5 creative ways to use the new iBooks author.

One of the things that is pretty tricky about blogging, is that its actually “writing in disguise”. Sure we write up a post every day and all in all it doesn’t seem to add up to much text in the end (because you ADD junkies don’t have the attention span to finish an entire paragraph without rushing outside to ride shiny bikes) but still : If i where to bundle the 900+ articles on this site in a book.. that would be pretty nifty .. Right ?

But the task of preforming this epic contribution to mankind requires the right software and .. Word sure ain’t it. I shiver when I think back of the days where I had to write my paper in word. Hoping desperately that that single hard return wouldn’t mess up my layout 76 pages down the hill.. You know the scene. However !  With iBooks Author you no longer have that excuse anymore. Apple’s new update of its toe-dabbing into the world of creative writer software has just gotten an fancy update.  In short : iBooks author was made for making schoolbooks and textbooks filled with interactive content. Think of adding interactive slideshows, pictures, movies and more to a text document and really making ti pop. This of course would make all these different functionalities available only to iPad users (Apple do plans to take over the world you know) and the other major downside is that the initial edition of iBooks author was geared towards educational books.

This would be fine and great if your lifelong ambition is to become a Math book author .. just great .. but luckily you are a little cooler then that. So Apple put a bunch of new themes in this version of iBooks author that let you make more then just a boring textbook. 

But here are some suggestions, with the holidays coming up and all that :

  • If you have friends and family that have an iPad ? Use iBooks author to make an interactive foto and video album. Just put the finished ibook up on dropbox and shoot them the link ! They will be able to download the book and open it in iBooks without having to connect to iTunes.
  • Surf around the net and bundle your kids favorite bedtime stories, look on Flickr for the coolest illustrations and make your own interactive bed-time story for the toddler (complete with music , slideshows and moving pictures)
  • Use iBooks author to write technical documentation and add weblinks , video’s and slideshows for those friends, family members and co-workers who “just don’t get it” when you try to explain it to them.
  • Bundle up your favorite blog items, stories and more .. and bundle them in a book. Export as ePub or PDF format and be your own publisher. Why not make it a digital scrapbook by adding some multimedia content.
  • Who ever said this years holiday card needed to be on paper. Dive into  iBooks, add family fotos, sing a carol together and plop the file on the net !

iBooks Author is available in the app store for free and exports to both iBook and ePub format. Most of the interactive features are only available in the iBook export format and adding a lot of videocontent does make it a hefty file. But thanks to iBooks you will be able to go where no Word, Pages or Publisher .. has gone before.

Download iBooks author from the app store.

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Our five favorite free magazines for the iPad.

With an iPad and the iPad mini fighting for some free space on our coffee table, it has become obvious that there is no more room in our life for archaic forms of literary entertainment referred to as “magazines”. Its not that we are such high level nerds that the sheer smell of paper sends us scurrying to the lavatory .. but we don’t have the coffee table real estate .. comprende ?

Unless we do act now, the terrible alternative will be us turning into social neaderthals who, without their weekly dose of readable pulp, will no longer be aware when Jessica Biel went to bed with Justin Bieber and will completely miss out on any blurry pictures of Emma Watsons Nipslips on the beach in Saint Tropez … What to do ?

We need our magazines digitally. So enter “Bookshellf” Yes. that annoying IOS application that has an icon you can no longer delete or hide in another folder. Forced to sit passively as the very last icon on our furthest homescreen , Bookshellf is useless .. or is it.

Sure , you can use it to BUY subscriptions to tons of magazines. But we refouse adamently to pay any amount of cash for a magazine that does not come in a form usable for wiping ones buttocks should the need arise. (The iPad Mini just isn’t pliable enough for the job). Thus we present you with a welcome alternative to papparazi-deprivation and outright privacy : Here is our top five FREE magazines you can subscribe to in the Bookshelf app.

Endgadget Distro : Well done, well built and very informative glossy magazine for the geek. A must read.

iGIZMO magazine : The glossy side of Gizmodo.

GameQ : For gamers who can read (or at least stare at glossy pictures below 99 fps)

CPU : For hardware geeks who like to set their clocks to overclock.

Gadchick : For those geeks among us who cannot pee standing up (without accesories)

Do you have some more ? Tell us in the comment section and eternal fame and glory .. is yours ! 

There are also plenty more where these came from . To get you started here is the complete list.

Lowe’s Creative Ideas Magazine
WebMD the Magazine
#5 Magazine
Sporting News
Co-op Food Mag
Snap Magazine
Lowdown Magazine
Alligator Magazine
Enjoying Everyday Life Magazine
Project Sounds
The Watch Magazine
Psychic Today
SLH Beinspired.

Thanx Macrumors for the source.


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Sarah-Louise Young is … an iPad Widow.

Sometimes the world is a small place 🙂 An old personal friend with a great voice and a shipload of talent has been roaming stages and cabarets, blowing away crowds with her performance. Great was our joy when she made this funny song (and Videoclip) about what it is like to be an ‘iPad widow’, bringing her performance into the crosshairs of our Geek-Culture section. Yes .. Talented and geeky at the same time :  enjoy Sarah-Louise Young’s iPad Widow.

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Ubuntu 12.04 : Mount that iPad : Play .Avi : No iTunes :-)

We are very happy to line up one of our new guestbloggers on Knightwise.com. Its @McVries_ who kicks of the series with a great article on “sliding” from Ubuntu to IOS and hooking up your iPad .. without iTunes .. on a Linux machine.

Ubuntu 12.04 : Mount that iPad : Play .Avi : No iTunes 🙂 

iTunes has some disadvantages, and one of them is a rather serious one for any linux user. It just isn’t available. Although some older versions are said to be Wine compatible I have a Windows virtual machine setup to be able to use iTunes (amongst other tasks). But since spotify I don’t sync that much music anymore and for my daily dose of podcasts I’ve dumped iTunes a long time ago. But what about movies? Well, i recently figured out that it’s a lot easier for an Ubuntu user to transfer them to an iPad then for, let’s say, a Mac or Windows user. How? Directly from the Desktop! And in a lot of cases you don’t even need to bother to convert it to a native iOs format. Een .avi or a .mkv plays very well.

The Recipe: An iOs device, in my case an iPad, one USB cable, your computer running Ubuntu and (for example) OPlayerHD Lite (Free as in beer in the appstore).

After connecting your iOs device you will see two mountpoints pop up in your filebrowser. One of them facilitates your photo import and the other one with a name like “Documents from {Username}” is the one we want now. This is the one that will help you ‘inject’ a file in almost any off the applications you have installed on your device. If you open it you’ll see something like this:


And OPlayer is in there as well. (Why do i use OPlayer? It supports .avi, mkv, and dvd-folders, locally and over the network). Double click it’s icon and finally you’ll find a folder called Documents and a folder “Inbox” within. Now just paste the movie you want to watch and watch it dive into your iPad at an enjoyable speed. Start the applicationon on the iPad, browse to the My Documents folder and Enjoy. Offline!



Some caveats: Copying a 8 GB Matroska (.mkv) would prove to be rather pointless, the iPad isn’t hefty enough i found. Take a more modest one, around 2 GB for 90 minutes and it seems to work well. Avi is no problem at all.

Links : oPlayerHDlite

A post by Guestblogger McVries  http://www.mcvries.nl  A blog about my experiences using an opensource OS while working as a Windows sysadmin, and being the techno advocate for the organization i work for.

@McVries_   Skeptic IT Manager with a liking for open Source.


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Kwtv304 : "Reviewing the Zoogue iPad Cases".

This week we talk about the line of Zoogue products to keep your gadgets safe. We review the different Zoogue iPad cases, carry cases and accessories, how they look like and how they hold up the test of time.


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From Pad to paper with Printopia.

I recently got a question from a friend of the show that he would like to know how to print from his iPad. A fairly common question that did require some thinking on my behalf. The problem for me is : I’ve stopped ‘printing’ things out all together since we have the iPads lying around the house and seldom need to use a sheet of ground-up tree to write things down. Apps like notability let me easily take screenshots (or pictures) of documents where I digitally “scribble” on.

But for those who DO need to print for their iPads Apple has of course come up with “AirPrint” that lets you print FROM your iPad to any “AirPrint approved printers” Great when you haven”t bought a printer yet, bummer if you have. However : There is a cool solution. It does require a mac and its not free but for 19.95$ its quite a cute little app. Printopia lets you print from your iPad to any printer connected to your Mac or export to a pdf file that gets stored on your mac. You can even “print” your document or screenshot to Evernote. It gets REALY interesting if you combine this with a VPN. Out and about on the road ? Need to make a pdf of the booking you just made ? Or need to pop it off at home ? Why not use Printopia to “dump” a paper copy out of your printer while you continue on your digital voyage.   Or perhaps you want to install it on one of your office machines and hook up the multifunctional printer so your co-workers can stop putting their iPad screens on the copier.  20 bucks may be a little bit on the steep side, but hey : at least you don’t need to buy a new printer.

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Essential tools for a low bandwith connection.

Before me the dawn rises from the dark soil and sheds its rays across the trees that stretch as far as the eye can see. The songs of birds drown out the ever present hum of society and remind me how far I am from the busy world around me. Yep, i’m up in a cabin, in the woods, with almost no internet connection at all. Whats a geek to do ? Be creative and make the most out of the tiny trickle of internet that gets through here. Time to turn your cellphone into a wifi hotspot and squeeze the most out of the trickle of bits that goes for broadband around here.

So after noticing that the signal on my cellphone had only an edge/gprs coverage, and that 4 other people in the cabin were using it as their personal hotspot too, I knew it was time to be creative. Watching hd netflix was not going to happen and even surfing standard websites with a lot of graphics was gonna be slow. The only thing that was left is to break out the “bandwith impaired emergency toolkit”

Blogging : WordPress for the iPad. A pretty simple app for some quick and dirty blogging without a lot of fancy features. So forgive me for the bad text markup. I’m kinda on dailup here. The great thing about the wordpress app os that you can do the entire post offline and sync it up when you are ready.

Issh : The command line is the way to get things done when you are on a tight pipe. Issh on the iPad is a cute little app that lets you setup multiple ssh and telnet connections your your server. With moderate bandwidth use issh is ideal to bring the power of the unix command line to your fingertips.

So, the command line apps of choice are …

Twidge : if Tweets are what you need , but you can’t afford the interface, twidge is awesome. Commands like Twidge update “hello world” let you share your greetings with the twitterverse. Punch in TWIDGE COMMANDS for a simple list of commands. Hit sudo apt-get install twidge

Irssi : Without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite IRC client. Simple, powerful, versatile AND made by a Belgian. Irssi is your link to the chatrooms of your choice. Hit sudo apt-get install irssi

Alpine : a very powerful but also slightly complex email client for any mail server of your choice. Imap, pop, whatever. Asynchronous in use it lets you compose and reply to emails offline and “burst” your communications to the cloud. ( this is in fact the way we used to do it in the days of dial-up !) Hit sudo apt-get install alpine

Mc : Instead of going cp and mv, just hit up “mc” or midnight commander to have a powerful file manager from the command line. Move copy and transfer file easily. Hit sudo apt-get install mc

Centerim : If you can’t live without your IM, Centerim is a quick command line tool to hook up your Aol, Yahoo, Msn and Jabber accounts. If you configure it right, you can hook up hour googletalk and Facebook chat from the command line. Hit sudo apt-get install centerim

Trying to surf websites with a text only browser is painful, so I will spare you a review of Lynks and the like , but with the tools mentioned above you can survive your digital drought until you find your big fat pipe again.

Do YOU have a favorite command line tool you like to share ? Drop your thoughts in a comment 🙂

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Use "mydevices" to control all of your web based interfaces from your smartphone.

Most of your devices these days have webbased interfaces that you can easily open up with a browser. The fact that you go and sit behind a computer to do that is either to blame on the fact that you don’t own a smartphone or tablet thats hooked up to your wifi , or that you are just plain dumb. (pardon my french) . You see , these mobile gems are perfect for controlling all kinds of devices throughout the house and makes you a digital “master and commander” of your own casa. Personally I get a kick out of doing stuff on my tablet or smartphone and need to resist the urge to start drinking ‘Tea, earl grey, hot’ while calling out “make it so” to my better half. But remembering all the ip addresses of all of those devices IS pretty lame.

