Well, a quick post at the end of a weekend. After a long day on Friday awaiting for the arrival of the iNvincivble-Pad, regular life intruded a bit with the weekend.

The iPad was a regular star of the weekend, the first challege was getting my hands on it. With a poker night with the guys on Friday night – the prize for going bust was you were the first person to get to go play with the iPad. As a result, winning the hand wasn’t as big a deal as you might imagine.

Likewise on Saturday various members of the family got their turns and I was dropping back to the iPhone.

iPad vs iPhone

I had avoided buying the Apple case sight unseen as I had gone through many trials with iPhone cases so I thought I would wait. One of the useful finds on Saturday was a new iPad case.

'New' iPad Case

The MiFi, which provides connectivity for the iPad tucks nicely into the pocket on the right. But again there seemed to be the odd time the iPad was unavailable for one reason or another, leaving me with the iPad Mini as my productivity platform

Sub-Optimal iPad case configuration

Although I can’t complain much as it was my family who managed to find the case for a very non-Apple price point.

A very Non-Apple Price

$2.00 at the local Thrift Store….

So I am obviously a mindless Apple fanboy who has fallen under the spell of Steve Jobs and his evil hordes in Cupertino and surrender my personal choice and freedom to their overpriced, locked in hardware and software.

Damn Straight!

Or as Maxwell Smart would say “and loving it”

I knew an iPad or something very close to it was on my shopping list for a while. I actually flirted with the idea of a Kindle or a Sony Reader. Actually tried the Sony out – didn’t get the job done. I current take my 13″ Macbook Pro back and forth to work with my MiFi for my personal use during the day. The same way I have a personal cell phone to go with my corporate Blackberry. While I can use the company stuff for personal items (within reason) I really chose not to. So the idea of something lighter and reasonably capable for that walk to and from work was really appealing.

But the killer application for me is as a information tool for my flying. I’ve been a private pilot for over 20 years. When I started they had something call A.I.P Canada – the regulations for all things flying in Canada. Updates would come regularly and you would have to take the old ones out and put the new pages in the binder. Likewise charts and airport information would get revised and you would throw out the old and stuff the new in your flight bag. hated that for so many reasons. Well the A.I.P got dropped and is now a PDF, and more of the supporting material is availible online or electronically.

So when this little box arrived, it was a happy day, for me and the several cubic feet of wood pulp I plan on saving each year.

As some have reported, it immediately feels a little heavy. Solid to be sure but it will be interesting to see how the fatigue factor might play into casual use. But that quibble aside for the moment the message with Apple products is clear. This is supposed to be an elegant experience. I nearly laughed at the instructions – both sides of it on a 3×5 card.

Here is the other side:

On startup you go through few questions, including syncing options. I have a fairly big library of music and podcasts so I’m always customizing that. But the only option is Sync (all) or not. Really need to be able to have a ‘custom’ but again that is neither simple or elegant so Apple leaves that out until you go into the options later.
I appears you can use your iPhone backup and use that to set up the iPad – interesting but not for me. Too bad, all the passwords, email set up, would have been nice start.

Given the recent Google ‘friction’ with Apple it is a little humorous to see a Google Terms of Service in the iTunes set up for your iPad

A couple more gratuitous unboxing shots


So I’m getting to be a little bit of an apple iPad fanboy apparently I’m not alone [The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again? By Stephen Fry] But the OS holy wars appear to have begun as the haters and doubters raise some collumn inches and their hit count. If you want some of the counter examples of ‘Apple Fanboys’ please see:

I’m passing on the “is it evil” discussion in favor of my personal use case.

I recently tried a Sony eReader and found it a little wanting. I’ve got a number of PDF reference files I would like to have with me and want to access either while I am doing something else on my laptop or without pulling out my laptop. These PDFs are from two areas the Technical Documentation for my programming and network management work and the Aviation Documents for my use as a recreational pilot.

I found Sony (and other readers) not great for PDFs that are formatted for printer output. Specifically the large margins and whitespace caused you to constantly zoom in and out. It is especially annoying trying to replace my flying documentation with an electronic source. As a recreational pilot I only fly every few weeks yet I must subscribe to a range of publications that drop 5 pounds of paper on my doorstep every 56 days.

The current technology solutions for Electronic flight bags are aimed at corporate or airline systems with $5,000 hardware and $1000/yr in ongoing costs. Even the current crop of the General Aviation GPS tools are in the $2000+ range. With the advent of Foreflight and similar applications for the iPhone and the space of a iPad I can have a sub-$1000 solution with a sub $100/yr ongoing cost.

Now my iPad won’t replace my primary flight instruments, but a Garmin GPS wasn’t going to do that either. I want something that gets me the planning and recording tools in a useful package that I can carry in and out of my Flying Club’s airplanes.

Here some more examples of iPad in Aviation as a use case:

So the “Is it great?”, “Is it Horrible?” discussion will continue. But amazingly the aviation world gave me another bit of clarity.

Computer is to iPad, as Airplane is to [Blank]

Well it finally clicked when I listened to Stephen Force great podcast Airspeed. He was talking about the ongoing battles in the next generation of aviation “systems” and the answer came:

Computer is to iPad, as Airplane is to UAV

The trade off is between the richness and serendipity of the experience versus the efficiency in achieving a specific mission. Interestingly, I found myself on different sides in each of these cases. I’m not going to turn in my pilot’s license for a RC airplane anytime soon. Actually, I never even had any interest in flying a RC airplane once I’d flown the real thing. And I expect Mr Doctorow would have a similar feeling about computers and the iPad.

Yet in the case of the iPad, I have little problem trading off the capability of my laptop for a simpler, lighter, mobile tool for use – among other things – when I’m flying.