Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HARDWARE: A Kindle Reader Has The Right To Change His Mind

I remember waaaaay back to the dawn of my eReader age (it was 11 months ago), I pooh-poohed the Kindle due to a lack of page numbers. I looked at the Sony PRS-300 before giving it to Dawna. Seemed IT had page numbers. The Kobo's I gave my Mom and AJ had page numbers (although I thought they were footnote numbers first). Later, after trying the Kobo for about six weeks, I discovered I wasn't enamoured of the occasionally text-obscuring page numbers on the Kobo.

But still, when I finally got my Kindle3, I admit I thought it was a negative. I didn't cotton to locations and percentages read all that much. So imagine my delight when Amazon officially announced the release of version 3.1 of the firmware for the Kindle3 which, amongst other things, finally gave page numbers to Kindle readers. Well, keep imagining, because it doesn't give me cause to do the upgrade at all. I'm perfectly happy with locations and percentages, thank you very much.

The realization I had left page numbers behind was a book I described as a quick read. And, indeed, it was. Well-written, a real page-turner, I read it in one night. And still had time to get in a decent amount of sleep. Only later did I discover that the book was 420 pages long!!! The fact is, that I probably DO read about 10-20 percent faster on my Kindle than with a book in either hand. Page turns, while more numerous, occur at the blink of the eye, rather than requiring me to reach out and physically turn the page. So, while I read paper books at a pretty consistent 50 pages per hour, I guestimate I'm doing 60 equivalent pages on the Kindle. Maybe more.

Amazon's update does more of course. It has more social features (Do I strike you as 'socially-inclined'?) and I don't annotate OR need page numbers for research purposes. A better handling of magazines and newspapers is lost on me because I don't read THOSE on a Kindle. Too small, too non-coloured, etc. So this update doesn't offer me anything to pant over. Realistically, I wouldn't HATE page numbers, but I no longer need them. Besides, I never talk over specific page numbers with anybody anyways. My 'Book Club' mainly consists of Patrick. And he LISTENS to the books. We gab about chapters if we talk specific parts of the books, if at all. Nope, this update is not for me.

Plus, there is the tiny itsy bitsy issue with Amazon's latest update fouling up the jailbreaking process. It won't stop already jailbroken Kindles and their existing add-ons, like the screen saver extension I have on mine. But it stops the current methodology for jailbreaking. Until the miracle workers who write the jailbreaking code create a workaround for the Amazon workaround, I think letting everything sit as is, is the best policy. Later, who knows, maybe I make the upgrade because it truly doesn't offer any negatives and even a slight positive is still a positive.

Until then, I have changed my mind. I don't want page numbers.

SPORTS: Karma And The Knicks

Here's hoping Karma has a heap of ill luck awaiting Carmelo Anthony, James Dolan and Isiah Thomas.

Break a leg Carmelo. As I once wrote to Baron Davis, the author of a similarly distasteful exit from a team, REALLY, BREAK A LEG. You're a jerk and a stupid one at that. Do you REALLY think your 'handling' of your selfish trade demand TO the Knicks was better than Chris Bosh's polite (but ultimately dishonest) refusal to re-up with the Toronto Raptors last year. Then I apologize to all stupid people. You aren't even that bright. But we know that. Despite a great offensive game and incredible god-given athletic ability, you laze about on defence to the point where NOBODY outside of family members thinks you are all that special. Carmelo's certainly not amongst the real basketball stars of the NBA. An offensive weapon and a defensive dud. Shame on you. In so many ways. Like I said, break a leg ... and/or a foot ... or whatever prevents you from playing.

Cuz James Dolan and his unofficial aide, Zeke 'The Sneak' Thomas, the killer of pro basketball teams AND leagues, deserves every bit of bad karma that can come their way. They already made the Knicks the laughing stock of the NBA for a few years in order to afford to buy really great players from poorer teams. Amar'e Stoudemire turned out better than expected, but they failed to pair him with anything better than Ray Felton and a rookie named Landry Fields, who were each far better than expected. That was Donnie Walsh's doing. Pretty good compared to his predecessor, who amidst lawsuits, turned a once-great franchise into a joke. That would be Zeke the Sneak. But of course, Dolan, who has a man-crush on Thomas despite all it's cost him, discarded Donnie this past weekend and made the deal. And it's a deal that will add a point or two to the average Knick offensive total ... and probably cost three or four at the defensive end. Net gain? Not!! And I'm not even talking about the inevitable Walsh departure and the seemingly inevitable return of Thomas as GM from his purgatory as a coach of a second-level college basketball team.

As a Raptor fan, I should be thrilled with Dolan's immediate destruction of the Walsh's rebuilt, and still rebuilding, team. The fun of watching Anthony frustrate Stoudemire by taking lots and lots of shots and treating an assist as a disease, will be a regular story on the rumour circuit for the next while. But, like many, I think the NBA needs a Knick team to offset Boston and Miami. And this incarnation of the Knicks is headed for implosion, not competition.

Lastly, there is nothing that can happen to Thomas that hasn't already. Alleged suicide attempt, lost power struggles, embarrassing (or should have been) lawsuits from women he ... made feel uncomfortable, poor results from EVERY team he's ever been involved with, folding a league with a long history that he bought and ran badly, etc. The list goes on and on. As a player, Thomas was a star. As an executive, Thomas has Peter Principled his way to the top an incredible number of times. Outside of a decent job coaching Indiana, he's been an abject failure each time. So, HE's the guy life will have the hardest time catching up to. Karma will have to work overtime to do whatever it has to do to get Thomas his just due, so that we can enjoy a little schadenfreude. Afterall, if what's transpired so far has kept the bad down, what can?

There's some collateral damage to this Tiresome Threesome. Chauncey Billups has to spend the next year and a bit in New York (if he doesn't retire as he once intimated, if he was traded out of Denver). The timing of the end of his contract are going to drive the Deron Williams/Chris Paul to New York rumours into overdrive. Williams is already proclaiming, NO, not me! The first Paul to NY rumour since the trade took about 13 seconds to start making the rounds. Some very productive Knicks this season, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallanari and Felton won't be helping Stoudemire and Fields any more. Even Timofey Mozgov, the KEY (sic) to the deal, will be experiencing a bit of culture shock, moving from the bright lights of NYC to the bright star-lit sky of the mountains. How many of the ex-Knicks are still Nuggets come Friday morning is anybody's guess. A U-Turn back to the tri-state area for Felton and Mozgov is being bruited about. It'll all shake out for the shaken-up teams in the next four days.

After that, the Karma watch is on. Here's hoping schadenfreude makes an appearance.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

LIFE: PC Politics Sucks

We're headed for an election. It's not declared as of yet, but I got a call out of the blue from the local Conservative Party today wanting to talk. A curt, "I don't talk politics." ended the phone call, although the political operative was cordial in ending the phone call.

I lied.

I'm mad as hell. Now, I don't actually say to anybody, friends, family or the rest of the population of Canada who I vote for. It can be inferred that I vote Liberal, except I don't always. I spoil ballots more often than not. And I have not ever, ever voted Communist or Green. Beyond that, nobody knows but me.

But for the first time ever, I'm willing to be committal about the vote I will be forced to make by that megomaniacal asshole ensconced in our Prime Minister's office. I AIN'T VOTING PC AND WILL BE VOTING FOR SOMEBODY ELSE. No spoiled ballots. SOMEBODY will get my vote. You money-wasting would-be potentate. You Bush-lite political opportunist. You xenophobic hater. You and your party are bad for Canada and it's time somebody else took their turn at the public trough.

They're polling the ranks. They're polling the non rank and file and they are running political ads on TV.  It's a bloody election campaign in every way but legal definition. It's not enough that they've taken this country from surplus to more than $55B in deficits in five years and have the cajones to crow about our economic might compared to the United States. The myopic PC's see a Liberal house divided around Ignatieff and an NDP party that doesn't even have the unions solidly behind them right now. Now isn't the time for an election, even if it could be somehow run free of charge. But Harper's vision is of a blue country sea to sea.

A simple phone call was enough to radicalize me, the guy who's never voted AGAINST a candidate in his life. Think about that PC pollsters. If it could trigger THAT kind of reaction in me, maybe the MAJORITY OF THIS COUNTRY who didn't vote for your head clown might feel the same way.

At least I hope so. PC's in the minority ... or maybe gone from the political scene completely.

