Tag Archives: iPad

iPad is Seriously Impacting My Blogging


Now, the debate about keyboards is mostly over. When the iPhone came out naysayers and competitors alike all said, “I’ll die before you rip my ‘real’ keyboard from my cold, dead hands!”

And while there’s still people out there like that, the competitors have largely fallen by the wayside and adopted software keyboards. Adam Smith’s invisible hand of capitalism once again shows us the way to the future. While that may reflect the evolutionary path forward, is it really the best? What are the long-term implications?

Long-term readers of my blog will know that I love my iPhone. It is a transformative device, much the home microwave oven. Things are simply not the same once you have one.

I have little or no problem with the software keyboard, but I do recognize its limitations and frustrations. Then my iPad comes along. I love my iPad. I find that it is increasingly marginalizing my laptop in my life.

As a side note, while Apple may have played the “Windows is oh-so-vulnerable” and “Macs just work” cards heavily during the renaissance, I’ve long felt that the reason Apple Mac sales have increased is because they’ve built and bundled a machine that correctly addresses what people really do with their computers. We don’t do spreadsheets and word processing, we do email, web-browsing, photos, videos and music. They correctly assessed that the market isn’t about a computer “being a tool that can do anything” but instead made a tool that does what people do.

A good craftsman doesn’t blame his tools but he always has the right tools for the job. Having once worked in one of the trades, I can tell you the difference between having the right tool and a makeshift or general purpose tool is the difference between night and day. (Alton Brown and his stand on uni-tasking tools be damned.)

This, above all else, is the brilliance of the Mac resurgence. And, of course, like all computers, the Mac is still a tool that can be made to do most anything. That is still the nature of the programmable computer.

The iPad is a bit of a refinement over the Mac in this respect. It’s an even narrower tool, focused on an even smaller subset of day-to-day computers, but, significantly, still a subset that makes up the vast majority of those tasks. Most of us don’t make movies, we watch them, we don’t make music, we listen to it and we show off more pictures than we take. Use that assumption and make the device a more convenient form factor and Apple has (it would seem by sales numbers) hit upon the winning formula again.

Yes, there are times when I’m using my iPad and need to do something that I cannot do, but that’s increasingly less often as third-party apps come along to do the most amazing host of things. If I’m not at work, where I still use my laptop for software development, I can go days without using the laptop. The largest deficiency area of the iPad when we were in Taiwan is the inability to load pictures directly from my camera to the iPad. (Yes, I know there’s a camera-connection kit, but I couldn’t obtain one, and they still seem to be in constrained supply.) The laptop is increasingly irrelevant. With an SD card reader and a built-in camera (rumored for later iPads) the laptop will slip further into obsolescence.

Let’s diverge for another tangent for a moment. Apple has got a new data facility being built in North Carolina, and it’s a monster. Lots of people suspect that, in conjunction with clues based on Apple’s purchases of other companies, that iTunes will be adding a streaming service. I suspect that’s true. Why not? If you actually can rip people off for a monthly “service” fee instead of actually selling them a product, any businessman would. The health club industry has given us the model for all our future personal bankruptcies.

But actually, I think Apple has something grander in mind. I think the iPad (and the iPhone as well) are going to go (hopefully optionally) from computer mandatory to computer optional. I think they’ll begin to offer (iPads at first) the ability to buy, setup and use an iPad without needing a computer at all. It will be perfect for someone like my dad who, rather than replace his aging computer, could downsize to an iPad – provided that he had sufficient room somewhere in the cloud for his mail, contacts, music, pictures and videos. Many other computer-less people I know were interested in the iPad, until they learned it didn’t replace a computer, it had to be an extension to one. That’s what’s Apple is up to, if they’re smart.

I have no doubt they’re smart. One day soon, iPad will have the words on the box, “Requires computer with Mac OSX 10.X or Windows PC with Itunes or MobileMe account.”

Back on topic, because that’s not what this post is about, it’s about that damned software keyboard. It works sufficiently well for Twitter, Facebook, Friendface, Jitter, Flickr, most e-mail, notes and websites… but it fails miserably when i want to make a post like this one.

So, does that mean the iPad fails as my primary device? No, it means my behavior changes and I stop writing long blog posts.

I’m afraid the ipad will be the true dawn of the age of Twitter. People will voluntarily express themselves in 140 snippets.

