What’s on Your iPad – with Kevin Berg

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These What’s on Your iPad posts have been great fun to do. My favorite thing about them is that each week I learn something and get new ideas on apps and organizing and more.

With no disrespect to past contributors at all, I have to say that this week’s subject, Kevin Berg, has taken this to another level for me. I haven’t just enjoyed Kevin’s answers, I’m honestly inspired by them and most of all by Kevin himself. He had seen these posts and approached me about doing one, told me a little about himself, and I said ‘Hell Yeah’.

Here’s Kevin’s intro, which he prefaced by saying I think it is important for your readers to know a bit about myself as it has a lot to do with why technology & especially the iPad now have made such a huge impact on my life.

I was born with a kink in my umbilical cord, causing me to not be able to breathe, and I was actually dead for nearly 20 minutes.  At a year old I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and the doctors told my parents to put me away in an institution because they said I’d never be able to walk, talk, control a power wheelchair, or have near normal intelligence.  Fortunately, my parents refused to believe that and gave me every opportunity to succeed.  In addition to everything else they did for me, they bought me my first computer (a Commodore 64) when I was about 8 years old and I took right to it.  The computer opened up a brand new way of letting me express myself freely and to communicate with others.  For several years I typed with my nose and then started using a head-stick in high school.

Now I am 38 years old and, despite being in a power wheelchair, having unclear speech, and having to rely on others to help me perform daily tasks like getting dressed and eating, I’m married, have two children, and have been running a successful computer repair & consulting business for 6 years now.  With the help of my dad, I was able to adapt my head-stick to become a capacitive stylus of sorts so I could operate tablets very effectively.  Last spring my wife & I were going to travel to California for two weeks so that I could get my first service dog.  Rather than taking two weeks off of work (that can be detrimental when being self-employed), I decided to buy a Motorola Xoom so I could work at night while away.  For me, the transition to a tablet was a beautiful and natural thing, and I have not used my actual computer (except remotely) since then.

For a long time, I was convinced that my Android-based tablet was a real tool and the iPad was just a toy.  That changed in Decemeber when I bought an iPad 2 that I could play around with every now & then so I could support my clients better with their iOS devices.  Well, my Xoom started collecting dust after I first turned on the iPad 2.  I finally began to see all the advantages of the iPad.  9 times out of 10, the iPad version of an app just crushes the Android version.  And, to top it off, Apple introduced AssistiveTouch in iOS 5 which allows the use of of multi-touch gestures with a single contact point…that just took the cake for me!

Now, with the new iPad, I’m actually swaying some clients to buy an iPad rather than a new laptop.  That is how much I love this device and how much it has opened my world up even more!

Kevin Berg Home Screen 1

Here are Kevin’s answers – questions are in italics with a grey background, Kevin’s answers are in block quotes:

Which iPad model do you use? (original or iPad 2, WiFi or WiFi + 3G, storage size) Any particular reasons for choosing this model?

I currently use the 3rd generation iPad 16GB Wifi + Verizon LTE.  I had an iPad 2 16GB Wifi only and wanted to get the new iPad 64GB Wifi + Verizon LTE; my wife would have then taken my iPad 2 to replace her Xoom.  A few hours before the official release, we actually decided to be financially responsible so we traded in the iPad 2 at Best Buy for $265 and got this one instead.  It was a good compromise in our hearts.  The plan now is to get the 64GB around June when we can really afford it and my wife will take this one.

I got an LTE-capable model for a couple reasons.  First, as I talk about in another answer below, my iPad is my primary form of communication because of my unclear speech, so a constant connection is important to me.  Second, since the majority of my business is repairing computers remotely, having a fast mobile connecion on my iPad literally allows me to work wherever I want, even at the park while watching my daughter play!  It doesn’t get much better than that, let me tell you.

Do you use any sort of case with the iPad? If so, which one/s and why?

I sometimes use my Smart Cover but that’s it.  I think that the convenience of a tablet can be lost a bit when using a case.  Just watch some of the more recent Star Trek series; no one had cases or covers on their "pads"…they just used them.  Granted it is a TV show, but the acceptance of technology like the iPad comes when there are few-to-no barriers between the user and the device.

What’s on your iPad dock currently? Do these apps pan out as your most frequently used?

From left-to-right: Mail, Safari, Contacts, LogMeIn Ignition, 2Do, Calcbot.  Why else would they be in my dock if they weren’t my most frequently used apps? :)

What are some of your other most-used apps / what’s on your first home screen? (and any reasons why you’d like to offer)

I will just list a few because I run my entire business from my iPad and use it quite literally about 18 hours a day, so I have a ton of apps that I use daily.

Files Connect: This gives you access to nearly every file-based cloud service and common network shares, so you can have access to all your files any time and anywhere.

Invoices2go: I just switched my invoicing system from a Web-based service to this app.  Love it, love it, love it!  I can use my iPad contacts (synced with Google) rather than maintaining a separate list somewhere else.  It use to take me about 10 minutes to create and send an invoice and now it takes about 2 minutes.

GoPayment: Sending invoices doesn’t do any good without an easy way for clients to call and pay!