A guy can dream, can't he?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

SPORTS: Jose Leads Way to Pay Window

It looks like a mere 65 million dollars, spread out over 5 years, is enough to make Jose Bautista a Blue Jay for most of the rest of this decade. There's an option for a sixth season at the average stipend of $13M. Which means the then 36 year old Bautista will have banked more $80M in his Blue Jay career. And there might still be some gas in the tank even then. Wouldn't be a shock at all if he then added one more contract on top of that and finished his major league career in the uniform of the locals.

Of course, nothing's been officially signed as of the time of the writing of this post, but the finger to the wind test feels good.

I stumped for a contract in this neighbourhood a while back. I was short by a bit, by about $3M a season, but that was before the Washington Nationals gave Jayson Werth a "Match This, Suckers!" contract and Albert Pujols started the "Contract NOW or I test Free Agency next winter" Movement.  But it seems that Alex Anthopoulos has come to the conclusion that a slight over-pay is worth more than a season of Bautista and the two draft picks he'd bring 16 months from now. Obviously, I agree.

Seems strange for Toronto to chortle with glee at getting out from under $81M of the contract owed Vernon Wells one month and then turn around and spend almost the same amount for another player. One with just about the same number of great seasons as Wells--one. But the inevitable comparisons are going to suffer from number overdrive. There is a world of difference between the two men in a place the stat geeks can't quantify. That is in the role of leadership.

Wells was like many stars in Toronto. A quiet, introspective man with a huge heart who led by example. Think Mats Sundin (although he was hampered by a management who saddled him with retreads and never-weres as linemates and figured he didn't deserve any more shifts than the fourth-line centres. IDIOTS) and, dare I say it after his moronic kiss-off to the Toronto fans last night, Chris Bosh. Sure, there were rare occasions when Mats would step out of HIS own shadow and say something to somebody else, and we all have seen the tape of the one time Bosh blew up at Andrea Bargnani in a team huddle. But, for the most part, Sundin and Bosh played hard and just expected the rest to at least try just as hard, if not to accomplish what they could with their superior talent. There must be something in the water here in Toronto, because all of our best players in various sports tend to shrink from the spotlight, Bosh being the one noticeable exception away from the court. And we all know now, he's just another guy.

I'm not sure Bautista will gravitate to the spotlight because he's always been overshadowed by Wells and other longer-term Jays during his two and a bit years with the club. Until September 2009, there really wasn't any reason to trundle along to his stall in the post-game scrum. Since then ...

EVERY story. EVERY thing I've heard. For public consumption and not. All items lead to one very inescapable conclusion. Bautista is the leader of the team. He's very obviously the leader of the growing Latin contingent. But even the non-Latinos seem happy to have him out front and leading them. You could lay a large-sized bet that Aaron Hill is happy. Otherwise, the story might have been the will they/won't they story of the Blue Jays picking up his option(s) before the end of spring training. Oh, that question still exists, but the focus will be on Bautista. And newly-minted first baseman Adam Lind, like Hill, intent on mounting a comeback of sorts while dealing with other issues (his position change), is a guy perfectly happy to be in the background. For the guys who like the limelight elsewhere (exceptions: Travis Snider and Ricky Romero), Bautista is the perfect screen to hide behind.

Which now brings up the question, is leadership worth $13M a year? No, of course not. But it's the kind of thing that is hard to measure. Does Bautista help in getting the maximum out of players like Yunel Escobar and JP Arencibia? For sure in the first case, probably will in the second case. One's a fellow Dominican, the other is from California. Which Richard Griffin points out is a good measure of the man. Bautista seems equally comfortable with people from the Caribbean and the States. He went to school in Florida. He's well-spoken and seems to have all the charitable inclinations of Wells. And that's saying a lot. On a leadership level, it's hard to describe just how perfect Bautista is for the job, one which he wants badly, to boot.

But fans will only see what goes on, on the field. Yep, he's going to be hard for Bautista to hit 54 homers again in 2011. The question is whether he gets the Barry Bonds treatment or not. Without somebody catching a little fire behind him, the opposition pitchers should throw every pitch at least four feet away from him and hope three induce missing swings or go through the black on the outer edge of the plate. He's a virtual lock to get walked 100 times this coming season. Now, if the Blue Jays can find somebody to make the opposition teams pay for giving Bautista almost free passes at the rate of one a game, then it brings humongous homer totals back into play. Bautista will get 30 because major league pitchers will make at least that number of mistakes this year. I think 44, a nice round number Hank Aaron made famous, is my best guess. And if Lind and/or Hill rediscover their Silver Bat skills, than 50, even 60, are in the discussion. Clarence Gaston's gone, but Bautista's hitting guru Dwayne Murphy is back for one more season of counselling. The best part of all of this is how cerebral Bautista is. His consistency month to month last year was evidence he made re-adjustments as pitchers made adjustments to the fact that this was one dangerous dude at the plate.

