"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Confessions of a former Apple Hater...

My technical background is in Unix.  In case you don't know what Unix is, it is an operating system.  It is one of the most configurable, useful, versatile, multi-processing, multi-threaded operating systems around and there are as many flavors of Unix as there are ice cream.  I'm a certifed, card-carrying Unix System Administrator and Network Administrator.  I taught Unix and Network Administration for 10 years or so.  I was even a system administrator on a Cray supercomputer once.  Part of what comes with being a Unix geek is a, well, ummmm, rather bigoted opinion about operating systems and hardware platforms.  Really, I had almost convinced my husband to install Linux on our home PC, but he rightfully reminded me there were no apps to run on it (this was back pre-Java and OpenOffice.) 

I've since been talked off the ledge and brought into the Windows world (albeit kicking and screaming.)  And then there was that time between baby number two and baby number three where I got to develop and teach a post secondary degree program on Unix System and Network administration.  I got to work with a real operating system again.  Those were the days...

But, since baby number three came along more than eight years ago, my use of Unix has been limited to a short summer job helping configure and specify Unix equipment for a local reseller and the Linux running on our old EEE PC.  It's a shame, too.  Because I feel like I've lost something. 

Here's my confession.  After the announcement of the iPad 2, we made a joint decision (the boss and I) to buy an iPad 1 (refurbished.)  We had many, many reasons for doing so, but I was expecting to be very disappointed.  It was an apple, after all.  Much lower down there than a Windows device.  I.WAS.SO.WRONG.  The iPad is a game changer.  Really it is.  What I have to clarify, though, is that it is a consumption device, not a production device.  What does that mean?  If you are taking in data (video, playing an app, music, browsing, etc.) the iPad is the most intuitive, approachable, well thought-out device I've ever seen.  It is not, however, a device to do wordprocessing or spreadsheets.  My 22 month old daughter could use it without instruction.  What is up with that?  My kids have to earn screen time, which they share with the now almost two year old.  But, really?  She gets it?  I am amazed at the draw it has for all of us in our house, this Unix geek included.

I'll close with one last thought on the iPad.  One of our many reasons for buying it was for testing out whether the iPad was a viable device for home education.  It's so much more than that.  When my kids are FIGHTING to have 10 minutes of time to do math drills, I think we are on to something (especially when similar drills are available on the PC.)

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