The iPad, So Far

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In the front yard, using the iPad & SQL Monitor

After a great deal of unseemly begging, I managed to acquire an iPad. My intentions were to make it into a internet browser, email reader, blogging, and light writing machine. Additionally, I knew there’d be some time suck from games and I could set it up as a book reader, music player, movie viewer. I had hopes of possibly doing something resembling work with it.

Illusions are easily shattered.

Let’s start with internet browsing. It’s great. Really. As long as I stay away from Flash, which, for the most part, so far, I’ve been able to. +1 for the iPad. Email reading, it was easy to set up an email account, and there’s a Google app, so getting to my Gmail is easy. The email client with the iPad is very pretty (let’s face it, Apple does pretty). I like how it stores conversations too. +1 for a score of 2 out of 2. Blogging is where things started to break down for me. I have yet to find the equivalent of LiveWriter for the iPad, but there is a WordPress app available. It crashed three times while I was setting it up. Then it crashed once in the middle of writing a post. Then it crashed when I decided to save my work by sending the draft to the web site, thereby losing all my work, again. At this point time, I’m not using it. -1 for a score of 2 out of 3. On to light writing. Some article work, maybe some editing of existing stuff, taking notes, functioning as a highly portable laptop. Yes, the keyboard in landscape is big enough for you to touch type. But there’s that word, touch. As soon as you touch any part of the keyboard, you’ve just pressed a letter. I suppose, over time, you could get used to not touching the keyboard, but currently, it’s killing me. I type reasonably well. In my youth I was up to 85 WPM. I probably type more like 45 now, but on the iPad it’s more like 4. -1 to change the score to 2 out of 4. Those were the main work purposes and I only got a score of 50%.

I haven’t started buying much software yet, because I’m still not convinced there’s a win here. I have set up free Dropbox. I’ve got the free version of Documents for word processing. I’m using the Analytics app to look at Google Analytics. Springpad has an iPad app, so all my notes & stuff from the Droid X are available to me, and that’s a win. The Tweetdeck app for the iPad is really good. But… those are really pretty slim pickings for functionality. Oh, and I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to anyone, iTunes is a horror show.

The one place that does stand out is the ability to browse the web on a device that’s big enough to really read. So, if you have a monitoring tool that exposes itself over a web page, such as Red Gate’s SQL Monitor (and have you entered the contest to win your own iPad) or Confio Ignite, you have a method to take advantage of those utilities in a much better way than you can on your smart phone.

As far as the time-suck goes, it’s great! I watched a movie streamed from Netflix (have I mentioned that I love my Verizon FiOS internet connection). I’ve got Angry Birds loaded up. I put the Kindle app on and have some of my books on there as well some in ePub in the built in book reader. I can hit my favorite web sites for news & information. In fact, I’ve only hit one web site so far that had any noticible FLASH installed. So, on that level, the iPad has been fantastic.

I’d like to find more ways to make this into a useful tool. If anyone has suggestions, I’m open. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the toy aspects a lot.


  • It made a world of difference when I bought a BT keyboard for the iPad. Sure, that defeats some of the portability of the thin device, but when I live blog conferences and events, being able to pull out my small keyboard means I can go back to my fast touch typing.

    For blogging, I’ve had better luck with the WordPress app, but I have heard about the crashing part quite a bit.

    I’m guessing there’s going to be more apps coming soon for blogging.

    The Flash thing is really annoying. I wish Apple and Adobe would make this work. Either that, or website would realize that Flash is alienating a huge number of visitors.

  • mikeLynn

    While I currently do not own an iPad I agree with Karen 100%. I have seen many people using BT keyboards with their iPad for fast and efficient typing. If I am one of the lucky ones to win an iPad from your lifework-balance contest I plan to buy a BT keyboard.

    Also, I would love to see some more pictures of you splitting that giant log your maul is dug into in the picture that accompanies this post.

  • Tim Ford

    Just downloaded Citrix client today so now I can do full blown SQL and SSMS on the iPad! I do agree about the Bluetooth keyboard, particularly since you don’t have a caps lock on the screen keyboard (WTH Apple?!)

    WordPress app is only good for approving comments. Dropbox, Elements for Dropbox, Evernote, and Zinio are all suggestions for you as is HD Loops for time suckage.

  • Grant Fritchey

    Karen, do you have a post or article up on how you use the beast? I’m sure it would be popular. I’d read it.

    I’m getting a zag cover that has a keyboard too. See how that works. BTW I’m posting this from the iPad now.

    Tim, cap lock by double clicking the shift key. Citric, huh… I’ll have to try that out. Remote access or just access within the firewall?

  • Grant – admire the effort towards making it a tool, not just a toy. Sounds like the iPad has the potential to do both quite well, but typing may be one of the larger hurdles. I managed to force myself to become quite proficient typing on my T-Mobile shadow with one key for every three letters and software that continually tries to guess what you are spelling. I wonder if I could do the same with the on-screen keyboard.

  • Your photo has the wrong caption/subtitle. It should read
    “You see that axe up there….. if you don’t load that website in the next 2 seconds…..”

    Either that, or the iPad is much more versatile than everyone else thought – always online, simple GUI and robust enough to cut trees down!

OK, fine, but what do you think?