Tuesday, April 06, 2010

on the iPad and computing in the 10's...

I'll start with this: if you're at all interested in picking up programming, start with Javascript and write basic web pages and apps with it. It's the BASIC of the 10's... no, it's actually far more pervasive. ;)


I haven't actually played with an iPad yet (I was sick this weekend, and I don't really have $499-599 right this second... *glances at 32" LCD*) but I think it's a turning point.

Basically, it's one step closer to the computer that isn't there - something that fades away into the background. Getting rid of the keyboard might be risky, but...

... the iPad is a consumer device. It's not about writing, drawing, or creating content.

That's where the "PC" of the 10's comes in against the iPod's "Mac."


Android is nice, but one little piece fell out of their pre-planning that hurts it:

It's Javascript that matters, not Java.


Javascript is a very interesting language, wrapped in C semantics, various web browser crap, and labeled Java* to throw off any PHB's that would kill it off for actually being innovative.

But it managed to bring quite a few academic ideas into the real world - first class functions, lambdas, closures, dynamic code execution, etc.

Go to http://www.crockford.com to find out more.


Javascript could have gotten away with being as bad as it's rep, though. Think of a modern computer, sold to consumers, that doesn't have Javascript in it, in some form or another.


But partially because it *is* a very mallible language, and because webstuff is just *that* popular, it'll be tinkered around with until you can do anything that a low-complexity program needs to do.

For instance, you can make a basic iPhone app in html+javascript, provide it a manifest file, and it'll store it on the iPhone locally and even hide the location bar for you. (This is how the second pass at Google Voice works...)


Once you realize that HTML5+javascript can make decent apps for iProducts, it makes the store lock-down a *little* more tolerable. But to get to everything you still need native code, which means dealing with Apple and their censors. Blah.


Microsoft is now out of their element. Windows Mobile 7 will likely still be a 'me too' product, although it's their last chance to make something that *isn't*, especially since they're throwing backwards compatibility out the window, which is *very* non-Microsofty...


I really do think Apple's anti-Flash stance is the best thing for the entire computer industry, although part of that might be by accident. It's encouraging people to figure out just how far HTML5 can go and from there how unnecessary Adobe's bloated buggy plugin is.

(Yes, I know it's really because Steve's a control freak...)


It's time for the next generation of Linux GUI's to start coming about - one that can perform as well as the iPad's. Android will probably have to do for a year or two, but the real competition will come from a more web-centric engine.


At the very least, tech from Linux projects tend to resurface in odd ways. Like my Panasonic 32" TV (among others!) having the GPL and LGPL texts in the menu system!

And while Firefox had the biggest mindshare - at least for a while - Apple's move to commercialize KHTML and KJS into Webkit took some KDE code and made it what I think'll be the preeminent web browser engine this decade.

Being lighter-weight than Mozilla's engine, it has been picked up by almost everyone making mobile browsers - except Microsoft, and from what I can tell mobile IE is crap anyway. (The browser in Winmo 7 had *better not* suck, or it's DOA)

And Webkit runs well on full-size computers, too.


I have a nice used X41 Tablet I got for <$300 recently. It'd be nice if it had a finger touchscreen, but maybe that's where I should start experimenting with iPaddy stuff...


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