Once you make shortcuts and ram them into a folder it gets better, but you still need to remember logins and passwords. Not anymore though. With this smart little app will help you control devices on your network with some added spiffy features :

-Utilizes UPnP and Bonjour to find devices on your home network
-Displays detailed device information (IP address, model, vendor, type, etc.)
-Includes integrated viewer so you can quickly access device web pages within the application
-Uses default device icons in cases where the device doesn’t provide a custom icon
-View UPnP device description documents as formatted XML

So just plop it on your IOS device and control your digital ecosphere from the palm of your hand with “Mydevices”  Thanx to @macmommy for the tip.

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My favorite five productivity apps for the iPad.

With my iPad three on the shopping short-list, i’m once again looking at reorganizing and tweaking all of the applications that I have on there. As a great man once said : The greater your skills, the fewer tools you need. And as tempting as it may be to fill up your home screen (and those darn folders) with all kinds of tools, keeping it simple is a better way. So i’ll try to give you a rundown of the stuff I use the most.

Wunderlist : This little to do app has cross platform siblings on my iPhone, my Android phone and on both my Mac and Linux machines. Wunderlist is everywhere. I keep this little task manager as a constant weapon against procrastination AND to store random ideas i get on the road.

Evernote : Wether its taking notes, voice memo’s or pictures : Evernote is becoming my central repository. I use it as my iPads main text editor, but also to keep track of the thousand nicknacks of random info I want to keep track of. Again : The cross platformity (is that a word ? it is now !) of the app is great. When I cruise the web and find a random article I would like to use later on, I use the evernote bookmark tool to snip up the page and put it into one of my many notebooks. A very very VERY powerful little tool indeed.

Ithoughts HD : The biggest challenge with being creative is to organize it. Wether its at work or at home, I use Ithoughts HD to mind map projects, show notes and use it in meetings quite a bit too. Hook up the iPad to the beamer and you can quickly take notes of whats going down and who has to do what. Not free, but worth it.

Notability : Suggested to my by Allison Sheridan of Podfeet.com its THE app for scribbling. but instead of just sitting there and trying to write down my horrible handwriting on an iPad I use it for sketches AND for adding notes and arrows to pictures. I take pictures or screenshots with the iPad, start scribbling on them and adding notes and use the built in voice memo option to babble away what I need to get of my chest. Then I ship the whole thing in an email and the recipient has a much more clear idea of what it is I want to do.

iBooks : ‘Reading books’ is not a very productive act, of that I am aware , but using my iBooks library for storing manuals, documents for work, reference books and more is making it the ultimate portable library for me. Whitepapers, documents for trainings I take .. I just don’t believe in paper anymore and am mandatory that people send me their stuff in PDF.

In all , these things turn my iPad into a very productive environment. The thing I had to do to get it working is to tweak my thinking and my behavior in using the iPad, more then I had to tweak my tools. Many of these apps are also available for android or have great alternatives.  If they aren’t enough for you try Mat Gemmell’s list who came up with a complete DIFFERENT list then mine .. maybe there is a gem there too.  If you want to see what how I use an iPOD to the fullest : Check out great docucast on getting the most out of your iPod touch. 

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IOS : Learn to use Goodreader with the power of ScreenCasts.

Don Mcallister is probably the master, no, the emperor when it comes to screencasting and making instructional video’s for Mac and IOS users. His website “Screencasts online”     is packed with great instructional video’s for both payed and free users. One of these screencasts for the “non premium” users (or a ‘free screencast’ ) deals with the must have tools for your Ipad (or Iphone for that matter) called Goodreader.

For those of you ignorant of this fantastic application : It is the missing link between Steve Jobs’ original idea of a filesystem for the ipad , and the ‘sane” version of that idea. A filestructure, SSH connection, Download functionality, Dropbox syncing .. just about everything at the tip of your fingers. Its been my favorite tool to shove data over the wall of Apple’s walled garden towards my Linux and Windows machines. If you have some time to spare : Catch Don’s screencasts and consider becoming a payed member for more goodness. Download Part 1 and Part 2 of the Goodreader screencast and visit the site for more.

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