iPads are for pussies
Both my readers (hi, Mum) will probably be aware that I’m a bit schiz when it comes to Apple. I’ve been using Macs for years and will always tell the technophobes who are constantly asking me, an infrequent Windows user, how to do something on their PC – usually fix it – that half their problems would go away if they moved to OS X. “Oh, but I’m comfortable with Windows, I don’t want to have to learn how to use OS X” is the usual reply, which is fine except for two things: firstly, they clearly haven’t learned how to use bloody Windows if they keep ringing me up and asking me why their computer’s stopped doing something it should and whether I think it’ll work again if they de-frigg the hard drive (the honest answers being “How the hell should I know” and “Unlikely, but why didn’t you just try that before calling”); secondly, the learning curve to use OS X to the same standard as they can use Windows is a hell of a lot shorter than the one they coped with when learning Windows, not least because they’re familiar with such things as desktop icons, folders, contextual menus, aliases (i.e. which is Apple for shortcut) and what a mouse is just from using Windows.
But that doesn’t mean I’m an advocate for Apple themselves. I like the products – actually just some of the products, but I’m getting to that – but I can still despise the company. I think they’ve swallowed their own hype that “Macs just work” to the extent of being unable to accept that even Apple’s quality control will let the odd dud through, they’ve refused to honour warranties because their computers hate passive smoking too (I really wish I was making that up), and they seem to have an almost constant copyright/trademark war over every teensiest thing, especially if it begins with a lower case i, and with almost everyone (an Aussie supermarket with a logo that’s kind of like apple peel – really, Apple). This leaves me with a foot in both camps, that of the Apple haters and that of the Mac fanbois. I’m just glad they’re not separated by a picket fence or I’d be very uncomfortable even on tiptoe. As it is I’m quite comfortable telling anyone who’s a casual user and less than keen on doing the computer version of oil and filter changes and setting the plug gaps that they’d probably have less aggro if their main desktop computer was a Mac, but also that they should hand over their money through gritted teeth because I think that the Apple themselves are a bunch of bastards.
And I’m probably less of a fanboi because of the Apple products I don’t like. I’ve said for years that Apple are unable to make a decent mouse with a gun at their heads, and though that’s less true these days it’s a fact that the mouse that came with my current Mac, the machine I’m using right now, has never been out of the box because I’d had one before and thought it was shit (to be fair the $75 Logitech mouse I was using and loved died last week, and they don’t bloody make it anymore). Nor am I enamoured with their mobile devices, partly because my own row with them was over a MacBook Pro, partly because I’m becoming sufficiently middle aged and farty to be content with a mobile phone that makes phone calls, and partly because despite my inner gadget head wanting one I still can’t work out what I’d actually use an iPad for. Plus I’ll always think of this when the name’s mentioned.
Above all I can’t work out why the hell I’m supposed to drop between nearly A$600 (for the very basic one with no 3G and little storage) and nearly a grand for the top end on something that’s less of a computer than a $300 netbook. Okay, because I don’t have children obviously I’m not able to appreciate its <sarc>obvious function of being a toy for toddlers</sarc>, but I do have pets and they’re about as bright as a mildly retarded toddler. And if you think I’m buying them an iPad then you are simply fucking insane.
If you thought you’d seen everything as far as iPad applications go, you haven’t seen the RSPCA’s cat app.
Designed for techno-cats who already have everything, it features games for felines who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn in the days before computers.
Are you serious? Look, I love cats and in particular I love my cats (who didn’t wake me up at 6.30, unlike another quadrupedal member of the household), but I’m realistic about things. I can tell you with certainty that “felines who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn in the days before computers” would still enjoy playing with a ball of yarn today, and they will tomorrow as well. As will all cats for, at a conservative estimate, the next few million years. Many long term cat keepers (the old joke is that dogs have owners and cats have staff) will tell you that they’re capable of real affection and even very limited two way communication once you’ve learned to “speak” cat. But most of us will admit that they can’t even grasp the concept of a mirror, much less a computer, so to talk about cats who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn before the computer came along is anthropomorphising a bit much.
There is even a virtual ball of yarn…
… not to mention a game where puss has to protect cheese from invading mice.
This is… oh, let’s just have a look at it, shall we?
So basically, the aim of this game is for the cats to protect the cheese…
You sure? You checked with the cats? Because I suspect that as far as they’re concerned the aim is to make the funny flat prey things die.
Little Simmy here’s just 8 weeks old, but she’s obviously the cleverest. It only took her less than a minute to work out if she’s double taps the app it’ll go to the main menu.
She’s done no such thing. Cats move quickly – ever heard the expression ‘cat-like reflexes’? – and both fight and catch small prey by rapid batting with their front paws. Little Simmy’s not double tapping shit, she’s still just trying to make the funny flat prey thing die.
Moggies can also pit themselves against other cats to work out which one is smartest.
No they can’t. Look, they’re no more able to conceptualise who or what is smart than they are computers. Unless you’ve taught them elementary maths all this guff with the high scores is little more than a random number generator. This isn’t for the cats – like the whole thing, it’s really for the
Okay, I know, I’m being a bit unfair. I do realise that nobody’s suggesting that you buy an iPad just for the cats, though I’m sure someone with more money than sense will, and I did see that the app is free. Clearly it’s aimed at cat staff who are also already iPad owners and who work for cats who spend most or all their time indoors, which isn’t unheard of in a country where there’s a genuine feral cat problem and, as a result, places where there are cat curfews and even bylaws restricting cats to the property. But Jeez, we talk wistfully about the long(ish) gone days where we made our own entertainment and then stick several hundred bucks’ worth of electronics in front of an animal that by nature is predisposed to entertaining itself. Cats, even house cats, will be as happy with some relatively inexpensive toys from the pet store and even cheaper ones like scrunched up envelopes and Post-Its as they will with a computer game. Most of all they’ll be happy with another cat around for when they want furry company and enough room to bugger off and be alone when they don’t, a sunny spot or two to sprawl in on nice days and a selection of warm spots when it’s shitty outside. That’s pretty much the list of priorities and I don’t think they’d be a lot different even if cats were brighter than they are.
If they were the smartest species on the planet I reckon they’d have invented central heating before the wheel and have email that’d let you know what the other cat’s arse smelled like when they clicked send, but maybe they’d also appreciate the effort that’s gone into an app like this. Maybe even little 8 week old Simmy would double tap it for the menu. As things are… nah, ours will be happy with being fed, petted and looked after plus a selection of $5 toys, bits of scrap paper and all the bogong moths they can catch. And I’d bet the same could be said for cats in general.