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Sunday
May012011

iPad Wireless Tip: "Forgetting" Wireless Networks

When you connect to a wireless network, your iPad (and your iPhone as well, for that matter) will hold on to that network like grim death, connecting you to it every time you come in proximity to it - whether you want to connect or not.  Fortunately, it's pretty easy to stop a wireless network from connecting automatically.

  • Tap Settings, and then Wi-Fi.
  • A listing of available networks will appear to the right - select the one from which you want to disconnect and press the blue button to the right.
  • In the pane that appears, press Forget this Network.  

Now you should no longer be automatically connected to this network.  If for any reason you want to connect back to the network again, you'll need to go through the connection process.

 

Friday
Apr292011

iPad Security Tip: Setting a Strong Passcode

A security tip for you today - how many of you are actually using the Passcode provided on your iPad/iPhone? You're probably carrying around some pretty sensitive stuff on your device, at least in email - you owe it to yourself and your practice to secure your iPad the best it can be secured.  And the first step in doing that is by setting a strong passcode.  

By default (unfortunately), the iPad comes with the Passcode off. Here's how to turn it on and set it:

  • Press Settings, then General.
  • To the right, Passcode Lock should show Off, if you have not already enabled it.  Press it; if you have already created a 4-digit passcode, you'll be asked to enter it now.
  • On the Passcode Lock page, you'll see Turn Passcode On. Don't touch that yet.
  • First, go to Simple Passcode and move it to the Off position.  If it's turned only, you can only create a simple, 4-digit passcode.  And we don't want something as easy as that, do we?
  • Once Simple Passcode is turned off, press Turn Passcode On.  You'll be presented with a dialog box to enter your Passcode.  Enter anything - you are not limited in the length of your passcode.  Make sure you make it strong, though - visit How Secure is My Password? to see how long it would take a computer to crack it.
  • You'll be asked to enter it twice, after which your passcode will be turned on.
  • Also, press Require Passcode, and choose the time interval after which your iPad will require a Passcode to get back in.  Choose a time period that isn't so often that you are constantly having to enter your Passcode, but is short enough so that if you leave it alone for a short time no one can get into it.

That's it!  We'll be discussing more security settings and precautions over the next few weeks, but this is a great - and necessary - first start.

Tuesday
Apr262011

Fun App of the Week: The Civil War Today

Although the main purpose of this blog is to highlight the many ways that lawyers can be productive on an iPad, I also want to cover some of the fun apps I find for the tablet.  This week's fun app is fun, but with an educational purpose.  The Civil War Today is brought to you by This History Channel, and was created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that war.  What makes this app great is that it takes you through the war literally day by day - each day you get new information on what happened that particular day, 150 years ago.  Each day's "newspaper" provides a "This Day in Civil War History" story, a Quote of the Day, Photo of the Day, headlines from a paper somewhere in the country for that day, a featured story, and even a trivia game.  

One of my favorite features is the "A Day in the Life" section, which features diary entries or letters written or received by various people during the war, on both sides.   It's really interesting to read was was going on in these peoples' lives on a daily basis - and reading them all at once each day brings it all together.

I'm also a big fan of the New York Times blog Disunion, which is also following the Civil War day by day, but with substantially longer and more comprehensive content.  Disunion is behind the NYT Pay Wall, so you'll have to pay to read the articles after you use up your 20 free views per month - but The Civil War Today is free, so you can follow the war all the way to its end, four years from now.  Check it out.

Thursday
Apr212011

Best Practices for Presenting on an iPad

Last week at ABA TECHSHOW, I discovered a limitation of the iPad while leading a session on the iPad for Lawyers:  although the VGA adapter I used to connect my iPad to the projector worked great, I found that not all of my apps displayed onscreen.  I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with that (any ideas from the iPad community?), but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some tips on a related issue:  presenting on the iPad.

