WordPress & iPad: a Pretty Good Combo

One of the first iPad apps I downloaded was the new, iPad optimized version of WordPress.  While only time and blog posts will tell how often I do it, I can tell you that it is very easy to configure and use the WordPress app on an iPad.

Photos and links will continue to be a problem, until someone comes up with a better way to create links on an iPad.  The photo insert tool within the app seems to be pretty straight forward, but since the iPad doesn’t have a camera, you’d have to import photos to use them.  I suppose I should try a screen cap.

I added a screen cap of the app interface, and sadly it seems the app still adds photos to the end of a post, and only then when published. I suspect it will also be sideways (it was, and I couldn’t even fix it with Live Writer).

I also had a mild lockup, that required me to close and reopen the app. This happens after previewing a post, and seems to be caused by the categories and tags overlapping the text box. I’ll attempt another screen cap.

It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. And I suspect it will only get better.


The interface, including the keyboard, works well.  Photos
are still a huge issue, as they get added to the end of the post,
sideways and far too big (I resized these via Live Writer).


Notice the jumbled words.  The categories and tags are
on top of the text box.

The iPad Has Landed

As I’ve mentioned about a hundred times, I ordered my iPad the first minute Apple started taking preorders.  Today is the day, and at 4:32 p.m. a very busy UPS driver delivered my iPad to my front door.


I’m setting it up now, and will have more coverage over the next few days.  I’m going to be paying especially close attention to how the iPad does for corporate users, who rely on Microsoft Exchange, Word and other business oriented applications.

Stay tuned.  Right now, I’ve got some fun to do.

If you need an immediate iPad fix, check out the Houston area iPad discussion at Twitter.

iTunes: Apple’s Fly in the Ointment

itunessuxI’ve been excited about the approach of iPaday since I ordered my iPad the first minute Apple started taking orders.  I’ll find good uses for it either way, but until today I wondered if my iPad would be the evolved replacement for an iPod Touch and a Kindle, or something more revolutionary.

I hoped it would be something revolutionary, and based on the videos Apple released today, it looks like it will.  I think there’s a lot of controlled hype going on right now (for example, I think some of the unit figures being tossed around are beyond absurd), but I also think these videos demonstrate that the iPad is going to be big.

Really big.

The primary goal of the iPad is undoubtedly to expand Apple’s growing stranglehold on the content distribution pipeline beyond music, and further into video and, in a bold and perhaps killing first strike, books.  I also think there is hope in Cupertino that the iPad will serve as a roadmap to Macs.  After watching the iPad videos, I considered, for probably the twentieth time, whether I should overpay for hardware and accept a crappy OS in the name of convergence, under the Apple banner.

image There is no denying that all of the Apple hysteria makes even the most logical eyes prone to view the world in shades of green.

I could learn to live with OS X, even though I find it utterly unintuitive and far harder to use than Windows 7.  Plus, I’m convinced that Apple will eventually merge the iPhone OS and the Mac OS, in a final offensive in the three party war for tech domination being waged by Apple, Microsoft and Google.  At that point, Macs may actually become as elegant as some wrongly insist they are now.

But I can’t yet take the plunge.  Not because of the overpriced hardware.  Not even because the deficiencies in OS X.

Because Apple insists that iTunes serve as the control panel, storefront and traffic cop for all hardware and associated content.  For anyone other than the casual music fan, iTunes sucks.

Trying to manage a big music library via iTunes is like trying to build a house out of sand.  A little bit looks good, but it all falls apart when you try to scale.  It’s bloated, slow, feature deficient and just plain ugly.

itunessucks In fact, iTunes needs to be completely scrapped and rewritten from the ground up.  I realize that many of the limitations that burden iTunes are intentional limitations designed to maintain and expand Apple’s stranglehold on the content distribution channel.  I don’t like this one little bit, but I’m not naive enough to think it will change.

But there are a hundred much needed improvements that could and should be made, without giving up control of the content pipeline.

I wish someone would email Steve Jobs and tell him to get on it.  Then maybe I’d go all in.

Biggest iPad App? Safari, in a Webslide

We’re less than a week away from getting our hands on the much-awaited Apple iPad.  As iPaday approaches, more and more details about the iPad experience are emerging.  Many are speculating on what apps will be the most useful.


I already know.  Safari, which will return us to that most useful jungle: the world wild web.

Yes, I love my iPhone.  But let’s be honest.  Surfing the web on the iPhone sucks.  Epicly.  That’s why good developers are making a fortune (99 cents at a time) writing apps that use the network to deliver content in a more accessible and manageable form.  By that, I mean as far away from Safari as possible.

I estimate my success rate when trying to accomplish anything substantial on an iPhone via the native web (i.e., in a browser on a regular web site) at around 10%.  Most of the time, I either find another way to access what I’m looking for (such as a dedicated app or a laptop), or I just give up.  I have talked to many others who admit to similar experiences.

The biggest difference between our iPhones and our iPads will be that the larger screen size will allow us to actually use the web.

Need an example?  Here’s one of many: corporate email.  I have expressed frustration for years about the insane degree to which my company’s IT department hobbles (my word) my iPhone experience in the name of security (their word).  I actually considered making Outlook Web Access my default method of reading email on my iPhone, but the screen is just too small.

That won’t be a problem on an iPad.  Yes, I think it is important and good that the iPad will support Microsoft Exchange.  But I think it’s even better that I will have another option should I find my iPad excessively hobbled in the name of security.

April 3, 2010 is not just iPaday- it’s the day the web becomes useful again.

I can’t wait.

Will Lack of Exchange Support Doom the iPad?

I have been on an emotional roller coaster with my hopes, expectations and plans for the forthcoming Apple iPad.  At first, I got swept up in the Steve Jobs as a Mystical Shaman euphoria and thought this device would change the entire landscape of personal computing.  Once I came to and let my Apple hangover subside, I decided I was disappointed with some of the notable- and mind-boggling- omissions.  Like standard ports, a camera, etc.

ipad-300x195Meanwhile, in my never-ending pursuit of technological efficiency, I continue to struggle with my mobile game plan.  Historically, I carry my iPhone everywhere, and put together an impromptu toolbox when I travel.  Depending on the location, method of travel, length of stay, etc., I choose between my HP tablet (smaller, but less powerful), my HP laptop (sleek and powerful, but big and heavy) or my HP netbook (which I rarely use, but take on short trips sometimes out of charity).  Along with the selected computer, I take my USB wireless broadband card.  Since iPhones still can’t tether, I have to pay another $60 a month to ATT for this card.  Anyone see a connection there?

This approach works OK, particularly as I migrate more and more to the cloud.  But it would be nice to have less equipment, and to use the same devices everywhere.  There are still times when I have one device, but need something that is local on the other device.

So I started to wonder if the iPad might just be my mobile game plan in a box.  Much of the time, whatever laptop I’m lugging around has more horsepower than I need.  Maybe an iPad could replace all of my laptops, reduce my gear load and make me a consistent mobile user.  Yeah, that sounds good.


No, wrong.  The iPad is probably going to screw up my plan- and break my heart- due to three major issues.  Issues that will be the end of any hope on Apple’s part for corporate acceptance of the iPad.

What Good is It If We Can’t Read Our Email?

While I haven’t seen any final word on this, I am concerned that the iPad won’t support Microsoft Exchange.  Most companies use Exchange for their email, which means that, in some techy Groundhog Day twist, the very thing that kept business users from getting iPhones for so long will prevent us from effectively using iPads.

I hope- and Apple better hope- I’m wrong, and the iPad will support Exchange.  It’s one thing for non-corporate users, all of whom are going to carry some manner of cell phone, to spring for an ATT-subsidized iPhone.  A more expensive, non-subsidized tablet is another thing altogether.  The iPad needs the business community, or it will become nothing more than a better Kindle.

