One Week With The Apple iPad Review

Ipad-mosaicAfter experiencing the Apple iPad for the last week, I thought I'd outline my thoughts on the device that seems to still have a lot of buzz and interest.

In a nutshell, I am very happy with the iPad and I believe that it is a compelling device that fits in well between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.

I believe this device is going to help me be more effective with reading, podcast & audio book listening, and consuming professional content in eBook, PDF, and other standard formats.  I expect it will also help me on the organizational front with more ubiquitous access to reference material, project support data, and communications services.  Plus, it will be a fun device to decompress with casual games, videos, and music.

No device is perfect -- says the former Newton & still TabletPC laptop fan. As I outlined in a previous blog post, I had some concerns with the hardware and software as proposed by Apple for iPad v1.0 before picking up the device. 

The good news is that as far as I can tell there isn't anything new that the iPad can't do that wasn't already publicly announced before it was released. So, I don't have any buyer's remorse. I know there are now confirmed Wi-Fi issues, but I haven't experienced those with the Wi-Fi networks I have available to me.

Things that are great:
  • The screen is awesome.
  • Battery life is equally impressive.
  • Bluetooth keyboard support is solid.
  • Surfing the web is fast and fluid on the screen with the pinch-to-zoom working as expected.
  • Books via Amazon's Kindle application are readable and easy to consume over hours of reading.
  • Physically the device is solid and feels good in your hands.
  • Goodreader.net is a very nice $0.99 application for reading PDFs.
  • The interface and applications run fast -- so the custom Apple A4 processor was a very good idea IMHO.
  • The built-in Apple iPad applications are well designed.  The Email application with support for viewing a large number attachment formats is especially functional.
  • Native 3rd party iPad/HD applications look spectacular on the device. Some of the ones I've been using include: USA Today, Reuters, TweetDeck, The Weather Channel, Zino, Evernote, Toodledo, Kayak Flights, Dictionary, ABC Player, Yahoo! Entertainment, Sudoku Tablet, YouVersion Bible, and Box.net.
  • On screen keyboard is significantly better than my previous iPod Touch experiences.
  • Internal speaker is better than I expected and so is the microphone.
  • Doing a one on one demo with someone is pretty powerful for sharing and viewing information. The built-in Photos application is especially noteworthy as a good example.
  • Maps with Wi-Fi geolocation is remarkably accurate.
  • I haven't really ran into situations where multi-tasking would be an issue, but I can think of one area I am going to run into problems -- browsing in Safari and then wanting to post via TweetDeck.
Things that are not so great (from a consumer perspective):
  • Screen gets smudged very easily, but cleans up well.
  • Can't subscribe to podcasts directly in iTunes on the iPad.
  • The iPad could lose a half-a-pound in weight, and be more portable plus easier to hold over a longer period of time.
  • Pricing on new iPad specific applications is way to high in my humble opinion. Kudos to many of the application developers I currently use for creating 'free' upgrade versions.
  • The 2x upscale for standard iPhone apps leaves a lot of pixelation issues that distracts from the experience.
  • Safari has crashed more than I expected when consuming media files directly from sites like podcast RSS feeds.
  • I don't like having to sync to iTunes to get Contact updates.  You can get Google Calendar updates directly via CalDAV.
  • iBook prices appear to be on average more expensive than Amazon Kindle prices.  For instance, David Allen's "Getting Things Done (GTD)" is $9.99 on Amazon and $12.99 on Apple's iBook store.
Things that are not great (from my own Enterprise work perspective):
  • No DOD PKI CAC support so you can't sign emails or read encrypted emails.  You also can't use many DOD sites without DOD PKI CAC support in the browser.  Plus at my organization, VPN access and authenticated WIFI is not currently possible without DOD PKI CAC support.
  • Currently there is no way to encrypt the whole device and/or all the application specific storage areas.  This will be a problem as Data At Rest (DAR) requirements become more prevalent and no longer optional.  I've heard rumors about possible 3rd party solutions being released soon that solves this type of problem but nothing definitive as I post this review.  If anyone knows anything about future iPhone/iPad DAR solutions, then please let me know.
Other than fixing the items that are not so great, what could Apple do for improving iPad 2.0 hardware?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • More Bluetooth device support (i.e. networking, GPS, DOD CAC PKI, etc),
  • Integrate a native USB port,
  • Add an SD Card slot, and
  • Drop the price for all units by $100.
I'm sort of ambivalent on adding the camera from a video conferencing/chat perspective, but I think the camera as a sensor to capture location views, barcodes, snapshots, etc would be useful.