Defensively, I was actually surprised Bautista didn't get more mention for a Gold Glove in RF. He didn't make many highlight reel catches, but his arm recorded outs ... important outs. And it kept some other runs from scoring because he induced bases-gluing fear in more runners. It'd be great if he could play the position this year and beyond. But until the team gets a bona fide third-sacker (and no, Edwin Encarnacion doesn't qualify unless the word emergency is in play), Bautista will be a third baseman this year. A leader plays where the team needs him to play. And right now, that's 3B. A year from now? Brett Lawrie or somebody who comes to town next winter will be at the hot corner. And then Bautista can go back to scaring the living bejeebers out of opponents in RF.

I have never talked to the man, just to people who have. They liked Wells. They REALLY, REALLY like Bautista. And in these days of schadenfreude, it's a miracle ANYBODY's happy to hear about anybody else cashing the contract lottery. But in this case, one and all approve.

And so do I.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SPORTS: Bosh And His Friends Come To Town

Tonight's the night that Chris Bosh comes back to town with the Miami Hated Heat for a 'showdown' with the Toronto Raptors. And he brings with him a bag of mixed feelings, a trait shared by a lot of fans.

He's going to get booed hard. And long. Vince Carter-despising long. And, if I was in attendance, I'd probably give it a good belch of air during the introductions and the first time he touched the ball. Then I'd stop. I'd have vented my anger at the WAY Bosh departed. And really, that's all Toronto fans have to complain about.

The fact is that I believe the birth of this version of the Hated Heat was hatched at the last Olympics and was a done deal, despite remonstrations otherwise by both Bosh and LeBron James, the head villain. I honestly would have preferred a "no comment" then all of the hope-instilling banter Bosh produced all last year as he was headed out the door. "Wanting to be THE Man," was a constant refrain. Then he took the butler's job in Miami. Sorry, but playing clean up guy after James and Dwyane Wade get all of theirs isn't something THE Man aspires to do. And shame on all three of them for thinking they couldn't win without more stars than any team outside of Boston has. It showed a weakness in all of their characters.

And that weakness manifested itself to a greater degree with Bosh than I thought it would. He's run off at the mouth explaining why he left Toronto and the excuses have bordered on the surreal. Lack of ESPN at his condo was one that was cited. The smell of the city was another. Canada was, like another country, afterall. This from an almost university-educated man. Where once I thought of Bosh as a nice guy, thoughtful and possessed of an indomitable will to be the best player in the NBA, if willing to acknowledge it might be a futile quest, I no longer operate under that delusion. He wants to be liked and said things that he thought would result in that. He set himself up for his fall from Toronto's graces.

Bosh is a big athletic young guy who wants to win and jumped at an opportunity that some called a sure bet to result in five titles over the next six years. He gave up his ideals for that assurance and even gave up some money. And he gave up the chance to be a hero to fans here in Toronto or where ever else in the NBA he went to be THE Man. I suspect that he's guilty by association with James, who's turn from hero to heel is largely complete. So even fans outside of Toronto don't respect the butler of the team a heck of a lot either.

Which is too bad. We have too few sporting heroes here and everywhere. That's our loss. And it'll probably mean a Toronto loss tonight too. So, I'll softly boo him a couple of times and cheer when any Raptor outdoes him on the floor of battle. But I won't want somebody to plant him six rows deep when he goes up for a shot. I don't hope he breaks a leg, and that's unusual because of my normal practice for wishing exactly that on the boneheads of the NBA (Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, The West Coast Smirk, The East Coast Smirk, etc.).

After tonight, the energy will all be gone. Chris Bosh will be just one more member of the Hated Heat, a uniform to jeer and hope losses miraculously appear on their ledger. A team that I hope lose to the otherwise detestable Celtics, the Lakers and any other foe they play.

For me, Bosh won't be worth getting worked up for. He's just another guy.

HARDWARE: Patience Might Be Coming To An End

But not because my native lack of patience is rising to the fore. In fact, I WILL wait patiently for a little while longer. But not much longer. Cuz the tablet of my dreams will soon be coming to the Castle of Confusion to join my merry little band of computers.

The tablet wars reached another level with the Mobile World Congress over in Barcelona the past week. I'm starting to think that there is a winner and it's name is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The folks at CarryPad.com and engadget.com seem to be the go-to guys on tablets these days and I was amused at one review of the 10.1 earlier this week. The things the reviewer loved about the pad, I'm pretty sure I'll love too. Things like light weight, great screen, grippy back surface, pure Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). The things the reviewer was dubious about, are things that'll make me almost as happy. Cheap plasticy back? Did I mention light weight and easy to grip? Plain Honeycomb, making it hard to differentiate between it and the other tablets running plain unadorned Honeycomb? Means less trashing of the crapware that comes with some devices, then doesn't it? No stand like some of the 7in tablets have? Well, I have a stand that will fit it. Less than nine hours of battery life? Other than March Madness, I won't be staring it for anything like that long. And while watching the college hoops extravaganza, I will be tethered to a wall socket. So, not so much of a problem. In fact, I couldn't find a thing in either their pro OR con list that had me debating the merits of the 10.1. IT IS THE TABLET I WANT TO BUY.

Heck, even the well known issues with Samsung not updating their android versions on their phones promptly (or at all) isn't an issue. I want the WiFi version. Plus, I'm betting Google's iron hand on having unadulterated Honeycomb out of the box means updates won't be an issue at all. Actually, I'm pretty happy Google's taking away some of the artsy-fartsy interface issues. I trust Google about as much as anybody in the computer business these days. Which is, not much, but more than most.

Now, having said that, I still don't know when it will be available for me to purchase. March is barely possible, but I'm not holding my breath. Though, I am heartened by the fact that Samsung got the Galaxy Tab 7in tablet out last year, it being the only realistic Apple iPad contender that saw the light over here in 2010. Too small for my needs, but it existed, whereas just about everybody else was producing promises of 'Next Year,' to anybody who wanted a tablet but didn't want Apple's interference in their lives. Like me. And Apple's understandable, but still odious, cash grab of a 30 per cent vig on just about everything under their purview makes my decision to go ABA (Anything But Apple) is a long-term smart decision.

I'm not going to lie about the fact that the Viewsonic Viewpad has a lot of interest because of it's ability to run Windows PLUS Android. Might be a bit heavy for the familiarity. And I've watched the development of the Adam from NotionInk almost from conception. If it's supply wasn't already bought up until Spring, I might already own one. Motorola was first out of the gate with Honeycomb, but that weight might be a killer. Still, in a desert of choices, the water bringer's flaws get overlooked. And everybody raved about the User Experience with the initial Xoom demos.

Right now, if push came to shove, I'd rate the chances of owning any particular tablet like this:
[51%] Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
[18%] NotionInk Adam 
[14%] Viewsonic Viewpad 10 Pro         
[09%] Motorola Xoom           
[08%] Other               
[00%] Apple iPad II

The best thing about Patience? Some times it pays off.

Monday, February 07, 2011

LIFE: And The Election Race Is ON!

Down south of the border, Americans were treated to a variety of good (and some not so good) commercials during last night's Super Bowl. Here in Canada? We got a bunch of propagandist claptrap from the Conservative Party and/or the Government of Canada touting the accomplishments (sic) of head honcho Stevie Harper and the downfalls of liberal head Mike Ignatieff.

Overlooking the fact that most of the anti-Ignatieff commercials were years old, and the outright brazenness of attaching Harper to ANY good news in Canada over the last four years, the mere existence of this crap on the air portends a coming election. SURE we have election laws in this country preventing such advertising outside of the election process window. But that doesn't apply if we aren't actually IN an election at this precise point in time. The same behaviour evidenced itself just before Harper called a surprise election last time ... you know, the one he passed a law against. Schmuck.

So, we have an election this year. Don't know when ... Harper knows. There's no reason for the wasteful expense of an election, unless you are a power-mad dictator wannabe who senses the coffers of the Liberal and NDP parties approximates that of the Green Party. Why NOT try to grab the brass ring of majority power and then do everything short of ... well ... I was about to say illegal means, but I'm not sure Harper understands a boundary exists there ... to blot the Liberals and NDP parties out of existence. There are many ways to dream one's self to sleep at night. Harper's is to think happy thoughts about a one-party country. Schmuck.

