iPad How-to Lesson #1 – i Encounter i Things

Nate Beeler is a cartoonist with The Washington Examiner. The caption of one of his Toons is “iMac   iPod  iPhone  iPad  iBroke”. What does ibroke cost? In Canada, an iMac starts at $1299. iPods cost between $59 and $429. An iPhone  and an iPad both start at $549. So, entry level iBroke is about $2500.

We have a few older iPods and an iTouch, but we haven’t made the giant leap to iMac or iPad. In our household, that would be going to The Dark Side, a place we aren’t prepared to go to yet.

An iPad was a house guest this past few days (along with one daughter -The Cooker- and one granddaughter – Wild Child), so it was inevitable that I would learn a bit about it. I had no option. I couldn’t let an 8 year old grandchild think I was a computer illiterate. I was okay not knowing how to play Angry Birds but I was not okay with being unable to turn the iPad on to find Angry Birds.

My daughter, The Cooker, gave me a few quick lessons, then handed over her precious iPad. “Go play for awhile,” she said. She went off to help The Car Guy cook supper. I retired to my comfy chair to explore an alien world. After looking around for a while, and not wanting to snoop too much through personal documents, I discovered the games section. I immediately recognized my old friend, Tetris. Many years ago we bought the kids a Game Boy. Long and boring car rides were enlivened by playing Tetris!  Tetris on the iPad is pretty much the same game, though it took a while to master the tapping finger concept. My head still thinks in terms of pointing a mouse and clicking.

After a while, with supper no closer on the horizon, I moved on to an addictive game called Mr. Giggle. The graphics are cute, and I eventually mastered the very highest level that is available on the free version of the game. Then I tried a few of the Solitaire games, and called it a day. My eyes didn’t feel like playing any more…

The next day I was ready for Angry Birds. It was in the folder of children’s games. I opened it up, and was greeted by a bird in a slingshot. I pulled back the slingshot and sent the bird off into space. It slammed into a wall, slid down to the ground, and expired. I was sent back to the beginning  screen to try Bird 2. Bird 2 was also successfully launched, only to be obliterated before it could inflict any damage on the green blobs, that turned out to be pigs. Bird 3 met the same fate, and suddenly the game was over, and the screen told me I was somewhat of a Loser. Clearly I was missing something, so I hunted down The Wild Child for further instructions.

She quickly showed me the correct angle of inclination for each bird, then deftly removed all the pigs from the first playing field. Then she moved onto the second playing field, and showed me how to tap the bird in mid air to make it multiply into several projectiles. At this point, we had entered into somewhat of a competition as to who was going to launch the birds, and who was going to tap them. Then, impatient with the outcome of my launching technique, she quietly removed the iPad from my hand, and said, “Here, I’ll do it for you.” With that, I was banished from further play. I, however, have a later bed time than she does, so I will return to Angry Birds.

What is interesting about many of these games, is that there are very few instructions. It is up to the player to investigate things, chase things, touch things, and explode things, each time learning something new to help them move onto a new world. A lot like real life I guess, except the exploding things part.