Monday, May 31, 2010

GoodReader for the iPad

Well, I had heard a lot of talk about the power of the GoodReader app for the iPad and I finally had some time to spend with it. I am currently using the newest version 2.7.7.

It is a very powerful piece of software! Created by Good.iware, GoodReader is available for the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. Some of the add-on features cost money if you are using it on the iPhone or Touch, but the iPad version includes all of the features for no cost.

Okay, GoodReader is a great PDF file reader. However, it can also read Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. It can hook to MobileMe, DropBox,, and other WebDAV servers. It can interface with iMap and POP email servers and FTP servers. You can move files up and down with it to and from all these places. You can connect to your Google Apps and Google Apps for Ed documents for easy access and transfer of documents, too.

You can download Web pages through Safari for offline reading. You can download and play videos and audio files. It will reformat a PDF file as plain text for easier reading if you need it to.

There are several ways to get files to and from the computer to the GoodReader app and vice versa; there is a wireless transfer option, connection to online file storage sites and email attachments, and more. (There used to be a way to move files back and forth via a USB connection between the device running GoodReader and the computer, but that was removed at Apple's request a few versions back.)

GoodReader does so much, you will probably find yourself using it all of the time! It truly is the one of the best $.99 purchases you will ever make for your iPad!

Useful links to learn more

I used Safari to download the main page of the user manual from GoodReader's site to my iPad. The only question I have is why the manual is not available as a PDF download for this great PDF reader!

Photo courtesy of ChrisDag via Creative Commons licensing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

iPad apps that project

I tried to find a list of iPad apps that will allow projecting via the VGA/composite/component cables and could not find one. I decided to use the power of the crowd to compile a list of the ones that work this way.

Here is the direct link to the spreadsheet with the compiled data.

Here is the link to the form to fill out once you have checked to see if the one you know about still needs to be added to the list! Thanks for contributing!

(Photo credit)

Monday, May 17, 2010

iPad Thoughts, part 4

Well, this is the first time I have turned on my laptop this week...that says something about how much I am using the iPad! It has become my constant tech companion along with the iPhone. This blog post is a series of disconnected iPad thoughts and experiences...

I have been experimenting with lots of apps-- loading them on the iPad and then removing them. It is so easy to install items, try them out, and then remove them.

I did have one major (almost total) meltdown this week. I installed a to-do app on the iPad that syncs with iCal and it immediately blanked out 3 of my 4 calendars; those on my home desktop, my iPhone, and the iPad. Luckily I noticed it and quickly chose to not sync my work desktop, exported the calendar data file with 470 items, and setup all my MobileMe accounts again. It worked, and life was good. I did uninstall the to-do app, even though it had a beautiful interface. I am not sure if I made the mistake or the app took over, but I did not keep it installed long enough to figure that out!

I watched another movie via Netflix, played Scrabble with family members with the use of iPhones and Touches, and created some Keynote presentations. I still love the fact that it is so easy to show the students things via the large screen, and I feel like the Pied Piper at times as the middle schoolers follow me down the hallway for their try with the iPad.

I recently had a Twitter discussion with an ed-tech trainer who asked me which model schools should purchase.  I gave it some thought, and have decided that, if the iPad purchases are to create a 1-1 program, with students having the devices 24x7, I think it behooves schools to purchase the 3G version. Within the current budget constraints, most schools cannot afford the data plan for students. However, if a student or student's family wanted to purchase that service for the iPad, they could easily do that through iTunes. It could be an easy way to get Internet into some homes that do not have it. In addition, since it is a pay-as-you go option with no long-term contract, families could opt-in and opt-out of the monthly fee as needed.

There are all types of new iPad in education sites showing up. Here are links to a few.

Cool find for the week: Macworld created the ebook "iPad Starter Guide" and is offering it at no cost on their site. Install it into iBooks and learn the finer points of this great device!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

iPad part 3

I have not had time to blog about the iPad because I have been too busy using the iPad! I carry it with me all of the time and, with the 3G, use it everywhere! I have decided on a neoprene CaseLogic netbook case for toting the iPad since it makes it easy tom put in my school tote bag and easily allows access to the 30-pin connector for syncing and other tasks.

I continue to be amazed at the speed of the device. I can easily move back and forth between apps and hardly miss multitasking. The apps that are being updated for the iPad are taking advantage of the increased real estate and are just so pretty (okay, and useful, too)!

I keep a plate stand and BT keyboard at work and use the keyboard dock at home. There is no fear of the battery running out and it gets me through an entire school day. (This bodes well for classroom use!) However, in landscape mode, the built-in keyboard is very usable and I do not use the external keyboards much.

Some of the most impressive apps I have seen for the iPad have been on my storm-chaser son's iPad. He was easily able to track and view the storm activity in Oklahoma this week using some good weather apps on the device and can't wait to use the iPad on his upcoming chase next month. (

With the larger screen, many of the popular apps (like Twitter and Facebook) are easily able to be used on their full Web pages versus via an app or mobile version of the site. This allows access to all functionality of the sites.

