Technology is my passion!

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Keynote on the iPad and mp3 files

I made an exciting discovery the other day when I started exploring Keynote. Maybe some of you were aware of this feature but it had completely escaped me! I’m a die-hard PowerPoint user and have created presentations for years using that software. Because of the iPad and iCloud, I really wanted to become more proficient in Keynote so I added this to my weekend of challenges.

One of the things that frustrated me with my iPad was not being able to add audio to my Keynote presentations. As a musician, I like to embed my audio and I just couldn’t make it happen on my iPad. I tried 6 months ago, I mean really tried, and just gave up!

As I was using my desktop to create a Keynote presentation this weekend, I didn’t have to think twice about how to add audio. I dragged a mp3 file that was on my desktop onto the Keynote slide and it just worked! (This is so Apple!). I completed my presentation and decided to upload it to my iCloud account so I could review on my iPad while enjoying my coffee!

In the morning, I opened my iPad and the Keynote App. There was my presentation from the night before – remember, it just works! I opened the file and began to play it in presentation mode. Guess what happened? Yes, there was music – the mp3 file I had attached was working in Keynote on the iPad. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it. I tested a mp4 file and the same was true. A discovery!

Lesson learned – you can play Keynote presentations on your iPad that include mp3 and mp4 files but you need to add these files using a computer, not an iPad. I am delighted to know I can do this and then easily transfer a completed presentation to iCloud. Of course, when I open it from the iPad App, I can easily edit my presentation, add some effects, etc. The point is that there is sound!

I’ll be back again as I want to share my experiences with a cloud-based video editing software!

Reflection App

I have so many things I want to blog about this evening and only time for one blog. I’ve made some amazing technical discoveries over the last few days that I will share across the week. I’m also very excited about the new MBP announced today and the new information about Mountain Lion and iOS6. However, that will have to wait for another day.

Since my LCD Projector doesn’t have an HDMI port, I was wondering how to see what I was doing on my iPad without a way to connect to the projector. I know that Apple TV is one option but what happens if you don’t have a way to get the ATV and your laptop on the same network?

The first option I discovered and have used is AirServer . It works fine but I did run into some issues and had no response from customer support.  I know that Apple TV is one option but what happens if you don’t have a way to get the ATV and your laptop on the same network?

Enter Reflection. This App was introduced to me by a fellow blogger and as I’ve been planning for my workshop, I thought it would be great to share with teachers. However, when it was first released it was a Mac-only piece of software. Of course, I love my Apple products but teachers still have PC computers and need ideas! So, last week, I saw an announcement that Reflection is now available for PCs. Perfect timing!!

I purchased a copy of Reflection this evening and in seconds I had it downloaded, installed, and up and running with my iPad. I used it to show a Keynote with audio and the audio from my iPad was playing via my computer speakers. I love the effects – Reflection includes an iPad image–black and white–so it looks like a real iPad screen on your computer. Of course, if you connect the projector to your computer, what is showing on your computer screen including your iPad screen will be projected. To connect your iPad, all you do is double click the “home” button so you can see the icons in the tray. Swipe the tray to the right and click the AirPlay button (see image blue). Be sure to select your computer and Mirroring ON and you are set to go. I’ve include a few photos to help.

 

Of course, this is all working because all of my devices live happily on my WiFi network. Next up, creating a closed network so my computer and iPad can “speak” to each other even when they are in a location with protected WiFi, or worse, no WiFi at all.

Music Making with JamStudio

Today I am working on my session for my adult students. The project they will tackle is to create an accompaniment for a familiar song. Because they can bring their personal computer to this class, the range of hardware is usually too extensive to imagine. I’ve decided to focus on cloud-based software for my three sessions so all have equal access to the same software. As some of these adult learners are a bit tentative when it comes to technology, Day 1 will begin with an introduction to JamStudio.com. This intuitive software would be ideal for elementary students to explore harmonic progression and create simple arrangements.

