A few months ago I started using Scrivener as a writing tool because I was going to review it for Laptop. In order to try it I had to borrow one of our MacBook Pros because the program is only for OS X, not Windows. This normally would have been enough to keep me from caring, but all of the writers I know who use the program absolutely love it and would never give it up for anything. This program is so good that several friends have actually switched to Mac just to use it.
Now that I’ve used Scrivener I can definitely say that it’s great and I love using it. (A fuller review will come, as soon as the story I was writing it for is taken off hold.) I don’t know that I would switch to a Mac for it. I like my netbook, for one thing. And I don’t have money to spend on a $1,000+ computer for just one purpose.
There is another alternative, though. You could always turn a netbook into a Mac.
How, you ask? Hackintoshing! This age-old process of fiddling with OS X until it will install on a non-Apple system wasn’t invented for netbooks, but has definitely found a slew of new adherents in the past couple of years. And since Apple is determined not to give the people what they want, the people will have to get it themselves.
Used to be that Hackintoshing required a lot of dedication, forum-lurking, and some soldering skills. But a new website called MyMacNetbook aims to make the process a bit less opaque. Right now there are a few step-by-step guides for some systems, but the real goodies lurk in the compatitility chart. This is where you’ll find a long list of netbooks and the hardware features that work with OS X out of the box. You’ll note that the MSI Wind is about the perfect hackintoshing netbook.
Writers who’re jonesing for some Scrivener but don’t have the money for a Mac but do have the money for a netbook, this is your best bet. And if you’re a Mac lover who longs for the portability of the 10-inch form factor, now you don’t have to pine (or settle for an iPad). Many of the netbooks that work without too much fiddling are older, so you can probably find them at a deep discount these days.
Before the official announcement of Apple’s iPad several different names were floated for the tablet including iTablet and iSlate. In the many months between the latest rounds of rumors (started in early 2009) and the actual announcement, the likelihood of iPad being the final name was hotly debated and often dismissed by people who were already saying it reminded them of maxipads. When the announcement came down nearly everyone I know either braced themselves for or gleefully awaited the feminine hygiene jokes to come.
However, a small minority of people I encountered didn’t understand why iPad immediately brought to mind maxipads. They pointed out that people use words like mousepad and notepad and even the phrase pad of paper every day without devolving into absorbancy jokes. So why is iPad funny? Having given this far, far too much thought, I’ve been able to identify three key reasons why I think it’s happening.
- As the MADtv skit showed, it’s long been funny to put the little i in front of words to make fun of Apple’s naming conventions. Sure, Apple has been very successful in branding the iProducts, and that’s part of why the jokes work. iPad seems like it should be a joke even though it’s not.
- Pad is a weak word. Just say it out loud: paaaaaad. That long a doesn’t help. Most other iProducts have pretty strong words after the little i. Pod, Mac, Work, Life. They have plosives and hard K sounds and short vowels. Pad needs words associated with it that sound strong or right in order to blend seamlessly into the vocabulary. Mousepad, Trackpad, Notepad, even CrunchPad. And though women refer to Always and etc. as just pads most of the time, that’s shorthand. The full word is Maxipad. There are just some words in English that sound somewhat weak on their own, and Pad is one of them. A weak word like this cannot support the little i, therefore the name (regardless of the jokes) just doesn’t feel strong or desirable.
- Regardless of the many other uses of the term pad, most of the time when someone asks for a pad they’re asking for a maxipad unless in context it makes far more sense that they’re asking for a pad of paper. Other than that, how many times have you used the word pad all by itself in normal conversation in a non-specialized context? The little i is not the most important aspect of iPad, it’s so ubiquitous and familiar that, even as we say it, our minds and tongues are gliding right over it to the real word on the other side: Phone, Pod, Mac, Life, Work. That is the whole point of the little i. Therefore, the iPad is just basically Pad, and pads bring very few specific images to most American minds, and one of the prominent ones happens to be maxipads.
So there you have it. This is why I think the iPad name instantly became the butt of jokes or at least disappointment. Apple has some strong reasons for choosing iPad I am sure. I’m also sure they have some smart branding people whose job it is to think about these things. Maybe they had an off day? Maybe they’re all men. Maybe they thought that eventually people would stop tittering and just accept it, because none of the alternatives worked for whatever reason.
In the end, it doesn’t matter much. They’ve gone with iPad and have to stick with it. And we’ll have to live with it. As others have pointed out, the Wii encountered much the same reception upon release and, lo these many years later, we’ve all gotten used to it (or over it) and happily use them all the time. I’m sure the same will happen with the iPad. Still, I’m longing for a decal that I can stick on the back to turn my iPad into a maxiPad.
- i.e. it doesn’t count if your workplace uses something called a pad for everyday workplace operations. It also doesn’t count if you roleplay Star Trek on a regular basis. [↩]
K. T. Bradford
If code is poetry, then CSS is The Iliad. In the original Greek.
I write about and review mobile technology, which means I get to spend the day steeped in laptops, smartphones, tablets, eReaders, and other things that go beep. Lest you question my status as a ChicGeek, I'll proudly claim an unabashed love for netbooks, Linux, science fiction, and curly hair products. You can find my new reviews and articles on Digital Trends and Techlicious.com.