Archive for May, 2009

Who is he, and what is he on about?

Thursday, May 7 2009

Where I work, we get this interesting little tech newsletter called Computer Daily News. The most interesting thing about it is that it seems to be put together by someone working out of their garage. It has no web presence to speak of, and the contact e-mail account is the editor’s personal e-mail from a service provider. The best explanation for this is that it is a subscription service, and the editor wants to avoid having people just read it from the website for free. (And he clearly has no idea or interest to set up a website with the appropriate restrictions.)

The newsletter is not necessarily the greatest source of tech news, but it does give more coverage to local events and news, which is probably why my work subscribes to it.

However an odd note turned up in relation to their speculation on the anticipated Apple tablet device.

New iPad a goer, says Powell

SYDNEY – Apple’s handheld reader/media pad – reported to be nearing release after the design was worked on by CEO Steve Jobs while on sick leave (CDN yesterday), definitely exists, says CDN special reporter Gareth Powell who adds he’s seen, and held, a prototype.

CDN had noted a Business Week report that said the device – larger than an iPod Touch or Kindle, but smaller than a notebook – would be called the “iPad”, and reckoned they were probably guessing.

Writes Powell: “They may well be, but it exists already in prototype as I have had one in my hands. Think Newton only larger. I think it a certainty – it will kill the Sony market and hammer the Kindle market — and I want one. For the record, I read Hornblower and the Hotspur on a demo version inside a factory where they were ironing out the bugs of making it in quantity.

“Which is well down the line from concept but well away from certainty of launching. But mate, it does exist, and I will be the very first customer. And possibly the very first Australian/Welsh user.”

Now Gareth Powell is something of a bete noir of many in IT in Australia. This gives some background on it. Or you can try looking up the FAQ for aus.flame.gareth-powell. I was somewhat alarmed when I found out that he wrote for CDN regularly, but kept reading it and just tried not to take his contributions too seriously. This aside, there are a number of interesting things about this report.

Firstly, Gareth Powell, despite being a “Technology” “Journalist”, has no discernible web presence, like CDN itself. He has a column in The Australian’s IT section, but that’s it. There is a web site for a Gareth L. Powell, but he’s a British Science Fiction novellist. This absence from the tubes makes it hard to verify anything he’s said.

Secondly, how did Gareth get access to a prototype device from Apple. He was well known for his dislike of Apple back in the day, and he’s a barely recognisable writer from Australia. Was the factory he used it in Sydney? Singapore? China? San Francisco? Cupertino? Which Apple employee is to blame?

Thirdly, what the hell is he (and David Frith, editor of CDN) doing violating a Non-Disclosure Agreement? He’s unlikely to get further access to equipment from anyone, if he goes blabbing his mouth off at the drop of a hat. An experienced journalist should know better than to bite the hand that feeds him information. If he didn’t sign an NDA, we’re back to how he got access. Was he visiting a plant in China that has been making the units for Apple? And isn’t blabbing about what he’s seen putting his source at risk?

Finally, where is the other coverage of this story? I personally forwarded it to AppleInsider and CNET (including the contact information for CDN), and have heard nothing back. Neither has either of them used it. I suppose without a website to link to, it might be difficult for a modern organisation to credit such a rumour. Or it could be that they are all in the know on the device but have signed NDAs and are honouring them. Or it could be a well-known fake that’s been doing the rounds, and I (and probably Powell as well) have been suckered. Be nice to get some acknowledgement that they got the e-mail, though. Maybe they didn’t get the e-mail, in which case they need to update their contact information.

In any case, I hope Gareth is right about the device, although it sounds exactly like what I wanted before I got my iPhone. (Hell, I still want it, but I won’t be buying it before my iPhone contract is up, or if my MacBook dies.)