Considering most people haven’t got even 140 characters worth of anything meaningful to say, perhaps that’s a good thing.

Taiwan 2010 – Apples in Taiwan

The changing face of travelling fascinates me. On my first trip to Taiwan, I didn’t have a cell phone, digital camera or laptop computer.

Oh how things have changed!

On this trip, we’re kitted out for every eventuality. Irene and I both have our MacBooks, our iPhones and my iPad.

Linking it altogether, I brought my Airport Express for wireless access for everyone.

You know what? 75% of everything I do is on the iPad. About %15 is on the iPhone and the remaining 10% on the MacBook. If it weren’t for Photoshop and tweaking photos beyond what I can do with Photogene on the iPad (wonderful app!), and recording the Skyped podcasts, I wouldn’t need the MacBook at all.

What’s on My iPad – Page 1

IMG_0016 So it’s been nearly a month or so since the iPad hit the streets in the US and 48 days since I got mine. In that time, it has become an indispensable item in my hi-tech arsenal. With the iPad reaching far-off lands and foreign shores today, it’s time for the first in a series of thoughts about the various apps I’ve installed on my iPad.

First, I’ve got a few thoughts about the iPad in general. There’s nothing particularly earth-shaking or revolutionary in my thoughts on the device but they warrant repeating.

Unlike the iPhone, the iPad is not a ubiquitous device. It isn’t just magically at your hip and unless you’re in the habit of carrying a knapsack with you, as a student might, you have to plan to have it with you.

I had the same exact problem with my laptop. When I went places I had to decide, with the convenience of having the computer with me outweigh the inconvenience of having to carry it and keep an eye on it when I’m not using it? 99 times out of 100 the answer was, “no”. With the iPhone, it’s “yes” 99 times out of 100. The iPad falls somewhere in between, and I’m still developing my habits in this area. If I go out for breakfast on a Saturday morning amongst the loonies at Chick-Fil-A, I’ll take it with me. Free Wi-Fi, a playground for the kids and reasonably neat food is a perfect combination for the iPad. Around the house, unless someone else in the household is using it, it’s pretty much always in the room with me. It’s awesome for reading my mail, checking the web, reading my RSS newsfeeds or just grabbing it for a quick games of solitaire in a down moment.

It’s also quite sufficient for making (typically shorter) blog posts and online comments. Typically it gets tiresome after 3 or 4 good-sized paragraphs. (I’m not typing this review on the iPad, but I could have. I can’t say the same for the iPhone.)

The iPad was billed as a “content consumption” device, and that’s certainly true. but as you’ll see from a few of the apps I use, it’s a lot more versatile and developers are beginning to make some awesome content manipulation and creation applications for it.

One thing that the iPad does, exactly like the iPhone does, is to encourage you to end up with software you never use but you can’t bear to part with. Unlike the iPhone, iPad software is often much more expensive. In face, I have one app on my iPad that cost $50. I probably don’t have a total of little more than $50 worth of apps on my iPhone.

Looking at the first page, and going in no particular order but vaguely left to right, top to bottom, here’s what I’ve got.

Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, YouTube, Safari, Mail, iPod are all basically the same as the iPhone, but scaled up. Videos is new, but is mostly the video function of the iPod made into a distinct app. Videos on the iPad are gorgeous and while I generally poo-poo the idea of a person video device, I regularly use the iPad to watch Dr. Who episodes for review. The iPad, with easy backward and forward, high resolution and headphones makes for a great environment to really concentrate on a show (and thus give me more details to pick on.)

Pages and Numbers (I have no use for Keynote) are nice implementations of Apple’s word processor and spreadsheet. On the Mac, I use Pages, but I tend to avoid the “fancy stuff” with templates and rather just start with a blank page and type. As such, Pages on the iPad suffers from the 3 or 4 paragraph and I’m tired syndrome, but it does doa good job of rendering more complex page layouts. Numbers, which is much less typing intensive, it really nice. For what i use it for it’s as good as the full version and more convenient on the iPad.

Wikipanion is an app I have on both the iPhone and the iPad, and I wouldn’t be without it. It’s a great interface on Wikipedia that works better than a web-based search. This is a common theme on iPhone OS devices. Apps can be made better than web pages – bucking the recent trend on the Internet in the recent years.

