Barcamp Stuttgart 3

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Barcamp Stuttgart was another interesting use case study for using the iPad as both a conference and a presentation device. Quite a few details were different from FrOSCon.

Laptop Replacement

Being a web-centric event, Twitter was even more important at Barcamp, to stay in touch with what was happening in other rooms and around the entire event as such. As a consequence, I did use the iPad somewhat during the sessions (something I'd never do at a conference like FrOSCon). And as a consequence of that, at the end of the first day, the battery was down to 60%. Which is still surprisingly good. And seeing others search for power outlets all the time to recharge their laptops, netbooks, or mobile phones, I felt - once more - that the iPad really makes for a good conference device. Not to mention that it feels less awkward, IMHO, to pull it out during a session as compared to pulling out a 15" laptop (netbooks probably form a middle ground). Slight advantage for the laptops/netbooks for typing, I guess, but it wasn't too awkward typing on it in my lap. Or maybe there's a point here for the Apple case that can be folded to support typing at an angle ...

Presenting

A Barcamp is an Unconference, i.e. you don't really prepare presentations, at least not in the way you would for a "normal" conference. On the second day, I spontaneously decided to do a session on Continuous Integration with Hudson. All I needed, effectively, were 3 web pages: The Hudson homepage, the (German) Wikipedia page about Continuous Integration, and our project's Hudson page.

So, obviously, I wasn't using Keynote - I needed a browser. Safari, however, doesn't support VGA out to show those pages via the projector. So I used iCab Mobile. This nice alternative browser (of German origin, btw) also has proper tabs like the ones you're used to from a desktop browser. And so I was able to open the 3 URLs in advance and easily switch between them with a simple tap.

Two minor problems:

  1. Unlike Keynote, iCab Mobile doesn't keep the iPad awake when connected to VGA out, so it switched off the iPad after a few minutes. I'm going to suggest this as a feature (unless it's already there and I only missed it in the multitude of options that iCab Mobile already offers).
  2. Again, the VGA adapter was a bit of a weak point in the entire setup. The VGA cable to the projector was quite long and heavy and there was the risk of it pulling the adapter out of the iPad (didn't happen, but it just didn't feel safe). I really think this connection is something that Apple should think over for future iPads ...

All in all, I still think that the iPad is the best available option right now for my specific use case, i.e. a light laptop replacement with the ability to run presentations off of it. It's not perfect (see above and previous articles) but really pretty good already. And most issues could be fixed with updates to the software. Here's hoping that'll happen.

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