I’ve been avoiding Google search for a few years, using Duck Duck Go instead. Tried Bing but the website is yuck. Safari provides Yahoo as a choice for built in search. I thought, why not?
Only been a couple days but I am really impressed. Way better than expected and my new default.
Love Notes to Newton is a film about what a beloved (but short-lived) pen-based Personal Digital Assistant created by Apple Computer has meant for the people who used it, and the community who adore it.
I never used a Newton but as someone who loves the iPad I really enjoyed this documentary. And have a better sense of the lineage of the iPad as a result. And so much fun to see nerds nerding out about things they love.
I began using FileMaker around 2001. I developed a handful of databases for clients but in recent years I've just been using it for my invoicing system and for personal projects. This past fall it occurred to me that it might be time to move on. I was thinking in terms of future updates, cost, simplicity and easier access to data from multiple devices. So I started looking around at possible small database apps as well as the possibility of using Apple's Numbers app.
I've been a long-time user of Apple's iWork apps and honestly, I love them. Pages is the one I've used the most but I've also spent a good bit of time in Numbers and have really enjoyed using it. Could Numbers replace FileMaker for my invoicing? It's not something I'd ever considered as FileMaker is ideally suited to this purpose and my FileMaker invoicing is a database I've been using and evolving for over a 15 years. It's perfect for me and works well on my iPad with FileMaker Go. Why in the world would I ever switch to Numbers? It's not really the best app for this kind of task.
FileMaker, while a fantastic app, is really more than I need. It's expensive (for what I do with it) and new versions of the desktop development versions as well as mobile versions are released fairly often. But I don't actively work on FileMaker projects for clients these days and my only use in-house use is invoicing. And while my slightly out-of-date versions of the mobile and Mac apps get the job done I don't know when they won't be supported on my devices in the future. Even now, I've recently switched to the M1 Mac Mini and I'm not sure the version I have will run natively. I haven't even installed it on the new Mac. I have not opened it on the 2012 Mac Mini in a year or so. On the iPad, where I use it the most, I'm at least one version behind. Various reviews of the most recent version of FileMaker Go for iPad indicate that it's buggy so I'm not interested in updating.
Not only is there the cost factor, there's also the simple fact that I don't need the growing power and complexity of FileMaker. My invoicing needs are fairly minimal and in recent years it's largely remained the same with the exception of a few visual design changes I made a couple of years ago. With FileMaker, a database, especially a multi-table database, can begin to feel like an app in and of itself. Thanks to the power and flexibility of FileMaker, it really is an app to develop systems that begin to resemble applications themselves with a multitude of layouts and interfaces.
I briefly considered a few database options such as Airtable and Tap Forms but decided to try Numbers first. My reasoning was that Numbers likely has a stable development future and comes free with every Apple device. It's an app I'm familiar with and, though a spreadsheet application rather than a database app, I expected it would be enough for my needs.
Simplicity in use is another aspect of what I was considering in this move. With a switch to Numbers I am getting seamless sync between devices. With FileMaker I was using FileMaker Go on the iPad most of the time and just copying that over to the Mac as a back-up or to make changes to the design of the database where the Mac is a requirement. iCloud makes copying unnecessary and all changes can be done on the iPad, Mac or iPhone for that matter.
So, with the intent of exploring Numbers as an alternative to FMP for invoicing I began to tinker. My first effort resulted in a sort of dashboard file with two tables. One table was to record line items date, client, description and time worked. The second sheet would be an overview of invoices with totals and paid status. Then, each client would then get their own, separate Numbers file, each new invoice would just be a new sheet with the date for that invoice. So, I'd have an Invoices folder with Invoice Dashboard.numbers and then ClientName.numbers for each clients invoices. When it was time to send an invoice I'd do a quick filter for client name to get all of the unpaid time slips for that client, copy the rows then paste into a duplicated invoice sheet for that client. One benefit to this would be that if, at any point, I wanted to have a quick view of a particular client's invoices they would all be accessible in that one file, organized by date in individual sheets.
I think the above method would have worked fine but before I could really test it I came across a macmost.com tutorial on creating a single file numbers invoice and that seemed a better way to go. I downloaded the sample file and began making a few customizations. I concluded this method would be a better solution. It consists of three sheets, each with it's own table. The first sheet is for adding clients and their contact info. The second is for line items/consultations, I just add the client ID then the date, description, rate time. The third sheet is the invoice. After watching the video a couple times I think I have a pretty good idea about how some of the more complex features work and I see the logic of setting it up this way. With this method the "Invoice" sheet is an invoice template that uses the Lookup function and present the data for the client ID number provided. All of the associated/related line items for that client that are not marked with a paid date will appear in the invoice. Then I just export the invoice as a pdf to email. Once an invoice is paid the date is added to the paid cell for each of the line items in that sheet.
After four months of use I think this will work well as a long-term replacement for FileMaker.
As a follow-up, part two of this story, a couple of months after I transitioned to this new system, one of my website/design clients asked me for advice on setting up a system for tracking/creating invoices and various other bits of data for his retreat which provides courses, lodging, etc. I'd just assumed he had a proper system in place as he's been running his business for 20ish years. No, not so much. He's gotten by with a patchwork reservation/invoicing system but concluded that it was more work than it needed to be. We went over the various options and I explained my recent transition from FileMaker to Numbers.
Within a day or two I further modified my invoice system with new features and sheets to cover his more complicated needs. What I've learned is that Numbers is far more capable than I ever realized. Over several years of casual use I'd gotten a lot out of it but I knew I was just scratching the surface of what could be done with this app and now I've gotten yet another glimpse of what's possible.
Obviously, Numbers is not FileMaker Pro, it's not a relational database and there are limits. But I find it is very enjoyable to use, fairly easy to learn as I go
August 6 marked 30 years since the first website. Benj Edwards at How-To Geek has an excellent story about the origin. It began with Tim Berners-Lee of CERN posting to the alt.hypertext newsgroup to invite people to visit his World Wide Web project on August 6, 1991:
In 1989, a British software developer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (commonly abbreviated “CERN”) named Tim Berners-Lee grew frustrated with how scientists shared research at his organization. With many different file formats, programming languages, and computer platforms, he found it frustrating and inefficient to locate electronic records and figure out how they should be used.
To solve this, Berners-Lee envisioned a network system using hypertext that would allow computers of different kinds to effortlessly share information over a computer network. That invention, first documented in 1989, became the World Wide Web, or WWW for short.
In 1991 I was going into my last year of college. I wouldn’t know about the www until 1996. That said, I was on the internet in 1993 using a service called eco.net which provided email and a few other online text-based services. But after a year of using that for school I discontinued the service. Then it would be two years before I started hearing of Netscape and websites. In 1998 I built my first website, hand-coded and uploaded via Fetch, around the time the young www had begun it’s first growth spurt with web-hosting services like Yahoo’s GeoCities.
My favorite keyboard in recent memory has been the Logitech K811. I bought it reconditioned from Amazon seven years ago. It’s no longer manufactured and mine is beginning to fail. It no longer pairs reliably and at least one key has stopped working. I’ve got at least one other similar Logitech keyboard that can be used but I often have issues with it and the iPad Pro. I’m not sure why. It seems to cause conflict with the Apple Trackpad which I like to use if I’m using the iPad with a separate keyboard and a second display.
So, I decided I’d look for a new keyboard that could connect via Bluetooth and usb as well. And, while I was at it thought I’d finally take a look at mechanical keyboards. I type a lot and have heard lots of good things about mechanical keyboards. This past summer my nephew had one so I had a chance to give it a go and it was very nice. After looking at the less expensive options I settled on the Keychron K2. It seemed reasonable at around $80 and has great reviews. It arrived a few days ago and boy-howdy is this a nice typing experience!
First, I like the fact that it is Mac/iOS first. They include extra key caps for switching out 3 or so keys of you prefer the Windows specific symbols. As I’m running the iPadOS 15 beta which now makes great use of the globe key I’ve got the caps lock re-mapped to the globe key. It’s superficial but I wish that key had a globe icon. Yeah, that’s silly but whatever.
