Life with iPad: Part 2, the Solution.

<p>I believe I hurt my iPad&rsquo;s feelings with my <a href="">last post</a>, so I decided to give the ol&rsquo; tablet another try. &nbsp;I mean, maybe I was too harsh. &nbsp;Is the iPad truly more of a toy than a tool? &nbsp;Did Apple actually release an immature product not quite ready for the briefcase? &nbsp;Was it possible the iPad could join the ranks of the hammer, Moleskin notepad, and duct tape? &nbsp;(Necessary tools. &nbsp;Come on, bare with me.) &nbsp;Somewhere in between not wanting my Apple branded glass &amp; metal to simply stay at the couch and my wife frowning when I took the MacBook Pro away from the home, I brought my iPad to school. &nbsp;In my briefcase.<!--more--></p>

King of the Hill: Pages

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in grad school pursuing a Masters in Divinity.  More on that later.  When I previously brought my MacBook Pro to class, it was to take notes.  Due to a lack of respect for Microsoft Word, Pages was my preferred notetaker.  After combing through the App Store and then ranting about the lack of quality note apps, I landed at Pages for iPad, purely because it allows for auto-formatting, bulleted lists.

This is very important for lectures on

1. People

           a. Date

          b. Contributions.

2. Events

          a. Date

          b. People’s involved

          c. Outcome

3. Sushi in the Bible…

Other popular note taking apps lack this, namely Evernote and Simplenote.

Whipping it out.

As one could imagine, the iPad doesn’t sit unnoticed.  A professor stopped mid-sentace and said to me, “Oh, I see.  So, you’re trying to make me jealous with your iPad, are you?”  Almost every class has included a small huddle.  Perhaps this will lead to more business for me, eh?  Anyway, when the lectures actually did start, I would click away on my bluetooth keyboard, and reach up to tap the appropriate button when I needed to indent my bullets.  (Sadly, the Tab key won’t do this in Pages.)  Notes were made.  iPad did well.  Knowledge retained.

Jimmy-Rigged Sync Solution

But those of who read my last post are probably wondering, What about the lack of syncing you so hated?  You’re right.  In fact, the notes are still on my iPad.  But let me tell you what I plan on doing to fix that.

First of all, the recipe: Dropbox, Send to Dropbox, and Hazel.  If you’re familiar with those apps/site, you probably know where this is going.  Basically, Dropbox is 2GB of web storage where I already store all the files for my current semester.  It’s a must for any student.  Send to Dropbox asks for your Dropbox credentials, and then provides you with an email address to which you can send documents to a specified folder in Dropbox.  Hazel runs on your Mac, and will monitor any folder (such as said folder above) and will perform actions based on conditions you set, such as move, delete, colorize.

You follow?  If so, you’ll understand that after a class, I can email my document (eg. “Sep 8-Church History”) to Dropbox and eventually, it will get sorted into the appropriate folder for that class.

It takes determination to set this up, but it’s the best solution I’ve found.  Ideally, the file would just sync without the need to email stuff in, but that won’t happen unless iDisk or Dropbox gets directly integrated into iOS or Pages, which won’t happen anytime soon.

No More BookFace.

Now, there is an unanticipated benefit to using my iPad for taking notes.  I actually focus more in class.  No Twitter, email, or iWhatever bouncing up and down, vying for my attention.  With my MacBook Pro, I always found myself thinking, “Oh, I wonder if anything interesting posted in Google Reader… or, Do I see John on FaceBook over there?  I should hop on too and chat with him!… or, The book Dr. Johnson just mentioned sounds interesting.  I wonder how much it’s going for on Amazon right now.”  These are all things I actually do in class with my MacBook Pro.  Of course, I can do these things with the iPad, but it’s so much more tedious.  I have to stay in Pages or else I get sucked into the black hole of internets.

Thanks for those who Tweeted or emailed me with concern over my previous post.  My hope is that this one restores me to “Apple Fanboy” status.  Yes, I love my iPad.

UPDATE: I set up the crazy file-syncing solution, and it works like a champ.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.