TidBITS Coterie on Mac Jury

The TidBITS staff, including my co-writer Michael E. Cohen along with Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Joe Kissell, and Matt Neuburg appear on The MacJury podcast. Host Chuck Joiner attempts to herd cats while discussing Apple’s March 7 announcements regarding the third iPad, iPhoto for iOS, the refreshed Apple TV, and iOS 5.1. You can hear or download the podcast, which is both interesting and thoughtful, here.

Apple’s March 7 New iPad Announcements

First, the big news.

Apple is taking orders right now for March 16 shipping for their third version iPad. The specs are here. The crude details:

  • Retina display with 3.1 million pixels (2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch)
  • New rear-facing iSight camera offering 1080p HD video recording, 5 MP images, stabilization, Auto focus (tap to focus)
  • Also 2nd FaceTime camera with VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second.
  • Voice dictation (this is NOT Siri)
  • An A5X CPU with quad-core graphics
  • Both WiFi 4G LTE versions (buy the model for either AT&T or Verizon) and WiFi only. See Glenn Fleishman’s explanation of LTE and why you should care.
  • Form factor a tiny bit larger (fractions of a millimeter larger), includes Bluetooth, battery life about the same, storage (16G, 32G, 64G) and pricing identical to the iPad 2. Black and white bodies both offered.

Apple’s shiny pictures and tasty videos are here. Smart coverage from TidBITS here, Jeff Carlson in the Seattle Times here.

Other announcements included the refreshed Apple TV, iWork updates, the $4.99 iPhoto for iOS (which is available now from the App store, and looks very very sweet, but requires iPad 2 or the new iPad), and iOS 5.1, with updates to lots of Apple’s apps, available now.

iPad for Book Lovers

Peachpit has posted an article by me about my love for books, and the iPad:

Lisa L. Spangenberg, coauthor of The iPad 2 Project Book, readily confesses to being nuts about books. Like many of us, she is gradually becoming more comfortable with substituting digital reading for paperbacks and hardbacks, but she is already hopelessly in love with the many free (or very cheap) apps that let lovers of reading explore the written world in a whole new way.

There are so many super iPad apps for readers and bibliophile’s that I’ll be posting about some apps that I had to remove from the Peachpit article because it was already quite lengthy. In the meantime, head on over to Peachpit to read The Best iPad Apps for Book Lovers.

Pinterest

I always check out new blogging and CMS platforms, so when I started hearing about Pinterest.com, I took a look, and then tried Pinterest. Pinterest describes itself as “Pinterest is an online pinboard. Organize and share things you love.”

Pinterest isn’t really directly comparable to any of the extant blogging or CMS systems; it’s most similar to Tumbler. Pinterest is image-driven. An image is scraped or uploaded, re-sized, and the original URL is retained as a link. There’s a field for a brief comment, and other people can comment on posted images or “pins.” Each Pinterest “board” is presented as an image collage; you can click-through via any individual image and see the associated comments, a larger view and the original link.

Each Pinterest account can have several boards. Boards can be associated with a number of pre-defined categories, as well as shared between several posters. You call also “follow” individual boards, or all of a Pinterest account’s pins and boards. The top page of the site features recent “pins” and comments.

  • Find an image online (or a local image from your computer.
    You use a bookmarklet on your toolbar or you copy the URL and log onto your Pinterest account.
  • You pick one of your boards, or one that you have posting access to.
    You paste the URL into a field.
  • Pinerest asks scrapes the images and shows you reduced versions of the images on the page, and asks which image to use.
  • You select an image, and Pinterest grabs the image, reduces it if necessary, , and the URL, offers you a field for a comment and posts or “pins” the image to your board.
  • Other Pinterest members can re-pin your image, like it, or follow you or aparticular board.

Pinterest is not suited for building a presence online by itself; it is however an interesting ancillary to an established presence. It looks to me like Pinterest has more utility as a research tool and memory aid. Pinterest thus far (it’s still an invitation-only beta) is most enthusiastically being used by recipe collectors, and dedicated shoppers with specialized wish-lists. You’ll see people planning weddings or designing rooms, and using Pinterest to collect images and ideas. It’s an extremely useful research tool for writers. There are a lot of people using Pinterest to track recipes, items to buy as a sort of visual wish list, but also people collecting images for buildings, locations, furnishings and clothing to use in writing, especially in terms of historic style and location. My friend and graphic designer Michael Rowley has a board featuring typography, off to the right.

