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with Rod Moser, PA, PhD

Stories from behind the examining room door, as told by Rod Moser, PA, a primary care physician assistant with more than 35 years of clinical experience.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

iGlad to have the iPad

It was a birthday surprise. Most of the time, my wife and I try not to spend a lot of money on birthdays, unless we are going on a trip or something. Since having those puppies, we have not really been going out of town. I got the obligatory Hallmark card, but there was a note that my gift was coming. My techie, Mac-lovin’ brother knew what I was getting because he called to ask me if I liked “it.” I should have played along and tricked him into revealing the gift, but I told him that I didn’t have “it” yet.

iPad

The next day, when I came home from work, there was a wrapped present on my chair. Inside was the new iPad. My wife had been on a waiting list for a month or so. This was the first Apple product that I owned since I switched from Mac to PC about 12 years ago. My brother had made the PC jump before me, but now he’s Back to Mac again. iGlad she got it for me, but iSad that I have to spend the time and effort to learn how to use it. I have an old dust-collecting Palm Pilot in my bottom drawer. When it crashed and I lost all of my contacts, I realized that a calendar that I can write on and an address book works just as well, often better. I was hoping the iPad would not become another Palm Pilot.

Since I travel from time to time, it will be nice to have something light to check email, watch a movie on the plane, read a book or do a little WebMD work. The iPad was designed to do all of these things, but unfortunately, it’s not perfect. Consumer Reports suggested that we all wait a bit before rushing out to buy one, fearing that it will be just an iFad. As soon as we buy any electronic device, a better and cheaper one will come out the next week. My style is to wait a while before buying a new gadget, but now that I have the iPad, I need to become proficient.

My first setback was that I was unable to post a response on my Cold and Flu Exchange. The touch-screen technology of the iPad is not compatible with the text screen on the website, so the iPad will not work. WebMD promises that this will be rectified in the future. Now, iMad.

I am not a big fan of those virtual, touch-sensitive keyboards on the screen. I like the feel of a real keyboard. I can get one to plug into the iPad for about $70, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having the iPad. I will need to practice and get used to this one. If kids can text on a cell phone, this old brain and fingers can get used to the iPad. I wouldn’t want to use it to type a novel, however.

The second setback occurred when I tried to download a segment of the new series America – The Story of Us. Using my S-L-O-W satellite internet service, it would take about four hours to download a two hour movie, maybe longer. And, maybe not at all if the weather was not cooperating. My satellite services tend to be adversely affected by rain, clouds or flying leaves.

Like the iPhone (that I do not own), the iPad requires “apps” – downloadable programs to customize your device. There are over 14,000 of these apps out there, some being free (I like those), and others, costing as little as a dollar to books or movies costing more than buying the hardcopy or going to the theater.

I downloaded a cool calculator now that I am too lazy to do those things long-hand anymore. I downloaded a NetFlix app so that I could watch some television show segments while sitting in a waiting room. When my wife had her colonoscopy, I tried watching one, but it was so choppy that you could only watch a one minute segment at a time. Granted, the free WiFi was not the fastest in the world, so the blame is not on the iPad.

I downloaded a bunch of my photographs to impress and bore my friends. Now, I can let them watch sunrises, sunsets, grandkids, dogs, travel photos, etc., all set to music. My wife has an iPod that she doesn’t know how to use. Our teenage granddaughter tried to show her by downloading a lot of digital music that she likes. Unfortunately, we do not share her taste in music, so I tried to download some music of my own. Downloading an album over a slow internet is painful, but I do have a few songs that I like on it now. The next time my granddaughter whips out her phone to text her friends, I am going to whip out my iPad and make her watch my pictures.

I downloaded a free weather app that will tell me the weather and forecast outside. Of course, I could just look out of the window or walk outside, but it is cooler to read it on the iPad. I can check on the weather where my brother lives so I can verify when he tells me it is a warm, clear day in Maryland.

I even downloaded an app of a pond with fish swimming around. I have been building my own pond for about three years now. So far, I have the big hole. With the Pond app I can now look at fish that I do not have to feed. Maybe I will fill in that hole now.

My wife didn’t buy me the 3G iPad since it was not available yet. That’s okay since I don’t like paying monthly fees. The iPad doesn’t have a camera, but I probably wouldn’t use it anyway. I suspect the new iPad models will have phones, cameras, microwave ovens and popcorn makers.

I love to read, so I downloaded a few iBooks; four free ones and one new novel. The screen is great for reading books, especially when you have bad vision. It even turns pages and holds your place. I love to kick back sometimes and read a book while lying in a big Jacuzzi tub, but only a fool would use an iPad there.

At least once a month, I will fall asleep while reading, subsequently dropping my book or Newsweek in the water. I have some pretty thick-looking paperbacks on my shelf from those aquatic incidents.

iBad. Really bad.

Do you like the iPad? Comment on this blog post on the Welcome Exchange.

Posted by: Rod Moser, PA, PhD at 2:06 pm

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