Tips, tricks, and apps for ALM iPad users

Archive for March 2011

TIME OFF: An Antidote to NCIS, All the Time

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I’m married to a charming, accomplished woman, who manages to balance a strenuous, full-time job with a fair amount of community activity and, because she works closer to home, keeping our lives going. But she’s got this weird personality quirk: She ignores popular culture until something strikes her fancy. And then it becomes an obsession. Big-time.

So it is with NCIS. Please, someone, take it off the air. Or at least, take reruns off the air. My wife is obsessed. She likes to relax at night by channel surfing, and there seems to be a problem with that series of shows. (I confess I don’t know how many there are; I’m trying to shield myself.) It’s as though the “channel” button on the remote gets sticky and won’t let us see anything else. I vaguely remember NYC’s resident curmudgeon Fran Leibowitz saying something to the effect that her idea of a perfect day is to lie on the couch watching back-to-back episodes of  Law and Order. (Presumably, Leibowitz would get off the couch every now and then to guest-star as a judge.)

She ain’t got nothing on my better half.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, Time-Warner Cable supplied an antidote in the form of an iPad app. Subscribers with a wi fi connection get to connect to their service, anywhere in the house, and watch high-def TV shows. After a rocky start–I had to create yet another login, and there were initial hiccups, the app worked flawlessly. Channels are limited, but T-W promises more soon (though show producers and channels are reportedly not amused, and are threatening to sue). There’s a neat transparency effect, as the channels show up on the left, and you flick your finger up and down to select the show you want–they’re in real-time, showing the same time as they would on your TV.

Did I use this for work, and check out all the cable news channels online? Uh, no. I need my downtime, too, so I surfed over to HGTV to check out House Hunters International, for episode showing a couple buying a house in my maternal grandparents’ town in Sicily, now a chic beach resort, and the episode of Jersey Shore that I missed. (Please, someone tell Sammi and Ron to just shut the [bleep] up.)


Written by almipad

March 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Apps, Entertainment, Media

Walt Beats Me to It

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The Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg does a terrific job of explaining how to do things to actual, nongeek humans. This week’s column is worth a read. He explains how to use the iPad to do some of the things you do on a “real” computer—word processing, reading PDFs, moving files to a Mac or PC, that kind of thing. The column and a demo video are online, in front of the pay wall, here. Thanks, Walt!

Written by almipad

March 17, 2011 at 11:26 am

Posted in Productivity

Typing and Other Annoyances

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I was in Toronto for a couple of days on a sales trip (pretty good one at that). Before leaving, I called my hotel, a not-so-hot one—there was a huge mining convention in town with 20,000 attendees—and the desk clerk assured me they had wi-fi for every room.

It didn’t work.

Each room did have an ethernet cable, which did me no good, because I took my iPad. In the course of my wanderings, I was tempted very briefly to buy a router (hey, are those expense-able? I mean, you do get reimbursed for pay-Internet reception, right?), but I decided I wasn’t going to be spending that much time there anyway.

There was a Second Cup cafe down the street, which is sort of like Starbucks, with better coffee. And, thank the Internet gods, free wi-fi. A login prompt came up, telling me that the hotspot was for “Rogers wireless customers with the iPhone 3GS, I agreed to the conditions (what, no curling or hockey jokes?), and I was in. I called up this blog page, logged in and tried to post. And….hmmm, no go. I started to type, but I couldn’t see what I was typing. Is it something to do with the Safari version on the iPad? I don’t know; stay tuned for further experimenting.

I was going to post something on typing, which many find vexing on the device. I don’t, I’ve had an iPhone for over three years, so I’m used to how it works. My advice: trust the autocorrect, 80 percent of the time. I use a modified touch-typing style, fewer fingers than I’m using now on a regular Mac keyboard, but more than two fingers. By the way, have y’all figured out accents? Hold the letter key down until you see the letter with various alternatives. Slide to the one you want and release.

Some people, however, want a physical keyboard. I’ve seen two recently. First off is the Apple one–check out their online store here. On that page, you’ll see the regular wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard and the somewhat clumsy dock.

One of our colleagues has been carrying his iPad around with this dashing setup. Brookstone sells it, and it’s a portfolio (in three colors) that contains a Bluetooth keyboard. You open the case, the iPad can sit up at a comfortable angle, and it looks for all the world like a neat little laptop.

Written by almipad

March 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Out-of-Town Experiment

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I’ll be out of town Monday-Wednesday. I’m going to try updating from the iPad. Let’s see how that works.

Written by almipad

March 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, The New Yorker

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Half good, half bad. If you’re a print subscriber to the venerable magazine, you can sign up for a weekly e-mail that includes links to the digital edition, accessible from the Web, and best on the iPad. Click on an article link, and off you go to the mobile Web edition, which does a pretty good job of faking an iPad app. Browse the magazine to your heart’s content, and there are thumbnails at the bottom of the page to help you find your way. You can use your finger and just slide around, just like you would in any decent iPad app.

Recently, the good folks at Condé Nast put out, yes, a New Yorker app. It’s free, but here’s the thing: You have to pop for each issue. Not so bad, if you’re a casual reader. Already a subscriber to the magazine? Tough. You don’t get grandfathered in, you have to pay 5 bucks for each issue. At least its CN stablemate Vanity Fair gives you a digital copy for $4. Sorry, this is inexcusable. I’m not alone—the app’s received a bunch of one-star ratings from App Store denizens. One quote: “What were you thinking? I love the magazine and have been a loyal subscriber for many years. To expect your print subscribers to pay for the iPad version at full price is simply silly. [I could think of another word.] In fact it should be completely free to print subscribers.”

I’ll pay a little up front to gain access—I’m a generous guy. But no more, since I’m a print subscriber.

Written by almipad

March 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

Posted in Magazines, Media