Tag Archive for ipad

Photo Friday: Breathing Life Into the Work

I almost skipped this week as I’ve got a lot of work to do. Progress has been good this year, though, and I don’t want to derail it, so I shot the photo while getting other work done.

Breathing Life Into the Work

This is how the magic happens

The next challenge to tackle: getting the focus just right when using a tripod and a remote without and a low aperture due to the darkness.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Set Me On Fire, Amazon

I’m sold.

On buying one for my wife, that is.

I think the Kindle Fire will not be an iPad killer in the sense people will ignore the iPad, but in the sense it will sell huge to people who would otherwise not purchase an iPad or who were put off by its $500+ price point as a media consumption device. This isn’t going to bury the iPad, it’s going to bury the Nook.

Go ahead and balk, B&N fans, but let’s think about this: Amazon has a much broader range of content when you consider streaming video, and for someone who already has a Prime membership or has been considering one, it’s the dealmaker. $200 to have access to all my Amazon books, music and movies, as well as streaming, their App Store, and other offerings?

Yes, please.

Back to my wife. She has a 2nd-gen Kindle and a 1st- or 2nd-gen iPod touch. The Kindle Fire will replace both, for the way she uses them. She will have all of her books available, and now she will be able to access her email and Facebook on the same device rather than switch to her iPod touch. Her music will probably fit on the Kindle Fire as well, and it’s not often she listens to music anyway.

If this demo is any indication, it’s going to have the same ease of use as her Kindle and iPod, too:

There seem to be a few stutters in button presses, but I’m wondering if that’s a limitation of the hardware or if it’s their Wi-Fi getting hammered by reporters. It could also be bugs to be worked out before the tablet actually sees release on November 15th. Wired seems to be wondering the same thing. Time will tell, but given Amazon’s track record, I imagine they’ll get it right. If it turns out it’s not quite as speedy as the iPad, then keep in mind, it’s 300 dollars cheaper.

I think their burying Android in the background is a good thing, too. Sure, a geek like me will want access to all the Android features, but the general population just doesn’t care. My wife (and kids!) took to the iPod with no problems. Her Samsung Android phone, however, has a confusing array of settings and menus, and even something as simple as deleting an email message was not immediately apparent. Amazon is keeping it simple because all of the technophobes and elderly users who embraced the early Kindle (and Nook) may just make the leap to a color display so they can keep up with their friends and family on the web.

Selling to geeks is good. Selling to everyone is better.

Kindle Comics


Speaking of geeks, now the color screen gives Amazon the ability to bring in a whole new market. Amazon is in a far better position to woo the big comics publishers than the many startups building iPad apps. The publishers are already selling the books through Amazon, they just need to add the digital deals. In fact, they may already have. Think that’s just a digital mockup of Watchmen as a convenient example? Nope. Watchmen is already available on the Kindle Store.

Then scroll a little below the book information, and you have this (click for full text):

Kindle Fire Comic Books closeup

Kindle Fire: Comic Books

This says they already have a comics viewer called Kindle Panel View. Now I guess it’s just a matter of time before we see what announcements the comics publishers may have.

For my own use, I’m not quite sold. I need something I can work on, something I can use to write. Access to my notes and being able to brainstorm via Evernote is one thing, but typing long-form on a 7″ screen is going to be a headache. There’s no Bluetooth in the Kindle Fire, so a wireless keyboard is out, and most reports are there’s no way to connect a wired keyboard. Japanese authors may be ready to thumb-type their novels, but that’s not a leap I’m prepared to take. The Kindle Fire probably isn’t going to fit the bill.

A second-generation Kindle Fire, however, may be another story…

Someone asked me whether I’m an Apple fan or an Amazon fan. I’ll put it this way: I have a lot of Apple hardware, but I’m all up in Amazon’s digital services on all those devices, as well as my Android phone. I’m sure I’ll be running on Apple desktops and laptops for the foreseeable future, but if Amazon puts out a future tablet I can write on and do a few of the other things I do with my iPad, then I will press that buy button with all speed.

