iPad just-slightly insufficiently futurey.

I got an iPad a few weeks ago, and it's really pretty amazing.

This is a big reversal, since I scoffed at those things when they came out. "Why would I want an iPhone that's too big to put in my pocket?" I thought they were useless and stupid, until I used one, and now I'm totally sold. It's an instant-on appliance with a real web browser and real mail reader on a real screen.

I will never use a laptop again.

The on-screen keyboard is mostly tolerable for typing short things (I can't quite touch-type on it, but sort of a six-fingered hybrid of touch-typing and hunt-and-peck works ok).

Here's what sucks, though. And, oddly, most of these are not the iPad's fault, per se.

First, the ssh client I use, "iSSH" completely fails with a Bluetooth keyboard. If you are in any iPad text field, the usual Emacs keybindings work with a real keyboard, including Ctrl-A, etc. However, when using iSSH, none of the chord keys work. This is just a bug in iSSH, but it's been around for a long time with no sign of a fix, judging from the fora. If the keyboard worked properly with iSSH, so that I could ssh in to a server and run a remote Emacs, I'd be able to accomplish just about everything I ever need to do remotely. But driving Emacs -- or even just typing HTML or shell commands -- using the on-screen keyboard is an exercise in self-abuse.

Second, network access in San Francisco fucking blows. Open wifi just doesn't exist here. Every square inch of this city is blanketed with 3 to 10 wifi networks, but they're always locked down. Knowing this, I got an iPad with a 3G card in self-defense, but even that has been remarkably unhelpful so far. Here's an example:

It's a nice day. I go and get some lunch and sit in Yerba Buena park and attempt to do my usual feed-reading ablutions. There are no unlocked wifi networks. (Today, even the "Metreon" network isn't showing up. Usually it's visible, but I haven't been able to connect to it for about two years. I assume that whoever was once responsible for it was sacked, and while the switches are still powered up, they don't actually have an uplink behind them any more. Just one of the many ways that mall is a walking corpse.)

So, after a dozen attempts, my feed reader is finally able to download my feeds over 3G. I'm able to read them, but can only see about one in ten inlined images. Trying to talk to people on AIM is an exercise in whack-a-mole; I have to hit "send" at least 5 times before the messages will go out. Finally, after about 30 minutes it says "your iPad must cool down before you can use it."

"Shiny black slab" was an attractive design choice, but it may not have been the best choice if you want the device to be able to function in the presence of sunlight. Sigh. This is a shame, because the screen is surprisingly readable when it's not suffering from i-sunstroke.

I spend a big chunk of my day in front of a computer, and it seemed like this device would make it easier for me to do that in places-that-are-not-my-house. So far, it has mostly failed at that due to the shitty municipal infrastructure. Mostly it has managed to just move me from my desk to my couch, and occasionally the cafe half a block away (one of the few places I know of that does have unlocked wifi).

But I don't want to sit inside a cafe all day, I want to sit in a park, and it has failed at that so far.

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89 Responses:

  1. autopope says:

    Two points:

    Firstly, the keyboard fail is not merely a problem for iSSH -- Apple didn't provide an keyboard API with access to modifier keys for external developers until recently, meaning that currently the only Word-compatible word processor for the iPad that works with external keyboards and arrow keys(!) is ... Pages.

    (This is allegedly being fixed, by requiring developers to use a whole new API for talking to external keyboards, but I couldn't possibly imagine that Apple would handicap third-party applications to give their own product line a first-mover advantage. Sigh.)

    Secondly: the 3G problem is an AT&T problem. Srsly. At least, my 3G iPad works fine in the UK on Three's network.

    I figure these are teething problems. But they're annoying the early adopters, nonetheless.

    • I'm in the states but on the other side of the continent in a much smaller city (Orlando) and I have never had the problems he's complaining about with my iPad on 3G. I had them last night when I was in the middle of nowhere on Edge, but not here in town on 3G.

      • don_negro says:

        They're actually not even that bad in San Francisco outside of SOMA and the Mission. I lived in the Inner Richmond for 2 years and my AT&T 3G was fine out there. If I was in SOMA on a Saturday night, SMS wasn't even a sure thing.

        3G apparently degrades rapidly in the presence of hipsters. It's like they have a lot of extra water in them, or something.

  2. egon.mp says:

    Welcome to the future, where a store and forward configuration seems more and more preferable.

  3. travisd says:

    Hop off the ATT Failboat and get a MiFi or similar on a network that doesn't suck?

    • strspn says:

      According to my detailed investigation of these matters, as your browsing leisure and social media consultant, I advise you to try McAllister and Larkin over by the Civic Center.

    • sc00ter says:

      The only reason I would carry an extra device, just to use an iPad the way it should be used anyway is to get a Clear version of that and get 4G.

      That said, I think a better solution would be to possibly switch networks and get a different SIM for the iPad and screw AT&T

      • vanbeast says:

        If only there were anything remotely close to a viable alternative to AT&T for GSM data in the US.

        Mifi is a good idea, it was going to be my suggestion too. I don't live in SF, but my friends who do and people who visit tell me that Sprint's so good they get coverage in the tunnels on the BART.

        Dunno if Sprint's done their 4G rollout down there yet but I'd be looking really hard at that as an option.

        • alchemist says:

          And I've found, so far, that the AT&T data issues on the iPad are more a concern with location and not AT&T as a whole. In parts of RTP where I live, 3G data is fast and zippy. In other parts, I've only got EDGE, and it's not fast, but reliable at least. And in some areas (near my office, for example), it depends on what tower I'm nearest to.

          In some of the major metros I've visited with it (DFW, Pittsburgh) it can very by time of day, network use, & etc. downtown Dallas was GREAT on Saturday & Sunday, not so much Friday during business hours. Same for Pittsburgh. Overall, I'd say AT&T needs to, at the very least, be cnsistent with coverage.

          And to add to the problems, down here they rely on third party tower owners/operators a lot, so it may also be the overall infrastructure that's at fault. In the UK and places where cellular coverage is treated as a public utility, and not a patchwork of who has an agreement with who to get what, it's probably much better overall.

          • vanbeast says:

            I think the issue is that AT&T has widespread data network issues, and location or no, it's their network that is failing. I tend to get pretty good coverage around Seattle and Portland, but that's not true it's entirely because AT&T's network in that area is crap.

            I often experience similar issues to above where I'll have five bars and 100% packet loss. It's super annoying. What's funny is that between my iphone and ipad, I often have data on only one device... that is, if it's working on my ipad, it's probably not working on my phone.

            • alchemist says:

              That's a new one by me - most of the time here if I can't get it on one, I can't get it on the other.

              Really, I agree - AT&T has huge network issues. I'm lucky that I don't see many of them in this region. They seem to be most common in the northeast and west. Given the patchwork of standards, providers, and coverage I'm actually surprised any of it works as well as it generally does.

              Also, if you don't remember the bad old days - the days when land lines by the original AT&T were the only option anywhere - I do, and *DO* take the time to remind myself how fucking lucky and amazing this stuff really is. Thirty years ago, none fo this existed. Twenty Years ago, cell phones were a luxury for doctors, executives, and drug dealers. Ten years ago, I would have laughed at the notion that devices like the iPhone & iPad would exist outside expensive proof-of-concept demos, let alone at the idea that I would own one of each.

              We are living in amazing times, and I figure the data coverage stuff is a minor annoyance compared to how it COULD be.

      • lafinjack says:

        I would avoid Clear for now. Speed is great for the first couple months then drops like a stone - and it's not just me, judging from their support forums.

        • sc00ter says:

          I think it has to do with the number of people. I was using it at a convention, and at night while people are out doing other stuff the speed was fantastic, but during the conference when we were all on it the speed was around normal 3G speeds.

          For what it is, it's not to bad. I also did a rental thing that was cheaper than the hotel WiFi.

  4. fantasygoat says:

    I borrowed one from work for a weekend roadtrip, but it was wifi only and as you express, makes it essentially useless.

    Even with 3G, I'm not quite ready to give up on the Macbook Pro just yet. Perhaps by version two.

  5. mhat says:

    Wifi and internet in general in SF is amazingly horrible. You'd think we were in some small town in Arkansas except that their infrastructure is actually modern. I use a Verizon Mifi with the iPad. I was thinking of getting a 3G iPad so I wouldn't be limited by the Mifi's hilarious battery. I guess not.

