Apple

    The Apple pundit club strikes again

    Hey hey, look, the Apple pundit club have gotten together to do their Apple report card again! Not a surprise but they’re all declaring the iPad is still dying? And then of course there are the folks like Steve Troughton-Smith chiming in on Mastodon but he and other commenters in the thread aren’t offering anything new either. It’s just a repetition of the pundit echo chamber. Even worse, many commenters proudly proclaim that they’re still using old hardware from before 2020.

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    The iPad Pro, Mac and Vision Pro can all co-exist

    It’s been a couple weeks since Apple released it’s iPad Face Computer and various memes are bouncing around the pundit echo chamber. I’ve not tried it and don’t expect to anytime in the foreseeable future. I have issues with vertigo that would likely make it less than optimal but, also, it’s far beyond my budget. All that said, as the iPad is my preferred computer, I see the merits of VisionOS being based on iPadOS and that brings me to the primary point of this post.

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    Apple getting weird?

    Jason Snell wants Apple to get weird. Here’s my pitch for a new iPad Studio. Hang with me for a minute because this is, well, weird. The M series board, battery and everything that we now know as an iPad is not behind a screen. It’s a keyboard. It’s the base where most of the weight is. And it has more ports. The touch screen would be thinner and lighter than what we now know as an iPad.

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    An easy hack for an ever present clipboard history for iPad!

    This is fairly easy and straightforward though it requires more than one Apple device. Ensure that you’ve got handoff/continuity turned on for the shared clipboard on your devices. Install an app like PastePal or another similar app that has iCloud sync and the ability to automatically monitor the clipboard. PastePal is a one-time payment and works on iPad, iPhone and Mac. My iPad Mini is always within reach as is my iPhone.

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    Hey Macintosh, happy 40th!

    My Color Classic and iPad Pro as imaged by an iPhone 7+ in June 2017. It's been a long, fun ride. I bought #MyFirstMac, a Color Classic, in 1993 to write my masters thesis. I used it for 4 years to create a community newsletter using ClarisWorks and a variety of flyers for our community organizing efforts in Memphis. It was the beginning of a long, fun ride. At some point a few years later I bought my second Mac so that I could get on the internet and begin creating websites.

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    What's a professional?*

    I opened Mastodon this morning to find this fun thread about the iPad. It seems to be a reference to the latest episode of the Talk Show, with John Gruber and Casey Liss. Gruber continues with his odd, angry fixation on the iPad: You’re making excuses for a platform that has baby computer limits. It’s a 14-year-old platform and you still can’t make iPad apps on an iPad. Lol, really?

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    I love Warner Crocker’s incredibly detailed post about the various ways the iPad fits into his workflow. He gets into the specifics of when the iPad Mini is the better device, when the larger iPad is better and then how the Mac and iPhone are used. Making the best use of the strengths of each form factor for different parts of the process.

    I think this might be my all-time favorite “how I use the iPad” posts. Helpful and entertaining!

    The iPad Is My Perfect Theatre Rehearsal Tool

    I own the latest models of an 11-inch iPad Pro and also an iPad mini. Love them both. I use them in similar but different ways, fitting the tool to the job of the moment. I may be a gadget geek, but I’m primarily a theatre professional. Most of my work is directing plays. Both serve me well in my job. Currently, I’m working out of town on staging The Lehman Trilogy. Both the iPad Pro and the iPad mini suitably fill my down hours with entertainment and are reliable work horses for the gig. To be honest, their roles as tools are so familiar that to call my usage “rote” would be accurate.

    There’s quite a bit more I’d like to quote but better you just read Warner’s post.

    Several years ago Apple did a story highlighting how the iPad was being used by archaeologists. This is exactly that kind of story without the corporate baloney.

    2023 Year in Review (Also, a few interior photos of my tiny house, pardon the mess😂)

    My life is generally best characterized as small, slow and steady, I suspect a sharp contrast to most. If you're someone primarily interested in a tech oriented accounting you should skip to the last section. What comes before that is fairly comprehensive and even a bit philosophical in nature. I'm mostly writing this for myself so it's chock-full of details most people likely won't be interested in. Home and Landscape I live in a 200 sq ft tiny house that doesn't need much in the way of maintenance or improvements.

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    My current favorite iPad set-up, the work-around-the-cat configuration. My futon, placed on the floor with shelves on both sides in easy reach. iPad is snug in adjustable stand clamped to shelf and floats above pillows in my lap. Rosie is about to take the place of the keyboard.

    An iPad in a an adjustable stand floats above pillows in my lap. A keyboard on the pillows. Just behind the iPad, sitting on the shelf is a cat looking at the photographer. Moments after photo she took the place of the keyboard on the pillows. In The near background just behind the cat a speaker and plant sit on the shelves. Further in the background is the photographer's tiny house. Wood plank walls and colorful string lights.

    #Caturday #iPad

    Apple's machine learning feels like magic

    Over the past year one of the tech stories that I've seen pop up numerous times is that Apple has fallen behind on AI. The general idea being that AI is now to be measured in terms of ChatGBT which has come to represent AI. And, according to this narrative, it follows that since Apple has not produced a similar offering it is behind. It's a convenient narrative to fall into but it indicates a lack of awareness of what Apple has been doing over the past several years with machine learning.

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    Unexpected App surprises of 2023

    Over at the Mac Power Users forums there’s a new thread about 2023 app surprises. I thought I’d also post my response here. The unexpected winners for me were Obsidian, Shortcuts, Siri, and Yoink. I’ve recently wrote about my Obsidian experience this year but will repost the recap. I tried that Obsidan several times before, but each time decided it wasn’t for me and generally went back to a combination of iA Writer and Notes for writing, notes, and collecting random bits.

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    A Mac shaped elephant in the room

    This post came to mind as I listened to the current episode of the Rebound podcast this morning. The fellas spent the first thirty minutes discussing a variety of bugs and problems that they've been having with their Macs recently. It's something I've often thought of when Mac users critique the iPad but I've never written it down. They don't just discuss their recent problems but ruminate a bit about the bugginess of macOS in general contrasting OS X with the Classic Mac OS pre 2000s.

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    Experimenting with a 15" monitor as my display while cleaning up a transcript for our local library oral history project. Watching MacBreak Weekly on the iPad off to the side.

    A 15

    A Day in the Life of Working with an iPad

    I've had a few interesting workdays recently that I thought would be worth sharing in terms of highlighting what's possible with an iPad. Before I dig in, I'll mention that I use the 12.9" M1 iPad Pro with 8GB of memory. For me the largest screen is absolutely necessary for more complicated tasks. Even the 13" (I'm just going to refer to it as 13") sometimes feels too small at which point I now have the option of connecting to an additional screen.

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    Apple Pundit Dick Moves

    Discussing a trick he learned with the multi selection of tabs on a Mac browser John Gruber feels the weird need to beat-up on the iPad: This trick does not work in Safari on iPadOS, because iPads are baby computers where you can’t select more than one thing at a time. He got it wrong but the big boy issued a correction: Update: In a reply on Threads, Jay Robinson points out (and includes a nice screencast) that you can select multiple Safari tabs on iPad with multitouch.

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    Experiments with iPad Set-ups

    My ongoing experimentation with iPad set-ups continues. A couple of months ago while browsing the web I happened upon a new-to-me concept, the cyberdeck. The idea is to build modular, hacked-together computers that are semi portable. I spent a few hours obsessing over images that presented something very close to what I've been wanting for my iPad set-up for quite awhile. At its core a set-up that raises the iPad/screen to eye level, semi-portable, stable, and a place to store/use a swap-able keyboard.

