Go! Go! FileMaker Go!: FileMaker Go for iPad is Awesome!

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FileMaker Pro is used throughout our school district for a variety of important tasks including inventory, guidance records, and keeping track of student behavior statements. It’s an essential tool, and FileMaker truly makes database creation easy and efficient. Since I’ve been exporting more and more of my work to the iPad, I was anxious to try out FileMaker Go. I have, and it is awesome.

FileMaker Go allows you to take your FileMaker databases with you, anywhere you want! You don’t have to make sacrifices either.  This is a quality app that will amaze anyone that has experience with databases, and will be an excellent start for those who have not.

Any iOS device (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) can run FileMaker Go and experience a simple yet powerful way of accessing and modifying your data without losing the functionality and versatility of FileMaker Pro. (I did say accessing and modifying. FileMaker Go is not for creating databases. More on that below.)  FileMaker Go compliments the iPad so well by combining the strengths of the iPad’s unique portability and touchscreen with FileMaker’s trademark power and efficiency.  What an awesome combination!

The database can now make its first serious step toward wireless mobility. The full function of a database can now be wielded in the ultra thin confines of the iPad.  What a great tool for librarians, counselors, administrators, and teachers to take their important records with them wherever they need them.

FileMaker Go is not for creating databases, but it is excellent for using and modifying the databases you create on your computer. (Yep. You still need a computer and FileMaker Pro. The app will open any database created with FileMaker 7 or later.)  This isn’t a negative, because I  think creating a database on a touchscreen would be a nightmare, however, managing a database on one is a dream. (FileMaker Go is for the iPad only, there is a separate app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. You must have iOS 4 or higher. All are equally great, but the iPad version is best experience.  The iPhone version is merely handy in a pinch.)

A typical session of FileMaker Go is very straightforward: The opening screen presets a list of available files. Files on the iPad are on left and recently used or remote files are listed on the right. Adding a favorite remote host is easy and recommended to speed and ease regular usage. (You are provided with a sample inventory database to play around with and learn your navigation of the app.) Using the database is simple. Once you select your database from the device itself, a remote host, or a file sent to your device, the file is opened and ready for reading, editing, or entry.

You cannot sync databases on the iPad with database on the computer, just as you cannot sync databases from computer to computer.  Each file is independent and you manage it by transfer and saving options.

Editing a file is easy with FileMaker Go’s Tools and Toolbars.

Upper left corner: window showing number of open windows in all databases. Upper right corner: a gear icon opens to show a menu featuring: layout, view as form or list or table, show toolbar, refresh window, perform script, save/send, and a settings and help button for more options.

The bottom toolbar also houses important features. Bottom left corner: A record detail button allows for changing layouts. The middle of the bottom toolbar is the record selector indicator.  This is a sliding tool that allows you to navigate forward and backward through your records quickly. Great for large number of records. You can also use the touchscreen arrow keys for a smaller list of records or to pinpoint a record. The bottom right corner offers more functionality for dealing with records. The far right button allows for typical FileMaker Pro searches: show all records, omitted records, sort records, quick find, and find mode. Handy indeed. The button just to its left is the add/delete record button. You can use it to add, duplicate, and delete records. If you are planning to use your iPad to manage your records the bottom right is what it’s all about.  The true power of the FileMaker programs is in its ability to fine tune searches and provide you with the information you really want.  Spend your time here!  You will thank me.

I love using FileMaker Go on the iPad to manage my databases.  The iPad feels great to walk around with and the screen is the perfect size for viewing.  In the classroom I like to be mobile and having my database with me and all my other joys on the iPad is just a perfect, natural fit.

I did have to use a little caution on a database that used some radio boxes. The boxes were close together and my BIG lineman fingers were a little clumsy. This can be remedied easily with a tweak in the layout mode, but even easier with a touchscreen gesture to enlarge the area with expand, then pinch it back for viewing. Simple. Easy. Quick.  Zooming in and out is easy and works the same on this app as it does on the iPad and iPhone. Just pinch and zoom.

