Tag Archives: iPad

Tools of the Freelance Trade–And An Announcement

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorby Joe Wallace

I’ve been investing quite a lot of cash recently in the tools of the freelance trade. For me that means a lot of different things including professional grade microphones, studio monitors, recording equipment and other necessities. I haven’t given up writing, not by a long shot, but I’ve added multimedia producing to my list of talents available for hire and that work requires owning gear.

But I’ve invested in my writing work, too. One of the tools I’ve discovered I cannot live without as a freelance web writing professional is the iPad. Freelance writers are very slow to catch up with the times in some cases–you’ll find plenty of outdated websites still chugging away, with writers being especially guilty of missing the boat when it comes to being tech-savvy.

But for anyone who writes online, the time to start switching to mobile devices is NOW, if you haven’t already. You’ll be shocked at how your website looks on a mobile device. Or your work as it appears on other sites. You will also be surprised at how easy it is to get your writing work done using a Bluetooth keyboard paired with a tablet or iPad. The portability of tablets makes them a dream to use professionally, even compared to a 13-inch Macbook or notebook computer.

Here’s a gigantic mea culpa–Freelance-Zone.com itself is far behind the times with its own web design.

On tablets and the iPad, the three-column format leaves far too much to be desired, and a re-think of the entire look of the site is underway. But it’s a reminder to me personally how easy it can be to fall behind.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve made one anyway—this space will be cleaned up and mobile friendly in 2013, and when I look at it on the iPad it will be something to be proud of rather than a reminder that I’ve been the tortoise, not the hare, when it comes to new tech. It’s soooo easy to dispense advice about these things, yet fail to look in the mirror to see what’s staring back. We aim to change that in coming weeks and some of the transitions might be a bit painful, but we’re heading into a new look for a new era as tablets, the cloud, and mobile freelancing become more and more mainstream.

Joe Wallace has a thing for gadgets. He loves producing video, audio, and writing for the web. He is also polishing a short indie film, preparing to release two new albums via iTunes and Amazon.com, and contemplating having his highlights done. He blogs about audio production at www.now-sound.com and writes on financial topics for a variety of websites.

iPad or Laptop for Back-to-School?

If you’re a parent, your freelance income has to cover a lot of school expenses for your children.  Here are some important considerations before you spend money on a tablet computer for your back-to-school offspring. These tips are courtesy of DealNews.com, who invited me to excerpt their full list, written by media editor Jeff Somogyi.

IPADGIRLWith summer already on its way out, your college-bound child is probably in the midst of asking for more and more money to buy the “essentials” they’ll need for dorm life in the upcoming school year. (FYI: A BMX bike is not an essential school requirement for anyone, except those attending BMX U.) It’s very likely that they’ve also mentioned needing a little device called the “iPad.” That may have gotten you wondering if, in this day-and-age, the iPad should be considered instead of a laptop for kids heading off to university.

And so, as the youngins are about to matriculate, they’ll come at you with all sorts of “reasons” why the iPad is a “valuable tool” for “learning.” Are you prepared to fight back? Are you armed with the knowledge you need to protect your dollars? You better be, because — as we’ll show you — the iPad just isn’t a suitable replacement for a laptop, in terms of meeting your student’s needs. Here are 10 good reasons why:

1. It’s expensive-ish

An iPad, at its most basic 16GB configuration with Wi-Fi connectivity starts at $399 — and that’s for last year’s model. The latest model, which is packed with a retina display and all sorts of extra goodies, starts at $499. The higher-end models (that include 64GB of storage and 3G connectivity) can burn a hole into you wallet in the shape of $829 … with additional per-month rates for data plans. Even at the cheaper end of the spectrum, we often find full-fledged laptops deals for about that price. Though the iPad 2 is close, it just doesn’t make monetary sense to buy an iPad instead of a laptop.

2. It’s not the best solution for note-taking or editing documents

A virtual keyboard doesn’t have any tactile feedback. This tech is fine for a quick text on your smartphone, but the iPad’s keyboard — which is a non-standard shape and size — is a bit more awkward. And say goodbye to touch-typing because your fingers will start drifting, and you’ll soon wind up with a page of gibberish.

Further, if you do manage to struggle your way through writing an entire term paper on the tablet, editing is another headache completely. Using your finger tip for fine placement of the cursor is next to impossible, and it’ll take you a few tries to land it where you need it. After several failed attempts, you’ll be wishing you had a laptop with a real keyboard and mouse.

