Presentation: Using the iPad for Work and Research

I do not have (and will not be getting any time soon) the new iPad. The iPad 2 works so well for me I cannot justify the expense, even with a research budget to cover it. I do hope to get to play with one soon and by all accounts the screen is glorious for reading. Just be aware that updated apps which are “taking advantage of the Retina display” (as they often say in the App Store) are often TWICE as big as the old versions. This weekend I ran short of storage on my 32GB iPad when I realized it was all the updated iOS apps. Annoying….

Over on my other blog someone recently commented on this post from November. The link to the video of the presentation is now up and running, so feel free to take a look at this short presentation about using your iPad for research (and presentations, my Keynote was presented from my iPad). So, let’s enter the Way Back Machine to go a mere 5 months into history:

Last night [November 8, 2011] I gave a presentation at Penn State about how one can use the iPad for school work, whether that is as a student taking notes in class or an academic researcher. There are also two student presentations that are well worth watching (perhaps more than my own presentation). The first, is about how one of our honors students, working with another faculty member, used the iPad in the research and preparation of an article. The second presentation is about how a Civil Engineering student showed the company he was interning with how to use the iPad for design and business. The presentation is now available online!

“Student Showcase: How Tablets and Apps Transformed My College Internship” will be presented from 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday Nov. 7, in the Foster Auditorium (Room 102) Paterno Library. The event is being sponsored by the Penn State iPad User Group and the University Libraries. The presentation will also be streamed live and archived at

Christian M. M. Brady, dean of the Schreyer Honors College, will give the keynote address. Student presenters, including Mike Burkentine, majoring in civil engineering in the College of Engineering, and Lisa Lotito, majoring in history in the College of the Liberal Arts, will discuss how they used tablets and apps in internships this past summer and how knowing technology helped them to get a “leg up in the job market.” Ari Hiller, Penn State’s Apple student representative, will be there to demonstrate apps, and the evening will include a technology “petting zoo” after the presentations so attendees can see the apps more closely.

Posted in iOS, iPad | Tagged | 1 Comment

Whither Apple?

So what does it mean that OS X no longer is “Mac OS X” and is now “inspired by the iPad”?1 If you are following all the chatter on shows like MacBreak Weekly and blogs like TUAW there are many who are concerned that Apple is moving to merge iOS with OS X as a step towards doing away completely with Apple desktop/notebook machines. Alex Lindsay of MBW has said this most frequently I think. I am not so worried.

I could prattle on about how I think that Apple will always make some form of desktop and full-service notebook computers because the need will always be there for such devices. I could also make an argument about the fact that they need folks to create apps for their iOS devices and I am sure they would prefer they be developed on Apple machines. I won’t and just leave those arguments at that. Instead let’s take a look at these new apps and features introduced with Lion and now Mountain Lion that are so iOS-like.

If you consider Lion that came out last summer there are a number of changes Apple made that are analogous to how people who use iOS devices now do things. For those using MacBooks or the Magic Trackpad there are now multi-touch gestures, similar to those used to move around the iOS environment. On an iPad or iPhone you can only interact with one app at a time and the app fills the screen. Some like this focused work environment and Apple created full-screen app support at the system level in Lion. The Mac App Store is just like the app store on the iOS (but with its own sorts of problems: no ability to download demos, beta, or updates of software you bought directly from the developer before the Mac App Store existed). Launchpad is meant to mimic the “Home” screen of iOS, but frankly I know of no one who was using Mac’s before iPhones were created who use it. (Of course there are tens or hundreds of thousands who have come to the Mac platform after using an iOS device, perhaps these folks find it comforting and useful.) Fortunately it is easy to ignore. And so on.

In Mountain Lion Apple adds apps that were heretofore only found on iOS: Notifications, Notes, Reminders, and Game Center. Sharing features allowing users to send a webpage or image to Twitter are now baked into the OS as with iOS 5 and AirPlay sharing will debut this summer as well.

In none of these changes to (Mac) OS X, however, do we find a fundamental shift in OS X. This is evolution and it makes a lot of sense for Apple to unify, in so far as possible, the experience of moving from one Apple device to another. This is where iCloud comes in. This is more about interface than architecture.

