Google

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Using the iPad in legal practice — Part 3




Previous posts
1. Setting up
2. Applications for the iPad


This post
3. Getting information on and off the iPad
3.1 iTunes
3.2 Third-party file sharing
3.3 Internet
3.4 WiFi network
3.5 Printing
3.6 Video on the iPad
   3.6.1 Ripping video
   3.6.2 Converting video
   3.6.3 VLC
   3.6.4 Air Video
   3.6.5 Air Display

Later posts
4. Using the iPad in Court
5. Other uses and miscellaneous stuff


3. Getting information on and off the iPad


The next step to make use of the iPad is to get stuff on and off it. Transferring data with the USB cable is the fastest option, and my first preference.

3.1 iTunes


Apple’s standard way of transferring files is using File Sharing in iTunes.

From iTunes:
  • select your iPad
  • select the ‘Apps’ tab
  • under File Sharing, select the application you want to transfer to or from

Depending on your screen size, you might not be able to see File Sharing: you might need to scroll down to view it! (That took me about 10 minutes on Google to figure out my first time. Der!)

Here’s a screen shot, which (I hope) shows what I mean.


The next step is to select the ‘Add’ button, and navigate to the file or files you want to add, then select ‘choose’.


iTunes will transfer the files to the application, but only to the root level. To arrange things in folders — such as I have in GoodReader — I need to open GoodReader on the iPad, create the folders, and then move the files from the root level into that folder. I reckon it’s easier to use the next method instead...

Back to top

3.2 Third-party file sharing


There are various third-party programs that work similarly to iTunes’ file sharing, but with an approach that’s a bit more obvious to the casual user.

For the Mac, consider PadSync (which synchronises files between iPad and computer); for the PC, DiskAid.

I use a program called PhoneView, which does a great job, and allows me to transfer files directly to and from folders.


You can see in this screenshot that I can copy to and from folders in any app that provides for file sharing, and even delete files too.

Back to top

3.3 Internet


In my last post I mentioned that GoodReader is my file viewer of choice, so I'll use that to demonstrate this method.

To download a file stored in my DropBox I simply select my DropBox, and then the folder in that DropBox, and from there, chose the file, which is then downloaded into GoodReader.


The other way is to browse the web through the web browser in GoodReader, and select any documents there.

Or, in Safari (the iPad’s browser), place g at the start of the URL — the web address in the address bar — and it’s transferred to GoodReader.

Some apps allow for documents to be saved from the iPad to an internet based service (like DropBox). Most of the apps I discussed at 2.2 File authoring will do this.

Back to top

3.4 WiFi network


I won’t re-invent the wheel and describe this in detail. GoodReader has detailed notes about how to do this on its website. It works, but it’s cumbersome and slower than USB.

Back to top

3.5 Printing


When Apple released iOS 4 for the iPad (the operating system), it finally introduced printing from the iPad. But contrary to the original plan, printing is officially restricted to a small collection of Hewlett Packard printers, using a feature called Airprint. Apple apparently intends to provide printing for other brands in future releases of iOS.

There are ways around this, but they don’t enjoy Apple’s official imprimatur.

On the Mac, Printopia is a very good program that allows for printing to any printer connected to your network.

Another one is Airprint Activator, known as Hacktivator till a few weeks ago. Apparently there’s a Windows equivalent, but I don’t have any experience with it. If you desperately need to print from an iPad to a Windows PC, try googling: there are heaps of suggestions, but I can’t vouch for any.

Personally, I haven’t really needed to print from my iPad, because I have everything backed up on my computer and can transfer data from the iPad if needed and print from my computer. YMMV.

Back to top

3.6 Video on the iPad


A common query I get is how to get video on the iPad. A common example of video we might want to take with us is a police video record-of-interview.

3.6.1 Ripping video


When video is on a DVD, the first step is often to get that footage off the physical disc and on to a computer, called ‘ripping’.

I typically use a program called RipIt, or Mac DVD Ripper Pro.

In Windows, the best program is DVD Fab.

RipIt and DVD Fab can also convert video into iPad compatible format.

Back to top

3.6.2 Converting video


I use a free program called Handbrake, available in both Mac and Windows versions.

Handbrake has various preset conversion settings: choose the ‘universal’ setting for the iPad. (That setting will also work on an iPhone 4, but not the older, lower-resolution iPhones.)

[edit] Since I posted, Handbrake released a new version 0.9.5 with new preset conversion settings for the iPhone & iPod Touch, iPhone 4 and iPad.

It can convert directly from DVD in some cases. I expect it would do so for police records-of-interview, but haven’t actually tried — I’ve always ripped the DVD first.

Whichever way you choose, once the video is in iPad format, import it into iTunes — either by double-clicking, or click-and-drag — and then sync it to your iPad, much as we did above with files, but this time in the ‘movies’ tab.

Back to top

3.6.3 VLC


Another useful app for the iPad is VLC, an open-source (free) video player. It handles all sorts of video files, and is the program I use anytime I have trouble playing a video file. (Strangely, I’ve had to resort to it a few times to view police interviews that wouldn’t play in my DVD player.)

The iPad version of VLC (iTunes link here) lets me watch all sorts of video files on the iPad. By default, the iPad can only view a couple of video formats, but not the popular QuickTime and WMV formats. With VLC installed, I can view these popular formats.

Back to top

3.6.4 Air Video


Air Video (iTunes link here) converts a wide variety of video formats — including those that aren’t native to the iPad — and streams it to an iPad on the same wireless network as the computer hosting the video files.

A free version is available to try out.

Back to top

3.6.5 Air Display


Air Display (iTunes link here) is a nifty app that allows the iPad to operate as a second monitor for your Mac or Windows computer.

Earlier versions were a bit slow, but the current one seems fine. It now lets me chose to mirror my display — so the iPad shows what’s on my computer — or not, and to change the display arrangement, so the iPad can be to the left, right, top or bottom of the primary display.

This means it’s possible to have video play on a laptop, and also on the iPad which can be viewed by a witness or the Bench!

Back to top

Next: using the iPad in Court.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

VLC player is no longer available on the Apple App Store. Can you recommend an alternative?

Elucubrator said...

Yes, and it's a great shame too. I'm fortunate I got a copy when it was available, and it's my mainstay for video formats other than those the iPad's native app can handle.

But for folks only now looking for an alternative, VLC is not an option unless you're prepared to jailbreak your iPad.

Some alternative apps you might consider are:

AV Player HD
Good Player
O Player HD Lite