Thursday, July 1, 2010

My iPad

I was brought up with mainframe computers and punched cards and later was a proud user of an IBM PC operating under MS-DOS loaded from two floppy disk units. My heart however always belonged to the really small stuff.

I was fascinated by the HP35 and its Reversed Polish Notation. Later I went the whole way programming the HP41CX synthetically and even contributed to HP's program library. The HP100LX fascinated me for years. Eventually my pocket computers amalgamated with my cellular phone so I carried around rather sophisticated Pocket PCs containing all my personal information. That the PPC could also be used to place phone calls was a positive side effect. The text input facilities however of these machines were rather cumbersome with micro keyboards not helping at all when taking notes, e.g., in libraries. So I settled for an HP200 changing it later to the HP720 model for my external text work.
Me and my Jornada 720 (©Wikipedia)
The problem of all these small devices was synchronization. ActiveSync offered by Microsoft for transferring data between my mini stuff and the desktop computer always was a pain in the neck. I often spent hours trying to find out why the machines did not want to mate. Should I not have rather bought a net book for my text processing needs and use USB sticks for data transfer?

Enter the iPhone: With respect to my personal data Apple initially didn't facilitate synchronization between the phone and the desktop either. While addresses always synced rather fairly via iTunes, my agenda kept in Pocket Informant only now works reasonably well with MS Outlook following some real nightmares. With respect to my other data (i.e. frequently needed alphanumerical information) PhatNotes issued their version for the iPhone just in time so all my other data stay safely synchronized in a common database.

But what about text files and all the other stuff? Enter the Cloud and the iPad: Apple offers MobileMe with an iDisk in a cloud where you can store all the files on which you are currently working. No hassle anymore which one of the two files on your small machine or on your desktop PC is the most recent one. You only work on the one and only version on your iPad and your desktop. As a text processor Apple sells Pages for the iPad but curiously this software doesn't presently give access to the MobileMe Cloud. Hence, for the time being I use Quickoffice on the iPad supporting MS data formats fulfilling all my external text processing needs even when working on longer documents.

Do I have to open the word processor for small notes and odd information on the road? Enters the best application so far for iPhone and iPad: Evernote. You open Evernote on one of the iMachines or on your desktop and enter text snippets or pictures. These entries instantaneously are available on all platforms provided you are connected to the Internet.

For me the iPad is the ideal machine when away from my desktop. E-mail, news and Wikipedia on the Internet all at my hands. I have no time watching films or playing games but it seems that other people well find their fill with the iPad.
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