— issue #5 {September 2014} —


Welcome to the fifth issue of Equilibrium. In this month's editorial, I decided to write a few words about my experience using an iPad. It ended up being a longer than expected, so if you don't want to read all of it, here's a tl;dr: not the amazing experience I was expecting from everything I've heard and read over the years for Apple products.

The first time I used an Apple product was for a whole semester in the early '00s, when I was an undergraduate student. The product was an iMac G3, and although it's been quite some time to remember the details, I have a vivid memory that I didn't like the whole experience. Although I don't consider my self an Apple hater (I've even read Steve Jobs' biography), ever since I consciously decided to stay away from Apple products; no iPhones, no iMacs, no iPads, no "i's" in general.

A couple of months ago, I won an iPad in a contest. My first thought was to sell it, but since I find Apple products to be overpriced, therefore I don't think I would ever want to spend my own money to buy one (still not a hater), I decided it was a great opportunity to use an iProduct in my daily routine. The verdict? I'll start with the positive stuff: it is fancy and smooth to use, it has a great variety of well developed and interesting apps, its battery life seems good so far, and its keyboard is amazing.

So far so good, but to be honest, I didn't experience that "wow" factor or the flawless user interface that every Apple fan that I know used to tell me about. Instead, while using the iPad, I found it annoying quite a few times. For example: before being able to use it for the very first time I had to spend several minutes filling in useless forms; the App Store was asking for my password three times in a row every single time I was using it (thankfully that was solved after a few restarts); I literally spent over half an hour to manage to enter my credit card details to the App Store to be able to buy an app since the non-existing error messages of the App Store didn't help at all (I managed to finalise the process via the web interface of the iCloud-thing).

On top of that, I find the whole restrictive culture of the Apple ecosystem annoying, irritating, and any other negative adjectives you can think of. I knew this kind of "limitation" existed, but I didn't believe that it could be that bad. Apart from the usual stuff, e.g. if you want to copy a file to your device, you have to install iTunes or host it in the cloud to be able to "sync" it, I still can't believe that I cannot even change (without a hack) the default browser, mail client, etc. This whole experience is making me feel such a powerless user.

Overprised iPads.

Anyway, I don't want this to be a rant against Apple, I merely wanted to document my own experience of an Apple product coming from completely different ecosystems (Windows, Linux, Android), which was the complete opposite of what I expected. iPad is a good device, but I still find it overpriced (even ignoring the fact that the price ridiculously increases with the excuse of the storage) for the experience that it offers.

Enjoy the issue!

.blogs (interesting reads from around the web)

Improve the payment experience with animations — medium.com, 2014

An article which discusses how the team behind Stripe Checkout is using several animations to enhance user experience.

How to maintain a successful open source project — medium.com, 2013

"Lessons learned from five years of maintaining one of the most-used Python libraries."

You don't get shit you don't ask for — humbledmba.com, 2011


How Disqus Went Realtime With 165K Messages Per Second And Less Than .2 Seconds Latency — highscalability.com, 2014

A very interesting read discussing the architecture and scalability issues behind the popular commenting service Disqus.

.images (worth a thousand words)

Abandoned — twitter.com

Build a world where your children are stronger than you ever were.

I've always been fascinated by photos of abandoned places; from old factories, to ghost towns, to ships like in the picture above. The link above is from a twitter account which posts photos of such type.

.newsletters (food for your email)

Sidebar — sidebar.io

Sidebar is a daily or weekly (depending on your choice when you subscribe) newsletter which contains a curated selection of 5 design-related links.

.podcasts (sometimes is better to listen)

Seth Godin’s Startup School — earwolf.com, 2012

A few years ago, Seth Godin hosted a small startup school spending a few days with a number of startup founders, discussing startup-related topics. He recorded these discussions and released a selection of them in the form of an extremely interesting fifteen episode podcast.

.books (physical or electronic)

Collective Intelligence in Action — manning.com

The book is relatively old (I read it back in 2009 while working on my MSc dissertation), therefore I assume that some information and terms (i.e. Web 2.0, blogosphere, etc.) will be dated, but the theory and principles behind the topics discussed in the book (especially the chapter on recommendation systems) should still be valid.


I Am Sitting In A Video Room — youtube.com

This is what happens to a YouTube video after you rip and re-upload it 1000 times.

.games (everybody needs some play time)

A Dark Room — doublespeakgames.com

A Dark Room

A Dark Room is a very interesting browser-based (there is also an iOS app which I haven't tried yet) text-based RPG. Initially, your only task is to light the fire in the room you're located in, but soon you'll find yourself building a village, gathering resources, and exploring the nearby world, trying to uncover what's happening. The game is free, so give it a try.

.non-profits (for a good cause)

World Horse Welfare — worldhorsewelfare.org

As the name suggests, World Horse Welfare is an international horse charity that aims to improve the lives of horses through education, campaigning, and hands-on care.


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Photo credits: Shipwreck by Panos Lahanas.

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