It’s the eve of the ipad, in Canada anyway…
May 28th, 2010

It’s the eve of the ipad, in Canada anyway. Tomorrow those electronic pleasure tablets hit the future, or, more correctly, Future Shops. If you are reading this you already know that the ipad has been on sale for months in the USA, but sales have been so spectacular and swift that Apple has had to keep delaying its international release date. Or so they say. Who knows how deeply we are caught in a brilliant marketing plan designed to whet our appetites for an object we haven’t been able to touch?

Well, most of us haven’t been able to. Last month, as my husband’s birthday approached and as Apple kept announcing further delays of its international sales, I was lucky enough to procure one via a staff member who was attending a conference in San Francisco, right in Steve Jobs’ own postal zone. Needless to say, husband was shocked and delighted. At first he wasn’t even sure of what he was holding his hands. How could it be an ipad when they weren’t even available yet in this country? You have to admit, as birthday gifts go, it sure beats a surprise party or a lawnmower.

At first I figured I was taking a chance. What if the thing turned out to be total dud? But I banked on the hype, the novelty of the purchase, and the reliability of the Apple brand. And I sure was right to trust it. It is no small accident that just yesterday Apple announced it had overtaken Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company.  We are talking in terms of which company has more billions, and so the word “overtake” doesn’t mean that much to us, the customers, clients, or humble users. What does matter is the fact of this new silver tablet and its fresh availability. Apple’s emergence as the kingpin in the tech market marks a steady pattern of innovation. Once floundering on the brink of collapse, hard as that is to believe for such a quality producer, Apple shrewdly turned its attention away from the static limitations of the desktop to focus on mobility, lightness, portability, and ease of access. You don’t have to go to your office for information anymore: you carry it around with you, first with your ipod, then with your iphone, and now, most spectacularly appealing, with your ipad.

There’s a really cute promotional film for the object in which an attractive young woman keeps saying that the ipad is exactly like the iphone, but bigger. It’s true, but it’s also true that Apple has wisely developed a whole bunch of irresistible games and applications for its new shiny model that just wouldn’t work on a smaller screen.

I know this blog sounds like a commercial but I am pretty pumped about this new toy, since in those rare moments when the aforementioned husband isn’t using it I get to play with. You can waste countless hours testing apps or turning the thing upside down and sideways to watch it keep righting itself. Moreover the sound quality is superb although you can’t figure out where the sounds are coming from, no matter how many times you turn it over.

I have learned, however, that once you have your fingerprints quite literally all over it, the ipad is yours and yours alone. It’s not like the household television which everyone watches. It’s way more personal, like your own phone, but so much more fun sensual, more touch-friendly, more fun  to tap and pinch.

There’s a television commercial out right now that announces “you already know how to use it.” True. The ipad comes with no instructional manual, no paraphernalia. Its stylish all-white packaging, subtly embossed with the Apple icon, speaks for itself. It’s a James Bond kind of object, futuristic and elegant and uncannily reliable. Trust me, you will want one.

And we will all have one, of this I am certain. It is only a matter of time before ipads are mandatory classroom material, with each student taking notes and doing research on their personal pad, browsing articles and hunting for information at the instructor’s command. Frankly, I would love to be running a classroom like that. Sharing information is going to get even easier.

But here’s a catch right now for Canadian buyers.  There’s a war going on between the servers and the providers as to how much information we can access for free, and so you will find that as of this blog there are still many barriers to sites you want. You won’t be able to download the books or the apps you really want, and this will make you crazy. Until the capitalists fight out in the corral we are slaves to their power struggles. The ipad is a wonderful shiny new thing and I do believe there is a kind of magic to it, but there is something very sinister about the controls being imposed on its usage. Buyer beware. The technology is a marvel. The fact that we cannot use it fully in this country yet is a disgrace.

NG

Dr. Faye Murrin is Dean pro tempore of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. She completed her B.Sc. (Hons.) at Memorial University, her M.Sc. at Acadia University, and her Ph.D. at Queen's University. Her research interests have always been focused on fungi, in particular the cell biology of insect pathogenic fungi and, more recently, the ecology of mycorrhizal mushrooms in the boreal forest. Dr. Murrin has served in a number of positions on the Council of the Mycological Society of America and was awarded the title of MSA Fellow for her contributions. She was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Membership Award as founding co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Summer Program. Dr. Murrin participates in public lectures and workshops, and is a Director on the board of Newfoundland Foray, Inc.

2 Responses to “It’s the eve of the ipad, in Canada anyway…”

  1. Paul says:

    I’ve been working in the technology “usability” world for a long time and I always wondered when someone would get the “form” right for interacting with information. This is it. It will take a few generations of software and but this is the form – not weighty, noisy and too hot to have in your lap, like a laptop, not hard to type and difficult to see the details like a smartphone. Steve Jobs ( I have been a Mac guy since 84 and had the first generation ipod) made several attempts at tablets over the years, such as the Newton, which were close to the form but not quite right. I think this time this is it. What is the form? Why it looks and feels like a book. There’s a reason we eliminated scrolls and town criers and moved to the book when the printing press came about. It is perfect for our opposable thumbs and reading capabilities. :)

    If(when) I get one I will get rid of some other devices; I’ll treat it like a new piece of clothing, I’ll throw out an old one. Hopefully it will last long enough so that I’m still wearing it in five or six years, like the black sport-coat (male equivalent of the classic little black dress). In other words I hope it will be in vogue for a long time and I won’t be needing more devices that end up in the trash.

  2. Sheldon says:

    I won’t be buying one because of it’s price (over $500 for 16 GB!!), lack of USB ports, no webcam, and no support for flash, and its made by a company that is trying extremely hard to have 100% control over their tech world.

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