Google search is a standalone Google application, it’s main superiority over the browser based version (it is in the tool bar on Safari, afterall) is that it has voice to text search capabilities and they are quite good. The iPad’s microphone is remarkably good – every bit as good as the one on MacBooks. In fact, the iPad works great for Skype, which really surprised me.

Photogene and PhotoForge are two photo manipulation apps. I have several others on my iPhone, but these two have made the jump to full iPad apps and the added screen space really makes the difference when doing photo manipulation. Photogene is the more polished of the two apps and has a lot of Photoshop like filters and adjustments, but it doesn’t have an retouching tools. PhotoForge is less polished, but has some cloning and smudging tools – which is why I have both on the iPad.

NewsRack is my RSS reader. It ties directly into my Google Reader account and this is the app I use more than anything else on the iPad. I have hundreds of RSS feeds I monitor and NewsRack makes it simple. On the iPhone I use ByLine, which I still like better, but ByLine hasn’t made the jump to the iPad and native iPhone-only apps mostly such blown up on the iPad. Yes, they work, but, you really feel the pain. I’m hoping ByLine gets with the program and gets an iPad version out soon. Not that I have any real complaints about NewsRack.

iThoughts HD is a MindMapping software, which I like much better than MindMapping on the MacBook simply because you can carry it around like a notebook and do your mapping on-the-fly in meetings. The fingers to screen paradigm, rather than mouse to screen, really shines for this type of program. MindMapping is about taking notes and organizing thoughts and the iPad is a great way to do it.

OmniGraffle is a longtime Mac graphing/template program (similar to Visio on the PC). Their iPad version costs an astounding $49.99, but I have it here because I do lots of charts likes this. Normally I do them on giant sticky notes on my wall – and my coworkers can attest, I have them everywhere with design and flow ideas. I bit the bullet for OmniGraffle for the iPad because, like iThoughtsHD, I felt this would finally be the right tool for doing this sort of design on the fly, in meetings and other impromptu situations. For $50, I have a few complaints about how it works, but I’m confident these are mostly bugs that will be resolved soon. Text boxes in UML diagrams in particular are irritating as they keep resizing and double text while you’re editing it. But if you’re doing flow diagrams, it’s pretty much perfect.

WordPress is a free interface to WordPress blogs, like lonelocust.com. I use it for blogging, but detest the fact that you have to do all formatting in HTML. The iPhone and iPad keyboard is not friendly for type XML elements like <b></b> This limits how much I’m willing to blog in the program. Recently I’ve started experimenting with BlogPress, a not-free app that seems a bit better, but still limited. This is an area when someone could really make huge improvements.

Solitaire City is probably the second most used app on my iPad. I love a good game of solitaire and Solitaire City is great. Easy to use, has lots of games and variations and is just a nice, rich visual presentation. If only it would not shout “Yaaahooooo!” whenever you win a game. I could really do without that.

Next, there’s ReelDirector, a video editing program. Honestly, I’ve not had much time to test this on the iPad. I purchased it for the iPhone and they’ve since updated it to be iPhone/iPad native in a single version. Many developers are making second versions of iPad only software and from a development standpoint, there are legitimate pros and cons for either way. It’s seems that what’s happening mostly, though, is that developers are realizing if they upgrade their iPhone version to be native on both, everyone just gets a free upgrade. If they make a separate version, they get paid twice and they almost all charge more for the iPad version.

I wouldn’t have bought ReelDirector for the iPad but since it was a free upgrade, I’ll try it. The interface on the iPad seems a lot easier than the iPhone version, but there’s a problem with content. On the iPhone 3GS, you can shoot video, then edit it with ReelDirector. If you sync you photos to a computer, the videos and photos are removed and then synced back as part of your normal photo albums. Video, by default, are not synced back and so disappear from your phone, so you have to make that change to your settings to have an archive of video available for the program.

Second, you can’t put videos on that weren’t shot with the iPhone – at least I haven’t been able to trick it into accepting them.

Finally, the iPad has no camera, so, you have to shoot on an iPhone 3GS, transfer to your computer through iTunes, then have iTunes sync the videos onto the iPad, otherwise, you’ve got nothing to edit. That’s too much of a pain in the rear. If I’m going to sync it to my computer, I’ll just use iMovie or Final Cut to edit. I guess if all I had was Movie Maker on a PC, I might push it back to the iPad to edit elsewhere.

