A couple of weeks ago I bought myself an iPad Mini. It was $100 less on Walmart because it had iOS 9 on it rather than the current iOS 11. Anyone who knows anything about Apple knows it doesn’t matter what iOS is on it.

The moment you turn it on, it will instantly update to the new iOS — even if you would prefer it not do that.

I bought it. Less than $300 with 128 GB innards. Nice cream color. Brand new and their 4-year support was only $40 instead of the $69 Apple charges. Moreover, it’s local. Our nearest Apple outlet is a long drive from here and has been one of the reasons I’ve been loathe to get involved with Apple.

But it turns out, getting customer service is hopeless anyway. Whether it’s local or in some foreign country, service will be awful. Given the awfulness, you might as well pay less.

So now I have this iPad Mini which I got the next day. Cute little thing. We were on our way to visit Tom and Ellen, so instead of unpacking it, I stowed it in my computer bag and took it with me. Tom set it up in a few minutes and voilà. A functional iPad Mini 4.

I looked at it. “So what’s next?”

The cover (yes, purple)

I have no idea what to do with it. I read and listen to Audiobooks on my Kindle. So what do I do with this? My theory had been that I wanted something small and light that would get me into my email and let me correct typos on my blog without hauling 9 pounds of Dell wherever I go. I love my computer, but it weighs like two cinder blocks.

Tom has an iPad (regular size) and he uses it for almost everything. Almost. He also has a keyboard that also works as a case and a stand.

“Should I get the ridiculously expensive Apple keypad for this?” I ask him.

“God no,” he says. I look at his. It was a Logitech. No problem. I’m good with Logitech.

I go home and look it up on Amazon. Instead of $159, it’s $69.95. Except if I don’t mind getting it in purple, it’s $42.50. Purple is good. Goes well with the lovely cream. I order it. This is my “less than $300 solution to the $2000 problem.” What I really need is a lightweight but powerful computer, but that’s big money and we have home repairs lurking.

Maybe more dark violet than purple

It arrived today. In a nicely padded envelope. I open it. Take out the box. Eventually figure out how to open the box (I hate packaging) and remove the item. I’ve read a lot of angry reviews on how easily it breaks. I look at it. Yeah, I can see if you mistreat it, it would break. But in my entire life, I’ve never broken a computer or a cell phone. I take care of my equipment. If it breaks, it’s something internal, not because I dropped it or stepped on it or abused it.

I did notice a couple of people who suggested if everyone would treat their equipment gently, it would last longer. My sentiments exactly.

On the back of the box, it tells me what’s inside — including documentation, the keyboard case and a charging cord.

“Documentation” with REALLY SHORT cord

The documentation is missing the one thing that means documentation to me. No words. It’s a piece of cardboard with small, incomprehensible pictures. Which I follow until I get to a point where all I can say is “WHAT????” I know they want me to do something, but I have no idea what.

Documentation and the cord. Could they have made it any shorter?

I have no idea how to get it to pair with the iPad. It’s a Bluetooth device and I’ve got other Bluetooth stuff. It’s usually pretty easy, but I’m baffled because nothing is happening.

Finally, I say “Screw it.” I open my computer and look for installation instructions for the keyboard. Online. At

Logitech says:


Before you connect your iPad mini to the Focus keyboard case, make sure it’s inserted correctly into the case:

1 – Place your iPad mini so the camera lines up with the camera lens cutout on the Focus case.
2 – Snap the corners of the iPad into the holder to secure it.

To connect for the first time

1 – The Focus case doesn’t have an On/Off switch. To turn on your keyboard case, open it and rest the iPad mini on the strip directly above the keyboard. The status indicator on the top right of the keyboard will glow green.
2 – On first connection, your keyboard enters Bluetooth discovery mode and the status indicator will blink blue rapidly.
3 – Go to the Bluetooth settings on your iPad and select Focus Keyboard Case in the Devices list.
4 – If your iPad mini requests a PIN, enter it using the keyboard (not on your iPad mini).

Once the connection is made, the status indicator will turn solid blue. Your keyboard is ready to use.

There were no illustrations. They didn’t need any.

There were other instructions in case you want to connect the same device to a different iPad, but I only have one. It took me about 3 seconds to connect it once I had WORDS as instructions. Two paragraphs of WORDS.

No tiny pictures. One picture in the original “document” which had words in it, but no amount of squinting and changing angles enabled me to read those teeny tiny 4 point letters.

Now I have a lovely purple keyboard case that types. It’s a bit small, but so is the iPad. If I can figure out what to do with the iPad, that will make me happier.

