April 23, 2010

iPad Case Quest

We've had the iPad to use since the release date, and I have concluded that the iPad begs for a case. The question is whether one wants a sleeve to keep it in for transporting, or a flip case that it stays in all the time. I find holding the iPad itself a bit of a chore. I'm too 'careful' with it. And, it really works best if it's propped up. Holding it and looking down at it for too long hurts my neck. Hence, we want a flip case for it.
The iPad fits well on my elliptical for viewing during a workout. The typing in landscape is as good as could be hoped for, really. It is quite fitting for sitting on the couch and doing email and web reading. It makes a great reader. My wife loves taking it places to read with it.
I have been watching as many iPad case releases as I can. MacWorld has done three round-ups now. I have concluded that Apple's own iPad case is tops for our needs. A chief criteria is a flip case that has a sturdy low angle propping up option which is ideal for typing, and, it must be able to work well on your lap. Every other case I've seen (including inCase's Convertible Book Jacket) either is too wobbly for good typing or props the iPad up with a little stand which wouldn't work across your lap, unlike the full bottom laying flat as in Apple's case. I've been holding out a few weeks, using a simple foam slip-case, to see what options arise before purchasing, but it's looking more like Apple's will be the one.

In the interim, I gave the classic book-conversion case a try tonight. I found just the right size book in the bottom of a bookshelf in the basement. I am very impressed with the results. I was careful with the measurements and the cutting, so the fit is quite snug. I would totally use this case for transporting the iPad, even reading from it. Here are some quick pics:


This will be fun to use for a bit until we make a purchase.

Update: The case is still getting a lot of use, and had held up amazingly well and proven itself to be surprisingly functional. Someone asked for more details on the process, so here are the basic steps I used:

1. Lay the iPad face down on card stock and trace the face of it.
2. Cut it out.
3. Find the right size book, height, length, and thickness. I got lucky and had a perfect one… you'll want at least a half inch of paper to border the iPad. (A hard-cover book that opens, lays flat, where the front cover can flip open but doesn't pull the pages and bottom cover with it, so that it can still lay flat with the front cover open is ideal.) This is the book I used: http://www.amazon.com/Psalms-Timothy-R-Botts/dp/0842349553
4. Open the cover and on the very first sheet, lay the template and and trace with pencil.
5. Using an exacto knife (though I actually used a less-desirable carpenter's knife), cut the outline, cutting 2 to 6 pages deep.
6. You know longer use the template, but rather, use the cut-out pages as the guide to scribe further down into the paper. You eventually be "opening" some pages, pulling them back, always leaving a couple "cut-out" pages as the guide for further scribing.
7. Repeat ad nauseum. As you get deeper, to a check with the template and/or the actual iPad to make sure your hole is still true. Keep it snug, though. You can always trim away bulging sections and corners to enlarged the hole. Make tweaks to adjust. Took me an hour or so total.
8. As you get close to the back cover, place hard surface under the pages so you don't cut into the back cover.
9. With all the pages cut, pull away the loose bits. Try fitting the iPad. Carve out bulging places. Ideal is a fit where the iPad slides in with just a teeny bit of effort. Even better is if one side is a little narrower at the top than down into the paper, so you have to angle it in and then it hold a little in place. Mine turned out this way on its own.
10. Hold all the pages open, against the front cover using a clothes pin or something, then free the last sheet, and with a glue stick, glue it down to the back cover.
*Important is to make sure the bottom cover is lying flat and the the binding is lying flat at the 90% angle so that the paper is glued as far onto the back cover as it cant.
11. Repeat with the next sheet, next, and next, again, ad nauseum. Make sure the cut-out lines up with what's below it each time.
12. One you've finished. After confirming the fit, and letting it dry, the next day, some pages will pull apart. Reglue those with regular elmer's glue and once those seem go, go ahead and spread glue on the 3 edges of the stack of paper to give it added hardness and stability. You may have to reglue a couple pages for the next few days of use.

April 22, 2010

Brite's Jewish Studies appointment

Glad that Brite Divinity School's new Jewish Studies chair appointment is getting wider press, thanks in part to Jim at PaleoJudaica.com. It is a rather unique position for a seminary of Brite's posturing. It offers great potential for seminarians, and even more so for a Qumran scholar, over against a Midrash scholars, as was the previous position-holder. There remains a NT position open at Brite. Interested to see what transpires there.

April 01, 2010

Multi-direction Language Support in Upcoming Word 2011

Screenshots of the anticipated Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 began to surface on the web in the last couple days. It's hard to know whether "leaked" screenshots like this are planned out or not, but conversation on the Twitterverse confirms their authenticity. One such conversation on Twitter references this screenshot where Word's new language direction capabilities are on display.

This is a new revelation. Not only does it seem that the version due out in December will be able to support Right to Left Unicode, it looks like the new text engine handles even more advanced vertical language. And isn't that boustrophedon (like an ox plows) heiroglyphs at the end? I remember from studying at the museum in Cairo that you can tell the direction of the line by the way the bird is facing. This is surprising since I would think it only useful for artistic and minute scholarly reasons.
The official Mac Office blog has not yet touched on language capabilities in the teaser reports, but this updated text engine is a huge step forward, so it's hard to imagine why these plans haven't emerged prior to April.