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Eleven ways to stifle boredom in the iPad line

One of most excruciatingly boring experiences of my life was waiting in line on June 29, 2007 for my first-generation iPhone. The day was clear and hot, and although I had my laptop with me, it quickly ran out of juice as we waited for the official opening of the store for iPhone sales at 5 PM.

Some people appear to have infinite patience, but TUAW reader Cody is like me -- he gets bored easily. In an email, Cody said "I will be standing in the Best Buy line for well over 5 hours. Do you have any suggestions on ways to help time go by? I think it would be helpful if you compiled a list and posted it on TUAW!"

Well, we're at your service, Cody! And hopefully, these ideas will keep hundreds of thousands of iPad owners-to-be from suffering from terminal boredom in the early morning hours in line. Please note that several of these suggestions require that the person standing in line own an iPhone, so if you don't own one already, get thee to an Apple Store now!

Do live streaming video the entire time you're in line. TUAW bloggers will be giving you live coverage of iPad Saturday at a number of locations across the country, but there's just not going to be enough local coverage everywhere. Grab yourself a copy of Qik (US$0.99) or Ustream Broadcaster (free), maybe buy yourself a Sima LED Video Light to strap to your head to brighten things up at 2 AM, and bring a lot of fully charged Monoprice battery packs. After all, we don't want to miss one thrilling moment of your time interviewing each and every person in the line at least twice.

Read a book. Maybe you're the introverted type, and you'd rather not bother with the other people in line. In fact, maybe you'd like a way to just shrink out of view and not get interviewed by that idiot who is walking around with the iPhone 3GS and a painfully bright light. You can either sneak under your rainproof poncho with a flashlight and some dead-tree books, or you can load up your iPhone or iPod touch with an ebook reader app and a couple of good books. For the ebook reader apps, try Kindle for iPhone, eReader, the Barnes & Noble eReader, or Stanza. The choice of books is up to you, but if you're a speed-reading fool with a long night and morning ahead of you, maybe Tolstoy's War and Peace or Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Play games. There are two types of games you could play -- the type where you get physically involved and games on your Mac, iPhone, or iPod touch. I usually see at least one or two groups of Hacky Sack slackers kicking their way through boredom, I've seen people tossing baseballs and footballs, and there always seem to be Frisbees flying through the air, provided that the Apple Store is outside and not in a mall. If you are in a mall, you could consider taking some decks of playing cards with you and start a good poker game. If you're a good enough poker player, you might win enough to buy several iPads while you're waiting in line.

The games on your iPhone, iPod touch, or Mac (God forbid that you have a Windows PC in a line for an Apple product) can cover the gamut from Sudoku puzzles you're working on by yourself, to long sessions of multiplayer Monopoly or Scrabble. Perhaps you can even have a Flick Fishing tournament! The opportunities to keep yourself occupied with electronic games are endless, until your battery dies...

Sleep. If you're the type that can sleep on hard concrete, or if you're smart enough to bring along a chaise lounge and sleeping bag, you can try to catch up on some sleep while waiting. Sometimes, this works. Of course, if you're at an Apple Store and the guys from OneButton show up with their car full of speakers, big HDTV, and game console, sleep is not going to be even a remote possibility. You can always put your earbuds in, crank up Ambiance, and try to cover up those noises, but it's probably not going to work. On the other hand, if you're near the front of the line, you'll hopefully get your iPad just after 9 AM and can run home to grab a nap before you do your unboxing video.

Do mime impressions. This idea comes to you courtesy of fellow TUAW blogger and Denver resident Erica Sadun, so you can blame her if you have bad dreams tonight. Yes, wearing white face makeup and miming that you're stuck in an Apple Store with nothing but an iPad, Jessica Rabbit, and a unicorn to keep you company will be sure to make you a lot of friends. Actually, it'll probably keep people away from you, so if you're looking for a little peace and quiet, this is the best idea yet.

Exercise. TUAW blogger Kelly Guimont (who provided the following ideas) had the wonderful idea of doing fingertip push-ups to prepare for marathon multitouching sessions. You may get other chances to exercise -- if it's cold, you'll be jumping up and down, stamping your feet, and waving your arms to try to bring circulation back to your limbs. If the iPad is really popular and you get one of the few available at your Apple Store, running away from angry crowds is sure to get your heart rate up in the aerobic zone.

Research. It's always fun to use an iPhone or iPod touch on the Apple Store's free Wi-Fi, so why not put it to good use? See if your favorite iPhone apps are available in iPad versions. Check to see what the line status is like at other nearby Apple Stores. Or find out if the person standing next to you in line is a registered sex offender.

Knit. Knitting is always a great way to pass the time, as my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew all know. If you're really fast and clever, you can knit a shoulder bag in which to carry your new iPad. Be sure to bring along some business cards, as you may end up getting customers for your one-of-a-kind iPad bags.

Re-enact your favorite "Get a Mac" ads. You'll need a sport coat and a hoodie to do this, and it will take at least two of you to pull it off, but this could be a crowd-pleaser. And if you do it correctly, you might be able to disrupt the line enough that you move up a couple of places... If you don't want to do the Mac ads, you can always dig out the lightsabers you played with in line for the Star Wars movies, and challenge passers-by to throwdown duels.

Pretend you're Woz. This requires that you be a rather hefty and hirsute middle-aged man, and that you own a Segway. You can roll up and down the line, signing autographs as Woz. Once again, this might be a good ruse for cutting in near the front of the line.

Have a cookout. There are a lot of small and easily transportable charcoal and gas grills that you can use to cook up breakfast, boil up fresh coffee, and otherwise create a lovely movable feast (the lines will move, although slowly during the night). If you have an old PowerBook 5300, it makes a wonderful griddle for scrambled eggs.

That's it, folks! These are a few of the ideas we've come up with. Now, it's time for you to add your own ideas for wasting passing time in the iPad line. We look forward to your comments.

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iPad

One of most excruciatingly boring experiences of my life was waiting in line on June 29, 2007 for my first-generation iPhone. The day was...