Posts From April 2010

Written and posted over two years ago.

(As if the best FTP client for your Mac could have gotten any better.)

I’ve been beta testing this new version for the past few weeks, and on my iPad it’s become nearly my most-used app. And it’s free — how can you not download it?

That’s the Chipotle burrito I’ve been ordering for the past 11 years (I still remember my very first one), and it adds up to 1,070 calories. (Via Marco, who’s low-calorie order only adds up to 370.)

I’m in love. ReaddleDocs has it all: access to Dropbox and other file servers; uploading; downloading; emailing; and more. Plus it’s faster than a speeding bullet and is pleasant to use.

I’ve been using the extremely-popular GoodReader for the past two weeks, but its UI is a bit awkward and it has always felt slow to me. The feature set between the two are nearly identical, but ReaddleDocs for iPad feels better. Much better. And that is what makes or breaks a good app.

(Thanks, Derek, for the tip!)

A lot of pixels squeezed into not a lot of screen.

She had messy notebooks and unorganized scribblings of her work:

Christie’s notebooks show that stories didn’t spring forth fully formed from her head and that her famously recognizable writerly voice was entirely constructed. They also show it was no less authentic for that.

Do anyone’s stories or ideas come out any other way? I know I have ideas for projects, blog posts, and even tweets, strewn about in a slew of different places. When something pops into the little grey cells you write it down wherever you can. But no doubt, Agatha could have benefitted from cloud computing. (Via Kottke.)

Garrett’s great iPhone app is now a great iPad app, too. And it even comes with a new and improved Settings icon.

Doesn’t really work on my HP PCS 1200 all-in-one. (Via Greg.)

Diary of an iPad Owner

Saturday, April 3, 2010

7:00 am: Ben, Terry, and I are driving down to the Leawood Apple store to stand in line for an iPad. Well, technically it’s me who’ll be standing in line to buy an iPad — the guys are coming along because I convinced them it’d be fun.

7:30 am: We are here. Coffee in hand. And only 75 people in line ahead of us. I talked to the first few folks who apparently arrived the night before around 8:00 pm (a group of them, too, yet only one guy who’s actually buying the iPad). I guess the next group showed up around 2:00 am, and all the rest of us have been trickling in since 6:00.

7:32 am: A young guy and his mom get in line behind us. The guy is wearing a “WWSJD” t-shirt. I like to think that I’m less nerdy than he is, but the fact is I am ahead of him in line.

7:39 am: We are awkwardly interviewed by a young college student, and then a lady comes by handing out menus for breakfast pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. CPK will deliver to us while we wait in line. It’s a clever idea, but nobody orders (I know I’d rather spend that $10 on a few apps).

7:46 am: The WWSJD dude sends his mom to get Starbucks.

8:11 am: The couple in front of us share some of their donuts. (This would have been better 30 minutes ago when my coffee was still hot.)

8:55 am: The store is about open. There have been random bursts of cheering and clapping coming from inside for the past half hour.

Our line (which has grown to about 200 people by now) is directed to split into two groups: those who pre-ordered their iPads, and those who did not. Those of us who didn’t pre-order outnumbered those who did at least five to one. Yet those in the pre-order line were served by the Apple sales team about four to one versus those of us in the non-pre-order line. Considering I’m stuck in the non-guaranteed-to-get-one, slow-moving iPad line, this is seriously annoying.

And now that the line is moving rumors are running amuck that the store is already approaching sold-out status. All of us who came so early to share donuts and buy iPads may have to come back at 3:00 pm to share sandwiches and fight for the leftover iPads (if there even are any).

10:19 am: It’s been nearly three hours in line. The store is not sold out of iPads, and I am finally next to go in. I am equally excited to get out of the cold and into the warm store as I am to actually drop 500 bucks on the iPad. Linda, a nice older lady, greets me and lets me in. She helps me gather my order, charges my Visa, and then sends me on my way. I buy the 16GB iPad, Apple’s black fitted iPad case, and a bluetooth keyboard.

11:00 am: I am back home and ready to unbox. Terry and Ben went home — they had their fun playing with the iPad at the Apple store while I was spending money. Now it’s my turn. Just me and my iPad.

My wife loves me, so she humors me and joins me for the unboxing.

I love her too, so I humor her and let her be the first to click the home button. Hmmm… oddly the thing is already powered on. As Anna clicks the home button the iPad brings up the “plug me into iTunes” display. Well, okay then.