I would have thought the CRTC decision to add millions, if not BILLIONS, to the bottom lines of Bell and Rogers (and to a lesser extent, Shaw and Cogeco) at the expense of the vote-casters, might have been Harper's Waterloo. The other parties, including the Parti Quebecois, seemed poised to get together and drive a stake through Harper's government if that decision wasn't over-turned by the minority of government officials who have sold their sold to Harper's Conservative junta. But the finger-to-the-wind test proved decisive and it was all but announced that the CRTC's bought and paid for decision is going to be unbought. Although the reversal is far from a fact, the sixty-day grace period being extended by the CRTC is really a timeout to come up with a reason to reverse the decision, as foolish a decision as has been made in politics in recent memory. You can skim SOME money from all the people with only isolated roars of outrage. Try stealing it all and some people are going to get ornery enough to rally the rest.

Politics is always a test of how much lying we'll take from who. You lie to get elected and then you lie to the people that you are doing things in their best interests. Doesn't matter who's in. Some are just bolder in their screwing of the people.

As always, I pine for minority government because it does give some control over the worst wretched excesses of majority government. Had the Harperites actually been in total control this past week, the CRTC would have been rammed down our throats, Bell's profits uber alles. This is why, come whenever Harper decides he has the greatest political advantage and calls the snap election, we must band together and vote in another minority government. Technically, I'd like the Liberals to be the head of the government because this is a liberal nation, a country where we want to help everybody and exclude none. Problem is, the Libs are just as power-crazy in some ways as the Cons and absolute power corrupts.

The election is coming. The election ads without an election say so.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

HARDWARE: Patience

I don't NEED a tablet computer. Heck, I'll be spending too much time this month setting up Quincy, my new nifty main desktop computer to replace Popeye (who gets the secondary job of doing backups and other housekeeping chores on my network .. replacing Nuklon ... which seems headed to become a media server down beside the big TV in the living room). That replacement process and my ongoing development work for the various clients shouldn't leave much time for a tablet computer. So I don't NEED a tablet computer.

But I want one.

The fact is that my current choices in tablet computers are a 10 inch iPad Classic, a 7 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and taking a chance on getting something out of the Far East through Customs. And frankly, given how difficult it was just get some cables (and the currently ON HOLD iWin Twin USB drive) past the keepers of the border and into my hands, my desire in that area is pretty slim.

So, why not the iPad? Besides not wanting iTunes on my computer and not wanting Steve Jobs telling me what I can or can't have, I'm really worried about the Apple grab at anything and everything that goes through the various reading apps on the iPad. While GigaOM finds the grab understandable and smart to a degree, I think Apple's desire to get a 30 percent cut from any money passing through it's device is going eventually lead to a fight back from the software vendors. Sony and The New York Times howled earlier this week, possibly prematurely, and there will be others. The magazine app vendors have already been grumbling. Well, CUSTOMERS have been doing the grumbling that caused the vendors to grumble.

The the sword of Damocles that iPad holds to hold these vendors in check is exclusivity. Right now, the iPad is it. Really. So vendors bend to Apple's will. A year from now, the vendors WILL have the other-source resources to tell Apple 'NO!' Will political realities redraw the vendor-Apple relationship at that point? Possibly. Over Steve Jobs' absent body. I'm not willing to take that chance and buy into Apple. And that's made even more practical by the fact that we are at the end of the life-cycle for the iPad Classic. The iPad2 will be out within weeks and will be better and lighter and equipped with two cameras and cheaper. Oops, not the last one. Apple never spares early adopters' wallets. Nope. It won't be cheaper. And even cheaper iPad Classics won't be cheap enough for me for the earlier stated reasons.

Samsung can virtually do no wrong with me. I'm even smiling through having a bum monitor from them. Why? because Samsung's had the best price/performance ratio on hardware for awhile now. They've tried to position themselves as a upscale LG, fighting Sony on the quality front for market share. In a blind test, I'd take the Samsung over most other brands in most categories. But there's something going on in the mobile phone/tablet area that has Samsung stumbling.

First, there are all kinds of issues with Samsung phones relating to versions of Android and slow, if ever, upgrades to newer versions. Then, Samsung says they've sold 2M tabs ... to stores, more or less mumbling that last bit just a bit. Actual sales of the Tab are a fraction of that number. A fraction made smaller by a reported return rate that might be as high as 16 percent. Plus the tab is seven inches, barely bigger than my web-surfing booking-reading extraordinaire Kindle. So, no Tab for me.

