Siri is also better than your assistant in a lot of ways.

After being in our new house for just over a week, I was getting around to unpacking my office (only the garage left to do) and as I opened box after box, more wires sprung up. I shook my head and kept piling them away in more areas of the new office. 
Fast forward to the other morning and I’m reading an article from The Wirecutter posted on The New York Times — a guide to cutting the cord from Cable TV. Another thing I have been working with since moving — for the first time we are going to have two TV areas in the house, should I get two cable boxes? Do I need two cable boxes?

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The Value of a Smaller iPad Pro

How the iPad 9.7″ form factor is still the best all around size.

The other day I was talking to a good friend about how much we both still love the 12.9″ iPad Pro — we use it a lot for work and leisure. We then talked about the smaller 9.7″ and we took some pot shots at it, but now I feel bad — because I undervalue how much a part of my workflow the 9.7″ iPad Pro has become.

When I purchased the smaller iPad Pro I envisioned using it as an auxiliary device — much in the same way I envisioned using the iPad mini. The iPad mini has never fit in well with my life, and with a larger plus model iPhone — it’s even more redundant. But I use the crap out of my 9.7″ iPad Pro, just as I do with my 12.9″ iPad — both end most days with their batteries nearing depletion.

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The Nock Lanier – Initial Thoughts

Purpose built, certainly. It might be one hell of an iPad Pro bag.

Editor’s note: This product was provided to me at no cost for review purposes.

Nock is best known as a company serious about their writing implements — so serious that they create niche carrying cases for writing implements, as well as high quality notebooks. It’s been a while since I wrote about them last, and part of this needs to be addressed up front, because Nock is almost the antithesis of my approach to working.

I work hard to digitize my life onto my iPads, and Nock works to maintain the tradition of handwritten excellence. Two approaches to the same problems. The last time around I hacked a Nock case to hold my wires and stuff, but now Nock is taking aim at something I know all too much about: bags.

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iOS 10 is A Major Shift for iOS

Oh hey, left hand, nice to see what the hell you are up to finally.

For years the Apple mantra was always “just works” and as Apple became more entrenched with their just cause of protecting user privacy — Google went the opposite way. Deep machine learning pushed Android to be preemptive and understanding — Google Now being the primary focus, but certainly not the only place this happens. Back on iOS we have always been siloed where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, unless you explicitly tell each hand what the hell is going on. A task as tedious as it is to read about.

And while I typically don’t write iOS reviews, iOS 10 is Apple’s first step into the future of software which customizes itself to the user — and they figured out how to do this without compromising your privacy. People have been hesitant to embrace iOS as their only platform, but iOS 10 is what is going to push a great many people over the edge.

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Apple of the Future

Apple is sneaking in some future changing features and products.

Over the weekend a few others have expressed similar thoughts, but let’s face the fact that this stuff is likely bigger than most of us realized when Apple made its announcements.

Here’s Will Oremus on the matter:

The AirPods can’t store files or access the internet on their own, of course. They need your other Apple devices for that. But as processors continue to shrink, they’re likely to grow more independent with time, as the Apple Watch is beginning to do.


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Just Glass

That thing where the cursor randomly moves to another spot and you feel your text collapsing around you.

I started a new experiment the other day, born out of a few comments from readers. They all remarked how much better it is to edit writing with the software keyboard, over a physical one on the iPad. Which is funny because I was actually thinking about working on setting up a mechanical keyboard again, but realized I packed them away (getting ready to hopefully move).

So I tore off my Smart Keyboards and stowed them in a drawer and committed to using the software keyboard for a week. I expected long fits of rage, but what I’ve found is that I quite like it.

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So This Thing About Files on iOS

All these people complaining about iPads seem to not know how iOS actually works.

There is a very frustrating notion circling — the idea that managing files, or sharing files between apps, is hard on iOS. I’ve read three posts of late about them, each I will omit for varying reasons. The fact of the matter is that managing files on iOS is not hard — it is tricky and requires a modicum of brain power at times — but hard it is not.

In general the complaints are two fold:

  1. Sharing files between apps is difficult.
  2. Opening certain types of files is so cumbersome that many users will think it is not possible.

I’ve been using iOS full time for long enough now, I actually wondered if it is me who is out of touch with the level of difficulty, so I took this as a problem to investigate.

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Fastmail, end of an era

Apple really neglects the hell out of macOS server.

When I started this site, my email was hosted on Google Apps, then I moved to Media Temple, and from there my emails have been hosted on whatever server my website was hosted on. This was never an issue for me, and I always wondered why people hated hosting email themselves, because it’s taken me 6 years to come to a breaking point. I was pumped to finally move to a Mac mini server so I could host all my email on a Mac using Mac tools. That was quite some time ago, and it’s been chugging along ever since. Sure, it goes down when I screw up the server, but thats part of the fun.

