In part 4 I discussed how I’ve been using the iPad to keep up with my social network. Today, I’ll talk about how the iPad has served my need to be entertained.
The truth is, I’m pretty simple when it comes to entertainment. Between my day job, and my writing, and my family, I don’t have much time to spare on playing games or watching videos. But that is not to say that it doesn’t sneak in now and then. In the time that I have had the iPad, I’ve done a few things on it that can be considered entertainment:
- Watched videos
- Listened to music
- Played a game or two
I have also made use of the iPad’s multimedia capabilities by taking pictures and video. Let me touch on each of these briefly.
In part 3 I discussed how the iPad has made it easier to take notes, using a science fiction convention as an example. Today, I’ll discuss how it works to help me keep up with my social networking.
You would think that, as a science fiction writer, I could simply find a nice quiet corner and do nothing else but write. I could turn off the Internet and focus only the stories that I have to tell. And on rare occasions, I wish that I could do that. But the truth is there are three parts to being a science fiction writer that I love:
- Writing science fiction stories. There may be people out there that hate writing, hate what they write, but still manage to sell stories but I’m not one of them. I love writing science fiction stories and seeing readers enjoy them.
- Making friends with other people who love science fiction. It is one of the fringe benefits of being a science fiction writer that you are welcomed into the community with open arms. I’m sometimes amazed at people who I call my friends these days, people like Barry Malzberg and Allen Steele, whose stuff I have been reading for ages. And people like Michael A. Burstein and Juliette Wade, whose stuff I’ve read more recently.
- Writer though I may be, I always consider myself a fan first.
All of this boils down to the fact that to have a career as a science fiction writer, even if that career is more of an avocation, as it is in my case, social networking is vital. It’s not just about keeping in touch with your friends, but like any other type of work, it’s about making connections, learning new things, and trying to improve your skills. The things that I typically do that are connected with social networking, therefore, are:
In part 2, I discussed how I am using my new iPad to do my fiction writing. In part 3 I want to talk about using it for note-taking and in particular, how it seems almost perfectly designed to be used at conferences and conventions.
When the original iPad was first announced, I had a mixed reaction. Without having it in my hand to play with, I was hard pressed to see how it could be any more useful than a laptop. In fact, there was only one area where I saw real potential for it and that was in the business conference arena. It would be nice to have a slim device to take to conferences, most of which provide wireless access, and on which you could get all of your programming, your schedule, as well as take notes without having to lug a laptop from breakout session to breakout session. As I have learned, the iPad has turned out to be much more useful than I ever expected. But its value at a conference really highlights what it can do for your productivity–to say nothing of your back.
As a science fiction writer, I attend a number of science fiction conventions each year and last weekend, I attended my first convention with my iPad, and sans laptop. Balticon, the annual Baltimore area convention, takes place in Hunt Valley about 50 miles north of where I live. I spend two days at the con, which I have written about here and here. But now I want to focus on how much I was able to do at the convention without a laptop and with my iPad.
In part 1 of this series, I talked about my experience so far reading on the iPad. Today I want to discuss my experience writing on the device. Once again, my goal is to see how much of the work I do on a laptop can be transferred to the iPad. There is one exception in all of this, and that is writing. With my writing, I still plan on making use of my laptop as my primary tool for writing and there are a couple of reasons for this:
- I do most of my writing in my home office. The laptop is right there on my desk and so there is no reason to use to the iPad.
- I use Scrivener, which is an outstanding writing tool, by far the best that I have come across. While this is available on the Mac and Windows computers there is no iPad version.
However, there are times when I do write outside my office. When I am on a business trip or vacation I usually bring my laptop along with me. I sometimes write during my lunch hour at work. In these instances, if I have my laptop, I just go ahead and use it, and if I don’t I write in Google Docs and then transfer what I’ve written back into Scrivener when I am back in front of my laptop. But I now want to avoid having to take my laptop with me on these trips. And when I don’t have my laptop, I’d like a more seamless way of working with Scrivener. This is where the iPad fits in. It is small enough to make it easy to take with me. It has a far better battery life than my laptop. And while it doesn’t run Scrivener, it integrates with it far more seamlessly than Google Docs.
I got my iPad about a week ago and have started to make the transition from laptop to iPad. With a few exceptions, I am seeing how much I can do entirely on the iPad. In thinking through what I do, I’ve come up with five general categories and over the next five days, I’ll be posting about each of them and how I have managed the transition so far. The categories are:
- Reading (books, manuscripts, etc.)
- Writing (fiction and columns)
- Note-taking (at places like conventions and classes)
- Social networking (chatting, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, etc.)
- Multimeda (watching shows, listening to music, taking photos and video)
I don’t play a lot of games on the iPad because I don’t have the time to do it. I have downloaded a few games for the Little Man to play but for now, I think that gaming is out of the scope of what I am attempting to do here.
What I am attempting to do is to see how much of the work that I do on my laptop can be transferred to the iPad. There is one exception to this: I still plan on using the laptop to do the bulk of my fiction-writing. However, I am no longer planning on taking my laptop with me when I travel so that any fiction writing done outside my home office will be done on the iPad. I’ll discuss writing tomorrow. Today’s topic is reading on the iPad.
I’ve had my new iPad for about 21 hours now which is probably long enough to write about my initial impressions without going into too many specific. I’ve installed about a dozen apps so far, things that I generally use frequently like Evernote, Kindle App, Twitter, WordPress, Reeder, and SiriusXM. I’ve also installed a few others like HBOGO, SimpleNote and Nightstand. Here are some of my initial impressions:
- It’s a little heavier than I imagined, but I’m used to holding a Kindle and the weight hasn’t been much of a factor at this point–just noticeable.
- I like the screen but there are two things that bother me about it: (a) it gets dirty from touch pretty fast; (b) with my polarized sunglasses on the screen becomes invisible. Makes for reading outdoors with the sunglasses a little difficult.
- The performance is impressive. I have an iPhone 3G; not even a 3GS, just a plain vanilla 3G. I can’t do multitasking or anything like that and compared to how fast things are on the iPad, my iPhone seems to crawl. I had no idea what I was missing!
- Impressed with how well Google apps (Mail, Calendar, etc.) work in Safari, but I really wish that Chrome were available for the iPad. Safari is fine, but I love Chrome.
It was originally supposed to ship today and be delivered on May 31. Then I was notified that it shipped on May 22 with a delivery date of May 26. But when I checked this morning, I saw that it was out on the FedEx truck for delivery! I rushed home at 9am, since I’d have to be there to sign for it, and the FedEx driver showed up around 11am with the new device. Here it is before I even opened the box:
My MacBook is nearly 4 years old. It still works pretty well, but it is beginning to show signs of decay. The trackpad, for instance, has grown ultra-sensitive. Sometime, even pressing a key like the spacebar will cause a “mouse-click” on the trackpad, which in turn seems to want to select all of your text. Of course, when you type fast, as I do, the very next keystroke then wipes out the selected text, which can grow tedious.
I could replace the laptop, of course, (it is no longer covered by Apple Care) but it seems silly to get a new laptop and an iPad. I’ve seen enough of the iPad to know that it could fill in for the laptop in most situations. Of course, writing on an iPad is up in the air, but when I am not home, I often use Google Docs for my writing and that works with an iPad. And when I am writing at home, I still have my trusty iMac, which currently acts as our central home server.
So yesterday, I placed an order for an iPad 2.