‘Rough’ Work Day, Running Lately and 5 Ways to Make Your iPad Your Main PC!


I have mentioned before that I work in the ‘corporate engineering’ organization, but most people I talk to don’t know what that really means (nor did I really ‘get it’ until I started working at Corning. In my last job there were two divisions – one for microelectronics and the other for printed circuit boards, each with their own research, development, engineering and manufacturing people. Within a division we would work on a variety of technologies and products, and often remain linked to them … well, forever. You would report to your boss but the project lead would have your time. By the time I left I had estimated that 40% of my time was allocated to ‘baggage’ responsibilities from the previous 15 years.

For Corning, without being too specific, each business has employees to do development and engineering and manufacturing, and there is a corporate engineering division that supplies ‘center of excellence’ support to every other division. This allows divisions to streamline operations and the corporate engineering groups to focus on their core skills. Operationally, it means that you almost never see your boss or the people in your department. So I have an office in downtown Corning, but have been there less than a half-dozen times this year.


‘Rough Day’ at Work

With all of that as introduction, you might understand why it matters for our department to have periodic ‘team events’. We have a monthly staff meeting and quarterly division meetings, but again those are functional and don’t help us connect as people, which greatly enhances our ability to work together effectively. So before I even joined Corning, the group started a routine of having a couple of smaller events and one larger all-day event each year.

For example, last year we had a cooking class day at the New York Wine and Culinary Center, have done wine tours, bowling, boat trips, and more.

This year for our ‘rough day’, we spent the day on a two-masted schooner and then eating at a nice lake-side restaurant.

We did a Seneca lake cruise on the ‘True Love’, which was the boat used in the film High Society when Bing Crosby serenades Grace Kelly on the boat. Because of the weather change from warm & humid to cool & dry, the lake was quite windy … making for excellent sailing! Because the boat is relatively small (capacity of 20 people, we had 14), when we were sailing with the wind the boat tipped so the rail was less than a foot off of the water! The weather was great, and the wind and waves made for a fun and active ride – it was possible to walk around and talk, but choppy enough that you wanted to sit when possible and there were a few drinks spilled. All in all a great adventure, and highly recommended if you are in the area!


We had a late lunch at the Seneca Harbor Station restaurant, which is a place we’ve been to a couple of times before. Our experience was mixed but generally, and that pretty well reflects the experience this time. Coming in on a Thursday afternoon after 2PM the place wasn’t too busy, so we were able to not be cramped at all.

There were a variety of appetizers, then main dishes. They also provided ‘fresh’ bread that was drenched a sort of butter-oil-garlic … I tried it, but not a fan. I got a Southwest Chicken Salad that had fresh salsa (black bean, red onion, tomato, corn and cilantro salsa with tortilla chips and roasted jalapenos) as well as spinach and other greens and grilled chicken. The problem I had (aside from no tortilla chops and the jalapenos not being roasted, neither of which I minded since the jalapenos were fresh and not from a jar) was that the chicken wasn’t ‘fresh’. It reminded me of getting a big bag of pre-grilled chicken breast from Sam’s Club, reheating and cutting it up. In other words, it was fresh cut, but NOT fresh cooked.

As I talked to others at the table that ‘semi-homemade’ feeling was everywhere. My review of Seneca Harbor Station would be ‘Good’ – food was pretty decent, prices for an ‘on the lake’ place were also reasonable. Service was excellent, one benefit of the place having emptied out after lunch.

But the best thing about all of it was how both events allowed everyone to chat and move around easily – I heard about projects, locations, kids and spouses and parents and so on, planned out a possible course to teach next year, and so on. Excellent day in every possible way!


I have only talked a bit about my running since returning from vacation, but a few things occurred to me as I was finishing up my run today and looking at the 9.07 mile distance … here are the bullet points:
– 10 runs since returning
– 92.5 miles total
– 9 out of 10 runs were over 9 miles
– Totally off last weekend, will run Saturday and take Sunday off
– All runs were ‘free-form’, base building … next week gets back to ‘purpose’.

I was concerned returning from vacation and hopping into running, so I ran with the Kinvara 5s for a few days them rotated back into the Virratas … and I have felt great.

Belkin Ultimate1

Five Steps to Make Your iPad Your Main Computer

I talk regularly about using my iPad as my ‘90% Computer’. I also get asked a lot about how to make the iPad useful beyond just ‘a toy’, so I thought I would quickly note a few ways to turn that tablet into your main computing device!

Realize what you CAN Do!

