Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Apple iPad And Why I'm Glad I Purchased The 3G Model

When The Apple iPad was released in April I thought about being among the first buyers. I didn't see a real need for the 3G model which was not yet available and the $499 price point was an attractive one for my budget considering the accessories I also desired to purchase. 
I'm not one to buy personal digital devices and leave myself wanting for the accessories that enhance productivity and usefulness. I waited over three months from the April release date and purchased my iPad in early July. I'm glad I waited for the 3G model. Readers of my Posts At Eventide blog are familiar with My $1,000 iPad Purchase Odyssey
Along with the Apple iPad with 3G, I purchased the Apple keyboard dock, the Apple iPad case and the 6-foot auxiliary power adapter. The auxiliary power adapter was purchased principally to allow for better positioning of the keyboard dock on my work desk.  Each of these accessories have proven to be necessities
I knew the additional $130 for the 3G model would blow my budget, but the 3G capability has proven to be essential for using the Apple iPad as a business tool. About two weeks ago I attended a four day professional conference and activated the 3G service for the first time. While the convention center where the conference was held offered Wi-Fi in the open areas and exhibit halls, the service was non-existent in the conference rooms. The 3G service allowed me to keep working throughout the day. 
This morning when I arrived at my office Internet service wasn't available. The Internet service provider for the organization had a regional service outage and it took over three hours to correct the problem. Although outages of this duration aren't common, they are too common when they happen. I pulled the Apple iPad out of my backpack, downloaded, read and responded to the work emails over 3G that otherwise would have stacked up until early afternoon when Internet service at the office was reestablished. If I lose a morning due to a lack of Internet access, I've lost virtually all productivity for the day. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

WolframAlpha And AppShopper

WolframAlpha is an amazing app. Purportedly you can find information immediately  on just about any topic. I purchased the app on an impulse the day I purchased my iPad.  Maybe I thought I'd feel smarter just from having the app on this dandy Apple device. The app only cost a $1.99 and I figured it gave me access to the WolframAlpha cloud-based supercomputer. But for what?
My first WolframAlpha query was Pi. I don't know why I even remember Pi. But it seemed like an intelligent thing to query. The results would have been satisfying if I really cared anything about Pi. The three things I remember about Pi are: It determines the circumference of a circle when multiplied by the diameter, my math teachers years ago in high school mentioned it a lot, and in one original Star Trek episode Captain Kirk asked the ship's computer to determine the value of Pi as a means to overwhelm it and retake control of the Starship Enterprise. Why the computer on an intergalactic battleship capable of warp speed would be overwhelmed determining the value of Pi is beyond me. But who said Star Trek is real? I've never met a Vulcan in real life. 
My second query was Richard Feynman, the late Nobel Laureate. I find him more interesting than Pi. Again, WolframAlpha produced a list of satisfying results if I wanted to spend some time researching both the person and his work. For my third query I searched on my name, Robert Paul Leitao. The results: Nada. Nothing. Zilch. I was humbled by a $1.99 iPad app. 
A few weeks after I bought the Wolfram Alpha app it went on sale for $.99 as a back-to-school special. I felt duped. If I had only waited a few weeks it would have cost one dollar less to be humbled. I really didn't mind being humbled by WolframAlpha. But I would have preferred it be done on the cheap. 
In searching for ways to save money in the iTunes app store I discovered AppShopper. It's a free iOS app that tracks changes in prices of apps available through iTunes. I'm always looking for deals on apps and AppShopper assists in finding the most popular free apps and apps with recent price changes. Downloading AppShopper is a smart move. Soon after downloading and installing the app I felt smarter already. I use it regularly to track apps and discover new apps I might not find searching on my own through the iTunes app store. 
For students needing easy access to a massive information source for research and for those of us who enjoy searching for information of many different kinds, the WolframAlpha app is an amazing tool. It's worth the purchase even at $1.99. AppShopper is a free app download and is a fast and easy way to discover new apps and apps that have recently gone on sale. I recommend both apps for iPad owners. 

Robert Paul Leitao

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Manage iPad App From Kerofrog

Readers of my Posts At Eventide blog are familiar with my use of Manage, an iPad app developed by a small firm in Australia. In a word, this $2.99 app is charming. That's not a word I'd usually put forward to describe a get-things-done productivity tool. But after a few moments of viewing the product's design in landscape mode you'll understand the description.
Manage provides for the use of digital highlighters for emphasizing tasks and digital pens for scribbling notes and comments. But the one feature I find most useful is the ability to export and email task lists in .pdf format. This one feature puts in visual perspective work to be accomplished and work that's been done.
My work desk had been covered with little notes and reminders about projects and tasks that would become successively buried under new piles of new notes and new reminders about new projects and new tasks. For anyone looking for an intra-day morale boost, organizing all those tasks and all of those little slips of paper into Manage will do the trick. 
I now have several task lists neatly organized in Manage. Each task can be delineated with sub-tasks allowing for the listing of the incremental steps involved in task completion. After using the Manage app for a number of weeks, it's no longer a question of how much work I can get accomplished in a day, but what to do with the empty desk space formerly covered by not always discernible paper notes. 