It takes me over an hour to sync it for the first time and fine tune the placement of the icons. But the wait is worth it. In the meantime I surf iTunes and spend next month’s coffee budget on Apps.

12:49 pm: Oh my goodness… my iPhone is so crowded and small and slow and tiny.

1:12 pm: My sister calls me asking what Anna’s and my plans are for Easter dinner and if she can join us.

“Of course you can,” I tell her.

She asks me what I’m up to today, and I tell her I’m playing with my new iPad. “What’s an iPad?” She asks.

2:04 am: My bout against the iPad’s battery has failed. I can barely keep my eyes open and this thing is still running bright.

Sunday, April 4

7:20am : Holy battery. Last night I plugged this thing in to my MacBook Pro with 11% battery life and five hours later it’s only at 62%. Clearly I need a dedicated wall charger.

8:25 am: I am so taking the iPad to church. What a great use-case scenario… I mean who needs a Bible, a note pad, and a pen in your pocket when you’ve got an iPad? It’s the future!

9:17 am: So I’m embarrassed to actually use the iPad for anything. I’m leaving it under my seat because I don’t want to attract any attention. This reminds me a lot of when I bought my iPhone. When the iPhone first came out they were so rare and exotic for the six months or so that every time I’d pull it out people would be like, “Woah! Is that an iPhone?!” And so using my iPhone in public felt like bragging.

11:29 am: I wish Amazon would gift me a free Kindle version of all the new, hard-cover books I’ve ordered lately. Instead of carrying Linchpin, REWORK, and Your Marketing Sucks in my backpack all at the same time it would be ergonomically glorious to have them on my iPad instead. I may never buy a physical book again.

Monday, April 5

7:00 am: The week begins, and I am spending my daily coffee and reading routine downstairs and on the couch this morning.

This is also when I scrub my to-do list and plan my day. And though Things for the iPad is beautiful, it is not nearly as robust as its Mac counterpart. There are so many features on the Mac desktop version that I use regularly. Such as linking emails inside of to-do items and re-shuffling tasks to another due date which I know I won’t get today. But Things on the iPad is more akin to the iPhone version and so a lot of this I can’t do.

But perhaps I don’t necessarily mind the division between work and play. It’s actually a bit nice to do my reading with coffee from the living room and then scrub my email and to-do list from the office.

And speaking of reading: the Wall Street Journal app sucks. It’s slow and will not relent in up-selling me to a subscription. I would consider a subscription if this non-subscriber’s experience were not so horrendous.

9:52 am: So I was going to bring only my iPad to work today, but I wimped out. I will try to do all I can to see if I can get by with just the iPad today, but I’ve got my MacBook Pro with me just in case…

10:19 am: Just met with Jono in a side room to show off our website’s glorious lack of video compatibility on an iPad. For some reason, seeing our website in 1024×768 instead of 480×320, the need to get a non-flash video solution becomes much more real.

12:00 pm: Combing through my email at work for pass number two today. Email on the iPad is easy and delightful, but my workflow and systems are kinda broke now. All the weekly reports that get sent to me on Monday mornings couldn’t be saved to their folders on my Laptop (which means I have to just delete those emails, or process them again later).  

12:14 pm: An email from Isaac with the PDF mockup of this month’s Partners Journal. The Journal looks fantastic on this display. But the 12-page, 6MB file is not easily flicked around in quick view.

12:59 pm: I bring the iPad to our first meeting together. Other than passing it around the table for my directs to check out, it gets no use at all. I write my notes down on the meeting handout as I usually do, and when I do need some info that is digital it is resting with my MacBook Pro and not my iPad.

3:10 pm: Sitting down at my desk and thanks to the florescent lights in my office the iPad is virtually unusable in here. I plug in my laptop to my 23-inch cinema display and work as I have every other day — with a mouse and a keyboard.

7:00 pm: I am done for the day at the office and am heading home. The battery is still at 60% — looks like the iPad got more use today than I’ve let on.

Tuesday, April 6

11:55 am: On my way to a noon meeting. I stop at the coffee shop for a lunch-time Americano. Eddie is walking by sees the iPad under my arm as I head in. He jumps in line with me and I give him a guided tour of some apps: Pages, Sketchbook Pro, and others. The presence of the iPad commanded the attention of everyone in line, even the cashier and barista (I should have asked for a discount).

