Lately, I have tasked myself with finding more than one iPad application in which to judge upon. I might add, that there are a lot of bad, really bad writing applications out there. Some of which, aren't cheap, and they do absolutely nothing... squat... nada... except allow you to script, erase, and save your file.
For the last couple of years, I have been using the Noteshelf application, which provides me with pretty much everything I need to judge, except one little teensy, itty bitty thing that has been irritating the heck out of me. No easy way to backup files and/or download notebooks onto another iPad. Being such an extensive writing application, you would have thought that the developers, Fluid Touch Pte, Inc., would have thought of this. It is almost as if they think that people only have one iPad. Sheesh. Okay, okay, maybe I am the only person who actually owns two iPads, oh wait, make that three... (okay, feeling a little embarrassed). Why three, you ask? That is a blog in, and of, itself.
So back to the task at hand. Finding another writing application that could do the same thing, but that actually had backup capabilities. So I wrote a list of minimal requirements for a judging application, but not just simple judging, like compulsories where you could just write on a simple blank page and every thing would be easy, but optional judging which requires a form (background), scrolling, landscape writing, etc.
1.) Must be able to import a .jpg file as a "background" image so that you can write on it and if you use the eraser, it doesn't erase the image. This is important since 99% of judges use either the USAG optional forms to judge on, or have created their own judging forms. If it can only be imported and inserted as an image and not as a background, if you write on the image (in most writing apps), and then have to erase what you wrote, it erases that part of the image as well. This is unacceptable in judging.
Also, if I am so busy writing, filling up the page with little symbols, at some point I am going to have to add a page. If the image is not set as a background, and you insert a page, the image does not follow you to that additional page. If it is set as a background, each page looks the same.
Many, many, many of the apps I trialed, did not accept backgrounds. I even paid $5.99 for one app, downloaded it, started working on it, and then realized it didn't do backgrounds. I emailed the developer and they said, "Oh yeah, no. Our app doesn't do that." I asked them if it would ever do that, and their response was basically, "Not in the near future." Bust. $5.99 wasted.
2.) Different pen styles and colors. To those of you who are purists, I know that basically you need three pen colors. Black, blue, and red. However, there are some, and I know a few of you (myself included), who just love to judge with one color, and then do the scoring with another. And not just the pen color is important, but also the pen thickness. I am a "fine" person myself. However, I am sure there are a few "medium" and "extra fine" individuals out there.
3.) Be able to export the page or the notebook with either email, text, Evernote, Dropbox or some other form of exporting capabilities. This is important for those judges who like to share their judging sheets, especially around testing time with either coaches or other judges. It is a very good educational tool. This also allows judges to judge on their iPad and then store their virtual notebooks on their laptops for far-into-the-future reference.
4.) Back up notebooks into a cloud system (whichever kind) and then be able to download/restore/edit on another system. This is such a pet-peeve for me. As a "used to be" technical engineer, the #1 important thing in the computer world is backing up. Back up, back up, back up. Now, for some, that may not be important for judging, especially compulsories, but many judges use their sheets as study material. To be able to back up, and then download notebooks onto another iPad (if I was silly enough to go out and buy #4 ...) without having to rebuild all my notebooks, is important to me. Not just on a new iPad, but some people have lost data on their tablets when they have installed updates, had their tablet stolen, or in some cases have basically had to rebuild from the ground up.
5.) Allow landscape mode. I know there are a couple of you out there, you know who you are, are saying, "What is landscape mode?" There are two page views in the word processing world: landscape and portrait. Portrait is making the page narrower from left to right, and longer from top to bottom. Landscape is making the page wider from left to right, and shorter from top to bottom.
This too, is important in gymnastics judging. It give is more room to write the routines, without adding more and more lines to a single routine. Of course, sometimes that happens anyway while judging a gymnasts who has 20+ skills in her routine.
6.) Wrist guard protection. Basically, I find those writing apps that don't have automatic wrist guard protection enabled to be quite irritating. Auto wrist guard is when the application allows you to rest your wrist on the iPad, without it sensing that the wrist is actually "writing" something, hence, the app will now not write what your pen is scripting. I want my iPad writing to be almost as realistic as writing on paper. If it doesn't feel this way, then I won't buy. Worse case scenario is that you are judging a routine, look down, and there is nothing on the page because there was no wrist guard protection. The things judge's nightmares are made of.
So, I have run out of space, and run out of time. Next blog will be on my application trials! Don't forget to check it out!
By the way, here is a quick video on Noteshelf. You decide.
After National Symposium, I bet several of you swiped your way out to the App Store and bought that little app named, "Noteshelf" that was recommend by Winnie and started creating cool little notebooks. Just like in Jr. High School when we got to pick out school supplies.
Now, if you are a first-time user of Noteshelf, congratulations! It is a great little product. The best way to get to know it, is to use it. But... what if you are a long-time user, you have all these wonderful little notebooks created with their pretty little covers, your judging papers, colored inks scribbled into symbols, and most of all you want to keep them forever, and ever..... and ever.
Then... you go out and buy a new iPad. Now the drama begins (dun, dun, dun, dunnnnnn..). How do you get all your precious "stuff" over to Noteshelf on the "new" iPad. Well, recently I was challenged with the exact problem when I bought an iPad Mini and tried to transfer my "stuff" from my iPad Gen3. Two hours later, three cups of coffee, a few choice words, and I had finally figured it out. This is where I started doing a little hating on Noteshelf.
In order to backup Noteshelf, you must have the latest version installed. I believe that version 8.6 or greater. If you don't have this version installed, make sure that you have updated all your apps. If you have a first or second generation iPad, it may not support version 8.6. That is between you and your iPad. Double check, just to make sure.
If you do have Noteshelf 8.6 installed, you can now backup all your "stuff" but it requires a desktop or laptop to do so. You must backup your Noteshelf first in order to restore on your new iPad.
(The following steps should be done on your home network to keep information on your iPad and your laptop/desktop secure.)
1. Open Noteshelf and click on the little wheel/gear icon on the upper left-hand side. In the drop down box you will see an option "AirTransfer Back/Restore".
2. A black box pops up that says "Noteshelf AirTransfer". A link is given so that you can access Noteshelf files from your desktop/laptop. It should say something like "http://192.168.1.53:8080" (not necessarily those numbers, but something "like" it). DO NOT CLOSE NOTESHELF AT THIS POINT.
3. Go to your laptop/desktop and open up a browser, either Safari or Explorer. Type in the link that Noteshelf gave you, http://192.1......etc... and go to the link.
4. You should have a window that pops up, that looks something like this, but with your notebooks in it. (Of course these are my notebooks...)
5. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you will see a button that says "Download Database". (Later, we will be using the "Restore from Backup" to bring in the notebooks on our new iPad.)
6. Click on the "Download Database" button. You will notice on your old iPad that the black box is now showing a download bar. This may take several minutes to download, depending upon how many beautiful notebooks you have.
7. After the download is complete, the file will be in your "Downloads" folder on your laptop/desktop. Navigate your way out to this folder, and look for a file that will be something like this:
Now, this is where the fun begins!
8. On your "new" iPad, make sure that Noteshelf 8.6 or greater is installed. If you have any new notebooks created on this iPad, you will lose them. Just forewarning you now. Now if you are technically minded, and think outside the box, there is a way to download individual folders, and then restore the individual folders. For the sake of this blog, my sanity, and my time, I don't want to go into that now. Hopefully someday Noteshelf will have a sync capability across multiple devices.
9. Open up Noteshelf, and just like you did on the old iPad, click on the wheel on the upper left side, scroll down and choose, "AirTransfer Backup/Restore". This will open up the black box that is titled, "Noteshelf AirTransfer".
10. Go to your laptop/desktop and type in the "http://192.168.1.72:8080" or whatever link Noteshelf gives you. This will take you to a page that shows the content of Noteshelf on your new iPad. It should look something like this:
Again, just a reminder: if you have any notebooks showing up here, other than the "Sample PDF" they will be gone... forever.
11. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and select the button that says, "Restore from Backup".
12. You will now be taken to a page where you will "select" the back up file that you created earlier. Click on the "select" button, browse out to your "Noteshelf-Backup-2014082191027.ndb" file and choose it. Once that file is selected, click on the button that says, "Submit".
13. If you look on your new iPad, you will see a download process begin. Once it is finished, you will get a green checkmark with a "Restore Complete" and a "Restart" button. Click on the "Restart".
14. Noteshelf will close. Reopen Noteshelf. You should now see all your notebooks transferred over to your new iPad.
To preserve your data, it is recommended that you back up your Noteshelf to your desktop/laptop at least once a week if you are judging like a crazy person. If you only judge occasionally, then once every two weeks or even once a month is good.
If you have questions or comments about this blog, please leave me feedback! However, I cannot troubleshoot your individual iPad issues, and I am not paid by Noteself to troubleshoot their app.
Did you attend the NAWGJ National Symposium? If so, did you attend the class on iPad integration with gymnastics judging? I personally did not attend the iPad session, school and family kept me away until Friday evening of the symposium. However, I heard so much great stuff about Winnie Witten and Carol Curley's class, "Judging with iPad 101".
For those who remember, I wrote a blog on the integration of the iPad, well, about going on two years now. I wrote that blog back in the day when the first generation iPad weighed, wow, a whopping 1.5 lbs. Now with the iPad Air you only have to carry around 1 lb. That is like... 0.5 lbs or 8 oz different. Like carrying two 4 oz. steaks instead of four 4 oz. steaks, or a half of a bottle of coke instead of a full bottle of coke. The weight thing was never the issue for me to upgrade, the problem is that you can't buy as many fancy accessories for the older generation versions as you can for the newer generation versions. For us older people, we know how that story goes.
