How I use the iPad for research and work

I have been fortunate enough to have had an iPad since they first came out. (As an aside, as much as folks label me an “Apple fanboy,” this is the first Apple product I have purchased in its first run. Usually I wait until the kinks are out.) It is rather amazing to consider just how far the it has come in just over a year. And that is not even considering the advances made in hardware. The first version of the iPad is still a powerful computer and is in fact more powerful today than a year ago. So I thought one of my first posts here at Sacred Techs should be a quick review of some of my prior posts and thoughts about the iPad. You can find all my iPad tagged articles on my person blog by simply going here. I will be slowly moving and updating those posts here.

First Matters
When the iPad first came out there was a lot of discussion about just what the iPad was for, content consumption or creation? Early on I wrote this article about how I was, in fact, using the iPad to create content. Just this January (2011) I wrote a more philosophical piece about content creation and operational definitions. This article asking, “What is ‘Content Creation,'” includes a discussion of rabbinic literature as well.

When I wrote the first article one of the real drawbacks for my work in ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature was the lack of Hebrew support. iOS 4.2.1 finally brought Hebrew input in a solid fashion. There are still quirks, the main desktop app I use is Nisus Writer Pro (just updated to v. 2) which saves to RTF. As discussed on the Facebook group, there are no real RTF solutions for the iPad yet. But I am getting ahead of myself. UPDATE: See previous post where Chris Heard has found an app for allowing use of Hebrew with nikkudot.

In October of 2010 the iPad was already at a point where I could use it on the road as my only machine. In fact, other than one trip in last summer to a conference, where I needed a specific app that only ran in Mac OS (but now it is available on the iPad), I have not taken a notebook with me when traveling, just the iPad and my iPhone. So, as I was saying, in October I created this post outlining what apps I use for research and productivity. There are also various accessories and other apps that I have recommended in the past as well.

Using the iPad on the road

One of the reasons I have been able to replace my notebook on the road has been the ability to wirelessly connect Apple’s BlueTooth keyboard to the iPad. It is not a perfect marriage, as I have noted, but it works surprisingly well and keeps getting better with each new update to iOS. A very nice addition I recently made is the Incase Origami Workstation, as recommended by Andy Ihnatko on Mac Break Weekly. Caution: the little velcro tabs will come unglued the day you purchase it. One of our staff loaned me her nail glue (for gluing on fake nails) and it has worked a treat (6 months on and it is still holding).

Finally, I have made much of Sente for the iPad. I have a fairly thorough review here and will post more on Sente here at Sacred Techs in the near future. The desktop app is Mac only and it is not cheap. The collaborative features are also not as open as some other solutions. That being said, it has been nothing short of revolutionary for my research and productivity. I am an administrator as well as an academic, but the former takes precedence over the latter and includes a LOT of travel. This year, thanks to the iPad and Sente, I have been able to read dozens of articles, annotate them, and collaborate with my research assistant. The result is that this summer when I was finally be able to actually do some writing and real research, I had a running start. For me, that makes all the difference in the world and I was able to accomplish quite a lot.

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3 Responses to How I use the iPad for research and work

  1. Robert says:

    I too use an iPad(2) for research and teaching. At this point I will (gladly) never go back to lugging around my laptop for classes and most research days. This piece of technology (I see it as a tool not a diversion) is immensely beneficial for everything I do.

    When I am working in biblical texts I have my Accordance app which carries the acccount synched to my MacBook that has the full system. Granted the iOS Accordancce is limited, but it still allows for some basic functionality. I also use the YouVersion, Glo Bible, BlueLetterBible, and Logos apps. My Evernote system is great for researching and taking notes and, though there are a few frustrations, it provides a seemless system for my work.

    When I’m presenting all of my Keynote presentations (within minor tweaking) are at hand. With the simple adapter it works with multiple output devices you’ll encounter. Right now I carry my iPad2 in a Logitech keyboard hardcase (Zaggcase is what I think its called) that is slim, simple, and handy. The entire system is about an inch thick and weighs less than three pounds.

    I just wish my institution would buy these kinds of things, or give me a technology stipend, instead of that bulky and useless IBM Thinkpad that is sitting in the original box in the corner of my office.

  2. Jamie says:

    I use Sente on my Mac, I love it, and I’m sure there is a lot more it can offer than what I am currently taking advantage of. I was wondering, have you been able to fix the SBL formatting in Sente? The one you can download from Sente has several formatting issues that drive me crazy (like putting a comma outside of quotes).

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