Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Impressions of the iPad

Let's just say that I spend most of my waking hours working on a computer and good number of hours each week in genealogy related tasks. I am always interested at anything that might make my life a little faster or easier, although I would debate whether or not computers really make life any easier. Since I have been working on a hourly rate and keeping track of my time for over 35 years, I am acutely aware of how much time it takes to perform tasks on a computer. For many years, I would almost instantly upgrade my computers every time there was an appreciable increase in computing speed. Finally, a few years ago, I got to the point with my genealogy files, including all my scanned images, that all of the computers seemed slow. Although all computers are "fast" in some sense, as you work on a machine for a while, you find out that most of the time you are waiting for the computer to perform some function. There is acceptable waiting and unacceptable waiting.

Waiting is unacceptable when you realize that a faster computer would perform the function faster. Some things do not necessarily speed up with a faster computer, for example, I can only input information into the computer as fast as I can type and no matter how fast the computer is, my typing is still pretty slow and the computer is waiting for me all the time. On the other hand, if I scan a photograph into the computer and then want to edit it somehow, like lighten the image or even repair or remove scratches or other artifacts, I end up waiting for the computer all the time. If I am caught waiting for a computer to load a file or make a change in Adobe Photoshop, then I am not a happy camper. I am constantly looking for more processing power and more speed.

It is inevitable that as I get used to a computer system it seems to slow down. It is not that the computer has actually slowed down, but my perception of its operation has accommodated the speed of the machine and now is moving on to something else. I am sure some people would consider that attitude to be overly compulsive, but remember, I get paid by the hour and when I am doing genealogy for myself I am not getting paid, so I want to do things as fast and efficiently as possible. This brings me back to the subject of the iPad. What does the iPad have to do with computing at all?

The iPad is a very fast and very portable computer. One of the ways I can keep working is to do essential tasks at times that do not keep me from working. For example, if when I get to work, I have to spend twenty minutes to an hours going through the backlog of E-mails in my inbox, then I am spending productive time at an unproductive task. It is the same way with genealogy. I only have so much time to work on my genealogy each week and I have to balance that with my many other obligations (like making a living). If I can push some of the essential tasks over into less productive time, then I can make more time to work and more time to do genealogy.

I have been using an iPhone since they came out a couple of years ago. The iPhone gives me a way to push some of the essential but non-productive tasks, like E-mail into less productive time periods, thus opening up more time to work and work more efficiently. The iPad was intriguing as a possible platform to move even more of those tasks to less productive times.

I went to a Best Buy and looked at the machine. I was a little bit impressed, but immediately saw that the machine would appeal to my wife. We visited an Apple Store and I watched the people come in from the Mall and look at the iPads for the first time. It was very interesting. Both very young people and older people (like me) almost instantly figured out how to use the product. The learning curve looked to be about ten to fifteen seconds. Of course, there were a lot of features that took considerably longer to master, but the core idea of the iPad is an operating system that is so intuitive that it makes a mouse look archaic. But, the real question was whether or not the machine would actually perform as a adjunct to getting work done faster and easier. We bought one for my wife, but I am still looking at the machine.

Right now, I have almost all of the functionality of the iPad on my iPhone. The real question is whether or not the larger format supports a practical working environment. Can I use the iPad to produce documents and then send them to my office for printing, for example? I haven't answered that question yet. I do like the new iPad apps a lot better than their iPhone counterparts. I think it will make a fabulous eBook Reader. I am impressed with the resolution of the screen and like photos and videos on the iPad. All of the genealogy apps that I have seem to work just fine and I am waiting for the first of them to be upgraded to work with the iPad. When I get an upgraded genealogy app, I will then be in a better position to make a decision as to whether to use it for genealogy. The other question I would like to have answered is whether or not the iPad in its present form will work for presentations.

I have to get used to the weight. It is a lot heavier than my iPhone but it works well on a lap or sitting at a table. I haven't figured out how I would carry one around. My wife uses a bag but I am not one for carrying things in my hands. I am not sure how I would transport it.

It is an impressive machine. It will undoubtedly sell millions, but as I have said before, the jury is still out on iPads for my genealogical use.



    They don't have them yet for iPads. But, I would carry one around in it. :)

  2. GedView has been upgraded to support the iPads larger screen size. A full interface update for iPad will be added once the iPad is available internationally.