Murphy Mac - Screencasts and Tutorials » Posts in category 'iPad'

VLC for iOS Update Plays EyeTV Recordings

packageWith one little step – instead of re-encoding – you can drop your EyeTV recordings onto your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

When the first VLC Media Player (itunes link) app for iPad came out I tried dropping an EyeTV recording into it – including the container file. No dice – the file wasn’t recognized. I tried an EyeTV container with the new release of VLC for iPad too – but it still wasn’t recognized. But right-clicking on the container and showing its contents allowed me to copy the mpg file residing within onto the iPad. VLC for iPad recognized the mpg and played it. The initial release didn’t work for the EyeTV mpg either.

The .eyetv file is much larger than what you’d get if you encoded it for your i-device. But for a video I plan to watch once and delete I’m happy to skip the encoding.

The VLC app doesn’t use the standard playback components provided in iOS APIs – like the player you’d see in an app such as Dropbox. For example, my Bluetooth keyboard playback controls don’t work in VLC for iPad.

Playback isn’t as tight as m4v files I’ve played back using Dropbox and other apps, but it’s not terrible either. Definitely not as clear as playing back an .eyetv file on my Mac – but again – that’s ok, there’s some value in getting a video onto my iOS device without encoding it – sometimes it’s worth the tradeoff.

That said, I just loaded a short scene from an action movie, recorded in standard definition, to my iPhone 4.  Playback was a bit pixelated.

VLC for iOS does keep track of where you left off watching a video. And it’s free.  The VLC Media Player is nice to have for times when encoding isn’t otherwise necessary.

Radically Inexpensive iPad Stand

Walking out of the Apple store I had an idea: Use a book stand for an iPad stand. I looked around inside the Sur La Table store right next to the Apple store – didn’t see any dedicated book stands but they had plenty of plate holders. I picked one up and saw the name Gibson Holder on the bottom. Found a variant of the plate stand on Amazon, the N4 Display Stand.

It’s a stable stand. The white looks ok in my kitchen. And it’s inexpensive enough to have a few in the house.

When I got mine it was under $3 at Amazon, I bought a single. It looks like they come in a 6 pack now for $8. I don’t see the single listed anymore.

In portrait mode it obstructs the home button and the charging port. I’m almost always in landscape so I don’t really mind.
Some people might think it’s too rigid and that it might scratch the iPad. Generally I don’t worry about that stuff – but maybe you do. I carry my iPhone in my pocket without a case. Admittedly, I expected more of a pliable coating on the wire frame, but I’m still happy with it as an iPad stand. The feel is like a sturdy coat hanger.

I use it mostly in my kitchen, more photos below.

Murphy Mac's iPad Stand photoset Murphy Mac’s iPad Stand photoset

iPad Bullets

iPadThere hasn’t been enough written about the iPad, so I’m chipping in with some bullets.  They could easily become meaningless tomorrow when iPhone 4.0 is announced.

I’m still convinced that many many people don’t need an all-out computer, and that this will meet their needs.  If the iPad had come out first we’d be questioning why people need a laptop instead.

Web Browser – They tried to throw me off by moving the toolbar to the top of the screen. But aside from that the interface is very much like the iPhone. I love having the bookmark bar at the top of the screen. Safari was the first app I tried after starting the iPad up, and I was amazed at how responsive the device was to my pinches and pans. If the button to clear the url field was a tiny bit bigger I wouldn’t object.

Mail – From Safari I went straight to Mail. I’m a little surprised they didn’t make more use of the space. For example – how about adding a button to attach a photo instead of having to exit Mail and going to Photos to create the outgoing message? Essentially Mail is the same as the iPhone version – but now you can see your message list at the same time you’re reading a message. That’s nice, but I bet they could squeeze some more stuff in there without it being overwhelming.

iBooks – It looks great. I don’t have a Kindle, I’ve never even held one. I hardly know anybody who has one. For a serious reader the backlight might be a lot to take, a point for Kindle. But the interface is easy to use and I can see myself trying a book or two and going from there. Mrs. Murphy is a light sleeper and even with the brightness turned all the way down I’ll probably get elbowed. Along with encouragement to shut it down. Still – iBooks looks like a well-executed winner.

My Old Apps – Next I wanted to see my old apps in action. The jaggies on the 2x view are pretty distracting, but the 1x view is fine for most apps since that’s what they were designed for. I’m glad they run and the ones I tried worked just fine. EyeTV is cool to have, I’d expect a real iPad app from Elgato before too long. Many of my other apps really make more sense for the iPhone, so I didn’t even move them over to the iPad. Like geo-aware and photographic apps.

