Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in ipad (16)


Comic: The Explanation

Thanks to Paul Carroll (Twitter: @writeranonymous) for the caption!


Comic: Print vs Digital


An iPad made of trees

Thanks to Goodreads for tweeting the comic I did with Paul Carroll today!


Love print books but now packing for trips is easier. Used to spend hours choosing which books to take! 

Have a great weekend, all! I'm off to OVFF. Here's my explanation of this "filk" thing I mention sometimes, in case you're curious.


Review: GroovBoard - Lap writing desk and stand for the iPad

Grooveboard 01

I had never heard of the Groovboard until Thomas Borowski approached me via Twitter about reviewing his company's product. I generally don't do product reviews anymore but when I checked out the GroovBoard website, I was so intrigued that I asked Thomas a few questions and then said I'd be happy to check one out.

The GroovBoard functions as an lap desk and an iPad stand, with grooves for inserting your iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard (in flat mode, I found I didn't really need the keyboard groove; see above photo) as well as built-in holders for a stylus. 

One of my first questions to Thomas: "How heavy is it?" The answer: Depending on the type of wood, a Groovboard can weigh between 1.7 to 2.6 lbs (800-1200 grams). I asked for the lightest type, so Thomas sent me the American walnut model:

Groovboard walnut flat back large

My GroovBoard arrived from Germany in good condition, and I immediately tried it out to see what the weight was like:

Grooveboard blanket

(Above: I'm wearing the cool Autodesk Sketchbook t-shirt I got at Febtor)

Good news: I don't notice the weight at all. It's sturdy enough that I don't feel as if my iPad is going to tip it over, but it's not so heavy that the weight is uncomfortable.  It's a bit too bulky for me to want to travel with it, but it's perfect for couch writing. According to the website, there is also a GroovBoard cushion available.

The GroovBoard also separates into two pieces in case you want to use it as an iPad stand/prop for watching movies or typing with or without the keyboard:

Groovboard 02movie

If you want to use it this way with a keyboard, just hang the keyboard from the upper groove:

Groovboardin use upright keyboard 2 grande

That photo is from the GroovBoard site, by the way -- I don't wear nail polish. :-)


I've been using the GroovBoard for several weeks now, and I love it. So does my husband -- he plans to order one for himself. I keep my GroovBoard in the living room beside the couch. Some might also use it to do writing or watching movies in bed.

The model I reviewed (GroovBoard Walnut) costs $129 fro non-EU customers, plus shipping.

Where to find out more:

Website: http://groovboard.co

Twitter: https://twitter.com/groovboard

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Groovboard


Trying out Animation Desk app for the iPad: potential book trailer use?

I've had the Animation Desk app on my iPad ($4.99 in iTunes store right now) for ages but only finally got around to trying it out recently. I created the animation above in about an hour, and that included figuring out how to use the app. I have zero animation experience but still had a lot of fun. Next time, I may try adding some audio. :-)


Comic: The Digital Revolution

OHI0195 iPadMadeOfTrees 600sm

A few days ago, I posted a caption challenge on my Facebook wall. Lots of great suggestions, and I ended picking Paul Carroll's caption. :-)


Inspiration, Art and a 12-Course Susur Lee Dinner at the Autodesk SketchBook Toronto Event

Badge pick up at Autodesk

I have been a fan of the iPad since it first came out, and my favorite art app is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (I've just started to learn the desktop version). A while ago, I posted a sketch that I did with the app on my iPad while waiting in an airport. I had noticed a little boy with his family nearby, and he noticed me sketching. Curious, he came over to look. I did a quick sketch of him, and he was delighted.


I posted about the experience, pointing out how cool it was that a quickie little sketch could bridge the communication gap between different cultures. Chris Cheung, the SketchBook product manager at Autodesk, e-mailed me about the post; we kept in sporadic touch after that. Eventually we met in person, hit it off (we're both nerds and love SketchBook -- how could we not? :-)) and he invited me to speak at SketchBook's first dedicated Toronto event.

The theme: "Inspiration."

