Starting From Scratch

Awhile ago I decided to to back up my iPad 2. It had been ages since I’d made a copy of the device or even plugged it into the laptop to sync. Somewhere between backing-up and syncing, the data was completely wiped from three of my applications. The apps themselves were still there, but they were totally empty. It took me a while to notice anything was missing because the rest of my iPad was exactly the same. My settings were unchanged, my apps were still sorted the same way, even my pictures were all there.

You may be thinking I’m extremely lucky nothing else was lost, except that those wiped applications just happen to be the three I use the most. One after the other, Pages, Penultimate, and Procreate each welcomed me as if I had never opened them before. I was devastated to learn that I had lost countless notes, crochet patterns, and artwork.

You see, I have been using my iPad full time in lieu of an actual computer or laptop. I had been writing crochet patterns, gluten free recipes, and blog posts in Pages for months. Penultimate offers unlimited notebooks with unlimited pages. I’d fully been taking advantage of that feature by filling journal upon journal with handwritten notes on every subject. Even Procreate was full of everything from original blog artwork to sketches and doodles.

The hardest part of losing all that work was the “I should have known” feeling that came along with it. I’m not an expert in technology, but I’m smart enough to know that I should always have my work backed up and saved to multiple places if I don’t want to lose it. Unlike a computer, however, I can’t just plug a USB backup drive into my iPad and make a copy. For some reason I had never even thought to email myself copies of the documents and notes I had spent so long working on either. Hindsight. Long story short, I hadn’t saved a backup of my iPad in ages, so all that missing data from those three applications is truly gone.

It’s taken me a while to get back into blogging. I kept getting frustrated at all my lost work that would now have to be done over. Then I remembered why I started this blog. I wanted to share my crochet patterns, recipes, and craft ideas with others. I also wanted to have a place to personally refer back to and see what I’ve made and how. It took me a while to come to the realization that a bit of lost work was no reason to give up blogging completely! I’m still working almost every day on perfecting my gluten free recipes and am seldom without a new crochet project on my hook. Instead of continuing to dwell on the past, I’m going to move forward from here and blog about my new designs as I create them.

As for the lost work, I can always go back and reverse-engineer my creations when I run out of new projects. For now though, I’ll be designing completely from scratch.

iPad (not so) Blogging: The Final Chapter

I’ve been writing about blogging solely on my second generation iPad. Since the iPad 2 was not designed to be used in place of a laptop or regular computer, I’ve encountered many challenges. Although these problems have been annoying, they’re nothing compared to the troubles I’ve had trying to deal with pictures on the iPad 2.

As a blogger I love to put pictures in my posts. The iPad 2 has two cameras built in, one that faces forward like a regular camera and one that faces the user (which is great for video chatting and narcissists). While the whole double camera thing is awesome, the picture quality is not. The cameras are perfect for chatting with mom from across the country, but the low resolution pictures are nowhere near blog-worthy.

Low resolution iPad camera picture iced coffee

Since I can’t use any of the pictures I take with my iPad, I use my regular camera. The iPad 2 lacks an SD card slot or USB port. To transfer photos off the camera you have to buy a special adapter cable, plug into the laptop, or get creative. With the camera connection kit, you can either plug your camera in via its usb port or you can use the SD card reader, both of which plug directly into the iPad. Since I don’t have the cable, I get around this issue by uploading the pictures from the laptop directly to my media library in WordPress.

There are other options to get your photos onto your iPad beside saving them to WordPress. Services such as Picasa and Flickr allow you to upload pictures to albums that are accessible online. Members of these sites are given the option to make the albums public or keep them private. You could also always email yourself the pictures and download the attachments on your iPad. This can get tedious if you have a lot of pictures to send as there is often a limit to how much you can attach in one email. There is now also the option to wirelessly sync your pictures through Apple’s iCloud, and move them to your computer from there.

Apple USB sync

The new iPad is also missing basic photo sorting and editing tools.* As a longtime mac user I’ve always enjoyed using iPhoto on my Apple computers. It’s a great way to sort photos into albums, crop, re-size, rotate, and even remove red eye/ blemishes. iPhoto isn’t available for the iPad, however, and the Photos application that it comes with leaves a lot to be desired. Photos for iPad is basically only good for viewing the pictures you have saved to your device. You cannot crop or even rotate the photos, and you definitely cannot sort them into folders. *(Update: Apple has since released ios 5 for the iPad. The new operating system now allows you to zoom and focus while taking photos with the camera. You can also crop and sort pictures into folders right on the iPad using the Photos app.)

To edit your photos on the iPad you will need to find something in the App store (Please see my “Update” note above). If you don’t mind advertisements, you can download Fotolr PS HD for free from the app store (they also offer a paid version without ads). This app has many basic editing tools, allows you to resize photos, and also has many other fun features to play with (like putting funny wigs on the people in your pictures).

iPad (not so) Blogging

I started my blog about a month ago and I have to admit it’s been a little slow going. My snail pace, however, is definitely not for lack of ideas. I keep telling everyone that I need to find a personal-secretary-robot to type up my millions of blog post ideas, take pictures for said posts, and make crafts as I dream them up. Until then it’s just me and my iPad 2. You see, after much use my original-model Macbook was on it’s last leg. Since my husband already had a nice laptop, I decided to replace mine with the latest iPad.

There are so many things I can do with my second generation iPad. I can video chat, take (mediocre) pictures, create art, answer emails, surf the web, and SO much more. Since I no longer have my laptop, my goal has been to find a way to do all my blogging solely on my iPad. While I can do a lot with my iPad and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’ve run into a few obstacles that have made my blogging life a lot harder.

The two biggest challenges I’ve had so far have been managing pictures and using WordPress for my blog. To keep this post from becoming a book I will write all about my adventures dealing with photos and WordPress on the iPad separately (read about these problems here and here). Besides these two main difficulties, I’ve come across a few other obstacles as well.

Flash doesn’t work on the iPad which makes it impossible to view content on some websites. This means I often miss out on good videos and information. Since the iPad is basically a large mobile device and not a laptop equivalent, it can take a while for some websites to load. There are also sites that definitely aren’t mobile device friendly, which often means features either don’t work correctly or aren’t even available. The option to upload a picture online is the most common missing feature I’ve come across so far. The button that allows you to select a picture from the computer remains grey and un-clickable. This has been a problem on many (very) popular social networking sites.

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Un-clickable photo selector

One last problem I’ve had (that is probably pretty unique to me) is that our house runs on direct current (DC) electricity. Having DC power means I can’t just plug into the wall when I want to charge my iPad. I either need to buy a DC adapter or plug it into the laptop to top off the batteries. Recharging through the laptop makes the iPad pretty near impossible to use, and usually takes about 6 hours to complete. Since our house also runs on solar power, I like to charge the battery during the day. Not charging it at night, however, means I lose a whole day of blogging while the iPad gets re-juiced. I honestly can’t complain though because the battery life is pretty amazing. I can usually get two days of good use out of my iPad before the battery dies.

Overall the iPad 2 is truly an amazing device. While it may not be blogger friendly right out of the box, using it to blog is definitely not impossible. There are many accessories and applications available for purchase (and sometimes for free) that can make the iPad more like a personal computer. Since it’s my goal to blog 100% from my iPad I will be looking for ways to work around challenges and missing features. I’ve even found some already that I will share later (again, I’m trying to keep it short!), so stay tuned! Until then, whether you’re an iPad blogger or not, feel free to share your experiences or challenges related to this amazing little device!