Curtin University has recently implementing the Blackboard Mobile Learn application which will allow students to access their online learning materials via a range of mobile devices, including Android and Blackberry phones and iOS powered devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).

Read all about it via our newsletter: Issue 21 – Blackboard: isn’t there an app for that?

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DropDAV – move your files easily

Posted: April 13, 2011 by Kim Flintoff in Productivity
Tags: ,

This isn’t an iPad app; it is a web based application to allow you to save and move files to and from your iPad and wbetween any web enabled devices.

Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) is a set of methods based on the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that facilitates collaboration between users in editing and managing documents and files stored on World Wide Web servers.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebDAV

One of the main challenges desktop users encounter when starting to use the cloud and mobile devices is how to get their precious content on and off the device.  Sure, you can use iTunes to add files, but what about working directly from an application?  This is where DropDAV comes into play.  DropDAV effectively lets your application talk directly to DropBox.  Many productivity applications such as Pages, Keynote, etc have webDAV capability.

Price:  Free for upto 2GB if you use the free Dropbox application – upto $6.00 monthly for higher end use.  The website says its free as long as Dropbox remains free.  Desite this assurance DropDAV just notified me today that they are abandoning the free accounts – from here on it costs $5 per month – from my perspective that makes it a premium service not as useful to many users.  Power users will get value – the rest of us just get a new bill…

Enhanced security:  DropDAV uses SSL; providing the same standard of security as your online bank.

It could hardly be simpler to use.

  • Register at DropDAV (simply sign in with your DropBox credentials)
  • Open an appropriate application on your iPad such as Pages and select Copy to WebDAV

Now all you need do is open your iPad application and you can copy to or download from webDAV within the application.  Your files will appear in DropBox and any locations where they are synchronised with DropBox – eg.  between your desktop and your iPad.

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Judy, Dave, Tony and I are soon to be attending the ASCILITE2010 conference in Sydney and we are submitting the following Poster which outlines our research to date with the iPads.  We’ll be displaying it on Day 2 of the conference and you can check out the proceedings version here.

Click on the image below to see a larger version of the actual poster.

Fingers crossed! 🙂

 

iPad combined bluetooth keyboard and case

Posted: November 19, 2010 by jacquiak in Accessories

When we first purchased our iPads back in May, we invested in the Apple cover/protector for $48 AUD to ensure that the devices were protected and because the case itself allowed you to use the iPad on an angle to allow for easy typing and input. The cases are good, but not great and do attract the dirty easily.

So, last week when Thinkgeek.com advertised a combined blue tooth keyboard and case for$60 USD Judy and I thought we’d splash out and give them a go. Judy mainly because she thought she would use her iPad more with a keyboard attached and me because I am a touch typist and even though the on-screen iPad keyboard is very usable, it doesn’t quite have the same feel as a standard keyboard. So this device seemed like a good option.

(Having said that, my partner Dave did point out that if he’d wanted a keyboard for the iPad, he would have bought a Macbook instead and he may have a point there… but let’s ignore this comment for now  :))

We placed the order and it arrived in under a week. Although the cases themselves did smell like leather glue for awhile, after a few days the smell dissipated and it’s barely noticeable now.

The case comes with a USB connector (to charge the keyboard) and it claims that once charged, the keyboard will run for 90 hours.

To connect the keyboard to your iPad you simply slip the iPad into the case, and once the keyboard is charged, ensure that it is turned ON and click on the Bluetooth Connect icon on the keypad. The bluetooth blue light should come on.

You then simply go to your iPad Settings > General > and turn Bluetooth On. Your iPad should be able to discover your bluetooth keyboard and you simply select the bluetooth keyboard on your iPad. At that point, you’ll be prompted to enter a unique code on your keyboard and once you hit Enter, the device will be paired.

