Tag Archives: apps

3 Cool iPad Apps Shared at ISTE

My ISTE Experiment

For the last few years I’ve lugged a big backpack around the ISTE Conference. The backpack contained all the tech I “thought” I needed for the conference: Laptop, speakers, chargers, power cords, camera, cables, adaptors, batteries. All in all it came to about 15 -20 pounds. By the end of the day it seemed more like 50.  This year I wanted to see if I could get by with just my phone and my iPad – no backpack. Turns out it worked. I was able to check e-mail, Tweet out during sessions, check Facebook, and take notes. With my phone I was able to snap pictures and grab QR Codes. I even carried a mini charger in my pocket just in case, but I never needed it.

I also picked up some great apps that were shared by others at the conference. Here are the three coolest ones.

Type Drawing

To put it simply, Type Drawing is drawing with words.  You type in a word, then draw with it. The faster you draw the bigger the letters. Draw slowly and the letters get really tiny. By changing words and colors you can get some really interesting creations. Imagine telling kids to make a picture with their spelling words. Thanks to Bridget Belardi for sharing this.



Kevin Honeycutt shared this at one of his sessions. Sure it’s got a digital piano and drums, but what grabbed my attention was it’s feature that lets you create and play your own 12 Bar Blues. Watching Kevin create a simple blues song in just minutes was enough to tell me I HAD to have this. By the way, if you ever get a chance to hear Kevin speak, DO IT. You won’t be disappointed. I was happy that his was my final session at ISTE. I left energized and inspired.


Thanks again to Bridget for showing me this gem.  Noteshelf is the best app I’ve seen for note taking on the iPad. It lets you write notes, quickly and easily. It has a zoom feature that helps you write small to fit more info on one page. If you want to make your notes look “cute” there’s a pull down box with hundreds of little smileys and icons for jazzing up your note pages. Noteshelf also lets you bring in pictures from your iPad photo library. Using multi-touch, those images can be moved, resized, and rotated.

For handwriting notes on an iPad you really need a stylus.  I picked up a little Pogo Sketch stylus at Amazon.com for under $10. Noteshelf has a “wrist protection” feature that lets you rest your wrist on the iPad while taking handwritten notes. I tried it. It works.

The best part about Noteshelf is that it connects to the cloud. Notes you take can be uploaded to Dropbox or Evernote. I tested it by creating the note below, sending that note to Evernote. Once it’s in Evernote your handwriting is searchable. I was able to search for keywords and it recognized my writing.

I really want to use Evernote more, but for me note taking means writing and Evernote doesn’t let me do that. Now that I can write my notes with Noteshelf, send them to Evernote, and search what I’ve written I’ll be using this powerful cloud tool much more.


End of an Era

We all have those pivotal moments in our life. Those times when you realize you need to say goodbye to the old and embrace the new. This week it was time to end a long standing relationship and make a big decision to move on to something better.  This week I changed my default browser from Firefox to Chrome.

Now you may be thinking, “This is no big deal”, but understand that my relationship with Firefox/Mozilla goes back more than a decade – back to when it was just Netscape Navigator. Sure we had some good times over the years, but the new opportunities offered by Chrome finally persuaded me to close one chapter of my life and begin a new one.  What was it that convinced me? Here are some reasons…

Browser Sync – When logged in with your Google account, you can set up Chome to sync so that all your bookmarks, themes, apps, saved passwords, and various settings are shared automatically between computers. Just start syncing in your Chrome preferences on all your computers and link it to your Google account. I’ve become accustomed to my browser remembering username or e-mail when I start to type it on a form. With Sync, a username I type in on one computer, is remembered on my other one. I like that.

Apps – The latest version of Chrome allows you to add “apps” to your browser. Your apps appear when you open a new window or tab. Some apps are free, others you pay for. If you’ve used the Mac App Store or purchased apps from iTunes, the experience is similar. Some apps will even run offline. I’ve got to think that this is something that Chrome needs in order to make the Google Chromebook a viable netbook alternative.

Free Angry Birds – Okay, I’ve got to admit that even with these cool features there had to be something significant to woo me away from Firefox and get me to try and explore Chrome.  A free Angry Birds app that would only run in the Chrome browser was the perfect bait to lure me in.


While those were the big three factors that convinced me to change my default, there are a few other things I’ve discovered I like about Chrome since I’ve made the switch…

  • Speed – Chrome just seems to run faster and load pages quicker than Firefox. ( I hear it’s significantly faster than Internet Explorer too.)
  • Compact Toolbar – The toolbars and tabs have been compacted to maximize screen real estate for viewing web pages.
  • Improved Browser Extensions – One thing I love about Firefox is all my browser extensions. Diigo, AdBlock Plus, and several more of my favorite extensions now work in Chrome.

NOTE: Now I haven’t stopped using Firefox completely. I have not deleted it from my computer. In fact I still need it to work with my Moodle 2 pages. It’s just no longer my #1 browser choice.