Finally, I have iBooks and Kindle at the bottom, two e-readers. I like them both. Ibooks is easier, more visually appealing and has in-app purchases of books, but Kindle has a much larger book selection and you can sync your last read location across several machines, such as real Kindle. Honestly, they’ll be selling “real” Kindles and Sony e-reader in the discount bin at Big Lots in a year. Who would want one of those horrid things when you can have an iPad which does so much more.

More Horrors Await You

IMG_0015Yet another new frontier awaits!

If it wasn’t bad enough that we invaded local television with the TV program Fusion Patrol many years ago, and now we’ve launched the almost-totally-unrelated Fusion Patrol Podcast for your Internet and iPod entertainment, now it looks like Apple is opening the iBookstore to self-published books.

I had this idea for a yet-even-more-totally-unrelated Fusion Patrol book… perhaps I should finish writing it while I’m in Taiwan.

According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

You don’t need a publisher, distributor, agent or anything else for that matter. You can decide how much to charge and which countries (that have an iBook store) to sell into. You also get the same deal as the app publishers, meaning that Apple takes 30% and you keep 70% of the revenue.

I’m there! Well… writing and finishing a book is probably the easiest part. I’m sure any author will agree…. 😉

iPad Notes and Review

I promised my incoherent thoughts on the iPad after days of use and here they are… in no particular order.