With recent news of the iPhone/iPad OS v4.0 coming out soon there is a good chance that many of the software issues will be either solved by this v4.0 release or an earlier v3.x release.  Given that the current release date for iPad support for v4.0 is Fall 2010, I'd expect a hardware update for the iPad when this actually comes out.  Regular Fall releases for new iPad hardware makes more sense for Holiday Sales, and future iPad release will probably be part of Apple's traditional new iPod releases usally in September or October.

The one thing I have not had a chance to try out but would like to is using the iPad to remotely connect to Windows or Mac systems.   I think this could be a big business area for Apple when the 3G version comes out.  With this feature, businesses could leverage the iPad for mobile computing solutions like access to intranet applications, sales presentations, eLearning, etc outside their internal physically controlled Wi-Fi networks.  The only reason I haven't tried them out is the three that look good for evaluation had prices ranging from $15 to $35.  Apple and their developers really need a 'demo' option for items in their AppStore, especially for applications with high price tags. Spending money to do multi-product evaluations is not that appealing to me.

Another thing worth noting is that there is definitely going to be more iPad-like products coming to the market in the near future. I think some of these will be pretty competitive, especially those with Google's Android and more than likely Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series.  The big change, when compared to the past, is that the iPad is based on an operating system geared for being mobile, and the full blown operating system software like those on previous TabletPCs is not the right answer for devices in this middle ground between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.

Want to learn more? One of the better Apple iPad consolidated tips, tricks, and pointers articles is posted at HowToGeek.com (link via Kreg Steppe @ FriendsInTech.com)  Another tool that looks interesting is a Google Docs editing tool called Office2Pro that was recently reviewed on one of my favorite mobile technology blogs JK On The Run.

If you have any comments, then please post them below and I'll definitely respond.  If you have any questions that you'd like to have answered, then you can send me email at: sholden@pobox.com or send me a Twitter message (@sholden) or on direct message on Facebook (sholden).

Summary - Doing A GTD Weekly Review Via Twitter

I wasn't able to attend this event but I thought it was important to capture and share.

Kelly Forrister at the David Allen Company recently did an innovative event on Twitter (#GTD #Tweekly).  It was an interactive Getting Things Done Weekly Review.  Here is the sequence via 29 tweets that she posted:

  1. Hello everyone! Ready? We'll do this in 3 parts/11 steps
  2. PART ONE: GET CLEAR. Collect loose paper and materials. Gather everything that's loose into an Inbox, Tray or folder.
  3. You have 5 minutes for this step. Go...
  4. You all have one more minute on step one: Collect loose papers and materials.
  5. PART ONE-STEP TWO-GET CLEAR: Get In to Zero. Choose the inbox that can good progress on in 5 min--email? paper? VM? Go!
  6. a good way to process in is 4D's: Delete it, Do it (under 2 mins), Delegate it, Defer it (onto a list)
  7. PART ONE-STEP THREE-GET CLEAR: Empty your head. Open a Word doc, or grab and pad and clear your head for 5 minutes. Go.
  8. STEP THREE - SOME MINDSWEEP TRIGGERS: Family, health, meetings you've had, meetings you're going to have...
  9. SOME MORE MINDSWEEP TRIGGERS: Your direct reports, finances, 401k, the dog, your car, health appts you've been putting off...
  10. PART TWO, STEP FOUR-GET CURRENT: Review your Action lists (or maybe you call them Tasks or To Do's.)5 minutes start now. Go!
  11. 2 more minutes to review action lists--are they current? anything to mark done? anything trigger you to add?
  12. PART TWO-STEP 5-Review previous calendar info. Any triggers?
  13. Many times reviewing your old calendar (go back about 3 wks) catches things you meant to do. 3 more mins left
  14. PART TWO-STEP 6-REVIEW UPCOMING CALENDAR DATA - anything you should start getting ready for? Go!
  15. REVIEW UPCOMING CALENDAR TIP: if you find something you need to process, you can add to your mindsweep for now.
  16. if you don't get anything on reviewing your calendar, try going further out. Recurring Tasks are great for calendar.
  17. PART TWO-STEP 7-REVIEW WAITING FOR - if you've got a list review it. If you don't have one, what are you waiting on?
  18. WAITING FOR TIP: Review your email Sent folder. Usually some waiting for's hiding in there.
  19. PART TWO-STEP 8-REVIEW PROJECT LISTS. Projects are your outcomes that require more than one action step. Go!
  20. PROJECT TIP: Projects are typically completed within 18 mos. If you can NEVER mark it done, it's likely an Area of Focus.
  21. PROJECT TIP: Most people we coach have 30-100 current personal & professional projects. Don't be surprised!
  22. PROJECT TIP: If you are not willing to take any next action on a current project, are you sure it's not Someday/Maybe?
  23. PART 2-STEP 9 - REVIEW CHECKLISTS - birthday checklists? travel checklists? home mntce? Go!
  24. CHECKLIST TIP: Maybe you want to CREATE a checklist? Anything recurring that would be good? What to always pack for vacation?
  25. PART 3-GET CREATIVE!-STEP 10-REVIEW SOMEDAY/MAYBE: If you have one, update it. If you don't have one, create it!
  26. SOMEDAY /MAYBE TIP: S/M is not just a "fantasy wish" list. It can be a fantastic place to stage "not yet" projects.
  27. SOMEDAY TIP: You'll trust S/M list(s) more if you know you're actually going to review them again. Otherwise they'll die.
  28. PART 3-STEP 11-BE CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS! Any new thought-provoking, creative, risk taking ideas to add to your system?
  29. CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS TIP: What's REALLY got your attention in your job, family, environment? This is the last step!

