pics2phone

As much as I love my iPad (and I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Windows PC person) the lack of ease in transferring photos to applications is frustrating, to say the least.

The issue this time was iDoceo, a brilliant marks book / electronic portfolio / lesson planner which I’ve been using for a while.

I had all my  students’ photos on my PC. I’d used the export function in Picasa to resize them and thought I’d save them on a SD Card then import them via the iPad camera kit.

No. You can’t do that, as the camera kit only works for photos created by the camera.

Okay, upload them in DropBox and …

No. Well, yes, but then I’d have to import them one-by-one from Dropbox into the photo roll. So no.

Sync via iTunes? Not a solution I want to use on a regular basis.

So?

pics2phone

I ended up buying pics2phone.

It’s an iPhone app, and it has one of the ugliest (but simplest) interfaces you’ll find.

To use it:

  1. Create a folder called pics2phone in your Dropbox root folder. (pics2phone may / may not create this for you.)
  2. Copy folders of photos into the pics2phone folder.
  3. Start up pics2phone on your iphone / ipad.
  4. Tap the ‘Download Photos Now’ button.
  5. pics2phone scans the folder in Dropbox. If it finds new photos it uploads them into your Photos app, with each  sub-folder becoming a new album.

That’s it. Photos go into Dropbox, pics2phone imports them into albums.

It’s simple, it’s reliable, it works (and yes, IT is ugly)

pics2phone icon

pics2phone icon

pics2phone_screenshot

 

Dashboard

Dashboard is a beautiful (and sort-of-free-depending ) iOS6 app with both iPad and iPhone versions available.

It offers a one-stop-view for your email, Facebook, weather, news, notes, to-do-lists and more, all on  customisable and relatively easy to navigate screens.

I started with Dashboard for  iPad. I’t slick right up (looking a lot like the Wunderlist) and exudes a professional feeling. I started customising the first screen and added a Calendar, Time and weather panel. Each panel can fit across any combination of each screen’s eight-module areas, so you could  feasibly have eight panels per screen. I chose to have four on the first (home) screen), two on the next screen and a single custom panelon the third. Panels can be easily resized and deleted – lots of fun!

An email seemed a logical inclusion, but an email pack is part of Dashboard’s in-app purchase.

Sigh…

Still, a couple of bucks isn’t a lot to ask considering the app is free (at the moment) and a quick trip to the app store netted me a Gmail panel, a Check List panel and a Notes panel. You can have up to eight screens and the settings section includes a half-decent Help file, a variety of background themes and the option to turn off the button sounds. The custom module allows you to add specific urls as panels a worthwhile feature in its own right.

I’m impressed by what I’ve seen so far and I guess more panels will become available if the demand warrants it. The only hiccups I had were 1)  having to read the Help file to work out how to add additional screens (drag a screen to the left until ‘Add Screen’ appears. Doh!) and 2) a lag with the

Give Dashboard a spin, it could be just the thing you need to collect you busy life in one place.

YouTube clip: Editing in Dashboard

On the App Store: Dashboard

Zite Update

Layout of the new Zite

Layout of the new Zite. Note the ‘headline news’ section with the scrolling news items, the new ‘explore icon and the updated Quicklist icon.

Zite, my favourite news aggregator, has just been updated.

As mentioned in my original post, Zite uses an algorithm to gradually tailor the app’s content to your interests. Over time this results in pages (and pages and pages!) of news and blog articles that I simply just have to read.

Awesome!

The new Zite has an updated icon (a rather fetching owl), a slicker interface and a larger database of categories (over 40,000). There’s also an interesting feature where Zite will connect to social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pocket and Google Reader and ‘suggest topics based on your social activity’. I hooked it up with Pocket and it returned just three new suggestions. The low number is probably because most of my Pocket clippings come from Zite in the first place!

Thumbs up or down?

Mostly up. The UI design is smart, minimalistic and easy to navigate. The number of article stubs per page is nicely varied, from 3-5 and a ‘suggested by Zite’ box, with several sliding stories, appears every few pages.

The thumbs up / down icons are now present on the page without having to activate a menu, and this makes saving to other services (such as Pocket, Evernote etc) quicker. You can also ‘thumbs up’ an article by pushing the article stub up to reveal a green thumb. Releasing it means you’ll ‘see more articles like this’. You can also navigate the various articles in a category without returning to its overview page using the ‘next’ button at the bottom of the page.

Some down. You can’t navigate between articles by the iPad tradition of swiping, which is easily forgotten as you move from app to app. Zite won’t allow you to ahve a category that it doesn’t define With 40,000 to choose from this shouldn’t be an issue, but I’d love to be able to view ‘tech theatre’ or ‘stage design’ as categories. Lastly, any pages you navigate to from a Zite page can only be viewed. You can’t send them to a service, open them in Safari or otherwise interact with them. Shame.

But Zite is (still) awesome and of course, it’s still free. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

 

PDF Expert

iBooks is a good way to store and organise your pdfs.

PDF Expert is a much better – in fact a great way – to store, organise, annotate and share your pdfs.

Example:

Whole day Australian Curriculum T & D, English / History focus (not my teaching areas). Download curriculum documents from the Australian Curriculum site onto my PC. My iPad is on the same wireless network, so I enter the iPad network address into the PC browser and I’m presented with an explorer-type interface. Hit the upload button and a minute or so later the five pdfs are safely in their folders. Continue reading

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

 

iPads in School Productions

20120504-223658.jpg

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

 

Dramatic Music App (Ta Da!)

Dramatic Music App is a bright, colourful and easy-to-use soundboard, just perfect for the Drama classroom and a steal (cue ‘suspense’) at just $0.99

It features four main screens with speech-bubble shaped buttons that activate a comprehensive range of usefully dramatic music. The music is high quality (and sounds even better through a decent set of speakers) and both teachers and students will find it easy to access. Operation is a breeze; tap once to start (the button changes colour) and tap again to end. Continue reading