Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apple's iTunes U Goes Mobile with iPad and iPhone App

Has you used the iTunes U App on iPad and iPhone yet? It was announced by Apple when they announced the iBooks' Textbooks and the iBooks Author tool.

It is pretty cool! I am attending a Stanford University "iOS Development" class right from the comfort of my home - AND for FREE! Monday is my new "class" day for this course.

I have the lectures (Videos), the slides (PDF), and homework assignments (PDF) available for downloading and viewing.

I have them loaded in my iTunes on the iMac. I can watch it on the iMac, but then my screen real estate gets used up.

WIth the Apple TV, I send the video from the iMac (did you know there is an Apple TV button in iTunes - on the Mac at least) to the 50" HDTV. This allows me to view the slides and\or assignments on the iMac. Additionally I can follow along with the instructor in Xcode and build the code as I watch.

I have all the same material on my iPad and iPhone, so I can review the material anywhere. Now I am wish I had gotten a MacBook Pro instead of the iMac. Either way this is very nice.

I have recommended the iTunes U for as long as it has been available on iTunes, but with the new course material added and the mobility of the content to the iOS devices makes this a no-brainer for anyone interested in learning a new subject.

Here are some shots of the iTunes U on an iPhone 4s:

Here is the app icon
iTunes U - App Icon

The Library Screen
iTunes U - Library

Here is all of the content in my iTunes U app
iTunes U - Lesson Plan

Here is the iOS Development Lesson Example from Stanford University
iTunes U - Course Overview

Here is the iOS Development Slide Example from Stanford University
iTunes U - Lesson Slide

Here is the iOS Development Video Example from Stanford University
iTunes U - Lesson Video

Here is the iOS Development Video Output Example from Stanford University
iTunes U - Apple TV Choice

Here is the iOS Development Course Material Example from Stanford University
iTunes U - Lesson Material

Here is the iOS Development Assignment Example from Stanford University
iTunes U - Lesson Assignment

The App is FREE and so is the Material from Standford.

If you haven't checked out the iTunes U app in the AppStore, you should.

  • iTunes Links: iTunes U for iPad
  • iTunes Links: iTunes U for iPhone


  • Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Review: Thule 13" MacBook Pro + iPad Attaché

    I have the Thule 13" MacBook Pro + iPad Attaché carrying case. This case is awesome and very nice looking. Thule typically makes luggage equipment for mounting atop vehicles, so their look is more on the side of "functional" not "pretty".



    The case is water resistant with a zipper that closes firm. It think it is designed to be carried in various weather conditions without fear of moisture reaching your devices, not designed to be submerged completely in water.



    While it is designed for a MacBook Pro, I carry my Toshiba Ultrabook inside it. The case opens in a clamshell with a laptop side and another for an iPad and storage for accessories.



    On the laptop side, there is simply a elastic band that holds the laptop firmly in place. You can open and close the case without fear of the laptop shifting or falling out. It is designed so that you can open up the case and position the laptop to be used in the case.





    The other side is nicely designed. There is a section divider that holds the iPad in the front side pocket.





    The divider has three pockets on the back where you could store an iPhone, USB drive, on any other small devices. Behind the divider is a huge storage area that can easily store power cords for both your laptop and iPad. There is room enough for an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, a mouse, cleaning cloth for your iPad screen and whatever else you might need while on the go. There is a strap that is attached to the back cover of the case that has a Velcro patch to lock unto the divider. This strap ensures that everything in the storage area stays put.



    While I am using my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard to write this review on my iPad, I typically don't carry it with me. I typically don't mind using the on screen keyboard, but it is nice to know it is can be brought along in my case if I needed to do so.





    I compute to work using the bus system. I park my car and then board the single bus that takes appropriately 45 minutes to arrive to Downtown Detroit (Michigan). Using a Bluetooth keyboard is not practical in this environment. I am; however, able to store everything I need do need in this case.

    My naked iPad could very easily slip into the front pocket of the divider. The pocket has a soft liner so that the screen would not be scratched. While the pockets are nice on both sides of the divider, I typically do not use them. My iPad (first generation) is in an Otterbox case, so it is bulkier than it would be without the case. I place it between the divider and the storage area and secure it in place with the Velcro equipped strap. The Otterbox case protects the iPad from everything else that is in the bag.