One interesting tidbit that I heard about, and was awesome to hear, because I have this particular problem all the time with my stylus/iPad communication, is using Arctic Silver on the stylus tip to stop skipping. Woo hoo! I can't wait to try it!
Arctic Silver is a compound that is typically used by geeks (like me) to fix computer motherboards. Silver, as a metal, is very conductive and is the main element used in computers and electronics. So if you haven't invested in silver stock, maybe you should. Okay, never mind. I'm not a financial advisor. Just go out and buy some silver to wear around your neck or in your ears. You can't go wrong there.
So searching around on the internet, I did come by a tutorial on how to do this. If you have invested $19 - $50 in a stylus pen (yes, the best ones cost that much) you would expect to have the best. However, the failure comes in the fact that there is a little metal circle at the bottom of the pen where the disc clicks onto the pen. When tilted at the wrong angle, this "dead zone" becomes more noticeable than the surface area around it, and thus there is less connection between the pen and the iPad, and skipping happens. It just happens. It is annoying as heck, and it isn't your iPad's fault. It is a fault in the wonderful design of the stylus. I am sure here, someday soon, all of our stylus' will be outdated, just like that first generation iPad. But until then, by golly, I want to get my $25 worth out of my stylus. But as a judge, we cannot, and will not tolerate skipping. That is kind of like a ball-point pin that runs out of ink halfway through that long and intense bar routine with E+E+E bonus. We ain't got time for that!
So I ordered me some Arctic Silver. I can hardly wait till that little brown package arrives in the mail. And then, with stylus in hand, I will blog out to you, how my little experiment went (rubbing hands together).
Check out what Brad says:
Also, check out my first blog on integrating the iPad into gymnastics judging.
Okay, so I have to say it.... NOTE: I am not paid to endorse the iPad, or any software mentioned in this blog, nor do I want to do so. Please check with your association, WTC, Regional Chair, NCAA Chair, etc., etc., etc., before using an iPad at a meet. I am not responsible for any complications that you may encounter, either electronic, software, or mental breakdowns. Any software names or titles that I may mention in this article does not mean that I endorse them, or that you are required to purchase them. In other words, take personal responsibility for your actions. :) (smile)
Technology is increasing at such a fast pace that sooner or later we all will have to learn to "deal with it". "It" being technology. In the past few years we have seen the appearance of the iPad and many judges using theApple© tablet to review their notes, videos, and in some cases, judging on it. Coming in 2013 the Women's Operating Code for both Compulsory and Optionals will be available in an electronic version. Will this benefit judges that are using an iPad? Absolutely! When I first got my iPad (I have an iPad 1), I scanned in all the pages from my Compulsory code and stored them in an iPad application called USB Disk Pro which available for purchase on the Apps site. This allowed me to separate the different events so that when I judged that particular event at a meet, let's say Bars, I could pull up the text and the Penalties and have it at my fingertips. I no longer had to carry my book around with me to meets. Wow, did that save space. I will have to admit though, that for the first couple of meets I was a little paranoid and carried the Code and my iPad. Grrr... However, as I got more and more comfortable with using the iPad, the Code stayed at home sipping wine and eating chocolate.
The only complaint that I received happened at just one meet. After showing the Meet Director that I was ONLY using it for my judging notes and code and not judging on it or browsing for jewelry between rotations, all was well and the coach was happy. Well, maybe not happy, but relieved. Because really, as judges, can we make all the coaches happy? I think not.
Many judges have asked me, "Do you think NAWGJ will ever allow judges to use the iPad to judge on?" Well, I do know that tentatively, it has been approved as of the Spring of 2013. I know that some of you, are probably rolling your eyes at this point, wondering why we would even consider it. Well, for me with my techie thought process, I ask, "Why not?"
Consider these thoughts:
1. It's green. No paper. Some trees will now get to live to old age because some judges which I believe are one of the largest consumer of legal tablets, won't need the paper.
2. Organize, Categorize. I can review scores from a particular meet indefinitely, by filing the score sheets in an electronic filing cabinet. I know there are some of you who still have your judging sheets from 1980. Imagine how easy this would be!
3. Annotate. As I am reviewing post score sheets, I can annotate on them, make notes or doodle and save them for future reference. I just love looking at my old doodles. Don't you?
4. I can cut and paste a portion of my score sheet, email it to a fellow judge, educate a new judge until she doesn't want to judge with me any more, send it to the coach or just print it out and put it on my fridge. (How about that 10.0!!!).
5. Your pen no longer has to be the only accessory you hold in your hand. With all the new case colors and stylet colors, you'll be stylin'!
So put on your virtual seatbelts, the digital integration generation is upon us. We either chose to fight it for a little bit longer or we embrace it with gusto!
P.S. If you have any recommendations for articles on the iPad and Judging Integration, please feel free to email me at my website administrator email. However, DO NOT send me questions about iPad or laptop problems you are having. That will cost you $$ and me valuable time. :) (smile).
Kathi Blazek is a National Judge in the state of Colorado.