Nick Pagee from TIFF

Above: Nick Pagee, TIFF Consultant: Gaming & New Media

I HAD AN AMAZING TIME. First of all, the other speakers were fantastic. They included Skottie Young, Bobby Chiu, Nick Pagee, Miguel Sternberg, C.B. Cebulski, Francis Manapul and Benjamin Rabe, among others. You can read their bios on the the SketchBook blog.

Susur Lee talks about inspiration

One surprise guest (above): renowned Toronto chef Susur Lee, who talked about inspiration and food. After Susur's talk, he went back to his restaurant to prepare a 12 course meal for all of us (!).

C.B. Cebulski (Marvel)

Above: C.B. Cebulski from Marvel.

The event was invite-only, and apparently even the waiting list filled up quickly. The speakers could invite a few people, so I sent invites to my sister (a children's book writer and illustrator) and Patricia Storms (cartoonist and children's book writer/illustrator). Sadly, Ruth couldn't come and I knew Chris Cheung was interested in the NCS, so I asked Patricia if any of the other National Cartoonists Society members would be interested.

Jonathan Mahood, Mike Cope, Patricia Storms and Kate

Above: my guests - Jonathan Mahood, Mike Cope (Chairman of the Canadian Chapter of the NCS), Patricia Storms and Katie Shanahan. Thanks to Jonathan for the photo of me during my talk.

Giving a talk at the Mar/2012 Autodesk SketchBook event

It was especially great to have Patricia in the audience since we were already friends through Torkidlit (Toronto Area Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group) because whenever I got too nervous, I just focused on her smiling "YOU CAN DO IT!!" face. :-)

From the feedback I received afterward, I think my talk went pretty well. Chris had asked me to describe my unusual career path from being a computer programmer to a children's book illustrator with Simon & Schuster.

Several of the people that approached me afterward said that they were programmers with creative streaks similar to mine, and that my story was inspiring (yay!!). Some said they enjoyed hearing about my process while others seemed drawn by the personal narrative. A lot of people mentioned my enthusiasm. :-)

And quite a few of them said they planned to buy I'M BORED when it comes out this September (YAAAAAY!).

Tina Burke & Patricia Storms

Above: Patricia Storms and Tina Burke.

Autodesk staff & Brendan Frye peruse my I'M BORED f&g

(Above: Autodesk staff peruse my I'M BORED f&gs. On the right: Brendan Frye of Comics & Gaming Magazine.)

The Autodesk offices are gorgeous. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take one of the tours, but I loved what I saw. When I arrived, I was asked if I'd be willing to be interviewed by the media. I said yes, of course. :-)

I ended up missing some of the talks as a result, but I had fun chatting with Mark Askwith (Space Channel), Joanna Adams (Toronto Standard) and Brendan Frye (Comics & Gaming Magazine). Found out that Brendan is a fellow board gamer (on BoardGameGeek, he's bfrye26).

Bobby Chiu & Kei Acedera
Above: Bobby Chiu & Kei Acedera from Imaginism Studios

There were plenty of opportunities throughout the afternoon for chatting with other attendees. Plus Marvel's senior VP, C.B. Cebulski, was available for one-on-one meetings throughout the day (he's always scouting for talent).

Two people I especially enjoyed meeting were concept artists Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera. Bobby and Kei are co-owners of Imaginism Studios (Kei is also a children's book illustrator). They've done work for Disney, Warner Bros., Dreamworks, Sony, Universal Studios, among others. Bobby designed creatures for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland! He also teaches on Schoolism.com.

Plus both Bobby and Kei are INCREDIBLY NICE PEOPLE. Very positive, enthusiastic and supportive. I hope our paths cross again.

Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera

So many giveaways and freebies handed out throughout the day! Prizes ranged from graphic novels to artwork to a Intuos drawing tablet, Wacom Inkling, soooo much other cool stuff. Everyone who attended received a Silver Snail gift certificate, a bunch of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro tshirts, a copy of THE PERFECT BAIT by Bobby Chiu (tips for artists about finding your own style and creating demand), and (yes) more cool stuff.

Prize giveaway

(Above: Chris Cheung does a giveaway with Francis Manapul (DC comic artist)).

