NOTE: I am writing this post the good old fashioned way: using a laptop. Yes I am aware of how “six-months ago” that is… but read on….
Well it was certainly a noble question, “Am I in Hell? Or just using an iPad?” One cannot be blamed for posing the question. It’s an innocent and justifiable enough question. It just wasn’t the right question. The right question it turns out was “Why do I feel like I am in Hell whenever I use the iPad?” And of course the answer is “Being in Hell and using an iPad are the SAME thing”.
See, it all started about a week ago. I received this incredible looking device for my birthday from my even more incredible looking wife. I had been talking about getting an iPad for months. I had gotten used to the iPhone — bear in mind if you do NOT have an iPhone that there is a VERY large learning curve to using one. iPhones do not have regular keyboards – they are virtual, not tactile; and because they are an Apple product they are just about incompatible with every known device, website, app, software in the known universe. But still… there is a feeling one gets from using an iPhone — (scientists have actually just finished a small clinical trial that showed that using an iPhone elicits certain endorphins in the brain that are similar to the feelings we get when we are in love or being loved or being made love to by another. This is true. Look it up).
So i had gotten used to the iPhone after about a year of using it. And no, the marriage still wasn’t perfect. To this day I still cannot use more than half of the applications or tools that I use on my traditional PC-based hot-rodded laptop (mind you this thing is a monster if you’re a tech-geek. Custom designed and hand-built with a quad-core processor, ultra-high resolution screen, more ports than a space-shuttle, more RAM than is humanly fathomable, the most expensive video card money can buy along with the best sound card humanity can invent). So it should be fine, right? Well for the most part it is. Only problem being that it is still, alas, a laptop. In other words, it’s significantly larger and heavier than an iPhone.
Seeing that my job entails hunching over some kind of “content creating” device for hours at a time, there was a real need for me to be able to invent some kind of system to still be able to create content and not do real damage to my health. My back and neck are already severely compromised due to how many hours I have hunched over this thing. A Vegas book-maker could gamble that “yours truly has spent 20 hours straight hunched over his laptop without moving except to take bathroom breaks” and win 100% of the time. Unfortunately the statement is easily true. It is the nature of how much the industry I work in has changed. The music-making industry that is. But that’s another story. So… over the last few months I had begun realizing that I could do quite a bit using my iPhone. No it’s not easy, and it’s certainly not comfortable. But once you’ve hit the bed at 4AM and you’ve just put in an 18 hour day and you’re dead tired to the point of your eyes being crossed, finishing up that “last bit of work before you wake up in 3 hours to start the process all over again” is best accomplished on a smaller device with a less trauma inducing screen than a laptop. Hence the iPhone. I could write a three page blog post in less than an hour on the iPhone. No kidding. I have mastered that virtual keyboard. But again, it just doesn’t feel that comfortable, nor healthy. Not much does anymore in this high tech world. But again, that too is another story.
So my mind began to fantasize about the iPad. Not as large as a laptop and not as small as an iPhone. Should be the perfect solution. Right? Well golly Wally how I wish that statement were true. But it just has not been the case. It didn’t take that long to set up. Only about an hour. (yes, laughter is perfectly acceptable at that juncture in our story). What would one want to do first with this sleek slick high-priced and fancy device? We can’t use it as a phone, and it turns out that we also cannot use it to text. (Yes I know, we “can” use it to text if we want to text from our google GMail account… but that isn’t texting if you ask me. That’s IM’ing or chatting. I’m referring strictly to good old fashioned cell phone to cell phone test messaging, and it’s just not something one does on an iPad).
Ok… so what about surfing the internet? It must be good for that, right? Well, yes and no. If you want to just poke around and look at stuff, then sure, the iPad is a very expensive way to do that. It’s also not a bad tool for video conferencing like we do with Skype. And yes they finally added a dinky camera so we can take pictures with it. (Far be it from me to be the last man standing over the last two years pointing out how ridiculously short sighted it was for Apple in release a tablet device with no camera as they did with the iPad #1. My God what a stupid move. But surprisingly many, many people still ran out and bought one. I’m not sure what they actually did with it… A reviewer journalist from Time magazine said it best when he said “I haven’t actually found a use for the iPad, so I still need to carry my laptop around with me everywhere for work. But the iPad looks so cool that I find that I always have it with me, usually just sitting on the passengers seat of my car.” And this is what I had already guessed about the iPad when I first read about it. Hence the reason why I never bought one.
But the iPad 2 was supposed to change that. And so here we are. I’ve now owned one for about one week. I tried going to Facebook. But quickly realized that the iPad doesn’t work too well with Facebook. There are so many problems with it that you just get fed up and leave. Worst of them being that you cannot upload photos from your iPad to Facebook. Nor to anywhere for that matter. Why? Well no one seems to really know. Apple employees seem to think that it’s Adobe’s fault. And if you go to Adobe’s website, they seem to blame it on Apple. As a “regular Joe” consumer, I could care less whose fault it is, I just want to be able to upload photos. The solution we are told by Apple and/or “Apple afficianados” (of which there are plenty — and for good reason — I also own a badass Macbook and I must say it is everything they say it’s cracked up to be. it is for lack of a better word, “the BOMB!”) as I was saying, both will tell you that “you need to download the iPad Facebook app” if you want to upload photos or do other things on Facebook that you are accustomed to doing on a regular laptop. The only problem is that the iPad Facebook app is about as functional as attempting to use Facebook using Morse Code. It just isn’t a viable app. No need to go into the details. Just trust me on this. You’ll bail on it in less than five minutes. It truly is that useless.
Well, ok… that’s a drag. What about blogging? I do plenty of that for my job. I personally use two primary resources to blog: WordPress for the majority of them, and Blogger for one of them. This post that you are reading here in the infamous pages of the long-running Transcendence Diaries is currently being hosted by Blogger and has been for about five years now. Before that we had tried numerous other platforms. (The Diaries, as they are often called, are in their ninth year believe it or not for those who’ve been with us from the very start). At first I tried the obvious. I went to the Safari browser and opened up Blogger, logged in, and started writing a new post. Within five minutes the fiery smell of Dante’s sulfuric Inferno was so strong in the room that it was obvious that I was literally steps away from falling into the pit of hell forever and ever. Why? Because writing a new post in Blogger on an iPad simply doesn’t work. You can’t upload photos. You can’t adjust your settings. You can’t view your blog in a non-HTML standard form. And worst of all, you can’t actually publish the post you’ve just written. Worse than that, once it tells you that and displays a giant ERROR message on its bright shiny screen, it deletes the post you just spent an hour writing. That’s right. GONE for good.
“Oh man, that’s because you need to download the iPad for blogging app bro” Apple people will tell you. It’s true. You can’t actually blog using an iPad on Blogger or WordPress in a browser. You have to download yet another app. OK fine. Done. I first tried the tantalizingly titled “Blogger for iPad” app. No dice. You can only blog for as many sentences that fit above the virtual keyboard. Then you’re screwed. Besides, that’s ALL you can do. No editing, no formatting, no photos, etc. I then tried something called BloggerHD. Big price tag, but it promised the moon. And remember, promising the moon in the world of the iPad just means that you’ll be able to do the normal things you do everyday on your laptop. Not much moon there. But worth a try if it works I figured. Unfortunately it didn’t work. I typed a respectable one page post on a subject that I cannot even remember now only to hit publish and see it disappear. That was last night. I gave up and went to bed early, discouraged and disillusioned with my original fantasy that the iPad might somehow hold some saving grace for me or my health.
Next up was an app that looked even more promising. They call it BlogPress. Meaning that it will enable you to use your iPad for both Blogger and WordPress blogs. Oh what a beautiful morning. I jumped up and paid the fee and download it, logged into my account and began typing away. As a simple safety measure I hit the “Save” button just in case when I went to Publish the post it disappeared, and the app proceeded to close. I tried opening it a few times and it will now not even open on the iPad. Frantically and desperately I opened Safari to see if at the very least it saved this post i had worked so hard on for a little over an hour only to be reminded that when you log into Blogger on the iPad using the Safari browser, you cannot actually see a list of your previous posts. Not kidding. You also can’t access your dashboard. It is as if the iPad’s operating system, something they call “iOS,” is only capable of seeing or displaying about 50% of any given website’s content. God only knows why, but unfortunately it’s the truth.
So with a long face and an even longer sigh, I got up and walked a few feet over to my trusty old laptop. Blogger opened fine. It opened fully. And it functions perfectly. Just for good luck, on the rare chance that a miracle may have occurred, I checked my posts, both published and drafts. Unfortunately neither the post I wrote last night, nor the one I typed this morning exist. It is as if I had never typed them. So that, as they say, is that.
There may one day be an iPad app for those of us who want to actually do something with our iPads besides look at pictures or watch videos on YouTube. But I’m not holding my breath. I’ve just typed a blog without any trouble or error messages using my laptop in a short period of time and that’s fine with me. As far as the iPad goes, the thing that bgles my mind more than anything else is how could something so useless become so popular, at least in terms of “topical”… not many people actually own iPads. It’s more that just everyone likes talking about them and dreaming of owning one eventually. But like many things, the dream is far more fulfilling than the experience. What’s puzzling is how a machine ten times the price of your average iPhone not even be capable of accomplishing the same tasks as your average iPhone.
Last night, after hours and hours spent trying to salvage aforementioned blog posts or tens of futile attempts to use Facebook on the iPad, I eventually gave up and just pulled out my iPhone to do said tasks. There I was, 2AM, in bed, comfortably interacting with people all over the world on Facebook, through text messaging, and yes, even blogging, on my two year old $100 iPhone; while the $800 iPad sat lifelessly on the floor next to us. The irony did not escape me. I stared at it for a few seconds and all I felt was disgust. Outrageously priced, sleek, slick, and fancy looking but no actual use and incapable of being trusted. A lot like the people we dislike the most in this world. For them of course there is hope. I always hold out that each and every one of us is evolving, slowly, at our own pace, but human potential is remarkably surprising. After one gruelling week of trying everything imaginable in hopes of discovering something useful about the iPad, I don’t hold much hope for it. Too little too late for far too much money.
But I will say this. The iPad for as useless as it is does provide one invaluable benefit. It shows us that regardless of how utterly worthless something is, with the right amount of promotion and hype, we can find a way to sell it to others and make a fortune. And as a lifelong entrepreneur, that idea inspires me. Like “the Pet Rock” before it, the iPad is an anomalous entrepreneurial success story. If Apple can profit from it simply based on its beauty and hype, so too can you and I and everyone else profit from things we invent and bring to market and no we do NOT need to concern ourselves with how well they work. Functionality is optional. Much like our Senate or Congress.