Tag Archives: ipad

Utilizing Your iPad for Productivity in 5 Steps

The Future is Yours!

Congratulations, you own an iPad! Now . . . what are you going to do with it? Are you familiar with any Apple products? Do you know how to adjust the brightness or connect to a wifi network or bluetooth accessories? How do you check the free space?

  1. Take It Slow.
  2. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by new technology. If your tech experience is limited to Microsoft products up until now, you should know that there is a learning curve, even though it is relatively shallow. If your long-term goal is to use the iPad as your primary device, then try using it for just one extra task per day. Start with something simple and easy like checking email, and each day just add another task.

    Here are some great articles to get you started on iPad usefulness:

  3. Do Your Homework.
  4. Most people can figure out how to take pictures, use Facebook, and play games with relative ease. The iPad was designed to be simple and intuitive from the inside out. However, tasks like exporting files, App-specifics like creating 3D objects, or even the occasional mysterious basic task (like copying text) can be remarkably difficult to figure out on your own. Don’t let frustration win: take steps to educate yourself. Go to Apple’s Forums or even search on Bing or Google. You can start here, if you like:

  5. Design Your Pipeline.
  6. IPad Apps tend to be more specialized than programs on a PC. So you might need to use one App to write out text, another to mark it up in HTML, another to check your code, and yet another to actually publish the blog post (if you’re using it for blogging, like I am!). The key to iPad mastery is working with these Apps regularly so that you get a feel for their strengths and weakness. Always use any given App for its strengths, and find another App to cover for other tasks.

    Most of us do this on a PC without ever realizing it. For example, you might write out text in a Word Processor, use email to send the document file to your co-worker, who then proofs it and makes it into a PDF using a two-step process. Creating content with an iPad might use more applications than a PC, but it will take the same amount of time (or less) when you understand how your Apps work.

    Tip: Step 1 can easily be incorporated into the process of learning a new App, just learn how to do one new thing on it each day, while practicing what you’ve done before. If you can, I highly recommend learning any new tool gradually, and that includes the iPad.

  7. Take Notes
  8. Studies like this one have shown that the act of writing something down helps your brain to better absorb the information and remember it. I recommend using an App like Evernote or MagicalPad to record your thoughts and also help you improve at App-switching.

    Tip: Don’t just take notes on what you’re learning – include thoughts of how to apply whatever App you’re studying to other areas of your work. You may be surprised at the results, but I have found more than a few happy surprises in several Apps which are useful for more than just their basic purpose.

  9. Make time for Play.
  10. I’m not recommending downloading Angry Birds and playing it for hours on end. You’re welcome to do that if you like, but I’m talking about the type of play that leads to greater learning.

    For example, while I was learning how to use Procreate, I would often use a single brush to slather different colors all over the page and then go nuts with the Smudge tool, just to see what kind of result I could get with simplicity. I ended up with some pretty cool-looking paintings, not perfect, but pretty good for about 15 minutes work. And more importantly, I learned how to better use the brushes and smudge tool to create better artwork.

Whether your new iPad becomes an overpriced toy or an investment on which you see a return is up to you. And if it is a work-issued device, learning how to better utilize it for productivity may just catch the attention of your boss and lead to greater opportunities.

Like these tips? If you have questions, email me at editor[at]iPad4Life.net . I rely on your questions for creating content that is useful for you, so don’t be shy – email me!


Preventing iPad theft in Coffee Shops

The iPad’s physical portability and practical versatility makes it perfect for doing a little out-of-office work at your favorite coffee place. Unfortunately, these same traits also make it an ideal target for thieves.

Here are a few tips for keeping your iPad from getting stolen while you’re out an about:

  1. Keep it by Your Side.
  2. Most coffee shops call your name when your drink is ready, and in those seemingly short seconds when you are getting your order, someone could easily grab your tablet and walk out the door with impunity. So, remember the iPad’s portability when you go to get your drink and take it with you.
    Also, don’t be afraid to take the iPad with you on a bathroom break. Sorry if I’ve just given all you mysophobes nightmares for the next week. Try wrapping your iPad in paper towels and laying it on a secure, stable surface (like a changing table) if you’re in an open-door restroom meant for multiple customers at once. I’ve found that most coffee shops have the one-at-a-time variety with lockable doors, in which case you can just lay the tablet on some paper towels covering the sink or other dry flat surface.

  3. Forge Alliances.
  4. If you become a ‘regular’ at a coffee shop, it won’t be long before you get to know the other regulars as well. I know quite a few regulars at my local Starbucks since I’m here all the time, and we all trust each other to watch our stuff if we need to step out for a phone call or use the facilities.

  5. Go Small.
  6. Without falling into the fallacy that smaller towns are inherently safer than big cities (statistically, they aren’t), using a smaller coffee shop can be to your advantage, especially if you slip up on step 1 and suddenly find yourself away from the iPad at the drink counter or restroom. Just keep your stuff in your eyeline, and try to park it within sight of a security camera. Smaller shops also make it easier to recognize your fellow regulars so that you can look out for each other.

Ultimately, theft prevention is about awareness. Be aware of your surroundings, know your fellow coffee-drinkers, and be safe out there.
Have any safety tips of your own? Email me – editor[at]iPad4Life.net .

MagicalPad Review

Brain Organization

Whether taking some simple notes or trying to organize a big idea, MagicalPad may be the App you’re looking for. If your brain is as scattered and random as mine, it may just save your life.

A Minimal but Powerful Interface

The in-App buttons are all found at the bottom of the interface, and they work like a charm. Basic commands are all there (Undo, Delete, Formatting), and a single tap brings up “Mind-Mapping” options, as you can see in this screenshot:

The Beautiful, Minimal Interface of MagicalPadIt really is just as simple to operate as it looks.

I really like how the “Mind-Mapping” menu stays on-screen until you tap it again – particularly handy when you need to switch Auto-Connecting and what type of note you want it to create. If you don’t like it hanging around, just tap it again to restore your screen real estate.

Each note edits with a tap and to move something, just hold your finger on it until it fades, then put it wherever you want. If it’s a connected note, the connecting line moves with it. And if you left a note unconnected and suddenly realize it should be attached to something? Just use “Connect Selected” in the Mind-Mapping menu and tap away. Ultimately, both editing and idea-connecting work exactly the way they should.

Intuitive Functionality and Evernote Integration

The value of making multiple notebooks is a huge plus, and is part of what made this App worth its purchase for me. I tend to have multiple projects at once, so being able to file each one in its own little home helps me stay organized, productive, and task-focused. Also, it’s easy to connect your Evernote account and export the workspace as a JPG, Note, or .PDF. I recommend either JPG or PDF, since you lose any of the “Mind-Mapping” if you export as a note:

Exporting as a Note: Bad Idea if you want to Maintain FormattingExporting as a Note looks like this. You’re welcome.

The notebooks themselves can be filled with lots of rename-able pages. The default system names each page after the date and time, so I recommend renaming right after starting a new page just to stay organized.

The Notebook Screen of MagicalPadKeep your ideas separated for greater productivity and less distraction.

The Price

The price point for this App may prove a little rich for your blood – $7.99 (at the time of this writing) puts it in a category of “over $5 Apps” which, in my opinion, means it better deliver. I can say without hesitation that this app has been worth more than the eight bucks I dropped on it, and I use it for everything from organizing this blog to making plans and modifying them during the execution phase.

If you’re the kind of person who likes being able to organize your thoughts visually, and you value both flexibility and intuitive design, then this is probably the App you’ve been looking for. If you’re just looking for something to take notes in, stick with Evernote.


Five Stars!

