Before I start to completely ramble, let me point folks over to the sidebar on the right.  I’d encourage people who are interested in keeping tabs on the things that the TP crew is working on to become a fan on Facebook, or to follow us on Twitter.  Lastly, at the bottom of each blog post and new comic strip you’ll find a link that allows you to quickly share Towne Pub content with a ridiculous number of social sites.  Please feel free to pass links along!

The Reboot to the Head storyline was not the first idea that we had for the relaunch of the strip.  We both agreed that we did not want to simply pick up where we left off.  I wanted to redo the art style, which wouldn’t work well with picking up a story mid stream.  Also, even though we had a lot of time and effort involved in that storyline, we had both long since fallen out of love with it.  I had some pretty grand plans (check out the comments on that last strip if you’re interested), but it was going to take a long time to get to the interesting parts, and we’d already lost interest in that arc once before.  There was no guarantee that we’d be able to stay motivated if we tried to pick up from there.

We knew that we wanted to start fresh.  Exactly how fresh was unclear.  Should we pretend that the original story arc never happened?  Should we write new strips as though the story had played out to its inevitable conclusion?  Perhaps we should do a series of 10-15 strips to quickly wrap up the storyline in a text heavy, almost “previously on Towne Pub…” format.  Maybe we’ll still do some of that stuff, but longtime readers will have picked up on the clues in the first new strip where Phinn directly refers to the events of the previous story arc, but he seems just as confused as the readers regarding what has happened.  The holes will be filled in as we move forward.

Folks who have decided to become fans of the Ye Olde Towne Pub Facebook Page will be able to see another direction that we had considered going.  In fact, we got quite far into development of this relaunch idea before abandoning it.  The idea was fairly simple: a total reboot that retells the entire Towne Pub story arc beginning with the very first strip retold as though Savage had never fallen through the portal to Dude’s planet.  This would accomplish a few things.  First and most important, we could begin telling stories that featured Phinn, Savage, and Trebarg, all together again.  Something that has not happened in the main continuity of the strip since that first strip back from March 31, 2000.   That’s right, other than the odd one shotcomic cover, or flashback, Trebarg, Phinn, and Savage were not together in the same strip at all, during the entire classic run, after that first day.   Weird.  Second, it would get us back into the Pub, so we could tell stories from the nexus of realities.

In the “Sketches, Roughs, and Behind the Scenes” photo album on the fan page, you can check out some of the work we did on that reboot idea, which we later abandoned in favor of the current series, which does almost none of the things that we wanted to accomplish.  Go figure.  Dave and I will both be posting status updates and other goodies via the page on a regular basis.  We’ve also linked the page with Twitter, so followers there will be kept informed as well.

Now, onto the next thing: the iPad.

The iPad is getting a bad rap.  Sure, it sounds like an electronically enhanced feminine hygiene product.  A few weeks ago, when I heard about the new Apple tablet on NPR, they said it would be called the “iSlate,” a name that I hated.  In retrospect, it seems like a much better choice.  Naming aside, though, this announcement has just stirred up a tremendous amount of animosity for some reason.  The biggest complaint seems to be that Apple did not make a case for the existence of the iPad; that it is simply a “big iPod Touch” and therefore has no place in this world.

Interesting theory, I suppose.  I’ve been an avid iPhone user and advocate for well over a year now.  I carry my iPhone with me everywhere I go.  I use it to call my wife and kids several times a day, sure, but I also use it to watch movies at the gym (yay for fitness equipment with iPod docks), listen to music at work, play games, surf the web, check my banking status, read e-mail, update facebook, manage my Google Calendar and even post blog entries here on this site.  Unlike my American Express card, I never leave home without it.  So, yes, the iPhone (and the iPod Touch) is a great, wonderful little piece of technology that puts a lot of power and entertainment in the palm of your hand.  It’s something that I consider an essential part of my day-to-day activities.  Apple really knocked it out of the park.

I also have a Macbook.  I’m interested, in the most casual sense possible, in developing iPhone applications someday in the future.   At least, that was my excuse for buying it.  What I really use it for is checking Facebook, playing FarmVille (yeah, yeah), and surfing the web while I watch TV.  I also use it to stream video to my TV sometimes when I miss a show and don’t feel like watching it on the small screen.

So, I have an iPhone, and I have a Macbook.  Why do I need an iPad?  Obviously, I do not need one.  But does it fill a niche?