I plugged the keyboard into the iPad with the included and very nice braided USB cable and away we went. I’ve also paired it with the Mac via Bluetooth. I’ll pair it with the iPad Pro as well but with the iPadOS beta Bluetooth is currently somewhat buggy so I’ll wait till that get’s fixed.
I ordered the keyboard with the brown switches from Amazon but was sent the blue switches which are, as I understand it, the loudest of the three options. It’s not a problem as I live and work alone and they’re not that much louder. Many of the reviews mentioned that the keyboard, being quite tall, is best used with a wrist pad. I have lots of scrap wood boards that I save for projects and found a piece of cedar that was the perfect width and height to match the keyboard. I gave it a light sanding and it’s perfect. Actually, adding this a few days later, I went with a piece of wood that was both deeper, wider and taller than the keyboard. The larger and taller plank provides a platform for my entire forearms rather than just my wrist and hand. I’ve got it covered with some soft flannel and it’s very comfortable. I’m still experimenting with the best position for the trackpad.
The two things that come to mind when describing the typing experience on the K2 is that it is comfortable and efficient. By comparison, the last keyboard of this type (large, deep keys) was the keyboard that came with the iMac G5 from 2006ish. I still have that keyboard as my usb back-up for the occasional Bluetooth issue. But it’s horrible to type on as it really requires effort. There’s nothing enjoyable about the key action.
Another, more relevant comparison, would be my various recent Logitech keyboards that are much thinner and much more similar to Apple’s scissor switch keyboards used on the Magic Keyboards. Which is to say, fairly quiet to type on and with shallow key action somewhere between bouncy and mushy but not too clicky. They’ve always worked well for me. With the K2 each key press results in a fairly satisfying click and a clicky sensation to match the sound. Not at all hard to depress and with a firm bounce back. I suspect that once I’ve gotten used to this keyboard, perhaps another day or so, my typing speed will be back up to the norm with no problem. (Edit a week after initial writing to add that yes, I did get used to it and it’s even better a week later!)
The only thing I’m not quite used to yet is the slightly different positioning of the arrow keys in the bottom right corner. They’re only off a bit to the right with a somewhat smaller shift key but it’s been enough to confuse my fingers a bit. I don’t doubt that I’ll get used to it.
An excellent article from Wired on switching to DuckDuckGo from Google.
Once you realize most things you search for online are boring and obvious, you realize you don't really need Google in your life.
It’s super easy on iOS to change the default. Settings>Safari. It’s near the top.
I switched a couple years ago. I still have a Google account but have moved all my email to iCloud. Keeping the account for the moment because I’ve got a few shared movies on YouTube and for occasional need to access Google Drive.
[caption id=“attachment_462” align=“aligncenter” width=“4032”] My Color Classic and iPad Pro as imaged by an iPhone 7+.[/caption]
So techie and web publisher Joshua Topolsky recently went on a very emotional, not too rational, Twitter tirade regarding the iPad Pro. Just a tiny example:
Couple of tweets about the new iPad and iOS 11. It is inferior toa laptop in almost every way, unless you like to draw.This whole “can an iPad replace your laptop” discussion is really silly. We live in a world of many devices that come in many forms. They are complimentary. Back in 1993 I bought my first computer, a Mac Color Classic. That was my only computer until 1997. It was a desktop. I used it for school and for email. In 1998 I wanted a computer that would run Netscape. That’s right, my $2,500 desktop would not even run a web browser. So I purchased a Mac Performa 6400! That’s the machine I used to build my first website. And then another and another. It’s also the machine I used to begin dabbling in “desktop publishing”. Then a Lime iMac a couple years later. Then 1st gen blue iBook. And so on. But at any given time I owned and used one computer. Then the iPod came in 2001 and now I had another computer though I didn’t think of it as a computer. At some point around 2005 I found myself with both a laptop (PowerBook 12") and a desktop (iMac G5) and I wasn’t very clear at the time which one I wanted to use on any given day. I could share files between them but it was an awkward sort of back and forth. I also used a video camera and a still camera and a cheap mobile phone. Lots of wires for charging and transferring data.