Overall, I was so happy to see my layouts from the computer preserved in the FileMaker Go version on both the iPad and the iPhone. (For me the iPhone was for viewing only, but I am sure many of you will be able to plug away.  Some of your quick-stilleto-finger movements amaze me.) A few inconsistencies were noticeable but nothing that altered data or use. I find myself consciously designing my FileMaker Pro layouts  for use on my iPad.  I want to use my iPad for management, and I want to use my MacBook for design.  (It’s like a bag of golf clubs people. A perfect club for every shot. A perfect device for every job. Get’em all.)

Tap a field and the iPad keyboard appears and readies for editing. The keyboard is slightly altered to handily include the record selection indicator (slide and arrows) the add/delete record button and the search button.  I was impressed to see this on the keyboard. The keyboard even knows what field type you are in and automatically adjusts itself for editing the field. For example, it will switch to numbers in a numbers field, a special date selector in a date field, and more! Just as it should be.

I like this app.  I like it a lot!

Wired Educator Grades FileMaker Go an “A”.

If you want or need a mobile database look no further.  This is it. If you are already working with FileMaker Pro then it is an absolute no-brainer, this is it. It’s hard to believe this is an initial release with no upgrades. It’s clean and worry free.  Wired Educator enthusiastically recommends FileMaker Go!

You can purchase FileMaker Go here for $39.99. The iPhone version is sold separately for $19.99. Both premium apps, but worth every penny. (Remember you must have a computer and FileMaker software to create databases.)

Here is a link to Dave Wheelock’s quick and excellent video review (3:08) of FileMaker Go. (Dave is with Desktop Services, Inc.)

Adobe Store Discounts Software for Teachers and Students

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Great news for teachers and students! The Adobe Store cuts up to 80% off student and teacher editions of its software. (Windows & Macintosh)

Discounted titles include: Creative Suite 5 (pictured), Lightroom, Acrobat X Pro, and more.  Free Skullcandy headphones included.

Teachers and students will be required to submit proof of eligibility prior to shipment of your order. Click here for more information.

A Breath of Fresh Air: A Review of the New MacBook Air by Chris Hamady

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A Breath of Fresh “Air.”
After a two year wait, my dreams of an ultra-portable Macintosh notebook have finally been answered. Enter the 11 inch MacBook Air! At just 2.3 pounds, this computer manufactured from a solid piece of aluminum really lives up to its name.
I bought this computer from the Ann Arbor Briarwood Apple store to replace a 15 inch MacBook Pro that I take to and from work, as well as a 13 inch MacBook that I travel with to do presentations. Both of these computers are fantastic in their own right, but the weight of them tends to wear one down after walking for tens of minutes through airports or across long parking lots.
My day to day needs are fairly complex but shouldn’t be hampered even by the specs of the entry level MacBook Air:
  • Mac OS X 10.6.4
  • iLife ’11
  • 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor
  • 2 GB SDRAM
  • 64 GB Flash Storage
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics with 256MB shared SDRAM
  • 11.6 inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • One Mini DisplayPort
  • Headphone jack with support for iPhone-type headphones/mic
  • Integrated omnidirectional microphone
I use my laptop day to day to:
  • Use productivity tools (word processing, presentations, spreadsheets)
  • Browse the web
  • Check email
  • Use Apple Remote Desktop to remotely administer computers and servers
  • iChat (video conference and IM) with colleagues, friends and family
  • Do light video editing and simple graphic design
  • Do podcasting
  • Watch gobs of streaming video in both H.264 and Flash formats
The first thing I did when arriving at the Apple store was ask the salesperson if he would mind installing Adobe’s Flash Player on the display model. He was very courteous and agreed to do so after checking with one of his superiors. Once installed, I loaded up the Blender open source movie, Sintel, in 1080p via YouTube and was blown away by: 1. how quickly the movie began to play 2. how smoothly and flawlessly the MacBook Air delivered this incredible video experience in full screen to the viewer.
I wanted to see if this was just an anomaly of the Apple store having a fast internet connection. I clicked on the icon for iMovie and was flabbergasted to see iMovie instantly open up with a number of video projects loaded into it. My only explanation for the incredible performance of this computer is that the solid state drive feeds the processor in a much more efficient manner than a mechanical hard drive can. I’m really only just now starting to realize the performance bottleneck that we have all been hampered with when using hard drives based upon spinning platters of data and moving read/write heads.
I have yet to do anything on this computer where the experience has felt slower or less productive than when using my 2.66 GHz MacBook Pro but I’m sure that applications and tasks requiring a lot of processing horsepower would be severely limited on a machine based on such a modest processor speed.
So far I’ve tested and confirmed excellent performance with:
  • All of the iLife ’11 apps
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Netflix/Silverlight
  • YouTube/Adobe Flash player
  • Open Office
  • iChat
  • FaceTime for Mac
The 11.6 inch screen of this new MacBook is just the right size. When sitting with the computer on my lap in my living room chair, the MacBook Air’s screen has a larger viewable perspective than the 52 inch television 6 feet in front of me. Clearly this is “large enough” to work comfortably on. Now that I’m officially “middle-aged,” and my vision is beginning to change, I did however, have to bump all of the default font sizes up one or two points in both the OS and my apps. Not a big deal as far as I am concerned.
The keyboard feels identical to the size and response that one would get from using the Apple wireless bluetooth keyboard. I typed this review on it with ease and did not encounter any difficulties.
Lastly, since the Air does not have an optical drive, it does not ship with a restore DVD. It includes a tiny USB stick that contains all of the software that ships on the computer should you need to reinstall it. Simply insert the USB stick into one of the two USB ports on the computer, reboot holding down the “C” key on the computer keyboard, and you will soon see the familiar Mac OS X installer. By switching away from the old “remote DVD or CD sharing” manner of reinstallation, Apple might attract more “first time” computer buyers who do not currently have a computer in their home.
If you are in the market for a new ultra portable laptop, do yourself a favor and check out the new 11 inch MacBook Air at an Apple store near you. Try it out and then lift it up off of the counter. You will see for yourself why Apple calls it “Air.”
CH

Keynote, Numbers, and Pages Updated for iPad.

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Attention Teachers and Students:

As we all know, three of the best apps in education on the iPad are the popular productive apps part of Apple’s iWork Suite.  Good news, today iPad updates are out for Apple’s KeynoteNumbers, and Pages. These updates offer a number of bug fixes and improvements and a few new features. My favorite update is that they now support MobileMe. I can now transfer documents to and from my devices using mobile me. (It’s also good I can export them as Microsoft Word, etc. too I suppose.) Here are some of the new features:

Keynote
– Export presentations to Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT) format.
– Copy presentations between Keynote and your MobileMe iDisk or a WebDAV service.
– Support for audio in builds when importing Keynote ’09 presentations.
– Ability to group and ungroup objects.
– Add animated builds to grouped objects.
– Lens Flare, Spin and Wipe build animations.
– Revolving Door, Swoosh and Wipe slide transition animations.

Numbers
– Export spreadsheets to Microsoft Excel (.XLS) format.
– Copy spreadsheets between Numbers and your MobileMe iDisk or a WebDAV service.
– Ability to group and ungroup objects.
– Open CSV files from Mail and other apps.

Pages
– Copy documents between Pages and your MobileMe iDisk or a WebDAV service.
– Option to display the word count for your document.
– Support for opening .txt files from Mail.
– Ability to group and ungroup objects.
– Import and export existing footnotes, endnotes, sections and tables of contents.
– Import and export Pages ’09 tables with image background fills in cells.

Each app is priced at $9.99 and is iPad-only.

AutoCAD Coming Soon to Your Mac Classroom.

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Autodesk Inc. announced today that it’s AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design) software will once again be running on a Mac. The new software will bring robust 3D free-form design tools and powerful drafting capabilities to your Mac.  The new software relies heavily on the Mac OSX to bring an intuitive graphical user interface to help you and your students bring ideas to life easily. AutoCAD uses DWG format so your designs can be shared easily with any platform.

Looking over the screenshot and video on Autodesk’s website, the Mac version looks gorgeous. The commands are the same as for other platforms, but it appears the Mac version may have some added features. Even the video/commercial on their website has a soundtrack that sings, “Things are getting better…”.