    When I am computing and want to use my iPad, the Thule case works great as a flat surface to rest my Otterbox case on top of. I prop my iPad up on the Otterbox's stand and can comfortably use it.



    The Thule case has a removable shoulder strap that come in handy when I use the case as a surface. What I do is unstrap one side of the shoulder strap and wrap it around my waist and then reattach it to the case. This secures the case and prevents it from sliding away from me, since I am at the mercy of the bus driver and made experience some sudden and abrupt stops. I often use this method with either the iPad or with my laptop. In both instances, the textured and patterned surface of the outer case shell is perfect to help keep the device from shifting while in transit.

    The Thule 13" MacBook Pro + iPad Attaché carrying case holds everything I need while on the go. The storage area is a nice size. It has a mesh pocket that runs the length of the case and will keep you items in place.



    The carry the following items with me:



  • Toshiba Portégé Ultrabook
  • Apple iPad (first generation) in OtterBox iPad 1 Defender-Series Case (Black)
  • Western Digital My Passport 500 GB USB Portable External Hard Drive
  • OrigAudio ROCK-IT Portable Vibration Speaker 3.5mm USB!
  • Verizon Wireless MIFI 4510L WI-FI 4G LTE Portable Hotspot
  • Cleaning Cloth for iPad screen
  • IPad Sync cable and power cube
  • Micro USB cable (for charging my Mophie Juice Pack Air Battery Case)
  • Altoids smalls for fresh breathe
  • Verbatim Bluetooth Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse (for Laptop) and Mouse pad
  • Power cord and power brick for Ultrabook (in case)
  • Sprint Travel Charger PLUS (not pictured)

    The Thule 13" MacBook Pro + iPad Attaché carrying case is a perfect size case for me. It is 13.6" wide, 10.2" high and 2.2" in depth. Those dimensions don't seem big at all and by appearance they aren't, but they are quite adequate to allow everything I need to be brought with me while on the go.



    I like that is is not a huge carry case. I used to wheel a bag behind me in order to bring all the things I needed for my mobile office. You don't believe me!? Take a look at the video I submitted to the Gadgeteer's "Show us What is in your Gear bag?" contest. I didn't win the contest and received a T-Shirt for my efforts. Here are all the other entires. Maybe I would have won the contest if I had this bag, but I definitely would have one if I had today's devices in it. None of these items were even available back in 2006. The funny thing is that I basically have the same equipment, but at smaller footprints. The two things that would technically be in my bag today are my White Apple iPhone 4s 32GB At&t White and my LG Tone (HBS-700) Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset, but they are on my belt and neck.

    This bag is a great size. It is the right size for everything I need without looking big and bulky. If you looked at this case, you would never think it held so many items. The case is not flashy or colorful, so it does not draw much attention which is great while commuting. It does have a very prominent THULE logo on the front, but that name doesn't scream "Expensive Gadgets Inside!".



    I purchased the Toshiba 12-Inch Leather Envoy Leather Case with my Ultrabook, but this thing was just too big and heavy. When travelling or computing, I want my bag to contain what I need without taking up too much space. I can use the strap to hang this on the seat in front of me without taking up too much of my leg or lap room. While flying, this can slide under my seat with room to spare.



    I highly recommend the Thule 13 Inch MacBook Pro Laptop Attache Case. It is a rugged, yet sophisticated looking case. Its durable, semi-rigid, high-density construction provides protection for the hardware you need to carry. The case cost $79.99 USD.

    All photos can be viewed here on Flickr.

    Thanks,

    Carl W. Brooks
    iAmThereforeiPad, Founder and Chief Editor

    iPad News, Reviews and How-To-Dos.
    We help make your iPad experience Magical through information!
    http://www.iamthereforeipad.com
    IPad podcast: http://goo.gl/dpiyI

    On Jan 14, 2012, at 10:40 PM, Sue O'Dwyer wrote:

    I am looking for a carrying case for my iPad and keyboard
  • Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Apple is reinventing the textbook.

