From my Punch-Soaked Hands

So I found an excuse to get an iPad. Parents, of course! As if anyone really needed a reason. This is really fun to use. So much so, I’ve only had this thing since Thursday and I’ve already wasted a good portion of my evenings (after work) customizing this for MY personal use 🙂

I’ve always been fascinated with Apple products and the og Apple community. I now find myself with like company. At least that’s how I feel most of the time. I owe this to a friend of mine who first introduced me to my first Linux distro (Mandrake) and teased me with a nifty little gadget named after a snack (I so thought, many years ago), the Newton. Now I say, the “og” Apple community because the fanboys (and fangirls) of today are more like cultists, it seems. As was mentioned on one of my favorite podcasts, [iStuff] are now fashion statements.

I’ve always been one who prided himself in resisting the urge to “keep up with the Joneses.” but I feel that just encouraged me to follow another trend that is not spoken much of – until I find an official buzz phrase, I’ll call it, “keeping up with the Jenkins.” For every high fashion and trendy thing, there are low budget and equally useful, if not more so, items to follow. I could go into examples, but this post is about my recent tablet purchase.

When Apple first introduced the iPad, I was flabbergasted with how much they were asking for it. But I should have known. Not only had they revitalized the market for these things, but they found a way to make their customers feel like rock stars…. Or celebrity authors, film makers and artists. But $500 for the basest model cost, it was not, could not be reasonable. But it was. Well, now it is.

Every reiteration of a tablet device has been less than stellar and marked up in price. Perhaps the techie geeks and corporate customers value utilitarian design AND functionality, but that’s not the cash cow it once used to be. I mean, that was RIM’s bread and butter up until recent weeks, hasn’t it? Since the inception of the iPhone OS (now simply, iOS), Apple R&D team have been catering to the masses. Though unwillingly at first, Apple has come to embrace their app development community. Imagine where Apple (mobile) would be if they had taken extra measures to shut down independent app developers early on? Certainly not seeing the amount of success they have been enjoying these past few years.

I still fawn over the HP TouchPad though. I know it’s not an iPad! Do you think Apple would still be around at all if they allowed all the nay sayers who said, “Mac OS is nice, but it’s not Windows…” to shut them down? Exactly. We gotta keep competition alive people. It encourages innovation.

But my experience these past few days have been wonderful, really. I’ve been really fascinated by all the different apps available. I am much more impressed by the iPad versions than I had ever been when I had my iPod. I resisted all this Apple hype because of the devices’ dependency on apps to be useful. Apple really owes quite a debt of gratitude to the app developers, great and small.

I’ve always defined the “smartness” of a device by what’s built into it, out of the box, and how well it integrates into our ever growing busy schedules. It’s why I adored my Blackberry Curve so much. That was my first smart phone. I loved that thing so much, that when I transitioned to my Pre+, I promised my cousin he could have it. But it took me a year to finally wipe my data off of it and now it’s worthless :-/ (I think Gazelle.com priced it at about $15). This is why I love my Pre+. I’m not an app fiend. On my BB, I had 6 programs I used daily. 3 of them were built into the phone. Likewise with my Pre+, I only use a handful of apps. But if Apple had taken the same approach as Palm did with webOS, by using the web interface as if it were a computer, at least 10% of Apple’s apps would be obsolete, I’m sure of it.

Smart or not, there is intelligence behind all of Apple’s products. Thank you, Steve and thank you Apple. I may have to keep this one for myself…

I almost forgot – where do my parents come in? I intend to give this iPad to my parents. My mother is not as energetic as she once was. She’s hard-working but should be retired by now, IMO. Last year my wife and I purchased a Kindle 3 for her birthday, so she could take her library of books wherever she went. A couple years before that, I purchased a net top computer (Acer Revo r1600) because her old eMachine wasn’t worth upgrading (the Acer came pre-installed with WinXP and I replaced it with Ubuntu 10.10, btw).

Now I’ve been eyeing the iPad since it came out. My cousin who was visiting from Canada picked one up on a whim, just weeks after it released in the US. We were all wowed, even though all he could do was open the free Winnie the Pooh iBook. But still….. $500. He was already a fanboy, the rest of my family shook our heads in disgust.

It’s now a year later, my mom has seen better days but really still works out of necessity. She still thinks $500 is a lot for a toy and while I agree with her, there are some things so compelling, you just can’t ignore it. I figure, if you’re gonna continue to work into your golden years, you can at least have some fun while you do it. My dad has also expressed an interest in “computing.” I quoted it because, like my mom, I think he’s more interested in the social aspects.

My dad is a retired veteran, of the US Navy. He was a SeaBee mechanic who specialized in heavy machinery. He’s never been too interested in electronics beyond learning how to use a tv remote (they’re complicated these days) and programming a VCR. I even think, up until a few years ago, he was disappointed that neither of his sons were mechanically inclined (though I’d like to think I’m a bit handier with a toolbox than my older brother). Instead, we’re both computer junkies.

So finally, where does this iPad come in? Facebook, Gmail and the Internet. That’s really all my mom does with her computer. Oh and the occasional document or form creation she does for her work. My dad, being the social butterfly that he is, made friends with some folks who are closer to my age than his. I think they’re all on Facebook. My dad has an email address he hardly uses too. Social networking, web surfing, occasional documentation….. Yup, sounds like the iPad fits the bill perfectly. Let’s not forget all the video and music you can access for life, with or without subscription, so long as you pay your master (in their case, Frontier FiOS).

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