A secondary, but important, issue is what will corporate IT departments do to the iPad in the (misguided in my semi-humble opinion) name of security?  I had to battle with my company to get an hour password screen lock window on my iPhone (that I paid for).  Assuming the iPad does support Exchange, will business users  have to hobble their iPads just to read their mail?

I Want to Fracking Tether, and I Want to Do It Soon

It’s beyond absurd that U.S. iPhones still can’t tether- something my Blackberry did 3+ years ago.  It is unthinkable to expect those who already pay for an iPhone and a wireless broadband card to pay ATT yet another monthly fee to get 3G on our iPads (should I mention that the lack of a USB port makes it impossible to use said wireless card with an iPad?).

If I can get rid of my wireless card, and apply that cost to a data plan for an iPad, great.  But that will require Apple to include a tethering feature on the iPad.  And I haven’t heard anything that leads me to believe that’s in the works.

Which leads me to ask: who do they think is going to buy all these iPads they plan on selling?  Seriously.

And the Final, Word?

Lastly, the iPad needs to support the viewing and editing of Microsoft Word documents.  The business world is based on- and largely hostage to- Word.  For meaningful penetration into the corporate world, Word on the iPad is a mandatory requirement.

Maybe Apple will figure this out, maybe it will be Microsoft, or an app developer.  But someone better, and soon.

So Will I or Won’t I?

I don’t know.  If at least two of these three issues are addressed to my satisfaction, probably. Otherwise, I’ll probably wait for the iPad 2.0.

Or maybe I’ll get a Kindle.

Update 1:

John Welch, via PCWorld, says that, happily, iPads will have Exchange support.  According to sources, iPads will have the same Exchange-related features as the iPhone.  Kudos to Roberto Bonini for predicting this via Twitter.  John seems to be on my side of the iPad as a potential business tool debate, though he shares my concern over the lack of Flash, and my fear that IT directors will overstate the network-related issues.

As we learned today, the Flash thing  may be an unsolvable issue, given the Hobson’s choice between no Flash or no battery life.  All of this assumes, of course, that Apple is telling the truth.

Travel Irritations and Hope for the iPad

So here I sit in a fancy hotel room in Austin, watching Paranormal Activity, which is shaping up to be a scary movie, and feeling irritated that the supposedly world-class fitness center in this hotel closes at 9:00 p.m.  Meanwhile people in Days Inns across America are happily running on lesser treadmills in non-world-class exercise rooms.  That are open.

Compounding my irritation is the fact that after deciding to freeze my butt off and run outside, I found the nearby trails to be pitch black- not a light anywhere.  It was hard to stay upright and on the trails walking.  Running would have been impossible.

It’s annoying.

Sort of like reading and responding to email on my laptop.  It’s too small to create a desktop monitor or keyboard experience, and too big to easily place in my lap or use as a quasi-handheld.  It’s just not a fulfilling experience.

I wonder if the iPad will fill this gap I have fallen into?


It could.  After all, much of the work we do on laptops- reading email, surfing the web, listening to music, etc.- doesn’t require a desktop-like experience.  And, again, how much worse could it really be than trying to hold this laptop and deal with this tiny keyboard?  I can tell you this- I can type emails much faster on my iPhone than this tiny, non-ergonomic keyboard.

For me to fully embrace the iPad, I need three things to happen.

One, I need Microsoft to recognize the huge market for Office applications.  As I have said a million times, Google Docs suck epicly.  Document intensive users are still bound to Word.  Microsoft should not give conflicted users another reason to try to free themselves of Office.  Rather, make it easy to stay hooked by creating some sort of Word app for the iPad.