When the iPad first arrived, people dismissed it as an over-sized iPod Touch, and then as a simple ‘consumption’ machine. In other words, some of the obvious capabilities: email, web browsing, listening to music and watching videos. Guess what – the iPad is EXCELLENT at those things.

But very quickly the iPad killed the booming Netbook category and shook up the PC market completely … so it had to be more than just a basic consumption device.

Just by using what is built-in to the iPad and readily available for free from Apple, you get:
– Very capable email client for all common services
– Multi-tab web browsing with most modern features available.
– Calendar / Contacts / To Do
– Maps with GPS and directions
– Messaging and video chat clients
– Camera with integrated browser, separate powerful image editor and movie editor
– Video and music integration with cloud-based playback
– Music making and recording

That is quite a bit – and the hardware is powerful and incredible capable.

Make Use of iCloud, Google+ and Onedrive

One of the great things for me is the ability to quickly shift between iPhone, iPad and Mac in terms of images, music and data files.

For example, I can take a picture on my iPhone, then upload it to a post in WordPress on the iPad without ever downloading it to my device by using the Photo Stream. Using Google+ allows you to add all of the pictures you take to your Google image storage for use with a Chromebook or Android device, and Microsoft’s OneDrive has similar capabilities.

As another simple example, after our New York trip we wanted to look at pictures. We imported ones from our cameras to iPhoto, but the ones from our phones all auto-uploaded so we could just grab the iPad and browse through them all.

Apps, Apps, Apps!

My uses for the iPad?
– Productivity (including all of the stuff from above)
– Data analysis
– RSS browser
– Blogging
– Gaming
– Music making

Doing many of these things requires apps. I love jamming with Magellan Synth, recording up to 48 tracks in Auria, checking RSS feeds in Mr. Brower (uses Feedly), blogging with the WordPress app, and so on.

Whereas most of the best phone games are ‘time wasters’, on the iPad you can play a full game like Baldur’s Gate 2, or X-Com and so on. The screen size gives you the visual space as well as touch-screen space to have a great experience.

The same is true for music – you can use multi-touch to play ‘piano’, manipulate ‘knobs’ and ‘dials’ in real-time, and because of the processing power, an app like AudioBus allows you to string together multiple apps to turn your iPad into a real recording studio!

Accessorize for Success

If you look at the image above, you see I have my iPad in a keyboard case. Specifically I have the Belkin Qode Ultimate, which protects my iPad Air, doesn’t add much bulk, and provides a great Bluetooth keyboard with excellent battery life.

I also regularly use products from IK Multimedia such as the iRig Pro to hook in my guitar, and the iRig Keys Pro as a great portable keyboard.

Temper Your Expectations

Remember … this is NOT a laptop. I think this has fueled some disillusionment and a tapering of sales from all vendors. You WILL need a computer for some things, and to act as a ‘hub’, but you will also find you can use it much less.

That is how my iPad became my 90% computer. When I first got it, I had my work computer for work, but also a smartphone (Droid), netbook and LiveScribe ‘smartpen’. With the iPad the netbook and LiveScribe quickly went away – and so did my use of the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP! And many things I was doing on the Droid I could do more efficiently on the iPad.

When I was in Kentucky last year, I knew I needed my work computer (duh), but I needed some way to do my personal stuff and blogging … and didn’t want to lug two laptops. So I had to do a ‘trust fall’ and hope the iPad would work – and it DID. I was recording and editing and posting video reviews, writing, playing games, making music, emailing, Facetime-ing and so on! So for me, it has earned its place.

And finally – while it seems illogical – maybe you don’t NEED a tablet? As screens get bigger more people are able to use their smartphones for nearly everything. And I look at things and wonder – if Apple DOES release the rumored 5.5″ screen (or even the nearly-certain 4.7″), will the combination of that and my Macbook Air be enough? We shall see …

Have you sailed on a lake? What is your go-to computer / blogging device?

33 thoughts on “‘Rough’ Work Day, Running Lately and 5 Ways to Make Your iPad Your Main PC!

  1. Get out of my brain!!! I was just talking to my husband about how we needed to make the iPad our laptop. I have a gargantuan desktop at home that I use for my design work, but it’s in our office and when I’m just messing around on the Internet I would much rather be in the living room with the TV on. This just answered so many questions for me!!

    And no…never sailed on a lake. I’ve sailed on the ocean, but in general any kind or sailing or boating makes me throw up.

    • I never did much lake stuff until we moved here – always an ocean person. So getting to enjoy the lake has been fun (but will always prefer ocean).

