As I mentioned about a month ago, for my birthday this year (and also a combo anniversary present), my wife gave me an iPad2, which was a hugely unexpected gift. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of it at the beginning, because I really didn’t know what I was supposed to “do” with it.
After playing around with it for a month or so, I can safely say that it’s a most awesome piece of technology and I’m glad that I have one. In addition to being able to use it in a pinch for things like work presentations so that I don’t have to carry my huge 17” screen laptop with me, I’ve found that I’m using it a lot more to read things. I’m not using it as an e-reader in the sense that I’m reading novels. Instead, what I’ve been reading on it is primarily:
1) Blog posts
2) Old RPG PDFs
3) Old Dragon Magazines
I’m going to deal with the first two briefly, and then move onto talking about Dragon, which is actually the main reason I started this post.
I’ve been using the app called “Flipboard” to read people’s blog posts once my friend Loren’s fiancé, Mary, informed me that I could set up Flipboard to recognize my Google Reader account. I love the freedom of being able to read the blogs that I follow without having to sit at my desk. Plus, the format is just much more friendly to me. I keep my iPad2 on my nightstand, so in the morning when I wake up while my wife is in the bathroom getting ready, I can buzz through a few blog entries. I’m finding hat I’m actually reading a lot more blog entries in this fashion than I ever did on my laptop, which is cool because in addition to all of the cool ideas that are floating about the OSR blogosphere, there are also a bunch of other fun blogs that keep me up-to-date on comics, movies, and other geek stuff.
Regarding the PDFs, one of the things I really hate is reading PDFs on a computer screen, because for some insane reason, PDF publishers have never figured out that computer screens are landscape, and having a two-column format on a PDF means that I have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to read, then scroll back up and start at the top again and read down. That’s just a really poor user experience. It’s like the assumption is that, if you buy the PDF, you’re just going to print it out to read it. If I were going to do that, I’d just buy the print version. And, if the publisher is PDF only and doesn’t have a print version, then they have no excuse for formatting their PDF only product as though it were a print product. Why can’t they take advantage of the medium they’re using, and format their products in landscape, with a type of column formatting that doesn’t entail me having to continually scroll up and down to read the page?
[Astute readers will note that I am the author of a PDF-only product, the Quintessential Aristocrat, that was, unfortunately, formatted as though it were a print product. I was only the author of that particular book, not the publisher, so I had no control over the final layout.]
Anyway, what this brings me to is reading PDFs on the iPad2, which is a much better experience. Since I can turn the iPad any direction I want, I can hold it upright and format the PDF page to fit within the screen so I don’t have to scroll up and down. And, since it’s lightweight, I can comfortably hold it closer to my face to read the small type, unlike what I can do with a regular computer monitor or even laptop screen.
So, what this brings me to is that, during the whole d20 era back in the early 2000s, I bought a lot of d20 PDFs – mostly class guides for all of the various classes as well as for new custom classes, but also books of spells (the Book of Eldritch Might was the first PDF product that I’d ever purchased), campaign settings, adventures, maps… you name it. However, the one thing I didn’t really do was read a lot of these products, mostly because I got annoyed with the prospect of trying to read them when they weren’t really formatted to be read on the computer. I’d skim them and maybe once in a great while, print out a page or two to read at my desk.
I had also gone through when all of the old TSR products were available in PDF format (before Wizards unceremoniously took them all down) and bought a bunch of stuff that I’d never had a chance to pick up in print form.
Now I find that I have a ton of reading material that’s going to keep me busy for a very long time. I always love reading new game material, and while this stuff isn’t necessarily “new”, it’s kind of new to me since I never really had a chance to read it before.
I’ll be posting about some of my favorites in the upcoming week.
And that brings me to Dragon magazine, which is going to have to wait for its own blog post. But, I’ve been rediscovering the magazine thanks to the Dragon Magazine Archive CD-ROM I have. I started with the Strategic Review #1 and am reading the entire run. I’m not reading every article in depth, but mostly just the ones that interest me or that look like they have some kind of historical significance. I maintain that the best way to really understand the history of our hobby is to just sit down and read through a lot of these old issues of Dragon., especially the editorials. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there that I wasn’t aware of.
As just a “teaser”, I had no idea that at one point, there were two separate magazines after the demise of The Strategic Review – The Dragon (which was billed as a magazine of science fiction and fantasy, and included a lot of fiction), and Little Wars (dedicated to strategic board games and military miniatures gaming, and which I don’t remember ever having heard of before). They were later “combined” into The Dragon once it became clear that The Dragon was growing by leaps and bounds while Little Wars was stagnating.
More to come…