Kevin Kortum reached out on Twitter and solved the mystery of MiniVan keyboard programming in just three tweets. I just got done reprogramming the keyboard and it worked like a charm. Big thanks to him. (Now I just have to deal with the fact that I not only need a Mac for this, but that I am going to be messing around with this quite a lot.)
I’d probably love this keyboard more, if I knew where all the damned keys were.
When writing about the Pok3r, I left out a rather embarrassing thought I had running around my head which goes something like this: I should really find another keyboard, even smaller, that I can take with me on trips. Insane, I know, but they do make them. They are called 40% keyboards (or 45% or a variety of other names, which makes them hard to find) and they are kind of insane themselves.
They do not have a number row for starters, and they cram all sorts of other things away in modifier keys, but since they are all custom, you never know what is where until you memorize it all. Or you can reprogram the entire board, which means you learn your layout and not someone else’s.
Rob Rhyne on computing preference:
However, I’d take a Mac. Exactly the 11” MacBook Air, which I’m using to write this article.
Really good post, but someone get the man a real computer. I do think, that in a few years time, he’ll be on an iPad Pro and so will you.
Ok, let’s go down the rabbit hole that is Apple Pencil note taking apps.
For a couple of months there has been one post I have been putting off writing, this post, about drawing/writing/note apps for the iPad Pro. One of my key uses of the smaller 9.7″ iPad Pro is as a writing tablet during meetings/calls/research — using it as stand in for my trusty Baron Fig.
I’ve tried many, but certainly not all, of the apps which could fit the bill as a sheet of paper for my Apple Pencil. To answer the immediate question as to which is best, all I can say is that it very much depends on what you want and need to do with these apps. Instead let me share thoughts on the apps I currently have on my iPad Pro:
- Inkflow: this app has some of the more compelling screenshots in the App Store, but it falls short of them in practice. The UI is clean and simple, and the icon is solid. The choices of writing tools is minimal, but still useful. I love how quickly the app launches and is ready to go, how I can easily add pages to any of the “books” the app uses to organize things. There is also not a lot of pressure sensitivity in the app, which is good if you don’t want to pay much attention, but bad if you want things to look nice. I look at Inkflow the same as I do a Field Notes: it’s not the greatest, but it’s really handy and holds a lot of random shit. Inkflow stays on my home screen as a tool to capture the random things you might find in my Field Notes.
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It’s never as cut and dry as you assume it is.
Manton Reece on his new project:
I’m writing a book about independent microblogging, and launching a publishing platform called Micro.blog.
I’ve had a lot of chats with Manton, not only about this project, but our general philosophical agreements about many things privacy and “owning your own stuff” related. I backed this project, and in fact (as of this writing) it has nearly doubled its funding goal. Even so, I think you should back it if you can.
This is not another App.net fiasco. His service and the ideas behind it are 1000% better (well that’s not really possible, but it is better, a lot better). It’s the service I use to cross post from here to here.
That’s all fine and well for a writer, but not for a far more normal person.
I Can’t Use an iPad, But Thanks
Last week, I published this article on the overall state of desktop iPad usage. The best part about publishing articles like this is fielding the myriad of questions which inevitably hit my inbox — while I can’t get to them all, I do try to read them all. Here’s the most common email/DM/tweet response I got:
I do XYZ thing every day, and because of that it’s rather obvious I can’t use an iPad. I think iPads are amazing and I love to screw around on my iPad, but my Mac is essential. I wish I could use an iPad, but it’s just not an option for me/most people who aren’t writers.
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Apple is quietly getting very good at shipping very small computers that charge very rapidly, and thus can be unanchored ––unlike Google Home or Amazon Echo. Over time, as power and size requirements decrease, a direct internet connection might add value. But for now, Bluetooth allows a connection to your phone (which is still quite obviously and self-consciously a computer) and that’s enough.”
The rapid charging is, to me, the most amazing parts about both the Pencil and the AirPods. How can they last that long, but charge that fast?
After a year of iPad Pro usage, here’s some thoughts about using it as a desktop machine.
