Now that I have some money coming in, one of my top items to get is an ebook reader. And in my typical style, I began thinking of all the ways I’d love to use such a device to help me in my work. Unfortunately, in my typical style, no reader out there does most of what I would want to do.
I realized that what I really wanted was one of those PADDs they have on Star Trek. It can work as an independent device that you can use to read or write content. But it also seamlessly integrates with the main computer system, to retrieve and store data and to share content with others.
For example, in the episode “A Fistful of Datas,” the Enterprise computer’s directories become corrupted, such that when you try to access a file, it turns up with the wrong data. Picard tries to listen to his Mozart trio, and the computer instead plays a selection from Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. And when some crew members try to rehearse Beverley’s play, their PADDs instead show the lines from Data’s poetry. The PADDs are obviously pulling data directly from the Enterprise’s computer memory, as needed.
In other episodes, we see characters do the converse, select something on a PADD and then seamlessly shift to a computer console to complete a task. That’s the sort of thing that would be useful for me.
Use the tablet to view reference material as I write code or use programs. When I read about a command I need to enter, I highlight it on the tablet, then I switch to my laptop, pull down a menu, and seamlessly paste the command into the application.
In my computer’s browser, bookmark web pages I want to read. (For example, #FridayFlash stories.) Then read them on my tablet.
While reading a novel on the tablet, keep notes on my reading experience. Then later, on my computer, use those notes a seeds for writing a book review.
Proofread on the tablet, keeping notes of my corrections. Then on the computer, make those corrections in the original document, copying corrections and pasting them in when I need to.
None of these involve rocket science or brain surgery. I might even be able to make them work with a little creative scripting, if I can get access to the underlying data and services. I know I can on my Mac, but I don’t know whether any given tablet device will let me do it.
So for now, I’m only counting on finding a simple generic ereader, maybe with ability to keep notes. Anything else I’m able to pull out of it will simply be a bonus.