Saturday, 13 November 2010

Day Trip to Malaga

Malaga has always been a popular destination for visitors from all over Europe. The Phoenecians, Greeks, and the Romans who named it Agripina (which is why your luggage has the code AGP printed on it)
For more information about the history of the area have a look at but Im going to talk a little about flying there.

It is easy to get blasé about flying to Malaga as its a route that I fly often, but the last hour of the two-and-a-half hour flight is actually one of the most interesting approaches that I am lucky enough to fly.
The first view of Spain you get as you leave the Bay of Biscay behind you is the Cantabrian Mountains as you cross the coast at Santander. Quite spectacular at this time of year with the first snow starting to settle (this photo is looking West towards Gijón)

The high ground along the North Coast soon becomes flatter as you approach Madrid and although there is a ridge to the East of the capital city, it was (unusually!) foggy this morning and I didn't get a decent photo. South of Madrid, aircraft are sent to the 'MAR' radio beacon (somewhere near Osuna) to line up with the runway, and you can see the ground start to get higher as you approach the south coast. On my first flight here, I was surprised at just how mountainous the area is, but the Sierra Nevada are just East of Malaga, and the highest peak, Mulhacén, reaches 11,400 feet.

On a clear day (today was a bit hazy) you can see beyond Spain and the Mediterranean and catch a glimpse of the Atlas mountains in North Africa. (Must get a better camera for this...)

North West of Malaga as you join the ILS (Instrument Landing System) that lines you up with the runway you fly over large reservoirs that supply the area with fresh water. Over the last 5 or 6 years these have been slowly drying up, so it's nice to see them full again this winter.

(yes, the bonfire smoke (on the right of the picture above) is the same plume in both pictures.)

The line of the runway takes you over the lowest part of the high ground. The descent is slightly steeper than usual and has specific height and distance checks to keep you clear of the various ridges, which are all now equipped with wind farms!

The airport is situated in the centre of the low, flat ground and surrounded on three sides by high ground, it's not as extreme as somewhere like Innsbruck or Chambery, but it's quite stunning so if you fly there any time soon, do take the time to look out of the window!
Being in a valley like this means that the prevailing wind is heavily dependant on time of day. In the morning the warmer air is over the sea, which rises and draws air down the valley- so the earlier you get there, the more likely you are to use the North Westerly runway. As we arrived this morning the land was warming up and reversing the air flow, so we were able to go straight in from MAR to land in a South Easterly direction- which can cut up to 10 minutes off a flight time.

Directly ahead here you can see the main runway and taxiway, to the left of that, the new runway being built which should be ready for next summer.
Welcome to Malaga- I can recommend a great Kareoke bar, but that's quite another story!

- Blogged from my iPad

Monday, 8 November 2010

Political thought for the day

My greatly missed Australian Uncle used to quote this a lot. It sums up pretty well how I feel about right wing politicians at the moment (and I'm quite happy to be identified as a pig)

"One evening last October, when I was far from sober
And dragging home a load with manly pride
My feet began to stutter and I fell down in the gutter
And a pig came up and parked right by my side

Then I mumbled, "It's fair weather when good comrades get together"
Till a lady passing by was heard to say,
"You can tell a man that boozes by the playmates that he chooses"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away."

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The view from my office window

This is what I saw at work today.


Racing home

A sunset sequence (sorry if you were on the ground this evening, you would have missed this as the low cloud got in the way)

And Birmingham through a gap in the cloud

I hope you enjoy these. Seeing this at work sort of makes up for being in a hotel away from my family tonight. Sort of.

-Blogged from my iPhone

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The upside of an early start

After yesterday's post about the first early, I only think it's fair to point out the upside to being up at this time of day. On the second day of a run of early shifts, your body is adjusted to the new schedule and you are somewhat less grumpy. It allows you to appreciate something beautiful, Sunrise!

It may not be attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion ... But it's as close as you can get. I am reminded once again how lucky I am to be doing this job.