When I move from using Pages or iMovie on my iPad to the desktop I expect to know “where” I am in the app and, more importantly, to have my documents right there, updated from the last time I worked on them, no matter on which device I was working. Now in my experience iCloud is not yet there but it is getting ever closer and the Mountain Lion announcement makes it clear that Apple knows they have to get this right. The transition from couch to desk needs to be seamless and that is what these OS updates are about as much as anything else.

The fact that they are not about making the OS and app experience the same is exemplified with iMovie. iMovie on the iPad is not exactly the same on the iPad as on the Mac and it can’t be. There are many, many things I would want and need to do in a movie editor that I simply cannot do in the iPad version. The device simply doesn’t have the horsepower nor the screen real-estate to produce much beyond a slide show or quick clips. Yes, amazing things have been done on the iPad but it has very real limits. But those limits don’t mean that moving to the desktop has to be like traveling to a foreign land. This is the transition to which Apple is dedicated.

So I do not see the end of OS X (even if the “Mac” is removed from its name) nor do I expect a touch-screen iMac anytime soon. It might happen, but the iPad and iMac remain different beasts for different tasks and some differentiation will remain. What I do see happening is a better user experience from beginning to end. I can shoot a video on my iPhone, edit the movie on the bigger real estate of my iPad, and add audio and soundtrack on the Mac all without having to “translate” as I go along. That is the goal and I think Apple is moving ever closer to the mark.

  1. See my not-as-brief-as-I-intended rundown of Mountain Lion features. []
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Apple announces OS X Mountain Lion, so what?

Last week Apple announced that again this summer there will be an OS X update, this time code-named “Mountain Lion,” and again they are bringing over aspects of their extremely successful iOS platform. “Inspired by iPad. Re-imagined for Mac” is their slogan.  I will briefly discuss the highlighted features and then consider some to the fears that are being expressed over whether such moves mark Apple’s ultimate plan to abandon “traditional desktop” computers.1 Now that I have completed the roundup I realized this post is long enough. I will create a separate post with my musings of what this means about Apple desktop computers.

There are a number of apps and few services that are coming directly over to OS X.2 The apps include Messages, Reminders, Notes, Game Center and Notification Center. The services include “Share Sheets” (integration of sharing websites, etc. via Twitter), AirPlay mirroring to your TV, and greater integration of iCloud.


Starting with the last first, iCloud is really the key to the whole enterprise for Apple now. This is what allows you to be able to add a bookmark to Safari on your iPad and have it automatically sync with your other devices, including your desktop. That aspect already works now and if you haven’t signed up for the free service, it is worth it. What is changing in Mountain Lion is, apparently, deeper integration and the ability for third-party developers to now hook into iCloud. If you use something like Evernote then you already have a good sense of how it all works. Apple is apparently going to try and also get right, something they have not yet done, document syncing as well. I will wait and see. In my opinion Dropbox is still a far better solution for managing documents across devices at this point in time. Still, having tighter integration across these devices is better (also IMO, but you should feel comfortable assuming where opinion is expressed in this article it is my own, I will let you know otherwise) and when I set up my new MacBook Air last week I simply logged in with my iCloud account and much of my data was populated. Handy.3

Reminders & Notes

Since we use an Exchange server in our college I use those services, but for those who do not you will now have automatically updated and synchronized copies of your notifications and reminders on all your Apple devices. (Your Notes do update automatically now, they are just in your Mail app where no one thinks to look for them. Now they will be a free standing app.) For the many people who use the Note app on their iPad rather than something more robust like Evernote this will be a nice change. You will even be able to add photos and attachments, but I believe those will not sync back to iOS devices.

