The Wife is Strangely Unconvinced I Will Return Her New iPad

But I only wanted to take a picture of it for the blog. I swear. However, any further attempt to extricate said iPad would result in my arm being removed at the socket and me being beaten to death with it, so, here, have a picture of my wife threatening death to anyone (read: me) planning on separating her from her new toy.

In other news: Hey, there’s an iPad in the house. For which I blame Tobias Buckell, who took his iPad to PenguiCon, where my wife got to play with it and thus decided she wanted one for her own. I had been manfully resisting picking one up for myself, choosing to get a netbook instead because I’m one of those people who actually needs a keyboard on his tiny portable computing device. But when Krissy decides she wants something, that’s pretty much that.

Of course, I did play with it a bit today, when it arrived and I spent a couple of hours customizing it for the missus. It is unsurprisingly nicely put together, and in playing with the virtual keyboard I have to say in landscape mode it’s very nearly acceptable for typing. But not quite; it still has weird quirks to slow you down if you’re actually trying to get work done (like either changing the virtual keyboard to access the apostrophe or holding down the comma button for a second for it to show up), as if to remind you it’s a device for the consumption of media rather than the creation of it. I can see it being fine for short e-mails and other things not requiring a long slog of typing/editing/whatever but less so otherwise. Yes, I know I can bluetooth a keyboard to it. But then, that’s why I have a netbook with an actual keyboard. No bluetooth required.

Krissy doesn’t plan to write a novel on it, or indeed anything more complicated than an e-mail, so this is not a problem. She largely intends to use it for the purpose it has been constructed: Consumption of media, and specifically books and films (the former through the three e-book apps I downloaded for her, the latter by way of Netflix, whose app for the iPad is really quite nice), and also the occasional game and what have you. She’s is not particularly bothered by the various geek concerns regarding the iPad, i.e., it’s a closed system or what have you. Like most humans, she wants something that works, rather than something she has to work on to make it work.

As for me, I may be allowed to look at it from time to time, but there’s really no question whose baby it is. If you see me soon missing an upper limb, you’ll know I tried to keep it too long. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

70 Comments on “The Wife is Strangely Unconvinced I Will Return Her New iPad”

  1. I doubt she’d remove the arm – it’s needed for writing and that means money. Krissy seems very practical, so… Something with a sling, though…

    I’ve played around with an iPad at the Apple store and it seems very nice, but I’m unconvinced I need one when I could use a new Macbook.

    Oh and I’ve seen people use the small bluetooth keyboard when they want to type more rapidly than the virtual keyboard but in that case…

    Plus I suspect a new iPhone and Macbook are in my near future.

  2. @MikeJ I set up my parents’ computers, my sister’s, and my BIL’s each and every time. Only the niece and nephew eschew the assistance.

  3. Welcome to the other Borg collective. I’ve had mine for three weeks now, and can just barely let go of it.

  4. I bought one for my little sister a few months back, and she loves it too.

    I still don’t have one because there’s no way to write on it (although if there were a way you could use a stylus on that sucker and have it convert to text, it would be my dream machine) but it’s amazing for media consumption like you said.

    Also the battery life is jaw dropping. My little sister left hers unplugged for like four days and it still was at half capacity.

  5. But when Krissy decides she wants something, that’s pretty much that.

    This, sir, could have been the entirety of your post on what makes a marriage work.

    Yes, I’m joking…maybe.

  6. Can I put a plug in for the Apple case? Great googly-moogly, I love the Apple case. It flips open and shut, yes, but you can make it bend into a triangle, for so many comfy browsing/reading options. Out of all the cases I looked at, this won.

    Also, I have yet to let my dude touch mine. It’s MINE. If he got his grubby paws on it, it’d be hacked into running Android Froyo and slaved to a 12 volt battery, and he’d mock all the books I’ve downloaded to boot. Heck no, I’m not allowing that.

  7. In other news, will we see an article on filmcritic about the Mass Effect movie news and whether you think it has any chance of being good?

  8. MikeJ @ 3:

    You personalized somebody else’s computer? This seems odd to me.

    You are obviously not the designated “computer person” for your family and/or friends. I don’t find it odd at all.


    Has she started calling it her “Preciousss” yet?

    I spent a little time playing with one in a nearby Apple store and I must say it’s quite appealing. But I have solemnly promised myself that I’d wait at least until the price drop, and possibly until the release of version 2.

  9. Typing on the soft keyboard starts to work really well after even a little practice. Things like the apostrophe on the second panel aren’t as big a deal as you’d expect, because the autocorrect catches it in just about every common word. Granted, I’d never name a character O’Laughlin or M’Naghty while I was writing on it, but I wind up switching to the keyboard dock way less often than I’d expected to.
    The screen gets smudged by fingerprint _radiation_, though, I swear. You don’t even have to touch it, and it looks like someone rubbed American cheese food all over it. I’m going to start carrying a lens cloth around when I’m doing demos.

  10. I think this whole “I don’t really want to take her iPad” is just an attempt to lull her into a false sense of security so you can slip it out from under her pillow while she’s sleeping, and then play some zombie-killing video game on it.

  11. The virtual keyboard is definitely a YMMV item. Those for whom it just won’t do invariably point to it as the reason why it’s a device for consumption, not creation. Those who type just fine on it (including me) see iPad as it as a device for both creation and consumption.

    (Of course, by creation, I’m not talking about drawing pictures or composing music.)

    Personally, I’m not surprised by the wildly divergent reactions. Keyboard feel can be a highly personal thing. A friend of mine is insistent on a clicky Selectric keyboard. Another friend is equally adamant about his TouchStream (totally flat, multitouch keyboard that’s no longer available because Apple bought the company years ago). The former friend would probably loathe the iPad virtual keyboard. The latter friend would probably like it, but lament that it’s not as versatile as his TouchStream.

    I haven’t written a novel on my iPad. Then again, I haven’t written a novel on my desktop computer either. I am writing short stories on my iPad though. Thanks to the magic of distributed version control, I can sync changes back and forth between my iPad and my desktop without having to remember which files I changed.

    Even though I have a bluetooth keyboard, I’ve only used it twice. The virtual keyboard in landscape orientation works for me. I fully admit to being quirky. For most people, an utterly flat keyboard would take some getting used to. And if there’s some other device that already does exactly what you want, why would you bother?

    I’m absolutely with you on the apostrophe thing though. What you’re supposed to do, I think, is let autocorrect insert the apostrophes for you. Too bad I just can’t make myself do that. So, I end up waiting a second every time a need an apostrophe. At least you don’t actually have to hit the key once it shows up. It’s already pre-selected.

    In any case, I hope Krissy enjoys her iPad as much as I’m enjoying mine.

    (Oh, and…
    BC Woods@6: Ten One Design makes a stylus that works with iPad. Also, there’s an app called WritePad that does English language handwriting recognition. I don’t know how accurate it is though. Chinese language handwriting recognition is built into the OS. And that is scary accurate.)

  12. My bad, dude. Glad she’s enjoying it though :)

    -written on my iPad in St. Peters, Barbados ;)

  13. You can swipe up on the comma key to make an apostrophe. No keyboard changing required.

  14. Dammit dammit dammit dammit.

    Don’t write any more about it. PLEASE don’t. Cause if your book mentions and big idea are any indication, I’ll buy one within days of reading about it here…

  15. I don’t understand how you folks can write much on the virtual keyboard. I can do fine, until my hands slip a little, and then I’m typing gobbledygook, and I’m usually a few lines or paragraphs into that before I catch it. Deeply annoying.

    Are you not touch typists? Do you just type really slowly?

  16. Man, they ain’t being released in South Korea until next month. I just hope the North doesn’t nuke us before I FINALLY get to play around with one at the Apple Store in Coex Mall.

