Steve Jobs has my money, again.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you tell yourself you don’t want something, how much you know an item isn’t really worth the money your shelling out for it, how my you think that getting a device mainly for browsing the web on the sofa is an unnecessary luxury, in the end you end up opening the wallet and handing over money to someone who is being far to smiley in an Apple store. In fact you do this and wait in line, or in my case shambolic huddle, for the privilege. Come on, I was only there to buy a grown up iPhone, or was I?

Shouldn’t there be angels or something?

I think angels seem to turn up when Stephen Fry goes into an apple store. I’m sure they specially clean up in order to add to the glorious nature of the purchasing experience (from what I’ve read I don’t think mere mortals deal with him when he buys only UberAppleSalesCherubs, either that or it’s something they give him to drink). In my case my buying experience was less straight forward. Walk into an Apple store, avoiding blue shirted sales staff looking for till. Notice that till was absent and most of the store was full of people checking their email. Find concierge (in black shirt) who was wondering around store in a pattern created by a bad random number generator and give him name. Check email on a variety of Mac’s until I realize I’m standing in the Genius bar queue, a Genius

in the Apple store seemed to be a person who knows how to hard reset an iPod/IPhone because that’s all they seemed to be doing for people. Move to another, unmarked, area of the store to hang around with the other people who are also lost, but might be less lost than me. Check some more email on the nearest Mac. Finally my name is called and I have all of 1 minute to pay for my iPad. The guy did say usually he wold spend three years taking me through how to set up and usethe product, but unfortunately I’d used up all of his spare nanoseconds and I was on my own, fine I thought the advert had said that ‘I already knew how it worked’.

Yeah it’s an experience, not a particularly good one, but an experience nonetheless. Next time I order by post, impersonal but it saves on the aimless wondering.

But my other device isn’t an iPhone!

I used to have an iPhone, I used to think it was good. I didn’t pay for it, I managed to be in part of my previous organisation where iPhones were becoming a right (the rest of the company was left to languish with nothing or old Nokia’s, I’m unsure who was worse off). I used to use iTunes for organizing my music, movies and applications. I could even dock it in a few stereos I had at home. I have a Nexus One now, I used to think the iPhone was good but I don’t miss it any more. Transitioning from the iPhone to the Nexus was a bit of a harrowing experience, I spent a month cold turkey using an old Windows Mobile handset, an HTC S710, it reminded me what a mobile operating system would look like if I ever ended up in purgatory. I used to look at my iTunes library and my new mobile device and think, hmm what now?

This taught me a valuable lesson.  Never back only one horse, because if a better horse comes along, let’s call it an ‘open horse’ for the sake of argument, you will never know what your missing. You will never know that life might be better backing the ‘open horse’ until you’ve tried it. That there are companies out there that might produce software that run on any horse. Because if your not on the ‘open horse’ then you have to stick with the other horses, let’s say they are iHorses, and if you ever want to get onto the ‘open horse’, the other one has bolted with your music, movies and books and you’ve forgotten to shut the door.

Ok enough of the equine analogies already.

I <3 Kindle

Having lived with my Android phone for two months and enjoyed the wonders of an iTunes free life (come on you know you can do it) my first download from the Apple App Store was the Kindle application. Why Kindle and not the ‘magical’ iBooks application, well for one thing I could now read any of the trashy novels I download when I’m not tethered to my iPad, which might be quite a lot as both my Wife and Daughter seem to be eyeing it up. I might even be able to read them on my PC (you know I still have one or two) which still thinks an app store is somewhere you go and buy games.

Amazon know how to do book rentals, their apps run on most platforms (that anyone cares about) and you can download the titles again and again from archive. This is a killer function for me and something that has always created annoyance with online music purchases. The whole cloud idea has been the fact I can store data away from my device, if it dies, I can just re-sync and everything is there, over the air without the need to dock into an even more expensive computer to do so.

It’s the reason why I now use Spotify for my music rather than just having useless CD’s cluttering my house that I no longer listen too, my boredom threshold is high and my music tastes horribly mainstream, Spotify checks the boxes for me and like Amazon allows me to listen to trashy pop without the evidence lying around embarrassing my family. Sure there are times when having the physical product is excellent (usually when giving gifts 🙂 ) but like many other people I’m feeling that more and more physical products are moving to an online existence only and whilst part of me mourns the time when I had 15 floppy disks to install software onto an unconnected machine, it’s only a small part and I’m trying to rid myself of it.

When was the last time you loaded data?

Do you know, most of the people using spatial information in applications never even bother to load any spatial data, using esoteric formats beyond CSV or KML. They never had to build a gazetteer, they never had to choose the colours of the basemap? They never had to worry about scaling or wondering about upgrades or downtime, server management and patches. Most of them never even had to pay.

Google and Bing Maps (mmm balance!) both provide the Kindle and Spotify equivalent of GIS (look I used the G word!), there are applications and app stores being provisioned based upon both where existing functionally can be easy combined into a bespoke applications, again often without much installation worries. Like most people don’t care how Spotify and Bing work, most people don’t care how Google Maps works, as long as the API is stable and the maps are fast. Sure like physical books there are times when you need to run on-premise applications and actually get your hands dirty loading spatial data, but they are increasingly becoming more niche.

In the era when digital books will soon sell more than physical books I wonder how long before access to larger and larger data sets will be online rather than on-premise. When the ‘change only update’ will be a thing of the past and you will have only the ‘changed’ data. Sooner rather than later I hope, until then I’ll be happily playing with my iPad enjoying the excellent spatial applications that run on both it and my Nexus.