Surf's up -
There's been a lot of chatter for the last few months about what Apple's forthcoming tablet device will look like - and more importantly, what exactly it will or will not do.
All this speculation - and remember, it's all speculation - is kind of odd, because no one has publicly seen what's expected to come down the pike in early 2010, if the rumour mill on the release date is in the ballpark.
One common thread that seems to be emerging is that the tablet, which will be something more than an iPhone (or iTouch) and less than a Macbook, will be engineered to showcase newspapers and magazines, in no doubt stunning detail.
I haven't been at all surprised to read that Apple has, very quietly, been working with major publishers, including the New York Times.
I'm sure the tablet, whatever it will be called, will have a big impact - and not just Apple's version. The technology blogs have had plenty of juice over the last few weeks about Microsoft's competing product, which so far is known as Courier.
Leaked images and details show it is not so much a tablet as a book-like device that closes on itself, featuring two work areas. As the ultra-influential blog Gizmodo put it, "Maybe we've all been dreaming about the wrong device."
Since the advent of Amazon's Kindle, which is still restricted from sale in Canada for copyright and other reasons, there's been a sense that e-books, tablets, or whatever you want to call them, may dramatically change how we read periodicals.
The timing could not come at a better time for the newspaper and magazine industry, which was slumping for years before last year's economic meltdown, and has been in seeming freefall for at least a year.
The possibilities of a new distribution are considerable, not the least of which is the ability to sell advertisers on a marketing capability that could be as interactive as the web.
Tablet technology - which is being touted as prominent titles like Gourmet magazine are folding - might be just what the doctor ordered.
Elsewhere this week
(The Customer Is) Not Always Right
First things first: the folks at this blog do not believe in poor customer service. They do believe, though, in giving people who have toiled in the retail trenches the platform to vent about what they've seen and especially heard.
Like "Overheard in New" and many other variations, you'll find one painful (but often funny) conversation after another.
Hit the "popular" tab to see ones that have most resonated with other readers, and the "random" tab to see any old chestnut that's been collected to date.
With Halloween around the corner, set the tone with one of the most wonderfully creepy bits of writing of all time: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." Get ready for your own once upon a midnight dreary with this version; if you don't want to read it aloud, click on the link to have it read for you. (Turning off the lights might help!)
Want to play divide and conquer with a bunch of balls? Actually, it's more a game of just dividing, and it's not so much a game at all ... but you will likely be amused as you see how this Flash-based attraction works.
Move your mouse over four circles, and watch them divide, and then divide again, at least as long as your cursor is in place.
The circles, or balls, get progressively smaller; I counted them down to 1/128th of the original size, but I stand to be corrected.
Look also for some other games on the left-hand side, including a photo-tag guessing game that is pretty challenging.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: twitter.com/JohnGushue.