3. It’s ultra-portable — and ultra-droppable

Taking a tablet everywhere means there’s a greater chance of dropping it anywhere, and breaking it. There will even be more of a chance that your kid will forget completely that it’s in their bag and, as kids will, fling their satchel across the room — only to be rewarded with a gut-wrenching *crack*, followed by a cold-sweat-inducing *tinkle* of broken screen glass. Just try forgetting you have a 5+ lb. laptop in your bag!

4. What makes it desirable to your teen is what makes it desirable to criminals

Your college kid wanting an iPad is second only to the desire of a criminal to steal one. It’s so light (see above) and small that it’s easy for a n’ere-do-well to quickly yoink and abscond. Sure, there are security locks you can use, just like the kind you can get for a laptop, but who — especially among the devil-may-care college-age set — really takes the time to actually use it instead of saying, “Pfft! It won’t happen to me?”

5. It’s too distracting: Games, apps, 4Gs, web-browsing, Twitter, and messaging beckon

The iTunes App Store boasts more than 500,000 apps — which is tantamount to over 500,000 distractions for your child, who’s supposed to be paying attention to his professor. (Well, 599,998 distractions and two dealnews apps! WINK!) Angry Birds, too, will be calling during those long lectures, we’re sure. But on the contrary, would anyone boot up DOOM or Minesweeper on a laptop in the middle of a lecture? Probably not. That’s a commitment that doesn’t allow them to lie to themselves that it’ll be “just for a minute.”

6. eTextbooks are a marvel, but there’s no secondary market

Your kid will probably make the argument that an iPad can display digital textbooks and, since the device is lighter than a stack of dead-tree tomes, you’d be saving the planet and them from years of backache and possibly a future addiction to painkillers / chiropractors. To this argument, you should tell them to wear their backpack over both shoulders, like one is supposed to, and they shouldn’t have a problem.

7. It’s meant for solo enjoyment, which means social seclusion

You want your kid to grow up to be a personable, extroverted, well-functioning member of polite society, right? So why would you give him a personal entertainment device that all-but-guarantees he’ll spend every moment of his free time with his nose pointed at a tiny screen, drowning out the revelry, camaraderie, and general good-times that are taking place around him?

Got an hour between classes? iPad. Waiting for the shuttle to campus? iPad. Yes, your child could seclude themselves with a laptop — but not in as many places. Let’s see them try walking down the street watching the latest The Walking Dead on their laptop! It’s too cumbersome and awkward. (Just like The Walking Dead.)

8. It’s essentially just a status symbol

Like any gadget, the iPad is a status symbol. Like any Apple gadget, it’s an expensive status symbol. It’s something we’ve been trained by society and lifestyle magazines to want, simply because it’s a luxury — and if we can be the first to have it, somehow, we “win.” To combat this, you can sit your kid down and, being very earnest, tell him that he doesn’t need things to be popular. Then explain to that laughing at you, when you’re trying to be serious, isn’t getting him closer to that iPad.

9. It’ll be old technology by the time you actually buy one

Apple is very consistent with its release schedule of devices. New models come out like clockwork, and our guess is that the iPad is not going to stray from this tried-and-true model. Specifically, an even newer version of the tablet is surely going to come out sometime in March or April.

That means the iPad your kid wants to own in August is already six months old and half-way through its lifecycle; what’s the point in buying this older model, when there’s a shiny new version on the horizon that your child will surely start eying greedily once it debuts?

10. They’ll probably want a laptop, too!

Yes. You heard that right. If you buy an iPad for your kid thinking, “Well, that’s that,” think again! Since there are situations in which a tablet just doesn’t cut it (see above), your child will come to realize that she definitely needs a full-fledged desktop or laptop (like the new MacBook Air, of course) for school, too. Whether it be for essay-writing, Internetting, game-playing, or entertainment-centering, you’re looking at a double-dose of device deployment. Never forget: There is no end to the amount of money a kid can or will ask for.

Share this with your circle of parents-on-a-budget, and enjoy the full article at DealNews.com.

The iPad Workflow

ipad_3by Catherine L. Tully

Well it finally happened. I got the new iPad. And I think it’s going to change my workflow.

What does that mean?

