Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alex Reads Me My PDFs

While on my treadmill, I try to do something productive to keep my mind occupied and less on the exercise.  Lately I've been trying to read some pdfs of books or manuals while walking or cycling in the fitness center.  I really like audio books as they are easier to manipulate, especially on the treadmill.

I have been pursuing the means to have my pdfs or books read to me. I have found that there are a couple of ways to accomplish this feat if you don't mind a robot reading to you.

First Attempt - Using Voice Over with iBooks

First, I tried using the built in "voice over" option on my iPad. This entails enabling "voice over" in the Settings of your iPad. Under General, you will find "accessibility" option> triple click home button> which I set to "voice over."  When you want something read to you on your ipad, you enable the voice over by hitting the home button rapidly in succession three times.  When you do this, the other home gestures get really confusing. Selecting something then requires two clicks of home button instead of one.  This can be frustrating at first.  Usually I only turn this feature on after I have started iBooks.

Once I have iBooks running and have selected a pdf file to have read, I then triple click the home button turning on the voice over (which is a woman's voice).  Then you have to select the first word or sentence (which can be tricky) and using two fingers swipe downward.  The voice will start reading and continue through the article.  It is pretty frustrating at times, but once it is engaged, works for the duration of my workout.

Second Attempt - Audio Created Using Cntl Clicking Selected Text

Today, I decided to try a different method.  The Mac system allows you to select text in a pdf file that you load into Preview, and then to control click the selected text.  You will see an option to send text to iTunes.

You have a choice of voices (I select Alex).  You choose where to put the audio files in iTunes.  I usually just put them in the Music section.  

Generally, I select one chapter or a section of the pdf or book.  I send each to iTunes.  Using command I in iTunes you can enter the author's name, edit the chapter title, add a track number and any other information you wish like Genre: Books to each audio clip.  

When I finish saving each track or chapter to iTunes, I then create a playlist, sorted by track to get them in order.   

 Moving Audio Files to My iPad without Syncing

Next step is to move these files to a folder on your desktop.  Using command-shift N, create a folder on your desktop. Now select all the files in the playlist and drag them to the new folder.

Note: I have set my iTunes preferences> devices> to NOT auto-synch my devices (ipods, ipads, and iphones).  

Run iTunes.  Connect your iPad to your Mac. Your iPad should show up under devices in the left-hand side of the iTunes window. Select Apps tab.  YOU WILL NOT BE SYNCING.
To move the files to your iPad without having to sync your iPad is accomplished by using the File Sharing option available under the Apps tab.  SCROLL DOWN to see this section.

I use the GoodReader app to read pdfs and also to access documents from Google Drive (Google Docs) and to also listen to audio files.  When I scroll down in my Apps Tab, I see a list of apps that allow transfer of files from my Mac to my iPad/iPhone without having to sync my devices.  It is especially nice to use this method to add files to your devices that are on your Mac laptops or other computer than the one you originally used to sync your device.

I select GoodReader from the left hand column and then see the files that are currently stored on my ipad in the right-hand section of the window.  I then select all the files on my desktop in the newly created folder and drag them to this right-hand section.  They are now quickly moved to my iPad. DO NOT click the SYNC button - it is not used to transfer these files!

I then eject my iPad using the small up arrow next to my iPad device name in the far left-hand column (under Devices) and disconnect my iPad.  Whoala!  I now have the audio files in GoodReader My Documents section and I merely click on the audio to listen to the book.  Alex reads to me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Solution for Transfering Photos from iPad to Computer and Back

When transferring photos between your mobile devices like iPad and iPhone or to your MacBook Air and back, you need to consider the amount of time and bandwidth or data transferred via the cloud.    As an alternate solution, one should consider one of the excellent apps available to do this efficiently and seamlessly.

How It Can Be Accomplished with PhotoSync

PhotoSynch is such an app available for the Mac and also the iPhone/iPad devices.  PhotoSync allows synching photos in both directions without hassle, using an easy-to-use interface, which allows transfer of all photos or a selection of photos. 

* This transfer from device to computer and computer to device can be accomplished via a wireless connection or 3G/LTE. The device to device transfer is available using bluetooth and wifi.
* The number of photos you plan to transfer can be limitless, but I haven't tried that yet.
* You can share photos to other sites such as Facebook, Dropbox, Picasa, and others like Google Drive (the new Google Docs).