Epson had an area where you could test out some of their artist quality printers by e-mailing them a file or ask any questions. In another area, you try drawing on Cintiques. And there was cake and other snackables always available. We all felt very spoiled.

No one wanted to fill up on snacks, though, because we all knew that after the talks, we would all be heading over to Lee for a 12-course culinary extravaganza prepared by master chef, Susur Lee:

Everyone at the SketchBook event in Toronto was treated to a 12-course meal at Susur Lee's restaurant

Omigosh…SOOOOOoooOOOOooo good! Drooling even now, just thinking about that incredible meal.

Thanks you SO MUCH to Autodesk and Chris Cheung for inviting me to this event. I had SUCH an amazing time.

You can see other photos I took on my iPhone at the event in my Autodesk SketchBook Event album on Flickr.


Lining up for 11 hours at the iPad 2 launch in Toronto


Read my photo-packed 3-part report:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.



Reading habits

Reading our iPads in bed

One of the Daily Doodles I've been posted on my DebbieOhi.com blog, to illustrate a post in iPadGirl. As you might guess, it's how Jeff and I do much of our reading. :-)


Business Insider profiled me in an article!

Hey, check out this Business Insider article: "10 Ways People Are Using The iPad To Create Content, Not Just Consume It." Heh.


Looking for a useful notetaking or writing app for the iPad?

I've been reviewing iPad apps that could be useful to writers on iPadGirl recently. Unfortunately Posterous doesn't have a good archiving index system, so I'm compiling a list of notetaking and writing iPad apps for writers on a separate page, with links to my reviews.

Click to read more ...