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We have a new king of undershirts, kind of.

Editor’s note: these shirts were sent to me at no cost for the purposes of reviewing.

It’s been a while since I reviewed undershirts — the regular ones, not fancy merino undershirts — but I received some NVSBL undershirts to test and then I took my damn sweet time testing them. There’s two types of people who wear undershirts: those who want their undershirt to be seen and those who don’t want it to be seen. I don’t understand the former group — but the latter group is doing it right.

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Autonomous SmartDesk

I cannot believe how cheap and how good this desk is.

When I last wrote about sit-stand electric desks, I took a look at the Jarvis desk — at the time one of the cheapest desks you could get, while still getting a very quality product. I left that desk behind when I changed careers, and went without an electric desk for quite some time.

In the intervening time period there has been no shortage of new options that came to the market — all of which seem to be competing on one thing: price.

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This Should Be A Lot Easier Than it is

When every solution is just a good demo and not a good tool.

My wife and I wanted to buy a new couch — the problem we ran into though was the new couch is huge. I typically can see how and where things fit very easily in my head, but this one needed some more planning because even I wasn’t sure.

This seemed like the most natural use for an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil if I had ever heard of one. In the past I used various CAD programs on my Mac, or often Adobe Illustrator to help me figure it out. This time I downloaded a ton of apps to try and see what I could do to plan out this room.

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Outlier Quadzip Review

I thought I wanted a smaller daily bag, turns out, I just wanted a lighter daily bag.

Last year Outlier released the “Ultrahigh Backpack”, which is a Dyneema (a.k.a. Cuben Fiber) rolltop style backpack. It looks tremendous. The size is comparable to the smaller GR1, and the price is $350. It remains a drool worthy backpack, however the rolltop style of the bag always made me hesitate the many times my finger hovered over the buy button. I just wasn’t sold that it was the style of backpack I would find useful.

This year, in addition to updating the Rolltop backpack design, Outlier introduced the Ultrahigh Quadzip Backpack. Taking the same design cues from the roll top, still making it out of the same fabric, but this time allowing the bag to be fully unzipped with a quad zipper design (more on that in a bit). At $298 I still hesitated to buy it, but given the bag purge I was already committed to, and my general dissatisfaction in my daily carry backpack situation, I went ahead and bought the bag.

This is a stunning backpack.

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Ulysses 2.6

The best keeps getting better, on its way to perfection.

This release, of the best writing software money can buy, is a bit of a dream release for me. It adds two spectacular features:

  1. Typewriter Mode
  2. Complete WordPress publishing

It’s no secret that I love, and use, Ulysses all day long — nor is it a secret that I publish with WordPress and only use iOS. This storm of factors means that I have a very specific set of requirements to make a dream writing app, and The Soulmen (the company behind Ulysses) asked me what I still yearned for in their app. The above features were at the top of my very short list.

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Travel Light: Outlier Futureworks

These are the only pants I want to wear.

After I last posted about travel pants, I had a pretty comfortable routine for my life: Icebreakers were my day-to-day pants, and the Bluffworks and Ministry of Supply pants were what I wore if I wanted to dress up a bit more. Sitting at the top of my “to test” list were the Outlier Futureworks. Aside from having a great name, they had a compelling promise:

These are the ones to take around the world. Classic looks meet technical movement in a lightweight yet durable pant.

At $140 they are more money than many other options you can buy, but they are the most inexpensive pants Outlier sells. I picked up a pair of them shortly after my last post on pants, and have been testing them nonstop ever since. I chose dark navy, as the color is versatile for both work and leisure.

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The New Desktop Linux

Ok, here we go. Cracks Knuckles

Watts Martin has penned an interesting take on people, like me, who are using iOS as their primary computer. I was reluctant to read this, since I respect Martin a great deal, but I think his post is a common sentiment of the anti-iOS-is-better-at-all-the-things crowd. I do think there is confusion here, though.

A common statement by iOS is amazing people: “Some things are a little harder or slower, but it’s fun figuring that out.”

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State of Desktop iPadding

I’ve used more duct tape in the past few months, than I have in the past few years.

The launch of the Razer Mechanical keyboard brings about what will likely be among the first of many accessories which are seeking to make the iPad a better desktop computer — something that is likely to seem comical for many. The validity of using the iPad as a desktop computer notwithstanding, as a full time iPad Pro user I am finding the ways you can use the iPad on a desk to be challenging to say the least.

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