iPad: A User Interface Revolution

Excellent perspective by Jesus Diaz, citing the work of Jef Raskin:

The iPhone is the information appliance that Raskin imagined at the end of his life: A morphing machine that could do any task using any specialized interface. Every time you launch an app, the machine transforms into a new device, showing a graphical representation of its interface. There are specialized buttons for taking pictures, and gestures to navigate through them. Want to change a song? Just click the “next” button. There are keys to press phone numbers, and software keyboards to type short messages, chat, email or tweet. The iPhone could take all these personalities, and be successful in all of them.

When it came out, people instantly got this concept. Clicking icons transformed their new gadget into a dozen different gadgets. Then, when the app store appeared, their device was able to morph into an unlimited number of devices, each serving one task.

In this new computing world there were no files or folders, either. Everything was database-driven. The information was there, in the device, or out there, floating in the cloud. You could access it all through all these virtual gadgets, at all times, because the iPhone is always connected.

Apple’s announcement is scheduled for 27 January 2010, and the world will be watching. Oh, and it does exist, via Cult of Mac:

According to mobile analytics company Flurry, the Apple Tablet isn’t just a very real product, but they’ve detected up to fifty of them floating through Cupertino, running a new version of the iPhone OS numbered 3.2.

The data comes from Flurry’s tracking code, present in some App Store apps. Around 200 of these apps — mostly games — were downloaded onto this mystery device with the “characteristics” of a Tablet, starting in October and picking up in January.

If Flurry’s assessment if correct, it means that the Tablet — or at least Tablet prototype devices — do indeed run iPhone apps natively, without any necessary modifications. The problem is that Flurry doesn’t actually specify what the “characteristics” of a Tablet are, so it’s hard to know for sure that what they are seeing is the Tablet. If their whole theory rests upon seeing a higher resolution device, say, Flurry might just be looking at a prototype iPhone HD… a device that is pretty much a given when Apple refreshes the iPhone line in June, considering the recent strides made in display resolutions by the likes of the HTC Nexus One.

Tablet or no, Apple’s clearly testing out a new version of the iPhone operating system, so that’s something, but only Wednesday will tell exactly which device it’s running on.

Nice buzz from Apple, which actually makes something instead of talking about it.

So it’s simple really. If you make a product that turns the culture upside down, drives stock price and reconfigures other industries, you step to the stage amid a herald of trumpets and perform magic.

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Aim High

What a treat last weekend in Allentown, PA, where the kids got to meet Capt. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, USN. She’s a former NASA astronaut who flew in two space shuttle missions (STS-115 and STS-126). She logged 27 days in space and 33 hours of spacewalking.

While sharing her experiences with a nifty PowerPoint, we asked what moment gave her pause — or “butterflies in the stomach.” It was the moment she was embarking on spacewalks. Her message to the kids: I grew up just like you and I got to be astronaut — so can you.

The event, an intimate luncheon at a private residence, was hosted by the Allentown branch of the UNWLA.

My kids have been to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, where we witnessed an Atlas IIAS rocket launch a satcom into space (AMC-11) in May, 2004. They’ll never forget that. Nor will they forget meeting Heidi. Incidentally, she’s friends with my wife’s cousins in Minnesota, whom we’ve never met. Maybe we’ll get out there this summer.

“Why?”

All this news and chatter surrounding NBC’s broadcast television programming changes seem almost trivial compared to what’s happening in Haiti. I’d think most people would agree.

Until I watched Katie Couric’s appearance on Charlie Rose yesterday, I had yet to really feel the pain and anguish of the tragedy. When you watch the interview, you’ll want to fast forward to about he 6:30 mark to get the full story.

The clip itself is on her blog

But the most harrowing moment of all was when I bent down to ask a thirteen year old boy his name. The flesh on his forehead had been scrapped away and his leg, the doctors told me, was broken. He reached up and grabbed my hand. “I have to pee,” he said, in perfect English. He became more emphatic. “Please, I have to pee!” I told him, hold on…I think he was embarrassed at the thought of just peeing in his boxer shorts.

A woman, I’m not sure if she was a doctor or a nurse, told him she would bring him a bottle. The doctors began to work on his leg and he held my forearm tighter.

What is your name, I asked him. “Pierre Larousse” he answered.

Where is your family?

My father is morte, or dead, he told me.

Your mother, I asked as Sebastian, our driver, translated. “Morte,” he said. Dead.

Then, it was as if the anguish and pain of an entire country took over his body. A powerful, piercing scream exploded from his slight physique. It seemed to fill the tent and to last forever.

“Why? Why,” he wailed. He screamed Papa, but Sebastian told me he was screaming to God, not his dead father.

“Squeeze my hand,” I told him, with the sudden feeling that this was my child.

He told me he was too weak to squeeze it hard. “Breathe, just breathe,” I implored him, softly but firmly.

“Stop pulling,” he yelled to the doctors who were resetting his leg. His screams became whimpers. He raised his body slightly and put his arm around my neck and brought me closer. I never wanted to leave him.

“Please, just get me a plaster cast,” the anesthesiologist asked me. “Where? Where can I get a plaster cast,” I asked. “I don’t know, just get some, please,” he responded.

They needed to move Pierre. I stroked his head before getting up. I wanted to take him home, take him to a hospital in New York, rescue him from this place and this life.

It moved me, too.

Aide à Haïti

Text “Haiti” to 90999, and $10 will go to the Red Cross. You’ll get billed by your mobile service provider.

Or help Luke

Vote for Conan

Gotta love Conan’s statement:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Yours,

Conan

The Consumerist is calling for an EECB (executive e-mail carpet bomb), publishing their particulars…

JOHN.ECK@nbc.com, Jeff.Gaspin@nbc.com, JEFF.ZUCKER@nbc.com, jeff.zucker@nbcuni.com, STEVE.CAPUS@nbc.com, ALLISON.GOLLUST@nbc.com, PAULA.MADISON@nbc.com, CORY.SHIELDS@nbc.com, JOHN.WALLACE@nbc.com, David.Verdi@nbc.com, Jeff.Zucker@nbc.com, Bob.Wright@nbc.com, LYNN.CALPETER@nbc.com, DICK.EBERSOL@nbc.com, MARK.HOFFMAN@nbc.com, MICHAEL.PILOT@nbc.com, david.verdi@nbc.com, MARC.CHINI@nbcuni.com, Alyssa.Corcoran@nbcuni.com, MICHAEL.BASS@nbcuni.com, MICHAEL.PILOT@nbcuni.com, Ron.Lamprecht@nbcuni.com

You can also call Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal at 212-664-2830.

Personally, I think Conan’s show at 12:30 was more fun to watch, so I prefer tuning in to Letterman. Conan — a brilliant comic — needs more time to “find his groove,” as Leno did before him.

A Look at 2010

I found this interview worth my time (> 30 min.), and trust you’ll find it equally educational. Recorded last month, Robert Scoble talks with Rich Wong of Accel Partners, a venture capitalist.

Off Piste

The kids enjoy skiing among the trees now, which is technically “out of bounds” (or “off piste,” as they say in Europe). I’ve begun to enjoy it, too — especially since somebody has to follow them to make sure they find their way back.

If you don’t know what it’s like to ski or snowboard, get out there and learn! January is Learn A Snow Sport month — just your luck. Glen Plake was on the Today Show yesterday, as he’s the national spokesperson. As the “godfather of extreme skiing,” he’s got a good brand — and the Mohawk. I just can’t seem to picture him ever wearing a helmet.

Not a good idea.