I think it does.  Sure, I can surf the web and check my e-mail and Facebook from the iPhone.  But it’s got a 4″ screen.  Navigating web pages is an endless process of two-thumb-typing in a URL, scrolling to the approximate place of interest, zooming in, reading, zooming back out, scrolling around, clicking links (and fat fingering the wrong one sometimes), rinse, and repeat.  It’s awesome to have the internet in the palm of your hand.  You can’t beat the iPhone when you want to look something up while you’re standing in the middle of the grocery store.  But is it ideal?  hardly.  The screen is just too small to navigate the web comfortably.  Yes, you can make do, but there is a lot of scrolling and zooming.  E-mail is the same.  Typing a message that is more than a few sentences without making any ludicrous typographical errors (especially with the notorious and prudish iPhone auto-correct) should be an Olympic event.  Again: it is awesome to catch up on your e-mail quickly.  But is it ideal?  No.  Another example?  The calendar.  I love having my calendar with me wherever I go.  It is absolutely essential for me to manage my time day-to-day, especially with my wife at work and in class until 8pm 4 nights a week.  Without a calendar, I wouldn’t know where I needed to go, and when, on any given day.  I couldn’t plan dinner, let alone remember which kid had to go to which Girl Scout meeting and when.  But entering new events into the calendar, while convenient, is a total pain in the ass.  Again, lots of two-finger typing, annoying auto-correct, and scrolling all over the place.  Essential feature, but hardly ideal.  Anyone that has used the Kindle iPhone app knows that, when reading a book on the iPhone, you can choose between micro-font that’s impossible to read without squinting and holding the phone 3 inches from your face, or a more reasonable font size and 20 words per page.  Nothing makes reading more pleasurable than having to turn to the next page every 3rd sentence.  Watching video is also great…if you’re out and about, or have a TV with an iPod dock.  But watching an entire movie on a 4″ screen?  Not exactly the ideal viewer experience.

So what about the Macbook?  It’s great.  It’s also big, unwieldy, heavy, uncomfortably hot, and has maybe 2 hours of battery life between charges when streaming video.  It’s fantastic to use when there’s a desk or a table to pop it on, and a power outlet nearby.  I do use it while watching TV sometimes, but for all of the aforementioned reasons, it’s not ideal for simple, easy, around the home use.

That’s where the iPad comes in.  It’s a tablet, so there is no unbalanced, folding LCD screen and keyboard to manage.  I’m guessing it’s a cooler than the Macbook, which may be a moot point, because it’s small and light enough to hold in your hand without needing to rest it on your lap.  The screen has plenty of real estate, making web surfing, e-mail, and calendar management a lot more user friendly.  Full touch screen controls make scrolling, and navigating easier than the tiny iPhone and the Macbook’s touchpad.   It would be hard to argue that the larger screen isn’t much better than the iPhone for reading books and watching videos.  Being able to use all of the iPhone apps you purchased?  Great.  Sure, some of them don’t work very well on the larger iPad, but who can argue with backwards compatibility and portability as though it’s a bad thing?  Is the fact that the Nintendo Wii plays GameCube games a bad thing?  Obviously not.

I love my iPhone.  I love my Macbook.  But I’d be lying if I didn’t have the thought many times over the last year or two that, while they are great, they are not perfect for a lot of things.  I can very easily see the iPad filling that niche in between.  It’s small and light enough to carry around the house, and keep nearby when I’m watching TV or whatever.  It’s far more ideal for reading and watching portable video.  And the price is hard to argue with.  The 64GB model costs about the same as an iPhone 3GS without a 2 year AT&T plan.   Not to mention the fact that there are literally billions of people that don’t own an iPhone or a Macbook.  I see no fault in Apple marketing a device at them.

I’m hardly an Apple zombie, but I find the iPad to be a neat little gadget that will be fun and useful to have nearby while I’m puttering around the house.  It seems to me that what a lot of people wanted, was a full tablet version of the Macbook.  I’d like to see one of those, too.  But if/when Apple launches such a device, I doubt we can expect it to cost $500.  In the mean time, the animosity directed towards the iPad completely mystifies me.  You either see how such a device would be useful, or you don’t.  Feeling the need to attack the company because they didn’t offer a product that you want right now seems a little odd.  Maybe it’s just me.

Discussion (6) ¬

  1. Suebee

    Count me among the “billions” that don’t have an iPhone, iPod Touch or a MacBook, and planning on getting an iPad. *thumbs up* I don’t know when I’ll be getting it, as I need a new car more urgently, but even if it’s not until the second generation, I WILL be getting one. For all the reasons you mentioned — ESPECIALLY when I am down in my studio (aka The Craft Dungeon), and want to check Facebook, or Etsy. ;)

    I -am- an Apple zombie, but I’m one on a budget. I was weighing between a MacBook and an iPod Touch. Now I don’t have to. :D

  2. phinn

    The only thing that really concerns me is lack ofFlash support, which has been promised as “coming soon” on the iPhone for the last 18 months at least. I hope they get that sorted out!

  3. Dave Grabert

    I am less interested in it than I was at the prospect of a tablet originally. I was really hoping for Apple to release a portable touchscreen device that ran OSX.

    I have an iPod Touch and I love it, save for the failings that Bob already mentioned.

    That being said, there is a place for this device. I am very interested to see how books will look on it. Reading books on the iPod Touch is not horrible, just not great. The Kindle and other e-ink type readers are excellent at what they do, but are unitaskers. They do what they do VERY well, but a device that can be used for electronic media that is fresh and interactive, as well as everything else that the iPad can do is very enticing.

    I really could see myself using it at work as well for the things that i use my iPod Touch for in meetings (notes, calculator, email, calendar………. games….) in a way that would be more conducive that what I am able to do with the iPod Touch.

    I am interested to play with one in a big way.

  4. Powers

    I have to admit I’m eager to get back to the Pub and everyone hanging around.

  5. Dave Grabert

    It has been missed. :)

  6. phinn

    It is coming, I promise. Unfortunately, the page-a-week pace means that it’s a few months away. But we will get there!

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