Well done, Amazon.

Kane Clapping



UPDATE: Toldja they were doing comics. DC has announced a deal with Amazon to put digital graphic novels exclusively on the Kindle. And thus another line has been drawn in the battle between the Kindle and Nook.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Brief Thoughts: the iPad 2

One of the fringe benefits of my day gig is I can generally stay on top of new technologies, including the iPad and the shiny new iPad 2. I received a new iPad 2 and Smart Cover about ten days ago and have been using it quite a bit ever since. New features include upgraded guts, a slimmer chassis, and a pair of cameras.

Transferring my files was a snap: I just backed up the original iPad and did a restore to the new one. I did have to re-enter passwords in some apps, but all of my core settings and my videos, files, and photos all transferred. (I did lose book covers to any e-books I loaded via iTunes to the Kindle app, but that’s not the end of the world.) Beyond that, everything I discussed about the iPad as a mobile writing platform still applies.

It's here!


You can see the Smart Cover in the picture above. It’s essentially a magnetic flap that covers the screen, and a second magnet wakes/sleeps the screen. It’s an interesting concept, but I’m less than impressed with it. It provides the same ability to prop up the iPad as the original Apple iPad case, but it doesn’t have the same textured feel, nor does it do anything to protect the back of the unit. The magnet along the left side holds just fine for me, and I understand this allows the iPad to be docked without removing it from a sleeve like the original Apple case, but I don’t dock it to anything and now I have to sweat banging up and scratching the back of the unit. This means I have to spend another $30 on a Gelaskin or a purchase a different case altogether.

My other Smart Cover gripe is the color selection is largely pastels, and the gray is about as neutral as it gets for $40. I wanted a black one, but it only comes in the leather style, so it costs another $30. So for $70,I still don’t get protection in the back? Weak. I guess it’ll be a Gelaskin. Maybe I can get some custom art from an Evileye project (hint hint, Mr Publisher, Sir). Otherwise the Frank Miller ones are cool, like Sin City‘s Marv and Dwight or the 300-themed Spartan in Moon. I dig on Nancy, actually, but I don’t think my bosses would appreciate that one.

Last beef on the Smart Cover: the underside of the cover is a microfiber layer that’s supposed to clean the screen. That’s all well and good, but you see those grooves in the Smart Cover? Where the flaps fold? That part of the microfiber doesn’t make contact with the screen. So, you get four mostly-clean streaks down the screen and four lines of fingerprint oil and dust.

Sorry, Apple, but I have to call the Smart Cover a fail. Again, great idea, but it doesn’t quite pull it off. Having it wake the screen is great, but I keep hearing the iPad make clicks as it wakes and sleeps while I’m just carrying it around, and I really didn’t mind the swipe. I also imagine if I set a lock code, the wake feature will be useless anyway?

On to the cameras.

Boulevard Upgraded

Ahh, Spring.

That picture was taken with the back camera. The long and short of the cameras is they are about what you’d expect from any given cell phone. The front-facing camera is a VGA camera (weak!), and the rear camera takes 720p HD video. Both are somewhat grainy in lower light indoors, but outside they work just fine. I haven’t chatted with anyone via Facetime, but you get a decent picture for a simple video chat.

Speed-wise, I haven’t noticed a difference. Apps load fast and smooth, and navigating is still a snap. I haven’t noticed a big improvement, though, so I imagine most of the increases are to support the cameras and the video apps.

All in all, call it an iPad with a camera and that’s about it. I do like the flexibility of having the cameras on the iPad, and the iMovie app is only $5 if I want to do some quick video shooting in karate class. I also see it being handy for video bloggers. I think it’s a worthy upgrade from its predecessor, especially given they haven’t jacked up the price. I still dig my iPad and will continue to use it all the time, I just hope they rethink their new cover design path.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Travel Package

I’m on the road again this weekend and next, and a friend asked me what a writer packs on a weekend trip. That’s not an unusual question, but I’m sure there are as many answers as there are writers. Readers and fans seem to dig workplace/office questions, so I thought answering this question on the blog may interest the same people.

