Blogging from the iPad- how well does it work?

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Right now I’m staring at some people playing with their dog a bit away from me. Not through a window or anything like that- you see, I’m currently sitting down by the lake about 6 km from where I live. It’s a nice day (though a bit of wind) and I’m technically on a geocaching bicycle trip. Since I found a nice bench and all, I thought I would do an experiment and see how well I could blog from the iPad from here.

The app I’m using is the official app from WordPress. It is quite different from the web experience that comes with a WordPress install, and quite frankly a lot worse. You could technically use the web editor, though the issue would be uploading photos (though you could do that through the app and the rest online). For the sake of “sticking with the mobile” though, I’m using the app right now.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the web experience and this app is that there is no “easy mode” here. You have got to know HTML to be able to format everything and make it work , otherwise you’ll end up with everything from links to images being formatted as though Hurrican Cathrina had done it. For instance, when I did the picture for this article I first shot it with my Canon 300 HS, imported it to the iPad using the Camera Connection Kit, cropped and resized it in Filterstorm Pro and then imported it to the app. Still, it misplaced the image in the article and added a link to the code, so I had to edit the code and move it. I’ve messed with HTML for years and can do that fine, but I don’t quite understand how WordPress thinks most people are going to handle this difference.

The video above also faced some issues in getting embedded. I filmed it using my Canon, imported it and then uploaded it from the Photos app. This was very quick even over 3G, as it downscaled it to SD rather than HD and likely fucked up the quality in the process. That part was not an issue, but getting the embedding code was. As with all these services, YouTube has tried to be fancy and hidden the embedding option un an expanding menu on YouTube. Problem is,
all the browsers I had on the iPad though the “unhhide” button was a link and I couldn’t get to the code. Similar issues is why I can’t use the new Twitter on my computer as it simply won’t load. I tried to use Splashtop to get onto my computer at home to get the code there, but at that point I suddenly lost 3G connectivity and it was too slow to work. I jumped onto IM and found a mate who got the code for me and pasted it on IM, so I finally got it. At that point 3G also returned. For the record, 3G connectivity is rather stable around here but they’re doing some maintenance these days which is likely to blame. I currently get 1mbit both up and down on 3G, with normal speeds being more in the 5mbit range- so something’s up (I’m not THAT far into the wilderness)

More HTML

Basically, HTML knowledge is the entire key to using this app and doing it right. The subtitle above was done using HTML (or rather, CSS, but you get my point) instead of the normal deal where you select the text and click “heading 2” in a dropdown menu.

The Photosynth above was created and uploaded using my iPhone 3Gs and embedded using HTML. Aside from the crappy quality (both from the phone and the app’s stitching job) it’s a nice example of what you can do from a bench out by the lake. I actually got the code for embedding this Photosynth using my iPhone and Splashtop while the iPad was busy stitching the below panorama in Autostitch.

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The last “issue” you might encounter is creating links. I think there is some idiotic “smart” feature here somewhere to do it, but really it’s so much easier if you know HTML and can just type the code for a link normally.

Conclusion

From I sat down to start this experiment it has been just shy of an hour. That includes taking pictures, editing pictures, stitching panorama, making the Photosynth, shooting the video, uploading everything, embedding everything, and of course writing the article. Compared to doing it at home it took a bit longer, but frankly it’s not all that horribly. If you know what you’re doing and can type the entire article in HTML rather than using the “point and click” interface from the WordPress online, you won’t have a lot of issues in doing this. As for this particular case of blogging, the view and fresh air is certainly worth the added annoyance of having to use mobile hardware- though I have to say that this Apple Bluetooth keyboard I’m typing on is probably more comfortable than the one I use at home. I still have another geocache to find if the people who sat near it are gone, and then I have a short 6km bike ride home. By the time I leave here, this article, video, pictures and Photosynth will already have been seen by some of you- and after all that’s why mobile blogging is an interesting concept.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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