Well…for starters it makes me mega-portable. I have a great, small Dell laptop (XPS), but it’s still heavier than the iPad. And the battery is gone on it too. The iPad’s battery will last me more than my laptop did and then some. They say 10 hours. That’s four more hours than my Dell gives me. Impressive.

Also travel suddenly becomes easier. I can just tuck this little gem into my bag and go. Now that’s exciting…

I know I’ll need to add some things to make it fully functional for my lifestyle as a freelancer. For example–a keyboard is a must. I won’t be able to type on the screen for any length of time. Also I’ll need a case that can prop it up so I can use it on the go. Still, both seem like a small investment to make for the ultra-portability it will give me.

I’d like to toss it out there to readers…do any of you work on an iPad (or have you)? If so, what do you think? Am I doomed to be disappointed, or will I still be smiling ear to ear three months down the line…..

Do tell!

Using Social Media To Listen

Joe Wallace freelance social media.jpgby Joe Wallace

One tactic some businesses use with social media is to cultivate Twitter and Facebook followers to crowd-source ideas. This happens in some non-traditional ways when the web savvy business types get to it, and these techniques can be used be smart freelancers to get ahead in their own work.

If you use Twitter and Facebook to monitor trends in your area of expertise, you’re off to a great start. What’s the biggest complaint from users about some iPad apps? In my own particular case, I’m fascinated by what’s going on at the Times in London, where the entire newspaper has gone up behind a pay wall, and by the failures of Rupert Murdoch’s Daily to deliver a user-friendly reading experience to mobile users.

Those trends inform the decisions I have to make about issues like mobile versions of Freelance-Zone.com, the mobile needs of my clients, and due consideration for any future clients I take on who might want to hop on the iPad bandwagon.

Because I pay attention to the complaints on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, I feel better equipped to answer someone who might ask “Why can’t we deliver Content X as an app for the iPad?” I don’t know jack about designing iPad apps, and I’m sure my clients don’t, otherwise they’d be developing them instead of asking about them.

So the first question for them is, “How much can you spend?”. The next question is “Will the end result help or hurt based on all these user complaints I’m showing you about similar bright ideas that were poorly executed?” Sadly the execution factor and the budgetary factor can be linked together in ways that don’t help the client’s blood pressure.

In a lot of cases, staying out of the early adopter game is a smarter move than rushing something into an app store that delivers poorly and fails to live up to user expectations. And that’s exactly what I can tell people based on keeping my ear to the ground, so to speak, on social media.

There are plenty of other examples of how using social media to listen and not just talk can help you get ahead. Feel free to share your own strategies in the comments section–I’d love to read how others are paying attention to the trends in their freelance spaces.

Being First Vs. Being Best

North Dot Com iPad photo enhanced copy

Dave Allen from North recently posted a fair bit of dissatisfaction with news media publishers who haven’t quite gone the extra mile with their mobile apps.

At FZ, we often debate whether we should purchase iPads and other gadgets to keep up with the flurry of mobile development. It’s the consensus here that it’s a bad idea to be an early adopter with the iPad, and that next-gen versions will probably leave bandwagoneers feeling more than a little annoyed. Apparently that goes for some mobile apps, as well. Read Dave Allen’s post to see what we mean.

That concept is a little more vindicated every time we read things like Allen’s post. It’s also a great lesson for freelancers; it doesn’t pay to get there first with a new product, gizmo, news story or, well, anything at all if all you’re going to wind up doing is limping back to the drawing board to fix the woefully inadequate whatsit you’ve foisted on the world.

Slow and steady wins the race more often than not.

Continue reading Being First Vs. Being Best

Freelancing With the Apple iPad

apple iPad

Transparency: Nobody at Freelance-Zone.com has gotten a hands-on with the new Apple iPad.

The information we’re presenting here is based on other people’s hands-on experiences with the 10-inch tablet, not our own. But even secondhand information is most helpful in deciding whether to become an early adopter or to wait for the inevitable price cut and major upgrade of the next version. But it’s great to know that such a device is compatible with games like Kcasino.

Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad on Wednesday, showing off its web browsing, e-book and gaming potential. Rather than do a complete rehash of what’s already available at Wired.com, we’ll cut right to the chase and discuss the iPad’s impact on the freelance community.

Continue reading Freelancing With the Apple iPad