iPad arrives

I am writing this post on my iPad — one of two we got this morning around 9am. According to the delivery guy each of six drivers in Tuscaloosa had about fifteen. If that’s a good sample — which it almost certainly isn’t — then about 0.1% of the US population took delivery of an iPad this morning.

I am touch typing (two fingered) on the glass keyboard. It’s just fine — but I did hit one snag. Safari didn’t recognize the standard word press editor as a text entry field, so I’m having to enter HTML directly.

More impressions later.

Battery Life

Aside: typing HTML with the iPad’s glass keyboard is an exercise in frustration — you need to switch between three keyboards four times to enter a single open heading. (Further aside: I am now going back through my iPad postings and fixing the paragraphs.)

I’ve been using my iPad solidly since it arrived, so around 3.5h, a lot of it in fairly demanding apps, and the battery is at 60% — having started at around 90% and refusing to charge when docked.

Edit: after being used much of the day and getting about 15 minutes of charger time (the iPad can only be charged via syncing to a “high power” USB slot, which seems not to include any USB slot I’ve tried) the iPad eventually got down to 30%. This morning I read for about 30 minutes using 3%.


I immediately bought Pages and Keynote. I’ll probably buy Numbers eventually, but I can think of no use for it right now. (I’d get Bento if it had export options to something other than the desktop bento for which I have zero use.)

Both are what you expect although perhaps missing a cherished feature or two. What I’m really missing on the iPad right now is some kind of file system — as I’ll discuss below.

I also got Alias Autodesk Sketchbook Pro which is based on a program originally written for tablet PCs. Brushes on the iPhone was painful to use — I never produced a single picture with it of which I was especially proud. My first two attempts with Sketchbook were decent, and I tried to upload one to this blog entry — so far no dice. (I’ve since bought a $0.99 app called Art Studio which is technically inferior to Autodesk’s product, but better thought out UI-wise.)

Similarly I can’t download PDFs — although they do render beautifully in Safari.

Of the built in apps — I’ll include iBooks in this category — Mail is a joy (although I understand gmail on the iPad is wonderful too), iBooks is great, although many of the Gutenberg titles are a mess until you get past the cruft at the beginning, and the others are ok.

The photos app and origami slideshow option are simply breathtaking. This is pretty much the best way to look at photographs.

On the down side, I find calendar’s inability to create events when I tap in a particular date/time to be infuriating. Lots of room for tweaking.

There are several Dr Seuss books in the app store — I bought two, and the only down side is they seem to chew through batteries super fast… Flash? Or just poorly coded?


I’ve already discussed the keyboard quite a bit. The only real issue with the glass keyboard — in either orientation — for me is the business of getting to special characters. If I were typing a novel, say, it wouldn’t be a big deal (especially with the smart correction handling most apostrophes, etc), but typing email addresses and HTML tags is a serious nuisance.
(Once you have one heading or whatever typed, copy and paste mostly solves the problem. Also, last night I discovered that ?123-Z is the Undo key (“?123” is a very cumbersome name for a modifier key, and somewhat misleading when the “?” is available via “shift-.”)

As a book reader, and I haven’t tried reading anything serious yet, it weighs less than a hardcover novel and can be held at angles a book cannot owing to not having pages to worry about. E.g. I find reading lying down with the iPad propped on my chest very comfortable, but could never read a book like this because I’d have to hold the pages still.

Just as I was getting used to drawing with my fingers, I encountered an Apple store employee using a capacitative stylus which seemed to work pretty well. Maybe I’ll try one for drawing.

MacHeist Nanobundle 2

Well, Macheist has come and gone again, and now I have a couple of gigabytes of new software (mostly Monkey Island) on my notebook’s hard drive. The usual rule with Macheist (and similar deals) is that you only buy it if there’s a product you’d cheerfully pay the fee for in the bundle, and on that basis this bundle was a great deal for me: I’m a sucker for Monkey Island (even though I never really cared for the threequel). I’m also glad to see Telltale Games shipping Mac products (I hope they port the Sam & Max titles: I will cheerfully pay retail for any Sam & Max title until I become jaded, but I’ll probably buy the Wii version otherwise…).

I did end up installing all of the other programs, although some got uninstalled pretty darn quickly.

MacJournal is a really huge program for keeping a journal. I have a cloud-based solution for doing this called WordPress and — unlike MacJournal — it is accessible from anywhere (including my iPhone), it’s free (and open source), it lets me make some journal entries public while keeping others private, has a comment system, does version control, automatically backs up to the cloud, and doesn’t take up a metric buttload of hard disk space. (Uninstalled)

As a side note, MacJournal is a fine example of an attractive, functional, easy-to-use useless piece of software the like of which does not exist for Windows. If you found a niche product like this for Windows it would be a horrible piece of crap. MacJournal is quite lovely — it’s just not useful to me. All of the pieces of software in the Macheist bundle that I’ve installed and used have been very polished, stable products. It’s a testament to the quality of Apple’s indie software ecology, and I think it must be quite terrifying for Microsoft which cannot itself produce such polished products let alone attract third parties to do so.

Ripit is a program that does one thing (rip DVDs to hard disk) and does it very, very well. I have not quite reached the point of ripping my entire DVD library but when I do, I’ll be glad I got a license for this. (Installed but not used, yet.)

Clips is an intriguing little hack that monitors you clipboard and then automatically keeps the last N clipboards around for use at the touch of a key. I think this is a great idea and pretty well-implemented, but it just never occurs to me to use it. I’m running it though and maybe, one day, I’ll actually use it. It’s a lot like multiple-undo, I think — one day you’ll realize you (a) use it all the time and (b) get enormously annoyed by a program that doesn’t have it. (Installed, running, but not used yet.)

CoverScout is an intriguing iTunes add-on. I haven’t installed it yet but I have high hopes that it will actually help sort out my iTunes cover art situation (my wife and I ripped our entire CD collection two house moves ago, and many of the tracks have very odd cover art having been incorrectly identified by iTunes at some point. As I understand it, CoverScout’s sole purpose in life is to fix this kind of thing, so I’m hoping it’s good at it. (Not yet installed.)

Flow I’ve already discussed. I think I may be in love. At minimum, Flow makes Little Snapper irrelevant by doing what Little Snapper does for screenshots for — basically — everything. I still use Transmit without thinking, though. (Installed, used, kept.)

Rapidweaver is a program I’ve considered and rejected in the past. It’s a very similar program to Sandvox (which I also own and don’t use), perhaps a little better put together and with generally more attractive (and, as far as I can tell, flexible) themes. Unlike Sandvox, it seems to have built up a fairly solid third-party plugin ecology and might actually be a useful product for someone looking for a template-based web development tool. More attractive and flexible than Sandvox, produces much lighter weight pages than iWeb (although also much less flexible graphically). Rapidweaver has also been sitting at version 4.3.1 for a rather long time (it used to be one of those programs that would get revved every few weeks) — perhaps the developers are losing interest. (Installed, messed around with, probably will be uninstalled.)

Tweetie is one of those non-solutions to non-problems. Indeed, since it’s a desktop Twitter client it’s something of a meta-non-solution to a meta-non-problem. I installed it and played with it for a few minutes — the fact that it was not especially obvious how to make a new tweet was a very discouraging sign (I did figure it out…). But at least it’s small. (Installed, used, kept… for some reason. Oh, that’s right, it’s 2MB.)

The Macheist folks also snuck in three bonus programs for promoting them via Twitter (further alienating me from Twitter). One of the programs — Tracks (installed, used, kept) — is a very well thought out iTunes remote (in particular it offers Spotlight-like access to your iTunes library from a menubar widget) but the other two — Airburst Extreme (Uninstalled) and Burning Monkey Solitaire (Not downloaded) — are wastes of hard disk space as far as I’m concerned.

QuickTime Embed Reloaded: My first WordPress Plugin

I finally got sick of the annoying process of embedding video in my WordPress blog entries. The options are to use YouTube (et al) — which works but is ugly, to encode video in Flash and then use JW-Player or some such — which works but is a pain in the ass and also kind of ugly, or to embed QuickTime, which does not work at all by default.

[ Javascript required to view QuickTime movie, please turn it on and refresh this page ]

I found a primitive but effective plugin called QuickTime Embed which works but is annoyingly inflexible (the only options you can set are global) so I hacked some changes into it to allow options to be set on-the-fly and submitted it as a new plugin (with credit where credit is due). And unlike all the built-in embed garbage I can actually center stuff properly. Woot!

It’s called QuickTime Embed Reloaded in deference to that awful Matrix sequel. Feel free to use it and complain about it to me or anyone who will listen.

Edit: fixed the link and the plugin so that it actually works.