Home > iPad, People Can Be Idiots > Smudginess


May 28th, 2010

The WSJ has what is to me a rather insipid article on iPad finger smudges:

The smudging has turned some of the giddiness of iPad ownership to disappointment. Matthew Rudnick, a hotel supervisor in San Mateo, Calif., looked forward to getting an iPad so much that he reserved one ahead of time. Now, however, “every time you touch it, it just leaves greasy smudges all over,” says the 26 year old. “It’s very disappointing because I’m showing it off to co-workers, to my friends and family, and the first thing they see is grease.”

It’s a touch-screen device with a glossy screen. What do you expect? Magic? Fingers have finger grease. Deal with it. But then the article gets absurd and starts catering to hypochondria:

Others worry about the device becoming a bacterial breeding ground. Stephen Hood stood in line outside an Apple store the first weekend the iPad went on sale, but by the time the 35-year-old resident of Menlo Park, Calif., got to try the display device, so many people had touched it that the screen was smeared by fingerprints and smudges.

“I couldn’t read the screen because the way the light was hitting it, all I could see were finger smears,” says the software developer. Mr. Hood later tweeted, “demoed an iPad at the Apple store. Loved it but from the amount of finger grease covering it I expect I’ve just contracted H1N1.”

OK, dude, I get that you’re kidding, but seriously, do you realize that the only difference between an iPad screen and every single computer keyboard you have ever touched is that you can see the finger grease on one and not so much on the other? I hope this guy never figures out what’s on escalator handrails or men’s room door handles. But maybe the guy is just exaggerating–seriously, I have seen my iPad screen pretty badly smudged, but never to a point where the smudges are visible when the screen is lit. Mostly I notice smudges when I turn it off.

But then the WSJ flies off into idiocy with an “expert” assessment of the germ threat:

Chuck Gerba, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona who is studying bacteria on touchscreens, says it’s possible for people to contract a disease from sharing a device like an iPad. Personal touchscreen devices aren’t as bad as the self-checkout screens in grocery stores, but he knows of rare cases where people contracted a serious skin disease called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, from sharing a cell phone with bacteria on it.

“The best friend your germ has ever had is your fingers,” says Mr. Gerba. MRSA makes skin red and swollen and can even cause fever and skin abscesses.

Oy. Do I even need to get into how stupid including that in this story is? If you can catch MRSA from an iPad, you can catch it from any door handle. The same finger grease is everywhere. If anything, the iPad is safer than keyboards or door handles because you will wipe off the iPad screen, whereas you will not wipe off keyboards or door handles you use.

But no, let’s all panic now. Or perhaps you can (a) avoid handing your iPad to other people (and don’t let them near your urine jar collection), and/or (b) stop being such a blazing drama queen. At least the article does mention the obvious:

Ms. Sobhany, the disc jockey, says she has become an expert at quickly wiping down one iPad while the other handles the music-playing. Her recommended technique is to breathe on the screen and wipe it with a microfiber cloth.

Bingo. Though breathing on it first is not necessary. A tiny, cheap piece of cloth in your pocket, three seconds of wiping off a few times a day. What a horrible fate. And maybe stop throwing your iPad into a mosh pit.

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