Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So I bought a tablet.  A 16 GB Toshiba Thrive, to be precise.

Some would find this purchase to be somewhat odd.  Indeed it is, somewhat.  Those who know me have heard my rants about needing a "real" keyboard.  My typing skills are not the best by any means but I seem to be able to do it faster and with fewer mistakes if I can get a tactile response that's more than the whole device vibrating.

It's why my last computer purchase was a tablet PC - and mind you, I don't regret that purchase.  That computer does almost everything I intended for it to do.  I enjoyed the challenge it gave me to install and configure Linux on a computer with a touch screen, and for times that I need to use Windows (they do occur) I have to say Win 7 is the nicest version of that OS that I've ever seen.

But here I am, now owning a tablet.  I use it for the following things:


It has a 10.1" screen, which is large enough for anything I don't intend to use at more than an arm's length away.  To that end I'll often go through a Dirty Jobs (or other show) marathon while grading student work on my main computer.


I love Audible for many of the same reasons I love podcasts.  I spend a decent amount of time commuting, and good audio content keeps my mind active.  My mind also tends to wander when trying to read nonfiction, so it's a good way for me to digest that information if I have someone reading it to me.  The only downside is that since I refuse to pay for a 3G tablet I have to download the books before I head to the car, but that's not hard to do.


The first school day after I purchased my tablet I decided to see if I could leave my main computer at home.  As it turns out SchoolMax (our content management system for grades, attendance, and other student records) works just fine with any Android browser, as does Edmodo.  Edmodo even has an app for that, which I recommend.  For an intense "grade everything and grade it all now" session I still prefer a more powerful computer, but for what I normally do it works quite well.


Google Books, the Kindle App, and more are available for most tablets.  My tablet weighs about the same as some books I've read and much less than others.  One of the biggest selling points I can see for schools switching to a 1:1 ratio is the replacement of dead tree textbooks with digital equivalents.  Are there more reasons? Of course!  But the biggest complaint I hear about moving to a 1:1 ratio is the cost.  Tablets are cheaper than most computers, and the more $50+ textbooks they replace, the better.

Beyond that, there are several apps that make browsing online content very convenient.  I particularly like Feedly, though there are others with the same functionality.  It has the ability to sink up with my Google Reader feeds and display them in an almost magazine style format that allows me to skim through content without the usual feeling of being overwhelmed.


I fully admit it, I'm a gamer.  Puzzle games, adventure games, MMORPGs, I like most categories.  There are a wide variety of games available for whatever tablet OS you care to use.  My favorite, currently, is Robo Defense.  It's one of the few apps I have that wasn't free, and it was totally worth it.

Next up, I'll make a post about the things I don't like about tablets.

Monday, January 09, 2012


No, I have not gone into the business of selling recreational pharmaceuticals.  One way or another, a malicious entity got access to both my MySQL database as well as FTP access to my server.  The links have been removed, the files restored, and (with luck), this will not happen again.

Should you encounter anything wonky or suspicious, please let me know by mailing theartguy [at] gmail.com.

(For the curious, I actually used this post by another victim to help fix my problem.)