I’ve now got an iPad (first gen). I suppose I should have just ordered a second-gen online and waited 1-2 weeks. I may just be old fashioned, but I still have a certain attachment to making large purchases in person. And where did I find an iPad you ask, let alone a first gen?


Milo.com is an online service that does local stock search. They are still somewhat limited in who they search (and I rather doubt the apple store will ever deign to connect with them), but it turned up a Fry’s in Downer’s Grove a few first-gen iPads in stock, including 16Gb wifi, which is pretty much what I wanted anyway (it turned out to be a return). It’s a bit of a trip, but only twenty minutes from ChicagoRuby’s Elmhurst meeting on Saturday.


The shopping experience was less than stellar. First I had to find the right section. Mobile? Nope. Computer parts? Nada. Finally, hidden way in the back of the store, were the laptops and tablets. iPad boxes, perhaps understandably, not sitting out on display (in fact it ended up in a cage near the registers). So I had to find someone. I then had to give my name and phone number in order to receive a quote to take to checkout.

When I got to checkout, I had a choice: my bank limits credit transactions to $500 without prior notice. Fortunately, as one of the cheaper models, it was under that, but it was close enough I went with a check anyway. I then waited a rather long time while they did a balance check, which I think included a web search to find my non-national-chain bank. And to top it off? The security at the exit door noticed that they charged the wrong price. Now, Milo said it was $399, The quote they handed me said $399, but the returned unit I got had a sticker on it that said $379. At this point I had been in the store about half an hour and was already running late for ChicagoRuby – since I had already seen and agreed to the higher price about three times, I didn’t really want to nitpick over the last minute discount, and just left.

Not so magical

The setup experience wasn’t so magical either – I was getting sync errors when the iPad was connected, and ultimately had to reinstall iTunes.

The to-read folder/graveyard

My main reason for looking for a tablet was that my latest book is running down, and I’ve got a backlog of PDFs that I never seem to get around to reading. This might be good material for the train rides, and hopefully a tablet is lighter than some of the books. It’s certainly thinner, but heavier than I imagined. I got the impression that dedicated readers like Kindle are designed for free flowing text, whereas I mainly have formatted PDFs of academic papers and technical books with illustrations. So, an iPad should be able read eBooks, but I’m not so sure an eBook reader could handle the PDFs well.

Book Readers

However, I was faced with the challenge of finding a PDF reader application. The iPad does seem to have a PDF viewer, but the main way to get to it is to open email attachments. After poking around, I found iBooks is serviceable, but lacking. The issue is that I’m generally looking at full size pages, so I want to use portrait and zoom in. iBooks (and most other readers it seems) use horizontal ‘page flip’ scrolling, which usually resets the zoom level. PDF-notes is fast (after waiting for a first-time pre-process), but scrolls horizontally and can’t maintain zoom while doing it. Currently I’ve bought Goodreader, which can at least maintain an even-odd margin crop and scroll vertically.

iPad File Management is a Disaster

Trying out all these different readers was a royal pain. Each application has to have it’s private copy of each and every document (at least they aren’t movies or something equally large)

An app for what?

The last few days have been a slow process trickling in new apps as I think of things, get back to the computer to search, and perhaps try out several (when free) then sync and experiment. There are various apps with metra schedules, Remember the Milk, and the infamous Flipboard. Just when I thought I was done Saturday night, I remembered the Reactables app It’s not nearly as nice without rotation – the double-tap-drag motion just doesn’t have the same tactile pleasure to it. I suppose a two-finger rotation was too easy to confuse with volume setting and other edge controls.

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