It is my understanding from the GTD Virtual Study Group which did a quick review at the very beginning of their latest podcast is that the timing for this weekly review was limited to 1 hour with all the major items (11 steps) taking approximately 5 minutes each.  The big take away from many of the participants was that they were  amazed at what they accomplished in 1 hour.

Other recommended resources during the Twitter session were:

I've listened to the Weekly Review CDs and I personally recommend them.  The guides are excellent also, and I use them when I need references during GTD processing.


Podcast Recommendation - Berlin Airlift Book Review

I just finished a highly recommended podcast interview with Andrei Cherny over at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago about his book "The Candy Bombers." 

It is a great intro and overview to the history of the Berlin Blockage, and the remarkable airlift that changed history. 

While listening to the podcast it made me think a lot about what Dan Carlin over at the Hardcore History podcast likes to say about examining/studying/imagining one of those major "what if" time period scenarios in history.  By many accounts, if the airlift didn't work the "Cold War" could have been over (with the Russians controlling all of Europe) or radically different by the end of 1948.


Conference Update - GTD Roadmap, New Media, MT Communications, Office 2.0

I was recently able to attend a David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) Roadmap seminar during one of my regular trips to Washington DC. 

It was a fabulous one-day conference. 

As someone who has been practicing some form of GTD since 2004, it was great to finally get to learn from David Allen in-person.  The Roadmap material was, frankly, excellent for someone in my situation who tries to practice GTD on a daily basis and is maturing in the model.  For instance for me, my Runway is pretty well managed, as is my Horizon's of focus above 20,000 feet. But I do struggle with Projects (10,000 feet) and consistent Weekly Reviews.  This year (2008) could be considered the year of getting a handle on both Projects & Weekly Reviews. After this seminar, I definitely think I have some good best practices to move forward with.

There are three other conferences that have my attention right now:

I will be at the upcoming New Media Expo (NME) 2008 speaking on "Getting Started With Audio Editing - Hands-on With Audacity." More information about my Audacity related resources over at AztecMedia.net/Audacity.  Christy is going to go with me this year, and we hope to get some Jersey Boys Las Vegas interviews completed for the Jersey Boys Podcast. And yes, we will be seeing the show again while we are there. ;-)

I am also planning  to attend the Manager-Tools.com Effective Communications conference in San Antonio, TX on September 9-10, 2008.  This should be a great conference and if you are a manager, you should really consider attending.  Or at the very least, go over to Manager-Tools.com Getting Started page and get started.

The other conference that is on my radar but I don't think I'm going to be able to attend is Ismael Ghalimi's Office 2.0 Conference.  David Allen is going to be giving the keynote which is great, but the line-up of other speakers is impressive, and the content seems right up my alley.  If you are interested in attending, you can save $100 off the conference fee by using this link that Ismael gave me.  For those who are GTD Connect members, David recently interviewed Ismael for the In Conversation podcast.  It is a very good podcast that examines what Ismael is up to with regards to Office 2.0, and gets deep into the personal GTD systems Ismael is deploying.  He is definitely an impressive 'cloud/virtual systems' guy.

 


Cold War Pointer - Bagley's Spy Wars Book

The Yale University Press Podcast has a great interview with the  Tennent H. Bagley the author of Spy Wars - Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games.

If you are interested in 1960's CIA vs. KGB stories and insight then you should enjoy the podcast.  The book sounds very interesting and is going on my someday maybe list.

Amount other roles at the CIA, Tennent H. "Pete" Bagley was the case officer for Yuri Nosenko.


