iPad 2 and my inner Apple fanboy

My brother managed to stumble across a joke that went something like this:

How do you know if someone has an iPad?
Because they'll tell you.

Oh yeah, I got an iPad 2 for Christmas :D

Unlike all the spoiled kids tweeting that they got a car from mom/dad instead of an iPhone/iPad, I bought the iPad as a Christmas present for myself which surprised me a little when I got the idea because I don't often buy flashy or expensive things like this. I mean, the last purchase I made (which I still think is very cool) is a mandoline. It slices vegetables very thinly. That's all it does.

I've also mentioned a few times that as a computer programmer, ie: one you'd expect to be enamoured and surrounded with cool electronic stuff, I'm still very much behind the tech curve when it comes to owning said stuff. I'm waaay behind the late majority and laggards, and so late that I'm practically pregnant.

Pregnant woman
"Food baby? No, that's just some tech from 5 years ago accumulating in my belly."

Also, the last time I spent such a large amount of money in one go I got a call from the bank to confirm that yes it was me that spent that money and no please don't block the transaction because otherwise my friends won't have a holiday house to spend New Year's in.

I'm pretty alien to big purchases and have managed to give my bank absolutely no reasons to increase my credit limit. So when I went to the store and the price of the purchase was repeated back to me by the nice young lady behind the counter, I very slowly forked over my credit card, all the while holding a face that I imagine looked like something you'd get if you crossed pain with a nervous smile.

I bought it on December 5, gave it straight to my mum to wrap and put under the family Christmas tree, and didn't open it until December 25. It was a very long 20 days.

Nervous smile
My 'spending money' face

For my first ever Apple device, I'm very impressed. I've never really been an Apple fanboy, although I often find myself defending the company against my mainly Windows/Unix/Android group of developer/tech friends simply because nobody else will. What fun is an argument if everybody is on the same side?

(It usually goes that they pick on Apple for some thing they've done, like the comparison between Apple's walled-garden of an App Store vs the openness of the Android Marketplace: my friends will often attack it for being so developer unfriendly and I'd play devil's advocate, saying something like how Apple is ready to throw its developers under the bus for the benefit and safety of its customers. As a customer, this makes me feel a lot safer when perusing the app store; as a developer, I probably wouldn't want to develop an iOS app any time soon.)

Using the iPad has been a dream with pretty much no hiccups or complaints to speak of. As a customer, this makes me feel supremely satisfied; as a developer, this makes me ask why so many of the technologies I use at work and at home aren't this easy to use? I'm routinely surrounded by examples of difficult to use/understand software/websites/devices that it makes me wonder if we developers did this to ourselves on purpose.

It doesn't have to be this difficult! I'd find myself thinking as I wrestle with another annoying system I have to use as part of my work.

I think it all started with that user interfaces course I took at university where we were taught to focus on the user, test interfaces with actual users, find out what users actually need and other general things to think about so as not to annoy your users. (Pretty much everything that this guy talks about.) Ever since then I've been very user-centric and trying to include that in my own work and to have it show that I do in-fact care about the person who has to use whatever I'm developing.

An offshoot of this is that I really believe that every computer-related frustration a person has ever had is avoidable and a reflection of something missed during development.

It doesn't have to be this difficult! I would often think or say when debating user interface design in my head or with a co-worker.


Now I find myself wondering: Why can't everything be as easy as the stuff my iPad?

I've never been an Apple fanboy, but now I've had a taste of things on this side of the fence and it's pretty sweet over here. In this post-Steve Jobs Apple world, I really hope their user focus continues for years to come, because I am sooo very tired of wrestling with computers to make them do what I want. (I'm looking at you Linux...)