Tango iPad / iPhone app

Tango app iconTango? Yes, as in ‘to takes two to’.

Two Tangos then? Yes, one sits on your iPad, one sits on the iPhone (or iPod).

And when you have two Tangos? One acts as a remote control for the other.

Once installed you have complete access to you iTunes library: playlists, songs, albums, videos, podcasts. The obvious use is remotely controlling your iPad (loaded with music and plugged into a dock or sound system) with your iPhone, though Tango does allow you to set them up with the remote working the opposite way.

At school? I have my iPad plugged into the classroom projector. But this isn’t convenient for stopping starting music and videos. Here’s where Tango comes in. Same setup, but now I have a remote that works wherever there’s a wireless network. (There’s a bluetooth option but this doesn’t work with my 3GS phone.

In practice it’s easy as. The two apps find each other quickly (5-10 seconds) and there’s no apparent lag in operation. You can add a password, disable auto-lock and sync changes to the library.

The remote for the videos is certainly useful, especially when viewing music clips, as pausing from a remote is much more convenient.

Tango costs $5.49, but it’s a solid, well thought out and practical app that should be on your shopping list.

iPhone Tango screenshot


iPad Tango Screenshot


Making Marionettes

Rod puppets – easy.

Shadow puppets – easy.

Marionettes – tricky, tricky, tricky.

First up there are the limbs to cut. Each puppet needs eight limbs, so with thirty puppets – 240 limbs. A visit to Bunnings and I’m the happy owner of ten 1m lengths of dowel (which is cheaper if you buy the shorter lengths).

Add in sixty hands and feet, ┬áthirty torsos and heads and – and probably about 600 eye-screws.

Now there was a win. Searching on eBay brought up a couple of possibilities and ten minutes later two 500 piece bags were mine. And only $10.

Another five minutes later and I bid on a bag of 1000 screws. Two days later and the bag was mine, for $1.54.

Yes, $1.54.

Free postage.

Now how can anyone make a profit on 1000 eye-screws for $1.54? Oh, and free postage too.

The students have started their painting. Some have an amazing eye for detail and some just have an amazing imagination. The early finishers have already found the box of cloth and are making shirts and skirts. Next step: cutting out the heads and feet.




Choice screenshot

Choice screenshot

Choice was one of the first apps I ever downloaded for my iPhone and for a free app, it’s certainly been one of the most useful.

Operation is simple; up to five people place a finger each on the screen. Grey dots form under their fingertips. the dots flash on and off then just one ends up red. A winner has been decided on!

I use this app at least once every day with classes. Students never argue with the decision and it’s quick and painless. A few believe they can ‘game’ the result by being the first / last to put their fingers down. No statistical proof of this helping to win has been established however.

The app did disappear from the App Store for a while but developer Christian Stropp brought it back and produced an updated (thank you!) version for the iPad that takes up to eleven fingers.

It’s almost as good as rock / paper / scissors!

I use it to:

  • Select leaders for Drama / Music groups
  • Choose classroom monitors
  • Arbitrate on contentious classroom issues
  • Pick teams
  • Bring about world peace

A simulated FM radio station

AV Wireless transmitterWe’re in the process of establishing a radio station at school. I’ve established some links with the wonderful people at our local FM station GulfFM and we’re hoping to have a low-powered community FM station set up in the next 12 months.

In the meantime I’ve put together some equipment in one of our practice rooms for the older students to experiment and practice on.

At the heart of the setup is our old Yamaha mixing desk. With 16 inputs, we can easily control several microphones, a CD player and an iPad. There’s obviously no automation or board-control of the music, but it does mean that up to four students can each have a discrete job to do on the board:

  1. Announcer 1
  2. Announcer 2
  3. CD / phone / iPod music / iPad soundboard
  4. Engineer / Mixer

The single headphone out signal goes to a small 4-socket Behringer headphone amp, so all four students can monitor the show they’re creating.

I’ve plugged an AV transmitter in the REC OUT socket and we’re ‘beaming’ the transmission through several walls and windows to the main music room where the transmitter’s receiver is plugged into a sound system.

Voila! Instant radio station!

We’ll have to be careful of broadcasting though as the AV transmitter blankets the wireless spectrum and will severely disrupt the music room’s Internet Wireless.

Next on the list: a real audience. We’ll feed the AV signal to a mobile amp and some groups of students are getting quite excited by the prospect of broadcasting to lunch time audiences.



iPads and Interactive Whiteboards

The Whiteboard Blog compares three ways of using your iPad with an interactive whiteboard.

While I have a PC connected to the whiteboard in the classroom, it only gets used for PowerPoint and program demonstrations. For playing music examples and video clips, my iPad is the gadget of choice. (CineX player is a slick video app, and my current video player since YouTube stopped video apps from downloading directly on the iPad).

The short VGA dongle lead (and the need to plug into the speakers) is frustrating, and now we have a wireless system installed I’m going to experiment with some of the iPhone/iPod remote systems that are available.


iPads in School Productions


Warner Crocker is the Artistic Director at Wayside Theatre in Virginia, USA. His article (below) discussed how his theatre’s policy on the use of phones and other ‘gadgets’ had changed as both backstage and front-of-house crew found themselves using the devices to streamline their jobs.

The iPad was certainly an indispensable part of our last school production. We used a soundboard app (called Soundboard!) which we loaded with all our sound effects and backing tracks. One student ran this with the app giving her independent control over sequence, volume and mixing. We fed the sound from the iPad into our mixing desk where another student balanced the audio with the multiple wireless microphones.

The soundboard was easier to control than a CD or a laptop and our app had a few bells and whistles (literally -they were an important sound effect!) that allowed us to colour code the songs and effects separately.

We did use a laptop for the PowerPoint slides in the background, as the iPad won’t play animations and transitions, but this may change in the future.

As a teacher, the best part of using the iPad is the ease with which students can master the apps we use. The one app, one function approach – or keeping it real simple mode – means children can focus on the task rather than the operation.

Forthe future, I’m hoping we can afford the iPad / lighting desk interface. I’d love to have our junior Primary students running our lights!

Changing our backstage gadget policy