This IS the month that will see change in the relatively barren tablet field. I'm watching a number of tablets that I think could provide the impetus to land one in my hands. Hopefully in time for March Madness. With a tablet connected to CBS' website for all of the first four rounds of the tournament, I can pick and choose which game to show on it, while having the other two TV's in the room tuned to CBS and to TheScore respectively. I'm more or less forced currently to watch CBS soundless as it usually focuses on one game, while TheScore does hop around to best effect,. However, Tim Micallef hosts that show and his idiot grin and stolen patter are, well ... let's say ... off-putting. Imagine being able to turn his sound off too? And letting me do my OWN game-hopping. All from the comfort of my bed. Ya, that's the plan!

The Adam by India-based NotionInk is my favourite to emerge from the alternatives and find a way to the Castle of Confusion. I've watched it's progress from a bunch of drawings to an actual shipping device and I like what I see. Unfortunately, the current batch is sold out and so is the next batch. And I'm horribly worried we haven't seen a review by an independent third party yet, like Carrypad. But I really do like just about everything I've seen of the device. It uses Android 2.3.

Motorola's Xoom will be the first out with the Android 3.0, code-named Honeycomb, software platform installed. It's the Android system FOR tablets. And Motorola's a pretty solid hardware company. I'm not enthused about an opening price reputed to run closer to a grand than I would like. But, it has to be a contender, if no reason other than it will sport the best in hardware AND the latest Android at the opening bell.

Asus has been a price-point competitor in the smaller laptop (netbook) field for some time now. And Asus makes the motherboards of all my computers. Knowledge and form expertise makes the eeePad something to consider. If it was shipping today, I think I'd order one, reviews unread. The question is, once the competition really lights up, will Asus get lost amongst all the offerings from big companies?

And you know what they say about learning from your mistakes. I'm hoping Samsung gets it right with their 2.0 gen products. I'm still not interested in the 'small' tab. But the next wave of Samsung's tabs will include a 10 incher. That's certainly something to consider. Along the same vein, Dell's followed up their 5 inch Streak with a 7 inch form factor. Getting out a 10 incher would be worth looking at Dell for a solution.

Carly Fiorina made a real effort to destroy HP (and Compaq and ... just about everything she was involved in over the last decade), but I have to admit more than nostalgia has me hoping the WebOS powered Palm tablet will be a contender. Afterall, WebOS is the descendant of the operating system on my still operational and beloved, Sony Clie PDA. The screen snapshots I've seen tend to look more like a blown-up phone screen. But there's a familiarity there that might carry the day.

Lastly, I DO have to pay attention to what Apple does when it announces the iPad2. First, they might just put together such a great hardware package that I would have to consider bending my anti-Apple bias (I remind you that I have a four-digit serial number Apple II in my house. The bias I have is to control-freak level paranoia). I could run iTunes in a virtual machine. And I could jailbreak the iPad to escape Jobs' clutches. Probably. But the main benefit waiting out the iPad2 would be the price pressure it would put on the other devices. Might be worth a savings of a couple hundred bucks when the machines that are out in this first real wave of Android tablets are facing the tsunami of sales the iPad2 will have.

In a perfect world, I would buy a cheap Far East Wi-Fi knockoff running Android 2.3. I would use it to learn the ins and outs of the Android system. It would be light due to inexpensive plastic housing. Since I don't plan to lug it around a lot and it would spend non-productive time in a charging cradle, I could live with eight hours of battery life. I'm also unlikely to watch any HD stuff on it, other than sports, which would be streaming. So, large memory capability isn't all that necessary. I want to read magazines and comic books, do some light web-browsing mostly centered around looking up things. And, on the rare occasions when I go out and head off somewhere I've never been, I wouldn't hate GPS capability. I would accept Google Maps. I don't need it to be a phone, but the occasional use of Google Voice wouldn't hurt. And the outward camera will be undoubtedly better than any that I have in the house. And I take pictures, on the average, about ONE time a year.

I'd get about a year out of that first tab. Then, by replacement time, I would have a panoply of second gen tabs to pick from, at all price points and multiple capability points.

But first? A tab for March. Please. I've been ever so patient.