As I write this, it is a frigid Saturday morning, the type of morning where you just don’t want to think about going outside but you also kind of do want to go outside just to feel the piercing cold on your lungs. It has been over a year of full time iPad usage for me, and in that year I have had my iPad in a plethora of configurations. From the simple Smart Keyboard Cover to nearly duct taping it to the wall. What I have come to realize over this past year, is how portable and manageable the iPad as a desktop machine is.
A bit of cleverness, not new technology:
“Now when people in Egypt or the United Arab Emirates send a Signal message, it’ll look identical to something like a Google search,” Marlinspike says. “The idea is that using Signal will look like using Google; if you want to block Signal you’ll have to block Google.”
This is so fucking clever. Love it.
Morning routines and iPads, focusing on syncing for 2017, and Bears.
App News Reading
A couple of months ago we moved into a new house, different location, different style, but more importantly for the purposes of this post: bigger, and two stories. Our old house was all one story and thus we couldn’t ever spread out very far from each other. In the new house, we can, and we do.
Practically speaking I knew this would be different, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have on my morning routine. That took over a month to settle in to something new, and now that I have — more than ever — it has become apparent to me how little I use my iPads in the morning.
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One of the best iPad stands money can buy.
(Note: I received these items in exchange for a review. And all photography is courteous of Erin Brooks.)
I’ve been on quite a kick looking for the perfect iPad stand. I’ve had my woes with a great many stands so far, so when Yohann reached out to me asking to send over stands for my iPad Pro. I gladly accepted and they quickly sent me a 12.9″ stand and 9.7″ stand.
This is a rather unique stand in that it is one piece of wood which offers three positions for the iPad. A near vertical position, and desk angle, and a looking down at the iPad angle. It also weighs only what the wood itself weighs. From looking at the stand it is hard to believe the claims listed on the site, but I can tell you it lives up to all of its promises.
After a week of heavy use, the Canopy has found a permanent place in my writing kit. I won’t use it every day – many days, the Smart Keyboard will be enough – but when I’m doing a lot of writing, I’m going to carry the Canopy.
This really is a lovely product. I prodded the Studio Neat guys on Twitter to make a version to house the Pok3r keyboard. because if they did that I would be in heaven.
Even without that, I still am really considering buying this because I think it would make a killer travel setup if I can’t figure out a good way to travel with a mechanical keyboard.
I also discovered something interesting about Google’s much vaunted strength in services: sometimes it’s no better than Apple’s.
I love this comment so much because I think it so succinctly shines a light on something that drives me nuts: often the people complaining about Apple stuff has no real basis for comparison. Sure they read reviews and hear anecdotes, but very rarely do these people try to live on the other non-Apple things.
Like the group bullshitting that they are going to switch to the Surface Studio — without even realizing that that means Windows 10, and that means moving to a mobile processor. No, they just saw something shiny and were pissed Apple didn’t do that.
So Vinh’s post serves as a nice reminder to maybe check out the competition before you threaten to move to the competition.
Portrait typing, and someone saves the day with the emoji keyboard trick.
Using the iPad Pro in Portrait
If you take a moment to think back to the first iPad, you might remember Apple shipping a keyboard stand accessory for it. Macworld has an entire article about it, but the important part was that the stand only held the iPad in portrait orientation. I think that broke a lot of people’s minds at the time, mine included.
Many people speculated of iPads with dock connectors on both portrait and landscape — seems like such stupid speculation now, but at the time a lot of people would have put money on that happening. With the iPad Pro and the Smart Keyboard Cover, Apple changed things: making an iPad keyboard which only works in landscape.
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What is Apple going to do with the headphone jack on iPads?
The iPhone 7 dropped the headphone jack completely, moving on to being a Lightning port based device for headphones and all other things (except Bluetooth, which is still a thing). The new MacBook Pros with Touchbars came out, and even as they dropped every other port for USB-C, Apple kept around the headphone jack, as it is something they felt which could not be handled by the other new ports.
All of this makes me wonder what will happen in the next iteration of iPad models. Will the headphone jack stay, or will it go?