      Glad to help on the iPad … if you have any more questions as you go along, let me know … since I geek out on this stuff I am more than heppy to help! 🙂

  2. I use an HP workstation at home with dual screens. I need more display space not less. When I write blog posts I have resources data on one screen and my WP editor on the other. No switching back and forth.
    I do very little writing on the road so the iPad isn’t something I have considered.

    • Thanks Andy – and I totally get that. Most of my gamer-friends have real hardcore systems with big monitors … and I have laptops. I think my moving to laptop-only in ’97 really set the course for nothing being viewed as stationary … whole different approach, really. 🙂

  3. That’s awesome that you guys have work days and retreats like that! Is Seneca Lake by the Watkins Glen race track? It sounds familiar…like the one my family and I always spent a day at when we came to watch nascar at the track (very much against my will but I did enjoy the lake and area the track was in). I can’t wait for the day I can finally get a new computer haha. I’m still using the dell Inspiron my parents got me for high school graduation in 2006, so hopefully an upgrade is in my future within the next year or two.

    • Exactly! That dock and restaurant are in Watkins Glen, and when Lisa and I hiked the gorge a few weeks ago we could hear the cars … I’m not a fan, personally.

      Good luck with the new computer … I don’t think iPads or tablets in general are very cost-effective in many ways – but I love mine, and it does so much.

  4. I heart my iPad. I couldn’t live without it – so portable! We have a desktop collecting dust because between our tablets and work laptops, we just don’t need it.

    I love the idea of sailor but like Salt, motion sickness might ruin the fun.

  5. Your sail day sounds amazing, its so nice to be able to connect with co-workers, I find that experiences like that prove to be SO useful when trying to work together, especially if everyone is scattered all over and you don’t get a lot of face to face interaction. I haven’t sailed on a lake, but I’d love to try it someday!

    My go to computer for work is a lenovo laptop that I love but at home, I am on my tablet almost solely. I can blog and do pretty much anything I want from my tablet, I will however jump on my laptop if I have to do something extensively just out of comfort.

    I have an iphone (its my work phone) and I’m still trying to figure out this whole icloud business, like, where do I find my pictures in there? Seriously, where do they go? The whole save things in the cloud is cool, but I am just trying to figure it all out! HA!

    • Thanks – and yeah, it was a great day.

      Totally agree on the laptop … as long as I had my PC or Mac laptop (can’t have just one, right?!?) I would always use that before the iPad … so traveling last year made me really think just how much I could do!

      If you have an iCloud account … you can go to the iCloud site and see your pictures there … there is a lot of stuff around cloud storage, but I am more and more impressed with how it is changing things all of the time!

  6. Your away days sound great. I’ve recently been on some in house training days in my job( I’m a doctor in an nhs hospital) and the best thing is getting to meet other people. I’m not very social so I find that meeting people in that kind of set up where you have tasks to discuss and a reason to talk to people helps. Free sandwiches and chicken wings are the maximum spend though! A day on a yacht sounds brilliant!

    • Thanks! Yeah, it was loads of fun – and actually not terribly expensive … but not something we do that often. The spring and fall events are much more of the ‘free sandwich and soda’ scale 🙂 Still, Corning is very generous and serious about its ‘focus on the individual’.

  7. So I inherited an iPad recently and have been wondering if I could do all these things with it so I wouldn’t rely on my old desktop so much so this is helpful. My husband is even more technology impaired than I am so we are clueless together. I didn’t even know you could put it in a keyboard case! Ahhh! I could’ve been blogging in my loungechair this whole time? Silly me!

  8. That is an awesome write up-I do use my iPad as my comp-my husband also has a tablet and a laptop that I use sometimes-but I do most of my blogging via my iPad WordPress app. I DO dislike that it doesn’t have Microsoft office or java. If it had those things I would be so happy!
    I haven’t sailed on a lake before-but I have been on a boat in the ocean and loved it!
    Thanks again for ANOTHER awesome post, Michael! Happy weekend!

  9. I really appreciated reading your comments on using your iPad, especially for blogging. I’ve never thought that an iPad would work for mine, since I make such heavy use of photo editing and having multiple applications open at once. Plus I like to end up with my backup files on my own hard drive, not all out in the cloud. However, it is certainly useful to hear a different perspective!

    • Thanks Sue – I think your posts are so loaded with great photos that it makes sense. I am at best a mediocre photographer and just use my phone 99% of the time. Therefore my pictures are already cloud-based and my editing needs are very simple. I’m not too worried about cloud storage … though I DO have a 2TB RAID drive backing everything up – and all of my pictures stream down to my home computer and then are backed up as well.