  17. I’ve been looking at the options out there in the netbook and smaller range. The TouchBook seems most promising from a technology perspective–a netbook with a removable tablet for carrying about, internal and external usb ports, and lots of other cool features.

    But I am not sure if I need both a netbook/tablet AND a new Android smartphone. Not in a hurry for either so I’ll watch the reviews and read and write the old fashioned way.

  18. @9 “Can I put a plug in for the Apple case? Great googly-moogly, I love the Apple case.”

    NO. I like my ipad a lot, but the apple case is HORRIBLE. It’s great in many ways, but its one defect overrides all of that: the edges are SHARP. This means I can’t hold it in my right hand without it cutting into my palm.

    Perhaps it’s ok for you if you don’t prefer to hold slate/clipboard-like devices on the bottom right. But if you do, this case is NOT for you.

  19. Somehow the phrase “Precious, my precious” came to mind……

    Such is the devotion of IPad owners.

  20. @24 (myself) – that NO means I disagree with the recommendation, not with Ticktock’s right to make it. :)

  21. Great, the virtual keyboard sounds like yet another item to create more unintelligible shortcuts in writing. I won’t use twitter or texting because I really don’t want to learn another language and that is what it has become. It was annoying enough to learn the shortcuts commonly in use on the internet for comments.

    I predict in 100 years we will have a language in common use that we today cannot understand.

  22. Ah yes. I bought one the first day, primarily for my wife to use. Well, no kidding. She takes it to work. She’s in the same boat with Krissy, she’s not writing, but she uses it for reading–books, magazines, Time online, USA Today online, CNN online–solitaire (a very expensive deck of cards in my opinion), photos, and email. In fact, every time she uses the iPad Mail function in my presence she said, “Wow, email on the iPad is so much better than…”

  23. “I did play with it a bit today, when it arrived and I spent a couple of hours customizing it for the missus.”

    Have you considered pointing out the fun and practicality of a Lamborghini to Krissy? As the family tech, you’d be the obvious choice to set it up for her – you know, align the mirrors, adjust the seats for optimum comfort under high acceleration, that kind of thing.

    And wouldn’t you just love watching the UPS guy trying to unload it from the truck?

  24. 1) “Touch typist”? That’s fancy stuff. I type like a 1930s newspaper reporter — forefingers, middle fingers and thumbs, hunched over with my eyes glued to the keyboard. I’ve heard it called the Biblical Method — seek and ye shall find. But no, I don’t do it on the iPad.

    2) The apple case is fine. There are better ones but they spendy. I mean, even more spendy.

    3) I call for an iPod/iPad app post! What are you liking, Scalzi? Star Walk or Distant Suns? Korg iElectribe or Looptastic? Words with Friends or Scrabble?

  25. “… (like either changing the virtual keyboard to access the apostrophe or holding down the comma button for a second for it to show up)”

    This is actually one of my favorite keyboard features. You DON’T have to wait. Just tap the key and flick upwards, and it does an apostrophe right away. Once you try it, I think you’ll be surprised how natural it feels. I’m hoping to see the feature on other multi-function keys as well in the future.

  26. A question off-topic if you dont mind.

    I was wondering if and when there will be paperback editions of The God Engines, The Sagan Diary and Metatropolis.

    I have nearly all your other books as paperbacks and would like to keep my collection somewhat consistent.

    Best regards from Germany

  27. I seriously <3 my iPad. I was underwhelmed at the intro, but having played with one at my local Best Buy a couple weeks after the release, I was hooked. I pre-ordered a 3G version and have been very happily using it for three weeks now. Combined with apps like Square, Numbers, Pages and a few reference works, it makes a surprisingly useful tool for a mobile professional. I use it my law practice daily and intend to use it to draft and review changes to forms and documents as part of my mediation practice.

  28. Andreas:

    No paperback editions of TGE or Sagan planned at the moment, although Sagan is available in German in the back of “Die letzte Kolonie.” Metatropolis is probably about a year from paperback because the trade hardcover comes out next week. However, it will be available in a German edition this October.