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    Obsidian and Interstitial Journaling

    It’s only been a couple weeks since I decided to give Obsidian yet another try and yes, this is going to work out. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try again. A few brief thoughts too about interstitial journaling. First, my primary use of any markdown/text app is for writing blog posts. In this regard Obsidian is generally on par with any other markdown editor and so it’s easy to just copy my archive over.

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    The Apple Update cycle

    Seeing recent news on Apple slowing work on next OS versions to bug fix current OS. Even better, slow release cycle of everything. Do we really need new iPhones every 12 months? New OS every 12 months?

    We can recalibrate expectations for new stuff. Slow down. Shift priorities.

    Predictably Apple’s line-up of Macs continues to be confused and overly complex. I mean, jeesh, now we have M1, M2 and M3 Macs not to mention some of those are Pro, Max and Ultra. Just so confusing.

    Who needs all these choices? Ridiculous.

    I hope all the podcasters/pundits can make sense of this mess.

    A note: This post started as reply to Jason's excellent post about the iPad being his computer again. I decided to turn my reply into a blog post instead.

    In his post Jason focuses on three key attributes of the iPad that he feels are important: Simplicity, familiarity, and flexibility. Though I agree with those points I wanted to focus on flexibility as that's what I find most draws me to the iPad. In online discussion the iPad is often compared to laptops, usually Mac laptops. This makes sense given that a tablet is thought of as a mobile device. But as Jason points out, attach an iPad to an external display, keyboard, trackpad or mouse and it starts to feel like a desktop. Add a hub and a couple of attached drives for a more complete desktop replacement as needed.

    An iPad Pro floats above keyboard and trackpad on a lap desk. The iPad is held up by a configurable arm that is clamped to the back of the wood lap desk. Image taken is front of iPad so only the clamp is visible.

    For the past few days I've been using the iPad in the Twelve South HoverBar Duo clamped to my little wooden lap desk. Still very portable in my house but not in the way a laptop is. This wouldn't be a solution for a coffee shop, but in-house, it's excellent! I can sit at my desk with it or I can recline back in a chair or couch. The HoverBar Duo lets me raise, lower, swivel or move it closer or further away. Far more options than I'd get in a laptop configuration or even with the stand that I often use. Not only do I have more variability in position but it frees up more space for the keyboard/trackpad/mouse. Lastly, this is more stable than the iPad in a stand on the same lap desk. Back around 2004 Apple sold the G4 iMac which had the arm mounted screen. This feels like that only it's portable!

    An iPad Pro floats above keyboard and trackpad on a lap desk. The iPad is held up by a configurable arm that is clamped to the back of the wood lap desk. Image taken from the side showing the arm.

    I think this modularity of the tablet as a display that contains the computer and its own power source really speaks to the strength of the iPad. Agreed with Brandon that it is something different. It absolutely is. But I consider it a better laptop than a MacBook and a better desktop than a MacMini! Better? Yes, absolutely. Because in addition to the free-form modularity of the iPad, I also have a touch screen and built in internet. In other words, in terms of hardware, there is no doubt the iPad Pro is an equally powerful computer (given the existence of the M2 Pro, Max and Ultra processors this is only true to a point) but is also the more flexible option.

    Four years ago the argument that the Mac was the better, more complete computer was a stronger argument than it is today due to the limitations of iPadOS. But since then important features have been added to iPadOS. Full cursor support for trackpads and mice, a greatly improved Files app, additional windowing options with Stage Manager and, on M1 iPads, full external display support being the most notable.

    No, the iPad is still not a Mac and that's for the better. macOS will always be the more complex, higher-maintenance operating system from the user perspective. But with each year iPadOS becomes more capable while retaining ease of use options for those that prefer or need simplicity. In other words, just as the hardware is more flexible, so to is iPadOS becoming more flexible. Unlike macOS, iPadOS starts with the easy to use, simple tablet experience. But for users that want a more advanced computing experience, the options are there waiting to be turned on.

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