This morning I had to be somewhere at 07:00; the trains weren't running that early, so I had to cycle the whole way (23km). Unfortunately, I overslept and didn't leave until 06:00, so I basically had to hammer it for the whole distance. (Once I'd arrived, it took 45 minutes for my resting pulse to drop below 50% of maximum!) I did the first 13km in 32 minutes, which bodes well for the Brompton World Championship: my target is to do that 13km route in under 30 minutes, and I won't be carrying a pannier or stopping at traffic lights during the race. I was flashed by a "check your speed" sign doing 20mph on the flat, which I think is respectable.
Later on, I was in Trafalgar Square. I saw a couple of women walk past in their pyjamas, and one of them was carrying a teddy bear. I'm guessing that they'd been to the Pyjama Party (all nighter of films) at the Prince Charles Cinema, but maybe they just didn't feel like getting dressed this morning.
Also in Trafalgar Square, I chatted to an American tourist. He pointed at Nelson's Column and asked "That guy on top of the pillar, is he Trafalgar?" I said that this was actually a statue of Lord Nelson, who fought at Trafalgar. It's tempting to laugh at the tourist for being ignorant; however, he then asked me "Where is Trafalgar?" and I wasn't entirely sure. I knew that it would be somewhere at sea, and I guessed that it would be somewhere between England and France. It turns out that Cape Trafalgar is situated off the south coast of Spain (according to the BBC). So, I learnt something new as a result of that conversation.
I've had a Sony Reader for a while. I'm going to do a longer post about that, but in brief it works well for novels that are a stream of text. It doesn't work so well for technical books that contain tables or drawings. I have several shelves full of "doorstop" technical books, so I've decided that it makes sense to buy a tablet PC as an ereader. If it comes in handy for anything else (e.g. checking my email) then that's a nice fringe benefit, but it will be worth the money solely to reduce clutter. I want each page to look as close to the original as possible. More specifically, I want to be able to view a whole page at a time (in a readable format) without having to zoom or scroll, so that basically means that I need a 10" screen; I've also heard that a 4:3 ratio is better for reading books than a widescreen tablet. I went round to a friend's house yesterday to try out his iPad, and it worked pretty well for books and comics.
So, on my way home tonight, I went to the Apple Store in Covent Garden. (I considered buying online, but I don't think I'd save any money and this way I could actually get the device sooner.) I've always tended to keep Apple stuff at arm's length, particularly since some people seem to be quite intense about how much they like it. When I went into the shop, my first impression was that it seemed weird. There were lots of people sitting around tables looking at devices, either to evaluate them or just to use it as an internet cafe. I spoke to a member of staff (in blue shirts) and said that I wanted to buy an iPad, so she directed me to wait at a table while she found a specialist to assist me.
When the specialist turned up, we had a brief chat about which model I wanted. I knew that I wanted the "new iPad" (aka iPad 3), in black, WiFi only (no 4G). I wasn't sure about how much Flash memory I'd need (16/32/64 GB), and he said that for books and comics I should be fine with the 16 GB model. I'm impressed that he didn't try to upsell me to a higher spec, and he never even mentioned anything about an extended warranty.
While we were talking, he used his handheld device (modified iPhone?) to call up the relevant iPad from stock. When it arrived, he tried to swipe my payment card, but it turned out that this half of his device was broken. We went to the counter and he borrowed a colleague's device: the payment card bit was fine on that, but the barcode scanner was broken. On his 3rd attempt, he found a device with both sides working, so I was able to pay for the iPad (and a Smart Case). He asked whether it was ok to email me the receipt, which I agreed to, although it later occurred to me that I wouldn't have been able to prove to the security guards that I wasn't stealing it as I left the store.
He then offered me a free 5 minute session to set it up, link it to my iTunes account, etc., which I agreed to. He started by slicing through the cellophane wrapper, but left it in place so that I could peel it off and then open the box to take out the iPad. There are several "unboxing" videos on YouTube, which remind me of people taking communion: the new owner reverently slides the device out, only touching it with fingertips. Personally, I'm not into the whole cult thing, so I just peeled the cellophane off and then shook/jerked the box until I could pry the lid off.
In fairness, I can appreciate the aesthetics of the box, but it's a bit too minimalist for my tastes. In particular, I'd like to have some kind of instruction leaflet, as I'd expect from a new mobile phone. The specialist asked me whether I knew how to turn the iPad on, and I guessed that it was the round button at the bottom (underneath the screen). Actually, no: there's a separate power button on the back (near the top), and you have to hold it down for a few seconds until an Apple logo appears, then swipe your finger across the screen to actually turn it on. If I'd bought this device mail order then I wouldn't have known that, and I'd have to go digging online.
The battery starts out being 80-90% charged, which is good. Along with toys that say "batteries not included", it's also frustrating to buy a new gadget and then have to ignore it for several hours while it charges up before you can use it. This also meant that we were able to look at it in the shop. I've linked it to iTunes and installed the Comixology app, and I've got it downloading stuff at the moment. Since I have the new iPad (with "Retina" display) I'm automatically getting the HD version of comics, and these seem to average out at 30-40 MB each. So, if 3 issues will take up 100 MB then I can store 30 issues per GB. I currently have 450 issues in Comixology, so I'd need 15 GB to store them all, but I can rotate them and only download what I want to read at any given time.
I noticed that the screen was covered in finger marks after only a few minutes. This is something that put me off touch screens for quite a while, and I try to avoid touching my monitor with finger tips. The specialist suggested a microfibre (?) cloth to clean the screen, so I'll look into that.
There are still lots of things that weren't covered today, e.g. I only know about the rotate lock on the side because my friend told me yesterday. If this was a brand new Windows computer then I'd expect to install lots of security updates before I could do anything else, but that didn't happen here; I'm not sure whether that means that I'm to date, or whether I need to find those updates. I'd also like to try connecting this to the VPN at work, so that I can offer more useful advice when other people come to me for help. (At the moment, I basically say that I don't do
Anyway, I'm happy with my purchase so far, and I'll post an update in a few months when I've had a chance to get used to it.