    By Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY

    Published: 1/19/2012 10:55:20 AM

    At New York's Guggenheim Museum, Apple's senior vice president for worldwide marketing Phil Schiller unveiled iBooks 2, an interactive, full-screen digital textbooks experience that makes liberal use of video and animations and the swiping and pinching gestures familiar to anyone who has an iPad. Students can purchase the new digital textbooks starting today right from Apple's iBookstore.

    Apple also announced iBooks Author, a free tool for Macintosh computers with custom templates to help authors create and publish their own digital textbooks. Schiller says teachers could even take advantage of iBooks Author to create lesson plans.

    And Apple is also broadening its iTunes U program with a new app that lets professors create full online courses. The company is also letting K-12 institutions participate.

    "Education is deep in our DNA and has been from the very beginning," Schiller says, pointing to how the U.S. has sagged in education — ranking 17th, 23rd and 31st around the world in reading, science and math, respectively.

    The company's hope is that students will find the new textbooks engaging. Students studying high school biology, for example, can view 3-D animated models of structures within a cell. They can tap a word or a glossary definition, pinch to return to the table of contents, and drag their finger to highlight a passage. The books can automatically turn student notes into study cards.

    Though Apple is targeting the new textbooks at any age or grade level, the early emphasis is on high-school textbooks. Books will be priced at $14.99 or less. Early publishing partners include Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who collectively control 90% of the market, with some of the titles available immediately. Apple is also working with DK Publishing on titles that cover dinosaurs, insects, mammals and the ABCs.

    "Life on Earth" from noted biologist E.O. Wilson is also being made available; the first two chapters are free. Additional chapters will be available at "very aggressive prices," Schiller says.

    Still, there are questions about how quickly this will all be adopted. During his presentation, Schiller did not mention how many books will be available. Also, few students have iPads, which start at $499.

    And as NPD analyst Ross Rubin tweeted, "Much as with other printed content, textbook publishers will have to justify investment to add all this multimedia in Apple textbooks."

    Contributing: Associated Press

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Jailbreak the Apple TV 2; Why I did it and Why You Might too

    Many of you know that I love to Jailbreak my iOS devices. I had lost my iPad Jailbreak when I upgraded to iOS 5.0.1, but I was able to regain the Jailbreak with the release of the redsn0w jailbreak tool over the Christmas break. My iPad 1 is happy once again.

    Jailbreaking, is the process of removing the limitations imposed by Apple on devices running the iOS operating system through use of custom kernels. Such devices include the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and 2nd Gen Apple TV. Jailbreaking allows users to gain root access to the operating system, allowing iOS users to download additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store. A jailbroken iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. The term 'jailbreaking' has also been applied to other computer systems, such as the Sony Playstation 3. Jailbreaking is a form of privilege escalation.

    Unlike rooting an Android device, jailbreaking is necessary if the user intends to run software not authorized by Apple. A tethered jailbreak requires that the device be connected to a computer each time it needs to be booted; an untethered jailbreak allows the device to be powered without computer assistance. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, jailbreaking Apple devices is legal in the United States, although Apple has announced that the practice "can violate the warranty". To avoid any warranty issues, the Apple TV must be restored to the non-Jailbroken state by hooking it up to the desktop and iTunes and performing a restore.

    Over the Christmas 2011 break, I finally picked up an Apple TV (2nd Version) after months of wondering why anyone would even want to have one. Actually I picked it up the day after Thanksgiving for $89. It is normally $99, but available at Amazon for a little less. I previously did not see a good enough reason to spend nearly $100 for the device.

    The Apple TV allows you to rent Apple's large selection of HD movies and commercial-free HD TV shows. It has a Netflix app that allows access to the huge catalog of movies and TV shows available to Netflix subscribers in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Mexico. You can browse and play YouTube videos, watch HD podcasts, and listen to Internet radio. You can access online Flickr and MobileMe photos galleries. Plus if you have photos, music, movies or videos on your computer, they can be seen and\or heard on your TV and\or home theater speakers.