If you think you can replace you laptop with this setup: youcannot. Imagine a computer, but everything works worse thanyou expect. […]
But this doesn’t COME CLOSE to replacing your laptop, even forsimple things you do, like email. AND one other thing. Apple’skeyboard cover is a fucking atrocity. A terrible piece ofhardware. Awkward to use, poor as a cover. Okay in a pinch if youneed something LIKE a keyboard.
Skip forward to 2010 and I was using a Mac Mini for a media player, a 2009 MacBook Pro for my work, and a 1st gen iPad for email and web browsing. No iPhone yet, just a cheap mobile. Also, separate still and video cameras. Transfer between devices still awkward. Each device with a pretty well defined purpose.
It’s now 2017 and my workflow has completely changed. I am surrounded by devices that communicate with one another flawlessly. Sometimes locally, other times via iCloud or Dropbox. The iPhone replaced the iPod, mobile phone as well as the still and video cameras. A newer Mac Mini serves primarily as a media server but also now does duty an occasional work machine for InDesign projects. I watch movies and listen to music via an AppleTV. I also watch movies and listen to music via the iPad and iPhone. I have wireless AirPods that switch between all of my devices with just a single tap or click. I have Smart plugs that I control via Siri and the network to turn devices on or off. By this time next year I expect to have a HomePod which will be yet another computer in this ecosystem.
Another aspect of this is the fundamental truth that most of what we do on a daily basis relies on the internet, on countless computers around the globe. The music I’m streaming through my iPhone to my AirPods comes from an Apple server I don’t really think about. Same for my email. Same for the web page I’m browsing. The screen in front of me might be the most intimate, the most directly interacted with, but it is just one of countless computers I rely on in the interconnected reality of 2017.
In 1993 I used my “desktop” Mac to do a very tiny number of jobs. But in form factor it was indeed a desktop computer. With each new iteration my computer changed in form factor, flexibility, power, and, as a result, the number of jobs I could do with it expanded. My first Mac did not include a modem, the second had both a modem and Ethernet. The third was the first to include wireless network access. But none of them could be an everyday still or video camera, that wouldn’t come till later.
By comparison, my iPad today seems limitless in power. It is a lightweight, impossibly thin computer that can be used in too many ways for me to count. I can input data with my finger, a keyboard, a stylus, or my voice. I can hold it with a keyboard or without. I can lay flat on my back and use it in bed. I can use it while walking. I can speak to it to request a weather forecast or to control devices in my home. In the near future I’ll be able to point it at a window or object in my environment to use the camera to get a precise measurement of the dimensions of the object. The same might be said of the iPhone.
We’ve reached a point where it’s probably best to just acknowledge that incredibly powerful computers now come in a variety of forms and that they perform a limitless list of jobs for us and that which tool we use at any given moment is likely to become a less interesting topic. Just use what works best for you in any given situation. There’s really no reason to draw lines in the sand, no reason to argue. Such arguments will become less interesting as time goes on.
A few others have been making similar points. My favorite was by Matt Gemmell. If you’re interested in this sort of thing his whole post is worth a read.
There’s no such thing as a laptop replacement, and if there were, the iPad isn’t meant to be one.John Gruber at Daring Fireball:
The term usually crops up in the context of the iPad not being whatever it is the author is looking for… and no wonder. The phrase itself is strange, like you’re consciously considering replacing your laptop (implicitly with something else, otherwise you’d just upgrade to a newer laptop, surely), are assessing the iPad as a candidate, and you find that it is indeed an entirely different thing… but that’s somehow a deal breaker. So you want to potentially not use a laptop anymore, but you also want a computer that does all the same things as a laptop, in pretty much the same way. In which case, I think the computer you’re looking for is a laptop.
