3 April 2010: 「iPad Day」

Raccoon that I am, I put my money down for the newest shiny object from Apple, and then sat around all day Saturday waiting for UPS to arrive. All day. UPS never came. Ever.

Until something like 4:00 pm. Point is, for-ev-er.

iPad impressions are now a dime a dozen, but since other people’s money isn’t good here (…), here’s my take:

Pretty much everything you’ve already read about the iPad is true. The screen is beautiful, the battery life is outstanding, it collects fingerprints like a stamp collector collects stamps. You can create content on it if you want to (the virtual keyboard in landscape mode is more usable than you would expect), but you probably don’t want to. If you just want to consume content, though, it’s amazing.

I’m typing this on my MacBook as I abuse my massage chair pad—the physical keyboard matters. The other thing that matters, though, is that this laptop weighs a friggin’ ton. I thought the iPad was surprisingly heavy; turns out that my (post-iPad) laptop is surprisingly heavier.

What’s really going to make or break the iPad, though, are the apps that it can run. Most of them aren’t quite there yet, which means the true potential of the iPad is still to be seen:

GoodReader: the best PDF reader I’ve found; I’ve been reading some programming books I’ve (legally!) acquired in it, and the setup shows the potential the iPad has for non-e-book books. The app is marred by all kinds of touch wonkiness, though: to go to the next page you tap in the lower left corner (?), and to go back a page you tap in the upper right (!?). Sometimes the thing zooms in when all you wanted to do was advance a page.

Comic Zeal: the first passable comic (…manga…) reader I’ve found, but another app that suffers from touch behavior that isn’t “iPad-like”—while you can swipe your finger to move between pages, the swipe feels off in a way I can’t quite pin down; while you can tap in the lower left and right corners to change pages, the region you can tap in is rather small.

CloudReaders (another comic app), in contrast, nails the touch experience… but it’s not satisfied with just showing you the current image—it also displays a bit of the next page, as well, and that drives me crazy. (CloudReaders has potential to be a good PDF reader, too, but is a bit slower to render pages and seemed to have trouble with larger PDFs.) I have high hopes for this one, as the developer seems to care… and the next version is supposed to change the page presentation.

NetNewsWire: I love the Mac version of this RSS client, but I don’t love the iPhone or iPad versions. Bizarre, basic omissions in function—no “mark as unread” feature (really?), and oddly non-updating unread article counts—as well as the fact that it only syncs read articles back to Google when you tell it to (rather than automatically, as each one is read) makes the entire experience clunky and somewhat unpleasant. On my iPod touch I’ve switched to Reeder 2, which has quickly become my favorite iPhone app… I’m counting the days until an iPad version is released.

Atomic Web Browser: implements tabs and a host of other features that Mobile Safari lacks, at a cost of a bit of Mobile Safari’s elegance. The tradeoff is worth it, though; “open in background tab” is one of the sweetest commands I’ve seen on the iPad.

The one notable exception to this trend of apps that show potential but are marred by rough edges (not unreasonably, mind you, given how long developers have had to whip up iPad programs) is Instapaper. Saving web articles and then reading them later has never been more of a pleasure than on the iPad; I don’t think there’s a better app in the app store. The only shame is that Instapaper will probably never get its moment at the top of the “popular iPad apps” list, because the developer generously gave everyone who bought the iPhone version a free update to the iPad one.

All in all, I don’t regret buying the iPad. It’s all the portable computer I need, combined with a very nice book (PDF) viewer and comic reader… and, beyond that, it still has all sorts of potential.

Plus it’s shiny!

I know it’s been rather dead around here this last month (haven’t felt like writing, for various unimportant reasons), which means that I have a small collection of things to relate. In the spirit of Hidamari Sketch, the show I just finished watching while exercising, I’ll be telling them (when I get to them) in no particular order.

Brent! The Musical

Last night, after a particularly enjoyable evening at dance practice, I had a dream. One that I remembered, even!

It was my birthday, and my dance friends decided to put on a show for me. A musical named Brent! I specifically noted the exclamation point in my dream.

It was quite the elaborate production (with dancing, natch), presented to an audience consisting solely of me, and all taking place in Johanna’s apartment. (I ate delicious cake there once, earlier this year, after another dance practice.) My dream self also noted that the venue (small apartment) and the size of the production (rather large) didn’t quite add up… but I was enjoying the show too much to let it get to me.

Big Wheel backflip on a Megaramp: I got to feeling like a machine (and that’s no way to feel)… and then I watched this.

Flying the SR-71 Blackbird: I’m not the sort who cares to fly fast planes, but the story’s still enthralling.

Early April after-action report

Saturday Brian came down for an episode of (what has become known as) Dudes Be Drinkin’. This title was mostly spurred by Andy calling us while we were eating pizza and drinking beer at American Dream, and expressing both interest and an inability to join us for the evening.

On Sunday we made a decent bit of headway in our long-standing game of Growlanser II. We had last played in Sunriver, where we made the tragic realization that we hadn’t done everything that would allow us to save Arietta. Letting cute girls die isn’t what we stand for, so Brian and I were rather distraught at this development.

This last weekend I realized that Arietta’s death just meant that we could focus that much more of our attention on Charlone. This only made things more bearable because I’m a bad person.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty dull, so fast-forward to tonight… where everybody and their cousin showed up for dance practice. I saw Jessica and Ashley for the first time in ages (months for one, years for the other); Sarah’s younger sister, Sylvie, was in town as well. Sylvie’s major accomplishment for the evening was getting Barry to crack a smile (this is surprisingly hard to do), though I forget exactly how she did it.

The evening featured an ultra-rare back-to-back viennese waltz; the first viennese was a rather carousel-y tune, and what started out as a bunch of people waltzing soon turned into (the same bunch of people) walking in a single line around the floor, bouncing up and down like the animals on a merry-go-round. I joked that the second viennese was played because everyone cheated on the first one (in reality they had been trying to play a west coast that had the same name).

In short, the evening had a fair bit of whimsy. I need more of that in my life.

powered by wordpress