Sunday, November 28, 2010

Enabling Readability on iPad

Distraction Free iPad
Ever wish you could read web pages your iPad without the distracting clutter of ads, sidebars, and animations like you do with Readability on your desktop browser? Readability's drag-and-drop bookmarklet requires Flash so enabling the button on an iPad requires copying and pasting the Javascript code into an existing Bookmark. Follow these steps:
  • Select your Settings (for example) Style = Newspaper, Size = Medium, and Margin = Narrow
  • Check Convert to hyperlinks to bookmarks if you would like all in-article links removed and transferred as references to the bottom of the page.
  • Press and hold in the Javascript box and choose Select All. Choose Copy to copy the code.

Edit Bookmark
  • Press the Bookmarks icon and choose Bookmarks Bar
  • Press the Edit button
  • To the right of Readability press the > symbol to bring up Edit Bookmark
  • Follow steps 1 - 4 in the diagram below. Keep in mind that you will need to completely removed the Readability web address and then press and hold in the box to paste the Javascript code.

  • If you have Printopia installed on a Macintosh computer then print the Readability web page to a PDF document in your Dropbox share.
  • Open the PDF with the Dropbox app and then open it with GoodReader.
  • Use GoodReader annotation to take notes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Updated Collection of iPad Apps

An October update of my collection of free and paid apps that I use most often. Unless otherwise indicated all apps below are designed specifically for the iPad. Please comment and let me know what apps are important to you!

Articles - So why pay for an app when Safari can browse Wikipedia for free? Article's design makes it a pleasure to read, navigate, and display articles. Pages display almost instantly. There is a table of contents of jump points for for most pages, which allows quick navigation throughout your page. You can bookmark pages and manage them with a Safari like interface. Using the language picker pages can be translated quickly, which is a great learning tool for students.

The WorldFactBook provides a colorful, icon rich interface to the completed CIA World Factbook, which is downloaded locally to your iPad for offline access. Content is updated once monthly. In addition to rapid navigation through more than 250 countries there is a Maps tab for major world regions that can be zoomed in for closer view. The addition of jump points from each of the countries to their description pages is missing however. The Comparison tab compares countries by a number of demographic indicators such as Infant mortality rate and Education expenditures. 

I constantly use Photogene to crop and edit photographs or screenshots opened from my iPhone or iPhone Camera Roll. Photogene includes tools to rotate, adjust color, retouch, add text, and enhance with gradients, framing, and effects. During the export process you can change the resolution and then send the final photo in a variety of ways including Twitter, e-mail, Facebook, Flickr, and to a linked dropbox. I especially use Photogene for cropping, resizing, and annotating screenshots taken on my iPad*, which are then saved to my Dropbox Photos folder. The file can then be immediately inserted into a blog page or more precisely annotated with software such as Jing or Skitch

Screenshot cropped with Photogene & then annotated with Skitch
* To take a screenshot of your iPad screen press the power and home button at the same time, which saves the snapshot to the iPad's Photo Library. 

Slideshare completed converted its web site to HTML 5, eliminating the need for Flash to play slides on mobile devices. Although the mobile Webapp Slideshare is not as efficient and full-featured as a native app, the new HTML 5 version finally allows playing of Slideshare content!  

Dragon Dictation - Converts what you speak into surprisingly accurate text. The process is simple: press the recording button at the top of the screen and start speaking - slowly and distinctly with minimal background noise works best. Dragon Dictation processes and converts your speech through online servers and displays the converted text on your iPad screen, which you can either edit, copy, or e-mail. Although Dragon Dictation limits speech conversions to 60 seconds at one time, you can record more sessions to append and build text of a complete recording. You can separate sessions by creating new notes. Press the information button at the bottom of your iPad screen to bring up a help screen that provides tips for effective recording and shortcut speech commands to format your text (e.g. "next paragraph"). Additional tips are available at

Voice Memos – Not to be confused with Apple's own Voice Memos app, which is only available for iPod touch (2nd generation or higher) and iPhone. Although the app is not free (it costs $1.98 - $.99 for the app plus $.99 for the share memos add-on), it is elegant, easy-to-use, saves files as compressed .m4a audio files, allows simply text tagging, and export by e-mail and iTunes file sharing. E-mail exports are limited to approximately 20MB or 40 minutes of recording. Unlike Apple's native app Voice Memos cannot record in the background and does not provide a tool for trimming recordings on the fly.

USAToday Reader. An app browser designed for elegance, stunning images, simple navigation that allows you to easily read the latest in USA News, Sports, Money, and Life. When you open each category in Reader, the information is updated locally on your iPod. You can then take these stories with you to read off-line - simply ignore any not-connected error and continue reading.

NetFlix Subscribers have essentially the same functionally as the full web browser version (manage your NetFlix DVD and Instant queues, view Recent activity such as when your next DVD's will ship, etc.) and can instantly watch TV episodes and movies streamed from Netflix on their iPad in full screen. The quality is excellent and the experience is superb.

Evernote If you have not already done so create a free account and download the Windows or Mac desktop application. (The web browser works well enough when the full application is not available.) Use Evernote to create notebooks of just about anything digital that you can imagine: images, audio uploads, PDF's, web clippings, and of course your text formatted notes. The Evernote apps allows you to access your notes online and add text, voice notes, and images from your iPad Photo library.

accesses the Random House Unabridged Dictionary online providing basic definitions with sentence example and word origin. The audio pronunciation tool is embedded in the definition and plays in the background while you read. Dictionary includes a Thesaurus and the Word of the Day.

DropBox – Go to and create an account. Install the software on your PC or Mac and place documents that you want to sync to your server account (2GB) into the Dropbox folder. When you edit a file locally it syncs to the server. If you install DB on another personal computer, then it will sync from server to the DropBox folder on that computer. Dropbox displays iPad compatible file formats (e.g. images, music, Office and iWork documents, rtf, and html) stored on your share and provides tools to open them into apps such as GoodReader, Keynote, and Pages. Read these top five uses of Dropbox including copying PDF documents to a special folder (e.g. ebooks) and then marking them as favorites for off-line reading.

Twitterific There are many Twitter clients for iPhone and iPad and choice is often based on personal preference in addition to features. I like Twitterific because it is visual attractive, easy-to-use, and includes . For example tweets are color-code by mentions, replies, direct messages, and personal tweets. Clicking a tweet's embedded URL opens the page within Twitterfic's own pop-up browser. Clicking the Done button returns to the active tweet.

Speak-It! Type or copy and paste text in the "text to say" window and have a synthesized voice speak back to you. You can choose from two American voices (good quality) and two British voices (better quality), increase or lower the volume, and adjust the playback speed. Text can be saved as phrases for future retrieval and then exported as a TTS audio file, which can be e-mail for storage and retrieval.
There are a number of application for Speak It! including hands-free listening of online news, playing back text for those who are unable to speak, and assisting auditory learnings with reading text. For long text such as chapters and books, I recommend a solution such as iSpeak It and iTunes.

WordRefer – Web app that accesses the web site. Excellent resource for translating words between languages (e.g. English, French, Italian, Greek, Spanish, and Japanese), providing many example idiomatic expressions based on the word, and conjugating verbs. Users can also join a Discussion forum to pose questions about word usage in a given language. The app's design is average but provides an excellent reference and communication tool for language learners.

SonicPics for iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad (although not yet native) is an elegantly simple, all-in-one mobile solution for creating audio slideshows — still images synced with audio as they relate to each image — that provide enhanced online and mobile learning opportunties for students as compared to audio only media. The slideshows can be exported as QuickTime chapter videos or uploaded directly to YouTube for instant sharing! SonicPics uses the iPad's built-in microphone and imports images from your iPad's Photo library. Even though the app is not yet native, SonicPics runs without issue on an iPad, which is a natural for annotating audio to images because of its larger screen and built-in microphone. For detailed information on SonicPics read Creating Collaborative Audio Slideshows.

GoodReader - By now most everyone is familiar with GoodReader and would agree that it is the best available PDF reader for iPad.

iBooks - Apple's ebook reader that requires a separate download with any new iPad. You can read, browse, purchase, or upload for free from a large library of books in ePub and PDF format. Be sure to install the latest update, which includes a note tool, flexible color highlighting, and bookmark syncing with iPhone/touches running iOS 4.