-Blogged from my iPhone

Location:35000 feet

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I am NOT a morning person

I'm pretty sure that this is a problem shared by all shiftworkers, the curse of the "First Early".
These are especially tough after a block of leave (like today) when your circadian rhythm has slotted back into real days and real nights, like a real human being. What happens is this:
You know that you have to be up at 3 or 4 am, so you have tea with your family and go to bed early, (with a full stomach, which doesn't really help). There you lay, in bed, with the noise of a family evening going on around you. TV downstairs in the background, Kids playing in the bath, having a tantrum about putting on pyjamas or which story is going to be read.
After half an hour, of no sleep, you pick up a book or read Twitter. (Actually Twitter is the worst possible move at this point as you get to see everyone else's normal life and get jealous. Or a contentious political link and get angry. 20 minutes later and you are nearly an hour down on the sleep you planned.)
So you try again, and another half hour later, just as you are staring to get drowsy, someone else will start their bedtime routine. Not noisy, they know you news your sleep. But just that quiet hum of an electric toothbrush will at this point keep you from proper sleep. Or the sound of the shower will make you want to go to the loo. None of this is avoidable, and none of it would rouse you when you are tired enough to crash at 6pm for your 2nd or 3rd early shift. But this is your first attempt to change your body clock, so you are doomed!
Once the other half is in bed, you eventually drop off, no earlier than you would on a normal evening. But this is your first early, so you are subconsciously waiting for that alarm clock. As a result, your sleep is lighter, you hear everything, and it will wake you. A faint car alarm over a mile away, a couple of cats fighting, your other half snoring. Everything will wake you up, even if you would normally sleep through a bomb going off. The less sleep you manage the more annoyed you become. The more annoyed you are, the harder it is to sleep!
Of course you do eventually get to a proper sleep, but it will be around 45 minutes before tour alarm goes off, right in the middle of the deepest part of your sleep cycle.

Then at work there are always the smug buggers who "like earlies because you get the afternoon off" which is fine if you live just round the corner from work, but I don't, and I prefer to spend my afternoons NOT feeling like a Zombie, thanks!

Edited because this is important:
To clarify, I would not fly if too tired to do so. I take my responsibility to my passengers (and the rest of the crew) very seriously. I would (and have) called in unable to operate because of disrupted/inadequate rest.
This is a comment on the occasional difficulty of obtaining that sleep and the fact that I always find it hardest at the start of a run. I'm often tired, never too tired, but always grateful that the coffee chains are now 24/7 in most airports!
-Blogged from my iPhone

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ode to Paul Chambers

Here's my effort for National Poetry Day, inspired by the #twitterjoketrial

An airport was closed coz of snow
So to Belfast poor Paul couldn't go
Angry tweet, CPS
Yorks police, what a mess,
Jack of Kent, Robin Hood, Sky High Blow

- Blogged from my iPad

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The visual Arts can get stuffed.

One of the political chaps I follow on twitter posted a Blog today bemoaning the cuts about to happen in "the Arts". He's usually worth reading, but this time, I think it's nonsense. This blog is an edited run-together of my tweets to him.

If enough people think the arts are important enough to pay for, then government handouts are unnecessary. There is already a great way to collect revenue: pay to visit a gallery. Cinemas work that way, so why shouldn't theatres?

Why should the government use my money to pay for art that I have no intention of ever looking at? Let people spend their own money on the art they want to enjoy. If I have a burning desire to see a picture then I will happily pay to see it. I already pay for the films I chose to see or the show I want to see at a theatre.
Even when times were good and New Labour were throwing money at left wing causes willy-nilly, "The Arts" were always complaining that they didn't have enough of my money to spend on interpretative dance. The big problem for "The Arts" is that it's just not as important to people as it thinks it should be.
Please explain why the government should take money from me and give it to self important stars of the industry like Emin & Hirst, when it is these people who should be reinvesting in the industry that has made them millionaires.

By all means flame me. I would actually like to be wrong on this so someone come up with a better argument than "an important arty luvvie with a vested interest says so".

- Blogged from my iPad

Monday, 20 September 2010

The view from 34000 feet

I love my job and I am very lucky to have it. I'm. First Officer for a UK Airline flying the Airbus A320 series round Europe on a mix of schedule and charter flights. It's great- I get a fantastic view from my office window, and I get to fly with some interesting people, with wildly varied backgrounds.

