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Notes, Observations, Things to Get, for an iPad

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Notes on iPad experiences in June


Challenges purchasing an iPad this Summer

                Delays because Stanford store lacked adequate inventory to buy 3G iPads

                No camera connector kit, nor the iPad case available for 3-4 weeks

                unlimited dataplan changed to 2 Gig or 250 MB on June 6


Bonuses this summer

                Free skype calls on 3G through August

                Many for-pay apps free/reduced come with free/reduced month of service for a regularly pay account--for example, Motion X GPS live voice navigation.

                No iAd until OS4 is available for iPad


Stuff to buy WITH the iPad. 


                Because the iPad case was not available for 3-4 weeks I picked up the Waterfield Ultimate SleeveCase with strap ($68), and the PiggyBack mini for accessories.($27)

                I already had a bluetooth keyboard, so I only added the dock for "desktop" use ($29). In addition, I bought an extra power adapter ($29) and the dock connector to the VGA adapter($29).

                Now, at the end of the month, I finally have the iPad camera connector kit, which simply allows an SDHC or a USB cord to be connected to transfer photos and video onto the iPad. ($29).

                I've also purchased the New Trent IMP880 3G iPad External Battery 8900mAh for a full 100% extra battery.  ($70).


Stuff to make for the iPad


From a DIY (not Collins Lab, but Unplggd) video I built myself a mechanical drawing stylus, using conductive (or capacitance) foam, like the kind shipped with RAM to prevent electrostatic shock.  I use a fingerless bike glove to prevent my palm from interfering with the multitouch screen.  This works well with PenUltimate and SketchBook Pro, among other apps, used for drawing on the iPad (see below.)  (I already had the mechanical pen--this is the kind of lead holder architects use, not a thin lead pen, and was given the conductive foam by a tech for Hewett 220 where I was video taping a class, so no cost (except for the Qtips!)  If you purchase a pen, currently, the Boxwave Styra is better than Pogo Sketch


Setting up pages for iPad mail, calendar, bookmarks, contacts, etc.


Using ActiveSync (Exchange)


All things Google using CalDav





Apps for the iPad


Productivity Apps: Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Air Display,  Goodreader, and iFilmslate, Papers (57$ total)


                I've tested Keynote with the iPad dock connector to VGA Adapter and it worked great.  I have noticed all app updates often include a line to improve  VGA output, as it doesn't work like a VGA output on a laptop: only when the app explicitly sends the signal does it work, so the OS itself will not when between apps, or in apps not written to use the VGA adapter.

                I wrote this in Pages, and it is a wonderfully simplified word processing application. Numbers I have only looked at briefly, and as I did not ever use Numbers on a regular mac, its hard for me to judge.

                Air Display allows the iPad's multitouch affordances to be used to control a mac (or PC) through wifi.  IN effect it makes it an extra display, but because an iPad screen is also a controller, it in effect gives you something like a Wacom Bamboo Table controller at the same time.  Elijah Meeks and I experimented with this in order to use Flash on the iPad (if you can imagine this, you will understand everything Air Display does wirelessly.)

                Goodreader is one of MANY apps attempting to compensate for the lack of a file system, or anything like preview on a mac.  I also bought with my own money FilesHD, which makes a file sharing connection over wifi using a webdav URL--but have not done anything more than transfer a few pdfs and viewed them .  All of the documentary video I have shot this months used iFilm slate to mark the interviewee, topic, and order on the first frames of the video I shot.  Its just a digital clapper, but a delight for 99 cents.

                Papers is like an Academic Instapaper intended for Academic Research, with amazingly simple but robust features for managing research. It includes 8 major search engines (JSTOR, pubmed, Google Scholar, etc.) which will offer to import any page viewed, retain Biblio and URL link,  and will allow manual or automatical cataloging of papers by author or journal.  As an exampls: I downloaded primary source papers linked to my PTSD site, and then, in order to search for relevant research since I last linked these I was able to search for “recent articles” in the same journals or from the same authors (or using related articles links) from inside the App.  Anything I could find could be imported, added to the catalog, and even flagged, to mark for important reading.  If I had a train ride, this would be how I would prepare my reading every day.  When a pdf is available this can be stored in a PDF library, the same as webcontent, which is useful when leaving the proxy server of licensed pubs (when you aren’t on Stanford wifi.)


I also purchased for myself MotionX GPS Drive HD for Travel, Penultimate and SketchbookPro for Illustration, and A1 Perfect Browser and Wolfram Alpha (for what they do better than Safari and various calculators).


