Getting my iPad ready for FIRST robotics season

Last year, I started volunteering as a programming mentor to the Stuy Pulse FIRST robotics team.  Since kickoff was yesterday, I set up my iPad today for this season.  At least the beginning of it; I’m sure I’ll have more ideas as the season goes on.


The internet isn’t too reliable in a New York City high school.  There is (usually) wifi, but it doesn’t always work.  It’s also proxied through the Department of Education which doesn’t allow things like SVN or GIT connectivity.  Luckily one can at least view files through a browser.  There’s also way more team members than computers causing a lot of crowding around the screens.

What I set up

Use case Details Apps used Impressions so far
Skim game manual as soon as it is released and refer to it during discussions. Before kickoff, I downloaded the encrypted game manual and stored it in my dropbox for offline use DropBox

GoodReader ($2.99)


It worked.  GoodReader let me type in the password.  I was able to look up everything I wanted and a student on the team also referred to my iPad.  Also positive was the fact I had a cached copy, because promptly crashed right after the announcement of said password.


GoodReader doesn’t cache the password.  Even if you don’t close the app and your iPad locks, you get to type the password in again.  Which wouldn’t be so bad except the password was “5Time4For3Robots2to1Dance!”.  Nice and easy to type in on an iPad, right?

Be able to blog from the iPad There are some lulls when the programmers are waiting for use of the robot.  I want to be able to do other things during this time besides try to surf the net on a tiny BlackBerry. WordPress I’m very impressed  so far with the WordPress app.  I wouldn’t want to publish directly from the iPad because it is hard to type with 100% accuracy.  WordPress saves what you write as a draft accessible by both the iPad app and the regular internet.  This means I can patch up what I wrote in my browser before publishing.
Download the unencrypted game manual Entering the password repeatedly as been a royal pain.  I downloaded the unencrypted manual from a mirror (that grabbed it before the site went down). Dropbox

GoodReader ($2.99)

Very routine.  I deleted the encrypted file from my dropbox, added the unencrypted one and moved on.  The only snag was GoodReader still had the encrypted one open.  Closing GoodReader and reopening it, solved that.
View WPI Javadoc offline Unsurprisingly, we used the JavaDoc a lot last year.  It would be nice to reference it without competing for computer use with the person currently programming. DropBox

JDoc Reader ($3.99)

JDoc Reader was easy to set up.  I transfered a zip file with the JavaDocs via DropBox and chose “open in” JDoc Reader.  JDoc reader than imported it and provided a nice GUI for use.  I like that JDocReader lets you import any JavaDocs since these aren’t common ones. (Most JavaDoc readers I found were for specific docs.)  I didn’t download the JavaDocs for Java itself, but I will if we find we need it.
View WPI Python offline We are trying out Python as well this year.  The Python “API” is really just a large text file. DropBox

iUnArchive ($1.99)

Text Viewer (built in)

It’s awkward to open such a large text file.  Text viewer does it, but I’m still trying to get the hang of this.  (Will update this post when I learn how. For now it is a question)
View git This year we are using git instead of subversion.  (good idea since we can’t commit realtime) GitHub Viewer Lite Positive

The install was easy.  I entered my github username/password and it linked to my repositories and the like.


I was hoping I could save some files for offline viewing.  This doesn’t appear to be possible.  Not too important since team members will have checked out from home and have local copies of the repository on hand.

And of course, I have twitter etc already.  I actually had all of these installed except JDoc Reader.  I listed the ones with direct relevance to robotics.

I also probably need to add some manuals to DropBox.


Some of the students bring their own laptops so I expect the docs to be present.  This makes it easier for me to reference them.  And provides another copy for team members to use.

Note: followup posted

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