Noon: Just like yesterday, the iPad’s only use in this meeting was to it show the fellow attendees.

One of the iPad’s best apps is Safari — especially when showing the big touch-screen display to people. It’s a great demo app because it gives them a chance to see something they’re familiar with (a web site) but experience it in a whole new way. Even for iPhone owners it is great to watch people take some time and hold the Web in their hands. Unfortunately the wi-fi in this back office is lousy. So I show them Mail and iBooks instead.

2:51 pm: Back at my office I walk across the hall to show Phil the iPad. He says he’s not getting one for a while because he doesn’t like to buy first-generation gadgets (as he pulls out his first-generation iPhone).

Phil’s wife, Alison, comes in to pick him up while we’re chatting over the iPad. He slides it over to her so she can check it out. She opens up Notes and begins typing away with no trouble at all. “Alison is awesome”, she taps.

It is a tense event to let someone play with your iPad. There is nothing which i want to hide, but it is quite personal to freely let people look at your email inbox, read your notes, and see what web page you were last viewing.

3:21 pm: Just downloaded WeatherStation Pro. It’s a good thing apps are a tax write off I keep telling myself.

4:29 pm: I’ve got a meeting in one minute with Jarrod. I walk out to grab a print out and leave the iPad on my desk. As I walk back in Jarrod’s in my office waiting and perusing the apps on my iPad. Later I open the Notes app to discover a new note: “Jarrod is awesome, too.”

10:15 pm: Up until now it’s always been at my desk where I spend so much of my time. It is where I work and where I create. I write, design, pay bills, share pictures, and more. Something the iPad has really helped me do is disconnect work from play from entertainment from incessant nagging that all exists on my computer.

Unlike my laptop, the iPad is not a do-all, be-all device. Its limited scope helps me stay connected to news and others things which I enjoy but without the distraction of all those things I could be doing at that time.

Wednesday, April 7

6:00 am: My morning routine hits the iPad again. The iPad is great for reading and replying to email, but it’s not great at processing email. At least not the way I process it. I can’t send an actionable email into Things as a to-do item when I’m using the iPad. I can’t save a file from the email into a project’s folder in Dropbox. All this means that checking and processing email on my iPad is about as productive as checking email on my iPhone (though it certainly is a better experience).

Checking email on my iPad is, more often than not, an interim checking. I reply to conversations or other threads but can’t really do much else. And so I have to come back to many of some of those messages a second time when I am at my laptop so I can fully process them into my workflow.

7:00 am: The iPad should have shipped with fingernail clippers and a screen cleaning cloth made of denim.

8:19 am: It’s interesting how some apps, like Pages, require use of the devices orientation for certain functionality.

1:15 pm: Reading in Instapaper. Again. This app has become one of the most-used on my iPad (I use it much more than I use it on my iPhone). It’s a gift to guys like me who have a very hard time doing only one thing at at time. And I love it so much I’ve even started sending articles to Instapaper which I want to read right at that moment, but would rather read in Instapaper on my iPad than in Safari on my MacBook Pro.

1:32 pm I wish iPhone OS shipped with Menlo. But more than that, I wish there was an iPad-version of MarsEdit. Currently I’m unable to post links on shawnblanc.net with the iPad due to some lame limitations in the WordPress Web interface, and because the WP app does not support custom fields. And speaking of writing: All this typing and I have not yet used that bluetooth keyboard. Primarily I guess because it’s not with me most of the time (right now it’s sitting on a shelf above my home office desk).

9:01 pm: Ay caramba. I wish “spp” would auto-correct to “app” instead of “spa”.

Thursday, April 8

7:40 am: Today begins the first real-life, 4-day test of my iPad. I am fairly certain that my iPad can’t replace my laptop. But it could replace my iPhone as the new Command Central for times like today.

This afternoon begins a four-day conference which we are hosting. And so this weekend my normal work schedule and tasks all get put on hold while we host 2,000 conference goers. There will be a lot of communicating via emails (though not as much as through phone calls and texts), and a good deal of short pow-wows.

For the past three years I’ve used my iPhone as Command Central when running marketing at our conferences. This weekend it will be interesting to see if and how the iPad holds up as a replacement for my laptop and an addition to my iPhone.

8:38 am: Test failed: the Monoprice Power Station portable iPhone battery backup dongle does not charge my iPad.