I could use it to play games, but I can play games on my Kindle and my computer. I could watch Netflix, but … why? This is basically the problem I have always had with iPads — not having any idea why I need one and what it can do for me that isn’t already being done by something else.

Tom says I need to mess around with it and find cool stuff for it to do. Okay. I’ll do that. Whatever cool stuff is. It is possible I’m not really cool enough for devices.

Categories: #Photography, Art and special effects, Computers

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38 replies

  1. I have an ASUS tablet. It runs Windows 8. I like it. It is my travel companion when I leave home. I use it like a laptop. It has a removable keyboard. Lighter than most laptops so better for me for travel. Mini anything and big laptops are not for me. I also drive a midsize car. mmmmm?


  2. I have an iPad mini and I think it’s an iOS 9 too. I wanted to download an app for drawing and unfortunately the the “9” wouldn’t support it. (and I’m not replacing it just for that)


  3. I have a 10 year old iPad. I got it so I didn’t have to carry my very large (and beloved MacBook pro w/17 inch screen RIP) around. I dreamed of using the iPad as a computer. It is not a computer, but it’s a great semi-computer. My 10 year old iPad does great at everything and now that more people are using them, it is more versatile than it was when I got it. I got the Apple keyboard for it and it was nice (I still have it) but then I got a Logitech that also had a protective cover for the iPad that was handier BUT I ended up not using it. I found typing ON the iPad was not as egregious as I thought it would be. I don’t use my iPad much, just when I don’t want to have my laptop with me and I need a computer.

    To play SimCity without paying money is challenging, but it’s very cheap through the Apple App app. I think I paid $15. It has occasionally been cheaper on Amazon.

    If you manage to get used to Apple you might like them. It’s hard for a diehard PC user to accept things like simplicity and reliability 😉 I used both platforms throughout my teaching career — PCs at school, my Macs at home. I ended up feeling that the main difference at the user level is negligible (thanks Windows) but from the perspective of computer snobs the PC is “better” because it was more prone to breaking down (ha ha — my office mate was always borrowing my Mac). They are both just tools and familiarity is the criterion for “better.”


    • These days, everything breaks down. Nothing lasts like it did and I’m sure it’s no accident. You can’t sell more stuff if the old stuff keeps working.

      My real worry is that the hard drive on the new machine is too small (it’s the biggest one they had) … and whether or not I can find a photo processing app that works for me and will run on a Mac. I won’t be able to use Photoshop — my disk is old and they aren’t going to replace with a Mac version. I will miss it. I will HAVE to keep my pictures separately on external disks. Really, I should be doing that anyway. It’s just laziness keeping me from doing it right. There are far too many of them to live in the computer.

      I used Macs for a LONG time. Almost twenty years, including 10 years during which I used both at home AND at work. I always liked the organization of the PC, but the Mac is better for some stuff — or was. I think they are pretty much co-equal these days. The Apple has become more PC-ish and the PC more Mac-ish.

      It’s the weight of the PC that finished me — and the awful Dell customer service. There was a brief period when they seemed to be trying to improve, but it’s worse than ever now — and WAY more money than I could afford.

      I don’t quite know how this will work out yet. Honestly, I’m winging it. I know I can’t continue to haul 10 lbs of PC anywhere. It’s only a laptop in theory. Really, it’s a slightly mobile desktop.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Browse the App app, I guess. I did that but realized I wasn’t really into my photos enough to want to invest in photo editing software. When I want to make a Lamont and Dude picture I just use Keynote. It’s primitive (not really a photo editing program) but so are Lamont and Dude.


        • I have a feeling the PC is going to remain the primary machine for photo-processing. Much bigger drives (two of them) and a much better video card than I could get in any of the Macs. If you want to do REAL video-editing on a Mac, you need a desktop and then, you can edit ANYTHING. That’s what they use in the real newsrooms of the world — all the TV stations use Macs in the editing rooms. But they aren’t the kind of Mac we have. They are big, hulking heavy-duty machines intended to do a JOB.

          For video editing? There is no better machine than a full-size desktop Macintosh.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I have an artist friend who makes films — she has a huge ass Mac. I’ve used iMovie once in a while, but it’s set up for making family vacation films more than the Werner Herzog parodies I like to make.


            • iMovie is a pretty good little package, though. It used to come on all PCs, but then it went away and went all Mac. I used to make little 10 minute videos of my granddaughter when she was little. I wonder where all those DVDs went?

