Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Digital Tablet Journey

Back in April 2014, our clients had given an iPad mini to the husband, and when he went on a trip to Malaysia to visit them, he brought it with him and did not haul along a heavy laptop. I was a little nervous that we would have no way to communicate for the two weeks he was gone, but while he was over there, he found that he used it for everything. One night, about halfway through his trip, he admitted he loved the iPad mini, except for its size. He had always said he wanted a tablet computer, but was not really into the whole iCraze. This is a fellow who has always built his own computers, and was frustrated by the proprietary connectors Apple used and the inability to expand memory easily (in the case of the iPad, one has to purchase an entirely new device to get more memory). So, imagine my surprise when he said, "Get me a new iPad. I'd like it to be there when I return home. Oh, and get yourself a new one, too."

I had an iPad 2. It was the first honest-to-goodness tablet computer we had in our house, and I rationalized the purchase by thinking we could use it to view iTunes University. Somehow, having that tablet in my house was going to make all of my Nonproprietary Learning dreams come true. After all, Nicholas Negroponte and Sugata Mitra were surreptitiously placing iPads, laptops and like devices in the hands of children all over the world, and they were learning first world skills without a curriculum.

In reality, what the kids did with the laptop was make art using various drawing programs and play various games like Minecraft Pocket Edition, Cut the Rope, and Angry Birds. I used it to keep up with various blogs, read things on Pubmed, and apparently a lot of different things, as the 16GB version I had was, by 2014, nearly crippled by the number of apps and other things I had saved on the device. I was having difficulty cleaning off enough space just to be able to install the newest OS update. It was definitely time to upgrade. My father had just gotten a new iPad for my mother at Christmas and assigned me the task of getting it ready for her use, so I knew what I was missing.

Dog, Digital Art, graphicotter
I went over to our local consumer electronics store to procure said iPad, but while I was there, I decided to revisit the idea of moving away from the iPad. After all, our phones were Samsung products and we were quite happy with them. I had hacked a Barnes and Noble Nook and added an Android Operating system to it before I even got my iPad2.

I asked the salesperson what Android tablets were available, and while he was talking to me, I noticed a great big one on a display about 10 feet away. "What is that?!" I inquired. He explained it was the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. At the time, it was just about the same price as the latest iPad Air (for the same amount of memory), except it had the ability to expand the memory, AND, it had a pressure-sensitive stylus. Pressure. Sensitive. Stylus! I had been trying to make art with finger on the iPad and was fairly frustrated, and so these words were music to my ears.

That was all I needed to know. I walked out of the store with the one iPad whatever for the husband, and a black Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 for me. The kids would get the iPad hand-me-downs and my conscience would be assuaged by knowing they would have unlimited access to MIT and Stanford's free courses via iTunes (which are now here and here on YouTube, anyway).

I got home and made friends with my new toy. I made it do all sorts of things like open by voice command and play pretty songs to wake me up, and display my artwork in the background. It wouldn't be until a few months later when winter set in that I would try to use it for sketching, and at that time, it would be a horrible disappointment. I tried several apps, including one provided with the tablet, and each one of them would have the same bug -- after getting not very far into a drawing, the program would seize up and lose the artwork. So, I gave up trying to make art on my tablet for the interim.

Oh, and the husband had me return the iPad Whatever and get him a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 as well.

It wouldn't be until February 2015 that I would finally get to a place where I could make progress with art on my computer tablet. Stay tuned.

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