"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shifting paradigms

When Apple first released the iPad, I--like many other Apple enthusiasts--was both enthralled and disappointed. I remember joking about the iPad being just a larger iPhone, without the phone. Don't get me wrong, I was (and still am) very happy with my iPhone. My biggest disppointment with the iPad was that I had been waiting for Apple to deliver a netbook, and the iPad was no netbook. Yes, a touchscreen device with a decent-sized virtual keyboard was nice, and the battery life was a big plus, but it didn't have a user-accessible filesystem. How was I going to load and unload my files?

So I ended up buying an HP mini, wiping the disk, and putting Ubuntu netbook remix on it. It served me well as a portable writing device, and the form factor and battery life were perfect. As time went by, I continued to hold out hope that Apple would improve its clumsy, iTunes-based method for getting files on and off an iPad, but they never did.

Meanwhile, app developers rushed in to fill some of the gaps. I began to see the benefit of ignoring a conventional filesystem altogether, and turning to cloud-based storage, thanks to Dropbox. And when my netbook suffered a premature demise recently, I finally took the plunge and replaced it with an iPad 2.

The combination of Dropbox and Documents to Go (a very capable, stripped-down equivalent to Microsoft Office that supports a number of cloud-based storage services) has made the iPad an amazing writing device, and so much more. I don't miss my netbook at all, and the virtual keyboard is ideal for me, since I'm not a touch typist. My resistance to Apple forcing me to accept its way of thinking has faded. At some point, I may even begin to see that familiar filesystem and friendly Finder on my desktop Macs as completely antiquated.

That's Apple for you. It doesn't just shift paradigms, it busts them wide open.


Michele said...

Hi Ken,
You've hit on my main concern with the iPad as well. If I have it with me, I'll want to write. If I write, I'll want my files off and in a format that I can later use--but on my Windows computers. Maybe I'll try your combo when my iPad finally arrives. Thanks for the tips.

kdoyle said...

I think you'll enjoy using it. Let me know how it goes.

Terri said...

My three year old Toshiba laptop has been a huge disappointment. The Vista platform is horrible. So, when my new position wanted to buy me a new computer I suggested an iPad 2. The leadership was all over this idea, loving it. So, now I am learning how to use it. I purchased Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps. I have used Pages a couple of times, but agree, I have no idea how to store my files. So now I will go download the two you suggest and see if they help me.

Glad to have you back in the blog world.

kdoyle said...

Thanks, Terri. I had considered Apple's iWork suite as well, since I like the desktop versions. However, for my basic needs, Documents To Go is working out really well so far.

Isobel said...

I love my iPad, but have been struggling to find a good writing (not just note taking) tool. I will give documents to go a try. Thanks for the tip.

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