8 iPad Apps to Turn Your Toy Into a Data Center Tool Page 2
TextPlus is one of the many SMS or text messaging apps that you can download and install from the Apple App Store. This one is free with upgrades you can purchase to remove ads from the client, to add sound effects, or to purchase a "premium" phone number. Unlike some of the other choices in this area, TextPlus gives you a free phone number but not in your local area code. For one of those, you'll have to spend $2.99. It doesn't matter much what your number is, since most of your friends and colleagues will save your info to their contact list and never use the actual number again.
On the plus side of TextPlus, you'll like the conversational interface that makes it next to impossible to send a text to the wrong person, which can have devastating results.
The Skype app for the iPad doesn't exist, but the Skype app for the iPhone works on it. The only problem with the Skype application is the size. Since it's built for the iPhone, the app is iPhone-sized. When using Skype, you can speak into the iPad speaker or order a set of earbuds with a built-in microphone, which is far less awkward and is hands free. Making calls with your iPad is easier than using multiple devices while you're working in a space-deprived data center location.
Skype is free, the app is free, and making calls to other Skype users and users within your calling area (as defined by Skype) is free.
QuickVoice is an app that records your voice and allows you to send the file as an email attachment so there's no typing involved. Let's face it, the iPad screen keyboard is no great joy to use, but this app takes away the pain of banging out a long or technically specific email. Using QuickVoice, you can describe your situation in detail. You'll never have to deal with misspellings or need to find a place to lay your iPad for convenient typing. It might also enhance your ability to engage assistance, if the person on the other end can hear the stress in your voice.
The Pro version ($2.99) has a recording-to-text feature, which means you record your message and send it via email. Instead of a voice recording, your recipient sees text. To be sure your message and meaning remains intact, you also receive the original recording as a WAV file.
PlainText is a free and simple text editor with one extreme feature: Dropbox connectivity. While you're in the data center, you can copy errors from log files, and paste them into a text file that uploads to your Dropbox folder online. Your coworker half a world away can pick up the text file and read it for himself. He can post the answer to the same file to help you troubleshoot, alleviating the need to open email, read a text message or deal with a phone call.
Do you really need more motivation than a free app that syncs with Dropbox?
The Apple iPad is more than a cute game machine; it's a long battery life, ultra-portable workhorse that can easily make the leap from lap to data center. And, you don't need thousands of dollars' worth of software to make the transition from toy to tool. All you need is a tall data center and an app to steer by.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.