December 4, 2012

Stable kernels released LogoThe kind folks at Google decided that your editor was in need of a present for the holidays; soon thereafter, a box containing a Nexus 7 tablet showed up on the doorstep. One might think that the resulting joy might be somewhat mitigated by the fact that your editor has been in possessionof an N7 tablet since last July, and one might be right. But the truth of the matter is that the gift was well timed, and not just because it's nice to be able to install ill-advised software distributions on a tablet without depriving oneself of a useful device.

It was not that long ago that a leading-edge tablet device was a fairly big deal. Family members would ask where the tablet was; the house clearly wouldn't contain more than one of them. What followed, inevitably, was an argument over who got to use the household tablet. But tablets are quickly becoming both more powerful and less expensive â a pattern that a few of us have seen in this industry before. We are quickly heading toward a world where tablet devices litter the house like notepads, cheap pens, or the teenager's dirty socks. Tablets are not really special anymore.

They are, however, increasingly useful. Your editor recently purchased a stereo component that locates his music on the network (served by Samba), plays said music through the sound system with a fidelity far exceeding that available from portable music players, and relies on an application running on a handy Android (or iOS) device for its user interface. Every handset and tablet in the house, suddenly, is part of the music system; this has led to a rediscovery of your editor's music collection â a development not universally welcomed by your editor's offspring. Other household devices, thermostats for example, are following the same path. There is no need to attach big control surfaces to household gadgets; those surfaces already exist on...

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