  10. I just got a microsoft surface, and I LOVE it. It is the perfect combo for me. I “need” to be able to use microsoft office, so I didn’t want to go with a straight up tablet. It doesn’t have all the apps available with android or apple tablets, but I can get those on my phone. I think a lot of people can use the tips you just gave here. I know my mom has an iPad (that she is attached to) and laptop (that she rarely uses), and everything she needs can really be done on the iPad.

    • Thanks Amy – I love a lot of things about the new Surface Pro 3 (but not enough to spend $2000 on the model I want 😉 ) – but I can get by without the ‘full’ MS Office … since they DO have ‘real’ MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint (by Microsoft) as part of Office 365. If you really live an ‘Office centric’ life … the Surface is the way to go! I have friends with mixed feelings – glad you love it!

      For me, much of the differentiation comes to music creation and games. Quite simply everyone else is at least 3 years behind Apple on the music stuff … so for me that makes anything else a non-starter for me.

  11. I would love to learn to sail! It’s been on my wish list for awhile.

    I use my iPad mini for 80% of my daily computing. Hence a lot of typos that I wouldn’t normally make on my laptop (or if I were less rushed). It is great when traveling to not have to lug a whole laptop around. And much more convenient to prop up on the treadmill to watch things on Netflix 🙂

    I’m less thrilled with how it works for Excel spreadsheets and word processing, but it’s not that big a deal to me for my current needs.

    • We didn’t get to do much actual sailing ourselves – and I can’t see sinking the money into a boat … but it was fun being out on someone else’s boat for the day! 🙂

      The LTE on my iPad makes a huge difference as well – I had it on the iPad 3 then not on the Mini, and swore I’d never go LTE-less again, even at $30 per month.

  12. I just bought an ipad and keyboard and it was one of the best decisions ‘ve made. It’s so nice and portable. Personally I still like to type blog posts on a big laptop but the ipad is super nice.

  13. I like having my ipad and keyboard as an option to use but I am still more comfortable blogging and commenting from my laptop. I do like how much smaller and portable it is, but I still struggle with formatting and using the touch screen vs a mouse when doing certain things. I probably use my laptop 75% of the time and my ipad 25%

    • Thanks Lisa! Since I tend to be ‘tech immersive’ I will just say ‘I’m doing everything on this’ and really give it a shot … something I will do with laptops and tablets and phones and so on (had to punt on the Chromebook due to a network issue) … so I end up finding workarounds as well. 🙂

  14. I have a first generation iPad, which unfortunately has become pretty much obsolete. I can’t find a bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case, the OS is outdated so many apps don’t run, and it crashes often. I was so excited about it when I got it, but I really only got about 2 good years out of it. I’d consider buying a new one, particularly for blogging, but I can’t really afford it right now, and I can’t help feeling like the same thing would probably happen with a newer one–in a couple of years it will be useless.

    • The problem with tablets is that they are more like smartphones and really depend on cycling every two years. A first gen iPad is now 4.5 years old (we still have one also). The iPad 2 we still have pretty much for my wife to bring to work for music. I have the iPad Air … after having an iPad 3 and iPad Mini. So yeah, I have an issue … 🙂

      Really a tablet is not cost-effective compared to a laptop 🙂

  15. Haha, I read this post after I read your post about the “don’t message me if” list — one bonus point on my dating list that my husband did NOT get is “tech-savvy.” That was a bonus point because I’m not tech-savvy at all, so my ideal guy would have balanced that out. But since it wasn’t a “must”, I married him anyway and now we both live in this tech fog where we don’t quite get it. It’s funny you mentioned the cloud. We were just talking about that. What’s in the cloud? Why does my phone tell me every day my cloud is full and it hasn’t backed up in 65 weeks? How do you find the cloud? Do you have to clean your cloud? How do you get something out of your cloud? What happens when it rains from your cloud? Beyond lost…

    • Oops, didn’t read the comments above before posting. Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t totally get clouds. I don’t even know if I have a cloud account!

      • Oh my! I think Lisa realized the value of the Cloud a few years back … maybe when she was working on a document on her computer, but on Google Docs and I was able to pull it up away from home; or maybe when she took a picture on her phone and I was able to access, print and deliver it to her at work without her coming home.

        It is amazing to me goinf back to my older devices and realizing just how much harder things were when everything was a program that was all locally stored.

      • Yeah, those things you mentioned, google docs, access pictures, etc. are part of why I just don’t understand the cloud. Totally and utterly lost. You may have inspired me to do a post about my worst tech faux pas of all, which involved sexting.

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