Upgrading iThoughtsHD to use Dropbox Cloud Sync

iThoughsHD is one of my favorite iPad application. I tell people: when I need to create a mindMap, I will use iThoughtsHD on the iPad rather than to use any desktop applications even when I am sitting at my desk with my MacbookPro. I was really happy when iThoughtsHD v3.0 adds full Dropbox syncing support. Before I used to have to manually save each map to my dropbox folder. When 3.0 is released, there seems to be some bugs and I waited for the next release, 3.1 to upgrade. In short, the new syncing works. But for users like myself, who has already saved a few maps to dropbox, the upgrade setup is not as easy as it sounds. Making it worst is that the instructions on the iThoughtsHD website is confusing. So here are my version of the upgrade instructions:

Instructions to Upgrade to Dropbox

Important: This instructions is for iThoughtsHD users who is already using Dropbox, on a per map basis, to save/backup some maps. The instructions are in several parts:

* Disclaimer: Please read these instructions and try to understand what is going on before attempting to change your maps. You should back up all your maps once before attempting this * Backup instruction (via archive) here.

Part 1: Follow instructions from iThoughtsHD to Creating a Cloud folder (your maps are already in the cloud)

Original instructions on their page, but here are more detailed version:

  1. Click on the "Forward/Action" icon forth on the left
  2. Select ‘New Cloud folder’
  3. Select an existing storage provider  (DropBox if you already are backing up to DropBox)
  4. Select the formats you wish to sync (ideally select ITMZ as one of the formats as this gives you a good backup option), optionally click PDF as well so you will have a printable copy
  5. Browse to the folder in the cloud where your maps reside and choose ‘Use this Folder’
  6. Select ‘Create’. This will enumerate all the maps and folders and download them.

Note: At this point you would have created a "(Dropbox)ithoughts" folder that is automatically syncing (which is good). However, it would have downloaded any maps that are already backed up to that folder. i.e. you have duplicate maps but pointing to a single file on dropbox.

Part 2: Cleanup the duplicate but do not delete them (This is the part that is missing)

We need to first delete all duplicate map references that you had backed up before. Now they exists in two folders on your iPad. Follow these instructions to remove the references that are not in the synced folder, for each of these already backed-up maps. Make sure you are deleting the right maps. These maps should already have a "cloud" icon on the right because they were backed up to the cloud.

  1. click on the map button on the top left (looks like a book)
  2. click [edit] on the top right inside the pop-up list of maps -- this will bring you to the map edit view, where next to each map you will see a delete icon on the left, and a more [>] icon on the right.
  3. click on the delete icon on the left.
  4. When it ask you to "delete cloud copy", click cancel (IMPORTANT)
  5. This will remove the extra copy referenced outside of your now synced folder.

Part 3: Move the rest of the maps that were not backed up before into the synced dropbox folder

Do this for each remaining map:

  1. click on the map button on the top left (looks like a book)
  2. click [edit] on the top right inside the pop-up list of maps -- this will bring you to the map edit view, where next to each map you will see a delete icon on the left, and a more [>] icon on the right.
  3. click on the more icon [>], you will see a folder (probably Maps) showing on the bottom, with it's own more [>] icon
  4. click on the more [>] icon, this will let you change the storage (now syncing) location of this map
  5. change the map folder location to the (Dropbox)... folder that was selected earlier, where you are storing and syncing all your maps.

At this point all your maps are in the (dropbox)ithoughts folder. Remember to create any new maps in that folder (or sub folder underneath) going forward.

Good deal on iPad and iPhone compatible headphones, Sennheiser HD218i

Sale alert! Sennheisers are coming up with new models, and their HD218i headphones with three button Apple remote with mic headphones are on sale in many places. The "i" version used to fetch a sometimes $50 premium. Now they can be had for $39. They are great headphones for used in the office with your macs and iPads / iPhones. Or bring them with you to Starbucks as you sip expensive coffee while using their free wifi. The volume and mic control lets you adjust the volume, and use Skype. These are closed headphones which mean they do not leak sound, which is particularly important in an office environment. Sound quality? They are going to be a step up from your standard ebuds. From an audiophile point of view, they are at the lowest bearable end which is a good thing. I bought two, adding to my collections of Grado RS1 and RS2.