Maybe some other writers (and artists!) will chime in on their blogs, too. What do you say, folks?

In addition to the obvious (clothes, toiletries), here’s what I’m packing:

The iPad
This one’s a no-brainer. It will be used for writing, email, surfing the web, maybe even movies (Netflix) or reading (Kindle, iBooks). Also includes the wireless keyboard and a charger cable.

I still prefer to keep my music off the iPad to save space, and it’s good to have music when I write. It also has a few games if I need a brain break, and the cool new Sons of Anarchy app.

Two of them, actually: one for my writing notes and one for karate. The former is for brainstorming and reference, the latter for reference if I squeeze in some karate workouts.

Reading Material
Gotta have something for inspiration or uwinding. While I’m migrating most of my reading to digital, I still have a stack of dead tree editions to work through. Also, because I don’t know what I’ll be in the mood for, I pack fiction, non-fiction, and comics. This weekend I have Dance of Death by Preston & Child, The Karate Way by Dave Lowry, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.

Camera Gear
I have a Digital Rebel, a few lenses, and an external flash. I rarely bother with the tripod for travel. I also have the camera adapter for the iPad, but I have yet to test it.

The Smartphone
My leash and my lifeline. Email, Internet, GPS… I’m even tapping out this blog post on it.

All of that minus the camera rig fits neatly into a messenger bag, which lets me travel a lot lighter than I used to with the backpack and laptop. The camera gear goes in a separate shoulder sling bag.

What’s even better is all of this would fit comfortably on my motorcycle and saddle bags. Unfortunately I’m in Illinois and we’re pretty much done with riding weather for the winter unless I really want to bundle up (which takes some of the fun out of the ride).

And there it is. Light and nimble, but with everything I could need.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Write When You Can — With Support

Joe R. Lansdale recently posted an essay to Mulholland Books called “The Workplace, Wet or Dry”. It’s an inspiring piece of work, a reminder that it doesn’t matter where or how you write, only that the story gets written. Every writer should print it out and paste it to the wall.

I read it when it went live, but it came to mind again today. I did a lot of running around this weekend, then Sunday, when I intended to sit my ass down and get some work done, things got disrupted. Long story short, over the last two days we’ve discovered my wife has gall stones and they’ve got to come out. There has been — and will continue to be — some waiting room time for me. I carried the iPad along, and today this is how I got some writing done while we waited for the nurse to come and get the wife for her CT scan:

All I need to write

Whatever works, right?

I’ve already missed a deadline, and I can’t keep making excuses for not keeping the fingers on the keys.

Fortunately my wife understands. More importantly, she agrees. That’s why the dedication to The Pack: Winter Kill reads the way it does, and why she’s shooting this picture instead of just shooting me.

Without that kind of support, a writer is doomed before he (or she) starts. Either the writing dies or the relationship dies. I’ve seen it happen both ways and it’s never pretty.

Happy anniversary, baby. I love ya.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The iPad as a Mobile Writing Platform

I’ve come to enjoy writing in Pages on my Mac, and using the Pages app on the iPad is proving to be just as capable. Enough people have asked how I like it that I thought I’d just go ahead and write up what I’ve done to turn it into a great system for writing on the road.

First, let’s talk about the on-screen keyboard. While it’s not near as bad as some would expect, it does have its quirks. When typing in landscape mode, the key sizes and spacing are not far off from a standard keyboard, and just as with the iPhone, the predictive typing and auto-correction helps smooth most typos. The downside for full-fingered typists, however, is the rearrangement of some of the keys, most notably dropping the exclamation point down to the comma key and having the apostrophe as a sort of sub-key of the comma (hold the comma key and swipe up to get an apostrophe). I still haven’t quite gotten used to it, but at the same time, it hasn’t really slowed me down, especially for short works or outlines.

