Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hello Again, (again and again)

This poor orphaned blog has had more starts and restarts than the last two minutes of an NFC game -- but here we go again.  I read this morning that February is NaBloPoMo (or, National Blog Posting Month on a particular blog-hosting site), and that byte of information gave me just the motivation I needed to re-re-re-re-restart Cynwrites.  The fact that EVERY month is NaBloPoMo didn't discourage me, either -- it simply cautioned me once again to read below the headline.

The operative topic for this posting is contained in the first four words of the second sentence above:  "I read this morning..." as that activity has turned into the best part of my little retirement day -- well, second to going back to sleep at night.

The Retirement Fairy brought me an iPad2 (tablet computer) as a combo Christmas/retirement celebration gift, and, so far, Zite has been the best part of that gift.  Zite is a free app (program) for the iPad and iPhone which compiles a personalized "magazine" of internet articles based on one's preferences of categories, including special personal interests.  Zite serves my magazine up fresh each time I access it and, remarkably, it "learns" by what I actually read and focuses more articles on those subjects.

While it's also easy to follow specific blogs and websites through an RSS feed/reader, Zite brings me articles from hither, thither and yonder over all the internet, unlimited by individual RSS subscriptions.  With my little dog and a cup or two of French press coffee by my side, I read and learn all kinds of interesting things those first two hours of the morning -- not, of course, that my demented memory will retain any of it -- but the reading part is fun.

"Fun" seems to me to be the primary purpose of the iPad -- an expensive little toy to kill use all these available leisure hours.  As long as it's up and running, I get instant email alerts for my many email names.  I can send and receive text messages (since I NEVER turn on my cell phone), although so far my son is the only person who has texted me.  The whole internet is, of course, at my fingertips, although the Safari browser the iPad uses is far more limited than Mozilla's Firefox that I use on my other computers.  And, most important to anyone under 30 (which I'm not - HA) are the kazillion games that can be played solo or with your internet friends.  I have 340 games of Scrabble under my belt (with an 81% win rate) -- but another obnoxious word game (Word Seek) labels and libels me as damn near illiterate. 

Fotopedia brought me glorious photo albums of Above France, Paris, US National Parks and World Heritage Sites -- all free apps, except Paris, which cost $1.99.  (Of course Paris wasn't free!)  I can read all of my Kindle books on the iPad -- and all other ebooks through various readers.  If you also had an iPad, we could use it to talk face-to-face, although certainly NOT at 7 a.m. my time.  Video rentals and video streaming are available, all the music you could ever listen to is available, as are audio books.  There's no way you're going to be bored with this device, although you may end up with a sore neck

This blog post sounds like a commercial for the iPad, doesn't it?  This is my very first hands-on experience with any Apple product and I have to admit I'm impressed.  I don't have an iPhone with the app technology,  so you have to forgive my typical Aries enthusiasm for anything new to me.

I've found only three limitations thus far -- the only keyboard interface it comes with is on-screen, which is really, really inconvenient (you have to go to three screens to produce one little asterisk), although you can add a real wireless keyboard to the system.  The second annoyance is a serious handicap, in my opinion -- you can only access one application at a time.  Although some programs do link through to others quite nicely,  there is no real "windowing" that we are all so used to, with multiple programs open concurrently.  Since I'm not using this thing for work, it's not a big, big deal for me now -- but I think it would be a definite handicap were I trying to actually work on it.  And forget writing on it, unless I do add that keyboard at some point.  Printing, even over an existing wireless network, is difficult-to-impossible without more Apple stuff (special printers, special software), so I can't even print those enticing coupons Staples and Safeway keep sending, unless I use another computer.

No one promised that the iPad would eliminate the need for a "real" computer, although that probably isn't too far off.  Until then, I'm happy with Zite, Scrabble, France photos and handy email.  If you're looking for a new techie toy, you'd probably like the iPad...gauging by Apple's recent financial performance, a lot of people do.

So -- that's today's offering for NaBloPoMo.  As with every other resolution I've ever made, this will probably not last a whole Mo, but you never Kno.  Stick around and find out?

.

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