Getting an iPad

It’s been about three weeks now since I started using the iPad. It’s not the first time I’ve used one of course – with friends like @SteveNagata I was guaranteed to be one of the first few people in the country to try one out (which I was).

I must admit, before I got one, i wasn’t all that excited about the iPad. Sure, there were some cool games, and it seemed like a great device to watch videos on, but ultimately it didn’t strike me as being all that useful. I don’t play games, and I don’t have much time for watching videos or reading online news. As such, i thought that if I were to get an iPad it would end up on the coffee table, as friends of mine had reported had happened to them.

That was before I changed my job. I went from being a full time employee at a publishing company, to being a freelancer working in online marketing.

No longer tied to a specific desk, my ‘office’ is now everywhere and anywhere. I work at home, in clients’ offices, in Starbucks, on trains and even at Disneyland (which is where I am right now). I’m needing to do more travelling, have more meetings, be more flexible.

Prior to getting an iPad I took my 17″ MacBook Pro with me everywhere. But getting this out in meetings or on the subway was a real pain …and sometimes quite rude too. Complete overkill.

Oh, and there was also my desire for a third, mini-monitor at home (as pictured above).

Three weeks ago I finally picked up a 64GB WIFI iPad from the Apple Store (I already had a pocket wifi dongle which gives me unlimited data, so no need for another 3G data contract).

Determined that this thing would not become a coffee table item, I then invested about 25,000 yen (£200/US$300) in some of the best iPad apps available (listed in an upcoming blog post) essentially turning it into a truly versatile mobile computer – one that could be stroked.

I also bought the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, which manages to hit the sweet spot in terms of size vs. ease of use/functionality. It’s super lightweight, compact enough to carry around with it being a pain, yet large enough to hold a full-size set of keys (that is, the layout is identical to the MacBook). It can also be paired with the iPhone 4 (or any other similarly enabled device), although as with many Bluetooth devices, pairing with more than one device is a little fiddly.

If you’re going to get the keyboard, you’ll also want some kind of stand. The regular Apple iPad case (which I also bought) not only protects, but works as a two-way stand too. Lie it down with the front cover folded back and tucked into the little flap (thus turning the cover into a triangle) and you can work with it an an angle of about 30 degrees. Turn it the other way around and balance it on the ‘spine’ of the cover and you have it near-vertical. I’m not too keen on that second option though – it’s just too unstable, and requires a completely flat surface.

Enter the Twelve South Compass for iPad. Available in Apple Stores and at many iPad accessory retailers, this is by far the best stand I’ve yet seen for the iPad (I liked it so much I bought two). At 200g, this beautiful mini tripod is one of the heaviest on the market – but that’s a feature, what with the iPad itself weighing a fair bit – you want a sturdy base. The compass design is ingenious, allowing it be folded up so it’s small enough to slip in your pocket (inside its very cute cloth case). As well as making a great easel for near-vertical use, it also has a mini-leg that flips out of the back for 30 degree use. You can use it in combination with the regular Apple iPad case, and there’s sufficient clearance at the bottom to charge the iPad via the standard USB dock connector without the cable being squished against the table top. It also comes in stylish packaging that matches the whole Apple experience.

Additionally I picked up the iPad> VGA adapter, and the was the grateful recipient of an iPad> component/USB adapter from a friend. I’ll be picking up the camera connector kit shortly.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself using the iPad on a daily basis. Long train journeys are now very productive, and find me editing documents, dealing with email, doing a lot of the reading that i never had time for before.

It’s freeing up my time. For example, today we’re at Tokyo DisneySea (*Twinkle* has been wanting to come here again for a long time… ok, I love it too!). It’s a trip I couldn’t have made without the iPad, as I have a video that I have to get online as soon as possible. The export process, done on my MacBook Pro at home that’s attached to a 6TB raid, takes about 8 hours – although there’s not much work on my part other than moving it to the next stage every few hours. With the iPad I’ve been able to do that remotely from this Italian style restaurant overlooking DisneySea harbour (more on remotely controlling your computer from your iPad in my next blog).

