Every year I come up with an ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions that just never pan out. It’s probably because the list is too long, and I get discouraged easily.
This year, for instance, I want to get out of the office and talk to people, not tweet with them. I want to write in cafes and on location, where I can soak in my surroundings. I don’t want to write all the time at my brown desk that abuts off-white walls.
I want to travel both deeply and broadly and see new things. Fifty different restaurants in a year. I want to climb Machu Pichu in Peru and play a round of golf at Pebble Beach. I want to re-discover the hallways and alleyways of San Francisco and Silicon Valley by going to more tech events and meeting more sources in person. I want to feel what it was like to be a young reporter in search of a story again.
How will I get there? I want to take public transportation as much as possible and use that travel time to read New York Times news stories, New Yorker features, novels and non-fiction books. I want to re-read my favorite books: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway and “Miyamoto Musashi” by Kenji Tokitsu. The latter is a biography about a great swordsman who lived in Japan in the fifteenth century.
It’s not just reading, either. I want to re-watch movies that have shaped my world view, such as “Macbeth” starring Patrick Stewart and “Lonesome Dove.” I want to spend less time staring into television screens that spew out mindless programming.
Most of all, I want to move around a little and stretch out – physically and mentally.
That’s a tall order, and it’s got failure written all over it. I could feel the promises slipping through my fingers even as I typed the words. But I’ve got a plan that will ensure success. Instead of trying to accomplish all these goals one at a time, I’m making a single New Year’s resolution: use the iPad as much as possible.
After all, the iPad is about mobility. If I can untether myself from the desk, then everything else should fall into place. The iPad makes it easy to get up and head out the door. I can download the New York Times, the New Yorker and all my Instapaper stories, jump on a BART train and get to San Francisco’s financial district in 40 minutes.
If I don’t get a seat, no problem; the iPad is light enough to read while standing up with one hand on the iPad and the other grasping the railing.
Good thing there are plenty of hotspots in the city because my iPad is WiFi-only. Starbucks with free WiFi are on every corner, and tech events wouldn’t be caught dead without lots of WiFi. I’ll need a WiFi connection for my job: Safari for research and email to file stories.
As for the actual writing, I can whip out stories fairly quickly on my iPad. Typing is surprisingly easy with the built-in touch keyboard. For longer stories, I’ve got the Apple Wireless Keyboard in my backpack. I mostly use Apple’s native iPad word processing app Pages, which supports Microsoft Word editing mode.
Other productivity apps include SoundNote, which records audio and allows you to type notes. A super-cool feature: SoundNote time stamps your notes with the audio track. I also use WordBook, AP Stylebook, Dropbox, Photoshop Express, as well as a bunch of social networking and communication apps.
Bottom line: I can get my job done on the road with an iPad.
While I’m out and about, I’ll have to eat sometime. And there’s no better place to do it than San Francisco. You can dine at a different restaurant every day for the rest of your life. Want to find a restaurant? Hail a cab? There are iOS apps aplenty.
On my way home, I can read something from Instapaper I may have run across during the day or a book from my growing collection on iBooks. In fact, I bought the aforementioned “Miyamoto Musashi” (Shambhala Publications, 2004) the other day, a rather obscure book that hadn’t appeared on iBookstore until recently. There’s no question Apple’s iBookstore has been growing quickly since it debuted in March 2010. This week, AllThingsD reported that Apple is preparing to roll out iBookstore to Japan.
If I’m so inclined, I can make my vacation plans. For my Machu Pichu trip, I can use the app Machu Picchu Tour. There’s also a slew of great travel planning apps, such as Kayak Pro, TripAdvisior and Packing Pro. For Pebble Beach, I like to fire up Tiger Woods PGA Tour and play the virtual course. I’m not much of a gamer, but the app will make it easier for me to plot my way around the course when I eventually pick up the bag for the real thing.
Or I can unwind by getting wound up with a dramatic movie, say, Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth:
With the iPad, I have everything I want at my fingertips. I can work, write, read, watch and plan using proven apps. I can tackle multiple resolutions all on my iPad and accomplish my goals. But the best part about the iPad aren’t the apps, it’s the feeling that a tablet gives you.
Tom Kaneshige has been covering business and technology in Silicon Valley for two decades. As senior online writer at CIO.com, Tom covers Silicon Valley culture, BYOD and consumer tech in the enterprise.