Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The iPad Story

But first…

Helen phoned last night from her friend’s house in France after an easier-than-expected journey, preceded by some good sleep on the ferry. They’ll stay there a few days before setting out for Venice and the ferry to Greece.

I’ve embarked on round 98 of the Mourning Shawl border. It should be finished and the centre started – including the first set of lace initials – before we go back to Strathardle. Progress, indeed.

Now, the iPad.

I’m going to love it, I can see that, but yesterday was tough. It comes with the most exiguous documentation you ever saw in your life – I’ve had toasters with fuller instructions. They obviously think you have an iPod or an iPhone and can jump right in. I don’t, and can’t.

I began by choosing “Mail” from the opening screen. I know about mail. The password set up by James to go with my BT Hub is one of those complicated ones with digits and letters and I must have done it wrong. I wasn’t offered a second chance. There I was with various mail options, all leading nowhere, and no way that I could see to get back to the beginning and start again.

I left it, nearly in tears, and went to cook lunch. That, at least, I can do. After a calming 20 minutes of making a Madhur Jaffrey sauce for curried eggs (she and I share not only a birthday but a birth-year) I calmed down and realised that somewhere there must be a button, real or virtual, which would take me back to base.

I tried again, and found it – it’s a real one, black on black, slightly recessed. The second time through I got the password right, and the iPad was henceforth on-line. A big step forward.

The next thing, since I wanted to try reading a book on it, was to download the free iBooks app and I thought the Kindle one, as well, would be a good idea. That means dealing with iTunes. Although the apps are free, I had to establish an Apple ID. OK.

To do that, I had to give them a credit card number (although all I wanted were free apps). OK.

Then Apple said that my credit card was not valid in the UK. That’s not true, but how to explain to a computer?

I tried approaching the problem from various directions, to no avail. Eventually I persuaded my husband – who remains rather dubious – to let me use his. That went through. Apple was totally unconcerned by my sudden change of name and sex. I got the apps.

The next problem was Amazon, who didn’t want to sell me the book because I didn’t have a Kindle. I’ve forgotten how I persuaded them that it was OK, but I did, and the transfer of the book to the iPad was absolutely astonishing in speed, especially at the end of such a day. I’m afraid it’s not tremendously good, but Ruth Rendell is Ruth Rendell and I will certainly carry on reading.

This morning I successfully subscribed to Piecework, using the iPad alone. But I need to download another free app in order to read it, and to do that I find myself taken back to wretched Apple who want me to re-enter my husband’s credit card’s security number. That’ll have to wait a couple of hours until he wakes up. I’ll remember it henceforth – and try to stay away from the Apple apps store if I can.

I think I may have to buy "iPad for Dummies" (on paper). How to clean the screen, to begin with. It's already looking smeary from all this touching.


  1. Jean, to clean one's iPad, simply take a clean soft cloth and rub gently but firmly. The iPad has some kind of space age hydrophobic coating that means the smudges come right off. I use a handkerchief, although this has some dangers with respect to cleanliness. For maximum effect, do this with the screen turned off.

    Re the Apple Store, both apple account and credit card need to be in the same country. I have dual US/UK accounts because of this (but I think I got away with only providing a paypal account), but I think it took a while to sort it all out.

    It is unfortunately impossible to avoid the App Store since Apple controls which apps can be sold/installed that way. So it's worth some thought, but you might find that you don't end up wanting very many apps.

    For pdf pattern reading and marking up, I recommend GoodReader. Not free but worth every penny. Pence.

  2. eek! You are very brave to tackle the challenge of such complex technology. I do not own any of those things - apart from a computer!

  3. Hi Jean, welcome to the iPad sorority! (I'm typing this comment on mine and do 75% of my surfing on it.)

    As for the surface, I recommend getting a film for it - they're available from Amazon - I like the matte finish ones myself.

    I have to confess to having both a Kindle and an IPad - the backlighting on the iPad makes it tough to read for long periods, plus it is a lot heavier to hold, and I recommend getting a stand for it, such as the cover that is available for the ipad2.

    I second the recommendation of GoodReader - if you buy patterns through Ravelry, you can move them to GoodReader (once you have the process set up it takes seconds, and Rav has a helpful set of instructions for doing so) and then you can create annotated versions and so on.

    The iPad doesnt come with instructions because it is so easy to use. If I have trouble with anything, I google it, say "how to add email account iPad". Very often someone has had the same problem and it comes up in the drop-down list.

    I could go on with tips and tricks all day, but the best thing to do is just play with it. You have discovered the home button (the recessed black one) which will rescue most situations.

    If you have any questions, feel free to PM me on Ravelry (TriciaindaHouse) and I'll try to answer them.

  4. You made more progress in one day than I did with mine! Here is a BIG hint: You can find the main user manual for your iPad using the Safari browser on your device.
    Open Safari from the homescreen, then tap the open book symbol to open the bookmarks menu.
    Then simply tap iPad User Guide to open the user guide in your browser.

