iBook is dead, long live the iPad

iBook G4, deadAs mentioned in my post (interrupted), my laptop died Sunday night. I originally ordered that laptop & received it just in time for NaNoWriMo, 2004. I’ve used it for the writing of over ten books, I used it to record (and edit, et cetera) at least four audiobooks, and it’s been my near-constant companion for almost six and a half years. 6 years, 4 months, and 27 days, to be exact:

RIP iBook G4, 11/2/2004 – 3/28/2011

It was at a particularly frustrating and liberating moment that it died… I’ve been going back and forth about whether to buy an iPad 2 since its announcement. When the original iPad was introduced, I wanted one, but resisted. Especially after the details on the iPhone 4 came out, I was sure that, if not for the iPad 2 then soon, the iPad would have a 300ppi or better display. As I’ve previously mentioned, specifically in an essay I wrote for Time, emiT, and Time Again, I’ve been waiting for 300ppi displays for over ten years. It’s like the wait for 28+ megapixel cameras to reach consumer prices, so digital imagery will finally reach the level of the 35mm film rapidly disappearing from the market; I’m eager for the point where digital begins to surpass analog at what analog is good at. To me, for displays, that sort of high resolution is the key feature. If the iPad 2 had been built with a 300ppi or better display, I would not have hesitated to order one. I would probably have stood in line to get one on launch day, opera-be-damned. (That’s a whole other story.) But the iPad 2 doesn’t have a so-called “Retina” display…

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the iPad refresh. Holding off, sitting in anticipation, waiting for iPad 2, hoping it would have the updated display… for a year. Mandy worked a bunch of extra hours last block, and despite finally getting our withholding rates set correctly we got nice-sized tax refunds from both State and Federal, so we’ve been making plans for dividing up the extra money between buying a few things we need (new clothes, since we’ve been losing so much weight), a few things we want (kindle, iPad), and paying off a couple big chunks of our debt (we paid off Mandy’s car in February). So, after the iPad 2 announcement, I’ve been waffling about whether to order the iPad I’ve been so eagerly waiting for and budgeted for, but which wasn’t everything I’d been dreaming of… or putting the money for it into savings and waiting for the iPad 3 (rumored to possibly be released as soon as this Fall, though possibly not until next spring) and/or whatever model gets the Retina Display.

((As a side note, watching the film Limitless made me want to start using modafinil again, and to just put the iPad money toward that. I’ll probably order a small amount of the drug anyway…))

Sunday night, in a fit of iPad fever, I’d very nearly decided to buy an iPad 2, anyway. Or not. I was still unsure. I’d been looking at the numbers and was almost convinced to put the money toward the debt anyway, and save a little on interest. Then my iPad fever got the better of me and at 11 at night, Sunday night, when the internet said there was one of the iPad 2 model I wanted in stock at a Walmart across town, I got in my car to go see if it was true. Talking to myself on the way over, I’d basically decided that, if the iPad wasn’t there, I’d try to wait and see if the new model was announced in the Fall. It wasn’t there. Their on-site systems also showed that it should have been there, but several people weren’t able to locate it at all, including the overnight stock manager – the person who most knows what stock they have and what they don’t. The hour of driving and of waiting for them to look for the iPad was enough to get my brain to cool down, and by the time I got back home I was pretty sure I could make it a while without the sudden urge to run out in the middle of the night to try to buy an iPad. Possibly all the way until the iPad 3, since I’m generally pretty good at tasks requiring perseverance and patience. I put on a movie or two, and after a while got started on a blog post about the novels I’ve been thinking about writing next.

And my laptop died, mid-post.

And I couldn’t get it to wake up.

Something shorted out, I suspect. Battery is still good, power cord is still good (Mandy has almost exactly the same model, and my battery & cord worked fine on her machine, but hers wouldn’t help mine turn on), and probably the HDD is fine. I haven’t had any unique data stored on my laptop since getting everything set up on the iMac in 2009 – all my work is in Dropbox folders, so it gets backed up to the cloud (and my iMac) automatically. Mandy has been having trouble running out of space on her HDD lately, so I’ll probably move her data over to my old drive and install it in her machine, if it checks out okay. I’ll also have to check out her RAM situation, see if there’s that or anything else we can recover from the dead laptop to enhance hers, or (hopefully) keep it from dying soon, too. ((If hers dies, we’ll actually have to replace it with another laptop. Steve Jobs describes the iPad as a “post-PC device,” but the first thing you need to do with it when you take it out of the box is plug it into a computer. She’d need a computer for things like storing all her music, and managing her iPod and iPhone, since neither of those things really works without having a computer to connect them to, either. A new laptop for her isn’t actually in the budget right now, though we could probably work something out, probably get another refurb.))

I spent a little time being frustrated, trying to work through the problem of how the dead laptop changes the question of whether to buy an iPad. Since I have the iMac (where I do most of my real work – audio, video, design & layout, et cetera), getting an iPad to replace the laptop was certainly a possibility. I covered the details on my Facebook page, but my conclusion, by about 5AM, was that I could use an iPad for almost everything I do on my laptop, plus for everything I wanted to do with an iPad. So I did some research about how/where to try to get an iPad 2 (in black, with at least 32Gb of storage, WiFi only), since they’re still in short supply.

