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iThought iSaw A Shiny

It was iPad day in New Zealand so iWent to Dick Smith to consult with a techxspert. The man himself was there demonstrating away like mad. The crowd was iV people wide and iX people deep. Greasy fingers, toes and the occasional willy poked the display models and, in response, pretty icons zinged back and forth on smeary screens. There was a distinct odour of techno-lust in the atmosphere. Or possibly it was sweaty feet.

"iWant one," iSaid.

"WiFi by itself or WiFi and 3G network?" asked Dick Smith.

"What's the difference?"

"WiFi connects to the internet through a wireless router such as the one you absolutely must have at home if you want to get any use at all out of the iPad, and 3G connects to the internet through the telephone network at enormous cost to you which results in hugely obscene profits for the phone company."

"iThink that 3G is not for me," iSaid. "My WiFi router at home will suffice. Good job I have one, eh?"

"Indeed it is," said Dick Smith. " iAssume, being the well prepared nerd that you so obviously are, that you also have a PC running Windows?"

"Yes," iWhispered, ashamed. "Is that really necessary?"

"The iPad won't work without it," explained Dick Smith. "You need to run iTunes on a separate computer to set up and maintain your new gadget. The iPad is sexy, but it won't stand up alone. It needs the helping hand of a professional to bring out its most satisfying performance."

"Does iTunes work on Linux?"


"Not even if iOffer it a glass of Wine?"

"Especially not then. Steve Jobs has had a liver transplant and so he doesn't allow his minions to drink alcohol any more. He rules Apple with a rod of iRon, you know."

"What are his feelings about cider?" iAsked.

"Only with Rosie," said Dick Smith gnomically. "Now which iPad is to be yourPad?"

"The WiFi model, please."

"iWill see if iHave one in the storeroom," said Dick Smith. He vanished into the back room and had words with a harassed looking person hiding behind a pile of cardboard boxes. The man delved deep into his pile and emerged holding a significant box. Dick Smith took it from him and carried it in triumph to me. "Here it is!" heDeclared. " And now weCome to the sordid commercial part of our intimate relationship."

"iHave money," iTold him.

"That's just as well," heSaid, "because iWant lots of it."

"iAm fed up with this joke," iSaid.

"You should try selling these things for a living," heSaid. "iWas sick of the joke within five minutes of putting them on display. We've been open since sparrow fart; it is now the middle of the afternoon and iHaven't even had time to get myLunch yet!"

"Are they selling well?" iAsked.

"iSold nothing else all day," heSaid. "Nobody wants any of the other boring stuff in the shop. This is the only thing that people are interested in buying today."

iTook my cardboard box home and unpacked it. Rather to my surprise, iDiscovered that the battery in the iPad was fully charged, so iCould start using my new gadget right away. Just like me, Steve Jobs is a member of the instant gratification generation and little touches like this show that he truly understands his target market.

myPad is just as wonderful a toy as all the media articles say it is. It has its drawbacks, of course. It isn't a proper computer (unless you jailbreak it, but that invalidates the warranty). It is severely limited in what it is allowed to do and it point blank refuses to let you get inside it and fiddle around, which is very frustrating for geeks like me. However if you are willing to treat it as what it is rather than curse at it for not being what it isn't, it soon becomes clear that it is a magnificent gadget, full of possibilities and the source of endless fun.

Mainly there is the sheer child-like pleasure to be taken from the clever elegance of the design. Apple really do know how to make extraordinarily beautiful objects. Just holding it in your hands evokes a technological orgasm. And then you turn it on and start to stroke it and your cup of delight runneth over. Applications zoom up to fill the screen and you control them with suitable gestures of the fingers. Do you feel the urge to indulge in a larger font? Simply squeeze your finger and thumb together, touch them to the screen and then separate them. The image behaves like an elastic surface and stretches out beneath your fingertips, increasing the size of the letters as it grows. When you read an eBook and need to turn the page, just position your fingers exactly as you would with a real book and make the same gesture you would make to turn a paper page and the electronic page flips over just like a real one! I didn't read a word of the first eBook I loaded on to myPad. I just turned its pages all the way through to the end. And then I went back to the beginning and turned them all over again.

The only fly that I've found swimming in the soup of myPad is that stray cat hairs floating around the house tend to plonk themselves down on the screen in great abundance. Presumably there is a small static charge attracting them. I have found that it is important to resist the temptation to brush them off -- whatever application currently has the focus tends to go berserk at such random gropings, and who can blame it? I've tried blowing them away, with mixed success. The hairs do tend to detach themselves, but they are usually replaced with a thin layer of spit which is even less aesthetically pleasing. Once the power is safely turned off, I find myself constantly polishing the screen with the same sort of microfibre cloth I use for cleaning my glasses. It works quite well, actually...

But when you get right down to the actual nitty gritty of it, myPad is really only a device for showing off just how cool iAm in coffee shops and pubs. I'm absolutely certain that it will prove to be a geek babe-magnet. iCan easily imagine myself browsing the web with one finger and using my other fingers to titillate all the giggling, squirming geek groupies one by one by one (just like me, the iPad doesn't multitask).


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