Whilst here I’ve also tied up a new advertising deal for a couple of my websites, accepted the contract, implemented the code for the ads, put them live and created/ sent the invoice.

The great thing is of course, this is just the beginning for the iPad. It still runs the older version of iOS (until next month), meaning no backgrounding of apps, no folders, no unified inbox etc. When we finally get those functions and apps are updated to make use of them, it’ll make things a lot easier – especially processes that require you to rapidly switch between multiple apps.

Complaints? I don’t think I have any. I expected and accept the limits of iOS – it would be pointless to compare this to a MacBook or other ‘computer’, as it’s not trying to be one. As a tablet device this thing is just amazing.

If all you use computers for is consuming media, playing games, simple Word processing /Excelling/ Powerpointing, emailing and web browsing, I think the iPad can function well as your solitary device (although to be honest I’d probably go for the new MacBook Air unless I was only going to be consuming media). For anything more complex than that it would have to be a secondary device – you’re not going to be using Final Cut Pro on this thing anytime soon!

For heavy users who are often on the go (like me) the iPad is a godsend (Jobssend). Combined with the power of the best productivity apps on the market (e.g. Evernote – see my upcoming post on apps) it’s a tremendously powerful tool that can make you more productive, whilst simultaneously giving you more freedom in terms of how, when and where you work.

Also, and far more important than any of the above, it’s damn sexy.

I love my iPad.

Tokyo Marathon 2011 – Live streaming gear development

Now that my place in next year’s Tokyo Marathon has been confirmed, it’s time to start planning the specialist headgear I shall use to ensure that the many people who haven’t been selected to run are able to do so virtually, courtesy of a number of cameras and sensors that I shall carry.

I created this mockup on the iPad yesterday, and sent it to robot-specialist Lem Fugitt for his expert opinion.

Lem’s reply opened with:

Interesting concept, though technically it has some significant challenges. We would have to re-enforce your neck to begin with – maybe replace it with a steel post.

Hmm, i think that might be going a bit too far this time.

Nevermind, plan B is now on the drawing board. Watch this space.

Alcoholic Apps

You’ve gotta cover your back against everything these days. This is one of the messages you’ll get when installing the augmented reality directory app AcrossAir on your iPhone. Why? AcrossAir contains information on, amongst other things, bars, restaurants and shops that may sell alcohol. Personally I think they (or Apple’s lawyers) are taking this whole thing a bit too far. I mean, it’s not much of a jump from this to a situation whereby as you walk into a bar you get a message on your mobile device asking you to agree to the terms and conditions of drinking there. Sounds crazy now – let’s see how things are 10 years from now!

Sent from my iPad4 Nano

Posted via email from Joseph’s posterous

Tokyo Marathon 2011 – Lottery results

As I posted on my microblog yesterday, I’m on of the lucky 1-in-9.2 applicants that were selected by lottery to run the Tokyo Marathon 2011. Over 294,000 people applied for the full 42.5km race, with only 32,000 able to run. Unfortunately, unlike last year, the majority of my friends were not selected – I only know 3 people who got in. This is quite a disappointment, as Tom and I have run together from the start of all this in 2008. Fingers crossed though that a lot of people forget / choose not to pay the 12,000 yen (£92 $147) entry fee, thus increasing the chances of getting in through the second lottery next month.

Receiving that email had quite an effect upon me – I started shaking, feeling both extreme excitement and happiness. It gives me a clear goal to aim for, and ensures that I keep on running. I’ve now decided to take the training more seriously this year, partly because I’m really enjoying my running, and partly because I want to be able to focus more on whatever it is I end up doing during the 2011 marathon (that is, apart from run). …I’d like to do something bigger and better than last year.

Watch this space…