So much badly researched nonsense hits the newspapers when there is an Aviation story (usually sparked by The CEO of a budget airline) that I thought I should use this blog to promote understanding of what I do as a First Officer, why it can be an utter pain in the body-clock, but why I love it anyway. I hope you find it interesting.

I'll start the ball rolling with some photos

Didcot, the Oxfordshire town where I am Warlord!

The Scilly Isles


Sunset over the Atlantic

Poole Harbour and early morning sea fog at Swanage

-Blogged from my iPad at 34000'

Monday, 6 September 2010

AVATAR- Speccy Twat Edition

I just got home from seeing Avatar Special Edition and since my blog really doesn't have a purpose yet, thought I would shoehorn in a movie review.


First off, I loved it. But I loved it because it was AVATAR, which utterly blew me away last year. The visual experience was (and still is) stunning, a league above anything else that has hit the screen in 3D or otherwise – Lets see if TRON can come close at Christmas. I came out of the cinema with the same buzz that I got last year, and this is my 3rd viewing.

Well, I would have been happy with the chance to see it again on the big screen, but clearly to justify the new release to everyone else, something extra had to be added.
On reflection, the new stuff didn't really work. I know of at least one proper critic who disagrees with me, but here's a scene by scene breakdown of the new bits:

The School Ruins
When - Just after Jake, Grace and Norm get dropped off in the Jungle, and just before Jake gets chased by the Thanator they go to the ruined school to collect something.
And? - This is a fantastic scene, well shot and well acted. But fitting it in here is a bit clunky. The original cut has them walking into the jungle, and taking samples, and it's seamless.
It also runs against the story arc of the humans escalating their military action. Machine gun holes in the wall of a school? It paints the humans as too evil too early on.
And picking up the copy of the LORAX? We know its an environmentalists propaganda film, no need to bash us over the head thanks!
Verdict- would be better as a DVD extra.

Why the Mountains Float
When – as the link rooms get moved to the Halleluia mountains
And?- The science geekery that surrounded the original floundered with the floating mountains. Everything else seemed so scientifically plausible and well thought out. But floating mountains? Oh the wails of geek anguish! So in this version Jake's voiceover explains its a “Mag-lev effect, because unobtainium is a super-conductor or something”
Verdict- Superfluous. The mountains look stunning so just suspend your disbelief, and don't draw attention to the obviously dodgy physics.

The Rhino-thing Hunt
When – during the “Jake learns to fly and becomes a member of the tribe” montage, just before the Turuk attack.
- Absolutely brilliant. Great action, cuts perfectly into the montage and makes the previously disjointed comment about becoming “a stone cold aerial hunter” make much more sense.

Tsutei's Death

When- after the battle.
And?- In the original, Tsutei dies a Warrior-hero's death. In this version, he survives being shot and falling hundreds of feet to the jungle floor below, so that Jake can finish the job according to (previously unmentioned) tradition.
Verdict- detracts from Tsutei's heroic sacrifice. Should be left out altogether.

Overall verdict

If this had been the original theatrical release, then what we saw last year would be the internet fan edit. It's great to see Avatar on a big screen again and in 3D, but the new bits really don't add anything to the stunning vision of the film.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Arguing with a Bigot

I have been arguing with a bigot on his blog for the last week or so. As it is his blog, he can moderate the comments, and has failed to publish my most recent one. It may be an attempt to move on, as he has now published an even more unpleasant blog . I have posted the following, but suspect it wont get past his moderation. People who knew me at school may be surprised:


It is ironic that you have (so far) failed to publish the comment in which I gave you credit for allowing all posts to be shown, even the personally insulting ones. I included a cheap shot myself (your parents should have used contraception) to see if I could get a rise from you, for which I apologise. The post is re-capped here, and adapted to fit your latest rant.

By no means take my apology as an endorsement. Your repugnant politics is ill conceived and poorly argued. Your bigotry has no place in mainstream politics, which is why you were expelled from the Tory party. Sephton didn't beat you in selection because he didn't have to; you had already been thrown out, which is more humiliating than losing fair and square.  Your previous blog post started as a jealous personal attack him, and weird imaginings of his behaviour, so your claim to be doing serious political work here is not valid.