NOTE: Once you have paired the keyboard with your iPad, if you turn off the bluetooth, the connection pairing will be lost and you will need to go into the iPad Settings to pair it again.  At first I found this highly annoying, as I tended to turn off the keyboard whenever I put the iPad away – but since realising this, I have simply left it on continuously.  I may as well find out whether the claims that the keyboard will last 90 hours is actually true!

Ease of Use

I’m currently using the keyboard to draft this review in Pages and I have to admit I really like it.  I expected the keyboard to be one single piece of moulded silicon however the keys are separate, individual pieces of rubber which provide noticeable tactile  feedback.  I do find that when using the iPad with the keyboard,  I keep reaching for a mouse as if I’m using a netbook and then have to remind myself that I have a touch screen device.  It’s also a little odd to be using a word processing app, as whenever I accidentally misspell a word, the suggested word appears in my app – and I still have to touch the screen to select the autocorrect.  So switching between the keyboard and using the touch screen takes a bit of getting used too.

The keyboard also comes with inbuilt function keys: Home, Search, Volume and iPod Controls  which all work seamlessly.

Pros

All in all, a good purchase.  Easy set up, fast delivery and a decent price compared to buying the Apple cover ($48) and Apple blue tooth keypad/dock ($89) – which only allows your iPad to be oriented vertically, whereas this case orientates your iPad in the horizontal position.

Good sized sillicon keyboard which will be useful when avoiding beverage splashes and the leather water resistant appears to be well made and looks very professional.  The case also has a magnetic strip in it to

As mentioned previously it uses a USB connectior to charge the (rechargeable) battery via a computer, so no extra batteries or power are required.

Cons

Once you turn your keyboard off you DO have to pair the devices again once you turn it on.

Plus the case itself is a little heavier and bulkier than the Apple case but it does offer more padded protection, plus you are also now carrying around a fully functional keyboard.

Overall I think buying this case will encourage me to use the iPad more, particularly to take and record notes during meetings, or to jot down ideas at home without having to boot up the desktop computer or laptop.

Nominate your favourite apps

Posted: November 10, 2010 by jacquiak in Uncategorized

In case you haven’t noticed, please vote in our poll to nominate your favourite iPad app.

Quickoffice Connect™ Mobile Suite for iPad

Posted: October 27, 2010 by luckystu in Productivity
Tags:
Quickoffice

Quickoffice

Price: $23.99 – Available through iTunes

Official App Description/Marketing spiel: “ ACCESS. VIEW. EDIT. SHARE. Quickoffice Connect™ Mobile Suite is the FIRST and ONLY full-featured Microsoft® Office productivity suite for iPad with integrated access to multiple cloud services.”

With Quickoffice Connect™ Mobile Suite for iPad you can:

  • Create, open and edit Microsoft® Office files (DOC, DOCX, XLS and XLSX)
  • Access and view PowerPoint files (PPT and PPTX)
  • E-mail, view & access attachments with popular file formats (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PDF, iWork, HTML, PNG, JPG, GIF, SVG, TIF, MP3, etc.)
  • Remotely access files via remote storage providers (Box.net, Dropbox, Google Docs and MobileMe)
  • Manage and transfer files via WiFi or via iTunes® using USB
  • Open attachments in Quickoffice from your native iPad® e-mail client

Getting documents into QuickOffice HD is very easy via the usual USB and iTunes sync function; just add your documents and when you sync, they appear in the app. I’ve found, however, that I never use iTunes with the app. Quickoffice has great ad hoc Wi Fi and cloud syncing features which are so easy to use, and so very convenient, that all of my docs end up saved through the cloud. The docs are immediately, and automatically, copied and updated in the cloud folder on my home computer, so version control is not a problem. I use Dropbox for cloud storage, but QuickOffice also supports MobileMe iDisk (both public and private), Google Docs, and Box.net. Just enter your login details and QuickOffice will sync the folders to your iPad, but not the content. The folder content will give a preview but only load when you access the document. Once accessed, it’s stored locally.

iPad email attachments are recognised by Quickoffice, which provides view and save options. Documents saved in Quickoffice on your iPad, or accessed from the cloud via Quickoffice, can be easily deleted using a very nice drag and drop feature. Locally stored docs can be dragged to cloud folders and vice versa. Similarly, documents can be easily emailed by dragging and dropping to an email icon. The downside is that only one document can be emailed at a time. A work around is zipping multiple documents using Good Reader. Perhaps Quickoffice will address this at some point in the future.

