Tagged: iPad

So Long iPad

Since March 2011, I had been using an iPad 2 as my travel computer. By design, it excelled at certain tasks: writing email, browsing the web and reading books, newspapers, and magazines. As someone who teaches a lot, my iPad was great for the classroom. I could populate my grade book with it. I could present my slides. I could look up information on the fly and show it to my students. I could also play video clips.

In recent months, however, I have outgrown my iPad. It could take several minutes to load and open a presentation from the cloud. Switching between apps, between Safari and Keynote for example, became a painfully slow process, even with the four-finger multitouch swipe gesture. And because I had so much stored on my 32GB iPad, I couldn’t load all the clips I would want to screen.

That’s why I sold it, on Amazon, to a woman from Minnesota.

iPad 2 and its original box

I kept the box for a reason

The proceeds from the sale will go towards on a new iPad Air. Why not just go without the iPad you ask? In the four days since I sold my iPad, I realized a few things:

  • My MacBook Pro is heavier than I thought.
  • The memory chips appear to come loose whenever I ride my bike with my MacBook Pro.
  • I read in bed more than I probably should.
  • I have to carry a dedicated charger for my computer and phone, or keep one at multiple locations. Not so for the iPad.
  • Some iOS magazines work really well on the iPhone (The Magazine, V as in Victor) and some don’t (The Nation and The New Yorker).

In short, I really miss having an iPad. Count me as a slave to the Apple cult. I’ll almost certainly be one of the bleary eyed suckers at an Apple Store on November 1, likely the store at Grand Central Terminal.

Welcome Back, VLC

No one I’ve met has every said a bad thing about VLC. It opens just about every media format in existence, it has a lot of features to play video files (deinterlace is my personal favorite), and it’s free. After an extended absence, it returned to iOS over the summer and has been a great app for screening videos in class.

Playing a clip of Un Chien Andalou using VLC for iOS.

Playing a clip of Un Chien Andalou using VLC for iOS.

It’s much easier to add videos to VLC for iOS than it is for the built-in iOS Video player app. With the latter, you can only add videos from the iTunes store or through the desktop iTunes application. VLC provides more convenient options for adding videos, such as…

  • Opening a Network Stream
  • Downloading a video from a website (works with WebDAV, too)
  • Uploading a video from a desktop computer over WiFi
  • Adding a file through Dropbox

Using VLC for iOS keeps my bag light for class. It allows me to leave the laptop at home. It also spares me from carrying a stack of DVDs and trying to find the relevant clips for class. To use an iOS device to present videos, you might have to buy a VGA adapter for your iOS device. There are two versions, one for the older 30-pin connector and one for the new 9-pin Lightning port. As long as the connector fits, it should work on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

Since 2006, educators have been able to circumvent copy protection on DVDs to extract excerpts of motion pictures for study in a classroom. In order to qualify for the exemption, which was reaffirmed in 2012, there are several conditions:

  1. The DVD must be in the library of a college or university’s film or media studies department.
  2. The extracted content must represent only a excerpt of the DVD.
  3. The extracted content must be used in a classroom for educational use.
  4. It specifically exempts media studies and film professors.
Add files using drag and drop.

Add files using drag and drop.

You can extract the clips using Handbrake and libdvdcss. And once you have them on your computer, you just upload them to VLC. The easiest way is to use the WiFi upload feature. You can drag-and-drop your video files or you can use the upload button to navigate via the file system.

There are two benefits of using VLC over the Videos app. First, compared to the built-in Videos app, you are spared the trouble of adding the files to iTunes and having to sync the files with your iOS device. Second, while you are using VLC and connected to an external display or projector, only you can see your VLC controls. The audience only sees the vidoes as you play them. It’s a great feature since I prefer not to show my students everything that I might have on my iPad. Although I have only used the MPEG–4 format, it supports MKV and other formats that Apple doesn’t readily support.

The above links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you buy something through those links, I will earn a commission fee.

The Tablet-TV Connection

Forrester Blogs:

As much as Samsung and others have promoted “Smart TVs,” the reality is that consumers with tablets think their tablets are even smarter, and at least some of the time prefer to watch the content from their small device on the big screen.

If I’m going to watch something alone, I’ve been choosing the iPad apps, especially Hulu Plus, over the TV. Call me a miser, but I’m trying to save electricity!

Teaching Class without a Notebook


I have been using Keynote since 2006 to present slides in the classes I am teaching, but starting this spring, when I bought an iPad 2, I began using the Keynote for iPad to present my slides in class. The tablet edition lacks a few of the desktop features I need when presenting. For example, I like having a clock, current and next slides, and presentation notes on my presenter’s screen. The desktop edition has it, but the tablet edition can only show the current slide with notes or the current and next slides. Oh well.

There are a few real advantages to using an iPad. The biggest one is that I don’t have to tote my notebook computer around in my bag. The other thing is that because Keynote for iPad is pretty basic, lacking support for certain transitions and embedded video, and that limitation keeps you from pimping your presentation, which is one of the reasons I used Keynote in favor of Powerpoint. Less is more.


Speaking of “less is more,” presenting from an iPhone is even better. One of the disadvantages of presenting with an iPad is that you can’t present, using the Apple VGA Adapter, and charge your iPad at the same time, unless you’re willing to do a little surgery. This was an issue a few weeks ago, when I realized I was running low on battery power and needed to finish a presentation. I ended up importing my presentation to my iPhone since that device had a lot more juice, and I had Keynote for iPhone installed.

How did it work? It didn’t miss a beat. In fact, it was even preferable because you won’t have your iPhone display mirrored in your presentation. Your audience only sees what you present. That’s important because I don’t want everyone to see me enter my passcode every time the device auto locks.

But as many have said, don’t throw away your desktop or notebook computer. It is very hard to make presentations from scratch on an iPad or an iPhone. I find it easier to create the presentation on an iMac (or a MacBook Pro) because I have to add a lot of images to my presentation, and it’s easier to place those images with a computer because you have that pesky file system. Also, you can’t create a presentation using your own theme, which is a bummer because I have bought and created quite a few over the years. (If you create your presentation on a computer, Keynote for iPad/iPhone will import it with a few warnings but few noticeable changes.)

Currently, moving the presentation from your computer to your iPad/iPhone is a little challenging. I prefer using Dropbox to keep the most current presentation from my computer available on my iDevice. Make sure you have the Dropbox app installed on your iOS device, load your presentation, and open it using your Keynote app. iCloud might make things easier, but I won’t know yet until it actually comes out next week.

Have you tried to present with your iPad? Are you ready to leave the notebook computer at home as I’ve begun to do?

EXTRA, EXTRA: Students Not So Enthusiastic for iPad, The Daily

News Corp’s The Daily might seem like a groundbreaking new platform publishing news, except that early accounts say that app itself doesn’t work and that the news is pretty superficial. But it also looks like college students don’t really care for it.

In my Introduction to Media Industries class at Fordham University, Lincoln Center, I assigned a research review where students look in news databases about a certain breaking topic in a particular media industry. For their first topic, I asked them to look into The Daily. I asked them to describe what it is, whether they would be interested in such a product, and whether they think it will change how they (or everyone) will consume news.

For the most part, the students were pretty much in the dark about The Daily. Only a handful of them had heard about it, which I didn’t find all that surprising given that it’s a little hard to describe what it is. It’s a news application that you subscribe to for access to news content, curated by the news-gathering operation of News Corp.

Second, when students read up on it, they didn’t seem that enthusiastic about. Almost none of them had iPads, and of the few that did, only one downloaded and installed the application. One of the reasons for the reluctance is the price. When I asked them in class about it, many felt the $40 per year a huge expense. But I think that has to do with the fact that younger students have grown up thinking that the news is available for free.

Third, most of them agree with a lot of the early reception for The Daily that the news just isn’t that good. One student very adeptly pointed out that one of the editors comes from the New York Post‘s Page Six and that doesn’t really exude journalistic pedigree. (That explains why the second news category is “Gossip.”) This might be good for the neanderthals that read the New York Post, but I’m guessing that the iPad’s affluent user base and the serious news reader are a more evolved species.

Most curious, however, is the students lukewarm reception for the iPad and other tablets. I’m beginning to think that the love that the iPad has received has been among an older set of Internet users. It’s one thing that I see about half of a first-class cabin on an airplane with iPad in hand, but it’s quite another when you don’t see too many on-campus. That’s tough because many of the articles I see about the iPad seem to put it as an educational tool. And while I loved mine for reading and research, it was not good for note taking or for organizing my research. (Speaking of which, when is OmniOutliner for iPad coming out?)

One student very succinctly put it, “if I need something from the Internet, I have my phone.” I’m beginning to think that students regard the tablet device’s form versus a smartphone’s form as an analog of the desktop computer’s form versus that of the notebook. Or maybe it’s just a phase, and they’ll grow of it.