In this recent case, the Lambeth registrars are required as part of their job to carry out civil partnerships. They are refusing to do their job, I would say that's professional misconduct. If I refused to fly to Spain on moral grounds as a stance against bullfighting, I would expect to lose my job. You describe their actions as "Honourable and Righteous"- I would describe them as unprofessional and prejudiced. You complained previously about homosexuality impairing a persons professional judgement, and relied on stereotypes and assumptions to back your statement. In this case you have a clear example of Christianity impairing a persons professional judgement, even their willingness to do their job and yet you defend them. Your hypocrisy is astounding.

Your self-comparison to the BoB pilots is as offensive as the BNPs use of Churchill's image in the last election. If you are so determined to champion the cause of good over evil you should maybe direct your anger toward the atrocities committed in the name of your religion over the past two centuries. the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Witch hunts, and more recently the treatment of "Child-witches" in Africa, to name but a few. In contrast the Homosexual agenda has been about striving for equal treatment and respect - something these two state servants were trying to deny them.

You argue that chastity before marriage and fidelity within (which I do not disagree is a sound principle) contributes significantly to the reduction of STDs. Why then would you deny Homosexuals the chance to join in civil partnership- a long term relationship which can serve as an equivalent to marriage?
Civil partnerships in the UK have not undermined marriage in any way. Elton and Dave making a public commitment to each other has not made anyone rush out and get a divorce, or encouraged anyone to have an affair. You have still failed to answer the key question
"Is the idea of marriage so fragile that it cannot stand alongside commitment by two men (or two women) to each other?"

The health problems you mention are by no means isolated to homosexuals. Your inclusion of anal dysfunction points out your ignorance of the condition, which is more to do with nerve damage than anything else. The most common causes are Childbirth, Constipation, and Haemorrhoid surgery. (Wikipedia)
Do you think it possible that a higher suicide rate amongst homosexuals could be due to people in authority (Parents, Pastors, Registrars etc) constantly calling them sick and perverted? You make the classic error of confusing correlation with cause. The Suicide rate amongst men is significantly higher than that amongst women. Should we ban being male too?

Simply because most people are straight does not make people who are not straight wrong. As a non RC Christian, you are in a pretty small minority yourself.

For someone not willing to discuss theology, you seem very keen to do so. Is it just that you stop when you are losing? you brought up creationism twice in the comments section, but I'm not going to  bite and start arguing Evolution vs Fairy Tales with you, I'm bored enough with your nonsense already. If you choose to live your life according to rules written 3000+ years ago by a desert nomad, then go ahead. A problem arises when you choose to apply only the ones that suit your narrow and bigoted world view, but it's your problem, and you can stew in your own misery and hatred. When you insist that your rules apply to everyone outside your club, you become everyone's problem and your errors need highlighting.  It's a pity that more people aren't taking you on- it is surprisingly easy to make you look foolish.

Some housekeeping:

Where I said (13 Aug) ANYBODY I meant of course 'any consenting adult'.

My pseudonym is the result of a joke with a university friend of mine, not an attempt at deceit or cowardice. I was going to get around to writing a bio on my blog site, but I lost interest. Blogging just isn't that important to me. So why sign in here as the First High Warlord? Firefox did it automatically. And why sign off FHW of Didcot? Because i was already signed in that way. Make of that what you will, but it's essentially a mix of laziness and a sense of humour.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Thursday, 17 June 2010

BT? More like BS

So I have an iPad, but I don't really take it out much. I actually do use it for work every so often, and there's a wifi hotspot at Birmingham Airport which I could use to pick up weather maps, Volcanic Ash forecasts and the like.

This morning I thought it might be an idea to sign up for a BT Open Zone account. But when I entered my details their credit check company couldn't find me. I didn't fail their check, they simply couldn't find me. At an address with BT phone and broadband services where I have lived for 6 years.
And why in God's name do they need a credit check? I want to download a couple of emails, not apply for a farking mortgage!

There was a number to call in case of a problem, 0800 169 1397.

Unfortunately, this is their business sales team, who seemed rather annoyed that I had the temerity to have been directed to the wrong department. They fobbed me off with various incorrect phone numbers to try to get rid of me, but I always ended up redirected to their department. I lost my temper when one of them gave me a premium rate number to call.