              Liked by 1 person

      • And you’re right. For one thing, Macs now want you to put everything into a folder which I find annoying. I’ll use a folder when I’m ready, thank you very fucking much. 😀


        • That’s what a meant when I said Macs were getting more PC-ish. They actually tell you this on this website. The old “just put it wherever” has been failing as the drives get bigger, so they’ve built in a PC-like structure. Soon, it will all be the same except I sincerely hope SOMEONE will provide decent customer service.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m not responding positively to the authoritarian PC-ish protocol. 😀 I think they did it to sell to PC users, who, in my experience, are very nervous about getting things “right.”

            They want you to use their “Cloud” and after a certain point they want you to pay for it. I don’t use it because I don’t like it. You might get annoying messages about signing into the cloud. I would rather use external storage of my own that doesn’t require signing into anything. I also don’t use much storage — I don’t have a lot of photos and I’m not a gamer.

            Over the years, Apple has given me exceptional customer service. I’ve contacted them several times, most recently to troubleshoot problems with browsers on my other MacBook Pro (8 years old and going strong) and to set up my old iPhone for my son-like-person.

            The credit card you got (I’m assuming it’s a Barclay card/Apple deal) — it’s a good deal with a catch. If you pay off the computer and then don’t use the card, they will threaten to take it away.


          • Why do PC users continue to forget that the “Windows” OS is basically a poorly constructed imitation of the Macintosh GUI (Graphic User Interface) system. Microsoft was forced to jump on that bandwagon when they saw the interest in a graphic way of navigating, instead of having to learn code (DOS). This system made computer use far more accessible to the masses and Bill Gates realized it so he stole it so to speak. If anything is becoming like anything else, PCs are becoming more Mac-ish. I have old Macs and new ones and essentially the way the OS works is the same as it always has been.., just a few new things added to keep abreast of a modern world. Some of my old Macs actually work faster/better. Less crap to them, but essentially the same.

            Actually, the GUI was originally an IBM experiment which they didn’t put much value in so they allowed Apple to use it and develop it for their own use. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak took it from there to give birth to the Macintosh. They also had to wrestle with MacIntosh Labs, the HiFi audio gear manufacturers, for the use of the word “Macintosh.” Apple farmers didn’t seem to mind much though. Incidentally, there was also the brief existence of a company, back in the early ’80s, that marketed a Macintosh clone known as “The Orange.” I got a big laugh out of that. ….. AND you can still “just put it wherever.” It has nothing to do with the size of the drives.


            • I am not forgetting anything. I’m just dealing with my reality which is that I needed something light to carry around and my big PC wasn’t going to be “it.” I really don’t care who invented what. I never did. The PC and Mac buffs can argue it till the end of time and they can sue each other in court till the end of the world. Meanwhile, I simply know my PC is going to be the workhorse for me. It has a MUCH better graphics card in it and much more storage– a TB and a half of drives, 16 GB RAM and 8 GB vRam. The Mac simply doesn’t have the power to do the same stuff. You can GET Macs that will do anything graphic you want, but not in 2 lb. Macbook Air. The machines in the newsrooms around the world, now THEY can do anything. But they aren’t 2 lb. laptops, either.


    • I have three iPads. The first, and oldest, still works fine but will not take any more iOS updates. I use it to watch stuff on Netflix which it seems to do just fine and will even accept some of the updates on these streaming apps. The second is a more recent iPad that I use when I travel and to store photos I want to show folks while in route. Being an audio nerd of sorts I was wanting to set up a music server and dump a bunch of my favorite tracks onto it. I already had a Mac Mini and a DAC lying around so all I needed was a way to access tunes remotely. Enter the cheapest iPad Mini made used as a controller.

      When the iPad first emerged I couldn’t see a use for it. One of the high ranking computer IT nerds at work had one, which he carried around, and claimed was terrific. He never explained why and, still, I couldn’t see it. It’s still true to this day iPad was not the answer I was looking for. I especially like your label of “semi computer.” So, why do I have one.., or in my case.., three? I haven’t the slightest. However, a couple of times now when I’m at the dealership having my car serviced, I have toted along my iPad to pass the time by watching stuff on Netflix.

      I think the best saying that sums it up for Apple is; “If you build it they will come”

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it may be an answer for Garry who doesn’t do the complicated stuff that we do. I’m not much of a gamer and generally, I’m more a listener than a watcher, and for that, i use my Kindle. It’s a better reader and with a little Bluetooth speaker, a great place for listening. I don’t read on the computer and while i have a couple of games, I’ve never actually PLAYED them.

        So I have the mini iPad whose function i think will be to let me watch Netflix in motel rooms, should I ever BE in a motel room. Otherwise, I don’t write on it and I certainly can’t imagine using it to manage photographs. It’s kind of cute, but I think my working requirements are way out of its league.


