Sunday, May 09, 2010

iPad ... therefore iExplore...

I've been exploring an iPad since Monday. Like most users that have posted reviews, there is much to like! Having been an iPod Touch user since the 1st generation issue, the interface is familiar to me (no, I don't have an iPhone). The "intelligent keyboard" is a bit different than I am used to from the iPod (there's a shift key), yet, it's not hard to adapt to. I really appreciate the screen lock that prevents the image from rotating if I turn the iPad on it's side, which is great for reading in bed!

The physical size and weight seems a bit hard to hold "standing up" in my lap for a long period of time, although I appreciate the bigger screen, and it is light. I am hoping that once my "Apple branded portfolio-type case" arrives, that holding it will be a bit easier. For desktop or table top use, the keyboard/stand is probably a good idea. If all students begin to carry these instead of textbooks, I believe the keyboard/stand will be essential for classroom use.

Safari pages load quickly, however, I miss the ability to "find text on a page." When I have searched for information and want to locate the keywords on a resulting website, I haven't found a way to jump to the information. If you know how, please comment!!

My current journey and quest is to figure out how to create and publish content to be used with the iBooks App (that allows pages to curl as you turn them with your finger). The file type used for iBooks and other electronic book readers is "ePub." I've located several online resources for converting content, but have not yet found a resource that can produce an eBook that will maintain the page layout of a pdf or Word file. Since the underlying code appears to be html, I would imagine that software exists, or will soon.

If you haven't yet seen Theodore Gray's "The Elements" book for the iPad, check out this YouTube clip:

Imagine if all student texbooks contained content as dynamic and interactive as this!? I was inspired by this concept and emailed Mr. Gray to find out how "The Elements" was created for the iPad, to which he graciously responded:
The Elements was created almost entirely with Mathematica. Deployment on the iPad is with custom Objective-C code that reads configuration files and media assets created by Mathematica. It's not exactly a turn-key solution by any means: The Elements is an entirely new kind of thing and no existing system could just make something like it. Hence the use of Mathematica, which I like to think of as the ideal system for doing things for which there is no system for doing.

My new company, Touch Press, is actively working on multiple ebook projects that will use and extent the technology we developed for The Elements, and some day it may be fairly routine to create books like it.


Thanks! I look forward to learning more!


  1. Hi Charlene,

    The cross-platform desktop app, Calibre, is a great place to start your ePub adventures.

    Cheers, Peter B.
    AIG Online

  2. Thanks Peter. I discovered Calibre on Friday ... free and great for Mac, Windows and Linux! I like the easy user interface, yet, when converting my pdf files, I lose the page layout and formatting. Other resources I'm looking into include: