Sunday, January 30, 2011

How can I get files onto my Mac?

I was having a conversation with a colleague on Friday who is keen to use iPads and or iPod Touches in class and has some excellent ideas for creating content but was concerned over the process for getting files off the IOS devices and onto a Computer. Of course, they could just sync the IOS devices with iTunes on a Mac or PC in the classroom but there are a couple of problems with this:

1. Each IOS device needs to set up to sync with the computer and you then can't change the computer you sync to (not easily anyway) without wiping the IOS device.

2. It may take some time to sync 15 or so devices and children get impatient.

The upshot of this is that I said I would look into this problem. Now I posted a while back about setting up Dropbox as a WebDAV folder on a Mac and this is one option. However, whilst I was setting up a new Mac with shared printing, I came across a feature in the Mac application Printopiathat I haven't noticed before (see post on printing from an iPad for details of Printopia). Printopia lets you print directly to either Dropbox (Printopia puts a folder into Dropbox) or to a Printopia folder on the Mac (if your not using Dropbox), the tutorial below shows you how to print a document to the Printopia folder within Dropbox. This folder can/could be made public so students and or teachers can access it and download files saved to it. I have only looked at doing this on a Mac so far, obviously you will need a Mac in your classroom/project box but if you like IOS devices, you probably like Macs as well and so have an excuse...

Using Printopia to send files to Dropbox:

Anyway, hope this is of use to someone.  why not leave a comment and let me know what you think of the site?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Handwritten notes, another reason to purchase an iPad?

As I mentioned in the last two posts, I purchased a cheap stylus at the weekend, mainly so I could explore the potential of drawing apps on the iPad. Whilst I was researching which stylus to buy, I happened across another blog post about an app called Notes Plus which was reduced in price for the day to 59p. Week, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I proceeded to purchase said app and had a quick play. I was reasonably impressed and though I would give it a proper work-out during the week as i has a couple of meeting coming up.

Notes Plus, the best handwritten notes app?

I'm not sure whether its the best hand-written note app or not as its the only one
I've used but I have to say, after a couple of days of using it, it really is a fantastic app. You can write using your finger or as I do, a stylus. The app doesn't convert your writing to text, it just saves your handwriting on screen. You can hold to zoom to bring up an enlarged writing surface and can then navigate right or down within the area. You can draw around text to highlight and then move or delete, you can draw shapes, lines. You can even record audio notes within a document. When you have finished, you get a choice to export to Photos (as a JPEG or PNG, not sure which) or iTunes as a PDF. The app also proclaims to have upload support for Google Docs, although I never got it to work and claims Dropbox support is coming soon.

An example of a note taken in a briefing on the new (UK) govt White Paper on education.

If you make lots of handwritten notes (like I do) and you don't want them converted to text but you also don't want to lose them, then Notes Plus is a superb app to add to your collection. I was sceptical at first, I had a couple of Palms and a Windows Mobile phone and loved the handwriting recognition but didn't think I would like writing on the iPad (too big) and didn't think I would want a load of handwritten notes clogging up to storage but I was wrong. I have used in a all my meeting this week and I think I would be lost without it now. This app is very versatile and turns the iPad into a very capable note pad and is really useful for jotting down ideas, planning and general note taking. It is also very slick and is a great example of what an IOS app should be like and why IOS still leads the way in user experience.

Bottom line? Buy it, you will not be disappointed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 10, 2011

More about drawing on an iPad

So, after my last post, I was inspired to have a go at a bit more drawing on the iPad. A couple of years ago Mrs RNG bought a load of those "how to draw....." books from the ALDI (cheap supermarket found all over Europe) to take on holiday. If you have seen such books, you will know they start off with a grid, then add simple shapes such as squares or circles, then you add detail and then colour and shading. Anyway, I thought they might make a good starting point for an exemplar on how to draw using an iPad.

Another fine RNG drawing courtesy of iPad and SketchBook Pro!

I used iDraw to make a grid (iDraw has a graph paper background and you can specify to 1mm size and position of objects) and then saved this to the Photo's app. I then opened up SketchBook Pro and made a new layer from Photo and used the grid I had just made.
Next, I created a new layer and followed the example in the book and drew my starting shapes. Then I made another layer, drew the next shapes and then merged the layers and carried on following the instructions in then book. About 40 minutes later, I had produced the fine drawing you can see above.

Anyway, this got me thinking, what if we had iPads in school (or, what if I used the iPads that our local CLC has just bought) and produced some iPad specific drawing tutorials based on the "how to draw cars" book that I used to copy the above drawing? We/I could make the grids and possibly a basic outline as the bottom layer to get students started (or for differentiation) and then give them a printed worksheet with instruction on how to draw whatever. Brilliant idea, so that is what I did. As I drew the lorry above, I took screen shots and produced a worksheet/how to sheet/tutorial thingy which you see below.
Let me know what you think.

Oh, and for those of you who still here the old "you cannot produce documents on an iPad", or words to that effect.  The worksheet/tutorial document was made in Pages on an iPad!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reasons why the iPad rocks- #5 Drawing

When I first purchased my iPad, I kind of had half an eye on using it for drawing/simple graphics work (it is worth mentioning at this point that I am not a graphic designer, my talent for design is even less than my talent for music!) and so I purchased a few drawing programs (both vector and bitmap programs) and I have spoken in previous posts about iDraw and what a fantastic program I think it is. However, I never really got the hang of freehand drawing on the iPad, maybe it's just me but there is something unnatural about using your finger to draw with.

Anyway, I initially purchased an app called SketchBook Pro but never really got around to doing much with it. Now, at the weekend, I purchased an app called Notes + which allows you to take hand written notes on the iPad (and it really is a fantastic app) however, writing with you finger is also a little unnatural so whilst in PC World on Saturday, I purchased a cheap stylus. What a revelation! Now I know Steve Jobs said something about if we include a stylus, we got it wrong but honestly, for drawing and handwriting you cant beat it.

Ok, so this post is supposed to be about drawing on an iPad so I will explain what I did. Firstly, I decided to try out the stylus on SketchBook Pro so I opened up the app and had a quick play. Then I decided it was time to actually draw something so that is what I did. As it happened, I came across a site that shows you how to draw various cartoon characters so I had a go at Sonic. The results you can see below:

As I said, I am no graphic artist but even so, I am quite pleased with the results, especially as I can't have spent longer than about an hour in total on the drawing.

SketchBook Pro has most of the tools you would expect in a bitmap freehand drawing program. It uses layers and you can merge these together to build up complex drawings and you can export finished work to the Photo's app. All in all I would really recommend iPad as a drawing tool, especially when combined with iDraw, SketchBook Pro and a capacitive screen stylus. What more can I say, for the price of a copy of Adobe CS3, you get a computer and all the apps you need! Another reason why the iPad is not an iToy!

PS: My recommendation for a stylus is the Boxwave stylus for iPad, these seem to be the ones that most people rate. I couldn't get one in the UK so bought a cheap (£10) one from PC World that works reasonably well. I pictured the Boxwave stylus but it isn't the one that I use! Hope that makes sense.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad