08 June 2010

I lose my iPad viriginity

Last night I attended a dinner at West restaurant in West Roxbury held to express our gratitude to Tom Keydel for directing a monthly workshop on improvisational theater at Theodore Parker Church over the past few months (thanks Tom!). The lovely Kristina, who had organized the dinner, happened to have in her handbag her brand-spanking new iPad, which she had just purchased on Friday. Since this was my first chance to get my grubby hands on one "in the flesh," I (and Nancy, who was sitting next to me) managed to monopolize it for about the next 45 minutes.

It is, no question, very cool to play with. How useful it would be for daily work remains to be seen. I'll keep quizzing Kristina about this....at least until some kind reader of this blog buys one for me.

One tip: the iPad on the ATT network is not the right tool with which to scroll through a 57-page pdf displayed in Safari.  Nancy and I were trying to think of something to look up on Google. We decided to look for Joan Smiles, an old friend of Nancy's from their distant days in Hawaii, and the author of a Stanford dissertation that, we remembered, had something to do with Mozart and 18th-century music, although I couldn't remember its title. Our first appropriate hit was a pdf of what seems to have been a Music Ed paper that listed Smiles's thesis in its bibliography. So naturally, as soon as Safari had loaded the title page of the pdf, I immediately started to try to scroll to the bibliography.  After about 7 or 8 minutes, I had managed only to scroll to p. 27, and gave up (it turned out that the dissertation was listed by name in the Google search results a little further down the page).

The glacial pace of downloading the pdf to Safari, was, I am assuming, an ATT problem, not an iPad or Safari problem.

As it happens, the blog ProfHacker at The Chronicle of Higher Education has just published a post entitled "Impressions after Two Months of Using an iPad." Well worth reading, especially by anyone who might be thinking of using an iPad for anything vaguely academic.

At home later that evening, Dr. Mike and I debriefed each other over the phone on "the day in Apple."  I told him about losing my iPad virginity, he told me about the (perhaps slightly anticlimactic) presentation by Steve Jobs at WWDC: the iPhone 4 (looks pretty with its great new screen, and front and back cameras) and the new version of the iOS (with multitasking), but no hint of streaming music service to replace the lamented Lala. We both downloaded and installed Safari 5.0 while chatting, which made a slightly underwhelming first impression: now with extensions (hooray), access to Bing in the search box (oh joy, oh rapture....not), and a "Reader" button, which extracts the text of a page in a manner more or less like Readability does, but with the ability to enlarge text. I immediately thought how well that would work for my Dad, who suffers from macular degeneration.

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