Opinion:Study, iPad, DRM and Me

Recently I posted about ebook readers and why Not Owning an E-Reader or Buying E-Books is my philosophy. Combined with the announcement this week of the Apple iPad I also twittered about why I would buy one, which seems to go against what I have previously said.

What’s Different

I expect that the iPad will do a few key things for me:

  • Draw network diagrams in OmniGraffle {ref}
  • Offline access to my PDF collection of Cisco Press books and various PDF files
  • Better access to OmniFocus for GTD
  • iCal calendar management
  • better email client than the iPhone
  • casual web surfing when away from desk

and here is what it won’t do for me.

  • Fiction and iBook content
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Entertainment….in just about any form

Cisco Press Books, PDF and Safari

I have recently been spending some amount money to buy and download PDF versions of Cisco Press textbooks from Safari at O’Reilly Press. This means that they are saved on my computer and I read them when I on my laptop which has been enormously useful since I have my laptop handy a lot more than I have all my textbooks.

Although the O’Reilly Safari HTML interface is much improved (if you are in the HTML Beta program for Safari) I still prefer to read in PDF’s because I can make notes and observations in the documents, but I don’t always have Internet access. ((on MAC OSX you can, not so sure what’s happening on Windows these days.))

These PDFs are not copy protected (as such) although they do have my name splashed To be able to read PDF’s, that I have purchased, on a portable device means that I should be able to have more time to review and discover more information. In particular, I still haven’t read all of the presentations from Cisco Live in Barcelona last year (2009).



After hearing that OmniGraffle is underway for the iPad, I realise that sitting in meetings and doodling out a rough diagram of a solution is enormously valuable. Somehow I think that using the touch interface to draw a network diagram will change the way I react with the drawing diagrams.


I have been using OmniFocus on my iPhone but it’s not very useful. I find it mildly uncomfortable to use and expect that the larger screen of the iPad will give me a better GTD result. Of course, the automatic syncing to my desktop is also great.

Email, Web and iCal

I use my iPhone constantly for this and almost never for voice calls. I expect to almost replace the iPhone with the iPad because of the larger screen and better battery life.

And the calendaring on the iPhone is workable but tough to use.


In the UK, there are tethering plans available where £10 gets 3GB of bandwidth per month. I’m thinking that for light Internet use, this sounds about right.


I don’t expect to use the iPad for my media. The DRM for e-books isn’t finished yet and until the DRM allows me to move my books from Laptop to iPad to ‘other device’ I’m reluctant to participate. I’ll be thinking of those people with Amazon Kindle’s that can not transfer their content to another device. Spending another five hundred pounds on textbooks I already own … that would make me mad.

I’m basically expecting the iPad to replace the pen and paper that I carry to meeting to make notes and sketches which I later transfer to my desktop. This way, I get instant data entry and replication with less work plus access to my PDF library from Safari for reading, and HTML when necessary (for new books or non-core content).

So I won’t be queueing up to get an iPad, but I will order one when they show up on the store. I expect to have it handy in the same way that my paper notepad is.

  • Dan
  • Oliver Gorwits

    I totally agree, the very first thought that came to me as I saw the iPad announcement was that my Safari account, heavily used for Cisco Press titles, would be awesome on this device.

    Some have commented about the LCD screen being hard on the eyes but I actually think this a positive, with colour being common in network diagrams. I also scan and jump around Safari titles quite a lot so the horsepower and proper browser are both necessary.

    Good post, spot on.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      Thanks Oliver. Appreciate the feedback. I expect to buy an iPad but am keeping an open mind. If something changes like “not allowed to look at books in web browser because Apple says so” then I might change my mind.

  • foster2

    why worry about the kindle books? theres an app for that so that you can read your kindle books on iphone. all iphone apps will run on ipad, hence, your books will be on the ipad. its all good…

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      Not necessarily. Although the Kindle app is approved for the iPhone, there is no guarantee that it would be allowed by Apple on the iPad. In the past, Apple doesn’t allow applications that compete with it’s own business such as iTunes and Mail clients. Now the Kindle app may work in as upscaled iPhone app but various iPad testers have commented that the upscaling looks awful.

      Given that the Kindle is direct competition to the proposed iBooks, I suspect that Kindle won’t be available for the iPad at launch. It’s possible that Apple MAY allow Kindle once the marketplace is better understood but I predict that Apple will ban an iPad version of the Kindle app.