At the bleeding edge, well almost

July 15, 2012

I have  been a keen user of new products, if not quite at the bleeding edge, for a long time now.

I was a bit worried about using this term in a blog but then I found that according to Wikipedia it has some legitimacy in the information technology world.

“Bleeding edge technology is a category of technologies incorporating those so new that they could have a high risk of being unreliable and lead adopters to incur greater expense in order to make use of them. The term bleeding edge was formed as an allusion to the similar terms “leading edge” and “cutting edge”. It tends to imply even greater advancement, albeit at an increased risk of “metaphorically cutting until bleeding” because of the unreliability of the software  or other technology.  The phrase was originally coined in an article entitled “Rumors of the Future and the Digital Circus” by Jack Dale, published in Editor & Publisher Magazine, February 12, 1994.”

A key aspect of SCL is the technology that underpins IT law and practice. In fact in our earlier years of existence as a society we had perhaps more of an emphasis on technology than on the law. I have always felt that it helps as an IT lawyer to have some interest in the products and services that we advised upon. Way back when I went into private practice I had a car phone long before most other people did. About the size of a small brick and dubious reception in some areas but it worked. I once turned up at an SCL conference years ago in Bath with not only a Psion organiser but a folding keyboard which caused some envy amongst other delegates. I was always longing for a smart phone with email access before they came along. I used Blackberries at work well before many businesses adopted them wholesale.

If I had hoped to escape at home my children as they grew up made sure our domestic PC’s were suitably powerful, networked and linked to NTL now Virgin Media fibre optic cable. This was mainly so they could play online games but did incidentally keep us up to date. I learnt many things from perseverance in setting up new software and networks to swapping  out sound cards. I once even helped to change a mother board in a gaming laptop, mainly by suggesting that it was the wrong way up!

However I have, I confess, so far missed out on the tablet revolution. An Australian colleague was telling me how useful they are especially if you travel a lot and want to keep up to date with home life. I think he had his linked into some web feeds and could see views of his house wherever he was. I am not sure I would go that far but I was very impressed when I tried some tablets out in various stores. And so on a recent trip to France I finally succumbed in Heathrow Airport and acquired an iPad, tempted by the lower prices for the iPad2 now a newer version is available known colloquially as the iPad3 and officially as iPad HD. Apparently I am missing some screen quality but the difference is at least for me hard to tell.

I have to say that initial impressions are very good. Compared with a laptop it is really easy to use once you get the hang of it and it is “always on”. I had to go through some rather counter intuitive steps (like saying no when I should have said yes sort of thing) to get my email “pushed” to me. But I succeeded after Googling a question along the lines of “How do I make Virgin Media email work on an iPad2.” It is amazing how this works. I saved £70 a year ago by learning in this manner how to change the headlight bulbs on an Audi car. And not from an official Audi site but from some forum somewhere.

Anyway back to the tablet. I really like the touch screen and the look and feel of the interface.  I have a Blackberry Torch phone which has a touch screen and a keypad that I quite like because I sometimes find the touch screen fiddly for typing. I therefore have some experience of the more tactile impact that touch screens bring. Once you get used to it is quite hard to go back again. I am forever futilely  pressing on the screen of my work Blackberry which does not have this facility. Anyway typing on the iPad is really easy with the larger screen.

I do find the iPad not yet ready for serious office based use with lots of documents and editing, but it may be that I just I have not acquired the right apps. For web browsing it is amazingly easy to use and takes you from link to link really well. Being able to listen to music and watch videos without squinting at a small phone screen is a real luxury. I went for the basic version with wi-fi and not a 3G link and so far have not regretted that decision since home and most everywhere else has a wi-fi network these days.

It occurs to me that many readers of this blog will have interesting views on tablets and indeed tales of technology that easily surpass mine. I recall a colleague in one law firm who built his own computers from scratch at home so in some ways I am a mere neophyte in these matters. So please do post a comment and give us your views.