Apple of my eye

You have to understand- I have been a conscientious objector staging my own quiet campaign against Steve Jobs because when I was in medical school the Macintosh program, which everyone SWORE was compatible with my PowerPoint presentation over which I had labored to produce a riveting lecture for the Neurosurgery in-service on Robotics in Medicine, ate my presentation.  Grrrrrr.  I would have cheerfully strangled Mr. Jobs with a mouse cord.  Then Pixar came along with some of my favorite movies of all time, and my heart began to soften.  Macs became cuter and sexier, though they remained expensive and though I cast an occasional appreciative glance at the curves and bright colors, I remained steadfastly a PC Person.  I loved the modular quality of my PCs and usually did my own maintenance (I am still the Tech Support in our house).  Apple had iTunes, a proprietary interface that grated against my do-it-yourselfedness.  Then came the iPown- er- iPhone.  Its meteoric rise caught my attention.  Sleek, smooth, and it had all that screen real estate!  Tragically, though, it was only available on AT&T.  I didn’t want to change to a new carrier, and hacking the iPhone to use on T-Mobile seemed more trouble than it was worth.  I made due with other phones that I liked well enough, and I was happy.  Then a Sexy Beast arrived on the scene.

The name was terrible- iPad sounded like a feminine hygiene product, and it was nothing more than a glorified iTouch.  Or so I thought.  I researched and read one article after another, though took each with a healthy dollop of sodium since the reviewers were usually dazzled by shiny objects of every kind.  I heard murmurings that it would revolutionize the notebook, but I did not believe.  So one morning after a particularly rough night shift, I decided to see what all of the fuss was about.  I hadn’t gotten a decent gadget in a long time.

It was beautiful.  Smooth.  Clean.  The screen was bright, crisp, and the whole thing felt right in the hands.  Not too heavy, not too light.  Whoa.

Do you remember when the Grinch from the cartoon realized the true meaning of Christmas and his heart grew ten sizes to break open the screen that showed the shriveled thing?  The WANT did that in my brain when the sales guy showed me more than I realized was possible.  It wouldn’t replace my laptop, but it would become my constant companion.  I am not ashamed to reveal that I sleep with it.

So for those who are contemplating joining the iCult of iPad, here is a rundown of some of my current favorite apps, in no particular order:

1)    Medscape – Free- just like the iPhone version, only bigger screen. Lists drugs, interactions, diseases, and procedures.

2)    ePocrates- Free- same as every other ePocrates.  Useful drug information.

3)    MedCalc- Free- Medical calculator.  Just like it sounds.

4)    Medical Spanish- Batoul Apps- $4.99.  Very good medical Spanish app.  It talks!

5)    PubMed on Tap- Free- Easy access to PubMed.

6)    ECG Book- Free- ECG tutorial

7)    Facebook- Free- rapid access to FB, but no live chat available on the free app (there is a paid app that will do that)

8)    Pandora- Free streaming internet radio.

9)    Netflix- Free app with subscription to the service, and movies that are marked “Watch Now” can be watched on the iPad with internet connection.

10) Beat the Traffic- Free, and indispensible in Atlanta, where we have actually had a live zebra running on the interstate.  I am not making that up.  Also helpful for avoiding the bison hazards.

11) iSpy- Free webcam app for those of us with voyeuristic tendencies.  Nothing too racy here, but beautiful views from webcams of Red Square, Lyon, Tokyo, etc.

12) Various news outlets, all free, including WSJ, AP, USA Today, Newsy, NewsPro (Reuters), Bloomberg, BBC News, etc.

13) StarWalk for iPad – $4.99- My favorite astronomy program.  Hold overhead and it will switch to a live view of the skies.

14) iBooks and Free Books- both free, but Free Books is ALL free, and iBooks is a free reader for books that you purchase.

15) The Elements- $13.99- Totally worth it for the song alone, but brings the periodic table to life in an eye-popping display.  This above all others shows the potential of textbooks on the iPad.

16) Pocket Pond- Free- Koi pond.  Weird, but cool.

There are hundreds more, and I am sure you will find your own personal favorites (let me know  None of these programs include movies (available for rent or own, for a fee, of course) or Podcasts, which have become my new guilty pleasure.  My current favorite is Skeptoid, a skeptical look at pop culture.  ACEP, EM:Rap, and Annals of Emergency Medicine have podcasts, as do many of the specialist societies.  QuackCast deals with medical matters in a gratifyingly snarky fashion.  There are many choices, and your mileage may vary.

These are but a few of my favorite things.  iPad does all the usual email, pictures, web browsing, and contacts, and it does them beautifully.  It doesn’t do Flash video, so some web pages won’t look right.  Another of my favorite things is that my calendar automatically pushes with a subscription to Mobile Me.  I can change my schedule on the iPad and it updates my online “cloud”, which then automatically updates my PCs.  Yes, I still have them.  Still a PC person at heart, I still have room for other loves.  And you can have my iPad when you pry it out of my sleep-deprived hands.

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