small stuff   12 comments

Posted at 12:17 pm in review - equipment

I don’t tend to write reviews of, or comment too much on my gear, but probably should do so a little more often for any fellow nomads who might be reading this blog. One thing about spending a lot of time camping and traveling – you soon learn what is worth having along with you, and what should have been left back home. Last year, I brought along too much – not so much through stupidity or bad planning, but because I sold the farm and had to practically throw things together for the trip in a few chaotic days. I ended up dragging along a bunch of unnecessary belongings mainly because I couldn’t decide where to leave them while I was away. That’s not going to happen again. This year, the theme of my preparations is “make more space and reduce brain damage”.

These are the targets for this year’s trip gear. In no particular order:

  • Scale down the size of everything as much as possible. If there’s a smaller sized option, go with it.
  • Use as much rechargeable gear as possible – and pay attention to energy efficiency. Low watts and long-lasting charges are what is needed.
  • Avoid items that require a lot of cables to power and run. I’m sick of hauling sacks of specialized cables that get tangled up, misplaced, or lost.
  • Look for durable, self-contained, compact units – objects that fold up and don’t need special packing, and don’t have parts that can get broken off if they aren’t packed exactly right.
  • Improve communications equipment – look for more reliable and easier-to-use gear that has affordable data plans that work in both Canada and the U.S.
  • Avoid gear that is fussy to set up, or that I can’t remember how to use without reading a manual.

    As I do a good deal of photography, my camera gear has always taken up a lot of prime real estate on the passenger seat of the van. This year, I’m going to be paring that down considerably. Over time, I’ve gradually replaced my larger cameras with smaller gear and have now settled on a Canon G11 and a Canon D10 as my main cameras. The G11 can shoot just about anything I wish to photograph, and the D10 is waterproof and can take a bath shooting photos in a tide pool. Both use small batteries which just require a compact charger unit and no cables. I have a spare battery for each of them. In addition, I have a little LED camcorder lamp that I use for photographing moths and other small creatures at night, and one of those cheap mini-tripods you can find at dollar stores. There is also a large, sport tripod that doubles as the mount for my spotting scope. That’s it for the camera gear coming on this year’s trip. With the exception of the sport tripod, everything should fit into one fairly compact camera bag.

    My camp stove, which just barely limped through to the the end of last year’s trip after being tossed off a table by a strong gust of wind while at Red Rock Canyon, will be replaced with something much smaller this year. It was a large 2-burner stove with a griddle bought when Don and I were camping quite a bit. Now that I’m alone, I can get by with something smaller. I’m patiently waiting for a sale on one of the compact single-burner stoves with a built-in lighter so that I don’t have to keep a propane lighter in the cooking bag.

    One of the major changes for this year’s trip will be the addition of an Apple iPad to be used as my main communication and computing device. When I’m traveling, my main connection to everyone I know is via the internet – sending and receiving emails, being able to share photos with friends and family, and to work on my blog or read the blogs of my friends. I use my computer to look up maps, info on places, and to check weather forecasts for my planned routes. Yes, I will have an iMac stowed under the bed platform for the months when I’m at a rental house in Arizona, but for the months when I’m on the road camping, I’ll be using the iPad. This is one of the 3G + wifi models which can generally connect to the net in any place where a cell phone would work. In my last post, I mentioned having bought the iPad, but that I was not able to get the SIM card activated. I said I’d provide a follow-up on that, so read on further below if you’re interested. Perhaps my experience will be of some help to others who might buy an iPad and have a similar problem. In any case, the iPad is finally working right now and is very pleasing to work with in a number of ways. However, there are a few shortcomings which should be mentioned. Here is my take on the pros and cons.

    First the pros. The iPad is quite small – about 9.5 x 7.5 inches and about 1/2 inch thick. The 3G + wifi enabled model weighs about 1.6lbs (.75 kgs). You can see the entire specs on this page. I bought a black Apple case which, while seeming to be fairly pricey for what it is, does protect the iPad and folds in a way that makes it easier to use the touch-pad keyboard, or allows it to be positioned on a table for viewing photos or watching videos, etc… I haven’t actually found I’ve used it that much in the folded position, but just like having a case that makes the iPad look like a small notepad – fairly inconspicuous as an object worthy of stealing out of my van when I’m parked somewhere. It should be easy to hide among all of my other junk when I’m off for a hike somewhere, but is also light and small enough to be brought along if desired. Other things I like about it are that the screen resolution is quite good – crisp and clear – and that you can tilt the screen in either direction and the images are instantly oriented to that view. There’s a lock so that you can lock the direction, which is handy if you’re trying to work while lying down (something which I do in the evening when I’m traveling in the van). The touch screen technology of the iPad takes awhile to get onto, but the sensitivity is quite amazing. I’ve bought a couple of apps (applications = small programs) which make good use of the touch sensitivity – one being Penultimate (cost $2.99) which can be used to make sketches or take hand printed or written notes on notebook pages, and then saved or emailed in .pdf format. It works quite well when drawing with your finger on the screen, but I ended up making a little stylus out of a Q-tip with foil wrapped around the stick after reading about how to make one on Instructables – took me about a minute and it works fine for drawing — but note that the Q-tip has to be a bit damp when you use it. I’ve bought a couple of other apps, but have not yet experimented with them, so don’t want to comment at this time. I’m currently looking at GPS-mapping apps, but have not made up my mind about which to download. What I may try to do is post app reviews from time to time, as these might be useful for others as well.
    EDIT: One additional plus that I thought of after writing this post. The wireless keyboard from my iMac is supposed to work with the iPad using its bluetooth connection. I haven’t given that a shot yet, but that will be very cool as I can touch type very quickly on the iMac’s keyboard. It is very light and compact and well suited to use when I’m on the road.

    Okay, so, what about the “cons”? Getting the Bell microSIM card activated was an extremely frustrating experience (see account down below). I’m sure that just about anyone else would have been hitting the roof and might have returned their iPad if they had experienced the run-around that I got. That said, I have a feeling that, once more of these iPads have been sold and activated, there won’t be such confusion. These are some of the other problems which I’ve encountered. A camera adapter is required in order to download photos into the iPad either from a kind of card-reader or jack for the USB cable. That costs about an extra 30 bucks. I have one on order so have not tried it as yet. Next, as far as I know, you can’t download any app larger than 20MB from the iTunes store using 3G, so you have to have access to a good wifi connection, or download the app into your computer first, then synch the iPad to the computer to transfer the file into the iPad. That has caused me problems with downloading iBird Explorer Pro, an app which I’ve purchased but, as yet, have been unable to download as the file is 346MB and there is no wifi hotspot around here where I can complete the download. I’ve paid for it already and am just hoping that all will proceed without incident when I finally get to some place where I can download the program. I guess the only other negative I see at this time is that I think the iPad may be more dependent on a computer than I had expected. You can’t do certain things (probably some O/S upgrades, etc..) without having it hooked up to your computer while running iTunes. I’m hoping that doesn’t present problems once I’m on the road. I don’t think it will, but it did make me a little uneasy to find that I couldn’t get the SIM card activated without first hooking the iPad up to my iMac.

    Anyhow, the point in getting the iPad is that I have a hard time typing a decent email on the Blackberry that I’ve used for the past couple of years while traveling. The screen and keys are very small, so any email longer than about 3 sentences is extremely tedious to tap out. I’ve also found that my Canadian data package doesn’t work out to be very cost effective once I’m in the U.S. Phone calls are horrendously expensive. I think I may have solved that by changing to a plan that has a “World Phone” optional plan, but that remains to be seen. I decided to add the iPad to my gear as my laptop was having some major issues (can’t run off a battery anymore) and the last two years, I’ve found it a pain in the can to use in the van — it’s always sliding off of somewhere and falling to the floor with the screen open, or bending the modem stick so that it looks like it will break off, etc. It’s my hope that the iPad will be a good stand-in for the laptop, and possibly also replace the Blackberry. This autumn will be the trial run, and if it works, bye-bye Blackberry as the data plan is just too expensive for what I get. From all that I’ve read, when I get to the U.S., I can purchase a microSIM card for the iPad and set up a monthly data plan the same as the one I will use in Canada. If that works out without any hitches, the iPad may well be all that I need in the future. I’ll report back on all of this in a few month’s time.

