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The iPad is Meant for Gun Shows

Certainly, gun shows are not the main use of an iPad. However, this weekend, I actually found myself wanting one – a feeling I didn’t have even after watching Sebastian play around on one while we were in Charlotte or after watching all the times Dan from PAFOA could put it to good use on our trip.

But this weekend, I couldn’t help but miss all of the things we used to do in 2008 – running commercials & slides to promote our candidates quietly in the background of the show. It brought far more attention to the table, and it put names in front of folks in a more interesting way than simply hanging a sign.

For the first time, we weren’t against a wall that could serve us with sufficient power, and we just didn’t coordinate enough to justify hauling a monitor and laptop over there. But what could overcome those problems? An iPad.

We did buy a digital frame to at least display more interesting slides and attract attention. Again, we have the issue of power, and I can’t seem to get it to play the .jpgs I create as opposed to the ones I simply download. It’s a pain in the ass, and I’ve never spent more than about 3 minutes trying to figure it out. Instead we just started using it as a picture frame – crazy concept.

We also tried to fix an old and broken touchscreen monitor borrowed from one of Sebastian’s friends so we could run NRA’s Obama love quiz they made in 2008. Unfortunately, when we did get it working, we found out that it was one of very few that somehow ended up inverted. If you pushed the top, it read it as pushing at the bottom. That wasn’t going to work for us. There is the argument that the specific program was done in Flash, so it wouldn’t work on the iPad.

But the idea of being able to sign people up as volunteers online, take some sort of online quiz application that could be designed around the issue, or give them a quick tour of the website on a screen they can really see, that really appealed to me. And with NRA now sticking their toe into the water of development for iPhones, it isn’t outrageous that they consider some kind of app or at least Apple mobile product-friendly version of any Obama love quiz type programs in the future.

The biggest appeal for me this weekend would have been the “oh shiny” factor. Even though they are flying off the shelves, they are still exceptionally rare in the wild beyond the standard early adopting tech crowd. At a gun show, the iPad itself would bring more traffic to the table where we could start the conversation about whether the visitor is registered to vote and if they want to help any pro-gun politicians win this year.

Sebastian is certainly ready to buy, and if he would let me take it to gun shows to really use for the people, not just behind the table when we’re bored, then I’ll drive us to the Apple store with the pedal plastered to the floorboards.

12 Responses to “The iPad is Meant for Gun Shows”

  1. slick says:

    An Ipad at a gun show? I venture that would quickly become “The Ipad that was stolen at the gun show.” 99.8% of attendees are upright honest people. But there are a few bad apples (with slightly higher percentages among ATF, reporters, anti-gun infiltrators, and whiny teenagers).

    Sounds like your biggest problem was a lack of time to prepare. An Ipad can’t fix that.

    • Bitter says:

      Gees, what kinds of shows are you attending? Sure, we’ve seen a few folks who we would question seriously if selling a gun, but no one who has ever tried to steal anything. Considering we also make sure at least one of us is manning the table at all times, it’s not a real risk. We’re not the types who set up the literature and run. Gun owners aren’t likely to register to vote or sign up to help out unless there’s a friendly person telling them the benefits. That’s also why we’ve had such a great response from show promoters – we’re there from open to close every day. They are never stuck with empty tables with us.

      We had plenty on hand to fill the space. I could have had a very full single table with what materials I did have on hand. (Keep in mind that this early in the campaign, most of the campaigns didn’t even have much in the way to hand out.) We had opportunity to think about the issue because I ended up with 3 tables at the show thanks to a no-show vendor.

      As for time to prepare, having an iPad would actually require more planning – at least to create a quality slide show or to figure what we’d want to have running as the main display. I don’t view it as a “get out of work” easy pass. In fact, it makes the job harder. But, the payoff for attention and getting people to stop for that half a second is huge.

  2. Sebastian says:

    slick:

    The purpose of putting the technology at the table is to give someone a reason to stop and look. It’s a gun show, and we’re not selling anything. We’re trying to get people votes. To get to talk to people, you have to give them a reason to stop.

  3. Ian Argent says:

    Wait for the ASUS touchpads for this purpose. Or look into some of the currently extant HP or Lenovo convertibles. ISTR you can get linux drivers for both if you can’t stand Win 7; though it’s head and shoulders above previous versions.

    iPad is the market leader, but they’re not going to own or innovate the way they did with the iPod (at least as much because the lock-in is much less).

  4. Jake says:

    “But the idea of being able to sign people up as volunteers online, take some sort of online quiz application that could be designed around the issue, or give them a quick tour of the website on a screen they can really see, that really appealed to me.”

    For surveys, try “surveymonkey.com” – no flash needed. I’m sure there are similar quiz sites available. Online signup forms don’t need flash at all, it can all be done in html – I don’t think you even need javascript – though you may need to talk to your webhost to make sure the server is set up for it (some free or “basic” hosting plans aren’t).

    I wouldn’t buy an iPad, though – not unless they slash the price to about half of what they’re asking now. The hardware is nice and the interface is somewhat slick, but the platform is just too restricted for what they want you to pay, and the lack of USB/SD ports makes it even worse – especially when you can get a netbook with about the same screen size, a more open OS, and USB ports for about the same price, if not less.

    In fact, Amazon has the Eee T101MT Multi-touch tablet netbook for just $485 – less than the base-model iPad.

  5. Bitter says:

    Ian,

    I love the idea of a non-iPad that functions in a similar way. I’ve only vaguely followed what’s on the market or on their way out to shelves.

    Jake,

    I have no desire to create a survey monkey type quiz for gun shows. The quiz I mentioned wasn’t for purposes of taking opinions, it was for fun and education. A survey monkey fill-in the blank site would be bland and not very attention-getting compared to how this catches the eye and even the ear.

    As for the sign up feature, I already use a flash-free sign up page on PAGunRights.

    I guess the other reason I fall back to likely going with an iPad is for the 3G access. Gun shows are facilities that often do not have wifi access, so I would need access through the device.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    Well, with your DROID you do now (with rather a lot of hacking) or will be able to shortly (search for “Android Froyo”) have the ability to share out the 3G goodness on that phone with other wifi-capable devices.

    Amazon has now some ASUS Win7 tablets for about as much as the iPad

    • Bitter says:

      I assume the hacking solutions would have the same problem we have with when we tether Sebastian’s iPhone – crazy battery use. He has to plug his phone in to charge while using it for internet access because it drains the battery so quickly.

      I guess the big issues are battery life (most shows last from 9am to 5pm) and 3G so we’re not tied into wireless. This show was the first time we weren’t near a power source, so it’s the first time that battery life has been an issue. But, I just realized how easily it could happen again since we get these tables for free.

  7. Ian Argent says:

    Probably – whenever I’ve used wifi sharing on my smartphone I’ve left it plugged in as a matter of course. For that matter I can kill the battery on my smartphone in a couple of hours of regular use. I carry a USB battery pack for those situations, it’s about the size of a pack of cigs and doubles as a wall charger.

  8. Jake says:

    “I have no desire to create a survey monkey type quiz for gun shows. The quiz I mentioned wasn’t for purposes of taking opinions, it was for fun and education. A survey monkey fill-in the blank site would be bland and not very attention-getting compared to how this catches the eye and even the ear.”

    Ah, I misunderstood – though SurveyMonkey was just an example I’m familiar with.

    “I guess the other reason I fall back to likely going with an iPad is for the 3G access.”

    With a netbook, you can use a USB broadband gizmo – and not be tied to AT&T beyond the initial contract, or borrow a colleague’s on a different network if yours doesn’t have service somewhere. Also, I assume Sebastian’s Droid is on Verizon (I don’t think anyone else has it), so you could stay with a single provider, and also use the USB gizmo in other laptops, etc.

    Also worth noting is that AT&T just dropped the unlimited data plan they were selling for the iPad – less than 3 months after it was released. Instead of $30/month for unlimited data, it will be $25/month for 2GB.

    Like I’ve said, the iPad is a neat device, but I just don’t see it as worth the $500-$600 they’re asking when you can get an equally capable and more versatile device for the same price.

    • Bitter says:

      Believe me, I noticed that issue with the unlimited plan disappearing early this morning. Suddenly the iPad gets much more expensive to operate. However, the big question would be whether it is more expensive than a contract plan for a “USB broadband gizmo.” Considering we only do gun shows for a few months out of each election year, the lack of a contract on the AT&T plan is still appealing.

      Overall, I want to see more competition on the wireless front and on the hardware side. That would be ideal. But, if Sebastian is thinking of a new gizmo to keep him entertained and connected in place of immediately replacing his iPhone in the hopes that continued rumors of a Verizon iPhone next year, then an iPad would certainly fit the bill right now.

  9. Ian Argent says:

    Well, that’s another advantage of the non-Apple products. Extra batteries are available.

    In general, look at how much an external battery pack would run you – I saw one on Amazon that had 50 Wh. Watthours? Which would be a little odd, I though batteries were rated in Amp-hours, but my Dell’s battery is rated at 85 Wh – poking around the web indicates that this would appear to be someone being too clever by half, Watts being Amp x Volts, so the laptop batter is rated presuming the 11.1 volts it supplies, I guess? Anyway, for around $100 that’s a HUGE runtime for a smartphone without any monthly costs. For reference, the battery in my smartphone (differnet model, but close enough for government work) is rated at 5.55 Wh. That external unit (which is not the same one as I referenced earlier) would therefore have about 10x the runtime as the onboard battery of your phone. And be more useful generally (being able to run anything that takes USB power and apparently having tips available to run full-up laptops even. Check your power needs first – it would be sufficient to run this Dell for a little over half the time of the on-board battery (which, admittedly, would be another 1.5 hr or so).

    Tekkeon 3450 is the one I was looking at on Amazon; there are other brands too

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