Notification Center

Do you use Growl to notify you of emails, iTunes songs, AIM messages, etc.? You won’t need to any more which is, no doubt, a bummer for the folks who developed Growl. (Of course it also means I will be able to get rid of the annoying reminders to upgrade to the now-no-longer-free version of Growl.) Just as on iOS devices on OS X you will now have a nice little one-stop-location for all your notification needs. This was a much needed feature on iOS and rightly borrowed/stolen from Android and I think will be very nice to have on the desktop as well. It will appear on the right hand 1/4 of the screen when you click on a menu button in the top right corner, or a floating notice will appear (remember Growl?). A swipe of the trackpad will make it go away, just as on your iPad. This is perhaps the most iOS-like addition, but it simple replaces various third-party offerings as already noted.

Share Sheets & Twitter

Ho hum. This will be convent, since I do share lots of stories, photos, and via twitter and of course email. This will certainly be handy, but it doesn’t seem like a top billing, unless of course I am the CEO of Twitter in which case I am thrilled.


iOS 5 brought an integrated Messages app that allowed you to send SMS messages, just as always, but if your friend was on WiFi you could also send messages that way as well. What do I mean? Just this: I have an iPad that I use for taking notes in meetings. My wife can “text” me from her iPhone 3GS and it pops up in the Messages app on my WiFi-connected iPad (and my iPhone). I can now reply to her from the iPad without getting out my phone. Now, as in right now since you can download the beta, you can do the same thing from your desktop. When you install it iChat is replaced and you can use Messages for all your AIM, Google Chat, Jabber, and Yahoo! conversations and I do. I really do like this addition. I am able to keep working at my desktop as messages come in from my wife and my colleagues (we are on AIM in the office). Nice integration.

Game Center

 If you use it on the iPhone or iPad you know what it is and will look forward to it on your Mac. If you don’t…carry on.


This has raised some questions about how much Apple may be controlling the OS environment and I will leave that to others. What it means (or is supposed to) in short is greater security as the OS will only install software from Mac App Store and “Identified Developers” but you can override the gatekeeper so it should not rule out side-loading.

AirPlay Mirroring

This is actually quite exciting. If you have an Apple TV connected to your HDTV or, say, your classroom projector (and remember this is only a $99 device, not much for many IT budgets) then you already can mirror whatever is on your iPad. With Mountain Lion you will be able to mirror from your OS X computer as well. The “mirroring” is already quite sophisticated on iOS so that, for example, games can have one view up on the TV and other on your iOS device. With one driving game that my son and I play, when we go into mirroring mode the TV has both our cars in their own window on the TV while our iOS devices (an iPod Touch and iPad) have the steering wheel, accelerator, etc.

Now, why is this exciting? Imagine this in your classroom. You walk in and without making any connections simply open up your Apple notebook and begin your presentation through the Apple TV. (There are other wireless solutions, but most if not all cost far more than $99.) Even the sound and HD video will be wirelessly streamed to the projector in the room. As I said, you can already do this with the iPad, which is liberating enough, but soon you will be able to do it with all your OS X bells and whistles (say the full Accordance application maps and fly throughs).

So what?

If you read my opening paragraph and still got all the way down here you know I am going to write another post with my analysis. I will simply say now that some see this iOS “inspiration” as a move towards merging the two OSes and Apple moving away from desktop computer. I don’t think so…

  1. Of course “desktop” also includes notebooks like the MacBook Air. []
  2. Note that Apple no longer refers to it as “Mac OS X” but simply “OS X.” This too has led to anxiety, see MacBreak Weekly #287. I see this more as simply cleaning up the nomenclature. After all, it isn’t “iPhone iOS 5.” []
  3. But I also ran into other problems I should address another time. []
Posted in MacOS, News | Tagged | 5 Comments

Brill creates new multi-lingual font

I received this announcement today.

After careful consideration, Brill has taken the initiative of designing a typeface. Named “the Brill”, the new typeface presents complete coverage of the Latin script with the full range of diacritics and linguistics (IPA) characters used to display any language from any period correctly, and Greek and Cyrillic are also covered. There are over 5,100 characters in total, some of which are combining characters, and by using these, myriads of other characters with diacritics can be generated. This indispensable tool for scholars is now freely available for non-commercial use. You can download the font package on after agreeing to the EndUser License Agreement. “The Brill” is available now in roman and italic styles, and bold and bold italic will be released at a later stage. The typeface contains all necessary punctuation marks and a wide assortment of symbols. It will be especially welcomed by humanities scholars quoting from texts in any language, ancient or modern.

“”The Brill” complies with all international and web standards, the most important of which is the Unicode Standard.”

John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks, well-known for his multilingual fonts, is “the Brill”‘s designer.

You can download the font on our website

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“Get Path” Services plugin for Lion

This is a bit geeky, but maybe some of you have found need of this as well. Sometimes I want to copy the path of a folder or file in the Finder in the Mac OS (in this case Lion). For example, I might want to describe where you should install this file I am providing for you. Once you download it you should install it in the following directory:


This little file (an Automator Services AppleScript) goes into the Services directory. When you highlight a folder or file and control-click (two-finger click on track pad or right click on some mice) a contextual menu will pop up. Simply select “Get Path” and it will copy the path of that folder or file to your clipboard.

Let me know if this is useful or if there are questions about how to install and use it.

File: Get Path Workflow document.


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Podcast #2: Accordance Bible Software & Olive Tree Bible Software

In this podcast we have a pair of interviews from SBL 2011. I met with the good folks at Accordance Bible Software and Olive Tree Bible Software, the two premier software applications for reading and annotating biblical and ancient texts on iOS devices and now…they are BOTH on the MacOS.


Posted in iOS, MacOS, Podcast | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Hebrew, iPad | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Liberal Arts Scholarship and Technology Summit

You are all (that is all of you, every last one of you on the intertubes) invited to the Penn State Liberal Arts Scholarship and Technology Summit, tomorrow January 4, 2012! The schedule is below and the entire program will be simulcast live it will be streamed live at Fee free to share that link. We will also be archiving the talks to share later as well. We will use the Twitter hashtag #lasts12 for anyone who wants to follow along that way as well.

The schedule: Continue reading

Posted in Live, News, Technology | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Hebrew, with vowels, on the iPad

The December (or is it January?) Biblioblog Carnival is up and through it I discovered that Chris Heard had this great post on using Hebrew with vowels on the iPad.

Until recently, iPad-using Hebraists had no good options for typing Hebrew with vowels on the aforementioned iPads. Apple provides a Hebrew keyboard for the iPad, but it does not include the נְקֻדּוֹת. Recently, however, third-party developer Žiga Kranjec released Unicode Maps, an app with an unattractive name but a very attractive function. Unicode Maps allows you to look up and copy any Unicode glyph available on the iPad. Even better, you can create your own customized keyboard and type—but only on a notepad within Unicode Maps—using that keyboard.

Posted in Hebrew, iPad, Tech Tip | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Welcome to Sacred Techs!

This is the beginning of 2012 and the start of a new blog: Sacred Techs. Your hosts are Robert Cargill and myself, Christian Brady and the goal of this site is to bring together posts and podcasts relevant to the study of things ancient using things very modern. Robert is not only a scholar of biblical studies and an archaeologist, he is also a digital humanist. I, on the other hand, am a scholar of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature who simply has an addiction to electronic things. Both of us have been blogging for many years and are fairly well-known within the so-called “Biblioblogosphere.” You can find our personal blogs at the first links given.

With “Sacred Techs”1 we wanted to bring together information focused upon using technology in the real of biblical and ancient studies. It will be periodically updated, on a monthly basis at the least, with articles and interviews on various topics around this general theme. We are very hopeful that others will be willing to contribute to the site, there are many within the world of online ancient studies who are very (and more) adept in these areas, many who are creating the very technology that we will be reviewing, citing, and discussing. This is particularly true if you use something other than Apple products and MacOS, iOS, or Android software. It is not that we are prejudiced against other platforms, but the reality is that Robert and I both tend to use those products and platforms. If you are interested in contributing please drop us a line or leave a comment!

So welcome to Sacred Techs and stay tuned for what we hope will be a great year. First up on the podcast (see below or subscribe via iTunes) is an introductory discussion and then we will follow up with a few interviews from 2011 SBL. Be sure to let us know whom you would like to hear us interview and what products you would like reviewed or compared.

  1. Kudos to a prospective PSU SHC student who came up with this great name! []
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