  6. lafinjack says:

    What's your previous experience with the iPhone's keyboard? I just can't get used to my iTouch's keyboard, and I used my mom's iPad a couple weeks ago, and had the same problems with its on-screen keyboard that I do with my tiny version. But then, I'm not sure how much of that is because I avoid the iKeyboard as much as possible and use the slide-out keyboard on my LG phone for internetting instead.

    • jwz says:

      I despise the iPhone "keyboard" and always will. I'm used to it now, but I still hate it so, so, so much. It's why I took so long to finally wean myself of Palms -- I just couldn't stand the suck of an on-screen keyboard.

      But as far as software and usability goes, the iPhone is the only game in town, so I have to accept that on this device I type at literally one quarter the speed I was able to type on a Palm Treo/Centro.

      Android is still a joke. (Sorry Dan.)

      • frogworth says:

        I don't usually do "This", but This.
        Onscreen keyboads, I HATES them. But the iPhone keyboard x100 because I canot personalise its stupid anti-corrections in anything like a usable manner. B ah!

      • cranaic says:

        Won't bt keyboards work on a jail broken iPhone?

      • insomnia says:

        "It's an instant-on appliance with a real web browser and real mail reader on a real screen. . . I will never use a laptop again."

        Except, of course, that you can't type properly on it, can't use your SSH client, can't connect to the 'net, and it constantly overheats. In San Francisco. In the summer.

        So basically, you'll never use a laptop again, because your "instant-on" appliance has such great usability that it makes typing at 1/4 speed almost as efficient as typing at 1/2 speed on any other machine that is, in fact, a real computer, capable of running whatever software *you* choose without disappearing in a whiff of acrid smoke the moment you venture outside of S.F.?

        Granted, the usability is impressive. Too bad it's not ready to be used quite yet.

        As far as solving your connectivity problems, I'd recommend "slumming it". Go with Virgin Mobile and spend only $40 a month for actual unlimited MiFi, with no contract. That way, when the new car smell wears off of your beta version and your connection *still* sucks on a regular basis, just like any other oversubscribed local option, you'll feel okay tossing it, knowing you did your part to encourage mobile rates based on what services cost to provide, rather than what a bunch of addicts are willing to pay.

        Lastly, it seems to me that there is likely to be a trade-off when creative people start using devices that are great to show people things on vs. creative people using devices that are great to create things on. Finally, all the nerds will have better, more productive "social" lives. All they have to give up is the personal-by-design nature of the computer, which uses the monitor as a wall, and a full keyboard as default input, helping focus their attention on creation, even if it does mean sacrificing their time to the all-consuming machine.

        Essentially, the device's focus is on being a consumer and a distributor, rather than a producer.

        • jwz says:
            "So basically, you'll never use a laptop again, because [this thing is so great] despite having [these failings]."

          Congratulations, you have successfully understood the words that I wrote.

      • strspn says:

        There is hope that Android might obtain native code compilation technology.

        • But how would that actually *improve* Android? Its issues really aren't around byte code performance.

          • strspn says:

            There is a very considerable VM overhead both on the memory bus and in small processor caches, in addition to the fact that a VM is fundamentally an interpreter, not a compiler.

            Where do you see the most room for improvement?

            • Usability, usability, usability, apps, apps, apps, security, security, security, lack of fragmentation, lack of worrying that your phone is going to be completely obsolete and locked out of upgrades and bug fixes within 3 months. Apps available to everyone with an Android phone, not specific carrier lock-in ("openness", if you will :)

              Performance doesn't even *register* as a concern.

              • strspn says:

                You bet I will.

                Usability is correlated with performance. Double the cycles can make a clunky app feel snappy.

                In any case, I can use both emacs and vi with the Android ssh client. I feel very odd typing this, but the trackball is the control key. Oh, I see your point about usability.

                • Usability is correlated with performance. Double the cycles can make a clunky app feel snappy.

                  Snappy, yes, but that's only a small part of usability. You're thinking like an engineer. And that's the fundamental problem with Android -- its usability problems are design problems, not engineering problems, and Google's an engineering-driven company.