Two, I need the iPad (and ATT) to permit the iPad to do what the iPhone still can’t do- tether.  That way I can dump my ATT wireless broadband card, and apply that money to 3G service on the iPad.  The lack of standard ports on the iPad doesn’t bode well for this, but I can hope.

Three, I need the rumors about a camera on the iPad to, miraculously, be true.  Maybe I won’t use the camera that much, but philosophically I can’t get past the lack of one.

If that happens, I’m in.  What are your must-have features?

By the way, Paranormal Activity is seriously scary. . .

Before the Rise and Fall: A Business Traveler’s Hope for the iPad


I’m on the road a fair amount for my job, and I’m a dedicated laptop power user during those trips.  For example, the last half of this week I was in San Antonio, chairing a conference.  Delaney didn’t have school today, so she took a couple of tests early, skipped school on Thursday and went with me.  Between checking my email, reviewing documents, visiting Webkinz, and looking in vain for a late night Avatar showing, we were constantly on my laptop.  In fact, this afternoon we pulled over on I-10, plugged in my wireless broadband card and found information on a for-sale farm in Flatonia, Texas I wanted to look at.

I use an Hp tx2525 tablet PC when I’m traveling.  It’s a good choice, but it could be better.  So I watched with great interest Steve Jobs’ iPad unveiling on Wednesday.  My Apple philosophy is very simple: I think the iPhone is probably the greatest technological advance of the past decade, and I think Macs are hard to use, software challenged and overpriced.  I have been waiting to see if the iPad was going to be a lite Mac or a supercharged iPhone.

In sum, it looks like it will be a little of both.

Could the iPad be Apple’s Alamo?

Since watching the unveiling, which was certainly impressive in a religion-of-Apple sort of way, the thing I continue to lament is the absence of a camera.  Religion or not, I cannot comprehend how you can release any manner of handheld device in 2010 and not include a camera.  I find the absence of native USB and SD card slots to be almost as annoying, but I could probably convince myself to live without those.  But no camera?

I’m not in the market for an addition to my mobile toolbox.  I’m in the market for the ultimate mobile toolbox.  For me to take the iPad plunge, I’ll have to conclude that it can replace my laptop. That may sound like a tall, perhaps unfair, order, but it’s not.  Most laptops have way more features and horsepower than I need.  I’m looking for an elegant device that doesn’t have a bunch of features I don’t need, but that has the ones I do.

So will I buy an iPad?  At first I thought so.  For sure.  The more I think about it, I’m not so sure.  I need to be convinced of a few things.

Like what?

First, I need to know that I can use an iPad view and edit Word documents.  I tried really hard to dump Microsoft Office, but it wasn’t possible for a document-intensive user like me.  Google Docs sucks, horribly.  Open Office will do in a pinch.  But the hard, cold fact is that corporate America operates via Word, and so far there are no legitimate alternatives.  I don’t know squat about iWork, but I doubt the Word experience within iWork is seamless.  Is it acceptable?  I don’t know, but it will have to be to get me to dump my laptop for an iPad.  I suspect this will be the deal-stopper for me.  But I can hope, and I do.  Desperately.

In that regard, let me make one ancillary point.  If Apple truly designed the iPad as an intermediate device to fill the microscopic space between a Mac and a smart phone, it will fail miserably.  Netbooks never took off, and everybody uses PCs. The market for a Mac netbook is about on par with the market for teal ketchup.

Second, I need to get comfortable that I can use Safari for real web browsing.  Candidly, I find surfing the net on an iPhone about as fun as going to the Opera.  So I rarely do it, and when I do, the experience is so agonizing that I don’t even notice the browser.  As long as Outlook web access, Gmail and Google Reader look and work well in Safari, I can probably get past this.

Third, I need the virtual keyboard to work really well.  Better than that train wreck I tried to use and quickly abandoned on my tablet PC.  It needs to approximate the normal keyboard experience.  The virtual keyboard on the iPhone is infinitely better than any Blackberry keyboard, so there is hope here.