Keynote - Keynote for iPad easily and quite accurately imports PowerPoint (Windows or Macintosh) and Keynote (Macintosh) presentations, especially when used with the Dropbox app. From your PC or Mac save your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation to a Dropbox folder (e.g. presentations), open Dropbox on iPad, load the presentation, and choose Open In Keynote, which automatically imports the file including presentation notes (available with the the November 2010 update). The process takes less than one or two minutes depending on the size of your presentation file. The optional iPad VGA adapter allows you to project your Keynote presentation, although it must be in play mode. During projection there is an option to split the iPad screen into the current slide with presenter notes. The projection monitor or screen will display the full slide. In addition the presenter can switch the time display between time elapsed or current time and press and hold down to activate an on-screen red laser pointer.

Reeder is arguably the best and most full featured RSS Reader for the iPad, although app is $4.99. The iPhone version must be purchased separately. Reeder is actually a client for Google Reader and provides options for sharing through e-mail, Twitter, and Delicious bookmarking.

NPR Music is one of the most recent apps that I have downloaded and already I have had the pleasure of discovering, reading about, and listening to several new music groups. You can explore genres by Rock/Pop/Folk, Jazz & Blues, World, Classical and Hip Hop/R&B and browse by Programs and artists. There are live performances, reviews, and interviews to supplement what you listen. Create your own playlist of performances that you want to quickly retrieve.

PlainText - There are not many options to write data from your iPad directly to a Dropbox share. PlainText is one of them, although the app is limited to text only. When you link to your Dropbox account you typically designate a subfolder named Plaintext where folders and documents are stored. It is possible to edit the same document simultaneously (e.g. making changes from another iPad ). PlainText takes care of the merging and syncing for you. Great for taking notes at a conference or distracting free writing. Note: Habilis is an e-mail to DropBox gateway that allows you to e-mail iPad documents to a designated folder in your Dropbox share. For details go to

Mint - Sign up for an account on and connect to your online banking, investment, loans and credit card accounts for a quick check of recent transactions and balances. You authenticate through secure login credentials and then establish read-only access to transactions - money cannot be moved or transferred. Mint provides optional online money-management tools and options to send alerts based on transactions and status such as an account that is running low. Note: Mint is not yet iPad native.

Flixster - Search for box office flicks, movies on DVD, and upcoming films that are still in production. The movies are rated using the Rotten Tomatoes or Netflix database and includes a video trailer, PG rating, length, and theatre show times in your area, which is adjustable by distance. Flixster has links to the movie web sites Rotten Tomatoes, Flixster, and Bing. Movies released as DVD's can be rented or purchased through a direct link to iTunes. View and managing your Netflix queue is missing in the iPad version but available for iPhone - iPod touch.

PBS for iPad
- Released this month PBS for iPad provides access to a selection of hundreds of videos from new programs and recent PBS archives such as Frontline, Nova, Masterpiece Theatre, and PBS Newshour. There is a short sponsor message each time the app is launched but otherwise all videos play without commercial interruption. The archive provides an invaluable resource for faculty and students, although it is unclear how far back the archives will continue to extend after live episodes pass. You can see a schedule of upcoming programs and episodes and bookmark what you have seen, and share videos on Facebook and Twitter.

Atomic Web - Atomic Web is an excellent alternate browser to Safari that provides tabbed windows, full screen browser display, ad filtering, font size control, and option to save as a web page. The Settings menu includes many customization options and provides VGA out to allow iPad projection to a VGA monitor or projector. The optional iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter is required

Phonecasting Alternative to ?

During the summer I finally found what I thought was an ideal solution for instructors to easily record lectures or other audio information AND allow students in their classes to do the same. For details read this post: Unfortunately will be discontinued by December 15 as a result of its purchase by Facebook. All free (and paid) accounts and data will be deleted by that date. I am searching for an alternative such as those listed in this post but none seem close to what can provide.

Do you have suggestions for a service that provides features reasonably close to what provided?

