iPad 終於出世。這並不是甚麼驚喜。如果結果昨晚 Steve Jobs 改為宣佈一些 iPad 以外的東西，那才是大新聞！反而，未到戲肉前，Steve Jobs 宣佈的公司表現資料卻有點使我意外：不是他說前幾天 Apple 賣出了有史以來第 250,000,000 部 iPod（這些數字大得咁上下便會失去感覺，如麥當勞說自己全球每日賣出一千萬個漢堡包一樣沒有意義……），而是他說原來以 revenue 計 Apple 已爬過 Sony、Samsung 甚至 Nokia 成為賣得最多 Mobile Devices（手機、MP3、手提電腦、攝錄機、相機等） 的公司！
Anyway，看完 Steve Jobs 的 Keynote，再看大眾的評論，發覺大家毀譽參半。我覺得大家仍是偏向從產品和科技的角度多過從 user experiences 角度去看。可能會在短短數小時之內關注並發聲的人多是 geek 底，會較多留意功能、OS、接駁等硬事實。
我反而很在意 Steve Jobs 在開場白時搬出來的 product justification：市場有沒有空間去容納一件介乎 Smart-Phone（如 iPhone）與 Notebook Computer（如 MacBook) 的產品呢？又或者，如果你已經有一部 SmartPhone 和一部 Notebook Computer，那你還有沒有需要再買這件 “Something in Between” 的產品呢？
Steve Jobs 列出這中間產品要可以看網頁、Email、相片、電影、音樂、電子書和玩遊戲，而且這七件事要做得比 iPhone 和 MacBook 都要好。其實我個人認為 iPhone 做這七件事本身已經不錯（這其實正是 iPhone 的賣點！），要好過 iPhone，就只需要一個較大的顯示屏和一顆較快的 CPU（和GPU？）。而要好過 MacBook，就要較輕較薄，要有 Multi-Touch display，而且要較平。看這幾個條件，其實 iPad 是算稱職的（反而現時流行的 Netbook 便未到這水平）。有人說這不可以講電話，又不能運行正常的 MacOS 和軟件。但本來這就不是一件 Desktop/Notebook replacement 或 SmartPhone replacement 啊！
問題是，定位還定位，究竟有沒有人會同時擁有 iPhone + iPad，或 iPad + MacBook，甚至三樣有齊？因為就算市場有空間讓 iPad 存在於一般 SmartPhone 與 Notebook Computer 之間，甚至去搶 Kindle 的生意，但如果 iPad 的出現會影響 iPhone、iPodTouch 和 MacBook 的銷售，這也未必是一件好事。這些問題也反應在 Apple 即市股價上。在 Steve Jobs 拿出 iPad 的頭五分鐘，股價向下直插！但當他開始提及內置 app “iBooks” 如何經 iBookStore 直接買 ebooks 時，股價便拾級而上。相信大家以 iTunes Store 賣歌的往績來看，對它現在賣書的能力也有一定的期望。但當 Steve Jobs 宣佈售價為 US$499（16GB，冇3G版）時，股價竟又大幅反彈！四千蚊港紙，比一般時下 Netbook 貴一千蚊左右，但 performance 好得多，絕對唔貴！
講到咁好，咁其實我自己究竟會唔會買？對於我來說，iPad 能 install 幾十萬個 third party apps，所以就算某些內置功能欠奉（如 Windows 的 tablet 常見的手寫/筆跡畫圖 take notes 功能）也沒所謂，反正總會有人後補。反而更重要的是硬件。以這樣的價錢有這樣的 Multi Touch 顯示屏、厚度（半吋！）、重量（磅半！），真是很難有對手！如果拿這個東西去見客，用內置 “Keynote” 來做 presentation（on screen only），都幾殺！但我不是一名 Salesman。而且，雖然我在家用電腦也大多是用來做 Steve Jobs 所說的七件事，但我也會寫 blog（在 spec 中竟然只得簡體中文輸入！），也會用 Endnotes 來做研究，也要用很多 MS Words 來寫論文（Google Docs 暫時未能完全替代）。又，我也不覺得短期內 iPad 可以讓我玩如 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 之類的遊戲玩得如 PC 或 XBox 般流暢（which is another major reason why I need a desktop)。所以這暫時並不能替代我的 Desktop。再加上，其實我去廁所通常都很暢快（需時很短），也沒有坐在廳中上網、看書的習慣。而且，我看慣的書，短期內也不見得會在 iBookStore 有得賣。所以在家和外出也根本用不著這 iPad。哈！我(暫時)又慳一大筆！
… … as the coolest dismissal notice, or the dumbest suicide note. You choose.
I missed the month March. Time flies. When I realise it is about time to write blog again, I find out that I have already disappeared almost two months.
Where am I? Ever since Mr Tung quitted, I have no mood to update the blog no more. Well, that’s not really true. In fact I have had a very busy March. I was marching in a mist towards my new life. And no, I did not applied PhD. I gave up. I have started, I have tried, but I was too busy to complete the task.
And because of some human made luck, I quitted my old job and got a new one. And since last Monday, I have been working for the new boss. Things are tough, but exciting. And I don’t know the end of my journey; I only know that I have to keep marching forward.
A few months ago, there was an opening with the CIA for an assassin. These highly classified positions are hard to fill, and there’s a lot of testing and background checks involved before you can even be considered for the position. After sending some applicants through the background checks, training and testing, they narrowed the possible choices down to two men and a woman, but only one position was available.
The day came for the final test to see which peson would get the extremely secretive job. The CIA men administering the test took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. “We must know that you will follow our instructions whatever the circumstances,” they explained. “Inside this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill her.” The man looked horrified and said, “You can’t be serious! I could never shoot my wife!” “Well,” said the CIA man, “you’re definitely not the right man for this job then.”
So they brought the second man to the same door and handed him a gun. “We must know that you will follow instructions no matter what the circumstances,” they explained to the second man. “Inside you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill her.” The second man looked a bit shocked, but nevertheless took the gun and went in the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes; then the door opened. The man came out of the room with tears in his eyes. “I tried to shoot her; I just couldn’t pull the trigger and shoot my wife. I guess I’m not the right man for the job.”
“No,” the CIA man replied, “You don’t have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”
Now they only had the woman left to test. They led her to the same door to the same room and handed her the same gun. “We must be sure that you will follow instructions no matter what the circumstances; this is your final test. Inside you will find your husband sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill him.” The woman took the gun and opened the door. Before the door even closed all the way, the CIA men heard the gun start firing, one shot after another for 13 shots. Then all hell broke loose in the room. They heard screaming, rashing, and banging on the walls. This went on for several minutes; then all went quiet.
The door opened slowly, and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “You guys didn’t tell me the gun was loaded with blanks. I had to beat the son of a bitch to death with the chair!”
Lunch was served at the canteen. Vegetarian Indian food. Taste very good. I kind of liked it. And it was not too spicy and didn’t cause me to go to the toilet right away, so that was good.
I had another long meeting during the afternoon, and at the end of the day (7:30pm) the driver took me to the Central Park Hotel again. Now I know it was not the driver yesterday who was crazy. It was just how they have to drive. Every driver would drive on the wrong side of the road, flash their head light 15 times per minute, just to survive on the road. Compared to that drivers in Taiwan and Shenzhen are extremely patient and polite.
Then I am at the newly-renovated hotel lobby. The reception guy recognized me and gave the same welcome as yesterday assuring to me that the room is ok. After filling in some forms, he tried to find the key reserved for me. And it was not there. Then he found out that the room originally assigned to me was taken by his colleagues standing next to him. He looked as if big shxt has happened, and search for another key and gave the key to me reluctantly. I was alarmed and asked if the room would be ok or not. He said it would be the deluxe room.
And now, I am in that “deluxe room” by myself. It is old, very old. It has one mosquito flying around (but I killed it right away). The water came out from the tap is yellow. And best of all, the towels are a bit dirty. Lucky that I brought my own towel this time, which I never did before. My conclusion is, if the towel is dirty, then I guess renovation doesn’t really help. Even if I would get the newer room, I would still get the same kind of towel at the end. So I am even. I am fine now. I shall log out the modem and go to dinner downstairs and leave things behind. God Bless.
I could not sleep too well in the hotel last night, but still managed to wake up only just in time. I had a quick shower and packed up as quick as I could, so that I could check out with my luggage with me. I went down and hope that the crazy driver would be there waiting for me already. Didn’t see him. So I waited. And waited. I spent time studying the little shop at the opposite side of the street. And waited. And I spent time (and guts) having a “breakfast at the “cafe” in the hotel. And waited.
Finally after an hour no one showed up at the door. I would not blame him. Who knew I would change to another hotel at the middle of the night? At the end I paid for my own taxi from the hotel, and 15 minutes later I am in the office building, finally.
Thijs welcomed me warmly at the door and introduced me to the whole floor. I was surprised to see so many people are working for the division, as I always had the impression that we do not have enough resources.
Then my long day started with meeting with the software team. It was a bit annoying as I could not connect to the network. They said it was the shortage of IP. I guess I have to come in earlier tomorrow morning to fight for my IP.
I finally stepped on the street, and within 15 seconds I saw a tag with my name on it. That should be the driver. Very nice guy. But crazy driver. He always turned right on the left lane, and did all sorts of other tricks to gain one or two place ahead of other cars. I decided not to look directly to the front so that I don’t have to feel too scary, so I turned my eye sight to the side windows and try to enjoy my first impression of India. I found that I had not much to see. It was way too dark. The city had way too few light bulbs installed. Even the shops and restaurant which were opened were with just one or two very dim light bulb that kept people aware of their existence. I guess in return I should say Hong Kong people are too crazy about brighten up the city, so that’s why I feel the big contrast.
Then I was at the hotel lobby. I heard from my colleagues that it was a very old hotel. I also saw some photos in the Internet, and it was really old. But in front of me was a very newly renovated lobby with a very fancy bar and restaurant. At first I thought I was at the wrong place. Then I realized that if this hotel was newly renovated, it might be not too bad after all. While I was still guessing in my mind if their renovation work did or did not also cover the rooms (which was more important than the lobby to me), the lobby guy woke me up by saying that the hotel was in fact full already, and they would drive me to another hotel nearby!
Now finally I am at that “near-by 3-star” hotel, with no clean water, no real windows, no Internet and small beds. Luckily the room is bright and has no carpet, to me it is already a big plus because it is much cleaner than my expected standard. No matter what, I would check out tomorrow, and let me see if I could check in to a better hotel, or I have to stay at Thijs’ study room. I personally prefer the latter one but of course I don’t want to disturb his family with such a short notice.