I found an easy solution in adding a Bluetooth keyboard. This gives me finer cursor control and text selection with the shift and arrow keys, and it leaves me more screen real estate for typing. Even carrying both the iPad and the keyboard, I have less bulk and weight than a laptop and I still get the benefit of longer battery life.

There may be other writing and text-editing apps available, but again, I’ve found the Pages app works quite well. Most of the basic formatting, like numbering and indenting, has made it to the app, and it can export to PDF and Word docs as well as to the native Pages format.

Two ways the app could be almost perfect: 1) More flexibility in exporting apps (such as to Dropbox, below); 2) Add support for comments. My editor at Evileye Books makes extensive use of the comments features in Pages and Preview on the Mac, and he’s getting me addicted. It would be so much easier if those comments also showed up in the Pages app, even if it was through something like an icon placeholder if not having them on-screen at all times.

To get files to the iPad, as well as to keep them in sync on other devices, Dropbox is a must. I have their software installed on my desktop, my laptop, my iPod touch, my iPad, and now my shiny, new, Android-powered smartphone. Put a file in a Dropbox folder and it’s uploaded to the Dropbox server, where it is then pushed out to every device subscribed to the account. I can even access my files from any browser, or use it to share files with other people. The Dropbox app can open and read Word docs, PDFs, and Pages files, and it can send files right to the Pages app for editing.

Dropbox’s single, most important selling point is it helps ensure I have the most current copy of a document available at all times. No more comparing time stamps, copying across a network, and no more juggling thumb drives and hoping they don’t suddenly crap out. If Pages could export back to Dropbox directly, the system would be bulletproof.

My next must-have app is Evernote. There are competitors like Simplenote, but whatever the final solution, they help keep my notes synchronized across my various devices. I still brainstorm best with a pencil and paper (so the Moleskine still goes with the iPad), but important notes get dropped into Evernote for easy access. Evernote makes it easy to keep notes for different projects sorted, and the tagging makes it easy to find them. I can also take photos and drop them into Evernote, and there’s a voice note feature I have yet to take advantage of.

I have the Kindle app loaded on all of my portable devices, too. While it’s nice to have as a distraction or for inspiration, I also have a free Kindle edition of The New Oxford American Dictionary on hand for when I don’t have an Internet connection and searching Google isn’t an option.

And that about sums it up. I have email and my address book, of course, but the smartphone handles most of that. Same for Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress apps, but I don’t consider those must-haves for the actual process of writing. Google Earth and Maps can be helpful at times, and I’ve got things like a first aid reference, a how-to guide, and a drink mix app for occasional use as well. I have yet to use the Dragon Dictation app for more than just tinkering and testing, but I can see how it might be useful at times, too.

Lately I’ve been all about keeping it Spartan. The core tools are the true necessities; the rest are just flashy apps and distractions. I spend all day multi-tasking on my desktop and laptop, so it’s nice to have a pared-down device with just one app holding my focus on the screen. I’ve come to enjoy editing and proofing on the iPad as well. Using it like a tablet closely mimics editing on paper, and it feels more relaxing than sitting at a desk or keyboard. Again, if I could add comments to documents, it would be almost perfect.

Finally, I love the portability. I carry a lot of extra gear in my laptop backpack for work, and I can drop the iPad into my karate backpack without adding significant weight or bulk (I keep karate notes in Evernote as well). I can drop the iPad into a messenger bag, with or without the keyboard, and haul it to a convention or on a short trip with no problem. Hell, I can even drop both the iPad and the keyboard into a saddle bag on my motorcycle and really travel light.

Time was I thought I’d never be able to do without a laptop. Now I feel like I’m just using the laptop out of habit. I’m not quite ready to give it up, but if I had to, I bet I would get along just fine.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Going Mobile

I decided to inject a little marketing into this week’s Photo Friday.

Whatever youve got, there we are.

Whatever you've got, there we are.

Thanks to the magic that is Amazon Kindle, you can get a copy of The Pack: Winter Kill on most mobile devices. Here we’ve got a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPod touch, and my wife’s Kindle. If my particular BlackBerry had been supported, I’d have slipped it into the picture, too.

