Ambidextrous 325- Hello New World (The Before)

Okay, so my wife completely set me up, cleverly manipulating me into a situation where I had no choice but to abandon all previous master plans and pick up an Apple iPad now rather than later. And trust me, I know exactly how that sounds, but stay with me for a few minutes….this is how it all went down…

Since Apple dropped the iPad onto a long suspecting world, I’ve figured that eventually I’ll be picking one up, chiefly because of its potential to dramatically effect the comics’ industry, which I naturally have a vested interest in. And if this is where we’re all heading eventually, it makes little sense (to me, anyway) to sit idly on the sidelines and let everyone else dictate the terms of this new, exciting conversation. The potential audience’s initial response to the increasing proliferation of digital comics will effectively set the tone for the next several years, and I want to play a major role in confirming with a resounding tone that the possibilities here are endless. That the current market for comic books have effectively reached their ceiling, and that it’s highly unlikely the audience will expand with an exclusive focus on direct market retailers selling four dollar books.

But if we embrace this new emerging marketplace, the potential for success and an even higher level of mainstream outreach is enormous. The most critical barrier to the modern industry is access, the second is cost, and the iPad (and whatever else people come up with) can slowly begin chipping away at both of those obstacles. I don’t think it’s wishful thinking or naiveté to imagine these new digital marketplaces becoming the “new newsstands.” I think we’re probably five years away from seeing an installed base of devices that are actively and effectively competing with traditional brick and mortar establishments, but for the time being, a campaign of peaceful co-existence should be fostered by anyone that wants comic books to exist in anything close to their current form going forward. Because burying our heads in the sand and hoping it all goes away is the perfect recipe for disaster. You gotta ask yourself, and be honest—do you want to still be reading comics in 2020? It’s a pretty simple question.

And my poor wife knows how I feel about all of this, because I have a problem not talking, especially about things that matter to me, and so while listening to some rant of mine (no telling which one), she’s instinctively developing some clever little plan to get me an iPad when I’m not looking. Combine this with a laptop on its last legs, and a class I’ll be taking until October, for which I’ll need a reliable laptop, and her intention becomes even clearer. I don’t use my computer for anything more than internet and basic word processing anyway, so it’s conceivable that an iPad can replace the laptop, and offer me a front row seat to the future in the same breath.

She started small of course, some obvious questioning about exactly which model of the iPad I was focused on, but I quickly figured out what she was doing, and smoothly deflected the question, repeating again that it’s not a major priority right now, and by the time it is, Apple will have likely revamped the entire line (and their price points) anyway. Crisis cleverly averted, right? For the moment perhaps, but here’s where it all gets really interesting, and I’m again reminded that marrying her was an unlikely stroke of genius on my part.

Few days later, she suggests a quick Best Buy trip, to get a better feel for what’s actually out there in the laptop/netbook market. Netbooks were quickly ruled out, because while the prices were definitely right, the size (or lack thereof) of the keyboards would’ve made the actual act of writing a challenge. The laptops also were a mixed bag, either hampered by high prices or crap batteries, though there was this pretty nice HP on promo we spent a lot of time looking at. Problem is though, that it was a PC, and I haven’t owned a PC in almost ten years. It’d be safe to say that I’ll be a Mac Man for a long, long time, so even though the deal was good, and it probably was a fine machine…it still wasn’t no Mac.

So while I’m trying to get my head around it, we migrate over to the Mac area of the store, which naturally has iPads set up and looking all perfect. After about a minute, I realized a couple important things—one, there was no way in hell that I could return to that HP with anything but visible scorn and derision. Two, that I’d fallen right into my wife’s plot, who cleverly turned my resistance to PC products against me…yet for me. With the iPad priced only slightly higher than the HP I was looking at, and again, looking all perfect, the choice became clear, and we started picking out accessories. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have any iPads in stock, and had no idea when they’d be getting them in again. She went home nursing a cute little pout at being denied victory.

The very next day is the first day of the aforementioned class, and a little more research on Best Buy’s site offers an important bit of information—it seems that the Apple shipments usually arrive around two in the afternoon, so that’s the time to start watching the in-store stock counts online and making frantic phone calls. Of course, I’ll be in class that time of the day, and completely unable to run around the city in search of new fancy gadgets. And my wife will be equally indisposed working from home. But seriously though, what are the chances they would actually get some in anyway? From all indications, most stores haven’t gotten any units for weeks, so why even bother checking, right?

Class starts at one with a small presentation by the school’s founder, and then we head to our actual classroom a little after two. Soon as I get the old iBook onto the wi-fi network, I decide to waste twenty seconds of my life checking Best Buy for no reason, and surprise surprise, there are now two locations that just got some iPads in stock, probably in the last hour. Snap open gchat as quick as my fingers allow and start typing to my wife what I’ve learned, and imagining any likely scenario where they still have one by the time my class breaks at five. I’m greeted with silence…more silence…more silence than that…and then she finally replies, “I’m on the phone with them already, what’s your credit card number?”

Initially, I’m confused, which happens a lot with us. I check my phone, whose ringer was silenced for class, and see that she left me a text saying that she’d found some in stock, and was calling to confirm. This message was sent about ten minutes before I even had the chance to get online and feel that small twinge of excitement. As usual, she’s well ahead of me, and I can only think one thing, a variation of the mental response I often have when she does something even more amazing and considerate than the last thing she just did—Holy shit, this girl is BAD.

I get her what she’s asking for through a combination of gchat and text messaging, as it seems dangerous to send that kind of information unaltered over the net, obviously. She relays it to the Best Buy folks, and they run a transaction over the phone for the iPad and the essential keyboard dock. So by the middle of class, I’ve officially purchased an iPad, with the help of my ever amazing wife, and an assist by Google, Samsung, and a kind Best Buy employee…all according to plan.

Took a different train back, and met my wife at the Best Buy, picked up my new toy, and I barely put the thing down the entire first weekend. This week’s earlier posting told the rest of the story, but with our anniversary coming up, and this marking my 325th column, I wanted to do something special….

B

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