The Post PC era

21 12 2013

Apple offers a sophisticated ecosystem including computers.
Is it possible to just use the mobile devices with some added peripherals and kick off a computer?

Well, this question depends obviously on the requirements of each user. If you are professionally working on software development you cannot kick off your computer because all these mobile devices don’t offer the ability of doing this specific task. But beside your job there are many tasks where it’s fine to use a device which supports many everyday tasks like mailing, connecting to social networks, and banking and additionally it let’s you pursue your hobbies.

Mobile devices …

With the release of the iPad mobile devices reached a new quality because of it’s screen size. They initiated a shift in paradigm of teaching and learning as well and from that time ‘people could hold the internet in their hands‘.

There’s been a lot of recent debate about whether or not we’ve entered the Post PC Era.

Historically the term first originated when Apple‘s founder Steve Jobs discussed the future of personal computing during an interview alongside Bill Gates at the fifth All Things Digital conference in 2007. At that time he described

“a category of devices that aren’t as general purpose, that are really more focused on specific functions, whether they’re phones or iPods or Zunes or what have you. And I think that category of devices is going to continue to be very innovative and we’re going to see lots of them,”

Jobs said.

Ever the visionary, Jobs understood the transformation from the computing experience of the past to a more adaptive and personal one of the future. Wikipedia describes a PC as follows,

A personal computer (PC) is a general-purpose computer, whose size, capabilities, and original sale price makes it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator. This contrasted with the batch processing or time-sharing models which allowed larger, more expensive minicomputer and mainframe systems to be used by many people, usually at the same time. Large data processing systems require a full-time staff to operate efficiently.

This definition of a PC or Personal Computer was first defined more than 40 years ago when computers were giant machines in a large room including a powerful air conditioner and their usage was limited to large corporations with well-trained staff.

The PC brought personal usage of computers to people like a washing machine or any other household appliance. It’s personal in that you could own one, but wasn’t particularly personal otherwise. It still remained a stationary device. The user had to sit in front of the device. The idea of mobility or portability spoke mostly to its form factor, or design, not to its usage.

Steve Jobs did a great job and explained the world that in the future the traditional PC would no longer have to be the center of ones digital life, and that mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones would be

more portable, more personal and dramatically easier to use than any PC has ever been.

This is what Steve Jobs announced on Jan 27, 2010, a device standing between a phone and a laptop.

The most fascinating part of Jobs vision of the future is that it seems that Post PC Era has actually brought us potentially the first truly personal computers, the tablets with a truly personal mobile CPU, a kind of wearable device to augment your life.

The benefits of Apple’s Innovation …

  • Mobility
  • Use it at a time you need it
  • Perfect UI (the user interface)
  • Seamless UX (the user experience)
  • Quietness
  • Size
  • No need of any peripherals

and later added innovative features

  • Syncing via iCloud
  • Sharpness of the display
  • 64-Bit processor
  • Drastically reduced weight

When I go to the office it’s the way to work with hardware I work with since decades. The first IBM PC was released in 1981 and a bit later it got Windows and a mouse. Since that time there were basically no changes regarding this configuration, nothing what you would call innovative. The machine with its peripherals was just for doing the things you have to do. Did the machine ever motivate you to do new things which would have a strong impact on your life? Not for me because I never used a computer at home because even there a work desk would be needed followed by immobility.

20131010-065253.jpg

As to the immobility of a PC you have to have your ideas when sitting in front of your desk. But this often doesn’t work. There are ideas coming up just when you do not sit in the office. Even a notebook did not change this none-productive-environment basically.

But the iPad did.
It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

As to limited software capabilities you are forced to find out new ways to organize your work. And these new approaches of modern computing are often easier and more effective. So the machine motivates you to go alternative ways. That’s what we call creativity. And by the way a device must not support what is technically possible. The main CPU is still your brain and it cannot work more effective and creative of lots of hardware components are added.

What do you think?
Would this man have been even more creative with an iPad?

20131010-065812.jpg

Creativity has nothing to do with any activity in particular – with painting, poetry, dancing, singing or finding out E=m c c.
Anything can be creative – you bring that quality to the activity. Activity itself is neither creative nor uncreative. You can paint in an uncreative way and you can clean the floor in a creative way.

The iPad supports creativity by forcing you to do things with your hand. That’s what we learned as we grew up and that’s to what we come back using this kind of machine where a mouse is just eating cheese.

My opinion might look highly subjective and younger people growing up with these technical marvels cannot understand me. Then you should know that I grew up without any computer you could afford for private use.
My first PC was a Sharp MZ 80K (1978, based on a Zilog processor) followed by an IBM PC (1981) and everybody thought these machines are made for working while you first think of an iPad as a gadget. Just for fun.

Sometimes I boot the IBM PC still residing in our office (which, you won’t believe it, is still working!) and compare it with the iPad. If you had traced this long way you may understand me.

The great Albert EINSTEIN said …

Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

The iPad …

Technology geeks might be interested in an excellent video teardown of the iPad Air launched in 2013.

The iPad Air (20 min)

The configuration …

Here is my suggestion for a suitable configuration without a PC.

20131218-061730.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

This is a slightly modified version with some annotations and less details about the hardware.