I am still loving this PC (Personal Communication) device!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Additional iPad thoughts

I have now spent a couple of days with the iPad and find it more and more useful every day! I am just trying out features as I need them, not testing every little option on the device.

I just tried the USB camera connection component and the wired, full-size aluminum keyboard, but the iPad popped up a message that the keyboard accessory took too much power. So, I have moved to the iPad keyboard dock, and it works like a dream!

I have hand-carried the iPad, put it on a table, used it in landscape and portrait mode, and have concluded that it truly is a lap device. During the Jobs iPad announcement conference, when he showed it off for the first time, Steve was sitting with it resting on his legs. It really feels natural to use it that way, and, with the touch-screen interaction, it becomes a very usable personal device! (I hope schools that pilot classroom sets will remember to let students use the devices while sitting in easy chairs, and not tie them to a desk or table for use.)

I hooked up the iPad via the VGA connector to an external monitor today, and practiced going through a Keynote presentation while going into the Videos area to show movies and then going back into the Keynote presentation. It is not dis-similar to moving back and forth between a presentation and a helper app on a desktop, and the iPad is so quick, it really should not impact the audience as you go in and out of Keynote. One suggestion is to put both apps on your taskbar, at least for the presentation time, so you can easily locate the icons. (Tip: I am assuming you already know that you can actually put 6 icons on the taskbar, even though the default is 4.)

Today at lunch, of course I lugged (okay, carried) the iPad along to show it off. One teacher had a question about Twitter and three of us were comfortably able to view and share the screen when I showed them Tweetie in 2x view-- the big image is a tad fuzzy, but very usable. The teachers were not wowed by the iPad itself, but by the fact we could actually collaborate easily! w00t! I love being an unintentional mentor!

Being such a heavy iPhone user, I do miss having a camera. I downloaded Camera A and Camera B, which are two apps-- one that runs on the iPhone and one on the iPad. You start them both up, they connect with each other, and then the camera view on your iPhone shows up on the iPad. Once you take the photo, it is on the iPad! You really have to have a steady iPad hand, but it will work in a pinch! (Of course, you can always email yourself the photo from the iPhone...)

When I wrote my first iPad post, I noticed some weird things about Blogger. After doing some research, I found out Blogger's regular interface does not play well with the iPad, so I purchased the program I am using now, BlogPress, and it seems to work well with the iPad. We will see what the live post looks like in a few!

I attended a Discovery Educator Network webinar today via WebEx, and I tried to log-in with Safari on the iPad. That did not work because of the lack of Java support on the iPad. I then downloaded the WebEx app for iPad, but, since Discovery did not schedule their presentation directly through the WebEx meeting scheduler, I could not join via the iPad. The app informed me that I would have to use a computer to view that particular webinar. (This is just a reminder in case you want people with iPads to attend your WebEx!) I will be trying an Adobe Connect presentation tomorrow when I create a meeting on the computer and join with the iPad/iPhone client. It works well on the iPhone, so I am sure it will work on the iPad with no problem.

The only thing I am impatient about is waiting for updated iPad-designed versions of my favorite apps, like Tweetie, SlingPlayer, and some others that I use regularly. With the increased screen real estate of the iPad, it is great to see some of the updated apps and how they take advantage of the space to add additional features and/or allow more information to be viewed at one time.

That's it for now. Bottom is a fun, fast, intuitive, usable, useful, and the 3G is just the icing on the cake for anytime, anywhere access. I think Apple got it right!

- Kathy Schrock

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Notes from (and about) the iPad 3G

I received the iPad 3G late on Friday and have not spent tons of time putting it through its paces. However, knowing I was going away for the weekend motivated me to get it set-up right away to take with me as my device of choice. I had been reading and rereading the online manual since the WiFi version was released and had bookmarked all the good advice from the blogs on how best to set it up, so I was prepared. Here are my thoughts thus far:

It is lightning fast! It moves between apps so fast, I hardly miss multi-tasking. There are times when it would come in handy, but I managed to make liberal use of cut-and-paste to make things work between apps when necessary.

Set-up was easy. I followed the advice online and manually moved media and apps to the iPad to allow me to pick the apps that would work best on it. I had a lot of photo apps on the iPhone that were not necessary to install on the iPad.

I cannot recommend the 3G version highly enough! I have used it to grade papers in Moodle while waiting in the car and in this hotel room where wireless access is spotty at best. The purchase of the 3G service through iTunes was easy, too.

I moved photos of the honors graduation ceremony up to the iPad using the camera connection kit SD card component and it went easily and I was able to both share the photos on the iPad itself and email them to others.

It is truly a "different" type of device and it takes a bit to get a feel for it. At first it seemed a bit awkward when I was treating it like a big iPhone. However, once I got past that, I realized it truly is in a class of technology by itself!