The iPad, the first 30 or so hours

So, I went ahead and did it: I got an iPad. Here’s the scoop so far:

I’ve been interested in some kind of tablet/electronic textbook sort of tool for a long time, so when the long-rumored and poorly named Apple iPad finally appeared, warts and all, I was intrigued, but I wasn’t that crazy about ordering one before I actual saw one/touched one. Then I started seeing more and more hype, more and more cool apps. I think the one that really changed my mind was Netflix– I don’t know, but that just seemed like something I had to have, and I regretted not pre-ordering.

We were planning on having Bill and Leslie HD down for dinner iPad talk Saturday (Leslie wanted one big-time too), and I figured I would take my chances at the Apple store. I wasn’t willing to wait in line, so the plan was to go by about 10 am and see what I could do. I figured I would at least be able to order one. Well, Leslie called before that, said she was at a Best Buy and she could buy one for me if I wanted it. Oh yes, I wanted, I wanted.

I went to the Apple store anyway, and truth be told, I think I could have gotten one. They had quite an orderly set-up: people who were going to buy got in line in a designated area, and everyone else was free to browse/monkey with the demo models. I would be surprised if getting them on Monday or Tuesday of this week at the store will be a problem.

I’m not going to bother to rehash all the various reviews, praises, and condemnations that have come out over the iPad, but I will offer a few scattered impressions after having one for just over a day now:

  • It is super-duper zippy with everything, browsing, email, the apps, etc. Surprisingly fast.
  • The lack of flash thing isn’t that big of a deal to me, though I don’t regularly use a lot of super-intense flash kinds of sites, either. And I don’t care that much about not being able to run multiple apps at the same time. And I don’t care that it doesn’t have a camera or a phone because I have an iPhone already. Which leads me to the next point:
  • It is definitely not a substitute for a laptop and it isn’t quite a netbook either. It really is like a giant iTouch, and I mean that as a good thing. The capabilities it has over an iTouch are nice, and the size of the display makes a huge (no pun intended) difference.
  • The apps that are not iPad ready are fine to me, and for some of them, the bigger buttons is kind of a plus, like those over-sized remote controls they sell for old people. Kinda nice. Of the iPad native apps I’ve played with so far, I really like IMDB, the NPR app, the weather bug app, and the USA Today app (and I don’t usually read that paper).
  • As for the well-publicized iBook reader: I think it’s totally sweet, especially when I combine it with the iPad version of Kindle. But what I really REALLY like is that there is already the app I was really wanting, something that would allow me to take notes on PDFs. It’s called iAnnotatePDFs, and it’s a perfect example of how the size of the screen matters because this would be completely unworkable on the iPhone. It’s far from a perfect app, but it I’ll do what I need it to do, and considering the fact that the iPad has only been on the market for a day, it’s a pretty good start.
  • Last but not least: the long life of the battery is no joke, and the keyboard issue is not that big of a deal to me. I wrote this on the virtual keyboard in landscape mode, and for me, I can basically touch-type on it. I might get a separate keyboard eventually, but I’m in hurry.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go back and play around with this thing….

Upgrading the office and (unexpectedly) the computer

My Desk, Spring 2009It seems like I move my office/desk space about once every two years. Maybe that is some sort of subconscious/unconscious response to life; maybe it’s just instinct, like migration. Or maybe, more reasonably in this case at least, it’s just in response to events and the way the house was being used.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we have this study/loft kind of space in our house where Annette had set up her desk. But because she does her work in the living room, dining room table, coffee shops, etc. (in other words, anywhere but at her desk), this really nice space was largely a place for her to store stuff. So I convinced her to let me move out of the basement (aka “the man cave”) and into the light.

Office space, or what's behind me....Since we’re between winter and spring terms around here, this seemed like a good time to make the move. I underestimated the impact of rearranging, particularly how long it would take. Moving into this space first meant moving stuff out of here into other rooms, which caused other things to move, and before you know it, I was rearranging half the house. And then there was moving about a ton of books a couple of flights of stairs, which definitely worked my gluts yesterday.

And just to throw another wrench into the works, my three year old iMac had what I would equate to a major stroke. Basically, just as I was setting it up on my new desk, the processor and video started going wacky. I am fairly confident that it was just a coincidence that this happened while moving stuff around (in hindsight, it was easy enough to remember a couple of kind of bizarre crashes and the like), but I have to wonder if that computer just did not like the sunlight in the new office. The good news is I was able to boot into target disk mode and the hard drive was/is fine; the bad news is that the diagnosis at the Apple store was that fixing the logic board/video would probably come close to $1000. So, seeing that price-point, I went ahead and bought the iMac on my new desk.

I might have been able to limp along with the old iMac because it was not completely dead. Just now, I was able to reboot it and do some software rig-a-ma-roll and get to iTunes to deauthorize that computer so I can use iTunes on this new computer. Who knows? Maybe it could have been/could still be fixed for less. But just dealing with my iTunes account was a strain on its poor rattled computer brain. Besides the wonky screen (lines, whole chunks just dropping away or getting warped, etc.), it froze completely after five minutes, forcing me to reboot it again. So while I wasn’t crazy about buying a new computer right now, I think I made the right choice.

It’s weird because I’ve had Apple computers for almost 25 years now, and while I’ve had some laptops crash and burn on me, I’ve never had a problem with a desktop unit. I’ve got two desktop computers in my office, an iMac maybe a year older than the one I just replaced and one of those “Lamp-style” iMacs that’s probably 5 or 6 years old. Both of these computers are servers and are on 24/7, and both are trucking along just fine. I’ve got a couple of G4 laptops (one of which was repaired several years ago) and both of them still work, though they are slow and clunky in comparison to what’s available nowadays. So I guess I’m going to chalk this failure up to just one of those things.

So far, I like the new desktop set-up a lot. I boosted the RAM up to 4 GB and the processor is noticeably faster. The keyboard is too little, but I think the Apple store people are going to be cool with me swapping it out for a numbered keyboard. I’m backing up with Time Machine over the wifi to a 1.5 TB drive I bought so everyone in the house can back stuff up as needed– since we already had a base station, this was a significantly cheaper option than Time Capsule– and that seems to be working well. And hey, there’s actually this non-cave-like light in the room! Go figure!