                Motion X comes with the first month of "live" voice navigation for free, and it turned out to also have good information about restaurants, lodging, gas, public facilities, and playgrounds as well.  It would map directions to these, or even just indicate opportunities along one's route.  Unlike Apple's native Maps--which somehow combines GPS with cellular triangulation--motion X uses just the 3G chipset's AGPS so it was possible to compare the two easily under a wide variety of conditions.  Predictably, the AGPS does not work indoors, and is less accurate than the cellular triangulation--BUT it works in the middle of NOWHERE, with no wifi or cellular, which was a huge help.  The triangulation service can track me around Stanford buildings, or even inside my home, although it will drift to a position which is continuously off by a set distance, say 15' in any given location.  Because the error is consistent, for the most part, this provides extremely accurate placement if you simply error-correct the placement mentally, once the error is known.  For my commute I use the free app Trapster: a socially networked log to map accidents, police traps, traffic jams, road hazards, and road weather conditions, etc.  One can contribute reports, confirm reports to improve their persistency, and get push messages alerting you to events along one's route. ($3)


                Penultimate already has a feature to ignore marks at the bottom of the frame, which helps for finger drawing notes--but SketchbookPro is a full featured drawing application, modeled after AutoCad's professional software product. Although it does not include the tilt and pressure sensitivity of a Wacom pad pen, my self-made pen affords some of the natural stroking and taper through Sketchbook's interpolation algorithm with the appropriate brushes.  After 30 years of drawing with pen and paper, I can't say that the smooth surface of the screen feels "right" but for portability, nothing beats the iPad for sketching, and because you can zoom in with multi-touch, undo, redo, and open up the Gallery and pen options with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 tough gestures, within an hour or so it is possible to feel as if one were drawing naturally without the digital interface interfering.  Also, the screen is SO bright, I have actually also been using it for tracing drawings photographed and added to the photos app, as one would with a lightbox built out of wood, glass and fluorescent bulbs.($11 together)


                A1 Perfect Browser renders web content on the iPad more like a desktop browser does on a normal computer, circumventing the default mobile styling found when surfing in Safari, and even allowing in-page searching.  Its got Tabs and that alone would be reason enough to buy it!  Wolfram Alpha can do a ridiculous variety of calculations, in addition to what it does with websearching, and one need only see what the keyboard looks like to appreciate its potential, particularly for statistics.  ($5 together)


FREE or mostly free Apps


                Skype: The most useful free app right now is Skype, as until August (vague date) one can make phone calls over the 3G cellular, as if you were using Skype on your computer.  Works great with the apple headphone/mike (although you can't receive a call at your phone number obviously, only at your Skype account.  Probably there is a way around this with GoogleVoice or the like, but I have not experimented with that yet.)

                SIRI: this personal assistant, which Apple purchased for 200 million dollars last month, is difficult to explain.  You just say things like playground, and it finds the one's along your route, or somehow knows you don't want to buy playground equipment, or a club called the devil's playground, etc.  Just pick something you already know about (movies, jazz, etc.?) and see what it can find for you.  Its FREE, although not restyled for the iPad (which hardly matters considering all links to maps etc. open the iPad's own native apps,) and its a tool you talk to primarily.  Voice recognition seems better than both Google (quite good for search) and Dragon Mobile (turns what you say into e.e. cummings poetry.)

                Other Free apps I'm using include: Google, Google Earth, FreeBooks, Dragon Mobile, Molecules, Exoplanets, NYT, NPR, Accuweather, Surf Report,  IMDB, Wikipanion, Craig'sPhone, Zillow, Flixter, NASA, Shazam, SoundHound, Pandora, Epicurious, WebMD, Netflix, Hulu +, Bloomberg, and NatureSpace (ambient sounds to go to sleep.) 

                For the Kaltura Webinar I was stopped on the 17 to 85 overpass/onramp for almost half an hour, and was able to watch the presentation easily using WebEx with my 3G.  I had thought the 2 frames per second load speed was a result of my cellular connection, but when I finally walked in late to the seminar in Meyer, I was surprised to see the quality was identical to what I had seen on the iPad, so the bottleneck wqas somewhere upstream.  For the audio I used Skype (remember to keep on MUTE!)

                Vijoy turned me onto Emerald and Sequoia Observatory (the ultimate pocket watch for 99 cents