Greetings from A Reasonably-Priced But Still Very, Very Nice Hotel Room in San Francisco.

(No, it’s not a name-brand place. But I have free WiFi and a room overlooking a garden. Keep your fancy Red Roof Inn.)

It’s a barnstorming trip; one night only. I’m here for the iPad 2 Event. I’ll be covering it for the Sun-Times and the TWiT Network. Then I’ll buy this week’s new comics, I’ll sneak in dinner with a friend, and then I’m off on the redeye tonight.

“What wonderful news, Andy,” you say. “Thanks so much for bothering to blog this.” 

Look, there’s another reason for this post: I’m testing out my new jerry-rigged “Laptop iPad” setup. If it weren’t for the need to liveblog, this is the sort of trip that my iPad excels at. I’ll just be gone for a night or three and there’s a well-defined set of objectives. The iPad, plus my Bluetooth keyboard, is all the computer I need; my MacBook is thousands of miles away.

Ah, but over the past year I’ve discovered that there’s only one laptop-ey thing that an iPad simply cannot do:

You can’t use it in your lap.

This is a big problem at an event like the one I’ll be attending. I’ll be in a folding chair, trying to either liveblog or take notes as I go. I can lay the iPad flat in my lap and type on the virtual keyboard and it’s sort of okay, but I can’t type fast or accurately and my brain quickly gets disconnected from either the task of listening to what’s going on or the task of writing it down as I go.

This time, I’m trying the Scosche FoldIO case (my iPad’s usual home) on top of Griffin’s iRizer. Yes: I’ve got the iPad in one easel and it’s sitting in another easel.

My Laptop iPad Typing Setup.

It just goes to prove that while I lack the bravery and sense of duty of the journalists in the Middle East, who are choosing to stay behind in a zone that was dangerous enough before waves of rebellion and desperate, violent government backlash swept through the streets…at least I’m willing to suffer a little.

Covering the event for TWiT adds a new wrinkle: I need to be able to send video. That’s much less of a pain in the butt than it might have been. What might have been a no-negotiation, Must Bring MacBook trip is instead a “Bring the iPad, plus three phones” one. Viz:

  • My Usual iPhone, for doing iPhone-ey things.
  • My loaner iPhone 4, for actually sending video (so I’ll have a 100% fresh battery on both iPhones for their intended purposes.
  • T-Mobile’s new 4G Samsung phone, for use as a WiFi hotspot, so that I stand a chance of getting through without being clobbered by all of the thrashing of AT&T and Verizon that’ll be happening all around me.

There’s also the hope that the 4G network will actually be available downtown. These hopes aren’t high, but without hope, we would live in a world in which Humankind plans for neither human exploration of the Moon and other celestial objects, nor the 2011-2012 season of “Two And A Half Men.”

Speaking of hope, I’m writing this with the iPad version of the WordPress app. Previous versions of this app hold the current course record of Screwing Up In Stroke-Inducing Ways. The last edition I tried had evolved from “losing posts as I was writing them” to “destroying posts that had already been published to my blog by other apps” and here, I set something on fire and then moved on with my life.

But that was ages ago. I’d rather use a good app than the web client when I liveblog (starting at about 9:30 AM Pacific time).

Let’s see what happens this time.

Push the button, Frank…

[Edited to add: No, of course it didn’t work. I know that the WordPress app is free software, and it’s the result of the generous contributions of the WordPress and iPad communities…but I’m just dying for a version of this app that functions as it should. A for Effort, but otherwise…oof.

15 thoughts on “

  1. Kelly Spore

    I agree, the WordPress App leaves much to be desired. I’ve not find an App on iPad or iPhone that allows for easy (and here’s the big one) ERROR FREE posting. I gave up… which also killed my ability to do a project I was very interested in doing as I don’t always have my MacBook on me nor do I want to. My iPad though goes where I go, well not the shower of course!

  2. Ben L

    jerry-rigged, Andy …jury rigged means something different..
    I jerry-rigged the anchor so the boat will stay put.
    I jury rigged the courtroom so OJ could go free.

  3. Greg Skluzacek

    I have a similar problem with my iPad and Apple BT keyboard when trying to do any typing intensive. You would think some company would fill this need of an effective way to view your iPad on an angle and hold a keyboard AND keep the shebang steady in your lap… I’d me me one if it existed!

  4. Michael Anderson

    Rather than have that rather ridiculous setup with the iPad in two easels, why not just take your MacBook?

    Seems a huge waste of effort to produce a less elegant, less useful solution.

    “Oh I don’t want to bother with the bulky, cumbersome Mac, I’ll just take this iPad and separate keyboard and two cases and wind up with something that can do most of the things I want to do”.

    It’s like something from The Onion.

  5. Kelly Spore

    I totally get it… the iPad, even with a few contraptions is still lighter with longer battery life than a MacBook, even the Air. Plus when he isn’t doing the “live blog” he has all the benefits of just a screen based device. The iPad is more than a consumption device. It’s not a notebook. It’s a new creature – as much as the personal computer was when it was released by Apple. Look at them today!

  6. Kelly Spore

    I’m just trying to figure out how you got the three pieces to work together in the package you show in your photo. Later, when you aren’t trying to live blog, could you show a quick photo or video of how you put it all together. Right now I carry a similar case (same format) and an Apple Keyboard; but like you I need a hard surface for it to work. So the keyboard lies dormant when it could be used.

  7. Chris/0

    @ Ben L

    Andy was not really incorrect (inasmuch as one can be “incorrect” about language, prescriptivism vs. descriptivism, blah-blah). The phrase “jerry-rig” may come from a WWII pun; “jury-rig” is the original.

    Amount this matters? Likely nil, but still.

  8. John Holderried

    There’s been so much confusion over the years, both “jerry-rigged” and “jury-rigged” seem to be in wide use. English is a constantly changing animal…

    “Jury-rigged” = “assembled in a makeshift manner” and dates back to 1788 or so. Might come from a “jury mast”, (short for “injury mast”?) which is an improvised replacement mast on a sailing ship.
    Could have nothing to do with courtrooms.

    “Jerry-built” = “built from bad materials” comes from about 1869, possibly Liverpool UK. Could come from the Biblical story of the walls of Jericho, or possibly other sources. Might be derived from “jury-rigged”. Surprisingly, might have nothing to do with UK slang for Nazis.

    But it seems that “jury” came first, and “jerry” is a common derivation. I’ll allow either one.

  9. John

    It’s like you’re trying to create an 11″ MacBook Air out of coconut shells and old crates, like a Cargo Cult Pacific Islander. “Come back, MacBook Air! Come back!”

  10. Rick Baumhauer

    Best of luck today!

    However, please consider putting 4G in quotes when referring to T-Mobile, so as not to spread the lie that what they’re offering is really a 4G network, as opposed to the fast 3G it really is. Otherwise, the real 4G networks are going to have to start calling themselves 5G out of principle.

  11. Rich

    Andy: Seems like the iRizer is made by Matias, not Griffin.

    Kelly: “I totally get it… the iPad, even with a few contraptions is still lighter with longer battery life than a MacBook, even the Air. ” That seems to be wrong (which is why I was looking up the iRizer). The iPad is 1.5 lbs, the Apple Bluetooth keyboard 14.1 oz. That puts us at 2.38 lbs with the 11″ Air at…2.3 lbs. And that’s before the iRizer, and the FoldIO.

  12. Tim King

    Okay, this is off topic, but I’m always interested in a good (but reasonable) hotel for the periodic trips to SF. Care to share?

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