iPad notes

  • Carrying it is awkward. There’s just no good way to carry the iPad by itself. You’d think it would be natural to carry it like a textbook, but it isn’t. No matter which way you hold it, your fingers are grasping slick glass on one side. it doesn’t feel secure or natural. Therefore…
  • A case is mandatory. I tried to get away without buying one as they’re ridiculously expensive (for what they are) but the iPad just needs something. I think, perhaps, in the future I’ll get one of those portfolio types similar to a zipped up paper pad, but for now I’ve just got a neoprene sleeve.
  • Videos are fantastic. Hand down, video looks great on this thing. Whether it’s iTunes movies, videos I’ve made myself for my Apple TV or Youtube videos, they really shine. The lack of a 16:9 aspect ratio isn’t that big of a deal. Youtube videos on webpages now play inline rather than jumping you to the YouTube as the iPhone does, which is very refreshing and apps like ABC’s TV service is magnificent. Pity ABC hasn’t got jack to watch. Here’s hoping soon for Hulu, CBS, NBC and the others to follow suit. I hear, but haven’t seen the Netflix streaming rocks, but I don’t have a Netflix account, nor am I likely to ever get one until the have a pay-as-you use plan rather than a flat monthly fee. Not enough movies in the world that I want to see to justify a monthly expense.
  • Brightness control is inconvenient. The iBooks program recognizes that easy to adjust brightness is critical for using a screen like this and builds it right into the program. Sadly, I’m learning that’s a forbidden, undocumented API that Apple alone uses and other programs cannot use it without risking Apple’s wrath or rejection. To change the brightness otherwise, you have to dig into settings, which is a hassle when you’re just moving from room to room. Supposedly, the iPad has auto-brightness but it doesn’t seem to work too well. I’ve not noticed any dimming or brightening at all.
  • Many apps are “splitting” into an iPhone and an iPad path. I think it’s pretty clear that Apple would like all developers of iPhone apps to use the dual-target, universal binary to produce a single app that runs on both platforms and takes advantage of the environment its running on. There are pros and cons against that modality. Yes, it’s great when I pop open a program that I had previously purchased on my iPhone and discover it’s been ported to run bigger and better – and yes, it is better – but at the same time, any graphic intensive program would require that higher resolution graphics be stored within the application bundle, resulting in bloated app packages, straining your already full iPhone for no benefit to the iPhone. Consequently, many programs now have iPhone and iPad versions. This is confusing because I don’t know which app developers might have released a newer better version since it is outside of the normal upgrade path provided through iTunes. But that’s not all…
  • Apps are beginning to cost more. That’s great if you’re a developer. iPhone apps have been pigeonholed into the free/$0.99-4.99 paradigm because that’s the prevailing wisdom. iPhone apps are an impulse buy and that means low-price. The price is completely divorced from the amount of effort involved in the development. Apple has sent a signal by releasing Pages, Numbers and Keynote at $9.99 – it’s OK to charge more for advanced apps. That’s great, but it certainly will (should) slow down app purchases. That said, I think I’ve spent more on iPad apps already than I have in their entirety on my iPhone. OmniGraffle has put out what looks to be a kick-ass flow charting/design program, but at $49.99… it’s going to have to wait. Come to think of it, Omni Group’s programs on the Mac are always just a little too expensive for my blood.
  • iPad apps are better. Ooo, this will probably get me in trouble with somebody but, here’s how I see it. iPhone OS is brilliant, it really is a ground-up rethink of the computer operating system which is what was needed for the iPhone. Previous mobile phone approaches (are you listening Microsoft) took the computer OS and scaled it down. That is, they cut it down. That was the wrong approach. Let’s face it, the iPhone’s screen is small. There’s not much room to work with and they made it work. Now, on the iPad, it’s like they’ve been taking steroids. It is bigger and better and the ground-up rethink is really paying off because you can do so much more, but you’re still working within an intimate space. I don’t know that you could continue to scale it up indefinitely, but at the iPad’s size, it’s wonderful.
  • Any purchased iPhone/iPod Touch apps you have will transfer to your iPad. In case you didn’t realize that, the copy protection applied to your purchased apps is applied at the iTunes library level, not the device level. That means if you’ve already purchased it, it will load right onto your iPad, assuming (a) that you’re using the same iTunes library and (b) the app is compatible with the iPad. (It might be possible that one isn’t, but the vast majority are.)
  • iPhone apps don’t cut it on the iPad. There’s an odd sort of delight when you pop open one of your iPhone apps and it turns out it’s already ported to the iPad. More importantly, there’s a crushing letdown feeling when you open on and all you get is the iPhone penalty box. Similarly, there’s a letdown when they don’t. The single size mode just feels bad and the double-sized mode looks awful. Very few of the programs I have on the iPhone are acceptable on the iPad.
  • My Bejeweled 2 scores are going way up. That having been said, at least Bejeweled 2 is passable on the big screen in double mode, and my scores are going way up. It’s much easy to see and manipulate those little jewels on the bigger screen.
  • I am not enthralled with programs that have functions that only work in one orientation or another. That requires a little explanation. You may recall the other day that I said at the Best Buy I was having some problems with Pages on the iPad. Specifically, I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the damned document and start a new one. Answer: You can only have that menu in portrait mode. In landscape, which is the easiest to type in, the menu doesn’t come up. I don’t like that. Developers – stop it. Do not do that. Bad developer, bad, bad, bad. Rolled up newspaper time for you. The user should decide which orientation works best for them.
  • You can type on it. At least, you can type on it better than the iPhone. In landscape orientation I can type two-handed, 10-fingers and quite quickly; however, punctuation is still penalized by having to switch to a secondary keyboard mode and it begins to jar the fingers knocking on the screen after a short period of time. I’ve never really had too much trouble with typing on the iPhone, but the iPad is better – hands down. (Actually, I think all my typing problems on the iPhone are actually a plot by the developers of the iPhone Facebook app. I think they’ve written the code to randomly misspell one word in every Facebook post I make, not matter how careful I am.)
  • Not enough books and you can’t see what they are until you own an iPad! The iBooks reader is gorgeous and works well, but, before I bought the iPad, I wanted to know what books were available. No can do, the only way I can find to see what’s on the iBookstore is to have an iPad and iBooks. Silly Apple. There aren’t enough books (yet) in the store, and hardly anything on sciences (especially paleontology.) I imagine there’s plenty of fictional bestsellers for the dim sheeple, but I don’t care.
  • Kindle works nicely, but isn’t as polished as iBooks. Amazon cranked out their Kindle app for the iPhone rather quickly and it’s also very nice. I liked it on the iPhone, but after purchasing a couple books, I never finished them. It’s too much of a eye strain to read them on the phone. Joy of joy, my previously purchased books synced right onto the iPad and were at exactly the point I left off. I’m finally going to get to finish Capture the Saint by Burl Barer (the only Saint book I haven’t been able to buy in print) and The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. (I know, I know, you’d think I’d have read that, wouldn’t you, but… I haven’t. But I will now.)
  • There is no comfortable position to sit and use the iPad. At least I haven’t found one. It’s too heavy to hold as a book for long periods of time and I think that may be exacerbated by the thinness of it. It feels a little unnatural to hold, but then a lifetime of holding books feels natural because that’s what I’ve done for a lifetime. I have a size and a weight expectation. We’ll see if time will change my opinion on this.
  • Mail and Safari are particularly nice. They’re really nice, The big screen for Mail and the inline videos for Safari really seal it as a great way to browse and read mail. There’s a buggy or two in Mail, especially when changing orientation. You can get out of a mailbox, work your way back to the root, even start down towards another mailbox and, if you rotate the screen, you’ll find yourself back in the original mailbox you started from. That’s annoying. It’s especially bad when you have the iPad fasted to the airbag section of your car’s steering wheel and using it to read mail while you’re driving. Sometimes if you make a fast turn, you spin the wheel enough to change the orientation and you loose your place*. Thank Apple for the orientation lock.
  • No problems, so far, with wireless. Others are reporting problems with their wireless connections. I’ve not experienced any problems. It worked first time, zero hassle, immediately. it even worked when we took it out to restaurant yesterday and glommed onto their free by authenticated network.
  • File sharing is weird to implement. Programs can now “save” files into user space for later retrieval, such as Pages being able to save PDFs, Word Docs and Pages Docs for moving to another computer, but it’s all done through iTunes and completely non-intuitive. I knew it could do it, but I had to look up how to do it on the ‘net. Minus several points for hiding this important feature where no one would look for it.
  • I wonder if the need for apps will decrease on the iPad when people realize the browser is more full featured. Steve Jobs recently pointed out that, at least for the iPhone (and therefore the lion’s share of this market) people use apps more than web browsing – hence the initiative to create Apple’s iAds service for monetizing apps – but I wonder if that’s because an app can deliver a much better experience than a web app on the iPhone? Safari’s browser is much better on the iPad. It’s possible that people will again begin to shift back towards online services over apps.