              • yakko says:

                You make me want to throw my mobile phone in the trash and never EVER buy another.

                (That my phone is the Palm Pre is beside the point.)

              • andrewducker says:

                I find the usability of Android higher than iPhone.

                The only apps it seems to be missing for me is games.

                And I have Swype as a keyboard, which is light years ahead of any other touch-screen keyboard.

      • Here on the dark side (Android phone, need for SSH, prefer Vim) I noticed this comment on the intarwebs:

        "It's called ConnectBot and it's in the Market. I used it yesterday to edit a web page for a client. How cool is it to be able to run vim on your cell phone?"

        If I had a decent BT KB, I'd consider it pretty cool.

  7. npietran says:

    I picked up an iPad about 2 months ago and have been largely using it to surf the web on my couch and do some reading... Every time I think about doing anything more complex than that I get up and use the iMac. As a laptop replacement I feel like it's 80% there but I also feel like, well, maybe there's an app for that particular thing I want to do. Unfortunately my searches either come up short or I'm too hesitant to drop cash on an application I can't try and be sure it really does what I want.

    • anktastic says:

      Unfortunately my searches either come up short or I'm too hesitant to drop cash on an application I can't try and be sure it really does what I want.

      So you have spent hundreds of dollars for the device but can't be bothered spending a couple of bucks for an app? That's not very coherent, my friend.

      • npietran says:

        No, the problem is choice overload. There's over 200k apps on the ipad app store now.

        There's like 20 apps that will help you print things from your ipad

        • anktastic says:

          200k app, and mostly useless gunk. I develop for the platform, and have never really had any trouble telling which apps are useless. It's usually obvious which one is the best, and in other cases, which ones are the top two.

          Care to name something where you feel like you need to try the application before choosing? We can easily help you choose.

          • npietran says:

            Choosing between apps necessarily isn't the biggest of my problems. Often times it's finding them... Or just wondering if I just do things wrong in general and that's why I struggle with some things so much - for example when I'm surfing web pages I use ctrl+f quite liberally to navigate pages. I haven't found any way to do that while laying on my couch with the onscreen keyboard... Anyway, here's a list if general things, sorry if its not a list of specific apps, that's a problem I encounter sometimes but don't generally retain

            It sounds like the general consensus is that iSSH is the best ssh program? I was going to give that try this weekend.
            I'd like to find more remote access/admin stuff in general - ssh works fine but it would be awesome to not have to use a command line interface so much. What do I want to do? I don't know... download a file I come across that the iPad can't handle... This probably goes back to me just "doing things wrong" most people probably don't use curl to download files on other computers.
            Speaking of which, I'd like to find an application that let's me download stuff that the iPad doesn't know how to deal with. I thought dropbox was it but I couldn't get it to do what I wanted.
            I wish the iPad played music more like the computer and less like an iPod - in other words, I wish I could stream over the local network like I can between computers instead of having to put my music on the physical device. Maybe there's an app for that, I dunno
            Printing was something else but it looks like apple is going to fix that soon.
            I'd like to find more location aware/collaborative apps/ games, maybe something like what qrank is trying to do with their location based stuff. I think the location based stuff is where a there's a lot of room for innovation but I just haven't been able to find that much.
            what else... If you have suggestions for a tower defense game that would be awesome too

            A few gripes not necessarily app specific -
            I wish there was a delete button the on-screen keyboard in addition to the backspace
            I with there were some sort of shortcuts for arrow keys/ delete words/ things like that... Some sort of swipe expressions for deleting a sentence when you're typing something with the onscreen keyboard. There's so much room for improvement there
            I wish I could load a webpage in the background while I'm looking at another page
            I wish doing things like clicking a YouTube video didn't open the YouTube app and force me to hit the home button and reopen safari, it's so disjoint and awkward

  8. jayp39 says:

    What makes iPad + BT keyboard preferable to a laptop? It seems like the iPad has sexy sleekness and relatively small package on its side, but as soon as you throw in the need for a BT keyboard the iPad is an even more clunky form factor than a laptop. Is it just the fact that the clunk is optional?