But people like me and Topolsky — and millions of others — are the reason why Apple continues to work on MacOS and make new MacBook hardware. I can say without hesitation that the iPad Pro is not the work device for me. I can also say without hesitation that the iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard is the work device for millions of other people.Rene Ritchie, writing for iMore, Giving iPad fire to mere mortals: On myopia and elitism in computing:
A MacBook is better in some ways; an iPad is better in others. For some of us, our personal preferences fall strongly in one direction or the other. “Imagine a computer, but everything works worse than you expect” is no more fair as criticism of the iPad than a statement like “Imagine an iPad but everything is more complicated and there’s always a jumble of dozens of overlapping windows cluttering the screen” would be as criticism of the Mac.
For a long time computing only addressed the needs of a very few. Now, thanks to iPad and products that have followed its lead, computing is open to almost everyone with almost any need. It's nothing short of a revolution.And, not a response but a great post by Fraser Speirs from nearly two years ago is worth a read as it turns the whole argument about the iPad being a laptop replacement on it’s head:
People who were, for their whole lives, made to feel stupid and excluded by older computing technology and some of its advocates now have something that’s approachable, accessible, and empowering. From toddlers to nonagenarians to every age in between, and for every profession imaginable.
What Apple and iPad have done to bring computing to the mainstream is not only laudable, it’s critical. And it’s nothing short of amazing.
There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the MacBook Pro and, in particular, whether it can replace an iPad Pro for getting real work done.
Firstly, consider the hardware. The huge issue with the MacBook Pro is its form factor. The fact that the keyboard and screen are limited to being held in an L-shaped configuration seriously limits its flexibility. It is basically impossible to use a MacBook pro while standing up and downright dangerous to use when walking around. Your computing is limited to times when you are able to find somewhere to sit down.
Well, well, well. The 2017 WWDC has come and gone and much that iPad users hoped for has been announced. As far as I’m concerned Apple hit it out of the park. If the features announced work as well as they look then I will be very happy and more productive. While no operating system is ever really finished with iOS 11 we see the most significant complaints about the iPad being addressed. Perhaps the two most significant of these were lack of a user accessible file system and the lack of drag and drop. Not only will iOS 11 have both of these but Apple has implemented each of them in ways that are fully featured and in some ways may well surpass the abilities of the Mac. I’m really looking forward to trying the new features. I’ve been getting along very well without them but I don’t doubt that they will come in handy for some tasks and workflows.
The new Files app looks pretty great. I use DropBox as my primary file system these days so having that integrated along iCloud and local documents will be great.
Drag and drop in iOS goes beyond what we have on a Mac because it’s multi-touch. On a Mac I can select multiple files on the desktop or in a folder and drag to a new location or a new mail message. With iOS 11 I can select multiple items from multiple folders and apps and drag and drop to multiple locations. Finger ninjas will be able to select an image from Safari, text from Safari, and the url of Safari all in one go and then drag to a destination or multiple destinations to drop them. This will require a bit of practice but I imagine it will be really powerful when mastered.
The new dock is going to be far more useful as it will now hold far more apps and will have added functionality with a contextual menu for recently used documents as well as the swiping up action to bring an app into a multi-tasking window. But what about adding an app to the multi-tasking that isn’t in the dock? Well, luckily, we will be able to use Spotlight for that. I’m already in the habit of opening all my apps from Spotlight so being able to drag one down from Spotlight to a multi-tasking window will be a welcome addition.
Paired apps in spaces will probably be very nice too though I’m curious about how it will work to have apps paired up and how easy it will be to change those pairings. I use split view a good bit and will likely use it even more with the 12.9" but I don’t necessarily have two apps that I consistently use together with the exception of the Podcast App which I use with Pages to do podcast transcripts for a couple of clients.
Notes is getting some nifty new features. Document scanning and inline notes/sketching look great. The new bits with Apple Pencil will come in handy I suspect. I don’t do a lot of work that requires mark-up or screenshots but on occasion it comes in handy.
There are so many other goodies coming for both iPad and iPhone. With iOS 11 it’s obvious that Apple has no plans to back-track on the iPad. The above notes are just the most obvious for those of us using iPads everyday. Any notion that the iPad is not a fully capable computer for most people should really be put to rest at this point. With the increasing power of the hardware and the deepening feature set of iOS the iPad is maturing into an incredible tool that is not only as capable as a notebook but one which surpasses that form factor in it’s flexibility.
I’d been waiting for the new 12.9" update so I ordered that, along with a Pencil and Smart Keyboard the minute the store came back online. I’m very excited to put the bigger screen to use. It will come in handy with the newly released Affinity Photo and will be even more useful when iOS 11 is released. The Smart Keyboard was not my first choice as it lacks iOS shortcuts I enjoy: volume, play/pause, Siri activation but the only other keyboard I was interested in and which I would have preferred was the Brydge but I’ve read far too many reports of those having poor build quality with people having to not only go through an exchange process because the out of the box keyboard was broke but of the replacements also being broke. Bummer. Hopefully the Smart Keyboard does the trick!
A great deal has been written in the past week about all of the WWDC news. Here’s just the tiniest sampling of links that caught my eye.
Harry McCracken, writing for Fast Company: With iOS 11, The iPad Will Make More Sense To A Huge Market: Skeptical PC Users
Jason Snell asks:Three big questions about Apple’s new iPad announcements
A more general overview is offered up by Steven Sinofsky: WWDC 2017 - Some Thoughts
Looks like Apple is pushing out some new iPad ads and they’re pretty fun. It’s become a common theme among the Apple nerds to suggest that Apple’s not been doing enough to tell the iPad story. I don’t disagree. Happy to see the new ads.
A few weeks ago Federico Viticci wrote a very nice article about his transition to the iPad as his primary computer: A Computer for Everything: One Year of iPad Pro – MacStories
"There's no doubt in mind now: the iPad Pro is the best computer I've ever owned not only because it's powerful, but because iOS apps unlock a different kind of productivity on the big screen. More than any other iPad before, the iPad Pro is the strongest argument in favor of iOS for as a primary computing platform."
"My first year with the iPad Pro has been a success. By embracing new ways to work and manage my time, I was able to optimize my workflow on a computer that can transform into a laptop, a book, a videogame console, and a focused writing machine. I've had fun working on the iPad Pro, but, more importantly, I've accomplished more thanks to the power of modern iOS apps. What I do on the iPad Pro today can't be done on a Mac."
Serenity Caldwell has also been using the iPad as a primary computer - mostly.
The potential of the iPad platform remains huge, but Apple has made great strides in realizing some of that potential, giving its users more control over the last twelve months. Thanks to third-party apps like Workflow, I've been able to recreate — and in some cases, better — daily work tasks.
There are more and more people doing this and along with the trend there is growing concern in the Mac-using community that the Mac might be on the way out. Maybe in the distant future. Maybe not. But if so I don't see it happening anytime soon. Jason Snell has a great video about the Mac as truck, tablet as car comparison that Jobs used several years back.
At this point in time it is a given that the iOS ecosystem will only become more powerful in terms of hardware and software. From iOS to new iPads to other as yet unreleased iOS devices, we don't know where this road will lead, but we can plainly see that the platform is increasingly capable of handling a greater variety of tasks and is often capable of things the Mac is not capable of. And with the recently introduced "Pro" branding it seems Apple intends for the iPad to become more people's primary computer. With iOS 10 many iPad fans were a bit disappointed with the lack of iPad specific features. If Apple truly intends the iPad to take a more prominent role they'll have to do better.
I've greatly enjoyed my increased time on the iPad in the past year and there's no doubt that it is now my preferred device. There's something about holding this impossibly thin and light pad of glass and metal that just feels right. It feels like the future. Maybe I've watched too much Star Trek? In any case, I suspect with each year more of my work will be iPad based and less will be on the Mac. It's safe to say that the Mac is now a secondary machine but truthfully, I'm still happy to have it around. I'm beginning to think of macOS the way I used to think of Mac OS 9, the "Classic" Mac OS. Not that the old system was ever as stable or as enjoyable to use as OS X but it held a special place (and still does) in my memory of Mac experience. OS X/macOS has been an incredible workhorse for 15 years and I've made my living using it. I've enjoyed every version beginning with the public beta all the way through to today.