Amazingly, the new AutoCAD for the Mac also allows you to extend your work and share DWG filesto your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad through AutoCAD WS mobile app. The app will be FREE and available soon.

The website shows pricing for educational institutions and a product trial.

Visit http://www.usa.autodesk.com to be notified of availability. System Requirements to run AutoCAD on your Mac:

  • Apple® Mac® Pro 4,1 or later; MacBook® Pro 5,1 or later (MacBook Pro 6,1 or later recommended); iMac® 8,1 or later (iMac 11,1 or later recommended); Mac® mini 3,1 or later (Mac mini 4,1 or later recommended); MacBook Air® 2,1 or later; MacBook® 5,1 or later (MacBook 7,1 or later recommended)
  • Mac OS® X v10.6.4 or later; Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later
  • 64-bit Intel® processor
  • 2 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 1 GB free disk space for installation
  • All graphics cards on supported hardware
  • 1,024 x 768 display with true color (1,600 x 1,200 with true color recommended)
  • U.S., U.K., or France keyboard layout
  • Apple® Mouse, Apple Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, MacBook® Pro trackpad, or Microsoft®-compliant mouse
  • Mac OS X-compliant printer

Hey Teachers: Snow Leopard + Smartboards = Problems

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Sad+MacBefore you upgrade your school’s Macinotsh Computers to Snow Leopard, Apple’s newest operating system, you might want to wait for a few important updates.  Many Smartboard users have shared  various problems after upgrading to Snow Leopard.

Smart Notebook on my computer would not work at all after the Snow Leopard install.  Other users mentioned various problems ranging from issues with Smart Response not working, to crashes, complete inability to start the program, issues with flash, letters connecting, problems with the receiver, and MORE!  (Yikes: Click HERE to read discussions on the problems.)

Smart Technologies has no comment on the problems, however Twitter’s @SMART_Tech responded to @justcombs and @wozzza tweets that a fix is on its way for this Fall.  Discussion boards also suggest an update soon.

Snow Leopard also broke my compatibility with my school’s color printer, (I’m still searching for that printer driver fix) and will not run FileMaker Pro 8 at all.  FileMaker told me to purchase FileMaker Pro 10.  Yep, it’s expensive.

I really like Snow Leopard, but I am disappointed developers and Apple did not prepare us for a smoother transition.  Snow Leopard was indeed announced two years ago.

Please Post a comment if you are aware of any other incompatibilities teachers need to know about before upgrading to Snow Leopard.

Wired Educator gives a thank you to Justin Combs for the heads-up on the Smartboard issues with Snow Leopard. He was the catalyst for this story.

We will post an update as soon as we receive word of a fix.

Wired Educator will now continue the school year with regular weekly updates.  Send us your suggestions for posts.

Have an awesome school year.

7,000 Textbooks in Your Pocket: Thanks CourseSmart!

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Wired Educator’s An iPod in Every Classroom Initiative just got a big boost today with news that CourseSmart will offer over 7,000 textbooks to iPhone and iPod Touch owners via a free application called eTextbooks for the iPhone (with subscription to CourseSmart).

CourseSmart is already being used by college students at over 6, 000 universities via any computer and an internet connection.  Now with the new iPod Touch/iPhone app true mobility is possible.  Students will have access to their textbooks and notes anywhere they go.

CourseSmart claims to save students over $58 off the average cost of the original textbook from over 12 different publishers and add the benefits of digital books like keyword searches, mobility, thumbnail and full page views.

Boasting 7,066 textbooks, in 935 course areas, in 113 disciplines from 12 major publishers, makes CourseSmart the leader in eTextbooks. You can go to their website and see if the text book you need is available using their search window.  All you need is either a course name, author, title,  keyword, or ISBN.

The only downside I can find is that their is obviously no resale of the books and the books you download typically expired in 180 days.  (I am sure some young college programmer is working hard on a workaround for the latter as I type.)

The excuse, “I didn’t have my book with me,” could soon be lost forever.

Watch out Kindle!

[App Store]

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