My iPad Review, Part 1: writing, reading and drawing on the iPad

ipad-case-type-tea.jpg As some of you already know, I've been excited about the iPad for a long time, even before the hype began. As a birthday gift, my husband pre-ordered the Wifi-only 64 MB iPad, and we picked it up while we were in Columbus earlier this month. For those that missed it, here's my report of the day I got my iPad. (Disclosure: A couple of friends of mine work at Apple, and one did some work on the Apple iPhone and iPad.) WHY I ORIGINALLY WANTED AN IPAD I've been reading e-books regularly on my iPhone, mostly purchased from Fictionwise. I've bought quite a few books from Fictionwise since I got an iPhone. While I don't mind reading them on the iPhone screen, I was excited about the prospect of having a bigger screen on a device as portable as an iPad. ipad-hand.jpg I was also hoping that I might be able to use it to do some short session writing when I wasn't at home, a lighter alternative to carrying my laptop. TYPING ON THE IPAD Learning to type on the iPad was much easier than I expected, at least in landscape mode. I was thrown at first, not having the physical cues of the keys to guide my fingers. ipad-case-sideview.jpg I bought the thin Apple case, whose front cover folds to prop up the iPad at an angle, making it easier to read the screen as well as type. I haven't yet tried typing for a period longer than about an hour on the iPad to see how at feels, but I will report back when I do. I also want to try out a Bluetooth keyboard, but ideally I would love to be able to just take my iPad on its own. I mentioned that I had no trouble typing in landscape mode. It's more awkward typing when the iPad is in portrait mode, because of the smaller keyboard space. I have heard that people with larger hands type on the iPad with their thumbs, iPhone-style. With the weight of the iPad, however, I'd find this difficult. ipad-case-type-tea2.jpg I'm using My Writing Nook for my iPad writing right now. I like it because you can change the font and font size, but I wish it was possible to create hierarchical folders to make it easier to organize different writing projects. Also very much looking forward to getting the iPad version of WriteRoom. I'm sad that there won't be a Scrivener for the iPad but understand the developer's reasons (not enough resources). Editing on the iPad is much more laborious than a regular keyboard because there are no arrow keys or easy way to navigate around the screen with shortcuts for cutting and pasting. I wouldn't use my iPad to do any heavy revisions, but it's fine for first drafts as well as minor edits. However, who knows? Maybe someone will come up with an app that makes this easier, or perhaps using an external keyboard with my iPad will make editing shortcuts possible. I'll investigate this and report back in a follow-up. ipad-reflections.jpg WHAT ABOUT THE GLARE ON THE SCREEN? CAN YOU READ THE IPAD IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT? With the shiny screen, glare from lights behind and above you can potentially be a problem, depending on your environment. I found it a bit distracting at first, but I don't notice it much anymore, at least indoors. Not sure if this is because I've learned to adjust my iPad position to lessen the problem, or if it's because I've gotten used to it enough that I automatically focus on the screen rather than the reflection. I haven't tried to do much reading outside yet because it's still a bit too chilly in Toronto for outdoor reading, but I'll write a follow-up report when I do. The shiny screen also makes finger smudges and dust much more noticeable, and I'm constantly wiping it clean. The Apple case isn't great for this, because dust tends to accumulate under the edges and is impossible to remove without taking the iPad out of the case first. DO I REALLY NEED A CASE FOR MY IPAD? Originally I didn't get a slipcase for my iPad but went back to the Apple store to get one because the iPad felt way too slippery in my hands. I wish Apple had given the back casing some texture to make it easier to grip. WHY I OPTED FOR A WIFI-ONLY IPAD I already pay Rogers a monthly fee for an iPhone plan and wasn't crazy about paying for a second plan. I also figure that if I find that I really can't survive without 3G, then I can sell this iPad and upgrade. So far, though, I'm happy with my choice. Sure, there are moments when I'm away from Wifi and automatically open Google to look something up only to remember that I can't, but I can always use my iPhone if I -really- need to get online. Not being able to access the 3G network has made me more productive in my writing when using the iPad outside of my home. ipad-case-drawing.jpg USING THE IPAD AS A SKETCHBOOK I had never considered being able to draw on the iPad well enough to use it as a sketchpad. Draw with my finger? Too awkward! However, I find that a bit of practice and familiarity with the drawing software makes a huge difference. My favorite drawing app is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The interface is easy to use, with three finger shortcuts to bring up the brush and color palettes, layer window, undo and redo. In only a short time, I got used to using the pinch gesture to zoom in and out so that I could work on fine details as well as being able to see the whole drawing. I can export my drawing to the iPad photo album as well as e-mail it or post to various services. You can see more of my iPad drawings at http://ipadgirl.posterous.com. ipad-pogostick.jpg I've also been experimenting with using the Pogo stylus. It's not pressure sensitive like my Intuos Wacom Artpad, but it feels like a regular pen. I'm wondering how long it'll last with regular use, though...the sponge-like material at it's tip doesn't strike me as particularly durable. I hope I'm wrong. With the $14.95 price tag, I'm not crazy about having to replace the pen too often. I've noticed that cheaper alternative solutions are already being posted. USING THE IPAD TO DISPLAY PHOTOS This is one major advantage that the iPad has over the Kindle. It's been years since I've taken any print photos, and eventually I'd like to replace all the boxes of print photo albums with folders of scanned images on my laptop...or iPad. Converting to digital photography has saved me a ton of money in terms of hassle and print processing, but it means that the only way friends and family can view my photos is by going online or looking at them on my laptop. I've set up my iPad syncing to always sync with the last three "events" in my iPhoto library as well as any other albums I specifically select. The other day, my father asked about one of my niece's school productions, for example. Instead of having to e-mail him a URL or drag him to a computer, I just whipped out my iPad and let him flick through the photos himself. I could also have set up a slideshow to display my photos that way. READING ON THE IPAD This is the main reason I wanted to get an iPad. I rarely go anywhere without at least one book or magazine with me, and read e-books regularly on my iPhone. The idea of being able to read books and magazines on a bigger screen of a device so easily carried around hugely appealed to me. Sadly, the iBookstore is not accessible to Canadian customers yet. However, from this Apple job posting, it sounds as if Apple does plan to open its iBookstore to Canadians eventually. I knew this before the iPad launch, but figured that at least one of Stanza or eReader would be launching an iPad-optimized version of their e-book reading software. I was wrong. Amazon-owned Stanza has gone silent on the topic and Fictionwise support responded to my query with "Currently at this time, there are no plans to update the iPhone eReader app for iPad." Fictionwise was acquired by Barnes and Noble. Sigh. I can run the iPhone eReader or Stanza apps on my iPad, but either they look too small: or I blow them up to fill the iPad screen and the text is blurry: So before you decide to buy an iPad, I strongly suggest you go through all the apps you're counting on and make sure there are iPad-optimized versions available in the iTunes store. I find it deceptive that ALL the apps in the iTunes store say "compatible with iPad" --- many people won't realize that this just means that the iPhone apps will run in their smaller format on the iPad screen (as shown above). To find out if a particular app is iPad-optimized, make sure that the app page has screenshots of the iPad version. However, even if I knew this ahead of time, I would still have gone ahead and bought my iPad. UPDATE: Thanks to Christopher Davis for posting:

Apparently Barnes & Noble’s version of eReader will be ported, though, and (with a little work) you can load your old Fictionwise and eReader.com purchases into it. (I’m not surprised, really; they added ePub support to the B&N version but not the Fictionwise/eReader.com version…making me think that the latter is dead-ending.) The trick: put your files on a webserver somewhere (Mac OS X’s Personal Web Sharing will do nicely) and then make a page of links to them, except start the URLs with bnereader:// instead of http://. Then click on them in Mobile Safari; they’ll be loaded into the B&N eReader app.
I'm going to try this! Meanwhile, I'm use the e-reader app from Kobo, which is partnered with Chapters-Indigo. Most books at Kobo are available for Web/Mobile/epub. (Sketching on my iPad. Photo by Walter K.) USING THE IPAD AS AN EXTRA SCREEN I find that I've started using my iPad as an extra screen in my home office. I usually keep my To Do list or Calendar list open as I work, which helps keep me on track for what I want to accomplish and to keep my time priorities straight. HOW IS THE BATTERY LIFE? This is an aspect I haven't fully tested yet. I've noticed that if I'm just writing, the battery power goes down very slowly. Surfing the Web and playing games uses power more quickly. Apparently many writers have found that their iPads gave them more than the promised 10 hours on a single charge. Gizmodo drained the iPad battery in about 6 hours by alternating between streaming video and playing graphic-intensive games, with Wi-Fi on, brightness at its highest, and the speaker at its loudest setting the entire time. It takes about four hours to fully recharge. Some other questions some of you have asked... WHAT IS IT LIKE TYPING ON THE WIRELESS KEYBOARD? I haven't tried this yet, but will post about it when I do. ANY SPECIFIC DRAWBACKS OR NEED-TO-KNOWS FOR CANADIANS BUYING U.S. IPADS BEFORE THEY COME OUT HERE? Rogers has announced that it will offer iPad price plans for all models from the end of May in Canada, but hasn't yet given any numbers. The iBooks store and iPad Apps Store are not yet available to Canadians, and there's not yet any official word about when they will be available. This means that we Canucks aren't able to buy certain apps like Pages, Numbers and Scrabble, and we can't buy apps directly from our iPads. I currently buy iPad apps through my laptop from the iTunes store, then sync to my iPad. Because the iPad isn't available in Canada yet (at least I'm assuming this is the reason), the Apps part of the Canadian iTunes store still doesn't have a separate section for iPad apps, categorized by app type. As more iPad apps are added, this makes it more and more of a chore to browse iPad apps. I currently browse iPad apps by searching for the term "iPad." I also check the iPad section of AppShopper, though some of these are unavailable to Canadians. Some e-books are unavailable to Canadians, even when purchased through the Amazon Kindle shop. OUR DAUGHTER WANTS A KINDLE FOR COLLEGE. SHOULD WE INSIST ON AN IPAD INSTEAD? IT'S THE DATA PACKAGE THAT IS MAKING ME HESITATE. Hm, tough question. It depends entirely on what she wants to use it for, plus you should definitely do some data package comparisons. My experience using the Kindle is also very limited. = (Photo by Walter K.) Wow, this review is way longer than I intended. I'll continue my review after I've had a chance to use my iPad a little while longer. Feel free to post any questions you'd like me to answer next time in the comments section below. I post iPad-related comments, cartoons and info in my ipadgirl Twitter account and iPadGirl blog. Retro typewriter iPad app Above: fun retro typewriter app for the iPad. Realistic old-fashioned typwriter sounds, working carriage return, and you can e-mail the retro look typing or just the text. $1.99 in the Apps store.