Fourth, my annoyance level over the lack of Flash on these products continues to rise.  Flash is, for better or worse, the de facto standard on the internet.  It is arrogant and customer-unfriendly for Apple not to capitulate to this.  I’ll somehow have to conclude that this gaping hole in the specs won’t be the problem I think it will be.

Fifth, I’ll have to get over the fact that it is not widescreen.  A 4:3 aspect ratio is a gigantic leap backwards (see the next paragraph).

Finally and most importantly, I’ll have conclude that, contrary to the way it seems, this device was not hurried to market in an unfinished state, only to be obsoleted in a few months by a device that plugs some of these giant holes.  This is the thing that really weighs on my mind.  I already have a Kindle 1.  I don’t want to collect obsolete and under-performing hardware.

I’m holding out hope.  But if I had to put money on this race today, I’d bet against the first generation iPad.

Now the iPad 2.0. . . that’s a horse of a different color.

Phones Down, Tablets to Go

While much of the Apple tablet coverage is, at this point, speculation and rumor, I think it’s reasonable to believe that Apple will release a tablet or tablet-like device.  And I think it’s a good bet that when it does, the Apple tablet will revolutionize the tablet space the way the iPhone forever changed the mobile phone universe.

In other words, the only train wreck I predict is a traffic jam created by the train loads of people lining up outside the Apple stores to buy one.  Or two or three.  I can envision- and embrace- a world where the Apple tablet simultaneously turns the tablet, music and Kindle markets on their respective heads.  I’m particularly hoping Apple can find a way to knock the Kindle off the top of the mountain, and bring choice, price sanity and color into the game.  The hard part will be getting the publishers onboard, but if anyone can do it, Apple can.

For $800 or so, I will buy one the day they are available.  To the extent I can replace both my tablet, my over-priced 1984-stealing Kindle and maybe a music player or two with a single device, I’ll be happy.  Integrated wireless broadband is a must.  To the extent Apple does the only sane thing and avoids tying me to a single wireless carrier, I’ll be really happy.  To the extent I can do all of that for something less- maybe $500- I might buy one for my kids.

But there are a few hills to climb on the journey from strategy to implementation.

First, Apple has to decide which side of the fence the OS will land on- iPhone or Mac.  It’s odd, but the Mac has become the weak-point in Apple’s line up.  I can’t imagine ever using a mobile phone other than an iPhone.  Apple TV is an elegant, fun and much under-marketed device that could easily replace a more traditional television service (for one monthly DirecTV payment, I could buy all 5 seasons of The Wire for my Apple TV).  While I use my Mac occasionally, the fact is that it doesn’t do a lot of stuff as well, or cheaply, as my PC.  The cloud will help, but not enough.  I hope the Apple tablet experience is more iPhone-like and less Mac-like.

This would mean that either iPhone apps will need to work on the Apple tablet, or Apple will have to make it harder for developers, by asking or requiring them to develop for separate platforms.  I’m betting- and hoping- for the former.  There’s very little I need done that can’t be done on an iPhone.  Only the screen size holds me back.

Second, Apple needs to walk the music walk and create a good sound.  I don’t think you can do that with integrated speakers on a small device, so that means Apple will need to develop and either include or offer good, affordable external speakers.  And a remote control.  iPodish docking devices would be another option, but I want the tablet to be the device- not support the device, so I want good external speakers.

Finally (and here comes my sermon again), Apple needs to completely trash the current iTunes application and build a good one from scratch.  iTunes is both the control panel and traffic cop for Apple’s audio video content.  And it sucks.  Completely and utterly.  Even the stripped down Apple TV interface is better than iTunes.  I realize this isn’t going to happen- especially if the “this year” rumors are true regarding the tablet.  But iTunes needs to go, and the sooner the better.

If they play their cards even halfway right, Apple can own the tablet space.  There are some issues to address, but I’m not going to bet against Apple.

Not again.