Tips, tricks, and apps for ALM iPad users

Archive for February 2011

Save It for Later

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Even if you have a 3G model iPad (I don’t), there are times where you can’t or won’t connect to the Internet. My iPhone, for instance, goes dead in the middle of New York Harbor, and flight attendants would treat me a little less delicately than they handled Arianna Huffington when she refused to shut down her BlackBerry while taxiing for takeoff. And you might want to just save stuff to read later, for the sake of it.

Download InstaPaper. It installs a “save for later” bookmark on your browser. Go to an article you want to save, tap save, and you’ve got it to read later. Just make sure, and open the app to make it load into the app. If you don’t, you’ll have the disappearing reading material problem I described in the book-reader apps post.




Written by almipad

February 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Apps, Productivity

Book readers—Go Native, or go with Amazon?

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I’m agnostic, actually. I use both. They’re both roughly equivalent, once you’ve got a book (with a caveat or two) and they both work reasonably well. But both have quirks, and some people have a problem reading a book on a backlit screen, instead of the E Ink of a dedicated Amazon Kindle. I don’t.

That said, it’s easier to buy books from Apple’s iBook store. Fire up the app, hit the button up top for the store, find what you want, and it downloads. You’re good to go, perfect for that long flight to GC West in San Francisco.

But, uh-oh, I tapped Keith Richard’s Life, it appears for a fleeting second, and then it’s gone. What happened? I have no Internet connection on the runway, and I shouldn’t have this iPad switched on right now anyway. Looks like I’ll be stuck reading the in-flight magazine. For six hours.

This has happened to me twice. Luckily, when I got connected to the Net, I was able to reload my books. It didn’t happen again—with that book. But it did with another one. I have an e-mail out to Apple; I’ll update when I get a response.

There are fewer quirks with the Kindle app—big selection, easy synching across all sorts of devices—PCs, Macs, BlackBerries, iPhones/Pods, iPads. So if you’re on page 254, you’ll be at the same spot if you open up the book elsewhere. It works like that on iBooks, too, but the app runs on fewer platforms.

Buying is more of a kludge, though. When you want to buy, the app switches you to the built-in Safari browser, and you have to go through the usual Amazon buying process. Not that big a deal, really, and the bigger selection makes up for this.

Minuses? Not much—less eye candy, instead of flicking pages, like you would do in real life, you shove them. More as I see them…

Written by almipad

February 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Apps, Book readers


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And now, we take a recreational break. I’ve found a great way to waste way too much time. It’s all down to a cable, specifically, an Apple composite AV cable. Find it at an Apple Store, either bricks and mortar or here. It’s $40, and it allows you to connect the iPad to a TV set of fairly recent (the past decade) vintage, whether flat-screen or not.

Next, if you haven’t already, download the Netflix app and sign up, if you aren’t already a member. Basic, streaming (non-DVD) membership is $8 a month. The selection is pretty decent, although a lot of movies are DVD-only. But the quality is good; I have a cable home Internet connection and picture quality is flawless, and there were no hiccups. I happily watched a couple of adaptations of the Stieg Larsson “The Girl Who…” trilogy (simplified story lines, but still gripping), the documentary of the recording of The Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” album, and bits and pieces of other movies.

The cable works with iPods and iPhones, too, so if you take videos with your phone, you can see them on the big screen.

Written by almipad

February 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm


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Welcome to the ALM iPad user blog.  A lot of people have fallen for the shiny tablets. And Aric asked if I’d be interesting in starting up an internal, for-our-eyes-only blog on what I find useful, interesting, amusing, or terrible, on the iPad. Here’s the result.

Some ground rules for app reviews: I won’t comment on the native apps, i.e., those that come with the device.  All apps found in Apple’s App Store are fair game, whether they’re free or not, media-centric or not. I’ll admit that I have a distinct preference for apps that take full advantage of the platform, using the technology to good advantage. So if it knows where I am, allows me to slide stuff around and pinch and expand, it’s likely I’ll fall for it. A simple port of a static PDF document, without added content, or some bells and whistles? Forget about it.

And, as you’ll see immediately below, I’ll violate that first rule to talk about book readers, because the main competition to Apple’s iBooks is a non-native app.

Written by almipad

February 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized