Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blogging with an iPad

Since I will not be taking my laptop with me on this trip I needed to get accustomed to blogging with the iPad. For those that are new to blogging or blogging from an iPad, I will attempt to explain the fundamentals in creating and posting using a blogging application. It was much easier than anticipated to setup a blog. After creating an account in Blogger, I purchased a private domain through Google ($10/yr) which automatically redirects the DNS settings.

Next I spent time formatting the blog template which included choosing colors and selecting text size. Adding gadgets (ship webcam, links and photos) to the right side panel was simple. I was a little confused about the margins but that was easy to figure out by looking at other blogs. I selected my time zone and also made a mental note that I need to change this in Blogger settings when I posting from Europe or other time zones.

Blogsy App
I purchased the Blogsy app ($4.99) from the app store which works with Blogger to post from the iPad. I also purchased the iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29.00) to move photos directly from my camera. I am happy to report that so far, Blogsy is working perfectly and the interface is easy to use. It is very similar to what you see in the actual Blogger tool bar. Adding and manipulating photos has also been a snap in both Blogger and Blogsy. The photos transferred very quickly from my Camera to the iPad using the connection kit. I also setup a Picasa account. Since Google also owns Picasa I did not need a new User ID and password.

There are a few formatting differences between Blogger and Blogsy but I think I have sorted them out. It is important in Blogsy not to type too close to the right side of photos as they can get repeated. Photo caption in Blogsy is not supported using the app but is kept if you add them through Blogger. Thankfully, there is an auto spell check in Blogsy. I still prefer the ease of using Blogger in order to preview a post. Blogsy does not have a preview function. The "save" function in Blogsy requires saving an updated draft, closing the post and then having to open it again. Most significantly it is very convenient to be able to create a post in either Blogger or Blogsy and be able to access and edit posts in either format. Therefore, baring any technological meltdowns I expect that blogging with the iPad will be very enjoyable as well as a great convenience.

The iPad does not require the charging requirements of a laptop. I can use the iPad for days without having to charge it. This alone is a huge advantage to using an iPad over a laptop computer. I purchased the Zaggfolio which is a bluetooth keyboard to work with the iPad. Typing on the iPad is okay but writing a long post is much easier with an external keyboard. The keyboard is 10 x 7 and has a slot at the back where the iPad can rest in either horizontal or vertical mode.

Zaggfolio Keyboard with iPad in Horizontal Mode

The keyboard also comes with a carrying case that the iPad slides into and then closely resembles a netbook. However, I personally didn't care for the Zaggfolio case. It is sort of flimsy, cheap looking and does not close well. Sorry Zagg. You also have to struggle a bit to slide the iPad in and out. I am using a Targus iPad3 case for the keyboard and a neoprene case for the iPad. The keyboard has hot keys which work specifically with the iPad2. The home, photo and and hide keyboard keys are very useful. Zagg also makes the Zaggflex which is another bluetooth keyboard and can be used with both android and ios devices by flipping a switch on the back. The Zaggflex comes with its own carrying case and you can rest the iPad on it as a stand. I prefer the Zaggfolio keyboard with the slot so not using the actual case is a non-issue for me. The only improvement I would suggest for the keyboard is a way to monitor battery usage. There is no way to tell when it is running low. It does keep its charge for a month or so which is a real plus.

Below is the iPad with keyboard and the Camera connection kit.

I also downloaded three photo editing apps:

Snapseed ($4.99) provides the usual crop, rotate and saturation adjustments. It also has auto correct and spot adjust enhancements. You can compare the edited version to the original and also share photos via email.

TouchRetouch ($0.99) allows you to remove any unwanted objects from the photo. It gets rid of wires, trash cans, or anyone you do not want to appear in the photo.

ColorBlast!Lite (Free) lets you apply artistic effects. The photo is turned black and white. You then bring back color to one specific part. The app is free so there are ads but these can be easily ignored.

The camera I will be using is a Fuji Fineplex EXR750. I purchased it just a few months ago and so far I am quite happy with it. The camera has a 20x optical zoom, 16 Mega Pixels and there are also manual settings for aperture, special shooting mode, changing ISO and pre-programmed shooting selections. The LCD is a generous 3.0 inches. The manual is very easy to read and understand.

I have managed to abstain from purchasing a digital SLR as I don't want to travel with something so bulky. I guess it is more style over substance for me. However, the Fuji takes great photos and is the perfect size (not too big or too small). It also has all the advanced camera settings I would need.

The red is very pretty!

I will be bringing my waterproof Olympus camera for the Blue Lagoon and also as insurance in case anything happens to the Fuji camera.

In summary, I hope I have provided a good overview of both how to create a blog and post from an iPad. Photo editing and transfer is simple and very fast with the iPad as well. I don't see any need to bring a laptop computer. Power consumption on the iPad is great and I will not need to charge the keyboard as it keeps the charge for a very long time.

Over the last few months I have read several blogs but I don't know how many are being posted from an iPad. If you have any tips or suggestions I would be delighted to hear them.

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