Imagine if you could go to your favorite DIY store and buy just one appliance which would cut down trees, trim the grass, plant vegetables and wash the car. Something like one of those transformer toys that now seem to have gone out of fashion. It’s not going to happen, right?

Well, I recently acquired an iPad. Not the shiny new one which comes in a whole range of two colors, but the legacy model, now called the iPad1. Trust me, this is relevant to my imaginary trip to the DIY store.

My iPad arrived all the way from Canada, thanks to the daughter of an old friend who was upgrading to the iPad2. Her iPad1 became redundant. In fact, if you want to dip your toe into the iWater, that’s probably the best way to start. Check out eBay and similar sites, to spot the bargains when people upgrade.

Nice picture frame!

Now, I freely confess, I didn’t have a clue what to do with this thing. I’ve never been an Apple user and I don’t (yet!) have an iPhone. For a few days it sat on my desk, looking more like a handsome smoked-glass picture frame than something I couldn’t live without. I pleaded with my friend to tell me what to do with it. He just made rude remarks, calling me a “dinosaur” and worse. “RTFM” he said helpfully, but forcefully, stressing the “F”. Great. The iPad comes with one piece of card with a few paragraphs and pictures, which is supposedly all you need to know. Yeah, it’s all a five year-old needs to know, but is no help at all to a dinosaur.

I’d felt my excitement building as I’d tracked it online. I wanted to use this thing two seconds after I’d signed the delivery slip. I didn’t want to read books and manuals. But, eventually I had to. Skipping through the pages as quickly as possible, I managed to figure out how to switch the thing on! I even learned what the buttons do, and how to start up the “apps” … which we used to call programs. I would have liked to have read those helpful books on the iPad, because that’s one thing iPads are good at. But apparently dinosaurs can’t do that.

The pain of the rest of my learning curve I’ll leave for a future article. For now, all you need to know is that over a period of a few weeks, I had it all figured. There was more reading, more stupid questions for my friend, more verbal abuse to be suffered, but eventually I had this thing cracked.

Those birds really don't like green pigs!

Now, I couldn’t live without it. Now, I’m thinking about where this technology is going. Now, I’m wondering why it won’t do some of the things I need it to do, like cut the grass. Now, I’m trying to figure how to develop apps so that it will do at least some of the things I want. Angry Birds is fun, but with the exception of that one, computer games leave me cold. That isn’t why I need an iPad.

It’s taken some hunting, but I now have a whole range of productivity apps, plus some for entertainment, news gathering, and a host of utilities I didn’t know I needed – but trust me, I do.

I take the iPad everywhere. Actually, that’s not quite true. Apparently about a third of owners take theirs to the bathroom. Personally I don’t much like bathrooms. I like to get in there, do what I have to do, and get out. Cleaning them is even less fun. Lingering with my iPad does not appeal. I also don’t take it to bed, although I can see reasons why I would. Maybe you can see the beginnings of a problem…

Monitoring the engine.

I don’t want one iPad that goes everywhere with me. I need at least a dozen, so they are always available everywhere I go. Except in the bathroom.

I could use three in the car. Yeah, seriously. One for GPS, SatNav, or whatever you want to call the spooky app that knows exactly where you are, even when you don’t. The iPad screen is so much better for dinosaurs than trying to read a Garmin or iPhone. I need that in front of my nose. I could replace the real dash in the car with another iPad. There are apps that will display everything my dash currently displays, and more. And the display is sexier. I need one that is monitoring the car’s ECU (a fancy acronym for the computer that makes the engine run.) And I suppose I might need one so that a passenger can watch movies. Okay, that’s at least four in the car.

Ah! So that's where I am!

This is where I come back to the visit to the DIY store.

After using the iPad for a while, I realized it’s not a computer at all. Well, it is, but you don’t really use it like one. It’s a whole range of tools, all in one box, but it can only be one tool at a time. It’s a tool I use to monitor Formula 1 lap times while I’m watching the race on TV. It’s a SatNav. It’s replaced all the paper on my desk, so it’s a notebook, a calendar, a to do list, a recipe for tonight’s supper, in fact it’s a whole pile of magazines and books. It’s the equivalent of a TV/DvD player which I watch while eating in the kitchen. Of course, it plays music whenever I want … but more than that, it can store all the music I own. And it could be an alarm clock, which is why I could take it to bed. But I don’t like alarm clocks, so I let it rest in my office overnight, while it recharges it’s battery. Although, the battery lasts so long, you sometimes forget it has one.

So yeah, I need lots of iPads. As I said, four in the car. And then probably four in my office, and at least one in each of the rooms I use regularly. I need all these to talk to each other, so that any info, data, books, mags., movies, anything that I have in one, I have in all. That’s no problem, iThingies do that already.

Oh, but I need the nice inventive folks at Apple to understand that I need a range of sizes, and features. Many of my iPads don’t need cameras, video or otherwise. I don’t need people to see my while I’m driving. Hmmm. That’s another good reason why I don’t need to take one to the bathroom. Naked dinosaurs are not a pretty sight. Trust me!

I don’t need GPS in the kitchen. I know where I am and what I’m doing. That iPad is never going to leave the kitchen wall, and oh, I need that one to be larger, while others could be smaller, but not as small as the iPhone. But, Dear ApplePeople, as well as taking out some features, you could add some as options. Infrared would be nice. I’d like to throw out the pile of remotes that sit by the TV. Don’t worry, I’ll think of more. No charge for the research.

But of course, if I’m going to own loads of iPads, I need them to be cheaper. Much cheaper. Not 10% cheaper, more like 90% cheaper. That way, you’ll sell at least ten times as many.

Time for F1.

So there you have it. The iPad is a hundred tools rolled into one. It can be anything you want it to be … at least, if someone has written the app. And if they haven’t, you can be sure they soon will. It does the equivalent of washing the car and cutting down trees. It’s just a tool, but one you can keep transforming into another tool, and another tool.

Now, I’m going to pad off into the living room, to watch F1, while knowing much more about what’s going on than the commentators seem to do. All thanks to the iPad.


...has been travelling the world for more than fifty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more. He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way. More info than you could possibly need is available by clicking the ABOUT tab in the top menu line.

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