I really liked this article on Indezine titled Presenting on an iPad:  Conversation with Jamie Garroch, and agree with Jamie's conclusion that Keynote is currently the best way to present on the iPad (although I'm intrigued by the new Prezi app, and intend to try it out soon).  You can always convert your PowerPoint file to PDF and present in GoodReader or some other reading app, or you can convert to video or images as well.  But Keynote remains the best option, because of its capabilities.  You can convert your .PPT or .PPTX files to Keynote format - there will be a little bit of modification in your file, but in all it works pretty well.

That said, there are still some limitations to be aware of when presenting on Keynote, which I take from the interview with Jamie:

  • The iPad only supports a small set of fonts - so if you like to use funky fonts in your presentations, you're going to be out of luck.
  • Don't use video, unless you are able to convert between the WMV (Windows) and MOV (Apple) formats.
  • If you like to hyperlink to documents or other items, you're also out of luck - Keynote only supports links to web pages.
  • Don't plan on using too many graphical effects, because most of them won't transfer to Keynote, unless you paste the object back into the slide as an image.
  • Stick to simple animations, or wait until your presentation is in Keynote before adding them.  I'm starting to use less animations in my presentations lately, so that's not a big deal for me.
  • Keep in mind that the iPad has a 4:3 aspect ratio, so if you create your slide deck in another setup you may find your images squashed up when you convert to Keynote.

Using the iPad as a presentation device is really intriguing to me right now - it pulls you out from behind a laptop (unless you use a remote), and makes your presentation more of a conversation, I think.  Just keep these tips in mind when designing your slide deck.

Tuesday
Apr192011

The Blackberry Playbook goes live: an iPad Competitor?

Last week at ABA TECHSHOW, the tech buzz around RIM's foray into the tablet field, the Blackberry Playbook, reached a near-fever pitch.  "Have you seen the Playbook?  You need to see the Playbook!,"  I was told on more than one occasion.  And having had a chance to hold and see a demo of the Playbook, I wanted to take a moment here to give my thoughts on its place in the current tablet ecosystem.

It's a beautiful device - it's smaller than an iPad, with a 7" inch screen, and the display is terrific.  Having been used to the 10" iPad screen, I think I prefer the larger real estate, but that may be because I have been using it for so long.  Holding the device is comfortable; although it weighs about the same as my iPad2, it's more compact and easier to hold.  The materials used to create it don't feel quite as solid as the iPad2, though.  The cameras are much better than those on the iPad 2 - a 5 Megapixel camera in back, with a 3MP camera in front.  And of course the Playbook comes equipped with Flash, so visiting websites or viewing videos that use Flash is something you can't do with an iPad.  I also prefer the Playbook's multi-tasking capabilities, which allow you to scroll through your open programs in a way that's a lot more intuitive than the iPad.

Still, there are some drawbacks to the Playbook that make it hard to recommend - at this point, anyway. Probably the biggest issue for me is the lack of an integrated email/calendar/contacts functionality.  In order to read your email or access your calendar/contacts on the Playbook, you need to own a Blackberry, and connect via a Bluetooth program called the Blackberry Bridge.  Once the connection is made, you can read and reply to email, view your calendar or contacts - but once the connection is broken, all of that data disappears from the Playbook.  This is great from a security perspective, but it seriously hampers the functionality of the device, and it's all but useful if you happen to be an iPhone or Android phone user (unless, of course, you use web-based email that can be accessed via a web browser).  

The other main reason I hesitate in endorsing the Playbook is its lack of apps, especially those for lawyers.  When I saw the Playbook demo at ABA, a lawyer asked, "what are some of the ways that I can be productive as a lawyer on the Playbook?"  Instead of answer, the person giving the demo said, "look at this great game!"  And with reason - at launch, the Blackberry comes with 3,000 apps designed for tablets.  This is nothing to sneeze at, until you consider the iPad has 65,000 tablet-based apps, and can run all 350,000 of the iPhone's apps - the Playbook can't run any of the Blackberry's 27,000 apps. As my friends at TECHSHOW said:  the tablet is almost entirely about the apps.  RIM has a ways to go before it can catch up with some solid productivity apps lawyers can use.

There were lots (and LOTS) of reviews on the Playbook that came out yesterday - check them out and decide for yourself whether a Playbook is for you: