Lightening the Load

iPad Only.
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Me and my backpack and walker. Image by Joe Bustillos.

Me and my backpack and walker. Image by Joe Bustillos.

This past week when I went into the office I left the ranks of the computer-backpack downtrodden. Over a year ago, back when I was ill, I had to carry everything in a bag because I needed both hands to support myself with my walker. It was bad enough to have to use a bag just to carry a water bottle or anything, but going to the office was all the worse because I had to lug around all this heavy gear like some broken down pack mule. I experimented with a few things like using my Mac Mini at work and iPad for everything else, but they were just too slow and I had problems with things running different versions of the software I used, so I gave up. Then I got stronger and didn’t mind carrying the computer backpack as much.

As fate would have it I recently installed some software on the work laptop that made a bunch of stuff incompatible, so I needed to have the thing re-imaged and that made it run much better than it had in the past. That made me think that maybe I could forgo my former pack-mule existence and just carry about my iPad mini like I’d previously imagined. I spent some time making sure that I had all the software and documents I needed on the work laptop and the means to keep everything in sync. When I thought that I’d tested everything and made sure it all worked I went to work without any backpack of any kind. It was glorious. And thanks to my 5.11 Tactical Pant (cargo pants modeled after their military and law-enforcement brothers), everything I needed fit in my pockets. No giant backpack carrying all of my worldly possessions, cables, connectors, adapters and the like. Just my iPad mini, a small external-hard-drive (because I had some image collections I’d forgotten to load on the work laptop), a ziplock baggy with a few iOS connectors, a micro-fiber cloth & Olloclip iPhone camera adapter and my Pencil (an iPad stylus from Paper 53) all fit comfortably in my pants’ pockets.

I know that this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, “So you have a computer at home and a computer at work and you’ve got weird cargo pants to fit your tablet in”… but having carried a laptop to work and back everyday going back to when I first started teaching in the mid-90s… hell, I was carrying my personal laptop going back to my phone company days… so, I’m happy to think that I can give my poor back and shoulders a break and be able to get away with carrying my technology in my iPhone and my iPad-mini. First-world problem, I know, but it’s taken over a year to get here and I’m going to enjoy the freedom to have my hands-free and my back unencumbered.

Not Me. Toulouse, France by theritters, Some rights reserved (Attribution).

Not Me. Toulouse, France by theritters, Some rights reserved (Attribution).

Resources:

5.11 #74251 Men’s Cotton Tactical Pant

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens Solution for iPhone 5/5s – RED/Black

Walnut + Magnetic Snap Pencil. Made for Paper.

Graphite Pencil by FiftyThree

image: Toulouse, France by theritters, Some rights reserved (Attribution), http://www.flickr.com/photos/theritters/2681776959/

TWiT Pundits Poke Fun – Confused By Apple iPad Ad

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In his defense Chief-TWiT, Leo Laporte, calls himself a pundit, who comments on the news, and not really a journalist or tech journalist, who does the original research of the news stories. Ok, and Leo is going to go for the joke and poke fun, especially when chief-curmudgeon John C. Dvorak is a panelist on TWiT’s flagship show, This Week in Tech. Who doesn’t enjoy old guys creatively calling stuff crap? As a long time follower, going back to the ZDTV days, I’m getting a little tired of the shtick.

Both Dvorak and Laporte have very long histories with the big players in the tech scene, but as commentators I feel like there’s a little too much old history influencing them in a way that is creating a different kind of echo-chamber that Laporte attempted to distance TWiT from by getting out of Silicon Valley and having a strict division between editorial and news at TWiT. He said that he modeled his tech shows using the User-Groups model, going back to the old hobbyist days of the early PC desktop revolution of the 1980s, saying that he wanted to speak for the users and not the manufacturers. My sense is that as companies like Apple try to move to being more of an electronics consumer company, that it’s creating some problems for the guy who wants to represent the user but insists that users have to have access to “the metal” for the tech to be great. Really going to the original Macintosh, Apple does not hold to that design aesthetic.

So when Apple released this past weekend their latest aspirational, humans doing cool stuff with our products, ad, Laporte’s summation was that it was just a bunch of disjointed images and, for God’s sake, don’t take pictures with your damn giant iPad! Funny, given that his phone of choice, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, is nearly as big as an iPad… I guess it’s better to go for the funny, especially when Apple veers too close to being overly too sincere with their messaging.

Back to Doodling, Now on my iPad

Sketchy selfie by Joe Bustillos
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A few weeks ago I got a fancy stylus for my iPad, not-ironically called Pencil from 53, makers of the iPad app, Paper. It’s renewed interest in using the iPad as a sketch device. A bit later I reflected on some work news in “graphic” form… more or less…

Monitors Back o' My Head by Joe Bustillos

Monitors Back o’ My Head by Joe Bustillos

Resources:

Mini-Retina vs. Air & Other First World Problems

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I know that I’m not a normal tech user, well, in more ways than one. The fact that I’m so strongly concerned about which new iPad to buy should be proof enough that something is missing in my life. So, it’s all the more important that my compunction to wrestle these esoteric tech things should be used to the benefit of others who might also be wondering which iPad to get (or whether to get one at all).

I’ve had iPads since I got iPad version one in 2010 and have used the things to do almost everything, especially any quick activity like checking my email and Facebook, watching video podcasts and … um, any bathroom reading (I’m very militant about hand washing after using the bathroom, so germaphobes, get over yourself!). Anyway, with the latest iPads being almost identical in the hardware spec department, save the screen size & cost, deciding between the diminutive mini-retina and iPad Air isn’t turning out to be such a simple thing.

First part of making this decision was to figure out what I do with my current full-size iPad (3rd gen). Like I mentioned above, I do pretty much do everything on my iPad, including blogging and various types of content creation. When I drilled down I figured out that the line between using the iPad versus my macbook was whether the job required multiple screens. That is, if I need to have multiple windows opened, side-by-side, then I was probably going to resort to using my macbook. If the job could be done in a single window then I’m likely to use the iPad. So, current usage doesn’t point to a clear choice between which iPad model to select.

So the next consideration was what is it that I want to do with the next model that I don’t do or don’t do as much. When I thought about what I want to do more, my first thought was using the iPad as an e-reader more frequently. For a very brief moment last year I had an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and the difference in weight and lack of stress on the hand from holding the thing when compared to my full-size iPad was pretty obvious. Having a smaller device for reading is something that I’ve been wanting for some time. The thing is, I use my 3rd-gen iPad so much that I really have wondered how much stress I must be putting on my wrists and back because I sit there for a long time watching videos and not change positions nearly enough. It’s gotten to the point to where when I’m lying on my back I prop my Griffin Loop for iPad stand on my stomach and work from that position. It’s kind’a silly.

After briefly holding the new iPad Air during my recent visit to the Apple Store I’m not convinced that it’ll be light enough. Also, if I’m going to spend this much money there needs to be enough obvious difference to help justify the purchase. So, is there enough of a difference in the models, size-wise.

At the same time, when I think about what I want to do, I’ve mentioned several times that I’d really like to be able to work through my photography and do some of my triage and editing on my iPad. Having felt the need for the smaller more hand/wrist-friendly iPad mini/retina, I’m wondering if the reduced screen real estate will present a problem editing photos. Both devices have the same number of pixel, but I have no idea if the mini’s screen will just be too small for my aging eyes when it comes to doing photo-editing. The device will be more portable, but if it’s less useful then that’s a real problem. Granted, I love the iPhoto tools but I don’t love the fact that editing done on the iPad doesn’t sync without great effort to the macbook and tags/labels on the macbook don’t show up in iPhoto for iOS, so this concern about photo editing on the iPad is the most speculative item in my decision process.

The smart thing to do would be to wait until I can get my hands on an iPad mini retina to try to decide whether screen real estate would be an issue. Of course we all know how consistent I’ve been when it come to doing the smart thing related to my tech purchases. Ha!

iBooks Author & the Post-Website World

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I just finished taking an extensive tutorial on the Apple product iBooks Author and it really got me thinking about the post website world. What I mean is that Apple has been trying for decades to create the right combination of tools to enable their users to unleash their creativity on the world. Among other problems, the chief conduit of sharing this creativity has been a mode of communication that was primarily designed to make it possible for scholars to access each others’ papers. In other words, from its inception, the Internet has a narrow set of tools meant to share text or highly compressed versions of other media. It’s remarkable how much can be shared via such small pipes and such non-artist-friendly tools. Apple’s last tool, iWeb, attempted to bridge the kind of page-layout tools used for magazines and graphic design with the limitations of html and the Internet. But as easy as these tools were to use I think Apple discovered that everyone did want to take pictures and make videos, but no one wanted to go through the hassle of putting up a website to post their creative works. But what could not be controlled on the Internet was quite a different thing if one were to use tablets, specifically iPads, as the means of sharing… But, realistically, we’re still dealing with more hassle than most are willing to deal with. I don’t think Apple cares about that or is under any delusion that the vast majority of wanna-be photographers or videographers are going to rush to iBooks Author to share their works. I think that tools like iPhoto and iMovie and the iPhone and iPad will continue to serve the needs of folks who just want to whip out the pictures from the weekend trip or videos from the vacation and YouTube and Facebook will continue to be the easiest way to share one’s work with friends and family. But what happens when one wants to create something more than snapshots from the weekend or something more involved than a 90-second video of the baby dancing? I know this problem well.

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Onsong & GuitarTapp: iPad Apps for Guitar Players

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I have a bookshelf full of music books and binders of music that I’ve been gathering for some time. When I first got my iPad I realized that it was well past time to retire the binders and books. At first I just took songs that I’d already had stored on my computer, converted them to PDFs and dropped them into Evernote. That worked and was relatively easy but was not anywhere as powerful as using Onsong. Granted, my binder carrying friends would probably just be happy to have their whole collection conveniently available on the 1-1/2 pound electronic beastie. Onsong goes well beyond just the convenience of jettisoning the binders.

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