Tag Archives: iphone

Living the iPad lifestyle, a couple more limiting cases

Last time I covered a couple of limitations of the iPad. Tris Hussey added another with his post on using the iPad, clearly nailing the issues of blog postings. I’m using my iPad to update this blog but it only works with the basic text entry, links, markup, graphics, and such are painful to non-existent. The WordPress application on the iPad seems broken. Cut and paste (like URLs) in the app doesn’t work for me. This includes the ability to use the iPads improved spelling correction features.

The spelling and cut and paste issues are a real limitation of using an iPad as a portable writing tool. It’s like the iPad should be made for blogging (a Twitter or longer microblogging) but justdoesnt deliver – yet.

That gets me back to the concept of text entry and content creation on the iPad. The keyboard (especially in landscape) is awesome and the predictive text is better than ever but….

There are two issues I personally run into on a regular basis and they are above and below the keyboard itself. When trying to touch type the letters themselves are okay but the space bar is a pain. I frequently miss it on the low (bezel) side and my words run together. This is a particular problem with my WordPress posts where the spell checker doesn’t work. This would be insanely frustrating for the average user.

The other is missing the keyboard to the high side which encroaches on the text arrea. Cashing my cursor to to the bottom of what I’m editing. Also a little maddening. Again this is something that is unique to the idea of an on screen touch keyboard.

Living the iPad lifestyle, what it can’t do…

So a week plus into being an iPad user the initial shine continues…

But in the interest of balance a short list of the things that really fall in the ‘you can’t get there from here’ category.

File Handling
For most of the things you want to do on the Internet from email to updating your blog, the iPad can get it done – until you hit the issue of files. Whether it is sending an attachment in email or uploading a picture to your blog there are some serious limits. Now I use Gmail for almost everything so saving a file locally and attaching it to another email really isn’t an issue for me. But if you are using a conventional mail service (POP/IMAP) I think the average person is going to run into problems. The limit I hit was taking some pictures off my iPad and post them to my blog. You can do it but forget even basic edits before you throw them up. In short, if the web enabled service can manipulate what you need, don’t count on the iPad doing it locally.

Per User support/Guest Mode
This sounds silly for a ‘personal’ device but unlike and iPod or an iPhone it is significantly more common for someone else to be using my iPad. I know many people share laptops and never think about multi-user set up. There are too many hard coded preferences in the iPad apps to just pass it around as is. At the very least a ‘guest mode’ with limited access to some Apps or their preferences (twitter clients, email, and facebook come to mind) would go a long way.

Multiple Clipboards/Scratch Space
I use multiple clipboards on my regular machines all the time and I love it. The ability to key the last 10 or 20 things you cut and drop it back in just saves so much hassle. In the iPad with no ‘drag and drop’ option there needs to be a way to keep the app switching to a minimum. Just the idea of taking a URL and a clip of text from webpage in Safari and get it into a email seems be a little more than I really want to do.

Browser Extensions
The issues with Flash on the iPad is well known. Not really something I worry much about as I run Flash blockers on my desktops as well. But there are many useful browser extensions that I would like to run. Not the least of which is my password manager 1Password. Since Safari 5 just recently got browser extensions, which allows for things we’ve seen in Firefox for years, you hope that a similar capability may exist on the iPad. In the interim, I’ve had luck running bookmarklets, 1Password has one that replaces some of the funcitionality of their extension but not all, the bit.ly sidebar tool works, and tools for Boxee and Pinboard do work.


Living the iPad Lifestyle Day 3

And no, I’m not going to do a daily diary of iPad cool stuff but I need to keep writing to see how this is going to replace my Mac Book Pro for my walk around computing. I try and avoid doing anything remotely personal on my work machine. But I can’t leave my Internet addiction for 10 hours until I get home. So I’ve been toting my personal laptop to and from work every day.

So I’m going cold turkey on Monday morning with an iPad only day at work.

First the walk to work was considerably more comfortable without the extra few pounds of a laptop and the associated bits and pieces.

I chose to do a fresh sync with iTunes to my iPad so I needed to reconfigure all my applications on the iPad. (a sync of my iPhone backup would have brought all this over) So the names and passwords takes a little work but typing is so much easier that it is not a big problem. Only a few forgotten passwords.

Other than the significantly lighter tote, an interesting thing is the fact that I forget that I have a web browser. I think after a couple years of iPhone use i got used to special purpose applications for most things. YouTube, gmail, Google Reader, and other web apps are totally useable on the iPad.

The on screen keyboard takes a couple minutes to get the rhythm goings but after that it is not that much slower than my laptop keyboard.

The one limitation is the lack of a multiuser mode for sharing a iPad with friend and that seems to happen regularly.

The battery life is epic. As a portable device it beats everything I’ve ever owned short of a couple non-smart PCS cell phones I had. All day connected to WiFi and trying to push it whenever I though about it. From 6 AM to almost 7 PM I’ve gone through about half the battery power. Awesome.

The real punchline for the day is the snappiness of the device itself. I don’t doubt that other devices are faster but this just FEELS fast. Compared to my iPhone 3G is no contest but it even starts to feel faster than bringing up a application on my desktop (Mac or PC) or my laptop (Macbook Pro). The release of iPhone OS 4 will give the ipad even better capabilities but they better not loose any of this zippy feel that really defines the experience.

PS all this was written and edited on my iPad.

Living the iPad Lifestyle, Day 1

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….

Funny things happened on the way to the iPad ….

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

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Computer is to iPad as Airplane is to [blank]

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.


Social Norms vs Business Norms vs Seth the Blogger

An interesting study in anti-social Networking is when a large corporation attempts to portray itself so vastly against its common persona. Such is the case with AT&Ts “Seth the Blogger” this week

News Item:

A video was uploaded yesterday wherein Seth tries to explain why AT&T has been rather rubbish lately. In essence, it’s because there’s so many iPhones out there chewing up network capacity that AT&T has a hard time keeping up. Whether that’s AT&T’s fault or iPhone users’ fault is an issue for another day.Here’s just a sampling of what the good people on YouTube are saying: “Not buying it. AT&T is still overpriced and still sucks.”

via Wow, people sure don’t believe AT&T’s Seth the Blogger Guy.

Dan Airely in his book Predictably Irrational covers the point quite clearly. Paraphrasing him; there are different ‘norms’ that are appllied in different situations, companies can frequently be see to invoke social norms in one case and business norms in another.  For example, your boss says “Dan we need you to stay late because this report needs to be finalized for 8AM Monday”, a month later ‘Dan’ asks “Got my kids Sports day, like to kick out at 2 to catch it, okay?” No money changes hands, no overtime or holidays are counted just two unrelated social transactions. If Dan demanded overtime or the boss made him take 2 hours of holidays then all subsequent discussion would be based on the more formal Business norms of employer/employee.  The hazard as Airely states it is when relationships go back and forth between one and the other. This is both frustrating and unsustainable as both sides continue to be unclear on what the ‘norms’ are.

This is not to say that you can’t have different norms apply to the same relationship. I for example have a local coffee shop staffed by people, who may not exactly be close friends, but I respect and enjoy both the coffee (which I pay for) and the conversation (which is an uncompensated byproduct). I occasionally arrive shortly after opening and the owner (Italo) is still laying out the furniture and signs. Not being one to stand around an watch someone work, I’ll grab a few chairs and put them around the tables. The logic being, the sooner that gets done, the sooner I get my Americano. Sometime Italo will refuse to take my money after I offer my assistance. Given the size of the financial transaction ($2.50) it is a minor thing either way and the mutal respect would stop either of us from taking advantage of it.

Now you may say that is because of a direct relationship built up over time. Well I have the same social vs financial with several Podcasts I follow. I pay a small amount each month to subscribe to Mac OS Ken. On the odd day the podcast may be missing or late, there will be an audio note or twitter explaining the situation and frequently its an illness, trip or some family event. I have no problem accepting this as a small social transaction based on the overall enjoyment I get from the podcast – frequently enjoyed with above mentioned Americano.

The value received is far above the direct financial transaction. Sitting with a awesome view of the Victoria harbour drinking a delectable Americano, listening to a humourous tech newscast is worth significantly more than the money to me than I spend on either of them. So it is easy to accept the small social transactions on the side. I hoping that in some small way Italo, Ken and I are all getting more from the transactions than just the money.

Flash forward to Seth the Blogger, or in my case the Senior Executives in my own organization, they both try to invoke social norms and ask for my ‘understanding’ for various issues that do not turn out as one might expect. The problem is the social context doesn’t exist. Neither Seth or my Boss’s Bosses’ Boss’s Boss are my friend, they have no social capital with me, and they are trying to pretend that ‘we’re all in this together’ and I should accept the social give and take. Well sorry, my company isn’t my family, and my service providers (for the most part) aren’t my friends.

I work hard and I believe I give my company fair value in return. I take their money and spend it with companies who frequently give me less than fair value (most recently Travelocity – idiots). Expecting that I, or anyone else, will look past the business norms and accepting there is also a social relationship that can be taken advantage of just shows how out of touch some of these folks are.

G-Map – Turn by Turn GPS for iPhone

With the release of iPhone 3.0 the ability to offer better in-car style GPS service became possible.

While many will hold out for the release of TomTom’s offering, in Canada we always seem to be left wanting.

G-Map has released several iPhone apps that cover both the US and Canada. I will avoid comparing this to other iPhone apps – because that really isn’t the comparison. At $20 they are relatively pricey iPhone applications but cheap alternatives to in-Car GPS.

Basic turn by turn with audible alerts, routing and point of interest. The voice prompts do not include the street names. This used to be the major difference between entry level GPSes and the better ones. So if you are willing to spend anything more than $80 on a dedicated unit it will beat this software.

However, I don’t need this to find places where I live. I need GPS for the times I’m away from home. And as an alternative to packing another device this is a no-brainer.

G-Map from XroadGPS has various version – Canada is $19.99 at Apps store http://www.xroadgps.com/Maps/GMapforiPhone/tabid/2463/Default.aspx