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The first thing you want to do is set up the "Find My iPad" feature.
Email: You can have your iPad check your Hampshire email. Just use the Mail app that comes with the iPad and use these settings.
Zimbra: The iPad can sync with your zimbra calendar. It's great for seeing your schedule and creating simple appointments. What doesn't work yet is inviting others to your appointments.
Web browsing is a cinch. Just use the Safari browser that comes with the iPad. You can save bookmarks in safari, or even save them to your home screen for quick access.
For something a little fancier, try the Diigo browser, which looks and feels like Chrome with easy tabbed browsing. It also features a tool bar that allows you to email web pages easily; save to services like Instapaper or Read It Later; or share on Facebook or Twitter.
VPN: It's possible to access files living on Newmisserver (or other campus servers) by setting up VPN on your iPad. You WILL need to purchase an app called FileBrowser ($4) to access files on servers.
Files: The trick about the iPad is it doesn't have a file system, meaning you can't easily move files around on the device, and getting them on and off requires a little forethought. We used to recommend an app called "Quickoffice Pro HD," but we have seen it corrupt files and we no longer suggest that you use it. Our current recommendations are:
For files on Newmisserver, follow VPN instructions above and open Filebrowser to view them. If you want to edit them, click the blue arrow next to the file, choose "Open in...", and choose CloudOn.
If you must have a solution that allows you to work while offline, you can buy QuickOffice Pro HD for $20, but always work on a copy of your original Office document. That way, if your file gets corrupted, it will only be the changes that get lost, not the original.
And to do even MORE with your iPad, and your life, we recommend Evernote. It's a digital, online, sync-able notebook. Much like Dropbox, you can install it on multiple machines or simply use it on the web. Any note you take will automatically appear on ALL your devices and computers. The iPad version can also store pictures, sound recordings, etc. Notes you take are easily searchable and sortable. (free)
For whole books, the iBooks app that comes with the iPad is okay, and has lots of free books (and iPad user guides) available. You can also use it to open and store PDFs that you download through web links, email, or through your Dropbox.
If you're going to be buying books, I would recommend the Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook app instead, as they give you more options (and also have lots of free books).
Goodreader is great for annotating PDF's and other documents. You can email yourself any notes or highlights you made ($5). Neuannotate PDF is a similar free app, but it doesn't compile or email your notes.
Overdrive is very cool in that it lets you access your local library's online e-book and audio book collection. CWMARS, our library association here in the valley, has a pretty decent collection, but you can search for any public library for which you have a card. University/college libraries: Not there yet, but soon, we hope!
The iPad is a portable device that is easily lost or stolen. It is NOT appropriate for working with sensitive data. Don't use it to work with anything containing student records, social security numbers, etc. More info on our data security policy is available here. If something falls into the "sensitive" category mentioned in the policy, do not put it on the iPad or access it with the iPad.
Lastly, you MUST back up your iPad at least monthly. It's just a computer, after all, and is bound to crash sooner or later, or get dropped, stolen, etc. If it does, you'll lose all your apps and documents stored on it. To avoid such a catastrophe, use these instructions for backing up. It's as simple as plugging it into your computer and launching iTunes. And yes, you should back up your computer, too!