iPaddio Daddio

John Saddington, purveyor of the fabulous ChurchCrunch, posted the question – “Is there any practical and realistic use for the new Apple iPad in a ministry context and environment?” – and the followup question – “Are you going to get one and why?”.

First, here is the response I gave in his post’s comments:

1. I can give my pastor one and repurpose his woefully underused MacBook Pro.
2. The PCO and ProPresenter Remote iPhone apps will rock, especially when optimized for the iPad.
3. The welcome center idea from Alex Tillman is right on – how cool would that be?
4. POS at ministry counter for book and CD sales; registration signups; online giving help.
5. Another iPhone app that will be immeasurably easier and fantastic on the iPad – LogMeIn.
6. I agree that this is not a device to help creatives create – but this will be perfect for presenters to present.
7. Preaching and teaching directly from this while controlling my presentation video? Absolutely!

But I don’t plan on buying one for me – I’m desperate for a new MacBook Pro to replace my obsolete Powerbook, because I picture myself as one of those creative types. But for 90% of my computing tasks and 90% of my users, this will be perfect.

Having said that I don’t plan on buying one for me, let me qualify that: I don’t plan on it now. Or exactly for me. Although I hope to enjoy one.

The iPad is going to be a phenomenal device, I hope. No one really knows. Except that the iPhone is already changed many things for me, and I expect that the iPad will do something quite similiar.

My 13-year-old daughter – who was previously saving for a laptop – is completely thinking iPad now. Laptop is overkill for her, but iPad is right in the sweet spot. My wife is also contemplating selling her MacBook and moving to an iPad. I can’t think of anything she does on her laptop that she couldn’t do on an the new iDevice. One of the biggest things is that for $499 or even $599, this is a great entry-level computer that does everything they could think of.

I was one of the ones who paid $599 for the original iPhone (which has since moved to the possession of Trudi). $499 for something that is multiple times faster and more powerful, with twice the storage of that original iPhone?

Easy decision. I believe it will be equally easy for many people – and the church needs to be there.

Going mobile

There is a fantastic new plug-in for WordPress blogs that lets you easily offer a mobile phone-optimized look to your site. It’s called WPtouch, from BraveNewCode. Yes, this is one of those geeky, computer-talk posts. But if you want to see what I’m talking about, try viewing SarcasticMonkeys on your iPhone, iTouch, Blackberry or other mobile browser.

If you have a WordPress blog, you really need to try this. It’s easy and makes your site look great on a mobile device without changing the way it looks in a normal browser.

I’ve installed it on my church web site and on our church’s Scrooge blog, too.

As an added bonus, the plugin points to another site – Flavor Studios – that allows you to create free icons that work beautifully and look great on an iPhone.

Testing from my phone

This is a test of the WordPress 2.0 app for the iPhone. I tried the first version of the application and couldn’t get it to work correctly. Every time I would try to write a new post, it would work…until I tried to save or post it. Then it would disappear.

So far, this version seems more stable. And if you’re reading this, then we both know it actually works.

This picture – if you see it – is from another iPhone app. NASA’s appos free and has some really cool pictures you can download. I’m including the picture here just to test the picture-inserting capability of this app.

Judging by the fact that I’ve been able to get in and out of editing this post without losing it, I’m guessing that posting this will be no problem. So I can also tell you that, should you decide to use this yourself, it’s a pretty straight-forward application. You can’t see the formatting of your template, and there aren’t any options to take care of most of your administrator options, but you can post, moderate comments, insert pictures, and work with pages, too.

Useful, but not used [Gator]

Back to my iPhone.

No, that’s not a movie with Justin Long reprising the role of Marty McFly. (Though, presumably, Steve Jobs would be Doc.)

Neither is it the mythical Back to My Mac application that somehow never gets me all the way back to mine.

No, you see, a few posts ago I began a look at all the applications that are on my iPhone. Apple was approaching the one billionth iPhone app sold through the App Store, and I’d like to think I was a part of that.

Much has happened since then. The billionth app was sold. My iPhone died. It was my third, so iPhone #4 had to be reloaded and resynced. I traveled a lot. The Celtics beat the Bulls in 7 games. I listened to many podcasts. I found a need for flatulence applications.

But I’m back on topic, and ready to show you Page 8, and the 10 apps that are currently there.

See, that’s the thing right there. Four weeks ago, when I began this series of reviews, I only had 8 apps on page 8. That’s what happens with the App Store. There are so many interesting and useful apps, so many of which are free, it’s easy to go into app-overload. In the meantime, some that were originally on the back 40 that is page 8 got moved up, and other apps got moved to the back. So, before any more apps get shuffled around, here is…

Page Eight
As the post title says, these apps might be useful, they’re just not being used by me often enough for them to be nearer the front page. But, like an old belt, they might come in handy sometime, so I’m not ready to put them in the Trash just yet.

YouNote is a neat little utility that allows you to capture notes, pictures, recordings, doodles, or web pages inside this app. These can then be backup and/or restored to/from your computer using a desktop app. Both apps are free.

Scrooge & Cratchit is a free e-book from author Matt McHugh that is written as a sequel to Christmas Carol. I thought it was a very interesting way to follow-up the original story, exploring what the natural progression would look like if Scrooge had really had as much of a change of heart as it first appeared.

Stitcher is a free app that bills itself as “personalized audio” and tries to pass itself off as a radio station aggregator, ala AOL Radio. It is actually nothing more than a podcast aggregator. Once upon a time, that was cool, but since podcasts can now be downloaded directly through iTunes, it is no longer necessary. (I really should go ahead and delete it.)

Wanted is one of many silly, specialized apps that are one gag. The gag with this app is that you can make your own wanted posters from pictures on your phone. You can then save them to your photo library, which you can then sync back to iPhoto to do whatever you like.

The tools and little things you can add to your pictures are surprisingly good. As you can see from this picture of Summer, the finalized pictures are sepia-toned images, which look like the old time wanted posters. You have the option to customize your poster with names, wanted amounts and other choices. Wanted is a free app.

HandDBase is one of the few apps I’ve paid for, and, at $9.99 is tied for the most expensive app I’ve purchased so far. This relational database manager from DDH Software has its roots in the Windows world, so there are some limitations on the Mac. The biggest limitation is that syncronization is mostly on the PC side. I purchased this app because of limited choices at the time and a desire to begin some inventory management at the church. However, data entry via the app isn’t as intuitive or easy as I had hoped, and the inability to store pictures in a field is very disappointing. Overall, if I lived in the PC world exclusively, I would really like this app. But I don’t.

[Okay, at this point, I’ve got to confess…you might even be interested in all this, but I’m losing interest. I’ve worked on this piece several different days, for a couple hours at a time, and it seems like I’ll never finish. This is it. I’ve got the rest of this page of apps and seven more besides, but I don’t want to write about it anymore. Since this is my blog, I won’t. If you have a question about any of these apps, I’ll be happy to answer. Otherwise…let’s go on to something else.]