        • I don’t manage photos on my iPad, it’s just not good for that. I do store a few I like after editing just, as I said, to show them to my friends and relatives. It’s way more convenient than the accordion wallet “fold-out” snapshot thing of old.., AND you can bore folks to death with thousands of ’em.

          Never underestimate your chances of being in a motel room.., just always carry your iPad and you will, as they say in the Scouts, “always be prepared.” That is, either to help old people cross busy streets…, or watch Netflix. But wait.., we ARE old people. Netflix it is then!


      • I use my iPad similarly, but I haven’t watched Netfix on it yet. I should do something in the next week or two since I’m going to use it at the hospital.


        • Probably at least figure out how to make it do what you want. I tend to be very lethargic about that, too. If everything is working, I see no reason to mess with it. I’m a very lazy computer user.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Since the trend toward pictographs has become standard, all I can think about why they don’t include WORDS to help one navigate some new piece of stuff is that a) nobody they (the manufacturers) think will buy it can read that well, and big words, like ‘strip’ ‘keyboard’, ‘bluetooth’ will only confuse the issue; or b) (and no disrespect intended to any foreign born individuals) the person doing the instruction sheet doesn’t speak English as a first language and therefore writing an instruction sheet is fraught with stress. Um. I got my first tablet (I’m an Android gal, will continue to be. Feh to Apple or Mac ), promptly misplaced it and bought a second because those things are so cheap. I didn’t know what to do with them either, but now? Besides reading a LOT of books on there, I can check my email, Facebook or even come here (WordPress) and my hands don’t think I’m punishing them. The laptop I have is lightweight, but nothing compared to the tablets. I’ve even written a draft of a blog on mine, using my email in place of Word (which is so expensive) and which I don’t want on my tablet(s) anyway. And I have three standard games (had four, got rid of one of them. Turned out to be spendy) that I play on the tablets. Warning. Those little things can become quite addictive.


    • At the moment, I’m trying to dope out how to really play Simcity without spending money. It isn’t working well and if it continues like this, I’ll pass. Mostly, though, it doesn’t do anything I can’t do on some other more familiar implement so I suspect I won’t get used to it until I have to. That’s so very “me.”

      They could include a sheet for each country they service, or one that has three pages — French, English, Chinese/Japanese or some other language where they sell a lot of them. They could at least include a LINK that tells you where to go when the pictographs fail. That wouldn’t kill anyone, would it? It’s just 10 lines of text. This isn’t a major book-length manual.


  5. Pictogram instruction sheets have been the rage for a while now so that merchandise can be shipped all over the world without having to provide an instruction booklet that’s translated into 800 different languages. I guess they didn’t realize that not many people are fluent in poorly drawn images…


  6. Be careful what generation iPad you buy. Some of the older ones have a limit on what iOS it will accept. And it will only update automatically if you allow it to. Watch which thing you touch when preferences come up.., the wording can sometimes be confusing. I know, I have three of them and an iPhone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Garry’s getting the most recent one, direct from Apple, or what they call The New iPad. Not a pro. Just the newest iPad. Which should be find. All Garry really needs is email and the ability to write in Serendipity (which is a cloud anyway, so it doesn’t require anything from the iPad itself). He should be find with a keypad and 128 GB of iPad.

      As for confusing, I really HATE setting up an iPad. I’ve done it, but I hated it. It should be easier this time because I already have an Apple ID, but I need this to be Garry’s, not mine. I intend to use their set up people as much as they will let me!


  7. I have had iPads for many years. They are just supplementary to my computer. I am writing this comment on my iPad hugging the bed in the early morning. I have many useful apps including a few WordPress links, Facebook and my Kindle is also attached. I can read my books on my iPad but prefer the original Kindle. It is useful when I want to read something Mr. Swiss has on his Kindle, as I can read it on his iPad without having to pay for my own download. I have never had problems with installing a new iPad. I even installed a Samsung pad for my son. I just avoid inserting codes as I do not need them. Sometimes you can have too much security. The nice thing about iPad is that I can use it as a sideline when doing something else. It is handy and quick, but I have never needed a keyboard attachment.


    • Well, I think for Garry is will be just fine. He doesn’t process photos. I do that. He writes emails and he writes on Serendipity, but that’s cloud stuff, so he doesn’t need to worry about having a big microsoft package. If he decided to really write a book, we’ll deal with that at the time. First, he has to show some sign of intending to really write it. I had trouble with old iPads. I’m hoping the new one is easier.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. How hard would it have been to include a piece of paper that gave those instructions :-s


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