20131218-062034.jpg

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Some details …

You will find articles here on iNotes4You about the following products.

iThoughts
Mind Mapping
improve personality and knowledge by visualized summarizations with the mind mapping technique
iThoughts for the iPad

Tap Forms
Database
collect information in one place by using a database which can be managed by non-technicians
zBase vs Tap Forms

FileBrowser
File Management
connect to cloud storages of any kind as well as computers within the same network, supports VPN access, WebDAV, well-known cloud providers
Apps for file management

TeamViewer
Remote Control
Seamlessly connect to any remote computer, control it, and transfer files
TeamViewer

Prizmo
Text recognition
transfer images into text by using a text recognition engine
Text Recognition

ByWord, PlainText
Simple editor
write down your ideas with a simple text editor where ever you are, with or without internet connection, and automatic syncing with Dropbox if an internet connection is available
Mystic signs of progress

Qrafter
QR-Code
read and create open and password secured QR-Codea
Mystic signs of progress

Summary …

The above mentioned configuration is suitable for replacing a computer and stats show that people are on the way to move into the post PC era.

Admittedly there are many special tasks where a computer is still required but with some creativity you are able to do many tasks with alternative techniques and learn about new techniques for organizing your life.

Nobody would use a 40t truck to buy a bottle of milk and nobody would try to transport 20 pupils to school with a Smart. So it’s no rigorous YES or NO to a PC or a tablet. Use the device it’s dedicated for at the right time and in the right place. And that’s definitely not a PC for brainstorming in a coffee shop and it’s not a tablet for doing the relevant tasks in the office.
Like in all other parts of our life we are targeted to use a device which fits best for a task. The only requirement which must be fulfilled is the ability of seamless data exchange between both, the PC and the tablet.

Related links …

iPad Attends Meetings

iPad @ Universities

iPad @ School

Apple Wireless Network

The iPad Air (20 min)

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.
Hope to see you again.


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5 responses

3 01 2014
wildemikem

Hello Thomas. Many tasks performed on PCs have been delegated to portable/hand-held devices. These may even be tasks that are duplicated on both devices

But there a few problems with being fully dedicated to the tablet or hand held device. Moore’s law for one thing. The newest of parallel processors cannot be made any smaller and will not be able to be placed in laptops. The remote device may never need this power; but it is a sign of things to come. Depending on the device, there is probably some head-room left.

Network dependency Whether it is 802.11x, 802.3.or 4G GSM/CDMA these are points-of-failure. The system is getting better but there are still too many points-of-failure. I found this out prior to Christmas when an ice storm knocked out power and Internet for nearly four days. I was fortunate that I could still hit a functioning cell tower; but many were not. I have learned that what ever I have worked on, developed, or whatever — one has to take into consider worst case scenarios.

The bottom line for me is it is still a client/server system. It does many things very well and better and easier than a typical PC. It all depends on the functions and power a person needs. I still cannot imagine writing a thesis on a PDA. Multiple views are very important to me. I know they can do that but I would have to be somewhere with a large monitor(s).

There are some other things but they can wait. AND I know very little about the Apple environment.

Maybe most importantly, with two hands on a small device — HOW COULD I DRINK MY COFFEE?

MikeW

Like

4 01 2014
iNotes4You

Hello Mike.
Thanks for your comment to which I can agree totally. The exclusive usage if a mobile device depends on the requirements of every user and on his ability to focus on essentials. The normal tasks like mailing, banking, and surfing can be done seamlessly. Writing down ideas, brainstorming, and blogging are also tasks where a tablet can replace a PC. In most cases it’s not the technical equipment which has an influence on the quality of content but your brain. What I found out is that kicking off a PC can enrich your life because if focusing on things. But that’s a very personal experience.

If it comes to business tasks, availability of the Internet connection, screen sizes a tablet is not the right device and I think it will never be. But all the limitations are also a chance to “Think different”.

Regarding writing it’s easy to connect a BT keyboard to an iPad so your way of drinking coffee remains the same.

Thanks again for your comment.
(Written on my iPhone in a coffee shop)

Like

3 01 2014
Mike Wilde

Hello Thomas. Many tasks performed on PCs have been delegated to portable/hand-held devices. These may even be tasks that are duplicated on both devices.

But there a few problems with being fully dedicated to the tablet or hand held device. Moore’s law for one thing. The newest of parallel processors cannot be made any smaller and will not be able to be placed in laptops. The remote device may never need this power; but it is a sign of things to come. Depending on the device, there is probably some head-room left.

Network dependency Whether it is 802.11x, 802.3.or 4G GSM/CDMA these are points-of-failure. The system is getting better but there are still too many points-of-failure. I found this out prior to Christmas when an ice storm knocked out power and Internet for nearly four days. I was fortunate that I could still hit a functioning cell tower; but many were not. I have learned that what ever I have worked on, developed, or whatever — one has to take into consider worst case scenarios.

The bottom line for me is it is still a client/server system. It does many things very well and better and easier than a typical PC. It all depends on the functions and power a person needs. I still cannot imagine writing a thesis on a PDA. Multiple views are very important to me. I know they can do that but I would have to be somewhere with a large monitor(s).

There are some other things but they can wait. AND I know very little about the Apple environment.

Maybe most importantly, with two hands on a small device — HOW COULD I DRINK MY COFFEE?

MikeW

Like

23 12 2013
Bertrand Vichyn

Well, I’ll try Prizmo. Happy holidays!

Like

23 12 2013
iNotes4You

Yes, this app is pretty good. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

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