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The First 24 Hours With iOS 7


As promised, I’m back with more on Apple’s latest iOS offering, a “little” update known as iOS 7. Things started off a bit rough yesterday as I tried to get iOS 7 to install and activate on my test iPhone 5 (CDMA) in order to get to know it better. I was able to install the beta but then could not activate the phone. The result was, effectively, a bricked device.

Fortunately, I was able to boot the iPhone into DFU mode and revert to iOS 6. I actually ended up doing this twice due to trying alternative install methods using iTunes. One, the usual wipe and restore and the other an upgrade to iOS 7 over an existing install of iOS 6. Neither of these resulted in the iPhone going all the way through the activation process.

What finally ended up working was a wipe and restore using Apple’s development tool for iOS (and OS X) called Xcode. Using Xcode I was able to wipe and restore iOS 7 to the device and then, this time, the activation completed and I had a working iPhone. This was after several hours and went on into the night.

Consequently, I haven’t had a lot of time to get into the intricacies of the new OS. However, I did have a chance to play with it a little bit and following are my thoughts so far.

First (and this is a big one), I’m not sure I like the new look. Sure, the skeuomorphic aspects of iOS 6 are pretty dated and probably needed to go. I won’t miss the leather-bound elegance of the Calendar app or the simulated wood grain of iBooks. I’m just not sure iOS 7 is going in the right direction either.

In its present form, I find the font and lines around elements too thin and the colors too similar to be very distinct. In my several hours of use I’ve found myself clicking on the wrong thing or trying to slide something to the left or right that can’t actually be slid. Plus, the contrast between UI elements seems much more muted as well. When everything is flat and looks similar with similar colors and little contrast, it’s difficult to tell which elements can be interacted with and which can’t.

I find this especially true when using the new keyboard. A key with a thin black line around it over a light grey background is harder to hit, at least for me, than a key with a heavier line against a darker background. Contrast is good and not something to be scared of. Of course, more contrast makes things look less flat. I get that.

I also get that I’m not a designer, but I have participated in the design of many projects and supervised designers of various kinds over the years. I also know what I like and what I think looks good. And I’m not sure this color scheme and lack of contrast is it. Although, maybe it’s because I’ve haven’t spent much time with the Yahoo Weather app.

Yes, I know, Jony Ive is a genius and I can clearly see what he was going for with iOS 7. You only need to look at the man himself and see what his wardrobe looks like to know he’s not a fan of contrast. He prefers uniformity and order. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But that doesn’t mean his taste is the right taste for everyone. Some people might prefer things to be different. I might be one of those people.

As this is a beta, and an early one, many things also don’t work as expected or seem unfinished. This is especially true with a few apps I use regularly, like Gmail, that haven’t gotten the memo about using the new keyboard. Consequently, when you need a keyboard in the Gmail app, the old one pops up.

This is actually one of the ways I know I don’t like the new keyboard very much. I still have occasion to use the old one and find it much easier to type on than the new one. I’m also not a fan of the seemingly arbitrary change from lines to dots to show cell network signal strength. I didn’t mind lines. What’s wrong with lines? They were used quite a few other places in the new UI, why not for signal strength?

I’m also not sure why I now can’t double click on the home button to get a list of running apps, press and hold on one of the icons to get it to vibrate and then press the “X” to quit it. I’ve had more than a few apps crash on me so far and the old way to get them to work again was to make them stop running and then launch them again. Now, it’s all different.

The way you do it now is to double click on the home button to get thumbnails of the running apps. Then, you swipe the thumbnail upwards to close an app you want to quit. I was able to do it but I also found myself bringing up the control center from the bottom of the screen several times too. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a rather convoluted “new” way to accomplish a previously simple task.

On a positive note, I do like the new static wallpapers and that cool 3D-looking effect when you move the iPhone around. Plus, the motion wallpapers are kinda nice too. I’m using one right now, in fact. I don’t know what effect they will have on battery life but so far, somewhat surprisingly, I’m getting pretty much the same battery life as when the iPhone had iOS 6 installed on it. Let’s hope that continues.

With any massive change, there’s bound to be bumps and rough edges. None of my issues with iOS 7, at least so far, are hugely annoying, would prevent me from continuing to use it or make me switch to Android. Although, I’m entertaining that thought for other reasons. But that’s a subject for a future article (or two).

I’m sure as iOS 7 matures, many of the things that bother me about it will be addressed and corrected. At least I hope so.

Once I’ve had more time with iOS 7 I’ll bring you another exciting round of observations. I’m also going to be installing the new version of OS X, code named Mavericks. More on that later too.

Steve Jobs and ‘One More Thing’

CC Apple Macworld

I had the good fortune to be at several MacWorld Keynote events over the years, including the one in 2007 where Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, so this video was a real treat for me. In it, the enterprising folks of YouTube’s Every Steve Jobs Video channel have compiled pretty much all of the times Steve Jobs had “one more thing” to share.

And his “one more thing” was usually pretty awesome. He would have been 58 this week. RIP Steve.


Still More Useful and Interesting Things


As life returns to normal (or at least my version of it) I realize it’s been several days since I last put some useful and interesting things up here.

So, with that in mind, here’s some more for you:

• Have trouble getting people to do what you want? Maybe this technique can help.

• For the screenwriting nerds out there, John August and his team have come up with a new version of the venerable Courier font, called Courier Prime, to use when writing your scripts. I’ve switched to it and it’s quite nice.

• If you have a girlfriend who would love this as a gift, marry her. If you already did, kudos to you and it makes a nice Valentine’s Day gift too.

• Here’s a complete collection of Mac OS X install disks. I think I still have all of mine too. Yep, Mac nerd right here.

• Have and iPad? Want to use said iPad in the kitchen or other place where it might get wet? You want one of these.

• I like talented people doing cool things, so I like this. Granted, I know Brian so I may be a bit biased. But still, it’s pretty cool. BTW, you should also read his book. It’s very funny.

• Last, but not least, Tom Witkin’s Poster app for iOS is for posting to a WordPress site and is very awesome. It’s become my new favorite and I now use it pretty much every day. Check it out.

Still More Useful and Interesting Things


Here we are again with another list of things I find useful and/or interesting. Yes, as you might have gathered by now, I’m going to be making this a somewhat regular thing.

Well, as regular as one can be when one has twenty or thirty things one has to do each and every day. When did I start referring to myself as “one”? I really can’t say, but I’ll stop now.

Moving along, here’s some more useful and interesting things I find, well, useful and/or interesting. Enjoy.

Mailbox for iOS looks really cool and I’ve already signed up to be part of it. I’m always looking for newer and better ways to manage email on the go. This could finally be “the one.”

• A guy made a movie at Disneyland and Disney didn’t even know about it. It’s called Escape from Tomorrow and it looks really cool and weird. I would love to see the whole thing, but probably never will. I blame the lawyers. Again.

• I’m considering a new vehicle purchase and to help me decide on what to get, there’s a website about various vehicles and their respective fuel economies, courtesy of the U.S. government. You can even compare hybrid versus non-hybrid to see if it makes sense to spend the extra money. Hint: it sorta does, if you plan on keeping the vehicle for longer than 5 years.

• Technology has come a long way in the last 18 years, but we’ve also got a lot of the same problems we did back then. For proof (and some fun nostalgia) check out the trailer for the cutting edge movie The Net.

Oh, in case you forgot, someone at the USA network must have liked The Net enough to make a TV series out of it. Remember those amazing 22 episodes from 1998? Yeah, neither do I.


A New iPad Writing Update


As previously mentioned, I’ve been trying to write with the iPad as much as possible instead of using the MacBook Air or any other OS X-powered Mac. After a couple weeks of doing this, I’ve got some thoughts to share.

First, and this should not come as a surprise, I love almost everything about the iPad as a device. It’s extremely portable and has amazing battery life, even when used for several hours of work and pretty much continuous syncing of Dropbox via Verizon’s 4G LTE. I can only imagine the portability and battery life are going to get better and better as we see newer versions of the iPad.