12:15 pm: Sitting in the back room with the rest of the Web team. They’re updating the website, and I’m checking my email. Nick comes in to say hello. He’s my only other friend who owns an iPad and I haven’t seen him since last Friday. So I make him sit down and we geek out over our favorite apps.

I show him some of my embarrassing finger paintings from SketchBook Pro, and he asks me to help him figure out one of the puzzles in Labrynth 2. We’ve officially established ourselves as the nerdiest two in the room.

4:40 pm: I bump into Mark in the main auditorium. He heard I got an iPad and wants to check it out. I hand it to him and he wimpishly peruses it. And so I’ve realized that when showing the iPad to someone, it helps to walk them through how to use it. Or at least show them which apps to tap on, and what do do from there. A lot of people like to see it and hold it, but would rather that I demo it for them.

5:30 pm: So I’ve been thinking a lot today if this iPad could actually replace my MacBook Pro or not. There are certainly some great advantages to it. Like how small and lightweight it is, and the incredible battery life. Some other things I don’t mind:

  • The screen size: Perhaps it’s because i’m used to software like this running on a 3.5-inch screen instead of a 10-inch one, or perhaps it’s the single-app view versus my MacBook Pro’s multi-window view, but the smaller screen (compared to my 15-inch laptop and my 23-inch Cinema Display) really doesn’t bother me.

  • The software keyboard: It certainly takes some getting used to, but for casual use it is perfectly fine. In no way does the software keyboard make me want to chuck this iPad like a frisbee. Sure, I can’t type long-form papers or articles on it, but that’s okay. That’s what the bluetooth keyboard is for.

Friday, April 9

7:40 am: With my iPhone (or just about any other gadget for that matter) it’s not uncommon for the battery life to affect the workflow and interaction I have with the device. But it’s always a negative issue: crappy battery life interrupts and hinders my use of the device.

But with do to the iPad, this is the first time ever that incredible battery life has affected my workflow and usage of a device. Since the iPad’s battery lasts so long I rarely need to plug it in to charge it. Moreover, since it won’t charge through my USB hub, when I do plug it in I rarely connect it to my computer. Thus, I have to make a concerted effort to remember to connect my iPad to my computer and sync it. Why I can’t sync via Wi-Fi (like Cultured Code does with Things) is beyond me.

8:03 am: Every Friday morning Josh and I go get coffee at Einstein Bagels. He just got a new Audi so normally he drives, but today I do so he can play with the iPad. He teases me about the email in the Notes app that I sent to John Gruber pointing out some typos. It’s a little embarrassing, but not really. But clearly I am going to have to start using 1Password for notes that i don’t want other folks to see. People will fiddle around on your iPad and find stuff much more easily than they would if they were fiddling around on your laptop.

10:40 am: I comb through this morning’s fury of new emails related to the conference and yet I’m still thinking if the iPad could actually replace my laptop or not. The blaring hurdles for that to happen are:

  • To-do management: maybe I’m complicated, but it bugs me that I have no way to send tasks into Things. And I have no way to sync over the air so that my iPhone and iPad are in sync without needing my Mac as the mediator.

  • Blogging: Yeah, I still don’t have a way to post links to my website…

  • No Dropbox: all of the files and projects I am currently working on are kept in Dropbox. This keeps them backed up and secure in real time, but also makes them available for viewing and emailing if I’m away from my computer. No doubt the Dropbox team is working on an iPad app, which will be lovely (since this other app called GoodReader sucks), but even still it will only be a useful app for viewing files which are already in my Dropbox and not for syncing or transferring files to and from my iPad.

  • No file storage or management (I have to leave emails in my inbox if they contain files I want to save)

  • No document syncing: Well, no good document syncing, that is. I want the document I’m writing to exist on my Mac and on my iPad (and why not my iPhone, too?). Krikey… I am dying for Simplenote to make its way to my iPad (but even then, it would just be for plain text files). I spent $10 on Pages… really wish I could have some of those documents synced without the nightmare of USB and manual version control.

The size, weight, and battery life of the iPad make me want to leave my laptop at home forever. But the above unordered list necessitates that I don’t. My next laptop could be a MacBook Air.

2:08 pm: Watching a video in a sun-lit room… Oh yeah, this is why I hate glossy displays.

Sunday, April 11

8:39 am: I take the iPad to church again; my confidence to use it in public has grown. Also, Anna and I sit in a row occupied by nobody else.

