ON THE ROAD: PORTLAND. A couple of days ago I bought an iPad, thinking it would be the answer to writing, even blogging, while on the road. I've been on the road for two weeks now, and after a few days at home we go on another theater trip to Los Angeles; and then after a few more days on a more extended tour. I'll want to write, of course, and the laptop, small and efficient as it is, is a little too big (and valuable!) to carry around. The iPad seemed the perfect answer.
Buying it was a bit adventurous. I waited until Monday to look at it — it had come out on the previous Saturday — but when I went to Portland's downtown Apple Store there was a very long line. I passed the time with a long telephone call, then spent an hour looking at the device, trying out various applications. I went back two days later and took the plunge, but it wasn't easy. To buy it, I had to step outside the door — "there's a line waiting for salespeople" — and immediately stepped back into the store, accompanied by an enthusiastic young man who made the sale.
Alas, they were sold out of cases. Apple makes a neat little case, Neoprene I think; I wanted one; but they were out of stock. Haven't you got a demo you could sell me, I asked. No, we can't sell it; anyway there're scratched up, you wouldn't want that, would you. Doesn't matter to me, I said; it'll get scratched up anyway; that's what it's for. You should sell me one of your demos; why do you want to have them, when you don't have available for sale the thing it demonstrates?
Oh, but we will have them next week, and then we'll need the demos; we won't want to scratch up another new one to use for a demo. Why not, if you've sold the previous demo? Or, since demos don't do anything for you until you have new ones in stock, why not lend me one, I'll return it when I buy the new one that you'll have available next week? (By now I was into it for the fun of the discussion; I didn't mention that I wouldn't be here next week.)
I had to get a different kind of case, of course; but it has the advantage of storing also the Bluetooth keyboard I bought. The iPad is a nice little machine; it does about everything I'd want a laptop to do on a trip; but I can't really type on it. Touch-typers keep their fingertips in contact with the keyboard at all times; that confuses hell out of a virtual keyboard like the iPad's. (It's less a problem with the iPhone, too, whose keyboard's so small one doesn't attempt touch-typing.)
The case — "InCase" it's called, cutely — comes with a little plastic easel thingy to stand the iPad in. With this and the wireless keyboard you pretty well have a laptop weighing less than two pounds, taking up about as much room as a copy of The National Geographic, capable of storing a lot of text files (currently, all of Homer, Orlando furioso, and James Joyce's Ulysses as well as my journal, blog, and so on); and keeping track of address book, calendar, and the like. The web browser's pretty good, too.
I typed this using Apple's word-processing-and-page-layout application Pages; now I'll copy the whole thing and paste it into the web-based Blogspot Dashboard. The only think I can't do right here that I easily do on my laptop is include a photo: I'll have to work on that problem.
later: found an app, BlogPress, that makes everything much simpler, including photos.