    ~ * ~

    Now, for the story of the iPad activation — probably only of interest if you are having problems activating a microSIM in your own device.

    I bought the iPad at FutureShop in New Minas, N.S. on August 20th. It was a warm day and I’d left the dogs in the van with water and plenty of windows open. However, I did not want to leave them for very long in case they got feeling uncomfortable. I ran into the store, quickly picked out the iPad I wanted and asked for a recommendation on which carrier to go with. The sales guy said that he thought Bell probably had the best coverage – which pretty much jives with my own research – so I told him I would like a Bell SIM card. He got that for me, but by now, there were several people standing around the cell phone counters. I don’t know if the card could have been fully activated that day — neither did the sales guy. He said I’d be able to take care of that over the net once I got home, so I decided to leave and try from home as I didn’t want to keep the dogs waiting in the van any longer.

    I arrived home and opened the iPad package. The instructions were very short – just a postcard sized piece of paper with instructions telling me to insert the SIM card and then hook up the iPad to my computer, open iTunes, and follow the onscreen instructions. Sounded easy, so that’s what I did. Unfortunately, the first message was about how a new O/S for the iPad needed to be downloaded and installed (version 3.2.2). It was a large file of about 450MB. I have a very poor net connection here – just a modem stick that gets really bad transfer speeds – so I could not download the O/S. I finally gave up with that and attempted to activate the SIM card, but that didn’t work at all. The screen on the iPad didn’t seem to show the items that I needed to access to activate the card. I called Bell and they finally transferred me to a tech support guy. This after talking to two different Bell customer service people who didn’t know what an iPad is and thought I had an iPod and just didn’t know the correct name for it (Arrrgggghhh!!!). The tech support guy was knowledgeable and said I’d have to get that O/S downloaded along with some kind of transfer update before I could go further. He also took the number of the SIM card and in what I should have taken as a prophetic statement, said something like, “That’s kind of an odd number.”

    I made a couple of more unsuccessful attempts to download the O/S but the file was just too large to be downloaded over my rather lame net connection. I’m quite amazed that the O/S file wasn’t compressed into some form that could be opened after being “unstuffed”. Anyhow, after a couple of failures after watching the computer try to download the files after several hours online, I decided to drive back to FutureShop and have them update the O/S at a cost of about 30 bucks. I left the iPad with the tech guy for about an hour while I went off to do some shopping. Returning home, I thought it would be a simple case of trying to activate the chip again. Wrong!!!! Same results as before — nothing really looked any different than before and despite trying variations on all of the things I’d previously tried, the SIM card was not activated.

    Once more, I called Bell and spoke to a very nice female customer service person who tried everything she knew to help me get the card activated. She seemed pretty determined. However, at last, she finally said she’d struck out and transferred me to someone else — someone who is a CRU or some such acronym. He asked for the SIM card number and immediately snapped. “That one is no good. You will have to go back and get another!” I said something about how that’s about a 3 hour round trip and that I’d already been back once already. He said that I’d just have to go do it. I got off the phone feeling pretty grouchy. I was also concerned that I might drive all the way back to New Minas, get another card, and that it would be “no good” too. I decided to leave the whole mess for a day or so and ponder over my next move.

