Play of the Day: Hexagonal Rochambeau is part rock, paper, scissors/part-StarCraft

I’m enjoying this game. I wish I had a few more people to test it out with, but so far quite fun. And it’s for the fun price of free!


One of minds that worked on games like Glow Artisan has  launched a new twist on rock, paper, scissors called Hexagonal Rochambeau. While the name sounds complicated, the game play as not. I spent the weekend playing my girlfriend with lovely results and only a couple odd looks from by-standers on the L train.

-Jamin Warren

iPad Thoughts Again

So this whole iPad thing. I wrote about it back when it was first announced and was writing from a perspective that had never seen or really used one. I was optimistic, both from an Apple watcher’s perspective (in terms of how Apple will make money with it) and also from an everyday user’s perspective (automatic transmission analogies, and Nintendo’s Blue Ocean strategy).

Looking Back

It’s interesting looking back just what people were focusing on back then. No flash, no multi-tasking, and how it actually would hold up to actual usage. Oh and don’t forget the name. Well, flash is still on it’s way out (I still use plug-in blockers so I rarely even see flash these days) with Adobe supporting even more HTML5 tools, so that seems like it was entirely a non-issue. As for all those flash games that ‘people’ were bemoaning not getting to play anymore, take a look at all those free, freemium, and paid games in the App Store. Multi-tasking has been improved upon with subsequent OS updates, and developers have found innovative work-arounds to keep up with user needs. As for usage, that seems to have taken care of itself. People use it quite happily, and revisions to the hardware will continually improve usability. I’m not even going to mention the name issue, other than the fact that some analysts really seem to dislike using “iPad” in their reports and so substitute in “Tablet market” instead.

The iPad has really taken off. No one can really doubt that now. When people mocked it for being a glorified iPod Touch they were both right and very, very wrong. They’re right in that it is a larger iOS device, sometimes without a cellular data connection, but they were also wrong because the screen size really does bring about a revolutionary change in usage patterns and screen space utilization. Basically the iPad is hired to do a different job than that of both the iPhone and the iPod Touch. It can simply do different things than either of its siblings. Just bringing the iOS metaphors to a 10” screen makes a distinct difference.

Why I Want One

All of which is nice and dandy, but why do I want one? I had my iPod Touch, one that I even upgraded to the iPhone 4 equivalent. I recently picked up an iPhone 4. I’m writing this on my 15” Macbook Pro. What reasons exist that allow picking up yet another device to make sense? [2]

Basically, there really is a gap that I’m not served best by any of my current devices. My iPhone/iPod Touch does very well at what it does, but the screen size does eventually come into play (not that I’m arguing in favor of a large iPhone screen size, quite the contrary). My laptop just isn’t convenient to read some things on (see Instapaper and Reeder). The experience of iOS and what feels natural there really does some amazing things on a larger screen, and now I’ve come to a point where I think that matters.

I’m in Grad School now, and so paper reading keeps coming up as a thing that I need to be doing. While I could print them out, or even go back to the paper source material (when still available at the university library) reading digitally makes way more sense. I can keep them with me at the same time, they’re technically searchable, when not a static PDF image and not PDF text, and I won’t lose them (once renamed from the long static string that the journal keeps it under). But still, my laptop isn’t the finest way to read them either. Scrolling through an article does work, but the written word, at least for me, isn’t really consumed best unless it’s held in my hand. A computer screen, even on a laptop lacks the unifying feel that paper does. An iPad restores that familiar relationship.

Also there are a few apps that I use all the time that would be improved upon with a larger screen. Instapaper, Reeder, and mobile Safari all would improve if just offered more screen space. I read, a lot. Online and offline reading is still the basis of my entertainment and information seeking habits. Even the Kindle and iBooks apps would improve immensely on a larger screen. Reading is better like that. I’ve tried it out in limited fashions via grad students at Stanford, my Dad, and various Apple stores I’ve visited and messed around in. It works for people in ways that regular computing fails to deliver on and enhances the set of tools that have been developed via the iPhone. Which makes sense that the iPad feels like a more natural fit when you remember that the iPhone was born from a tablet effort at Apple anyway.

I even plan on being productive with it once I get it. I’ve done quite well at not installing games onto my iPod Touches and subsequently on my iPhone. This keeps my iOS devices free-ish of one distraction source at least. In preparation I’ve also picked up a couple text-editors for writing some stuff. I would even be writing this post on the iPad if I had it in time to write this (which makes no sense as this is meant as a look at my thoughts before I get it, but yeah…). People claim that an iPad is only for consumption not creation. I plan on challenging that at least in limited fashions. I doubt I’ll be making a podcast on it, I’m not even sure I could but I am interested in doing so (even if not on an iPad).[1] However, for a couple things I am interested in working on, namely some text entry and a couple other things, I think I can manage to do them on an iPad.

Things I’ll Also Be Getting At The Same Time

So yeah, I’ll have this iPad. People tend to keep buying them and then realizing that you need to spend more to get them to do just what you want them to. Maybe not quite to the same degree as the Kindle Fire seems to be a digital vending machine, but close. So yeah. I’ve already gotten a small head start in terms of apps for an iPad. Most of the apps I depend on are Universal at this point so they’ll just load up happily. iCloud and Dropbox makes this also very easy to keep things working together. 1Password and Instapaper will be working happily. iMessage will keep working as well. iBooks and Kindle are already nicely universalized too. I’ve picked up a couple text editors on sale too: Nebulous Notes and Plain Text are ready to go. The only thing I use constantly that I don’t already own is Reeder for iPad. That and most likely GoodReader are the couple of apps that I would need to buy to get running full tilt.

Which of course brings me to the next question. To cover or not to cover the screen? I’d bought a case for my iPod Touch. Then I shed that, and am keeping my iPhone 4 causeless (“naked” in the words of Dan Benjamin of 5by5). So should I get a cover at least for the screen? If I do, should I get a full-body case on top of that? And if so, what about cases with bluetooth keyboards? I’m still not sold on the keyboard idea, but the screen cover might sway me at last. If so, then most likely an Apple smart cover is the way I’ll go. I just don’t think that it’ll get scratched up in the way that I plan to use/carry it around.

Wrap Up

So yeah. I’m getting one. I think it’s a good idea for me. iPads have proven themselves in the market, and I don’t doubt that it’ll work its way into a permanent part of my life/workflow. Maybe I’ll find that I just stop using my Macbook Pro. I currently doubt that, but I’ll find out. I’m going to have fun with it, and at least plan on getting some stuff done with it as well.

More thoughts will come on this topic as they hit me and the iPad. I’ll most likely write a post on how writing goes on one quickly after getting it. And wow this post is much longer than that last one on iPads…

[1]: Do I use too many parenthesis? Maybe (but maybe not).

[2]: Other than just being able to lead a full page.