The Manage app by Kerofrog makes getting things done just a little bit of fun.

Robert Paul Leitao

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apple iPad Travel Essentials (Part 1)

In my travels with the Apple iPad there are three items I now consider to be essentials. The first item is iKlear. It's no secret the iPad's screen becomes quickly smudged. Don't even think of using a hotel towel to clean the face of your favorite Apple device. It's a safe and effective cleaner for your digital gear. The cloths that come in the package pickup anything that's been left on the screen.
The second item is the Apple iPad Case. Both my backpack and my business carry bag have laptop compartments that shield the contents from jostling and shock. The Apple iPad Case is an extra layer of protection and assists in setting the iPad in a number of different positions for work or display throughout the day. 
The third item is AppleCare. Ninety days of initial phone support passes quickly. I rely on the iPad at work, at home and when away from both work and home. If an issue comes up I want answers quickly. I consider AppleCare a necessary investment for Macs, iPhones and Apple iPads. 
Over the next few weeks I will be using the iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter for Keynote presentations. I'll provide feedback on the uses of the Apple iPad as presentation device in an upcoming blog post. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Apple iPad And A Road Warrior's Toolkit

I don't know if it's one of Murphy's Laws, but work crises tend to rise in degrees of severity proportional to one's distance from the office. The phone calls started yesterday about 8pm. By 9am today there was a second problem that needed immediate attention.

I had desired to relegate checking office email correspondence to the late evenings in order to focus on the content of the multi-day conference at which I'm in attendance. Circumstances denied me that choice.

This morning I was sitting in the front row of a conference workshop session while configuring my iPad to send and receive office emails rather than use the Web interface for correspondence. In less than five minutes about 50 email messages came streaming into my inbox. It was the 24 messages about a singular issue that captured my attention. Within 15 minutes, while listening to the workshop speaker, I had dispatched responses.

Following this early morning session I learned the iPad is a wonderfully stingy device. I set myself up in an open area by the conference exhibits and the free Wi-Fi service kicked in. The iPad is programmed to switch to Wi-Fi from 3G whenever it's available. It saved on the data quota on the monthly AT&T 3G plan while I kept working without interruption.

By early afternoon it was beyond doubt the best road warrior tool kits include an iPhone and an Apple iPad. I was talking on one of the devices while reading and sending emails on the other. The .pdf files that were sent my way were read and forwarded to the office for immediate follow-up.

I'm now used to having my iPad at the office all day. Today proved the Apple iPad can amply assist with crisis management from remote locations as well.

I'm seeing fewer notebook PCs at meetings and conferences these days, but smart phones are in abundance. Smartphones are good for quick notes and email replies. I'm preparing this blog entry using the Pages app for the iPad. For the things I want to do and for those things that just have to get done while away from the office, a smartphone is good. But an iPhone and an Apple iPad combination is simply better. Enclosed in the Apple iPad case and stowed in my bag, the Apple iPad is lighter than any laptop I've ever carried and can be used to get at least as much done.

Robert Paul Leitao

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Apple iPad On The Road

I'm attending an off-site conference for work and brought along my Apple iPad as an all-in-one productivity solution.

For the first time since purchase I activated the 3G service. The process was almost uncomfortably easy. I need to remind myself to cancel the service before it automatically renews 30 days from today. The 3G service is fast and responsive.

Equipped with the Apple iPad keyboard dock I'm able to quickly respond to emails and I'm using the keyboard to compose this post. I've been using the iPad and keyboard dock at work for the past few weeks. At first I thought moving between the touch screen and the keyboard in the absence of a mouse would be awkward. Quite the contrary. Pinch and zoom is a decided benefit in reading correspondence and in composing responses. If I have a lament it's that the keyboard dock can not be used while the iPad is enclosed in the Apple case and portrait positioning is the only option.

Just for sport I want to see how far I can stretch the 250MB 3G data quota for $14.99. No media-rich Websites or apps until I'm back on Wi-Fi.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The iPad Chronicles

I've started The iPod Chronicles as a companion to my Posts At Eventide blog. The Apple iPad is the most immersive digital device I have ever owned. I'm convinced it will transform the way we use digital devices to access information and communicate with the world and one another.

The focus of this Web presence is the use of the Apple iPad at work, at home and when away from both work and home.I am testing the Apple iPad's uses in a variety of settings and everyday situations and I will chronicle my experiences on these pages.

I currently own an Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G. Though purchased in mid-July, it has quickly become my preferred device for information gathering and personal productivity. I look forward to sharing my iPad experiences on these pages as I chronicle the many uses of this device and explore several of the iOS apps specifically designed for Apple's latest hardware product. 

Robert Paul Leitao