Pad Computing

My vision of pad computing is to take the "yellow" out of yellow pad.

With all the features and benefit offered by iPad and others, it's easy to lose sight of the real goal; to replace the ubiquitous yellow pad with a pad computer of same size, form, and weight. The size factor of a yellow pad has been proven over decades to be optimal for writing and viewing.

We're close, but the primary hold-up -- and design confusion -- is that the current field of pad computers straddle two optimized worlds; yellow pad and books. Once cost comes down and connectivity improves, we'll see integrated devices that address both; a true pad computer that replaces the yellow pad with robust free-from writing and a true book computer that takes the light-weight Kindle form but without any compromise in features. One in your business case and one next to your bed.

In the mean time, nothing beats the iPad. It's light enough to read and large enough to view, and has integrated data access and amazing customer support service. 




Grandma's iPad


How to set grandma up with an iPad


I was astonished to hear from an aunt in Michigan who hadn’t emailed in over a year because her WebTV device had failed.  She didn’t have the funds to buy a computer, but ultimately found another WebTV device at a closeout at Wal-Mart.

My own mom, well into her eighties, had a virus-infested computer that took 20 minutes to turn on and hung at every screen load. Despite efforts to clean this system by the Geek Squad, it never recovered. Again, all emailing had stalled.

I discovered the holy grail of computer issues years ago— upgrades. This strategy has served me well, as there is no problem that can’t be solved by either replacing the computer or upgrading the software. Yet, for those with limited means the simple act of emailing becomes impossible technology when their computer systems fail. Here’s how to wean Grandma off old-world technology, i.e. windows computers.

The obvious and affordable solution to this dilemma is to buy an iPhone which has built-in email abilities. Don’t confuse the iPhone with a “smart phone.” There’s a difference. The iPhone comes with support. If Grandma ever has an issue she can venture into an Apple store and see one of their Geniuses. This will save you many trials when you serve in the role of first-tier support.

Even better, upgrade to an iPad and there will be many joys you can share with your parents. After the virus incident, and just after iPad 2 emerged, I gave my original iPad to Grandma. The set up is simple.

We removed the DSL service from her computer and wired it directly into a new Netgear wireless router. You’ll need a laptop or computer to set up the router, although the iPad browser may work as well.  Then, we bought a combination HDMI cable-charger cord to link the iPad to her TV. You’ll want the combination cord for good reason. Grandma has only one cable to plug in. No complications. Now the fun begins!

Keep the iPad on your Apple ID, but set up a unique email account for Grandma. We used our own domain, but that’s an added level of sophistication. What’s essential is to use an email address that’s independent from the DSL or cable service currently used. That way, you’re unlikely to ever change. Using your own domain adds personalization and feature-independence, i.e. you can switch email services and always keep your email address.

It's worth choosing a sensible address. Grandma@YourCity will serve you better than "" You pay the price once to switch; Grandma pays the price many time explaining over and over why it's "Grandma 9," and not just Grandma. Simply forward her old address to the new and improved address, until such time you can forget about it.

Through iCloud (MobileMe before June 2012), you can share vital parts of your address book and calendar and keep them in sync. We used a sub-address group labeled Family-Friends and a calendar labeled Family. Once you make these selections on the iPad, Grandma will only see just these simple views and both you and she can maintain the family and family friend information. When Grandma sends an email from the iPad, she’ll just see the short list of "family friends" to chose from.  When Grandma makes an doctor's appointment, it will show on your calendar under Family. 

The real power, though, is that you can now share services. Within Apple iTunes and iBook, any book, movie, music, or app that you own can be downloaded for free in her far away city. In addition, by using your common login credentials, Grandma can free-ride on your Netflix, WSJ, the New York Times, and any other digital subscriptions. Life is simple and robust once again. Grandma needs only unplug the iPad to read books and the Times anywhere in the house and plug back in to view movies full screen on her TV. Charging takes care of itself.

The next step is to upgrade to IOS 5 and iCloud. The promise there is to gain full independence from my desktop system back in San Diego, so stay tuned.

Warning-- Aside from potential hardware failures, there is a time out issue you should be aware of. Over the course of weeks or month, the iPad's connection with the router may time out and stop working. To correct, show Grandma how to go into settings and switch off the Network and back on again. That should get her back in business. Password may be required.