    Somewhere on the Bell website, I’d noticed that there were Bell outlets in my region, so I looked for that info again. I found that “The Source” store in Annapolis handled Bell products, so called there and asked about microSIM cards, but they said, no, they didn’t have them. Then, I called the Bell Aliant store in Greenwood. The woman who answered my call asked the other staff and was told that they did have the cards and that it would cost $5 for a card, and another $10 to activate it for me. I said I’d come there later in the afternoon. Around 5 p.m. or so, I loaded up the dogs and drove to Greenwood – about an hour’s drive from my place. I left the van parked in the shade with the windows open and went into the store to get the SIM card. They had a card, but the store staff person – a very nice woman who tried very hard and called Bell support about 4 times in an hour – could not get the SIM card activated. During this time, I went out to check on the dogs. When, I returned, I was told that someone at Bell had told her to just sell me the card for $5 and send me home to try activating it myself online. Slightly frustrated, I just paid for the card and we drove home.

    That night, I tried the card again, but it wouldn’t work any better than the previous one. By this point, I was feeling pretty damned annoyed, so I just put the iPad away and decided I’d try again in the morning. The next morning, I called and spoke to someone at customer support and told him the whole sad story. He listened politely and began going over the various steps and asking if I’d done this or that. I finally said, “Yes, I’ve done everything that it says in the instructions and nothing works. I think I’ll need to talk to a tech support person.” He transferred me through. I got a tech person by the name of “Maurice” (I believe). He wanted to know the IMEI number of my iPad. I gave him that number and he mumbled something about something not seeming to be set up right. Then he wanted to know the SIM card number, so I gave him that too. He said to wait for a minute while he checked some things. Then he told me to change the iPad over to “Airplane Mode”. After that, I was to turn off the iPad, but to use both the on-off switch, as well as the “home” button together – to do a sort of reset thing. After that, I was to turn off the Airplane Mode in the settings. At this point, instead of getting a “No Service” at the top of the screen, I could see Bell 3G and graph bars of the signal strength. He said that I should now be able to go ahead and set up my account on my own and said goodbye. That wasn’t quite right. I did end up having to turn the iPad off and on again one more time before I was able to go into the set-up screen and enter the info needed to set up my account and pay for 30 days of service. It didn’t take too long and after that, everything worked fine. The iPad has quite a quick connection – much faster than the Rogers modem stick that I use to connect to the net with my iMac.

    Anyhow, I believe the entire process took me about 9 days. It was pretty frustrating and cost me quite a bit in gas and time, not to mention an additional $30 for the O/S upgrade and 5 bucks for a microSIM card to replace the original free one supplied with the iPad. I have read quite a bit on various Mac and also Canadian carrier forums and it sounds like I’m not the only one who has had these troubles, and that such trials and tribulations are not restricted to Bell either. I expect that, a few months down the road, activation will be fairly routine, but at this point it wasn’t nearly as simple and straightforward as it should have been.

  • Written by bev on September 1st, 2010

    12 Responses to 'small stuff'

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    1. Bev, believe it or not, I found the entire post fascinating! I wish the “usability” professionals involved in designing cmputer-based systems would read your post to learn what a @!##$$* headache it is to deal with incompatibility, lack of standardization in communications, needlessly “proprietary” design elements, etc., etc., etc. I just bought an iPhone and, though my problems have not been as complex, I’ve wondered whether AT&T might have any need for a consultant on how to train their staff to deal with iPhone issues. Apple’s customer support, on the other hand, has been the best I’ve ever experienced…so far!


      1 Sep 10 at 5:16 pm

    2. Wow you are determined and a lot more computer savvy than I am. I have a new laptop which basically will someday have to replace my main desktop but I dread that day as I have my old (and by old I mean probably 8 years or more) computer set up as I love and can use. The new one, even though it’s a computer, simply isn’t the same and I like same. I hear about these new tools like the ipad, read pieces like yours but basically can’t imagine figuring it all out.


      1 Sep 10 at 5:41 pm

    3. “it did make me a little uneasy to find that I couldn’t get the SIM card activated without first hooking the iPad up to my iMac. ”

      If the iPad (which I don’t have) is like the iPhone (which I do have) then the startup process is hell but afterward everything runs very smoothly. I believe it took us a whole afternoon to get our phones satisfactorily configured and I was ready to fling mine out the window at times (this is my first cell phone and the only reason I agreed to it was that it was sold to me as “a computer that takes phone calls”).