Video – Video looks fantastic. They should add a brightness slider like iBooks has.

Photos – I love the interface. A friend once said to me, “It’s way too awkward to pass a laptop around a room for people to look at photos.” He was right. Especially in non-nerd company. The iPad is perfect for this function. Photos is probably the best example on the device of how natural a touch interface can be. After digging down into an album or photo you can pinch in to climb back up the tree. I love that.

That said, I was hoping for a more advanced photo app, tied closer to iPhoto. The form-factor is so natural for photos – why not add the ability to tag photos? Tap a bunch of photos and drag a tag name onto them. Perfect.

Physical Device – I’ve pictured what this device would look like over the years. And I always pictured it a little smaller. You can’t get the world to agree on what the right size is though and I don’t think it’s WAY too big anyway. It’s too heavy to hold for very long with one hand. But if you’re sitting and rest it on your lap it’s comfortable enough for some browsing, reading, viewing… Which is probably why the Safari controls were moved to the top. Buttons along the bottom edge can get lost in the folds of your shirt. People complained that it’s not the same aspect ratio as many films. Sorry people, movies come in all different aspects – you’re going to have black bars some of the time no matter what.

The device feels solid and I assume it’s sturdy like my iPhone. I would have liked a USB port but the camera kit will meet my biggest USB need for the device. For others this could be a gaping hole. I wonder how much Apple takes in from licensing the data connector port.

How Will Murphy Use the iPad ? – Not sure yet. I want my mother to try it out. Before it shipped I was sure it was all the computer many people actually need. Especially as a secondary computer. If you have a keyboard.

I heard Scoble (I think) talking about his mother-in-law and how she had never used a computer. She doesn’t speak English and yet he handed the device to her and she could start using it immediately. He pointed out that the iPad is less intimidating than a computer for the inexperienced. Others have mentioned their children taking to it more naturally than a mouse.

Back to ME: I like it. I’m not wild about typing on it while lying on the sofa. But for browsing I love it. So far I’ve used it a lot while standing in the kitchen with the iPad flat on the counter. Typing in that case is fine. And I can watch TV (via EyeTV) without the toddler seeing it. That’s big.

After the iPad announcement I was initially disappointed. I realize now that full OS X – which I wanted – would have been a mistake. But then – like many others – I pictured non-techies using it for email and Internet, especially with a keyboard. Most people I know do very little beyond that with their computers. If Apple announces printing tomorrow a big obstacle will be removed.

Miscellaneous – I haven’t had any wifi issues. I have the latest dual band Airport. I’ve also used it in a couple restaurants that had wifi and with an old Netgear router. No problem. I’m not saying the other people’s problems aren’t valid, just letting you know it’s not affecting all iPads.

I’m not good at typing on it yet. I’m way keyboard-centric on my Mac and use keyboard shortcuts whenever I can. I’ll get better but I don’t know how much better.

I don’t have a case, and I don’t really like the Apple one that much. Just throwing it in my bag for now.

I don’t fly much anymore. If I did I’d take this instead of a laptop in a second. I can’t think of much I’d need on a trip that it couldn’t do.

I’ve shown the iPad to a handful of people. None of them had a Kindle but they were all most interested in the iBooks app. The calendar and address book are pretty good looking, and the Photos app is a great demo.

I heard the iPad can play music for something like 140 hours on a single charge.

I’m writing this on my Macbook.

Remove Extra Albums from iPad Photos

alubmsIf you’ve copied lots of photos over to your iPad and noticed extra albums it could be because the folder enclosing those albums is showing up as an album.

For example, I created a folder in iPhoto called iPad and stuck albums inside named Florida, Sugar Mountain, and Egg Hunt. After syncing the photos to my iPad I had four albums on the device – one was called iPad – which I didn’t really want.

The iPad album on the device was based on the iPad folder in iPhoto. Which I wasn’t able to uncheck while I had all three albums checked.

Solution: Put a dummy album in the folder and don’t check it. This prevents the folder name from being checked and showing up on the device.

The folder doesn’t add much functionality with regard to the iPad, unless you’re looking for a simple way to combine albums. Arguably it’s easier to check a folder than ten albums and it’s good for keeping stuff tidy. But you still don’t have a nested hierarchy on the device like you do in iPhoto.

More thoughts on the iPad later today.

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