I could have ordered online and waited a month for it, and if I didn’t find one yesterday I’m sure I could have got one within a week or two by being diligent – I’m excellent at queueing and at squeezing information out of the internet. For example, the internet told me: My local Best Buy was showing they had at least one, though there was no way to know whether it was being held in reserve or they might sell it to me. Best guess, for a Monday morning, was that it was being held in reserve. Apple Stores don’t seem to be tracking inventory very well, to the point where they have no idea when they’ll get more stock, of anything, or what they have on hand (without walking around and looking), or what other stores have on hand. (I consider that a bit ridiculous, as far as inventory and supply chain management goes, especially for a tech company in this day and age.) There was a Target about 12 miles North of North Scottsdale which was also listed as (possibly) having at least one of the iPad I wanted.

I’d been awake since about 1PM on Sunday and was getting sleepy by 6AM so I decided that to increase my chances of staying awake until stores opened (since to get one at a store I’d need to be awake at store-opening hours at some point anyway, rather than nocturnal), I’d drive over to Best Buy and wait for them to open. I took a book and read while I waited, from about 7:30AM to 9AM. They had the iPad. The first guy I talked to said it was on reserve, but didn’t know how long they’d hold it for someone. He asked the next person up the chain of command, and she thought 2 days – it had already been waiting 3 days since they’d called the person who had reserved it (ie: all weekend) without being picked up. She checked with the manager, and he said they’d hold it until the person showed up; indefinitely. So at 9:05AM I headed over to the Apple Store where, if they had iPads, they’d theoretically have opened up to sell them at 9AM. They were taking delivery from FedEx, but insisted there were no iPads. I spent about 10 minutes doing the Apple Store employees’ job, explaining the differences between and technical details of the iPad 2 models to someone who was just looking, then headed North to the Target, to see what was going on there.

It was a nice drive through the country, past a lot of giant, extravagant houses and that big 2-month Art Expo I never manage to go to, to get to the “Far North Scottsdale” Target. I walked in, right back to Electronics, and a guy who must have been harassed by people about it for a while (based on his attitude & some asides) took me right back to where he had the iPad locked up. It was an “open box,” he said, as though that would stop the conversation right there. I’m guessing it had, several times. I said, “No problem, as long as the screen isn’t scratched.” He opened it up for me. All the parts were there, the screen looked good, and it turned on (to the ‘connect to iTunes’ screen), plus it was 10% off for being an “open box.” He said the people who returned it “had trouble syncing it.” I knew Apple would cover it, if there were anything actually wrong. To me, that seemed like a pretty good deal. Not as good as a couple of other people I saw online had got as much as 25% off open-box iPad 2s, but enough to make the wireless keyboard I was planning on getting nearly free. I checked out, and was in and out in 5 minutes, iPad in hand.

I drove back down to the Scottsdale Quarter Apple Store, which would be properly open by the time I got to it, because the Product RED leather smart cover is only available directly from Apple, and that was the color cover I wanted. They didn’t have it in stock. They couldn’t tell me whether any of the other Apple Stores in town had it in stock. They wouldn’t call and ask, either, and I quickly found out why. A friendly Apple Store employee wrote down the phone numbers of all the other Apple Stores in town and I began calling them. The Biltmore store didn’t have any RED covers. The Arrowhead store had 2 (the guy had to walk over and check). It took me a little over an hour to get that much information; I didn’t call the other 2 Apple Stores. The guy at Arrowhead said he couldn’t hold the cover for me while I drove across town; they can’t hold anything for anyone. (Ugh.) After a Google Maps snafu (the Google Maps iPhone app has been increasingly unreliable in the last several months), I arrived at the Apple Store and made a beeline to the smart covers – both RED covers were still there. I bought the RED cover, the wireless keyboard, and a magic mouse (to replace the mighty mouse on my iMac), plus Apple’s battery charger & batteries for the wireless keyboard & mouse. Again, once arriving at a location with the products I wanted, it took only a couple of minutes to get in and out.

Except that the entire ordeal, from waiting at the Best Buy to leaving Arrowhead mall, had taken six hours. Six hours for two 5 minute transactions. Which, I guess, is fine, since I managed to buy a brand new iPad 2 on the same day I decided to buy one, I got the exact configuration I wanted, and I saved a reasonable chunk of money off a brand new iPad. Which seems pretty successful, to me.

I took it home & sync’d it, with no problems, and spent the afternoon playing with it. In case you haven’t had a chance to try an iPad, they really are magical. ((Perhaps literally; by the time I had it sync’d, I’d been up over 24 hours, and playing with the iPad kept me energized (and not sleepy) all afternoon. Actually, I ended up staying awake until I stopped playing with the iPad – tried just watching some TV with Mandy when she came home & quickly became sleepy. The show ended, I picked the iPad back up, and stopped feeling sleepy. Perhaps I don’t need modafinil, after all.))

So, my iBook is dead, but my iPad is up and running and awesome. I hope to be able to report, within a few months, that I’ve written a couple of books on my iPad. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

2 thoughts on “iBook is dead, long live the iPad”

  1. Sure. There are several apps for that, depending on how you wanted to do it. My first thought was: use one of the (several) good VNC apps and, yes, the iPad is suddenly a touchscreen display for your Mac Mini (or whatever else). There are other apps for using the iPad as a second display, too, to extend your desktop… that came up when I googled this for you.

    You’d need a keyboard and display for the initial setup of the Mac Mini, but once it was running (probably with a VNC server software running), the iPad could be used as the primary display. I think. I don’t have a headless computer to test it with.

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