Requirements (or reasonably close)
  • Phone record directly to your account space using a unique phone number. Therefore you (and-or your students) could use any phone - landline or mobile to make the call-in.
  • Reasonable storage to allow allow a semester's worth of podcasts (100MB provides 400 minutes of recording) and presumably a price model for larger space requirements.
  • Administrator control that controls access to the podcast site
  • Guest password for students so they can create their own phonecasts
  • Option to subscribe to RSS feeds including iTunes
  • Pre-recorded lectures in mp3 or aac audio files that can be uploaded separately as part of the podcast
  • Mobile app is preferred
  • Guarantee that the service will not be purchased and discontinued by a billion dollar bully ;)

A First Look at iPad OS 4.2

iPad OS 4.2 Update

Recently a number of articles have listed new features in the iPad's latest 4.2 OS release in varying detail of how they may be useful. Below is a summary of my personal experiences with some tips that I learned.


Previously run iPad apps remain suspended in the background in a save state until you retrieve them. For example you can open a slide in your Keynote presentation, switch to a Safari web page, copy text, quickly switch back to Keynote, and paste the text. Third party apps such as Pandora, NPR Music, and TuneIn Radio now multitask so it is finally possible to play music in the background while you run other apps.

To display the Multitasking bar with the most recent running apps quickly tap the Home button twice. Swipe to the left to display another set of running apps. Press any app icon to activate its state, which may be as precise as a position in a web page or a specific slide in a Keynote presentation.

Swipe the Multitasking bar to the right to display a multipurpose controller bar that contains from left to right an Orientation Lock button, a brightness control slider, audio controls (back, play-pause, forward), a volume control slider, and the current audio app such as iPod or Pandora. Note that the Orientation lock will only work for iPad native apps.

Note! If you triple-tap the Home button by mistake then VoiceOver will activate - quickly tap three times in succession to turn it back off.

Airplay to Airport express

If you have an AirPort Express connected to a stereo system or special speakers such as the iHome AirPlay, then you can stream music from your iPad using any app that plays audio including Pandora, NPR Music, and Netflix (audio only of course). Press and hold down the blue AirPlay icon to choose the name of your AirPort device (in the screenshot below the AirPort Express is named iTunes Express) by starting the iPod app. The AirPlay device select icon is also available in the Multitasking audio bar and to the right of the volume control slider for any iPad-native audio app. (If the app is not native such as NPR Music then first choose the device destination using the iPod app.)

Note! - there appears to a bug in AirPlay to AirPort Express. Although my computer and iPod touch consistently streams all music to my AirPort Express (connected to a stereo system), AirPlay on occasion disconnects after bringing up the Multitasking bar and is no longer available. After several attempts to re-enable (power down and restart, restarting the AirPort Express router, ) I finally succeeded by choosing Forgetting this network in the Settings > General > Wi-Fi > Choose A Network for the active local wireless network and then rejoining it.


Although wireless printing is now available with an iPad, direct printing to a wireless printer is restricted to a select number of HP printer models:

There are currently three workarounds that I know, all of which require connecting a printer to an AirPrint enabled Windows or Macintosh computer. The printer can be connected directly via USB or by Print Sharing (which I have not yet tested).
In this example I opened a web page in Safari and then chose the option HP LaserJet 1022 to print the pages.

Folder organization in App tray

I was never really enthusiastic with folder organization on my iPod touch when it is was available with update 4.0. The icons were small and the process too cumbersome to efficiently organize the apps - why bother? The iPad update was a pleasant surprise because using the App tray the process is really easy.
  • Hold down an app to activate the icon arrangement mode (all the icons jiggle).
  • Locate two icons that you would like to organize in the same folder. Drag one on the other and release.
  • Name the new folder and click outside to release it.
  • Drag the folder to the App tray and hold it there until it snaps in (you have a limit of six so others may have to be removed).
  • You can now easily switch to different screens and drag related apps into your new folder. When finished keep the folder in the App tray or move it to a screen of your preference. In the screenshot below I have organized News, Audio, Video, and Books folders in the App tray. Things are much easier to find!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What Can Be Done About Childhood Obesity?

The Twitter Exercise and Motivation Team is a fantastic resource that combines a dedicated blog and the clever use of the hashtag #temt to motivate hundreds of tweeps into getting fit and living healthier lives! I have been encouraged by the collaboration and kind words of support from team members, inspiring blogs, links to useful resources, and insightful tips such as this tweet from @cybraryman1: "Keep motivated to exercise by setting realistic goals & keeping an exercise journal #temt Make time to exercise in your busy schedules". BTW, you can keep track of the #temt exchange and some interesting statistics at the What Hashtag address: .

