Monday, April 19, 2010

or why I love my latest Apple device

Let's face it.  Vermont is remoteville.  And I will confess that many of us live in this remote spot simply because it is... remote.  But sometimes the very idea of not being connected creeps up on us. I mean, we are pretty much 2-3 hours from ANYWHERE "normal," like Boston or Albany.  Even Burlington, Vt is 2 hours from where I live and they don't have a Nordstroms.  See what I mean?  I live in a far outpost of civilization, on the edge of the frontier.  Sometimes our only link with the trappings of civilization, which I usually just ignore or eschew (whichever word sounds dandiest), is via the UPS or FedEx "guy."

And such was my experience about noon on Saturday, April 3rd, when my WONDERFUL zPad miraculously arrived at my front door in the arms of the UPS delivery guy (it's too early in the season for short pants so no ogling).   In some ways I would guess my experience with the unveiling of the iPad  was superior to those who stood in line all over the United States.  I sipped coffee and contemplated my navel as I waited for the little bugger to show up.  I was warm and comfy and mellow.  I could and did  sync my device as soon as it arrived.  I could and did curl up in a little ball of delight to read a novel almost immediately, if not sooner.  Yes, I did miss the ambiance of standing in line with fellow techies and non-techies (supposedly those who are more trendies than techies but it all works out in the end).  I know, I know -- the group camaraderie might have been a nice side bit (I once awaited the arrival of a Harry Potter book with a motley crew of like-minded readers in line outside a bookstore in Glastonbury, England -- a treasured vignette in my mind's eye),  the group's energy swelling my anticipation even more and giving me more memories for the scrapbook that is my life, BUT  I am very pleased that my zPad was delivered safe and sound and was revealed to be as wonderful as I imagined it would be as soon as I ripped open the box!

I plugged the sleek little gizmo into my MacPro and pro-ceeded ("me" being the Pro) to sync some music, two movies (Julie and Julia, The Frog Princess), a television show, two podcasts (Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann -- my heroes!), and some wickedly great apps. Then I clicked through some FREE books -- the classics are free!  Wow!  All this I synced on my zPad in approximately 20 minutes.  Seriously, no hassles.

For apps, I purchased the trio from iWork, included Pages, Keynote, and Numbers.  I use all three in their full versions, and figured this would bridge to using the zPad at work.  In fact, I have already given two keynote presentations (Keynote is the Apple version of Power Point and the zPad version of Keynote is soooo cool because all the manipulation of slides and dynamics are via finger moves).  Since I am using zPad for work, it's a "write off!"  How cool is that?  I teach Western Literature and every book I cover is offered free at both iBooks (the iTunes Store for Books) and Amazon (I am using the free Kindle reader for  iPad):  Pride and Prejudice, Oedipus, The Odyssey, Hamlet, and parts of the Old Testament.  I also saw Beowulf, although I'm not using it this semester.  The only piece we read that I couldn't find (yet) for free is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  But if students only have to pay for one book, at probably $10, that's a far cry from close to $100 for all the pieces in one or two books.  Currently, I use the Norton Anthology of Western Literature, Volume 1 and The Annotated Pride and Prejudice.

The best news for students  is that the Kindle Reader is now downloadable (is that a word?) for almost any laptop or electronic device: iPhone, PC, MacBook, and so on.  My students could read the free versions of these pieces and could bring their laptops to class for referencing.  The only thing missing would be page  numbers or in the case of Shakespeare, line/page numbers, which I like to use to focus attention on specific areas.  Oh well.  Sooner or later all this will be fixed, too.

I am looking forward to taking the zPad on vacation (coming May 17-24 on Sullivans Island), not lugging around a boatload of books. Although, in my own best interest I really should delve into my basket of "to be read" paperbacks -- said basket in the office/library now overflowing with a second smaller basket located next to my bed.  Oy.

In addition to Keynote presentations, I have set up the zPad for our vacation by using the spreadsheet program, Numbers.  Instead of writing everything down in a notebook, I will be able to record expenses and figure gas mileage with the flick of a finger.  I can even keep a little journal and insert any pictures I'm taking.... Wow!  Now, in defense of technology, I could have been doing this with my laptop on every vacation we've taken in the last ten years, but I was still working with a 3 ring binder.  Silly me.  I've finally seen the light!  I will, however, continue to do Morning Pages for The Artist's Way in handwriting using my favorite pen and ink in a rather large lined journal designated for these musings.

My assessment of the zPad so far?  MARVELOUS!  Iniitally, I just wanted an ebook reader and as you can see from all my spewings above, I have received soooo much more.  But back to the ebook reader, that, too is FAB!   The Kindle reader plugs me into almost any book (well, not Harry Potter, darn it!) in the Amazon store.  The Apple ebook reader program, iBook, while connected to its own bookstore, provides an elegant reading experience once you settle down with your cuppa, some snacks and a comfy corner chair.  The pages turn galantlyand any color pictures are dazzling.  The zPad came loaded with Winnie the Pooh.  Do you remember the beautiful illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard?  If you don't, you really owe yourself the treat of a leisurely look through the color version of this book.  I'm sure your public library has a copy.

But if not.... maybe you could buy an iPad in the hopes that the Apple folks are still delivering Pooh with purchase.    Just don't expect me to share... at the moment.  I'm smitten and holding on tight to my zPad!

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