A couple of weeks ago when Bev picked me up at the bus station in Tucson I was in bad shape. Two days on a Greyhound bus with little food or sleep had taken a toll on me. Bev took a circuitous route back to her place, a route which gradually increased in altitude. She was wanting to show off the dramatic landscapes here in Southeast Arizona. I was impressed, but the combination of fatigue, hunger, and the tenuous air brought on auditory hallucinations. There was a faint background chorus of voices,or sometimes a group of cellos, playing simple tunes over and over. It was quite annoying, and only sleep would bring surcease to me, I thought.
We finally climbed the steep driveway to Bev’s house perched on the side of a canyon near the south boundary of Bisbee. Once inside she said to me, “Let’s get this Ipad set up so you can check your e-mail.”
An Ipad? I’d never used a Mac product in my life. Bev showed me the basics of stroking the screen to scroll down and how to use the weird three-mode touch-screen keyboard. I resisted, as I was just too tired to deal with a new (to me) computing paradigm. I made a half-hearted effort before I crashed.
The next day I was still light-headed due to the mile-high altitude. Bev realized that using the Ipad was difficult for me in my shaky state, so she showed me how to use her Imac. Oh, no, more Mac weirdness! No real delete-forward key, no page-up and page-down keys, but at least it had arrow-keys, something the Ipad keyboard lacks. In addition, the Imac has an accessible directory and file structure, something the Ipad seems to keep well-hidden. That spooky aspect of the Ipad troubled me. What was going on in that slim black case?
The Imac is set up to use a stylus and tablet rather than a mouse. It took me days to become comfortable with that stylus. This involved creating a whole new collection of muscle memories and reflexes.
A few days later I was acclimated to the altitude and feeling pretty chipper after walking through miles of spectacular Arizona landscapes. I looked again at the Ipad, sitting there on a bookshelf, quietly sipping electrons from the charger. Both Bev and I spend quite a bit of time on the ‘net and I thought it would be nice to access the net from another room in the house, or outside in the courtyard. I girded my loins and opened the black book-like case of the Ipad.
I’m getting the hang of it now. Positioning the cursor had been a problem for me. Tapping the screen to position the vertical blue line works erratically at best, but I discovered a little magnifying glass gizmo which is activated with a sustained finger-touch and allows me to accurately place the cursor where I want it (usually to correct a typo). Stroking the screen up or down is an intuitive and quick way to scroll, but I do miss the “Home” and “End” keys.
The Ipad doesn’t have a slot for a camera memory card, so I process blog-post images on the Imac downstairs and upload them to the WordPress server. I create a skeleton post, just a title, category, and image links, and publish it. The Ipad has a WordPress app installed which allows me to easily add the text to a post, then update it, while Bev laughs at my ham-handed efforts to use the too-sensitive touch-screen keyboard. Typos galore!
So here I am at the kitchen table, pecking out this post and occasionally pausing to watch the sun gradually illuminate the opposite canyon wall. I miss my familiar Linux system, but it probably did me good to try something new!