  29. Perhaps the most interesting use of the iPad is as a MIDI controller. There is a multi-thousand controller that uses a multitouch screen similar to an iPad, and now at least one company is working on a similar software package for the iPad itself.

    Maybe the iPad is still in your future, John Scalzi…. :)

  30. John Chu:

    (Of course, by creation, I’m not talking about drawing pictures or composing music.)

    There’s an app for that. At least two apps for composing and I dunno how many drawing apps. I’m not qualified to judge how truly functional they are.

    Also, I just have to point out that the classical pianist Lang Lang played “Flight of the Bumblebee” on his iPad in concert. (It’s on YouTube; search and be amused.) Okay, that’s not composing, and it was a stunt performance, but still … not just consumption.

    Not that there’d be anything wrong with that, even so — it’s a product for consumers. That’s a humongous chunk of demographic.

    (…Chinese language handwriting recognition is built into the OS. And that is scary accurate.)

    If it’s accurate, that is scary. Jing tsai!

  31. Thanks for the quick answer.

    So i will buy the hardcovers then. I have read them allready and now im just looking to complete my collection. The german editions of your books are very good and i recommend them to all friends of mine whose english language skills are not that good or non existant.
    But personally i prefer the original versions because some jokes and expressions get lost in translation in the localized versions.

    The only thing so far that i couldnt get my hands on entirely is the english version of “Questions For A Soldier”. I have read it in german in the back of the german edition of one of your books but im still looking for the original.

  32. When the post-oil collapse of civilization comes, I hope that Krissy’s on my side. She would be much too formidable to have as an enemy. :)

  33. Another call for Plants vs. Zombies; oh, wait, I think I heard of it here. Something about kid staying home sick or snowed in and having it on iPhone? Or was that some other SF author I follow online…

  34. A computer geek I met recently who has an iPad says he likes the on-screen keyboard. He may be a computer geek, but he said he’s a terrible typist, and he finds it helpful to have the keyboard right there near what he’s typing so he doesn’t have to constantly look down and the keyboard, up at the screen, down at the keyboard, etc., which can really slow you down.

    We just bought one for my mom for her 85th birthday. We hope she’ll find it less intimidating than her desktop computer. She’s a hunt-and-peck typist, finds the mouse hard to use, and never knows when she needs to click and when to double-click. I think the simple design of the iPad will work for the stuff she does–reading e-mail (seldom composing any), some Web stuff, reading her kids’ and grandkids’ blogs. We’ve set it up with her Netflix account so she can watch movies, and The New Yorker app. When I get my hands on it (it was purchased by a sibling, who is shipping it to me to present to Mom), I’ll add my favorite weather app, with all her kids’ cities input, a kitchen timer app, and maybe one or two others. I will see if I can figure out how to download free e-books from Gutenberg or elsewhere. I’m bummed that Stanza hasn’t been tweaked for use on the iPad, and I hear that even with bigger type, Stanza doesn’t look as clear on the iPad as on my sib’s iPhone and my iTouch. Anybody got a recommendation for a better e-book reader than the Apple one that comes with the iPad?

  35. I believe it’s that “playing with” thing that they count on, to be honest. Because I’ve played with an acquaintance’s iPad a couple of times and, although I don’t need one, the only thing standing in the way of my buying one is that I, um, can’t afford it.

  36. Tying this back in with the Hugo digital package “PDF gate” stuff: PDFs look great on the iPad: novels, full color magazines, comics, etc. It’s a media consumption portal to awesome.

    But I still can’t pay $500 for one.

  37. Elaine @45: Mee too. I have two desktop computers, a laptop, and an iPod Touch, all of which I use pretty much daily. And I would still buy an iPad if I could afford it. If it worked as a tablet on which I could hand-write with a stylus, I might say “can’t afford it be damned.” I’m hoping that by the time they release v. 3 (or so), with true tablet functionality (please please, Apple), I’ll be able to afford it.

  38. Heyyyy…. Tobias Buckell wrote a Halo novel.

    When are *you* going to write a Halo novel, John?

    Please? Please? Pretty please?

  39. Sara@30: Shortcuts like u, 2, etc, became popular when you had to rotate a single key through 4 options to get a letter, so any full keyboard works *against* that. In fact, the iPhone/iPad autocorrection works best when you type full words, so it somewhat discourages abbreviations. It adds apostrophes automatically (& mostly correctly), and hitting the space bar twice creates a period, so that proper punctuation almost becomes the easy route. (I will admit that places I might type a semi-colon I’ll use a period instead, because it’s easier.)

    There’s essentially zero shortcutting in any tweets I read, and very little in texts I receive. If I wanted to make predictions, I’d predict the whole shortcutting thing will slowly burn out—more kids will start out on phones with full keyboards, unlimited texts will become the norm, and alternate messaging systems like Facebook might not enforce the same tight character limits as SMS and Twitter. (LOL, OMG, etc, have taken on an ironic meaning that might persist, though.)

  40. Elaine @ 45:

    I suspect a big chunk of it is the multi-touch interface, combined with quick response time. This was somewhat apparent in the iPhone and iPod Touch, but the larger size of the iPad makes it even more striking. Apple’s PR machine refers to it as “magical”, in an obvious reference to Clarke’s 3rd Law. I think of it as “science fictional” — it’s a device straight out of science fiction, from the NewsPad in 2001 to the PADDs in ST:TNG to the gesture-based interfaces and interactive newspapers in Minority Report.

    (And The Elements app for the iPad almost inevitably brings up comparisons to certain “magical tech” scenes in the Harry Potter series.)

    The mouse is an inspired interface device, but there’s really nothing like using your own fingers as pointers. The only improvement I could think of on that — short of a direct mind-link — would be to provide active tactile feedback to touches. I understand there are ways of doing that through a display screen, but I don’t know how functional/practical they are, or whether it would really be worth it.

  41. I reviewed my iPad on my website and one of the things I was shocked about was how much I use it. It may very well be one of the finer little media consumption toys I have ever bought.

    I can’t even imagine going on a trip without it now and I have only had it for a month. Looking forward to using it on my cross country plane ride in June.

  42. What was your reasoning behind getting the 3G model? I keep going back and forth on that, but I seem to be leaning toward the WiFi only version. I can’t seem to go anywhere without find a “Complimentary WiFi Here!” sign anymore, and I already have a couple of GPS units… I’d love to know what swayed you, maybe there’s something I missed.

  43. I learned the hard way not to accidentally expose the IPAD to any type of liquid. There are moisture tattle sensors in the machine, and the warranty is voided. Though my old ipod has been exposed to much worse, it just keeps working fine. The IPAD is not as forgiving.

    Most use of IPAD for me… Plant vs. Zombies (my kids love it, too), Netflix, ABC app, Pandora, reading in the dark (otherwise, I go to the Kindle because it is easier on my eyes), and new episodes of Dr. Who.

    I also discovered the new Wired Magazine app. Wow. My thought was: this changes everything. There’s a whole new economy that I just noticed: an App economy. I used to smirk and think, ‘there’s a *rapp for that,’ because there’s so much useless apps out there… But, I never thought that I would own an IPAD either.

  44. JB@52 I regret not waiting for the 3G model. Love my wifi iPad, but having the GPS function built into the 3G version would have been worth the extra dollars. I’m temped to sale he one I got and buy a 3G. If I can wait maybe ten months a new version will be out …

  45. Kathy E @ 53: Too late for you now, I suppose, but a SquareTrade extended warranty would cover damage from spills and droppage and other user errors. Apple’s doesn’t. I’m not a shill for SquareTrade–in fact, I’m hoping never to cash in on the warranties I’ve bought from them and thus never having to find out whether they’re as good as their rep–but for laptops and things like the iPad, I find that extended warranties with that kind of coverage are well worth the cost. Ideally, I buy one from the manufacturer, but if they don’t have one that covers spills and random user error, I go for SquareTrade.

  46. It has just occurred to me: The tablet with which Dirk Moeller operates his fart insult apparatus at the beginning of The Android’s Dream? Totally an iPad. :)

    “Fart calibration? There’s an app for that.”

  47. JB:

    Wifi is not as ubiquitous out here in the boonies, and also there may be times one of us wants to use the iPad whilst traveling in the car (presumably not the one who is driving).

    That said, we don’t have the 3G activated yet; we’re saving that for when we need it, as it’s $30 a pop, and if you’re not paying attention, it’s also a recurring payment.

  48. How is the Netflix streaming? (Given my day job, I am particularly curious how it compares to your PS3.)

    I’ve heard rumors that the iPad will get access to a certain other major network television streaming service real soon now.

  49. The Netflix streaming is very smooth and good looking over our home WiFi. I watched the first few moments of “Up” on it and it looked great.

  50. I’m definitely more addicted to my (WiFi only) iPad than I expected to be, and I totally agree that the apostrophe is the worst thing about the keyboard. I know the autocorrect will do it for me, but I also know that letting it do so will encourage lazy typing on my part which will affect me on “real” computers.

    I also cannot say enough good things about the GoodReader app. It’s fantastic for big PDFs, which besides easy portable Internet and email was why I wanted an iPad.

  51. I’d really love to have one. Sigh. Especially since I’m a photographer and it’s absolutely perfect to show around a portfolio on. But it’s currently too expensive for me. Also, Germany (Europe?) always gets the short stick, pricewise. It’s 499€ for the base model (606$) and goes up 100€ for every feature added, be it 3G or more space. I guess I’ll have to forego it in favour of food and rent for now :(

  52. BW @ 55 Alas, it is too late for IPAD #1 and IPAD #2 (have to purchase warranty within 30 days of equipment purchase to insure it with SquareTrade), but I appreciate your help in identifying a future solution. I’m awfully hard on my portable equipment (I even cracked a Kindle DX… but replaced it free), and SquareTrade seems like a good option.

    Oh! And Scrabble App. on the IPAD is a lot of fun, too, even if the computer seems to cheat. :) However, the computer can be elimated by playing the pass and play mode.

    I’ve the IPAD since day one of its US release, and I’m still addicted.

  53. iPad good!

    Plants vs Zombies
    RSS Reader
    imdb access on my couch

    well worth it!

  54. I love my ipad. I have the 16GB Wifi version. 3G coverage in my area is laughable, however, I can access free wi-fi in places one would not expect to find even modern plumbing.

    I even have an app that lets me upload my scripts from Final Draft and work on them on the ipad. For PDF’s I use the Smiley Docs app, was free and came highly recommended.

    I love how it has freed me from carrying so many books for research purposes. I use a business card holder and use the ipad as a second screen when I am working on certain projects. Next up is getting the component cable plug in so I can plug it into my tv and stream my Netflix account.

  55. John @58:

    My first month’s 3G data plan (250 MB @ $15) is about to run out. I turned off the autorenew by canceling it as soon as I signed up. When next I need 3G access, I’ll sign up again, so there’s definitely a way around the recurring charge.

    Also, you can renew for the 250 MB plan if you run out of data close to the end of the month, keeping the costs down. Finally, it seems that if you run out of the 250 MB mid-month, you can upgrade to the unlimited plan for the price difference. (And it may be that the unlimited plan starts when the 250 MB runs out, which in some ways is even better, since you might get some extra time.)

    This is my understanding, at least. I’m a bit surprised at the flexibility.

  56. I’m curious as to how close the iPad comes to the PDA’s you envision in The Old Man’s War series?

  57. @Stevevm: Just waiting for apple to release the iPal – Why carry around an aluminum pad if you can have your personal entertainment and information center inside your brain? :-D