Documents are opened with a tap, and are easy to rename. I didn’t like the inclusion of the document file extension within the renaming feature; if I deleted the entire file name, I would have to retype the extension in order for the document to be recognised. Navigation within documents is easy and innovative. Documents can be pinched out to zoom, and you can easily flick through pages. A great navigation feature is the ability to tap and hold on the right side of the screen, which brings up a preview of each page in the document via a Mac OS X dock-style preview with magnification. You can then slide your finger down these preview pages to select the one you want, which is not only stylish but easy to use.

Quickoffice has the usual word processing and spreadsheet tools, including Apple’s cut, copy, and paste. The formatting tools are logically arranged and easy to use. All of the basic formatting options are available including bold, colours, fonts, underline, alignment, formats, etc. There is also a nice built-in saving feature which auto saves your work every minute.

For the spreadsheet application, pinching also zooms and you are given very convenient selection handles for selecting cells.  Although the version I have only allows access and viewing of PowerPoint files (PPT and PPTX), the company website states that a free update is coming soon to create and edit PowerPoint files.

All in all, this is an excellent app for less than $A24.

I’ve been using the ipad for several months now and find it a great asset as a work tool.  I work as a graphic designer for Curtin University.  The most impressive aspects of the iPad is it’s portability, size, light weight and quick start up. It’s great to be able to take the ipad to meetings, show clients visuals of their requested work, gain instant feed back and discuss relating to the job at hand. I’m able to take a screen snap (screen capture) of the visual, place it in my ‘photos’, click and show, or email the visual to myself – open it up in email then show the client. The iPad is small enough to carry anywhere with ease yet large enough to use comfortably from a visual perspective.

A great feature of the iPad is the screen snap, just hold down the ‘HOME’ button and click the ‘OFF-ON’ button, the screen will turn white for a second so you’ll know the snap has been taken, it will then be stored in your ‘PHOTOS’ for instant access. This is fantastic for info you want to keep a visual  reference of whatever you are viewing on screen, especially for the graphic designer.

I can check work emails outside of work hours if needed or if working from home, use the Web for information or finding images for graphic work. The interface is clean and fresh, with large cute icons. It doesn’t take long to get use to the touch, tap, pinch and wipe controls even if you’re use to using a mouse or WACOM pen. I love the way you’re able to rotate the orientation of the screen, there are no controls allocated to this capability the orientation flips as you tilt or rotate the device giving you maximum screen access. The interface is high res even when zooming in on the screen; they look fantastic.

You’re able to choose your own background image just to add that personal touch to your iPad, when you get tired of looking at your last holiday snap just click and choose a new one.  My kids tend to go into my iPad when I’m not around and surprise me with some new Simpsons character or that holiday snap that you really should have deleted.

For those of you that can’t get through the day without a calender, the iPad presents you with easy day, week or month view. The keyboard is great to use, if you don’t have a problem with typing you’ll find it a breeze, even you two finger typers.

I find the charge life on the iPad quite high, about 1 to 2 days depending on use. Recharging can be done from a USB port on a mac. Sleep mode is great for saving the battery life and quicker than ‘turn-on/turn-off’ with each use.

The lack of folders make it difficult to organise apps in regard to house keeping, however this will all change in November as folders will be a new feature.

The more you use the iPad the more you’ll find!

For more hint, tips and trick on the iPad, you may want to check out these links:

http://gizmodo.com/5508399/10-essential-ipad-tips–tricks

http://www.techradar.com/news/computing/apple/75-really-useful-ipad-tips-and-tricks-688556

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/14529/the-complete-list-of-ipad-tips-tricks-and-tutorials/