Category Archives: iPad

iSad

This was my first Mac, the 512K (aka Fat Mac), which I bought in 1985.

Fittingly, I got the news last night on my iPhone 4 via a text message from my older son, who was using his iPhone 4.

“Looks like Steve Jobs is dead,” it read.

I rushed to my iMac to check it out and then continued to monitor my Twitter feed on my iPad as we watched “Survivor.” What my son had said was true, and everyone was tweeting about it.

Apple.com’s home page was simple (as shown on my iPad).

Steve Jobs’ untimely passing at the too-young age of 56 wasn’t surprising, of course. He was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and survived a liver transplant five years later. He had been in failing health this year. When he resigned as Apple’s CEO this past August, it was obvious the end was near.

Still, I was overcome with sadness—the world has lost an amazing visionary who helped create technical products that enhanced our lives.  My life in particular was changed thanks to the Macintosh, which enabled me to properly use and show my creative talents. I’ve earned my living writing, editing, designing, and Photoshopping on the various Macs that I’ve owned since 1985. I’m probably one of the few people my age who has only owned Apple computers. And I expect it to stay that way.

Of course, I’ve loved my iPods (listened to my first one eight years ago), iPhone (the original, 3Gs, and my current 4), and iPad. If Apple makes it, I usually want it.

Jobs had a remarkable sense of the long term, of what consumers really wanted, though they didn’t know it at the time. He made products for everyone, not just the techies who thrived on the DOS challenge. Gosh, he put the darned internet in our pockets! He enabled my octogenarian mother to stay connected with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren throughout the country . . . as well as with her friends . . . via her iMac.

He left a wonderful, inspiring legacy. That’s his greatest gift.

My #1 son loves his MacBook Pro.

I e-mailed my older son some words of wisdom spoken by Jobs:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I hope my son takes that advice to heart; it will steer him in the right direction.

And . . . one more thing . . .

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. Thank you for making the world a better place to live in.

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E-Bookin’ It in Cheap Style

This was the original Kindle.

About four years ago, a new tech toy winked at me, beckoning me to buy it. I almost gave in to the temptation of that clunky-looking e-reader, the Amazon Kindle. But I held off because the price tag was a whopping $399. And you still had to buy e-books!

As Amazon refined the Kindle and kept lowering the price, I continued to resist its siren song, because it still cost too much. Plus I figured that Apple was going to bring out a product I’d probably prefer.

Sure enough, Apple debuted its iPad in the spring of 2010, featuring its own e-book app, iBooks, and the iBookstore. UPS delivered mine that April, and I’ve used it virtually every day since for everything from browsing the web to checking and replying to e-mail to, of course, reading books. I’ve been a very happy camper.

Meet my new tech baby!

And then last week Amazon decided to get serious with the Kindle. They introduced new models and lower price points. One of those newbies instantly caught my eye. Dubbed the “Kindle” (how clever!), it’s a mere six inches wide and weighs less than six ounces.

But the best part? The cost: Only $79! This version does include ads, but they don’t show up while you’re reading. Plus they can be worthwhile. I took advantage of the first one I saw, which was for $5 off almost anything priced $10 or more. Now my cute Kindle’s new cover is even cheaper!

An impetus to buy a Kindle was my experience with the Mister’s keyboard model, which his buddy Eddie Wayne bought for him. It’s so easy to use . . . even for the tech-challenged Mister.

So far, I really like reading on my Kindle. I will admit that when I turned it on, my first impulse was to increase the brightness control . . . which it doesn’t have. It looks nothing like an iBook on my backlit iPad. The E-ink technology and having to use side buttons to turn pages takes getting used to (I’m a swiper).

Then again, e-books are so different from the real thing, which I miss sometimes. You can’t easily figure out how close you are to end of the chapter, for one. And I always like when the left side of the book becomes bigger than the right, as you close in on the end.

But e-books don’t collect dust and clutter up bookshelves. Plus you can have them at your fingertips on any e-reader, whether it’s a Kindle, iPhone, or iPad. They’re definitely part of my future.

Chapter one is ready for me!

Especially the book that I’m eager to start once I finish the autobiography I’m currently reading—Harlan Coben’s new young-adult novel, “Shelter.” I can’t wait for Harlan to grab me by the neck and pull me through yet another well-written thriller.

This time on my new, little Kindle.

Working Together

The Word Seek app—very compelling

My latest variety of iPad crack is the Word Seek app. It is extremely addicting.

My #2 son looks for possible words.

When my younger son was struggling last spring, nightly sessions of Word Seek helped me wind down from the stress of the day. Guess it was a cheaper form of valium.

The brothers check out the board.

Lately my #2 son and I have been tag-teaming with the app. I’ll start out and try to find as many words as I can (we use the no-time limit mode) and then hand the iPad off to him. Our best score so far? 80,000 points, which sounds impressive until you realize that we only found 50 percent of the possible words (some are very long and always escape us).

There’s a word!

Recently we pulled in the big brother to help us find more words among those 25 pesky letters. It was fun for me to watch my two sons working together on a lazy summer evening. In about a month, we won’t have #1 around to help us out, because he’ll be back at college.

The time is ticking away on our new quest: To score 100,000 points. Go, family Word Seek team, go!

iThanks!

My #1 son is much too serious!

Sometimes great ideas come to me late at night (if they appear at all).

Last week I was lying in bed when a vision for my #1 son’s thank you cards suddenly hit me. Of course, it would’ve been nice if this creative thought had popped into my mind, say, when #1 started getting graduation gifts. But I’ve always been pretty pokey when it comes to my artistic process, so I just went with the flow.

I like personalization when it comes to thank you cards—makes them that much more special plus the recipient instantly knows who it’s from. I had been pondering what photo would best reflect my #1 son’s tech-savvy style. Suddenly, I could visualize it: #1 would be holding our iPad with the word “iThanks!” on it.

Get it? iMac . . . iPod . . . iPhone . . . iPad . . . iThanks? We’re such Apple fan boys that it’s a great way to pay homage to our favorite computer/music device company. Maybe I should copyright it!

Don’t let them see you smile!

So how to pull off this photo? #1 put on a UTSA shirt and wrote “iThanks!” on the iPad with the PaperDesk iPad app. Then we started our photoshoot outside. I opted for my Nikon D700 and Nikon 50mm lens. I sat #1 on a cooler and started shooting.

Of course, he wasn’t very cooperative. Too bad he isn’t One Take #1! At first, he was much too serious. Then he was laughing when I tried to get him to smile.

Time for funny faces!

As I snapped off 20-plus shots, I still couldn’t get the photo I had envisioned.

Almost there!

With both of us tiring from the experience, #1 finally started to grin.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Cooperation at last! #1 has such a wonderful smile; I’m glad he decided to show it. Unfortunately, the photo I thought was best was one where you really couldn’t see the “iThanks!” on the iPad. So I used the text tool in Photoshop to type it in.

Beggars can’t be choosy!

Our iPad at Day #17

Chase plays Smule’s Magic Piano app for iPad.

Our iPad has held our family captive for 17 days now. Here’s an update:

We love our iPad as much if not more than we did on day #1! It continues to be a great multimedia device niched in between my iPhone and the boys’ iPod Touches and my MacBook. It still is not a laptop replacement, even though I rarely use my MacBook anymore (but the #2 son surfs the web on it when I’m using the iPad in the living room). Rather it’s like a standalone e-book reader or netbook on steroids. And it has great battery life.

Chase checks out the Tap Tap Radiation app for iPad.

Here’s how we used our 16GB iPad this weekend: I downloaded Tap Tap Radiation (a free app) and bought Smule’s fascinating Magic Piano app. Then I gave the iPad to my #1 son and my “third son” Chase to see what they thought of the two apps. Chase immediately went to town using them. Yes, the Tap Tap apps leave a bushelful of fingerprints all over the iPad (which is why I keep a cleaning cloth nearby), but both boys love them.

Exercise for your fingers? Only this computer generation would think that’s apropos!

The Magic Piano is just the coolest app; well worth 99 cents (this is coming from someone who only likes free apps!). Have you seen the YouTube video of the cat using the iPad (which, by the way, you could watch on your iPad)? He “plays” this piano!

The iPad case improves the iPad-viewing experience.

The #1 son and I both read e-books from Apple’s iBook store on our iPad this weekend. Now that we have Apple’s iPad case, it’s so much easier to hold or prop up the device and to carry it. Totally recommended!

When our family went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch Sunday, our iPad, of course, came along for the ride. BWW has free wifi (thank you!), so I started by checking out something on the ’net. Then I passed the iPad to the Mister, who wanted to look at disc golf results. Next, the #2 son also read those stats and then played the Magic Piano. The iPad kept us thoroughly entertained!

It also intrigued the wait staff, several of whom gathered around me as we were leaving, wanting to see the iPad in action. Of course, I obliged them by putting the iPad through its paces, ending with my patented slideshow of some of my photos (the iPad is great for showing off!).

I felt like the belle of the ball! But it really was the iPad that stole the show.

Hail to the iPad—My MacBook Feels Lonely

I love this guy!

Yep, I got it! I scored the 16GB wifi iPad Saturday morning. The much-wanted electronic device finally was delivered to my house by UPS around 11:22 a.m., and it was an awful wait. I was Photoshopping disc golf pix on my iMac in my home office in the front of our house, getting out of my chair at any and every sound. When I heard a cement mixer go by, the #1 son almost had to scrape me off the ceiling.

The iPad box

Once I held the iPad box, I got all giddy and did a jig while #1 just rolled his eyes. Maybe it was a good thing that I wasn’t at the Apple store—better to embarrass myself in front of my son than a bunch of strangers.

The iPad is home.

Once the iPad had synced with my iMac (tip: If you already sync an iPhone to your computer, have the iPad copy your settings), I was ready to rock ’n roll, because it had almost a full battery. As a devoted iPhone user, I had almost no learning curve with the iPad (plus it helps that there’s a handy-dandy iPad user guide bookmarked in the Safari browser). During the NCAA basketball Final Four Saturday night, I put the iPad through its paces for hours. I browsed the web, bought my first iBook (Harlan Coben’s “Caught“), and added free iPad apps.

The #2 son looks at the “Jim & Me” book I bought for his brother.

The real test of the iPad would come the next day (yesterday) when we took a road trip to my brother-in-law’s house. I bought “Jim & Me” by Dan Gutman from the iBook store for the #1 son to read and purchased a couple “Office” episodes on iTunes for both boys to watch. I had checked out how the TV shows looked by watching a “Modern Family” episode (using the free ABC player), and I loved how great it looked on the almost-10-inch screen (although it’s a little too glossy, producing reflections that make you change your viewing angle).

JellyCar rolls great for #2 on the iPad screen.

My #2 son isn’t into books, but he does love the game apps on his iPod Touch. I have JellyCar on my iPhone for him, so it ported to the iPad with my other iPhone apps. Most of them don’t look as good as the native iPad apps, but #2 really had fun using the bigger screen space to roll his Jelly car.

#2 watches his older brother navigate the iPad.

The iPad was a big hit with the boys and helped keep them entertained. When my #1 son tired of reading “Jim & Me” (he did say he enjoyed reading it on the iPad, but that he missed holding a real book), he plugged his ubiquitous headphones into the device and watched a YouTube video. The boys traded off watching the “Office” episodes in the car on the way home.

The #1 son reads his iBook.

Obviously, the iPad is a great entertainment device. Its screen is gorgeous, the speakers sound good, and videos and books look terrific on it. It’s a multimedia-content workhorse. It’s great for leaving on the ottoman or coffee table in the living room and being picked up by anyone in the family for reading books, watching video, looking at my photos (which you can view as a slideshow using your own iTunes music), and surfing the web. It’s lightning fast with our wifi (and it worked great using a restaurant’s wifi Saturday).

The iPad is so much cooler than my MacBook on my legs (it doesn’t heat up at all). In fact, for possibly the first time since I bought it a year ago, I didn’t use my MacBook at all last weekend, instead opting to browse the Internet and write notes with the iPad while in our family room. I think my MacBook felt very lonely! Even with a lot of use, the iPad’s battery lasted all day.

#1 watches a YouTube video.

So what do I really think of my newest Apple gadget? Apple is inventing the wheel with the iPad; there’s no other device like it yet (but there will be, and competition is a good thing). In the past, Apple improved the mp3 player and cellphone wheels, but this time it’s truly starting from scratch.

I’m an unabashed Apple fanboy, and I do love our iPad. Its almost instant on and easy accessibility makes it so simple for gathering information and communicating. It’s truly a device for the 21st century.

But it’s not a productivity machine for me, because it’s not really a computer. Its niche is in between an iPod Touch and a laptop. I use my iMac for writing and Photoshop. The iPad’s keyboard, even in landscape mode, is too small for extended typing (I would use a wireless keyboard instead). As for photo editing, I have the Photoshop Mobile app, but it’s a lightweight compared to its burly big sibling. I don’t even like to use Photoshop on my MacBook (and definitely not without a mouse).

Will the iPad replace a laptop? It depends on what you use it for. I could see using the iPad more than my MacBook; I think it’ll be great for traveling and while on the go. But I don’t think the iPad is a laptop killer. I think its role is to enhance your lifestyle, much like the iPod and the iPhone.

So is the iPad a necessity? To me, there’s only one device that’s truly essential: My iPhone!