    To dim the screen, hit the recessed button twice, scroll to the left, and you will find a slider to dim the display. I read in bed, and set it to the dimmest. (Is that a word?)

  5. Once you have set up the account for the app store, you can log in to your account in itunes and remove the credit card number.
    Then the app store will continue to work for all free apps.
    Will try to think of some good free apps to recommend!

  6. Tricia's right: most of the information you want is findable with Google. Lots of helpful souls have written pages and pages of useful info. I usually find them far more helpful than any Apple manual, although it's still worth getting the user manual through Safari or again, on your pc by googling 'ipad 2 user manual'. That way you can have it open on your pc while you're using the iPad.

    And once you've installed iTunes on your pc you can do all the account-setting-up there if you're more comfortable with it, although you will still need to enter your password each time you acquire an app.

    Once you've got the Eucalyptus app, the whole of Project Gutenberg at your disposal, just for starters.

  7. Anonymous1:10 PM

    One note about cleaning a touch screen (I have a Nook color w/touch screen) - device should be off or in 'sleep' mode, nothing showing on the display. I found out by experience that the Nook tries to interpret all the accidental touches during cleaning...somewhat alarming. Though putting it in 'sleep' mode seemed to clear things up.
    --Jean Marie

  8. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Jean, I've had an iPad for a year, and I just learned more reading the comments here than I have figured out in that entire year! (Of course, I usually hand mine off the the resident techie husband and ask nicely and things appear or disappear.) Thanks to you and all your wonderfully helpful readers, I think I might be able to show him a thing or two!

    We bought ours when we moved from NJ to NH and were not able to get the NYTimes delivered. So that was the first thing we figured out, and well worth it. But I can't wait to learn some new tricks..... Thanks!

    Barbara M.

  9. I have been using my iPad since May and love it. You can use Facetime for video calls with other ipad2 or iPhone 4 users. You need to go into Settings to turn on the app and set up your email address. Also download the Google earth app from the iTunes store. It is spectacular on the iPad. During the earthquake in Japan I could look up all the villages and the nuclear plant sites. I was a little frustrated as well when I first started but either called my brother to help or used Google. Feel free to contact me on Ravelry - Jeaniak.

  10. Jean - your experience so far and then all the helpful comments - I'm almost ready to crumble and buy that husband-birthday present a couple of months early.

  11. I hope that once you have gone past the initial set up period (which usually adds a wrinkle and grey hair) that you will be able to enjoy your iPad. What a delightful birthday present!

  12. I recommend an application called 1Password,
    which requires only one password which you establish, to access. It then will keep all your passwords, and log-ins to any website you visit, as well as generating, if you desire, uncrackable ones. It will also keep credit card information, and enter it where applicable, when you ask it to do so. It's wonderful, and very secure.

  13. Also, there are some lovely tutorials for learning how to use the IPad:

    google search will bring up lots more

  14. To clean my iPad, I use the cloths you get to clean eyeglasses, the microfiber ones.

    One tip that my sister loved, is how to actually turn off the individual apps.
    When you hit the home button, it just puts the app to standby, it doesn't close it. Your battery suffers when you have too many apps open at one time.

    To close the apps, push the home button (the round recessed one) 2 times quickly. At the bottom of your screen, a list of your open apps will line up across the bottom. Now, tap and hold one of the app icons. All of the app icons will start to wiggle, and have a red circle with a "-" minus sign in the top left corner. Hit that red circle, and your app will close down. I do this every other day or so, just to keep things running smoothely.
    To get back to your regular screen, just tap in the upper part of the screen.

  15. I have added a lot of cities to the World Clock option within the built-in Clock app. Could be handy to track your far-flung community.

    Skype on the ipad may be very easy indeed, and the camera is better than I had expected.

    I realized a lot of my free apps are for weather and newspapers. The New York Times access is one of the only items I pay for, as I really enjoy reading the articles while on transit or waiting.

    I take my ipod with me everywhere, and there is a free app called Simplenote which I find useful. You do have to create an account, but then you can keep track of items within the program, and synchronize with your desktop computer or use via a website. However I often use it in a book or record shop, or when I am trying to remember what gift I have already bought for someone.

    Will keep thinking of other suggestions!

  16. Welcome to the iPad. In May, I left the laptop at home and took the iPad for 2 weeks in NYC. I had email, web browser. knitting patterns in PDF format, my music, a spinning video, a yoga video. I offloaded photos from the digital camera to the iPad, and then uploaded to Facebook. It was everything I needed.

    I third (fourth?) the suggestion to get Goodreader (it's excellent), and I second (third?) the recommendation to clean the screen using one of the nice clothes you get from the optician for cleaning your glasses.

    Lastly, there is a very good group on Ravelry for iPad users called "ilove-my-ipad". Great people, and you'll learn amazing things to help you use the gadget more easily, effectively and efficiently. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

    Hadn't thought of Google Earth for iPad, and didn't know about Eucalyptus, so thanks to your commenters for those!

  17. Wonderful explanation. Thanks for posting. I wish you the best future