I try to tap out notes from this morning’s sermon, but I can’t keep up — my tap typing is too slow. The iPad’s auto-correct turns my would-be notes into fragmented sentences less understandable than my own chicken-scratch hand writing. At least I can email them to myself for decoding later.

“No hyphenation, no Lucida Grande, no webfonts, Marker Freaking Felt.”

Brett Harned, project manager for Happy Cog, busts out of the gates with his new, looks-to-be-most-awesome weblog about his personal experience as a project manager:

My goal for this blog is to break down the PM role and bring a more personal slant to a discipline that is typically perceived as mundane. I hope other project managers share stories and experiences, so that we can learn from one another and build a network within the industry. It’s about time that we get up from behind our laptops and talk to one another about what we do and why we do it. BRING IT!

A free and simple app from Adobe that’s very useful for sketching ideas for design mocks, making nots on photographs or screenshots, and quite a bit more. And the sketch can be emailed as a Photoshop- or Illustrator-editable PDF file. (Via DF.)

A whole lot of 1024×1024 goodness from Jorge Quinteros.

This is Daring Fireball at its best: clever, acute, and nerdy. John’s iPad review reminds me a lot of my favorite DF article of all time, his PowerBook review from 2005, “Full Metal Jacket“.

This sucks. Crowfoot Coffee was a local coffee shop in my home town of Castle Rock, Colorado. It may have been the best coffee shop in America. The coffee was always fantastic (especially the espresso), the staff were always friendly, and any guest in there — stranger or not — was family.

I have had countlessly great times over countlessly great cups of coffee: long conversations with my dad; dates with my wife; Iced Americanos with friends… When I’m home visiting for a week I’ll be found at Crowfoot seven days in a row.

This coffee shop was the linchpin in getting the downtown development of Castle Rock onto its feet and into the beautiful, pedestrian-friendly environment it is today. Without Crowfoot, Castle Rock will never be the same.

Chris Bowler:

[W]e should all be making every effort to ensure that each sentence, each word, each character we publish, is done with the utmost care and thought. Each link, each photo, each small piece of Internet miscellany we pass on to our readers is done so with the understanding that the attention of our readers is not a resource to be squandered or taken lightly.

Amen, and amen. Good writing, Chris.

A great review of Marco’s indispensable read-it-later service, Instapaper.

And Instapaper on my iPad is one of my most-used apps. So much so that I’ve even started sending articles to Instapaper which I want to read right now. It’s just that I would rather read them in Instapaper on my iPad than in Safari on my MacBook Pro.

P.S. I don’t star a lot of articles in Instapaper, but if you want to read the ones I do star, my username is “shawnblanc”.

Astounding. The SR-71 was in commission from the 1960s to the 1990s as a spy plane for the US and is now on display at the Smithsonian. It could fly 2,664 miles an hour.

This guy’s stories from his 400 logged hours of flying the Blackbird are absolutely captivating — definitely worth a read. Here’s just one:

One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. ‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘ Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’ We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.

(Via Rands.)

Secret #2:

Don’t try to please everyone. There are countless people who don’t want one, haven’t heard of one or actively hate it. So what?

Continuing with the 37signals theme…

Jason Fried, in his first column for Inc. magazine:

I can attribute a healthy chunk of my success to the positive returns of laziness.

A hidden treasure of classic and vintage letterhead designs. This one from 1961 for Walt Disney, and this one from 1928 for Converse are especially fantastic.

(Via Powazek.)

Ah ha! Here’s the iPad’s missing weather app — it’s simple and gorgeous. (Via Gedeon.)

Some great observations by Adam Engst:

So what’s the difference between a Mac and an iPad? It’s that blank slate thing. No matter what you do on a Mac, the keyboard and mouse and window-based operating system make it impossible to ignore the fact that you’re using a Mac, and it’s often equally impossible to ignore the fact that you’re using a particular program.

In contrast, the iPad becomes the app you’re using. That’s part of the magic. The hardware is so understated – it’s just a screen, really – and because you manipulate objects and interface elements so smoothly and directly on the screen, the fact that you’re using an iPad falls away. You’re using the app, whatever it may be, and while you’re doing so, the iPad is that app. Switch to another app and the iPad becomes that app. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

Network Speed Tests on my Three Devices

Sitting at my desk which is about seven feet from my wireless router I ran the Speed Test on my MacBook Pro, iPhone 3GS and iPad. My cable internet provider is Time Warner. I ran the test five times on each device and averaged the times. Here are the results.

