austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Water the flowers that grow at your heel

So what has the iPad brought me, besides something else to check in my messenger bag to make sure it hasn't gone missing in the four minutes since I last checked? No great revolutions in how I view data, although I wasn't expecting any of those either. I haven't used it to do the great original writing work I figured was likely, although that's a matter of not having had the time. I did use its version of Keynote to modify and prepare a PowerPoint-type slide show I had to get ready, and I'll explain that in time.

Its most practical application to date has been the mapping tool: not just because I really like being able to look at maps of where I intend to go and see how I might modify my route for some desired goal (usually, in my case, a shorter drive, or at least one with a more elegant course) but also tracking where I actually am. In my first two weeks of ownership it rescued me from getting hopelessly lost near the Taconic State Parkway once (again, a thing I'll explain in time), and rescued me and bunny_hugger from serious disappointment in an incident to be described soon.

It's also proven much easier to use to track down books in the library --- county and university --- than finding the actual fixed card catalogue stations. There's something really good to be said about using this to hunt through the stacks.

What's really surprised me is how nice it is to have an extremely lightweight and fast-responding computer available. The speed is the big thing: touch the on button, it's there. My laptop feels positively sluggish as it rouses itself from sleep and finds the local network, in comparison. This is great for when I wake up from sleep with a couple words or a sentence that I realize has to be written down before I forget it; it's almost as fast as finding a Post-It note and a working pencil for bedside writing. It's far faster than the MacBook is, so I stand a lesser chance of losing stuff to the fading of a dream this way. It's also remarkably cozy for reading my preferred news web sites, through their various apps; the six-by-nine size really fits better than I guessed even from fiddling with ones in the store.

I haven't yet got to deploying the full power of downloadable books --- I've got a strategic reading reserve that's comfortably stocked following the recent library book sale, after all --- but just the Project Gutenberg texts alone have me pretty well set up. The neatest part was not just that they have earlier P G Wodehouse books, but they've even got the original book jackets scanned so some of the texts appear on the iBooks application with these century-old covers. Trivial? Sure. But it makes me smile.

Also it turns out they have Civilization: Colonization for the iPad, which I'm hesitant to buy because it might soak up all my available waking hours, unless they're putting Europa Universalis on the thing, which I hope they are.

Trivia: On Monday 14 July 1902 a fissue in the Piazza San Marco campanile rose from the ground to the belfry, with the plaza covered in debris. At 9:30 am a police inspector ordered the tower and surrounding cafe evacuated. At 9:47 the fissure burst and the tower collapsed. Source: Tilt: A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa, Nicholas Shrady.

Currently Reading: Science Fiction Discoveries, Editors Carol Pohl, Frederick Pohl.


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