iPad impressions 2

Do you remember the thread/storyline in the Peanuts comic strip in which Linus decides to once and for all give up his baby blanket?  He gives it to Charlie Brown and tells him that under no circumstances is he to give Linus back the blanket.  

I did the same thing in college when I got my first Turbo Mouse.  (It’s a trackball mouse.) I kept habitually using the regular mouse over the Turbo Mouse.  One day I took it down the hall and gave it to my friend Lisa and instructed her NOT to give it back to me for at least a week no matter how much I begged for it.  After a week, I didn’t even WANT it back!

I think I might need to do the same thing with my Macbook Pro, though not on so dramatic a scale.  Perhaps I’ll just start leaving it at work for a few days (a week?) and see what happens.  Not that I can practically live without it on a long-term, day-to-day basis–but it’s the only way I’m going to give the iPad a proper shakedown.  I keep gravitating to my Macbook pro.  It’s pure habit.  Like a well-used, trusted baseball glove.

iPad First Impressions

I was on the fence about the iPad when it was announced.  I wasn’t sure I wanted one, but I knew I sure wasn’t going to get one on day one.  I wanted to see one first.  And I was pretty sure that if I ended up wanting one I was going to want the 3G version (which meant waiting a few weeks anyhow).

About a week after they hit the stores I still hadn’t even seen or touched one.  I happened to be in my CIO’s office talking about other stuff.  When our meeting was done I asked if he knew anyone who had one.  Long conversation short: he told me to buy one to "evaluate" for our campus.  I didn’t argue very much!

My iPad arrived 2 days ago.  It is everything you have read about, both good and bad.  Its interface is incredibly intuitive and easy to use.  If you don’t jailbreak it, you’re stuck with whatever Big Brother Jobs says you can load onto it.

So how am I going to use this thing?  I’m still trying to figure that out.  For an Administrator–someone who is in meetings a lot–this thing will be very popular.  Put it in a simple, leather case like the one I bought and in a small, light form factor you have everything the average executive needs.  But I’m not an administrator and I don’t attend many meetings.

Me at work: the iPad will be useful to me as I am out and about on campus fixing things.  I can use it to make "live" updates to our tracking system (instead of forgetting to do so when I get back to my office which is what frequently happens now).  It will also be useful in maintaining my inventory database, which process currently involves a clipboard.  And, of course, the inevitable PR duties of an early adopter: showing the thing off to people so they can contemplate it’s place in their pedagogical and/or recreational existence.

Me at home: 90% of that for which I use a computer at home can be classified as "consumption".  I’m on the web, or I’m reading e-mail.  Or watching videos.  It’s seems ridiculous to say so, but when you’re all stretched out on a La-Z-Boy, a laptop is unwieldy for these purposes!  The iPad is perfect for Casual Consumption of information. 
I bought a case for my iPad.  (Marware’s Eco-Vue) Unlike my iPhone, I can’t slide this thing into my pocket when I’m carrying it around.  The case is nice for some kinds of use.  It doubles as a stand for typing and for viewing.  But I’ve found that it’s a bit clumsy once you’ve gotten comfy and want to, er, "consume".

I have scads of apps for my iPhone. I was initially disappointed at how many of them have not been ports to the iPad. But the more I thought about it, I realized that most of them have no place on the iPad. They make sense on the iPhone, but not so much on the iPad. This applies especially to those apps that were designed as replacements for web-based functionality that would be clunky on an iPhone despite it’s full browsers capabilities.

It will take me some time to properly integrate this device into my workflow.  I plan on trying to get through a day or two using ONLY the iPad just to see how feasible it is.  That said, my initial impression is that the iPad can’t be any IT professional’s ONLY computing device.

Lastly I need to comment on the "keyboard".  I typed this entire post using the landscape mode keyboard on the iPad.  I know there are pepos who can’t stand the thought of typing and not feeling a button get pressed with every keystroke.  I apparently am not one of them.  It took a few minutes to get used to, but when "special" characters aren’t involved, i do not exaggerate when I say that I can type just as fast on the iPad as i can with a "real" keyboard.

That’s all for now.  Real work beckons! 

How Do You Furlough A Salaried Employee?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last week, you know that Governor Paterson attached a mandatory furlough for all Executive Branch employees to the latest emergency spending bill, which furlough would mean that all affected employees would work 20% less and get 20% less pay.

Everyone is talking about it, and there are all kinds of questions being asked.  Many are up in arms, pursuing various strategies to prevent the furloughs from happening based on the notion that such a tactic is illegal.  I suspect they are probably right.

But MY biggest question is more philosophical and abstract:  How, exactly, do you "furlough" a SALARIED employee?  If you are paid by the hour, this is a no-brainer.  You don’t work, you don’t get paid.  This happens all the time in, for example, manufacturing jobs.  If you work on an assembly line and the line is down for mechanical reasons or the shipment of raw materials is late and there are no widgets to be made that day, the workers are called and told not to come in.  If there’s no work, there’s no need for workers.  Plain and simple.  Over-simplified: Workers paid an hourly wage are paid for their time.

But as I have always understood it, salaried workers are paid for their JOB.  Every hiring is a negotiation in which the employer discloses the nature of the position and the prospective employee and the employer agree upon an annual salary which will compensate the employee for performing those duties.  It is, in essence, an annual fee split up over (in my case) 26 pay periods per year.  

Being paid to do a job is different than being paid for your time.  If this week "getting it done" requires 50 hours, I will work 50 hours, including long days and weekends if necessary.  If next week is a slow week in my work cycle, maybe I’ll only be here for 35.  That’s how it works.  But some of the answers to frequently-asked questions about this impending furlough are leaving me slack-jawed in utter disbelief.  Based on what I have heard, we will be told that we MUST take this time off (amounting to one full day a week).  The reason?  Workman’s Compensation does not cover someone who is in the workplace but not getting paid to be there.  So what happens to an employee who decides to work on a Saturday to get caught up and has an accident?  Are they not covered either?  That runs counter to everything I’ve ever been told about working as a salaried employee.  I understand that "40 hours" is the work week norm, but what if I was staring down the barrel of a 60-hour week?  Let’s say I KNEW I was going to have to work 60 hours next week to make a deadline.  80% of 60 hours is 48 hours.  If I’m being furloughed 20%, does that mean I should only work 48 hours next week?

I don’t have to account for my time unless I’m declaring vacation or sick time.  How the hell are they going to "account" for a salaried employee’s time in an average week and tell them to not work 20% of it?  They CAN’T!  It’s ludicrous on the face of it and defies all logic and common sense.  

OK…I need to stop thinking about this or I’ll get a headache.  Though I reserve the right to craft an "…and another thing!" entry.  Possibly several.