I’ve created a few boards here. I’m using it for recipes, but also as a research tool for the garden and for a couple of scholarly articles I’m working on. I can see some potential issues with respect to image copyrights—I suspect that Pinterest is relying a bit forcefully on safe harbor clauses, and the fact that what users are doing with scraped images is pretty much what search engines do with scraped images. I notice that as of today, Pinterest allows rights-holders to opt out of having their content used.

iPad Keyboards, Cases and Styluses

Increasingly, people are using iPads for creating content, as well as reading and viewing content. While the iPad digital keyboard is nifty (especially if you know these clever typing shortcuts) a stylus, or keyboard, or keyboard-and-stand combination can all make writing, editing, and creating on the iPad much easier. Dan Frakes has a thorough review of iPad keyboards in his Macworld Buying Guide: iPad keyboards. Frakes also favors Adonit’s Writer folio case and Bluetooth keyboard, the one I wrote about here and have been using quite happily (though I’m still planning to pick up Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard to use with my iPad and with an iMac).

For non-keyboard cases, this Macworld Buying Guide: iPad Cases seems to be the most thorough and helpful collection of reviews. I might as well confess that Apple’s red leather smart case for the iPad 2 (or possibly the navy blue leather one) are awfully tempting—though not quite enough to tempt me into buying an actual iPad 2. Instead, I bought a padded neoprene slip cover case that neatly fits in the padded laptop compartment of my backpack. That said, I’ve been eyeing the design-your-own cases and protective hard shell covers from Zazzle and Cafe Press.

My current obsession, personally, is with the utility of using a stylus to write and draw on the iPad. I’m about to post a review of the Griffin GC16040 Stylus for iPad/iPhone and Other Touchscreens. I’ve been fascinated to see how well it works, and yes, the Griffin Stylus really is an asset. I note that once again the Macworld Buying Guide: iPad Styluses seems to provide the best coverage.
At the high end, they like the Wacom Bamboo (and it’s available in multiple colors) at around $25.00. I’ve heard good things about Wacom’s Bamboo Stylus from others too. I note that a lot of my friends are buying the BoxWave Capacitive Stylus; like the Griffin Stylus, it’s about ten dollars, but the Boxwave comes in colors, and people seem to be buying two or three at a time.

It’s Complicated

This is a really smart article by Mathew Ingram: “Our Relationship with E-Books: It’s Complicated“.

Ingram quite even-handedly covers the bases on sharing ebooks and ebook annotations, complete with lots of links, in clear language. He notes:

Will we ever be able to download a digital version of the print book we just bought, and then share that book with friends — or even sell it to someone else at a discounted price, as we can with real books — or share our margin notes and highlights with others, regardless of what e-book reader they use? . . .

The unfortunate part of all this, of course, is that publishers would likely be able to sell far more books if they made it easier for readers to download, read and share them — or passages from them — with anyone regardless of what device they owned. Until that happens, e-books will continue to be a Balkanized mess of competing standards and sharing silos, and the book-reading public will be the worse for it.

Go read the whole thing, and do follow the links in his post, because they provide examples that support his central argument.

Trying to teach with ebooks in an English literature class is almost impossible in terms of using them for analyses by students because they can’t annotate the text, and export their own annotations as notes along with the passage they’re analyzing. Ideally, I’d like a highlighted passage, the annotations or notes associated with the passage and a citation (author, title, chapter and/or section and publication data) to be easily exported. Restricting the excerpt by character or word would be fine; but the practice of not allowing any passages to be copied and pasted is frustrating for teachers, academics, scholars and students.

Ironically, The Voyager Company’s Expanded books had this feature (among others) in 1992.

How to Extend The Due Date of your Kindle Library Book

Via Librarian by Day Bobbi Newman (who tweets as @librarianbyday):

It is pretty easy to “extend” the due date of the library ebook you check out to your kindle, just turn your wireless connection off until you’re done with it. This will allow you to keep reading the book until you’re done. The title won’t expire until you reactivate your wireless connection.

Ms Newman notes that the “buy this book” note from Amazon that arrives three days before the book is due is a useful reminder to shut off your connection until you’ve read the book.

This is more practical for readers using the Kindle reader, or using the Kindle app on an iPad or iPhone to read a library book, of course, but still awfully useful.

Tenth Anniversary of the Original iPod

My original 5 gig iPod, purchased in November of 2001, still boots, still charges, and still works. October 23 was the anniversary of the initial announcement regarding the then new iPod, and while mine still works pretty much as well as it did in 2001 (the battery is not what it was), I subsequently became a delighted owner of first a first generation iPhone (now, sadly, with a damaged sleep/power button) and then, an iPod Classic, and, last January, an iPhone 3gs.

But it’s been interesting to look back via this Macworld piece on The Birth of the iPod, and to look back at the pundits’ initial takes on the first iPod via a companion piece on The iPod: What They Said.

I started using my first iPod at first to store music, and then to sync data. It wasn’t long at all before it became an essential teaching tool for me, as I noted in this blog post from 2004 written in response to a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the Duke iPod project.

I note for the curious, that The Chronicle is still usually hopelessly inane regarding teaching with technology, despite their recent harried push at becoming cool with respect to instructional technology.