As a device used for content consumption, the iPad also excels. If you want to watch a movie or TV program via Netflix or iTunes, the iPad is your best choice. The screen is excellent and the afformetioned battery life can get you though several programs during a long plane ride to Hawaii, or wherever you’re going. It also features an impressive collection of apps devoted to bringing you content.

On that note, the iPad is excellent for reading books via the Kindle or iBooks app or comics using an app like Comixology. I also enjoy checking out news, Twitter, Facebook and my Instagram feed using an app like Flipboard. These kinds of content consumption, and the quality experience they provide, are all pretty much a given.

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More On the iPad as a Writing Tool


It seems I can’t stop using the iPad now that I’ve realized its true potential as a writing tool. I’m using it for all sorts of writing now, but still primarily for scripts using the Final Draft Writer app.

However, it is also great for other types of writing. In fact, I’m using the WordPress app on the iPad to do this post right now. Fancy that.

After several days I’m pretty convinced the iPad could become my primary writing tool perminantly. Using it really feels good and allows for a more tactile approach to writing that I don’t experience as much when using a laptop or desktop with a traditional keyboard. Other people (with far more readership and insight) seem to feel the same way I do.

One thing, though, I do feel a little bad for my MacBook Air. It looks sorta lonely sitting there unused.

I’m sure it won’t sit idle forever. I’m sure I’ll get back to using it for something soon enough. Until then, it’s the iPad for me all the way.

The iPhone 5 Is Fun

So I went ahead and got an iPhone 5. Those who know me will know it isn’t that hard to believe. I’ve had the phone for a few weeks now (I pre-ordered it the same time I ordered one for H) and it arrived on launch day.

So far, it’s a great device. I especially like the 4G LTE, which has come in handy several times while on the road. It’s also a great phone to make calls with. The sound is good and I get reception almost everywhere (of course that also has a lot to do with Verizon too, I’m sure).

The phone is also faster and the screen is better than the 4S I was using previously. I also like the extra row of icons I get from the phone being a bit longer as well as the new features of iOS 6. In short, I’m very happy with the upgrade.

If I have a complaint about the device (and it’s a minor one) it’s that Apple really didn’t do much to improve the camera over the 4S. Sure, it works a bit better in lower light, but that’s about all.

Although, I’m not entirely sure what they could have done with the camera given the new, thinner form factor. I guess we’ll have to wait for those liquid lenses to get a better camera in such a thin device.

The device is also a bit prone to scratching and I already have a bit of one on the top right side near where the antenna gap is. It’s not particularly noticeable but still, it’s kind of disappointing. I guess a case would cover it, but I don’t really like cases. So, there’s that.

I may do a more in-depth report later after I’ve used the iPhone 5 longer. Until then, if you got one for yourself, I hope you’re enjoying it.

Keyboard Considerations


I’ve been trying to use just the iPad 2 for a few days to do my writing work and I came to the conclusion that I need a keyboard. That’s not to say that typing directly on the iPad 2 wouldn’t work for most people, or for me under different circumstances, it’s just that right now my fingers are a bit sore and it’s time to explore other options.

Fortunately, I already have a solution. I’ve dropped some hard earned cash on a keyboard case and stand combo from Incase. It’s called the Origami Workstation and it features a place to hold your Apple Wireless Keyboard (I already had one of from a previous experiment) and to hold you iPad or iPad 2 either vertically or horizontally. I usually pick horozontal, just in case you were wondering.

With the iPad 2 and keyboard in place things have gotten much easier on my hands and fingers. Yes, I realize having to bring a keyboard with you begs the question as to why I don’t just use the MacBook Air. That’s a valid question and one I could answer by just saying I just don’t want to.  
The truth is I’m not just doing this just for me. I’m doing it for you. For those of you who want to know if you can get along and get work done with just an iPad 2 and that’s it. The answer is, so far, yes you can — unless you have a problem like I do. In that case you need to make some adjustments. 
Problem or not, the iPad 2 is especially useful if you’re a writer, or some other type of creative person, who’s job it is to put words in a certain order and upload, print or otherwise share them with people. It really is a great tool.  
It’s likely if my hands were a bit younger and I haden’t spent the last ten or more years pounding keys I would have gotten away without using an external keyboard. Sadly, I can’t. You might be able to, however. And you should try. It makes the idea you can bring a small device like the iPad 2 with you, and that’s all you really need, that much cooler. 
My needing to use a keyboard doesn’t change the fact that the iPad is a great writing tool and so far has proven to be very useful in my everyday work. Now to get back to it. I’ll let you know how it’s going, don’t worry.

The Great-ish Writing Experiment


I think in the spirit of trying to make things work, and also challenging myself a bit, I’m going to try to use the iPad 2 as a writing/blogging tool as often as I can. Let this post serve as the first-ish example of that.  
I say -ish because I’ve already done at least one or two with the iPad 2, but that was before. Now, I’m going to take it more seriously and consider it more of an experiment, or test , then I did before.  
One of the first questions to ask when embarking on a journey such as this is do I use the built-in keyboard on the iPad 2 or do I use an external one? It’s an important question because, to be honest, my fingers do get kinda sore when using just the iPad 2’s touchscreen keyboard.  
However, that may be more a function of the fact that by the time I start using the iPad I’ve already been typing for a few hours. Maybe my fingers would hurt no matter what? I suspect they would.  
So, with that in mind I think I will try to use the touchscreen keyboard for now and see how it goes. I’ve got an extra Bluetooth keyboard I could use but that sorta defeats the purpose of using the iPad if you have the also lug around a keyboard.  
At any rate, I’ll know soon enough if my fingers can’t take it and then I will consider other options. Fortunately, as I discussed in an earlier post, the rest of the writing/blogging experience shouldbe pretty good on the iPad 2.  
I guess I’ll find out.  
In case you’re the sort of person who likes to know the more technical, nuts and bolts kinds of things, I’m going to list the tools I will be using during this experiment. Here they are:  
Apple iPad 2 (of course) – Apple’s device excels at so many things and has a battery that lasts a long time. It has become an indispensable part of my daily work (and fun).  
Blogsy – This is the primary blogging app I’m using. It allows for complete control over posts and offers the ability to insert photos and video. Pretty much everything you need and pretty easy to figure out and use.  
IResize – This is a great app that allows you to resize images to fit in a blog post or other writing. You can load any picture from your Photos on the iPad and change the size, resolution, etc. and then save the changed version for use in other apps like Blogsy.  
IAWriter – This app let’s you get back to basics and just write. It removes distractions and lets you focus on the words. Plus, it syncs with Apple’s iCloud and its own OS X desktop version to allow you to work on whatever you want and have it available on the iPad or your Mac with whatever changes you’ve made already there and synced.  
Other tools:  
Pages – Appple’s own writing App is pretty good and I used it quite a bit before IA Writer and Blogsy came into the picture. Now I use it less frequently, especially as oit doesn’t support sync across the mobile and desktop versions using iCloud as IA Writer does. At least not yet.  
FDX Reader – Sadly, my favorite screenwriting app Final Draft doesn’t have and iPad version yet. I’ve been assured one is on the way, but until then, I still need to use the MacBook Air when I want to write in Final Draft.  
However, I can at least read scripts in Final Draft format (instead of PDF) on the iPad by using the terrific FDX Reader app. This app allows you to load scripts written in Final Draft and saved as .fdx files and view them in their native format. Very useful and saves you the time and effort of saving scripts as .pdf files plus if your a writer on the go or collaborating with another writer it also makes it easier to quickly review the current draft.  
So, this is my challenge and those are the tools of choice. Of course, figuring out what you want to do and choosing the tools to accomplish a task is often the easy part. 

The hard part is doing the actual writing. I’m goin’ in, wish me luck.