I did a simple photo setup on this one: I arranged the devices, used an old curtain for a backdrop, and bounced the flash off the ceiling. I could probably have used another light source on the touch and the Kindle to brighten them both up, but I didn’t have anything available. (I’d buy some more lighting rigs, but I wouldn’t use them near enough to justify the expense.)

Of course, if you’d rather carry around a few slices of dead tree than a collection of bits, there’s still the paperback edition! All you have to do is order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, take this form to your local retailer, or just wait a few days until I get my bookstore up and running (from which you’ll be able to buy a signed copy direct from my office, ooh ahh).

Okay, pimping and photography done. I need  some sleep after last night’s boilermaker outing kept me up ’til the wee hours of this morning.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Pack: Winter Kill hits the iPad

My editor at Evileye Books just downloaded the Kindle version of The Pack: Winter Kill to his shiny new iPad:

Now that looks sharp.

Now that looks sharp.

I’m told it reads just like it does in hard copy. I might be getting my hands on an iPad in the next few months (we seriously want to evaluate them at work), so I can’t wait to see it for myself.

The nice thing about digital editions is we can pack them with extras that aren’t feasible in print. Some of these things may not work so well on the black-and-white Kindle itself, but given the Kindle app is available for desktops, laptops, iPhones/iPod touches, and now the iPad, well, that really creates some opportunities.

Keep your eye on Evileye, because things are really getting exciting.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Tablets & Comics

Reading comics on the iPhone or iPod touch is cool and all, and it’s nice to grab some titles for free or for a buck. However, it’s a different experience from reading a single or an OGN. While most comics adapt just fine, you’re still dealing with limited screen real estate.

The iPad and other tablet readers, however, could really be a game changer. Check out this iPad concept by the guys at comiXology:

Comics by comiXology iPad concept
from comiXology on Vimeo.

Reserving final judgment until I have an iPad in my hot little hands, I can see that experience approximating the real thing. I don’t mind reading comics on a desktop or laptop, but it’s still somewhat limited in flexibility. Reading from an iPad or other tablet, however, is a little more natural. Like a Kindle, I can see carrying it about anywhere to do some reading.

And unlike the Kindle, a tablet has a lush, full color display and more flexible page/panel control.

I’m curious to see who else starts distributing comics, too. Will graphic novels start showing up in the iTunes store? Or Kindle native now that there’s going to be a Kindle tablet app? There will be some competition among reader apps at first, sure, but I think the best of the best will rise to the top. I can see Apple or Amazon buying one of the little guys and absorbing their technology into a branded app. Maybe some of those coders/developers become middle men instead, setting up a service to adapt comics to a given electronic format and get them into the electronic distribution chain for a nominal fee.

The main reason I want to try it? I don’t have a local comic shop. The one closest to being convenient has poor stock and poor service, so I get my books mailed to me once a month from another shop. Sometimes I fall behind and my boxes stack up, but the real pain of it is I can’t shop around to see what’s out there, or just stop in and snap up a book I’ve heard great things about. (Viking is a perfect example: by the time I contacted my shop, the book was unavailable.) With the Diamond/Previews system, I have to hope the shop ordered extras of books I missed or forgot about.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one in this situation, either. There are a lot of readers whose LCS only stock superhero books or books by the Big Three and just ignore indie books. A lot of shops are card & collectible shops who just happen to carry a few comics and don’t keep pull boxes for their customers. A solid e-comic app would save a lot of frustration and heartache.

At any rate, this will be the true test for the success of digital comics. E-books have been attempted several times, but it took a truly useful device like the Kindle to make them work. Now we may finally have that killer device for comics. Webcomics, PDF distribution, and iPod comics have found their niches, but I think the tablet is the first device with the real potential to have an impact.