Those are my thoughts so far. Perhaps they seem a bit negative, but they aren’t. All in all it’s a great little device and the potential seems limitless. Next time, I’ll talk about some of the specific applications, like Popular Science Mag+ electronic magazine and Marvel Comics e-comic reader. (I’m going to have a guest reviewer and well-placed insider in the comic book trade giving me his feedback before I write that one. Will the iPad finally kill the comic book? Will there be a super-hero created by bitten by a radioactive iPad? Find out next time… or whenever I get around to it, same bat-time, same bat channel.)

*Oh, and people, that part about the driving and stuff… totally a joke. Like my wife would let me have the iPad when I driving. She’s totally monopolizing it to read The Lightening Thief.

I’ve got an iPad

I’d written up this long, convoluted post about my travails trying to get an iPad, but by the time I’ve gotten around to posting it… I finally got an iPad. I guess I’ll recount the story anyway.

Let’s rewind to Saturday, April 3rd, the very first day of iPad sales. As you may recall, it was at that point that I started saying, “I want an iPad.”

Saturday: We went into the Best Buy on Camelback road at around 8:00PM and, although the store wasn’t terribly busy, there was still a cluster of people around the Apple mini-store. There were 4 iPads on display, all of them was being tested by children. A small group of people were standing by hoping to get to play with them.

One teenager, the oldest, seemed the most oblivious, so I came and stood right next to him and made a big production out of trying to watch everything he was doing. He was still oblivious.

After about 5 minutes, his parents and a couple other kids came over, he then started to explain the iPad to them in great detail. After two or three minutes of him gushing on, his mom said, “Have you been on this the entire time since we left you?”


She looked at me, “Are you waiting to try this?”


…and she kicked him off and gave him a bit of an earful. Good for her.

While I’d been waiting, I’d noticed that people were actually buying iPads – they weren’t out of stock.

I played around with it and came to my somewhat surprised conclusion. (Which I’ve documented elsewhere) I went and got Irene and the kids and, after a little wait, got them onto an iPad. Moments after Irene said, “I want one.” I checked with the Apple guy who told me they had a “couple left” of each of the models; however, Irene wasn’t quite ready to buy.

We went home, leaving that damned teenager once again reattached to the iPad and giving his family a lecture.

On the way how we thought about it. We considered turning back. Best Buy closed in under 30 minutes. We just had time… but… we didn’t.

We went home to check to see if there were any government employee discounts. There aren’t.

We checked to see of there are any educator discounts. There aren’t.

Amazon hasn’t got them, so there’s no tax-free option.

Basically, if we wanted an iPad, there’s no option save for paying the $499 + tax.

I checked online and realized that Best Buy was closed on Easter. That meant that whatever stock they had at closing time Saturday would still be there at opening time on Monday. I hatched my cunning plan: An early lunch, timed to arrive exactly when Best Buy opened and an iPad would be mine!

Other obstacles got in the way, but ultimately, I found myself pulling into the parking lot of Best Buy, 5 minutes before they opened, fully expecting to walk in, straight to the iPads and buy one before they had a chance to run out.

Apparently, 40 other people had that idea, too, because there were that many people standing at the door waiting for it to open… and so I didn’t get an iPad. Again.

Tuesday:IMG_0265 At lunch, John and I went to the Apple Store at the Biltmore. They have many more iPads on display and, just as at Best Buy the other day, Could see that people were buying and leaving with them. I decided to buy one right then and there. When I finally got the Apple Store employee’s attention (they were very busy) I learned that they didn’t have any 16GB models left, just 32s and 64s. I won’t be too harsh on him, but he indicated first that they got less 16s than the others and that people were realizing that 16 just wasn’t enough. I felt like I was being given a very direct suggestion that I should buy a bigger iPad; however, that’s not in the cards. The 16 is absolutely the most I can possibly afford

The Apple Store guy had no idea of when the next shipment would be in.

Friday: I had read on Thursday that people who had pre-ordered their iPads and didn’t get an April 3 delivery date, began receiving notices that their iPads were winging their way out of China. Figuring that Apple would no doubt also getting more stock at this time, I decided to try again. The kids had a half day at school and so I left work at lunchtime and still had an hour to go before picking up the kids. I stopped in the Apple Store and the same guy was there. I asked again about the 16s and the answer was negative. “Just 30 minutes ago we got a truck load of 32s and 64s, but not 16s. They don’t tell me how many we’re getting, what types or when they’ll arrive.”

Discouraged, but still with about 45 minutes to kill, I started playing with the iPads on display. 5 minutes later a female Apple Store employee came up to me and said, “Excuse me, [Apple Sore guy] (indicating the guy I’d previously spoken to) tells me you’re interested in a 16GB iPad.”

“Yes”, I said.

“I’ve got good news. 3 minutes ago a truck pulled up with a shipment of 16GB iPads.”

…and so I have an iPad, but not before she really put the hard press on me to buy… MobileMe (which would have extended my existing subscription out to about 3 years), AppleCare for the iPad (even if you want an extended warranty, you don’t need to buy it until 1 year has nearly passed), a case and/or docking accessories.

I existed the store 5 minutes later with nothing except an iPad.

I’ll post some thoughts on it tomorrow, but for now, the whole family is really enjoying it: Except when I have to fight to get to use it, that’s already becoming a problem.

I held an iPad – Now I Must Own One

Honestly, I don’t know which to write about first – The New Doctor Who or the new iPad. As I sit here on the sofa with my nice, shiny new MacBook Pro (which I love dearly, it’s a wonderful laptop) I can’t help thinking, “Hey, there’s an iPad version of WordPress just waiting for me.” Would it be wonderful, or painful to use?

Since I was holding an iPad thirty minutes ago and reaching for my credit card about the same time (spoiler: I didn’t buy one) I still have to say, “It surprised me.”

First, it’s a lot smaller than I imagined. Looking at Steve Jobs hold one on stage, I thought it was much bigger than it really it. It looked about the size of a typical school textbook, but instead it’s more about the size of a modern hardcover novel, but much, much thinner. I’d compare it to the Oracle, AZ phonebook, but only about 4,000 people in the world would get that allusion. It feels about as thick as a Blue-Ray DVD case.

Being smaller than I expected, the screen was better than I could have hoped. It’s bright, vibrant and alive, albeit smudged with greasy fingerprints from the great unwashed masses that were pawing the demo units. (I, of course, never exude grease from my fingers, the the iPad was cleaner after I used it than before.)

Like the iPhone, the iPad is defined not by its physical description, but by its applications. The pre-App Store iPhone was still a wonderful advance over old smart phones, but the post-App Store has leapt beyond the imagination. Much is made of the restrictions Apple places on the App Store, but it is still filled with clever, fun, outstanding programs.

Once upon a time – before PCs, before Apple – you didn’t buy computers because of the technology, you bought them because they had the software you needed to run. The App Store has brought thousands of programs and therefore thousands of customers to the platform.