Before we make music, I do want to give the group a quick overview of the easy-to-navigate windows that will become their creative pallet. This software isn’t without limitations but is a great way to start. It is very much like Band-in-a-Box but not nearly as sophisticated. One major limitation is the inability to add multiple chord changes in a measure. Of course, I’m a Band-in-a-Box user from way back and that was not one of the easy to find features in Band-in-a-Box when it first launched! The other limitation is that all songs have to be in meter in 4. There is a meter in 3 button but it says “coming soon.” Let’s hope soon means sooner rather than later.

I wrote to JamStudio.com to find out more about the “All Access Pass.” They use the Freemium model. Currently, I can only access a subset of their sound library. Of course, I can pay $4.95 for a monthly pass or $24.95 for a 6-month pass to get more. According to one of the JamStudio employees, “music teachers can apply for a grant using JamStudio to be able to use this tool [All Access Pass] for their students in their classroom!” I do recommend that teachers contact JamStudio to apply for that grant! In the meantime, I’ll be pulling out my credit card later today.

Some of the amazing things about this program is that students have the ability to create an 8-track arrangement with full control of the sounds for each of these tracks. Chords are relatively easy to enter and with the click of a button many different chord variations are at your fingertips.

Well, I wanted to give you a “peak” into my Sunday planning. I’m also using this blog to step back and “think about” my plans as I explore and learn new tools. I’m creating my handout with “Pages” a new learning experience for this MS Word user! Maybe that’s a topic for later today.

Have a great day!

Apple TV and iPad with Projector

I thought that as I was preparing for my Boone presentation, I would blog about some of my findings. This way the people that attend my session can read more about my process and thinking after the workshop. Also, this might help others as they explore using different technologies in their classrooms.

Problem: I don’t have an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) in my classroom but want to find different ways to engage students. My school budget won’t support my buying an IWB. What are my options?

Solution: There are many ways to engage students without an IWB. One solution that works great includes an Apple TV (ATV); iPad; LCD Projector and this little device from Kanex.

Here is what I did to make this work.

Since my LCD Projector is an older model, it does not have the HDMI port required to connect to an Apple TV. So, I discovered the Kanex ATV Pro. Using an HDMI cable, connect the Apple TV to the Kanex on one side of the device. On the other side, use your VGA cable to connect the Kanex to your LCD Projector. If you want sound, connect an audio device, like a Bose SoundDock, to the Audio port on the Kanex.

Connect your ATV and iPad to the same WiFi network. If you teach, you may need to “beg” your IT people to make this happen. If they say “no”, I have another option in  a later post.

Turn on the ATV and the LCD Projector (in that order). Then fire up your iPad. Remember, Apple has a free App called Remote that will let you control your ATV on your iPad. This is a great way to be sure your ATV settings are correct including that AirPlay is setup on your ATV.

Go to your iPad and be sure to select AirPlay and Mirroring “ON.” If you can’t find these settings, from the main iPad screen , double click the “HOME” button and a tool bar will appear at the bottom of your screen. Swipe the bar to the right to see the AirPlay icon along with controls for audio. Select your device in AirPlay and be sure to turn on Mirroring.

Now like magic, everything from your iPad is projected to the screen. Visit a website or a favorite App and those are also projected. Select an interactive activity via a website or App and pass the iPad around your classroom. Your students will be engaged and interacting without the expense of an IWB.

More to come.

Preparing for Lion

In preparation for the launch of Lion, maybe as early as tomorrow, I am prepping my hard drive. Since I store most of my key files in Dropbox there isn’t much to clean off my drive. So, this evening I’ve taken a new drive and formatted it for my Mac. Since many drives are formatted for PC, I have learned that when formatting drives exclusively for Mac, you must use the GUID partition type or you may be doomed for failure.

After reading various posts, I’ve decided to give Carbon Copy Cloner a try as my cloning tool of choice. Pretty simple – I selected my HD as the source, my external drive as the destination, and that’s it! As I’m typing this post on my MacBook Air, my iMac drive is cloning to the external drive.

After it is complete, I plan to boot from the external drive to test the clone. If it works, I’m ready for Lion at least on this machine.

Are you prepared for the launch of Lion? Will it launch tomorrow?