Saturday, November 6, 2010
Recently, I told you how to bypass an iTunes sync and download video straight to your iPad with Dropbox. I also wrote about how to create your own personal "Dropbox" with Pogoplug.
But a few days ago, I stumbled on an app quietly sitting in the App Store that allows you to stream, view or download just about any file on your desktop - without iTunes and without hardware of any kind.
Zumocast is an slick little app that you download onto your PC or Mac as well as your iPad or iPhone. This app is so quick and duh simple to set up that when you suddenly see the entire contents of your laptop or desktop staring back at you from your iPad or iPhone, it's pretty trippy. Especially when you consider you haven't had to convert or sync a thing.
Stream your heart out
The app is free and gives you access to every document, photo, video or piece of music residing on your PC or Mac. You can stream video and music to your heart's content and view, but not edit, all your non-media files.
The wrinkle comes in not with streaming videos, but with playing those you actually download to the iPad in fullscreen. That's where I found the software a bit buggy. Many times video that I tried to play fullscreen would be masked by the menu area to the side of the viewing area. On subsequent tries things worked as you'd expect. Playing video less than full screen was always fine.
I tried correcting this spotty performance by downloading various sizes of video files, but in the end it beat me. I had to go back to Dropbox's solid and flawless fullscreen performance on downloads.
But don't let this temporary blemish - which I expect will be corrected in the next version - turn you away from everything else Zumocast has to offer. Streaming video fullscreen worked fine for me as did music. And viewing all your desktop pics and documents from your iPad display is pretty clever.
While you're mulling that over, check out the first video I downloaded from my laptop to my iPad via Zumocast - a fun three-minute blast from LDS hip-hop violinist Lindsey Stirling. It kicks off classically and morphs into the Black-Eyed Peas. For a "throw-up" (graffiti tagger terminology for a quick piece of work) in an underground parkade it's pretty amazing stuff.
Catch more of Lindsey's tunes - plus her AGT performance - on YouTube.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Why would you even want an iPad stylus? Well, have you ever grabbed a phone call and wanted to quickly jot down a phone number or short bit of information? How about making a quick sketch of furniture placement in a room or making a simple back-of-napkin drawing?
The iPad fires up so quickly, you've probably been tempted to use it like this. But as much the iPad's keyboard is functional and fast, it's not as fast as grabbing a notebook and scribbling as someone fires a phone number at you.
Enter Penultimate (iTunes), a great little notebook app that let's you do that. With Penultimate, you can create as many notebooks as you want; select lined, graph or plain paper; use multiple colours; even change the thickness of your lines.
The drawback is you're still using your finger to write or draw, and with your palm resting on the glass, writing with your finger doesn't feel as natural as holding a pen.
No, what you need is a stylus. But your old Palm or DS stylus isn't going to do the trick. They're made for resistive touchscreens, not the capacitive touchscreen of your iPad.
So, you'll have to buy a third-party stylus that will set you back between $20 - $35. Can you say Ouch? I shudder to think what the Apple product sells for.
The secret to any iPad stylus, no matter what the price, is a little capacitive foam nib. Pull any brand of stylus off the shelf and you'll see the nib looks fuzzy and unremarkable. I went to my local London Drugs last week, bought one for $35 and thought, "This much for a feather light stick and a piece of foam?" I tested it in the store and returned it right away, hoping to find the $20 version across town.
Then, I saw this simple video that shows how to make a capactive stylus for your iPad out of an old pen, a piece of wire, and - you guessed it - a piece of capacitive foam.
The end result may not draw oohs and aahs for style, but it works. And if you're around kids all day, they certainly won't mind.
Sometimes, good enough is all you need.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Dec. 31, 2012 Note - Thanks so much for clicking on this post. It's a couple of years old now, so I feel I owe it to you - and hundreds of others who view it every day - to tell you there's a much faster and cleaner way to download video directly to your iPad. The trick is a wonderful browser app called iCab Mobile. Use that browser to go to YouTube and search for the video you want. Once you find it, click play, let it run for a few seconds, then press and hold your finger on the video itself. You'll see a download button pop up. Hit that and your download starts automatically. When it finishes it will be much higher resolution that you'll ever get from the Dropbox method I describe below. You also have a choice to let that video reside within iCab Mobile or download it to your Camera Roll. If you need a few more instructions please see the reference to this browser in my post Cool stuff I learned over the summer on social media.
You can download video directly to your iPad over wi-fi or 3G without using iTunes. The trick is to first upload video to your Dropbox account on your desktop or laptop, then favorite it in the free Dropbox for iPad app.
The simple act of favouriting in Dropbox for iPad begins a download process you barely notice. Somehow your vid is saved directly to the iPad in no time flat.
So if you want to pull a YouTube video down to your iPad:
- Go to Keepvid on your desktop and save your video as an mp4.
- Upload to your Dropbox account.
- Download the free Dropbox for iPad app.
- Find your video on the iPad app and favorite it.
The Thanksgiving video above was the first one I download with this method. It took five minutes to upload to Dropbox on my laptop over wi-fi, but almost nothing to download to my iPad after clicking star in Dropbox for iPad.
Still scratching my head over how fast this works.