The Gubbio electronic Christmas tree, with thanks from peachygreen.com.
by Anura Guruge
On the evening of Wednesday, December 7, 2011, the eve of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Benedict XVI (#266), from the comfort of his Papal Apartment, using a specially developed Apple iPad 2 App., will light up the world’s largest electronic Christmas tree, which is laid-out on the slopes of Monte Ingino, in Italy’s Umbria region, close to the historic town of Gubbio (~99 miles, northeast of Rome).
It is made up of over 500 large lights connected by around 7.5 miles of wire. Up near the top of the hill is the Basilica Santuario di Sant’Ubaldo, honoring the patron saint of Gubbio. The star at the top of the tree, is at that Basilica. The bottom of the tree starts at the very edge of the town of Gubbio. The tree is lit up every year, on December 7, on the eve of the Immaculate Conception.
The pope will address the good folks of Gubbio via a video link prior to lightning the tree from his iPad 2. The Vatican has not indicated whether the pope would be using the built-in cameras on the iPad 2 for this video link.
There is nothing at all special about the technology being used for this remote tree lightning. Today you can get cell phone or tablet apps that allow you to fully control home automation/security remotely, from anywhere in the world, as long as you can get a connection. Thirty years ago, while working for ITT, I was involved in a publicity event (for the Mayor of London, methinks), where the Tower Bridge was lifted and lowered, remotely, using codes punched into a handheld ‘Tone Generator‘ (a early precursor to today’s numeric keypads). The key technology that we were trying to showcase that day, in addition to the then ‘Tone Generator’, was Audio-Coupler modems — a very early version of modems where you inserted the handset of a phone into two rubber-suction cups to provide a data device with a connection with a telephone line. We use to carry these things around to get data connections.
This is the third high-profile of endorsement of Apple by the Vatican this year.
In June of this year, the pope celebrating his 60th year of ordination, and the creation of the new Vatican Web site, sent out his first Tweet using an iPad.
Click to watch YouTube video of the pope's first Tweet.
Then in July we had the Apple-only App for the World Youth Day, 2011, in Madrid, Spain.
So this is the third plug for Apple — even though we know that the Vatican uses Windows since they use pirated copies of Avast! anti-virus software to protect these PCs.
As I had recently noted, Apple appears to have returned the complement by naming its much vaunted Voice Assistant ‘Siri‘.
I am not sure what the deal is between Apple and the Vatican. Today we got a 2.25% uptick in AAPL, but that, for sure, had nothing to do with the pope. AAPL over the last two days was overly oversold and there is a rumor, yet again, that they will declare a dividend. [I for one, would be happier, if they did a 4-for-1 stock split. Full disclosure: I own AAPL and have so for many, many years. I was also a big fan of PIXR. I trade AAPL options on a regular basis too. But, I am sure that the pope does not move AAPL.]
Not sure what dear Steve Jobs thought of the pope plugging the iPad. Did any of you read his biological sister’s account of Steve’s last words? It was spooky, to say the least. According to her, his last words, while looking into the distance, over her shoulder were: ‘Oh, Wow, Wow, Wow‘. He then died. Steve, as far as I know, has been variously described as a Buddhist and an atheist — the two not mutually exclusive since Buddha was not a god and Buddhist do not believe in a supreme, God, the creator. What we do know is that when he did finally get married in 1991, the wedding ceremony was presided by a Zen Buddhist monk. So, I think, it is safe to say that Steve (whose father was a Syrian Arab) was definitely not a Catholic. Thus, we have the question. What did he see that elicited the 3 Wows? If he was a Buddhist he is unlikely to have seen anything — such as bright, white lights or angels. So, I am puzzled as to what he might have seen. Maybe, right at the end, as with Constantine, he might have had a deathbed conversion and got to see St. Peter standing in front of the Pearly Gates holding an iPad 5 ready to check Steve into heaven.
The pope using an iPad definitely makes him hip and cool. Good for him. But, I am not sure that using iPad provides us with any insights into his mental acuity — now that there are questions as to his health and bouts of confusion. An 84-year old should have no problem using a standard Windows PC to do e-mail, Tweets, surf the Web, balance his checkbook and write his speeches in Word. My father is one year younger and uses a Windows laptop daily, for many hours a day. If the pope is REDUCED to just being able to use a touch-screen, iPad with large icons, that is probably not that good. The Vatican should have thought about it. Rather than having another episode, as with the first Tweet, of the pope painstakingly navigating a touch-screen iPad, it would have been much more convincing to see the pope sit down, open a laptop, fire up a browser and then press a button on a screen to light up the tree. But, that is just my opinion.