    I'm curious because I've been contemplating getting an iPad but I hate the on screen keyboard

    • An iPad + BT keyboard still weighs a lot less, and takes up a lot less space in a carry on bag, than a laptop. How much laptop can you realistically get for under 2 lbs?

      • jayp39 says:

        I'm fond of my Acer 1410-2936 which is only ~3 lbs and has amazing battery life; it is sort of a cross between a netbook and a laptop. But since they don't sell those anymore, I don't know if there are any small, decently powerful laptop options in that price range.

        • Not bad. Bet it still has a big power brick though ;-)

          The problem I have with so-called ultra-portables is that they're still so big! 1.2" thick? That's enormous! The Dell Vostro V13 is pretty decent at .65-.78" thick, but has terrible battery life. If I'm going to take a huge hit on computing power, I want to take an equally huge hit on weight, size, and corresponding increase in battery life. the iPad deliver that.

          If someone can pack the power of a high-end MacBook Pro into something the size (and elegance) of the MacBook Air with a high-resolution screen, I'd be very happy for when I need to travel and code or edit photos. But for everything else, I'm using the iPad - even vacation; I can dump my raw photos onto it every day just as well as a laptop.

          The instant-on thing is really hard to ignore - I take my ipad everywhere, and I use it for note-taking, diagramming, sketching, and lots & lots of reading. And I can go days without thinking about charging it. So all of that is really compelling.

    • jwz says:

      It's really a lot smaller than a laptop.

      Also, instant-on, instant-on, instant-on, and also instant-on.

      Plus, optional clunk. I've only used the kbd a little bit so far; e.g., I wouldn't take it with me to the park unless I was planning on doing a huge amount of writing, but it will certainly go in the bag when I travel.

      • bodyfour says:

        I understand why people love the iPad. I'm sure I'll own one someday (still trying to hold out for a front-facing camera). However..

        > Also, instant-on, instant-on, instant-on, and also instant-on.

        I just timed how long it takes from throwing open the lid on my MBP until it's accepting input... seems to be about 3.5 seconds. Is "instant-on" really an issue any more? I think we're getting into diminishing-returns territory.

        • jwz says:

          Hauling out a laptop to show something to someone is a whole process. Finding space for it on the table, opening the lid, getting into typing position, wait, type, wait... An iPad feels like, pick up, press button, receive bacon. In straight numbers the difference may be small, but the overhead feels vastly different.

          • marmoset says:

            Fully agree. So much of what I use a computer at home is "look actor up on iMDB / look crap on Wikipedia / send a one-liner email to ask a question", and that sort of stuff is _so_ fast on an iPad.

          • alchemist says:

            Presentations are a dream with an Axaa Pico Projector and the VGA cable for iPad. Wish I could do a full mirrored display like they do at apple keynotes, but I suspect that's just a matter of figuring out HOW.

        • cryllius says:

          Having an MBP and an iPad I agree with jwz's reply that the difference between 3.5 seconds and 1 second may sound small, but in reality it's huge. The iPad is a lot more shareable, you can just turn it on, open a photo and hand it to somebody. You cannot pass a laptop around (without getting very awkward).

          But, the comment I want to add is: sleep standby mode on an MBP sucks compared to an iPad. It drains the battery. If I leave my MBP asleep for a day without being plugged in, the first thing I think when I open it is WTF did the power go?

          If you suspend it to disk to save power then it's definitely nothing close to instant-on.

          Now, all of that is fine, because it's how laptops work and I have no problem with it for a laptop. But the iPad is way ahead of it there. You rarely have to worry about plugging it in; it always has power, it's always ready, there are no hassles. Very different experience (in addition to just being a better form factor for "sharing" content).

          • lionsphil says:

            There's nothing intrinsically laptoppy about murdering the battery in your sleep---that's just MacBooks sucking. Its insistance on being tethered to a wall socket was most notable things I discovered when I got mine after being used to ThinkPads.

            Although for jwz this is academic since for non-Apple hardware he'd be stuck with Linux, and it'd kernel panic or lock up on resume half the time because simple, reliable old APM is obsolete and replaced with bytecode and chicken blood.

            • shandrew says:

              The battery murdering during sleep is proportional to the amount of RAM you have installed. All of the power goes to continuing to cycle the RAM; you've suspended the state to RAM.

              typical geek macbook: 8 GB RAM
              ipad: 0.25 GB RAM (I don't know if it actually suspends to RAM or flash or does something different)

              Thinkpads i've used do the same thing. They suspend to RAM and/or to disk. You can choose the fast option and trade off battery life, or you can choose the slow option and not use battery when suspended. Maybe you could get a happy medium by suspending to some fast flash memory.

      • Once I accepted the horror that was Windows 7, my Acer netbook has seemed pretty good. Mostly instant-on, and it has a real(ish) keyboard and USB ports for add-ons I might like when I'm not worried about a few extra items in the backpack. At the very least, it seems as good as a Wifi-only iPad, and I just couldn't convince myself to go for the 3G edition. That has become my "must pack" travel item, and for things like serving as a computer at my hotel, Wifi-only works great. If I had a phone with tethering, this would actually be the whole package I'd want.

        Maybe next year, when the "even better" iPad comes out. I think it fills a niche really well, just not sure it's the niche I wanted exactly. Trade-offs between limitations and convenience are hard to balance.

      • miguelitosd says:

        "but it will certainly go in the bag when I travel."

        I just used mine in a 3-1/2 week vacation and it was fantastic. Obviously it was great for the media on the plane (and boy did I see a lot of ipads in airports), but while I was at my family's cabin, it was very useful. Did a lot of reading, used it for mail and browsing, everyone loved the photos and looking at the cabins for sale on zillow, games of course, and it was good for movies at night as well. I brought my mbp and left it tucked away in a corner and used air video to stream movies onto the crappy tv. Relatives were all sold on the idea, just not the cost. Though my one cousin would've walked out of the Nashua, NH apple store (I needed a new case for phone and composite cables) with an iPhone if they'd been in stock.

    • snowspinner says:

      Having done a lengthy bit of travel with just an iPad and BT keyboard recently, I much preferred it to the laptop I used to carry. The issue is that you only need the BT keyboard for, basically, lengthy spells of writing. The on screen keyboard is a completely different beast from the iPhone - where the iPhone squeaks in as "usable, but barely," the iPad comes in at "not actually half bad for short bursts of writing." I'd be happy to write a comment of about this length on it, for instance (though I'm on my desktop, in practice). That means that the keyboard usually sits happily in my bag, and if I'm just nipping out to Starbucks for a bit, I don't even bring it unless I actively plan to write.

      iPad + keyboard is, basically, not meaningfully better or worse than carrying a laptop, but most people don't need to go iPad + keyboard often, and iPad alone is a gorgeous form factor.

  9. logic_lj says:

    I can relate to this post on two levels.

    First, I'm one of the nerdy douchebags who invaded your fine city for VMworld this week. Sorry about that, hopefully we weren't too big of a pain in the ass. AT&T 3G coverage here in SF appears to be a gigantic lie: oh, I see five bars and a cute little "3G" logo, but be damned if I can transmit anything larger than a post to Twitter. Fail. (To be fair, service improved dramatically when I got away from the downtown area; Castro and the Wharf area were fine.)

    Second, damn near everyone at VMworld had an iPad with them. I've been mocking these things at length, but I'm starting to see the utility now: people seemed to be using it as a replacement for personal planners/notepads, as well as the smartphone in their pocket. Instant-on is a really, enormously big deal here; it's why my sleeping laptop stayed asleep for most of the conference.

    I won't be picking up any more iDevices, but I'll definitely be snagging a slate of some variety.

    • mackys says:

      > Instant-on is a really, enormously big deal here; it's why my sleeping laptop stayed asleep for most of the conference.

      You are so right. I've been bitching about how long most computers take to boot(/come out of sleep) for a long time. It's great that Apple is delivering a swift kick in the ass to PC makers (and hopefully, themselves) with the iPad on this score.

      With the advent of solid-state drives, I believe we now have the capability for our PCs to be (relatively) instant-on devices as well. Going into sleep might still take a while, but coming back? With the read speed of an SSD, I can't see why it should take > 1 second. The major roadblocks are that APCI is shit (unintentionally), hardware documentation is shit (intentionally), and OSes are massive and bloated (fixable, but none of the commercial vendors really care about it in any significant way).