Bria: A stellar VoIP softphone

Other staple apps that need no explanation: Calendar, Pages, Evernote, Dropbox, Flipboard

How do you arrange your home screens? Do you use folders at all / heavily?

I actually just revamped my home screens & dock a few days ago.  I use to have 6 folders in my dock and about the same number on just one home screen.  Every single app was placed in one of these folders.  I realized after a while that I only had like 1 or 2 frequently used apps in each folder, so I was actually wasting a lot of time closing and opening folders.  So now my dock & first home screen have my most-used apps with no folders, my second home screen has almost all of the rest of my apps organized into folders, and my third home screen has my "Rarely used" folder of apps.

What are some of your most used productivity apps on the iPad? Any that you use for work?

Seeing as I operate my entire business from my iPad, most of the apps I use are for work in some way or another.  The one I use most might seem kind of cliche to most users but my reasoning is far from that.  I tend to find myself in Mail more than any other app on most days like many people, but that has a lot to do with my disability causing me to have unclear speech.  While I can talk on the phone with the help of my wife to "interpret" on my behalf, Email is by far my preferred form of communication.  When typing, I can freely get my ideas out without assistance and I can convey my thoughts as fluently as anyone else. 

My regular clients know this so well that most of them Email me with non-urgent issues and I arrange to assist them in the most appropriate manner (usually remotely accessing their computer to fix the problem).  This scenario happens so often these days that I perform many jobs from "triage to completion" without any interaction from my wife which may sound normal to most readers, but this level of independence is very uncommon among people with severe physical disabilities like mine.

The other two apps I use a lot are LogMeIn Ignition and 2do.  I have most of my clients set up on my LogMeIn Central account, so the LogMeIn apps on iOS are essential to my business.  While the free LogMeIn app is great, the file transfer abilities of the paid Ignition app are just awesome.  I can copy my folder of maintenance tools from my server or my Dropbox to a client’s computer without even taking control of their desktop.  It is just a beautiful app that makes me look like a superstar.

2do ("2do: Tasks Done in Style" is the full name) is a task manager app I started using last week and it is probably one of the best purchases from the App Store that I have made yet.  I spent a couple days researching task managers, after reading past interviewees rave about Omnifocus; I tried to make myself like the idea of the app but it seemed too complicated for my needs and lacked multiple contexts/tags which I wanted.  I couldn’t bring myself to pay $39.99 to try it out (yes, I know they offer a 30-day refund, but still).  I kept coming back to 2do, and finally bought it even though $9.99 seemed expensive as well.  I got about 50% more work done than usual in the 24 hours that followed because I was able to keep on track much easier.

Do you read any newspaper or magazine apps on the iPad? Do you subscribe to any?

Not really.  I have several RSS feeds for tech news that I keep up with daily via Flipboard if that counts. I’m too busy doing actual work than to read much non-tech news.

Kevin Berg Home Screen 2

How much, if any, book reading do you do on the iPad?

I listen to 1-2 audiobooks each month on my iPad while I work"

Any favorite iPad games or fun time fillers?

I’m a bit to addicted to Bejeweled Blitz right now. :)

Have you got a ‘hidden gem’ type iPad app that more people should know about?

I don’t know if this counts, but Collobos Software makes a program for both Mac and Windows called FingerPrint which basically makes any printer AirPrint compatible.  It is super-easy to install and if you tell it where your DropBox sync folder is located, it adds a virtual "Save to Dropbox" printer which basically lets you print to a PDF from any app on your iPad.  I use that a lot to save copies of online receipts and the like.

As far as a true app, though, I’d have to go with Files Connect that I mentioned earlier.

Any killer apps you think are missing from the iPad App Store, apps you’d love to see come to the iPad?

The majority of apps that I’d like to see come to the iPad…won’t.  That’s because they would require administrative privileges not allowed by Apple.

That said, I’d like to see some great old-style adventure games in the vein of King’s Quest.

Do you tend to pay much attention to your home or lock screen wallpaper? Change it up often?

I changed them often after getting the new iPad to show off the Retina display.  I think I have found a couple that I’ll stick with for a while.


Huge thanks to Kevin for approaching me about doing this post, for sharing his inspiring story, and for his excellent answers. Kevin and his wife do motivational speaking ‘on the side’ and I’m not at all surprised. He has definitely inspired and motivated me.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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8 thoughts on “What’s on Your iPad – with Kevin Berg”

  1. Very enjoyable post! And by far the most inspiring based on Kevin’s fantastic work ethic. Kudos all round.

  2. Very cool story. It’s amazing what people can accomplish with the right set of tools, and the right amount of love/caring from their family.

  3. Thanks for the app suggestions, I will try Fingerprint. I do want to be able to print. Excellent article!!!!!

  4. Very cool!! I love how technology has bridged the gaps between typical people and those with different abilities. It makes me very hopeful that my son, who also has cerebral palsy, will get to live a full and productive life.

  5. Hi Can you tell me what material you used to make your head pointer accepted by the Ipad surface? I’m trying to adapt a mouthstick for a patient of mine (I’m a speech pathologist) but I don’t know what to use. Thanks alot. Lisa Adams

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