    This all sounded good, but I could do all of this already through some other means. I can rent movies and TV shows (via Amazon app), listen to online radio (Pandora app), and view Youtube on my Home Theater system from Panasonic. I had an HDMI cable hooked to my iMac, so I could view my photos, music, movies and videos on my computer on my 50" HD television (though it tied my computer up a bit to do so). I have Netflix on both my Wii and the same home theater system, so the app on Apple TV was no advantage by itself. So as you could guess, I didn't see a reason to spend nearly $100. Two factors help push me to make the leap; one was the addition of Airplay to the Apple TV OS..

    With AirPlay mirroring, whatever is playing on your iPad 2 or iPhone 4S can wirelessly play on your HDTV. And your photos appear automatically with Photo Stream from your iCloud account. This is an incredible feature that was added with the latest update to the Apple Tv's OS (4.4.4). To be able to instantly display content that is on my iPhone 4s is awesome. All without any cables. My iPad 1 only wirelessly displays content that has an app that is specifically designed for Airplay. The mirrorring is disabled on the iPad 1 for some silly reason. To get my iPad's content mirrored on the big screen, I would need a $40 cable and a Jailbreak. The other factor that sold me was the realization that I did not have any of the above mentioned functions in my bedroom. With the tiny size of the Apple TV and the minimum requirements needed to hook it up to the TV, the Apple TV is quickly moved between my bedroom and the Livingroom. With two young daugthers, I am limited to what shows or movies I can watch in the "Family\Livingroom", so having access to my content in the bedroom is awesome.

    Now the unsung hero of the Apple TV is the Jailbreak. I knew that a Jailbreak existed for the Apple Tv, but I never paid much attention to it. My younger brother, who has become a fan of Apple after getting his first generation iPod Touch (after I fell in love with the device and told him about it), had insisted that I look into Jailbreaking the Apple TV. Had I know what it had to offer, "Jailbreaking" would have been the third reason I bought the Apple TV. Instead, it was an afterthought after the purchase. Boy am I glad I looked into it.

    The latest Apple TV Jailbreak is made possible with the Seas0nPass tool. This one is significant because it Jailbreaks the Apple TV OS version that brought the Airplay feature into play. As is typical with most Jailbreak tools, Seas0nPass does only one things - Jailbreak. The Jailbreak is simple and only takes a few minutes. So once used, the Apple TV behaves normally. In fact, the only thing that is different is the logo that is dislpayed when the Jailbroken Apple TV is booted up.

    What happens after the Jailbreak is what makes the Jailbreak worth it or leaves you wondering why you even bothered. A lot of people don't have any idea what to do after they perform the Jailbreak on most of the iOS devices because it can mean so many different things based on what people chose to add. This is even more true with the Apple TV because there is less information about it than it is for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. So I will share with you what I added and see if it excited you too.

    When I first consider the Apple TV, I couldn't do so without considering the Google TV. The Google TV was on my radar because it offered Internet browsing while the Apple TV didn't. If AirPlay was never added to the Apple TV, maybe I would have bought a Google TV device instead. Thankfully, I now have Internet Browsing on my Jailbroken Apple TV - thanks to the aTV Flash Black tool. aTV Flash (black) is a user-friendly software package that supercharges your new black AppleTV, unleashing a plethora of new functionality. My favorite feature is the Couch Surfer app that lets me surf the Web on my TV. Who wouldn't want to visit their favorite sites, stream HTML5 video, and update Twitter from the biggest screen in the house; the HDTV.

    The Browser menu offers the ability to enter a web address, perform a Google
    web search, access saved Bookmarks, manage Surfing History and control browser settings. In the settings area, you can set up your favorite web page to launch automatically when you turn the Apple TV on.

    My next best feature is the Media Player, which empower the Apple TV to play popular media formats including MKV, AVI, MP4 & many others on the big screen without conversions. The Apple TV, without this player, is very limited by which types of videos or movies formats it can play. Media Player makes all of your videos playable without you having to think about it. If that wasn't good enough, it also grabs the movie metadata details from the web so you get Movie cover art, movie ratings, movie descriptions and more for all of your movies. The media can be stored on a PC, Mac and even a NAS device and the Apple TV can find it and play it. If you use your computers' credentials to log into the computers from Apple TV, then you can navigate the entire filesystem to access and play your media. If you don't use your credentials, then the Apple TV can only access the shared drives on your computer(s).

    Not a fan of iTunes? The Media player makes your media available regardless of whether you use iTunes or not. It can play the above video formats plus the popular audio formats like MP3 and WAV. This is made possible via the Last.fm app that can be installed with the aTV Flash Black program. Last.fm also lets you listen to music streamed from the Internet.

    There is also more to like or love with the aTV addons like Weather, RSS feeds for management of my news feeds, and Vimeo for some more zany Internet videos, but it is the addon called XBMC that helps to bring me closer to cutting the cord on cable. The XBMC addon can be added from the Maintenance menu that is added to the Apple TV's main menu area; in fact all of the addons have to be added from the maintenence menu after installing the aTV Flash Black program.

    The whole process is very simple to accomplish, but some optional parts do require some technical savvy to accomplish. If you can follow simple instructions, you too can enjoy some great new content on your Apple TV. The Jailbreak is free, but the aTV Flash Black is $30.

    Here are the steps I took to Jailbreak and modify my Apple TV.

    1. Install the Seas0nPass Jailbreak with the instructions found here or by viewing the following video.

    2. Purchase from the aTV Flash Black and download it to your desktop and install it with these instructions. Once it is installed and the Apple TV reboots, go to maintenance menu and install the add-ons you desire.

    3. Make sure you install XBMC, but afterwards I highly recommend it. It will give you access to some additional video sources.

    4. You will want to add some XBMC repositories to XBMC so that you have access to additional video content like the "Hulu" and "Free Cable" channels available from the Bluecop repository.

    It is recommended you install the Repositories Installer Add-on for XBMC. Alternatively you could install an individual repository.

    To do either of these, you will need to install from a ZIP file:
    1. Download the ZIP file and save***** to a location accessible by XBMC. I recommend saving it into /var/mobile via a FTP app like FileZilla.
    2. Open XBMC and browse to System > Add-ons > Install from zip file.
    3. Browse to the file you downloaded and select it.

    If you installed the Repositories Installer, browse to Programs, open the installer and install any repositories you like. You will need to restart XBMC for them to be accessible.

    To access the contents of the newly installed repo(s) browse to Videos > Video Add-ons > Get More...

    ***** This is could be the toughest part of this who article for a non-techie.
    Use a FTP program like Filezilla to copy the zip file(s) to Apple TV



    If you got the FTP process down back, try installing this one to get access to Crackle videos on your Apple TV.

    I highly recommend Jailbreaking the Apple TV.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    iPad therefore my Mom Does Too

    Yesterday my mother and I visited the Apple store at the Somerset mall in Troy, MI. It appeared much bigger than I remember it from May 2010 when I last visited the store to get my very own iPad. My mother had connected me just after Christmas indicating that she was ready to purchase herself an iPad. I mentioned briefly that a new iPad will most likely be announced and\or released in March or April 2012.

    She proceeded with asking me to take her to get one, so I relented. I began my normal series of questions that I always ask those who express interest in getting an iPad:

    Do you own or have access to a desktop or laptop computer?
    Why do you want an iPad?
    What do you intend to use the device for?
    How much music, pictures or movies would you intend to put on the device?
    If you intend to add any of the above, how do you intend to do so? Buy from iTunes or convert existing media, etc?
    Which model do you think you need: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB?
    Do you have an Internet service at your home? If yes, is it wireless?
    Do you have access to Wireless Internet hotspot at other venues that your frequently visit like your job, friends, family or public places (Starbucks, restaurants, library)?
    Do you need to have Internet access beyond these places?
    Do you a preference for Verizon Wireless or AT&T?


    Once we went through the questions, she decided to get the white Apple iPad 2 Tablet with 32GB, Wifi + AT&T 3G.

    She also purchased a pink Smart Cover. The Apple store did not carry any third party iPad 2 cases at all.

    She loves the convenience and is thankful that she did not buy another desktop computer or a hot and clunky laptop (like my dad did).