end of our humanity when catastrophe strikes, our better efforts are those reflecting upon our prevailing humanity, those turned to assisting persons and communities in present need. To that end, you can contribute to the recovery efforts in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, here; to those in Joplin, Missouri, here; and, to those in Springfield, Massachusetts, here.)

Now, back to more silliness: Yeah, I’m not one for bold predictions . . . But, I do think that the rise of the tablet device (“modern” tablets, I mean (and not those fold-over laptops), as represented, most prominently, by the Apple iPad, the Motorola Xoom and the Blackberry Playbook) signals the end of traditional (laptop/desktop) computing. At this stage of the gaming, I think that most folks still see the tablet devices as adjuncts to existing technologies, as a smartphone (or, perhaps more appropriately, a netbook) is to a laptop; but, I think that the case is clear that the tablet is a replacement for traditional devices, rather than a new entry upon the roll of essential business technology. The tablet is the bridge between laptop and smartphone, and will likely end up replacing both devices. Since the use of tablets has become a major trend within popular culture, it is only a matter of time before the devices become primary within workplace settings, where employees, and, eventually, decisionmakers, will seek, and determine, to compute in the office in the same ways that they do at home, for familiarity’s sake. (It is true that business follows culture, and not the opposite; and, this is especially true in the legal field, even though most lawyers follow culture only at a great distance.) Only as tablet devices become accepted as primary business machines across the majority of professions will most lawyers begin to take notice. One day (relatively soon, I think), the attorney using a laptop in his office will be viewed as a dinosaur, in much the same way that, today, the attorney keeping an old DOS machine around to run his homegrown practice management and related systems is viewed as a dinosaur. Now, this is not to say that all attorneys are presently deeply engaged in missing the boat. (If I had a boat, I’d be on it.) There are some very savvy lawyers out there, who are on the leading edge of technology, and who heavily use tablet devices within their practices; of course, very few attorneys use tablet devices as a primary computing option, and none of those, that I know of, who do, have consequently given up their laptops. But, I think they all will. And, while I would not advocate lawyers dumping all their other devices (at this time), and moving to a tablet exclusively, I think that we’ll get to that point over time; and, the run-up may be shorter than you think. Therefore, even if lawyers aren’t switching now, or, perhaps more likely, aren’t adding tablets to their arsenals as yet, they should be aware of the prevailing uses of tablets and trends respecting the uses of such devices.

Last time I went on a long vacation, and came back (I always make that mistake), I wrote about getting off the grid; this time, I’ve returned to write about getting back onto the grid, even when you’re away–or, perhaps more appropriately, “ even when you’re out of the office”. (Don’t worry, I didn’t do any work when I was on vacation: the only app I downloaded (my first app ever, I might add) was ESPN’s Fantasy Baseball manager.) So, yeah, I’m not a tablet guy; I’m a laptop guy. (I’m not a Kindle guy, either. In fact, I had a massive book with me on the trip (“Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Volume 1”). And, if this isn’t a commentary on the modern world, I don’t know what is: the fact of my carrying a rather large book led to much scrutiny of said book by TSA personnel. Really? When did paper books become unusual, and potentially destructive, objects? But, I’ll save much of my griping about the state of 2011 America for another time.) Even though I only play a technologist online, I do make it a point to experiment some with any of the devices and computer programs I talk about at the blog, here; and, this case is no different. Truth in advertising and all, you know. So, I recently got an iPad. Excuse me: I recently go
t an iPad, which is now my wife’s iPad. (I get to look at it every now and then, though.) Thus, we are talking about a combination of impressions here, mine and her’n. Leading my above thesis is the underlying notion that, even for the relatively limited amount of personal computing we did while away, the iPad was uniquely effective, even as much as I hate to say it, with Apple’s whole, silly, if-you-don’t-have-one-you-don’t-have-one advertising campaigns making me nauseous. I have found that the iPad, and likely other tablets on the market (I’ve seen the Blackberry Playbook in action; and, I like it better than the iPad; but, I guess the initial sales numbers have been disappointing; this certainly casts some serious doubt on my future as a prognosticator, and is making me rethink a potential career change to necromancy), too, combine the best features of laptops and smartphones, making those other devices essentially obsolete, as soon as people figure out/are led to fully believe that the game is up. Laptops are portable; tablets are more portable: lighter, easier to tuck away, less susceptible to search at airport security (sorry books). Laptops have tactile keyboards attached; and, smartphones have tactile or on-screen keyboards that are too small; but, tablets, with larger screens than smartphones, have on-screen keyboards (that laptops don’t have, meaning the elimination of a piece of equipment, if you’re comfortable typing on the screen) that are easier (than smartphones) to type on and that reveal enough of the screen to see what else you’re doing. (I found great facility in typing on the iPad on-screen keyboard, and the clicking sound when you type made it feel more “real” to me–but, if you don’t like the on-screen keyboard, you can get one of those unobtrusive roll-up keyboards, that are easy to carry along, too.) I feel like apps have become predominant, not only because some of them are effective one-use tools (a historical example) and because some of them are apparently awesome games, but also because navigating non-mobile websites on smartphones is horrendous, and, for the most part, mobile sites kind of suck, too, leaving out much content, and being, themselves, difficult of maneuver. The tablet device offers the best of both (all) worlds, and allows for most effective movement within traditional websites (bigger screen plus the application of the touchscreen pinch-and-expand feature common to smartphones) and apps (truncated versions of websites/web applications), with only one device, meaning that there’s really no need for mobile sites anymore (save for use with smartphones . . . which are becoming obsolete, remember?). One consistent objection I have heard to primary tablet usage respects the position that these devices are not document drafting workhorses; but, I found typing on the iPad to be so easy that it did not differ appreciably from the way I work with a traditional computer. As to productivity software, while the full Office Suite has not yet been made available on the iPad, and the Apple software does not answer for busy business uses, Documents to Go and Office 365 provides a level of Microsoft Office functionality for iPad; besides, it’s only a matter of time before a full version of Microsoft Office becomes available on the iPad; for that matter, it’s probably only a matter of time before Microsoft releases its own tablet, especially if tablet sales continue to outpace PC sales. As several original gangsters have said, It’s All About the Benjamins . . . baby. As to storage, the top-end iPad has 64 GB of space, or, almost 1.3 million pieces of converted paper; that’s enough for most firms, especially for starting and small firms, which are those most likely to be using iPads in the practice; for those monolithic firms, iPad use will likely be tied to servers for document access (unless Apple’s recently announced iCloud, and/or other data storage products take hold sooner rather than later), freeing more space on individual devices for the aforementioned Angry Birds, and also Fruit Ninja. No device is fully secure all on its own, of course; and, the iPad is no exception. Business users should adopt and apply security protocols for iPad in much the same ways that they would have for traditional PCs, especially as iPads are getting more and more market share, and are, thus, becoming the more attractive targets of hackers and purveyors of malwares. (The iPad does offer 256 bit encryption that cannot be turned off by users.) Here is a list of ten tips for keeping your iPad safe. You can apply a password to your iPad, just as you can for your traditional PC. iPad lock and security cable systems are also available, for when dealing with those opportunistic, traditional-style sneak thieves (the worst kind of thieves). The iPad further eliminates the need for the talking part of a smartphone. Using the Skype app, and purchasing a nice headset, can generate a replacement for the traditional phoneline; and, the yoked access to the web means that the rest of your smartphone becomes part of just another relic, to boot. Now, you may have noticed that I’ve devolved, in the latest quarter of this post, into talking solely about the iPad; and, there are several reasons for this, some of which follow: I’ve only really used the iPad, out of the new tablet products; the iPad was the first and is the market leader among the new tablets; the iPad is the most mature new tablet product; the iPad is very shiny. Only two of those are true. If you’re a lawyer, and want to use the iPad more effectively, you may want to check out Tom Mighell’s “iPad in One Hour for Lawyers”.

As to features lacking, and as to bells and whistles yet unrung and not whistling (some of which prevailing issues are mentioned above), I think that, as the tablets will come to, increasingly, dominate market share and usership, business necessaries will be added. But, even stripped of some important business functionality, it’s clear that the iPad, and tablet devices like it, represents a neater fit for our present, and probably near-future, living and working conditions. And, while I don’t necess
arily believe that the iPad will kill the PC, as some have said, I do believe that the iPad has spawned a new generation of tablets that will, in combination, end up killing the PC, or, at least, banishing it to obsolecense, like Beta. You beta, you bet.

. . .

Liner Notes

I’ve recently discovered a hole in my musical tasting menu (one of many, of course–just the first I’ve let you know about): I don’t know much about Hawaiian music. Having recently road tripped through Kauai and Maui for a couple of weeks, this was painfully obvious to me, as I couldn’t recognize any of the music, anywhere. (I found a lot of it to be insipid, honestly; so, I guess I’m just an uptight New Englander, at the base of my soul.) Though, I have brought the shine of the sun back along with me; so, you’re welcome. Instead of learning about traditional, or even modern, Hawaiian music (I was not subliminally inseminated by all of the large-form posters, promoting up the new Hawaiian genre, stuck all over the islands), I took the lazy man’s route, and just started thinking of songs that sounded like/reminded me of Hawaiian songs/Hawaii; songs like these:

Somewhere Over the Rainbow/It’s a Wonderful World” by Israel (“IZ”) Kamakawiwo’ole

Tiny Bubbles” by Don Ho

Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” and “He Mele No Lilo” by Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus and Mark Keali’I Ho’omalu from the “Lilo & Stitchsoundtrack

Taylor” by Jack Johnson

Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby

Makin’ Wickey-Wackey Down in Waikikiby The Moonlighters

“The Magnum P.I. Theme” by Mike Post (You know you’re the king of television theme songs when Pete Townshend writes a song titled after the fact.)

Rocking Chair in Hawaii” by George Harrison

“The Hawaii Five-0 Theme (original)” by Morton Stevens

Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley

Perfect Day” by Hoku

Nah, I’m just playin’ though, Hawaii. I have mad respect and love for your music. Now, if some noble Hawaiian out there would like to draft a little “Liner Notes” segment covering “real” Hawaiian music, I would certainly be delighted to publish it as a full apology.

Or, we can all just read this. Seems legit.