I have some questions for BT.
Do you want me to use your services?
Why do you need a credit check for what will amount to maybe 3 quid a month?
Why are the credit company you use incapable of finding one of your own customers?
Why is the helpline number on your website incorrect?
Why are your business sales team so reluctant to help sell your services?
If this is how you handle a simple sale, why have I entrusted my phone and broadband to your care?

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about excellent customer service. Why can't it always be like that?

I have a day off on Monday, and there's an O2 shop and an Orange shop over the road. And I may give Sky a ring, too.

- Blogged from my iPad

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Somebody told me, that you had an iPad, you want to read eBooks that I had in February of last year...

I first got an iPhone around 12 months ago. At about the same time, a chap I work with got a Sony reader. I was impressed by the easy to read display and battery life, but inspired by the ad campaign I wondered if there was an app for that. Turns out, there was. And now the iPad is here, there is even more choice in the app market, so here is a quick review of your choices:

Classics (iPhone only)
You never forget your first. And this award winning app is really fantastic. A

growing selection of public domain books have been lovingly optimized for this app, the text, and in some cases illustrations fit beautifully onto sepia pages that turn with a satisfying swish, and your library is stored on a bookshelf "front page". Unfortunately this attention to detail means that you are limited just to the books that have been formatted for the app.

If you have been following the development of the iPad, and you think this format looks familiar, you are not wrong.
And all the developers have been able to do is post this little note in the app store.

Stanza (iPhone only)
Wanting to read more than was available on the classics app, I also downloaded Stanza, which had the advantage of in-app purchasing from several eBook stores, and free downloads from Project Gutenberg. The app is highly customisable, with multiple fonts, colours, backgrounds and page turning/scrolling. Unfortunately, there is to be no iPad version of this highly customisable reader app, and the recently introduced regional restrictions in the stores have really pissed me off.

Kindle (iPad and iPhone)
Probably the most bland of the dedicated reader apps, books on the Kindle app can be read in black on white, white on black or sepia tones. Page "turning" is a jarring swipe across your field of view, all very disappointing seeing as they own the versatile Stanza.
It's major advantage over all the other readers is it's access to the Amazon ebook store, which is vast, and has no region based bars to reading the books you have bought. Also, with the clever little "whispersync" function your downloads and bookmarks will automatically update on your iPad, iPhone or kindle device wherever you are in the world. However, the kindle app is restricted purely to the amazon store and has no free content whatever. With the availability of so many classics texts from the Project Gutenberg this is a serious limitation, and makes me think Amazon are not bothered about you actually using their app, they just want you to use their store.

Good Reader(iPad)
Not really an eBook reader, but if you can download your books as .PDF files, convert formats like epub to .PDF files, this will allow you to read them. Straightforward

iBooks (iPad)
I wanted to hate iBooks. For what Apple did to Andrew Kaz and Phill Ryu. For the inflated prices that I was sure would come with the iBook store.

But when it was released earlier this week, it came with a free book. And not just any free book, Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne's full colour illustrations look beautiful on the large screen, and the interface is closer to reading a real book than the classics app, simply because of the size. I wanted to rant about the cost of the books available, but for the first 3 days (before the iPad was released in the UK) the UK iTunes bookstore was populated by free books from Project Gutenberg. I may yet get a chance to rant about DRM and pricing for a non-physical media, but so far, damn it all, Apple got it right again.

iBooks is good, but I don't think it will replace real physical books just yet. You can read a book in the bath, or throw it at your annoying big sister. You can scribble your own notes in the margins of a textbook, or you can use it to prop up your iPad while watching a film. You can buy a book and hold it in your hand. The bookshop cant take it away because they decided that you live the wrong country. You can carry it across international borders. There is no glare on the screen, and the batteries dont run down, ever. I am watching the iBook store closely, but I don't think it's a threat to Waterstones just yet.

- Blogged from my iPad

Monday, 31 May 2010

A Brew by any other name

All aspiring Warlords should know their beverage of choice.

I like a nice cup of tea. And the cup of tea I just had was very nice indeed. But it's not the flavour that was the best thing about this cuppa.