Memorializing 11/11/11 using Apple Products

At 10:59 this morning my kids decided they want to do something special at 11:11:11 11/11/11. 12 minutes later a non cropped version of this picture showed up on our facebook wall. How do I do it?

  1. Find a free clock app for the iPad and install it
  2. switch on our Apple TV feeding into our main TV
  3. run the Clock app and turn on AirPlay Mirroring
  4. get the kids positioned
  5. take a few pictures using the iPhone4S
  6. Once we have the right picture,
  7. go to the iPad photo stream which has already pulled down the picture from the iPhone
  8. do a quick crop and enhancement (our loft is too sunny and it messes up the contrast)
  9. run the Facebook app on the iPad to post the picture

All in 12 minutes. Thank you Steve!

My iPad2 starting freezing

This started happening around Thursday. The touch screen do not response anymore. Hardware button works. Rotational sensor works. A hard reset (home+power for 10 seconds) sometimes work. Being a tech person, I systematically deleted apps that I installed to that date, but that was not the problem.

I wonder if it is related to network -- i.e. if it is access the wireless network (checking mail, push notification etc) and gets locked up.

Any one else starting to having this problem?

Day 7: iPad Stylus is a must

I decided on Dan Bricklin's Note Taker HD as my note taking app. It is an amazing app with a lot of features, including:

  • free hand input
  • free hand input with shapes
  • a zoomed mode that allow you to write in a larger space (hard to explain, go try it)
  • PDF annotation
  • image annotation
  • and much much more

It is by, I would say a software artist, Mr. Dan Bricklin of VisiCalc fame. What's not to like? However, I was having a tough time writing on it with my finger. I was at Office Depot and I decided to pick up the only type of stylus they have, the Targus stylus. This is the rubber tip type, not the foam tip type. I actually like this better, and now I can really make hand writing notes on the iPad.

Day 6: Using the iPad in a Business Meeting

I used the iPad in a meeting today. We usually bring up documents and websites on the projector to review. Since I have the iPad with me, I decided to give the iPad try. I click open an email containing a powerpoint, click on the powerpoint, and it shows up immediately. My co-working came over and sat next to me. We look at the iPad screen on the table and work through the powerpoint presentation. We also needed to check a few competitor's website. Quick launch Safari, type in the site, and we are off. Observation: The iPad invites collaboration. We sit side by side instead of across a conference room table. This calls for a friendlier and more informal meeting. It is almost like back-to-paper. We can point and click on the iPad screen together, instead of passing the mouse back and forth with the traditional laptop and projector setup.

The iPad is a good meeting facilitator, for a two person meeting.

Day 5: Sorting out NPR and PBS on the iPad

There are too many apps for NPR and PBS, for iPhone and iPad. I spend half an hour cleaning up all the apps. There are two pair of apps that are useful:

  • The official PBS (tv) apps published by PBS, for iPhone or iPad
  • The official NPR (radio) apps published by PBS for iPhone or iPad

The NPR (radio) apps both let you do live streaming or catch up on old shows. The Video program has selected content for viewing, but obviously no life streaming. These apps are confusing because they use the same icon for both iPhone and iPad, but the apps are different. On first sync I have both versions on the iPad and I need to launch them to figure out what is what.

There are other apps out there, the Public Radio Tuner will stream radio, and WBUR has their own apps. But I am not sure if they are necessary if you have the official apps.

Day 3: iPad at BarCampBoston

Lots of iPads at BarCampBoston, just not mine! I wanted to test it out as a note taking device. But I also have to give a talk about teaching 6 years old to program, and Scratch does not work on the iPad. So I had to bring my Macbook Pro instead. People were using the iPad, first and second generations, as note taking devices. At least one speaker was using it as notes for his talk, but at least in sessions that I attended, no one is using video out from it to give a presentation directly. I certainly think that is very doable. In fact I am looking forward to trying it out in small meetings myself.

So I had a fun and productive day learning things from solution marketing, to accelerometer driven music performances, to BBQ. (BBQ is not grilling, just FYI). But not much iPad time today for me.

My iLive is now complete, iPad day 1

My iPad finally arrived. I think the FedEx guy knows it is an iPad. Even him sounded happy. First thoughts: Problem that I didn't think I will have -- OMG! How am I going to organize all the apps? It took 20 minutes for the first sync. It brought over ALL my apps. I am still going through cycles of removing apps that are not suitable for the iPad, while are useful for the iPhone. Then reorganizing where apps should go.

Do you notice the little virtual marks on the F and J keys on the virtual keyboard? It will have something to do with their new haptic patents?

Typing on the virtual keyboard is harder than I thought. It is too narrow, and I have small hands. Yes I am typing this on the iPad.

I went to the apple store trying to buy a protective case but they do not have any third party cases in store yet. "we only have the smart cover" conspiracy to get you to buy their cover? You decide.

Final gotcha of the day - the iPad cannot be charged by the USB port on my powered USB hub. I have to separately plug in the included 10watt charger to charge it.

How to Find a iPad 2 using Python

I did not buy the version 1 iPad because an iPad without a front facing camera just does not seem right. At iPad 2 launch day, I was going to go stand in line (as I did for my iPhone 3GS) for one, as my office is about a mile away from the Boston Apple Store. However real work got in the way.

I did not anticipate the demand for this thing. I guess a lot of people were like me, skipping the iPad 1 and waited for the iPad 2. I did place an order order days after, which is of course too late.

Python to the rescue! Someone posted the links to check for stock on the Target mobile site. I threw together a quick python script, using BeautifulSoup (Don't you love BeautifulSoup ?) to scrape the site. Saturday night, I found a 32G black iPad 2 available in a Target close by ! I drove over almost first thing Sunday morning, only to find that the two that they had in stock was already purchased by someone who got there, waited for the store to open, at 8am.

Lesson here? Programming is easy. Actually getting up in the morning and driving over to wait in line is, well, a bit overkill. I think I will just wait for the online shipment.

Meanwhile, you can try out the python program here. Rename to .py for running.

iPad in every room, in every bag

After watching this segment, this is my take away: Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg has an insightful comment about people don't want to carry iphone plus iPad plus laptop all the time, true. David Carr says how much it is a family computer, True. What is going to happen? People need to have multiple iPad. Leave one in the bag. Leave one in the living room. Leave on in the dining room. It is a "pick up and use" device. Expensive? Sure. But it works that way.

A new way to touch type because of the iPad

As a touch typist, I am rather picky about keyboards and input methods. I always liked the mechanical keyboards with the old "Cherry electronics" keys. After switching to the Mac, the only reasonable keyboard to use is their aluminum external keyboards (wired or bluetooth model), but is is far from ideal. With the iPad coming in a month, touch typing with reasonable speed is going to be doable if you are typing on the iPad in landscape mode. Now we are talking about touch touch typing -- without any mechanical feedback. Will it work? Is it better ergonomically? Any physiology doctorate students want to take this on?

Thoughts on the new iPad

Mount them everywhere: The price point is great. How about mount them around the house or office as informational display -- works with any system that has a browser interface. Leave one in the bathroom for, browsing... Education use: Again, at $499, and with a great intuitive touch UI, give them out to school children for reading and drawing and doing physics simulation.

Lack of camera: Otherwise AT&T won't give Apple the sweet $30/month prepaid unlimited data plan.

Will not work with standard Bluetooth Keyboards: unfortunate. Otherwise makes a great netbook replacement.

The perfect personal movie viewing device: obviously. BUT it probably can not iTune stream from family main system like OS X iTune can. So need to download and purge all the time? The work flow is a little dated.

Kindle is dead meat. Unless there is something strange/bad about the iBooks book marketplace. Of course, I can run the Kindle iPhone app or the presumable Kindle iPad app. I love my Kindle, but with an iPad, I can make notes much easier, say with an EverNote app.

Doesn't it make a pretty cool big GPS for your car?

It is going to make touch screen devices mainstream. Sci-fi visions coming true.

Finally, make sure you buy it with a credit card that has a no-question ask replacement policy, in case you dropped it !