first impressions

“But if there’s a new iPad mini coming in 2021…maybe? At this point I think it’s turned into a gadget that I aspire to because I want it as an accessory for the kind of life I want to live, one where video chat with friends is a regular feature rather than a momentary pandemic novelty. One where I need the big display to dash off a little bit of remote work from the Adirondack on the porch overlooking the fog in Galway or Pescadero or the Smokies. It’s my age old story of wanting to need the things I want…and wanting to live in a world where the need for the things I want is both possible and realistic.”

-27 May 2020

This post is coming from the back yard, tapped out as is tradition on the device itself. iPad mini, sixth generation, purple with a purple cover (in tribute to my mother in law), and featuring the Apple Pencil. The post has been saved for a while, because I was told on Christmas morning that it was coming, and I figured I should have it prepped.

My last iPad was the second generation mini, acquired exactly eight years earlier, which has not seen an OS update in three years apart from emergency point patches. It wasn’t really a concern, either; by that point my work-provided iPhone X was a one-oversized-fits-all option. The 7.9-inch screen of the mini made sense when I had a 4 inch phone screen, less so with 5.8. Well, now I famously have a 5.4″ phone…which is great for phone stuff but not so great for, you know, reading. Or video chat with multiple people. Or battery life if you’re going to lean back and cast it to the TV.

But there’s also work to consider. It’s become readily apparent that I need to get my personal life off my work computer. This splits the difference nicely and would be less than a pound in my laptop bag. And then, there’s pub night at home on Sundays. It’s hard not to be tempted by things on the phone, so why not do away with the legal pad, the Kindle and the iPhone altogether and just take the iPad out by the firepit to help with physically detaching from the weekly grind?

I am going to have to relearn my two finger glass typing techniques, though. I haven’t figured out the on screen keyboard with its vital differences from a laptop or phone. And writing directly on screen is an art that may take me a while to master. Simple deletes and returns are a challenge, because my reflexes for such things were honed in the dot com era on the Graffiti system adopted by Palm, and they are still buried deep in my operating system to be unlearned before the Apple Pencil can be more than a fine-point finger.

This is an aspirational device. This is a take-abroad-to-spare-the-phone device, a do-some-work-in-a-pinch device, a pop-it-up-on-the-coffee-table-to-Zoom-with-friends device. A force multiplier for iOS. A way to ensure that the phone lasts all day when I’m not at my desk with a charge cable all the time. The tweener for IMDb use watching Disney+. Something that doesn’t have Twitter on it, or at most the tightly constrained friends-only variety.

Hopefully it will be my personal computer for the world to come. Of which.

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