I guess we’ll find out soon.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Why Enhanced E-books Will Rock for Students

Penguin has put together a video demonstrating a collection of possible apps for Apple’s iPad and similar tablet devices with touch input and e-book capability. This is very cool stuff:

Once again, I think devices like the iPad will be the best way to go 1:1 with students rather than laptops or netbooks. The simple interface can be manipulated by all age groups, even before the required development for mice and keyboards. They may not be cheaper than netbooks, but they’ll be easier to manage, deploy, and replace, and that may make up for the cost.

We haven’t preordered an iPad at the school I work for yet, but we’d like to see one in action soon.

(For a previous post with a longer rant on why tablet e-books are going to rock, click here.)

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Hate the Name, Want the iPad

Back on Christmas Eve, I blogged about the things I’d like my comics to do in the future.

Yesterday, Apple gave us the iPad, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before our comics will do all that. The examples in the keynote made it clear that the days of static pages are over. I don’t think there’s any reason to go fully animated for comics (that’s what cartoons are for), but creators will be able to take advantage of slick transitions and other effects that can really enhance the reading — or even the entire storytelling — experience. Guys like comiXology have their app zooming and panning around a comic, but that’s just scratching the surface.

I’m not convinced this will replace the Wife’s beloved Kindle, mostly because I’m not convinced the iPad will be as comfortable to read for long periods (the iPad is backlit, the Kindle is not) or as easy to read outdoors. The Kindle is also cheaper and, at least for the moment, has a much larger selection of books available. (The Kindle DX, however, is toast. The newspaper and magazine outlets wanted a bigger tablet, but they also wanted color, and the DX just doesn’t cut it.)

I wonder, too, what it will do for short prose fiction. If magazines and newspapers are going to go all out developing for this thing, why not anthology magazines or fiction websites? Grab something like the new Crimefactory zine and read it on the go, just like you might for the Kindle. With the iPad, editors could also post video interviews and other extras you may be able to post to the web but you just can’t do on a Kindle.

I don’t see the iPad replacing my laptop (or desktop, for that matter), but I can see it being a great supplement. I love my iPod touch, but I still can’t edit docs on it. With Pages available for the iPad, I can easily use it to edit files, or even create in a pinch while on the road. I’d have to play with the keyboard dock and/or a Bluetooth keyboard to give any real thought to long-form creation on it, such as writing an entire novel, but the real problem is I need the multitasking to be truly functional on it.

That said, the multitasking isn’t a deal killer. I don’t need multitasking on the road, or if I’m lugging it around at a convention. I can prop it up on a table and let it display artwork all day on a 10-hour battery, or hand it to an editor and let him flip through art or page samples. I can also hold and use it like a clipboard with little effort while walking around a con floor or waiting in line somewhere. These would be unwieldy at best with a laptop, even a netbook.

Kiss netbooks goodbye, for that matter. For $100 or so more, I’d much rather have an iPad. Netbooks are underpowered, for the most part, and you’re still wrestling with a laptop form factor only tinier. True multitasking would bog down the iPad, just as it does most netbooks. If I didn’t have a MacBook at work, I’d purchase an iPad for myself and use it as the supplement to my iMac rather than spending double or more on a full-size laptop. I’d much rather carry the iPad on a plane, too. Laptops are a tight fit on those trays, especially if you’re a larger person or if the guy in front of you leans his seat back.

As an educator, I’d much rather put an iPad in the hands of my students in a 1:1 environment. Why?

  1. The cost is less than half of a MacBook and they will be far easier to manage (based on existing iPod/iPhone deployment tools, anyway)
  2. With textbook deals coming, students will be able to carry and read all their books on it
  3. It’s set up for annotation and in-classroom note taking
  4. It will have all the current features of the iPod touch, such as classroom response, apps, iTunesU, and so on
  5. The lack of multitasking keeps students on task (in theory)
  6. Schools will still have labs for multimedia work and things like yearbook and business classes, so heavy-duty composition can be done there

Some say printing may be an issue, but I say no. Just ten years ago, Palm wanted every student to have a Palm device and beam their papers, etc., to the teacher via infrared. If the iPad will dump files to a server store for the teacher, that’s all they need, and is more efficient. This saves on paper (not to mention toner, which, believe me, is a huge expense for a school district), and is less junk for the teacher to haul home to grade.

