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He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

Paradigm-shifts and revolutions.

Whenever one talks about their love of Apple hardware, they do so at great risk - a quick look at Stephen Fry's blog will tell you that in a flash. I’ve never understood why discussing Apple matters provokes responses at such wide ends of the spectrum. Like Marmite, you’ll get zealot-like advocacy or ridicule, and rarely will you get no opinion at all. Why does a mere computer company generate such passion? I mean, it’s not a religion is it? Actually, scrub that question. I know the answer already - and it partially explains why I’m an atheist.

Historically, things have been no different. When I was in my teens and twenties, computer advocacy came in a different guise. In the eight-bit revolution of the eighties, the herd went down the ZX-Spectrum route and generally sneered at their minority computer-owning counterparts - even when theirs was a technically better solution. "Are those the only games you can buy?", they would sneer. They were lucky, and they knew it. The entire bottom floor of WH Smiths seemed dedicated to Sir Clive’s best invention. True, their little rubber-keyed boxes were technically inferior, but can you tell me of anyone around at that time who didn't enjoy an evening of Atic Atac, Jet Set Willy and Lunar Jetman? No, of course you can't. That's because they were fun. So nyeh. I would have killed to play the same on my humble Vic-20.

At the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties, everything got a bit 16 and 32 bit. As you'll have seen from one of my earlier posts, I was a proud evangelist of the Atari ST. I still am. Apart from having some amazing games, they were built like tanks and many are still running today. When I think about it, my 16-bit days were my happiest. I played amazingly fun games, connected to the world, wrote code and learnt how to hack’n’pack - a phrase that if you google at this point, gives you no results at all. I went on to an Acorn A5000 - an amazingly capable machine for it's time that became such a minority thing that “software houses” were actually developers living in offices the size of broom-cupboards. It was like a community - and still is.. It amazes me to discover that there’s still a (sort-of) Acorn scene. Maybe I’ll dig my trusty box out of the loft one day for some nostalgia.

However, for the last decade I’ve been a self-confessed Mac owner - twelve years, to be precise. I've had a variety of machines, from my first Performa 5500, right up to my current Macbook Pro and have always been of the opinion that whilst the company is a strange beast, they have largely built some robust and capable machines. They were ahead of their time in design.

But through all the hardware I’ve owned (and there’s been a lot of it), the iPad that has brought forth the greatest change in my attitude towards computing.

I bought the device not long after it was launched in the UK. Initially I wanted to use the device purely as an information appliance. In order to save lugging around my trusty Macbook Pro, it made sense to use a device that allowed me to do the majority of everyday tasks with the minimum of fuss and risk of damage to my Macbook. However, since I’ve started using it, I’ve surprised myself. With the exception of running fully-blown apps such as Photoshop, I can pretty much do 90% of whatever I want on demand, despite using a virtual keyboard. It’s not as unnatural as you think, and I can still churn out a good WPM rate.

I bought an entry-level 16GB model. Internet connectivity is provided through my trusty MiFi. Whilst 16GB doesn't seem like much (who’d have thought we’d be saying that?), you have to remember that there's lots of cloud-based goodness out there, a prime example being Dropbox, which allows a couple of GB storage for free - accessible anywhere. Storage no longer becomes a problem.

Whilst I do the usual web-related tasks, it now gets used for word-processing, spreadsheets, writing, image editing, gaming, reading and social networking. As we speak, I'm writing this blog post on it - and of course, if I don't have the application that does what I want it to, I'll spend a Kings Ransom of 59p on an application that probably does.

However, the main joys of the device are the brilliant battery life (I charge it up about once a fortnight), the portability and the fact that I can switch it on and off within seconds. It’s turned computing into an appliance. I switch it on, do my thing, switch it off and forget about it. I spend enough time figuring out other people’s computing problems, let alone my own, so the simplicity is rather nice.

That’s not to say that the iPad wasn’t a hyped device. However, the IT press are a reasonably savvy beast. If it really was that much of a turkey, I doubt it would have sold by the bucketload. They’d be quick to jump on the Apple-bashing wagon. Do Apple have a point? Does an oversized iPhone/iPad work? I think it does. We don’t need desktop power all the time (thankfully).

So, yes - you can consider me a happy iPad user. I appreciate the device may have it's limitations, but it also has a lot of untapped potential too. I'm resisting using the phrases paradigm-shift and revolutionary device - because if I did, I’d taste a little bit of sick and feel dirty. And we don’t want that now, do we?

If nothing else, the iPad has changed my attitude towards mobile computing. Computing should be about pushing technological boundaries and doing exciting new things. Whilst this hasn’t got me ditching my regular computer (yet), I’m glad to say that there are companies out there still willing to try something different - and whilst that’s still happening, I’m happy to call myself a geek.

Remember geek = chic.
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