Saturday, March 08, 2008

(Don't) Trust Your Intuition

As mentioned yesterday, I decided that I simply had to spend some amount of money.
Buying the Touch didn’t really cut into my bonus, as it was essentially purchased with the disposable income left over from my regular paycheck after paying bills.
So far I like it – I went with the 16 GB, which means that I can fit a lot more music on it than I could on my 2 GB Nano, obviously.
The interface is decent, and the underlying OS is pretty responsive. The multi-touch screen does actually make for some intuitive interaction, which is always touted as one of the strengths of Apple products.
That being said, John C. Dvorak recently wrote an article about how there really is no such thing as “intuitive” technology, and I tend to think that he has a point.
In particular, you run into the question of “Intuitive to whom?”
As a veteran PC user, there are certain approaches to interacting with anything computer-related that strike me as intuitive, though to a Mac user, or a complete newbie, they might very well seem counter-intuitive. Of course, I’m also a veteran Mac user, so making the shift isn’t really that difficult.
However, where the intuitive – to pretty much everyone who isn’t a Luddite or from a pre-industrial society – aspects of using the Touch end is when you run into the brick wall that is iTunes.
All of the non-Apple mp3 players I’ve had in the past generally worked like this: you plug it into the computer, the computer recognizes it as a storage device, and you drag and drop content directly onto it.
From pretty much any standpoint – Mac user, PC user, Linux user, etc. – that is extremely intuitive.
Much more so than having to launch a specific application (after you download and install it, along with another application that you may or may not want, but have no option not to download and install), telling it where to look for the files you want to put on the device, then going through a rather lengthy “synching” process.
Again, that leads to the question of “Intuitive to whom?” In the case of iTunes, I would say that the answer to that question is “Certainly not the end-user.”
Granted, this isn’t a particularly arduous process, but it certainly lacks the elegance of simply grabbing what you want and dragging it over over to where you want it.
Really, where intuitiveness comes into play with the iTunes model is from the perspective of a product/service provider. Tying your end-users to a particular, proprietary application, which you can then use as a means of delivering additional for-pay services to them, is incredibly “intuitive.”
Still, those quibbles – and some irritation over the way it organizes, or more to the point, doesn’t organize photos, which I won’t get into – aside, the Touch is a decent product.
Given that, minus the actual phone and the camera, the Touch is essentially an iPhone, I did consider actually taking that additional step and going all out and buying an iPhone.
The main reason I didn’t, though, is that it wasn’t all that long ago that I dropped a considerable chunk of change on my current phone. Given that there’s nothing wrong with my phone, I see no need to replace it.
(Technically, there wasn’t anything “wrong” with my Nano, either, but I did want something with a higher storage capacity.)
Beyond that, while I have come around to liking the whole smart phone concept, I don’t really see the need to combine my cell phone with my mp3 player, and I believe that there’s something to be said for having distinct devices that perform specific functions, even if there is some overlap.
(And of course, there are my objections about the inherent pretentiousness of iPhone ownership, and my desire to avoid diving any deeper into Apple fanboyishness, but those are just knee-jerk reactions and not actually major considerations, or really in any way serious, for that matter.)
In any case, so far it seems like a worthwhile gadget to have dropped some money on.
Speaking of which, after discussing it with Scott – who concluded that I would “use the hell out of it” – and watching some YouTube videos of it in action yesterday, I’ve decided that once I get my refund, I’m going to drop a huge chunk of change on a Wacom Cintiq.
I was initially thinking about going with the more affordable 12” model, but eventually said, “Screw it,” and decided to go all – or at least mostly – out and get the 20.1” version, which I think has the advantage over the 21” model in that it’s widescreen. Not to mention the fact that it’s $500 cheaper.
Kathleen made a suggestion, which I’m seriously considering: register Heroic Portraits as an LLC, which would allow me to claim the cost of buying the Cintiq as a business expense.
It’s a good idea, and one definitely worth pursuing. The only problem is that it leads to the inevitable conflict between practicality and impatience.
To wit: I want the Cintiq now!
(Well, not right this second, but as soon as I have the refund money. Okay, I do want it right this second, but I’m able to wait until I get the refund, but waiting beyond that? I’m not so sure.)

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