      Since then, however, I’ve had no troubles and I really love that little device — it’s like a Mini-Me for my MacBook. Some apps that I have and find fascinating are the compass app (comes with the OS I believe?) that ties to Google maps, and “night sky” apps that identify stars and constellations using your current location.

      One thing that has been useful is to have a MobileMe account (with iDisk), and set things up so that your device syncs with it. For me it functions as a nice little backup system — my bf’s brother had trouble upgrading his phone to iOS 4 (lost half his phone book) but ours went without a hitch.

      The other nice thing is that WordPress has a mobile blogging app for iPhones and iPads. I haven’t used it on the phone (the keyboard is just too small and typing with one finger is ridiculous) but if you do use it I’d like to hear what you think of it.


      1 Sep 10 at 6:03 pm

    4. John – I’ve been using all Apple equipment going back to an old 512kb Mac that I got in the mid 1980s. This is the first “Apple thing” that has been a pain in the can to set up. That said, I think the problem is probably entirely with the carriers. Apparently, some of the carriers really have their act together and the set-up is done in a couple of minutes. In fact, once the Bell tech guy did whatever it was he had to do at his end (switch something on, I think), my part in the set-up which just involved typing in my name, an email address, a chosen password, the plan I wanted, and my credit card info, was done in just a couple of minutes at the most, and away I went online. Too bad the whole SIM card activation turned out to be such a pain in the can. I now wonder whether it could have been done properly at the store on the day that I bought it. If so, I’d have saved myself a lot of hassle. *sigh*. By the way, I’ve always found Apple tech support to be very good.

      Rain – I’m reasonably tech savvy and have done a lot of stuff with my computers – memory upgrades and adding various pieces of software and hardware. I’m good with PCs, but prefer Apple gear as I’ve used it so much for desktop publishing, video and photo editing, etc… That said, I find that I have to work hard to keep up with what’s out there these days. I don’t really have the time to devote to keeping up with the rest of the world, so none of this comes easy for me anymore. If I’m finding it difficult, I pity anyone who feels they don’t have a knack for working with computers. Much as a lot of the programs are becoming increasingly intuitive, there are still a ton of problems and conflicts with software, etc… We’re still not entirely “there” yet with all of this gear.

      firefly – Thanks for the input and relating your experience with the iPhone. I was always a bit sorry that I bought my Blackberry when I did as the iPhone was introduced just a couple of months later. It probably would have been a better product for me, although I have to say that the Blackberry has been very dependable for sending and receiving email when I’m in fairly remote place beyond the range of most cell phones. I got the GoSkyWatch Planetarium app for my iPad and it’s very cool. The iPad has a built in compass and also a GPS chip, so it can do mapping and it knows how to orient itself to the star charts in GoSkyWatch. The apps I’m looking at now are ones that allow you to use the iPad like a GPS unit when hiking, and that will record waypoints and then produce trail maps from your hike. I’ve been considering getting MobileMe for the iPad. Apparently, if you lost the iPad, MobileMe can find it for you, or if it’s been stolen and you want to, you can remotely lock and/or erase the contents. That alone would seem to be worth the price. I haven’t tried the WordPress app yet, but did notice it in the apps on iTunes. Maybe I’ll download that one and give it a try although I’m guessing you can just browse into the regular WordPress admin and create a post there the usual way. Anyhow, something worth checking into. I shall report back at a future date! (-:


      1 Sep 10 at 6:54 pm

    5. I love the photo of the house on the iPad screen. That’s a great image and sets the scene very well for this post, bev. I’ve been an apple user for almost as long as you have. I have mostly been pleased with the products and their customer support. I do remember that Roger bought a new iBook a few years back that arrived completely unusable. It would not boot from the very beginning. When we called to return it, they wanted to set up a customer work order, have us ship this brand new computer and then sit for days while they figured out what was going on. Roger kept on insisting that he was not interested in that scenario at all. He wanted to return the computer and have a new one shipped to him. They finally agreed, but it took some doing. I’m going to be following your posts about the iPad very closely, because for some reason in the back of my mind, I think I want to buy one. Not sure why though, we’re never on the road, and we have perfectly fine laptops and good high speed internet. Ah well, the stuff of dreams!

      robin andrea

      1 Sep 10 at 9:39 pm

    6. robin – Roger’s experience with the iBook is interesting to hear about as it seems so out of character with Apple’s usual line. Just goes to show that they’re like just about all the other companies no matter what kind of apple face they stick on things.
      I’ll try to post about the iPad from time to time, especially after I get a few apps set up and try them out. I’ve been reading iPad forums and most users seem to grow to love these things – mainly for the size and portability, and also for the instant-on features – no boot up time to wait for the computer to power up. I have to say that, in general, I’m getting tired of what I call “large objects” – bigger cameras, computers, etc.. They have their place, but being as unsettled as I am – moving around a lot – I’ve come to see the beauty of gear that takes up little space but can perform a variety of functions. By the way, I took the iPad outside last night and held it up to the night sky while running the GoSkyWatch Planetarium app. As I moved the iPad in an arc across the sky, the screen changed to show that part of the sky that it was aligned with. This kind of technology just amazes me.


      2 Sep 10 at 5:57 am

    7. Wow, Bev, there’s actually a program that aligns the iPad with the sky? That’s pretty incredible stuff. Makes me want to buy an iPad even more now! Maybe my little MacBook will learn to do that someday. Hah! I also have in the back of my mind to buy a new camera. The Panasonic Lumix I’ve been using is now more than five years old. So, I’m going to check out the camera you use. Going small is definitely the way to go

      robin andrea

      2 Sep 10 at 9:55 am

    8. robin – yes, the iPad aligns itself with the sky. Last night was fairly hazy here due to high humidity, but the milky way band was very visible as well as a few constellations. I swung the iPad back and forth above my head and it followed everything very closely. I haven’t done much experimentation yet, but I guess there is a red light mode so that you don’t have that effect of not being able to see the stars well after looking at the screen. When we get a clearer night, I’ll experiment some more. Now I’m looking forward to having this down in the desert or out west where there are good dark skies. Oh, and when you touch certain spots on the screen, it gives you a list of all of the stars inside a certain area, their magnitudes, etc.. and it will locate planets as well. There’s a lot of info in this program. Definitely enough for most people who are interested in astronomy at a hobby level. I’m sure kids would just go nuts with this thing. I guess it will work on an iPhone too, but I would think it might look a bit small.
      Re: cameras. I really like the Canon G11. There’s probably a newer model now — I think so — but I’ve really found this to be a good camera. The only thing is that it doesn’t do telephone zoom stuff all that well. I use my CP8800 for that. If I really wanted to shoot a lot of far away stuff (which I don’t), I’d probably buy one of the newer models of P+S that have 24X zooms, etc.. but my real interest has always been the macro or “normal” distance world and this camera is super for that kind of work. However, that said, there are plenty of nice cameras now, so the choice is almost endless.


      2 Sep 10 at 10:03 am

    9. Bev the Mac Maven! I think a lot of folks engaged in planning for extended trips are going to find the considerations valuable for paring down “stuff” to the important stuff. And yes, I’d certainly consider tech items to be important stuff. Being able to get weather reports where you’re going is a safety enhancing feature.

      The sky app, from your reply to Robin, sounds nicely sophisticated. That’s the sort of thing large astronomy programs do.

      A few years ago, when I first got my CELL PHONE, we went to Jekyll Island where the rented house didn’t have DSL. I paid a month rental on broadband wireless using the cell phone as the conduit, and it worked great. I’ve thought about completely going over to that in place of our DSL here at home, since we also have to have a landline phone which we never use in order to have DSL. It would come to about the same cost, so for the time being there’s no real reason to make the switch.


      5 Sep 10 at 5:18 am

    10. Wayne – After using the iPad for a few days – granted, mostly just experimenting with various programs – I’m pretty much convinced this will be “the answer” for a person like me who does a lot of tripping around. Yesterday, I downloaded Dragon Dictation and had it transcribe an email for me and it did a pretty darned good job! I can see the dictation program being wonderful for those times when sitting down to type an email is not all that convenient. Hunt-and-peck typists would probably find the program a godsend – and it is dead easy to use – barely any instructions needed.

      The other use I’d been thinking of was some way to make field notes when traveling. I did a bit of looking around on blogs and found an interesting piece on the GPS functions and how well the iPad works in the field. The writer mentions using a note-taking app called Evernote. I downloaded that app and it works as described – it automatically assigns a GPS position to each note. What a cool thing for doing field notes? Anyhow, there is more about the GPS and mapping capabilities in this review:

      Another app which I downloaded was SketchBook Pro which I will try to put through its paces sometime soon. I twiddled around with it for awhile last night and was rather amazed by — once again — how intuitive it is to use that program. Amazing!

      It will be interesting to see where all of this wireless stuff goes in the next couple of years. I think we’ll see MiFi systems replacing DSL, cable and other net connections and probably even phone lines before too long. Recently, my brother was talking to a phone repair company fellow regarding why the lines in their neighbourhood have not been upgraded and are getting into such sorry condition. He replied, “This stuff is all going to be obsolete before long. It’s just got to do for a little longer.” I suspect he’s quite right. Devices such as the iPad are probably where everything is headed in the near future.


      5 Sep 10 at 6:41 am

    11. wonderful description of how an ipad can work in the real world. we have been thinking kindle (we need a portable reader) because i wasn’t convinced the ipad was all that great. i realize it is apples and oranges but there is significant overlap from the kindle to the ipad. are the apps ipad specific? do things like google sketch-up work on it? that dictation app sound really cool!

      karl omelay

      5 Sep 10 at 6:54 am

    12. karl – Thanks! Regarding using a kindle, did you know that there is an app that allows you to view kindle books on the iPad? The app is a free download. You can read about it both on the Amazon site:
      and on the iTunes download site:
      I don’t know much (well, I don’t know anything) about Google SketchUp, but just looked it up in the iTunes app store and see that there is a there is some kind of app called Keypad for Google SketchUp for iPad. I don’t know if you need to be running something else as I don’t know about this program. Is it online and you go to it and run the program online. Anyhow, I’m guessing that this app might be able to do it. Check it out.
      As for whether to go with a kindle reader, or an iPad – they aren’t really the same. I’ve looked at both regular book pages and magazine pages on the iPad and it’s a very different experience. Magazines are very interesting and I have a feeling we’ll see some innovations with how online magazines will function because of the touch capabilities of these tablets. Anyhow, just a suggestion, but I think the thing to do would be to go to a store that sells the iPad and see how it looks to you. The screen is very clear and has a lot of adjustment available as far as brightness is concerned. The one thing that I could see being a problem in some situations — as a serious reading tool — might be reflections on the very smooth surface. Again, that’s something that I think you might want to experiment with at the store. As for the apps, I think the iPad is going to turn out to be incredibly versatile for so many purposes as people keep coming up with new apps — there are new ones being added all the time. I’ve downloaded a few of the freebie ones to try out and, quite frankly, I’m amazed by some of this stuff. The Dragon Dictation is a great app. Yes, sometimes the interpretation of what you said isn’t correct, but I found that it was me that had to adjust a little — speak a little more clearly and also remember not to put my hand on the part of the iPad near the built-in mike. In fact, it worked even better when I held the iPad turned so that the mike was toward me. There were very few “mis-hearings” after I gave that a try. Anyhow, do some homework before you make any decision.


      5 Sep 10 at 7:57 am

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