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Seven more days

7 more days until I pick up my iPad. Thanks to Susan Pigott for pointing out this gorgeous Vaja cases for the iPad. I especially love the one that looks like a Moleskine. To avoid overloading those of you who aren't iPad fans, I've been pouring most of my iPad obsessings into my @iPadGirl Twitter account and iPad Girl blog, so feel free to follow me there.

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Why I'm excited about the Apple iPad

I was excited about the idea of an Apple tablet long before the hype began. I remained excited despite the build-up hype. And yes, I'm STILL excited now that the announcement's been made and people are scrambling over each other to dissect, critique and mock. I'm not a tech guru, so can't defend the iPad against some of the criticisms about what the iPad should have had. I also don't claim to be an e-reader device expert, so won't attempt to do a detailed comparison of the iPad with other e-readers at this point. No, I'm not crazy about the name but heck...it's just a name. My focus will be on how well the iPad is going to work for me. I'm mainly excited about the Apple iPad because of its e-reading possibilities. Yes, it's backlit. But so is the iPhone, and I've been reading e-books on my iPhone for a while now, with dozens of e-books on my virtual bookshelf. I'm looking forward to having a sleek, portable device with more screen space that's easy to carry around. I will always love the sensual joy of holding a print book, but I also love the idea of being able to carry around a library of books without the back strain and arm strain that comes with it. As someone with occasional tendinitis issues, this is a major boon. I'm disappointed that the iBooks store isn't available in Canada yet, but I figure that since iPhone apps will work on the iPad, I'll just keep reading e-books the way I do now...but on a larger screen. Plus as with the Kindle, I figure Canadians will get access once Apple sorts through the red tape. The Stanza and e-Reader people probably started revamping their products for the iPad as soon as the specs came out. The iPad's built-in reader supports the ePub standard, a standard adopted by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) as an open-standards-based format for digital books. I'm curious to see how Apple handles copy protection, especially if they'll allow iPad users to import unprotected ePub documents. I'm also excited by the glimpse of some of the other features we saw in the Apple presentation, especially the calendar. I use iCal right now, and that's a pain to use on a small iPhone screen. (Update, after talking to Alice Ching-Chew: The iPad would be GREAT for sheet music! Much easier than carrying around my binders of printed out music.) But most of all, I'm excited about the idea behind the iPad. The science fiction nerd inside me loves the idea of holding so much information and functionality in something the size of a thin book (about 9.5" x 7.5", 1/2 inch deep). I'm excited to see future versions as Apple continues to tweak and improve, and can't wait to see what comes next. Jeff pointed out that the iPad delivery date roughly coincides with my birthday at the end of March. Yay! I'm going to be pouring most of my fangirl ravings pre- and post-iPad arrival into @ipadgirl and ipadgirl.posterous.com. Warning: my posts will not always be objective and may occasionally devolve into way too many exclamation marks. If you don't mind that, feel free to follow.

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New Apple iPad starts at $499 | iPad info roundup

For those who missed the liveblogging from the Apple announcement, here are some good summaries: AppleInsider's overview of iPad specs and info about AT&T's no-contract iPad data plans, which run $15/mo. 250MB, $30 unlimited. Apple iPad Just Tried To Assassinate Laptops:

It's the 'internet device' vision of a decade ago all over again, except now Apple can offer what is arguably the best user experience for internet and media consumption combined with a very reasonable (for a brand new gadget) price.
BNN blog transcript: Steve Jobs presents the Apple tablet Mashable: Apple Introduces iPad Tablet Device Boy Genius Report: Apple iPad recap Need more iPad goodness? The iPad video is now on the Apple site. Am I getting one? Oh, yes. I've also started a new Twitter feed called iPadGirl. :-)

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