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!
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