      I'm going to be curious to see how the Android tablets work out. They at least mostly solve the OS problem, and partially solve the hardware driver problem. If tablets in general start taking away laptop manufacturer's market share, then we might see some progress in making general-purpose computers actually boot up fast. But don't hold your breath. :P

      • gryazi says:

        ...how RAM size has also scaled.

        I was also a dreamer, but there ain't an 8GB/s SSD for your laptop yet.

        Which is why 'Hibernate' is horribly painful to a spinny-disk but suspend-to-RAM mostly doesn't suck [works for Apple, now works 80% of the time under Ubuntu until you find out they broke something again in the last update].

        [Yes, you only need to save the working set, but Chromium is successfully able to eat up all of my lowly 4GB with my browsing habits where Firefox would've just keeled over by then. I'm sure Flash is some major chunk of that, though.]

        • mackys says:

          Fair point. Even the fastest SATA SSDs I can find seem to top out at 250-350 MB/s sustained read. I think I have a skewed perspective because I'm still running an ancient laptop with only a gig of memory. I suppose if one were willing to use RAID 0 on SSDs it might be doable. Though with 8 gigs that's a lot of drives, and the cost and power consumption probably become prohibitive.

          The web browser thing is a serious problem. I'm guessing a web browser's memory usage is mostly cache. The cache could be flushed before sleep, though the mechanics of doing so are probably complicated and ugly.

    • dr_memory says:

      Sorry about that, hopefully we weren't too big of a pain in the ass.

      Trust me, a 0.05% increase in the number of nerdy douchebags in SF wasn't even noticed. Please tip your waitresses and bartenders though.

    • jwz says:

      VMworld? Please. There's some douchecore conference at Moscone every three weeks, that one's not even a blip.

      But I thought the inside of Moscone had an AT&T cell every five feet? Inside the walls, the network should be great. If they can't even get that right, they're doomed.

      • jered says:

        1) Pretty much my impression exactly. I was really disappointed with the iPad launch -- "oh, it's like my MacBook only less useful!" My husband really, really wanted one for no readily explainable reason, though, so I got him one.

        I've been traveling a ton for work lately, mostly on the dreadful BOS-SFO haul, so I borrowed it once. Zounds! It's useless for "work" (I'd rather die than work on slides with it), but it's just fantastic for everything else. It lasts the entire flight -- crazy! You can use it in an economy class seat without useless Tyrannosaurus Rex arms! Plants vs. Zombies HD is totally addicting! I think he's starting to get annoyed with me borrowing it every other week.

        2) The AT&T fail is astronomical. I was also near Moscone this past week and had the same experience -- 5 bars of 3G but 100% packet loss. As soon as you get within 3 blocks, you fall into an AT&T black hole.

        Given that Jobs does not suffer fools kindly, I'm amazed that he hasn't publicly ripped AT&T a new one, and agreed to such a long-term exclusivity. He's happy to publicly berate partners -- Google is one of their closest and yet he's declared all out war on them in the press.

        3) These things are everywhere, but more notable than winning the nerdy-douche demographic, they've won the "executive status symbol" demographic. In the past few months I've seen at least 25% of first class seats occupied with iPads. I'm not sure what this says about the future, but it's certainly great for Apple.

  10. leftisto says:

    Canadians have a weird ethical issue to deal with: Rogers is a very hatable cable/wireless mega-corp, but they have the best GSM infrastructure I've used in any country. Using an iPad 3G in Toronto is a joy; there are often wifi networks open, and 3G is good enough to play HD YouTube videos.

    I was just about to recommend my SSH client when I realized that they changed their name and... I'm using iSSH, too. I'm not an emacs guy, but I also noticed some weirdness with various keyboard functions.

    On a tangent, I strongly recommend jailbreaking via Spirit. It's literally a 2 second operation, and I've installed all sorts of neat tricks like multi-task support, a custom bluetooth stack with mouse and keyboard, a custom lock screen, and iFile - a local filesystem browser that can fire up an Apache instance on port 10000 at the touch of a button.

    I used the iPad on a stand with the mouse and keyboard in various cafes in Portland for a week this June, and I almost didn't miss my laptop. Lots of funny looks, though... I guess it never occurred to most people that an iPad could have a cursor?

  11. editer says:

    You'll love taking it to Austin for SXSW. There's open Wi-Fi everywhere you're likely to go here, even in about half the fast-food chains. (I know you've been here before but assume you weren't on the wireless hunt then.)

  12. For those of you who know French, I've written an article on the inadequacy of the iPad for reading books :

    iPad versus le Livre

  13. xephyr says:

    In short, you are complaining that your BT keyboard for your fancy new iPad isn't compatible with a piece of software originally written five years before the mouse pointer was invented. Have you considered using a modern text editor?

    • gryazi says:

      *gets popcorn*

    • pokkrap says:

      jwz was complaining about the futility of using the editor with the BT keyboard via iSSH (due to Apple's API limitation, via all terminal emulator apps for that matter). You see similar suckage with editors like vi/vim in this environment too. If you can find any programming editor that works in this setup, I will gladly switch to it (okay, this part cannot possibly be true). But yeah, this is my main gripe about the iPad too; I sure hope the problem gets fixed soon.

    • jwz says:

      Have you considered dying in a fire?

      Show me a text editor that works without a control key, ass.

      • xephyr says:

        Eclipse is a platform independent source editor that works with many languages and integrates with several source code control systems. It allows me to control builds for multiple simultaneous projects and edit files locally, so all the keys work as expected.

        The idea of having to use emacs over ssh on an iPad calls up visions of clowns escaping a parked car. Good luck with that.

        • jwz says:

          So your answer is, "you shouldn't ever want to run ssh and type control characters."

          • xephyr says:

            No. You said you couldn't do it with your configuration.

            I'm saying that you're just making more work for yourself when there's a better way to do the same task.

          • Mark Crane says:

            There just aren't any decent text editors at all for the Ipad, and not much in the way of word processors either. Hopefully someone will fill that gap and turn the Ipad into a decent writing machine.

            Also, I don't think previous poster understands JWZ's relation to Emacs.

        • mark242 says:

          I'm going to post a pithy response to this atrocity of an example, just as soon as my jvm has finished starting up...

          • mark242 says:

            Just wait, garbage collection is

            111.042: [GC 111.042: [DefNew: 8128K->8128K(8128K), 0.0000505 secs]111.042: [Tenured: 18154K->2311K(24576K), 0.1290354 secs] 26282K->2311K(32704K), 0.1293306 secs]


        • And just how do you expect to use Eclipse remotely? RDP? VNC? And last time I checked, it used control characters too. Just like, I don't know, pretty much all software ever written.

  14. keimel says:

    I will never use a laptop again.

    This part of the beginning of your description of the iPad raised the sarcasm sensor to Elmo (red), but reading the rest, I was quite surprised to see how pleased you are with the iPad. If I were at a point where I wanted a nice big monthly charge in my budget, I'd likely be way more likely to get one now after hearing that it's (mostly) pleased you. Still, the ssh thing is an issue and certainly makes me think twice. Glad to hear you're enjoying it.

  15. evan says:

    I played with one for a while and it left me impressed and depressed -- the former for the reasons you say, and the latter because it's unlikely any other company (like one that allows open software development) will be able to build a device of similar quality.

  16. sheilagh says:

    how does it handle nethack?

    also, semi-concur with Insomnia on a single point: I would really like a producer's appliance (or nice-enough tool, if it requires more training than an applies requires), rather than a consumer's appliance, especially one that leads you down the garden path, into the iTunes pit of despair.

  17. ritcey says:

    Out of curiosity, did you go for the 64GB version or smaller? Can't decide if I'd end up mostly downloading stuff or stuffing stuff onto it directly.

    • jwz says:

      I got the big one, and I'm using almost no storage on it except for music (but mostly I listen to music from my iphone anyway, so all that music is redundant.) I figured that when I travel I might want to load movies on it or something though, so what the hell.

      • Or get the camera connection kit and use it as a photo dump when travelling (that's why I got the 64).

        Of course, you might not take 5,000 photos in a week's vacation like I do...