The people I know who buy iPhones buy them because of what they can do. Oddly, the people I know who buy Android phones buy them because they don’t want to deal with Apple or AT&T. Sucks to be them – that’s not carving out a market, that’s cleaning up the crap left behind. An honest living, but not usually the fast track to success – just ask the zookeeper at the elephant house.

The demo units were fairly sparse on applications. There were a few games, which I didn’t bother with, the typical widgety stuff, like weather, and then the biggies – Email, Web Browsing, Photos iBook, Pages, Numbers, Keynote.

Email wasn’t setup, so I didn’t test it out and I gave web browsing only a mild glance.

Photos was gorgeous. I can easily imagine a photographer friend of mine carrying the pad around to show off photos. Yes, you can do the same on the iPhone, and I’ve done so, but the iPad’s picture viewer was stunning. It doesn’t hurt that the demo unit is loaded with professionally done photos, but I have no doubt that the picture of my latest pizza would be equally stunning.

Pages, Numbers and Keynote seemed like they might just need a little instruction. I had some immediate questions about editing spreadsheets, creating and saving word processing documents that didn’t spring forth magically from the touchpad just because I was thinking, “How the heck do I do this?” Clearly the brain-reading interface isn’t installed on these new models and the multi-touch metaphor didn’t quite make it easy enough to make it obvious. Still, from what I did do with it, it was quite capable, although, like others have no doubt pointed out, I probably wouldn’t want to write a novel on it.

iBook actually sold me on the iPad.

I’m not a fan of eBooks. I like having a book, I like my library to be full, the shelves crammed with books. They give me comfort, enjoyment, accessibility and the deaden the echo of an empty room. They are convenient, nearly foolproof and, although I might be upset when a friend dropped one of my time-travel sci-fi books into his sink, ruining it (and it was out of print), I don’t feel quite the loss I would If my expensive electronic gadget fell in the toilet – taking not just one, but all of my books with it.IMG_3817

I’ve played with a Kindle – it blows. I’ve played with the Sony eReader – it blows. The Kindle app on the iPhone – sucks, as do the other book readers. Some people read eBooks on their computer screen. I don’t read at my desk, that’s uncomfortable and ruins the experience. Even reading with the laptop just isn’t right. There’s nothing quite like reading a book.

The iPad is the first implementation I’ve seen that I said, “This isn’t so awful. I could read a book like this.” More, I’m looking ahead to magazines. Much though I love having a collection of back issues Skeptical Inquirer, New Scientist or Fortean Times, I rarely read them and they collect dust and waste space. I’m very open to (lower price) magazine subscriptions (or even single issue purchases) on the iPad. While iBook doesn’t do that, it does point out that the form factor and the capabilities of the iPad are perfectly aligned for magazines.

James was reading Winnie The Pooh and turning pages like a pro on the iPad in seconds. It is simple enough to be child-friendly, although I would worry about that glass screen and how James has a tendency to stand on his books.

I have a few ideas for applications of the iPad and now, having touched one, I can see that they really are viable. This is a device that could be used in a variety of non-traditional settings. There are places were even a laptop is too unwieldy and intrusive. Small, lightweight, and most importantly – an actual real computer, with a robust development system – the iPad could (and I think will) begine showing up in places where you’ve not seen computers before – or seen them used awkwardly.

Yes. I’m not saying anything that a lot of other reviewers have said before, and perhaps I’m just towing the party line, but playing with one makes you believe.

I had absolutely no intention of buying an iPad for at least 90 days, perhaps longer. I’m sure Irene had no intention to buy one at all – they are, after all, a minimum of $500. Yet still, she played with the one at the store, read some of the Winnie The Pooh book with James, plunked around in Pages/Numbers/Keynote and she was almost sold. If best Buy had been open for another hour tonight (and not closed for Easter tomorrow) I’d probably have one. They did have just a few left of all models at closing time.

You really do just want to play with it.

I love my iPhone. It’s like an extension of me. It does all sorts of neat things and I’m always pleased to have those things with me, but at the same time, some of them are still a little laborious. Writing blog posts for example. I can do it on the iPhone but… it’s a chore. The iPad feels like a device that will make even those chores easy. Sure, it wouldn’t as mobile and therefore I won’t always have it with me like I do my iPhone and that might be a deal breaker in the end but on balance I think not.

Time will tell. Perhaps Monday, even.