Our coaches will kill for sports statistic apps on one of these. They carry it along the sidelines and tap a player’s name to tweak their stats. Little to no typing would be required if it’s handled right. Heck, with the right app and programming, they’d have quick access to plays, replays, and field/court diagrams.

As for some of the other criticisms, I think people are being a bit harsh.

Take the bezel, for example. Yeah, it’s pretty big, but given the size of the thing your thumbs will have to overlap the screen to hold it properly, and you’d have a lot of accidental input. Saying you won’t buy this thing because of the bezel is like saying you wouldn’t sleep with Shakira because she has small tits.

No camera? Yeah, kinda sucks. But Apple’s not stupid, so I think there’s a reason for this. I decided to test out a theory and set my MacBook Pro in my lap so the screen would approximate where I’d hold the iPad. I fired up the Photo Booth app, and the following is the first picture I took while holding the screen in a way I can read the display.

Talk about negative space...

Talk about negative space...

Tilt the display so I can see my whole face, and parts of the screen start looking dim. I wouldn’t be able to see the person talking to me very well.

That was taken holding the screen in landscape mode. I turned it on its side and tried again. This one’s a little better…

I can see my brain!

I can see my brain!

…but you can see right up my nose. It’s not exactly the most flattering angle in general. So why include a camera if the only way you can use it is to hold it straight out in front of you? Users would be bitching about their arms getting tired in no time. Yeah, it would work on a dock, but you know most people aren’t going to be buying docks.

A camera on the back wouldn’t be much better. Something that big would be unwieldy to aim, and probably introduce more shake than you’d want with what would amount to a cell phone camera. Again, it would be an opening to more gripes than compliments. You want a tiny, portable camera off your phone? Try a Flip or an iPod nano. Or a real camera like an Elph.

Then there’s the name. The jokes are already all over the Internet, but MadTV already covered this one for us:

“Vaginal firewall protection” indeed. Smooth, Mr Jobs. Tablet or Slate, with or without an i in front of them, would have been much better.

Next there’s the AT&T thing… Even Hitler’s not happy about that one. But can you blame him? We couldn’t get decent AT&T coverage where I live if our lives depended on it. You would think Apple learned their lesson with all the iPhone complaints. But hey, at least they found people a cheaper data plan. Dump a USB cellular modem and the iPad pays for itself in about a year and a half.

Another reason I think this thing is going to do well is the interface. I’ve played with an iPod touch for a while now, and it still amazes me how easy it is to use. I taught the Midget to use it in all of ten seconds, and he in turn taught the Squirt — who was four at the time — how to do the same thing. With no input from me, they were switching apps and playing games like pros. Even my three-year-old daughter effortlessly dumps pygmies off the island in Pocket God, then creates more so she can do it again.

The interface is what killed previous generations of tablets, whether we’re talking about the Newton or the round of tablets the PC industry tried to foist on us around 2000-2002. (They tried to foist them off on the education sector, anyway.) They were unwieldy, heavy, buggy, and in many cases you had to have a stylus, which itself was just an afterthought bolted on to Windows. Handwriting recognition may have been huge in its day, but you had to learn your way around its idiosyncrasies, especially when they revamped the input alphabet like Palm did. Handwriting recognition was just too inconsistent from user to user, but anyone can learn to swipe.

That said, I’m still intrigued by Microsoft’s Surface. It shows they’ve put a lot more thought into touch technology, and if they integrate the touch features into their new tablet devices, I may be willing to give it a second glance. It’s just tough to be positive after the horrible (IMHO) WinMo interface on most of their mobile devices. (5 minutes with a Sprint Mogul was enough to ensure I’d never go anywhere near one again, and I just needed to make a phone call.)

I know there’s probably going to be a better version out within six months of releasing this one. I know I’m paying into a closed system. But damn it, I want one of these.

Pass the Apple Kool-Aid.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.