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BooksThe iPad became much more useful to me yesterday after attending a board meeting in Manhattan. A board colleague showed and I shared our experiences with our iPads and I learned about some new productivity tools. The iPad is great for reading documents of all kinds and when it comes to games, video, pictures, music and other media applications it offers most of what people need. When it comes to sharing, manipulating, moving, storing, and printing various documents, however, the iPad is not quite as easy. Apple makes things simple by making things closed. They don’t let you get yourself in trouble with technical tricks but sometimes that also limits what you can do. (See IPad – Part 4: What You Can’t Do). There are four tools (iPad apps) that I find essential to gain the control I want over documents. I use and recommend the following.
Check mark GoodReader is my primary repository for PDF documents. Serving on seven boards, I see a lot of documents. Browsing them as PDF’s on the iPad in preparation for meetings and having them at my fingertips during the meetings is essential. GoodReader allows you to create folders on the iPad for organizing your documents. When board materials are sent as attachments to emails, they can be opened in GoodReader and then moved to the appropriate folder. Documents can also be moved from your Mac or PC into GoodReader over your wireless network at home.
Check mark Dropbox allows you to sync your files online and across your computers. You install Dropbox on both your iPad and your Mac or PC. If you drag a file from your desktop and drop in the dropbox it then automatically shows up in your dropbox on the iPad. You can also go to any Mac or PC, go to dropbox.com and you will find the same file there. You can click on a dropbox file and send a link to the file to a colleague which then gives them access to the file. Very handy for sharing and there are no file attachments involved. Attachments are a bad thing of the past. Dropbox is a modern day answer that I highly recommend.
Check mark LogMeIn enables you to connect to your PC from your iPad. It actually gives you full control over your PC from the iPad. This is a nice thing to have. You can do most things on the iPad but not everything. Example: Quicken. More than ten million people use Quicken to keep track of financial transactions and investments. At some point it will surely be a cloud based application but so far the complexity and legacy nature of it have chained it to the desktop. With LogMeIn you can curl up on the sofa and log in to your Mac or PC from your iPad and use Quicken just like you were at the desktop. There are other less expensive solutions than LogMeIn but I have found that this is one worth paying extra for ($29.99).
Check mark Last but not least is PrintBureau. Also known as PrintCentral, PrintBureau allows you to print directly over your home WiFi netowrk. You can print any kind of document on any kind of printer. If you can print it from your Mac or PC then you can print it from your iPad. You do have to install a small program on one of your home desktops. I find less and less need to print things but from time to time the need arises.
There is some overlap with all four of these programs. They all provide a degree of file sharing. The way I think of it, GoodReader is the main repository for important reference documents. Dropbox is for ad hoc transisent files of any kind. LogMeIn is primarily for Quicken from the iPad and PrintBureau enables the paper.