* It also has Web Browser viewing capabilities where you can view your photos in a web page from a computer on your same network.
* Transfer is done in the background, allowing iPhone and iPad users to continue with phone calls or games.
* You can select the size to send, which computer to use as your default storage.

* You can setup defaults in the settings of the app for quick transfers and also choose to send to a certain folder or to iPhoto on your computer directly when receiving or sending photos.

Support for Mac and Windows Companion App

The iPad/iPhone app is relatively inexpensive for your iPad/iPhone and comes free for use on your desktop or Mac laptop (Mac OS X10.5 or higher Intel and PPC supported).  There is also a Windows PhotoSynch companion app that works for those using a PC as their default computer (Windows XP SP 2 or higher, Windows Vista or higher, Windows 7).  Location services needs to be enabled in order to use the app successfully.

For those who don't want to use a cloud server or have limited wifi capability or your internet connection is down this is a great solution as it offers a means to transfer photos and videos between devices and computers using a local network. I give PhotoSync a thumbsup rating of 5 stars for all my fellow travelers and photographers.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

My iPad app purchases were missing

I tried viewing all my APP purchases on my iPad 2 tonite. There was only a blank screen showing under all, iPhone, and iPad sections when I ran the "apps" store app on my iPad.

When I tapped anywhere on the blank screen, one of my purchases would appear. I tried rebooting my iPad, checking various settings.

Finally, I realized that I had an iTunes U podcast that was stuck or not downloading on my Mac Air. There was a little number "1"  in a red notification circle next to the iTunes U label in iTunes on my Mac Air. So I deleted this file that had not downloaded properly into my iTunes library.

Checked my iPad and all my apps purchased are now showing up fine.

So if you are experiencing this problem, make sure an app, podcast or download is not stuck in your iTunes library on your computer. This seems to have been the problem. Hope this helps someone else with this problem. :-)

Friday, August 03, 2012

Flagging My Mail Appropriately

One of the features I like the most in Mac's Mail program is the ability to flag my important emails.  This is done by selecting the email that I want to flag and then clicking on the Flag option from the Message menu bar option in Mail.  From there it is easy to select one of the flags from the popdown menu selections (red, green, blue, ...).

This is a great feature and one can quickly pull up all their flagged email messages by selecting the Flagged mailbox on the left-hand side of the Mail window. However, the indicators using color seem to be rather obscure and hard to remember what color code is assigned to the priorities you might have for flagging a particular message.

To help with this, one can rename these flags given them appropriate names that will make it easier to categorize and retrieve the flagged messages.  If you wish to rename the various flags to something more understandable, you can.

First you must have used each of the flags at least one time to mark an existing email.  Once this has been done, you will see each of the flags you've utilized listed under the Flagged mailbox on the left-hand side of the Mail window. After clicking on the tiny arrow next to the Flagged mailbox, you will see the list of various flags designated with the names of various colors (red, orange, yellow, green, ...).  To rename these, select each one of the flags, then select Mailbox from the menubar at the top and Rename Mailbox.  From there you will see the name of the Flag highlighted and you can type in an appropriate flag name like "Important."

Thursday, August 02, 2012

How to Get an ePub Book onto My Mac

Today's journey involves transferring a free ePub book that I found online at Google Books to my iPad. Searching online for a good book about the Northwest Passage, I found one published in 1860, by James Alex Browne, called "The Northwest Passage and the Fate of the John Franklin."

It was an easy step to download the ePub file to my Mac's hard drive.  The next step was a bit challenging.  It seemed logical to me that I might be able to email it to myself, retrieve it from the inbox on my iPad and save it directly to iBooks app on my iPad.  That didn't seem to work for me.  Possibly it was due to my lack of coherence and coffee this morning. I tried other apps like Free Books and GoodReader. Nothing seemed to work.

Finally, I pursued the use of my Dropbox app.  I moved the ePub file into the cloud in my Dropbox by opening a finder window and physically dragging the ePub file to my Dropbox.  Once the file was located conveniently in my Dropbox in the cloud, I was able to select the Dropbox app icon on my iPad, next select the ePub file, and a popup selection box appeared on my iPad.

It was easy from there to add it to my iBooks library collection or into Free Books or GoodReader.