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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pretenders to the iPad throne

Pretenders to the iPad throne, the return of an anti-hero and jargon translated.

• Apple's iPad has done quite well. But its time in the sun is about to be over-shadowed by the pullulating mass of tablets soon to be unleashed on unsuspecting gadget fans.
Harry McCracken has gathered information on the 32 that will be coming your way and coins a splendid word for them: iPadversaries:

"Starting later this year, the iPad will be confronted by an army of other touchscreen machines, from potentially worthy opponents to shameless wannabees."

The 32 he mentions have a few features in common to be considered as an ipadversary:

"I considered only devices with touchscreens-and only screens that are at least 5″. I didn't include any product which definitely has a physical keyboard, although some of the upcoming Windows slates which we know almost nothing about will reportedly have them. (If so, they'll be Tablet PC offspring more than iPad counterparts.)"

He's also well aware of the perils of predicting what is going to make it on to shop shelves.

"I've attempted to gather some basic facts on each device, and to indicate when the information I mention is speculation or rumor rather than confirmed fact. I'd be amazed, however, if all of these products reach the market in exactly the form detailed here."

• It is not just net life and web culture that has given birth to new words, the business world has a jargon all its own. Now you can unpick what these phrases mean with the help of Unsuck It which turns the jargon into English.

"We want Unsuck It to reflect our passion for clear, direct language, using words to communicate rather than obscure."

• Now for a term that sounds like a neologism or a euphemism, but isn't: imp slapping. Gamers with long memories will recognise it as the way the eponymous anti-hero of the Dungeon Keeper game motivated his minions to dig deeper and create an underground lair for such a diabolic figure. A second sequel to the game was promised and never appeared. Until now. Sort of:

"So you know how you wanted Dungeon Keeper 3? You've got it! But you haven't. German game Dungeons is to DK as those Czech UFO games were to X-COM: an unofficial tribute-sequel made with more modern tech, most of the same ideas and some canny side-stepping of the IP."

Alec Meer is careful with his enthusiasm:

"This is brilliant. The fact of it is brilliant. With EA lending the license to Chinese MMOs, it seemed we'd never see the like of DK again. We will. Wonderful news - just hope they take the concept further rather than simply repeating it."

• If Tech Brief can wax lyrical for a moment, the Earth is girdled with light in the form of the fibre-optic cables that cross the ocean floors and carry all our data hither and yon. And that's not all they could do. They could help keep an eye on climate change:

"According to Sydney University scientist John Yuzhu You, undersea cables could be used to monitor currents, salinity, seismology and ocean temperatures. As water moves around a cable, it generates an electromagnetic current that could be measured by voltmeters at cable landing stations, You explained."

Tech Brief


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