TagSchool

iPad impressions.

I havent written about much for a long time so I though I would enlighten you with my brief review of the iPad.

When it was first announced I laughed at the idea that it would be useful for anything. I teased a few people who were considering buying one, arguing that it was just a giant smart phone. Almost a year later, I purchased one for myself.

The 3G model is basically a giant iPhone. There is no camera (iPad 2 is rumored to have one) or any phone function. The screen is obviously much bigger, but other than these few differences, the iPad is essentially the same as the iPhone.

That said, I would never buy an iPhone. There is just too much freedom that you get with Android, I couldn’t live with all the restrictions. Back on topic:

So, why did I buy the iPad? Well, there was the ‘Cool’ factor that came into play, but the reason I gave my wife was: To use it in class. In all honesty, I was expecting to have it replace my grades / attendance book. Pretty expensive replacement right? Anyhoo, other than playing around with downloading apps and messing with jailbreaking, the primary use for my iPad has been in the classroom.

I use an app called TeacherPal, which I highly recommend, to take attendance and grade students performance in class. The app itself is a little confusing at first, and exporting your data is only possible via email / iTunes (No dropbox support) but it does the job pretty well.

It’s also great for showing students pictures, videos and presentations in class. While dragging a laptop to each class is a pain, the iPad is light and small enough to make things easier.

The iPad is a unique device in that, it doesn’t make your day to day life easier unless you actively try to find uses for it. While I was always expecting to use it in class, I initially couldn’t think of any other uses for it. This is where the iPad’s size and battery life become an advantage. I deliberately brought it everywhere I went. Slowly, I found more and more uses for it. Taking notes, drawing pictures, computer administration. The apps available make the iPad such a versatile device and paired with the large screen basically make it a super portable laptop.

Which is the entire point of the iPad, portability. I find that with a laptop, I need a purpose to carry it with me – a presentation, work etc. With the iPad, its different. I have it with me all the time. This makes it so much more useful than a laptop.

Some might argue the functionality of a smart phone makes the iPad less useful. This is true to a certain extent, sending sms messages and checking friends status updates are all pretty easy to do on a smartphone however, having the larger screen makes it a less frustrating experience. The other great thing is it is perfect for sharing. Almost every time I have had to show someone something on my phone, they scrunch up their eyes and complain about being unable to see anything.

The iPad can be as useful as you want it to be.

The negative:

Coming from an Android environment, I was quite used to trying out apps before paying for them via ad supported demos. Some apps follow this trend in the Apple app store, but most don’t. The biggest annoyance for me is that the app store does not allow for refunds (in this sense). On Android you have a 15 minute window (Used to be 24 hours) to download an app, try it out – and see if it is what you wanted. If not, you can get a refund, simple as that.

On the app store however, no such luck. I was looking for a timetable app to manage my class schedule and I came across something that looked like what I wanted, and after paying for it – found that it was pretty useless. No refund for me – money down the drain.

But that’s not an iPad issue, it’s an Apple issue. My image of Apple is a pompous, greedy, self centered and stuck up company. They do whatever the hell they like and will keep doing it until the users start complaining en masse. This wont happen as the average iPhone user isn’t the same kind of person the average smart phone user used to be.
They don’t care if they can’t tether their phones via wifi/bluetooth, or that Skype doesn’t work over their 3g connections. They only care that they have the latest and ‘greatest’ phone that looks good. These people buy Apple for the image, not for the device. Apple is well aware that this demographic makes up most of their users, and as such they can do whatever they like.

For those of us who like to have control over our own devices, thankfully the iPad is also jailbreakable.

Love the iPad for what it is. Hate Apple for who they are. Don’t ask me why I hate Apple, I just feel it. I have nothing against their hardware. I think Apple hardware is some of the best out there. I also have nothing against OSX. I just don’t like Apple the company.

Ill leave you with an interesting note that may or may not be a good indicator of this attitude toward Apple:

Search google for:
“Hate Apple” – 9,690,000
“Hate Microsoft” – 6,750,000
“Apple Sucks” – 1,400,000
“Microsoft Sucks” – 273,000

Take the results as you will.

Typical School Lunch.

Not one of the better days. Although I did enjoy the fruit (can’t remember what it was called.)

School Lunch

How to protect yourself at school.

Some of you in Japan may have seen these before. This is a scan of the school resource product catalog. Most of the schools I have been to have at least two of the pole things lying around. Haven’t seen the shield at school tho.

Self Defense Pole

The Shield

School Health Checks

Some of the health checks that the kids go through at school here are crazy. Last year I watched them get probed in the ear, nose examined, tounge scraped and blood taken. This year, they all need to pee in a cup! What the hell? I don’t remember doing anything like this at my school. I asked the girlfriend, she said they all had to dump in a cup also when she went to school.

So, so wrong.

Death Note with the 三年生

A couple of days ago one of the teachers at my school suggested we let the students write their own script for a scene from the popular manga Death Note. These are three of the best (so far, only one class has done this activity) You might have a hard time reading, so click to open in a new window.

Death Note

Death Note

Death Note

I love tabletennis.

Ok, this is a diary entry written by one of my students. I’m wondering if this student actually worked this out all by themselves or used a translator. I’m thinking the latter. Here it is:

I Love Tabletennis

It is finally the entirety. I cancel it in a typhoon yesterday… All and time to spend on 1st. I love clube. A breakthrough safe as for the paire of me and Matuda! After all I took my ease and I ate it and thought it to love true club activities in all and time to spend! It was good that practice with all one week again because I was win!

Now I kind of understand what they are trying to say, but how in the world would you end up with a sentence structure like that? Still, its not the funniest diary I’ve marked so far. One of my favourites – “I’m a cannon, its a tennis racquet” – for a diary entry.

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