Standard Review Disclaimer

All of my reviews are done on the 4th Generation iPad that is about five months old. I can’t vouch for the functionality of something on an iPhone, an iPad Mini, an iPod Touch, older generation iPad, or a steam-powered spaceship. If you agree or disagree with any particular rating, please feel free to leave a well-reasoned comment, or send me an email: editor[at]iPad4Life.net .

How to Connect a Bluetooth Keyboard to Your iPad (Plus Basic Troubleshooting!)

Typing on the iPad

Touchscreen typing is a pain, unless you happen to be one of the five people on the planet who prefers it. Personally, I’m constantly hitting the wrong keys, forgetting that it automatically capitalizes the first letter (which is important when you’re typing in a password), or worst of all, getting terrible hand cramps from hovering my fingertips just microns above the screen.

Find the Right Keyboard

If you are constantly using your lap to support your device, consider a folio like Zagg or Logitech. I have not used either of these devices, so let the Amazon reviews be your guide. If you’re like me and you usually work at a table, the standard Apple wireless keyboard should do the job, though you should be able to connect any keyboard as long as it’s bluetooth. The key is to find whatever is going to work for you.

Turn Bluetooth On

Go into Settings and select “Bluetooth” from the menu on the left. If it’s already on, do nothing, if it’s not, just slide your finger to turn it on. Keep it on this screen as you follow the next step.

Turn Your Keyboard on and Set it in Discovery Mode

Consult your product manuals for how to do this, as it varies somewhat from device to device. The Apple wireless keyboard only requires you to tap the power button, which will cause a small green LED on top of the keyboard to start blinking.

On your Settings>Bluetooth screen, you should see the device listed under the Bluetooth on/off switch, like so:

The iPad Bluetooth Menu
You may see more than one device listed – make sure you know which one is your keyboard!

Make sure you know which device is yours, and if it says “Not Connected,” tap it. You should see a progress wheel as your iPad and keyboard shake hands, and after a few seconds it should say “Connected.” The keyboard is now ready to type on the iPad, and you’re ready to go!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Keyboard is connected, but nothing happens when I type

While I don’t know the specifics of this problem, I can tell you what has worked for me – go back into your Settings>Bluetooth menu and switch the Bluetooth off on the iPad itself. After it has finished turning off (when the device menu underneath disappears and the small Bluetooth icon in the upper-right corner turns off), turn it back on and reconnect your keyboard.

Also, make sure you know your keyboard’s broadcast name. Don’t guess. If you connect to an unknown device, you are compromising your iPad’s security, and potentially invading someone else’s privacy. I work in various coffee shops around where I live, and I am constantly seeing other peoples’ unconnected (but active) Bluetooth devices in my device menu. Always make sure you know what device name your keyboard is using, you can usually find it in the documentation. If you can’t find it, email the manufacturer’s support department.

I need to use a special character letter, like this: ü

For this, it’s best to use the onscreen keyboard. How do you get it back without going through all the rigamarole of disconnecting the keyboard, using the onscreen, and then reconnecting? If you’re using an Apple keyboard, simply press the “Eject” key on the top right. This will pull up the onscreen keyboard, but still allow you to type with both.

To get the special character in mind, hold your finger on the base letter of the onscreen keyboard (in our umlaut – ü – example, this would be the letter “u.”), and after about a second you will see an assortment of alternate version of that letter. Keep your finger on the keyboard (don’t let it off!) and slide it to the character you have in mind. To get the onscreen keyboard off, just press the button again.

My Keyboard is typing in a different language

This will happen if you have multiple languages installed on your iPad, like me. The shortcut command (if you’re using an Apple wireless keyboard) is “Command + Spacebar” to switch between keyboard language layouts. Hold down on the Command button to keep the language menu onscreen. If you’re using a different keyboard (one that doesn’t have the Apple “Command” button), pull up the onscreen keyboard and press the key on the bottom left that looks kind of like a globe. Keep pressing that button until it gets to the language you have in mind.