As I read another of many disheartening articles on obesity, I thought how educators in the TEMT team could extend its collaborative model by taking steps to reduce childhood obesity through programs in schools. There is an abundance of information on obesity. For example, a Google exact search for "Obesity in America" for the past week brought up 14,300 results. The most significant findings on adult obesity were recently reported by the CDC. In brief the number of obese adults living in the United States increased by 2.4 millions in just two years (2007 to 2009) and in nine states more than 30% are obese. Flip through the pages of this Slideshare slideshow to see how the trend rapidly increased the past 25 years and in particular the increase from 5 to 9 states with rates greater than 30% for the past reporting year (2008 - 2009). The original PowerPoint is located at the CDC U.S. Obesity Trends page.
Obesity trends 2009
The news is even grimmer for children as described on the page Childhood Overweight and Obesity. All statistics stand out but perhaps this one is the most telling: "one study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at aged 10-15 years were obese adults at age 25 years".

So as educators and collaborators what can we do? What have some of us already accomplished in our schools or communities? One start is to share resources, ideas on how to get started, and stories of success (present or pending). I thought about steps such as having students create a healthy eating wiki as part of a class or school project. Students could learn much from such a project: collaboration to build something really useful that they can take pride and ownership in, the value of nutrition, comparing good and bad calories, family history (recipes), skills in technology (learning how to contribute to a Wiki, add comments, insert links and photos), and so on.

There is a lot of movement in taking steps to reduce the prevalence of obesity, which is encouraging. At the same time the trend is still upward and reversing it will take considerable patience and persistence. The section What Can Be Done lists educational resources for community, schools, and self: food and nutrition, physical activity, technology, success stories, and activities that provide opportunities to raise student awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and empower them to to integrate physical activity as a way of life.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Joy of Walking

Greetings all! I would like to share with you my personal experiences in walking for exercise and good health, enjoyment, and the thrill of accomplishment. The beauty of walking to stay fit and feel better is that most anyone can participate and the goals you set are your own.

About 6 or 7 years ago my doctor warned me of my increasing weight (borderline obese), family risk factor of heart disease, and a dangerously high cholesterol ratio (HDL to LDL). He prescribed Lipitor to manage the HDL cholesterol level but recommended regular exercise and diet to manage the other factors. That was the challenge - playing competitive basketball anymore was not an option because of repaired cartilage and aging joints, especially the knees. And I don't use treadmills in large part because I work long hours underground and can't bear the thought of missing any daylight that is left.

  • Manage cholesterol - extended walking will raise your LDL cholesterol but it is gradual and requires extended, regular exercise.
  • Weight control - Walking can help you lose weight but it must be done regularly and you should improve your diet at the same time.
  • Opportunities to reflect - walking can be boring for some but take advantage to reflect. Some of your most creative thinking may emerge. You may even want to take with you a voice recorder so you can capture some of your most inspiring reflections. And it's okay if people think you are talking to yourself!
  • Listen to podcasts and audiobooks, although do be careful of your surroundings. I mix days with podcasts and music or nothing at all.
  • Find where your local nature trails are and take advantage of them.
  • Take photographs and share with others
  • Walking can be social - walk with your spouse, friends, family, and neighbors
  • You can compete in walkathons for good causes and raise money.
  • Manage stress - when you improve your health and sense of well-being, then stress will naturally decrease as well.
  • There is less wear and tear on the joints. The shock factor of a runner's step is 3-4 times a person's weight but walking is usually only 1 to 1.5. Sports such as basketball and tennis can reach a SF of 6 or 7.
  • Manage asthma - Many folks with asthma report fewer attacks when they exercise regularly and I can attest to that personally. At the end of long walks I enter a "zone" in which there are no effects of asthma - exhilarating! (however, like death and taxes, it does come back.)
  • Burning calories. There is no question that running burns more calories during the same amount of time - more bang for your buck. However, many of us do not run really fast and all of us could improve our walking speed over time. For example, if you walk for 30 minutes at 4 miles per hour you will burn 165 calories. Running 5 miles during the same amount of time burns 285 calories.
  • Blood pressure - A study shows that 40 minutes of brisk walking (3 or 4 mph) will reduce blood pressure and this article explains why it works.
  • UPDATE For baby boomers genes play large role in staying healthy until 65. After that exercise & nutrition more important In particular read the short version or the in-depth article of why walking 6- 9 miles per week appears to protect the brain against shrinkage in late adulthood.
  • Most Americans walk less than 6,000 steps per day and many much less than that. I have known of office managers who always work at their desk and can not manage more than 3,000 steps in one day. Get up from your desk often and take short walking breaks.
  • Purchase a pedometer and start calculating how much you walk. Then set goals to realistically increase your average steps per day. The recommended average is 10,000 daily steps.
  • Establish a walking route and schedule regular times to achieve your goal no matter how modest it may be.
  • Finally, I recommend purchasing quality footwear (personally I have had great luck with Nike Air Monarch) and to make sure you have plenty of toe room!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Phone Recording Lecturecasts


Many instructors prefer the simplicity of phoning in recordings of their lectures with a device that is familiar to them and simple to use. They do not have to worry about extra equipment and software and can bypass the multi-step process of recording with a microphone, saving the recording as a MP3 file, and then uploading the file to a podcast server. is one of the easiest solutions to creating phone-in recordings that are almost immediately converted to podcast episodes. The first 100MB of audio lecturecasts is free, which is equivalent to approximately 400 minutes of recording time. If lecturecasts are designed for 20 minutes of delivery, then approximately 20 sessions are available. Pre-recorded lecturecasts can be uploaded separately as part of the podcast.

Getting Started
  • Go to and create a new drop name that is appropriate for your course and has not already been taken (e.g. mylecturesdrop).
  • Click the Create a Drop button.
  • Type your e-mail address that will be associated with your new drop and then click the Done button.
  • Log on to your e-mail account and retrieve your initial Admin password, which is sent by
  • Click the Settings button.
  • Enter your new Admin password and then click the Access This Drop button.
Log on prompt:
  • Click the Access Control tab in the left sidebar and choose Admin Password.
  • Enter your new password and take note of it.
  • Click Save Settings.
  • Choose Guest Password under Access Control and enter a Guest Password for your students.
  • Click Save Settings.
  • Click the Guest Permissions tab under Settings and leave only the comment, chat, and download settings checked. These settings allow your students to subscribe to your podcast.
    If would like students to contribute to your podcast by uploading files, then check the box Guests can add. Students can also contribute if they know the phone-in number and extension or the e-mail address.
    • Click Save Settings.
    • Click the Return link to the right.
    • Under Customize Sidebar > Voicemail click the link Create a free number that you will use to phone in your recording.
    • Dial the number and extension and when prompted record your lecture, making sure to speak distinctly. When finished simply hang up.
    • Your recording is immediately saved to your Drop with a filename such as voice-message-friday-13-aug-01-05am-gmt-mp3.
    • Click the More button to the right and choose Rename to type an appropriate name for your lecture.
    • Repeat the process as needed until you have completed your lecture series.

    Subscribe to a Dropcast ( podcast)
    • Go to your drop address (e.g.
    • Enter the Guest or Admin password as prompted.
    • Choose Share > Share Via Dropcast, which will immediately open iTunes and create a podcast with the name "sharename Dropcast" (e.g. Mylecturesdrop Dropcast).

    Security Settings

    Anyone can e-mail text, images, or audio files to your drop if they know the address, which is based on the drop name followed by (e.g. Although will automatically enter a secret key if users can only view, administrators should nevertheless enter a secret key on their own as follows:
    • Click the Settings tab.
    • Click Input/Output Settings in the left sidebar.
    • Type a combination of characters and numbers without spaces in the box to the right. If you enter "proud58mary" then the new address would be
    • Click the Save Settings button.
    Note! The Account Login and Passwordboxes in the upper-right corner of your page is only for administrators of multiple accounts and does not apply to individual drops.
    Uploading Audio Files to Your Dropcast
    • Prerecorded audio files can be uploaded in addition to your phone in recordings. Click the Add button and follow the steps in the figure below to upload your audio file, which is typically .mp3, .wav, .m4a, or .m4b.
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