To iPad or not to iPad – part 2

iPad with BlueTooth Keyboard
iPad with BlueTooth Keyboard

(Length post warning – 1200+ words)

We had discussed using the iPad in a prior post and although, it was uncertain up to the last minute, I ended up taking the iPad to a conference early this month.  My uncertainty was all related to getting our monthly newsletter out.

The newsletter is mainly a text file  but it links to a number of Storage Intelligence (StorInt(tm) reports) PDFs which reside on my website.  Creating and editing these documents is done using Microsoft Word.  Oftentimes the edits to these documents involve tracked changes which aren’t handled very well by iPad’s Pages app (they’re all accepted).

In addition, these .DOC files are converted to .PDFs and uploaded to the website.  While Pages handles importing Doc files and publishing PDF files from them, I am still unclear how to upload a Pages PDF file to a website. There are many FTP apps for the iPad/iPhone but none seem able to upload a PDF file out of Pages App.

All this was going to require the use of a laptop but I finally got all the file edits in and before I left, was able to send out the newsletter.

Twitter troubles

While at the conference I noticed that there really isn’t a proper Twitter client for the iPad.  Most desktop/laptop Twitter clients allow one to see their Twitter stream while composing a Tweet.  But the free Twitter/TweetDeck/Twitteriffic Apps on the iPad all seem to want to obscure the Twitter stream(s) when one enter’s a new tweet – probably assuming one’s using the soft keypad which would obscure the stream anyway.  Nonetheless, such actions make responding to Twitter queries more difficult than necessary.

Docs debacle

As always, loading up my current working set (client information, office doc’s, PDFs, etc.) was cumbersome. I have taken to using a special email address, only used for this purpose and creating one email per client which works alright.

Working on a project with iPad Pages App worked ok, but:

  • The font/special characters changes between .Doc and Pages files seems awkward.  For example, I was using the large bullet on Pages and when I transformed this file to a DOC file, the bullet became HUGE.
  • Also the font that Pages uses defaults to something different than Microsoft Word’s defaults.
  • Watermark images didn’t seem to be as transparent when converting between Doc’s and Pages

Mostly these were nuisances that I had to deal with when importing a file from iPad to desktop or vice versa.

However, working on one project I realized I needed some metrics I normally keep in a spreadsheet on my desktop/laptop.  I ended up calling home office and walking my associate through accessing the information and telling me what I needed to know.  I also asked them to send that spreadsheet to me so that I would have it for future reference.

BlueTooth blessings/bunglings

At the conference I was blessed with a table to sit at during the keynotes (passing myself off as a blogger) which made using the BlueTooth (BT) keypad and iPad much easier.  I also used the combination on the airplane on the way home and found the combination much more flexible than a laptop.  Although it’s unclear whether this would work as well sitting on my lap in normal conference seating.

Also I really wish there was some sort of other indicators/light(s) on the BT keypad.  It only has one green led and this makes for rather limited communications.  I tried to connect it to the iPad on the plane ride out but it failed.  I thought perhaps the batteries had run down and needed to be replaced.  When I got to my destination I tried again after looking up what the BT keypad green led and it worked just fine.  FYI:

  • A flashing green led means the BT keypad is pairing with a target devicep
  • To turn the BT keypad on, push and hold the side button until the green led starts to blink.
  • To turn the BT keypad off, push and hold the side button until the green led comes on and eventually off.

For some reason this was difficult to find online but it was probably in the printed doc that came with the keyboard (filed away and never seen again).  More lights might help, like green for on/yellow for discoverable, red for (going) off.  Or maybe if I just need to use it more often. I may have tried to pair it with my iPhone which didn’t help  (can’t be sure, also unclear how to clear it’s prior pairing).

Nevertheless, it might make sense to carry some extra batteries and/or their battery charger for just these types of problems.  There were quite a few people who commented on the BT keyboard/iPad combination.  They seemed unaware that it could be used with the iPad

Spellcheck saga

The other problem I had was with the iPad’s spell checker.  It turns out there are two levels of spell checking in the iPad and they are both active within Pages.  One can be disabled at the Pages Tools=>Check Spelling and the other is under iPad settings at General=>Keyboard=>Auto-Correction.   I was able to quickly find the Pages version but it took some effort to uncover the Keyboard one.

Nonetheless, while pounding in conference notes, I often employ vendor acronyms.  Oftentimes the spell checker/auto-corrector would transform these acronyms to something completely different.  Of course my typing is not perfect, so my other issue is that I miss-type words, which after auto-correction had little relation to what I was trying to type.

I realize that this is an attribute of soft keypad corrections, probably coming from the iPhone where often people mis-type due to the size of the keys.  However, when using the iPad and especially when using the BT keypad it would be nice if auto-correction was turned off, by default.

Other iPad incredulity

I was surprised to see some analysts with both an iPad and a laptop (and probably an iPhone/Blackberry).  Personally, I can’t see why anyone would want both other than for more screen space.  But I was a bit jealous when I had to change Apps to tweet something or check email/websites while inputing notes in real time.

Also, I was afraid depending on hotel/conference WIFI would place me at a disadvantage to other analysts/bloggers.  Ultimately, I found that for my use of internet (mostly for Twitter and email) during conferences, WIFI was adequate and I always had my iPhone if it didn’t work.

After 2hrs+ of keynotes and another 2hrs+ of presentations, I was running low on iPad power.  So, I started to power the iPad off between notes and tweets.  Funny thing, all I had to do to power on the screen was to start typing on the BT keypad – cool.  As I recall, it occasionally missed the first key stroke or so but worked fine after that.  Following lunch about an hour later, I pulled out my power cord extension and plugged it into the table outlet and kept it on for the rest of the day.  Thankfully, I remembered to bring the extension cord (that came with the laptop charger).

Well that’s about it, I have another short conference next week and will probably try again to bring the iPad but that pesky monthly newsletter is due out again…