Summing Up

Using a physical keyboard with the iPad helps prevent hand strain and frustration, and is a great way to accomplish large writing tasks as well as exercising faster and more intuitive control over the language input.

Copy Text with the iPad

Deceptively Simple

Copying text is pretty simple on a regular computer – just click, drag, Ctrl+C! The iPad, however, had continually frustrated my efforts with its tendency to highlight entire paragraphs when I just wanted a sentence or two, leaving me to delete several lines of text. But then I discovered a simple technique that for some reason never came up in any of my searches.

Keep in mind that this works in Chrome and Safari, but your mileage will vary in other apps (like the Kindle App).

Step 1: Select One Word

First, press your fingertip against the first word in the chain you want to copy. This will select the word, turning it blue, and you should notice a blue circle at its top left and bottom right. For my example, I have chosen President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, copied from Wikipedia.

Gettysburg Address via Wikipedia.org

Step 2: Drag The Circles

Now, press your fingertip onto the bottom right circle and drag your finger over the rest of the text you want to copy. If it’s a big block, you can move your finger straight down, as the selection will follow the text just like it would with a mouse. When you lift your finger off the screen, the text should still be highlighted.

Gettysburg Address with text selected

If you find that you selected the wrong first word, you can likewise drag the top left circle and move the selection to the left to grab that sneaky word.

Always Grab the Blue Circles to Extend Your Selection

Step 3: Copy

This varies a little depending on the browser you’re using. In Safari, a simple Command+C will copy the text (assuming you’re using a keyboard and not the touchscreen). Chrome seems a bit finicky about using a keyboard, so it’s best to tap on one of the blue circles to bring up a menu (similar to the right-click menus in Windows). Tap “Copy” and you’re good to go.

Step 4: Paste

When you’ve copied the text, switch apps (or tabs, if it’s meant for something browser-based) and use Command+V if you’re using a physical keyboard. If you’re using the touchscreen, or if the App in question doesn’t see to like taking orders from a keyboard, press and hold your finger for a few seconds (or double-tap with your finger) on the space where you want to paste. A little “Paste” button should pop up: select it and the text should paste. Now you can format it, blockquote it, or just celebrate a job well done.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

If you are among the “fat-fingered” variety of people like I am, you may find this process has a bit of a learning curve. Keep at it! Practice it and be patient with both your device and yourself. It will get easier – within a few days of discovering this method, I had mastered it and haven’t lost a selection since.

If you stumble upon any time-saving tips like this, email me: editor[at]iPad4Life.net .

My First App Problem: GTA 3

I thought it couldn’t happen to me. I have the latest iPad, the OS is up-to-date and I take good care of it. This kind of thing happens to iPad2 owners, not latest-and-greatest people like me. And yet, there I was, ready to commit fake crimes in a fake city, and the game buttons had shrunk so small I could barely see them.

The App is a game called Grand Theft Auto 3, and it was originally released for PC back in 2001. I was in College at the time, and the game proved a fantastic way of relieving the stress and aggression that so often accompanies education and frankly, life in general.

One night, I saw my update notification from the App Store, and the release notes (which I read very carefully), simply said that they were adding iPhone compatibility to the game, as well as cloud-saving features that would allow people to save their games across several devices. I downloaded the update, and later that night I played the game. This is what I saw:

The Problem

The Heads-Up Display (HUD) was suddenly very tiny and all bunched together in the top corner. I looked through the display menu frantically, and couldn’t find anything to help. This basically renders the game unplayable, and after several unfruitful Google searches, I decided to send a support ticket to Rockstar about it. Then, literally right after I sent the ticket, I found what I was looking for poking around in the game:

The Solution

After selecting “Adjust On Foot Controls,” I learned that GTA3’s entire HUD is moveable and scalable, and I just moved the icons back to where they belonged. I did the same thing with the Vehicle Controls, then I sheepishly updated the trouble ticket so they would know the problem was solved, and so hopefully other people might find it and know that they are not alone.

Have you had App problems in the past? Did you find a workable solution yourself? If you dealt with the publisher directly, how helpful was their customer support? Send your stories to editor[at]iPad4Life.net .

5 Things I Hate About My iPad

No device is perfect, and as enamored as I am with my iPad, there are times when I want to chuck it out the nearest window. Here are five things I hate about my iPad:

  1. The Touchscreen Keyboard.
  2. It makes me feel like an inarticulate chimp when I try to express my thoughts using its arbitrary sensitivity. Usually the autocorrect steps in, but that creates a whole host of new issues for me. When it corrects something I’ve legitimately mistyped (due to my fat fingers), it feels like it’s patronizing me, and when it gives a suggestion for something I’ve typed correctly because it thinks I must mean a different word, it feels like it’s censoring me. Either way, there’s no way I’d be able to produce content at a decent speed without my bluetooth keyboard, at least not without going through several window-chucked iPads.

    iPad with Shattered Screen
    For sale, one iPad, slightly window-chucked. (Creative Commons Image by iRepairUAE)
  3. The Home Button is Prone to Accidents.
  4. Especially while gaming. It’s a vicious cycle, really: I get so focused on blowing up enemy fighters in Galaxy on Fire 2 or exacting my revenge in Grand Theft Auto 3 that I forget the Home button is even there until suddenly I’m staring at the app screen screaming, “NNNOOOOOOOOO!” in the middle of Starbucks and everyone’s staring at me for some reason. While the game stays in memory and always picks up exactly where it left off when I re-launch it right away, it takes me out of the moment and spoils a perfectly good experience. Considering how many games are best played in Landscape mode, there really has to be a better place for the home button than right where my thumb naturally goes. And speaking of gaming . . .

  5. The Absence of a Universal Bluetooth Game Controller.
  6. While there have been several promising advances, there is still no one controller that works for every game. This is a problem, not only because of the Home button problem mentioned above, but because Touchscreen controls are unimmersive because they have no physical feedback. With a controller, you can feel the push of the button, and steer with a small joystick, even feel the rumble of a hit. While there are some workaround hardware solutions, they don’t really compare to the comfort and immersion that you can get from a physical, XBox-like controller, not to mention the questionable ergonomics of gripping a two-pound tablet.

  7. No USB slots.
  8. This isn’t really a huge complaint for me since I have a habit of syncing my iPad with any files I need from home before I head out for the day. But it speaks to a perceived arrogance on the part of Apple that their portable device doesn’t play nice with other commonly-used portable devices. Even one jump drive slot would be enough, I would think, and if the designers are really concerned that it will mess up the aesthetics, they can always use a cover that’s similar to those on smartphones and digital cameras. Maybe some day we’ll live in a perfect world where everything is wirelessly connected and no one ever needs to use any kind of physical media, but we’re not there yet.

  9. Mobile Sites.
  10. I have kind of a love/hate relationships with “Mobile Sites,” where I completely adore the ones that work well (like Zoho Mail, which I use to host my email account), and want to kill with fire the sites that look terrible, are unintuitive, and basically useless (I’m looking right at you, Google+). Unfortunately, most Mobile sites fit into the latter category, and so my online experience is sometimes hampered by poor design, lack of accessible content, and thrown-together interactivity. While Chrome has a handy option under the menu called “Request Desktop Site,” it seems to only work on a page-by-page basis, and as soon as I navigate to another page on the site I have to request the desktop site again, which sometimes leads me back to the homepage and ALL I WANT TO DO IS LINK TO THIS FUNNY ARTICLE ABOUT NAPOLEON BONAPARTES’ OBSESSION WITH COIN-COLLECTING WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LIVE?!

Still the one

At the end of the day, the iPad is still my preferred device and platform for maximum produtivity. It works great, keeps me focused, and is fun to use, which makes it perfect for me. If you have some iPad frustrations of your own, send me an email: editor[at]iPad4Life.net and maybe I’ll find a solution in a future post.