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About Pete Mortensen

Pete Mortensen

Pete Mortensen is a design strategist for consulting firm Jump Associates and the co-author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, a book and blog that are significantly more interesting than you might initially think. Pete's particular Apple avocations are both around design--interface and industrial. Follow him on Twitter!

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10 Reasons the iPad Means You Should Never Travel With a Laptop Again

10 Reasons the iPad Means You Should Never Travel With a Laptop Again

As I noted the other day, I recently completed a near-endless trip around the world, and I used my iPad for pretty much everything while on the plane. And the more I think about it, the more it’s clear to me that I will never again go on vacation with a laptop.

Here are my top 10 reasons why:

10. Though heavy, iPads weigh less than any hardcover and most paperbacks.
A lot of people, me included, spend a lot of time whining about how heavy the iPad is. But at 1.5 pounds, it’s a lot lighter than any edition of every single book in Oprah’s club.

9. Endless battery life makes a lack of power outlets irrelevant.
Whether with my iPhone or my MacBook, I can’t count the number of times that I’ve started watching a movie on a plane only have the power give out partway through. I seriously can’t imagine how that would ever happen with an iPad. Depending on the task, I’ve gotten well over two hours of battery life after getting the 20 percent warning.

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NY Times Finally Releases a Real iPad App

NY Times Finally Releases a Real iPad App

One of the great disappointments of the iPad has finally been remedied. After six months of living with the extremely limited app NY Times Editor’s Choice, the iPad has finally gotten “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

The App Store pushed out NY Times 2.0 less than an hour ago. The free, all-new iPad appcontains the full content of the Paper of Record, along with the contents of a select number of the Times’s blogs. It’s the whole newspaper, but better than the print edition.

Enjoy it while it lasts, though. The Times promises that a paid subscription will be required starting in early 2011. Here’s hoping that a print subscription will grant access, unlike what the New Yorker is doing with its iPad app.

Download now! (iTunes)

28 Days and Three Continents: A Rigorous Test of the iPad as Everything Hub

28 Days and Three Continents: A Rigorous Test of the iPad as Everything Hub

It was a month ago to the day that I ditched physical books, comics, and magazines for my iPad. A round-the-world trip for work precipitated the change. For 29 days, I would be outside the U.S., with stops in Australia, Singapore, India, and the UK. Not to mention that the India stop included three cities and four additional flights. It was not the time for a big stack of physical media, nor for a full laptop. It was time to travel light and to travel digital.

In the process, I’ve learned a lot. Some of it more boring, self-discovery kind of stuff, which I’ll save for my personal blog, if at all, but a lot of it about tablets, computers, and where entertainment itself might go.

1. The current iPad is good enough for most uses.
In spite of my promise to wait for the iPad 2, the thought of a total of 65 hours on planes quickly converted me to the quite-capable version 1.0. I really put it through its paces: web-browsing, Twitter, RSS reader, Facebook, blogging, video, gaming, and book-reading. Despite its early generation, it’s wholly adequate for most of these tasks. It is weakest, as many people have noted, for typing. If you can get it perfectly flat, as on a tray table in an airplane, it’s possible to hit a near touch-typing speed, but any other grip means going slow and making mistakes. Though some have complained about its anemic 256 MB of RAM, I found it plenty speedy for every task I threw at it. The absence of video cameras for video chat was a minor nuisance.

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Hack Combines iPhone and iPad, Creating Versatile, Clunky Gadget

Hack Combines iPhone and iPad, Creating Versatile, Clunky Gadget

While we all wait for the final version of iOS 4.2 to arrive, the iPad’s inability to multitask is growing increasingly obnoxious — especially when our iPhones are humming along in 4.1. Worse still, an iPad running 4.2 is obviously using a multitasking scheme well-suited to an iPhone, not a tablet. In spite of increased screen real estate, there’s no way to keep a video window popped open in an unused portion of the screen in Safari, or to keep a Skype dialer overlaid on other tasks. No one wants a full desktop experience, but an iPhone-sized widget that can be moved around the screen would make the iPad truly special.

Julian Horsey of Geeky Gadgets has created a hack that shows what the future could hold, if Apple loses all sense of design and taste in the near future, with a clever clip to attach an iPhone to an iPad. With this two-headed monstrosity, you can multitask exactly as you would want to. This isn’t for the faint of heart — not because the hack is particularly difficult, but because you would actually have to be seen with it in public.

Via Geeky Gadgets

Apple Quietly Removes Video Support From iPod Nano

Apple Quietly Removes Video Support From iPod Nano

Today’s Apple music event met with a decidedly chilly reception. The new iPod shuffle was an acknowledgment that its previous generation was a flop. The new AppleTV doesn’t support app development and has few advantages beyond a Roku box. New iOS updates are coming slower than anyone would hope.

And all of that discontent isn’t even factoring in that Apple has removed video from the iPod nano line.

What’s that? You didn’t notice? Join the club. Steve went out of his way to extoll the great features of the new nano (like a screen you can’t see when it’s clipped to your body) while carefully avoiding any discussion of the fact that its screen is too small to play video on.

But it’s true. Like the original iPod nano, the new model is for photos and music only. Check out the tech specs page. Lots of discussion of audio playback. No mention whatsoever of video. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m pretty sure I’m not.

Still — looks great as a wristwatch, yeah?

Apple Will Live Stream Tomorrow’s Entertainment Event — Mac and iOS only

Apple Will Live Stream Tomorrow’s Entertainment Event — Mac and iOS only

With the rumor-mill at a fever-pitch for tomorrow’s guitar-shaped event, Apple announced today that it will provide a live video stream as Steve Jobs introduces various new pieces of hardware and software and holds them next to his head. The stream will go live at Apple.com at 10 a.m. PDT tomorrow, and the excitement will build for the next hour.

But there’s a catch — you need to watch on an iOS device or a Mac with Snow Leopard. So you Windows, Linux, Android, and even older Mac users will need to stay tuned to Cult of Mac for live updates. See you tomorrow!

Hallelujah: Netflix Finally Releases iPhone App

Hallelujah: Netflix Finally Releases iPhone App

The official Netflix streaming app for iPhone and iPod touch hit the App Store this morning. The free download allows anyone with a monthly Netflix subscription of $8.99 or more to watch unlimited streaming movies and TV on the iOS device of their choice.

I’ve been playing with it since I woke up today, and I’m quite impressed — video looks phenomenal on my 3GS, and performance over both WiFI and 3G have been great (which, as a San Franciscan who resides in a neighborhood AT&T ignores, is very impressive).

Netflix iPhone App Video from Netflix on Vimeo.

My two minor quibbles with the app are both interface-related: NetFlix opted to represent titles to watch with large icons, which makes it a labor to scroll through. Worse, it doesn’t provide a thumb on the right side to provide any sense of where you are in the middle of a long list. Search works very well, however.

But these are minor complaints. Frankly, this puts HuluPlus to shame. Better selection, better performance, and no ads. Download the crap out of this. Get it here.

John Mellencamp Here to Warn Us of Evil Internets and iPods

John Mellencamp Here to Warn Us of Evil Internets and iPods

Image copyright Mercury Records

So much for the web being dead. John Mellencamp, the increasingly craggy Indiana roots rocker famed for singing about “Jack and Diane,” “Pink Houses” and having the middle name “Cougar,” has clued the world into a major news story: the Internet has destroyed the music business. Apple’s bad, too. From the Globe & Mail:

“I think the Internet is the most dangerous thing invented since the atomic bomb,” he said. “It’s destroyed the music business. It’s going to destroy the movie business.”

Seriously, you guys. Not content to make Lars Ulrich look like a visionary, Mellencamp went on to deliver the stunning revelation that MP3 audio is technically inferior to what you would get from a CD or LP.

He recalled listening to a Beatles song on a newly re-mastered CD and then on an iPod, and “you could barely even recognize it as the same song. You could tell it was those guys singing, but the warmth and quality of what the artist intended for us to hear was so vastly different.”

Now, I’m not one to question John Mellencamp’s ability to competently rip an album to a portable digital format, but I will say that I never heard him speak up about inferior audio quality when he was selling millions of cassette tapes per year.*

The music business has changed. Apple reinvented itself by understanding how and why it was changing almost a decade ago. And lots of artists, such as the Arcade Fire and Lady Gaga, understand well how to take advantage of those changes and carve out a successful living that’s less dependent on record labels than their own businesses. And dinosaurs like John Mellencamp have no idea how to be successful in the iTunes era.

And that’s a good thing. Remember: The music business needed destroying.

*Not to mention, MP3s were successful because they were good enough sounding, which allowed them to spread like wildfire. Their inferior quality was a feature, not a bug. There’s a reason why lossless audio still hasn’t caught on for portable players.

Via TUAW and Edible Apple

Steve Jobs Joins the SF Pizza Wars, Gets Denied a Table

Steve Jobs Joins the SF Pizza Wars, Gets Denied a Table

While the East Coast has continued to get excited by giant floppy slices of pizza served out of a corner joint, the San Francisco Bay Area has somewhat quietly become the finest destination for real Neapolitan pizza (and stuff quite close to it) in the United States.

Above is photographic evidence that even Steve Jobs has gotten the word. On Saturday night, he attempted to get a table at Flour+Water, one of the insurgent pizzaiolos that has put SF pizza on the map (and was recently named best restaurant in the city by SF Weekly). And, like everyone else, Steve found out that unless you’re ready to wait for a table, you’re not going to get in the door.

Don’t worry, Steve! There’s plenty of other places to go! Zero Zero is a new powerhouse, Boot and Shoe Service is picking up steam, Delfina is unstoppable, and Anthony Mangieri, the you of pizza, will soon open his Una Pizza Napoletana close to Caltrain, so you can take Caltrain back home afterward.

Via SF Weekly

RIM’s Continued Apple Envy Snuffs the Blackberry Torch

RIM’s Continued Apple Envy Snuffs the Blackberry Torch

The Blackberry Torch misses the mark. We all know this. From its bastardized Palm Pre meets Chinese black market phone industrial design to its Android-by-way-of-Vectrex UI, the entire product is just a complete whiff as an attempt to release a modern, relevant phone for the multitouch and App Store era. Not only that, this is RIM’s third straight swing and miss for an iPhone-killer. We all know this.

But why can’t RIM manage to put forth a phone at least on a par with the Droid or the Samsung Galaxy S line? The answer’s simple, really. They’re so jealous of Apple’s success that they can’t bring themselves to find their way forward.

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