Thoughts on LifeBook?!? - San Diego Self-Improvement Service

I am still trying to wrap my head around an article written by Jennifer Davies in the San Diego Union-Tribune called "Shelf Help: There's a new tool in the individual improvement library - personalized books that are made to guide you to your goals in life."

This new $4000 service is delivered over four days by LifeBook (mylifebook.com) to help participants to outline their goals in such a way that a personal book can be built summing up all that is learned and experienced during the four days of sessions.

Right now the service is available in San Diego and Chicago with future plans to expand their 'lounges' to Orange County and Los Angeles.

The article did mention three other resources:


Multi-Topic Update: San Diego Fires, Jersey Boys, Technology

The last week or so has been extremely crazy and busy. 

First up the San Diego Wild Fires (aka FireStorm 2007) have been all consuming, and I'm happy to report that my immediate & extended family, friends, and co-workers in the San Diego area have been spared major hardships.  But our hearts go out to those who lost love ones or their homes.  The fire fighters and public safety folks have been outstanding and they deserve a ton of credit & praise.  Thanks!

The weirdest thing about the fires, was that during the whole time it was going on, Christy and I have been in Jersey Boys heaven.  They have released a new Jersey Boys Book, Frankie Valli has an excellent new album out called "Romancing the 60's", the touring cast is in San Diego, and we traveled to New York City (NYC) / New Jersey (NJ) on Sat. 10/20 returning Tue. 10/23 for the Fan Tribute and to interview Tommy DeVito. And did we mention we've seen the musical three times in six days: Fri. 10/19 (Opening Night in San Diego), Sun. 10/21 (Broadway), and Wed. 10/24 (Cast Talk Back in San Diego).  Yes ... we are crazy.

Lastly a quick update on some technology stuff.  Things are still going on over at TechNewsRadio but a little slower than I'd like.  My fellow FriendsInTech members have put together another new Halloween special called "It's The Great Server Chuck and Kreg."

Other quick tech mentions:

I recently upgraded from a Cingular 8125 to an AT&T Tilt and I'm really loving the new phone with high speed 3G/UMTS/HSDPA connectivity plus Windows Mobile 6 and integrated GPS.  The camera is also a big improvement, as is the keyboard/button interfaces.

A couple of weeks ago I did upgrade my 8-GB 2nd Gen Apple iPod Nano to an 8-GB 3rd Gen Apple iPod NanoI have some unboxing pictures posted to Google.  I like the video option a great deal. I used it to watch dozens of video podcasts recently on the trip back to NYC/NJ.  I have also been using it a lot at home sitting in bed or by my computer using a DIY  Lego stand.

I have also picked up a copy of Apple's new OS X via Amazon.  I hope it gets here soon so I can rebuild my old G4 iBook for Christy and finally get her off of Windows XP and spare her the horror of Vista.


Book Reviews: Dead Sea Scrolls, Google, Freemasonry

I finished reading several potentially interesting books during our recent family vacation trip to Vashon Island, WA:

I really have to recommend the Fields book on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It is very well documented and historically interesting - plus it has some great pictures.  Part of the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display in San Diego (through December 2007) which is the main reason I picked up the book.

The Google book is also recommended for those interested in technology, Internet history, and business & organizational ideas.  I personally only had a minor understanding of the history, technologies, and personalities related to Google so I found this book very interesting.

The Freemasonry book was entertaining but nothing spectacular.  I enjoyed it because my father and his father were Masons, and I learned a lot about what they probably went through.  The background history was interesting and I enjoyed the humor of the author.

 


Podcast Recommendation - Interview With New Media Author Philip Meza

Chris Gondek over at the Invisible Hand Podcast had a great interview with Philip Meza the author of the book "Coming Attractions: Hollywood, High Tech, and the Future of Entertainment" that is definitely worth a listen.

The one great thing in the podcast was that Chris let Philip outline some key recommendations that companies and organizations should be doing to excel in this new media world.


Open Source Rapid Prototyping - PDF, Nagios, & VMWARE

The combo of open source and virtual machines is really providing some powerful options for rapid evaluation and prototyping. 

Here is an example ... "Want to do some network management?" ... then download the $10 PDF of "Network Monitoring with Nagios", then get the VMWARE Player, and then check out the Nagios appliance deployment for VMWARE. 

In a couple of clicks, your up and running and ready to do some network management.  If you like what you see, a couple of file transfers, and some more clicks, and you can be in production mode. Nice.

Thanks to a recent HomeNetworkHelp.info podcast for getting my thoughts moving in this direction.