I drink a lot of tea, and a couple of years ago decided it would be a good idea to know what the hell I was drinking. So I sampled some different varieties and It was during this experimental phase that I discovered Rose Pouchong. This is a black tea from South East China, dried between layers of rose petals so that the volatile rose oils (and therefore the flavour), is absorbed. It's a bit like drinking high quality Turkish Delight without the sticky fingers.
Well, back in November 2008, I was coming to the end of my box, and went to look for some more. All the other flavours were available but not the rose. After a fruitless search of supermarkets between London and Birmingham, I sent off an email to their customer services department. I received a very prompt reply explaining that Twinings was having some difficulty obtaining ingredients which, given the tea's origin was easy to understand . I savoured my last teabag, and then switched to Darjeeling.
Then, four months later, and quite out of the blue a package arrived. The Twinings blenders had been experimenting. They had perfected their rose blend, and had sent me a sample packet of loose leaf rose tea!
I was frankly amazed that they had remembered my enquiry at all, and impressed that they would send out a sample on the strength of a 4 month old email enquiry. So I sent an email of thanks. It was the least I could do.

Well, it appears that they kept that email on file, too, because last week,
a full 18 months after my initial email, the Twinings team did it again. Out of the blue, a box of (now rebranded) "Rose Garden" arrived on my doorstep with a personal letter from Pete Rowe their Customer Services Manager.

You don't often see customer services this good, and when you do I think attention should be drawn to the people getting it right. So Laura H, Lindsey and Pete, Thank you, please keep up the good work!

The Twinings website is well worth a visit especially the section on tea production, which is short enough to read while your cup is brewing.

At the time of writing, Twinings have a special offer on. You can sample two of their speciality teas for free, and I suggest you do, the Tea is lovely, and the people are even more so.

- Blogged from my kitchen, while the kettle boils.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Stanza and Deliver!

One of my favourite apps for the iPhone is Stanza, the e-reader from Lexcycle .

The app is highly customisable, with multiple fonts, colours and backgrounds and gives you several options for page turning, scrolling, or swiping to a new page. Second in reading experience only to Classics, it plays a trump card with an in-app link to several sources of books to download, including the Books on Board and Fictionwise eBook stores, and free downloads from Project Gutenberg. Once purchased, your downloads are manageable with a little help from the lexcycle support forums, and the Stanza desktop program. In fact it was so good that Amazon bought them out.

Although Amazon promised not to kill Stanza, there has been a deterioration in user support. There hasn't been an update in a long time, which is a shame, because better file management and ability to transfer several epub files as a batch would be very useful. It doesn't look like there will be an iPad version, and running text rich apps on the iPad is not satisfactory: expanding Stanza to fit the bigger screen renders the text virtually unreadable.

There is also a big problem with the bookstore.

Books on Board have an impressive library, but recently introduced region based restrictions which they dont bring to your attention until you try to buy something from them. Forgive my ignorance, but aren't shops meant to sell things to customers, even online? Why can I order a book online from an America bookstore, but not buy that same book in electronic form?
They also keep a record of your purchases so that you can download them again at any time - a fantastic idea, since computers crash and hard drives fail. But what has really wound me up is that they have now retrospectively introduced geographical restrictions on these too, so I am no longer able to access the books I HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR!

Of course, I have everything backed up locally, but I am pretty pissed off about this. eBooks were meant to be a boon for consumers, not a hassle. We were meant to be able to carry hundreds of books round on compact devices of our own choice, but how can we do that if we aren't allowed to buy their books? It's not even as if are cheap. Considering there are no printing overheads, I would have expected to pay less for a line of code than for a physical book, but then I'm not a copyright lawyer or a bookseller. There is more to come on this subject, but first I need a nice cup of tea, and the subjugation of Abingdon is on my to-do list for this afternoon!

- Blogged from my iPad

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Episode I: A New Toy

A week ago today, I received a text message from PRGeek, who was on holiday in the States. He was holding the last 2 unsold iPads in the USA. Did I want one?
Prior to this, I hadconvinced myself that I would wait until the frenzy had died down after the UK launch. There were too many teething problems with it, no iS
ight camera, no flash, too expensive in the UK, (and of course I couldn't actually get my hands on one).

Did I want one? I organised a "Family trip to the London Eye" so that we could meet him fo
r lunch the day after he got back.

And after a nearly a week, I still can't put it down. And unlikely as it sounds, I'm actually doing a lot of productive thingswith it. Like write my first ever Blog. Here's what I think of it so far:

Surfing (most of) the Internet
Websites load quickly, and look great. A page will fit to a screen really neatly, and although this makes some links too small for fat fingers like mine, the standard pinch/zoom that we all know from our iPhones makes this a non issue. What IS an issue is a lack of Flash.
As a consumer, I don't care about Steve Jobs' personal gripes with Adobe, I want my Inter
net to work. And if I can'twatch an embedded video, or open a page that safari handles perfectly well on my laptop,then I'm going to assume it's a problem with the iPad, not the website!

The keyboard in portrait mode is the perfect size for my crappy 2 fingered typing style, and the numbers and punctuationon separate keyboards will be familiar to anyone with an iPhone. In landscape the keys are a bit bigger an wider spaced. I suspect this is better for a touch typist, but I find it a bit patronising.
I don't remember ever setting it but the autocorrect is using British English, I presume because I synched with an English iTunes account. I like Apple for things like this.

IPod function
The great thing about an iPod is that it's portable. You can carry thousands of tracks in your pocket. You can clip it into a holder on your dashboard, and it doesn't get in the way. By contrast the iPad is never going to be practical as a music device. If you already have an iPod, (and I'm guessing that you do) then this feature is virtually redundant.

On the other hand, the video player is fantastic. Even on a 16Gb I have found enough space amongst my apps for 8 movies. The picture is sharp and the sound quality better and louder than I was expecting, too. This is going to be a lifesaver on long car journeys with a three year old!

The Apps
The app store is still surprisingly sparse considering the US iPad release was month ago. The ability to use iPhone apps is of some benefit, but the way the iPad deals with them is not ideal: when you start an iPhone app, it runs in a virtual iPhone sat in the middle of the screen surrounded by a huge blackborder; your new huge screen is wasted and makes using the floating app a bit clumsy. You are given the option to expand the app to double size,filling the screen, but the app is left pixellated so that text-rich apps look dreadful. Sadly, the worst examples of this that I have used so far are two of my favourite apps on the smaller platform, Flixter and Stanza. The latter is totally unusable on the iPad, and there seem to be no plans to make an iPad version (as it would compete with Kindle).

Some of the graphic-rich apps, particularly the games, do work quite well as expanded versions. Touchgrind, Talking Carl and Topple all cope well with a larger screen. Flight Control and Angry birds work well too, but the HD versions of these work even better, and are not expensive.

There are also a few developers who care enough about their customers to have made their apps iPad friendly in free updates, so congratulations must go to Ancient Frog, IMDb, First Words (for people brave enough to let toddlers near an iPad!) and to the totally awesome Acceleroto Air Hockey.

The productivity apps are looking to be someof the most interesting. I can now link my iPhone camera to the iPad via Bluetooth. I can use my iPad as a second screen on my Mac, and I can even remotely access the desktop on my laptop (which incidentally means that I can use a Flash enabled version of Safari!) but the pick of these has to be Good Reader. Good Reader on the iPhone the screen was just too small to view PDFs reasonably. But the ipad version clearly doesnt have this drawback. It doesn't have the prettiest UI, but its functionality on theiPad is brilliant. You can store and view PDFs, plain text, photos, and play music files. When browsing in Safari, simply add a "g" to thestart of any url, the app will automatically launch and store the page to read later offline.

But some apps have been designed to showcase what the iPad is truly capable of. Beautifully produced, stunning to look at, full of useful information and drawing internet resources for up to date and accurate information, you MUST look at Theodore Gray's "The Elements" (now available as a UK version and spelt properly!). (and reviewed here
Art Authority is an art museum on your iPad, and Solar walk will take you on a flight to the edges of the Solar system. All three of these apps show how beautiful the iPad can be.

So There you have it!
I picked up my iPhone and it felt tiny in my hand. The home screen seemed cramped and the display looked tiny. I switched on my laptop, and felt disconnected from the display by a physical keyboard and mouse.
The iPad is much more visually satisfying than an iPod touch, but not as portable. It is much more and interactive than a laptop, but a little less powerful. You do not need an iPad, but by god you will want one, and rightly so!

Sent from my iPad