Device Download Speed Upload Speed Latency (Ping)
iPhone 3GS 1.206 Mbps 0.452 Mbps 596.8 ms
iPad 3.256 0.462 223.4
MacBook Pro* 9.532 0.49 53.8

* My MBP is the early 2008 model with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, “Penryn” processor and 4GB or memory.

Since the above info is pretty unexciting, be sure to check out Craig Hockenberry’s iPad benchmarks for native app and website javascript performance compared to the 3GS and original iPhone.

An Initial Miscellany of the iPad

Early this morning I drove to Kansas City’s Apple retail store with two of my friends. One of whom is quite nerdy and the other who is quite not nerdy. We stood in line to buy an iPad. Well, technically I stood in line to buy an iPad — my friends came along because I convinced them it’d be fun.

When we arrived at 7:30am there were about 75 people in line already. The first few folks had arrived the night before around 8:00pm, the next group came at 2:00am, and all the others began trickling in around 6:00am.

While waiting in line we were awkwardly interviewed by a young college student, given the opportunity to order breakfast from the California Pizza Kitchen, and had awkwardly-geeky conversations with those in line around us.

The store opened at 9:00am and our line (which had grown to about 200 people by then) was directed to split in two: those who had pre-ordered their iPads and those who had not. Those of us who did not pre-order outnumbered those who had five to one. However, those in the pre-order line were served by the Apple sales team about four to one versus those of us in the non-pre-order line.

Once the line began moving rumors kept murmuring amongst our line that the store was already approaching sold out status, and that all of us who had come so early to buy our iPads would have to come back at 3:00pm to pick up the leftovers, if there were any.

After three hours waiting in line I finally made it into the store. A nice old lady named Linda helped me gather my order and she checked me out on her iPhone. I bought the 16GB iPad, Apple’s black fitted case, and a bluetooth keyboard. Linda had me sign for the purchase using my index finger, and the receipt was emailed to my Mobile Me account. Amazing.

I had a lot of people ask me why I didn’t pre-order mine. Well, three weeks ago I wasn’t entirely convinced that I wanted one on day one. Secondly, I knew that if I did want one I would have no trouble standing in line at an Apple Stores in Kansas City. And lastly, I did not want to hope in UPS to deliver an iPad to my home first thing in the morning.

After a day of using the iPad not only is the battery still not dead, but this thing is what I have always wanted my iPhone to be. The iPad is an easy, fun-to-use device for the day-to-day at my job (which on many days is comprised mostly of emails, instant messaging with my team, attending or leading meetings, and writing).

I am very much looking forward to how the iPad will affect my day-to-day life at work. Or perhaps, how my day-to-day will be affected by the iPad. This little tablet is so different than what I was expecting that really I haven’t found the words for it yet. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t have at least a few words to write about my experience with the iPad so far…

Setting it up (iTunes)

Unexpectedly, after unboxing my iPad, I found it was already powered on. Clicking the home button showed you the “connect to iTunes” image.

You can’t do anything until you connect it to iTunes on your Mac or PC. Once you do, you can then begin registering it in iTunes and simultaneously fiddling with the iPad itself.

I didn’t realize how persnickety I am, but I was more distracted with getting the right apps, songs, and photos installed first than I was to start fiddling with the actual device. Since I already knew what I wanted on there (practically down to what apps in what places), to fiddle with it before I had it set up felt like trying to ride a bike without the handlebars put on yet.

Thoughts on the Hardware

It’s what’s inside that counts, and the haters are wrong: this thing does have flash. It’s called Apple’s A4 processor. Oh. my. word. This thing is so smooth and so fast. Combine that with the longest battery ever for an Apple device and you’ve got a machine that was built to be used. Thank you.

But it’s not just the guts that make the iPad so fantastic. I mean, the shell is just as clever as the pieces it holds together. Although the form factor is smaller and heavier than I thought it would be, it feels just right. And yes the bezel looks large and awkward on all the pictures, but it is the perfect size when holding in your hands (if anything, there could be more bezel).

The aluminum back is beautiful, but it’s also that same slip-friendly metal that was on the first-generation iPhone. And since it’s a bit heavy, I am somewhat nervous about dropping the sucker. Though Jony Ive says the iPad was designed to be tossed around:

If it works beautifully, it should also work robustly,” he says. “It’s made for people to chuck onto the car seat and thrust into luggage without thinking. It’s not to be delicate with.

And so it’s true: the iPad is tough. And honestly, my concerns with dropping it have more to do with how it would interrupt my workflow than if it would break the darn thing.

My only quibble with the hardware is that I wish you could set the double click home button to more options. On my MacBook Pro i have multiple keyboard shortcuts to get to apps and settings that I frequently use. To be able to have a super-fast way to launch Mail or Notes or something would be lovely. (Perhaps this is a software quibble and not a hardware one. But regardless it’s a quibble.)

Accessories

I picked up Apple’s iPad case and a Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard can be usable for much more than just pairing to the iPad, and the Apple case is useful for much more than propping the device up slightly for better typing.

The case is fantastic. I have never had an iPhone case or screen cover, but the iPad case is great. It allows for a better grip to the iPad, and makes it much easier to use when on a table or on your lap. And like I tweeted this morning, about 9 out of 10 folks coming out the Apple store had this Apple case in hand along with their iPad.

Thoughts on the OS and Apps

There is so much good on this device when it comes to software. I am looking forward to see what sorts of UI and UX settings from the iPad also end up in the next major OS release for iPhone and iPod Touches. For instance, home- and lock-screen rotation based on device orientation would likely be excruciatingly annoying on an iPhone.

What irks me the most is the springboard spatiality which Lukas Mathis wrote about a few days ago. Unless you have your home screen completely full with icons there will always a randomly-displaced app icon, and the only one ever in the same location is the top left one.

And the only bug I came across in the OS was that two times today I found myself “stuck” in an app. For instance in the photo album when trying to adjust the size and placement of a picture of my old Jeep, Champ, I got stuck in a spot where all i could do was pinch and zoom the image — no other controls were available and i had to quit out to get back in.

Similarly, when I clicked on a music video that came with a John Mayer album i got stuck on music videos section with no way in the UI to get back to the iPod main controls without quitting and then going back in.

Mobile Safari

My first thought was that the iPad actually is the best way to experience the Web. Safari is so fast, and navigating around with your fingertips is so natural.

As far as the UI of Safari, the thing I’m most thrown off by is the design of the navigation and address bar at the top.

It’s a logical choice to move the navigation, bookmarks and etcetera buttons to the top address bar area on iPad’s mobile safari, rather than having it sit on the bottom. In iPhone’s Mobile Safari the address bar disappears when you scroll down a web page. On the iPad it doesn’t.

I frequently found myself wanting to go to the navigation buttons based on where they would be on the iPhone. While many apps (such as the App Store app) maintain a similar navigation structure as on the iPhone some apps redo it altogether. Just enough to make sense in context, yet still be a bit confusing to a dude who’s been using his iPhone for nearly three years.

Safari on iPad includes a built-in bookmarks bar, just like the on you see in Safari on your Mac. But many of my synced bookmarks in the bookmarks are not usable on my iPad. Six out of the nine aren’t website bookmarks but are javascript bookmarklets, and two of them don’t work with my iPad (MarsEdit and Yojimbo).

Things (to-do app) for iPad

Things for iPad is, by far, the most attractive iteration of Things yet. It looks very much like an iPad app with the papery-texture added to the UI. And it acts very much like an iPad app: you can pinch open a project to peek at its tasks just like you would to pinch open a photo album to peek at its images.

And the latest update of Things on the Mac (1.3.3.) adds smart syncing if you have multiple devices (like an iPhone and iPad) all with a copy of Things on them. I tested it out by adding or checking off different to-do items on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Pro and then launched the apps all to sync. And it worked like a charm.

1Password

The genius of 1Password never sank in for me until I began using its iPad version today. It is like a pre-meditated version of Yojimbo for your iPad. You can safely slot all your vital info into it and have it available whenever you need it. There have been more than one occasions when I’ve need access to my license plate number, bank routing number, etc., but wasn’t at my computer and didn’t have the info committed to memory.

Many of those items are encrypted in my Yojimbo library but if I’m not at my laptop I’m out of luck. 1Password does way, way more than keep website login information. It keeps helpful and necessary information, and it keeps it safe. (Thanks, Dave!)

iCal

Once a meeting or event is added to iCal on the iPad then, just like in iPhone, you cannot change the calendar it’s in. This is always frustrating for me because in have a couple calendars that are synced to my assistant’s iCal and a few that are personal. If i make a meeting in the wrong calendar my assistant won’t see it unless I delete and start over, or remember to change it on my MacBook Pro.

NetNewsWire

Arguably the best feed reader on the iPad. Not that there are many, but NNW on the iPad is very much in its element. I adore NNW on my Mac and using its iPad counterpart feels like home.

Pages

Currently Pages is the top paid app in the iPad App Store. No doubt it’s due to promotion by Apple and simply from people wanting to know how a word processor works on a touch device. “If this tablet is going to replace my laptop I’d better have a word processor on it.”

I downloaded it. And yeah, Pages is a very clever and usable App. But the touch interface is not nearly as robust as having one hand on the mouse and one hand on the keyboard. Moreover, I’m a keyboard Junkie — I use keyboard shortcuts like they’re going out of style(!).

Something else in Pages which throws me off is that there is not a save function. By no means is this a bad thing; I’m just so used to saving regularly (and manually). While typing with my Bluetooth keyboard I kept hitting command+s regularly (Partly because I kept thinking I would get interrupted by a phone call (on the iPad).).

Universal Apps, HD Apps, and Standard iPhone Apps

You can identify a universal app by the little plus symbol (+) parked in the top-left corner of the price of an iPhone or iPad app. A universal app is one that has a working version of itself for both iPhone and iPad.

For example: Instapaper Pro is universal, so all you have to do is buy it once and install it on both devices. Things however has an iPhone version and an iPad version — if you want it on both devices you have to buy both apps (which I did).

It is these iPhone apps which have also been built for the iPad that are now the best version of themselves. Twitterrific for iPad is the best version of Twitterrific on any device.

If the next iPhone is going to be called the iPhone HD and ship with a 640×960 screen, what will the App Store be like with all these current iPad apps coming out with names like “Cool App HD” and combined with all the newly-designed-for-iPhone-HD apps which will also be called “Cool App HD”?

Yikes! I think “Cool App for iPad” is a better name — it tells you precisely what it is (an iPad app) and precisely what you’re getting (an app for your iPad). Say what you mean and mean what you say.

And finally, when using iPhone apps on the iPad there is a nice bezel around the edge of the app, and a bar in place where the status bar normally is. But that is just about as far as the joy goes.

Most of my iPhone apps (even many of my favorite ones in all the world) suck on the iPad. Especially when pixel doubled.

I get that the graphics would have to be pixel doubled, but text too? Is that really necessary? It’s the text-based apps that are totally unusable on an iPad. Some of my favorite iPhone apps, like Birdhouse and Simplenote, are virtually useless on the iPad.

There are some other apps though that survive pixel doubling just fine, like FlightControl. It looks a little pixelated but is totally usable and still quite addicting. And Canabalt looks great as a matter of fact. Its finely-drawn pixel art blows up quite nicely.

If an iPhone app doesn’t support landscape mode then it won’t rotate its orientation with the iPad. Even at 1x size they won’t flip to be right-side-up if you’re holding the iPad upside-down.

Additional Miscellany

  • Wallpapers: I love that you can set different wallpapers for the lock screen and the home screen.

  • The delete key is in a different place on the iPad keyboard than it is on the iPhone’s. It’s in the place it should be, but it throws me off.

  • My wife is going to steal this thing.

  • Reading an iBook: It is ingenious how you can see the ink through the back of a page as you’re turning it in an iBooks book.

  • Mute: Hold the volume rocker button down for two seconds to mute the iPad (Via Twitterrific.)

  • Setting the viewport for your website: In my site’s header I used to have the following code to get it to render properly on an iPhone:

    <meta name="viewport" content="width=780, initial-scale=0.4, minimum-scale=0.4" />

    But it wasn’t filling up enough of the iPad’s screen when browsing. So I updated it to this:

    <meta name="viewport" content="width=800” />

  • “Multitasking”: I have never been frustrated by iPhone’s lack of “multitasking” and on the iPad I actually prefer to be restrained to one thing at a time. (It helps me focus and stuff.) Just so long as apps have state persistence.

  • Apps currently in my iPad Dock: Safari, Notes, Mail, Calendar, Things

The apps that were on the iPhone which have now been re-built and designed for the iPad feel as if they belonged on the iPad all along. Even the apps that originated on the iPhone (such as Instapaper) now feel much more native, and all around more fantastic, on the iPad.

The iPad is not a giant iPod Touch. If anything, my iPhone is now an iPad Mini.